Sunday, September 30, 2007

Vegas Baby!

I traveled to Vegas on Tuesday night for Interbike 2007. My flights were uneventful, thank goodness and I arrived in Vegas at 2230.

My shuttle had many stops and I made it to the Imperial Palace around midnight. Then it took me another half hour to figure out how to get to our room. We stayed in the "Capri Building" of the Imperial Palace aka the ghetto. Fitting. I was with my people. I borrowed tools from maintenance and shared stories. Our room was on the second floor left of the garage. It actually wasn't too bad. The location to the Sands Expo Center and the price were perfect. It seemed as if our long block in Vegas was always hopping with people. The Mirage, Harrahs, Venetian and Treasure Island were all nearby.

I was a wuss so I did not go out that night. Sitting here now, I should have called some people to drag my ass out on the town. Oh well. Old and a wuss and better off as the next few days took a toll on my body. My legs never felt so awful from all the walking. Although, I forgot I had completed my first adventure race four days ago. I don't think I was fully recovered from that event and I had to race on Thursday night for my last criterium for the season.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I am blowing off painting trim as I only go out of bed a noon for the first time in a LONG time. Brad is consumed by all the awesome sports on tv today. I need to catch up on my blogging so I am at least enjoying the fabulous East Coast fall weather. Every once in a while I hear Brad and others in the neighborhood cheering. Jim for the Cowboys, Brad for the President's Cup (golf), Phillies or Steelers (3rd and 26 throw!)

Two weeks ago our tv in the kitchen died so Brad picked up our first flat screen, HDTV at Costco. I stressed a little on the cost for a 20" and was trying to figure out a way to protect our budget from the next HDTV being purchased too soon or without my consultation. :-)

Basically, I want to make sure we get the best bang for our buck. I know the next one is coming soon as all we do is watch tv at the bar. The Vizio has spoiled us.

I have a bit of posting to do so bear with me. I posted the Adventure Race as a draft so I can get caught up. After the adventure race, I worked for a few days with all kinds of pain cream, ice packs and popping ibuprofen before I left for Vegas and Interbike on Tuesday night.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Captial City Challenge - Final Long Post

The day has come and gone for my first adventure race. The Capital City Challenge took place around the Harrisburg, New Cumberland, Lemoyne, the Susquehanna River and on City Island.

Our Sponsor, Ted Hoffman, General Sales Manager, Sutliff Hummer; The coed-masters team pre-race: me, Dr. Drew Wellmon, Karen Weissman

The Challenges:
The eggs
Lizard egg (bowling ball and ropes)
Egg toss into a colander on top of a teammate's head or do a damn tangent puzzle that would eat up time.
Planks with circles
Climbing wall
Ping pong ball and tubes
2 Planks with steps - had to prop up as high as the rope between trees.

The race started with the mountain bike in two waves; the all-male, master male teams went first and the second wave were the rest of the 95 teams. We had to carry an egg during the event. It was ideal not to break the egg as we needed it for a future challenge. We started in the top third. It was a fast start off City Island, along the Susquehanna, into a trail that turned to road and switched back and forth from trail to road. We set a steady pace and stayed together most of the time. The first challenge has us as the 2nd master's co-ed team on the road. We had to sling-shot a little red ball across a soccer field to a partner. Karen's shoulders ached with my pulls. I could not rocket the ball far enough. There was a line that the ball had to pass for us to catch it. We had 2 tries and if no catch, we had to go to the end of the line and do again. We did this at least 4 or 5 times with me catapulting the ball not far enough. We never had a line to stand in but we lost time. I ask Drew to catapult the ball as Karen held the sling shot. His first shot flew beyond me. Yea - but no catch. I prepared for the second ball, watched it like an outfielder and caught it with my body. We got another egg and I added it to my Serfas eyeglass case. Perfect for holding and protecting the eggs.

We rocketed on the bikes again as I knew I was going to die on the run. I had only trained up to three miles a week. With one run on the road at 40 minutes and another one a week before the race for one and a half hours on trails.

We finish the bike about an hour 40 later, returning to the transition area, changed shoes and off running. I had a bungee to be towed but I was doing okay for the first mile. The second challenge was to carry a lizard egg (bowling ball) with ropes. We could not touch the ball. Once we created a cradle for the egg, we walked a few steps to drop it in a basket. We get a third egg that barely fit in the eyeglass case.

