Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mountain bike event chance to answer questions

Published: August 27, 2010

I don't remember the moment I first heard about the Shenandoah Mountain 100. It might have been 2008, maybe the year before, but something about it burrowed into my brain and hasn't let go since.

I wrote about the 100-mile mountain bike race around this time last year. I quoted one Richmond-area finisher who saw it as a "rite of passage" for mountain bikers on the East Coast. Another said "you have to love a lot of pain." One told me that while discomfort is a constant companion, toward the end "your mind becomes a little numb."

I knew I wasn't ready for last year's race. I didn't have the miles on my legs. But I inexplicably called myself out in print for this year's event, which takes place Sept. 5. "SM100 here I come," I wrote in the final line.

With a full year between me and possibly 14 hours of mind-numbing pain, my subconscious must have felt confident in those words. "There's plenty of time to train," I probably figured. Well, now the race is a little more than a week away and confidence is in short supply.

The simple fact about a race such as this is that you can't really know what you've gotten yourself into until you're into it. I've spent countless hours on the bike, taken trips to the mountains to ride sections of the course, focused all my athletic energy on this race since the ground thawed in the spring, and still it doesn't feel like enough. I guess nothing would.

We're talking about more than 13,000 feet of total elevation gain (and loss) over 100 miles. Last year's winner, Harrisonburg-based pro mountain biker Jeremiah Bishop, set the course record in 6:50:27. The last person to cross the finish line did so in 15:20:27. I'm going to be a lot closer to that guy than I will the Bishops of the world.

The race starts at 6:30 a.m., and it may very well be dark by the time I finish. I sincerely hope not, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. Heck, I shouldn't even assume I'm going to finish. In 2008, 115 out of the 500 starters didn't.

All of this begs some questions that I now sit here pondering as race day draws near. It's one asked by almost everyone I mention this to.

Why? Why do people do this to themselves? What about this race, this challenge, stuck in my head years back, convincing me it was a good idea?

I know why I like being on a mountain bike, especially in the mountains. Training rides in the national forest outside Staunton have yielded spectacular views, innumerable wildlife sightings (bear, deer, turkey and a coyote) and blessedly humidity-free days. But then one doesn't need to pedal 100 miles to acquire those experiences.

Why so much pain?

Eric Rohnacher, a Richmonder I recently wrote about who was one of just 19 finishers at the deviously multidisciplinary "Vermont Death Race," was asked that constantly before his event.

His answer?

"I'm doing it because this is a challenge I think I'm capable of overcoming, and I just want to prove to myself that I can do it. When people say they wouldn't do it themselves, I kind of grin a little bit thinking maybe that's something cool I have over other people."

Whether they realize it or not, I think the kinds of people drawn to these races are looking for a truly extraordinary experience, something their comfortable, everyday life doesn't provide. In a world of 6 billion people, I certainly see the value in doing something that sets apart a person.

Of course, there are lots of niche pastimes that don't require this much agony. Some of the reactions I've gotten have suggested I'm suffering from a kind of low-grade functional insanity.

"I don't think I'm a crazy person," Rohancher said. "I think if someone met me on the street, they'd say I'm pretty clean cut."

I don't consider myself crazy either, though I may be rethinking that a week or so from now.

Here's one thing I know: Hard things change your perspective. I never thought I could run 10 miles before I started training for a marathon. Then I did 26.2. I liked the feeling when it was over. My sense of what was hard, my definition of the word, was fundamentally different after that.

And then there's this: I mountain bike most days anyway. Sometimes I ride for an hour, sometimes three. I want to see what happens -- to me, to my legs, to my brain, to my sense of perspective -- when I just keep riding.

Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I want to be different. Maybe I like riding a mountain bike. Maybe I want to test myself. Maybe it's all of those, or just some.

Right now, I have a lot of questions and few answers. In a week's time, whether I like it or not, I'll know a lot more about myself.

