Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm Not Giving Up Yet

The bike trainer is still in the box and I am still outside on my bike!  I don't know for how much longer but  today I managed a ride in 35 degree temps with spitting snow!  I had an appt. in Burlington and I decided to bring my bike along and try to ride on the bike path. When I left home, yes it was in the 30s but no it was not snowing. That was a bit of a surprise as I came out of the doctor's office.  Oh well, my plans were made and damn it I was going to ride my bike.

First I drove to Jameson's house to see my sweetie who seemed disappointed I left so quickly after my arrival.
He is looking out the window watching me leave on my bike.

I put on 4 layers on top, my headband, my hard core gloves, my toe warmers and off I went. I thought my legs were going to be cold but they warmed up quickly as they were the only part of me really moving.  My fingers and toes took turns being cold - so nice of them not to both be cold at once - but never too badly.  I felt like if I had had my smart wool gloves inside my gore tex gloves life would have been better.  I was almost alone on the bike path which was great.  
Notice the snow on the ground and think about how hard
core I am!

I couldn't have more clothes on on top and still ride.

Biking is certainly the exercise that rocks my world as I was grinning from ear to ear during most of this ride in spite of the cold. I could say with truth I relished the cold knowing I wouldn't be out in it too long and I could get back to the warmth in a fairly short time if needed.  I'm sure you're all sick of me whining about my stressful year but yesterday was the worst day yet of my teaching career (I keep thinking that day has come but then yet another worst one comes along) and being outside, riding and being in a place I love just made my day. What a nice switch from the day before. My poor dermatologist made the mistake of asking me how my year was going.  It was probably a polite question but he got an earful.  He is probably removing his child from public school as I write this to home school her.  

I was unable to get all the way to the bike bridge as I came to this sign.  I saw a tractor trailer (dump truck variety) coming down the bike path - really? - and did try to go a little farther but when I came to a road closed sign with cranes, dump trucks etc. I turned around and headed back. Truthfully I was beginning to feel the cold so it wasn't the downer it might have been.

I stopped to take a few pictures on a section that is for runners/walkers but since no one was out today I didn't think it mattered.  I got back to Jameson's house and did take Jaxon for a short walk. So a great bike ride and some time with my little buddy made AJH a happy lady!

If you ever do the VCM you will be very happy here as you are almost
done and you will have many many spectators cheering you on!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two Different Runs - Jaxon Style

My two runs this weekend were VERY different than usual  all due to this guy.
Jameson is off to NYC and he asked us to babysit the grand dog.  This is the first time Jaxon has come to stay on his own so I wasn't sure what to expect. The cats were less than thrilled. Things calmed down but Jaxon did spend time in the kennel. I took him for rides to get him out of the house and other various things. Saturday I planned to take a run with him and Jameson said he could easily go 4 miles.  Perfect!

So off we went. We went down the driveway and went left although we didn't go too far because Jaxon refused to go too close to two yapping dogs.  That was okay because I wanted to stay on the dirt road and it goes farther in the other direction. So we turned around and headed past our house and kept going.  The next time he refused to move was when we were going by the chickens. He didn't like them at all and I actually had to carry him.  Once by though I set him down and we were once again on our way.  

I could tell he wasn't thrilled with the cows we went by either but it was mostly a tail tucked between his legs and  a hurrying by, not a have to carry. 

 Then we headed down the steep hill which I usually only go a short ways down. But Jaxon was eagerly moving forward so onward we went.  I thought I would be in trouble once we had to go back up as this was one seriously steep hill but he headed right up it, past the scary dogs (hitched but scary) and back toward the cows.  He went by although still not thrilled. 

 He is such a city dog!  The chickens were quiet so no problems there and before we knew it we were back home with 4 miles done.  He was exhausted and went to sleep right away so the cats were thrilled.

Then came Sunday.  I waited for it to  warm up some and off we went. Well we went a VERY short ways when he refused to budge. So we turned around and went past the house when again, he refused to move. I wasn't sure if it was the cold or he just didn't want to do the whole damn run thing again!  But we went back home and I took him off the leash.

