Sunday, July 30, 2006


This is too cool. Two encounters from Blogland within a week.

Nancy, her husband Steve, and daughters Elisabeth and Catherine are traveling to Michigan and stopped for the night in our campground. Elisabeth and Catherine got to play with Abbie, and we all had a barbecue, "all" being the four of them, my husband Steve, my mother, and Jamie, Abbie's mom, our daughter-in-law.

I burned the chicken cooking it on our open fire. I sprained my ankle in one of Journey's attempts to find a short route to China. I burned my finger.

But we had a great time. I guess I should speak for everyone else, but it seemed like people were having a good time. The chicken turned out OK (except that you couldn't eat the bottom crust), the fruit salad was good, the wine was good: local Deep Creek Winery, Artisan Red and Yellow Jacket White, so named because it's so sweet that the yellow jackets swarm around when they're working with it.

Abbie and Catherine hugged and hugged and hugged. Elisabeth wasn't as demonstrative -- didn't want to hug. Catherine and Elisabeth loved our cat, Annie. Elisabeth loved Journey; Catherine wasn't so sure. She was amused but didn't want to get close to this 50-pound dog who was soooo friendly it could be risky to get too close.

My mother played the fiddle and I accompanied her on the guitar. That was fun.

Nancy and I tried for an open-water swim in Deep Creek Lake but wouldn't you know, a thundershower came up, which would mean automatic beach closure; we tried swimming at a small, unguarded beach but her Steve had the kids and it was starting to rain and it just didn't work. Nancy and I are going swimming early in the morning. Before I have to leave for work at 10:00a.m. On my bike. Because my Steve is taking the truck, going golfing. I haven't ridden my bike to work before, but there are clean-up facilities there, so as long as I get there in time I'll be good.

Keep all your fingers crossed for good weather for our swim and my commute!

Nancy has pictures; she'll post them sometime, I'm sure :-)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Another thing....

.... my training plans and log are out of date in my sidebar. I am still so hopelessly behind in keeping up with my blog and everyone else's. I've spent just all about all my computer time the last two days trying to fix my slow downloads. I'll update eventually....


I hadn't realized anything was wrong with it until Nancy pointed out that the margins were too wide and it was all squished together in the middle with no room. I've tried for several days messing with the margins and padding in the template and I finally found the magic combination through trial and error. Thanks, Nancy! Do you like it?

Good thing I didn't accidentally delete it like Flatman... someone else would have jumped in and become Against the Wind before I could spit.

Anyway.... one more conquest of the computer whose mission is to drive me crazy.

Now if I can just speed it up.... I've run AdAware twice, defragmented my disk twice (also thanks to Nancy's tutelage). It's still slow. Maybe not as slow as it was, but slow.

Monday, July 24, 2006


I left Nancy's house today and drove back to West Timbuctu... um, I mean Western Maryland.

I had such a great week. Catherine and Elisabeth were sad that I was leaving, which really touched me. Then they started to be afraid that Mommy was going with me, so we had to straighten that out, which was accomplished by kissing them goodbye and leaving Mommy there with them.

My husband had gone to pick up Abbie from Head Start/daycare, and as I was unpacking I heard the door open and a cheery, childish "HI!!" She went right for her toys and discovered a new spiral notebook to replace her used-up one. She got her markers, sat at her little table with her marker poised over her notebook, announced, "Mommy!" and proceeded to draw this:

Then she put down her pen, looked pleased, and affirmed, "Mommy!" I was floored. I told her, "Oh, Abbie, that's wonderful! I can't believe you drew such a wonderful picture of Mommy!" She beamed happily. This drawing totally blew my mind. Abbie is 3 and a half and has Down Syndrome. I did not expect this masterpiece to flow from her felt-tip marker.

Surprises were not over. We went to McDonald's for supper. For dessert we got her an ice cream cone to take out. As we were leaving, she tripped and fell on the sidewalk, but caught herself with one hand and held the other up TO SAVE THE ICE CREAM!! What a stitch!! I said, "Uh-oh, you fell, but did you save the ice cream???" She nodded and continued to lick happily. After we got her in her car seat, we discovered that her knee was in fact skinned and bleeding. She had been focusing so carefully on saving the ice cream that she hadn't even thought about getting hurt.