Momma's Birthday Card

Above is the birthday card I did for my Momma!
I really liked how it turned out.
Here are some more closeups...
I just love the JBS Mercantile monthly kits! There are always lots of goodies in there!

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - baja breeze cardstock, daffodil delight cardstock, early espresso classic stampin pad, happy everything stamp set

JBS Mercantile - green ric rack, die cut heart, bird image, blue pre-pleated ribbon

Other - red cardstock

Monday, August 30, 2010


A closer look for you...

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - baja breeze textured cardstock and classic stampin pad, very vanilla cardstock, 1 and 3/4" circle punch, large scallop punch, picture this stamp set, fox and friends stamp set, woodland walk designer series paper, scallop edge punch

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Sermon - August 29

Location: Suffolk, VA
Thanks to Kristi Sutphin and her son, the shutterbug, for this pic!
He loves taking pictures for his Mommy's friend, Ms. Rachel!! Isn't he cute?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Momma!

Today is my Momma's birthday! Happy Birthday!

Dynamo and Dad say I'm just like my mom! I look like her (Dad still swears I look more like him), act like her, have her attitude (according to Dad), etc. Well, she is a pretty awesome woman! She has so many qualities that I admire! She's giving, loving, VERY forgiving, dedicated, hard working, and on and on. I am grateful that I always had the mom that everyone wanted. As a kid my friends never wanted to go home. They loved my mom. They thought she was "cool." She chaperoned all of the school field trips. I always knew I had a special mom. She put me first always!

I probably wasn't the most grateful kid at times. Who is right? Well, I remember my mom always telling me that if I thought life would be better at one of my friends' houses then I should just go live over there. In reality my house was the one that all the kids wanted to hang out at. And, now that I'm older I know it wasn't because I was a good friend or had the pool in the backyard or the basketball net (well, maybe it was just a little because of that). It was because when they were at my house my mom fed them and cared for them. Our house was the "safe" place in the world. There was love! There was attention! There was a mom and a dad. So many kids don't have that "safe" place. I'm so glad that my mom (and dad) gave my friends and I that safe place to be.

I LOVE YOU, Momma (yes, I know I spell this wrong, but that's how I want to spell it)! Have a great day! Thanks for being my mom!

Friday, August 27, 2010


A little closeup...

Yes, that's a milk cap!

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - kiwi kiss textured cardstock, very vanilla cardstock, real red classic stampin pad, chocolate chip classic stampin pad, bella rose designer series paper, elegant eggplant cardstock, gallery stamp set

JBS Mercantile - vintage milk cap, tiny type adhesive letters, bingo sheet paper

Thrifted - black seam binding

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I finally did it!

Did what you ask? Well, on Tuesday evening I finally crossed the creek! This creek...
It's so hard to tell from this picture, but it is quite rocky and steep coming back on the trail. Going across one side I had mastered, but it was the return trip that always stopped me mid-hill! I FINALLY made it! It only took me 100 times (well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit).

Mountain biking is like golf in many ways. No, I'm not crazy. Hear me out. In golf you can have a really bad day and on the 18th hole hit the most beautiful drive ever. They say it happens that way to bring you back yet again another day to play. Well, my biking excursion on Tuesday was a little like that. Here's the scoop...

Dynamo and I were so excited to get to ride on a 74 degree overcast day. It's been so brutally hot that we were bound and determined to take advantage of such beautiful cool weather. It was actually a little chilly when we started out. We were afraid that it was going to rain on us, but we didn't care because we had trails to conquer.

The ride started out lovely! Spot was doing great. I was feeling good. So good, in fact, that I decided I would venture into unchartered territory. You see...at Pocohontas they have all trails labeled very nicely. Normally we follow all of the blue arrows on Lakeview. There are several more difficult spinoffs on the trail to challenge you a little more...should you want to take the risk. These are the ones labeled with red diamonds. I decided that I wanted to check out some of the red sections to see what it really is all about. You can't improve if you don't try right? The first one wasn't too terribly bad. It was a downhill rock garden (sorry, no pics). I rode a little ways and then decided to walk down it to inspect things more closely before chancing it. I felt confident that I could ride that one if given another opportunity. We did see the largest mushrooms ever in this section. Here is a pic...

