Friday, October 30, 2009

Devil Rose Black And White Vampire Fairy

This was my description when a co-worker asked me, what I ended up getting as a costume for Halloween. Honestly, I don't have a clue, what this costume is supposed to be, it was selected by ticking off the following points:

1) inexpensive
2) shirt covers my behind
3) doesn't smell like rubber, glue or the combination

Seriously, it's hard to find a Halloween costume that appropriately covers your bandonkadonk. It's either skimpy short or down to the ankles... Moderation people, moderation.

Anyhow... This is how we went Salsa dancing last night.

And now in retrospective, criteria 2) really wasn't fulfilled. The skirt is just barely covering the derriere when standing, but when I was out on the dance floor dancing and spinning, I basically gave a free show... You are welcome!

I think I have to put together an alternative costume for the Salsa Halloween party on Saturday... And I think I have an idea. Here is a clue: body marks! ;-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unnecessary Issues

Unfortunately, not even the world of fitness/ free time/ age group athletes is free of controversial issues.

So far, I haven't met a person through endurance sports that wasn't pleasant, but when you get into the nitty gritty of things there or certain topics out there, that just get the tempers going. There have been several controversial matters lately, that made the web buzz and now I also want to throw in my two cents... Why? Because this is my blog and I decided so! ;-)

The iPod Discussion!

Superficially, this discussion seem to be black and white. Either you are pro or con using MP3 players while running or cycling on the road. But since this topic is so widely discussed EVERYWHERE, we come to find out that there is a lot of in between as well. For example, only using when training, only when the sun shines, only one ear bud. A lot of races don't allow iPods to be used due to safety concerns and if you don't comply to this rule you are at risk to be DQed if an official sees you. So you either go without player or don't complain if they disqualify you. For me personally, I choose not to use an iPod while running or cycling on the road, because it makes me uncomfortable to be cut off the noises of my surrounding e.g. chasing dogs, approaching cars etc. For others, this is not a concern and that is fine with me too. At the end of the day it's to each it's own.

"Getting chicked"

In case you haven't heard this expression yet: If a girl beats a guy in a race, then he "got chicked". And I see that for some guys, getting chicked is a real problem during a race or a great motivator to go faster. But I also heard several women telling tales that they chicked a guy. I wonder, if this is just a topic for the people that race for podium positions or if this also applies to to mid of the pack people such as myself? Hmmmm... I have to confess that I caught myself thinking a couple of times things like: that girl looks like she is in my age group, I have to try to pass her etc. And I still find great pleasure in the fact that I beat Terry in the tri that we did earlier this year, also with the knowledge that this would be most likely the only time I will be able to beat him... But I never thought of it in terms of to chick him, but more as healthy family rivalry! ;-) But if all of us mid pack people are honest with ourselves, than we have to agree that it doesn't matter how you place compared to others (324th out of 678 or 321st out of 678), as long as you reached the goals that you set for yourself. One eye opener moment in this regard for me was the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K this year in Charleston. My 1st goal for this race was to run it under one hour and my 2nd goal was to improve the 10K time that I ran a month earlier in the Reedy River Run in Greenville. Looking at the results in the paper the next day, I saw that a lot of the 14 and under age grouper are faster than I am and a lot of the 70 and over age grouper are faster than me. But bottom line was, that I reached my 1st goal, but missed my 2nd one and those are the only means of measure for a race that should count for me.

Marathon As Elite Event?

Marathon is defined as "foot race over a course measuring 26 miles and 385 yards (42 kilometers and 195 meters)". The definition doesn't say how fast the distance has to be travelled in order to count as marathon, to travel this distance by foot is defined as a marathon. It makes sense to me to have some sort of cut-off time in a marathon event, because there is just a lot of logistics going into this and the longer they have to close down roads the more expensive the event is going to be for the organizers. But telling people that they didn't really do a marathon only because they didn't make it in a certain time frame? To some runners a 14-minute-mile feels just as hard of an effort as an 8-minute-mile to others, just like the 8-minute-mile participants they put time into their preparation, paid the registration fee and had pre-race jitters. I prefer a person that walks a marathon over a person that stays on the couch any time... Honestly, I admire everyone that even attempts a marathon, just because as of now, I still cannot wrap my mind around the idea of being on my feet for 26.2 miles. Probably this is just mental for me and maybe step by step I will tear down this wall in my head, we'll see.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who Switched Off The Light?

There is no denying anymore. Fall has arrived. I love the color everywhere and the cooler temperatures, but the getting-dark-early part of it, I wouldn't miss. And when day light saving time ends this Sunday, it's going to be even worse.

So tonight was kind of my last chance run after work while it's still light outside and then someone switched off the light.... FAST! ;-)

I got out of work on time, but by the time I finally started running at Furman, it was once again 6.30PM. I was wearing my safety vest, but left the headlamp in the car, since I thought I should be able to get 4 to 5 miles in before it's really dark. Besides, I planned to head out to the Swamp Rabbit Trail first as long as I still have daylight and finish up the run on the campus, where there is light everywhere.

From the parking lot at the McAllister Auditorium, I headed out to the dirt trail next to the soccer fields and dorms and from there on the Rabbit Trail towards Travelers Rest. My turnaround point was the BP gas station at mile 2.2. I headed back towards Furman and once again got into trouble with my stomach. At mile 2.7 I started walking and I thought I will have to walk back to the car. After maybe ten minutes I felt better and started running again.... Two motivations here: 1) this stomach stuff just starts to annoy me and I want to beat it, 2) all of a sudden, it got dark fast, especially on the trail, where there are no lights and a lot of trees around that take away the moonlight on top of it. Funny enough, once I started to run again, I felt fine. I turned back on the Furman Campus close to bell tower, took the little dirt bridge over the lake and then made a straight shot back to the car. Once the Garmin beeped for 4 miles, I hit the stop button and walked for another five minutes.

Well, I guess this is it with evening daylight runs for the rest of the year. But fortunately, the campus is well lit and as long as it doesn't rain, this is going to be my training stomping ground over the dark season! :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Item On My Bucket List

No, I am not planning on kicking the bucket any time soon, but lately I had a revolving thought about bicycle travel and also some outside inspiration from books and magazines, that I feel I have to put it on record, so that it starts to become a more concrete goal. Besides, I am sure that when I start to think about other goals, I would soon be able to find other items for the list.

Anyways, back in summer, in one of my reading-like-crazy phases, I picked up several travel report books. One guy was hitch-hiking around Ireland with a fridge, two dudes rode around the world on their BMWs and then there was this guy, that circled the globe several times in every possible direction on his bicycle in the last three decades.

Source of picture is here.

