Apple Picking & Trail Running 
Sunday, September 7, 2008, 08:09 PM
Posted by Administrator
Thanks to a recent newspaper article, I discovered Howard's Orchard, a small farm in the town of Catalina. Yesterday, Paul and I strapped on a pannier and rode our tandem there to check it out. The owner is a really sweet man who instructed us to "treat it like home" as he gave us some plastic bags to fill with apples. Rumor has it they have amazing peaches, but we were a little late in the season for those. And, at other times of the year, they also have blackberries, pecans, tomatoes and cucumbers. We'll definitely be back - it made a great pit stop during our ride!

For any locals who want to visit, take Oracle north to the town of Catalina. Go past Golder Ranch Road and take your next right onto Hawser. When the road ends, turn left on Columbus. Turn left onto Pinal Street, which is a dirt and gravel road. The farm is just about one-quarter mile on your right - look for the signs.

We rounded out the weekend with the first run of the Tucson Trail Runners' annual series - Mount Wrightson - although neither of us fully participated. Paul wanted more time on his new tri bike to prepare for his time trial next weekend, and so he rode from our house to the trailhead - a distance of about 60 miles, with the last 10 miles being up a gigantic hill.

While the rest of the group ran to the top of Mount Wrightson, I opted to go only to Josephine Saddle and then take the longer, more gradual Super Trail back down. This amounted to only 6.2 miles, but it's been a long time since I've run trails or hills and so I wanted to ease myself back into it. Also, while the view from the peak is spectacular, I just do not enjoy the hike from the saddle to the top. It is steep, rocky and, for me, extremely slow-going. I've done it twice and have no desire to do it again...although I hear I missed some spectacular wildflowers.

I finished my run in just under two hours and then found a shady spot in which to sit and read while I waited for Paul to climb the gigantic hill to meet me. Just after he arrived, the other runners began to emerge from the trail and so we hung around for a while to catch up with friends. For me, this is one of the best parts of running - the socializing! It was great to see Renee, who came out for her first TTR run and I'm sure we'll be seeing her at others!

On the way home, we decided to make a detour and stop at Eclectic Pizza for lunch. It's on the opposite side of town from us, but we recently discovered that they serve gluten-free pizza and Paul was anxious to give it a try. We ordered a Greek salad that was absolutely delicious, as well as two pizzas (to ensure leftovers) and a gluten-free beer. Paul was in heaven. However, the pizza was a mixed bag. The toppings were extremely fresh and the sauce was probably the best I've ever had. However, the crust was clearly a gluten-free crust...which is not a good thing. It just didn't compare to the crust we get at Picazzo's. They make it on site (although, unfortunately, none of those sites are in Tucson) and you really can't tell the difference between it and "normal" pizza. If only we could combine Picazzo's crust with Eclectic's toppings...
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Just Me and the "Kids" 
Saturday, August 30, 2008, 11:26 PM
Posted by Administrator
As an employee of MDA, I will spend much of the Labor Day weekend working the MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon. Having experienced the past two Telethons, Paul got smart and has skipped town for the weekend. While I supervise the "green room," he will be enjoying the GABA Blue Loop Bike Tour through New Mexico and Northern Arizona. So, it's just me and the dogs this weekend!

I had a 17-mile run on my training schedule for today and I felt rested and ready for it. But it didn't take long for those feelings to change. The wind sucked my energy, and my legs and feet just plain hurt. I attribute the latter to the need for new shoes. In fact, I'm really hoping that's the reason as it has an easy solution. I managed to eek out 15 long miles - it took me 20 minutes longer than my 15-miler two weeks ago.

I hate not sticking to my training schedule, and spent the last few miles convincing myself that it was okay to stop at 15. The internal dialogue went something like this: "I have plenty of time before San Antonio to make up the miles, and pushing myself on old shoes could lead to injury...right? Right!" I'll give 17 another shot in two weeks (with a fresh pair of shoes).
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Camping Weekend 
Saturday, August 16, 2008, 05:15 PM
Posted by Administrator
Last weekend, we packed the Prius full of gear and dogs, and escaped the desert heat with a long weekend of camping in the White Mountains. We chose Fool Hollow Lake in Show Low as we have visited the campground for the Deuces Wild Triathlon and Paul knew he could take the dogs swimming - something the dogs like and Paul absolutely loves. Swimming alone is a bit of a chore, but swimming with the dogs is pure fun for Paul! We arrived mid-afternoon on Friday and were pleasantly surprised to find a small, but beautiful spot overlooking the lake.

