Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
When things started feeling like they were getting a little less comfortable (which often starts about 8 miles into my run), I started the mind games. I also took 3 Excedrin tablets, to be at their peak a couple hours later. (3 Excedrin have 750mg of acetaminophen, less than 2 Extra-Strength; 500mg of aspirin, less than 2 regular; and about 190mg caffeine, nice little hit.)
Then I started the math. 19 miles was the plan. At 9 miles, feeling just a tad tired with 10 miles to go, "If I feel this good 16 miles into the marathon, I'll be in good shape." I turned onto a road I haven't run before, to add a couple of needed miles, and encountered some hills. Stress I hadn't counted on, but they were actually kind of a relief, using different muscles. At 11 miles, it was, "If I had 8 miles to go in the marathon, I'd be at mile 18, and I'm feeling pretty darn good for 18 miles, looking forward to that 20-mile mark." Then I had to make a pit stop (sacrificed my bandana for the cause) and it was a little hard to get going again after that, quads had tightened up (don't ask, let's just move on...) and I thought, "Well, if I don't have a bad patch till I've got less than 8 miles to go, I'll be doing pretty darn well."
And so it went. At 13 miles, only 6 to go, I'm at the 20-mile mark. I figure I was using my right brain (the philosopher side) for these calculations, but with math being a left-brain function, I had to keep swatting away reality: "You're not at 20 miles, you're only at the halfway mark, you just passed 13 miles. If you feel like this at the half, you're in trouble." SHUT UP, LEFT BRAIN!!!! If I don't feel any worse than this with just 10K to go I'll be in great shape. Keep on going, don't slow down.
Except I had to stop. Traffic light at a crossing. Long wait. First the eastbounders got to go. Then the right-turn lanes. Then the westbounders. Then the left-turn lanes. I looked for a crossing gap but none appeared. And during this stop, in fact a few moments after I stopped, I began to feel like shit.
Light-headed, short of breath, nauseous, anxious, "I'm going to pass out, I'm going to have a heart attack." I knew what this was, physiologically: Same amount of blood going to my heart and lungs even though my legs and arms weren't pumping it out as fast, temporary overload. Knowing that, though, didn't make me feel any better, and when I finally got my crossing signal, I could no more run than I could bench press a couple hundred pounds. I was pretty sure that, if I could start running again, things would even out, and I told myself that, but the mind game didn't work, I just couldn't bring myself to run, and I walked about half of mile 16 and pondered calling my husband to come and get me. "You wanna DNF? Is that what you want?" Nope, I sure don't.
Right Brain encouraged me to walk to the next stoplight, walk across, then start running again and not walk again till I was done. And at mile 17 I thought, "If I feel like this at mile 23, that'll be pretty normal, the last 3 miles or so are always a struggle, don't slow down unless you're dying, which you're not." I could see, far ahead, the intersection close to our lane, and I imagined that I was seeing and hearing the finish line up there. That helped. Except it was a mirage because when I reached the intersection I was not at my finish but had that diabolical 0.2 miles left till our lane. That's OK. The last 0.2 is always a cruel trick of irony.
Right Brain pondered going PAST 19 miles to 19.2, just to make it realistic.
Left Brain said, "The hell you will."
Left Brain won. I hit mile 19 and my stopwatch just as I reached our gravel driveway, which I can't run anyway (large, ankle-twist-potential gravel.) So I walked the 0.25-mile driveway as my cooldown. Thinking, "If I feel like this at the end of the marathon, I'll be OK, and I'll be happy, and I'll sure be glad to stop running."
3 hours, 33 minutes. Average pace 11:13/mile. Sure don't know how I can run 26.2 miles faster than that but there's that race-day adrenalin to help out a person's Right Brain.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Well. I hope you don't have to be of Triathlete Magazine caliber to be a triathlete.
The only thing in the whole issue that panders to the likes of me, athletically and economically, is chocolate milk as a recovery drink.
Money, money, money. Pay up front for your Kona slot, or to register for next year's IM-wherever. Even though you're already broke from this year's registration and training season.
Reviews on new gear..... not stuff you're likely to find at Goodwill.
Bikes that cost my year's income.
Kona, Kona, Kona. The Only True Triathlon In The World. M-Dot. M-Dot. M-Dot.
OK, I did an M-Dot race. I also did an ultra-distance triathlon (same distance as Ironman, different nomenclature) that was not M-Dot. I did the non-M-Dot race first. Was I an IronMan after that race? I did it an hour and 20 minutes faster than my M-Dot race. Did that mean anything?
Ironman is a brand-name. M-Dot is a trademark.
Am I more of a nose-blower if I use Kleenex than if I use Wal-Mart's Great Value Facial Tissues?
Am I less of an athlete because I have only one pair of tri shorts (that I got on eBay, one not-even-noticeable hole in left leg above hem) and wash them by hand every night and dry them above the electric heater in preparation for the next day's ride?
Am I a less-able triathlete if I have an $1800 Trek 2100 bike than someone who has a Cervelo XXX with internal hydration system and disc wheels? And have never bought a new set of wheels worth as much as or more than my bike?
How about if I've worn the same pair of bike shoes for the last 3 years?
How about if my Bento Box (from eBay) is ripped and torn but still serviceable so I don't buy a new one?
How about if I don't go to New Zealand for an Ironman race because I can't afford a ticket to New Zealand (even if I could afford another M-Dot registration?)
How about if I have to decide whether to register for the Austin Marathon out of my current paycheck and get new running shoes out of the next one, or vice versa, because I can't do both out of one paycheck and still buy groceries? Am I still an athlete?
