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Friday, February 28, 2014

Sophomore year

If you've been reading my blog for long at all, it's no secret that navigation isn't one of my strong points.  It's something I really want to improve on, which is why I spent a lot of my Christmas break wandering around in the woods on the Rockwoods Range permanent orienteering course.

Last week we had a brief reprieve from this month's freezing cold. Saturday was absolutely beautiful, and I was lucky enough to spend much of that 60* day outside in the woods.  The St. Louis Orienteering Club was hosting an orienteering meet at Cliff Cave park, and this was going to be my second solo attempt.  The first, my freshman year, if you will, featured significant amounts of crying.

Alpine Shop's Jeff and Carrie Sona were the meet directors, and there were a few more familiar faces there as well.  Of course, that basically meant that, once I saw the map was pre-plotted for us, I spent my pre-race time socializing rather than strategizing.  In fact, I didn't even get my compass out until after I'd found the first CP and gotten all turned around after leaving it.  But that wasn't even my first mistake.

The meet format was a 90 minute score-o.  Basically, you had 90 minutes from your start time to get as many points as possible.  All points that were originally mapped were worth 10 points.  There were an additional six points that we'd copy onto our maps from maps that were on the course; these were each worth 20 points.  Instead of using a paper passport that you literally had to punch with a tool at each checkpoint, this meet was all e(lectronic) punch, so your time began when you punched in at the start.

Well, Jeff S was sitting at the start, so I talked to him about upcoming races before I got going.  Unfortunately, I forgot to look at my watch when I punched in, so I only had a vague idea of what my start time was.  Since the penalty for returning late was a point a minute, this had the potential to be a big misstep.

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The start/finish is that triangle on the right.  I went 1, 8, 9 (where I copied down the locations for 10-12), 10, 11, 12, 2, and then I crossed the road to get 3.

CP 1 was pretty easy to find.  All you had to do was go up.  And UP.  It was a pretty steep trail, and though I knew Jacob would have loved scrambling up it, I was a little relieved not to have to worry about him falling off the top.

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View from CP1 back towards the parking lot
It looks like it should be a straight shot from 1 to 8, but the easiest things tend to trip me up.  Confidence is rarely a good sign when I'm orienteering.  I took the trail and immediately got turned around at the first intersection (and I know it looks totally simple as I look at the map now).  It was right around this point where I realized my compass was still in my pack, so I got it out and was about to go back to the first CP and reorient myself when Mark jogged by.  Pretty sure he knew what he was doing, I opted to go that way and try to figure out where I was on the map (not the best way to operate, but whatever).  As I hiked along and squinted at my map, I saw him dash back onto the trail from a CP.  Since the CP was marked with its number (8), I now knew where I was.

After that first brief stint as a lost lamb, I managed the rest of the meet on my own.  I wouldn't say that I was full of confidence, but with lots of looking at my map and trying (with a fair amount of success) to relate it to what I was seeing in front of me, I made it to 9, 10, and 11 with no major missteps.  Alpine Shop's David passed me as I was running to 12; since usually when you see me with a map I'm standing in one place with my brow furrowed, it was a major triumph to be both a) running and b) confident where I was going when he passed.  Once I punched 12, I ran back across the field and followed the trail to 2.  With that, I was finished with the smaller eastern side of the course and crossed the main road to pick up 3.

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On the western side of the road, my route went 3, 13, 4, 14, 6, 5, 16, 20
I'd been glad the course started on the eastern side because though I've ridden several times at Cliff Cave (it's where Jacob learned to mountain bike) the trails on the western side continue to baffle me.  I get all kinds of turned around.  Combine that with the fact that the first checkpoints always seem the hardest, and starting on the western side would be a recipe for disaster.  Getting my orienteering feet under me didn't stop me from continuing to make mistakes, though.

I went from 3 to 13, figuring I could run the trail and then follow the creek to the CP. That was more or less the case, but the hike along the creek was no easy walk.  One mistake I continue to repeat is tunnel vision.  I see where I'm going on the map but fail to look at what else the map tells me; in this case, the dark green shading indicating that the area was heavily wooded and difficult to pass through.  Granted, there was no other good option to get there, but I wasn't really anticipating the tough going.