Back at our place, she wanted "fruit snacks," these little things kind of like gummy bears made of fruit juice (at least 10% according to the label.) I said if she peed in the potty she could have some, not expecting anything because she's just starting the potty thing. I was busy unpacking when I heard her yell, "YAAAAYYYY!!!!" and clap her hands. Damn, there she was with her shorts and diaper off and there was definitely pee in the potty. I cheered along with her and she pointed to her fruit snacks, like "I held up my end of the deal, now you hold up yours."

I go away for 5 days and my granddaughter gets a year older -- saves her ice cream in a fall, draws the Mona Lisa, and goes potty. This is not fair. If we go away for the winter she'll be graduating from high school when we get back in the spring.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Nancy with Catherine and Elisabeth

Mommy moment here... both girls had just awakened from a nap and wanted no one but Mommy, just as it should be :-)
Mommy probably would have liked a nap, too, as we'd gotten up at 4:30 (well, I held out till 4:50) this morning and were out on the bikes by 5:45 for a 78-mile ride. It was wonderful. Cloudy with a few showers, nice and cool, FLAT ROADS, great company. Not only did I get to ride with Nancy, but her training buddy David joined up with us around mile 30 so we were three. I needed instruction how to ride with a group :-)

Felt like I was flying over the smooth, flat, wide-shouldered, straight roads. Whew! It's going to be a double downer to go back to biking in the Appalachians with all the ups and downs. Well, the downs are OK, but the ups are always hard and sometimes murder. I was amazed today that my max speed (20.something) was so close to my average (16.4). Back in the western corner of the same state, my max is more than 20mph faster than my average. And the uphills and downhills are about 30 mph apart. Took me a while to get the hang of riding with even effort, even cadence -- a whole different sport! I kept speeding up and slowing down. Kind of erratic. Simulating the hills I'm used to, I guess :-)

Later we had steak and corn and salad and Little Penguin wine. And laughed at Catherine and Elisabeth eating watemelon.... now, why didn't I get a picture of that??? Probably because of the wine glass in my own hand. Just goes to show.... alcohol results in opportunities lost forever. But the wine and dinner w/ Nancy are forever too.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


We came. We saw. We conquered.
Or we were ready to.
We conquered our fear of the open, murky water in the Delaware Bay, did a practice swim, felt great, were all ready to go in the morning.
Then we got thunderstorms.
They cancelled it.
So Nancy and I drove back to St. Michaels. Or rather, Nancy did... I just rode. And we stopped at her YMCA and did our own aquathlon. 5K run on the treadmill, followed by a 1/2-mile swim in the pool.

Actually that was a lot of fun and a really good workout. I thought I simulated a real 5K race effort, but Nancy says I was talking too comfortably to be working hard. Hmph. After I was done I felt I could have done more.... Nancy says I wasn't working hard enough.... Hmph. But she beat me in the swim. So we're even.

If we went to Delaware, swam in the Delaware Bay, showed up for the race on race morning, then went and did the distances of the cancelled race on our own somewhere else, I think we can honestly wear the shirts. Which we were given, in case we can't come back for the rain date. It will be pretty much out of the question for me. But Nancy and I planned to do the race together, and we did the race together --- just not in Lewes, DE!!

Parking lot before the "race" -- "What if they gave a race and nobody came?"

Nancy alone where there should be a couple hundred swimmers

At least we didn't have to swim with these guys... although actually it's very pretty, if you forget that it's slimy and can sting. But they're not as stingy as the Chesapeake Bay sea nettles.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Swimming videos

Hey, folks! I'm at Nancy's house which is just too cool a situation for anyone to be in. We had steak and Chardonnay tonight :-)

We went to the pool at Nancy's club and shot video clips of each other swimming. This may not be the real McCoy b/c we didn't do much warmup -- 2 lengths each -- but it's probably basically what we look like swimming. Nancy's is at her blog and mine is here. What I see is that my kick is totally random and goes in all directions. What Nancy sees is that my head comes too far out of the water when I breathe, and my legs drag. Another thing I see is how far I've come mostly on my own in the last 3 years, when I decided I absolutely couldn't do another half-IM with breaststroke and had better learn freestyle. I started with what I remembered from Girl Scout swimming lessons and supplemented it with bits and pieces picked up from other people's emails. Then this past spring Steve and I were able to go through Denver where my coach Mary lives, and she gave me a lot of really good suggestions. That was a one-lesson wonder :-) Anyway, here's the visual. Suggestions, anyone?

