Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Adventure Racing Training at Yankee Springs

This last weekend I spent the day at Yankee Springs with two new friends. We mountain biked a 13-mile loop and then spent two hours practicing our orienteering.

All of us are training for Adventure Races. Roxane is doing the Chameleon AR and Amy and I are competing as a team in the December Chill (brrrr!).

Adventure Racing is a unique event. It's not measured by distance like running and cycling races, it's measured by time. They can be as short as 5 hours or as long as 10 days or more. AR's cover several disciplines including orienteering, mountain biking, trail running, trekking, rock climbing, ropes courses, and paddling. 

The temperature was unseasonably warm and sunny. I packed a sleeveless jersey and several water bottles because I didn't want to get overheated. I also packed almonds, raisins, a banana, and some GU—I had plenty of nutrition to keep up my energy levels.  

We headed out on our bikes around 1 PM. I was nervous, I had never ridden this trail before and had heard that there were advanced technical sections and that it would be very sandy. They were right about the sand. There were sections I might as well have been riding along the beach at Lake Michigan. I learned quickly how to climb out of a sandpit: get to the front of the saddle so the weight is at the front of the bike. Otherwise you'll be spinning in place. 

Other than the sand, the trail was FUN. Apparently I've mountain biked enough this year and increased my skills that the technical sections were not nearly as scary as they used to be. 

About 8 miles in, there is a steep, straight up climb. You feel like your bike may actually tip over backwards, the incline is that steep. All three of us spinned up to the top like we were flying. We passed 3 college guys who had to walk their bikes up (he, he). They were red in the face. This is one of the reasons I am never offended by the phrase "Ride like a girl." Girl's can ride!

After mountain biking, we refueled with water and food then set off to practice our orienteering. We hiked through a lot of rugged terrain. When you orienteer, you aren't following a trail, you are going from point A to point B. Potentially you could be hiking through a field of poison oak, a swamp, or down a deep ravine. Fortunately Amy could point out all the poisonous plans for us so we knew what to avoid.

We found all 3 of our checkpoints, each one with a rating of Difficult. We killed it out on the trail this weekend. So, watch out December Chill, we're coming after you!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Long Week of Blessings

I have fallen behind. This week has absolutely wiped me out. Swimming lessons Monday, Run and Bike Tuesday, Mountain Bike Wednesday, Run on Thursday . . . as I said, I've been busy.

Since it's Friday, it is also Donut Day. Usually it's a Father-Daughter tradition, but I was invited along this morning. We walked to the corner holding hands and treated ourselves to some still warm donuts from Wesco.

Tonight, Sage and I will get to spend some special girl-time together. We'll make a trip to the salon to get our hair done then walk around downtown and treat ourselves to candy from Fortino's. 

Tomorrow I get to mountain bike all afternoon and practice orienteering at Yankee Springs with two new friends. I'm really looking forward to it. 

At some point this weekend, Chad and I will curl up on the couch and watch "Run, Fat Boy, Run" which has finally come out on video. It's a bad habit of ours, we watch all marathon movies, credible or not. It will be a fun time. 

I am truly a blessed person getting to do all these wonderful things. My life is full. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Another Marathon

Spirit of the Marathon: Documentary on the 2006 Chicago Marathon

When I crossed the finish line at the 2006 Chicago Marathon, I skipped up to my husband, leaping into his arms and said "Can we do that again?!" I knew right away that there was a second marathon in me, but I didn't know when.

Running the marathon was a special commitment. I decided to run it shortly after giving birth to my daughter even though I had never run more than 3 miles. I was afraid that the onset of motherhood would also mean the onset of weight. Weight that I had worked so hard to lose. More than that, I was afraid to lose the lifestyle that I had learned to really enjoy. Running, biking, hiking--I loved being active. And I didn't want to give up those activities.

I figured committing to a marathon would be a sure-fire guarantee that I would stay fit and active. Something I could do just for me so I wouldn't lose myself in Motherhood.

And it was an amazing journey. In fact, I ran that marathon 1 day after Sage's birthday.

