Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013... By the Numbers

According to Strava & my memory:

Miles ridden: 1,021.6
Time spent on my bike: 70 hours 42 minutes
Longest ride: 105 miles, Skyline Drive
Biggest climb: 2,965 feet, Skyline Drive
Number of races/organzied rides: 2 (both centuries)
Falls: 1
Mid-Ride flat tires: 0!
Biggest cycling accomplishment: Cycling all of Skyline Drive!!!

Miles ran: 1,002.8
Time spend running: 199 hours 15 minutes
Longest Run: 26.5 miles, the DC Rock n Roll Marathon
Total runs: 122
Number of races: 3 (that's it? really? yikes.)
Biggest running accomplishment: Too many to list! Running a marathon, becoming proficient in trail running, and becoming much more aware of pace and personal running capabilities

(anyone else find it funny how close my cycling and running mileage is??)

Miles hiked on the AT: ~175
Occurrences of trail magic: 6
Favorite hike: sunrise on McAfee Knob
Biggest hiking accomplishment: doing a 22 mile day NOT as a thru hiker.

Total blog posts: 51
Favorite infographic: Kittens on the AT
Favorite link: Prancercise
Favorite post that was not a random link or picture: how to prepare for your first century
Biggest blogging accomplishment: Blogging. Somewhat consistently.

Hooray hooray, let's bring on 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fit-tastic Friday Links

How Can I Keep My Exercise Routine in the Winter? -- Lifehacker

Neil Hilborn - "OCD" -- via YouTube

"Counting calories is flawed. But here's why I still do it." -- Greatist

9 Worst Gifts for Runners -- Runner's World

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2013 Fit-tastic! Gift Guide

For the runner:

Runner's World Magazine Subscription - ($10-$20)

Runner's World magazine covers great material for beginning and advanced runners alike. This gift keeps giving all year round!

For the cyclist:

Specialized Airtool Floor Pump - ($50)

This pump is a thing of beauty. Most cyclists, myself included, are using the pump they bought when they first got into cycling. Our friend has this pump and we just love using it. It's solid and excellent at controlling air flow. There is also a little button to release a little air and still keep an eye on the PSI.

For the cook:

Avocado Slicer & Pitter - ($9)

Any avocado lover would enjoy this handy tool.


For the yogi:
Custom yoga mat - ($40)

A darling addition to any yogi or yogi wannabe. And they have children's mats, too!

For the triathlete:

Swim/Bike/Run Pallet Wood Art - ($18)

How cool is this? Found on Etsy, this upcycled pallet decor is sure to be a unique gift for any triahtlete.

For the girl who's got everything:
Buff USA Sport Scarf - ($40)

I have the Infinity Lyocell, and I did not know I could ever love a superfluous accessory like I love this scarf. It has gone with me to the gym, to work, on hikes, to church, and everything in between. It's softer and more versatile than other infinity scarves I've seen, and I wish I could have 10 more.

For the Mama-to-be:
Buff Baby Rattle - ($10)


For the newbie:
Gaiam Everything Fits Gym Bag - $60 (on sale for $38.40)

How cute and functional is this bag? I love the vented compartment for your shoes. Also, the sale price can't be beat!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fit-tastic Friday Links

Look at me being so prepared- you may THINK I'm posting this live, but I'm actually on the Appalachian Trail right now. Or frozen to death. One of the two.
Unbelievable Images of Female Athletes - the Huffington Post

Best Race Signs - this blog is awesome!

5 Life Lessons I've Learned from Running  - Life Hacker

Black Friday Survival Guide - REI.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Frosty 10k Plan

Northern Virginia skipped the normal winter temperatures and went straight to the 20s this morning. Last Friday, I ran in shorts and a long sleeve. Today, full winter gear!

So. For the first time, I'm actually training for speed. Weird, right? Thanks to the running club I just joined, I have a little help. Here's my plan, running my usual three times per week.

- 6 miles (+ 1 mile warm and and +1 mile cooldown) tempo pace
- interval track workout with AARC
- weekend long run with AARC, ranging from 10-14 miles at whatever pace I want (Let's be honest, whatever pace my running partners want. I just want the company!)

