Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sometimes Moving Is Enough

Today's activity changed a lot over the past few days. I debated for several days (yes, days. It's what I do) which days of the weekend would be feet and which would be wheel days. The only thing certain was wanting to do at least one of each. Two things helped me settle on feet on Saturday and wheels on Sunday. One was the weather. Yesterday was predicted to have possible showers while a sunny day was expected today. I don't mind hiking, walking or even running in the rain but not so much in the bike. The second thing was discovering that Bicycle C.ub of Philadelphia (BCP) had a D level ride leaving from the Art Museum Sunday at noon.

So yesterday I walked. 

Today, despite the decision having apparently been made, was up in the air again as I went to sleep last night. I had to lecture myself to shut up and not think about it until this morning. Before the decision to join the BCP ride I had thought to ride to and through Ridley Creek State Park to Middletown Road (352). Last night I was debating switching back to that plan. In the end I did switch back because it meant could get out earlier. The BCP ride didn't start until noon. I was out, done riding, showered and watching Jim Nabors sing and kick off the Indy 500 with a cup of coffee by 12:15. :)

Still when I went out this morning I was wondering if I really wanted to tackle that hilly ride. I was psyching myself out before I even put my helmet on. So I did the only thing I could. I went out for a spin around my neighborhood to see how I felt and go from there. After 2 miles I realized I'd rather tackle the hills then ride mindlessly around Media for miles.

You'll see from the garmin that I stalled before heading down Sycamore Mills Road taking a spin around the middle school parking lot. Finally I figured "just go for it or you'll beat yourself up after."
So down the hill I went thinking the not helpful thought "What goes down must come up damn it." Hmm then I noticed the road actually levels off before finishing the descent to the creek. Hmmm ok. "Remember that on the way back", I told myself.

I wish I understood why riders (mostly guys - sorry but it's true) think they can just swish past you without warning. The same rider did it three times - once on my right- on this ride along with a few others. I get it, dude - you are faster and better at this than I am. And you are also a ........ very rude. Grrrrrr.

The multi use trail at RCSP is a loop. For those that know it, I did not attempt to ride up the BIG hill. I'm determined but not crazy. It was a beautiful day on the loop. The creek was running high, the sun was shining, and it smelled wonderful (I'll pay for that later but I don't care). I decided to enjoy the peacefulness of the park and just ride. I didn't care how fast I did not go. Just get to the top at Middletown Road, turn around and come back down.

One of the quirks of this loop is that it is treated as a road. It is a road for the folks that live on the grounds of the park. So people on their feet are encouraged - with multiple reminders to travel on the left facing traffic. Traffic being bikes and the occasional car or park vehicle. The thing is everyone gets confused. And on a lovely day like today there are LOTS of people and their dogs getting confused. Add to that the cyclists who do not give warning and it can be an interesting and challenging trip. Still I enjoyed all of it.

I did take my time. My goal to simply keep moving. And you know what it wasn't so tough after all. I never had to get down into my lowest front chain ring.

On the way back down to the Barren Road entrance I realized how much of a long slow climb that section really is. I could have coasted the whole way down. Already I was fretting about the ride up Sycamore Mills Road to Rose Tree Road. :(

I stopped at the waterfall to take a picture and to listen to it for a bit. Moving water is my most favorite sound in the world. I truly was feeling more peaceful as I left the park over the bridge and into Sycamore Mills Road.

The start of the road here is really rough. Winter did a number on it and there isn't much smooth road left here. The uphill starts just after this. It's a gradual easy climb ( piece of cake after the loop anyway) to Feathering Road. I took the Feathering road loop around the biggest hill. I did it on the way down too. Most cyclists do. I see them every day as I travel by car here to and from work. The hill being avoided is steep and on a curve. It's not worth taking a chance on a bike if you don't have to.

Coming out on the other side begins the long slow climb. "Remember it levels just over there" I kept telling myself. I did drop down into my lowest front ring here. Thinking back maybe I didn't quite need to. It was a mental thing. But hey it worked! I kept moving. Leveled out and kept moving up the second climb.

