Set backs along the trail of life and blog

View from Mt. Vernon Trail

 

In June, I was pretty certain that I would have two or three nice, new rail trail or otherwise paved trail bike rides completed by August. Thus continuing my one bike blog post a month since being empty nesters. I actually did a June ride with two friends, Sue and Sara, on the Mt. Vernon trail.

Sara and Sue

 

We drove down to Virginia, loaded ourselves up for an exciting day on a new trail. I took pictures. We were smiling. The trail is beautiful around the water. As we rode it got a little more challenging. Then, as we got closer to Mt. Vernon, there were some killer hills. I thought I was in bike riding shape. John and I had just done a long ride on Sunday (and it was Tuesday).

 

But, I was struggling up the last big hill before the benches and water fountain break spot. I actually fell over and ended up giving up and walking the bike up the last few hundred feet. I was humiliated and devastated. My friends made some gear change suggestions, which I eagerly tried. On our way back, I was exhausted and falling more and more behind. It made no sense that I should be struggling this much. I figured I must have been still fatigued from the long 26 mile ride I had done two days before. Well, upon closer examination we discovered I had a flat rear tire. We made an attempt to change the tire ourselves. But, despite Sue offering me her spare tube, it didn't go well. I was so unprepared for a flat tire. So, after 16 miles, I was done. My friends rode the remaining seven miles back to the car and drove back to pick me and my bike, which was in several pieces, up. Needless to say, I was very unhappy. In tears upon arriving home unhappy. My ride, my pride, my new, cute Athleta shirt, all in ruins. I couldn't even write about it. It was too awful.

 

So, I got the bike tire repaired that night, but I didn't get back in the saddle until last week. We decided we may as well try to get back into our cycling hobby, since we have a semi empty nest with our oldest home and working full time and our youngest back at school. I was not looking forward to it at all. But, I thought the B & A Trail, which is mostly flat, would be a good place to start over. Three miles into our ride, I heard the familiar sound of a rear flat tire. We couldn't believe it. It was supposed to be fixed.

There I was again. Sitting alone with my bike, waiting to be picked up. Not good. This time, I had a more knowledgable bike guy fix it. He recommended a new, higher quality tire, which I gladly agreed to.

 

Which takes me to today. They say, “Third time's a charm.” After back to back disappointment with bike rides – two flat tires in a row, we were ready for a good outing. We once again set off along the B&A Trail. It was a hot, sunny day. There were nice stretches of shade along the way. We made it to the top of the trail, got off our bikes and stretched and hydrated. We had never gone beyond this point because we had heard that the trail had somewhat steep hills and went along a busy highway (which it does). I asked John if he wanted to go a little further to see what it was like. A guy taking a break on the bench next to us told us about a river view at the Maryland WWII Memorial just two miles further. Hummmm. Energized by our curiosity, we decided to try it. It wasn't bad on our way to the memorial, but I was sure I wasn't going to make it back. But, I'd deal with that on our return trip.

 
We made it! The memorial was beautiful. The views of Annapolis and the river were pretty. We were glad we went the extra two miles.
 
The way back to the trail was not hard at all, just a little work, but it was getting hotter. I definitely felt out of bike-shape. With about a mile and a half to go, I just fell so far behind John, it was ridiculous. I was pedaling my legs off and going nowhere fast. Well, we made it back to the car, loaded it up, got the AC cranked up, and headed home. It was an 18 mile ride. We chatted briefly about why I was so tired and couldn't keep up, but I was glad to have finished a ride. Time to plan the next one!

As we were unloading the car, I hear John say, “No Way!” I walk over and there he is looking at my FLAT front tire! Noooooo. So much for third time's a charm.

But, it explained a lot.

 

Catching Some Summer Fun

 

I think summer went from fast paced action to almost a full stop in the span of three days. The weather is acting like fall is near (or already here), people have started talking about back-to-school shopping, and my work schedule is sputtering and fizzling, as all the summer swim leagues have wrapped up their short, but hectic seasons. August is hours away, and I feel like I am just now getting to quickly plan and do all the things I enjoy doing in the summer before it's too late.

