Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day One - November 14

Sunrise on November 14th was at 6:37am. Rideout started at 6:38am. Team Tutu Much started out winding our way through Miami. Honestly, we started in the Pinecrest neighborhood -- home of some serious mansions. I think the Ride Organizers felt guilty as it wasn't Miami proper, so they wound us through neighborhoods for about 20 miles. The temps started climbing. Julie was not happy as had forecast temps in the low 70's.

So...the first Pit 2 (mile 28?) I stopped for the day. While I'd drank 70 ounces of water from my camelback and 3 16.9 ounce bottles of Propel, very little was coming out. Hardly any, in fact. Add to that that I was overheating it seemed much wisher to stop. Kathy, Ron W., Tom and Ron O. all continued to press on to Pit 3 and lunch. I was eventually transported to Pit 3 where I found Kathy, Tom and Ron O. Seems Ron W's knee was not cooperating and he had to stop between Pits 2 and 3. The remaining 3 members on bikes of Team Tutu Much set out, while I waited for Ron and eventual transport to Duck Key.

I am thrilled to report that Ron O made it to Pit 4 -- which I think was at the 78 mile mark. Tom and Kathy made it all 100 miles -- and as luck would have it, Ron, Ron and I were at the entrance to "camp" and watched them ride in!

I'm back!

It's been a little over 2 weeks since we finished the Smart Ride, ending at the White Street Pier AIDS Memorial in Key West under a beautiful blue sky. Correction: beautiful blue sky in amazingly HOT weather. Hotter than we expected. Hotter than is normal. Which was followed by 3 days of wind gusts ranging from 10-35mph and temperatures below normal. So much for my plan of lounging by the pool!

The bikes all arrived in Miami courtesy of Jackie & Liz, PhD Transport and were taken to "bike parking." Visors were distributed to the ride support team (Jackie, Liz, Mac, John, Linda, Mary and David (who also served as a volunteer massage therapist on the ride). The visors matched our costumes. See picture above - from left to right: Ron W., Kathy, Julie, Tom, and Ron O.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Heading South

Last week and this week has been filled with visits to the gym, and finishing the rainbow tutus. And the visors for the non riders. Hehehe Wait until you see the pictures after the ride!

Our bikes are now in Florida, compliments of Jackie & Liz transporters. They called with every state line they crossed. :-) They are spending some time visiting friends and touring around. Yesterday they went on a boat to see the manatees - mom said there were so many of them and she was able to pet them! She decided against swimming with them as the water was cold and she'd need a wetsuit.

We fly to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow (Wednesday 11/12) where we'll spend the night with friends. Thursday is registration and the safety video and getting our bikes to bike parking. Friday we ride...early. Saturday closing ceremonies are at 2pm. After that it's R&R! We've planned a trip to the Dry Tortugas where we can go scuba diving....hopefully the water is warm!

Send prayers, warm thoughts, good vibes and karma to us all on Friday and Saturday. Thanks for all your support!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Ok...Monday I don't think I did a darn thing. Can't remember why exactly.

Tuesday the polls opened at 7am, so we woke up and showered (Kathy) and dressed and were heading out as early as possible. The convenient thing is that our polling place is RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. And at 6:30am the phone rang. It was my mom, already in line with Liz her housemate. Seems Liz needed a potty. And we were just across the street. And awake. :-)

We got in line around 6:40am and were done with the lines and the voting by 7:45am. I drove Kathy to the metro and headed straight to the gym. Normally I listen to my book on tape/cd, but this morning I was enthralled by CNN.

I must say that I felt this was an historic year. I was able to cast my first vote for a woman for President in a primary election, and my first vote for an African-American in the general election. I thought Sen. McCain was eloquent in his concession speech and that Sen. Obama was inspirational. Let's hope that we can all unite behind the President-elect and move forward as a nation.

Wednesday was back to the gym as usual. Still watching CNN and hoping that North Carolina would swing the way I hope. :-)

If you voted -- thank you. If you didn't, you'd better have a good reason!

Sunday (I'm behind)

So...Sunday Kathy asked several times if we were going to ride. That should have been my warning that she really wasn't into the riding thing. It was cold, after all. But I said "sure" so we dressed and hydrated and ate and hauled the bikes up from the basement.

I think we made it MAYBE 1/2 a mile before Kathy, the lead, stopped to ask what the plan was. Hey, my thighs were absolutely frozen. I'd gone out to take recycling out wearing a t-shirt and thought it was fine even though it was 58 degrees. That's 58 degrees without you biking 20+ (I'm ambitious!) miles per hour. Kathy's fingers were frozen.

So we did a whopping 3 miles (WOOO HOOO) and wimped out. But we did load the bikes on the trainer (Thanks Greg) and each did 45 minutes.

I hate the cold. If you can call 58 degrees cold. BRRRRR

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Saturday we had gorgeous fall weather and temps near 70, so it was out for a bike ride! We started on our usual around the neighborhood loop, then headed out for our bigger loop. It was so beautiful we decided to go further and visited the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge. There's a great 3 mile loop in the park, and at the halfway point they had porto-potties. It's bad when you get excited about seeing a porto-pottie, and then that you rate it as a good one because they had hand sanitizer! The parking lot there is lit by solar lights -- why aren't more parking lots and streets lit by these things? We read the little sign that told all about where the parts were made and how it works. Particularly liked that the lights "turn on at dust." Really? Dust? God help people who aren't good at housecleaning if their lights turned on at dust!!