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Nice ride
From 13 I picked up 4, which was located at the carcass of an old car.  Next up was 14, and then I made my next typical-for-me error.  Having socialized instead of doing even some minimal route planning (besides "I'm starting with the easier eastern side"), I hadn't really looked at the course as a whole to determine what order of attack made the most sense.  Instead, I'd hit a point, then decide where I was going from there.  Because of this, I followed 14 with 6.

If you look back up at the map, you'll notice a couple things.  First, 6 and 7 (the logical next CP) are right next to the road.  What might not be evident because of the way I cropped the picture is that the road leads back to the finish.  For someone who has taken the time to plan ahead, 6 and 7 are the natural last two CPs before heading back.  Also, due to the steepness around 7 (all those contour lines super close together), the best route to 7 is through 6.  Oh well, at least I realized after punching 6 that it didn't really make sense to hit 7 until I was heading back, so from 6 I went to CP5 and then 16, where I copied down the locations of 20, 21, and 22.

At this point, though I wasn't sure exactly how much (if any) time I had left, I knew I was starting to run short.  I figured I could get at least 20 and then maybe 17 before heading back.  From 16, I hopped back onto the trail, only to get turned around again as soon as I hit an intersection. I was standing there trying to think it through when a couple went past me and down the trail.  I started to follow after them, then saw that the trail led out to the school grounds where we usually park to ride, so I backed up, realized that I'd been in more or less the right spot when they had gone past me, and made the quick hike through a marshy area to get CP20.

Back on the trail I briefly headed towards 17, but I knew I was cutting it close on time, so I decided to head back towards the start instead.  Once again I got turned around on the trails, but luckily I came across CP5. Knowing where I was for sure, I abandoned the trails and cut straight east, passing CP6 again, quickly jogging to the cave to punch 7, and then running in to the finish.  Results haven't been posted yet, but I'm pretty sure I ended up making it in under the time by about 2 minutes.

Really, whether or not I made it in time or not, I consider the day a success.  I found 18/22 CPs (an 82%, so it's a C, which is much better than my resounding F two years ago at Babler), had a great day outside in the woods, and got confirmation that my orienteering skills are starting to develop (the contrast between my gps track two years ago at Babler, when I was clearly wandering around in circles, and this year at Cliff Cave, where I may not have gone directly there but was pretty close, is pretty funny...well, it's funny now).  I definitely felt more comfortable with the map during our trips to Rockwoods, but I always had somebody else out there doing most of the work.  This was the first time I've been on my own when things were clicking (and there was no crying).  Now I just need to focus on more practice, better planning, and cutting down on dumb mistakes. I'd like to say less pre-race socializing, but I'm trying to be realistic here.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Say Yes More

A couple years ago, my friend Patrick heard about this guy, Dave Cornthwaite, who at the time was paddling a standup paddleboard the length of the Mississippi River as part of his Expedition 1000 project to complete 25 1,000-mile non-motorized journeys.  He had the chance to go out and meet the expedition and canoe alongside them for a while, and Dave's journeys and project inspired Patrick's own 100+ Project as well as really added tinder to his adventure fire.  I was intrigued. I followed along on twitter when Dave swam the length of the Missouri River and rode a bikecar from Memphis to Miami, I liked his message of saying yes to adventure; I bought the tshirt.

Meanwhile, Patrick started a series, Brave Endeavors, where local people who've done adventurous things give talks about their experiences.  My teammates and I spoke about adventure racing, and I've been to amazing talks about running the Leadville 100 and riding a bike across the country.  I love this series, and what it's brought home to me more than anything is that regular people are doing really interesting things.

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Dave, Patrick, and Rod
In a cool intersection of inspiration and opportunity,  Dave and his like-minded friend Rod Wellington (whose Magnificent Seven Expedition will see him descending the longest river system on each continent from source to sea) were passing through our area with just enough time to be the feature act at the most recent edition of Brave Endeavors.  I was super excited when Patrick told me they'd be speaking, enough to brave squeezing into my "Say Yes More" tshirt (suffice it to say that a European women's large and an American women's large are not the same, so it's a good thing I've lost weight recently) for the occasion.

I could have listened to those guys talk all night.  Rod's pictures and stories from cross-country (Canada and Australia) bike trips only added fuel to my bicycle adventure fire, and seeing/hearing about his descents of different river systems made me slightly reconsider my anti-paddling stance.