 

One of my big summer things is seeing “My Summer People” AKA people I met through summer swim team, who I usually/mostly only see in the summer. Last weekend, we got together with some of the swim team friends, who we used to spend hours and hours with every summer while our kids were growing up, and had a blast. I made my tambourine playing debut with a live band in front of people (other than my kids and husband). It was so fun, and no, I was not offered any contracts for my future tambourine playing.

 

Lois, Eileen and Me with Freezer Burn
 

I have a couple other folks I want to see that I need to call right away, before summer is really over. I also would like to have at least one more crab feast. We will probably cover this summer favorite when my brother comes to town. And, I wouldn't mind a few more days of sitting by the pool and reading a good book. I would also enjoy one more trip to Ocean City, but I'm not sure when we can fit that in the schedule. Hope all of you are making the most of the last few weeks of summer vacation. The clock is ticking.

 

Gooooooallllll Achieved!

The Swim For Life Swim, Chester River July 2014
 

Several Summers ago, at the urging of a U.S. Masters Swimming teammate of mine, I entered my first Open Water (OW) competition. It was a one mile U.S. Masters sanctioned swim in a lake, called Centennial Lake. It is a very pretty lake, on the small side, but surrounded by woods with paths and picnic areas. It contains wildlife. I did not want to swim in any body of water containing wildlife. My friend was insistent that this was indeed something I would love to do and should be doing. It had my name on it, according to Maureen. Several other teammates of mine were also planning to compete in this local event. So, I signed up. I immediately felt a wave a nausea and fear ripple through me. I tried to counter the nausea and fear by reminding myself that I had been swimming with my Masters group for a long time and could easily swim a mile. Heck, I was swimming close to two miles at practice at least three days a week as it was. But, my nausea and fear were not rooted in concern about the distance. No, my nausea and fear were all about what was living or slithering over and through the lake in which I'd be swimming. I was, at this point in my swimming life, practically surrounded by triathletes and other swimmers who spent more time competing in strange bodies of water than in pools. I silently prided myself on being “a true (Masters) swimmer,” – the dying breed of pool-only swimmers, thank you very much. But, I was curious as to why Maureen thought I would love OW swimming. What did she know that I did not?

Fast forward to the morning of the event. I was sure I was going to be sick. I wasn't. I turned off my brain and willed myself through an out of body experience, in which I just followed my friends into the brownish-green water of Centennial Lake to warm up. It was my turn to swim and I got in and swam. My legs and feet cramped up as the adrenaline shot through me like a brush fire on a dry day. I kicked and squirmed and tried to relieve the charley horses that riddled my lower body. I fought to calm my breathing, but I had lost sight of Maureen and was struggling. I finally managed to collect myself. I strained to see big orange buoys at far away-seeming intervals. I swam yards off course by sighting what I thought was the correct next buoy, only to have to get myself back on track when I noticed the pack of yellow-capped heads moving in a mob off to my right. Not too far away, but far enough. I tried sprinting to catch up to them. It seemed to take forever to get to the buoy marking the return trip. I kept swimming, and soon I got to the final buoy. I was swimming in to the finish with another gal. I had her beat. I was going to beat someone no matter what else happened. I saw the edge and tried to stand up. But, I was not close enough and there was no bottom to stand on. I came to a full stop. I urgently began to swim again only to find my self getting to the actual edge seconds after the other gal. It was a rookie mistake. My first time in open water and I blew the finish. It was a painful lesson made more so when I placed second in my age group. I don't l know for sure that the gal who finished just before me was first, but it didn't matter. This experience left me with unfinished business. I had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams to just get in this lake and finish the race. In fact, I wasn't “racing.” I was “participating in an event.” That is, until I finished second. Maureen and I were planning another OW swim, but a hurricane left us fulfilling our charity swim in the famed 50 meter outdoor pool at the Meadowbrook Swim Club. I was very happy to swim there, but obviously unable to put into practice my lessons learned from my first OW experience.

