Sunday, August 30, 2009

fall is coming

This weekend has been cool (but pleasant), a warning to us that fall is just around the ocrner.

Friday evening I watched the celebration for Ted Kennedy. Really, what an interesting man he was. Full of purpose and passion, adventure, and many talents. A great advocate of public service, and a rock for his family, and the people of his state and this country. I'm 43 years old, and have lived in the midwest all my life, and in all the years I did not hear or read much about this man. Now I wonder why I never read or heard much about him. Because what I heard Friday night, and then again in the bits I saw on Saturday, showed me an incredibly fascinating person. I'm looking forward reading his memoirs. They are due out September 14. I just ordered it. I never buy books. I only get them at the library, too much wasted paper to buy a book, when I can borrow one from the library, but this is one I want to read and have in my house.

Saturday morning came early and a 7am start time for a bike ride. It was just getting light out, and a little foggy, but a beautiful morning. I always set out for a ride hoping to see things that make me smile or ooh and ahh. Usually its wildlife or a beautiful pastoral scene that I ride by. This entire ride passed, and very little wildlife, lots of pleasant countryside, the favorite Bear Wallow climb, that doesn't make me oooh and ahh, rather huff and puff. But it does bring a smile after you climb over a mile (which is a long climb for these parts), and then get a similarly long fun downhill.I finished up my ride with a ride down Shiloh road. Shiloh is my favorite road to ride that is within an hour of home. It loses (or gains, depending on the direction you ride) a few hundred feet in elevation, but over 3 or more miles. Its a roller coaster road through the forest. For miles, you make a tight left turn, then drop down 30 or 40 feet, then a sweeping right turn, a short uphill, a loping left, down, up, right. Over and over. Even going in the uphill direction it doesn't feel like you are going uphill because of all these roller coaster turns and dips. I take every chance I can to ride Shiloh, either direction. At the end of Shiloh I came to a small group of cyclists, then another, then a tandem (I don't really understand the interest in riding a tandem, I could not spend a bike ride staring at the back of someones head), more bikes, then a sag stop. I wasn't aware of an organized ride in the area, I usually hear of them, even if I don't ride in them. I wound my way back home, through campus, packed with new students, old students, thousands of cars parked in lots that have been empty all summer long, and I felt a little claustrophobic, even though I was moving on my bike. I suppose I'll get used to it, as I do every year.

For the first time in the 18 years that we have lived in Bloomington, we have a niece who is starting her freshman year at IU. SHe moved in this week, and her family came down to help her get everything she needed to settle in, and so Todd's whole family came to town and we all had dinner together. I would usually never go to dinner the first week of students returning to town, every place is way too crowded. But near Lake Monroe, which is about 10 miles south of town, a restaraunt recently reopend. Its called the Scenic View, because its perched atop a hill that looks toward one of the very few cuts in the hills surrounding the lake, and you have a beautiful of the lake, and the tree covered hills surrounding it. SInce its out of town, we assumed it wouldn't be too crowded. We were right, and we sat outside, it was a beautiful 70 degree evening. Had a good meal, and everyone stopped by our house to meet Max. The little kids wore out the dogs, and we didn't have to walk them last night! That doesn't happen very often.

Its Sunday morning now, and I just came back from a run. I'm not a fast runner, and when the run is a z1-2 run, I'm definitely not fast. As I was running through one of the local parks I hear a lot of chatter and laughter coming towards me, and the IU mens track/cross country flew by me. Oh the humiliation! They were absolutely beautiful runners. Oi, I felt like an old goat. Then I told myself, 20 years ago, I probably could have trounced them in the pool, and maybe still today I could hold me own against half of them. I felt mildly better. The feeling passedquickly, and I trudged back home, greeted by 3 dogs who can't stop licking the sweat off my legs, begging for a drop or two of the chocolate milk I was drinking, making me smile and laugh.

Sam is staring at me with his big beautiful brown eyes as I type this. I think he is smiling.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

guard dogs

My guard dogs every morning when I get out of the shower. I think Max and Sam are feeling pretty relaxed around each other now. Daisy is still the leader of our pack (even though that should be me!), she takes no shit from anyone. That's the way it should be - the girl is boss!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

slip n slide

this is awesome (and of course, its NOT real)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bob Knight

Indiana loves to hate Bob Knight, and hates to love Bob Knight. They just announced he is being inducted into the Indiana Athletics Hall of Fame. Boy I can hear the cheers and boos already! Despite all his flaws, he had a lot of good in him, and he did a lot of good at IU, most of which people will never know, because so much of it had nothing to do with basketball but with people, academics, libraries, students... In all the years he lived in Bloomington, while I also lived here, I only saw him in public one time, at a movie. He and his wife were sitting in the back of the theater, just normal people out for a movie date. Not biggger than life. Just living life.