Off running again for a few minutes to the canoes. Karen has better upper body strength than me so she was up for paddling in the front, Drew captaining in the back. I was the middle driver as I sat in water in the middle of the canoe. Hmmm. I had a hard time not giving directions even though I had only canoed once in my adult life. The river was low and we navigated well. Toward the end of the canoe leg, we had to walk part of it through a pathway between two little islands to get to the dock on the other side of the river.

Third challenge: The egg toss. I opted to be egged. I wore/held a white colander on my helmet and Drew threw the egg. Since we had three eggs intact, we had three tries. If we missed or did have broken our eggs, we would have had to complete the tangent puzzle. One team said it took them 15 minutes to do the damn puzzle. Drew made the second egg land inside the colander. 15 seconds max. With egg on my face! for real, we began the run from hell. It was ALL on the road. I was warned that the run leg would be long because it has not been so in a long time. I had hoped for trails but none would be present to save my legs. I had an excruciating pain below my right knee that I thought it was going to snap anytime. So I said no to the bungee. I did not want to be towed faster than my body could handle.

Challenge four after at least five miles of running. I sort of looked forward to the rest waiting in line for the challenge but I feared the run afterwards. We had to stand on a plank with two circles on either end. One person handed two other planks over for one to be placed on the ground matching circles painted on the pavement. Halfway through, we bobbled and one of us fell of the plank. There was a line and off we were to stand and wait to start again. We switched positions on this second round, took our time and completed the task.

Running. I kept imagining the transition area. I kept guessing that the bridge to City Island was near. I swear we ran another three miles. Many of our friends said once we did an adventure race, we would be addicted. Not me. The run had cracked me. I was miserable. I had to mumble to myself to keep jogging. I started dragging my right leg and let the left carry most of the work. The impact of the road was killing my tibia/IT band. We finally saw City Island. We ran down the stairs to the parking lot near the transition area but we had to continue running up the other side of the damn bridge to cross the river.

Cracked. Drew was the constant as he had done this particular race many times and many other adventure races, too. Although she worked through injuries and a painful start to her run, Karen, too was consistent as she does triathlons and runs often.

We make it to the other side of the river to face three climbing walls. Karen is afraid of heights and we both have not done any climbing, ever. Karen hyperventilated as she is guided into the harness, I stared at Drew climbing the wall. We had to climb to a certain height and touch the line and drop. The "rope" (wire) was on a pulley system so the set-up was totally safe. But after watching Karen hyperventilate, climb part way and drop, I trembled as I attempted the climb. We had three tries each (except for Drew-he made it up in the first try) and could move on. Karen tried two more times and dropped. There was no penalty for not making it to the top. I should of have climbed a bit and dropped but after racing for four hours, I thought I had to climb the wall. My third time around I was in tears. Tears out of anger. We had to go to the end of the line for each try. Luckily the line was non-existent. But I was so mad and frustrated, I walked around the volunteers to the imaginary line and turned around huffing and puffing with my eyes all welled up like a three year old.

I had been guided to each wall for my tries. The third try was on the shortest wall on the left. All heights were the same to climb but I think having the shortest wall helped me mentally. My body felt empty. On the first try, I could not go to far as my right leg gave out trying to climb the rocks. I cracked on the second try not making it too far. My body was exhausted. I could not believe how weak my upper body felt. I was told climbing was all in the legs but mine were shot from a hellish run and had snapped at the knees.

I tried to keep my butt tucked in, use my legs as much as possible and with much encouragement from the volunteers, I made it to the top. Yea!! I guess. And dropped. Karen overheard some volunteer ask why would anyone would sign up to do this if they never climbed or were afraid of heights. With adventures races, one does not know what is in store. We figured we would do the best we could when the challenge presented itself. Now Karen and I will practice climbing just in case we do another adventure race.

We had to run to another challenge - I hobbled. Not knowing what categories were around us, we had to keep moving. Three small PVC pipes and one ping-pong ball that we had to pass to each with the pipes. Out the window goes the germ-o-phobia in us. Two tries and done.

Hobbled to another challenge. Poor Drew. I was cracked from it all and this wasn't even an adventure race with navigation and maps (thank goodness). We had to propped up two - 2x4s with blocks for steps on the 2x4s. We made Drew climb the 2x4s over the rope to the other side. Oh, we could not hold the wood for him to climb. More time passed. We finally created a cantilever pushing against the wood. Karen yelled; "push, push, push" to make sure I pushing against her push. When Drew made it to the other side, I think I released and Drew jumped/fell to the ground and the 2x4s just about crashed on Karen.