How about if my energy drink is cold sweet tea instead of InfinIT?
I don't know, this whole issue just pissed me off. I think I'll go back to reading Backpacker (which also pisses me off..... $6000 on gear to go hike the Appalachian Trail where you pretend to live on nothing for 6 months, see what it's like to be homeless, although you can go home any time.... suppose you take practically NOTHING with you to live on nothing. Are you still a hiker???)
For running: Running shoes and some kind of synthetic socks. I've been very happy lately with Danskin Now socks from Wal-Mart, $3.99 for 2 pairs. (There is a large contingent of runners who maintain that running shoes and socks are unncecessary and even deleterious.)
For biking: bike, biking shoes, helmet, sunglasses (from Wal-Mart.) I have a pair of tri shorts but in college and when I was a kid I rode in my jeans. No helmet, either.... it wasn't heard of.
For swimming: swimsuit, goggles. Maybe a wetsuit. Maybe I'm a traitor to myself because I own TWO wetsuits, a sleeveless one and a long-sleeved one. I should sell one. If you have two coats and your neighbor has none...
For hiking/backpacking: some kind of decent shoes, sleeping bag, shelter, water + drinking vessel, food, and some kind of pack to put it all in. And just go. Just hit the trail.
I'm tired of stuff and paying money for stuff that advertisers advertise to make you want to buy so they can make more money.
I'm tired of hearing about Kona. I'm tired of reading about gear I can never aspire to have. I'm tired of reading about achievements I can never aspire to achieve.
I wanna talk about ME.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
After I set up my ticker, up above, I logged an initial loss of a couple pounds, then neglected it when I regained them plus 4 more. I didn't resume updating it till I'd re-lost below that initial loss. I was too embarrassed about the gain to re-do my starting point. This wasn't fair to me, since it didn't show how much I'd actually lost.
So now I've reset my starting point to reflect that high point. As of this morning, my total loss is 14 pounds. My BMI is below 25 in I don't know how many years.
This could pay off at the marathon, especially if I can take off another pound a week or so before then (8 weeks left.)
No secret formula involved. I'm just not eating as much. I eat breakfast -- lately nonfat plain yogurt mixed with uncooked oatmeal, fruit, half a scoop of protein powder and a little sugar. Lunch is a PBJ sandwich; not the most nutritious entry, but on whole-wheat bread it has some merit. I think the kicker has been the hours I work at the daycare center, and the 16-mile hilly bike trip there 3 days a week. I'm eating my PBJ about noon (before I leave, or after I get there if I've ridden my bike) and then not till 7pm. I don't keep snacks at work and I've discovered nothing bad happens if I get hungry and stay hungry until I get home. Then I eat a regular dinner, but it's late enough so that I don't go into post-dinner grazing mode, if I go to bed early. If I'm hungry at bedtime a glass of milk fixes it.
Gosh, eating less helps weight loss. Who knew?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
My body never felt bad -- it was my mind. About this point in marathon-training I always think, "Why am I doing this? Again? It sucks!"
Debating whether to go do my planned run today, I felt like today was make-it-or-break it day: If I did not do today's run, I was calling off the marathon.
I did the run.
My Achilles tendons, ailing for nearly a year, crippling me at the Vermont City Marathon in May, and bothering me all summer even just walking around, have healed up. I only got a couple of very short complaints from the right one; the left one was quiet.
No pain across my hips and sacrum like in Vermont; that, too, continued to bother me for months but has stopped now.
No quad pain, even though this was a big problem just 2 weeks ago on a 15-miler. Today I popped 3 Excedrin an hour into my run, figuring it would be starting to kick in about the time I started to ache, and at its peak in my last few miles. Whether this made the difference or whether it was just a pain-free run, I can't say for sure.
My body never felt bad. It was my mind. It was all in my head. There's been some splash recently about how the perceived need to slow down or stop is coming from the brain and not the body. The brain is trying to keep the body from doing exactly what we're training it to do: extend its limits. The brain is thinking there may be distance yet to cover and says, "If you keep this up you're going to be tired. You better quit while you're ahead." But the body has no awareness of miles to come; it only lives in the present (although past minutes or hours affect how it feels in the present.) So you can tell your brain to shut up and your body to keep going. The advice I've read (and I'm not going to hunt up a link; my connection is slow tonight -- I've seen it in a number of places recently, Runner's World being one of them) says, pay attention to your body, and if there's no medical reason to stop or slow down (like chest pain or respiratory distress or unmistakeable musculoskeletal trauma), then keep on going and don't slow down.
So I kept going (although checking my splits afterwards I see I did slow down, even though I didn't feel like I was) and even picked up the pace the last tenth of each mile and kept saying, "I'm training my brain. I'm training my brain. I'm training my brain."
I think my brain needs the training even more than my body does.
If you're going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Some things have taken some practice to get the knack. Like getting from the right-lane bike lane across two right-turn lanes into a left-turn lane. Takes a couple over-shoulder glances, a rearview mirror, a good signal with my bright-red bike-gloved hand, and some quick pedaling. Then I wait right smack in the middle of the lane in line with the cars, to make sure they see me and don't try to squish past me. I try to remember to gear down before stopping at a light, to make acceleration faster when it turns green.
The one VERY BIG KILLER HILL in my last mile, well, it gets easier each time. Only on one day have I weenied out and walked it, and that was after having done a 4-mile tempo run before changing clothes and jumping on the bike. I thought as I approached the hill, gosh, I ran hard, I'm a little tired, maybe I'll walk some of the hill..... and I knew right there I was screwed. If I even let myself THINK I might walk.... I might as well just get off and walk, because it's over.
