Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Travels, trails and exploration

The Mike had an endurance ride in central Iowa the other weekend.  Part of the course was for them to ride their bikes through the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge .  Who even knew this existed just 25 miles south of I-80/Colfax friends of the center link here --seriously, there are NO signs along I-80 for this wonderful area!)

We toured part of the center first, complete with full size elk and bison models inside the education center (did you know the fluffy foreleg hair of the bison are called 'pantaloons'?).  They have a short video on how the prairie has changed since settlers arrived and how they are changing it back again. 

Goofing off with the bison head.

Elk in the  bison bison free range area.  We think there were a few deer in there too. However, I did not get to spy any bison bison.  The Mike, however, did while during the race.---> He thought this sign was fun. ."stay in your car and on the road". I said that staying on one's bike is the same thing as staying in one's car; however, one just isn't protected as well.  I doubt I'd ever see a bicyclist honking and hollering at a bison trying to get its attention, as we saw in South Dakota near a couple years ago.

Last weekend I went to my parents'.  While there I went on my long run for the week (13 miles) and took a "breather" in there with a shaded stretch with no wind blowing and I admit, I did consume a few berries.  I also managed to scare up a deer, which took off away from me down the former railroad trail--it ran for a good three-fourths of a mile, if not more.  Another time I rounded a curve and spied a deer up ahead crossing the slightly wooded area (read: this is why I refuse to run in the country in the dark. ..deer, opossums, badgers, and the ever favorable skunk).
When I got back home, dad had already prepared lunch for him and mom-- a fabulous sirloin steak with mushrooms and some pan fried potatoes.  That man does know how to take care of himself in the kitchen. [sorry, no photos, too hungry!] 
I got the privilege of cleaning up ;-)

Saturday evening, after church, we went to town to get some things at the grocery store.  Mom has an electric wheelchair now and she just GOES about the store. Thank goodness it was not busy at all (less for us to worry about).   When we got home, the pot roast dad had put in the crockpot was smelling so wonderful.  Redwine and some water, spices, veggies and hmmm, hmmm hmmm GREAT.  Plus, only one pan to clean. However, the leftovers became fixings for soup on Sunday, along with some peppers and tomatoes.  

Sunday morning I was to run, per the coach, "an easy three miles".   I had happened to be on the Omaha Running Club's page in fabulous Facebook-land Friday and heard about The Road To Omaha Run 5k with benefits going to help Omaha parks and schools.  What could be more fun than running along the river front area (part of which had been under water just last year from the horrendous flood) and then running the warmup track area at the TD Ameritrade Park?   I got up early and drove up to get registered and then run, agreeing to meet mom and dad at the 11Worth restaurant for breakfast afterwards, YUM!

The sculpture along the Missouri River (Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge in back).  The flood waters were up to the sculpture men's necks/raised arms. It's a sculpture to those who helped build/shape this great city. 

I got registered and was able to get a shirt too (SaWeet). Waiting around, I got ready --sunscreen!--did some stretching, yoga, and people watching (as well as watching the newscasters who were there, KETV link to race story here --I am in the video, just not my front side, so I won't be sharing where I was, what I was wearing!).   Then I lined up with about 500 of my closest friends on Sunday morning and we were off on the four foot wide trail/sidewalk.  One youngster almost bit the dust in front of me by tripping on her own feet (eek!) and then the powerful folks who didn't get lined up early.   It was really cool as we came into the stadium, even for this non-sports follower.  Running on the track, seeing the stands from a position few see, was great. . . We were suppose  to be able to see ourselves on the big screen, via a video camera feed set up on the ground as we were rounding third base. However about twenty of us missed that opportunity due to some young woman standing of the camera while setting up her cell phone camera to take a picture of herself on the big screen. I was disappointed in not being able to see myself up there, but I was more disappointed for the dad and his six or seven year old son in front of me who were trying to get in position to see themselves on the screen and the disappointing voice of the child who only got to see a pink shirted young woman on the big screen. (classy?  yeah, I said something.   I can see being oblivious in a 26.2 race, I can't see being oblivious in a 3.1 mile race!)

I was happy with my time considering a) it was hot, we didn't start until 9am; b) it was suppose to be an "easy" run; and c) there were a few small hills in there----I am considering it an eye opener for the Omaha Marathon I'm doing in September--glass medals, handed out by Marines in uniform!!! 

Trying to cool off afterwards was laughable.  I did finally stop glistening, got cleaned up and changed at the public restrooms there  and managed to pull into the restaurant parking lot at the same time as my parents--how is that for timing?