Especially this last guy (Tilmann Waldthaler), made a career out of travelling on a bike. His very first tour in the 1970s, he did on a touring bike, built for him... At the time he was in Australia and basically biked through the Australian Bush on skinny tires. He also described the first time he saw a mountain bike several years later and how he embraced this new sport. He actually wrote a mountain bike guide for the Alps only to be shown the door when trying to sell his book to his editor, because there was no market for this content in the editor's opinion... Only to sell it a couple of months later, when the need for it was even evident to this said editor. This guy really works to live. It was the revolving theme in his book, that he took on a job, just to finance his next trip of several months. He said, he always worked and doesn't need a lot. While reading excerpts out of three decades of travelling on a bike, he made the impression of a grounded dreamer, if this makes any sense to you. Now he doesn't have to take a regular job anymore to keep on travelling. He travels and then writes books about it, gives speeches and showcases his pictures. He is a professional adventurer. Here is an interview with him in German.

Even though I admire this lifestyle, I am a creature of comfort. I can take camp sites, porta johns, heat and coolness, discomfort and dirt for a couple of days, but then I want to get back into civilization with all of it's amenities. And yes, this is maybe the most extreme case of bike touring that you can do, but between this and doing a bike ride around the block, there are tons of possibilities. It's just the question of which shade of gray fits to your abilities, your preferences, your wallet and your time resources.

More food for thought gave me an article in the Roadbike Action Magazine (August issue) about two guys that went from Canada to Mexico in around four weeks. Those guys did the structured approach (I like structure) and they travelled light... very light. They basically did this trip on their credit cards. They didn't carry food other than water, stayed in hotels every night, didn't even have a full change of clothes with them, so they washed every night. I read this article and first I thought, this is just crazy expensive, but on the other hand... I did three weeks of road trips before and I had to stay in a hotel every night and also had to eat out every night. Besides, if you don't have thousand things with you, you can use your regular road bikes for this trip (like these guys did) and don't have to buy/ rent a touring bike. On a road bike, you are also able to log some serious mileage as log as your legs and your butt are game for it.

We'll see... It's on the bucket list now and I am going to work from here! ;-)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Read It Out Loud!

Since I moved in with Terry, my commute has increased around 1,500% (no kidding, it went from around six minutes to ninety minutes) and with that the amount of time wasted. Seriously, there are 10,000 things that I would prefer doing during this time than sitting in my car. But since whining really doesn't change the situation, but negatively influences my mood, I was looking for things that would start making the commute less of a waste of time.

Yeah right, this post is about my discovery of audio books.

I had a couple of audio books sitting in my book shelf for the longest, but really, at home I enjoy just sitting in silent and reading (very traditionally) a book with pages and everything. Lately, I didn't do as much reading, but this pastime comes in seasons for me. It's really odd, that sometimes, I finish up a book within days and sometimes it just takes forever... And it doesn't necessarily say anything about the quality of the book. But once again, I digress. What I meant to say before rambling off on other things was, that I had these audio books at home catching dust for years until I decided that this would be so much better than listen to those crappy radio stations around here that have a play list of all but five songs.

But now three weeks into this experiment, I am 1) hooked on audio books and 2) running out of material. Therefore the used book sale from "The Friends of the Greenville County Library System" last Sunday was perfect timing. It was already the second day of the sale and everything was half off. That is nice, but it was also clear that I would have much less to choose from. We got there five minutes before they opened the doors and there were maybe a hundred people already ahead of us. This was bargain madness! We got a little box and a map (!) at the entrance and I took off straight to the audio book section. The selection was slim and I sure wasn't picky, since none of the titles meant anything to me. So I walked out there with six audio books for USD 21.50. NICE!!! Now time will tell, if I got anything good, but I looked them up on Amazon in the meantime and it's quite promising! Here are my bargains:
This book sale is a great chance to stock up on books and they even have an almost new section. It's hardcovers and a little more expensive than the rest, but still no comparison to regular priced books. So put it down on your calendars:

The Friends of the Greenville County Library System will hold its next regular Book Sale on April 23, 24, and 25th, 2010 at Merovan Center, E-2. Friday the sale is 3 until 8PM and is open to members only. Memberships may be purchased at the door. Saturday the sale is open to the public from 10AM until 5PM. Sunday, the sale is 1PM until 5PM and is open to the public and everything is half price.

That might sound funny, but I can't wait to get in the car tomorrow morning and start on one of these, since I finished up Ken Follett's The Hammer Of Eden today!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hiking Governor's Rock

Around here, we see wonderful fall leave foliage. It's what is everyone is talking about for weeks, it's just that beautiful. So how better to enjoy the color explosion than to go out there.

That's why we met up with some co-workers of mine to hike to the Table Rock summit in the Table Rock State Park. This is Table Rock from an viewing area in the valley:

As the title of the post already implicates, we didn't quite make it up to the top, but called it a day after reaching "Governor's Rock" about 2.3 miles into the Table Rock trail. But I jump ahead here a little.

The trail was classified as "strenuous" and for the 3.6 mile hike up to the top, they projected two to three hours. Most of the time, I feel like those classifications are pretty conservative, but they are pretty much dead on on this one.

Around 12PM we finally hit the trail behind the nature center. We had to register and everything, so they can make sure that nobody got lost on the trails in the evening. It was a beautiful day yesterday and of course the trails were packed. Especially, as long as we were on the Carrick loop which is an hour hike around the valley with some waterfalls. After we took the turn unto the Table Rock Trail, things thinned out a little, which made it easier for our group of eight adults and three dogs.

As soon as we got on the Table Rock Trail, the trail got a lot steeper. But heck, we are all in good shape and the time passed quickly with conversations and views. Half way up the trail is a little picnic shelter with a gorgeous view over to the Table Rock reservoir:

Shortly after the shelter, the trail meets with the Ridge Trail. This trail connects the two summits in the park. One of them is Pinnacle Mountain and the other said Table Rock. The trail flattened out some, since we followed the ridge line, which was a welcomed break for all of us. Just shortly before Governor's Rock, we had to start climbing again and one of the older dog ladies that were with us, had to be given a hand in a couple of sections. That was a flashback to a couple of weeks ago, when Terry had to carry Karma up the ladders at the Grandfather Mountain hike. But here is Emma's moment of weakness! ;-)

Up there on Governor's Rock, the views are just amazing. We sat down to soak it all in and to have a snack. There was a pretty colorful folk up to be seen as well. The college girls and a guy that lost his shirt, but managed to have a radio with him (he is in the background of the following pic). A guy with his son that already hike Pinnacle Mountain that morning and they were on their way up Table Rock, when we met them... By the way... The just got off the trail when we were about to leave the parking lot later on... These guys were moving. Also, we met an older gentleman who was spicing up his hike with some letterboxing.

On the rock I took a poll about who is going to join to go to the top, but it was decided that we will call it a day right there. After maybe half an hour, we started our way down again. That was a lot of pounding on the old bones, but there was certainly a pull in everyone to get down this mountain.