Here I have to thank those of you who read my blog. Knowing that helped. I did not want to have to tell you that I got off the bike and walked. Thank you! I do have to say that while I kept moving, smiling was not part of the picture here.

Sooner than I expected I saw the school zone sign. I was done! I had survived the climb. NOW I was smiling and in fact had a stupid grin on my face the rest of the way home.

This trip is a perfect example of how your mind can do you in. I had built this up way worse than it actually was. I ended up having to overcome the actual ride and the one that my mind had made up. I worked way harder than was necessary. *shrug* It's all good. Lessons learned (I hope)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Heinz Wildlife Refuge Loop

Today I went for a walk. I had planned on 8 or 9 miles and ended up with 10. That's what happens when you walk. It's easy to get motivated to check other things along the way.

I decided to do my walking at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge but I didn't feel like just going out and back. Instead I parked at the Route 420/Wannamaker Road end of the refuge then walked south to Route 291 and followed that up to 84th street and to the Lindbergh Boulevard entrance to the refuge.

291 is also called Industrial Highway and for a large portion of the part I walked on it lived up to it's name. However, I also walked through Tinicum and Essington. I saw some really cute houses, Mel's diner and a softball field. I wonder if Dave knows about that one. It's amazing how many softball fields are tucked away in Delaware County where you'd least expect to find them. Mel's might be worth checking out sometime. It's a diner - how bad could it be?

291 is also called Gov Printz Boulevard in places and as I walked along it I was reminded of the half
hour special we watched on TV earlier this week about the Lenni/Lenape Indians who lived here originally. And how this region was settled by the Swedes and the Dutch long before William Penn got here. That show is where I also learned how Quakers got to be called Quakers. I never knew that before. I didn't choose today's route because of the show we had just watched. It's just interesting how things work out like that sometimes.

One thing about walking - that doesn't happen when I run - is having to pee. What a nuisance. Fortunately there was a super Wawa at 84th and Bartram. It was another mile to the refuge visitor center and I was glad not to have to wait for that. TMI? Sorry.

Despite the industrial nature of the 291 route it was perfectly safe. There was sidewalk or wide shoulder most of the way. 291 is the 'on road' alternate for the East Coast Greenway here. The off road portion goes through the refuge. The ECG wants to have as much off road connections as possible. I can see where the alternate might be better for someone with a road bike and tires. It is pretty rough in some spots. If you don't know the ECG - when complete - will be a system of trails connecting Canada to Key West. The goal is to get as much of on trails as possible.

Finally I arrived at the entrance to the refuge and was happy to switch off the pavement and onto the trail. I was glad I did the street portion of the walk first. This way when I began to tire I'd have nice scenery to look at and birds to listen to as I continued. It's amazing how the birds CAN be heard above the noise of 95 and the airport which runs alongside.

There were a lot of walkers and cyclists on the trail today. Despite it being a cloudy day there is a lot to see there. I should have brought binoculars. It is funny how different things look when you walk rather than run the same path. I discovered a toad/frog habitat that I hadn't seen before. It could be new but I think more likely I just missed it running past before.

All in all it was a good outing today. I had planned on it being about 9 miles. 10 was ok though. It was all flat as you can see from my garmin. If you look closely at the map you can see where I veered off for the Wawa stop and again for the toad/frog habitat. I did not see any frogs or toads by the way but there sure were a lot of crickets there.

I had wanted to get some miles on my feet to make sure I'm ready for this year's Independence Day Walk. I think I'll be good. :) I have minor shin pain on the left. It's been a long time since I've done that much pavement walking, though. I'm sure it's temporary. My left hip flexor did some griping at the beginning of the walk too. That's typical. I really have to remember to warm up and stretch that sucker.

Planning on a bike ride tomorrow. Keep smiling and keep moving.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What Do You Do When You Run Out of Orange Juice?

In the end we stopped at Wegman's and bought some orange juice.

But first we went to Cracker Barrel for Breakfast
Then we went to the Daniel Boone Homestead.
Despite having lived here all my life I've always
just passed by the signs and  never visited. We took
the guided tour of the house....

.....Then began a walking tour of the grounds. 