It takes a long time to recover after an event like that. Other marathons came and went, and I couldn't muster the excitement or energy to commit to the training schedule.

Until now. It happened almost over night, but I am on fire. Even though I have a badly sprained ankle, I have already begun my training: spinning on a stationary bike, building core strength, and eating my veggies. 

Here I come TC Bayshore Marathon 2010

Monday, September 15, 2008

An Open Letter to My College Freshmen Phys Ed Teacher

Dear Coach Freddie King III,

I spent 3 miserable days a week one fall semester in your freshmen college phys ed class. The mutual animosity was as thick and rancid as the stench of stale gym socks in that small athletic classroom. You, the hot young Soccer Coach with stupid, spiky hair, me, the overweight mouse in the last row. 

Your job was to train young men and women into hard, chiseled athletes. And there I was, round, bulging, and jiggly. You couldn't stand me. 

Remember that day in gym when you had the class run laps around the basketball court for 10 minutes? Remember how you lectured about how important it was to keep running for the entire time and not to walk? And then, as you started you timer and set everyone running, you pulled me aside. 

You said I could walk. 

You know what, Freddie King? I wasn't embarrassed that you called me aside in front of everyone. No. I was angry. You looked at me and and saw failure before I was even allowed to try. 

I know you remember what happened next, I ran* for the entire 10 minutes. I ran more laps than half the class. Even the skinny freshmen girls that weighed 90 lbs. You didn't have a whole lot to say after that. 

And then I had the dumb luck to get you as a teacher my sophomore year for Badminton class. I beat you in the final tournament, the only student to ever beat you in the history of your badminton career. Eat birdie, Coach Freddie King III!

Even after that, you still thought of me as a failure. Guess what, Freddie King? I'm not the failure. You are. You failed to see the potential in this student. 

You didn't think I could run for ten minutes but I can run for 26 miles. I can compete in triathlons, swim for 2.5 miles, bike a 100 miles, and climb mountains.

Beating you at badminton was just the beginning. I stomp on your condescending grin and spiky hair with every stride and every pedal every time I go out and train.

I pity you, Coach King. Your spiky hair looked stupid. I hope you've gotten a new haircut since then.

Heather A (Dean) Brewer

*Jogged, rather slowly. But not the slowest.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I'm noticing more and more how much my body and soul crave vegetables. When I eat a meal solely comprised of whole and unprocessed foods, I can feel my body healing itself. It's an amazing thing to experience after spending so much of my life eating fast and highly processed foods from a box.

Even though I know the benefits of healthy eating, it's easy to fall back into a habit of frozen pizzas and macaroni and cheese. It's convenient, familiar, and inexpensive.

It's not surprising that my ratio of healthy food to junk food has teeter-tottered into an unhealthy balance. It's time to reexamine and reset my behavior.

I'm declaring today: Veggierific Friday. I will be eating all of my vegetables, and then some. To round out my diet, I'll throw in some organic beans, eggs from a local farm, cold-pressed olive oil, and soy milk.

This next part is a lot to take in. But let's break down each meal and examine the health benefits of some of the ingredients in today's menu.

  • Egg
  • Dandelion Greens—Has a rich source of nutrients that could improve liver function, promote weight loss, and improve blood-sugar control. It is a lean protein and has a rich source of medicinal compounds that have a "toning" effect on the body (I definitely need some of that).
  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Sundried Tomatoes
Butternut Squash Chili:
  • EVOO
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger—Has natural healing properties. Is used to help with nausea and problems with digestion. Ginger promotes lower cholesterol, stops diarrhea, and naturally freshens bad breath. That fact that it relieves gas and bloating makes it a great ingredient to compliment the black beans in this chili recipe.
  • Carrot
  • Red Pepper
  • Green Pepper
  • Org. Black Beans—Has cholesterol-lowering fiber. High fiber prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. They are a source of fat-free high quality protein. Helps detoxify preservatives in the body. Black beans are loaded with antioxidants. Can possibly reduce pre-cancerous cells. Helps lower heart attack risks. And gives you energy to burn while stabilizing your blood sugar.
  • Butternut Squash
  • Org. Veg. Broth
  • Soy Milk
  • Sucanat
  • Curry
  • Sea Salt
  • Parsley—is packed with nutrients including vits K, C, A and Iron. Helps neutralize carcinogens and helps prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. Increases antioxidant capacity of the blood. Promotes a healthy heart and provides protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

