Monday, June 30, 2008

Making Progress

I snapped this photo on the Silver Comet Trail. This little fellow was half way across the path, and I helped him out of traffic and over to the grass.

This being the last day of June, and the halfway point of the year, I decided to take a look at my mileage logs. First, the numbers:

June, 2008
Bike: 160.5 miles
Run: 44.4 miles

Bike: 566.2 miles
Run: 204.8 miles

I'm starting to rack up the miles now that summer is in full swing. 60-70 miles per week, once you figure the gaps for vacation and camp. The three times per week store commute still makes up the bulk of my trips; the weekly group and/or solo ride are now the bulk of the miles.

I'm still not fast. I'm still not up to the skill and endurance level where I'd like to be. I still need to learn how to fix a flat & do emergency repairs, which I want to accomplish before I bump up to 50+ mile rides. Just like my little turtle friend from the trail though, I'm getting there.

No rides today. Today, younger son (B2) and I are playing mechanic on B1's old bike. We'll be cleaning and oiling the chain, checking brakes and inflating tires. Then, we'll be heading over to Riverside park to practice riding without training wheels on the large grassy areas.

One good thing which came from my wipeout a couple weeks ago - B2 is ready to give it a shot. If mom can fall over and be okay, falling must not be that bad. B1 and G are off at sports/travel camps today, so he can be clumsy without being mocked by siblings. B2 is still worried about falling, but says he really wants to blow past the other two and call them the slowpokes. I'm more than glad to help.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rethinking Necklines

Maybe I should have titled this "Up to my Neck". I'm fed up with my t-shirts. I have broad shoulders, which means the standard crewneck gives me the appearance of a linebacker with breasts. My solution has been scoopneck and tees with a wide V. This has worked well for me for years. Not anymore.

The last few times I've pulled on my basic scoopnecks (black, navy, brown) with skirts or slacks, I've felt overexposed. At first, I thought it was just mood-based. Leaning over to put on my shoes yesterday, I noticed a wide open space between my chest and my shirt.


I've lost something. Two somethings, actually.

It's not weight loss. (You can relax, Mom.) All the running, cycling and other have changed my shape. The scoopneck sits almost an inch lower than it has in the past. I could go with the junior size versions of the top, but I'm not sure I want the tighter fit around my rib cage and belly.

So, it's back to the drawing board on my proportions. The crewnecks still won't work, but I may start trying out ballet- and boatneck tops. Rebecca has started many discussions on Space Between My Peers about necklines and proportion; it's time to get out the measuring tape and figure out where my new target range is. I'll also plug new numbers into MyShape, and see how that changes my recommendations.

For now, I'm going to be putting a layer under my scoopneck and wrap/cross tops... after I get a couple of size small tanks and camis.


Item number two of my health/fitness goals is checked off my 2008 list. I ran the my first 10k last Saturday. I've been running most weeks with the Atlanta Track Club Women on the Move Peachtree Training group. Wasn't sure I'd be up for the massive crush of the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th, so I signed up for the Possum Trot 10k at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.

Race morning was slightly overcast, cool (for Georgia in June), and misty. The kids ran the 1-mile Fun Run with dad at 7:00 a.m., and I started the road race at 7:30. Middle of the pack, of course. First mile split, 11:21. After that, I was closer to 10:00, but was unable to keep up with times and do the necessary math as I reached miles five and six.

My time, 1:05:26, was faster than I'd hoped. With a 5k time of 31:48, a banged up knee and a massive achy bruise on my thigh, I was shooting for finishing in 70 minutes. Of the 65 minutes, I only walked about five. Three of those were through the water stops, which means I only hit the wall once, around 5-1/2 miles. The two minutes of walking to recover did the trick. I was able to kick back up to my turtle-speed run and make it over the mini hill on the way back to the finish line.

I'll probably run a couple of races over the next two months, but am looking ahead to August/September, when the half-marathon training group starts up. Item number three on my checklist is the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon.

Now, back to my regular alternating days of running/cycling.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Crash and Burn

The crash was more of a fall; the burn was my deep blush of embarrassment. When I got my first set of SPD pedals & shoes, the salesman warned me I'd fall. He said it would happen at least once during the learning process. I should practice snapping in & out of the pedals in the doorway, but not to worry about falling with the bike... it would happen.

