Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oceana County Riding

One of my biggest regrets this spring while training was that I only rode in Oceana County once.  Oceana County is chock-full of rolling hills in the form of gravel grinders--great for making your knees sweat and your legs strong.

Last week I made my return to Oceana and I was so happy to be back! It was a beautiful day, the wildflowers were blossoming, the clouds were amazing, and the hills more brutal than I remembered.

(These photos are non-subtly artistified--my camera phone takes horrible pictures).

All I could think about while riding these gnarly roads was Salsa's new Warbird

Maybe someday . . .

Here is the profile--about as much climbing as one can hope for in West Michigan.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sleep Deprived

I had good intentions of getting myself to bed early last night. I wanted to watch a bit of the Olympics and happy that Women's Gymnastics was on. Sadly, NBC's coverage was too annoying and I had to turn it off. Anyone else get tired of NBC's dramatization of the gymnast's parents? I don't mind a brief clip of an excited mom cheering on their kids, but a complete, uninterrupted recap of the parents with audio for the entire 2-minute routine?

Just as I had had enough and was about to plod up to bed, Chad threw the car keys on my lap and said "Time to get to work!" Huh, wha? Now? Turns out that my car decided to not start when Chad went to put it into the garage last night.

We spent the next couple of hours moving my car from across the street and back home. If you've been to my house you know that's not an easy task as there's a steep incline at the base of our driveway. First Chad pushed the car in reverse while I muscled the steering wheel in all the wrong directions (this was worse than when I try and help Chad back in the camper). Then it was out of the parking lot and into the street and there was a nano-second when I thought the car may actually get up the driveway. But, alas, Chad got it half-way up before it started to roll backwards.

. . . This recap of late night shenanigans could easily go on for another 5 blog posts, I'll just quit here.

I'm only going to add that about five minutes after I fell asleep, Bear woke up and crawled into bed with me wanting ice water and a snuggle and a pillow pet and . . . oh, who knows what else. By the time I got him settled I was "up."

And it was 4:15 AM. Michelle would be at the gym at 5:30. I packed my stuff, put on gym clothes, grabbed a water bottle and hit the road.

Last week I neglected to update about running with my new Merrell Bare Access Arc and Lithe Glove shoes, I promise, cross-my-heart, that I will write a review on them this week. And I will even write some stuff about biking as well!

Happy Monday.

p.s. Monday got a little gloomier. Just checked the TV schedule and discovered that there will only be 15-minutes of coverage for Women's Mountain bike. And I have suspicious feeling that 10 of those minutes will be commercials.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's my birthday!

You read that correctly. Today is my birthday. I'm going to keep this post extra-super short because if I get all of my work done in time today, I can go mountain biking this afternoon! I feel a little like Cinderella. I need to get crack-a-lackin' on my projects.

My mom sent me one of those "fun facts from the year you were born" cards. Here are some interesting facts from the year I arrived:

  • "Space Invaders" debuts in arcades and becomes the first mega-hit video game.
  • President Carter more than doubles the size of the National Parks system.
  • Scientists at AT7T Labs invent the cellular telephone.
  • Also born the same year as myself: Ashton Kutcher, Katie Holmes (love Dawson's Creek!), Kobe Bryant and Clay Aiken. 
Lastly, I am super-excited because Michelle and I are planning on doing the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure race again this fall! They just realeased this teaser:

How can you not be excited after watching that?
Okay, now everyone go eat cake!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Funday

Maybe not so much Fun-day for me (as I have to work). But my daughter Snoose has her first day of camp today! She was  a mixed ball of nerves and excitement this morning in anticipation of the big week ahead. Camp time is bittersweet. Snoose returns home alight with new experiences and adventures that have helped her become more confident and independent. It makes me a proud-mama to see her grow, however, the more she grows the less she's my little baby.

In further news, I went on a pleasant, long ride over the weekend with Michelle and Zoom-Zoom. At some point during this ride Michelle asked me if I had gotten on the scale yet. And I had to confess, I did not. And then she accused me of lying on my blog. The nerve.

I did not lie. When I wrote 'that' I had the full intention of weighing myself in the morning. Then somewhere between when I went to bed that night and drinking my coffee the next day I sort-of, kind-of misplaced that intention. Happens to the best of us.

So . . . . . . . this morning I weighed myself.

