Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Year in Review

Looking at my activity log for the year 2012, I'm a little embarrassed.  The movement numbers are a little low post-April.  I'm glad I didn't log beer consumption, too, because that would probably beat running, biking, and walking put together!  LOL


Nonetheless, I had some fun this year.  In April, I ran a fantastic trail half marathon.  The hubby and I did a little mountain biking, and I was a top contender in our office walking challenge this summer.  We ran a naked 5k, the Color Run, the Grand Rapids Mud Run, and the Warrior Dash.

With the Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club, I played dodge ball, kick ball, broom ball, flag football, and volleyball.  I also made some great new friends.

For the number lovers out there, 2012 saw:
  • 102 miles of biking
  • 352 miles of running
  • 214 push ups
  • 172 miles of walking/hiking
  • 64 miles (or the equivalent) of other sports
The hubby is pretty much recovered from his back injuries earlier this year and is committed to getting into better shape in 2013.  To that end, we are planning to sign up for the Tough Mudder in Detroit at the end of June.  I'm very excited about this.  I've been wanting to do this for a couple years now.  I'm nervous about some of the crazy obstacles.  The hubby is nervous about the 12-mile distance.

In 2013, we also plan to keep the traditions of the GR Mud Run and the Warrior Dash alive.  We may throw in a Zombie Dash somewhere and maybe an adventure race.  In any case, we should have some fun events to look forward to and some solid goals to keep us on the fitness track.

My vacation time over the last few weeks as been so renewing.  Not necessarily restful, but I've embrased the free time to get out for some hikes, some weight lifting, some skiing, some snow runs.  Work in 2013 is going to be crazy, but I am itching to maintain a good workout routine despite the fatigue of stressful office hours.

On the Paul B Henry Thornapple Trail today

Thanks for a great year, and welcome the new one!  Happy New Year 2013!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Volleyball

The hubby and I just wrapped up a season of indoor volleyball with the Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club.  I haven't played volleyball since high school, so I am not highly skilled, but I play well enough.  It was a blast!

For our last game, many of our teammates were out of town for vacations and business trips leaving just 5 of us to play.  We lost, but we had a competitive game.  Our opponents were good sports and engaged in some back and forth joking that left us all bent over laughing more than once.

Some of our volleyball teammates
Photo by Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club
At the bar after the game

Next up starting in January - more dodge ball!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Birthday!

It's my birthday!

I know I'm getting older, and some days I feel it.  But mostly I love my life, I love being active, and I plan to keep it up for as many more years as possible.

Anything could happen on any day, so I'm thankful for what I have as I celebrate the 33rd anniversary of my birth.

Happy birthday to me!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hiking with the Hubby

Saturday was our last day of vacation in California, and the hubby agreed to go on one last hike with me at the Folsom SRA.  I elected to take him up to the west side of the lake, where I hiked on Monday.

Lake Folsom past my previous turnaround point

The hubby was a beast on the trail, and we ended up covering way more ground than I expected.  We explored some side trails that I skipped last time and progressed on the main trail about 2 miles further than I did earlier in the week.  We made it all the way to the next park entrance for a total hike of about 16.2 miles.

GPS route until our turnaround point

The hubby loves nature and had a blast climbing rocks, spotting animals, and following anything that made a noise nearby.

The hubby climbing rocks

The hubby hiking (with pig)

Lots of wild turkeys!

When we finally decided to turn around in order to get back to our car before dark, it started to rain.  We really gave it some gas and kicked the last 7 miles in high gear.  It was a blast.  I actually feel sated on hiking for a little while, but I know it won't be long before the trails call again!

Queen of the Mountain

Friday, December 14, 2012

More Hiking at Folsom SRA

On Wednesday, I had another free day with the hubby at work, so I checked out some hiking trail on the east side of Lake Folsom starting at the Brown's Ravine trail head.

Trail Map of the southeast side of Lake Folsom
Brown's Ravine Trail Head
The park is generally pretty narrow in this area, squeezed between the shore and the expensive homes with a lake view.  The trail heading north from Brown's Ravine first passes by a marina - mostly storage this time of year - and then follows the shoreline as it weaves back and forth around inlet streams that feed the lake.

