Friday, October 26, 2012

It's the last weekend before Iceman. What are you doing to prepare?

And if anyone is curious, and I know some people are, this is what I'll be eating for my pre-race dinner:

Chad will be eating lasagna or spaghetti or bagels or all of the above—which you should probably do to because he will have a much faster time than I will.

And for my pre-race breakfast I'll have a pot of coffee, whole banana, and a fried egg sandwich on Gluten-Free toast. Mmmmmm.

Iceman, I hope you're ready 'cause I'm coming for you! I've got lucky number 13 (actually, I've never gotten into the whole lucky number thing--but I'm considering it this time!) for my wave start this year. It will be a cold and chilly morning but I'll hopefully be back at Timber Ridge in time for lunch!

And this kiddo has been warming up her legs for the Sno-Cone!

It will be the Snoose's first time going to Iceman and she is both excited and nervous.
The poor kid has NO idea what she is getting into. 

I believe there is still time to register kids for the Meijer Sno-Cone race. The course varies from a 1/4 mile loop for the littlest Icekids up to a 2.5 mile course for the older children. Cost is just $5 and they get the BEST medals. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone at Timber Ridge next Saturday afternoon!

Have a great weekend and don't eat too much Halloween candy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thoughts on bullying, mountain biking, and raising a daughter.

This week I took my daughter out of school for a day of mountain biking. There's the obvious reason for this: riding single track is the awesomest. But there are underlying, significant reasons for encouraging my daughter to mountain bike and allowing her to miss a day of school.

I'm not that old that I don't remember what it's like to be a kid. I remember school being everything. I couldn't imagine what my life would be like after I finished school. Almost all of my activities revolved around it: being on the school newspaper, sports teams, choir. My friends were all from that school community.

And as kids do, I was labeled. Everyone was. Some kids had it better than others. No matter what 'label' you received, it followed you. It was oppressive. But you could always go home for a short reprieve.

For most kids, school is their main, possibly only community. With the advent of social media and its penetrating waves into our homes and our pockets it now gives people 24/7 access into their lives. Bullying doesn't stay at school anymore, it follows them every where they go.

Reading sad and frightening stories of bullying in school and the tragic results in the news has me on guard as a parent. I worry for my children.

Unfortunately, I cannot protect them from every mean and hurtful action that they will undoubtedly experience.

What I can do is try to provide them with the tools they will need to deal with those situations and, if nothing else, give them a brief escape. I can encourage and provide them with opportunities to build their self-confidence. I can help them discover that they are so much more than what their peers label them as. I can expose them to communities outside of school: communities of strong, confident and positive people. And while education is very important, school in itself is not everything.

The other night Snoose was crying while telling me about being teased by her classmates. I wish I could steal that moment away, but I can't. So I asked Snoose to tell me about the time she raced at Pando. What does she feel when she thinks about that moment? What about the time she conquered the log piles at Fort Custer?

She said she was so proud of herself, it made her happy!

I told her to remember those moments because it will help remind her of who she is: a strong, persevering, and capable person and not what someone else tells her.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

3rd Annual Skip School To Go Mountain Bike Day (SSTGMBD)

Yesterday was the BIG Day. Arguably my favorite day of the year. It's the day that Snoose and I skip work and school to go ride mountain bikes.

From Left to Right: First, Second, and Third Annual SSTGMDays
This year we had a very special guest join us. 

Snoose and Pro-Racer and All-Around Awesome Person Danielle Musto
Words cannot express how excited, anxious, overwhelmed!, beside-herself the Snoose was that she was going to get to ride with Danielle MUSTO!!!!

I think Danielle was excited too.

Perhaps the best moment of the ride was when we stopped for a "breather" and Snoose suggested that we sing a song. Not just any song, but our campfire song. It's a made-up tune that requires each person to free-style a line about a selected topic. One person makes up a line and then the next picks up the song with their own made-up lyrics. And so on. Obviously the chosen topic of the day was mountain biking.  Because Danielle is 'full of awesome' she joined right in! hahahahaha. I wish I had turned on my iPod and recorded it. What a lost opportunity! On a side note: this is a great fireside activity after the parents have had a couple of beers.

Snoose led us through two laps at Luton Park before she became overwhelmed with hunger. The special picnic lunch I had packed was calling to her, especially the thermos stuffed with Kraft Mac'n'Cheese.

Danielle joined us for some "ants on a log" before she left.

