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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving buffet

I was lucky enough to have three Thanksgiving dinners this year. The first, last Monday, was the one that I prepared together with my students and shared with their third grade book buddies. It's a classroom tradition that I love. Thanksgiving day was spent at my mother-in-law's house, and then the Saturday after Thanksgiving we went to my mom's for one more feast.

That's a lot of food, but the buffet I'm referring to is the variety of activities used to (hopefully) burn off all those holiday calories.  Thanks to my wonderful school schedule, I had a 5-day weekend and intentions of making the most of it.

Wednesday: Stayed home with Jacob, who's recovering from the flu. Went to the gym after Survivor and lifted weights. I'm about halfway through Stage 2 of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, the book I keep coming back to every time I re-start strength training.  I've never made it past the first stage, so this is uncharted territory.  I can definitely see some physical changes, and the numbers show I'm getting stronger. Pretty cool.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Big Woods! #trailrunning #snow #personalturkeytrot
Reusing my Thanksgiving day blog post picture. I'm environmentally friendly like that.
Thursday: 3 mile trail run in town. Since my regular training partners live in the St. Louis area, it's pretty rare for me to not drive an hour for a run.  It was a nice chance to have such a short trip, though it didn't give me time to finish my coffee before starting.

Friday: Jeff got his shopping done Thursday night, and while I'm theoretically opposed to shopping on Thanksgiving Day, it left me free to ride on Black Friday or, as I dubbed it, Black RIDEday.  Or Bike Friday. Whatever. I was just really happy to be on my bike again; with all the Skippo training and such it seems like there has been precious little time to enjoy the sport I really love.

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Having fun (and needing to adjust my helmet) around 10 miles in
Mickey and I had planned to ride 70 miles on a gravel/road route we'd ridden this spring, but when the snow hadn't completely gone away we opted for less traveled trails and roads.  So we started on the Katy Trail, rode across the icy Page bridge to Creve Coeur park and circled the lake, then rode back across the still-icy bridge.  I made it most of the way back across before my wheels slid out on an icy patch and I fell.  No damage other than a sore hip.

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From there we hopped back on the Katy and out towards Weldon Springs, where some of my favorite local gravel is.  Of course, to get there you have to ride through my least favorite section of the Katy, made even more fun by a noticeable headwind and soft trail. I think it was around here that I mentioned I now only wanted to ride until around noon (giving us about 4 hours and definitely not 70 miles).  I was very slow, much slower than the conditions warranted, and though I'm no longer a big fan of pavement I was really looking forward to getting onto the new (paved) Research Parkway trail.

The pavement was only slightly better, and now my hip was starting to hurt. I wasn't sure if the problem was that it's been a while since I've been on my cross bike or if it was sore from the fall.  If you're thinking to yourself, Wow, Kate sounds super whiny and not a fun riding partner at all, you're absolutely right.  We decided to skip Busch Wildlife and ride back down the Katy to St. Charles, where we were parked.

There were three basic options: turn around and ride the Research Parkway trail back to the Katy (shortest route, paved, and featuring a sweet downhill to the trail), take the Quarry trail (middle route, gravel, probably overgrown), or ride the Hamburg down to the Katy (longest route, on soft gravel). For reasons that escape me, we picked option C, and once we hit the mushy Hamburg my day went downhill: riding into the wind, legs that were beginning to cramp, and (very unlike me) no ibuprofen or even salty snacks along.

Mickey was riding ahead, like usual, and I was dragging along behind, finally doing the math and realizing that we were taking the long way back (and I'm the one who said taking Hamburg was OK, I just hadn't thought it through until we were actually ON Hamburg), possibly the crankiest I've ever been on a bike, complaining out loud as I pedaled.  Seeing my face when I caught up with him waiting at the turn to the Katy, Mickey asked, "Am I about to see Grumpy Kate?"

"Oh, she's here.  You're about to meet Tantrum Kate."

We got back onto the Katy, where the wind was now at our backs, but I failed to convince myself that the tailwind was helping, and my legs just hurt more and more.  "Bikes are stupid," I told Mickey, "and my legs hurt."

"Suck it up, princess."

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Riding back towards St. Charles on the Katy Trail. I pretty much hated everything about bikes and biking at this point but was trying hard to appreciate what a pretty day it was and how lucky I was to be out on my bike.
I resentfully counted off the miles we'd have saved if we'd taken the Research Parkway trail (4 miles), briefly perking up when some friends rode past in a paceline and then sinking back into despair once they were gone.  There are only about 17 miles between Weldon Spring and St. Charles, but my normal self-encouragement (It's just 17 miles, anyone can ride 17 miles!) was failing as my cramping legs tormented me.

Mickey rode back my way.  "You know what would be fun?" I asked. "If you rode your bike really fast back to the car and then came to pick me up."

As I posted later that day on Facebook, it's a good training partner who knows when to give you shit about your complaining and when to go get the car.