So now I don't think whether I might walk. Today I did a combo of 8 pedal strokes standing and 8 sitting. That made the hill go a little faster but also got me winded. I've got a cold, though, so maybe after it's gone the stand-and-pedal system won't whup me.
Fiberjoy made an interesting comment about my orange-hunting-vest-wrapped backpack -- but, hokey as it may look, I'm keeping it! I think I'm a lot more visible with a blaze-orange humpback than I would be with my plain maroon backpack on my maroon bike, even with a lime-green jersey, which isn't bright day-glo Safety Green, just humdrum lime green. If I look weird and someone takes a second look, that second look may be what keeps me from getting pushed into the ditch, or into the next traffic lane.
And Kent added a good comment, too. Gosh, two new visitors to one post, gotta love it!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I wish I'd already taken pictures of them, but I haven't yet. I'll have to lift some from the internet.
We have a small herd of capybaras, including 3 babies less than a week old,
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Something rattled in Steve's beer bottle when he poured it. He'd had it in the freezer and thought it was ice. But it still rattled long after it should have thawed. It was just a little too large to shake out. So he broke the bottle out of curiosity and the possibility that it was a million-dollar prize or something.
Whatever it is, it's plastic. Doesn't appear to be worth anything....
This is my commuting backpack, dressed in its Wal-Mart hunting vest, which I've had for years for running during hunting season. It gives me 2 extra pockets, one of which I use for a sandwich, where it doesn't get crushed. And it seems to make me visible -- so far, drivers have been very polite to me.
I took my bike in to the shop b/c my gears were slipping and my rear shifter was tricky, like sluggish.... doesn't click right away. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries, including downshifting my front gears and then upshifting and trying again.
They replaced my gear cables, which were rusted, and tuned everything up.
My bike FLOATS now. It's amazing. I'm cruising up hills in my middle gears.
Which is good because that's all I can use.... my rear shifter needs to be replaced, kaput, and I've gotta wait till next payday. The mechanic tried irrigating and lubing it to no avail, and after that treatment it's slightly more sluggish than it was before. Very hard shift up. So for today's commute I kept it in the middle rear gear and just used my triple chainring as a three-speed. And it worked. The bike, as I said, floated. I only had to shift down lower (still the lowest granny gear) for the fiercest longest hill. And I managed to get it back into the middle gear after reaching the top.
Other than the broken gear shift, the bike rides like a dream.
Commuting by bike is cool. I like it. I've got the hang of moving to the left turn lane from the right side of the road. It takes me about 1:15-1:20 to cover the 16 miles, with waits at stoplights sometimes lasting 5 minutes. I haven't had to try it in rain yet, but that will come. I've got my Marmot Precip rain gear I got for hiking the AT. I'll need to get a rainproof pack cover.
In my pack, I take:
Sweatshirt (I get cold after riding)
Electric hairbrush/dryer combo gizmo
It takes me 15 minutes to put myself back together, and then I give myself 15 minutes for lunch (sandwich and cold sweet tea, my cheapskate energy drink,) and I'm ready to roll with the babies.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
This is the story of the tipped water glass.We were on our way south on some Interstate or other that wasn't in good repair (they often aren't -- cracks, bumps) and the truck was lurching and I said I hated to see what the inside of the camper would look like, with stuff getting shaken all around.
Then I remembered I'd been working on a quart glass of water as we got ready to go, and told Steve I didn't remember finishing it and hoped I hadn't left it sitting on the counter. "It's finished now," he said. Yeah, probably all over the floor, warping the wood laminate.
Here's a closer view. It had slid across the counter to the edge of the cutting board and somehow found a resting place there. Look at the vertical lines around it to appreciate the angle.
Here's how another shelf fared. Anything not velcroed down had tried to make a break from the duct tape we had across the front.
That angled thing on top was, in fact, attached with velcro, but had tried to fall and, kind of like the glass, ended up balanced on its corner held by a few tenacious velcro loops.
I can't believe that glass didn't continue its slide and land on the floor. Gravity is a funny thing.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
..... it's the chance to keep up my cross-training and keep from running too much and aggravating my healing Achilles tendonitis while still training for the Austin Marathon (Feb. 17.)
Steve's job starts tomorrow which means that Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I'm on the bike to work (16 miles, steep hills the last 3 or 4 miles.)
I start work at noon tomorrow; I'm leaving here about 9:30. I'm sure I can average more than 8 mph but I haven't ridden it before so I'm being extra-conservative. The hills are major. Good training for SavageMan :-) In addition to this being my first chance to see how long it takes me, I also need to leave time to clean up and change my clothes and eat something once I get there. 2.5 hours ought to do it all (unless I have a flat tire....)
Sunny and low-to-mid 50's (I have no idea what that is in *C) during the time I'll be riding. Sounds good.
It's not commuting by bike. It's getting in a great ride before work. And then I get my grandkid fix for the rest of the day.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
If you ride your bike on roads, and who doesn't, then you have got to look at this site. Good. Better. Best. Excellent. Superlative. You gotta read this stuff, honest.
I came upon it trying to find a bikeable way to get to my new job in Austin, TX (yeah, Austin, I'm so out of date on my blog you didn't even know I was here, did you?)
So, yeah, we're in Austin for the winter, work-camping. In addition to the 8 hours a week I have to put in as my contribution to our free campsite, wi-fi and cable TV, I have taken a job at a daycare center 16 miles away, 28 hours a week. I love the little kids and enjoy the other caregivers. But Steve also just got an outside job, and our schedules are going to conflict. I either take him to work, go to work myself, then go back to pick him up afterwards, or I bike to work, he drives, and picks me up when he's done (half the mileage on our 3/4-ton diesel truck.)
