Sunday, August 26, 2012

Venus de Miles Finisher!

Hello Friendly Bloggers,
It has been quite a day!! I finished the 67-mile ride of the Venus de Miles, with an increase in elevation of 2600, and up and down so many hills I lost count. I rode in a little over 6 hours with starting temps around 59 and last two hours 95 degrees with a strong wind. I made it up the hardest part, the Jamestown Canyon, and was met at the top with my honey ringing a cowbell and cheering on all the other riders, not only me. The last 7 miles until the finish were honestly the hardest for me. I think I got very close to bonking, but I made it to the finish, albeit kind of shaky from heat exhaustion and well, riding 67 miles over hill and dale.

There was excellent support for riders throughout the course. When I go on these long rides, I have a very hard time eating anything because I have no appetite. I generally drink plan water because I have no tolerance for sporty type drinks because of all the sugar in them. At the top of the Jamestown Canyon one of the medical support women asked me how I was doing. I said “great” but like usual had no appetite. I learned that having no appetite is quite normal in long distance cycling because the food just sits in your gut and is not digested because of the cycling position you are in. She gave me some great tips,  including information about a wonderful new concoction for endurance sports called Skratch Lab that they had at all the rest stops. One of the rules in endurance sports is not to eat or drink things on event day that you have not tried before. She recommended trying the Skratch Lab mix and diluting it with water to see how that worked for me. That diluated solution worked quite well for me. There are two kinds of Skratch labs:  an electrolyte fuel (which I tried) and an “energy mix.” In that heat, I really needed the electrolyte boost. It is now several hours after the completion of the ride, and I am on the road to recovery and have downed 5 bottles of it now so am on the road to recovery. My hubby and I went out for a great dinner and I had a long soak in a hot bubble bath.

The Venus de Miles is one amazing and unique experience. First it is an all women’s ride (this is what drew me to it) and a celebration of the sisterhood. All the SAG (male bike mechanics) were required to dress in drag. And they did: many of them created super fun outfits decorated with sequins and other bling, lots of chiffon were used and many wore tutus and hair do-dads.
Men in drag at Venus de Miles

Part of the spread for riders at one of the stops

Inter-generational riding team right in front of me at the start
The start was flat, but check out those mountains in the distance!
The spirit of fun was not just on the men, many of the women riders dressed up too with chiffon skirts, feathers, tutus and fun helmet head wear. I cannot tell you what a great an uplifting experience it was to ride with such a wide variety of women of all ages. There were several multi generational riders (grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters), too. Despite all the fun atmosphere, the riders were serious about their rides and rider safety. Because I rode alone, many guys in drag and women riders would stop and ride with me to make sure I was having a great experience. I did. Yes, I am sore and will be I am sure for a few days. But what a great experience and what a great cause, too, the Greenhouse scholars. All of the funds raised by this event go to Greenhouse Scholars, which provides funds for college for high achieving, and under resourced high school students, all of whom are First Generation College bound seniors.

I was emotional a few times during the ride just because I was “doing it.” I have come along way in my health fitness, still a ways to go (and shedding an extra 30 pounds will make next time easier), but wow, I DID IT!!!! I would never have known about the Venus de Miles without Jackie. Jackie aspired to ride the Venus and she inspired me. I hope Jackie will come back to blogging. Thank-you, Jackie for sharing this event via your blog.Finally, than-you to my beloved hubby for being my support team and encourager throughout my preparations and today, during the event. I am a lucky woman!
Looking out at Boulder, CO from our Royal Arch hike
Hubby and I will end our trip to Colorado by taking in a ball game at Coors stadium: Rockies vs LA Dodgers (my hometown team!) on Monday night. I can’t wait. We will head home and back to beautiful Minnesota after the game. My academic year starts on Wednesday with meetings… Summer for me is waning, just like it is for all of you. I enjoy my work tremendously, but love my summer, where I can spend my time working on research and writing, cycling, and being with my family...

A brief update for the Summer Sizzle Challenge:
I met all of my goals last week in terms of tracking, exercise and fitness. I will weigh in next week, which is the last week of the challenge. I rode 90 miles on my bike, but I also hiked 7 miles, so definitely exceeded my week 10 exercise goals.