A stream running to the lake

A stream widens as it feeds into Lake Folsom
I followed the trail for several miles trying to ignore the private property fences encroaching on my illusion of wilderness, focusing instead on berries, squirrels, mushrooms, and the lake.






After about 4 miles, the trail opened up into a meadow overseen by quaint homes set on the surrounding hills.

Planks over a stream where the trail leads to a rolling meadow



Just before turning around, I passed behind a home with at least 5 dogs in the yard of all types large and small and with barks both bass and shrill.  What a cacophony my presence induced!

On the return hike to my car, the sun back lit the clouds creating a beautiful halo affect. I did not like this trail as much as that on the west side of the lake, but how can you not love sites like this?!  It was another great hike of about 10 miles.  I will miss this when I go home to snowy Michigan, but I know that more adventures await in the future!


GPS of one way of my hiking route

The happy hiker

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hiking the Western States Trail

Yesterday, I began my attempt to glut myself on amazing hiking during this trip to California.  Unfortunately, the closest national park trail system is inaccessible due to snow-induced road closures.  So sad.  But I found the Folsom State Recreation Area less than a half hour from our hotel.  This is very exciting because a portion of the Western States trail (the Pioneer Express trail) runs through here!  I don't know if the Western States 100 route includes this portion, but I love the idea that I might have walked some of the same steps as the ultra-runners who have competed in the race.

Pioneer Express Trail / Western States Trail Marker

I called the park service before heading out to find out which trail accesses were open, and found that Granite Bay on the west side of Lake Folsom was a good place to start.  I parked my car and found access to the trail near the rangers' horse stables.

Portion of the trail map through the Folsom SRA

The first mile or so that I hiked followed the edge of the park bordering private property, but soon after that the trail lost itself in much more wild territory.

On the first park of my hike

Pig and Cow consult the trail map at a juncture

I could hardly absorb enough of the trees, rocks, and hills that make up this northern California trail.





It was a lovely, solitary time.  I only encountered a trio of mountain bikers who whizzed by on a parallel trail, a runner with his dog, and a few park rangers on their horses - all female rangers, which I thought was neat.

Then suddenly, the trail came out of the woods and provided a view of Lake Folsom.  I hiked up and down the side of the mountain here curving around a portion of the lake for about a mile.





At about 5 miles out, I had to turn around in order to get back to my car in time to pick up the hubby at work.  I loved every moment of this hike and only wish that I could take in more than the tiny fraction of this trail that I was able to experience in a three-hour chunk.  Some day, I've got to plan a multi-day hiking excursion.

GPS track of my route

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Skiing and Hiking in California

The hubby and I are in the Sacramento, CA area this week for work/vacation.  Today, we drove over to Lake Tahoe to go skiing.  We got an amazing deal on lessons, skiing, and equipment rental that we couldn't resist.  It was a great time.

On the drive to Lake Tahoe
Our two adventurers after a day on the slopes
Tomorrow, while the hubby works, I plan to do some hiking - either at the El Dorado National Forest (if the roads are open) or the Folsom State Recreation Area which contains a portion of the Western States trail.  So excited!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Poor, neglected, little blog

Hello, blogosphere!  Yes, I'm still here.  I haven't forgotten about the Cyclin' Missy blog.  I just haven't been posting.  Between a funeral, intense Halloween costuming, a stolen purse, and getting to know a pile of new friends, I've had a lot on my plate.  No excuses.  Just life.

I keep trying to get back on an upswing, activity-wise.  Not that I've been a total bum.  The hubby and I finished up three seasons of sports with the Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club and came home with three sets of Dead Effin Last trophies.  That's right!  We were the worst team in dodge ball, broom ball, and flag football.  But we also got a Most Social Team award, so even though we stink, people like us.  :)  We're now playing volleyball, which I haven't played since high school, but it has all come back just like riding a bike.  We've already won a game!