I went to my first track workout last week and it was super fun! We did 8 x 400s and 4 x 200s. I feel really cool about learning the lingo. I pretty much just followed the pack on the 400s, and this was the perfect challenge without being too hard.

My goal for the New Year's Eve 10k is to come in under 50 minutes. That's just under 8 minutes per mile. It feels like that will be a stretch for me, since my normal pace is anywhere from 8:30 to 9:30. But that's for longer distances. There's no reason I can't bump that up for 6 miles.

I actually like running in the cold weather, so I'm excited to have a training schedule for the next month!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tomorrow, We Run [and we make training schedules. and we stick to them]

This picture makes me want to race real bad.

Is this Lance Armstrong? Kinda looks like Lance Armstrong. Does he (or did he- ha!) do ads for Asics?

So a couple weeks a joined a local running club. So fun! Everyone has been really friendly and I have so much fun on my runs with them. The only race I have coming up is a little New Year's Eve 10k. I am itching to do a half marathon - I want a new PR - but there aren't any during the winter around here. But I haven't done a 10k in a couple years so I'm excited to properly train for it. One of the more experienced runners I was running with on Saturday gave me some tips to get to my goal of under 50 minutes.

Maybe I could do something uncharacteristic for this blog and post a training schedule. My usual MO is to do longer distance races, so training is just about upping mileage gradually. And if I'm doing a random shorter race, I don't really do anything different except for maybe do a couple shorter runs to see what time I should expect. But this time, I'm going to do interval training, track workouts, and have a PLAN.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fit-tastic Friday Links

Four Last Minute Costumes for Hikers - Washington Trails Association - [I know, I know, a little late. Whatevs.]

5 Pounds of Fat vs. 5 Pounds of Muscle - Flickr

Cute Marathon Gifts - PopSugar Fitness [I love the "twenty six point freaking two" bag.]

Running with Dogs - Runner's World [Omg I want this job. Also, "[He] had to give up running because of repetitive stress injuries from skydiving, which may be the single greatest excuse for not running I've ever heard."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Skyline Sufferfest 2013: the Ride

see our preparation and the backstory for this ride here
First off, I'm going to spoil the ending for you and tell you that I didn't hit any bears. But I did see one! Beau and I were riding along and saw a couple cars and a photographer, stopped, in the middle of the road. We slowed down to see what they were looking at, and saw a bear waaaaaay up in a tree. Chilling and munching without a care in the world. I mean, how do those tiny branches support a bear's weight anyway? We watched it for a bit and I wish it could've been a better angle to get a picture. Oh well.
So Friday night, our friend/riding partner Randy talked himself out of doing the double century. While we were happy to accommodate his crazy plan, it was a relief to be able to push our wakeup time to 5:15am to be on our bikes by 7:30am. More sleep AND no riding in the dark!
Our SAG driver dropped us off just before the north entrance of the park. According to the thermometer in the car, it was around 30' at the base of the Shenandoahs. We pulled on our earwarmers and gloves, stuffed some HotHands into our shoes, checked our tires (all 6 tires were brand spanking new!), and were on our way. The first 5 miles are a long gradual climb and actually felt a little easier than I expected. It may have been something to do with the prescence of hot chocolate waiting at the top. The cold was completely bearable if not pleasant when climbing, but not quite as comfortable going downhill.

the beginning
The first 40 or so miles passed quickly. I know this part of Skyline well, having ridden it quite a few times. We got to Skyland, the highest point of the road and where our SAG vehicle was waiting, and scarfed down a TON of food. My cocoa banana oat muffins were a hit, especially with a smear of peanut butter on them. I also took to scoops of peanut butter dipped in granola. The intense hunger of long hard bike ride is awfully reminiscent of my thru hike.
The next wayside was at mile 50ish, and I have never felt as tired after 50 miles as I was at that moment. Like, can-barely-pedal-another-foot kind of tired. Sitting in the grass at Big Meadows was the first time it occurred to me that maybe I was in over my head. Maybe I wouldn't be able to do the whole 105 miles. Our super human strength riding buddy, I'm sure, would have been fine to get going as soon as we finished our bathroom breaks. But Beau and I needed more of a break. We sat in the grass for a bit, munching on bars and Shot Bloks and trying not to imagine what the next 55 miles would be like.