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I couldn't get my photos to line up with my text -- you may have to do some piecing to put them together.

Well. My mother who says she's a wash-up won second place. And a lot of applause, because she's well-known in the area, the only female senior-age competitor -- they don't divide the contests into gender groups but they do have age groups. Anyway, she's the only old gal, and I'm sure people who follow the contests wonder if she'll be playing (or even if she's still living) because when the MC announced that she'd be next a murmur rippled through the audience.

Our son Jon, who also plays country fiddle, dressed 3-yr-old Abbie, who LOVES fiddle music, in her pretty cowgirl dress and braids and ribbons, and brought her fiddle (it's real, a 1/16-size real violin) so she could feel like she was part of the action even though she wasn't playing onstage. Abbie can't play it... we're working on just learning to hold it and draw the bow across the strings. She saw all the fiddlers warming up before the show and wanted to get hers out, too. This was what he had hoped.... that she'd want to be part of the action. I've seen kids as young as 4 in the junior division; at this particular contest, the youngest was a boy about 6. He was the one of two contestants in the sub-teen group; the other was a girl of 11 who played your socks off, a very accomplished country fiddler who had started when she was 3 with a fiddle just like Abbie's.

Here's Abbie fiddling with her great-grandma.

And, just for perspective, here's Abbie's dad holding her violin.

Here's my mom getting ready to play....

Here's Mom looking surprised to learn she'd won second place.

In case you don't know what's involved in competitive country fiddlin', (most "outsiders" don't), the judging criteria are:

Old-tyme tunes, sound, and quality
Intonation (playing in tune, on key)
Rhythm and timing (keeping the beat)
Clarity (You can hear the tune over the flourishes, tune notes not lost in the shuffle)

Each one gets up to 10 points. No points for stage presence, audience response, presentation, or anything like that. Strictly musical criteria. But it's still awfully subjective -- nothing like the time clock that we race against.

While the judges are adding up the scores, all the fiddlers together do a "round-up" or "round-robin," all playing the same tune togethere and standing one at a time at the mike. Abbie had been listening avidly to all the contestants all night, and each time one finished, she applauded, yelled "Yaaayyyy!" and then pointed to herself, said, "Me?" and pointed to the stage. We'd ask her, "Do you want to play the fiddle on the stage?" She'd bob her head happily, say, "Me!" and point again to the stage. So when the round-up started, Jon took her up there, gave her her fiddle, and said, "Go on, go play with all the fiddlers." And she actually walked out onto the stage and stood there with them, sawing away on her fiddle. In this first picture she looks a little dubious, or like she's concentrating hard. She looks so tiny with all those grown-ups. I didn't have my wide-angle lens, so you can't see there are a couple dozen adults and teens on the stage. This kid has NO FEAR. This kid has GUTS. Sometimes she doesn't want to do something, but it's not because she's afraid, it's because she doesn't want to. And she wanted to play her violin on stage like all the other fiddlers. She'd been talking about it all night. And when she got the go-ahead, she trotted out there and did it. What a stitch!

Then she saw me with the camera, and marched right over to ham it up for a picture.

This is one cute kid, and it's not just because I'm her grandmother. I know a cute kid when I see one. You gotta overlook my bragging...

Today's training: 10-mile run, a slow one of 2 hours, keeping my HR 126-130. But I finished feeling like I could easily have run a lot more.

Now I'm off to paint trail markers on trees up in the forest.

P.S. Mom's "hardware" was a $150 check. Some contests give trophies, others money, others both. Mom has a whole piano full of trophies, and a bay-window full too. She'd rather have the money :-)

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Boy, I can't wake up and get going this morning. I just don't feel with it.

We were expecting to keep Abbie all day and night but turns out we're not. This leaves a free day, which is good, since I don't seem to be able to get it together. I have either a 30-mile bike or 1-hour run planned, whichever I was able to make time for, but now I have time for either or both, but I feel more like going back to bed.