That was back in November. I practiced in the doorway. I rode on bicycle paths, to avoid the possibility of falling into traffic. Developed a nifty timing for unclipping both feet at the same time, so I didn't set myself off balance. No accidents. Not even any quick saves on the way down. I did keep the "...yet" at the end of any thought about pedal related accident thoughts.

Flash forward to June 18th. I'm on the ladies-only group ride on the Silver Comet Trail. New bike saddle, sitting slightly higher than I'm used to. Add to that the advice from my mechanic about the proper order for unclipping - left foot first, so if ya' fall, you're falling away from the cars. I've been trying to follow that order over the last couple of weeks, since I'm riding on the road more than usual.

The group slows down. I slow down.
The group continues to slow. I unsnap my left shoe.
The group leader stops. I squeeze the breaks, and twist my right shoe to unsnap.
My bike stops. My right shoe stays attached to pedal.
I fall to the right. Off the path.
It wasn't a smooth grassy shoulder at that point. It was just a mini-ditch, just a foot lower than the pavement. But it was rocky.

Cut my hand, scraped open my knee. Banged my shoulder, elbow and hip. Ouch.
Bloo is fine. Got back on the bike, and rode another 15+ miles.
Went back to unsnapping both feet. No more accidents.

It'll take me a couple of days to get the last of the debris out of my hand. I might need to replace the lovely green handlebar tape if the blood doesn't wipe off.

I have a goose egg on my thigh which is roughly the size of a fist. The kids are placing bets on how many colors of the rainbow it will turn during the healing process. My daughter wants to take a picture everyday, so she can make one of those cool time lapse images. I'm considering going along with it.

That's it. My pedal related accident is out of the way. Woo Hoo! No film of mine, so here's someone elses pedal related incident, caught on video.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pooch Pouch Pickup

I have a big dumb dog. I love my big dumb dog, and I love taking him along on runs. I do not love carrying the big ol' bags of stuff he leaves along the way, especially in hot weather.

This. Is. Wonderful. The pooch pouch has a small roll of baggies, with space left for me to pop in a ziploc baggie of handwipes. (When I'm out of baggies, the regular old shopping bags will work just fine.) The outside has a handy dandy clip for hanging the bag, and a big old ring which allows me to attach it anywhere along the leash. I'm thinking closer to Petey is better in the summer.

Next doggie run purchase at Big Peach Running Co. will likely be one of the waistbelt leashes. Probably the kind with an elastic section, to reduce the shock of the sudden 85-lb anchor that is my dog in a sniffing mood.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Closet Cleaning

I love clearing out the kids' closets. It's so much easier than weeding through my grown up wardrobe. There are only two questions, with very simple answers.

Does it fit? Yes/No
Does it have holes or paint splotches? Yes/No

Keep, Give or Pitch. That's it.

This project is an easy "Win" for the week. Technically, we can count it as three "Wins", since there are three closets to clear. I'll have to figure out an exciting reward for after Friday's drop-off at Goodwill. A movie, I think. Definitely NOT a shopping trip.

What's wrong with this picture?

Click the photo. See the full-size $100,000 gold certificate.

First off - Why? Advertising is supposed to be the means for a business to promote its goods and services over that of the competition. The FDIC has no competition. It's a monopoly.

That's a gold certificate. A guarantee that there is gold stored in vaults of the federal treasury to cover that amount. How long has it been since banks handled gold & silver certificates? I'm pretty sure it's not even legal to own one. You darn sure couldn't walk in and exchange it for gold bullion. (Quick look at & wikipedia - private citizens are prohibited by law from owning gold certificates)

I know this is propaganda, designed to make us feel good about our financial institutions and markets, but... come on... without anyone losing a penny?! The penny isn't worth a penny these days, so I'm not sure that's going to inspire confidence. The dollar is weak. Inflation is rising, no matter how the Fed and Treasury try to juggle the numbers. At the rate we're going, I'm more likely to think about the $100,000 gold certificate and the penny as an example of exchange than to breathe a sigh of relief at how the government is protecting my savings.


Had a very active weekend. Three mile hill run Friday. 32-mile Silver Comet Ride Saturday. Trader Joes bicycle trip and swimming on Sunday. Felt great, and had my plan for alternating run/bike days all week this week.

Monday morning. Groin pull. Ugh.

I'd like to say it happened in some super cool, sporting accident. Trail running in a sudden downpour & slipping while leaping over a stream. Or wiping out on my bike while setting a new personal speed record. Even an incident involving blushing and snickering silence would make for a better story than what really happened.