But you know I couldn't stay on the paved path

Because then you don't get to see
cool stuff like this! 
It was a rare Sunny Spring Sunday off for both of us. We made the most of it with a road trip. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby

Today I decided to combine my bike ride with a visit to my son and his girlfriend who live in Fishtown. The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby passes very close to their house. I arranged with the kids to visit, go to the parade and arts festival and get a ride home from them after. I didn't think I wanted to ride both ways. 

I left home around 9:30 a.m.. It was a gorgeous day today. So different from yesterday's gloom and rain. I was dreading the hill from 420 to Leamy Avenue so much that I forgot about the one from the blue route up to 320 which comes first. Turns out the first is much steeper and the second ended up being a breeze (relatively speaking). After that the only remaining hill of consequence was where Providence Road meets Lansdowne Ave. I ended up walking that one because I lost so much momentum that I was a danger to myself and the cars with my switchbacks. :( I've ridden all the way up that one before. I'm not sure what happened today. It's ok I wasn't trying to break any speed records. I was just out for a fun ride. And except for that short block and a brief stint on Baltimore Avenue across the city line it really was. On Baltimore Avenue I was really concerned about getting doored while trying to stay out of the way of the cars that were trying to stay out of the trolley. It was all good though. 

As I left West Philly, I saw a man carrying not one but two children on the back of his bike. One about 7 or 8 and the other a toddler. We turned different ways. As I turned on to Spring Garden Street we met up again. The older child waived and Dad said, "Hey you were just in West Philly." I rode behind them for a few blocks and we chatted. Turns out they were on their way to meet other parents and kids in similar contraptions for the Kinetic Sculpture Derby. I told them I would look for them. I lost them then at a red light that they chose to drive though. I stopped. The photo is them in the parade. 

The bike ride was awesome. The weather had a lot to do with that. I've biked and walked the section through to 41st and Baltimore Avenue before and after that I was in new territory. It's amazing how everything connects and how much you miss speeding along the highway. I wish I had taken more photos but that would have meant stopping and fishing the phone out and I didn't feel like doing that at the time. 

I arrived at Jimmy and Corinne's about an hour and 30 some minutes after I left home. After I got cleaned up and changed clothes in their bathroom the three of us walked to the start of the parade at Norris and Trenton Avenue. The parade was much shorter than we expected. I wonder if yesterday's weather scared a few away. Many of the bikes were highly decorated and unless you had an inside space to work yesterday it would have been difficult to get ready for this morning. 

After the parade we walked the crafts festival area. It was really crowded being such a nice day after such a yukky one yesterday. The plan was to put my bike in the trunk of their car and ride back to Media for lunch at Pinnochios (you can take the kids out of Media but they always come back for Pinnochios) Unfortunately the bike didn't fit in their trunk even with both wheels off. I thought briefly about riding home. The ride in had been so pleasant but my bike clothes were rolled up in a ball in my backpack and the thought of unrolling them to put back on ..... (ugh) plus the kids really wanted to go to Pinnochios and I had offered to treat. So we drove to Media, had lunch and then I drove back for my bike. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Back To The Future

Take this year's theme "Rights and Responsibilities", choose an historical event, research the heck out of the historical event, apply the theme to your research (or vice versa) mix well and choose a method of presentation: research paper, website, documentary, performance or exhibit. Prepare, refine, rehearse. Repeat this step often. Oh and (for all but the research paper) write a 500 word or less process paper about why you chose the historical item and the presentation method and how you prepared it. And don't forget a bibliography which cites primary and secondary sources used in your research. 

THEN, present your finished project to a panel of 2-4 judges. Feel your stomach knot and turn while you stand and wait for the judges to read your process paper and ask you questions about your project. Worry about whether the technology will run smoothly; fret about the box of process papers that didn't make it on the bus from your school hundreds of miles away; sweat because your project partner had a baseball game today leaving you to carry on alone; all while knowing that only two of the 30 or so projects in your category will go on to Washington in June for National History Day. 

THAT is National History Day in PA

A lot of adults would (and have) cracked under less pressure. But on May 12-13th, 850 determined and talented students in 6 through 12th grade from all across Pennsylvania came to Millersville University to put their projects up for the 2014 contest. And to get to Millersville most had to compete at their local regional contest first. 

