Saturday Mountain Biking and Valley Forge Revolutionary 5mi Run Recap

Saturday morning, too early for my taste, I went mountain biking with my friend John. John’s roughly old enough to be my dad and has a couple of kids and grand-kids. This blows my mind. Mountain biking does not conjure up images of your granddad ripping down a gnarly, knotty, rocky descent. And yet, he’s the club mountain biking coordinator … and I like learning how to be more confident off-road. We didn’t do anything super crazy – but the morning was excellent. Good conversation flowed and before we knew it we had tackled almost 20 miles and it was time to head home.

 

John and I enjoying a beautiful morning in the woods.
John and I enjoying a beautiful morning in the woods.

 

The next morning I got up (again, too early for my tastes) to run the Valley Forge Revolutionary 5 mi Run.

You may recall I signed up last year but wimped out (allergies, too tired, temps in the mid-30s and no cold-weather running gear).

You may also recall my marathon-running sister visiting me and getting me to earn my shirt (a wrong turn and an extra two miles in unbearable heat and humidity).

I am so glad I signed up this year.

 

I started running back in February to get into some semblance of running shape. Like it or not, cycling and running use muscles differently and being awesome at one only gives you a leg up on being decent doing the other. And running is actually somewhat enjoyable when I can find my groove and get lost in my music.

The air was crisp, the sun shining, wind blowing and temps in the mid-forties. I grabbed a long sleeve shirt at the last-minute before leaving the house and I’m so glad I did. The wind was blowing straight through me. I hadn’t picked up my race packet yet so I left the house early to make sure I had enough time to stand in line for my bib and shirt.

Let me tell you – this is probably the best run event I’ve been to. Parking was off-site so I had to take a shuttle bus to the event.

  • I assumed I’d have to wait for a shuttle bus – nope. They had a continuous cycle of buses loading up and driving participants to the site. Virtually no wait.
  • I assumed there would be a long line to pick up my bib and shirt – nope. I had both and a tag in case I wanted to leave stuff in the gear drop within five minutes of being dropped off by the shuttle.
  • I assumed there would be long lines for the port-o-potties – nope. There were several port-o-potty locations, plus the usual park restrooms: from the parking lot, on the way to the start line, at the start line. No lines.

 

I checked my phone – 7:32am. Race starts at 8:30am.

 

*stretches* *twiddles thumbs* *finds a good starting song* *take a few selfies* *hit the port-o-potty* *shiver in the wind*

Legs crossed, reaching for my toes. S-T-R-E-T-C-H!
Legs crossed, reaching for my toes. S-T-R-E-T-C-H!

 

The course is challenging. It starts with a gentle incline and then just keeps going up, with a few downhills to keep things interesting, until about a half-mile from the end. A glorious deep downhill followed immediately by a sharp uphill to the finish line. We passed so many monuments and markers of the historical significance of Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. One water station at the half-way point.

I loved it. Last year I would have been eaten alive. This year I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t anxious. I was ready. I had this. It was mine to own.

…and I did. I put my iPod on shuffle and the playlist couldn’t have been more accurate for what I needed in any given moment. Behold the playlist of Whoa Really? You Listen To All That Stuff?

Mile 1:

Rise Against – Satellite

All That Remains – Two Weeks

Eve 6 – Victoria

 

Mile 2:

Prodigy – Voodoo People

Capitol Cities – Safe and Sound (first big hill)

Poni Hoax – Antibodies

Survivor – Eye of the Tiger (right as I turned up a very steep hill – so perfect in that moment)

 

Mile 3:

Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did

T-Pain: Church

Gaslight Anthem – 45

 

Mile 4:

All That Remains – Days Without

David Guetta & Akon – Sexy Chick

Jimmy Eat World – My Best Theory

 

Mile 5:

LMAFO – Sexy and I Know It

Lady Gaga – Edge of Glory

Jamiroquai – Canned Heat

 

I channeled my marathon-running sister when I saw others walking all around me at the first sign of the second hill. She can do this for 4+ hours – I can do it for one.

 

I finished in the top 2/3 of the field (haha):

  • 625 out of 838 runners
  • 235 out of 364 women
  • 52 out of 71 in my age bracket (awesome girls between 35 and 39)

 

Friends – if you are looking for a well-coordinated challenging five-miler, look no further than the Valley Forge Revolutionary Run. I was so pleased with the entire experience from parking to racing, to getting post-race snacks and back to the car. I can’t recommend this enough.