Life here in Bloomington is going to change dramatically in the next few days as 35000 students return to our small town. The doubling of our population makes me appreicate the times like my bike ride with Randi yesterday where we were out in the country side, in the state forest with trees towering over us, in the farm land surrounded by 8 feet high corn, just two girls on bikes, pushing each other up a monster hill, enjoying the lush green surrounding us every direction we could see - even over head. It was a fabulous ride, especially after having two rough weeks, and a big rest week. I feel like my body is back, and ready for a few good weeks of training.

This morning I got to run on the trails. I picked my favorite trail down by the lake. No dogs this run, its been too hot, and no water in the streams, so it was just me and the trees, and a few nasty spider webs that wrapped themselves around my face - ICK! I heard one tree fall, and saw it smash into the ground down the hill, and it made me think of the saying 'does a tree make a sound when it falls if there is no one to hear it?' well, of course it does. That's such a stupid saying. I just LOVE running on the trails. One hour on a trail seems like 30 minutes on the road. Two hours on a trail like one hour on the road. Trails ROCK!

Someday I will hava a small house on a lake in a forest, and I will wake up and run or walk through the forest, and swim in my lake, and smile at my fortune of being able to live in a place so simple and beautiful.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Climbing out of a hole

One week ago I was wrapping up 3 good weeks of training, did a race with very steep long quad/calf busting hills (turned out to be a duathlon which was even worse), followed by a long run the next day with the last 30 minutes hard, and my body rebelled. For 2 days I had trouble walking, on a scale of 1 to 10, my muscle pain hovered around 10 for 48 hours, then slowly improved. But even though the pain was gone, my body was just worn out. I had dug the hole and was not climbing out quick enough, even with a lower volume/intensity rest week. So, being the smart one that I am, I still raced on Saturday, as pitiful as I was (because I HAD to get my 3rd xterra in for the season for the points race). But yesterday I had a day off – on a weekend – I can’t remember the last time I took a day off on a weekend! And now I have HUGE rest week. I will be a super rester, and be ready to go for my next race at the end of September.

What will I do with a HUGE rest week? Well, I’ll sleep, I'll rest, and I'll try not to overeat. I’ve also been having restless leg syndrome this week when I go to bed. I've been sleeping in compression shorts and socks to try to give the muscles a different feel. I eventually fall asleep. I'd like to get past that RLS also. Hopefully I can get a massage this week and claw my way back out of this hole!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

open water swim

There is a large lake south of town where I occasionally open water swim. The lake's main use is by motor boats, but the finger of the lake on the north side of the lake, closest to my house is more than one mile long by one half mile wide of no wake zone. So that was the destination last night. Air temp was low 80's, bright sun. The water was the most perfect its been all summer. Water was probably 76-78 , and no debris, no nasty gas film on the water, perfectly calm and almost mirror-like. Just me and a lot of open water and any ugly catfish hovering below waiting to nibble my toes (I try not to think of those, since the visibility in the lake is about 6 inches). Oh, and my escorts who watch out for me!

Thanks Emily and Barb!

And we picked up a floatilla of kayaks too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meet Max!

We adopted Max last weekend. He is 7 years old, and a super sweet dog. All the dogs get along, and once Max and Junior (cat) stop barking and hissing at each other, it will be one big happy family. He has some skin allergy (which you can see in the last photo where his fur has been shaved while its being treated), other than that he seems to be in good health.

vitamin D, decreased sun exposure, rickets

I saw an interesting story on the Newshour the other night. A doctor was discussing an increase of cases of rickets in the US recently. Rickets is a disease that is one of those old fashioned diseases, one we don't hear about these days. Its a vitamin D deficiency that causes soft bones in children. And it seems that with parents slathering their children up in sunscreen all the time, and children being indoors less than previous generations, the kids aren't getting enough exposure to sunlight to help them produce vitamin D to have strong bones. And sun exposure is really the only way to get enough vitamin D, diet alone is not adequate. So, I just thought it was interesting. Her recommendation was just for 15-20 minutes a day of sun exposure without sunscreen for healthy bones, and suncreen the rest of the time for long term skin cancer prevention.

