Saturday, February 28, 2015

Skiing Vermont #skifamily

Let's talk about Stratton.

As ski season starts to melt around us (wishful thinking?), let me post about our second annual ski trip to Stratton, Vermont a few weeks ago!

Once again, on the drive up, we stopped at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy, NY, and it did not disappoint.


My father-in-law is really getting to know these ski critters most people call granchildren.


He and his wife have been traveling up to Stratton a lot this year and know all the ins and outs to show us how it's done.


So, Stratton is this adorable little small town that they have built a ski mountain around.


Just kidding, it's a manufactured little village-of-a-town that accommodates the needs of the skiers on Southern Vermont's highest peak. Think of it as Disney's version of Switzerland. I love capitalism.

So much has changed this year, and I can finally say I actually skied Vermont this year. Last year I was just rocking the magic carpet, falling down the tiniest green slope, and hitting the spa when my rental boots began screaming.



This year we have invested a lot of time and money in this hobby. An investment in our future, as we see it, because my husband and his father have enjoyed this past time for over three decades together.



This investment, among other things, included a real 'ski jacket' for me so that this Florida girl didn't mind 0 degree weather! As long as it meant fresh powder brah...
Upper Wanderer
My husband said I was lucky to experience conditions he hadn't ever seen on the East Coast in his lifetime. They took me across the mountain to the other, less populated, side, "Sun Bowl", and we found a windy trail that led us through some trees as the snow fell gently around us. It was truly magical (even if I did fall and get some snow on my Goggles.)



The twyns were enjoying the Ski School and moved up the ranks to Wolves this year! That is two steps up from where they left last year, and one step down from attempting the Black Diamond level trails! They took to the whole thing really remarkably. As a mom who is still prone to wiping their noses and stuffing their mouths with snack after snack to stave off meltdowns, I just couldn't believe I didn't get a call every five minutes to come help my whiny little brats cope with someone forcing them down a cold wet hill of ice and snow strapped to an uncomfortable apparatus of uncontrollable plastic.



This is definitely a "whole family" hobby I could get used to.









Plus, it had the added benefit of kicking my a$$ into gear for marathon training! A series of what feels like 90 second squats as you are careening down a hill is certainly going to get your muscles in action.
The Meadows, overlooking Bromley Mountain in the background
Let me flash back to say we started off the trip with some good ol' fashioned tubing. My husband and his father were shocked to see the "Sun Bowl" side of the mountain fully developed with a full parking lot and all kinds of snow sports activities that didn't involve skiing. This is also the side of the mountain where the Ice Castles were.
Tubing fools
The tubing was some serious fun! The handlers will sometimes give you a nice extra push so they can bet which one of their customers is going to hit the barrier at the other end of the chute. Don't worry, it is all snowy and cushy...well, not really, but it is a lot of fun. Also you get to 'ride' up the tubing-specific 'lift' they have created so that you don't have to carry your tube back up the hill. I would say for the hour-time-slot, we got at least 12 rides in? Maybe my son got in a little more! It began to snow a little as we were leaving and in the lights, it was a little bit magical and a really fabulous welcome to our time there. 

Our view from the Manchester View
We stayed at the Manchester View and it was about a 25 minute drive to Stratton Mountain. The views were beautiful and the twyns loved playing with the "crystals" , as they called them, instead of their usual name, icicles. 



It was very convenient for me to watch them from inside the room. 

They set up the firewood and starter for you each night so that you can enjoy it without much effort as soon as you return from a day of swishing, swooping, and flopping, on the slopes. 

very necessary
The added bonus to this hotel was that my father-in-law's doggy could join us, meet Teddy:



We ate at three very nice, local restaurants: 

Mulligan's Pub. Great Clam chowda & burgers. Very family friendly.
Raven's Den. Finer fare (I had delicious mussels) and a lovely roaring fire.
I really enjoyed the simpler, "Meadows" trails and a few blue-square trails like "Black Bear." By the last day, the twyns didn't want to stay in the ski school for the whole day, so we took them out and enjoyed the afternoon together. I honestly could not. keep. up!! My father-in-law and I had become quite compatible with our ski styles and needs for rest (as I am still beginning, and he is just cruising.) Once the twyns joined us, there was no more rest. I watched them ski down to the next little plateau and thought, "For sure, they will stop and wait for mommy, as they were taught to wait for their coaches the last two days." Nope! Shoop! went baby B and Shoop! went baby A on down the next slope without pause or care in the world. My father-in-law found the boy only because he had fallen and was trying to get back up. I caught up to the girl only because she did not have poles to shush herself on one of the flatter sections towards the end of the trail.