Cool huh? I was waiting to see a frog underneath them. We have seen some pretty cool things on the trails... snakes included (I hate those things).

So, onto the next section of trail. We again decided to venture off into a red section. Well, things didn't go so well this time. It was a real rocky rock garden. Things would have been fine if I hadn't decided to stop in the middle because I had lost my line. You see, you have to have some speed when crossing rocky sections and logs. Speed is your friend! When I stopped I didn't quite get my footing right so I toppled over to the left side, which of course, didn't have any ground to fall on...just rocks and a small ledge. It was a pretty big thump with some scrapes and blood involved (sorry, no pics). I jumped up because the only thing I was thinking about was what creatures would be hiding there. I didn't want to be laying on rocks (typical home for snakes...did I mention I don't like those things?). I can only imagine falling right on top of one of those things. Argh!!! I got up...fussed, cried, and bled a bit before continuing on with the ride. Poor Dynamo...he just doesn't know what to do with me when I get in "crisis mode." There's really nothing to do but spectate. I did hear him say as I was falling, "Oh, hun!" It's so frustrating to fall. And...I've fallen quite a bit over the course of this last year. Not all have been so bloody, but they still hurt really bad. The older you get the harder the falls are it seems.

After all of this drama I finally made it across the creek. So, that's why biking is like golf. You may have a bad ride, but then something fabulous happens and you forget that you're battered and bruised stating, "I can't wait for the next ride." I felt like I had won a million dollars!!!

Of course, when I called my Dad to report in after the ride (I always do because he worries so much) I told him first about finally crossing the creek and then told him about the fall. He said "Why can't y'all get a decent sport?" I just ignore those comments. I know it's just him worrying about us. Don't they say that life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all? Well, I've overcome lots of fears since riding (still working on the snake thing, though).

Finally, here's a mushroom forest that we saw near the end of the ride.

Dynamo's pictures aren't so fuzzy! I think I need to let him take all the pics from now on!

Thanks, Dynamo, for being patient and allowing me to have my "crisis." I LOVE YOU!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A mid-week thought for you...

Location: Chester, Virginia

Another mini pillow

I had a request for a little mini pillow. So, here it is...

Aren't the little doggies adorable? Here's another angle...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I've been plugging away at the order for 25 thank you/appreciation cards. I recently discovered that the majority of the cards will go to men, so I had to focus this second half on man colors! Here's number 11!

And, a closeup of course...

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - pumpkin pie cardstock and classic stampin pad, picture this stamp set, pumpkin pie striped grosgrain ribon, very vanilla cardstock, real red cardstock, large and small star punches, 1 and 3/4" circle punch, circle punch (next size down - sorry can't remember), brad

JBS Mercantile - star designer paper, admission ticket

Thrifted - old paper

Monday, August 23, 2010

A creative reuse

My mom gave me a little drawstring bag that her sheet set came in and said she just knew I could find a use for it. I thought a little and decided it would make the perfect little bag to hold some books, crayons, etc. So, I decided to personalize it with an "M" for my adopted niece. I had to have something to cover up the printing on the bag and thought it would be the perfect size. Here is how it turned out!

And, here's a closeup...

It would have been such a shame to waste a perfectly good bag! It's amazing how much packaging they use these days. Such a waste! I'm sure that most people would have tossed it right into the garbage can. Not me, though...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Sermon - August 22

