Mountain Biking at Dutch Gap

Well, it seems the warm weather we had Saturday was just another spring teaser, as it is very likely to snow again tomorrow.  I feel certain that even the greatest snow lovers in Virginia are over it by now.  <Sigh.>

Andrew and I enjoyed the nice weather while we could; on Saturday we packed up our bikes and drove to the Dutch Gap Conservation Area, a park not too far from home.

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The park has a 4.5 mile trail that runs around a pond, with lots of spur trails that we rode down as well.  We didn’t ride super fast or super far, but it was a very enjoyable afternoon!  We spent about two hours exploring the area and enjoying the outdoors.

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At one point we took some photos with the self-timer on my camera…

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In case you were wondering, jumping photos are incredibly difficult to capture with a self-timer. 🙂

We did have a pretty good laugh at my expense at the beginning of our trek:  Andrew’s sister, Jenny, gave us the water bottles seen in the bike photo above for Christmas.  My previous water bottle was a Camelbak.  As we were getting set up…

Me: I can’t quite figure out this water bottle.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Me: I don’t know how hard to bite the straw part.  Sometimes hardly any water comes out, and sometimes it flows freely, but I can’t figure out the right way to do it.

Andrew: You don’t have to bite it at all.  It’s just a straw.

Oops. 😀  We laughed.

The rest of our weekend was filled with doing some odds and ends around the house, watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights on Netflix (I loved this movie as a kid, and it was exponentially funnier as an adult, :-D) and watching basketball (my March Madness bracket is pretty much done, by the way).  Speaking of basketball–and backtracking because I’ve been very undisciplined about blogging lately–the basketball team that Andrew and my brother, Ross, play for won their championship game on Thursday!

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So proud of these guys 😀

The medal is now hanging from our mantle, of course.

Have a great Monday, everyone!

-What was the highlight of your weekend?
Did you fill out a bracket for the NCAA tournament? Are more than two of your teams still alive?

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Last Week’s Workouts and the Wonder of New Shoes

For the last few weeks–perhaps even a month–my knees had been feeling achy on runs and long walks.  I pulled back on intensity and distance, which helped some, but not enough, and then it finally occurred to me:  I haven’t bought new running shoes since April.  Those shoes maxed out their mileage some time ago.  Sunday night I bought a new pair, and it’s made a huge difference in my workouts this week!

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The Brooks Ravenna 4

Here’s what last week looked like in terms of workouts (spoiler alert:  I kind of dominated :-D) :

Sunday: Biking- 11 miles (with Andrew… it’s possible that we stopped for ice cream/Italian ice somewhere in the last few miles, but if we did, I assure you it was 100% Andrew’s decision, and I only went along with it for moral support.)

Monday: Running- 30 minutes (debut run for the new shoes!)

Tuesday: Lifting- 30 minutes; Ultimate Frisbee- 90 minutes

Wednesday: Running- 30 minutes

Thursday: Lifting- 30 minutes; Elliptical- 20 minutes (intervals);

Friday: Running- 60 minutes (trails)

I have been a devoted living room weight-lifter for years, but while we were in Jamaica I discovered the beauty of lifting at the gym.  The allure is about 15% accountability–I won’t skimp on reps if someone is standing next to me–and 85% vanity–mirrors on multiple walls so I can see my muscles working from different angles?  Heck, yes!  Pure vanity, but very motivating.  I had two great lifting sessions this week as a result, and  I’m pretty sure I’m stronger already.

In retrospect I should have taken a day off because we are leaving today to hike and camp for the long weekend!  I think today will mostly be driving and setting up camp, with most of the hiking being tomorrow, so hopefully it will give my muscles a chance to rest.  I can’t wait to be in the mountains!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

What was your best workout this week?
Weight lifting: living room or gym?
Any big plans for the long weekend?

Weekly Workouts–Highlights and Lowlights

Lately on the blog I think I’ve been focusing more on food (specifically food from our garden :)) and less on fitness.  In case you think I have fallen off the exercise wagon, here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Saturday: Kayaking- 2 hours
Sunday: Biking- 1 hour
Monday: Running- 30 minutes
Tuesday: Weights- 30 minutes (Jillian Michaels’ Ripped in 30)
Wednesday: Running/Walking- 20 minutes
Thursday: Free Weights- 30 minutes, Walking-30 minutes
Friday: Rest

The Lowlight:
<Warning: I am about to whine.>  My quad is still bothering me when I run as a result of that softball game a few weeks ago.  I have not attempted any sort of speed work or distance since then, but about 15 minutes into every (slow) run, that quad tightens up like crazy, and I have to stop to stretch (which doesn’t completely relieve it, but it helps for a few minutes.)  Then, as soon as I started running Wednesday, my knee began to hurt.  I kept it slow and allowed myself to walk, but ended up cutting it way short because of the pain.  I have no idea what that’s about!  I haven’t had knee problems in years, and I’m a very frustrated with it. :-/

The Highlight:
Kayaking was a blast last weekend!  As I’ve said before, I love getting a workout from outdoor, physical activities that aren’t specifically workouts–kayaking, hiking, playing tennis, etc.  I love taking a break from the usual workout routine on the weekends to make room for just playing.  Kayaking gives you a cardiovascular workout without using your legs (well, you use them some for stabilization, but your arms are doing most of the work),  which makes it great for people who are, say, having knee issues from running.