With all they accomplished, we hit Bob's Diner (one of my father-in-law's and wife's faves) and received shiny new Stratton ski pins from their grandfather!

Well, it was just a great, fabulous, second annual trip! I stress annual as I hope we will be back next year! 

Thanks for reading! Hope you are hitting the slopes today!

If not, what are you hitting? The books? The pavement? The foam roller? Do tell! 










Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hip pain on the treadmill and what may help #marathontraining

[By the way, I'm not a medical professional]

So since I started marathon training this year, I have been more religiously:

a) running
b) running on the treadmill, and
c) reading Tuesdays on the Run posts via linkup with MCM Mama Runs [like, ALL of them, so never be afraid to linkup]

The latest posts, combined with an upping of mileage on the treadmill, have got me wanting to return to the running blogger community what I have so often received: a little research on an issue I've been having of late:

MY HIP HURTS! 

Last week I believe I ran the most I have ever in any week on a treadmill (25 miles.) Shocking, I know, considering the length of races I have competed...but if you follow my blog you will know: I've not been a Winter Weather worker-outer! I hibernate and quilt!



But with my marathon looming [because my Ironman is looming], I could not let Winter Weather stave off my mileage. I had to put the miles on the dreadmill.

And thusly:

MY HIP HURTS! 

My right hip started to 'pop' in and out a little after my half-marathon training run last Friday. I took the kids grocery shopping after they came home from school and it began to produce heat and progressively start to hurt worse as we walked around the store. I was couched on Saturday. I began to research what to do.

Whenever I encounter any pain in my training, I start with R.I.C.E., which stands for:
  • REST
  • ICE
  • COMPRESSION
  • ELEVATION
I spent a large portion of the day on the couch with these four elements in effect. The compression part was a little difficult with the fact that it was a pain in the joint area, and ibuprofen wasn't really cutting it. I needed something else. 

I started to research online and found this article in Livestrong about possible causes. It explains that: 
  • when we run on the treadmill, we may change our gait and cause pain
  • walking quickly on the treadmill can be unnatural and cause pain
These statements both hit home for me because my pacing is usually all over the place, especially since I took a month [or two] off, and psyching myself out of the half-marathon distance on Friday, I started off on the treadmill with some quick walking instead of running.

I started to research more and found this great YouTube video with hip stretches related, particularly, to triathletes and treadmills [the interwebs has everything]. It explains that:
  • you can watch yourself in a mirror or ask a friend to diagnose hip imbalance in gait
  • you can self-diagnose tightness in the hip with a certain position
  • you can stretch your hip to help self-correct

In many aerobics classes, this would be called the "pretzel stretch", and I know it very well! I have taken to performing this stretch in the car, watching TV on the couch, sitting at lunch with the mommies. It has helped me immensely in the last few days. I was able to run 3 miles on the treadmill the next day with only a small amount of pain left. And strangely, although I had originally gone down to the basement to walk my 3 miles for the day given my situation, I found that running was easier on my hip than walking. On top of that, running at a faster pace rather than my slow, half-marathon pace was becoming more normal and I needed to maintain that pace so that I wasn't altering my gait on the 'mill. Hmph. 

The next day I was struggling. Not with hip pain, but with the fact that I needed to run 7 miles, still a goodly amount for me in my training level, and it was not happening outside as I had hoped, as it was 8 degrees outside. 

8.


I have now surprised myself with running in 30 degree weather, and skiing in 0 degree weather, but I'm still not on board with running in the single digits. Not.

I got all geared up, felt little to no hip pain, and stepped onto the machine. 

I got about 30 seconds in, and stepped off. 

I could NOT motivate. I felt guilty all day long, and I assumed I was doomed to stray from the training schedule, like I always do, and prepare for suckage on marathon day. 

I also assumed I could not face that machine not one more mile not one more day. 

So I ended up taking the day off. 

The next day I faced the beast once more, and found my hip in even better shape. No pain whatsoever. Perhaps the extra day was necessary, and my body knew it. And I ran at a pretty good pace (for me), and I completed it without much cursing. 

Lessons learned:

1. REST WHEN YOU NEED TO

2. RUN FASTER TO CHECK/CORRECT YOUR TREADMILL PACE VERSUS OUTSIDE PACE

3. STRETCH BEFORE, AFTER, AND ALL THE DAMN TIME

Hope this carries me through the next few weeks before we all get outside! I know March on the local trail must be all "Howdy's" and "Hey there's" after this Winter!!

Any lessons learned for you on the dreadmill, or in marathon training? IN LIFE?? Do tell! 