Once we got back to the nature center, we put the other half of our registration in the box and sat down on one of the picnic tables for a couple of minutes.

I really enjoyed the hike. The weather was great, the trails were very nice maintained (thank a boy scout) and the company was great... But next time, I want to go all the way... Maybe we'll find another weekend this year to do it, since it's just half an hour drive for us. :-)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Before Meets After

Last night, I watched Biggest Loser. It's one of my favorite shows and maybe the only show that I really try to follow besides Project Runway. I know it's reality TV, but I like them... Not all of it, but enough to try to follow the seasons. But since I don't have any recording device at my disposal and don't stay at home to watch a show, if there is another activity in sight, I have to rely on reruns a lot of the time. But I digress!

Even after seeing so many seasons already, there is still interesting stuff exercise and nutrition wise that they are talking about.... mixed in with a lot of drama to fill up a two hour show. It also shows what the human body can endure. How many overweight people have you been talking to, that say they can never run because of their knees and because they are too heavy to run. If you have ever talked to me before my weight loss journey, you knew at least one! But those morbidly obese contestants on the show run on the treadmill all the time and they are fine. I guess, if you finally made this decision in your head, when you finally flipped that switch, then you stop making excuses!

If people don't make a conscious decision to change, then a 100K for the at home biggest loser won't be enough of an incentive either. You see very easily if someone stopped making excuses when they show the "after moment" of the contestant that was voted off the ranch. So last night, Dina got voted off and in her after moment she looked GREAT! She stopped making excuses for not working out and not eating right and just did it. I agree it's not easy to work and be a mother/father and so on, but if you want something really bad, you make time for it. And I think getting healthy is something we all should want really bad, because it makes us live longer and it makes us live a happier life...

I have been obese for most of my adult life. I wasn't an unhappy person and I wasn't unhealthy (based on my blood work etc) either, but how I felt inside didn't reflect the person on the outside. So at one point early last year, I decided for myself, that I want to look how I feel with the result that I feel happier and are healthier and look this way now too. Here is my "Before and After":

Since my friends back in Germany don't see me very often in person and some of them choose not to read this blog (no, I'm not mad! ;-) to see the latest pictures, I sometimes get the question on the phone, if I am able to keep off the weight. And that's alright, I wouldn't be the first to put it right back on, but I shared my strategies previously and it seems to work for me, so I am going to stick to them!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

From A To B By Bike Powered By Google Maps

When I first got over here, I had a fairly new hybrid in my oversea container. I just started riding a bike again on a regular basis a couple of months prior to my move and wanted to keep up with it... that's why I spent some 500 Euros on the bike in the first place. Once I was here, the easy access to bike friendly roads and trails wasn't given and besides, I was a little pre-occupied with partying to tell the truth. I think, I made it on the bike once or twice before I got serious with exercising again last year and started my weight loss and triathlon journey.

Still, there was no easy access to bike trails, especially if you are used to Europe's bike trail network which basically let's you pedal for miles and miles and miles with hardly traversing roads. But since I was a little more familiar with the area by then and got to know other cyclist that shared their knowledge of the area with me, I finally ventured out on my hybrid on back country roads in the neighborhood. After I got frustrated with the hybrid and upgraded to my road bike, travelling on multi-purpose trails (my then I discovered the Swamp Rabbit Trail and the Hub-City Connector) was out of the question anyways, especially if you want to cover some ground and get a good workout in.
By now I know my way around. There are tons of resources out there to enjoy the road while on a bike in South Carolina. Here are some examples:

Those are all resources that I greatly appreciate and a lot of people put a lot of work into those.

But, what I was always missing was a routing opportunity for bike travel, especially, if you are not familiar with the area. I mean in terms of... I have a long weekend ahead of me, why not ride down to Charleston SC and back? Where do I look for this kind of information? Or if I decided to visit my friend in Lincolton NC over the weekend and would like to go there by bike? How do I find the most cycling friendly route? Or when we were in Tennessee for our summer vacation and had the hardest time to figure out a good route for a two or three hour trip?

Well, good news for us!

Google Maps made an announcement, that they are planning on having a "bike there" option in the future. The wording in the announcement says "soon" and I really hope that soon doesn't mean 2012, but spring 2010... There is no telling. There is also no information on how they make the classification in what is bike friendly or not bike friendly road, but it's a start.... I take it! ;-)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Today At A Convenience Store Close By

Look what I discovered:

You can get tons of German beers here, but I never even heard of "St Pauli Girl"... After some research on Wikipedia, I found out, that it's only getting distributed to the U.S. ... I guess that's why I never heard of it before.

Zum Wohl sein! ;-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Run And Someone Else's Race

Oh.... I almost forgot how much fun running can be. After last week's trouble at the Ache and a boring treadmill run on Wednesday, I finally had a good run again! It was dry, cool and not too windy. It was the first time this fall, that I wore a long sleeved shirt, a headband and some gloves too.

I mentioned yesterday, that I needed to catch up on some sleep and that's what I did. Slept in and then very slowly started my day with some lounging around and then out for a run. In order to get the puppy out as well, I decided to do a short two mile loop around the block first and then drop her off before heading out for the rest of my run. She actually did pretty good today running on the leash. NICE! Oh... And after those first two miles, I also got rid of the gloves! ;-)

Around here, Terry has specific routes, he always uses e.g. his 2 mile loop, his 4 mile loop, his 6 mile hill loop etc. I pretty much took my workouts from his loops, but today I felt like I wanted to mix it up a little and I also didn't know how far I wanted/could go. So I started out and turned here and there, picked up a stray dog for a while to keep me company, kept on adding mileage to my run and felt great doing it. I ended up with a 7 mile run in 1h 10 mins (incl the 2 miles with the puppy) and was once again reminded that I really like to run.

After getting back in from the run, I grabbed a shower and a snack and then we headed out to watch the Paris Mountain Downhill MTB Race. We took the shuttle to the first parking lot and then hiked up to an area that was maybe the last .2 miles of the course. Cheered for the riders that where just about to finish up their first run. Then hiked down to the finish and back to the parking lot from where we took the shuttle to the top. Up there we saw the first couple of riders starting their second run. It was quite chilly out there, so we called it a day after that. Returned to the house for some extreme couching! That's the only sport I haven't been doing lately at all! ;-)

Here are some pics from the race:

That was at our first viewing spot. Before this, the riders where coming down a hill, had to cross a wet wood bridge and then up on the other side while trying not to hit the tree in the middle of the trail.

That was close to the top. You can see the starting line tent in the background. This guy was riding down the hill with two MTB frames welded on top of each other. I don't think that needs to be further commented! ;-)

Action shot!

