Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Holiday Run

It's been awhile since my last run...the half marathon to be exact, not including the run in the airport from one gate to another gate located on the opposite end with 20 minutes to catch my flight. That airport run actually caused a tweak in my ankle and it's been tender ever since. So, I have stayed away from running or even exercise to let it heal (ballooned up as a consequence). I will say that it is healed, but I'm still having issues with my other bad ankle and going to the doctor tomorrow to look at my next steps (eek possibly surgery).

After a dismal weather Christmas weekend (and well, week) and a hard Christmas personally, Houston finally got a stop in the rain and even the sun made an appearance yesterday. I forgot what sunshine looked like. I was eager to put on my running shoes and try out my new Christmas present from Hiroko. It is the Nike sensor for your shoe and ipod that calculates your time, distance, calories, and type of run (much cheaper than the watch I really wanted). It also activates your running playlist through the application on your ipod.

My awesome gift from Hiroko. Love you and thanks so much.

My plan was to walk up to Hermann Park to warm up my muscles, run the 1.98 mile loop, and then walk back. It was cold and I needed the extra warmup. Plus, I wasn't sure how this run was going to go since I haven't done any running since December 4. I figured there would be some huffing and puffing and whining and screaming.

I laced up my shoes (adding my new cool sensor and blue pocket), plugged in the other piece to my ipod, stretched, and headed out (while trying to keep the dogs at bay from bumrushing the door as I opened it). I walked out of my apartment towards the main street that takes me to Hermann Park; I was already feeling the cold even though I had on my under armor shirt and a beanie hat. When I got to the street, I decided to just run. I wanted warmth. I ran the entire block around (1.5 mile loop). It felt good to get out there again. I tried to focus on my breathing. I swear when I am getting flustered from the heavy breathing and wanting to stop for a walk, I meditate my breathing like the book says. It calms me and I can run more. Breathe in...1...2...3...4, breathe out 1...2...3...4, but be mindful of what you are doing.

The one thing I forgot about was all the construction they were doing on the main main road. They have been laying pipe for months and chunks of the sidewalk periodically get taken out of commission. Since I haven't ran this loop in awhile, it completely slipped my mind. When I saw the missing sidewalk chunk, I ran over to the other side to use that sidewalk, but eventually, that side ran out of sidewalk. With the rain, I just didn't want to run on grass. In hindsight, I should have stayed on that side. I looked over to the side I'm used to running on and saw that the sidewalk was reopened even to the point where I have to turn to go home. What I didn't see was the mud. As I approached the last 30 ft, the piles and piles and piles of mud covered the sidewalk and the sides. Did I mention piles? I couldn't just run out on the street, because it's busy with people (shouldve done that anyways, but still had to cross the mudpit). I decided to just walk through it and hope for the best. When I got out of it, my shoes were caked with mud to the point where I couldn't even walk. I stopped to find a stick so that I could work on getting the mud off. It took awhile and my ipod stopped playing (controlled by the Nike app) when I was inactive for awhile. How cool was that? If I started running again, I can pick up where I left off.

Oh, right...back to mud. So, I stood there for about 15 minutes just trying to get the mud off my shoes and decided to go home once I was done. I was so tired and frustrated, but at least I got a run in yesterday morning.

I tried to update my stuff online, but the directions do not follow what actually happens and I couldn't figure it out. But from what I remember, the loop was actually 1.9 miles, I burned almost 190 calories, and I did it in alittle over 18 minutes (some of this time was used on my stop). I didn't calibrate the results, which I found out later gives you even better results. I love my new Christmas gift. I just wish I could figure out how to track my progress like it said can easily be done. This is why they should hire Technical Writers to write their instructions.

Even though it wasn't my best run, I got out there again and it felt good. I can't wait to run again (probably today) and then, I will see if I have a long journey of exercise inactivity to fix my bad ankle.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

And Finally...My First Half Marathon Done

On Sunday, December 4, 2011, I participated in the La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon with Haley. And on that cold and rainy day, Haley and I officially became Half Marathoners.

This race was the last event in the Texas Bridge series earning me an extra medal (or T-shirt, but the medal was WAY cooler). WHAT? WHAT? MORE BLING!!!! I was so nervous about this race, because I had only ran 9 miles before I left for England and I didn't do any running there (lots of walking though). Also, I only had a week to prepare for a half marathon when I came back from England without overdoing the training, which could lead to hurting myself. This was a big fear of mine, because I tore a ligament in my left ankle before the 2011 Chevron Half Marathon in January (supposed to be when I popped my half marathon cherry) forcing me to eat the registration.

To top it off, the weather was expected to be raining all day. Great, my first half marathon...on a bridge...in rain. Am I glutton for punishment or what?

On the Thursday before the big day, I went out to the Flying Saucer where I met up with some friends who also run. I was introduced to a guy who had done an obscene amount of marathons (concidentally, it was about the same number of plates he had on the walls at the Saucer) and he put my mind at ease. He reassured me that I was ready, because I ran 9 miles...I'm good to go and to not be nervous. Easier said than done. Okay, really, I felt less nervous and told Haley (also freaking out at this point) what the guy told me to calm her nerves. It worked...up until about as soon as I woke up the morning on the big day.