 

Now that my race is over I can get back to my first love, riding my bike. I have neglected training for my four-day epic cycling adventure and it’s about a month away. I need to get crackin’!

 

See you on the road!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes

I’m not gone! Bicycling has taken a back seat lately, not my choice. The weather’s been great. My bike lock is back on the rack at work, patiently waiting for me to show up and use it. I have a policy of not riding my bike all the way to work when my husband is away on business so I can see the kids off in the morning and make sure the house is locked up and stuff. He’s been on a traveling jag since late March so I’ve been making do with biking to the train station down the street.

For this year’s 30 Days of Biking, I have only missed three days – all this past weekend. But the rides are really short and nothing to write home about. Except maybe the scent of dogwood and honeysuckle that fills my nostrils, the lack of humidity that keeps even sufferfests manageable, and the gloriousness that is riding in just shorts and a jersey. Spring is here at last and it feels amazing.

 

About a month ago my company announced they are relocating to New York City. I was fortunate to be offered to relocate along with the job. You may recall we did this a couple years ago, moving from Colorado to Pennsylvania, for my job. It was a very difficult decision, one that involved a lot of thought, research, and weighing the pros and cons. We recently decided to move with the job – so now my weekends are filled with de-cluttering, patching, painting, and minor repairs as we get the house ready for market.

Fingers crossed for a quick sale where we realize a profit.

But I won’t lie – I miss riding my bike on long rides. Heading out too early on a Saturday morning with nothing but a plan to ride bikes with friends many miles away for a meal. The short ride to the train is like a teaser. Come out and play! Have fun with us! Just need to be patient – right now non-bikey things have to take priority.

And really, once we find our new community, I will need to look up a new bike club. And possibly get a bike share membership to cover “the last mile” of my new commute. And once the house is up on the market or at the latest when it’s under contract, I can head out with impunity until we move.

So you know – keep the rubber side down and see you on the road.

Spring at last!

Finally – spring is here!

 

This week I was able to bike commute in to work two days in a row – both days needed 3/4 bottoms, full-finger windproof gloves and a light thermal jacket in the morning but the evening ride home was in a short-sleeved jersey and fingerless gloves. I felt strong and happy. After a long winter, it feels amazing to be outside and not bundled up.

Interestingly I’m still pacing last year’s total mileage and looking forward to many spring and early summer rides! I signed up for 30 Days of Biking – I’m pledge #2! – to help motivate me to get out and ride. The premise is simple – ride your bike any distance, any speed, every day in April. There’s no pressure, no metrics … just joyful bike riding. If you haven’t signed up before, I encourage you to take the pledge and share your daily experiences online.

 

Yesterday I had (yet another) close call with a female motorist. There is a half-mile section of road that has unbelievably terrible pavement on both ends of the bridge (while the bridge itself is smooth). The right side of the road is littered with potholes and places where the pavement has buckled, heaved and made mini-moguls. This used to be one of my favorite sections of road because once you get on the bridge you are in the treetops. So beautiful when the sun is rising.

Anyway, my commuter friend and I had just gotten to the end of the bridge and I was attempting to merge into traffic (take the lane at about 20mph) to avoid the nasty roadway when a woman passed on my left inches from me, nearly forcing me into the rough. Usually I left this kind of stuff go – no sense in getting upset, it happens – but instead I got mad and started hammering up the hill behind her. I wanted to catch up to her and ask her why she thought that was OK. I wanted to confront her. I had no chance to catch up to her so I ended up just flipping her off from about four car-lengths behind and yelling obscenities in her direction. The upshot is I scored a new PR on that stretch of my commute from giving her chase. Haha

This is the third time this year I’ve had issues with a vehicle and a woman was behind the wheel. Fellow women of the world – please drive safely. Don’t be a jerk.

 

Here’s a shot from yesterday’s bike ride home. There’s a tree that fell in the ice storm (way back when) and is perched precariously across the trail. There’s enough room to ride under it but every time I do I feel like I have tempted fate. I’ve dubbed it The Gauntlet. Hope the park service takes care of it soon!

 

Death-defying!
Death-defying!

 

Every weekend has at least one bike ride scheduled this month – so excited to be back in the saddle with wonderful weather!

 

See you on the road or in the woods!