I promise to post about the 'updates' in my training cave I've been working on. 
[how else can I avoid running on the treadmill unless I feather the nest around the treadmill?]



Monday, February 23, 2015

Mmmmmot-er-vation #linkup #TuesdaysontheRun #TOTR

Excited to join the linkup today with MCMMama Runs, My No Guilt Life, and Run the Great Wide Somewhere for the series, "Tuesdays on the Run." Find more at #TOTR or www.mcmmamaruns.com, www.noguiltlife.com, and www.runthegreatwidesomewhere.com

This past Fall, the twyns entered kindergarten and I decided to send them off on the bus and head out for a regular morning run. I had, in the back of my mind, the idea that a marathon was in my future, especially if I was going to ever complete an Iron-distance triathlon. Swimming season was over. I gave up my gym membership last year so spinning wasn't an option. I needed a one-sport focus season. So my morning run became more regular and started to get longer and longer.

I set my sights on the "Perfect 10"-miler at the end of October. I really love a 10-miler! Plus, this one had "bow-tie guys"??? Sounded fun. I texted my friends and posted on facebook to see if anyone wanted to do it with me. No-go. A few were working towards their own goal races and the timing just didn't work out. The registration fee was $85, and I put it off, waiting for someone to sign up with me. I've posted before, that after my Half-Ironman, I was less and less interested in training and racing alone. I'm TIRED of it, actually! The little voice inside of me said, "eh. wait for the next one..." So I decided that if I didn't actually sign up for the race, but I did manage to run a 10-miler on that last week of October, that I would reward myself with the $85 registration fee that I didn't use.

Believe it or not, I'm actually really cheap with equipment and I was still running with my half-iron shoes from the previous year. I still have the mindset of a casual racer with a 20-something artists' salary. So I knew immediately what that $85 should go towards! New. Running. Shoes.

SNEAKERSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!

All of a sudden I started tacking on more and more mileage each week. The little voice inside of me was like, "shiny new shoes! yippee!" I don't really enjoy running as much as the other two disciplines, so I was really motivated to reach that double-digit mark again. I found myself thinking about the shoes. I found myself hating my current shoes and their dingy color, and dreaming about what running shoes I would get with my little winnings.

So.....

I hit my goal two weeks early.

Could I BE any more pink?
SNEAKERSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

Who the hell was that? Um, we are not strapped for cash; I could have gone out any day and bought myself a new pair of shoes. But the goal of it, the reward of it, was super-sweet. It was literally something to run for.

Everyone finds a different motivation: weight-loss, fundraising for a great cause, the bling-bling of the medals, new workout gear...

I register for races to keep me fit, that's one thing for sure.

I also register for races for the bragging rights. I am a performer, at heart, ultimately. I love the cheers. I wear the 70.3 sticker on my minivan like a pair of Jimmy Choos (or what I imagine it would feel like to wear a pair of Jimmy Choos.)

So, whatever your motivation is: DON'T QUESTION IT.

Running, and races, exercise, and fitness awaken your inside 'champion' voice and quiet the 'critic' voice. Whatever that little champion wants, GIVE IT TO HER!!

Then she'll be so happy and chatter away during all of your workouts to keep you company.

For me, last Fall, it was the shoes.

For me, right now, I dunno.

Right now I'm tackling with the daily inner critic versus champion fight over whether or not I can actually finish 140.6 next October and how that 26.2 factors in. In retrospect I wish I had done the Philly full marathon in the Fall instead of the half and gotten it over with! Now I'm incorporating it into my Ironman training and I'm worried about burnout and timing.

So I purchased some vinyl wall decals for my training cave [yes I called it a cave, my new fave term] to help with motivation from this great ETSY shop, and am always thinking about that 140.6 sticker.

From Off the Wall Expression
Maybe I'll get a 26.2 sticker, too.


STICKERSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!


[who said that?]

This week's writing topic is motivation.
 Please share your motivation / post and join the linkup!
But, honestly, any running post will do! :) 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ski lessons #skifamily


Twynskis

So here's what's been going on as of late.

My husband and his father got me outfitted for ski season this year. (Santa outfitted the twyns.)

As you know, they set about introducing me and the twyns to the sport last year, and we thought about it, and we decided this was a nice life-long, family-togetherness sort-of-thing. So I'm going with it. 

In fact, my husband is quite passionate about the sport, and passion I do not see in him often! So I'm game. 

Thusly, I have hit the slopes 5 times this season already! And we plan on more. I'm praying this counts as cross-training, as I have yet to log a double-digit run in 2015 yet, and my marathon (*cough* did I mention I'm signed up for a marathon?) is in May. 