The night before, I was cleaning and putting up decorations doing everything to busy my mind about my impending death. I had a restless sleep when I finally went to bed, because I kept thinking I would miss my alarm (side effect from the Seinfeld episode). But I woke up at 5:20 a.m. when my first text from Jules came in saying she was headed my way (I enlisted her to drive me and support me). Haley texted shortly after to make sure I was awake. Then, I started to get texts from friends wishing me good luck. Mal went so far as to send me flowers and a balloon and posted on both Haley and I's facebook page. I felt the love.

I can't love this girl anymore than I already love her. She thought of me all the way from Grenada. Thank you Mal.

For breakfast, I had an English Muffin with peanut butter and LOTS of water. I could say that I had a marathon of water. Yup, pun intended. I went there. Don't judge me.

We found our way to La Porte. Now, I have driven through La Porte, but never actually stayed there or visited there or even really been there. I think I was asleep everytime I drove through or just drove fast. I wasn't exactly sure where we were going, but I knew it was at Sylvan Beach and luckily for us, there were signs guiding us everywhere. Jules parked at the school and we met up with Haley at the chip pick up table (we actually got our packets early this time...GO US!).

Haley and I in our standard before shot trying not to look nervous.

I saw a group of people just stretching away and I said, "Let's go join them" after Haley and I went to the bathroom. They were passed the good stretches and on to the let's raise our heartbeat. We took that time to stretch on our own; however, we rejoined the group at the end when they went back to stretching.

Haley and I having fun with our tandem stretch.

Then, we found out that we in fact crashed the Bay Area Fit Club warmup. I'm not sure if you need to be a part of them, but it was probably a good thing. The main guy huddled us all up and they started shouting "HOORAA" and "Bay Area Fit Club." We were kind of near the middle and couldn't really sneak out of there without notice.

After our crash, we went over to get some more pictures with the bay in the background.

Yeah, that's right...I busted out the guns. Whatchya gonna do, punk?

Finally, it was time to head over to the start line. And wouldn't you know it, that's when it started to rain on us runners. The whole time we were there waiting and waiting, the weather gave us a reprieve and false hope that it wouldn't rain. But then, I could distinctly here this evil laugh coming from the skies and what sounded like, "You stupid peons....I will rain upon thee." So, as we stood there in the rain, it got cold and I was wishing that I had brought Jules' windbreaker (although, I'm glad I didn't). One guy was supporting his wife by standing there holding an umbrella over her head so she wouldn't get wet. Now, everyone at the same time, "Ahhhhhhhhhh."

I was getting antsy, jumping around, wanting them to hurry up and just blow the whistle. I complained that this race started later than the other 2 bridge series races. If we had started earlier, we wouldn't be rained on while we were waiting. But instead rained on while we were running (much better).

Then, I heard them announce the La Porte high school glee club to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Finally!  Let the countdown begin...5...4...3...2...1...GO. It was time to start running...well, sort of, since we had to walk with the crowd before crossing the line.

I couldn't believe it. Haley and I were RUNNING OUR FIRST HALF MARATHON! Whoa! The song choice of course was I'm Sexy and I know it (video) and we sang that the entire run. I sang the Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle and she sang the Yeah. We had it down to a science.

Even with the cold drizzling rain (reminded me of England for some reason), it was hot. After awhile, I took off my under shirt. Before we reached the first mile marker, this loud group of guys started chanting Haley. They were Haley's friends and coworkers. She was so surprised to see them and just started running faster. In fact, every time she saw them, she got faster. They showed up throughout the course and were just awesome singing and chanting and yelling. They even had me tear up a little, especially when they finally learned my name and started chanting for me, too.

The boys cheering on Haley.

Jules standing by the boys as we came around close to the first mile.

Our goal was to stop for a walk at the 4 mile marker (or see how we felt), but we had a quick stop at the 3 mile marker so that Haley could fix her knee brace (it was quick...I swear). We ran mostly with this group of three ladies. They ran what seemed like 5 minutes and walked 1 minute. Even though we kept running, they were keeping up with our pace. At one point, we tried to follow them, but they stopped too much. This may have been our downfall in the end when they beat us at the finish line.

Everytime we reached a mile marker, I said, "1 down, 12 more to go." "2 down, 11 more to go." And of course Haley would sing, "I'm sexy and I know it." We had a system.

The rain was pretty much start and stop, but it was never really heavy. I was so thankful that Haley suggested we wear our hats to keep the rain out of our eyes. It was just drizzly enough to make the ground slick. I think that is why my toes started hurting really bad at 6 miles. I never had that issue before at 6 miles and my theory is that I was putting too much pressure on my feet so I wouldn't fall.

Finally, we made it to the bridge and it was really an awesome sight since the top of the bridge was covered by the clouds. 

The top of the Hartman Bridge covered in clouds.

Haley looking like a bad ass as we approach the incline.

We ran the level area until we got to the incline where we walked to the halfway point before we picked up the run again. This is the time when we had goal points of when we would walk. However, Haley would get fast everytime she saw the boys and I would have to tell her to slow it down, bring it back. We made it to the turnaround point, which was roughly between the 6 and 7 mile marker. We weren't dead yet and in fact, feeling okay.

A viewpoint of what we just ran over from the turnaround point.

Seriously, I love these guys and want to adopt them as my friends.

I thought this was cool seeing Santa at the turnaround point. They asked if we wanted to stop to take a picture and I said, "No, gotta keep moving."