So I'm about to become an urban biker. Who would have thought.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Dorothy Barnett-Griffin had been clinging to life by a fine thread since being pulled from the water on Saturday, and today the thread broke.
They don't know what happened. Just like Barney Rice, she was in the later part of her swim and for some reason she went under. With the wealth of kayaks on the course, she was rescued immediately.... but immediately wasn't soon enough for whatever had happened to her.
She had children, as Barney did. The children's father, though, died several years ago. Dorothy was doing her Ironman to raise money for Journey of Hope, the organization which helped her work through her grief. At this link you can read what she said about her hopes for Ironman Florida and her desire to help the organization that helped her.
She had remarried and was doing IMFL together with her husband, who finished the swim earlier and was on the bike course when he was notified and taken to the hospital.
I feel so sad.
We all do.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
The race organizers are taking no chances on repeating last year's tragedy: there are over SEVENTY watercraft out there watching these athletes (last year, I saw 2.) And I've seen at least one helicopter (might be the same one in different places.) It hovered over the log jam at the first turn. Boats, kayaks, and jet-skis are wandering all over the place.
One poor swimmer has been off course almost from the get-go, swimming parallel to the shore for quite a while. A kayaker is following him but doesn't seem to be telling him to turn around to get back on course.... maybe that's outside assistance. At ChesapeakeMan, the boats delineated the course for us: if you came close to a boat, you knew you were off; all you had to do was swim between the boats.
Somewhere in there, Linae Boehme-Terrana is pulling long, smooth, powerful strokes closer and closer to the end of her first lap and into the second to complete the swim of her first Ironman. The weather is perfect for the swim, no wind, the Gulf of Mexico smooth as silk (except for the splash of the swimmers.)
FIRST RUN SEGMENT
13.1 mi. (2:40:11)
Friday, November 02, 2007
My Ironman Purple Heart plant froze last night.
Last year during the days around Ironman Florida, I picked up a sprig of ground cover at our campground and started a new houseplant. As days and weeks went by and the plant took hold and grew, I pondered how appropriate the Purple Heart was because I felt as if I'd been wounded in the race..... I had nightmares about the swim, wouldn't eat ice cream because I never ever wanted to feel cold again, and felt I was pretty much done with triathlon. As a matter of fact, although I've been running and biking recently, I still haven't been into the water since that day.
I didn't expect it to get so cold last night.
But as I lifted my plant's frozen branches, I saw that there were a few places underneath that were still alive. I trimmed off all the frozen parts and left the living leaflets. Purple Hearts are determined and these little pieces will grow and renew my plant.
It's the perfect image for this point in my life when I have become sure I will do another triathlon after all, in fact the toughest one in the world, yes, tougher than St. Croix, the SavageMan half-iron in Western Maryland .
My SavageMan plans grew out of my frozen Appalachian Trail plans. Those plans, however, are in suspended life; just dormant for a year.
Karen sent an email today about an "Inner Triathlete," a "joyful memory spark that says do it again," and the image came alive for me when I saw the surviving sprigs underneath.
Hope is alive. I wish I had thought to take pictures when I saw the frozen plant still erect and edged with frost, then thawed and wilted indoors, before I trimmed it. But I didn't see a blog post at first... all I saw was a dead plant. The picture is what is left of what was a dark-purple flowering plant with branches 18 inches long. It should remind me always to see the possibilities.
The triathlete that was frozen at IMFL is still alive and is determined to grow back.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Look closely. Right in the middle.
Do you see an M-Dot?
It's for my friend Linae who's leaving today for Panama City Beach to do IM Florida on Saturday.
It's an omen, Linae!
Shot it with my cell-phone while I was on the track doing 400's. Honest, this is exactly what it looked like.
YOU GO, LINAE!!!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Backpack: Well, I had posted about my new 2.2-pound Granite Gear Vapor Ki ultra-light women's-specific pack, but.... I sent it back. Loaded with 30# of gear and carried around Western Maryland's hills for a few hours, I didn't find it as comfortable as my 6-pound Eddie Bauer pack that Steve got at Wal-Mart 3 years ago. Having learned a bit about packs while being fitted for the Granite Gear one at the outfitter, I made some changes to the EB pack and have gotten it down to 4.5 pounds. My next step is going to be replacing all the heavy nylon-webbing straps with grosgrain ribbon. That could shave off another half-pound. I may or may not get a new pack.
Trekking poles: You've read about my personalized ones. I love Polly's idea of marking measurements on one of them for water depth, snakes, or whatever. I'm pondering her trick of incorporating emergency supplies underneath the hand-grips. I was thinking of bike-handlebar tape for wrapping them. In any case, they're not $150 Lekki's, but at $12 for the poles and maybe $15 for tape ($5 if I use duct tape) they're good. And my very own.
Cooking: Stove made out of a Pepsi can: free. Pot -- a 29-oz. tomato can: free. Windscreen -- aluminum foil: essentially free. Pot lid: made from bottom of a disposable pie pan, with a soda-can pull-top wired on for a handle: free. Pot handle: dog-shedder tool, $5.98 when I bought it for the dog a couple years ago, free when I appropriated it for a handle. It weighs almost 4 oz. but I love it so much I'm keeping it anyway. Fuel -- denatured acohol, costs about $5 for a quart at Wal-Mart, one ounce boils a pint of water. Fuel container: cough-syrup bottle, won't be mistaken for a water bottle (as the often-used soda bottle can be), has graduations on the side for measuring, free for the asking at the Wal-Mart pharmacy counter. Lighter: Bic-Flick, $1; backup, wooden matches ($1 for 250, only take a few) or book matches (free.) For storage/carrying, everything but the fuel packs into the pot/can.