"I'll indulge your weakness, but I'm also going to gloat."
I still had to ride 11 or so miles back, but the ride saved me 6ish miles and gave me hope. Otherwise I probably would have been lying next to the trail crying.  I ended up with 49.8 miles, quite a bit short of the planned 70, but I was ok with that. I've never felt so bad on a ride with so little reason.  I still don't know what the problem was, because even before the leg cramps started I was definitely not myself. Maybe I just needed a break, but I wasn't going to get it on Saturday.

Saturday: 

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is always the St. Louis Orienteering Club's Turkey-O. Two years ago, Jeff, Jacob, and I did the 3 hour meet; last year I raced with Bob and Mickey.  This year Bob was off bikepacking, but Mickey and I raced together. The meet was in Grafton, IL, and I was pretty happy to be orienteering on the Illinois side for a change.
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See if you can see my markings, some red and some black. I had trouble reading the numbers I'd put next to them, too.
Once the clock started on our three-hour race, we had to copy the controls (or checkpoints) onto what Emily describes/quotes as a "weird scale map "zoomed in 1:24k, sorta like 1:7500'."  I had a really hard time even seeing all of the control markings on the master map, but eventually we were pretty sure we had them all and set off.

We started with the western section of the map, jogging across the parking lot and reaching the first CP before I'd expected to.  I really struggled with figuring out where we were on the map for the first couple points, maybe a combination of the funky scale, the fact that we were jogging some here and there, and the fact that Mickey, like everyone I race with, is way faster with maps than I am.

If we were just racing to race, that would be cool with me: I'm perfectly happy to follow along behind my navigator, and the main reason I've worked on improving my own nav skills is just to be able to give input when it's needed.  Since my goal for the day was practice, though, I needed to slow down.  I told Mickey if he wanted to go fast I would be fine on my own, but we stuck together and he suggested I navigate us to the next point. Which I did successfully. :)

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I was far slower, as you can tell from how far away this picture was taken.
From there on out we pretty much shared navigational duties and pretty much went straight to everything.  We climbed up and down a lot of hills. Tucked in at the top of the bluffs along the Mississippi River, this course featured some serious elevation and steep hills.  There were a few times I just sat down and slid, figuring I was going to end up on my butt accidentally if I didn't start out there.

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It was also pretty darn scenic.
As we worked on the center section of the map, we had to start making some decisions about the best route choice. I voted against a couple of points that would force us to climb way down and then right back up again, which for me was the best choice. I know that I couldn't have gotten the points and back to the finish in time.

As it turned out, we didn't quite get back to the finish in time anyway. With 7 minutes left to go, we climbed a big spur but didn't go far enough down initially to find the CP.  Finally we knew we had to head down quickly and we'd punch it if we saw it...which we did, just lower than we'd anticipated. We punched that last point and hurried towards the finish, coming in two minutes late and losing 4 CPs as a penalty, dropping from 19 points to 15 and close to last place.  But....everybody was a winner at the Turkey-O, thanks to prizes donated by 180s.

My momma is a cookie artist. #secondthanksgiving #sugarcookies
One of my mom's delicious (and beautiful) sugar cookies
So I got 8 miles of trail running/hiking, good orienteering practice, a sweet new pair of gloves, and I made it to my mom's in time for my final family Thanksgiving dinner.

Sunday:

I was supposed to meet Chuck to run 8 miles on the trails. It was probably the last nice weather of the year.  I slept instead.  I'm bummed to have missed the warm weather, the pre-Pere Marquette training, and the good company, but it was definitely the right decision for my overtired body...and for getting the house cleaned up for my son's 22nd birthday party.

I'm totally not ready to go back to work tomorrow, but I definitely enjoyed my time off. I hope everybody else had a great Thanksgiving, too!

9 comments:

  1. Great use of your time off and it looks like gorgeous weather! I guess I will be back on my bike soon (after next surgery) although I don't know what I'm doing on that thing at all. It might as well be a one-speed with training wheels.

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  2. Man that bike ride sounds awful! Why did you pick the longer route? And 49 is a ton when things are going so badly. 17 more is an immense amount when you are in a bad place. Wow!
    Is that book something you can do on your own? I always worry about doing strength wrong. I am going to a class once a week which I like.

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    1. Yes, you can do the book on your own. It has a section with really clear explanations on how to do everything. I still think I'd be better off with the book AND a trainer because I worry about form -- especially on deadlifts -- but I can't afford a trainer and I can afford the book. It's definitely made me less intimidated by the free weights.

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  3. I'd say you more than burned off those 3 turkey dinners! I always love to see your adventures. I am back to strength too. In search of that elusive unassisted pullup(s) this time.

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  4. Ok, I just have to say you are the most photogenic person I know. You always look great in pictures! Such a pretty smile. Ok, hopefully that wasn't weird..just wanted to get it out there :) I am into weight training right now too for the first time in a long while. I'll have to check out that book.

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    1. What a sweet thing to say! What's funny is that I was just saying this weekend how unphotogenic I am when I don't know my picture is being taken. I'm like the bitchy resting face poster girl.

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  5. What a great holiday! Getting extra sleep when you need it is important too so good call there. Are you doing the lil woods ultra again this year?

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