Randy pointed out that the next 25 miles really weren't that bad. A trick I learned thru hiking (where I looked at a profile elevation map of the trail approximately 43,209,423,098 times) is to cover up the map with your hands, and only show the next chunk of miles you're focusing on. Like blinders on a horse, when you just look at task immediately on hand, the rest doesn't seem so overwhelming. Magic!

So all I thought about was mile 75. Every tenth of a mile my odometer ticked up was a little victory towards my goal of getting to mile 75. Randy was a champ and led the pace line the entire way, encouraging us every mile. Eventually we got to mile 75, and then pushed up a big climb to the next wayside at mile 80, and then I was all about counting down and praising every mile passed as another mile closer to the end. 
We got a nice sunset, and lucky for me our bathroom break needs were all on different schedules so I was more than happy to break and snap this photo while the men stepped into the woods.
Finally, finally, we got to mile 100 and were rewarded with a glorious speedy downhill to the finish. It was JUST starting to get dark, and we finished at about 6:00pm. And then there was BBQ on the way home and pulled pork has never been so delicious.
 While we were riding along, I asked Randy to rate his perceived difficulty of the day's ride, with 1 being a short ride on the very flat W&OD trail, and 10 being LOTOJA. He thought for a moment and responded, "Probably a six."
Six?? Seriously?? This is the hardest ride I've ever done and you're calling this a six?
But the next day, he emailed us and changed his statement a little. He uploads his Garmin data into a software program that takes into account the intensity, power output, and duration of the ride and spits out a Training Stress Score. For LOTOJA, the TSS was 811. The Skyline Sufferfest was 750. Here is the approximate guide for interpreting the TSS:
  • Less than 150 - low (recovery generally complete by following day)
  • 150-300 - medium (some residual fatigue may be present the next day, but gone by the second day
  • 300-450 - high (some residual fatigue may be present even after two days)
  • Greater than 450 - very high (residual fatigue lasting several days likely) 
So yeah, I'd say Skyline was a little more than a six. :)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Skyline Sufferfest 2013: Preparation

Hey I have an idea! Let's cycle all of Skyline Drive on Saturday.

Isn't that like, over 100 miles?


And over 10,000 feet of climbing?


And isn't it supposed to be cold, between 30 and 55 degrees?


What time will we need to get up to do all this?


Then I am IN!

So that's the plan. And actually, there is more craziness than just this. Normally we wouldn't need to get out that early for a century, but there is a third member of our party. He is kind of the one pushing this whole endeavor, and he plans to do the whole thing... twice. He just rode the LoToJa Classic last month, a grueling race of a similar distance but half the elevation gain. We will have a SAG vehicle with us the whole way packed with everything we'll need. Then, when Husband and I finish, we'll get in the car and turn around to support our riding buddy as he continues on.

I've professed my love of Shenandoah National Park before, and while I've walked the whole way on the AT, I've only cycled on the northern 30ish miles. Take a look at the profile map:

I should take comfort in that I'm already pretty familiar with the hardest part. But this will definitely be the most challenging century we've ever done. And let's be honest, we're not all that conditioned. We did get a good 70 mile ride in last week, but the weeks before that were a bust due to rain, a crash (woops, I guess I didn't mention that before..... we crashed our bikes!) and moving. But here we are. We'll figure it out, we always do! If we run into trouble, our trusty SAG vehicle will be right there to assist.
This week I've been making lists like a madwoman to get everything ready. We'll be taking practically every item of clothing we own to give us options for layering. And food! I made up a batch of some cocoa banana muffins, adapted from here, and tried out a new basic peanut butter protein bar recipe, and made up some Sea Salt Chocolate Power Bites from the Feedzone Cookbook. (Does anyone want to buy me this?). I also packed a plethora of other options, like fruit, string cheese, yogurt, Chex Mix, Clif Bars, Larabars, Honey Stinger waffles, Gu, granola, peanuts, and Gu Brew for drinks. Not to mention there are 4 stores and restaurants we'll be passing so... yeah. I think we'll be good on food.

sometimes I feel like my whole life is a series of lists
I'm fairly confident I have everything we'll need, but I'm nervous that something will go wrong tomorrow. Maybe something on one of our bikes will fail. Or it will just be straight up too hard or too cold and I'll quit at mile 60. Or, like my mom texted me this week, "What are the chances you would hit a deer or bear?"
Probably small, but at least I would have an awesome story to tell afterward.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"the Ultimate Guide to Eating Paleo" infographic

I don't eat paleo, but I thought this infographic was neat for, you know, information. In graphic form.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fit-tastic Friday Links

The Nacho Dorito --- The New York Times [Potato chips? No thanks. Cool Ranch Doritos? I have a hard time stopping with just one! This explains why...]