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Rod talking about his adventures.
Photo credit: Dave Cornthwaite
Dave's talk really resonated with me too.  Some of his expeditions sound a little crazy (across Australia by skateboard, from Memphis to Miami by bikecar, paddleboarding or swimming down a river) until you're hearing the stories and looking at the pictures and feeling this huge hunger for adventure welling up inside you.  It also made me so grateful for all of the opportunities I've had in the past years to do really cool stuff and determined to keep saying yes instead of the "no" I hid behind for a long time.

Dave's website has an essay written by Dave Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), with a quote that just jumped out at me:
No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.
I think about a couple of the "questionable" things I've said yes to and how they've enriched my life, and it's hard to dispute the value of the affirmative:
  • Taking up mountain biking even though I'm a huge wimp and afraid of everything.
  • Driving 2.5 hours to spend a day alone in the woods with a bunch of strange guys I'd barely/never met.
  • Tackling a 200-mile bike race on less than a month of training (and no appropriate bike)?
The epic doesn't come easy, and some of these decisions have been accompanied by tears and injuries (and, in the case of the middle one, a very scary sleep-deprived drive home), but they've led to friendships and experiences I wouldn't trade for anything.
 You keep going on about adventure...Adventure is no more than discomfort and annoyance recollected in the safety of reminiscence. (From The Journeyer, by Gary Jennings)
While it may be true that parts of adventure are more fun in retrospect than when you're knee-deep, every struggle is a deposit in your memory bank.  So much of in our "real lives" feature manufactured stress -- which brand to buy, whose turn is it to fold the laundry, what's the right way to hang the toilet paper (over the roll, most definitely) --  and we blanket ourselves in comfort until opportunities to face physical challenges are rare.
We rarely do ourselves justice. (Dave Cornthwaite, in his book Life in the Slow Lane)
It's a shame, too, because challenge enriches and refines.  Dave showed a picture of his pre-Expedition 1000 self, sprawled out on two sofa-sized bean bags playing video games.  It's hard to imagine a bigger contrast than between his past and current selves. You probably wouldn't even notice the video game guy if he was standing (more likely sitting) in front of you, but you couldn't miss the man we met. He was full of passion and excitement for what he does and...ok, I'll say it...he was kind of hot.  I wouldn't have recognized him from his old picture: proof that happiness and purpose are the best kind of makeover.

I see that in myself, too.  Other than my wedding pictures and our most recent family pictures, some of my very favorite pictures of myself come from racing and training.  I may be freezing/sweating/filthy/exhausted, but I'm typically smiling or laughing and having fun, and that shines through the dirt.

Sadly, I had no fun at all at the Thunder Rolls 24hr AR. None. #ar #highprofileadventures #campbenson #adventureracing @highprofileadventures
Collage from 2013 Thunder Rolls, without doubt the stinkiest, dirtiest, and grossest I've ever been.
I'm not going to pretend that I'm suddenly ready to agree to any crazy scheme; you aren't going to catch me bungee jumping or skydiving any time soon, because while both of those things scare me, neither of them calls to me.  But it's reminded me of the value of experiences over possessions and made me more determined to go after things that I want to do. And  maybe I won't be quite so quick to rule out paddling trips with friends. (Maybe)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Icicle hunting

It's no secret that the Midwest, like so much of the rest of the country, has endured some crazy cold weather this winter. As I mentioned to a friend today, I think this is going to be the winter that kids right now will look back on and tell their own kids about. "You call this cold?? Let me tell you about the winter of the Polar Vortex...the year we had 10 snow days!"

Those snow days have been a huge hassle for working parents (and probably just as much for stay-at-home parents), but they've been a delightful treat for me.  The only people who like snow days better than students are teachers.


One particularly nice feature of this year's snow days is that so many of them have lengthened holidays (Christmas vacation grew by a week) and long weekends (the three-day Martin Luther King weekend became a four-day break).  In addition, while Jeff typically works (outside) in all conditions, the airport job he's been on has been a little more weather-sensitive.  Thanks to this, I was able to follow my three-day bike binge with a really fun family day before we all went back to work and school.

A few years ago, during another terribly cold spell when schools closed due to the dangerously cold temperatures, Nathan, Jacob, and I traveled down to Ste. Genevieve, MO, to see a frozen waterfall I'd read about in the newspaper.  We had a great time despite the cold; in the years since we've talked about going back, but we've had such mild winters that there probably wasn't much freezing going on.  Even this winter has been such a patchy one, bitter cold alternating with brief interludes in the 40-50* range, that I wasn't sure the waterfall would be very impressive. Still, when schools cancelled for the day after Martin Luther King day, I talked Jeff and Jacob into making a day trip.
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Jacob and Jeff
While Jacob was all about the hike, it was a pretty big deal for Jeff to go. Since he's worked outside all winter, when he's not working he doesn't want to be outside freezing for "fun".  I was really happy when he agreed to go along with us.