And Yes, Sharon, we did go to the Boulder’s farmer’s market on Wednesday evening. It was lovely. We bought a number of fresh fruits, including one of the best peaches I have had in years. So, thanks for that great recommendation!!

Looking forward to catching up with all of you once I get back home. Have a great week. Stay strong. Remember, you, too, can do more than you think you can. TTFN,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer bounty, the Venus! and SSSC

Greetings on a Beautiful Summer Evening!
Summer is waning here in Minnesota which means I am trying to savor every minute of it including the bounty from our mostly container gardens. We picked a bunch of ripe tomatoes today for a salad with some beautiful peppers and our delicious green beans have been a part of many meals.

I planted my first ever herb garden this year. We have cilantro, oregano, rosemary, dill, and basil (several different kinds) that we have enjoyed for several weeks now. We also have zucchini that for some reason is not thriving (I think  the deer maybe eating it!) and onions and potatoes (not in planters). Besides our veggies, our flowers are beautiful too and attracting numerous pollinators and other insects.

The tips of some of our trees are already beginning to turn, which means fall is on the way.

We discovered a great used book store near our cabin today. Hubby and I bought a few books to take on our upcoming trip to Colorado. I started a new book that I am sure many of you have read: The Help. It is a great read which I can barely put down. I understand why I have heard such rave reviews. Nothing like a great book. Nothing.

Jo had an intriguing post the other day that really resonated with me. Although I was not in the over 300 pound category when I started this journey, I did ignore my own health, ate pretty much with abandon for years and did not regularly exercise much like the friend that Jo described. Sometimes I wonder why it took me so long to move on the path that I am now. I definitely had a fear of failure that kept me from even starting to really take care of myself. I know some of my inertia was denial which ran deep within me. There was also a lack of education of what it really takes to be healthy and fit. There are undoubtedly other reasons why it took me so long, but the fact of the matter is that I finally figured it out. There is no easy road; it takes time, determination and perseverance, but I am doing it. I wish Jo’s friend had found her way. I hope all of you continue to find your own way.

The Venus de Miles is now just a mere week away. This past week, I did not push myself on any of my riding. My longest ride was 14.5 miles, which I did today. Yes, there were some hills, but I took it easy. I feel prepared for this event and am really looking forward to it. It is a great way to raise money for a great cause and has been a great way for me to work towards a higher level of fitness.

My hubby and I will leave tomorrow morning for Boulder, Co. I am super excited to road trip with him. We have not been on a road trip like this together for over three years. I know there will be hiking as well as biking in our trip. We have some trails mapped out, but are leaving most of our 8 days unplanned (except for the events around the Venus). 

 As for Week 10 of the Summer Sizzle Slimdown Challenge….here is my update

1.     Weigh in: I won’t weigh in now until the beginning of September so nothing to report here.
2.     Calories: I did better on tracking calories this week than I did  the last (5/7 days).  
3.     Exercise: My weekly total is over 100 miles of riding-so I did great on this one.

Our mini challenge was to illustrate our overall challenge weight loss in food. Here is my weight loss in butter!

Yep, four pounds! Not a lot, but I will take them!
I will take a blogging break while I am gone to CO. This will be my last respite before the academic year begins.Look forward to catching up with you all when I return. Hope you all have a great week! Stay strong and TTFN!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Wedding, 2000 foot climb and update

Hello Bloggers!
We are finishing up a magnificent week of vacation in the lovely state of Oregon. We came to the Bend area of Oregon for the wedding of my goddaughter, Liana to Vicente. It was a fabulous celebration and we are all very happy for the couple.
Here is my hubby and I with the parents of the bride 
(my brother and my hubby's sister) and the bride in the background.
After the wedding we played quite a bit in the area's natural amenities including the Deschutes River (above) and area lakes. The house where we stayed had a number of bikes that I road almost every morning along that river.