Aside from the 2 jacka_s drivers who thought it would be fun to try to run me off the road, the vehicular traffic wasn't bad. I felt really good and even commented to Kathy that "this going to the gym crap really works!" Didn't struggle up the hills as much as last week -- yeah!!!

At the end of the ride we did a short lap around the neighborhood with Kathy leading the way. Just after turning onto Greenhill, there was a squirrel in the road. I swear he was doing that car insurance commercial -- where they run in front of a car to try to make the driver wreck. Anyway, the little furry beast did the same to me, waiting until the last minute to dash in front of me. It was so funny it made me laugh...and thankfully not wreck the bike!

Total mileage -- 26 miles -- yippeee!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yoga Break!

Friday we did not go to the gym, but Kathy and I, accompanied by Margaret the cat, did a yoga tape. Kathy refers to it as the "yoga stretch tape" but the real title is "Yoga for Weight Loss." or "Yoga to make you unflexible people feel like an idiot when attempting these poses."

Try this one: stand with your legs spread wide apart, toes pointing forward. Turn your right foot out to the right. Raise both your arms to the sides. Bend your body towards the right. Touch your right foot with your right hand. Riiiiightttt. Don't forget attempting to stay standing while trying this pose. I'm so glad we don't have a video camera!

Actually, we both felt really good after the tape. You do get some good stretching, which we definitely needed!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

4 for 4

I have hauled my fanny to the gym 4 days in a row this week -- yeah! I kept increasing the length of my cardio workout each day. Today I was tired. And I had to pee. So the cardio part wasn't quite as long. Hard to concentrate when your bladder is jumping up and down saying "Hey! What about us?" Ahh well....

Forecast for the weekend is supposed to be good so we'll be able to get some biking in. If the weather doesn't cooperate, there's always the trainer!

Today is "clean the house day" -- it's the off week for the cleaning lady, so Julie plays the role. Maybe I can get some more aerobic activity in by running up and down the stairs!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The plan

Ok. Crunch time. Literally and figuratively. Only 3 (GULP) weeks until the ride. So 3 weeks to concentrate on upping my aerobic workouts and riding as much as possible. Thanks to Greg for the trainer, as today's forecast is for rain, wind gusts and temperatures around 48. Brrr.

Yesterday I went to the gym. You know you haven't been in a while when you can't remember whether to hold your id face up or face down for the scanner. :-) Bally's had some special thing going on -- there were personal trainers trolling around everywhere I looked. I kept the headphones on and did not make eye contact with them...didn't want to encourage them. I really didn't want to go to the gym, but forced myself to anyway. Today I'll see if my friend Ron wants to go with me...we can work the guilt angle on each other.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back in the Saddle

It's been a long couple of weeks. That pesky cold I caught in California? Still hanging on. The coughing is slowing disappearing thankfully! Last Saturday we hauled out the bikes & gear. We did a little loop around the neighborhood then stopped at home to check in. I still wasn't feeling great, and my bike was making a strange rattling sound. So I opted to stay home, while Kathy did the big loop. I gave my bike a good cleaning and then hooked it up to the trainer. I thought I'd listen to my book on tape which does a good job of distracting me at the gym. Doesn't work so well on the trainer. So I popped in the soundtrack to the movie "Mamma Mia" and took off! I did about 40 minutes on it and felt pretty good. Kathy came back from her loop a bit windblown. Seems those 15-25mph wind gusts are might hard to ride in. So she did a stint on the trainer too!

This past weekend we were rained out Saturday, but Sunday we took to the roads. Between the neighborhood loop and the longer one, I rode 18 miles. Not where I expected to be at this point in my training, but A. further than I've ridden in well over a month and B. I felt great!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

September 26 - last day

We left Calistoga to head to the ocean and Point Reyes. More long and winding roads. Perhaps they were all straight at some point but the numerous earthquakes made them curvy? Had a yummy lunch at the Cowgirl Creamery deli in Point Reyes Station, then headed onward to the Point Reyes lighthouse. Yet more winding roads. Lots of views of cows. At one point the GPS showed no roads, just our car driving in the middle of nowhere. Getting closer to the lighthouse -- FOG. Kathy and I just started laughing as we hiked from the parking lot up towards the "view." Saw a deer grazing near the road. Debated about walking down the 300+ steps to the actual lighthouse. The warning said the walk up was like climbing up a 30' building. Braved it anyway, hoping that the fog would disappear. It didn't, but we did get some views of the coastline. Not the postcard views we saw in the gift shop, but worth it anyway. Then the climb back up. Pant, pant, pant.

Next Julie took the wheel for the drive to Muir Woods to see the Giant Redwoods. I know we've driving lots of winding roads, but this took the cake. Got to drive down Highway 1 right on the coast. I think I was glad I was not in the passenger seat looking straight down! Beautiful views, gorgeous scenery. Muir Woods was a nice little mile roundtrip through the Giant Redwoods grove. Back in the car, heading towards SF. Get on highway 101 again, round the bend to see the sunlight hitting the Marin side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Detoured to get some photos -- as did many other people. So strange -- Marin side was clear, fog started midway and the bridge disappeared! All in all, a very good vacation. We definitely want to go back and spend more time in SF, and Napa/Sonoma Valley. And maybe a trip to Yosemite in the spring when the waterfalls are flowing. Now it's back to work!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vacation - 9/25

We left Yosemite and headed towards Napa Valley where we were treated to a wine tasting at Robert Biale Vineyards. Hey, alcohol kills germs, right? :-) Delicious wines, followed by a yummy lunch. Continued up to our final destination -- Calistoga. We wanted a little pampering and had found a spa that had lodging. We'd scheduled mud baths, mineral baths, and massages. This was our first mud bath. Let's just say we've done that and won't be doing that again. Ever. Obviously you are nude for this put your feet into the tub o'mud. Then you squat in the mud and shimmy until you get down as far as you can and stretch out. When you are imagining mud, this is NOT the mud we splashed in as kids. This is like peat moss -- a thick concoction of yuck. Supposed to draw toxins out....was hoping it would draw my cold right out of me. It didn't. And now we have much everywhere. And I do mean EVERYWHERE. Shut your eyes right now and bring a happier image to mind!!