Then I proceeded to run 4 miles around my yard!  Yup!  4 miles around my yard. Jaxon chased me and "let me" throw a stick for him and generally was quite happy with this arrangement.  I would head down the driveway at times and out to the edge of the road but he would wait at the top of the hill. No way was he coming down the driveway and going on any run with me again.
Waiting patiently at the top of the hill

So I did get in my 4 miles each day but it was not fast and it looked like no other run I ever did. I don't think I would do well on trails as I even found running around my yard a bit of a challenge.  I also had to dodge horse poop and frozen bumps which didn't help at all.  

But now Jaxon has gone home and I miss him!  Who ever knew I could love a little  dog so much?

Thursday, November 22, 2012


First and foremost I am thankful for my family.  I was sad this year to not have everyone here but we'll all be together for Christmas.  I see so many sad family situations every day that it makes me appreciate my family all the more.

I am thankful for all my friends both real and virtual.  Friends make every work day so much better.  Friends are great to bike with. Friends are fun to run and race with.  Friends are good listeners when a good listener is needed.  Virtual friends (that would be you) are great at listening to all the running, biking, swimming stuff that bores other to tears.  You get it!  You appreciate and applaud my victories such as completing that first scary triathlon.  And some of my virtual friends have become real friends!
......a friend who goes to races with me even though
she doesn't race.......

.....a friend to run and race with.......

.....a friend to bike with who is every bit as passionate about
biking as I am.......

.....supportive virtual friends who have become real friends.......

.....a friend who comes to watch me race in the pouring rain on a cold
day even though she is injured.  No longer a virtual friend but just a friend!.......

I am thankful I have a job.  Yes, it is stressful at the moment but it has no always (ever) been like this and it does pay the bills.  I am hopeful things will get better.
.....hmmm if I start riding my bike around school that will get
rid of some of the stress.......

I am thankful for my bike. There is no doubt it is my favorite thing I own which is why I was having such a fit when it was headed for the water!  It brings me many many hours of pleasure!  

I am thankful for the state I live in.  It is scenic for all those runs and rides.  It has all 4 seasons (usually) which I love.  It doesn't have poisonous snakes. Need I say more?

I am thankful to be able to travel even for short trips to visit friends, do races and enjoy other parts of our great country.

I am thankful for many more things but I will stop here.  Oops one last thing.......I am thankful for my 3 yellow cats and of course Jaxon whom will be visiting for the weekend. Let's see how the cats like that!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Racing Wasn't Enough....

When I got home from my race on Sunday I decided to try going for a ride.  The problem was the time of day and the cold.  I thought I had a light but trying to put on my new light was a debacle and I didn't have a light when I left.

It was about 39 degrees and I wore my medium gloves - why not the warmest, I am not sure what I am waiting for - ,  a headband under my helmet, bike shorts with pants over them, short sleeve tech shirt, sweatshirt, down vest and light reflective bike jacket.  I did not wear my new toe things - again I don't know what I am waiting for.

I only planned to get in ten miles as there wasn't a lot of time. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride in spite of the cold. For the most part different parts of me were cold at different times. I got an instant ice cream headache as the first part of the ride was downhill.  Then it was my fingers.  Both of those went away and I remember thinking my toes weren't cold at all.  My legs felt cold but that also went away.  By the time I turned around I was noticing my toes and those never warmed up again although they weren't killing me.

When I got home and got my shoes off my toes were very bright red!!  It was foolish of me to not wear the toe things. When I went to check the temperature it was 29 degrees. Oops. No wonder I saw a thin sheet of ice on the beaver pond.
Sorry for the gross about to fall off toenail.

How cold will you ride in?  What do you wear?  Any good recommendations for lights?  Maybe I should get the trainer set up.  At this point I have more daylight hours available to me next week because of Thanksgiving so I have at least a couple more outdoor rides.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Turkey Trot 5K

Picking out clothes for a running race is a lot more fun than for a tri. I have one triathlon outfit and for 1 of the 3 segments it is hidden under a wet suit!  But I always have trouble in colder weather knowing what to wear.  I did fine today with a short sleeve under a cozy Columbia hoodie with thumb holes and capris.