Heavy basket of wet towels + Darting cat = OUCH! I turned too quickly on one foot, while standing on a spot of orange juice splashed by a child. (I don't want to know which one.)

Oh well. Gives me a chance to start on the next round of closet clearing. And to work on arms and shoulders while pulling myself through the water at the pool.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shopping by Bike

I do more than half my grocery shopping by bike. I smile and wave at my neighbors as I go. On the way home, I just smile. The full basket requires a bit more concentration, especially in traffic.

I'm pretty sure some of the other moms in my neighborhood think I'm nuts. I've been asked a few questions:
How can you carry enough?
Aren't you worried about traffic?
I wish I had the time to do something like that. (Technically, not a question.)
How much stuff can you really carry?

I've talked about the time issue before. It really takes me the exact amount of time it does to shop by car as by bike. Less, if the bike saves me time in a very crowded parking lot. Plus, I get to double up my normal errands with a bit of exercise and save even more time. Now that it's summer break, my 14 year old gets to rack up a little bit of babysitting earnings, and I get 30 minutes to maintain (or restore) my sanity.

As for how much I can carry, here's Tuesday's groceries. We'd just arrived home from vacation, so I was picking up only a few essentials. Just the one bag, in my basket. The Trader Joe's bag wasn't even completely full.
Dozen eggs, quart of milk, 6-pack of yogurt, sliced apples, strawberries, sugar snap peas, bananas, basmati rice, loaf of whole wheat bread, canister of coffee beans, protein shake (for saturday ride), lavender shampoo, and a bag of frozen corn.

Today, I needed my backpack to hold a few things, in addition to the bag, but here's the haul:

TJ Bag (in bike basket):
Vanilla ice cream, 4-pack ice cream sandwiches, frozen peas, panko breaded chicken, half gallon milk, baby carrots, fresh cilantro, sliced apples, peanut butter filled pretzels, nut mix (pumpkin seed, almond & pine nut), whole grain rolls and a package of organic lollipops (sugar cane & fruit juice - no high fructose corn syrup)
In the Backpack:
2-pack celery hearts, 4-pack avacados, spring mix, and a 4-pack of white peaches. (Black bean & salsa salad with avacado & peaches tonight!)

I'm not likely to be braving Costco runs on my bike anytime soon, but I'm working my way up to shopping for everything except the bulk purchases this way.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What I'm Reading...

Received this little book for my birthday. I enjoy reading Arnold Kling's articles over at TCS Daily, so am really looking forward to starting on this book tonight.

There a couple of other books going at the same time, so I really need to update the sidebar. As part of an attempt to catch up on all the great literature I skipped in favor of Science Fiction and Fantasy over the years, I'm also reading Robinson Crusoe. It's my afternoon-at-the-pool book. I'll be recommending it to my older son when I finish. If he balks at reading a book he thinks of as a "school" book, I'm going to mention Crusoe was the original Survivorman.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: A Dog's Story

When he wasn't sleeping on the deck, or being harassed by children and yapping little dogs, this is how Peter T. Dog spent his vacation:
1. Watch children from riverbank. Jump in.

2. Come back when called, reluctantly.

3. Shake.

4. Repeat steps 1-3.

I don't have many photos of the mid river frolicking, seeing as how I was in the river with kids & dog at that point. But he really, really enjoyed that part.

Vacation: Unplugged

So. Was on vacation last week. Hiking, swimming, rafting, horseback riding and floating lazily downstream on the Broad River. Four generations in one house. Plus four dogs, two of which were puppies. Tons of grilling and sunshine.

No internet. Sporadic phone signal.

Was fantastic.

Not at first, as I reached for the computer every time I had a question about the weather, or wanted to look up the closest riding stable, or needed to know precise cooking instructions for dinner.

After a day or two, I didn't even think about it. The computer was turned on long enough to empty photos off the camera. I made a phone call to get directions to the stables, and wound up taking a longer, but more scenic route to get there. My folks became a resource for working a gas grill; and taught me how to BBQ instead of just grill. I can now manage the slow cooked, smoky BBQ chicken.

The kids accepted the television being permanently on either History or Discovery Channel for Grandpa, and started playing board & card games by the open window, while we listened to the sound of the river. Without the possibility of catching up on work or browsing the web, I read... a whole book. And slept for eight or more hours most nights.

Was a fabulous week, and I'm glad to be back at home now with my three children and [only] one dog. And my bike. I did miss Bloo.