The rest of the treatment was nice and relaxing. So much so we couldn't make a decision where to eat dinner, and stumbled into practically the first place we found. Where they had homemade mac and cheese on the menu -- I was in heaven!!!

Vacation - 9/24

Woke up with a cold this morning -- ugh. Was not about to let it spoil vacation though, so we headed out again, this time driving to the south end of the park. We wanted to see the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Many more hairpin turns and miles later, we arrived at the grove. Pretty amazing -- there are giant trees in the middle of the parking lot. We started our hike which was billed at 2 miles roundtrip. Uphill. Lots of giant trees to look at -- some upright, some on the ground. See the photo of their roots? They are very shallow to support trees that can be up to 100 feet around. The cold started to win the battle, and I had to stop and rest for a while. Kathy went ahead to see the "Grizzly Giant" -- a huge tree. She took pictures so I could see what I missed. It wasn't too much farther -- but I was tuckered out from the blasted cold.

Headed to the Wawona Hotel for lunch -- rather rustic. Billed as one of the oldest continuously operating hotels. (Needs to be closed for some upgrades!) Headed back to the Valley, where we visited the Ansel Adams Gallery. The photobug in me was inspired. Stopped by the Village Store to stock up on EmergenC, orange juice and water. Drove (lazy) to the parking lot at Sentinal Bridge to get a good photo of Half Dome in the right light. Life is good. Decided to head back to the hotel and stopped off at a great lookout with views of El Capital, Half Dome & other Yosemite landmarks.

Vacation - 9/23

Had to check out of our hotel this morning, so we'd planned to drive the park from west to east, stopping to hike along the way. The next 2 nights we'll stay outside the park -- since this was a last minute trip we couldn't get more lodging in the park. I would recommend that the last night of your stay in Yosemite be outside the park if you have to leave early -- it's a good hour's drive that you save being outside the park. At any rate, we headed up to the Tioga Pass Road. We stopped and did a 1.5 mile roundtrip hike to Lukens Lake that involved uphill, downhill, and doing so at 6,000 ft. elevation. Wearing backpacks, mine filled with camera equipment, Kathy's filled with food & water.

Back in the car we headed on the "long and winding road," stopping again at Olmstead Point for another view of the park. We'd driven through the forest and arrived in the granite zone again. There's a lookout right off the road, or you can take a path down from the parking lot for addition views. More beautiful views, lots of photos. We then headed to lunch, which was spent at Tenaya Lake (photo above). I will keep that picture in my head the rest of the year as a I eat my lunch at my desk, envisioning our picnic lunch and the gorgeous views there.

Back in the car to see Tuolomene Meadows and drive to Tioga Pass...where we turned around and headed back the way we came. We stopped at the end to hike 2.5 miles roundtrip to Tuolomene Grove to see the Giant Sequoias. Mostly downhill with a photo op encounter of a mama deer and her two babies! Ended up at the "Dead Giant" which has a hole cut into it that you used to be able to drive cars through. And back uphill....and uphill...and uphill to the car. Hiking at elevation -- whew!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Julie's Excellent Vacation - 9/22

Woke up in Yosemite not knowing any of our layout since we arrived well after sunset. We were lucky to find our room...signage not so good at the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls. The good news about visiting national parks in the fall -- not as many families with kids, less tourists. The bad news about visiting Yosemite in the fall...most of the waterfalls are dried up. So the view out our window of the falls was of where the falls would be if there was water!! No hot water for showers either -- others had hogged it all -- so we dressed and headed for breakfast. We figured we'd get hot and sweaty hiking anyway. :-)

Only it was COLD. Like 40 degrees cold. After breakfast we headed to the little gift shop where we bought a couple of long sleeved t-shirts and a jacket. We didn't overpack enough for this trip. We headed to the visitor's center to get our park map, and headed off on our first hike. We did a 3 1/2 mile hike which offered "stunning views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and the Royal Arches." No cardio as the path was paved and mostly flat. The scenery was beautiful though!

We drove to Glacier Point afterward -- while it's only about 22 miles from the valley floor to Glacier Point, it takes you a good hour. The road climbs out of the valley up some hairpin turns. We stopped off to view Bridalveil Fall -- a short hike from the parking lot up to view the falls. Overheard in the parking lot "I saw more water in my shower this morning." Apparently the fall is HUGE in the springtime. Not so big in the fall. Continuing to the Glacier Point parking lot, there's a short hike (1 mile?) downhill to the lookout at Glacier Point (meaning uphill on the way back) and the view is stunning. We headed back to the valley for much-needed showers, followed by a delicious dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel. I wish I'd brought my camera there -- it was beautiful, romantic and reminded me a bit of the dining hall at Hogwarts (Harry Potter).

Where's Julie?