I'm kind of out of doing races on the regular basis I usually do and I left a bit late and ended up speeding driving the speed limit of course to the race.  I got there with about 15 minutes to spare but I knew they were bussing us to the start and I wanted time to pick up my bib, use the bathroom and drop stuff off at my car.  I got all those things accomplished (had to use the men's room which had no line compared to a huge one for the women's)  and got back to my car to see that Emily had called. I returned her call to find out her race news. We both ran 5Ks today but the similarities stopped there.
She won, I came in fifty second.  She won 100 dollars, I walked away with nothing in spite of many many fantastic random prizes. Oh well.

So we were bussed out to the start and it wasn't too cold waiting.  I talked to a woman near me who was just my age and I think I convinced her to try a tri next season.  She was very interested.

I was in a group of people the whole time which was good as people would pass me and I would pass them back.  That is always motivating. There was a girl in a turkey costume ahead of me that I tried to maintain the distance between us and not fall behind. She was a good person to do this with as others near by seemed to be slowing down. My first mile was 9:14 but my second was 9:32 (loooong hill).  My last mile was my fastest and I was feeling like: "Oh yeah, this is what racing feels like."  It was 8:51 with my overall pace being 9:12.  My goal was to be in the low 9s and this counts for me.  I wanted to have fun. I definitely did!  I do like/love racing and I had kind of forgotten it. Of course today was a GORGEOUS day which made loving it a little easier than the wet cold one I ran on in October.

I was 52/107 which is always a goal for me to be in the top half.  I was 2/12 in my age group.I was amazed at how many were in my age group.  That is not typical for that size race.   Okay the results are posted now. They did odd age groups. Mine was 50 and above. If I look at the more typical 50 - 59 age group I was 2/8. My race time was 28:48 which is definitely one of my slowest 5K times and I am not bummed at all. I have been running short distances with no speed and not a lot of days a week.  I was just glad to be out there racing and talking races with similar minded people. Okay I have now looked at other races for this year. All have been in the 28s with one in the 29s and the last one being the EXACT time I got today.  Bringing home a prize - so many many good ones  - would have been sweet but I did bring home a turkey from this race one year so it wasn't my turn.

Are you disappointed if you don't get  a prize when it seems like everyone else there gets one?  I regretted more my loss of more than an hour waiting for everyone to finish and the time it took for the prize give away than the actual prize loss.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Time to Find New Stress Relieving Activities

First.....my new header. I am not trying to fool anyone. Believe me I am not beating those guys near me in the picture.  This tri had an unusual way of doing waves - by registration time, not age. So I started well before these guys and I was worried about them pushing me under as they swam by!

I have a race tomorrow - my first 5K in quite some time......since July 4. The only non triathlon/duathlon I have done since July was my Rock and Roll half in Providence. Hard for me to believe. But tomorrow for my November race......which I was getting a little worried about -I will be doing a 5K. Goals?  No idea......  To survive.  To be in the low 9s in time.  To have fun.

I have done a little pity shopping the last two Friday nights.  Following stressful weeks at school I have indulged in a little unnecessary shopping. Last week I bought a Nike 3/4 zip which  I don't need plus a Brooks running shirt on sale. This Friday night I went to the new Lululemon store in Burlington which opened just yesterday and bought a hot pink Scuba hoodie!  Love it!  But.....enough! Well maybe. Today I bought a pair of Dansko clogs at 20% off. It was a planned buy if that makes it okay.  They go on sale every year in Vermont during hunting season - got to get the little woman out of the house!  I haven't been able to wear Danskos because of my PF but now I am back in them and loving them!  But I do want to retire some day and these days it seems like I want to retire sooner rather than later so I better ease up on the shopping.  Friday was easily my worst day as a teacher ever.  So many bad things happening.  Last year was one of my best years. How can things change so much in a short time?