Stir Fry:
  • Yam
  • Broccoli—Protects against cancer. Boosts body's detoxifying enzymes. Supports stomach health. Contributes to a significant reduction in heart disease risk. Helps prevent cataracts. Builds stronger bones. Boosts the immune system. A birth-defect fighter. . . . Broccoli is really, really good for you.
  • Onion
  • Spinach

  • Oven Roasted Radish—Is good for the liver, stomach, and helps detoxify blood. It helps reduce jaundice. Aids in digestion and reduces bloating and constipation. It brings down the body's temperature and helps reduce inflammation due to fever. The radish is a natural breath freshener. Regulates metabolism, improves blood circulation, is a treatment for headache, nausea, sore throat, and gastric problems.

It feels great to know that I've done so much to help improve my health today just from eating some really yummy food.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Date Night

It's not often we get a date night these days. It requires a night off and the forethought to schedule a babysitter—two things we lack.

Sometimes things magically fall in place like they did the other night: My mom was watching Sage as she does one night every week so I can mountain bike, but my plans fell through. I had to work late. Then Chad called to tell me he was getting home early. Kismet! Insta-Date Night! (My working late is still getting off early for Chad).

We both arrived home around 7:30 PM and promptly got ready for our date.

No, we did not go to a romantic, candle-lit dinner. However, it was dimly-lit. We went trail running, in the dark, in the pouring rain. Yes, you heard me: trail running, in the dark, in the pouring rain. A lesser woman would not be able to handle this kind of thing, but for me it was exactly the therapy I needed after staring at a computer monitor for ten hours straight.

I laced up my gortex trail running shoes and threw on a headlamp and hit the trails. We warmed up for the first 1/4 mile before splitting up, Chad runs way too fast for me. As it turned out we happened to pass each other a few times out on the trail. And because it was a date, love-pats and smooching were allowed mid-run. 

We both saw a half dozen deer and an owl that lives near Lost Lake. We had a great time and it was a lot of fun. 

I love date nights.

Monday, September 1, 2008


I'm one of those people who is always trying to improve themselves. I'm trying to run faster, ride farther, improve my skills at work, be a better mom and wife, improve my health, study the Bible more, etc. I understand that in any endeavor there are bound to be lulls and valleys. But it seems like I've been in one of those valleys for awhile now. I'm not making progress in anything.

The other day, while talking to my husband about eating healthier, I heard myself say a phrase that I've been saying a lot: "It's just so hard because . . . " And then I fill in a myriad of excuses. 

It's hard to eat healthy because it's easier to grab the chips than make a healthy snack. 
It's hard to train for a triathlon because of my busy schedule.
It's hard to read my Bible more because I'm so tired by the end of the day.
It's hard to improve my skills at work because my hours have been cut and there just isn't enough time.

Reasonable excuses? Not really. They are just excuses. What I'm doing is giving myself an allowance to fail. To continue on with how things are. A reason to be lazy.

Think about it.

Is it really that hard to eat a healthier snack than junk food? No. Not at all. It's not any more physically demanding to grab some veggies and hummus over a bag of chips. 

Is it really that hard to read my Bible more? I read all the time. I just need to set one of my novels down for a few minutes and read the Bible.

Is it really that hard to train for a triathlon? Well, yeah, but I'm used to that. If I really want to pursue that, all I need to do is to switch to AM workouts to allow for a consistent training schedule.

I can do all these things and more, it's really not that difficult. But once I get into a debate with myself, I've already lost. I let myself think that there are hurdles that don't really exist. I can satisfy myself by saying that I'm trying and I can comfort myself when I fail by saying that it was just too hard.

The truth is, Yoda was right: "Do or do not . . . there is no try."

It's just that simple.