So it's been a while since my last post. No time on the bike to report. Kathy left September 15th for a week of work in LA, and I flew out September 20th to meet her in San Francisco. The week Kathy was gone I made no visits to the gym, but was busier than a one-armed paper hanger at work, walking all over the building. Not a lot of cardio, but at least I was moving and not sitting on the sofa! Evenings were spent trying to do chores, pack and love on cats. Here's the report on our "cross training" while on vacation:

Sunday, September 21 -- walked all over Union Square area including a little power-trying-on-of business suits. Doesn't count as "power shopping" as we didn't buy. But we did try on 6 suits in about 8 minutes. :-) Drove up to Lombard Street at the "crookedest part." Julie burned several calories gulping in fright as we drove up and down incredibly steep streets. Drove that section of Lombard just to say we did. Then parked the car and walked down and then back up Lombard for photo ops. Picked up Kathy's boss and headed off to Oakland for Kathy's last work thing for a week -- the open house for Youth Radio. -- very cool organization. Works with at-risk youth and teaches them about radio, tv, web, music, nutrition, career counseling etc. I went there knowing nothing and left wishing I was Warren Buffett rich so I could give them some. Kathy and I left and headed out to Yosemite!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Body not in harmony

Saturday morning we woke up before the 7am alarm and hit the ground running. Kathy ran to the farmer's market, I ran to gas up the car. Back home we ate, Julie ate some more, Julie stretched, we both geared up and headed out for our bike ride. It was supposed to be hot on Saturday, so we decided to ride as early as possible. Plus there was the threat of storms in the afternoon.

Now while it was cooler in the morning, it also started out at 90% (yes, you read that correctly) humidity. The temperature rose throughout the day while the humidity dropped. Why couldn't they both start out low and rise throughout the day? It probably has something to do with our proximity to Washington DC and all those politicians. :-)

The good news is that my legs felt great! I'd stretched a lot and everything muscle-wise was working. The only scary part in the first 5 miles was going across a 2 lane bridge with no shoulder...and the car behind me just HAD to get past me. Only there was on-coming traffic. I think maybe there was an inch between us. I'm pleased I didn't end up going over the bridge and ending up in the creek! I can't say whether this driver was one of those people who is afraid to cross the yellow line to get around a biker, or if this driver was just a jerk.

The bad news is that for me with my exercise-induced asthma, biking up hills in 90% humidity is like trying to breathe underwater. Kathy wanted to know if I wanted to turn around and go back. The thought of going BACK across that 2 lane bridge had me saying "no -- let's go on." So we pedaled on our little 13 mile loop, ending back several blocks from home. I didn't want to just ride 13 miles, but I knew doing that loop again wasn't an option. For my lungs, at least. So we did a couple of laps around the neighborhood, clocking in at the end with 18 miles. Go Julie! Go Kathy!

Sunday we both were pretty worn out from organizing a dinner party at a friends Kathy had some work to do and she had to pack for LA. So we opted not to ride. I don't even feel bad about wimping out. I think we both needed a day that wasn't filled with lots of errands and biking and all the other household chores. And I finally got that stack of paperwork filed and the mound of laundry ironed!

Today I had checkups with the doctors. I've apparently lost 1/4" over the years and now am 5' 6 3/4" tall. And in the losing category -- since August 27, 2007 I have lost 14 pounds!!! The doctor had to take out her calculator and subtract because she wasn't sure of her mental math! So the biking and visits to the gym and hikes helps. And I'm sure the red wine with dinner helps my cholesterol too -- we'll find out when the blood work gets done!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I am not an Ironman

My friend Daniel, formerly of the No Train team, is training for an ironman triathlon in September 2009. Go Daniel! His blog is a little unfair, since he has you watch this 2 minute ad? infomercial? teaser? about ironman triathlons. You get totally sucked in -- much as I do when watching the ABC? Sports special on the Hawaii Ironman every year and I turn to Kathy and say "lets do it." Kathy kindly brings me back down to earth and reminds me that I can't run, I don't swim in the ocean, and they don't let you do one out of the three sports. Oh well...we are thinking about going to Hawaii for Kathy's 50th (which isn't until 2011 so we might go sooner). We'd go in the fall and would love to time it so we end up on whatever island the ironman is on -- and go cheer the people who come in at hours 15, 16 and 17. (You have to complete the ironman in 17 hours)

Why did start that ramble? Oh yeah -- Daniel. At any rate, he said that the difference between a spinning class and a reaction cycling class is whether a facility is licensed to offer "Spinning" classes -- which is trademarked and licensed and probably taught by instructors licensed in "Spinning."

Which brings me to my training...we did our 2 mile walk twice this week, and went to the gym today. Plus I walked a heck of a lot at work Wednesday -- easily 5 miles. Nope, I'm not exaggerating. It's a big building. And I am generally to impatient to wait for the elevators. For some reason it was a busy day in Annapolis, requiring Julie to run all over the building.

Saturday we're aiming for a 26-ish mile ride, and probably a 15-20-ish one Sunday. Looks like the rain won't happen until the afternoon Saturday, which bodes well for a nap!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saddle Sore

Today brought a beautiful blue sky with no humidity so we were heading out for a ride. When I got on the bike my rear end complained bitterly despite the nice padded bike shorts. We did a loop around the neighborhood to warm up before heading out. Today I don't feel like I ever warmed up. Probably a combination of not stretching enough yesterday after spinning, and not stretching enough today before biking. As we headed to the gate at Research Road, I seriously considered telling Kathy to go ahead without me, that I would do loops in the neighborhood instead. Then I realized I'd need to do 10 more laps do get in some decent mileage.

We did a modified route today that clocked in at 13 miles. That was enough for me, but Kathy went out and did it a second time. Go Kathy!! After showering and lunch we went out to map out a couple of routes for the future. I wish I'd ridden more, but I'm proud of what I did ride. Considering I really didn't want to in the first place!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I get it.