Clothing: I did spring for honest rain gear. Marmot Precip top ($99) and pants ($70), waterproof, windproof, breathable. They don't have to be saved for rain, can be used just as warm outer layer if needed. Shorts: my Race-Ready running shorts with built-in underwear and pockets. Cost $30 but I had them already. I also already have ($40) a pair of nylon zip-off convertable long/short hiking pants. Long-johns: My mid-weight running tights. Wicking T-shirt: Free (except for registration) from Vermont City Marathon. Wicking long-sleeved shirt: Free (except for registration) from P.T. Cruiser Triple Challenge at Tampa/Gasparilla Marathon 2005. Long-sleeved fleece top: Free, hand-me-down from a friend. Gloves: Already have, 2 prs./$1.50 at Wal-Mart a few years ago. Hats: My Ironman Florida finisher's hat; nothing I got at that race could be called "free" because I worked my g.d. ass off for it, plus the $450 registration fee. But I didn't buy it extra for hiking, anyway. I have a cold-weather knit hat already but may make a lighter, less-bulky one out of some fleece fabric I already have. Free.
Shelter: I sprung for one here, too. Urethane-coated ripstop nylon 8 X 10 tarp, not a tent, but it can be rigged into a tent using my hiking poles and/or a tree or two. I'm going for tarp vs. tent b/c of the many ways a tarp can be configured, vs. the only-way-this works for a tent. $36.
Tent stakes: Aluminum gutter spikes, 30 cents each from the hardware store. A dozen weigh 4 oz. A dozen titanium tent stakes.... well, not sure how much this would set me back, but definitely more than $4 for a dozen. More like $4 apiece, $48 for a dozen.
Ground cloth: a hunk of Tyvek scored from someone who was building a house on a road where I went biking. Ask and you shall receive. Free.
Sleeping bag: Currently a synthetic 40*F bag that Steve got several years ago for a biking trip. Free. Warm enough for colder temps if I wear all my clothes inside it. Or use the fleece liner I made for about $12 (a silk one costs over $50, as does a sil-nylon one.)
Sleeping pad: Sprung for one a friend was selling. ThermaRest ProLite Women's self-inflating, $50, would have cost $100 new.
So far I have spent: $288
If I had bought all the up-to-date equivalents, new:
Fuel $5 (same)
Rain Gear $170 (same)
Convertible pants $40 (same)
Long Johns: $40
Wicking T-shirt: $40
Wicking LS shirt: $60
Polartec Fleece top: $60
Sil-nylon Tent: $350
Sil-nylon ground cloth: $70
Titanium stakes: $48
Down sleeping bag: $300 (I'm actually hoping the family will go together on this for Christmas)
Sleeping pad: $100
Bag liner: $50
Could have spent, on what I have so far: $1723
Friday, October 26, 2007
Spending thousands of dollars on bare essentials seems a little paradoxical.
Recently I spent a great weekend in Gettysburg, PA at the annual ALDHA (Appalachian Long-Distance Hiking Association) Gathering. I went to a couple of workshops on lightening your load. One of the things that was said again and again was, "This thing (pack, jacket, tent, whatever) only weighs X grams and is well worth the cost." A variation on that was "The savings in weight is worth whatever it costs." Or, "It's only a couple hundred dollars and you'll never regret it."
Plus, they've somehow quit their jobs for 6 months.
It's growing on me that deliberately living on nothing and being hungry all the time while hiking in the woods is essentially a sport for the affluent.
Affluent, I ain't. Our main income is my husband's retirement income, which isn't all that much (certainly less than our two professional incomes were, and actually less than his alone.) We supplement that by working in campgrounds for a free site and (usually) minimum wage or close to it. It's our choice to live this way so that we can travel the country. But we don't do it high-class.
I'm thinking a person doesn't have to backpack high-class, either.
Bare essentials are shelter, water, food, and warmth.
"Grandma" Emma Gatewood who became, at the age of 65 (more or less... accounts vary, just like the distance of the AT), the first female ever to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail end-to-end in one fell swoop, did it pretty much on the spur of the moment (not years of planning). She sewed up a denim duffel bag, put into it a change of clothes, a raincoat, a wool Army blanket, a plastic shower curtain for a shelter, and a modest supply of beef jerkey, cheese, and nuts, walked out the door carrying it over her shoulder and wearing a pair of U.S. Keds, and started hiking. She carried a little money so she could buy more nuts and crackers when she ran out.
No $300 tent. No $185 ergonomically-designed backpack. No $300 down sleeping bag. No $150 folds-into-itself super-hot-burning stove. No $75 Titanium pot (that's about the price of the one-pint size.) No $150 waterproof-breathable rain jacket and $100 matching pants, no $200 down jacket.
She made it. She said: "I thought it would be a lark. It wasn't."
I plan to carry a little more than Grandma did, but I'm not going to be able to go high-class. When I first started making noises about how much I'd like to do this, Steve said that he could work extra hours during the 6 or so months, to make up for what I wouldn't be working. (Now that's supportive.)
They say it costs about $1 to $2 per mile, not including gear and getting there, to hike the AT. So we're looking at $2000-$4000 dollars.
The low end if you don't stay a lot in off-trail motels and hostels and eat in restaurants a lot, the higher end if you do.
I haven't added it up, but I'm sure I'd be incurring $2000 in living costs in 6 months even if I stayed home. The main difference would be in not earning an income during that time.
