Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Biking on a race track May 14, 2017

Filed under: Random Travels & Exploring — Heather @ 2:43 pm
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Biking on the Grand Prix course!

My friends and I decided to head downtown today for a bike ride on Belle Isle Park, one of my favorite places to bike in the morning. The 982-acre island in the Detroit River offers a paved 6.5-mile bike path, plus many interior roads, so it’s easy to get some distance after a few loops. We looked forward to the promise of a beautiful weather day and hanging out together while on our bikes. We didn’t, however, plan for the start of preparing for the Detroit Grand Prix to be held June 2-4, 2017 on Belle Isle.

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If you’re a racing fan or history buff…..the Detroit Grand Prix started in 1982 as a Formula One race through downtown Detroit (that doesn’t sound safe to me!). It moved to Belle Isle in 1992 and was held annually until 2001. It occurred sporadically through the years until 2012 and has been held annually since with a variety of races held during the weekend, including the IndyCar Series.

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A lot of set up has already occurred for the race, including cement barricades for the track,  grandstands set up, sponsor banners and tents in place, and more. There is lots of high fencing up, I’m assuming to protect spectators during the race, but it kind of blocks your view of the river and nature. The track and festivities are set up on the west side of the island so once you get closer to the east end, the stands, banners and other event melee end. There were a lot of geese with adorable babies so I feel bad for them on race weekend. So loud and chaotic. I hope they hunker down on the other side of the island!

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We made the most of the obstacles and laughed at biking on a race track. After all, it’s not every day that you get to ride through a Grand Prix race track…on your bike! And your new Chevy SUV, which I thought was fun since Chevrolet is the major sponsor. We had a beautiful day to bike throughout the island and added some good mileage to our ride. I remembered how fun it is to ride with a group of people and how easy it is to rack up miles because you’re distracted talking and enjoying the time with others. It was a great start to the day.

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Now I’m off to celebrate my awesome mom! Wishing all of the moms a wonderful Mother’s Day!

 

5 favorite activities that spring brings May 7, 2017

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Love hiking in the woods!

The spring weather is slowly trying to make a steady presence in Michigan. The temps have been a sporadic but I’m grateful for the days filled with sunshine and mild temperatures. I’m loving that the days are staying lighter longer. More time to play outside after work and on the weekends!

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With spring comes opportunities to participate in some of my favorite activities. Here are few that I enjoy. What are some of your favorite spring/nice weather activities?

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Biking. I love being on a bike. Whether it’s my road bike or mountain bike, I enjoy the ability to explore the area on a bike. From the physical rush to the mental clearing of my mind to great views to the simple joy of feeling the strength of my legs, biking is definitely a favorite activity. Our mild winter let me get several rides in even during traditional winter months, but it’s much nicer to bike in sunshine and warming temps!

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Hiking. Nothing chills me out faster than spending time on the trails, surrounded by trees, plants and friendly animals. It’s such great physical exercise and mental relaxation, but rarely feels like either since I’m usually enjoying myself so much.

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Logged this geocache find!

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Geocaching. This GPS outdoor scavenger hunt is a fun past time to do with friends, family, or alone when I have some time to spare. I especially love taking my nieces and nephew on this treasure hunt and also logging a cache when I visit new places.

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Gardening. It’s not quite warm enough to plant flowers but it’s soooo close! I’m getting excited to plant bright flowers in my new pots and put them on the porch and deck. Flowers always bring a smile to my face.

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Grilling. Yes, I know that many people grill year-round, even in the snow and cold. But…..I don’t! I have a great new grill that will be often used to make yummy vegetables, burgers, chicken, and much more to enjoy while eating on the deck.

 

Why I’m biking in Iowa for cancer May 5, 2017

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Excited to be part of the team!

Twenty years ago this month, I walked into a clinic as a carefree 21-year-old three months shy of graduating from college. I walked out stunned and terrified as X-rays of my achy knee revealed a tumor growing in the lower part of my left femur. Less than three weeks later, I started chemo for osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer. A surgery to replace part of my femur and tibia with titanium, my hair falling out, 13 months of chemo, hundreds of days spent in a hospital bed, 40+ blood transfusions later, I walked out of the hospital a cancer survivor.