The hubby and I presenting awards at the GRSSC Awards Party
Credit to Grand Rapids Sport and Social Club

But on the endurance fitness side of life, it's time to get a new round of training started.  The hubby and I are planning to do a Tough Mudder in the Detroit area this summer.  The hubby has been working through some back, hip, and knee issues, but he's doing PT and getting back into action now - hopefully stronger than before.  We just re-joined our old gym with hopes to continue rehabbing and getting into the kind of shape that a 12 mile run with 25 military-style obstacles requires.

I've got a deep case of that metaphorical itch that you feel when your body is ready to go and impatiently waiting for the rest of you to get moving.

So hopefully, I'll be spending a little more time around here in the near future.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Face of Fitness - Please vote for me!

Last week, I decided to enter Fitness Magazine's Face of Fitness contest.  I figured, why not?!

I'm in the running to be this week's Readers' Choice winner.  

Please vote for me here!  You can vote once each day through October 28, 2012.


Thank you, fellow bloggites!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pallet of Motion (Thanks, Jill!)

Jill Homer did a post today on her blog Jill Outside (articglass.blogspot.com) called “Pallet of Motion”.  I love that image.  As a child, I spent more hours than I could possibly guess drawing, coloring, cutting, pasting, and creating.  I loved art.  And while I don’t practice it as much now, that way of seeing the world still resonates with me.  I experience this beautiful world as a work of art when I see the sun reddening the sky, tulips blooming in the yard, or autumn trees dropping a blanket of leaves on a trail.  The colors always draw me in and make me feel alive and awed.

That’s the physical world, but it makes so much sense to look at life as a developing work of art, too.  And to narrow that down to the ways we move – the activities that we do to exercise, stay fit, be happy… Those activities spark the same sort of passion inside me as when I look out at the view from a mountain trail or a big city race route.  I get that same feeling of being alive, growing, fulfilling some part of how I was put together as a creature when I ride or run.

So the pallet of motion is the diverse and colorful collection of things that each of us does to move our body for fitness and adventure.

Jill asked the question of why you started doing the sports that you now love.  How did each one become a blob on the pallet?

Running has been my longest and most consistent form of motion.  I started running during the summer before my Freshman year of high school.  Somehow, I got hooked up with the cross country kids who ran each morning during the summer in preparation for the fall CC season.  The first day I showed up, I had no idea what to expect.  My only running experience had been the mile run around the athletic fields in gym class.  I came wearing a beat up pair of canvas Keds.

I went on to run cross country and track all four years in high school, but I wouldn’t say that I was necessarily in love with running yet.  I liked it well enough, and I liked the benefits of running – the fitness, the feeling of accomplishment, the team camaraderie.  I continued running on my own in college and beyond.  I had periods of very few miles and lots of mile.  But it wasn’t until the last few years that running became one of those things that just feels right.  Like it’s the most natural thing for my body to be doing.  Like I’d go on doing it forever if by body couldn’t get fatigued.

I had a similar feeling about road biking a few years back.  I rode a bike growing up – both for fun and to get to my summer job or to friends’ houses.  But it wasn’t a passion.  Shortly after I got married, my hubby bought me a new bike – my first real mountain bike.  I started riding it around town and began to enjoy it more and more.  One September, I decided to do a 55 mile ride up the White Pine trail and back the next day.  Suddenly, I knew that I could do an endurance effort on a bike.  I bought a used road bike, planned my first century for the next spring, and completed another century that same summer.

Pedaling hard and fast down a smooth stretch of road was the first time that I felt a passionate connection to an endurance sport.  At the time, I thought, “How am I just discovering cycling now?  This feels like what I was meant to do.”  That intensity of feeling faded over time, but it was just the beginning of a discovery process.

From there, I moved into mountain biking.  This was partly to add some variety to the mix, and partly because the hubby would do it with me.  Mountain biking provides a combination of physical and mental challenge.  It’s like working through a puzzle while rolling down a trail.  A root, a rock, a steep decline, a hill, a tight curve…this piece, that piece, one here, now there…  It’s as fascinating as it is challenging.  I will never be an awesome mountain biker.  I’m too wussy.  But I do enjoy it.  It’s like combining cycling with trail running, and I’ve always preferred running or biking on trails to the road.