After a quick refuel the Snoose and I headed out for a third lap.

The Snoose standing and climbing out of the Blue Loop.
To complete the 'epicness' of the day, we returned to our car only to discover it would not start. We got to call an tow-truck--a true adventure for a 6 year old.

Last "ant on a log" whilst we wait for the tow truck.
It was a great day filled with fun, adventure, and awesome people!

Happy Birthday Snoose!

Last day as a 6 year old . . . 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Peak 2 Peak 2012 Race Report

The weather forecast looked dismal and frigid as time rapidly approached the start of Peak2Peak at Crystal Mountain Resort last Saturday; one hundred percent chance of rain with temperatures in the forties, feeling like the thirties. One could only pray it would hold off to a drizzle.

A worse-case scenario ensued as a steady, hard down-pour began 20 minutes prior to the start of the Expert/Elite. I commented at the line-up that I would have preferred 10 degrees colder with snow. That was sincere.

With a steady waterfall dripping from helmet down my face and my clothes already soaked through, the Expert and Elite waves were sent on our way.

Upon hitting the first section of single-track it became clear that the course was slower than the previous year. The black dirt had been transformed to 6 inches of slick mud. I  quickly lost track of my position in the muddy spray.

Just five miles in, navigating a tight and winding section of oil slick, I had the startling realization that I no longer had brakes. I wasn't overly concerned at that point but I was not looking forward to the descent down the ski hill at the end of the lap. Not long after that I became victim to chain-suck and was reduced to one-gear.

I thought of all of my friends (Michelle, Danielle . . . ) that ride single speeds and soldiered on. Mother Nature was the biggest competition of the day. I had no illusions that I was the only victim of multiple mechanicals: it was a level playing field.

It was with relief that I began the Crystal Climb, determined in the knowledge that I had almost slogged my way through the first lap. Knowing there would be two more laps in the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the pouring rain was a slap in the face. My chain groaned and strained.

The descent down the ski hill was harrier than I imagined. With questionable brakes at best, I slipped, skidded, and slid down the slope. Every fiber in my soul wanted to call it quits and I willed my bike to steer towards the lodge, a hot shower, coffee . . .

However, my bike had a mind of its own. Despite my please, it passed through the shoot and started lap #2. Race officials hollered at me that they were cutting the race short. Just. One. More. Lap. I wasn't sure I could do it.

But you can always do one more mile. So that is what I did: 11 more times.

Trail conditions had worsened. Instead of 6-8" of slick mud, it was now a river. It didn't matter, miles earlier I had pools of mud and water sloshing around in my shoes, bubbling up through my toes.

Riding in the driving rain, cold, mud and fighting your own bike was, well . . . , it was what it was and I couldn't do anything about it but laugh at myself, have a good time and get across that darned finish line.

I rode my second lap conservatively, just trying to stay upright. I finally made my way back around to Crystal Climb. With no one in sight behind or in front of me, I opted to walk the last sections of single-track on the descent to the lodge. The conditions were treacherous and there was no reason to risk injury.

I finished.

There I am! All muddy and smiles.
I have more pictures but they are on Chad's iPhone. He was still sleeping this morning when I tried to send them to myself, but I don't know his 'pass code.' Do not fear! I know how to crack that safe. I should have those posted tomorrow.

I saw quite a few shivering and shaky expert/elite racers in the lodge post race. In return, I received a lot of comments about how I wasn't shivery and shaky. There was a good reason for that; it has something to do with my secret weapon (lining the inside of my jersey with Grabber Toe Warmers)--it really worked.

More post-race mutterings to come this week. And I'd like to wish all those fellow Peak2Peak 2012 survivors a heartfelt good luck in cleaning your socks!

More Peak2Peak Race Recaps:
Kolo TC
Sue Stephens -- Quiring 
MI Scene
Simonster Blog

Friday, October 12, 2012

Peak2Peak To-Do List

I'm sitting here at my computer working and mentally scrolling through the list of things I need to do for tomorrow. So here is my note-to-self . . .

1) Toe and hand warmers
2) Arm Warmers
3) Booties
4) Every stitch of cold-weather cycling clothing I own
5) Rain coat
6) Coffee in LARGE thermos
7) Marshmallows for coffee
8) Hats
9) Race Legs
10) The right bike shoes
11) Nutrition/energy food and drinks
12) The Stick

1) Make sweet-potato energy packs
2) Clean and prep bikes
3) Pack overnight bags for kids
4) Stop at Breakaway to see if there's anything bike-related I think I need for tomorrow.
5) Call my brother and wish him a Happy Birthday.