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My life had dramatically taken a different direction than planned. Facing your own mortality at 21 forever changes you. In the past 20 years, so many lessons have been learned, challenges faced and overcome, tears shed, and laughter bubbled out. Part of this 20-year journey was becoming an advocate for other people touched by cancer. From mentoring patients to meeting with legislators in Lansing and DC to speaking about young adult survivorship around the country, I am blessed and grateful to be alive to help others through their journeys. While a cancer diagnosis will always bring fear, uncertainty and anxiety, I hope to be able to help alleviate a little of those feelings by making sure programs, services and support are available to everyone.

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Which is a big reason that I’ve supported LIVESTRONG for many years. LIVESTRONG provides a multitude of programs and services to people affected by cancer (Read about some of my favorite LIVESTRONG programs). Many of you know I was so excited to be selected as a LIVESTRONG Leader volunteer this year, allowing me to take an even more active role in advocating for cancer survivors.

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So I decided that, in recognition of my 20-year cancer diagnosis and my

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Miss this sweet man.

commitment/belief in LIVESTRONG’s mission, I’m joining Team LIVESTRONG in a week-long bike ride across Iowa in July. The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, is the world’s oldest, longest and largest recreational bicycle touring event. Thousands of people from around the country and world attend this annual event. You bike from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River, camping at host towns each night, enjoying music, food, drinks and great company.

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For the past decade, LIVESTRONG has participated in RAGBRAI, usually hosting a team of 70+ cyclists who raise over $100K each year for these important programs and services. This year, the route is a mere 402 miles, the third flattest and shortest route in RAGBRAI history. I simply laugh when people say this! That is still a LOT of miles to bike! The first day is 62 miles (one moment please while I take some deep, calming breaths….ok, I’m back). My surgeon and I decided that I won’t ride every day, as it’s too much on my left leg with the titanium. Our goal is three days and if my leg feels good after a rest day, I can add another.

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Logging some miles to prep!

If you read my blog about my lovely new road bike, you learned about my experience with Team LIVESTRONG at RAGBRAI last summer and how each member touched by heart and inspired me. From the other survivors to the caregivers to those who lost someone dear to cancer to those who rode just because it’s for a good cause and fun….these people are why I’m registered. And besides, 2017 is My.Best.Year.Ever. So why not bike across Iowa??

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Some of this ride is admittedly personal. Before cancer, I ran miles, rode horses and rarely backed down from a physical challenge. Cancer rocked my world in so many ways. Today, I am consciously aware of the rod in my leg and risks associated with hurting that leg (including losing it). Cancer can still, 20 years later, flood me with anxiety, sadness and frustration. Some days I have to turn from watching someone ride a horse, run, play tennis because I miss these so much. But I know how fortunate I am to have both of my legs. I focus on what I can do – ride a bike, hike in the woods, have dance parties and so much more.

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So in July, I’ll ride to remind myself that cancer can never take my determination, strength, laughter and love of life. I’ll ride for the hundreds of friends who make my tribe courageous and full of life, the many friends and family who cancer took too soon, and my sweet, brave dad who continues to be my hero and always in my mind and heart, even if cancer robbed us of him.

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If you want to support my (crazy) endeavor, please consider donating to Team LIVESTRONG via this link. Any amount supports people affected by cancer. To add a little fun (because life has to be full of fun!), every $10 donation increment will get your name entered into a drawing to win a bag full of Michigan-made goodies (think Saunders, Better Made, McClure’s, etc) from me. I’ll even ship so no need to be local.

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Thanks for your support and being part of this journey with me. Now I’m off to ride a bike!

 

A few miles at a time reaches a goal April 9, 2017

bikeshoesGarminbottleSometimes our good intentions go….a little unplanned. For instance, I had plans to get up with the sun today, after a rainy, dreary week, to be on the bike trails so I could ride some good miles. However, those good intentions didn’t go as planned because I wrenched my back yesterday and could hardly move by the time I went to bed.

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So I woke up, iced my still hurting back, drank a cup of coffee and watched the beautiful sun rise in the clear, blue sky. And took some Motrin, rub a cream on my lower back and put on my biking clothes. I thought I could ‘just try it.’ If my back hurt too much on the bike, I promised myself I would stop. And instead of the planned 20-30 miles, I set a goal of five. Instead of the bike trail, I stayed closer to home in case it got too uncomfortable.