For two days we (volunteer judges and support staff) watched carefree 11-17 year old children morph into first class students and back to carefree kids - more than once. For many this is an annual event reuniting with friends they made in previous years. Others were welcomed to the club. The friendships forged here run deep. This was most evident during the awards ceremony as kids from private, public and home schools cheered the winners. Perhaps a higher level shriek for those from your own school but the enthusiasm for all who would represent Pennsylvania in the national contest was widespread. Sure there were some disappointed faces. Who wouldn't be after all that hard work? In the end though, there were high fives and congratulations everywhere. 

I wasn't sure what I was going to say about my two days but the title of this post has been in my head since early Monday morning. "Back to the Future" I spent two amazing days ensconced in the history presented by these kids who are the future. And the future really does look bright!! 

On a more personal note niece Cara took first place in the Senior Individual Performance. She will return to the National Contest for the third year in a row. This is her 1st First Place at the state contest. She took second in 2012 and 2013. First and Second in each category move on. Here is a photo of Cara and her teacher & mom, Jill. 

Sisters Cara, Bippy (Elizabeth), and Kim participated and qualified for the State Competition this year. We are so proud of them all.

Debriefing in the shade
before the award ceremony
At the award ceremony

History Day is an extended family affair for the Gormley clan. My brother Thomas, his daughter Amy (also a past participant in the research paper category), my sister Meg and I participate as volunteer judges. And Robbie, not quite old enough to be a participant yet is chief cheerleader! Seriously folks, you have not experienced support for your team until you've heard Robbie in support of his sisters. 

Keep smiling and keep moving wishes to Cara at Nationals - June 15-19 in Washington, DC. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

#7 Chicken Grooming and Another Section on the HST

Today I was shown how to groom polish chickens. I hesitate to say I learned because learning implies that one can do the task after being shown. The long and short of it is that there is no future in it for me.

I met Alexis through Facebook and my running group. A friend of hers joined MLC about a year ago and when we were planning 50 Shades of Sore, Randy connected Alexis to the group as she lives near the trail and she was interested in trail running. I met her in person in January with Maggi when we were scouting out aid stations. Alexis ended up captaining the Northside Road rest stop and we became FB friends. About a month ago she told me she needed to groom her chickens and if that counted as learning a new thing I was welcome to come out and see how it was done! This is what I love about social media. We might not have connected otherwise and now I had an opportunity to check out something that never would have been on my radar if she hadn't suggested it.

The idea behind the grooming is to get the crown feathers out of the bird's eye. And they use an elastic hair band to do it. The simplest thing you'd think but I couldn't manage it. The first try the band was too small. But even with the larger band I was afraid of hurting the bird even after Alexis showed me their necks were quite flexible. The second bird's crown feathers (I'm probably calling them the wrong thing, BTW) where smoother and shorter and very hard to get in the band. So in the end I did not accomplish the task but I did see how it was done. So it counts as one of my 27 things.

After that was complete we took a tour with Alexis' daughters of their backyard (it's a 7+ acre lot) via a trail they've blazed around the perimeter. Then Alexis and I headed off on our own for a hike along the HST into St. Peter's Village and back. It was probably about 4 miles out and back. The sun was bright today so I had to take a shadow photo. Notice how clean my shoe is. It was several shades of mud darker by the time we returned from our hike.

I had a really nice afternoon. The hike afforded Alexis and I time to chat and get to know each other beyond FB. Chatting while hiking or walking or other activity is a much more comfortable way for me to interact with people. I'm not good at sitting and talking across a table or room. I can do it but I'm not very good at or comfortable with it. So the afternoon was a awesome for me. I got to make a new friend while doing something I really enjoy all on a gorgeous May day.

AND the section of the Horse Shoe trail we hiked connected to the last section I completed two weeks ago. Anyone who knows me knows how important that fact is. I would have made the hike regardless but I would not have been able to count it as part of my effort to hike the HST all the way if it hadn't been in order. Yeah, I know...but that's me. Dork to the bone. :)

Keep smiling and keep moving. I'll leave you with a few pictures from the afternoon.
Alexis' oldest with one of the chickens.
This bird's feathers are so soft it's like petting a kitten! 