Well, I can go out and hike some trails and renew the trail-markers. I got paint 3 weeks ago to do this and haven't been able to get out and do it. And I can defrost the fridge. That needs doing. This evening I'm going to my mom's fiddle contest. She doesn't expect to win anything. She's been feeling the last few years that fiddle-playing is a burden, doesn't play it unless there's a contest coming up, then "practices" for that (not the same effect as playing all the time for fun), doesn't win, and says she doesn't really feel into it anymore. She was a professional cellist all her life (New York Philharmonic, National Symphony) but she never plays it anymore except in church on special occasions, for which she drags it out and "practices." She says she guesses "her days as a musician are fading." She's 85 and her whole life has been music -- professionally, recreationally and competitively. To hear her say she's washed up as a musician... it sounds like she sees herself as a thing of the past. It sounds ominous.

Friday, July 14, 2006


So yesterday I rode up into Pennsylvania. In my virtual cross-country ride as well, I crossed a state line finally, from Utah into Colorado. Feels like I've been in Utah forever. I "rode" past Grand Junction, the first place in hundreds of miles that I've actually heard of before. And if I think the hills yesterday were tough..... I'll bet if I were really riding across Utah into Colorado, these Western Maryland mountains would become molehills. Click the link to see the map superimposed on the satellite image. I haven't zoomed this up close.... not sure I want to know! For some reason I can't get the elevation thing at g-maps to work. This disappointed me yesterday as I really wanted to know what I'd done on Route 40. Except I already know. It was a thousand-foot elevation climb, done in repetitious pieces and increments.

U.S. Route 40 West in northern Garrett County, MD is not a normal bike ride.

Found online places to read my favorite daily devotional, "My Utmost for His Highest," and the Bible divided into daily readings to be read cover-to-cover in a year. See my sidebar.

Today's Old Testament reading was from Chronicles, and I recognized it right away: David got a bee in his bonnet to build a temple to house the Ark of the Covenant, which had always been kept in a tent. But God came in a dream to David's friend Nathan, saying to him, "Tell David he's not always the one to do everything. I already have it in mind for one of his descendants to build a temple. Make sure he knows, though, he did well just to think of it and I appreciate that."

God does not enforce Rule 12 all of the time. You don't have to do everything yourself. I don't have to do everything myself. Let someone else have the responsibility and the satisfaction. But thanks for thinking of it.

Also..... God knew David would listen to Nathan. Did God know something on the order that, if he spoke directly to David, David would go do his own thing anyway, as David so often did? This is interesting.

From the New Testament was the passage in Romans from which the expression "some people are a law unto themselves" comes. And it's not what we mean when we usually say it, when we mean that they're disregarding the rules everyone else has to live by.

What it says is, people who don't purposefully follow the law of God because they haven't heard it, or their circumstances are different, or something, but whose way of life essentially follows the pattern that also happens to be the way of God, are in fact obeying God because the law is intrinsically written in their hearts. There are plenty of nonbelievers whose lives exemplify the way of God, whether they realize it or intend it or not. As a Christian I'm somewhat of an oddball, maybe, in that I can't believe that a personal saving relationship with Jesus is the only way into the kingdom. That leaves a lot of good folks out in the cold, good folks living a life God approves but, for whatever reason, not deliberately walking with the Lord; I believe they are appreciated just as much by him as church-going, Bible-thumping faithfuls, who can often be a pain in the neck. And God understands everyone's reasons, obstacles, skepticism, hesitation, and even denial, and is merciful and accommodating.

The Oswald Chambers ("My Utmost for His Highest") reading reflected this same issue, stating that Jesus/God do not demand converting/swaying/forcing everyone to our own way of thinking, but that we ensure everyone is availed to the nourishment of the Word of God. Every person has his own way of responding, positively or not, and is loved equally by God.

Off to clean yesterday's mud off my bike.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Have the hills gotten steeper? or longer?

Or am I just over the hill?

After I got off work at noon, I checked several weather maps and decided to chance a 60-mile ride. It had poured rain all morning but was slowing down and it looked as though I could ride out of most of it if I went north.