Sometime leading up to this Summer, I decided that I wanted and needed to swim a 2 mile OW event. I had to do it. I'm not sure why, but I felt compelled. There were many things interfering with my short list of possible 2 mile swim opportunities. I began to feel discouraged and depressed that it might not happen after all. But, my husband offered to drive me to a charity race called Swim For Life being held on the Chester River, about an hour and a half away. So, I signed up. My goals were to put all of my lessons learned from my previous OW swim into action, and to swim the best race I could. And, yesterday I did just that. Armed with prescription goggles so I could see which buoys to swim to and all the other tidbits I learned from my first effort, I swam my best. I felt strong the whole time, despite swimming against a current the mile out and some choppiness in the water on the return leg. I paced out and from the final buoy tried to sprint to the finish. I was tired at the end of the race and felt I achieved my goals. Will I have another OW swim in me? It's possible. But, for now, I'm going to enjoy the post-race sense of accomplishment. Maureen has moved to Florida, but I know she would very happy for me and thrilled to know I'm still dabbling in open water swimming.

The 2 Mile Swim Wave

And we're off!

 

Sunday Rail Trail Ride in Western Maryland

 

Well, the Empty Nesters were at it again! We had wanted to do the second half of the Western Maryland Rail Trail this summer, so we took advantage of the kids being away visiting college friends this weekend to do it.

The weather was perfect — mid 70's and sunny. We jumped onto the trail in Hancock, MD at one of the trail parking lots. The lot was probably a half mile before the spot we turned around the first time we rode the first half of the trail. This Rail Trail trail is paved and flat, so think non-stop pedaling.

There were not many people on the trail at all today. The last ride we took on this trail (from Big Pool to Hancock) was on a week day and there weren't many folks on it then. So, I expected more weekend warriors on the trail, but, alas it was mostly couples probably more just a hair older than us. But, overall, around our age. The trail was peaceful and only the sound of nature could be heard. It was beautiful. It was completely wooded. While we could hear the traffic and see glimpses of route 70 on the first leg, this part of the trail was nothing but nature. I was on the lookout for black bears the whole time. They are found in great numbers (or at least high-ish numbers) in this area.

I never saw one. I guess I should be happy about that. But, we did enjoy the scenic views with tree-covered mountains in the background. We made it to the end of the trail from Hancock in about and hour and 15 minutes. So, round trip took us 2 ½ hours. We stopped and took water and stretch breaks, but by the end we were both ready to be done. I posted a 25.42 mile ride on my Map My Run mobile phone app. Yowza. That was a longer ride than I thought we'd do, but we Empty Nesters are tough. And when the going gets tough, we get really quiet and our focus intense as we try to get back to the car before we fall over (which we managed to do!).

 

 

The World’s Greatest Distraction

Beautiful Game in Beautiful Sunset

Beautiful Game in Beautiful Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

I’m completely obsessed. Several of my girlfriends are as well. They have told me so, using that exact word or the word “addicted.” My family is hooked. In fact, huge numbers of people in my social circles are. And more and more everyday in the United States are becoming as consumed as the rest of the world in what I consider to be the greatest distraction. It’s World Cup Soccer time. It’s #BecauseFutbol, (the clever Hyundai slogan gaining popularity by describing World Cup fan passion) that regular folks on the street are glued to their radios, televisions and mobile apps. I am thrilled to have an even greater number of co-workers and non-sporting folk to share my excitement with over what so far seems to be the most thrilling World Cup I’ve had the pleasure of watching. And, I think a shout out to U.S. television network, ESPN, for showing all the games is in order. Although I’m sure there are several business owners who are lamenting the fact that the games are running daily during the work day at this point in the tournament. But, soon enough, (too soon for many of us fans), there will be fewer and fewer games to watch, as the tournament winds down to the final two teams.

 

U.S. Men's National Soccer Team, Washington, D.C.

U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, Washington, D.C.