Go, go, go. I had no idea where the finish was. I was going to cry if we had to cross the river to the transition area for the finish. Drew talked me through most of the run and continued during this last bit. He saw the finishing tent. I did, too, and wanted to walk. Then I heard some guy saying; "both calves are cramping" but I never heard the person that was trying to push him to run pass us. I realized what was going on and I told Karen to run faster. She did not hear me so I had to pick up my hobble and "sprint" to the finish. Karen had no idea why was was running pass her so she ran with me. The guy with both calves cramping ended up being a competitor team that we out sprinted second place for the master's co-ed team.

We also finished 27th overall out of 95 teams. After icing and massaging my legs for two days, I was pleased. I am not sure I would do an adventure race again. If I can keep up the running (It is now a week later and I have not touched the sneakers yet) I just may try again. But be wary - if we have to navigate or use maps - I suck.

4 hours and 40+ minutes. Winning time for Coed Masters: 4 hrs and 7 minutes.

Nothing broken, just over worked and strained. I thought my leg was going to snap at the knee. My training did not prepare me for the 8 miles of running on road. Hydroworx had a trailer so all three of us climbed into the trailer to get a massage in a pool and Karen and Drew ran on the treadmill. I was done running. Even if the treadmill was in a pool. For $28,000, not including installation, you could have one of these recovery pools in your house. I bet if I did not use the Hydroworx, I would not have been able to walk at all for a few days. Since I had a plane to catch Tuesday night for Vegas, I jumped in that pool with my full kit on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Back in July when our credit card was violated, I double checked our other card and blew my surprise birthday gift. I saw a huge amount on the card. I had to ask Brad about it with a sneaking suspicion that it was for me. My "real" birthday present was Genesis concert tickets. Another couple whose husband also shares my birth date went along with us.

It was a Tuesday night and we all figured we would find a place to eat on the way down. Traffic on the Schuylkill (RT 76) had it's usual backup so we beelined down 476 to 95. Before we knew it, we were in South Philly and had no clue where to eat. We drove down Broad Street in the hopes of spotting a restaurant nearby. Wings and Things wasn't quite what we all wanted, especially with the other birthday person being a vegetarian. I spot an Italian sign so we make a couple lefts off of Broad Street and eventually found a tight parking spot near the restaurant. Every car had clubs and their side view mirrors flipped inward. Turns out that the sign was for a grocer/catering store. Another block down was a pizza place. Cindy and Brad spot a corner restaurant with the local priest coming out of it wearing a Dartmouth tee. There is no sign, just small writing on the door. Jeff and I go to look at the menu in the window as the priest comes over to us to get his cigar from the window ledge. Jeff teases him, we ask him about the restaurant and the priest sold us on eating there.

We walk in and the place was tight, with an open kitchen on the left with a beautiful display of most of their food prepped. The chef asked if we had reservations. "No". And she gives us the "no food for you" attitude. Yet she asked the manager if he would be able to seat us. He hesitated, Jeff told he we had a concert to go to, the manager said; "Can you be finished by 7:30?" We said in unison - Yes.

There are a handful of two-seater tables along the wall across from the open kitchen. We walked into a back room with the brick walls and arches painted sunny yellow with an Italian scenery on the back wall. There were about two more two-seater tables and eight 4 persons. We ordered everything off the menu.

I almost forgot to tell you the name of the BYOB restaurant - L'Angolo Ristorante Italiano It is a five-star restaurant with reasonable prices for awesome food. It is on the corner of Porter and Rosewood Streets, hours Tue-Thu, Sat 5pm-9:30pm, Fri 5pm-10:30pm, Sun 4pm-8:30pm.

We ordered three appetizers; a special - fresh mozzarella with roasted vegetables and two others off the menu - sauteed wild mushrooms with olive oil, rosemary and fontina cheese and calamari grigliati: grilled with herbed olive oil and lemon. The calamari was the best I ever had. No breading. Very tender and melted in my mouth. The wild mushrooms was the best out of the three. They were all to die for appetizers.

Cindy, Brad and I had the homemade fresh lobster ravioli (Ravioli Di Argosta). I think the dish cost $16 and I expected three large raviolis. They were ten small raviolis but packed with lobster. Another melt in your mouth meal. Jeff ordered spaghetti. We ordered some coffee and a light and fluffy tiramisu. You most likely need reservations as the place filled up after we sat down. We were in and out under an hour. We all floated on cloud nine with full bellies.