And, because fitness and food go hand-in-hand when it comes to wellness (and because I am in the weird habit of taking pictures of my dinners), here’s our super lazy dinner from last night:  Grilled burger patties (made with lean ground beef), steamed broccoli, and Alexia baked oven fries.

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Pretty tasty 🙂

What was your workout highlight or lowlight from the week?

Bike Rides and Bee Hives

Sunday morning, Andrew embarked on day two of kayaking.  Assuming he would be gone for a while, I decided to go for a solo bike ride after church and rode to a nearby park to enjoy the trails.  We’ve biked the trails at this park before, but for some reason I was struggling yesterday!  The ride to the park was fine, and the wider paths were no problem.  One particular stretch of trail was so narrow and uphill, though, that my Garmin kept switching to the “auto-pause” mode, meaning I was riding so slowly it thought I’d stopped.  Hah!

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One of the wider trails in the park 🙂

Try to picture this:  I’m pedaling very slowly, uphill, navigating between trees and over roots, and up ahead there is a large stick on the path.  Let’s say it’s a small log.  It was about 3-4 inches in diameter–no big deal if I’d been going downhill or at a decent speed–but uphill at a snail’s pace?  That thing was going to bring my bike to a complete stop.  I decided the only thing to do was pop my front tire over the log.  As I did so successfully, I congratulated myself aloud with an enthusiastic, “YES!”…at which point I noticed a woman walking and looking right at me, not ten feet away, on the paved path that winds through the park.  She definitely heard me, and I can only imagine what she must have thought.

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I ended up riding about 9 miles in just over an hour, which means I had a few pretty fast miles going to and from the park to balance those really slow miles in the park. 🙂

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When Andrew returned from kayaking later that afternoon, he decided to mow the grass while he was still gross from the river. (If you aren’t familiar with the James, it is a very dirty river.  I stopped Andrew just in time a few times this weekend from sitting on the couch in his dry, but river-funky bathing suit.)  I had cleaned up from my bike ride and was upstairs getting ready.  About five minutes after Andrew started mowing the grass, I heard the lawnmower stop.  Then I heard the front door knob turn.  I knew it was locked, so I went downstairs to let Andrew in.  By the time I got there, he was walking in through the garage.   I asked if everything was okay, and Andrew, with as much calmness and little emotion as if he were telling me the weather forecast said:

“I think I ran over a beehive with the lawnmower.”

“Oh no!  Did you get stung??”

“Yeah.”

With that he bent down and lifted the bottom of his pant leg, and two yellow jackets flew out!  I would have been freaking out.  Andrew’s attitude was like, Eh, yeah, there are some bees in my pants.  Whatever.  

Thankfully he was only stung once.  (He did clarify later that the bees were trapped around the ankle of his pants and not just flying around his legs.  I feel a little better about that.)  I walked outside with him to investigate, and we saw bees swarming around a few holes in the ground.  The grass in the part of the yard remains uncut for now.  :-/

Bee sting aside, we had a great weekend!

What did you do this weekend?
Have you ever run over a beehive with a lawnmower?

Active Dates

The way I see it, working out with one’s significant other accomplishes two tasks at once:  1. strengthening the relationship and 2. staying physically fit.  You get all the benefits of exercise–lower risk of heart disease, better mood, lower stress, better sleep, etc.–plus the added benefit of spending quality time with the person you love and knowing they are reaping those benefits too.  While we certainly do not work out together every day (Andrew does not share my passion for running,) we try to squeeze a few “active dates” into our weekly routine.

Yesterday afternoon we pulled the bikes out of the garage for the first ride of 2013 (with the exception of riding my bike to the start of the 10k last weekend, but that was for transportation purposes.)  There is a great park a few miles from our house, so we biked there, cutting through neighborhoods to avoid the main roads.  This particular park has a paved path as well as some dirt and root filled trails on which to ride–it’s a pick-your-own adventure park. 🙂  We opted mostly for the trails.

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In some places the trail was so narrow and had so many roots that it was less of a ride and more of a “keep your hands on the brakes and your butt off the seat” controlled downhill. 🙂  To add to the adventure, it’s inchworm week!  Okay, I don’t think “inchworm week” is a thing, but right now there are tons of those little green guys hanging from trees.  As we rode through the park we’d have to lean one way or the other to avoid running into them, and we stopped periodically to pick them off ourselves.  Hah!  (And just in case you were wondering, our wedding occurred during inchworm week last year.  As my grandmother often reminds me, “It was a lovely day… even with all those green worms everywhere.”  Thanks, Grandma 😉 )

In just a couple of hours of biking yesterday, we accomplished great things for our hearts, marriage, and general well-being, which may not have occurred if we’d chosen to sit on the couch watching TV all afternoon.

Here are some other ideas for active dates that can easily be incorporated into your week (especially now that it’s warm outside!):

      -Taking a walk after dinner

      -Hiking on a Saturday

      -Throwing a frisbee in the yard

      -Kayaking

      -Taking a yoga class

      -Playing tennis

      -Swimming in the river/lake/ocean (whatever is nearby)

      -Rock climbing

      -Exploring downtown

So many great possibilities!  Whatever you like to do, just get out there and move with your sweet thang 🙂

Do you have any active dates planned for this week?