I now know why Bally's calls it "reaction cycling" instead of spinning class.

It's because your muscles take much longer to react to what you want them to do in the hours after you take that class.

The Marquis de Sade

So we braved the driving rain and wind and headed off to the gym this morning. We got there around 10:45 and were able to do some crunches and weight lifting before heading into our "reaction cycling" class. We had decided (stupidly, it turns out) not to wear our cycling shorts. Boy that was a dumb idea! I think they intentionally make the bike seats on the spinning bikes really hard and uncomfortable. The woman next to me was smart enough to bring in a gel-filled bike seat cover.

Then this tiny woman comes in to torture us...I mean lead the class. There wasn't an ounce of flab or fat on her body. I have no idea how old she was -- but old enough to have children as she mentioned them. So we're spinning away. Then she tells us this is the strength class...and we'll be climbing lots of hills. Maybe we should have told her we were training for a nice FLAT ride in Florida.

It was an hour long class. I thought I would never survive. And I don't stand and climb like everyone else. (i.e. riding your bike standing up on the pedals) I do a bit, but not for 3 minutes at a time like our dominatrix wanted. I did keep spinning with the tension on though. I don't think I've ever sweat that much. I know it was good for me, but my thighs are complaining. And I have laundry to do today. The washer and dryer are located in the basement. The bedrooms are on the 2nd floor. Ugh.

I'm not sure why it was "reaction cycling" instead of "spinning." Probably some marketing thing, like how a caterer can serve you "mini beef logs rolled in buttery puff pastry" when it's just "pigs in a blanket."

Ron's comment was that the Marquis de Sade invented spinning. I couldn't agree with him more.

Friday, September 5, 2008

More cross-training

This morning Kathy & I went for a 2 mile walk in our neighborhood wearing our hiking shoes. In just over 2 weeks we'll be in California, hiking in Yosemite!! I keep saying "Yellowstone" and Kathy has to correct me. I don't know why I can't get it through my head that it's Yosemite. At any rate, we've got 4 days to hike and explore Yosemite National Park. After which we head to Napa Valley for some wine tasting and a night in Calistoga where we'll get pampered with mud baths, mineral baths and a massage. Ahhhhh. A reward for all the hiking. :-)

Looks like the rain is supposed to start here tonight around 7pm and continue until Saturday night at midnight. So tomorrow we'll head for the gym for the spinning class. Actually, Bally's calls it "reaction cycling." What, do they have squirrels run in front of your stationary bike to see how you react? Throw things at you? See if you can talk on your cell phone and "reaction cycle" at the same time? Which brings me to the question -- why do people talk on their cell phones at the gym while they are working out? Are they trying to distract themselves from the exercise, like I do with recorded books? Or are they that important that they have to take every call (or make one) no matter what they are doing?

Sunday is supposed to be clear so we'll be able to do some biking outside. Wheeeee!

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Alas, there were no cats sleeping with us this morning, ready to shut off the alarm and convince us to stay snuggled under the covers. No was off to the gym we went. Thankfully I had a new recorded book to distract me from the blaring music and the multitude of tv screens. And from the fact I was actually exercising. Does anyone remember that machine from the 70's where you would stand on it and wrap large bands about your hips and butt? The machine was supposed to shake off your fat with no effort at all on your part. Don't you wonder how many people bought those things? What were they thinking???

We got an e-mail from the Smart Ride folks telling us that it was 10 weeks until the ride. Which is more accurate than the last e-mail which said "a few short weeks" when we were 3 months out. So 10 more weekends of riding. 10 more weeks of early mornings at the gym. GULP! Add to that, Tropical Storm / Hurricane Hanna which is headed up the east coast which will keep us home. Julie may not have enough sense to come in out of the rain, instead sitting in a field waiting for the rain to stop for the mass ascension at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (we did in 2006), but she does NOT ride in hurricanes. Or really bad rain. She has some sense. So, if it's raining this weekend, we'll aim for the spinning classes at the gym.

10 more weeks. Gulp.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


We had good intentions to get up and ride Saturday morning. I suffered some sort of allergic reaction and was itching all night and a good part of Saturday. Kathy & I had the same thing for dinner -- oven baked chicken, mashed 'taters, and fried okra. Before you say "okra - YUCK" let me tell you that you don't know what you are missing. Fried okra cooked by someone who knows what they are doing is delicious. Not at all slimy like you find in stews. Mmmmmm. I ate more than my share. The only thing we had differently was that I had wine and she had vodka & pom juice. If I am allergic to wine the world will stop. So we think it was too much okra. Several doses of benadryl later I was itch free!

This morning I had no desire to ride. We had a long to-do list and I was focused on that. But we squooze into the spandex and filled up the water bottles and camelbacks and headed out. Only to stop 20 feet from the house because Kathy forgot her gloves. Gloves in hand -- literally -- we started out. We'd gone maybe 4 blocks when I grabbed the bite valve for my camelback only to have it accidentally pull off. Water streamed out dousing me and the bike. I yelled that I was stopping to Kathy, managed to unclip and get the bite valve back in. She couldn't figure what the heck I was saying "your bike valve came off??" We had a good laugh!