Yoga by Equinox -- Equinox Youtube channel [I stumblied upon this while looking for something else and was fascinated by this woman's awesome skills.]

Sugar Wise: How Fruit Stacks Up -- Greatist.com [Anyone else surprised that grapes are so high and pineapple is so low?]

Skinny, by Kate Savage -- emBody Blog [An old post about body image, conformity, and social expectations from a blog I love dearly.]

Monday, October 14, 2013

Banana-Oat-Whatever Muffins

Whenever there were overripe bananas at my house growing up, someone was bound to make up a batch of Cocoa Banana Muffins. These little guys were easy to make and froze well, not that we really needed to because they were eaten so quickly. And the ingredient list is pretty good, so I'm sure my mom felt okay about me taking 1 or 2 or 5 in my lunch box.

In my quest to eat less processed food, I remembered this recipe and thought how it would be better (and cheaper!) to stock the freezer with banana oat muffins instead of grabbing a packaged granola bar on the way to work. I started making changes, adding different flavors and reducing sugar. For the past year I've consistently had a batch of these Banana-Oat-Whatever Muffins in the freezer and, while they all come out a little differently, they never disappoint.

(all measurements are definitely approximate)
Mix together:
- 3 or 4 mashed over ripe bananas
- 1.5 c oats
- 1/2 c whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c sugar, if you're feeling it
- 1 T baking powder
- 1/2 T baking soda

Then add liquids:
- 1/2 c applesauce
- 1 egg (but I've done it without; it's fine!)
- splash vanilla
optional: 1/2 c milk

Mix until just combined, and go crazy adding whatever else you want!
- craisins or raisins
- chocolate chips or M&Ms
- coconut
- chia seeds
- nuts of any kind
- diced apple
- peanut butter
- avocado, mashed
- canned pumpkin
- cinnamon
- cocoa powder
- protein powder

Bake at 350' for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Yield is about 1 dozen muffins.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Keeping Safe while Running or Cycling: Lights & Reflective Gear

As fall is now upon us, early morning runners have to readjust to running in darkness. I bring you.... running and cycling safety! Blinky things and bright colors!

I have a hard time understanding why some people get uneasy when they hear that I frequently run when it's dark out or that I sometimes bike to work. Oh, and when I told people I would be thru hiking the Appalachian Trail solo. That incurred a lot of concerned looks. To a fault, it takes a lot to make me feel the "stranger danger" and I frequently have to remind myself how easy it would be for a car to take me out on my bike or when I'm running across an intersection.

You can imagine Husband's efforts to try to make me be safer in my pre dawn excursions. Here's how I light the night:

Headlamp- the Petzl Tikka 2 found here. I didn't realize until 2 months into my thru hike that it has a high and low setting in addition to the flashing white, solid red, and flashing red. I like a traditional head lamp because it has a variety of uses. When running, I wrap it on my wrist so I don't get a sweaty forehead. You can wear it as intended on your head while hiking, walking, running, or hey, when the power goes out. If I need it when I'm on my bike, I adjust the elastic and wear it over my helmet.

I snagged arm bands similar to these from the deal site at active.com for a few bucks. This particular one is found here at REI. It took me a little to get used to them, because they don't stay up on your bicep like I was expecting. Considering I only invested $6 for the pair, I'm cool with it. There are 4 settings: solid, flashing, super flash, and epileptic seizure inducing flash.

For cooler runs and rides, I love my EMS Women's Shell jacket (seen here). EMS tends to have a good sale rack, and that's where I found this. At the time I debated about the purchase, not sure if it was a need or a want, but I ended up getting one for me and one for Husband and they've been great! It's very thin so it works well to wear over anything to make me more visible.