So I went north.

Up into Pennsylvania. It gives me such a charge to cross the state line and ride in another state. Makes me feel like I've really done something. If you have a travel atlas, you can go to the Maryland page, find Garrett County in the far northwest corner, that triangle-shaped panhandle that should be part of West Virginia; find Deep Creek Lake, just to the south of center; start at Deep Creek Lake State Park (shaded green); go northeast to Bittinger, north on Rte. 495 to Grantsville, north into Pennsylvania on Rte. 219, through Salisbury and Boynton to Meyersdale, turn around, back down 219 to Rte. 40, which very closely follows the MD/PA state line going west till 219 turns south, through Accident (yes, Accident), through McHenry, and back down to Deep Creek Lake State Park (shaded green.)

Or just take my word for it. It's not like it shows elevation changes or anything.

After I turned around at Meyersdale, PA, at the 30-mile point on my bike computer, I started thinking about all the hills I'd have to ride, that I'm so painfully familiar with from last year's training, if I retraced my route back. And I wondered, if I didn't take the county backroads, if I took the state road (Rte. 40, which actually is interstate but 2-lane) instead, my return trip would still have hills, but the road would be smoother, and straighter, and the hills would be less steep (although longer, to accomplish "less steep.") So I decided to go that way.

Ouch. I'm not sure that was the better way to go. For one thing, it added 7 miles to my return trip. For another, long hills meant.... long climbs. But the road was straighter. And smoother. Better surface. Bike rolled more easily. No potholes or gravel wash-outs from the rain.

A trade-off? I'm not sure. I was singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" to tick off the miles. Each mile down was another bottle of beer taken down and passed around. Somehow it made the miles go faster. I was in the granny gears most of the time. Something was hurting in my knee on my downstroke. How to make this a prayer? God bless the people who made this nice smooth road, and everyone who helped... the ones who drove the trucks, the ones who mixed the asphalt, the ones who ran the steam rollers, the flag-people, the people who mined the stone, all their husbands and wives, the people in the stores where they bought their clothes, and in the factories where their clothes were made, and where their equipment was made, and those involved in producing the fuel for their vehicles, and in bringing their food to their table, including the farmers who grew it and the stores that sold it.... 16 bottles of beer on the wall, 16 bottles of beer. Except I could see I was going to have more than 16 miles to go.... I was still 3, maybe 4 miles from our son's house, and it's 19.5 miles from there to our campground. Oh, geez, if I had known how much longer this route is.... but the road is smooth. And a mile before our son's house, I've got a 3-MILE downhill. That's the 1000 feet I just rode up, except on the way up, it would go up for a mile, then down half a mile, then up, then down, so it was like 3 steps forward and 2 steps back till I got to the top of the elevation.

The 3-mile downhill was heaven. God bless whoever planned this 3-mile 7% grade for me to go flying down. I didn't stop at our son's house... I'd have called it a day and begged a ride home. So I just flew on by. After the bottom, there were more hills, but nothing as long as what I'd been grinding up for the past hour.

I lost track of how many bottles of beer. Knowing at our son's house that it was 19.5 more miles messed my math all up.

Ended up being 67.6 miles. Average pace (including 37mph on the 3-mile downhill and 30-32 on some shorter ones) was 12.0 mph. On the way up the mountain I saw mostly 4-6mph. For an hour.

Next week I'm going to visit Nancy and we're going biking in the FLATLANDS!!!! We're hoping for a 70-miler, and I've just done that in the friggin' Himalayans, so I ought to be all set.

I wonder what hurts in my knee.

Oh.... I only went through one rain shower, right after the 30-mile turnaround. But the roads were wet and I looked like I'd been mountain biking, I had so much dirt, grit and mud on my legs.

I went through a half-gallon of Gatorade, a full cup of trail mix, half a gel-flask of honey, 8 oz of yogurt (in a mustard squeeze-bottle), and 40 oz of water. And a number of salt capsules. And 2 Excedrin.

I was just glad I didn't have another 45 miles to ride and then a marathon to run after that.

But we won't think about that. Got 4 and 1/2 months before I "have" to do that. And it won't be in the friggin' Himalayans.