As we made our way back on the bridge, I still felt good, but my legs were hurting. My toes were hurting. It took a lot just to get to the incline so we could walk again. Finally, we made it off the bridge. 

On our way back down the Hartman Bridge.
Our other goal was to smile everytime we saw the photographers. Although, I contend that they didn't have many actually taking pictures. A lot of them were slacking.

When we got to 10 miles, I screamed out, "Milestone. Longest I've ever run. Oh and 10 down, 3 more to go." When we got to 11 miles, Haley and I pretty much pittered out of steam and energy. My toes were hurting so bad at this point. We would set a goal to run to a certain location in the distance, but we would stop a couple feet away. Haley kept saying, "I just want to get this done" and my response was, "So do I, but I can't get my legs to cooperate." For the rest of the 13.1 miles, we pretty much complained about our legs and feet. In hindsight, was that healthy or motivational? Um...no, but we did it anyways.

What's crazy is that we lost the 3 girls a LONG time ago, way before the first crossing of the bridge. Yeah, they caught up to us and passed us by, but we followed them on when they stopped and started. Actually, at the end, everyone in our group that had been with us for the last 3-4 miles were pretty much on the same thing of when to stop running and when to start. The only anamoly was this girl who sang and danced her way on the runs; she had a different start/stop then us, but still kept in our group.

Finally, we hit the 13 mile marker flag and it was so glorious to see. We still had 0.1 mile left to go and we ran. Then, we saw the guys and they saw us, which started a flurry of chanting. Haley and I picked it up and just sprinted in to the finish line. I'm sure to the bystanders it looked like a fast jog done by mental ward patient, but to us, it was a full on Olympic marathon sprint to take Gold. I'm not even sure where I got the energy from or even the muscle to do it, but it happened and I'm betting it had to do with seeing the boys running and screaming with us on the sidelines. Our time was 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 22 seconds (full results here). Haley and I got the exact same time. How cool is that?

Afterwards, I saw Jules and begin stretching, drinking my water. She kept saying how proud she was of me and asking if I was okay. My first response was that I may puke or cry and I don't know which one will happen. I honestly didn't know if any or both or one would happen. My body and mind pretty much shut down at this point. I walked over to the guys and they flooded us with awesome comments. I really do love those guys.

Look at those smiles. I think I was hallucinating at this point.

I went over to get my Texas Bridge Series Medal and it was awesome and loud and heavy and I loved it.

Me and my bling. What an accomplishment to finish not only a half marathon, but all 3 bridge races.

I got in line for pizza, but I had to wait on a new delivery. I got a sausage on a stick, but so NOT what I wanted. In fact, sausage on a stick is just not right after the race. Too greasy. I did end up getting my pizza, but I thought I was going to collapse. In fact, a guy did collapse, while I was waiting on my pizza. Haley and I said our goodbyes and I thanked those guys for being awesome. Jules drove me home where I was flooded with text messages of my survival. Jules got me home and pretty much took care of me and the dogs.

I want to take the time to thank Haley for going on this crazy adventure with me. I'm glad I found someone just as stupid as I am to share this journey. Without her, I don't think I would have survived. We pushed eachother to get this done and we accomplished what few have considered and completed. I'm so proud of us in so many ways that it's hard to find the right words. Jules...you are awesome. I love you. Thank you for everything that you did that day. I don't think I could have made it home or anything had you not been there to nurse me back to life. Thanks to the guys for being there cheering us (mostly Haley, I know) on throughout the entire race. Seriously, you guys were the best ever! And thanks to everyone that sent me messages of good luck and how proud they were of me.

The guys made this for us after the race. How freaking cool are they? And the best shot ever!

And Jules made us a video of our run. I have the best people in my life.

Haley and I plan to do one more half marathon (maybe 2) and then we start training for the marathon in possibly November. Yes, we are THAT stupid.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Run in the Park with Remi

So, alot has happened in the last couple of weeks. I ran 9 miles by myself on Sunday, November 13, at Memorial Park. This was monumental for me since it was the longest that I have ever ran before. I ran 3 loops (3 miles each) for the first time ever and 6 miles (2 loops) without stopping. I kept up a decent pace, but yes, it could have been better. The craziest thing that happened that day was a man running with his dog, tripped. He tried to catch himself and didn't fall, but he tripped for at least 20 ft pulling a muscle in the process. It would have been better if he went down. After the run, I did a mini workout at the adult playground, which included ab work. I wanted to write about my run, but I didn't have time. I was packing for my trip to England (yes, I went back), but I also had to go to California at last minute for work. Consequently, my monumental run didn't get written.

While I was in California, I ran 2 miles a day on the treadmill, with some ab work at the end of each run. I was not familiar with the area and it was dark, so I felt safer working out at the hotel gym. I don't know if it was the time difference or what, but they weren't pretty runs. In fact, it took me 30 minutes at least to run 2 miles. I'm used to running 3 miles within 35 minutes.
While I was in England, I didn't run at all. Yes, I know. I wanted to take that long run down a road with picturesque England countryside views, writing about how the scenery inspired me or something, but it didn't happen. We had way too much to do and it got super dark early there...like at 5 p.m. However, I did walk. In fact, I walked so much in Ireland (spent a day in Dublin...beautiful) and England, that my bad ankle swelled up alot and caused me pain. I'm so getting this thing checked out again.