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Including this picture just because it makes me look slim. 

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Sitting in a little shelter cave with Jacob
The waterfall is located in a box canyon in Hickory Canyons Natural Area, so once we got into the canyon area there were rock outcroppings and overhangs everywhere.
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Rows of icicles everywhere
The icicles lining the sides of the canyon would have been amazing on a bright, sunny day, but they were beautiful even on our overcast afternoon.

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The waterfall...not quite as impressive as last time, but still cool
Maybe because of the previous weekend's unseasonable warmth (I rode in shorts on Sunday) the waterfall had less ice than when we'd been there before. That didn't seem to bother Jacob.

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Obligatory couple picture...see? My husband DOES exist!
We checked out the area around the waterfall for a while, repeatedly reminding Jacob to be careful of the thin ice.  Luckily it was strong enough to hold his weight, but it started to crack when I walked on it.  Then we struck out along the edges of the canyon to see what else we could see.

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He only slid down this about 15 times.
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The guys walking along the side.
As we came to the big icicles in the picture below, Jeff suggested that I go stand closer to Jacob so he could get our picture. What you can't really tell because of the snow is that a creek runs below that overhang...a creek covered with ice strong enough to hold a ten year old boy but not me. And that's how I found out that my new winter boots are, as advertised, waterproof.

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Checking out some big icicles
We did a little more exploring in Hickory Canyon and then made the short drive to Pickle Springs Natural Area, a gem of a trail we'd heard about one year while staying at nearby Hawn State Park for our anniversary.  There are some really cool rock formations there, and I knew Jacob would love it.
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  We hiked the trail counterclockwise.

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Cool slot formation you hike through.
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More ice
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"Look at me...I'm a walrus!"
Though we've hiked Pickle Springs several times, we've never been there with snow on the ground. We had a little trouble finding the trail once we hiked through the slot. I actually pointed us in the right direction (total lucky guess), but Jeff disagreed and we tried going a different way. After some looking around, we eventually found our way.
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Double arch
   The area around the Double Arch had several cool rock formations, including the one below.
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I'm up, but I'm not so sure about getting back down.
  Exploring around the rocks ate up a lot of our time.  Jacob could have stayed and climbed around forever, but with only another hour or so of light, we had to move on.  It was obvious that we weren't going to be able to hike the entire loop before nightfall, and the 14* temps were starting to sink in at our hiking pace.  We moved on...

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Because pretending to poop in a hollow tree trunk never gets old...
We hiked down to the bridge over Pickle Creek.  The Three Billy Goats Gruff was Jacob's favorite book when he was little, and as long as I can remember we've had to re-enact the story every time we walk/ride bikes over a bridge.

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"It is I, the littlest billy goat Gruff..." You can see Jacob the troll on the right side of the bridge.
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Now I'm the biggest billy goat knocking the troll off the bridge.
Even though there was still hiking left to do, we headed back after playing around the bridge a little more and getting a few more pictures.  Definitely wasn't enough time, but we'll be back.

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  We made it back to the car just as dusk was falling, and the sky gave us a beautiful sendoff.

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It was definitely a chilly day to play outside, but we had a great time.  Looking forward to the next family adventure, whatever it is!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Insert snappy title here

DietBet

I've got a DietBet starting next week.  I've had mixed success, winning one and not winning another (but I still lost weight, so I was pretty happy anyway).  If you're not familiar with DietBet, basically you "bet" $25 that you'll lose 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks.  Everyone in the bet who loses their 4% splits the pot.  Well, it's the pot minus the 25% that the website keeps.  Anyway, if you're interested in joining in, we'd love to have you.  Here's the link: Kate's DietBet

Adventure!

I followed last weekend's Frozen Feet half marathon with a fun bike ride with friends the following day.  We'd caught wind of some cool ruins in the area and wanted to go check them out.  Chuck and Lori made the drive over from St. Louis, and for once I didn't have to get up super early to meet up.  Somehow the fact that I only had a 5 minute drive didn't stop me from being late, and I couldn't use the good ol' traffic excuse.  Well, I still did, but I was lying.