Three. Months. Away. (Ironman is 8 months away, but who's counting...)

But I digress! 

I'm  going to frame this post by a review of the lessons we've received in three Poconos mountains near enough to the Main Line for a day trip! 

1. BEAR CREEK : (about 1:10 drive from Bryn Mawr.)Where Mommy went alone. Twice. I took a Women's Clinic (I missed one of the two sessions) and then went back on a "Flashback" day where lift tix were only $12! This was a great learning mountain, fabulous female instructors and supportive environment, and positively lovely lodge! I would love to hit the slopes & spa sometime for a women's trip. As for the slopes, they were well groomed, but on the small side. This is perfect for me, a beginner moving on to intermediate, but I'm not sure about experts. It has three 'terrain parks', so I think the snowboarders in your life will be super pleased!
The view of Bear Creek Resort on the drive in.

No I'm not nervous.
The view of the resort from the magic carpet.
Our great instructors Mary and Cathy.
First time on the snow for my first skis!
A not so lovely pic of the lovely lodge!
My view most of the morning of the Women's Clinic as we took turns making turns!
That afternoon we got to do more with the coaches on the lifts and trails. 
On my second visit: I was much more adventurous! Hence, the helmet ;) 
2. JACK FROST/BIG BOULDER: (about 1:20 drive from Bryn Mawr.) Where the twyns took a morning lesson two weekends in a row and soared to the next level! On the first day I was extremely nervous and promised the little girl we would take her on her first lift ride in the afternoon. I had a huge fear she wouldn't be able to get all her gear off to go potty. No sooner had we hit the bunny hill for moi before we saw her gleefully getting off the lift with a fellow six-year-old girl! They made such amazing progress the first time we took them back the following weekend and promised the kids we would take them on their first blue square trail. Lo and behold, an hour into my 'lesson' with hubby, the kids were skiing right up behind us on the blue square. So much for mommy's advantage! Cannot recommend these 'snow monster' lessons enough. I actually like that you can't make a reservation, because with kids getting sick and plans changing at the last minute, you never know until you head to the mountain that morning whether you are heading to the mountain that morning. The mountain itself was a fair size, and my husband was able to take some time out to enjoy the advanced trails himself (he ran two trails twice while I did one blue square by myself once.) There was plenty to keep me and the twyns busy and the lifts were pretty fast. 
"Are you guys ready to leave us? Do you have to pee?"
Mini snow-date with my skiing instructor/hubby!
"Follow me Mommy", he says. I couldn't if I tried, dude! And I tried!!
Skiing with Daddy!!
Jack Frost only has double lifts, so there was a lot of one-on-one time.
Girl time! 


***************************SNOW DAY BREAK!!*******************************
The flakes were so large in the last snowstorm you could see their shape! 
I illustrated to the twyns, by example, the fun to be had on our own Twyn Mountain. 
This mountain is relatively close to the Main Line, too ;) 
They are such snow-lovers!! Wasn't I from Florida once upon a time? Who are these people? 
********************************************************************************

3. CAMELBACK: (about 1:40 drive from Bryn Mawr.) Where we kept our promise that the twyns would not have to take a morning lesson before skiing with Daddy. (Mommy is irrelevant in this situation, as you may have noticed.) And as luck would have it, my father-in-law, the original skier in the family, was able to meet us in a 1:30 drive from northern New Jersey! This is highly convenient from I-80. The mountain is much more substantial than others in the Poconos. There are express quad lifts so the whole family can make it up the mountain very quickly, together. And it will take you longer than five minutes to hit the bottom of the trail. We could have skied "Blue Nile", which was relatively uncrowded and windy, all day. Unfortunately skiing with twyns all day was much more exhausting than the three hours we were used to, so the day promptly ended at 2:30. Following the kids at a slower pace takes different muscles and we were spent! We hit Camelback on Superbowl Sunday thinking it would be uncrowded but we were certainly not alone in our thinking. The express lifts helped ease the pain of waiting in line.

Three generations gear up to ski.
I am geared up with my own Goggles, but not yet my own Helmet! (I have since remedied this situation.)

And they're off! 
Taking a break to eat some candy given to us by the ski patrol.

More line selfies. My kids are pros at this.
"Honeymoon" trail was a particular fave.
Lunch at the Lodge. A nice experience! Even though there was a crowd,
there are multiple cashiers that move things along. 
End of the day special-treat-drink. What are you, twyns? 

So that's our story, currently! Defectors will not be tolerated. We are now in ski country.

And the marathon training starts...mmm...maybe next week! ;) 




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