Location: Parking lot, Chester, VA

Psalm 143

A psalm of David.
 1 O LORD, hear my prayer,
       listen to my cry for mercy;
       in your faithfulness and righteousness
       come to my relief.  2 Do not bring your servant into judgment,
       for no one living is righteous before you.
 3 The enemy pursues me,
       he crushes me to the ground;
       he makes me dwell in darkness
       like those long dead.
 4 So my spirit grows faint within me;
       my heart within me is dismayed.
 5 I remember the days of long ago;
       I meditate on all your works
       and consider what your hands have done.
 6 I spread out my hands to you;
       my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
 7 Answer me quickly, O LORD;
       my spirit fails.
       Do not hide your face from me
       or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
 8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
       for I have put my trust in you.
       Show me the way I should go,
       for to you I lift up my soul.
 9 Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD,
       for I hide myself in you.
 10 Teach me to do your will,
       for you are my God;
       may your good Spirit
       lead me on level ground.
 11 For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life;
       in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
 12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
       destroy all my foes,
       for I am your servant.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Here I go again with my favorite colors...orange and brown! Go Dusty Durango! I just wanted to let you know that I LOVE the vintage wallpaper embossing folder! FABULOUS!

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - dusty durango cardstock and classic stampin' pad, chocolate chip grosgrain ribbon and classic stampin' pad, very vanilla cardstock, vintage wallpaper embossing folder, gallery stamp set, picture this stamp set

JBS Mercantile - vintage orange lace designer series paper, off white embossed cardstock

Thrifted - sheet music

Friday, August 20, 2010


I LOVE BERMUDA BAY!!! Don't you?

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - bermuda bay cardstock and classic stampin' pad, chocolate chip carstock, confetti white cardstock, fifth avenue floral stamp set, scallop trim border punch, glitter, one of a kind stamp set, thoroughly modern designer series paper, chocolate chip grosgrain ribbon

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Here's number 8 in my 25 Project...

I'm so excited about the vintage wallpaper embossing folder for the Big Shot!! Isn't the embossing fantastic?

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! -dusty durango cardstock, chocolate chip cardstock and classic stampin' pad, wonderful words stamp set, very vanilla cardstock, vintage wallpaper embossing envelope.

JBS Mercantile - paper button, vintage lace designer paper

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My first dress

Yes, I made this dress. It's my first dress ever! I made a skirt a while back, but didn't really like it. I struggled with the elastic and sizing, but this one was super easy. The pattern is for the Anna Tunic by Amy Butler. It can be a tunic, cami, mini dress, or dress. Multiple patterns in one. I'm working on a tunic now. I'll report in later on that!

Back in December I decided that I wanted to learn to sew. I had attempted and succeeded in making myself a clown costume for Halloween. It wasn't perfect and I didn't win the contest. No biggie! I'm not bitter at all...really, I'm not!

Some of my friends and I talked about taking a beginner sewing class. My one friend said to me, "Can you read?" I said "Yes." She said, "Well, then you can sew." At first I was a little shocked. For sure it couldn't be just that easy. Well, it was. Just...FOLLOW...the...directions. She was right. Thanks, Leslie! You motivated me to get started. Do NOT fear the sewing machine!!!!

I think I started with an excellent "teacher" because I chose the Amy Butler patterns. The first pattern I picked up was an Amy Butler pattern for Stash and Dash bags. My mom couldn't believe that the patterns today were so easy to understand. The techniques are well explained too! There are definitions and lots of pictures. Now, dealing with the sewing machine was more of an issue than making my first bag. I even had to call in Dynamo for assistance in reading the manual. Don't get me started. Sears needs to take some lessons from Amy Butler on their manuals.

I went on from there to make the Birdie Sling by Amy Butler, an elephant by Melly & Me, Henrietta Turtle by Heather Bailey, the Smarty Girl Book Bag by Heather Bailey, two mini quilts (my design), and a few more things! I have found things I like and dislike about each designer's patterns. Some are definitely easier to understand than others. Amy Butler is my favorite. And...I just LOVE her fabrics! My dress is made from her fabric too! It just feels good and the colors are so rich. The designs are so fun and modern!