After setting up camp, we headed down to the boat ramp as Paul couldn't wait to get in the water with the kids. With cloudy skies and temperatures in the 70's, it wasn't nearly warm enough for me to join them, but, as you can see, a good time was had by all.

We had a delicious dinner of salmon, veggies and corn on the cob - all cooked over the fire. I was looking forward to relaxing by a roaring campfire for the evening, but a thunder and lightening storm started shortly after dinner and, as we do not have a canopy, all five of us headed into the tent. It took us quite a while to calm Molly, who is terrified of storms and was shaking uncontrollably.

With nothing else to do, we climbed into our sleeping bags around 8:00 p.m., but the dogs were so restless that I was up half of the night. The low point was when Mielo vomited. Yes, in the tent. I pushed him toward the door, but could not move fast enough to unzip it in time. I was rather grouchy the next morning.

My mood improved with a great trail run Saturday morning. For much of it, we followed a flower-filled path surrounding the lake. I got in about 7 miles and the kids enjoyed multiple dips in the lake to cool off.

We regretted the last plunge when it started raining just as we returned to the campsite. With no place else to go, two sweaty people and 3 wet dogs piled into the tent. Note to self - invest in a canopy before the next camping trip.

Luckily the rain was short-lived and we were able to air out the tent while we showered (okay, so we weren't exactly roughing it). That afternoon, it was wonderful to have absolutely nothing to do! We read...we sat and looked at the lake...we chatted with the little girls from a few campsites over who had fallen in love with the kids and visited a few times. Heaven...

Our peace and quiet was interrupted when an enormous SUV pulled into the site next door and a cranky woman complained (rather loudly) to her husband that, if they stayed at that site, "We'll be next to dogs!" It was clear by her tone that she was not a dog-lover. Unfortunately, available campsites were sparse at that point and so they decided to stay. At that point, FIVE children came piling out of the truck. And she was worried about being next to dogs?!? The kids ended up being pretty good, although the woman's sour mood never improved.

Although it was overcast for the remainder of the day, the rain missed us and I was able to have my relaxing evening by the fire. Having adjusted to the camping experience, the kids were much calmer and we all had a great night of sleep. The next morning, Paul took the kids on short run while I broke down camp, and we hit the road for Tucson in the mid-morning.

We have only been camping two other times in the five years we've been together, and this trip convinced us that we really need to camp more often. It's so relaxing! And there are lots of great places just a short drive from home that would work for quick overnights. First, we just need to buy a canopy.

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Training Update 
Saturday, July 26, 2008, 02:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
Today is my last day as a 33-year old and I marked the occasion with a 12-mile training run. Considering that my head didn't hit the pillow until after midnight last night, I was not overly optimistic about how this run would feel. Why the late night? I marked my second-to-last day as a 33-year old with dinner and a viewing of The Dark Knight, which was fantastic! Long, but fantastic.

I slept in until 6:30 and finally hit the pavement an hour later with temps in the high 70's and humidity in the mid-60's. It was warm and rather sticky, but I was excited to be wearing an early birthday present from Paul - a Polar RS800 running computer with heart rate monitor, shoe pod and watch. This gadget is designed for gear geeks who live for stats. While numbers have never been my strong suit, it was fascinating to take in all of the data this gizmo threw at me - time, distance, pace, cadence, heart rate, stride length and even calories burned, which is rather satisfying to watch. (1,270 in case you're wondering)

I took it easy and felt surprisingly good. Fatigue did not rear it's head until 8.5 miles and, even then, it was only mild. The last mile was tough, but very do-able, leaving me feeling like I could have gone farther...but was happy that I didn't have to.

While I'm not setting any land speed records, I'm just pleased to feel strong and healthy at this point in my training. I've got many miles ahead of me before the big day in San Antonio, but I'm on track and feeling confident.

Life on the edge of 34 is looking good.
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Sahuarita Lake Triathlon 
Monday, May 26, 2008, 10:57 PM
Posted by Administrator
Whenever someone asked if I was ready for this race, I would say, "I'll be participating - not racing." Spending 12-hour days, as well as some weekend hours, at the office does not allow for ideal training. I wasn't sure whether or not I should even sign up, but decided that, if nothing else, it would provide motivation to keep up some semblance of regular exercise - and it did.

And so I awoke at 3:40 a.m. ready for a slow, and probably somewhat painful, race. While the event did not start until 6:30 a.m., I had volunteered for body marking with the Tri Girls and had a 5:00 a.m. report time. For the non-triathletes out there, this means I used a magic marker to write race numbers on the arms and legs of athletes. As far as volunteer assignments go, handling the biceps and quads of triathletes in not a bad gig. Also, arriving at the crack of dawn earned me excellent spots for both my car and my transition area.