The sculpture along the Missouri River (Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge in back).  The flood waters were up to the sculpture men's necks/raised arms. It's a sculpture to those who helped build/shape this great city.
Ham and Cheese omelet with hash browns at 11Worth on, Leavenworth, on Omaha.   I couldn't eat all the omelet, though I was pretty close. Mom and dad shared the full size (four eggs) philly steak omelet, I got the junior size (which is two or three eggs).  

Afterward we got home and some things around the house, I packaged up some of the soup dad had made for eating along my route and got ready for my five hour car ride home.  Thankfully the drive was uneventful (something a cousin's hubby didn't have that morning. Thank goodness they are okay!).

Monday night we had left over GF pizza (chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms and black olives) which I picked up Sunday on my way back into town,  along with a "deconstructed" spinach salad: spinach, sliced apple, cherry tomatoes, carrots and some cheese curds (not a lot, since we had cheese on the pizza). 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Highs and Lows, or: The unnamed blog post.

Flag Day, a day to honor the adoption of the national flag on June 14, 1777.  For how to properly honor the flag, fold it, etc, check out .     I'm a pretty patriotic person...I think most people are.  Last Saturday I drove to a meeting and back again and saw two separate conveys. The little kid in me came out and I had to wave to them all as they went about their training. 

As I headed back into town I stopped at Target for some quick buys with a stop at the ladies room first. Good thing I wasn't having any Celiac contaminated moments. Only ONE bathroom was "in order". No rush, but I found that odd. . . then I wondered if this is the new 'we're short staffed so we don't have time to clean". I thought it was rather interesting to have 3/4 of the facilities out of order.

Yesterday I spied this gorgeous (restored?) vehicle. The license plate said it was a 1937, meaning it was created and sold at a time when the country and world were working their way out of a great depression. . . I wonder if any cars or trucks manufactured today will ever be considered classics (we have such a  society of  that loves to use disposable items. Are any vehicles today marketed/built to last more than ten of twenty  years?

Tuesday I went for the morning run. Had a set thing to do, with a total of six miles, so I ran a loop I haven't done for a while.  I'm totally enjoying my new gadget/training tool-- the MotoActv all in one mp3 player, heart rate, gps, etc. It's AWESOME.  We picked it up at the Hospital Hill Expo. The Mike's been looking at it, reading reviews, etc. The sales woman started talking about it and I was in LOVE! All these tools in one gadget? Sign me up!  I ran with it in the race, though only for the MP3 part, not for a training tool of any sort. Every thirty minutes the computer would come on and remind me to drink, or to make sure I was upright, tell me the mileage, how far into my goal (plugged in 13.1 for the race) I was, etc.  The computer came on and said the mileage, which was under 2 miles to the finish, and I was pumped from that and knowing I was sooo close to being finished.  Can you tell I love this thing?  Tuesday I was out with it and it was saying something to the effect of, 'if you keep up this pace, you'll run your fastest mile to date'.  'remember to keep your pace steady' and things of that nature.

I didn't stop for any photos until the last mile. I came around the corner and started up the incline when I spied two deer in the distance. I pulled out the phone for the camera, but by the time that was accomplished the doe and her fawn were gone.  I grabbed a great ray of sunshine in this daisy though:

Yesterday as I came home from yoga I spied two more deer, different road, different deer (since these were both adults) and managed to power down before they got spooked (T intersection, it would have been bad if they were spooked into traffic).

Last night I thought turkey sounded  pretty good, so I baked up a turkey breast in a foil packet with some sage and thyme and put in a small butternut squash as well. . .

It was good, but I realized I didn't have any cranberries on hand, nor did I have any chicken or turkey broth. Mike put some BBQ sauce on his turkey. I put a little mustard on mine.  I also boiled up some Yukon Gold potatoes and mashed them with a little butter and milk.

Not the most enthusiastic or fabulous dinner, but it was good and nutritious :)

The Mike was craving some sugar, so I made up some of the all time best brownies: Gluten Free Pantry --even non-Celiacs LOVE these brownies. Great brownies. .. not the best thing to have before bed with a morning run.  I was sluggish this morning, partially from being a little dehydrated and partially from sugar before bed. . . but then I look at the daisy photo above and everything is rays of sunshine :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The true Hospital Hill race recap

HA. I realized this morning that I did not actually do much of a race recap in my last post!  I must have been more tired than I had thought.  Unfortunately, I'm still tired.  One of the cats decided I should be awake at 3:58am and give him attention. My alarm went off at 5 for yoga and at 5:10 a strange cat (beautiful butterscotch tom cat) showed up on the deck and the same cat of ours is very territorial and was going into "defending his territory" mode complete with huffs and puffs like a bull and pounding on the glass door. I ended up putting the cat in the bathroom with the pocket door open a few inches so he could calm down and know he wasn't locked in completely--but not before the beautiful fur-ball pictured below snagged onto my wrist and chomped down (luckily, only scratches, no puncture). The Mike said the cat ended up getting out and was later hopping up/down on the bed and then charging the patio door some more. . . oh, the life of cat caregivers.
Here is the darling cat on a better day, when he didn't want to get off the bed as the blankets were being arranged. 