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You know what? My back felt great! I cruised through a new neighborhood I recently discovered, enjoying the early morning hour that kept the streets fairly quiet. My body felt so good that my Garmin registered 10 miles before I knew it. I decided not to push my luck and headed home. Off the bike, I was pretty sore so I showered, iced my back again, stretched, ran errands, ate lunch….and decided to head back out on the bike because my back was feeling a little better and had felt fine on the bike.

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So I rode another 10 miles. This time was a bit more difficult as the wind had kicked up Rubybikeso it took more energy and effort to get the miles done. But I did it. I got home, stretched my legs and back, iced my back. I relaxed, read some of my current book, talked with friends….and got back on my bike. This time I did stick with five miles! And admittedly, the five miles might have pushed my back a little too much. I’m pretty tight and sore tonight.

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But I’m proud that I was still able to hit my mileage goal. It was a good lesson of breaking down a larger goal into smaller, manageable goals. It was also a good reminder that we need to listen to our body as to what we’re able to do, be happy with what we can accomplish, and not beat ourselves up if we don’t quite hit the original goal.

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I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and accomplished whatever goal you set!

 

Riding into spring April 2, 2017

HHBike32017It was a long, physically tiring week. I pushed my leg (with a titanium rod) too much and the days of rain didn’t help. I felt exhausted enough that I assured my body a weekend of rest if I could get through it. And I had very good intentions to honor that assurance. Except then I didn’t. Because it was SO beautiful this weekend! Sunshine, warm temps, no rain, soft breezes. How can a nature lover be expected to stay indoors and not be active?? I needed some fresh air to clear my mind anyway.

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And Ruby needed some loving. Um, yes, Ruby my bike. It’s been a few weeks since we shared a ride so today seemed like a wonderful day to get fresh air, test Ruby’s gears, and stretch my legs. The great news is that despite my leg aching all week (I mostly blame this on the ongoing rain and chilly temps, not the heavy lifting), it felt fine while riding. No pain, no ache. And I didn’t completely beat myself up….I stuck with a shorter ride of 10 miles. I didn’t even wear my cycling shoes so there wouldn’t be any pressure on my leg when I unclipped from the pedal (although my brain must be wired to clip now when I ride Ruby because I caught myself doing the motions every time I came to a stop! I’m sure I looked funny to passing cars).

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I recently discovered a nearby neighborhood and school are great for biking. The school is empty on the weekend and has a large parking lot and straightaway so I like to do some loops as I practice higher speeds, turning quickly and clipping/unclippping (not today). The neighborhood is usually fairly low on traffic, which makes it safer for biking. It was wonderful to see so many people outside enjoying Michigan’s spring weather. Neighbors were doing yard work, children were playing basketball and riding bikes, dogs were lounging on the lawn. I love this time of year when people start venturing outdoors and become a community again.

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It’s supposed to rain again this week so I’ll be sure to give my body some rest time. As long as Mother Nature doesn’t change her mind……

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What fun activity did you enjoy this weekend?

 

5 ways to motivate yourself to be active January 25, 2017

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I kicked off the new year with a new fitness routine that includes cardio and strength training to get my butt ready for the list of outdoor activities that I want to participate in once the mild weather arrives in Michigan. As much as I like to be active and exercise, even I at times need some motivation. So I like to mix up my routine and activities when I can. Good thing there are so many fun activities to keep me busy!

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While going to the gym provides great exercise for both cardio and weight training, I get bored if I go too much. Plus, I frankly enjoy too many other forms of activities to be a gym rat. If you need a variety of activities to get you moving, consider some that I enjoy:

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Riding indoors!

Indoor bike trainer: I’m anxious to be outdoors riding my bike again, but the weather hasn’t been on my side the past few weeks so I just want to ride my bike. When I mentioned that to my friend, he offered to let me borrow his bike trainer (so nice!). It’s not the same as riding outside but it lets me stay comfortable on my bike, remind my bottom what it feels like to sit on the seat (!), and keep up the cardio. I set it up in my living room near the television so it’s a good excuse to catch up on some shows (hey, whatever works).

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Zumba: I love Zumba! I love the music and dancing. I love seeing the lovely ladies who are also regulars in my class. This class is for any fitness level as you dance to your comfort zone. You don’t need to be super coordinated or a great dancer. You can modify moves as needed (I do at times due to the titanium rod in my leg). I love my Zumba class because the instructors often play music that I can sing along with and the dancing keeps me focused so I forget I’m working out!