Lunch: veggie soup
Pre-Race Dinner: Sweet Potato and Kale patties (This - cous-cous, + quinoa)
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: ??? I don't know ???

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Peak2Peak and Stravanxiety

I cannot believe it will be race-time in just a few days. It's hard to say whether or not I'm looking forward to it. It's supposed to be raining and 50 degrees: that part I'm okay with. In fact, it adds to the 'fun' factor.

I always feel like a fish-out-of-water at races. I don't do the group rides, I don't do that much riding to begin with, and I don't go to many races. I hit a couple in the spring and this fall I'm just doing two: Peak2Peak and Iceman.

Plus I work at home in our basement and Chad works a lot too—basically, it all adds up to any time I'm around people I feel out of place.

I haven't raced since early June. I'm wondering if I have a pair of race-legs to pull out of my closet for Saturday or if its been so long that nothing is going to fit but a pair of old baggy sweatpants.

The only way to find out is to show up and ride my guts out!


Those of us lurking in the mountain biking blogosphere are familiar with a new term: stava**hole. I don't have that issue, I have another one that may be slightly related, stravanxiety.

stravanxiety: the stress and/or anxiety induced by a fear that one's training log is insufficient.

I opened a Strava account because I like the user-friendly interface and the "segment" feature. I can easily track sections or complete routes to guage my progress. It's great. And then people started following me and I started following them and before I knew it, my "Dashboard" was filled with other peoples rides. And they ride a lot. And fast. And for a lot of miles.

I started to feel the cold, long-reaching fingers of anxiety begin take its grip on me. I'm not riding enough! Or far enough! Or fast enought! Aghhhh! 

This has happened to me before. I'm a follower by nature. I want to fit in and keep up. Early in my racing days I rolled with a group that took riding and racing seriously. Not that there's nothing wrong with that. But its not for me.

My "ah-ha!" moment was when I spent a Saturday morning, my toddler pulling on my leg wanting to play but not being able to because instead I was on the phone (for over an hour) getting yelled at because I didn't perform to someone else's expectations. And here I thought we were just having fun . . .

After that I purposefully changed my attitude and approach, among other things, towards mountain biking and racing. It's my Happy Place, a sacred space. Life is filled with too much stress as it is, riding is my escape.

I know that it is not Strava's fault for my case of stravanxiety. It's my own insecurity. However, in order to protect myself and my Happy Place I've started limiting my Strava exposure.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


There's no denying that summer is over and Autumn has settled in to stay. And with that comes the steady tide of early registration for 2013 races. I have a crock-pot stew of emotions every year this time comes around: anticipation for the coming year, anxiety for the quickly passing year, dread over lack of preparation for Iceman . . .

It's time to start filling my calendar with registration reminders while budgeting for the coming year's events.

Speaking of which . . . 

Lumberjack 100 2012
I had a survey on my blog that asked all of my readers (Thanks mom, my mom's card group, and my mom's Farmville friends for reading!) to vote for a 2013 event for me to race. The choices were: Returning to Lumberjack 100, Running Bayshore Marathon and shooting for a sub-4 hour, Racing Ore-to-Shore, or . . . I don't remember the 4th choice. Anyways, the overwhelming response (thanks for voting mom!) was to return to Lumberjack 100.

I have also decided to make another run at the 5/3 River Bank 25k. Which means I will be doing a good chunk of my LJ100 training by means of running. I think its going to be a great experiment.

With that, here are a few of my favorite races and registration dates (note that they are in order of Event Day and not Registration Date). Be sure to sync your iCloud calenders!

Registration Date Race Event Date Cost Link
December 1, 2012 @noon
3/23 $40-$50 Website
October 15, 2012
5/3 River Bank Run 25k/10k/5k
5/11 $35 (until Jan 31, 2012) Website
December 1, 2012 Bayshore Marathon/ Half/10k 5/25 $90 Registration
March 2, 2013 @noon
Lumberjack 100
6/15 $150 Website

Other 2013 Races/Series to Consider:

MMBA Championship Point Series
Tailwind Race Series
National Ultra-Endurance Race Series
Mud Sweat and Beers, May 4, 2013 REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
Ore to Shore, August 10th, 2013


Friday, October 5, 2012

It's Friday.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

I'll be leaving this view for a few days on Lake Michigan.