Race day, June 2, 2012, Hospital Hill Run was a fabulous day.  Up at 3 or so, on my way by 3:30am to Kansas City for the race. I found the same entrance to the parking garage I used last year was blocked by barricades, but some very nice men moved two aside for me so I could get in. I was fine with being "stuck" in the garage for hours since I was going to be running and hanging out for a bit afterwards.  Found plenty of space in the same parking area as last year, right near the garage exit and right out to the festivities and right next to the real bathroom in the parking garage (we all know how important quick access is on race day, right?).

I got there around 5am, and the volunteers were already setting up the food line for afterwards and all other tents. It's quite magical and reminded me of working at THE best state fair. .the one and only Iowa STATE FAIR, and watching the small town come to life each morning.

Last year I had looked at the layout of the race, but really couldn't compute that in my head to anything reasonable. and I kept hearing about THE hill and  that there were three main hills. . . guess what, there are many, many more than that and the little ones wipe you out.  This year, I got a little smarter, and I printed out the elevation display, taped it, and then punched small holes in the side for safety pins which I then used to pin to my left thigh and my race number on my right thigh. That way, when I would stop for stretching the calves, I could look at the elevation and where we were at on the course.

It really worked  well in knowing where the complete downhills were where I could run much faster and pass others. I didn't care (too much) if they'd pass me on the way up a hill if I could pass them again on the downside. The main two places to do this were after the middle --that was pretty much a straight down hill with a bit of a flat spot at the end and then at the very end, the map isn't quite right since the end/start are only about a block apart in distance and not a lot in elevation. 

The course had plenty of hydration via aid stations, several neighbors along the street made us feel like we were in a parade as they sipped coffee on their doorstep and watched us, and then there were the ones who set up their garden hose for a sprinkler. I learned my lesson last year. I will NOT run through a hose again. If it's humid the water won't evaporate and all it does is cool you for 2.5 seconds and then you're running in wetter clothes. 

BEST fan/volunteer award goes to the two 80 year old women who were traffic volunteers and had their pan lids out there for noise makers for us. They were definitely enjoying themselves, and their spirit was contagious!

The BEST aid station award goes to. . . the trainers near the top of Broadway Hill at some monument (which I wish I knew what it was, but wasn't stopping in the race to peruse the monument. They had not only ICE which I used to file my water bottle to help cool down my body temperature in the race as the sun was coming out and shining down on hot asphalt, but they also had fla-vor-ice. . .and these really hit the spot. I was pretty sure they're GF too, but I wasn't too concerned at that point, I needed to cool down my core so I could finish strong.  

I got to the top of the hill, where the road evened out, there was another aid/water station at the end there, and then it was down hill for a block, up hill for the "trinity hill" which is the third major hill the race talks about. Last year I didn't have a problem with it, this year I walked for about ten yards on it, then I had a woman I had passed cheering me on to get going, jogged up to the top, took a deep cleansing breath and then sprinted as much as I could downhill for about three, four blocks (though it's one long one as there is a Fed. bldg there) and then around a monument, down a curving street, down for another few blocks worth and then. . .and then. . . and then I had to stop and walk for about 10 yards again and then I carried on.  As I came under the walkway/bridge I did get passed by three people I had just run past, but I didn't care. I cared that I missed my goal by 24 seconds.  Yup. My finish time was 24 seconds over the even time that I wanted. :-(    Maybe if I hadn't stopped to fill the water bottle with ice? nah, I needed that to hold in my hand and cool down, maybe if I hadn't walked a bit on Broadway, nah, my legs were killing me, I needed that.