I'm going to bed now....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


What a lot of thought-filled comments on my last post. I am in awe. And I'm gratfied to know others have the same issues on their minds.

Summary/paraphrasing of your comments:
Be fair. Ask that others be fair to you.
Seek first the kingdom of God and all else shall be given unto you besides.
Whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto man, for it is the Lord God you are serving. (Col. 3:23)

Now another question:

How does Bloglines Notifier work??? I subscribed to it but it never notifies me. I can go to and click on whatever blog I want to read but I can do that from my own bookmarks without having to go back and forth to the Bloglines site. Isn't there some way you're supposed to get notified when one of your blog subscriptions has a new post? So you can go right there? I seem to be missing something.

Training update:
Off today; 60-mile ride tomorrow after I get off work at noon. Isolated T-storms possible but only 30% chance.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


.... for distance athletes.

How do you keep your training from taking over your life (and the life of everyone you associate with?)

How do you keep your life from taking over your training?

What do you do when you have a 60-mile ride scheduled, and you've already rearranged your schedule for that week because of family needs, and then someone wants to add another family activity, on the day you changed your long ride to? I'm afraid if I say, "Sorry, I've got a long ride scheduled that day," it'll sound like my training means more to me than my family.

And if you practice a religion, what do you do when it occurs to you to wonder what would happen if you spent as much time and/or ardor practicing your religion as you do training for your triathlons? And how do you keep your training from becoming an idol?

What do you do when you want your priorities to be, God, spouse, family, self/training/rest, job, but realize your priorities have become training/self, job, rest, family, spouse, God? The last three vying about equally for last place?

Inquiring minds and hearts want to know.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

STILL ALIVE even though I haven't been here...

Today's training was a brick, written as 55-mile ride and 5-mile run, but I did 56 miles.... figured that, as long as I was going that far, I might as well do half the IM distance.

I rode across the state line into an area of West Virginia I haven't ridden to before.

The hills were what I can only call "severe." They should have a sign, with a picture of a bicycle climbing just about vertically, saying, "Severe Hills."

So of course I'll do that route again.

It's not like there's another route that's NOT hilly. Maybe not THAT hilly, but there's nowhere to go here that's not hilly. I didn't take this picture, got it off the internet, but it looks remarkably like a couple of the brain-torturing vistas that I actually navigated. Without going into my granny gears. Although I did stand up out of the saddle some.

The 56 miles took me 4 hours.

The 5 miles took an hour. Nothing unusual. My usual route, didn't feel too bad, sometimes even felt good.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled for a 30-mile ride. To re-acquaint myself with riding when already tired.

NEW RUNNING SHOES were there when I got back. Yeah, AFTER my run. Oh, well. Saucony Shadow 6000's, a basic no-frills stable shoe I've worn since the original Shadow became the Shadow 6000. Every now and then I fall for the enticement of some new bell, gong, or whistle, and try different shoes. I always come back to the Shadow 6000, usually because it's half the price of whatever I strayed to. Every time I do, I realize all over again how much I like this shoe.

And I just got my bike fixed up. The gears had gone out. Bike guy put on new gear cables... said the old ones were all gummed up with road crap after 3000 miles. Got a new chain, too. Now it shifts like a dream. And new grip tape. No "split ends" hanging off my handlebars.

Early bed tonight. On the 4th of July, I helped my husband move the furniture out of our camper, ripped up the carpeting, helped him put down wood laminate flooring, and executed my husband's scheme of a 4th of July picnic for 10 people (why did he conjure up a picnic and then decide to put down the flooring the same day????); the next day, I drove 50 miles each way to the floor-surplus place for another box of flooring (we were a couple boards shy of a load), did heavy housework for my mother for 4 hours, did 3 loads of my own laundry while at her house, and went to our son's 30th birthday party (I didn't put it on, just went to it); today I rode my bike 56 miles, ran 5 miles, and tomorrow I'm riding 30 miles and then going to work.

I did not do any training on the 4th or 5th -- just plain too much other stuff going on. But I was already tired from the last 2 days before even starting today's brick.

Complain, complain, complain.... no one's MAKING me do an Ironman....
And probably everyone else's last couple days have been spent pretty much like mine, they just didn't moan and brag about everything they did...