We just road in the neighborhood today -- a whopping 21.3 miles. Which is 21.3 miles more than I wanted to bike today, and the furthest I've biked to date!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Checking In

After our weekend rides, we had good intentions of getting up and stretching Monday morning. Apparently our bodies rebelled and decided they needed another hour of sleep. Kathy went to the gym on Tuesday but I did not -- my neck was giving me problems. Probably stemming from being to tense when riding. My shoulders start creeping up instead of staying nice and relaxed. Made it to the gym this morning though! It is so nice to go Tuesdays and Thursdays -- I think the folks at our gym are on a MWF schedule. Those days it's PACKED in the mornings with nearly every piece of cardio equipment in use. Except the two really old rowing machines in the corner.

We plan to ride both Saturday and Sunday this weekend...unless it's pouring rain. I'll try to figure out a route to give us about 25 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. And if it pours rain, I swear that I will go to the gym!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weekend Update

Total mileage ridden this weekend on roads with traffic and hills:

17 on Saturday
15 on Sunday

Kathy and Ron did 3 more miles Sunday through the Patuxent Refuge. I opted to attempt to breathe instead. It was humid today -- like breathing soup. I am very very glad we did our riding in the morning when it was cooler and not quite as humid.

We stocked up on nutrition bars at REI yesterday...and Kathy got a new camelback that comes in a backpack with all sorts of pockets. I also got a new helmet -- white with pink flowers on it! It occurred to me that the helmet I was currently using was the one I was in a bike accident with back in 2001. I should have replaced it then -- bad Julie.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Ron took pictures at the end of the ride today. Kathy's in the blue and I'm in the hot pink in case you can't tell with the helmets and glasses.

Road Kill Riding

There was no backing out this morning. Our friend Ron, who is also training for the Smart Ride, called around 8am to say he was up and ready to ride. I'd mapped out a route that was about 18.8 miles long. I say "about" because the end of the ride involves cutting through the HS parking lot, an apartment parking lot, and across a pedestrian bridge to get back to old Greenbelt. While I can cut through the parking lots in my car, getting it through the posts and onto the pedestrian bridge was going to take some really fancy maneuvering. My brother the Apache pilot probably had a better chance. So "approximately."

The fun begins as we head down Research Road to the Beltsville Agricultural Center, which we back up to. The nice part is the gate to Research is closed on weekends, so no cars are chasing you up or down that hill. The bad part is that the gate to Research is closed, involving a little off-roading (Ron's method) or limbo under the gate (Julie & Kathy's method). Then it's all downhill. Weeeeeee! Of course, that means that at some point there are hills to go back up. All I can say is thank goodness for multiple gears. Through a little mis-communication, Ron (in the lead) turned on a different road than I had mapped out. Good news -- it shaved about 2 miles off the ride! And I think a big hill or two that we would have had to ride up. Darn.

Ron waited for us at the HS parking lot -- he lives across the street and didn't need to follow us home only to turn around and bike back. Ron says he's out of shape, but that man can go! His legs powered him up hills with only a minimum of cursing. And gravity makes him whoosh like a rocket down the hills. I reached a max of 24 mph that I saw...sometimes I'm too afraid to look down at the speedometer. Hmmm...wonder why I don't have that problem in the car?

The first couple of miles I struggled and wondered if I was going to make it. My thighs were pretty stiff and uncooperative. But once I warmed up it was better. The challenge for me is eating enough. I am blessed with a fast metabolism. Kathy and Ron are not. (think molasses) I need to eat something about every couple of miles. I confess, I am not coordinated enough to eat while riding. I can drink water as we ride with camelbacks. I am impressed when I watch the Tour de France and see those cyclists whipping through the "feed" zone and getting their bags, rifling through to get what they want, eating, drinking without missing a beat.

Oh yeah -- the road kill part. We saw a dead raccoon, 2 dead squirrels, 2 dead little frogs and a dead praying mantis. What beautiful scenery, right? :-)

Oh and Val -- I kept reciting the name of your brother when I was struggling up some of those hills. He helped a lot.

To others reading -- if you have friends or loved ones with HIV or AIDS, tell me their names and I'll add them to my hill riding mantra. Believe me, it helps get me going...just a little boost of energy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Covert Cats

Yesterday, Kathy and I successfully fended off an attempt by the cats to keep us in bed instead of trundling off to the gym. They both snuggled close and tried to convince us that sleeping in another hour would be much better for all of us. They even tried rubbing their "sleepy cat" scent on us and lulling us back to sleep with their calming purring. Although Madeline does sound like an outboard motor in need of an oil change....she kind of purrs then hiccups, then purrs some more.

We were strong and did not succumb to this blatant attempt to derail our training. No, we hauled our bodies over to the gym for 25 minutes of cardio on the cross-trainer (a new record for me!), torture on the "butt blaster" weight machine and finally some weight-machine crunchs. This time I did not do 40 pounds...just 30. I think the 40 pounds was a bit too much. It hurt to breathe. And pee. Both of which are important.

No workout today -- Kathy had fly to Boston on business. I'll see if I'm strong enough tomorrow (Friday, my day off from work) not to succumb to those cats and head to the gym on my own. I've also got to map out our bike rides for the weekend -- I don't trust mapquest. Follow them and I'd be off on a 30 mile ride instead of 20!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Conspiring Cats

Today was a gym morning and the alarm was set for 5:10am. At 4:58am, our other cat Madeline hopped up on my nightstand with a "mrowwww" and then proceeded to poke my face. Some may say she was hungry and needed to eat now, but I think she just wanted to help mommy get up and to the gym. So that Madeline could curl up on the bed and go back to sleep. Rotten cat.

The trick worked though...we made it to the gym a little on the sleepy side and proceeded with torturing our bodies with cardio, crunchs and weight lifting.