Since I got back from England, I have ran a couple of times at Hermann Park with Remington. On Sunday, I ran the full 1.98 loop. On Tuesday, I ran half of that loop, because I was running out of time and daylight. And on Wednesday, I ran the full 1.98 loop around. I felt sluggish on my runs, but that could be due to all the traveling I have done in the last couple of weeks and taking a week off of running. It could also be that my dog stops too much causing me to get tired early from all the starting and stopping. I'm still running majority of the loop without stopping (okay, just mini stops for Remi...oh and 1 fix for my ipod), but it's not the best. My breathing is all over the place, but I am noticing that whenever I get a cramp, I used meditative breathing to stop it.

I write about this run in particular, because of something that happened. Remington and I were running by and I see 3 people coming from the golf course. At this time, it's getting pretty dark and you don't know if they are punk kids just smoking some pot, people just taking a shortcut, or geniune criminals ready for action. With a history like Hermann Park, you tend to think as a woman that they were geniune criminals ready for some sexually forced action. I didn't have my mace on me, but I was alert. However, when they stepped over the fence, it was 2 cops and a kid handcuffed. I had seen the police lights and heard the sirens earlier, but I just assumed it was a car accident. Nope, it was a police chase. And as I'm running by, my dog's German Shepherd police dog heritage came out. He really wanted to help and I had to force him to move along sir, nothing to see here. So, that was weird and crazy.

This run really made me think about running with Remintong. Now, it's been a pain in the toosh to have to take my dogs out separately and bring Remi on my weekday runs (no time otherwise since it gets dark early). I no longer have long runs, because he doesn't last long and he's constantly stopping. But it's good that he was there. I know that Remi would attack, maim, kill anyone or anything that would try to hurt me. He would probably die trying. It makes me feel safe having him on my arm (even though it's rough trying to keep him at bay from other dogs or some runners). The other positive is that I HAVE to run. I almost talked myself out of running on Tuesday, because I had such a bad day. But I had to get Remi out of the house. It was a great motivator to force me to go and just get it done. Was it a good run? Nope, but I still did it. And I need all the help I can get right now since my half marathon is on Sunday...eeek ggaddss!

So, my next post should be about that, but I might have some other blog writeups in the next day or so. We shall see and wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

World Running Day, November 6, 2011

World Running Day was on November 6, 2011. I remembered running for National Running Day in June at Memorial Park with my old running partner. But this was WORLD RUNNING DAY. Thankfully, I did run, because that's alot of pressure to not run on the World Running Day.

I was supposed to do my big 8 mile run that day with Haley, but she got ... er...um...sick from the previous night out. Instead, I spent all day FINALLY fixing my running playlist on my ipod so that I can run alone. I just didn't think it would take me all day to do it. On a side note, I found out that I really do like my ipad once I learned how to use it. Somewhere around 2, I was preparing to run. Okay, really, I was sitting on the couch, loving my body molded to the couch and wrestling with whether I should or shouldn't run. I pretty much counted out trying to do a long run since I had to be at my brother's house for dinner at 5. After about 30 minutes of being lazy and wishy washy, I finally said, "I'm going!" I just decided that I will go for a quick 1.98 mile around the loop that I'm used to running. However, I will run it at a faster pace so that I can work on increasing my overall speed.

I grabbed Remington and headed to the park (driving, of course). I did a quick stretch, got my ipod up and running, and then let him do his bathroom business. We walked for about 50ft before we picked up the run. It didn't start out so well since Remi kept stopping to sniff or pee, but finally we got in to a rhythm. However, the constant stopping and starting made me sluggish. Plus, I was still feeling out of it from my 5 mile run on Saturday and being sick.

Even though there were stops a plenty in the beginning, we did manage to run the rest of the way around. My ipod played alot of the rock songs, which I was more in the mood for the hip hop/pop songs. But then...Eye of the Tiger came blasting on my earphone. I pictured myself as Rocky running in the snow ready to defeat the Russian in the name of America. I kept on pushing and pushing, not allowing myself to stop even though I was arguing in my head to stop and Remi was certainly getting slower and slower. Then, the Rocky training montage came on and I felt invincible. I picked up the pace, dragged Remi, and headed back to the starting point. It was not the best of runs (having alot of those lately), but it was something.

I did some minor stretching, but I need more. When I got done with this run, I noticed that my calf muscles were hurting. In fact, they are still hurting. It's like shin splits, but for the calves. I don't know what's going on, but I hope this doesn't get worse.

I hope everyone marks this date on their calendars for next year. Lace up those sneakers and get to running!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Run in the Park Recap...I'm Sexy and I Know It

On November 5, 2011, Haley and I participated in the Run in the Park held at Hermann Park. This event was created to raise money for the park. The best part was that we could walk up there from my apartment; however, we drove up there due to the temperatures and not knowing how we would feel about walking after running a 5 mile run. We also layered up, too, which in hindsight was not the best of ideas.

This was a cool running experience for me, because it forced me to run on the other side of Hermann Park. I've actually never ventured to the other side, not because I was scared that it was the dark side or anything (I'm all for Darth Vader), but more because I just got set in my ways and knew my running track. And it's a shame, because this part of the track is really quite beautiful and reminds me of Washington D.C. or something. With the cold temperatures, it really reminded me of D.C.