I recently got this Nathan Streak reflective vest. It's so light and brethable I don't even notice I have it on. Similar to my fuel belt by the same brand, I have to wear it on the very tightest setting to fit, so I wonder how tiny people would fare.

I just got this bike light by Magicshine for Christmas last year, and MAN is it bright. Bright lights for cycling like these are pretty expensive, and this one will give you the biggest bang for your buck. It has a bright and super bright setting.

(PS- I still need a good red light. If you want to see a really awesome comparison for tail lights.. holy cow. See here.)

Bring on the winter!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pinterest Masterpieces aka WTF THIS ISN'T REAL FOOD

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. I love finding new recipes. I hate logging on for a minute and finding myself craving a rich dessert immediately. I love seeing witty posters and word art other people pin. I hate feeling like I'm wasting time scrolling through a jumble of makeup tutorials and meticulous wedding ideas. I love getting quick workout ideas. I hate the "5 minutes to flat abs!" captions.

What mostly makes me laugh, more than a picture of a cat with a funny caption, is when I see someone pin "clean eating ideas!" and "10 moves to shed pounds fast!" followed directly by a recipe for a sugary processed dessert monstrosity.

Why? Why would you submit yourself to this?

Please no. "But it's sooo good!" Of COURSE it tastes good. Look at it. YOU CAN'T EAT ALL THE THINGS.

None of this is even real food. So you want cheesy bread? Sure, go use some wheat dough and some real cheese. But this? This isn't food.

Caption: "Candy corn stuck in cookie dough center for candy corn on the cob!"

Just remember, friends don't let friends eat chemicals pretending to be food.

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 VHTRC Women's Trail Half Marathon

Other than my marathon, the VHTRC Women's Trail HM was the most excited I've ever been for an event. There were a lot of firsts for me:

1. First trail race. Training for this was pretty much the first time I'd ever ran on trails
2. First lottery system entry
3. First women's only event
4. First time offerred a shot of tequila at an aid station

The entry system was kind of wacky, and I barely made it in after being on the wait list. My preparation was mostly on the trails of the Bull Run battlefield, with a little on the Appalachian Trail as well. I wasn't sure what to expect on the actual course, but the description made me think it would be pretty hilly and challenging.  I had only 3 weeks to get cram my training in after my last century, so my plan was to shred my legs for a solid 2 weeks and then rest them for the 6 days leading up to the race. This involved some crazy situations like running a full 13 just three days after a century, a combined 20 miles on trails two days apart, and one Saturday of running 10 in Bull Run in the morning and hiking 6 on the AT in evening.

(Okay that last one was actually unintentional. But it was super beneficial.)

Anyway, I wasn't sure how this haphazard training method would come together, but on race day I was feeling pretty good! The course was through Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax. I had never been to Fountainhead before, but it was a great location.

After being directed to park on the side of the road, I picked up my number and got my shirt. It's an awesome long sleeved Patagonia technical shirt. I love getting decent shirts at races! Husband and I waited in line at the porta potties, and I must admit I was kind of intimadated by most of the people around me. The Virginia Happy Trails Running Club is more of an ultra marathon kind of club. All around me were super fit awesomely muscular women who have done 50 and 100 mile trail races. And then me- Hi, I like running. One time I did a marathon. Oh, you've done 100 miles? Over hills and on trails? I've hiked 100 miles on hills and trails. It took me 5 days. I was having serious leg muscle envy.

Anyway, because of my intimidation, I stuck to the back of the pack at the starting line. I reminded myself of the hints I had picked up from experienced trail runners: save you energy, walk up hills, ignore your watch, try not to break your leg on a root or a rock. GOT IT.

my trusty fuelbelt
The first mile or so was on pavement, and in hindsight, I was foolish to ease up to place myself towards the back of the pack. Once we got on the singletrack trail, I was pretty bottlenecked. I really didn't care; I wasn't going for time and as a newbie, I was trying to pick up on etiquette from the other women around me. By mile 5ish I had gotten out of the crowd and had a better groove going. This is also where I entered the "infamous Do Loop" which..... was not as hard as I thought it would be. I walked up a few hills. I passed some people. I went through a couple aid stations and grabbed a handful of cashews. Props to the aid stations for actually having nutritous and desirable options!

impossible to look good in running photos? sounds about right
a little better... maybe?
 Once out of the Do Loop, we were headed back to where we came from at the starting line. I had just passed a big pack of runners and made my way to the mile 8 aid station, where I could see the start & finish line.