First I braced myself, leaning heavily on the windowsill as I eased onto the scale. I watched the digits flash up and down like an unnecessarily long sequence on Biggest Loser before the scale settled on a digit.

It was a nice looking number. But I don't think I've weighed that little since 5th grade. Too much leaning on the windowsill. It was cheating.

The second time I had no choice but to go all-in. I removed my hands from the windowsill and settled my weight over the balls of my feet, resting every ounce of myself on the scale.

And it was terrible. Chad is getting fired up to get down to his race weight as well. Last night we pinky-swared that we'd each lose 10 pounds before Iceman.

P.S. I went running in my new Merrell Bare Access Arc shoes this week. I'll write about it later.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Look what arrived on my doorstep this afternoon (while I was trapped at home shampooing--still shampooing carpets)!

Merrell Bare Access Arc and Merrell Lithe Glove
I've been hemming and hawing over getting new running shoes. I'm about a year overdue on path shoes and, oh, 5 years behind on getting new trail running shoes. In the past I've been a faithful New Balance girl. The shoes fit well and I've never had a problem with them.

However, Merrell is a local company AND I've been faithfully following their progress on the currently "under-construction" Merrell Trails. (Photos from Merrell Trails FB Page).

This looks like fun to bike on!
More mountain bike trail . . . 

I think I'll let Michelle try this one first.

Did I mention that I can't wait until Merrell Trails open!?!?!

Merrell has been hosting Trail Work days every Wednesday evening. As much as I really want to go and lend a hand, Wednesday happens to be the night we have Family Mountain Biking Club. The work they are currently doing is more adult-oriented and there aren't many tasks for the kids (I asked).

Since I can't be there to help build the trail, I've really wanted to support Merrell by purchasing their products. It's the least I can do!

I'm just getting back into running after taking months and months off. My mileage is still low (3-4 miles at a time) and I'm focusing on my form. I thought now would be the perfect time to try new shoes. I've been especially interested in trying "minimal" or "barefoot" style shoes.

Working from home for the last 8-9 years, I spend almost all of my time barefoot. My feet have gotten a little wider, a little longer, and grown more muscly. I've gotten to the point I can't stand wearing anything on my feet.

Fingers crossed I get a chance to test these babies out this weekend. The only question remaining is which ones to try first? The Lithe or the Bare Access?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Better, but not there yet . . .

The threat of the bathroom scale has definitely helped reign in my snacking. My diet has improved over the last few days. It's not where it needs to be, but it's much, much, MUCH better than its been. Yay me!

In further news, I'm experimenting with flip-book computer animation. This is my very first try so don't be too hard on me. It takes approximately 50 different slides/pictures to create just 10 seconds of movie.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I need to confess that its been a fight to get back into a regular training routine, especially when it comes to running. I think my body has forgotten how. For the first time this year I ran three times in one week. THREE TIMES.

Yesterday I woke up extra early so I could get in a 6 mile run around Bear Lake. 

And then I hit the snooze button.

But then I got up 30 minutes later with steely determination! Actually, it was more like a lot of sighing and complaining under my breath, stupid running. There was still time for a 3 mile run if I hurried.

I ignored my glowing computer monitor (No Facebook, I will not be tempted and waste valuable minutes of running time!), wrestled into my running gear, grabbed a water bottle and stumbled out the door.

My run was glorious for about 2 miles. And then I was bored. It was hot. Running felt awkward. Did I really used to run half marathons and 25ks? Ugh. I thought I liked running? 

Even though yesterday's run was not one to brag about, I still managed to suffer through it.


Having a training schedule has been great and its been keeping me accountable as far as exercise goes. But I can't seem to quit my snacking! If you've known me a very long time then you know that I truly struggle with my diet. And I don't mean diet as in Weight Watchers or Atkins. I'm strictly referring to diet in reference to the foods I consume.

I need accountability. The bathroom scale is usually great for this. When I know I need to get on it every morning I make better food choices. There's one small problem . . . 

I'm scared of the bathroom scale. 

It's been months again since I've last gotten on it!

So I'm putting out here and making myself accountable: tomorrow morning I will get on the scale.

I will. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The 99%

If you want to find out more about Brown County Mountain Biking, I'm currently working on an article for the next issue of Northern Motion, so stay tuned.
AND now you can get Northern Motion Gear. Check it out here!