I repeat: My husband said he'd work two jobs so I could do this.
I'd been thinking about this post, or maybe series of posts, before Jack brought up a few days ago about winning the lottery to afford the hike.
Some of my next posts will be on gear -- affording it vs. just going out and buying it as apparently a great many of the hikers do. The ones who go first-class. I'm going economy.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I did my first official Training-For-Austin workout today.
10-min jog warmup, then 6 X 400, supposed to be at 2:15 but my natural "try for 2:15" pace kept me coming in around 2:04. I carried the GPS a few laps to keep it around 6.7 mph (I'd done the math, that's what 2:15 worked out to) but whenever I didn't carry it I went faster.
2-min rest intervals during which I stretched calves and hamstrings and walked around. Iced my Achilles's afterwards. They didn't hurt much running, and don't now. I did shorten my planned 4-lap jog cooldown to one lap plus a one-lap walk, just to be safe on the Achilles.
Tomorrow is a bike day, Friday rest, then Saturday long run, 7 miles according to my training plan. This will seem easy, since I've already got 6 10-milers in the bank in the last month.
On what are supposed to be "easy running/jogging" days, I'm substituting biking to save wear and tear on my chronically-ailing Achilles.
We shall see what happens at Austin. If my old decrepit body makes it through the training.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I am still going to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.
I'm lengthening my goal by a year. Instead of 2008, I'll do it in 2009.
2008 will be the Year of the Baby. The year of the Austin Marathon. The year of SavageMan. Who knows, maybe the year of the Boston Qualifier after all. (Or not, on that one.)
I had been afraid that, after the Year of the Baby, would come the Year of My Mother, followed by many Years of My Mother, taking care of the woman who took care of me, until she does not need me anymore, by which time I might no longer be in condition to undertake the pilgrimage.
But I think: My mother wants me to fulfill my dream goal of hiking the AT. She's said so. She wants to live to see me do it. She doesn't want me to wait till she's gone.
And so, to be sure she's cognizant that I am actually hiking, my goal now is to make it while she's still living on the earth, to give her the satisfaction of knowing that I made it.
My mother believes I can do it. She's watched me through 23 marathons and 2 IronMan triathlons. She wants me to achieve this next ultra-endurance goal. She would find it appalling that I put off, even cancelled, a lifelong dream to take care of her.
I think, with that in mind, I can arrange, if necessary, for her care while I go and do it. Already, in recent weeks, she's gotten a housekeeper to come for several hours twice a week, gotten one of those "I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up" bracelets, and arranged for weekly garbage pickup. She arranged these things for herself, with a little nagging. Her housework, her safety, and her garbage have been my 3 most critical concerns with her. If it all works out and she doesn't deteriorate in the next year, I will plan on starting my hike in March of 2009 (unless I qualify for Boston, which I seriously doubt.)
Today I've started a new project. My hiking poles. I had a pair of manufactured aluminum (or some kind of metal) trekking poles with screw-in-or-out length-adjustments. I used them all summer in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, on the most rugged parts of the AT. They broke this fall, at the adjustment points. I got them in Wal-Mart for $20 for the pair (Swiss Army Gear, they weren't less-quality than my Swiss Army Knife.) You can buy screw-length-carbon-fiber titanium hi-tech adjustable hiking poles for a couple hundred dollars. I find this a bit much for a couple of sticks.
So I bought dowel rods. They're the perfect length and grip thickness for me, cost $6 apiece, and are practically indestructible. I thought they had less character than, say, a pine or maple limb I might scavenge in the forest and de-bark and hone to my requirements. But such limbs tend to curve, or be cracked, or be secretly fragile from X years in the elements before being found.The dowel rods are straight and reliable in their seasoning.
They started out plain but won't end up that way. I'm adding character. Today I started working on the first one. I wrote my name and Steve's on it, with our wedding date underneath: 8 - 26 - 1972. And wood-burned over that, so it's my own handwriting. Then Steve signed it, and I wood-burned his signature, with his birthdate. This evening, our daughter Avery and her husband Scott came over, and I had each of them sign it, and woodburned over their signatures, and put in their birthdates. I'm going to have all my children, their spouses, and their children -- my grandchildren -- sign it. And my mother. And I'll wood-burn everyone's signature and birthdate. That way, my whole family will be with me, each in their own handwriting, when I hike the Trail in 2009. I'll have Abbie, who will be 6, sign for her little brother or sister, who will be going on 1. I'll leave the Trail for his/her first birthday party and then go back to continue and finish.
I think, on the other pole, I'll attach an AT hiking medallion. This second pole will be for the names of my friends: email friends, Blogland friends, Internet friends, whoever wants to go with me. Then, while on the trial, I'll have new Trail Friends write their names on it, and when I finish the Trial, I'll wood-burn them in. Press hard, you are writing through 2,175 miles.
I am going to have the coolest hiking staffs on the Trail. And they won't break.
When they're farther along in their evolution, I'll post a picture.
These staffs comfort me. I am still going. Just not this coming year.
It gives me more time to plan, more time to "practice," more time to learn.
And time to do SavageMan. Date: Sept. 14, 2008.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
My gymnast granddaughter Gracie trains 12 hours a week. Three days a week for 4 hours. This past week she put in an extra 4 at the gym "fine-tuning her routine," an optional practice session suggested by her trainer.
I went to her practice the other night and she pretty much was working the whole time. Occasional breaks of a minute or two to change disciplines, wait for the other girl to get off the bars, etc. But mostly she was working the whole time.