Haley and I got there 30 minutes before the race started. That was our opportunity to stretch out good, warm up, and take some pictures (okay, me).

Haley is the new 2011 Hermann Park Heisman Winner.

To warmup, I was running in place...this is the outcome.

And now, I have added high kicks.

Isn't this so beautiful?

Our standard before shot.

This race was also special, because they were debuting a new running/walking trail called The Hermann Park Trail.

Dedication ceremony of the new Hermann Park Trail.

They played the National Anthem, which I still wasn't sure if it was sung live or by recording. It was really cool, because these flock of birds just circled the flag and flew off at the end of the song. Some say it was beautiful, others might say it was a magical moment. Finally, the race started and we ran at a nice pace. Every so often, I would get caught up in the speed of the crowd and Haley would tell me to slow it down. After a while, I said, "Does it seem like we are getting passed alot?" Then, we hit the 1 mile marker...10:46 minutes. Haley said, "That's why we are getting passed." So, we were kindof slow this race. I know it had a lot to do with me being sick all week; my chest was tight, my nose was stuffed, and I just didn't have the energy to move fast. We basically had a 10-11 minute mile for the entire run (maybe we got faster on the last mile). There was this one girl that cheered us on loudly and happily. The other supporters were just blah, no emotion, didn't care why they were there. Haley even told her that she was her favorite.

Haley and I didn't stop and just kept on going. I would tell her that I needed to slow it down, but we didn't stop. We didn't even get any water. The park was really quite lovely, but I wore too many layers. My thermal shirt had a death grip on my arm, which was causing me to get tingles in my fingers. I kept having to wiggle my hands and thought I was going to have to stop to fix the shirt when Haley (my hero) fixed it for me. I'm guessing it was due to the sickness, but I just felt out of my element, uncomfortable. Even my hat was starting to bother me. So, I tried to focus on my breathing and controlling it.

Sometimes, Haley would sing out her favorite running song, "I'm sexy and I know it" by LMFAO (not the official video, but where you can hear the song), which is now our theme song. So, we just kept singing that to take our minds off of the run. Here is a link to the official video, because it is freaking hilarious. Wiggle! Wiggle! Wiggle! Wiggle! However, I throw caution to the wind...do NOT watch if you get offended easily. It's graphic for sure, but tastelessly funny. I constantly hear that in my head now when I run...thank you Haley.

We were coming up on the last 2 miles and I was now feeling it. I didn't think I had anything left in me and that's when Haley springs the news on me...we are going to push it for the last mile to make up some time. WHAT? I'm pretty sure I have whined this whole time about losing steam yadda yadda yadda. And then THEY showed up...the talkers. Normally, runners are encouraged to talk to their running partners, especially when gauging your speed and how it's affecting your body. If you can't hold a conversation, then you are going to fast. But these 2 people talked incessantly and loudly. I don't think they even took breaths. She had this deep southern LOUD twang and he was just a loud talker. They talked about the most annoying stuff ever. Unfortunately, we couldn't leave them for a mile. Finally, at the 1.5 mile spot, I had had enough. I started to speed up to at least clear some distance. Yeah...you could still hear them talking and we were away from them. I was beginning to worry that I was using too much of my already limited energy to get away from them and I wouldn't have anything left for the last mile. However, once the last mile came, Haley and I just picked up the pace even more. I know it had a lot to do with the fact that we could still hear the guy talking, but we finally got away from them. Thank you secret stored energy from an unknown place.

Our favorite cheerer was coming up and she just said, "Okay, 6 more minutes." NOOOO....we need distance, not time. But she was so excited that we truly didn't care. Finally, we were on the home stretch, that last hoo-rah. Haley asked me if it was okay if she picked up speed and I didn't mind at all. In fact, I stayed with her for awhile until the final turn. I increased too soon and sputtered out early. She sped ahead and I held back letting all those people I passed now pass me. At the last 0.15 mile, I dug deep to increase the speed. I could see my time on the clock and I didn't want it to go to the next minute. I crossed the finish line at 57 minutes, but my official time was 57:06.5. Haley's time was 56:58.6. Full race results are here.

This was not my best run, but it was my best PR for a 5-mile run (who cares that I haven't done an official 5-mile run before). If we would have kept this pace for a 10K, then I would have been under 1 hour, 10 minutes. That is my goal people. So, I'm still happy with the results.

Haley and I taking our post-run shot.

Afterwards, we decided to get the complimentary massage and stretch and it was sooooo worth it. I'm going to do that as much as I can after each race. We also finally tried the Muscle Milk, Honey Chocolate and it was really good. It had less sugar than regular chocolate milk and lots more protein. I think I'm going to add it to my list of things to start drinking. I also got a compliment about my shirt and lots of stares (I'm guessing the girls weren't staring at my chest).

That's me getting an awesome stretch.

Haley and I feeling good after our complimentary massage and stretch.

The rest of the day was a busy one for both of us, so we didn't have much time to chill out after the race. Overall, I need to get better so that I can survive the half marathon...which is coming up VERY SOON. EEK!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Most Epic Run...EVER

The conversation went something like this with MaloRee at the beginning of the week (paraphrasing, of course, because I don't remember the exact words used)...

KW:  I'm alittle worried because I haven't ran over 6 miles and I have that half marathon coming up December 4.
Mal:  Kristi (in a scolding voice like my mother does), you need to start getting on this.
KW:  I know.
Mal:  You need to run 10 miles this week.
KW:  I know I do (sticking out my tongue to the phone).