Tonight my husband and I went out to dinner and for a couple of beers with a friend and it was delightful. Today I went to school and worked on report cards until I was just too tired to finish them. But I made good progress.  I am getting two new kids on Monday and OMG please don't make them too hard. My students are so excited at getting new kids. Please make it turn out okay. One boy was so excited he was jumping all day. He needs a new friend his age and I so so so hope it works out for him.  For me too!

Yesterday I got a text from Jameson who knew I was going to Burlington to join him and his friends for a drink. He had a Switchback waiting for me when I got there. It was fun to have a little down time with him and definitely lessened the stress of the day.  He gets my stresses and is a great listener.

 Later when I went to leave the area I put my parking ticket through the machine. When I went to exit the garage I no longer had the parking ticket. I got out and talked to the guy in the booth who tried to figure out what I might have done. Eventually he just lifted the gate and let me though. I had to call Jameson as we have had the "older woman, trusting demographic" conversation before. Had that been him, he would have had to pay the ticket for the whole day, me - the older gray haired woman - they let through.  When I go into a store with a backpack he is amazed as it is just something he doesn't do as he gets stopped.  Just his age and gender - he is not a tough looking guy.  He thinks I could make it as a thief as no one would ever check me. Just kidding any police who read my blog.

What do you do to lessen stress?  I could use some hints. And I don't mean exercise as I am all over that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Hose

It had been two weeks since I went swimming but I was back there bright dark and early this morning. Now I don't get up early easily.  I definitely don't get up early easily when I have to leave the house.  Having to defrost my windshield - harder yet.  So you get the picture. Getting to the pool isn't easy.

But I do it. I got there this morning and there are two women in the pool. I prefer an outside lane so I head to the side.  As I start swimming I notice a hose but there is often a hose in the pool as the custodian cleans in the early morning.  He puts the hose across (into) the pool to clean the deck.  But there was no custodian anywhere and the hose was in the pool.  No biggie right?  WRONG!  I swim by it and it is moving. Well of course it is I am swimming so strongly that I am moving it, right?  Well probably wrong again but I get to the end and turn around because when you are in a pool that is what you do.  I am coming back by and the hose is rising up at me.  I kind of dodge it and go around it and it hits me.

IT GAVE ME GOOSEBUMPS!  Why would it give you goosebumps AJH you may be thinking?  Well, I will tell you.

I am sorry but a  moving hose in water reminds me too much of something else.  Ridiculous maybe but it does. So I moved to the next lane and then moved over yet another lane.

And I still kept one eye on that hose the rest of my swimming time even though I was not near it.
But I will keep going hose or no hose because next summer I want to do more of the above.  So I will try to keep my overactive imagination at bay and get up many times this winter and head out into the dark and cold and at least keep my swimming at the  point where I won't drown in a triathlon!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Break

Yes, a break but not the bad kind involving a limb.  Just a small break from working out. If you have been following me you know I don't miss workouts easily.  I had oral surgery on Tuesday and even though the doctor said I could work out Wednesday, last time I ended up with a very black and blue face plus I just felt it was time for a little break.

 I took all the week days off this last week. I was hoping to catch up at work a little bit but that didn't happen.  Work continues to be stressful and one of the stressors is the overwhelming load that never goes away. I am usually on top of things but this year that isn't the case.....at all.  Plus I semi dread each day due to a couple of characters in my class that make each day less than pleasant.  This is a public blog so that is enough said but I have never been as discouraged as a teacher.  Fitness keeps me sane but fitting it in seems trickier than ever.
Old ride, same picture, different season.  Lots of great views
on this ride.