I am sorry that this means the tree is rotted and
will likely die now but I was fascinated by the look of this. 

Beautiful Spring day on the HST. 
Edit 5-15-14 - More information about grooming Polish Chickens from Alexis

The Polish hens have crest feathers that can grow in front of their faces and obscure their vision. You can trim them, but this risks poking a chicken in the eye with scissors, so the other option is to put their crests up in "pony tails". I don't do this all the time, but since we recently added new hens to our flock, the pecking order is being reestablished. These couple Polish hens are my oldest girls (and my favorites, don't tell the others). I wanted to give them a bit of an advantage while they are jockeying for position in the flock, and giving them a better range of vision helps with that.
Another reason folks put the crests up or trim them back is because in the winters when the chickens drink, their crests can get wet and then freeze to their skulls. Then the chickens go hypothermic and die

Monday, May 5, 2014

Flat Bars, Hybrids and Old People

I waited for our group to assemble for tonight's ride. My shoe was loose so I got down to retie it. A woman approached and said, "Yup, this is the group. Flat Bars, Hybrids and Old People". I cringed but managed to get a smile on my face before I stood up. I figured if she wanted to call herself old that was fine. It made no matter to me. But she didn't stop there. "I'm 66", she said. "She's 65", she continued pointing to another in our group. Then she looked me right in the eye and pointed at me and said "And your in that range too".

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. So instead I shrugged and said, "I'm 54.". She had nothing to say to that. She just turned to find out how old everyone else was.

My first thought was "I guess I'm officially over the hill now." I've never had anyone guess me to be older than I am. Most of my life it's been the opposite. No one has ever (out loud at least) over shot my age at all let alone by the margin this woman did. But that was just my initial reaction. I shrugged it off and had a great ride.

It occurred to me later that maybe she didn't actually think I looked ten years older than I am but rather was trying to elicit my age so she could feel better about being the oldest in the group and still able to keep up. Kudos to her by the way for that and I'm sure she doesn't get how obnoxious her comment was. Let that be a lesson to us all to think before we speak.

And yes it occurs to me that she really did think I look that old but we'll just ignore that possibility for now. ;)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

We May Be Lost but At Least There's a Bathroom

Today I completed my fourth section on the Horse Shoe Trail.My trail mates were Candy and Kristi Y. We met at St. Peter's Village and drove together to French Creek Elementary School where Russ and Maggi and I left off on the last section.

The guide book describes a detour for the first part of this section to avoid having to 'ford' (the guidebook's word) the creek at that juncture. Since the creek at St. Peter's Village looked like this -

French Creek rushing by St. Peter's Village
We voted to take the detour. Despite the initial scare of the pack of dogs that came running at us, it was quite nice. The dogs were behind an invisible fence thank goodness. The detour took us across route 23 and along old route 23 where we passed some interesting looking houses and a church.

Once back on the trail we were mostly in woods. We climbed and descended some very muddy trails. After the monsoon rains on Wednesday of this week there was water everywhere.

Sample of the trail conditions
Candy took the lead and guided us to whatever relative dry spots there were. We could only hope that the growth on either side of the trail was not poison ivy or similar stuff. The mud made it very difficult to get one's footing. It was almost impossible to predict which way your ankle would turn or whether your shoe would sink. At one point, Candy said "One of us is going to land on their butt pretty soon". It couldn't have been a minute later when my foot went out from under me. I was determined not to put my butt in the mud though knowing that that would make for a very uncomfortable hike the rest of the way. I managed to land on my left arm and left leg keeping my hip out of the mud. I'm grateful to the other two for not taking a photo. You'll have to take my word for it, but it was an amazing save if I do say so myself!

We entered Warwick Park and discovered that there are a variety of trails within the park. It might be worth a trip back there just to explore those sometime. There were several people out on them. It was here that we missed a turn in the horse shoe trail. All's well that end's well though since the missed turn meant an indoor bathroom stop at the main picnic area of the park. If it wasn't for the volunteer work I did for the Misery Loves Company 50 Shades of Sore Race we might still be wandering around. I recognized where we were and I knew the trail went up and over the hill here.