When we left, we saw these people running in the parking lot pushing shopping carts filled with weights. We deduced, being awake at this point, that this was Bally Fitness's "Sarge's Boot Camp." Please tell me why someone would pay good money to be told to run through the parking lot pushing a shopping cart? They already have to go to the gym to meet "Sarge" -- so just save your money and work out on your own! Maybe it's that these folks need the motivation -- I can understand that. I used to meet a co-worker at the gym at 5:30am to workout. If we didn't see the other it was public humiliation at the office. "So what excuse do you have for not meeting me at the gym this morning?"

Me, I just have the cat throwing me out the door.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Success on many levels!

Being the Olympics junkie that I am, last night (Saturday night) we watched Dara Torres win a silver medal in the 50m freestyle (swimming) by the same margin that Michael Phelps beat Cavic in the 100m butterfly -- .01 of a second. That's pretty incredible! Add to that, our gal Dara is ANCIENT when it comes to swimming....she's 41 and could have been the mom to the gold medalist Britta Stefan (born in do the math). And then we watched Michael Phelps win his 8th gold medal of these games.

So you can see I was inspired to go biking this morning! Off we went doing that loop I mapquested. The good news -- I finally figured out that darn bike computer and now I am logging in miles, not kilometers! Even better, our bike computers are fairly close in the mileage we come up with. No more Julie riding 5 miles to Kathy's 2. :-)

We added a little bit to the route, and did 3 laps, bringing me up to a whopping 8 miles (wooo hoooo). We went home as Kathy was going riding with her boss, who was meeting us at the house. After she and Greg set off, I debated whether I wanted to ride more. Truthfully -- No. Honestly -- I got my fanny back on that bike and did another loop bringing me up to 10.5 miles. I never realized that Greenbelt is a bit on the hilly side. Until that last lap, when I'd cooled down and failed to stretch again before riding. Ugh.

Kathy -- to toot her horn -- went out and did another 30+ miles with her boss. She then came home and ate and bathed. The two of us are now hobbling around the house like a couple of 90 year olds in need of knee replacements. Trust me -- I'll wrestle her for the advil!

Cross Training

Friday's cross-training consisted of multiple hours working on updating the virus protection for the desktop and laptop computers, re-installing ITunes which seemed to disable the cd-rom and DVD drives, and multiple trips from the office to the basement to do laundry and retrieve more cd's to load onto ITunes and ultimately the IPod. You should see the sweat I worked up. :-)

Saturday, Kathy & I got up early after watching Michael Phelps win gold #7 and headed off to Lowes. Every Labor Day we have a parade viewing followed by a cookout at our house. Earlier this year we had the ancient deck removed and a new patio installed. The ground slopes in the back, so there was a bit of dirt leading down to the grass. We planning on landscaping, but hadn't gotten around to it. Then we realized we were having 30-50 people over on September 1st and needed to work on the backyard. The weekend of August 9/10 we went to Lowes for plants for the planter out front. Then saw all sorts of other plants that we HAD to have. And then saw some nice stones that we could use for a wall to build a planter box....we only bought 10 of those heavy stones that weekend. Well, we got them home and liked them.

Thus the trip to Lowes of 8/ buy 25 more of those stones (which I swear weighed 5 pounds each. Maybe 10.) as well as several bags of good dirt (not to be confused with Maryland clay dirt) and a few pavers we've used as a border. For those who don't know our home, we live in a row of townhouses. We are the 2nd from the end. Meaning all those stones had to go from the street, down the sidewalk, through our neighbor's back yard to stack on his steps. After all the materials were hauled, Kathy stood in the neighbor's yard and handed me stone after stone, which I hauled across the yard to approximate locations. I tried walking with them doing lunges for an extra workout.

In all honesty, I must confess that my labors in the yard ended there. Kathy was the one who dug the holes for the plants and placed the stones forming a nice wall around the flower bed. I went back in the house and loaded more cd's into ITunes, for I am the computer geek and she is the yard laborer.

Here is a picture of the not-quite-completed landscaping (part one) as well as our neighbor Jim's steps and backyard used for cross training.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What not to wear

No, I am not requesting that someone nominate me for TLC's "What Not To Wear." I am merely telling you how NOT to dress for riding a bike. I know that we all hopped on our bikes as kids wearing flip-flops, cotton shorts and a faded vacation t-shirt. Trust me, that's not what I wear now! We've got bike shorts that have padding in the crotch and fanny. You are not supposed to wear them with undies...wearing anything under the short can lead to chafing. Or it could lead to chafing if one were riding more than 2.13 miles. :-) If the skin tight spandex isn't insult enough, the padding brings back memories of diaper wearing. From MANY years ago. Then there's the jersey, the gloves, the socks (no, you can't just wear the same socks you wear to the gym), the sunglasses, the shoes and the helmet. I think I've got a small fortune invested in cycling jerseys and shorts. Some of which are a wee bit snug. (Wee bit...what an understatement! If I managed to pour myself back into the small jersey, I'd be dun-lapping all over. Out the neckline, out the get the picture.)

So now that you know what I wear when cycling, you can imagine how funny I thought the following sight.

Driving home from Costco I see a young man on his bike. He's not wearing any spandex. In fact, he's wearing jeans. (It's 87 degrees here) Baggy jeans. Worn very low. If he were walking, he'd be dragging his hems. So picture that same gentleman in his B A G G Y jeans. Cycling along. When his baggy pants leg gets caught in the chain of his bike. :-) Let's just say he's lucky he didn't fall off the bike....and I am even luckier that the chain didn't drag his pants down any lower then they already were! Perhaps he's planning for a career as a plumber?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Confession Time

Ok...I have to admit it. I checked the instructions for my bike computer. My distance measurements were right. In kilometers. I feel like such an idiot. At any rate, I DID bike 4.78...kilometers today.