So, I set out on a mission to at least run 7 miles this week, because I really didn't think I was up to running 10 miles.  It's not good for the body when you push it from 6 miles to 10 miles in a couple of days with little training. I enlisted Haley to run since she's running the half marathon with me and could use the extra miles, as well. I'm pretty sure she hasn't ran 7 miles either. After a few debates, our destination was decided; we would use the NASA track on Sunday for our big 7 mile run. How cool is that? I mean, it's no skydiving in to NASA, which I have done, but it's still cool. However, Sunday came. Due to my excessive fun time in to the wee hours at a Halloween party (thank you Nick and Melissa), I didn't get my car until after 1 p.m. on Sunday. 

Everytime I look at this picture, I crack up. It's the last picture in a series of this particular shot. And yes, that's Waldo in the background...sans hat.

By then, Haley decided to come over to my house on the condition that I run the entire 7 miles (whining, screaming, and hitting was allowed); I can do the slow slow slow jog instead of walking. I also would come to NASA on Thursday evening and Sunday to run. The feeling is that Haley comes over to my area to run alot and I don't go there. I thought I would be nice and return the favor; however, I think I'm getting screwed on this deal.

The plan was to run the 1.8 miles up to Hermann Park...yes, that's right, I said run. Then, we would run around the "3 mile" loop around the park (which is only half the park). I put that in quotes, because we learned that it wasn't 3 miles at all, but really 1.98 miles. After our first loop around, we realized that it was probably close to 2 miles (and that's what we used to calculate how many loops we needed to run) even though I was sure it was 2.5 miles. We would do the 2 loops or adjust where we needed and then run back.

Haley got there and I was in a cleaning frenzy. So, I had her help me take out the trash. Then, we stretched and started walking for our warmup. I realized that I hadn't eaten since 9 a.m. and questioned whether I should go back to eat a quick PB&J. Of course, logical reasoning was totally thrown out the window so that we could get this day (run) started. Hey, at least I wasn't running with a hangover, but I probably could have drank a little more water. Okay, I could have drank a lot more water.

As soon as we got out of the apartment complex, we started running. It was so cool outside, but totally sunny. Thankfully, I had my hat on since I lost my new running glasses (found them btw, in case you cared). We ran passed a construction zone and got hollered at for being cute. I waved and thanked him for the compliment. Finally, we got to the park and started running around. We just kept a steady pace and every so often, I would tell Haley to slow it down or bring it back. I'm not sure what all we discussed, but it was a lot since it kept my mind distracted. Once we got near the zoo, it got a little crazy with traffic and kids and kids in costumes (Annual Zoo Boo was happening). Some guy yelled out the car window, "RUN." I assumed he was talking to us since we were the only ones running. I wanted to give him a 1 finger salute, but there were kids around. So, I thanked him and waved back. At this point, I mentioned why I like running in Memorial Park better, because everyone is there to exercise. You don't get yahoos yelling out the window at you or barking at my dog (which they have done to Remi). We ran in to this couple looking for the golf clubhouse, which I vaguely pointed them in the right direction with a shortcut. Later on, we ran in to them and he gave us a "nice shortcut." I thought he was being nice and Haley thought he was being rude. After I thought about it, I think he was being rude, but hey, it wasn't my fault his wife wore high boots to a walkathon at the zoo and dressed your baby up in a hot, brown velvet pantsuit. I sent the golf club employee over there to show them where to go. Haley told us to speak of it no more, because we have done what we can.

Haley and I still kept up the pace even on the second time around and I was actually feeling good. We just kept on running without a stop. However, I was still telling her to slow it down, bring it back. When we were passing the pagoda, Haley wanted some water and I was right there with her, but the fountain wasn't for awhile. So, we did pick up the pace and had our only stop at the fountain (can't drink and move like that successfully), but it was short, very short. I don't consider that a stop at all.

We got back on the path and all of sudden, we heard this loud bird noise coming from the trees to our right. It sounded like a hawk and then we saw this majestic bird swoop over to the tree and start a fight with another hawk (I said mating, but whatever). It was loud and crazy and then the hawk left. I was dumbfounded. I turned to Haley, "Was that a hawk? I mean, that was a hawk, right? I'm not crazy that I just saw that, am I?" She said that it was a hawk. How cool was that to see hawks on your run in downtown Houston?  I think it's totally cool.

As we were getting close to the point where you head back home or do another lap, we decided to just run home. I think in hindsight, we should have ran around 1 more time and then walked home, but whatever. We still kept the pace and I stupidly mentioned how I was feeling good even though we did a lot. And at that point, my left knee started hurting. I was already missing the running path and how good it feels on your knees and legs. We kept on running all the way to the street by my apartment where we had our one and only true stop to walk. All in all, we ran 7.1 total miles without stopping, but 7.6 miles total of everything. This was a huge accomplishment for me since this is the most that I have ever ran before in my life. But this isn't the only first for this epic run. It was the first time that I ran to the park and back (normally, I walk up there to run and here lately, I've been driving) and it was the longest that I have ever ran without stopping. The only thing I can say is that I need to rest for a walk much sooner, because my knee is still killing me after 2 days.