Summer Vacation

As you can see from my banner ^(look up), I've been on a "summer vacation" from training. You could legitimately say this vacation began on May 31st which was the day of the last endurance training ride I did for LJ100. Okay, so I know LJ100 was just a few weeks ago, but my schedule for the previous two weeks and every day after that has been clear. Spinervals? Nope, sorry Coach Troy! Sufferfests? My passport is lacking any recent stamps from Sufferlandria. Hill Repeats? Hmmm, not those either. Strength Training? Ugh. Under-Overs? . . . Running?

Well, one thing is for certain, I am awesome at taking a break when it comes to neglecting my training schedule.

Back to work.

Unfortunately, my lack of training (and lack of eating healthy training food) has left me feeling like a big'ole'watermelon.

And not as in "a refreshing treat on a hot summer day" but in the "big, bloated, hollowed-out" way.


To remedy the situation, I decided it was abruptly time to END the summer vacation and get back to work. This week I've been putting together a training schedule from now all the way to Iceman!

Making a training calendar was empowering!
I was already feeling less like a watermelon and more like a Wonder Woman!

Oh yeah, I was going to DESTROY my first workout: Intervals! 

But as I began to "spin" an odd feeling crept up my legs.
It was that empty, hollow watermelon feeling. Sometimes called "flat-tire legs."

Yup, it took all of 30 seconds to completely deplete my enthusiasm.

This was discouraging.

The fact is, there are consequences for taking time off. It's not a bad thing, taking a break can be refreshing. But I can't expect to be at the same place physically as I was during my peak training for Lumberjack. 

The 99%

Training is 99% HARD work. And 1% Awesome. Most of the time you feel awful. The muscles burn, the lungs ache, and your mind tells you to quit. You have to push yourself beyond your limits if you want to become faster and stronger. But if you're willing to do the work, I promise that all the days and weeks of putting yourself through the grinder will cause something amazing to happen. All the blood, sweat, and tears shed during the previous weeks will come together in a trifecta of awesomeness. 

You'll have that ride. The one where you feel like you're flying. Invincible. The one climb that typically turns your quads into ground beef will become your b*tch. Oops, I mean, will become a mole hill! Resistance? Hah! I laugh in your face! 

But that is the 1%

You have to get through the 99% of suffering first. Once you've finally achieved that Ride of Awesomenss, well, I have some bad news: it's not a destination. It's a moment. Once that moment has passed you're right back where you started, the hard work.

As a famous cyclist once said "It never gets easier, you just go faster."—Greg Lemond.

There is good news, however. Because right now I'm starting as a watermelon.

 But after a few weeks of hard work, well . . .

I will feel (and look!) much better .

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Epic-Extreme Brown County Camping Trip

We mountain bikers are guilty of over-using words like "epic" and "extreme" to describe our regular jaunts on the trails, to the point of devaluing the definition. However, I promise you, our week at Brown County State Park was worthy of "extreme" (exceeding the bounds of moderation) and "epic" (heroic, majestic, impressively great!). 

What made it so extreme? The HEAT wave. The days leading to our vacation we nervously watched the weather outlook temperature steadily rise, 90-93-95 . . . 99. And then it happened. We were in Brown County, no turning back, and the thermometer rose even further—to 105 degrees for the majority of the days of our vacation. I love Lake Michigan and I miss my Big Lake every time we venture away from home. But I have never missed her as much as I did last week. I obsessively fantasized about flopping onto the lakeshore and letting the beautiful waves crash over me. Remember this picture from not very long ago?

This memory taunted me in my dreams.

It was so hot that even the guys chose to go shopping over mountain biking. 

And our trip was epic because of The Ride. It was the last ride Michelle and I achieved before the super-extreme heat set in (it was a mere 95 degrees that fateful day). We awoke early to set out on an easy 90 minute ride: Limekiln, Walnut and then down Hesitation Point. Michelle packed one water bottle. I get anxious when I don't have food in my immediate vicinity so I had a hydration pack and water bottle AND a peanut butter ball. 

The ride started out well enough.

Riding Walnut
Michelle on Walnut Trail
And then somewhere at the bottom of Hesitation Point, things went south. The trails kept looping together, round and round we went. Our water bottles quickly depleting, the peanut butter ball was long ago consumed, the heat continued to intensify and there was no trail-head in site.