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The boys in the lead
Most of our route was paved roads, but since it was supposed to be an adventure, Patrick suggested we take the singletrack to the road.  That certainly was a adventure. I'm not super comfortable riding my cross bike on singletrack, and about a minute or so into the ride took a bad line over a fallen log and toppled off the trail into thorns.  I bruised the heck out of the heel of my hand, but otherwise I escaped unscathed...once Lori helped me up.
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Patrick's laying out the approach as we get near to our destination.

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And Chuck's usually the navigator?
Found on a bike adventure. Too cool. #bikes #adventurebybike #ruins
This old gazebo was one of the first things we saw.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful house, a moat, a train station, concrete statuary, fish ponds...it was quite a place!

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Fish pond
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The property had all kinds of walkways and bridges. If you look closely you can see "Lakeview" on the bridge.
It was really neat to explore something we hadn't even known existed and find all these pieces of the past, but reading about the history of the property later made me a little sad. A French businessman had built it for his wife, who sadly died young.  Later owners had to deal with trespassers and vandals, and the house eventually burned to the ground.  I was a little uncomfortable being on what is probably still private property, so I picked up trash (which, now that I think of it, is still in my pack) to make amends.

After leaving the "castle" grounds, we rode a little further to the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and visited the spot where Lewis and Clark camped while getting their supplies together for their expedition.

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Patrick and Chuck
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To the right is Cahokia Creek, in front is the Mississippi River, and across between the clumps of trees is the Missouri River.  Geography AND history lessons in the same post. :)
The ride back was pretty much identical to the second part of my first ever 20 miler when I was marathon training, and I'm here to tell you that it's a thousand times on a bike than on foot.  After all the gravel and singletrack I've been riding, it felt glorious to sail along on pavement with a stiff tailwind pushing me along. The wind made staying in the 20 mph range feel easy, and spotting an overpass in the distance I wondered whether I could maintain that pace going over the hill.  "No way..." I thought, but I didn't drop to 19 mph until the very top.

That was fun, and following the next downhill I kept pedaling in the big ring and hit 30 before turning off at the stadium and looking for a trash can for the garbage I'd picked up earlier.  The weather had warmed up considerably from the morning's freezing temps, so we couldn't take the singletrack back (and I wouldn't have anyway because my hand was pretty sore).  Instead we rode the paved trail up through campus and back to our cars.  Pretty great way to spend a January morning.

Weights!

Knowing I'd be feeling pretty crappy for a few days afterwards, I hit the gym before my Tuesday dentist appointment.  I've been meaning to start weight training again, and I finally got around to it and then remembered how much I love it.  I'm aiming for three days a week, though I only managed two last week.

Freezing rain!

The nice thing about this crazy polar vortex deal we've been living with is that previously cold temperatures now seem downright balmy.  In fact, yesterday when we were leaving for school I reminded Jacob to put on his coat: "It's 7 degrees out."

"That's not that bad," he responded.

It wasn't quite that cold on Saturday morning, but the first thing I heard after my alarm was the pouring rain.  I laid there in bed considering whether running in a downpour would be more funny or more miserable.  Thankfully the rain in St. Charles was more of a drizzle, and while I'd worried a little about the forecast freezing rain, the temperature when I left home was 37 and the roads were clear.

I met up with Mickey and Corey so that we could run some trails.  It must have been a few degrees colder in St. Charles, because the parking lot and sidewalks were covered in a thin veil of ice, turning my "run" into more of a cautious shuffle.  Never particularly brave, I'm especially nervous right now about the possibility of falling and hitting my mouth.  I was looking forward to getting to the Katy Trail in the hopes that its rougher surface would be less slick, but it was pretty treacherous as well.  Wherever possible I ran in the grass alongside the trail.

Conditions shifted from icy to muddy once we hit the singletrack, but I was a little more comfortable with that.  I spent part of the time talking to (interrogating) Corey, who I'd never met before, and most of the time working to keep up with the guys.  "Oh, we're having fun now!" Mickey laughed as we all slid around on the mud, but it actually was a lot of fun.  As long as you were running the rain didn't make you too cold, and working to maintain footing kept me from thinking about how long I'd been running.

We looped back to the parking lot after an hour or so to drop off Corey and then headed to Bangert.  Both of us had brought our screw shoes and considered changing into them at the cars, but Mickey decided it had melted enough that the Katy should be ok...which made it slightly hilarious when he slipped and fell pretty much as soon as he stepped onto its icy surface.