just a little food for thought...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I swore I would NEVER do a du

but today I did my first one. It was not supposed to be a duathlon. Xterra Versailles was supposed to be 2 weeks ago, rain postponed it by a week, when again torrential rains postponed it again. Those rains were so heavy the river and lake flooded, and the surrounding farm land runoff made the lake unsafe for swimming. I had already paid my entry fee, and in the xterra regional points series competition, I had to do 3 races, and had not planned very well this year, and as of today, with only 3 weeks left in the season, I had only 1 of 3 races. So, du it was!

This was a new course for xterra, and these trails are unbelievably fun (bike), and hard (the run). Unfortunately, the 2 postponements cut into the turnout, and it was a very small field, although those who showed up were some of the top racers in the region, so it would be a tough race to win, especially without a swim. Despite all the whining I do about hard swim workouts, I still count on getting a few minutes lead on the other girls. Starting with a 2.5 mile trail run, with 3 creek crossings (6inches deep and between 10 and 20 feet wide), and a good uphill and steep down, Bev was going to come out with a lead of a few minutes, instead of me having a lead of a few minutes. Bev is amazing, 50-54ag, many time national and world xterra champ in her AG, she regularly beats younger girls and finishes top 3 overall even at big regional races. So, the race starts and I have no idea how hard to run, because I was unsure how my legs would respond on a second run if I ran too hard on the first run. Before the race, a show of hands of participants showed those who have done a du, thought the du is much harder than a tri, and the RD cautioned good pacing at the start. SO, I went with the conservative approach.

Coming into t1 side by side with Ellen, Bev was already on her bike just near the trailhead. This mtb trail is a sweet trail. It starts with a long climb, then a few miles of twists and turns, before dumping onto the spectacular new Cliffside trail. They litterally cut the trail out of a cliffside, with some nice off camber trail, and a longgggggggggggggggggggg dropoff, there is no looking down the side, or you are over the cliff for sure. The best feature of the trail is a crossing over a rock ledge that is part of a waterfall that spans 10 feet of width, and falls down the cliffside into the creek. ANd I rode it without stopping! SWEET! Half way through the trail I went around Ellen and put a minute on her by t2. That was a good ride for me. Normally all of my xterra mtb's are very stressful. I come out of the water first, and have a bajillion fast men mtb riders who I have to make way for them all to pass. S T R E S S! This ride was so different. All of those guys ran faster than me. So I had no one behind me! ok, one guy did pass me on the bike, but I actually got to pass about 6 or 7 other men! Sweet, this was such a fun ride for me, I was so relaxed. There is one long sweeping stretch of trail that is a couple of miles above the river, and the trails gradually drops in elevation, and has very few turns, so it was bombs away time! And I just smiled the whole way.

photo is of the waterfall crossing

Coming into t2, Bev was hitting the start of the run trail as I was heading in, so I knew it would require a herculean run, up steep 200 ft elevation climbs, and down steep descents. Maybe she overdid it on the first run, and I didn't? I knew I couldn't slow down, Ellen was coming into t2, and I was heading out. The temps were heating up, hot and humid, and the first steep hill did not disappoint. I slogged my way up, and rolled through the early aid station with some water over the head and gatorade down the hatch. Down the first big steep, and up the steepest, longest hill is the start of the first loop, of the sort of figure 8 looped course. I was panting harder than a dog, and recovered a few minutes on some flatter stuff on the ridge top, in time for some rollers. Back up a biggie to what was the 2way traffic stretch, but the arrows confused me, and no one ther for traffic direction, and I followed the arrow to the left, instead of going straight, after standing there hesitating, some hikers said, there, the arrow goes that way,. So I dive down the steep hill, and back up the next one, before I realized this was the start of that first loop again! I made a wrong turn! ACKKKKKKKKKKKK! and added three quarters of a mile, plus 2 monster hills from ridge to ravine, and I was pissed. I ran so hard up the second hill, I puked at the top, and knew Ellen had gone by. And with just under 2 miles left, and the effort I just made, I was not going to catch Ellen, let alone Bev. The last 2 mile is the reverse of the first run of the du, so I got to splash through the creeks again - the Avi Stoltz were awesome! ANd I plodded the last mile to the finish. I guess I should have run hard all the way to the line, but I was so disappointed with myself,and I knew there was no one who was going to catch me from behind, I got the points for the AG points series race, and settled for third palce overall. Sounds good, but the race was so small, it seems anything other than a win is a bit lackluster. But when Bev is the competition, I can handle getting beat by her. And Ellen is a sweetie, and having friends beat you is that much easier to take. Maybe I should be more competitive, but I do this for fun, and even doing a du instead of a tri, I had a ton of fun out there today!