Elk Lake
Like I wrote last week, I did rent a good road bike for the weekend after the wedding. Yesterday I rode a short 10 miler just to get used to the bike. Today, I got up early and set out on my real ride: a 30.5 mile ride up toward Mt Bachelor and back down. I chose this particular route because it mimics closely the assent that I will face when I ride the Venus in two weeks. I rode from 3933 feet to 5827 feet in altitude with an elevation increase of 4254 feet up and 2590 feet down. It was quite a ride. I went slow (average of 8.5MPH on the 9 miles of ascent), but I did it. I was scared going down at one point getting up to 38.77 MPH. Here is a picture of my target: Mt Bachelor as I began my assent.
You can see in this one that I am much closer and 2000 feet higher in altitude!!
Here is a graph of my climbs:

1.     Weigh in: I won’t weigh in now until the beginning of September so nothing to report here.
2.     Calories: I kept track of my calories only 3 out of 7 days this past week. I never binged or ate crazy on the other days, but I definitely was over my 1500 calories. I am okay with that, too, and know that I will bring the calories down once my vacation is over.
3.     Exercise: For being away from home, I think I did pretty good with exercise. My weekly total was over 80 miles, including that hard ride today.

I did not participate in the weekly challenge last week. Overall, my last week was reasonable considering I was on vacation. We cooked many of our meals which made it easy for me to eat more than my share of salads and fresh veggies and fruits. My down fall was ice cream and cake from both the bridal shower and the wedding. But those special occasions are now behind me. I am confident this week will see me back to my usual habits. 

Hope you all are enjoying the last few weeks of summer. Look forward to catching up with all of you! Have a great week! TTFN,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

46.5 miles and update on Summer Sizzle Slimdown

Hello Bloggers!
We have relatives from the Netherlands visiting us for a week which meant several days playing together at our cabin. Our weekend started off with some misty weather, but you can see it cleared up for a nice canoe ride with a couple of grandbabies in tow. 

I just finished my last long bike ride of my preparation for the Venus de Miles in Boulder, Co on August 26. Today I rode from Hayward, WI to our cabin in NW WI. It was a very blustery day which meant that I rode into a stiff wind for over two hours before the wind began to tamper down. Man that was tough. But, I did it! I also went up and over countless hills with a total elevation rise of 3,012 feet up and 3, 160 feet down.  You can not see all that in my route from Endomondo, but trust me is was a quite a work out
I burned at least 2500 calories. I still have three weeks before my event, but I know I can do the 67 mile course with the 3500 elevation climb. The next three weeks will see me doing more 20-30 mile rides and keeping my weekly mileage at about 100. 

Week Nine Update:

1.     Weigh in: I am down to 169! I have lost a total of 4 pounds during this challenge. This is the 9th week of the challenge which means I have lost about .5 pounds a week. This is exactly what I was hoping for. So, I am VERY excited!! Here is a new photo that shows off my now 44 pound total loss!

2.     Calories: I was not as consistent with my calories this past week, slipping in only 4/7 days under 1500 calories. I cooked and baked very healthy foods for our guests, but still went over on three days. I have no regrets either because I never binged or ate crazy. Just enjoyed a little more ice cream than is part of my caloric budget.
3.     Exercise: I biked 99 miles last week with my last being over 46. I did work on my core, but only twice.

Rochelle challenged us to avoid refined sugars last week. I will give myself a B- for this one. I do not normally eat very much sugar. I use a little honey in my smoothies which is about the only food that I really sweeten.  Last week was not typical because of our guests and well that ice cream. But again, no regrets.

What’s on tap for me this week?
We will be traveling to a family wedding in Bend, Oregon on Tuesday. I know there will be all kinds of goodies to eat, however, I am confident that I will stay within my calorie allotment on most days. I have given myself permission to go over my calories for two days, the wedding day and the day of the shower I am hosting (I am the bride's Godmother after all!!). I will budget an extra 1000 calories for those two days. I know we will do some hiking, plus I have all ready rented a bike for two days (after the wedding). I am hoping to get in a little hill work in Bend area on a bike to prepare me for both the altitude of Boulder and of course the elevation climbs. Bend is in Central Oregon which is the high desert of the Eastern Cascades Mountain range. It should be fun because my son is also planning to rent a bike and we will ride together.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week,  TTFN, Michele