Eh, what really counts is, the temps were awesome this year, the cheerleaders on the course (okay, the ones at aid stations and street corners, not the spectators who had racers in the race) were great,  and inspiring (as was the old man who was bent over like my kindergarten teacher, but he was still competing).  The training on more hills and doing yoga for my core work paid off and I knocked 15 minutes and some seconds off my time from last year. I attribute at least 8 of those minutes from the extreme heat and humidity of 2011. I recall the start was 85º and they said about 80% humidity at 7am and then it went up from there.  Thus, I am sticking with, "I cut 7 minutes off my time" in real numbers!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Race recap and travel log

As I said in my previous post, we were in Kansas for a cycling event for The Mike.  We arrived in Emporia, Kansas. This year we stayed at the Candlewood Suites. In the past we have always had to hope for a microwave and small dorm fridge in a room. The suite had a pretty regular kitchen. Full fridge, dishwasher, plates, pots, pans, two burner stove, microwave. It was SWEET!

Next stop was registration for The Mike, then Walmart for groceries (it was across from the hotel).  Course map for his race.  Emporia is at right center.  His race would take him to the southern side, then to the middle left and up to Council Grove at the center top with its history on the trail. (which is a very nice town on the Sante Fe trail). Emporia west to Strong City  and north to Council Grove would be a great road trip in American History and the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Between packet pickup and waiting for the racer's meeting, we had an hour or so to kill and we walked along the business district. There were multiple pianos painted and decorated in various themes and designs. This one was outside the Brown Shoe Store and sheltered from the elements.  Very attractive.  I sampled tickling the ivories at each one. . . though I don't recall how to actually play piano from my lessons.  

Mike had his race meeting and I started on dinner at hotel (ah, home sweet home!).  We didn't think it out too carefully though, so we had two orange veggies (sweet potatoes and carrots), pork chops with some Alfredo sauce (which seemed to be gluten free via the label, but I'm not putting the brand here just in case it's really not. I had a little sauce, Mike had more of it. Really good though and no problems for me). Served with a salad greens and tomato.  Cherries on the side and a nice glass of milk. Then to try to wind down to get to bed by 9. .. uh, yeah, that didn't happen.  I think I finally fell asleep about ten!

One of the fabulous large homes in Emporia along 12th (I believe) which turned into "Grand" ha, how awesome is that. This house is actually for sale, It had a small gardner's shed or garage behind the left side of it as well.  There were a few others long the street that weren't brick, some with pillars, some without, some with Greek letters on for Emporia University which is fairly closeby.
A couple of years ago we took Mike's nephews on vacation with us.  I found this board in a book store (It's a Melissa & Doug) and while the sound of hair band elastic snapping wooden pieces on a board isn't the best sound--oh the joys--- it is fun to visually see where the cars full of folks have been.  We were lucky enough to find Maine on the interstate and Alaska in town (cyclists come from all over!).  Amazingly, apparently people only travel I-35 and I-70 for Kansas if they live in the north/south corridor there, lol. 

My before race picture has the Flat Ethan who I took on the road trip with us. Flat Ethan lives in Massachusetts and he wanted to visit the Midwest. He got more than he bargained for, as he ran the Hospital Hill half marathon with me!  

My face is always bright red after I run, no matter if it's fast or slow, long or short. 

The very nice fountain near the finish line.  (photo taken after I spent time at the Crown Plaza, so the finish area had been taken down already).  

I headed out in search of gluten free food for lunch. I decided on pizza again, though I was debating the breakfast place owned by the same folks.  The pizza was sooo great last year I just had to have it again. Um, it turned out to be one of those things where memory of the item was so much better than the food was this time around, or maybe my body was craving protein more than it was carbs. 

In Olathe, Kansas at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop.  I stopped due to some spare time, some need to walk for a bit before driving back to Emporia, and the curiosity of following a historical marker sign. This place is a living history farm area. Small admission fee, an indoor museum and an outdoor working farm. 

For whatever reason, the drive back to Emporia seemed to go much faster than the trip there before. Maybe it was knowing I didn't have to drive this stretch again, or knowing the visuals along the way and that I was almost "home". 

After refreshing, I went to downtown for the the showing of THE GOONIES (read: best movie ever) on the big screen at the Granada Theater. Then I went back to the hotel (and now I can't even recall why I did that).  Then back downtown about 8:15. Mike was wanting to beat his previous finish time of around 10pm (last year) and around midnight (2 years ago) 

Imagine my surprise when the announcer said, "we have five cyclists coming in and we'll announce their names shortly" to everyone immediately cheering for someone, my looking up and recognizing Mike's cycling kit. EEK --quick grab the camera! . . .
Mike signing a trading card for a young race fan.

The theater lit up at night. Beautiful, isn't it?