Oh yes, that us... This time the self portrait worked at the first try! ;-)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Random Thoughts To Start Off The Weekend

Fridays are always welcome, but this week I needed it more than I normally do. Why? See below some of the reasons mixed in with general randomness.

  1. I have another long weekend ahead of me. Since we have to get rid off all the vacation and comp time days by the end of the year, I will take off days here and there and a big vacation over Christmas/ New Year.
  2. Tomorrow is a Downhill MTB Race at Paris Mountain. That sounds like a fun thing to watch!
  3. I have been lazy when it comes to workouts on Thursday and today, but I am looking forward to some nice running (preferably on a trail) and a longer outside bike ride.
  4. They finally forecasted dry conditions over the next couple of days... I really need a break from the rain.
  5. On Fridays, I normally have a chiropractor appointment, that's a good thing... My lower back was killing me all week and my knees acted up a couple of times. Once again, Renee did her magic and all is better now.
  6. Terry and I need to start making Germany plans: picking out a race that we want to do (racing internationally, baby!), pulling together some sort of itinerary... We definitely want to stay a couple of days in Bavaria to meet up with some friends and do some cross country skiing, winter hiking and sightseeing in Munich.
  7. I don't get any household duties done during the week and I always feel better after I got caught up with stuff.
  8. I need to catch up on sleep!
  9. According to the National Geographic Adventure magazine issue from Aug/Sep '09 page 20: "Follow that German! No matter what corners of the globe you've reached before any of your friends, you've likely found one thing there upon arrival: Germans. Somehow, they manage to get everywhere first. Since August is Europe's biggest vacation month, we checked in with Hauser Exkursionen in Munich to find out where Volk are going this year - so we know where to book for 2011." I thought that was funny. By the way... Namibia, Libya and Armenia are the places to go! ;-)
  10. Kerrie, my team mate from the Blue Ridge Relay is taking off for a relay ride from Greenville SC to Austin TX this Sunday. This is the Palmetto Peloton Project Challenge to Conquer Cancer Ride (P3C3). Please have all the riders and their support crew in your thoughts and prayers. You can follow them on their blog!
  11. Speaking of relays... The American Odyssey Relay is still planned for next year for team D.N.R. or a variation of it. Now I learned that there will be a solo attempt by this guy. Good luck for the preparations!
  12. We decided to do the Dan Davis Memorial Turkey Trot again this year. That was my very first 5K (my first ever race was an 8K a couple of weeks before) and will also be the first race that I do for the second time. It's a nice race (good course, well organized) raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Furman Campus.
  13. This week, I was pretty good when it comes to food. There was just one cake incident yesterday (homemade banana chocolate-mousse cake), but that's okay....
  14. They finally decided to turn on the heat in the office, after it felt like living in an iglo earlier this week... Well, let me rephrase this... They finally decided to turn of the A/C in the office. Thank goodness.

Have a great weekend everyone... Enjoy! ;-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Where They Burn Books...

I was debating back and forth today, if I am going to mention this in today's post or if I just need to ignore it. Maybe this is the originator's only wish to be in the news and have people talking about him and I really didn't want to promote those efforts. On the other hand, it's just too disturbing and if someone is wrong (in my opinion anyways) I feel that I have to speak up, however small my audience might be. Especially after reading this quote:

"Where they burn books, they will also burn people."

Out of Almansor: A Tragedy (1823) by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

Okay, I guess by now you must be completely confused by me rambling away. Let me explain. This morning I saw in the news that the pastor of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton N.C. is planning on burning books on Halloween e.g. bibles in other version's than the King James Version because they are "satanic" and a "perversion" of God's word... click here for the full article.

This is wrong on so many levels, that I don't even know, where to start. First of all, I think there is a lot of truth in the line out of Heinrich Heine's work and throughout history, book burnings have always been used to judge other people's beliefs and opinions and a lot of the time, it didn't stop with burning books. It's a very strong statement of disapproval. What makes it even worse, when Christians start to burn bibles is, that they fight against their own team. Even if this process of burning books is not illegal (at least, I don't think it is), the act in itself has a bad aftertaste and the signal that is sends doesn't promote the Christian beliefs. It starts with them burning bibles, but what is next? Will they start to attack Christians in their community that "dare" to use other versions than KJV? Will they start to attack people of other beliefs in their community? This is an open invitation to any aggressive nut job out there!

When you start things like this, where will it end??

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Puppy Diaries: Excitement on a Sunday Afternoon

Last Sunday afternoon, my female human took me out for a brief walk... The usual... Up the driveway to the right along the road. No new scents around, pretty boring... Why am I the only dog that ever gets to walk around here? At least Cassanova is out in the yard. I would like to play with him so much and I always get so excited whenever I see him, but my humans just never let me go to play. I think he likes me too. We turned around at the stop sign and on our way back we met this older gentleman dog that always walks the neighborhood on his own. How free must he feel? My human lets me greet him but the old guy is grumpy all the time and never wants to play. Back at the house I am thirsty and there is my dish and there is still water in it. Jackpot! My human takes off the leash and lets me drink while she already walks into the house doing something... I want to see what she's doing, but I need to drink first... Hmmm? What was that? Is the old guy in our yard now? Should I drink or try to play with my human or check on old grumpy? Okay... Gotta run, human. Catch you later!!

It really was him in the yard and he leaves his marks everywhere... I gotta check this out and over here... Oh boy... My human is following me, why is she shouting my name? I just want to sniff around here and play. Where is old grumpy anyways? AHHHHH... Over there... He maybe decides to play, if I am following him a bit. Why does my human sound so frustrated? Oh! Cassanova is still in the yard and I am off the leash, so I finally can go over to him and say hi.

He plays pretty rough and chases me a lot. My human is also in the yard now, so are his'. Why is everyone so excited? Hmmmm.... this is getting a little tough for me and I think I just run over to my human now and let her pet me a little. My human grabs me by the collar and then Cassanova, my human's hands and I are one ball wrestling around. This is getting a little too much for me now and I feel dizzy, I think I just plop on my back and surrender. Cassanova's humans pull him away from me... I am still a little dizzy, but nothing hurts... I just want to lay here a little. Then I hear my human talking to me. I think she wants me to get up and go home, but I really want to relax some now. She is pretty persistent about it and I wonder why? She finally just rolls me over to my side and props me up on my feet. Oh well, I would have liked to relax some more, but at least I didn't have to get up on my own. She has me on the collar and I follow her...

This has been pretty exciting and I need a nap now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall Flavors And Following The Line

It's fall (at least in the northern hemisphere)... I don't have to tell you that, I am sure you know it already. I just had to remind myself yesterday, when I walked out of the office. I didn't notice the smell when I got in the morning, but in the afternoon it almost knocked me out of my shoes. Blooming holly trees around the plant create a wall of scent. Allergic people really never get a break around here... South Carolina's Upstate is not called allergy capital of the U.S for nothing.