This weekend was great.  I spent a fair amount of time Saturday correcting work from school but it was fine because I took it all to Starbucks and made myself comfortable and corrected away. Sitting in a coffee bar floats my boat so it helped. Plus I was fascinated by the results. We are teaching math somewhat differently since we have adopted the Common Core and I am still figuring things out.  Well, as a teacher you are always still figuring things out but perhaps this year more than normal.  I was pleased with a lot of the growth (this was a post test - same test had been given at beginning of year) but there were some worries too of kids that haven't gotten it. Reteaching to do for sure. Plus the whole time I was correcting I knew we were going out that evening with friends which turned out to be every bit as much fun as I expected.
An easy decision.  You won't catch me going down a 
road that has snake and mountain in it's name.

Earlier Saturday I had a great run at home. The temperature was perfect and I went on my typical but enjoyable 6 mile route.  Today I got stuff done in the morning and let it warm up.  Then I ran an errand in Middlebury and took my favorite bike route there.  I had time to do the whole thing which was great other than the wind. I had no idea it was so windy (it wasn't at home.)  I realized after I got home I had lost my water bottle. I heard something and looked down thinking it was something with the gears.  Now I know what it was and it was one of my triathlon water bottles that I really liked!  But the ride was awesome.
Taken today although I am sure I have the exact same shot 
from an earlier ride.

I left my bike in my car as I am hoping to go right after school tomorrow. The temps are supposed to be high although again it is supposed to be windy. I will need to go right away and then go back to school to work to fit in the ride before dark.
This is another favorite stopping spot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Maine Weekend

I had a 3 day weekend and had planned all along to go to Maine.  At one point my son was coming with me but he bailed on me to work and see college friends coming into town.  I ended up getting my friend Cathy to come which was great because Cathy = Lots of biking. If I had gone with Jameson I wouldn't  have taken my bike.  We were there for 3 days and the weather was cool but not too bad and not raining.  I'll take it. Of course the last day was the best, the day we had to leave. Isn't that always the case?

Each ride had the same conversation pre ride about what to wear. We generally wore bike shorts with pants over them, a headband under the helmet, a bike shirt (short sleeve), a long sleeve shirt and a jacket as well as gloves with fingers.  Cathy had some toe things to go over her shoes which I want.

The first ride was Friday. I had been a little worried it was going to be raining so getting in a good ride was awesome. We rode around the Nubble Point Lighthouse, up to Ogunquit and back around the lighthouse.  Cathy immediately fell in love with my favorite route which made it even more fun.  Friday's ride was 23 miles.  We then went to a near by place for dinner - lobster macaroni and cheese.  It was incredible.  Then a little shopping in Kittery which was mostly a fail as everything was closing.
I'm really styling with the bright headband but at least I'm warm.

In Ogunquit with my beloved bike!

Saturday was our chance for a longer bike ride.  We decided to do the ride I did last spring but extend it by riding up to Old Orchard.  It is definitely not a ride that is as the crow flies because you have to go to great lengths to go around the "tidal rivers" that come in from the ocean and go well inland.  We took our time Saturday morning letting it warm up. We had to go back to the hotel room twice, first for Cathy's sunglasses and then the map.  But eventually we got up to Kennebunkport where we were starting from. It hadn't really warmed up but we were here so we were riding.  Any other riders we saw  very enthusiastically greeted us perhaps glad to see others braving the temps.  The sky was cloudy but the sun was supposed to come out at 1:00.  

Cathy was once again very appreciative of the ride along the ocean and all there was to see.  This was not a part of Maine she had spent any time in so it was all new to her.  
You go by the Bush house fairly soon.

This picture and the one below is Cape Porpoise, one
of my favorite out and backs in the trip.  