Once out of the park we crossed over County Park Road and up a very deceptive looking hill.

It's more of a climb than it appears to be
At the top of this hill there was a trail register box. We all signed it and continued on our way. It was about now that the rain started to fall. Not heavy, just sprinkles here and there.

We avoided the large creek crossing but still there were several water crossings along the way. (Aside from the rivers that ran down the trail itself). Here is one of the last ones. The tree branch wobbled so you can guess what happened here. Let's just say that the water is VERY cold right now.

With the detour and a little back track at Warwick County Park we covered 5 miles in 2 hours and 8 minutes.

I had toyed with the idea at the beginning of the day of hiking back to my car but the rain which was more than a sprinkle at this point and the trail conditions helped me decided against it.

Trail conditions notwithstanding it was an enjoyable hike with friends. Not sure when the next section will be. I'm thinking about heading to White Clay Creek next and checking the Mason Dixon Trail a little. Stay tuned. :)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Longest Bike Ride in 2014

My title is inspired by a friend who posted on Facebook about the thrill of reaching the longest distance. She was talking about running at the time and the excitement of that moment when you reach your previous longest and knowing that each step after that is longer than you've ever gone before.

Today was my longest bide ride in 2014. It's not my longest ever. I reached 20 or so several times last fall. I don't remember being aware of passing my previous thresh hold for the year but in the end it's still my longest this year.

It wasn't a fast ride. My average pace was just under 10 mph. The average could have been higher if I wasn't so afraid of speed on the downhills - especially in traffic on a windy road. A thrill seeker I have never been. :) Still I'm pleased that I set out to do 15 today and I got there. It was nice that I was pleasantly surprised by the odometer reading from time to time rather than feeling like "Oh really that's all?" And I give my self credit for the hills too. Granted I know the area well enough to know where I can swap "short hill-flat-short hill" for "long slow climb" but I still get credit for the hills. :)

My thoughts on today's ride - when I wasn't admiring the variety in the neighborhoods - rambled around grounding myself to accepting where I'm at. Last year I had plans to run a full marathon in May (Bob Potts) and complete a century ride in September (MS City to Shore). I'm still certain I would have made it too. I was well on my way to the marathon when my heart started talking back to me. I had been riding the bike on non running days and after the marathon I had plenty of time to build bike mileage to September.

It's been one year plus one week since the last run and as you know (cause I whine about it enough) I haven't done a whole lot even after the doctor gave me the all clear. But these past weeks have been forward progress mostly and I am focusing on that. Hopefully there will be less whining since my thoughts have been much more positive now that I'm getting more regular exercise again.

I am torn about whether to continue with the cycling group. I'm stuck between two group. The hybrid group (8-10 mph) is not quite challenging enough but the next group up is (12-15 mph) seems to be too much for me after my one ride with them. There is an argument to be made for letting the group challenge you but if it isn't fun or if you are dreading it I'm not sure that's helpful. If I don't go with them now I'll likely not catch up either. Each week I'm sure they go longer and harder. I like the social aspect of the group ride though so I'll probably keep going to hybrid group at least for now and just see what happens.

So I'm not speedy and really that was never a real goal anyway. I'm to continue to increase mileage on the bike and on foot. My feet miles are likely going to be all walking and hiking. I get more pleasure out of those than running right now. Walking and hiking are two things I've always enjoyed. I can't cover as much ground as quickly (walking/hiking vs running) but I can cover more on the bike. It's a trade off I can live with. And I'm sure some adventures lie ahead.

Tomorrow I'm going on a hike on the Horse Shoe Trail. This will be section 4 for me. I'm looking forward to it. After the monsoon rain we had earlier this week the trail might be a bit sloggy in parts but it will be fun. There should at least be less snow than last time.

I've decided to repeat my Independence Day walk again this year. I've invited friends to join me and may take a slightly different route. The following week, July 12th, the Freewalkers are hosting a Philadelphia Freedom walk. I've set my sights on that too. If you are interested in joining in on either of those, send me a message!

Keep smiling and keep moving!