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Cyclebar: This fun version of a spin class offers good music, low lights and energetic instructors. While you can get a fairly intense workout, you really ride at your own fitness level and pace. So if the instructor says to ride an entire song out of the seat and you don’t feel like it, then don’t. There are some days that my leg is achy so I might not pedal as fast/hard as others. I’m cool with that since riding at my own pace is still keeping me moving. That’s truly the important part of any physical activity – keep moving!

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Working out with my trainer is fun!

Group workouts: I like working out with others but can’t always find someone to exercise when I can, who will commit to a regular schedule, etc. A local studio gym offers small group fitness classes with a dedicated personal trainer so I decided to participate (good accountability when you register/pay for a class). We meet twice a week to focus on strength training using weights, balls, bands, various exercises, and more. I really like my group’s trainer (she spunky, sweet and shakes up the exercises so it stays fun!), and the other women are motivating and inspiring. We laugh a lot throughout our class. If you don’t have this option of a ‘formal’ group workout, find a few friends who are willing to commit to getting together with you. I suggest agreeing on the number of days per week and the specific days/times you all want to commit to so everyone knows the expectations up front.

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Indoor walking: With the unpredictable winter weather in Michigan, I haven’t been able to walk or bike outside very much (it’s either snowing, sleeting, raining or bitter cold). But I like to walk so decided to check out the local indoor mall. I had no idea so many people walked at the mall! Window shopping is a great distraction (one suggestion: go before the mall opens so you save money!).

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I often have people comment that “it’s nice I have so much time to work out and they wish that they had the time too.” Guess what? I’m just as busy as the next person with work, volunteering, family, social life, and other commitments. But staying healthy is important enough to me that I make being active part of my lifestyle. That’s the trick – once it’s part of your lifestyle, you find the time. My friend gets on her treadmill at 9pm three times a week after her kids are in bed (she also bought a small TV that’s perched in front of the treadmill so she can catch up on shows. Good distraction.). My sister participates in a 5am class twice a week because it’s when she has ‘free time’ (God bless her because there is no way I could get up this early to work out!). I add my Zumba class and now fitness class to my calendar so it blocks off my time and sends me reminders. It’s really easy to make excuses to put off being active and healthy. So stop.

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What activities do you enjoy that keep you moving?

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If want to kick off your exercise routine while helping support people with cancer, join me on Saturday, Feb. 18 for a fundraiser to benefit LIVESTRONG – we’ll be having some fun at Cyclebar in Troy! This cycling/spin class is for all fitness levels (ride at your own pace). Riders receive a LIVESTRONG bracelet, Cyclebar water bottle and snacks. Register today!

 

Kicking off my best year ever January 2, 2017

hh_2017Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful start to this new year. I celebrated with some great friends and also reconnected with old friends.

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I’m excited and ready for 2017! As I wrote in my previous blog post, I’m keeping my goals simple yet personal. I already feel like I’m on the right path, especially in finding happiness and health. It was a beautiful sunny, not quite balmy but not quite bitter cold day yesterday, on January 1, the first day of the new year (my best year ever keep in mind!). So what did I do? Went on a bike ride of course! It seemed like the perfect start to this year that will be filled with fun and sunshine.

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It was a pretty easy decision to go on a ride. My road bike has been sitting sadly in the corner while it snowed, rained or was just blah winter weather outside. The snow melted enough that the roads were clear. The sun shone. The air was a crispy 37 degrees. But the outdoors and my bike beckoned. So I simply bundled up, pumped up my tires, charged the Garmin and headed out. Glorious decision. I caught myself smiling ear to ear by the end of the drive. Me, biking outside in Michigan on Jan. 1. So grateful. My plan had been a quick ride, maybe five miles, just to enjoy the fresh air and the feel of my muscles riding. Five miles turned to seven, then 10, then a little more.

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And the first day of my best year ever ended with my Detroit Lions making the playoffs. Okay, I know we didn’t win last night’s game, but let’s be thankful for what we have. And the Super Bowl hasn’t been decided yet!

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I welcomed 2017 with open arms and an open heart. I have big plans for this year. So far, it’s been a great start. How did you start the new year?

 

 
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