A Very Merry Unbirthday To Me

I turned 37 yesterday, and nobody remembered. Granted, we had just returned home from vacation. I don't mind that some of my family missed it. My granddad doesn't even remember I'm not my mom most days, so he thinks my birthday is in January. My mom is traveling back from NC, with a stop for an MRI and visit with her neurosurgeon on the way. But, what about the people who see me most often? I wasn't looking for a big stack of presents & a party. A handmade card and a 7-year-old's rendition of "Happy Birthday" on the piano would have sufficed. A single mention to the kids by their father would have sent them scurrying off to do their own special planning. He didn't have to do anything other than point it out.

I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. But during the day, there were no secret whisperings. No request for picking up cake mix & muffin cups on my grocery trip. Nothing. Just laundry, breaking up fights, and the normal battle to get children to stick to chores & music practice.

At 5:30, while making dinner, I'd had enough. I made the following announcement: "I'm fixing dinner, then leaving for a run. It's my birthday, and I'm going to spend at least some of it doing something for me."

I came home to three homemade cards. The kids are wonderful. They were upset they'd missed it. I consider everyone forgiven, but it's going to be quite sometime before the person who dropped the ball is off my polite list. This wasn't the first time this has happened. Not even the second or third.

A small mention from me is all it took to get the kids are working on their Father's Day stuff this week. I can't help but be saddened by the lopsided message they're getting. It's important to remember Dad, but okay to forget Mom. I debated dropping out of all preparations, but it's not the fault of the kids.

On a happier note, the run worked. I came home too tired to be angry.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wardrobe 911

I'm a less common body type (rectangle), so many of Teresa's posted outfits don't apply to me directly. Her posts give me great ideas though. If there's an outfit or color combo I like, I'll work on figuring out substitutes which work for me. In packing for our trip to the NC mountains, I was having a tough time figuring out what to take, and how much to take. By the time I organized & packed up the kids, my brain was dead.

Stumped. Wait! I've seen vacation wardrobes organized by type and by the day... at Wardrobe 911!

My trip is more of the Traveling with young kids than the What to wear on a week in New York, but perusing the two posts put me back in the right frame of mind to be a bit more organized about the process. I hate the haphazard packing I often do before heading out of town. It's usually the last thing I do, and I end up feeling rather "meh" about myself in the clothes I toss in my suitcase.

There's a washer & dryer in the house we've rented, so I'll be able to wash off the BBQ sauce and muddy hugs from river wading children and dog to reuse some of my favorites. And, since I'm starting more than two hours before departure time, I'm going to try & get a few photos organized by outfit or day. I'll still end up looking like a mom of young kids for the next week, but at least it'll be me playing the part.

Okay, enough of the love fest. I'm off to figure out my shoe needs for the next week. If there's room after shoes for hiking, running, climbing in a rocky river, horseback riding, dinners out and general flats, I'll start working out my wardrobe. It's okay to wear hiking boots and bright purple wicking socks with a sundress, right?

Note to Self...

Take water every time, at least for the next three months or so. Even if I think "3 miles - no big deal." TAKE WATER!

I went for a 30-min. run on Friday, late afternoon. Thought about taking water bottle with me, then didn't want to carry it. On an 88 degree day... BIG MISTAKE! I got home exhausted, where that route usually leaves me feeling like I've had a workout, but not wiped. Developed a mild headache over the evening, even while sipping several glasses of water.

Saturday morning, still had headache. Wasn't too bad, so I downed a couple of advil & grabbed a pack of the Sport Beans with caffeine for during my 40 mile ride. Ended up being only a 30 mile ride, during which I downed both of my water bottles. Headache was getting worse. Every single bump I hit caused jarring pains up my neck into the brain.

Showered, cooked dinner, downed two excedrin migraine. The excedrin made it possible for me to get through another hour or two. Went to bed early and passed out. Even laying down in a dark room, my head was throbbing.

Thanks to lots of water, cups of hot tea, and additional doses of Excedrin on Sunday, I'm almost a person again. A slightly wiser person. I'm pretty sure I've pinpointed the trigger of the horrid migraine from last July. Dehydration. (It was having only two bottles along on a four hour ride last summer.)

I'm going to type this one more time, see if I can make it stick in my addled brain... Take water, Every trip.


Now, to work on the laundry which piled up over the last two days, and start packing vacation wardrobes for four people. Canoes, hikes, and river access directly from the back door. I wonder if two outfits per day will be enough. Thankfully, the house has a washer and dryer.