 


 

 

 

So, for now, I will enjoy every minute of every game I can. I know many others are too. I witness and hear stories of people streaming the games on their computers while they are at work, and sneaking glimpses of games and scores from Twitter feeds, apps and Etc. are the norm now. People are decked out in their red, white, and blue to cheer on the U.S. team, which has advanced beyond group play. It is truly a diversion. And it’s a wonderful, delightful diversion that only happens with this level of excitement and pageantry every four years. I’d love to blog on about how great it is to put aside whatever personal issues one may be saddled with to get wildly and passionately excited about a sport competition, but alas, I have to get a few things done around the house before the next match begins!

 

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com.

From the Farmer’s Market to the Farm

Farmer's Market Lettuce

@HoCoBlogs

There has been much blogging and tweeting about buying local, buying fresh and supporting local farms. Today, I decided to jump on the farm stand bandwagon and went to the Farmer's Market at the Oakland Mills Village Center. I made it there about a half hour before it closed.

There were pros and cons to arriving so late, but I was determined to check it out. The main pro was that it was not as crowded as I'm sure it was earlier, so I could visit each stand and easily see what each had. The obvious con was that there were a lot of empty slots. I settled on broccoli from one stand, a large bag of mixed lettuce from another, and cookies from A Bite of Heaven, that we had for dessert. They were very tasty. I really liked the Snickerdoodles. It was a safe start. I came straight home and had a big salad for lunch. It was delicious, as one would expect.

Our “Perfect” Strawberries, Picked by Us

As if my big outing to the Farmer's Market wasn't adventurous enough, my mom and I talked ourselves into heading out to Larriland Farm for the “pick your own strawberries.” Alyssa was eager to join the fun, so off we went. There were a lot of folks in the fields. We picked about two rows and headed back to the main farm to pick our own spinach. We were on a roll!

This character was at Larriland Farm. He was not too interested in posing for this photo, but I took one anyway.

We had another big salad with our dinner that included some of the spinach from Larriland and a bunch of vegetables either sold out or not available yet from the farm stands. Delicious! I think I'm sold on making the extra trip to the farmer's markets.

I thought about what prevents (or has prevented) me from actively participating in farmer's market shopping. Three things popped into my mind: 1) I never carry cash and I assume that farmers will only take cash; 2) There isn't one on my beaten path, so I have to plan to make a trip to one; and 3) I've not really shopped at farmer's markets much, so it's hard to know who has the best produce. I'm sure it could be argued that there is no bad produce at a farm stand. But, I think just that little unknown has held me back. After today, however, I am more willing than ever to become a frequent shopper at these markets and farms.

 

That’s A Wrap on a Busy Week!

Some of the Columbia Masters Swimmers Sporting Their Tie Dyed Team Shirts

I can't believe how long it's been since I blogged. It is far more difficult to find the time to write when the kids are home. This past week was also filled to the brim with work for me. I worked endless hours at the swim shop getting kids ready for summer swim team. I worked a last minute Kitchen Angel job. And, I taught a couple of private swim lessons. Whew! All the while, I managed to keep up with my own swimming and lifting.

Today, I was able to bask in the glory of having nothing to do except go to my daughter's Women's Premier Soccer League game. Of course, “basking” for a mom means running around the house trying to clean, straighten, and otherwise get the house back on track from at least a week plus of my neglecting it. I did enough to be able to stand it until I can get more done tomorrow.

I wanted to make sure I updated you on how amazing my tie dye shirt turned out. We all had three universal thoughts on the whole Dish n Dye Tie Dye party for our Masters group: 1) My shirt is not going to turn out good, 2) Wow, my shirt turned out great, and 3) I can't believe I made that shirt! We have all gotten tons of compliments on the shirts already, and most people add a comment about how they'd never be able to make such a cool shirt. So, now I can speak with some level of beginner success expertise when I say, “Yes, you can do it! Erin is awesome and will lead you in creating a cool shirt of your own!” If you still have not checked out the Roll Up N Dye website, Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter, do it this weekend. You'll be inspired to plan a tie dye party of your own, I bet!