Next race, xterra Logansport next Saturday! Yep, 2 in a row, not ideal, and Logansport is not my favorite race. But I need one more race for the points, so off I go up to Middle-of-nowhere-flatland, IN. The best part of the Logansport race is that it is the BEST swim venue on the state. Swim in a limestone querry, you can see in nice clear water, which is quite a contrast to the typical muddy midwestern lake swim.

Now, I'm sitting on the sofa, Max (our newest addition to the family - adopted golden retriever, as of 2 hours ago!) is laying next to me, Sam is at my feet, Daisy on her bed, Junior in his spot, and everyone is content.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Two weekends ago, I was supposed to race xterra Versailles. But the week leading up to the race it was rainy, and in the early morning of the race, torrential rains dumped inches of water on the trails. One segment of trail, had only been completed one week prior, so without weeks (and months) of bike traffic to pack the dirt, the trails were just too soft to withstand the onslaught of the water. The race was postponed one week. Then this Thursday night another few inches of rain dumped, and the trails were even worse, another postponement. Rain has really put a damper on trail riding and racing in Indiana this summer. But Versailles is 2 hours away, and here in Btown,we only had a trace of rain, so the girls (and Charlie) headed down to the Hoosier National Forest Saturday morning for a mtb ride. Charlie got to laugh at a lot of girl chatter on the drive over. These trails require purchase of a tag to ride on them, and as we crossed a road section to a new trail, there was a sign saying 'survey ahead'. I couldn't imagine what kind of survey was happening on a Saturday morning out in the middle of nowhere, Charlie and I just dumped onto the trail before the sign, and a few minutes later stopped when we realized Ang and Randi weren't behind. A few minutes later they showed up saying the tobaccy chewing ranger at the survey sign made them show him their purchased tag. Good thing I skipped right past him, as my tag had fallen off somewhere on the trail (lesson- just put the tag in the camelback, instead of relying on the adhesive to keep it on the bike handlebar!). On the way home, Ang entertained us with her impersonation of the tobaccy chewing ranger. It was a good ride!

Kirkwood on a Sunday morning

Sunday, we (just the girls), headed out on the road for a long easy ride. 25 miles from home I thought 'oops, maybe I shouldn't have had that piece of chocolate cake last night', as I heard this dingdingdingdingdingdingdingding and came to a stop to find I broke a spoke! oops. The bike and I made it home , a slight wobble to the wheel, but no crashes, and it should be a simple repair. At one food/potty stop, we sang a happy birthday song (to the tune of we wish you a Merry Christmas) to Louise, and then on the road outside of Hindustan (close enough) we sang again to Angela’s father in law. Angela and Randi have special talent for music. They can break out into song for any tune from the 70’s forward, and they weren’t even alive then! And they sound good! And they know all the words! Anyways, it was a glorious sunny day , perfect for a ride, when we started, with the wind out of the northwest, we headed north. We were happy to finish the last hour heading southeast, with a nice tail wind, pushing us along, making the chatter (and the birthday song) that much easier. We saw lots of bike riders out yesterday, southern Indiana loves to ride bikes!
cute little church on the ride

the girls

One hour at home, and I was off to work at the Indiana Senior State swim meet. Saw a few good swims, none as good as the Phelps-Cavic 100m fly at the World Championships. I will vote that one as the best swim race I have ever watched.

Then to the grocery store, and it must have been the high week of the blueberry picking season last week because they were selling huge containers of them for $3. This morning I have a cottage cheese container half full of them topped with yogurt. Mm mm good.

And I had a few extra minutes on my ride into work, so as I cruised through campus, I snapped a few photos. I’m so lucky to get to live here, it really is a beautiful little town.

Fountains in front of music school

Hogey Charmichael sculpture in gardens between library and music school

mermaid fountain

Little chappel on campus


union building - cool slate roof, typical limestone building.

Sample Gates:

what a beautiful campus!