Once again, I was racing solo. Last week, Paul was just getting over shingles (see Police Memorial Challenge below) when he developed a case of pneumonia. He just can't catch a break lately! He's feeling better every day, but a triathlon was absolutely out of the question.

Relief volunteers arrived at 6:00 a.m. and I handed over my marker, so that I could hit the porta-pottie one last time and put on my wetsuit. I was surprised to see a few people spraying themselves with Pam cooking spray to accelerate their own wetsuit-donning process. After a race, I feel disgusting enough being covered in sweat, sunblock and whatever's in the lake water...I wouldn't want to add cooking spray to the mix. I prefer to use a trick Paul showed me. Bring along a plastic grocery bag, stick your foot in it, then pull on that leg of the wetsuit - it slides easily over the plastic. Then pull the bag off and repeat with your other limbs. Much cleaner.

The morning had started off chilly, but the temperature was perfect by the time the race started and was ideal throughout the race. I cheered on the first two swim waves and then took the plunge with the other pink caps for wave #3 of the 1K swim. After the initial shock of the 75 degree water, I felt very comfortable in my wetsuit. Many people had opted to swim without one, but I needed all of the warmth and buoyancy I could get.

This swim was tough for me and lasted FOREVER. It was a straight out-and-back course. Sounds easy enough, but I have a hard time swimming straight when there's not a black line underwater to follow. I kept veering to the middle and toward the oncoming traffic of swimmers who had already made the turnaround. I had one pretty good collision with a swimmer form the first wave who seemed to have the same problem. I was relieved to make it to the turnaround, but dismayed to see 16:15 displayed on my watch. Not only did that mean I'm incredibly slow, but it meant I had another 16 minutes until I'd be out of the water! Apparently swimming 2 to 3 times a month isn't nearly as effective as swimming 2 to 3 times a week like I did last fall.

Alas, I survived and was greeted by some fabulous TTG cheerleaders as I climbed out of the lake. While swimming, I had been thinking that the lake was not nearly as gross as rumored. Then, when I got out of it, I noticed the green crap stuck all over my wrists and ankles. It didn't occur to me until after the race when I looked at other racers that the sticky green crap was also on my face and neck - disgusting.

I had a smooth transition and then headed out on the 25K bike course to the supportive cheers of more TTG'ers. I took it easy the first few minutes to catch my breath and take in some sport drink. The course was a nice, smooth road with minimal traffic. It is also an out-and-back course which I love. In addition to cheering for other Tri Girls, it's fun (in a humbling sort of way) to watch the fast athletes fly by. Cycling is the area in which I have the most to gain. I know that, if I focus on it, then I'll shave a lot of time off my races. Maybe that will happen someday...but, for now, I plugged along and hollered "good job!" to all those who passed me.

There is a 2-mile hill leading to the turnaround, and it was great to crest it and fly back down. At the bottom, while shifting out of my big chain ring, my chain jammed and I had to stop briefly to correct it. Otherwise, the bike was smooth - slow but smooth. I managed to get down one gel and a good amount of sport drink. My legs were tired, but I felt great otherwise.

I was thrilled to pull into transition, although slightly peeved that I had to run to the far corner of transition to use the porta pottie. Can't they put one closer to the in/out areas for the bike and run?!? I headed out on the course and it felt great to run...for about 30 seconds. Then my shins started screaming at me. My legs didn't have much left in them and so I did a walk/run for the 5K. As time went on I decided to use more frequent, but shorter walk breaks which seemed to help mentally.

I was relived and happy to reach the finish line and wound up with a time of 2:18. As I had absolutely no expectations for this race, I'm totally fine with that. However, the race definitely makes me look forward to the time (which should come in mid-June) when I return to a sane work schedule and can get back to training again.

I stuck around to chat with the Tri Girls, as well as for a post-race massage. At most races, the free massages are about 5 minutes. At this one, they were about 20, which was really annoying to everyone waiting their turn, but heaven once you were on the table. I enjoyed every minute, but felt somewhat sorry for these wonderful massage students who had to rub down sweaty, smelly, green-crap-covered triathletes with their bare hands. We're a far cry from your standard spa clientèle.

All-in-all it was a great morning. As I suspected, the race was slow and, at times, painful. But it's so satisfying to feel like I've pushed hard and challenged myself.

And for the Tucson Tri Girls - congrats to all of the racers; thank you to those who volunteered and cheered; and best of luck to all those racing at Deuces Wild next weekend!
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