Here I am retelling the Scary Story around the campfire of the two girls who went mountain biking
on the trails in Brown County and nearly never returned . . . 

The "little" mountain bikers attentively listening to the cautionary tale.
Finally we came to a cross-roads. We decided to wait there for someone to come along that might have a map or could point us to the nearest exit. We had been riding for over three hours. We didn't have to wait long for two guys that stopped and offered to "escort" us to the nearest road. They would wait for us at the intersections to make sure we went in the right direction.

Wait for us? Apparently that sounded like a challenge to Michelle because she stayed right on the rear wheel of the guys. And then passed one of them. And then someone latched themselves onto my wheel. That's when our 3+ hour exploration ride turned into a flat out race.

Four miles later (believe me, in that heat and with no water it felt more like 20 miles!) we finally emerged from the endlessly looping trails and into a parking lot. Near the pool. If you've been to Brown County you know that the parking lot near the pool is at THE BOTTOM of the park. We had some long, steep hills to climb back to the campground.

But, we were out. And there was water. We would live to ride again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


. . . is riding a bike, especially when you can share it with your friends.

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Family Olympics!

This week is filled with family-fun activities. We have a bunch of mountain biking planned, cave exploring, night-hikes, swimming in the pool, camp fires, and so much more.

This is the first extended camping trip we've taken with friends. There will be lots of kids running around and reeking havoc. Because we are going to have such a rowdy, large group AND it's the Summer Olympics this year, I thought it would be fun to do a Family Olympic Day!

We've gathered together some old ribbons and medals to hand out as awards. Michelle has put together a treasure box and Kelly is gathering craft supplies . . . The trifecta of Awesome-Mother's have gathered all the ingredients for an awesome day of family mayhem and friendly competition.

Here is our order of events:

Opening Ceremonies: Each family can wear their tie-dye shirts and present their flags (we will make these earlier in the week) at the opening ceremonies. A short bike parade around the campground loop followed by a brief introduction and announcement of the days events.

One Mile Fun-Run: Fun run with kids around campground loop including a shorter-option for the littlest Olympians. Streamers used for a finish line.
Supplies: Ribbons/Medals, Race numbers, Streamers

Recycled Ribbons, Medals, and Race Numbers for the 1-mile Fun Run
(I knew there was a reason I hung onto all this stuff)

M&M Relay: Each family has a large container of M&Ms placed about 20 feet away. Families line-up behind an empty container. Each family has one spoon. One member runs to the container of candy and scoops some out with their spoon then tries to run back without dropping any, then dumps the candy into the empty container. Hand-off the spoon to the next person in line who then repeats the same process. Winning team is the first to fill their empty container.
Supplies: 2 equal size sets of containers per team, plastic spoon/team, lots and lots of M&Ms.

Repurposed Medjool Date Containers to be used in the M&M Relay. 

Lunch and Free Time

Kick-Ball: Like baseball but using a recreation ball. Boys/Men vs. Girls/Women.
Supplies: recreation ball


Water-Balloon Toss: Another family event. Partner up with a family member and toss a water balloon back and forth without dropping it! The team that remains dry is the winner.
Supplies: Water balloons

Scavenger Hunt: Each family will have a list of items they need to collect to complete the scavenger hunt! Look in nature, on the trails, or ask neighboring campers for help!
Supplies: Scavenger hunt list (click here to download mine!), Bags for gathering items, pens/pencils to cross off found items on the list.

This image is taken from "The Creative Homemaker"
and is what I hope my Scavenger Hunt bags will resemble.

My Scavenger Hunt List. See above to download your own!

Awards Ceremony
Fire-Side Celebration with sparklers and s’mores.

More fun games!

Chalk Art Walk: Make a 3 ft. x 3 ft. square on the cement per artist. Have each artist create a masterpiece using sidewalk chalk. This will help create a festive feel for the Family Olympics!
Supplies: Large container of sidewalk chalk

Board Game Tournament: Our families favorite game right now is Camp. This is a perfect camping game to play as a family as there are trivia questions for EVERY family member (even our three year old loves playing!). Pick a couple of board and card games and set up a family tournament. Winners can pick a surprise from the Treasure Chest (toys from the dollar store).
Supplies: Games, cards, dice.

Tie-Dye Everyone loves tie-dying! Click here for simple to follow directions (I'm too lazy to write up my own.)