I took a picture of the holly tree yesterday already, but it was all grey and foggy and rainy. So today, it was just an amazing mild fall day and that is a so much nicer backdrop for the picture! Enjoy and envy, if you live in other parts of the country/ world, where it's not that pretty right now! ;-)

The leafs take their time this year to turn the color. You see a couple of trees in bright red and yellow, but it's going to take them another couple of weeks until the peak. Beginning of November we are planning to take part in the "Leaf Tour" (not to be mixed up with the "Tour de Leafs") organized by the Greenville Spinners. By then, I need to get my cycle legs back otherwise the hills are going to be a sufferfest.

In the last couple weeks I started to get back into the pool on a regular basis. There is hardly anything I hate more (exercise-wise) than swimming in the morning. But going in the evening is not really an option, because the pool is always full and I don't mind sharing lanes in general, but sometimes that's a little irritating too. So I got my lazy butt in the pool this morning once more and I bet it's funny to see me there. I just dread to get into the cold (it's a competition pool and I think the water is way too cold) water and most of the time, I sit down a little and stick my toes in there a couple of times until I can work up some courage. But once I am in there, it's great. A lot of people don't like to go swimming, because they say it's boring. But for me it has some therapeutic value to just swim and follow the line on the bottom of the pool... Not being distracted by anything, my mind just wanders and works through whatever bothers me. I guess my form suffers when my mind is somewhere else and without my lap counter I wouldn't know how much yards I made.

And now, I will get my reality TV fix and watch Biggest Loser! :-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Off-Season Ready!

Living in South Carolina has a huge weather advantage. Basically, we'll be able to ride our bikes all through the winter at least as long as it's light outside. That means mostly on the weekends as long as there is no ice on the road which we normally have ice and snow on the road a couple of days per year... Not too bad. I actually know of one group that is going out riding each Wednesday night all winter long... I respect that, but I am just getting cold too fast and also think that's pretty dangerous even with lights on the bike. Car drivers around here are fairly used to cyclists by now at least during the day, but at night, I think that would take them completely by surprise.

Even with the plan of riding through the winter, only on the weekends just won't cut it, to keep and hopefully improve my bike fitness. So with the b-day money from my parents, I set out to get myself a Cycle-Ops Fluid2 trainer and yesterday we finally set the thing up in the downstairs living room and I also tried it out right away. I don't have anything to compare it with, but the ride felt pretty good. The trainer was fairly easy to set up since we did it with family team work, held the tension I was putting on and wasn't too noisy either. That is the first impression and I'll keep you posted on how things develop. I did a 13.8 miles in 31 minutes which is very fast for me, so I wonder, if I set the bike computer up correctly. Given that I got the cheapest from the cheapest, since I use my Garmin on outside rides. On the other hand, I wasn't putting wicked tension on and still felt my quads burning quite some after the workout... The reason for that could be lack of cycling workouts recently. ;-)

I have been doing a couple of spin classes over the past couple of weeks and on the one hand, I do enjoy the group experience in a class, but on the other hand, the spin bike just feels very different from the road bike. Also, the classes I went to were more like an aerobics class on a bike and didn't feel like a preparation for the real thing.. If that makes any sense to you. Another improvement, that the option of working out at home on my own schedule brings, is to be able to sleep in on Mondays instead of getting up at the crack of "two hours before dawn" to be in the gym by 6AM... In general, I hope that it is going to decompress my days a little and give me a couple of hours more sleep per week.

Areas of improvement on the current set-up: I need a piece of wood or something to elevate the front tire to have it on the same height than the back tire. We need to put the TV from the guest bedroom down there, because that one actually works properly. (DONE!) The TV that you see in the picture has a horrible picture, the remote doesn't work and I have no clue how to change channels on the TV itself. So I ended up watching CMT during my test ride yesterday... The conclusion of "Footloose" and the beginning of "Coyote Ugly"... Oh well, I guess it could have been worse, but it could also have been much better. I need to organize a DVD to put there... We should have a portable somewhere. Remember to put the fan next to the bike before I start.

Other than that, I think I am off-season ready!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2009 Ache Around The Lake 8K Race Report

Just the numbers for starters and then let me explain!

Results (based on Guntime)
59:11 mins (11:55 min per mile average)
Overall 133/180
Age Group 4/6

I did this race mainly because my tri swim coach is the race director and I heard from several people that the race course is very pretty, but also very hilly. And they were right... Very pretty and hilly. The course is a loop around Lake Lanier SC/NC. The organizers put together a great race and they should be proud of that. Time keeping was done by the peeps from Setup Events and those guys just know how to run a race and are always fast with posting results. I am planning on going back there next year!

For me personally, disaster struck at this race. But I guess after doing 15 or so races over the last year, I was just due to having a really bad day. On the positive side, at least I crossed the finish line in the end. My goal was to post a decent time and that didn't happen... Still, at least it wasn't my first DNF.

The day started out early. The alarm went off at 5.30AM and by 6.00AM I was on the road to Tryon NC. It's an one hour drive up there and it was still dark by the time I got to the event parking lot. Of course, I passed the lot wondering why there are so many people that early and then DUH! it dawn on me... It was still early, so that's my excuse! ;-)

Picked up my number, t-shirt (nice shirts by the way) and the water bottle and got ready in the car. There was a shuttle bus to the start line, but I decided to walk. Then I learned that start and finish are not in the same spot and debated what I am going to do with the rain jacket that I was still wearing. I could have just left it at the finish line, since it was near enough to drop it off there before going to the start, but it was early enough and so I decided to walk down to the car, put the jacket in the car and walk up again. No use for me to stand around at a start line that long, it's just too tough for my nerves and since I wasn't planning on racing this thing, I didn't feel like warming up either.

Right when the gun went off, I saw a girl that I used to work with. I said hi and off I went down the hill... Starting a race on a downhill is not bad at all... Then around the corner, passing the finish area, over the bridge and up the first hill... Okay, this is why people say the course is hilly... Not really surprising, since Tryon and the lake is in the mountains. While running up the first hill, I met a swim buddy of mine from the tri swim class from earlier this year. We chit-chatted a little bit and I told him to take off, since he is much faster than I, but he stuck around and we passed the first two miles talking. But then I started noticing my stomach. After having to do a walk break and then another one, I told my swim buddy to just keep going. The third mile wasn't to bad either, but I had to do several walking breaks due to my stomach. I took them on uphills or downhills whenever I felt very uncomfortable and whenever things improved I started running again. Going into mile 4, things went from bad to worse. Not only did the frequency of my walking breaks increase, but they became longer and longer and I even had some complete stops pacing back and forth debating what I am going to do. I guess some of my fellow competitors noticed me and when the race organization was driving along the course, they asked me if I was alright and if I needed a ride back. I told them, that I am going to try to finish and kept on walking... jogging... pacing back and forth... A couple of minutes later, I wished I had taken them up on their offer.