It's not the same kind of endurance as running or biking for 4 hours, and not the same type of intensity as triathlon-training 12 hours a week; still, it shows a lot of concentration and determination.
You can see her muscles when she moves her arms and legs.
I wanna grow up to be just like Gracie :-)
Saturday, October 20, 2007
My Achilles tendons, and my butt right under the sit-bones. I stretch and ice and stretch and ice and it doesn't get better. This is the pain I had that made the Vermont City Marathon feel like a death march and made me ponder that my running career was over.
In fact, I hardly ran all summer. I hiked and backpacked, trained up for a 5K and ran it, but otherwise I rested from running.
Now I've started again, since I'm pondering the Austin Marathon in February.
Still hurts. Achilles tendons, sit-bones, and, after I run, my lower back, the flat sacral area.
These chronic aggravations have been going since January. I'm so tired of it.
Maybe when we get established in Austin for the winter I'll look into physical therapy. Our insurance doesn't cover massage therapy but it does take PT.
Columbus Marathon is tomorrow and we're here in town but I sure won't be running it.
I'm pleased with today's run, about 11 miles I guess (have to go measure it.) The second hour I was in pain. I guess it's relative, though..... not enough pain to stop running, just enough to make the run miserable. My gymnast granddaughter Gracie (9) ran me through a bunch of stretches with her afterwards. That was fun do do with her and maybe it helped. I'm not tired at all from the run, just that soreness in my tendons and butt.
Friday, October 19, 2007
We have been away from Internet access, except for the McDonalds wi-fi and our son's house. We've been back "home" in western Maryland at Deep Creek State Park the last several weeks.
Now we're en route to Austin, TX for the winter, via Ohio to see our daughters and other grandchildren, then Michigan to visit Steve's parents and one of his sisters and her extended family. I will need to stay late at Mom-in-Law's on Nov. 3 to watch Linae's Ironman Florida finish, since we won't have web access at our Michigan campground either.
I had this big plan, Plan A (without knowing it was Plan A and the plans might eventually span the alphabet) to pack up a bunch of gear, buy a plane ticket from Austin to Atlanta, and start hiking the Appalachian Trail late in March.
Everything has changed. There's good news and bad news.
The good news is that our son, Jon, and his wife, Jamie, are expecting their second child the third week of May. Abbie is going to be a big sister. We've been in "baby deprivation" for several years now and are thrilled that we're getting a new grandchild.
The bad news is, it won't work for me to be out in the wilderness out of cell-phone signal reach, and go into town for a food resupply, call home, and find out the baby was born and is 4 days old already.
Or was born prematurely and is in the NICU.
At first I decided right off the bat not to go at all. End of hiking plan. Scratch Plan A. I can't even begin to describe the inner battle between joy over the new baby and grief at not hiking the Trail.
We made arrangements to work again at Candy Hill Campground in Winchester, VA, starting in early May, so we'd be just a couple hours from "home" and we can see the baby and the rest of the Maryland installment of our family every couple weeks.
The campground is only about 15 miles from Harper's Ferry, WV, which is an important stop on the AT and the "psychological halfway point" for thru-hikers. I could hike from somewhere, to Harper's Ferry, getting there early in May and joining my husband in Winchester in plenty of time for the baby. This was Plan B.
I'd found out that if my family were to contact the Appalachian Trail Conference with my approximate location (I'd be keeping Steve updated) they could find me within hours.
It started to occur to me that if I were in the neighborhood and not hiking all summer, I could train for and participate in SavageMan in September, which I've been salivating over ever since its unofficial trial run in 2006, and its inaugural running a month ago, both of which I missed because I wasn't in the right place at the right time. For 2008, I could be.
Then Holly came up with Plan C. Wouldn't it be a great story for this person to grow up with, she said, that "When I was born my grandmother was hiking the Appalachian Trail, and she left the trail to welcome me into the world for a week, then went back to the trail to finish hiking her dream before spending the next couple years close to me and my family."
Whew. That would be a story. Much different from, "My grandmother was going to hike the Appalachian Trail but she didn't because I was on the way."
I seriously considered this. For awhile it seemed like the way I'd most likely go.
But there's SavageMan. This year was its first running. Next year is scheduled. But that's not enough runnings to assume that it will be put on every year. And for 2 years I have really, really wanted to do this race.
The Appalachian Trail will always be there. SavageMan may not be. If it weren't for this baby coming at this time, I might never have been able to do SavageMan at all. We might never have been in the neighborhood when it was SavageMan time.
So I went back to Plan B. Hike till the baby comes, (I should be somewhere around Roanoke), then stop, train for and do SavageMan, probably also doing some section-hiking on the Trail since we'll be so close to it all summer, and then finish the Trail another year.
But now I don't know again. I don't know if it's worth buying a plane ticket for a 2-month hike. Especially with money tight enough that I'm already scrimping on my gear. Maybe I should save until I can do the whole thing, then do the whole thing.
And then I get depressed again thinking about not going.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I finished Cecile's bedspread!!! And got it in the mail. At 12#, it cost slightly less than a plane ticket to France for the wedding would have been.
A corner, to show you the edging.
I also sent her a skein of each of the yarns, the hook I made it with, and a darning needle, in case it ever needs repairs. And the label with fiber content and washing instructions.
Oh, forgot to mention.... she's 6 months pregnant! We're going to be grandparents again, finally! Due around Christmas/New Year's. Maybe my birthday, Dec. 22. Now we HAVE to save for another trip to France.
Massachusetts sightseeing trips:
The Fisherman's Memorial (immortalized on the label of Gorton's Seafood Products)
The crew of the Andrea Gail, subject of the book/movie "The Perfect Storm." From a humongous plaque listing all known victims of the sea off of Glouster.
