Thursday, December 29, 2011

Snow Please!

Hope everyone is enjoying their winter! We are supposed to be heading out to some mountains to do some skiing tomorrow. But it's basically bikini weather all along the east coast. People on the news are whining because temps have dropped to the low 50s. In Philadelphia. In December. Think snow for me, please?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Found Myself

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2011: Learn how to navigate, at least a tiny bit, so I can maybe, on at least one occasion, help Bill navigate in a race.

I'd failed miserably in our adventure races -- I really didn't even try, to be honest. As 2011 began to wind down, though, we found ourselves with a few free weekends.

About a month ago we headed to a small park a few miles from our house for the first orienteering meet I'd done in probably five or six years. My goal was to finish -- I did, slowly and carefully as I picked my way through the course, making some poor route choices along the way.

Last weekend Abby, Brent, Bill and I schlepped to Ridley Creek State Park for another meet. Abby and I both headed out on an intermediate course while Bill headed out on an advanced route and Brent zoomed through something twice as difficult and two times longer than what Abby and I were attempting.

It sucked. I sucked. After taking more than 20 minutes to find the first point (it should have taken 10), I started to get demoralized. I slowly got the hang of things, until the crux of the course about half-way through. Somehow I manged to land on a trail going in the exact opposite direction that I should have been going. Except I didn't realize it until I ran for about 20 minutes (with a nasty fall resulting in a nasty booboo) in the wrong direction. I still didn't realize it until nothing around me looked like it was supposed to look on the map. A woman out on the advanced course took the time to point out to me where I actually was -- about a mile from where I was supposed to be.

I contemplated dropping out (mostly because I felt bad that my buddies would have to wait for me at the finish) but I was pissed off at how much I suck at orienteering, and when I am pissed I get stubborn (usually I am a flexible, free-flowing, relaxed chick ... just ask Bill and my mom) so I stuck it out.

The route should have taken about an hour and 20 minutes. It took me more than twice that, clocking in at a blistering 2:43.

Abby, Bill and Brent had been waiting for me for about an hour.

I was grumpy.

On the ride home Abby and I vowed to head back out the following weekend to make amends with the navigation gods and goddesses during the last orienteering meet of the year.

So, this past Sunday we met up again on a chilly morning in Brandywine State Park (where The Edge was in October) in Delaware. Bill dropped me off bright and early at what we thought would be the start of the meet. After about an hour of hiking around in the cold I realized I was in the wrong spot. After a few phone calls with Brent and a bit of remembering from the adventure race I managed to find the start. Abby and I both initially registered to do the intermediate course solo but at the last minute we decided to attempt to tackle a more difficult course together.

I was sort of convinced we'd get so lost we'd end up in the wrong state, even the wrong country perhaps. But, surprisingly, we didn't.

I am still not sure how we made it work but we had no mis-steps, no wandering, no moments of wondering where the hell we were or how we could possibly get to where we needed to be. Most of the course was off-trail but we still managed to find our way. Abby was better with the map than I was and I was a bit more familiar with the compass, and together we picked off points like we were good at it, sometimes with only three or four minutes between one punch and the next.

We finished 80 minutes faster than I had the week before. And we were on a more difficult course. As an added bonus, I understood where we were, where we were going and how to get there the entire time.

Sort of crazy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alive and Lumpy

Happy December.

I am still alive -- I've just been pretty lazy since the Philly marathon. It's that time of year that passes for the off season around here, and until I am registered for something I think the lack of training will continue.

It's sort of unfortunate that the off-season coincides with too many opportunities for food (the brownie and blocks of cheese kind of food, not the salad and cantaloupe kind) and drink (the red wine and hard cider kind, not the Nuun and water kind).

I've been playing in the woods a bit and am hoping that 2012 brings lots of time on the trails. There's a 50k in March about 6 hours from Philadelphia that I've had a tiny bit of an eye on but until I con someone into running it it will remain on the "maybe" list. Seems like a lot of driving to do solo for a 6-or 7-hour race.

In the meantime I am trying to convince the snow gods to dump on the east coast -- a lovely new pair of cross country skis and a pair of snowshoes are waiting patiently in the basement.

That is all.