Finally, after passing the mile 4 marker things got better and I was able to run uninterrupted again... It also helped that there where hardly any hills left on that last mile and I even passed a couple of people. When I turned for the finish and saw the official time.... I had lost track since my Garmin is on autostop and I stopped a lot... I just had to shake my head... 59 minutes and something... I was very disappointed, but at least I stuck it out and finished the race.

I grabbed a cup of water and then walked back to the car to drive home. As soon as I was in the car, I called Terry for mental support and that helped some. On the drive back home I saw a bobcat and a turkey crossing the road in front of me... not at the same time. As soon as I was back at the house, I laid down... This was a tough day for me and I didn't feel good and it was just 11 AM. There will be other races and next time things are going to be better... hopefully. It's really odd that this happened, just after I was writing about stomach issues in my last post.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Just Another Data Point For Runners

Did you hear this crazy story about the 81-year-old guy winning his age group at the Twin City Marathon last weekend after borrowing a catheter...? If you haven't, I know this information takes a little time to digest, but when you got over that, you can read up on it here!

Of course, this makes a great news story, especially because there was some discussion to disqualify him for receiving outside assistance (which they eventually decided not to do), but I felt like that this is a little too much information than I care for... And then I stopped and reflected on my experiences since I started running and racing last year... *

*Oh wow, is it really just since last year that I am doing this running thing... It sometimes feels like a lifetime.

When you talk to other runners about training or racing, you will talk about distances, paces, workouts, drills and at one point what works for you and what doesn't in the nutrition department.

There will be the mention about stomach problems in every possible direction and this is not a case of TMI, but valued as important exchange of experiences and information. When I started out running and logged my first longer distances, I started to have these stomach problems myself and a couple of times, I got so messed up and as a result of it so dehydrated that I passed out. That was scary. Terry runs for 20 years already, but he never experience something to the extent that I displayed. At my next physical, I talked to the doctor who is a runner too and he simply called it "Runner's Stomach" and told me to read up on some stuff in order to adjust my eating behavior in a way that will prevent those harsh attacks in the future. And yes, that worked. I still have my stomach problems as does everyone else, but it hasn't gotten really bad in a long time. And while you are out there with your running buddies, you are talking about this... Every non-runner would probably blankly stare at you and close their ears, but for us it's just another data point in the training log.

On other news:

Tomorrow is the biggest day in the triathlon community of the year. The 31st Ironman World Championships take place in Kona. And according to this, the event even gets televised on Universal Sports, which is not available over our cable... CRAP... Might try to find a live stream tomorrow, but between my race and a wedding that I will attend in the afternoon, there will be most likely little time to sit down and watch anyways...

I have to say, that I have the biggest respect and admiration for Ironman athletes on the professional and age group level. The thought of doing an Ironman race alone is mind boggling to me. In case you didn't know... An Ironman race consists of 2.4 miles (3.86 km) swim, 112 miles (180.25 km) bike and a marathon (26.2 miles, 42.195 km) run. This is crazy!!! The one triathlon that I did was a sprint distance over 10.36% of the Ironman swim (400 meters), 12.5% of the Ironman bike (14 miles) and 15.26% of the Ironman run (4 miles). Even though I am planning on participating in an Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run) as soon as next year, it's hard to imagine right now to go any further than this for me. But I kinda trust in myself that when I accomplished the Olympic Distance that I will reevaluate what I think I am capable of.

So who am I rooting for tomorrow?? Of course Chrissie Wellington (GBR) for the pro women. Not only because she seems to be the obvious choice for the title, but because she is a very impressive person to me when it comes to her athletic accomplishments/ carrier as well as in her involvement in international development. Sure thing as well is that I wish Sandra Wallenhorst (GER) to do well in the competition. For the pro men, I am going with my citizenship completely and therefore hope for Andreas Raelert (GER) to snatch the title away from everyone!

Have a great weekend everyone, whatever you do! ;-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm A Marathon Widow

On my commute back from work tonight I had Terry on the phone. I asked him, if he was still planning on doing a run straight after work and he said yes. I was sooooooo close to start complaining about the speed work Monday night, the Basketball game with the kid yesterday and now another late night??? I bit my tongue and told myself that I don't want to be THAT woman and then it clicked... I am a marathon widow... Where can I sign up for the club membership??

Given that I did a run myself tonight, but I was basically done by the time he got off from work. His work schedule makes marathon training tough enough and so I will spare him the bickering about how much time it consumes.... Who knows, I may need the brownie points later when I plan to venture out into a long distance event myself! ;-)

Tonight, I did my last run before the Ache Around The Lake on Saturday. Since I don't expect to be posting a PR anyways, I played with the idea to take the puppy with me to the race. But before I did that, I wanted to try out how she is doing these days with running on the leash. Since we are using the "Gentle Leader Headcollar", things have improved a lot. We did 5 miles with a 10 minute per mile pace... Pretty good, but it sure was a fight at times. She gets tangled up in the leash a lot or when she starts to get bored starts jumping around... I have the scratches on my legs to prove it. So I guess she didn't pass the test and we'll try again later and practice in the meantime. Pace-wise she and I are a pretty good fit, but when she sees other runners in front of her, she just speeds up a lot to try to catch up and then starts pulling me along. Since I don't have the illusion that I won't have any runners in front of me during the race, this would be a real problem.

Other than the puppy stuff, this was a good run. The race is going to have four major hills, so we'll see how things are going. But after the "Trail of Tears" leg of the Blue Ridge Relay, I kinda doubt that anything can shock me anymore. My goal for the run is to post a decent time and enjoy the route which is supposed to be beautiful!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Don't Have A Sweet Tooth...

… I DO have a whole SET OF SWEET TEETH!

This is not good news, besides it is not really NEW but rather a development that I have noticed for a while now. Fortunately, this development hasn't shown any influence on the scale so far. I am still hoovering between my usual 125lbs and 128lbs. Which basically tells me, that I still work out enough to balance it out and cut calories somewhere else. So instead of fueling my body with good nutrition, I go the junk calorie route. No wonder, I felt like crap 20 minutes into yesterday morning's spin class. Even though my total daily calories might not change a lot, the quality of the food really impacts my workouts…. Crap in, crap out…

In my head, I have all the nutrition know-how one needs. I know that I have to hydrate properly, to eat my five servings of fruits and veggies a day etc. I do make conscious decisions every day to cut out easy calories in meals (no condiments) or substitute them with better quality calories (white bread vs whole grain pita). But some days I am just constantly hungry and on some days, I am constantly hungry and do have easy access to donuts and cake… The evil combination… I told you before, sometimes we go a little overboard around here. So this morning, I got up at 5 AM and was in the pool by 6.15 AM… I did a nice one hour swim and covered 2,500 yards and was really pleased with this. The downside though, early morning swims just seem to set me up for a whole day of being hungry (I blame the cold water for it), even though I had a small breakfast (whole grain pita, couple of slices of roasted turkey breast, one slice of fat free cheese and two slices of tomato) on my way to the pool. After the workout I had an apple and a banana and by the time my co-worker got in the office bearing the gifts to celebrate his son's birth, my stomach was hungry and my brain was yelling SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR. If I don't have easy access to junk then, I fool my brain by consuming a diet soda (I know, not good for you… There will be a post sometime in the future about that), but if I have access to donuts and homemade black forest cherry cake…. Guess what is going to win?? ;-)


Source: Mishmash!