I think I've found a new sport. Read closely.
When will people learn to use the apostrophe?? And understand the possessive? (The front of his cart had it correctly: Joe's Hot Dogs.)
Here, they let it go a little too far before they replaced the sign. The tree hasn't completely swallowed the old one yet.
Abbie, our youngest grandchild, has started school. Pre-K, which is approximately equal to the First Grade of my school days. Here's her first day:
And, to show you how little she really is....
(Yes, Accident Elementary School. Yes, that's the name of the town. Yes, we take a lot of razzing. Accident Volunteer Fire Department. Accident Rescue Squad. And, the doctor I worked for was on Cemetery Road in Accident, MD.)
I bought my Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike backpack!! Granite Gear Vapor Ki, (click link for details), 3300 cu. in., 2# 15oz, eminently comfortable filled with 30#. I have to keep my load now to around 30#, since that's the maximum recommended carrying capacity of the pack.
And I bought authentic raingear. Didn't even jury-rig 'em out of garbage bags. Marmot Precip (click link.) I'll also use it for a warm layer, over my running tights and yoga pants, on cold nights. Unless they're already wet from rain/snow..... not sure what I'll do about that. Gotta plan to keep one warm outfit absolutely dry in a garbage bag along with my sleeping bag.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Don't let me slack! I have been, and my weight this morning was truly shocking. Middle digit I thought I'd never see again. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was the chips. Maybe it's from just friggin' eatin' too darn much.
But I ran 7 miles today! Well, ran most of it... did it in cycles of walk 5 min, run 15.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007
When I preview a post and there are no spaces, it doesn't help to go back to composing and just hit "enter" one or more extra times. Still no space.
I don't know how to fix this. It bugs me.
Naturally, this post is looking OK (at least in Preview.)
Friday, August 31, 2007
Yup, our sojourn at Chocorua Camping Village in Chocorua, NH is drawing to an end. I have really loved it here. I thoroughly enjoy my co-housekeeper and boss, Nancy (who is slightly younger than my youngest child), my manager Janet (maybe slightly older than my oldest child?), my hiking buddy Sue, and all of the other work-campers (I avoid the cutesy "official" coined word "workamper.") The work has been sometimes physically demanding, but has required relatively little brainwork, and the company has been congenial.
The geographic location has been phenomenal. With a block of 3 days a week off, I've been able to hike and backpack in the White Mountains, including rather large chunks of the Appalachian Trail, which I'll be happy to recognize next summer as I approach the end of my thru-hike. I'll be happy to know that I was able to hike them this summer as a neophyte, next year by the time I'm way more experienced.
But I am happy to move on. We're going to spend about 3 weeks going to various spots in New England, including Bar Harbor, ME, Cape Cod, Rhode Island (because we need Rhode Island to fill in the spot on our map on the side of our RV.... kind of like my "50-State Marathon Quest" map in my sidebar; states we've visited at least overnight -- just driving across doesn't count), the Boston area (I have a half-sister there whom I haven't seen for a very, very long time), finally getting back to Garrett County, MD about Sept. 24. Then after about a month (to catch up on doctor's appointments, lab work, etc., to say nothing of spending time with family) we're off to the Columbus, OH area (to see more family, our 2 daughters and our Ohio grandkids Collin and Gracie), then to Michigan to see more family (Steve's parents, his sister and her husband, their daughter and her husband and two little girls) and finally on to the Austin, TX area where we have a winter gig lined up (they promise us it's out in the countryside, not in downtown Austin. But there should be plenty of outfitters where I can get my final gear for my AT hike.)
All of this means....
I have to clean up our mess. We've been here 4 months and the difference between this and a short stay is like the difference between pulling an unrooted cutting out of a flower pot, and removing a potbound plant whose roots have practically grown to the pot.
I have to sort. And toss. And organize. And batten down. What to do with stuff that goes in the closet? The closet is pre-empted by my backpack now.
I think we need a bigger boat. But that's not gonna happen unless we win the lottery.
So instead of doing something about it, I'm blogging about it....
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
It's going to feel different, emphasizing walking over running. I've done day hikes of up to 10 miles but only once a week or so; I haven't walked day in, day out, or even every other day or a few days a week. I need to start on this. It's enough different from running that, when I've needed to walk more than a mile or so of a marathon, my feet have started to hurt from the unaccustomed mechanics. I'd better learn them.
Well, I need to mail something and the P.O. is a couple miles away. No time like the present. Up and at 'em.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I should say "observed" rather than "celebrated," maybe, because in the morning we observed that it was our anniversary, kissed briefly, and headed out the door for our day's work at the campground. We did spend a couple enjoyable hours together in the afternoon as we were both assigned to restroom-cleaning.
And in a way, that was a relevant way to observe it. Not restroom-cleaning, specifically, but just doing what we do every day, since being married is what we do every day, and what we do every day is the stuff being married for 35 years is made of.
As I cleaned rental cabins with my campground manager, she congratulated me on our long marriage, and she asked me what advice I had for other couples. I hadn't really thought about that, and had no particular pearls of wisdom to dispense. She asked, "Well, how have you stayed married for so long? There must be some secret you can share."
All I could think of was.... just keep putting one foot in front of the other. So I said that, along with, "I guess a variation of that is -- take one day at a time."
"After 35 years that's all you can say?" she exclaimed. "Put one foot in front of the other? One day at a time?"
Yup, that's about it. All those steps and all those days add up to a long, long journey. All those steps and all those days are what keep us on the trail.