I hope if you're thinking about sewing you'll give it a try. It is addicting. I am so fortunate to have two sewing machines. My small machine is set up for sewing small projects and cards. My big machine was a gift from my mother-in-law. She shipped it all the way from Florida to me. When we were down visiting in February she offered it to me. She said she no longer used it. I was so excited. It was so generous of her to offer. It's so special because it was her machine. Both of my machines are Kenmore. They are great! My little one was a gift from my mom a few years ago when I first thought I'd give sewing a try. It's robin egg blue. My little mini can do the job of any big macho machine out there.

Have a great Wednesday and do something creative today!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's just a ride in the park...

See Spot...
Spot rocks!!! He's been great so far! Our early morning ride on Sunday was great! The weather was good. The bugs were slim to none, which is always a plus! And, to top it off we had someone to blaze the trails before us, so the cobwebs were virtually non-existent! Yippee!!!

On the trail there are many opportunities to "bail." There are lots of opportunities to quit if you want to. Just like in life when the going gets tough you can just give up. Sometimes the signs in life aren't quite as easily recognizable as this one...
But...there are signs. Sure, it gets hot...humid...cold...wet...dirty...etc. But, you have to decide to keep going or give up. But, it does get easier. I've written some about that in the past.

The last few weeks at work have been really stressful. I've even allowed my stress at work to affect my riding. BAD!!! I've been mentally exhausted, which contributes greatly to physical exhaustion. You have to be 100% on the bike. It is dangerous if you aren't thinking about the trail ahead of you. That's what I've loved about biking since I started. There's no time to think about anything but your next move on the trail. For 2 hours or more it's all about the bike. No work...No worries...No stress.

On Sunday we had a great ride! It was awesome! Each ride on Spot gets better! Here's a pic of me going through what they call "Little Moab" on Lakeview 2 at Pocahontas Park.
When I first starting riding this section was the scene of some pretty rough falls. Now...not so bad! It's actually fun!!

Here's a pic of me crossing the stream on Lakeview (sorry for the fuzziness). I have no problem crossing it at the start of the trail, but when we double back at the end I have had some trouble. I've almost got it! Practice makes perfect right?
Here's the stream crossing without me in the picture...
And, here's Dynamo munching on some fig newtons before we tackled Lakeview 2!
 It was like a mushroom forest in the woods. I think the humidity and rain helped! Here's a pic (little fuzzy) of a giant mushroom. We saw all kinds!!
When life gets tough don't be so quick to take the nearest exit! Just think of it as another day in the park.

Monday, August 16, 2010

7/25...and a gift

I came into my office the other morning and there was a surprise on my chair...

Isn't it just lovely? My friend, Jamie, said that she thought of me when she saw it since I'm so "green." I try...

For those of you that don't know I manage a website for my job, Isle Be Green. As a result of my involvement in that program I have become much more environmentally conscious. So, my friends and family also have become more aware (whether they like it or not). She thought this notebook was special because the paper is made from stone. It's really cool. The pages are very smooth and soft. It's hard to explain, but really cool. She bought the floral notebook and embellished it for me! How very sweet. She thought I needed something to cheer me up. Thanks, Jamie!

And, here's the next card for the 25 Project...
And, a closeup...

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - Bermuda bay cardstock and classic stampin' pad, embrace life stamp set, confetti white cardstock, thoroughly modern designer series paper, best wishes & more stamp set, bermuda bay polka dot grosgrain ribbon

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Sermon - August 15

Location: Suffolk, Virginia
Photo contributed by Kristi Sutphin, Suffolk, Virginia

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Another card for my 25 Project order. I love the baja breeze!!!

Materials Used:

Stampin' Up! - Baja breeze cardstock, urban oasis designer series paper, certainly celery ribbon, rhinestone circle brad, full of life stamp set, embrace life stamp set, confetti white cardstock

Friday, August 13, 2010

Flower Friday - no market tomorrow!

Hello Everyone! Happy Friday! Here are some pictures from last week at the Petersburg Farmers' Market! We're sorry to say that we won't be at the Market tomorrow, August 14! We'll miss you all, but hope to be back next Saturday! The flowers are loving the rain!! Enjoy these pictures from last week!!!