Which is more than I did in all of 2007. and 2006. and 2005. and 2004. and 2003. and maybe 2002. But I think I did ride a little bit that year.

Off to bed and Olympics watching. To the gym tomorrow.Check Spelling


I'm happy to report that the yellow yarn ball was still in bike parking this morning! Yesterday I mapquested our little loop and they said that it was 2.13 miles. So today Kathy & I reset our computers and did a loop. Sad to say, her computer is much more accurate. Like right on the mapquest money accurate. Mine said we did over 3 miles. While I prefer to think I've done more miles, it's not at all helpful when trying to follow a cue sheet. I'll try re-setting the computer again tonight to see if that helps.

Tomorrow it's back to the gym. I bring a book on tape / cd with me and listen to it while doing the cardio. Keeps my mind occupied so I don't stare at the numbers crawling slowly by.

Kathy's boss is loaning us (me) one of his bike trainers. He's become a bit of a bike geek and has 3 bikes that I know of, a couple of trainers, and helmets to match each bike. His new bike is carbon road bike and he loves it. We told him he'd be happier with a road bike (vs. a hybrid or mountain bike) and he is. We gave him the same advice Lynn K. gave me many years ago "try a number of different bikes. You'll know when you find yours." She was right....I still love riding my Waterford road bike. It's white, any helmet will match it. :-)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fung Shui -- cat version

Margaret, the more lady-like of our two cats, is a ferocious hunter. Of yarn balls. You can hear her yowling 2 floors away and then she'll appear before you with a yarn ball in her mouth and spit it out "ptooy." Sort of "see what I killed. I protect you from the evil yarn balls."

Several years ago when we consulted an animal communicator (long story), the A.C. said that Margaret liked to change the energy in the room by moving things around. Sort of a little fung shui with yarn balls.

Last night as I unlocked the front door and walked through the bike parking lot / front hall, I noticed that Margaret had decided the front hall needed a little fung shui. She'd moved her yellow yarn ball to sit beside Kathy's bike. It certainly made me smile! Or maybe that's what she intended -- only couldn't find a yellow smiley face yarn ball!

The ball was still sitting beside the bike and Kathy and I trudged out of the house at 5:30am for some torture at the gym. It's getting better -- I did 25 minutes of cardio on the cross-trainer at levels 3 & 4. I think I was inspired -- I'd dreamt about the ride last night. I dreamed it was already November and there was no way we were ready to bike 165 miles. So it was off to the gym today. Tomorrow morning, a little biking. Hope the yellow yarn ball is still there!

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's like riding a bike....

Since everyone is blogging, I thought maybe I'd try a blog on my training for in November. Let me know what you think.

Just about 3 months until the SmartRide so we are getting serious about training. I must confess that after those 10 miles I rode in the parking lot of the elementary school across from our house in May, I didn't get back on the bike until last Monday, August 4th. Kathy & I have been to the gym in the mornings (finally that membership is paying off!) and walked about 2 miles on our days off from the gym. But that's not going to help much when November rolls around unless I get on the bike. So last Monday we got up and rode at 6am...some in that famous parking lot, and a little on some neighborhood streets. I still was riding with only my left foot clipped in.

For those of you wondering what the heck I'm talking about -- do you remember your first bike? Mine had a banana seat with flowers on it and pink streamers on the handles. Anyway, those came with basic pedals....the kind that if you pedalled too fast sometimes your foot would slide off the pedal and sometimes you'd get a lovely bruise on the back of your leg from the pedal. Now they have all sorts of fancy things to keep your feet in the pedals: "cages" -- basically a little basket that your toes jam into and "clipless pedals" -- kind of like the bindings for skis / ski boots only MUCH smaller. I'd successfully managed using them the last time I did charity bike rides in 2000 and 2001. There were a few mishaps along the way (stitches in my chin leading to the dimple I always wanted) and some embarrassing falls when I'd forget to unclip when stopping. Just picture it -- person biking up to stop sign clipped into pedals...braking....comes to total topples over because you forgot to unclip so one foot was free to support you on the ground. :-)

So yesterday was the day. We were going to bike, and I was going to use those blasted pedals. Why you ask? Because with the clipless pedals (odd name, I know) you are able to both push down on the pedal and pull up, using muscles on the front and back of your legs. (Some of those muscles haven't been used in years!)

So while Kathy ran to the grocery store (my least favorite thing to do) I poured myself into the spandex shorts & jersey and put on my cycling shoes. I moved the bike to a nice wide door jam, and got on, clipping in on the left as I'd been doing. After numerous tries -- and reminding myself to pedal backwards and not forwards or I'd end up riding down the stairs to our basement -- I managed to get the right foot clipped in. Yipeeeee!

Kathy came home and we went out for our usual spin around the parking lot and Julie practiced clipping in and clipping out. Over and over again. Then it was time to go out on the road. Where the cars are. GULP. So we went to the end of the road, clipping and unclipping whenever the spirit moved me. Back down the road to the house. At this point I think we've ridden all of 2 miles. My bike computer says we rode much further than Kathy's...but I think her's is more accurate. Darn it. Then we are off for a circuit of our neighborhood -- down Ridge Road to Southway. Right on Southway to Crescent, Crescent to Hillside to Laurel Hill and back to Ridge. Approximately 1.75 miles using the more accurate computer. We did that for a couple of times and then called it a day. very short ride done WITH the clipless pedals and on roads -- real roads in traffic!