The ride continues through Goose Rocks Beach and then along to Fortunes Rocks. So much of this is right along the ocean.  When you get to the end of this beach you take a side trip out to Biddeford Pool which is a peninsula.  It is gorgeous out there. The beginning of it looks lived in year round but out on the tip it seems to be mostly beach houses.  There was no traffic and very few people around for a lot of the ride which made for great riding.
Fortune's Rocks - surfers which once again were everywhere
all the time

Biddeford Pool

After Biddeford Pool we headed to the University of New England.  We stopped for a quick snack and a bathroom break then headed up to Biddeford to cross the river to head down to Old Orchard.  I was a bit confused (and still am) over what was Biddeford and what was Saco.  We were never along water for this although I found parts of Biddeford - an old mill town - quite attractive while other parts - not so much.  We definitely were not on the scenic route and as I was getting tired and we were still headed north I questioned how I would last the whole day.  We were in traffic a fair amount through here and I was pleased over how I did with all the stopping at red lights etc.  I was quite comfortable but careful.  We finally got to Old Orchard but you are not along the beach.  It is several dead ends where you walk over the dunes to get to the beach, nothing special for bike riding.  After going up a ways we gave up and turned around. We went along Route 9 and it was quite nice although a longer way than the way we had come.  We missed a turn in Biddeford and ended up going on Route 1, a busier road than any we had been on. The good news was it is a pretty direct route, fairly flat and saved us a lot of miles and time.  I was definitely tired and worried about losing daylight.  We took the turn onto route 9 again to Kennebunkport.  The road was recently paved and great to ride on.  I was not sure where we were going to come out.  I noticed when we got to the part where I got lost last spring but I just went with what I thought was right and it worked!  We got back to the car having ridden 55 miles. I know I rode 78 miles last weekend but this day 55 was plenty. We stopped at the Maine Diner on the way back where I ate what I always eat and it was fantastic. I guess I was starving because I didn't even stop to take pictures.  I had clam chowder and a lobster roll.  I began with a Shipyard Pumpkin Ale which was one of the best beers I have ever had but I think I said that last time I had one here.  I think it must be all the miles on the bike that enhances the taste.  I ended with a piece of pumpkin cake that was yummy!
Back in Kennebunkport, more surfers and paddlers??

Sunday I had hoped to do a run and ride.  The time change helped with this as I was able to run quite early and what a run it was!  I have not been loving the runs but this one had a smile on my face for most of it.  I can never get enough of my light house route and even though I had ridden it a couple of times I loved running it.  The temperature was perfect, it was low tide for a good run right on the beach for a short part of it and the sun was out in full force!  
The sunrise that greeted me as I went on my run Sunday morning.

Running on the road where there are so many sights of the ocean.
I love this peninsula the lighthouse is on.

Sunrise at Nubble Point.

Even with the wires I love this sight when I come around the
corner to look out on the Atlantic Ocean.  

I went back along the beach and met Cathy who was out on her bike.  I went and changed and joined her.  We did the light house route again where I had my 10 seconds of terror and then continued north. We didn't go far as we had things to do but we did some rides on some back roads looking at houses and seeing how the other half lives. 
Nubble Lighthouse from a different spot while 
cruising the neighborhoods

I hated to leave but no one is paying me to stay in Maine and bike and run.  The good news was we had something fun to do on the way home. Emily was in NH to help pace Ali to a PR in the Manchester City Marathon. Originally they were running the NYC marathon which I never intended to go see. But Manchester was on my way home more or less so this worked out great. We just missed seeing them at the 20 mile mark but we did catch them at the end.  I have to say watching it did really make me want to do a running race again preferably a half marathon!  The one I always do in February has changed the date so not sure when my next one will be though.  This marathon intrigued me even though reports are it is very hilly, I may come back next fall to do the half.  No desire whatsoever to go back to marathons.  I have all I can do fitting in running, biking and swimming and doing enough running to run halves.  
Emily and Ali at 18 I think.  (stolen from Ali's blog)

At the finish - we did see them but Emily did not hear me screaming:(
 Emily and Ali hugging - Ali has a 22 minute PR!

 Emily, Ali and Lauren

 Emily with her munchkins I brought her - much appreciated

We hung out for a bit with Emily and her friends. It was great meeting Ali and Lauren. It is strange to see someone who you have seen so much on line that you feel you know them. I was chatting away to Ali's boyfriend like I had known him forever but of course he knows nothing about me.  

Then we headed out.  A great weekend but it was time for it to come to an end. And as Dorothy said:
There's no place like home!