Once I was back in the woods, I started seeing the occaisonal uber fit woman charging down the trail coming towards me. I realized the rest of the course would be an out and back, so I started counting runners that were crossing my path. I got to 70 at the turn around point, and then counted backward as I passed a few more women. At mile 11 I grabbed a swig of gatorade, delined a shot, (despite the chant  "Tequila makes you run faster!") and went on my merry way to the finish. The last few climbs were challenging, but I still felt pretty good and was encouraged by the distant sounds of the finish festivities.

I cruised in at 2:17 and landed 62nd place out of 220. I definitely think I could have pushed myself more, but I was intentionally conservative because of my lack of experience.

As for the finish line festivities, there was plenty of fresh fruit, smoothies, multigrain chips, and cookies to go around. I thought the organization was well planned, the atmosphere was supportive, the course was challenging, and the whole event was really well done. I loved this race and it will definitely be on my calendar for years to come!

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Garmin Forerunner 220 and 620

Garmin just announced these slick new watches, their first with color displays.

New features I think are pretty neat:
- Finish time prediction, based on current run stats and past performance
- A mobile app that allows a caring husband track you on your run

My watch already has satellite data transfer and the autopause feature, so those aren't shiny new developments for me. But they are awesome!

Priced at $250 and $400 (yikes!), they will be available in 5-8 weeks.

Detailed writeup here on zdnet.com.

ETA: Check out this blogger's review after running with the 620!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fit-tastic Friday Links - Good Eats Edition

All of the following have been tried, tested, and approved by yours truly:

Garden Tomato Basil Soup -- Season with Spice [Ahhhhh this was so good. We were lucky enough to have received a nice haul from a friend's garden, so almost all the ingredients in this were fresh. We could not stop exclaiming during dinner how delicious this was.]

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries -- a Kitchen Addiction [This is my favorite way to season sweet potatoes.  iI won't do it any other way. The chili powder and brown sugar is a great combination!]

(no sugar) Cranberry Banana Bread -- Once a Month Meals [No sugar, no honey... where does the sweetness come from? It's a mystery. But man this is good. When I was training for my my marathon in March I ate the whole loaf in one weekend.]

Cauliflower Pizza Crust -- One Good Thing [This was surprsingly really good! I liked it thin and we used less cheese than it called for. We also doubled the recipe for both of us.]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ashland Century - Tour de Lion 2013

When looking for cycling events, Husband and I have a few things we look for. In order of importance:

- Must be held on a Saturday (we're Mormon, and Sunday is a day of rest)
- Within two hours of home
- Reasonable cost (preferably under $50. There are two of us, after all)
- Well supported rest stops

The Tour de Lion met all of our criteria. The event was only $35 and the race organizer assured me via email that each rest stop was well stocked, including a lunch at the halfway point and second lunch at the finish.

We reviewed the course ahead of time and saw that it would be fairly flat. We like the challenge of hills (all of our other centuries have been suuuuper hilly) but also liked the idea of a less exhausting ride. :) We weren't thrilled with the out-and-back design of the course. Most organized rides are a loop, and it's definitely more desirable to have new scenery the whole time. Also, some of the joy of a downhill is taken away when you know that you're turning around at some point and going right back up it.

We found the starting line easily and picked up our packet. With cheap races, we don't expect much of a swag bag, but we did get some granola bars and fruit with our bibs. There were bagels and coffee on the registration tables, and checking in was quick and painless.

This was definitely the fewest people we'd seen at a century before- there were maybe 50 riders congregating at the starting line. A lot of them looked fast. We later learned that most of them were locals and from racing clubs in the area, so that explains why we never saw them again.

After just a few minutes, we settled into a pace with a solo female rider whom I immediately made friends with. I tend to do that. We stopped super briefly at the first rest stop, only 15 miles in, and I mostly veered over there because I saw chocolate. I can't refuse a handful of M&Ms. We quickly pedaled away and my new friend Melanie and I were chatting so much that we didn't realize we hadn't seen any signs in a while. Eventually we stopped and got out a cue sheet.... we had totally ridden off course. At least 5 miles. We checked a map (before smart phones, did humans just get lost constantly? and stay lost?) and debated trying to find a route back to the course, but then decided we would turn around, find the right turn, and in the interest of NOT adding more miles to the already long ride, we'd turn around before the halfway point to make up for the miles we were off course. Suddenly I was very glad it was an out-and-back.