When we made it back to the apartment, Haley and I stretched good for several minutes before we went inside. And this is where I started to get sick...oh and I could barely move or stand up straight. I ate to eat, because I needed something in my system, but I felt nauseas. I almost puked a couple of times. After a couple of hours, the feeling subsided and I ate pizza rolls. I know they aren't healthy, but I needed something quick for my ravenous appetite. Haley tried to eat everything in my pantry.

Next up, we are going to go for 8 miles on Thursday and if not, for sure on Sunday. I think I'm finally getting less nervous about the half marathon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Oxy 5K Family Run & Walk Recap

On Saturday, October 29, I attended the Oxy 5K Family Run & Walk by myself. I think this is the first time that I have ever done a running event completely on my own. I didn't have anyone there to support me or run with me or take pictures of me (key thing here is me, of course). In skydiving, I would a owe a case of beer for this first, but since I'm not skydiving, then I don't have to at all.

The race started at 9 a.m., in Terry-Hershey Park, which is a park that I have ran at before, but not successfully. I had to be there by 8:30 a.m. to sign-in and stretch. I actually showed up right as they started yelling out the instructions.

A cold front swept the nation (even in the South) on Friday evening and consequently, I woke up to 40 degree temperatures for my run. I know that the people in the North are like...whoa, that's it? But for us down here, that's cold. I'm not used to running in these arctic conditions. I'm a tropical girl with a love/hate relationship with warm weather. The only thing I can say good about this drop in temperature so soon in the season is that it might just kill the mosquitos (yeah, it didn't get all of them).

Anyways, so I showed up in my long pants, thermal shirt that I got at the Race for the Cure, and my Oxy 5K race shirt that was provided for me. Normally, I don't wear the race shirt, but I was required to by my company. And since it was a pretty cool shirt, I wasn't upset about it. I had my ipod and running belt already attached ready to go. I got there early and had minimal layers (knowing that I would get hot later once I started running), so I was shaking from the cold. At 8:45, this lady got us together to warmup instead of stretching. We did high knee runs to the cone and back and then jumping jacks at the first cone, butt kick runs to the cone and back and then jumping jacks at the first cone, and side slides to the cone and back and jumping jacks at the first cone. It was a nice warmup and I just kept moving to stay...well, warm. Finally, it was time to head over to the start line.

Geting ready for our warmup.

Since I had no one there to take my pre-run picture, I grabbed someone. Sadly, this is the only picture I got.

Everyone is heading to the start.

While we were waiting, I found out that my ipod has a radio station app on it, which means it picks up the local radio stations. I was happy to find that out since I can turn it to 95.7, which is dance/club type music (great for runs).

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Finally, it was time to start running. I started close to the front with the fast runners since most of the people here were walking. But I had no allusions of grandeur since I'm not a fast runner like at all. I even saw Nathan around me and I know he runs fast. My pace was steady, but I was passing people.  My ipod was playing song after song that had a good fast beat, except for maybe two. The only issue was that it was hosted by Perez Hilton and I just don't like this guy.

The scenery was woodsy and beautiful and I got my bridge fix. In that moment, I actually missed the Toughest 10ks (only for a moment). I kept up with these three people; I would move in front of them and then they would move in front of me. It was a constant changing motion of leaders (which didn't happen like that in the end). Finally, I reached the turnaround point and just kept on going. By then, 95.7 was going through its long commercial break (the bad thing about having a radio station on during your run) and I was trying to change the channel. It was here that I lost the initial group of three. I had to slow down alot to look down to change it. I don't do well with running and taking the water let alone running to change the ipod. Before I knew it, they were gone.

So, now I was running with a new set of people around me. One was this little girl (ended up being a coworker of mine's daughter who took first place in the kids division and the dad got first place in the adult division) that I could just not catch even when she walked. I remembered a converstion on the shut and run blog about kids running in a half marathon. I was thinking to myself right then and there about why I don't like kids running in the same events that I am in, because they make us look bad just like those 3 year old skiers that stop right next to you putting snow all over you or ski over your skies. I call them punk kids, but she wasn't. She was just running. The other girl kept changing leadership positions with me, but when we crossed the bridge for the last time, I picked up the pace. I had the same urge to decimate like in the Toughest 10k. In fact, she never caught up to me. One other girl from out of nowhere did and that's when I was fiddling with the darn ipod again. I couldn't hit the right station and finally just went back to listening to my unknown album.

When I saw the finish line within reach, I put the rockets on my feet in to full blast. I blew through the line at 34 minutes, which is a personal best for me. I wanted closer to 30 minutes, but I will take it. I probably would have gotten it in 32-33 minutes had I not had 2-3 slow slow periods fiddling with my ipod. Oh and I have to mention that as soon as I stopped running, it got cold again. So, I stood in the sun to warm up. I did some stretches, got a banana and a granola bar, blew my nose, and waited to find out who won the prizes in the raffle. I did not. I left as soon as the raffle was done and went to see my dad's mom for a nice visit. She was so happy to have me there.

I can't wait until tomorrow's post to talk about my best run EVER.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Just Want to Run

I'm not going to sugarcoat it, it's been really hard to run during the week. There is not enough hours in the day and with the mosquitos so bad (seriously Houston, are we going to do ANYTHING about it?), I've barely even taken my dogs out for somewhat long walks. Hell, I threw the ball for Lady last night, but I had to cut it short at only 4 minutes, because I was eatin' alive even with bug spray on and through my clothes.