And I'll be hiking here.

And here

Here too.

And here.
But if my foot hurts too much, which it looks like it might, I'll relax by this:

And then I'll enjoy some of this.

Tomorrow I hope to see some of you here:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Howling Tale

I am so fortunate to live in West Michigan. I love the beaches, the state parks, the woods, the trails, the weather (even the snow!). I can't imagine a life without a Lake Michigan sunset.

Last week I had a free night all to myself. The sun had already started to set and it was too dark to ride so I put on some hiking clothes and headed to Lake Michigan.

This is just east of the first of three sand dunes.

While there were a scattering of cars parked along the lakeshore I chose to hike about a half mile east to the highest sand dune to watch the show.

Getting closer to the top. In the middle-left is the peak of the first sand dune pictured.
Just enough clouds to make a spectacular sunset and clear sky for star-gazing!
It was supremely silent in the bowl of the sand dune. Occasionally I heard some rustling in the trees around me and at one point I saw several deer run across the clearing.

I kicked off my shoes, dug my toes into the sand and laid down to watch the second-act: the moon rising and the stars splattering across the sky.

The moon was so bright and full that it was casting shadows!

It was amazing and peaceful, I contemplated spending the night right there in the sand under the open sky.

Instantly I felt a prickle up the back of my neck. I sat up, my heart in my throat. 

I had heard a sound, like a loud cough or rasp. At least, I thought I had. But it was so quiet, I couldn't hear anything but the rapid beating of my heart.

Maybe it was my imagination.


I definitely heard something! I grabbed my shoes and stood up. Just as I started to descend the sand dune I saw THEM.

Five Coyotes.

A pack of Coyotes.
Between myself and the half mile-hike through the dunes to my car!

I've spent a good deal of time now at Muskegon Sate Park and the surrounding area and have witnessed some spectacular wildlife: Blue Herons take flight, Bald Eagles on the hunt, and I once saw a Bobcat race across Scenic Drive at Block House Hill. 

I have even seen Coyotes before. A few years ago we had a mangy Coyote roaming in our yard. Another time I was riding my bike and saw a pair of Coyote's running along the roadside.

But I had never been alone, in the dark, behind the lines of a pack of wild Coyotes.

Am I over-dramatizing this? Probably! I am one of those people that not only believes in the Worst Case Scenario, I think it's the Most-Likely Scenario.

I was nervous.

Alone, in the woods and feeling stupid and scared, I did the only thing I knew to do: make lots of noise. I started clapping my hands loudly and talking to myself. Then I remembered I had my iPod! I turned on some music and started singing along.

The coyotes turned and headed to the tree line. I didn't hesitate to descend the sand dune and skedaddle out of there, singing and clapping the entire way!

I was so relieved to summit the last dune, just 100 feet from my car.

This weekend we're camping at Muskegon State Park. We'll probably take the kids on a night-hike, the wild-life viewing is spectacular after dark. I just hope we don't run into anymore Coyotes!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Last week my pastor sent out an inquiry, asking those he knew about how they worshipped. I immediately thought of my experience at Lumberjack 100. Endurance mountain biking—from the discipline of training to the test of fire in racing—is a physical manifestation of the spiritual act of surrendering to God.

Just like worship, cycling is a way for me to be rejuvenated, to prioritize, to clear my mind, and to shed anxiety.

On Sunday, after worshipping in the traditional sense in a church pew I went to 'complete' worship: using my mind, my body, my entire being and set out on an all day cycling adventure with my friend Kelly. I didn't bring a watch, nor a computer, nor GPS, nor odometer.

Me and Kelly, just a few miles into the ride.

We rolled out of the driveway at 10:30 AM with no plan other than to head north for awhile.

We found the bikepath and wound our way from Muskegon all the way to Hart.

We stopped for lunch at the Brown Bear with a fine selection of 1 pound hamburgers and assortment of deep-fried vegetables. Mmmmmm.

After a plate of onion rings and cheesy quesadillas . . . well, the next ten miles were a little rough.

Kelly at Silver Lake Dunes. It was really, really windy!
Eventually we headed West and South and stopped briefly at Silver Lake Dunes.

Eventually I got hungry again and started eating my glove.

After a day of riding under a brilliant blue sky, a canopy of changing leaves, past wineries, bakeries, farmer's markets and pumpkin patches and everything that is the splendor of West Michigan in autumn we rolled into the driveway at sunset. 

Exhausted. Wasted.