On our way back to the course, we found several other riders who had missed the turn as well. See, we're not fools! I blame myself for our mishap because I was the one leading out of the rest stop after my impromptu chocolate grab, and Husband and Melanie were trying to catch up.

It turns out our little deviation added 16 miles to the ride. Husband decided to go the full distance to the turn around point, and sped off from us in pursuit of a crazy long and tiring day. For the next many many hours and miles, Melanie and I rode along on this oh so pleasant Saturday on this oh so flat ride.  Seriously, the weather couldn't have been better and the inclines and descents were mild and kept the ride interesting without being over challenging.

Because we turned around earlier than the course marked, we missed the halfway rest stop. The rest of the stops were fairly well supplied, but I would have preferred more variety. They had water, gatorade, ice, nature valley bars, trail mix, bananas, and an assortment of what I tend to call "crap food" like Doritos, hostess snacks, etc. I was glad I had brought a few items for myself.

At mile 90, my legs became lead and I was going so.slow. Melanie wins an award for being patient neough to stopp and wait for me at one point to make sure I didn't miss the not very well marked turns. A small climb woke me up, and before we knew it we were navigating back to the Food Lion where we started. The finish line tent was great about applauding each rider as they came in, awarding us with medals, and serving up BBQ ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, and rolls.

I had been wondering how Husband was faring, and was just starting to get worried when he came cruising in. 120 miles! Who does that?

It was a great day. The Tour de Lion century gets a low grade on course marking (not just for our one wrong turn, but the others were hard to follow at times, too), moderate grade on rest stops and finish line food, and high grade on convenience, cost, and overall friendliness. I have a hard time rating the course, because normally I wouldn't like an out-and-back but it ended up being very beneficial with our detour. The mild terrain would make this a great ride for someone trying out their first century, but would be disappointing for someone looking for a more challenging ride.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fit-tastic Friday Links

10 Most Commen Cardio Crimes -- Spark People [I am so guilty of #7 and #8!]

OMG! 7 AMaZinG Tricks to Lose Belly Fat!!!1!!  -- Runner's World

An Open Letter to all of my Weight Loss Clients -- HuffPost Women [This is absolutely a must read!]

New Yorker Rides into Obstacles in Bike Lane to Prove a Point --  22 Words  [This was posted a while ago, but it made me laugh. Hard.]

Monday, August 12, 2013

Virginia Happy Trail Running Club Half Marathon

edit on 9/20/13 - I survived! See my race report here
Hooray hooray, I just barely made it from the wait list into the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club Women's Half Marathon.

This race the has craziest entry system - there was the entry form, and then a lottery that told me I was forever down on the wait list, and then the adjusted wait list once everyone had confirmed they wanted to be on the wait list, and then pay via PayPal and IF you get in we'll take your money, and then finally, the move of people from the wait list to the entrants list. By my last count, I was 10th on the wait list of people who had paid their money and were hoping to get moved to the entrants list. They took 12.

I'm so excited! I've never done a trail race before. The club seems really laid back and friendly, and I like that this is a women's only event. There's something kind of hardcore and bad-a about trail running. I expect some cool photos.

The downside? Training. Lest we forget, I have a century coming up. I will have two weekends in between the century and the half marathon. If it were a regular road race, I wouldn't sweat it. But a trail race? The only day I can get in a good trail run is Saturday, when I have the time and daylight. But what am I doing on Saturdays? Spending a ridiculous amount of time on my bike.

But I'll figure it out; I always do! Can't wait for September 14th.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

women's running and fitness shirts to get excited about


Like You're on Fire, $11.95 via FitnessFreaks on Etsy
Shut Up and Run, $11.95 via FitnessFreaks on Etsy

Half the Distance Twice the Fun, $30 via Pacers Running Store

Virginia is for Runners, $25 via Pacers Running Store

Ma Runnin Shirt, $28.99 via Skreened

Strong is the New Skinny, $22 via VividInk on Etsy