Yup… You guessed right and yes, it was worth it! :-)

Tomorrow is another day and with the 5-miler coming up on Saturday, I have to get more diligent for the rest of the week in order to prevent nasty stomach upsets that I am prone to on runs… Which proves once again, that racing really is my top motivation for not falling of the healthy-lifestyle-bandwagon for too long.

Monday, October 5, 2009

From 5th Ave to the Col-Du-Sac

Is it just me or are radio commercials irritating to you as well? I find TV commercials just as annoying, but when the commercials come on, I'll do all kinds of stuff e.g. changing over clothes from the washer to the dryer and other fabulous activities. I can't do that in the car and if I am not fast enough to switch channels, it just takes a locally produced radio commercial to make me want to scream! You know, I really support locally grown produce and the local shops and I understand that producing a commercial costs money and all that, but I am sure there are ways to make it less obnoxious. Really, there is more to selling than yelling! I didn't come up with this sentence... It was that TV show about infomericals... You know what I am talking about?

This morning on my way to work, I once more got the pleasure to listen to the spot of Deja-Vu Consignment in Mauldin since there are the shop of the week (at least the 2nd week in a row) from a local radio station. I have never been to this store, so I cannot make any judgement on the quality of there merchandise, but after listening to their commercial, I kinda doubt that I will make it there ever, because I don't want to be in a dead end... Who would want that?? One line in there 3 minute (felt time) radio spot says something like "Deja-Vu brings 5th Ave to the Col-Du-Sac". I understand that they where playing off the whole French name theme and they wanted to express that they have NYC runway worthy fashion in the store, but please don't use foreign words because they sound good... The meaning of the word should support your message no matter what language you use. Or am I misunderstanding something and they really wanted to call Greenville and/or their store a dead end?? Should I feel offended? ;-)

If you have been reading this blog for a little you might tell me now, that I shouldn't throw stones while sitting in a glass house, since I previously stated to sometimes use words that I am not completely sure of the meaning. Well, I guess I am guilty of this, but be assured that I double check things that I am not sure about, whenever I put something in writing and triple check it, if my writing is about to be published. That's why I checked the word "obnoxious" just a couple of minutes ago. And I know, that there are going to be mistakes in this blog, but these are all foreign words to me... Besides, you would think that in commercial production, there are people proof-reading the lines right??

Sunday, October 4, 2009

B-Day Hiking Trip Report

Day One (Friday): Running Errands and Returning to the Scene of the "Crime"

The day started off early. We are so used to getting up early, that we even wake up early on weekends and days off. But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, since we had a couple of errands to run before heading out of town. I also still had to pack, because I just couldn't get myself to do it the night before. After that we headed out to our chiropractor appointment and then grabbed some breakfast. I didn't have a good backpack for hiking day trips, so we also stopped by a couple of stores and now I am the owner of a brand new Camelbak Mule. Looking at the watch, it was almost 11AM by then and we decided, that we will stop by the Hincapie Sportsware Warehouse Sale. I was hoping to go there, but we originally thought that we would be already gone by the time the Sale started. It was certainly worth it... I wanted to get some winter gear and left the store with a winter bib, winter jacket, base layer, knickers and socks. NICE! :-) So there are no excuses this winter, not to ride the bike!

By 1PM we were finally on the road to Mount Mitchell State Park. We got on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville NC and for Terry it was a trip down memory lane. Just three weeks prior, he was running exactly this piece of road as his last (glorious) leg in the Blue Ridge Relay. Now I know, where he passed who and so on and so forth. Here, we also discovered that Karma gets motion sick... This time we were able to stop in time, the next time, we wouldn't get that lucky. We followed the Blue Ridge Parkway and made a couple of stops at overlook points. At milepost 364.5 Craggy Gardens we made a longer break for taking pictures and a little bit of walking.

We saw big clouds rolling in and it got worse each mile we travelled. By the time we finally reached the Mount Mitchell State Park, the visibility was basically zero. We parked at the visitor center and decided to take the two mile trail up to the summit. Right from the get-go the trail was rough, but was also a lot of fun and interesting to hike on. When we reached the intersection to the Mountain-To-Sea-Trail (MST) we somehow lost the trail and ended up hiking straight up the mountain through the woods until we finally hit another trail. We had the choice of following the trail to the left or to the right, we chose the left and 20 minutes later ended up on a camp site. Good thing was, that we finally knew where we were again, the bad thing was, that we were walking in the wrong direction away from the summit. On the camp site we ran into a ranger and he confirmed that the signs on the Old Mount Mitchell Trail are pretty confusing and gave us the shortest way back to the visitor center. Visibility has gotten even worse in the meantime and there wasn't really a point of going up to the summit anymore. In the Mount Mitchell State Park, there are signs posted everywhere that they have frequent black bear sightings... In this context, Terry made the quote of the day: "Karma, if Mr Bear comes, you are on your own!" ;-)

On our way to the hotel in Marion NC, we rode along the Blue Ridge Parkway and then switchbacks down the mountain. I assume that this is the last 25 miles the cyclist have to do when riding the Assault of Mount Mitchell... Tons of respect for these guys!

Day Two (Saturday): BEAR! and a lot of Hiking

We started Saturday out with breakfast and then made our way to Grandfather Mountain. We have been joking before about the bear advisory signs that are posted everywhere. While driving along a four lane highway, we all of a sudden saw a black bear sprinting across the road in front of us. Fortunately so far ahead, that there was never any danger of actually hitting the bear. So my first live and in color viewing of a bear happened out of the security of the car and I am not unhappy about that. Unfortunately, the cameras were tucked away in our backpacks on the back seat of the car, so we don't even have a picture to proof it. The speed the bear was sprinting was really impressive... There goes the illusion that you would be able to outrun a bear! :-) We kept on going and soon enough hit switchbacks again up the mountain. My stomach felt queasy and so it was no surprise that Karma got sick too... This time, she was a little too fast for us. But we learned and didn't give her food before arriving at Grandfather, so the mess didn't get too bad.