Sunday we headed out to and decided to head up to my parents'.  We skipped the family reunion this year, as  going to that and then my parents' would have been a lot of extra time on the road, but there was a 'shortcut' to my parents via the navigation system in the car  so we headed there.  Along the way we saw ONE, just one, historical marker.  . .. I knew of John Brown via Harpers Ferry and via the John Brown Caves in Nebraska City (which were part of elementary school field trips), but I forget that he was in Kansas too. . .so many battles are in Kansas.  This one we thought was interesting. The folklore that Brown managed to get those chasing him to disband by his bravery (or stupidity) of charging through a swollen stream in December.

Just 1,142 miles and we were back home after leaving for our three day weekend. Yes. All this managed to happen in three days.  

 What was on our doorstep when we arrived home?  A fabulous box of Chobani packed in a well insulated ice packed container.  YUM!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Race prep and travel. . .

The first weekend of June has a race for both The Mike and myself. A lot of miles will be put on the car, more on his bum  (200) and a few (13.1) on my feet.

The Mike has a race in the east/middle of Kansas right at the edge of the Flint Hills. (gorgeous area, a must for road trips I believe) .   The first year The Mike did this race, I drove the car to eat of the known towns, just in case he needed a ride, there was a small rodeo going on in one area, the beautiful hills and historic buildings were amazing, the town of Council Grove, (amazing history in that town, Sante Fe trail, councils with the first People, great shopping, etc).  

Last year I decided to find a foot race and I found the Hospital Hill Run, created the same year I was born (aww) and drove to KC, MO for the race--which meant I missed his race start, but did get to see him finish.   As anyone who lives anywhere knows, weather can change quickly.  2011 the weather in Kansas as hot and humid, making for a difficult (for me) run, about fifteen minutes off my game plan, but knowing that you're suppose to add time to your  projected for so much heat and humidity, plus all the hills (which I just don't train on/for) I thought I did okay.    It was a good year to do the race and finish. The finish medals of 2011, 2012 and 2013 are suppose to be really awesome, so you'd wind up with an awesome "40 year" medal for their birthday.

On the road again. . . just can't wait to get on the road again. . . 

Okay, it's not a highway photo, but it's a road :0)  

Rest stop just on inside Missouri from Iowa. . . has great scenery and a nice walking path for a break from driving. A full visitor center with a staff member to answer questions and pamphlets for any region of the state. 

Home to point A, get my race packet: 320miles. . . .and yes, that photo is not good for my natural highlights!

 Eat at Chipotle Restaurant. . . almost everything is noted as GF, except the tortilla shells.  YUM.  THe pork is the least spicy, and it still has some kick for this mouth.  This is the carnita in a "bowl", rice, pulled pork, pico, green salsa (I know it's name, I just can't spell it!), a little cheese, lettuce and guac.  YUM.

 Then travel to point B, our overnight place, another 100 miles.  Okay, no photo of the town yet!

Then Quirky gets to get up at 3 to 4am and head back the 100 miles to do her 13.1 event at 7am! Woot!

The Mike gets to get up about 4 or 5 am and read for his endurance event.

Then Quirky gets to drive 100 miles back to Point B. and wait for hubby to finish race. . . about hmmm, 9, 10pm.

Late night dining--and amazingly, for a place along I-35/I-335, the national chain restaurants are not open late. . . enter the local mom and pop place!

Sleep, sleep, sleep and then drive home the next day!  427 miles (plus more if we have time to stop and see family).

Total projected miles for the weekend:  1,047. And that's being conservative.

People have said we're nuts, even to our faces!

Last year at this time it was hot, hot, hot. Race day 2011 was about 85 degrees by 7am and full humidity (85% then and it was higher during the day).  I finished about fifteen minutes slower than I wanted to, but was glad to finish at all. Plenty of hills, heat and humidity.  I got done, freshened up, went to Crown Plaza shops, walked a bit and then found Minsky's pizza for refreshing GLUTEN FREE pizza from a real pizza place. okay, so the crust is premade, who cares, it was hot, fresh, ooey gooey cheese and what the stomach ordered.  Complete with lemon cake for dessert!  When I got back to Emporia I didn't like the look of the clouds off to the northwest and was worried. The Mike said a farmer offered him shelter in the barn and he turned it down, then the rain and hail started.  Farmers always know the weather. If a farmer offers you shelter in yucky looking cloud weather, there is a reason!  Some of the racers bailed on the race after getting soaked with rain, then hit with hail and still being far from the finish, others finished the race.

Tomorrow's forecast: SWEET!   50º for start, and upwards of 75 for the high of the day.