After about a year of doing nothing but biking, I had a desire to get back into running again.  After being away for a while, it felt different.  My muscles weren’t used to it anymore.  At the same time, my legs came back to it like I’d never been away.  A strange combination.  And suddenly, I loved it.  There was no pressure to perform or race.  I could just run whatever distance, speed, and location felt good.  Running felt so natural, which makes sense considering I’ve been doing it since I was 14.

When I was younger, I stuck to the roads mostly.  The smooth pavement felt easier, more secure.  But in my heart, I always loved the portion of a course that went through the woods.  I always liked the adventure of cross country more than circling a track.  Now, I would run on trails almost exclusively if there were more within running distance of my house.  Despite (and because of) the toughness and footing challenges, trail running has become the thing that I wish I could get paid to do.  It’s one of my top 3 favorite activities in this life.  I never get enough of the sights, smells, and joys of bounding past a rock, surging up a slope, slipping on some mud…  My heart pounding, the sun shining, the breeze blowing…

So in broad strokes, that’s a little bit about my pallet of motion.  Throw in a sprinkling of a dozen other things like hiking, tennis, dancing, dodge ball, walking, Frisbee golf, and swimming and the motion of my life is a fabulous picture becoming more and more complex and fulfilling.

What colors make up your pallet of motion?  How did they become a part of your life?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flag Football

The hubby and I are playing flag football with the Grand Rapids Sport and Social club this season.  I have learned how to throw a football.  Because it's a co-ed league, girls are required to be involved in roughly every other pass for a gain in yards, so it helps to have a woman who can play quarterback.  Fun!

Here's me putting all my running to use as I try to catch this guy booking for the end zone.  I almost had him!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall morning

Feels like a fall morning. Perfect for a run before meeting girl friends for brunch.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Warrior Dash 2012 - Grand Rapids - Race Report

The Warrior Dash came to Grand Rapids for the first time this year, and as always, it was a good time.  I think it's awesome that more events like this are coming to our city.

As far as the race goes, it was well organized, well staffed, and full of fun loving people.  Having done the Warrior Dash now in Joliet, IL, then Mt Morris, MI, and now Grand Rapids, I can't help but compare.

Joliet 2010 was my introduction to the Warrior Dash and will probably always be my favorite.  It was one of the first WD's, so it was well established and developed through multiple trial-and-error periods.  It included not only a huge number of runners, a great course, all the standard music/food/beer, but also games like tug-of-war and ax throwing. That year also happened to coincide with a drenching rain storm the day before which left the entire farm on which the race was held in a fantastic 16 inches of thick, sludgy mud.  Now that is a warrior run.

Mt Morris 2011 was also well done, but unsurprisingly, it felt smaller and less established.  I'm sure it was better this year than last.

Grand Rapids 2012, as I said, was a fine race.  But I was disappointed in a few things.  First, the course used a significant amount of the paved bike path in Millennium Park rather than dirt trails.  I understand that that may have been all the race crew had to work with at this venue, but I love running an obstacle/mud race on the dirt.  

On a second, similar note, the race wasn't very dirty.  Most runners finished almost entirely clean.  They would have been truly clean had it not been for the final crawl under barbed wire, which was through a "mud" pit that consisted of more water than dirt.  This makes me appreciate the Grand Rapids Mud Run that much more for doing such a great job creating lots of actual mud on the course. 

Third, there wasn't much to the race "festival".  The food, beer, and music were there (props to the dancing MC - he was a hoot), but there were no games or other interesting activities.  The hubby and I didn't end up staying long after we ran.  

And finally, they charged $20 to park at Millennium.  Parking at the WD in the past has not costed that much.  I think they were trying to encourage carpooling due to the limited parking space, but that's a LOT to park one car.  The hubby and I left our car at another park a mile away and walked in to the venue.  It was an excellent choice - super easy, and we could spend our $20 on food and drinks instead.

Mind you, I had a great time and my overall experience of WD GR was positive.  And to top that positivity off, they had a new obstacle this year that may be my favorite so far.  It involved four floating rafts in deep water.  You had to pull yourself up onto each raft and off the other side.  With nothing to push against with your legs, you actually had to use brains and upper body strength to accomplish the obstacle.  It was challenging and fun.  Cool variation from the obstacles we've seen before at Warrior Dash.