By the way, the concert was awesome.


Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Cage - Cinema - Travels-Afterglow
Hold On My Heart
Home By The Sea
Follow You - Firth- I Know
Throwing It All Away
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Tonight, Tonight - Invisible Touch
I Can't Dance
Carpet Crawlers

Monday, September 10, 2007

Running for an Adventure Race

I am fried from racing Saturday in the heat and doing a run-bike-run race on Sunday. Running cracks me. I don't know how I did in high school. I guess being 25 years younger and 10 pounds lighter would make running seem easy and fun. I ran fast, jumped hurdles, ran long jump and even did the high jump. (Okay. I think I ran fast. But I did not jump long or high so I did not continue those events.) My ankles are strained and my right hamstring is tweaked from stupid suicide sprints from last Tuesday (I was calling them football sprints but nobody knew what I was talking about. You run 10 yds, jog back, run to the 20 yd line, job back, etc. to the other end zone.) Hmm. I thought I was okay as warmed-up on the soft track with a slow mile, did one set and jog another half mile. Running sucks.

I remember when I forgot I wasn't 15 anymore and I tried to jump a few hurdles about 10 years ago. Oh, maybe that is when I tweaked my hamstring, slamming into the hurdles. I also had a brain freeze about that same time when I forgot I was not a flexible gymnast anymore and I just whipped out a back handspring and thought I broke my body in half. I did the back handspring, badda bing. It was over and I was aching. I don't think I was even drunk. I probably should have been as I might have been more limber. I think as I get older, I just get crazy ideas that I have to try new sports. At least biking is involved with most of these endeavors.

I must confess. I started running in the beginning of August to get running legs for my first adventure race I am doing in two weeks. Yes, in two weeks and I am trying not to panic. I paddled a canoe two weeks ago and laughed as I have very little upper body strength. I get an email from the experienced partner, Dr. Drew Wellmon, whom I have not met, that the adventure race may be "run heavy". Great! My friend Karen, laughed as she knows her and Drew will be towing my ass in the running. She will be fine as she loves running and is a triathlete. His email goes on about what to expect. I'm digging in my basement for those old sneakers as he mentioned we need 3 or 4 pairs in the transition area so we are not running in wet shoes, I am thinking about ordering low tread tires for my Barracuda mt bike (that is at least 10 years old?), and again, I am trying not to panic as he writes about the podium. I hope he is being sarcastic. He must know Karen and I have never done an adventure race before. We're just doing it because why not, Sutliff Hummer is willing to sponsor us crazy women with Dr. Wellmon and two months ago, we thought it would be no problem getting in shape for this race. We have yet touched our mt bikes. Karen and I talked today about cramming in all the workouts this week just to get the cob webs out of the way. We are swimming tomorrow to loosen up all the achy joints and tweaked hamstrings, running and road riding on Wednesday, mt biking on Thursday and Sunday, and I think I am squeezing in one more road race on Saturday.

"I will hang on to your wheels as hard as I can on the bike, and hopefully your run legs will hang on long enough behind me to get us home in time to get a podium spot." I think Dr. Wellmon will be towing our asses in more than just the run. I hope I am wrong.

Wilmington Grand Prix - Rambling September

There was a pumpkin siting before fall. And this time I wasn't drinking beer. It was so hot this past Saturday that I sucked both bottles dry within one hour at the Wilmington Grand Prix. I raced terribly as I started with thoughts about the heat, my lack of fitness, tweaked running legs, wanted to be drinking beer on the sidelines, all the painting that needs to be done at home, the basement needing re-sorted, etc. I did win in a way as my body won over my mind and I finished the race in 10th place. I fought to stay at the front, tried to cover the big guns (LaSasso, VanGilder) and then fought to stay within the first chase group of eight. LaSasso and Jen Bodine rocketed off the front with a few others in tow. VanGilder waited for a gap and bridged solo as she aways does so well. And that was the break as they spit out those few others. I heard and saw the pictures that Jen Bodine raced like a rock star! Way to go Jen. She and her team have been having an awesome race season this year.

One more weekend to squeeze in some racing and I am set to race in Vegas with my awesome teammate, Jdub-Jenette Williams at the end of the month. I need to keep the intensity on. That would be the only reason I am racing into September. Normally, my season is over by the end of August. I work at a university and the semester begins the last week of August. It is like I am back in school. Everything else stops and work goes wild and takes over until next June. I almost look forward to the semester beginning as I stop riding in circles for seven months.