At Grandfather Mountain, we made a quick pit stop at the Nature Museum and then parked the car on the Hiking Parking Lot. From there we did the short hike up to the Mile High Swinging Bridge.

The bridge was shorter than I thought it would be, but it was still impressive. The wind was blowing like crazy up there, but we made our way across and walked over to the peak. Nice views all around... Clear blue skies and everything. Unfortunately, the Grandfather Trail access from the bridge was closed and therefore we had to hike back to the parking lot and go on the Grandfather Extension Trail, that leads to the same peaks. Our plan was to hike to Calloway Peak that would have been 2.7 miles one way. The trails where beautiful, but also very crowded, which was not surprising on such a beautiful day. It was leading through rhododendron bushes which makes me think that this might be worth paying the USD 15.- entrance fee again and come back when those bushes are blooming in the spring. The dirt trail became a rock trail and we went from hiking to mountain climbing in the matter of a couple of steps. The first obstacles, we were able to easily navigate and Karma showed her mountain goat potential. Once we hit the base of McCrae, things got a little more complicated. There were steal ropes fastened to the mountain on which we had to pull ourselves up and then came the first ladder.

Terry carried Karma up that one, but then we hit the next ladder and we had to give up right there... Maybe one mile into our hike and over an hour on the trail already. We looked at a series of wooden ladders up to the peak of McCrae. These ladders where basically fastened on the side of the mountain... There was no way, we could get the dog up to the peak. There was an alternative route, but that had ladders too. So I went up to the peak while Terry stayed with Karma and then he went up while I stayed with her. At least we saw the first peak and the stunning views before heading back to the parking lot.

We left Grandfather Mountain around 3.30PM, got a late lunch on the road and then stopped again at Linville Falls for an easy hike and really beautiful views on a nice water fall and a lot of nice people along the way we chatted with. The place was even more crowded than Grandfather Mountain before, but that didn't matter because the trails where nice and wide. We spent another 1.5 hours there and walked from one viewing area to the next.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at Eddie's Spaghettis, the best Italian place in the county per vote in 2007. The food was alright and it made me wonder how many other Italian places are in the county. Honestly, I was so hungry, I would have eaten anything. Back in the hotel, we where glad to finally lay down and rest our legs a little. Later, we actually ended up walking to the gas station across the road for some ice creme before snoozing off.

Day Three (Sunday): Gem Mining and the Return to Reality

This morning we got up, had some breakfast and then headed out to find the Lucky Strike Recreational Mining Company. In the area are tons and tons of gold and gem mining places and we saw a report on the Travel Channel previously and thought we will try our luck with some mining. It was fun and we actually found some really nice precious and semi-precious stones. While talking with the lady that was running the diner that morning, we found out that the gem mining is basically just a fun activity for the ladies and the kids. They buy the stones and prep the buckets that they sell you. So it's kind of fake panning, but at least you are guaranteed to find some stones and really, it was fun! :-) The gold mining you can do there is for real though! After our treasure hunt, we hit the road again back to Greenville.

Halfway there, we passed the sign "Saluda Historic Downtown" and we took the exit to have a look at it. I was there before several years ago and yes, it's a cute historic downtown, it's just very tiny. Already heading back, I saw the sign for Keith's Bike and Tri Shop and decided to stop since Coach Katie once mentioned that they have cheap bathing suites. We probably spend an hour in the shop, chit-chatting with Keith and looking at tons of stuff and buying some of it.

We got back to Greenville in the early afternoon, so we had time for some cleaning and a nice 5.6 mile run... Since we haven't been on our legs enough over the weekend! :-)

This was an AWESOME birthday weekend... Couldn't have asked for anything more! THANKS, TERRY!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hiking Trip Picture Preview

We are in Marion NC right now. After four hours of hiking/ mountain climbing today, we are currently relaxing in the hotel room... Debating to get out once more to get some ice cream... Nothing is decided yet! :-)

Anyways, the travel report will need a little longer, therefore here a little picture preview.

Friday afternoon somewhere between Asheville NC and Mount Mitchell State Park. Visibility was bad then and got even worse once we started hiking up Mount Mitchell.

View up to the Mile High Bridge on top of Grandfather Mountain from the Bridge Trail Saturday morning. All day it was sunny, warm and very windy.

And we went from hiking to mountain climbing in no time. This is on our way to McCrae peak.

Self-portrait on Grandfather Mountain Trail... After the fifth try, it took both of us holding the camera to make the shot work... Go figure! ;-)

Saturday hike concluded with several great views on Linville Falls.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Pretty Thursday

1. Even though it's Thursday, it's actually Friday for me... I will be off tomorrow. Terry is taking me on a hiking trip for my birthday. The itinerary is not completely finalized yet, but most likely, will have Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell in it. Hopefully the weather holds up.

2. I really had a good birthday. The phone didn't stop ringing, I got tons of text messages and e-mails and I got a birthday card from my parents (via snail mail ;-). It really means the world to me, that people still check in on me on my birthday after I have been gone for so many years.

THANK YOU and DANKESCH├ľN to everyone that thought of me.

3. I wish people would leave their swine flu at home. Newsflash: The world doesn't end, only because you miss a day or two at work.

4. Sabotage is the name of the game. Last night I skipped my run because I just felt tired and wiped out. But I set the alarm in order to do a strength class this morning. Come to find out this morning, that I set the alarm on 5:45AM exactly when the class starts. Harmless mistake or do I sub-consciously sabotage myself? Will I really end up having two rest days in a row?? NEWSFLASH: The world doesn't come to an end, if you miss a day or two of workouts.

5. Dogs dream too! Karma must have had a very exciting dream last night... Maybe she was chasing a squirrel or something... She woke me up and it took me a little to realize that she wasn't in pain, but rather squeaking with excitement! I never heard a dog squeak... I wonder, if we have a swine flu thing going on here? Just kidding.

6. Have you already heard about dogbook? I am torn on this topic... NOT! I am busy enough keeping up with my own facebook page.

7. Can someone please explain to me, why meat is more expensive here than vegetables? I tried to do a little research on the topic, but didn't get very far. Can it really be the case that the government subsidies are the whole reason for it? Is it that simple?

Source: PCRM Article

8. Why is this Thursday pretty? Have you looked out of the window today at all? It was clear blue skies and nice temperatures.... Not too hot and not too cold.

9. Can't believe that it's already the first day in October.... The rest of the year will be a blur of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas candy.

10. Speaking of Christmas. I am really looking forward to going to Germany over the holidays and even better is, that Terry is going to join me this year.

11. I wonder if I still remember the Salsa steps... We'll find out tonight!

12. How OCD am I? I am looking for additional random thoughts, because I don't want to end this list on 11.... But what would be a good number to end it with? 12 maybe?? :-)