We only had about 40 minutes left before I needed to head home to watch Jacob in the Pinewood Derby (which, unfortunately, he placed in, which means he'll go on to Districts), so we ran one loop at Bangert, including the little bridge from our snow ride "controlled fall" picture.

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I *may* have been a gigantic chicken going over this on foot.
We made it back to the cars with 9.5 miles on the Garmin. Despite the ostensibly crappy conditions, it was a much more fun run than last week's race.  It's weird how running can feel so blah sometimes and so wonderful others.  The slick conditions made me particularly glad we'd opted to run instead of ride, and I was still going to get my bike on for the weekend, because Sunday was the...

Super Century!

This was the third annual Team Virtus Super Century, and I'm not at all ashamed to admit that I'd really hoped no one would remember it this year.  The previous two years (2012 and 2013) were absolutely miserable.  When Luke posted about this year's sufferfest, though, I couldn't miss out, and along with quite a few like-minded sickos (Aaron, Luke, Casey, Christina, Scott, Frederik, Susan, and Fletcher) started at 8 a.m.  The madness spread further than we'd realized, though, as Scott had conscripted 8 cyclists from Peoria, and throughout the day we kept hearing about people who did alternate events (100 minutes, 62 minutes, pushups and crunches, etc). Mickey came up with the most creative variation, a 12-hour odyssey of flight delays and cancellations, culminating in the inability to participate and a fun new nickname.


One of the fun features of the Super Century is the ability to suffer "alone together" as we all ride our trainers in isolation but complain about it on facebook and twitter.


I started out watching Zombieland, which has become my Super Century tradition. I hate horror movies, but Zombieland is funny enough that it doesn't qualify.  I'd planned to follow that up with A Thin White Line, a movie about the Iditarod bike race, but our home internet sucks and Vimeo wouldn't load for me.  Instead, I ended up watching The Cutting Edge.  At least they both deal with cold-weather sports, right?

Technical difficulties aside, I was finding this year's Super Century surprisingly...not difficult.  Pedaling felt weirdly easy, even after adjusting the resistance on the trainer and shifting into harder gears.  Sitting, while not particularly enjoyable after a while, was never miserable.  My back stayed out of the complaint department.  The miles were flying by.  Even considering lack of wind resistance and the relative ease of riding a trainer instead of gravel or singletrack, it was very weird.  I tried to figure out what was wrong...was the computer set to km instead of miles (no), was the wheel size setting wrong (no)?



Besides Zombieland, my other Super Century tradition is a big bowl of cookies n' cream ice cream at the midpoint, but on Sunday I didn't stop until mile 40 because I was already considering riding a full 100 miles instead of stopping at a metric century (62 miles).

Totally worth a couple hours on the trainer!
I hit 62 miles way sooner than I ever have before, and I really didn't feel like I'd suffered enough to be finished.  I mean, I was riding hard and sweating like crazy, but it wasn't that bad.  I decided to ride for another hour and see where that put me.  I wasn't sure how long I could get away with monopolizing the big TV on Super Bowl day, but actually this year's ride didn't take me longer than previous ones if you counted all the time I spend off my bike stretching and taking breaks the past two years.

My team's annual #SuperCentury, a Super Bowl day trainer metric century. I stuck it out for a little longer. If my #bike computer was right (questionable), this was my first century on a road bike after two on a hybrid, two on a #cx bike, and one on a #mt
Still not sure I believe that number...
In the end, my odometer read 100 miles.  Over the course of 4+ hours my pace would've been 23 mph.  Honestly, I question that distance -- I don't think I'm that fast for that long, but I can't figure out where the problem is with the computer...unless it's that you can't necessarily trust a $12 bike computer. For me, the bigger story is that I had a really good 4.5 hour trainer ride, a hard effort where I wasn't miserable.  Compared to the previous two years, that's huge.

Of course, there's a reason it should be so much better.  Out of curiosity, I looked back at my stats on Daily Mile to compare my bike mileage over the past few years:

Pre-Super Century 2012: bike miles from Nov-Feb = 181
Pre-Super Century 2013: bike miles from Nov-Feb = 37 (thirty seven!!)
Pre-Super Century 2014: bike miles from Nov-Feb = 422

Imagine that...training works.