In the end, I continue to be excited that the Warrior Dash has come to Grand Rapids, and I will certainly be doing it again next year.  I look forward to watching as it improves and grows in future editions!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Poison ivy

The hubby has developed a patch of poison ivy on this bedonkadonk after the Mud Run this past weekend.  I'm sure it was mixed into the stew that made up some of the mud pits in the woods.  I got a tiny bit of it, too.

Sad, but hilarious!

(Sorry, no pictures will be posted of the affected area.)  ;)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grand Rapids Mud Run 2012

The third installment of the Grand Rapids Mud Run was the best yet!  Approximately 6000 runners participated for a grand crowd of compatriots navigating the many obstacles and slipping into the deceptively deep mud pits.

The course was the best yet.  The organizers are doing a great job of improving upon their work  each year.  I also appreciated the early packet pickup at Gazelle Sports the day before the run.  I waited in line for an hour to get the packets for my whole team, but it was so nice not having to worry about it on race morning.



Unfortunately, our traditional team of four was one short, as Jair sprained his ankle playing dodge ball this year.  But the hubby, Cat, and I still represented on Team Awesome!

Also unfortunate is the fact that I don't have any photos of us at our dirtiest.  I'll check the race photography when it gets released and add to this post.  But for now, here we after all the walls, tunnels, crawls, slides, pits, hills, slips, splats...and then a shower.



We asked a couple of people in the parking lot to take this picture, and they invited us to join their post-race tailgate.  How cool is that?!  They shared their beer and snacks with us, and we ended up hanging out for another hour after the race.


We will definitely be back next year!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trail run

Just a simple trail run at Ken-O-Sha park after work yesterday. The cool air on my skin and the green trees all around me felt wonderful. I even found some kind of strange species in the undergrowth. It's probably some kind of fungus, but it looks like an alien egg.

Trail running really is one of my favorite things in the world to do.



Addendum:
The crazy looking alien eggs are indeed a fungus.  They're called giant puffballs.  How appropriate!  They grow in the late summer to early fall and can get up to 3 feet in diameter.  They are also edible until they start to spore, which you can tell by cutting them open and seeing if they are turning brown on the inside.  If they are pure white, you can eat them.  The hubby and I tried some, and it tasted much like your standard grocery store white mushroom, only softer.  Tracking them down again and giving them a try was a cool, geek-tastic, biology adventure!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Color Run Grand Rapids Report

Cute Couple


Today was the first Color Run in Grand Rapids, and I must say it was marvelously organized. Two days of packet pickup before race morning made the lines very manageable for those from out of town.


Crowds in White Walking to the Run


Race headquarters was held at Calder Plaza downtown. Throngs of people in white and often colorful tutus converged on the plaza. I hear that there were 10,000 of us in attendance.

Calder Plaza

Before the run, we got warmed up to the party music and met up with my long time friend Brenda and her pal for some pre-race photos. Then we jumped into the starting line fray.


The Before Shot


Runners were released in waves of about 1000. Even with that spreading out, the crowds remained dense on such a short course (5k). It felt like the Chicago Marathon only with more dedicated walkers.


Starting Line Area


Soon we hit the first kilometer and thus the first color station. Race workers squirted us with color powder out of plastic bottles - one color at each of four stations. I was a little disappointed in the amount of color that I got hit with, but it turns out I kept running through the low-color sections. Oops!


After the Run...But More Color to Come


I needn't have fretted though. After crossing the un-timed finish line, we waded into the crowd of finishers for a mass color toss. Together, each runner threw our very own packet of color in the air creating a huge rainbow cloud and showering everyone in new hues.


The Aftermath of a Color Toss


My Braveheart


The hubby and I acquired some extra packets of color ensuring a thorough dousing for all around us. What a blast! I hope the event returns next year.


The After Shot


After meeting up with our friends again, we walked to a BK for some food. I feel bad for all of the coffee shops and restaurants in town. Their staff will be wiping color off of their booths and bathrooms for days!