I am taking Remington on as many runs as I can, but he doesn't last long. Just like with people, dogs (after a certain age...9) have to build up to a mile. Yesterday, I decided that I need to get cracking on this whole running thing if I'm going to survive a half marathon. So, I wasn't going to let Remington dictate when we stop; I was going to push him. We drove up to Hermann Park, got out, he did his business, and then we walked for a little bit. As soon as we hit the sign, we started running, which he immediately stopped to mark his territory. Okay, now we are going, running like the slow wind, with Remington in tow. He's gotten a lot better running on a leash; he's not always trying to get ahead of me. We ran all the way around the 1.5 mile loop (not the entire Hermann Park loop) without stopping. Well, we stopped twice (quickly), because Remington was being such a good boy for not attacking another dog or a golf cart; he deserved a treat. If I haven't mastered the art of running, grabbing water, and chugging said water, then I've certainly not mastered the art of running, grabbing treat, and handing said treat to Remi without dropping the treat or accidentally getting some teeth.

Remington was dragging alittle bit when we got closer to the car, but I wanted to push him. As we passed the car, he looked longingly over to it thinking we were going to stop. Nope, we did not. We kept on going until we made it to the other side. By now, the traffic was getting thicker with lots of loud cars and I kept having to give pep talks to Remi, "Come boy, you can do this." And then he started dragging more and more and then I did the slow slow runs (thanks Haley) so he could catch up. Finally, he just started walking, so I decided to turn around and go back the quiet way. There were loud trucks and a guy with a baby stroller and a dog. Remi was lunging and wouldn't sit, but he didn't bark. Since he didn't sit when I told him to, he didn't get a treat.

We walked a little bit more and I saw Remi pick up the pace. So, I did and we ran all the way back to the sign. Then, we walked to the car for a cool down. I did some stretching and we got in the car headed for home.

On a side note, I finally went to boot camp. I'm like jelly right now. Also, I know I've said stairs are rough, but try doing squats (more like plie's) with a 15 lb kettle ball all the way around the gym. And this came after we did regular squats all the way around. OUCH! I'm going to feel this throughout the day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Suck It Up Cupcake Recap of Toughest 10K Galveston

The Toughest 10K Galveston was the second running event in the Texas Bridge series, which means that I have 2 down, 1 more to go...the big half marathon. I was slightly nervous for this event, but not as bad as I was for the Toughest 10K Kemah. I still hadn't really ran all that much, except for a 3 mile loop around Memorial Park with Amy on Thursday evening before the big race and a couple of runs here and there with my dog. I'm actually getting more nervous about my half marathon, because I found out it is also over a tall bridge and I haven't ran more than 6 miles.

The event started at 7 a.m., which meant I had to get up super early to make it there for packet pickup. God help us. Amy decided to run at the last minute, with me really begging her on Thursday and well, all week. And to my surprise, Haley decided to run in it, too. She said she couldn't go, because she was working Ballunar this weekend, but she was allowed to show up for forced volunteering in the afternoon. Yay for me. Amy's friend, Nathan also showed up to run and he's doing the entire bridge series, as well. Although, I figured we would see Nathan in the beginning and that was it; he's a fast runner. I am not.

The Toughest 10K Galveston takes our running path across the famous Galveston Causeway, which links Galveston Island to Texas via motorway and intercoastal way (used to be rail, too). This event was the one that I was most excited about running, because I get to run on the Causeway. How cool is that? However, they were really strict on the rules, because they had a certain allotted time to not only shut down a lane on the bridge, but cross that bridge; we had an hour to cross it or you would forfit the rest of the run to be shuttled over.

The Galveston Causeway

Aeriel shot of the Causeway.

When we got there, it was dark...oh so dark and full of mosquitos. I don't know what happened, but apparently our rainstorm brought out the squiters. It's so weird, because it is cooler outside and normally, they are scarce during cool months. They swarmed us, eating our bare skin or skin through our clothes. My poor butt got the brunt of the bites. This one lady had on just a sports bra and she was just getting eatin alive. Someone had some OFF and it was like bees to honey trying to get some, but we girls managed to spray ourselves down.

Red, White, and Blue before shot...we didn't plan that either. But it's good to know that we celebrate AMERICA!

I'm still not getting why they separate the time chips table from the packet pickup table; it's just an extra step that I have to take when I could be in line for the restrooms or at least stretching. It's also really confusing since they don't have signs that say this table is for this thing. I also want to mention that the shirts are much better; however, I was upset that they ran out of mediums (that I requested). I think that the people showing up on the day of the event are taking our pre-registered shirts when that shouldn't be the case if we registered a month a go. I should have my shirt available. Anyways...off my soapbox.

We lined up and an ROTC group sang the National Anthem and then the countdown started....5...4...3...2...1...RUN. We started out slow letting the pack thin out. It was nice and smooth, just keeping the pace. Amy and I had our ipods on, but Haley didn't. So, I just tried to keep her engaged in conversation and well, take my mind off the fact that I was running. We just kept running and running and running. My goal was to make it over this bridge without stopping.

The Causeway was a slow, long incline (smaller in height than the Kemah bridge) making for a long, slow burn of a run. People were already walking, but not us; we just kept running. And you know what, we made it over the bridge and kept running. Since I haven't mastered the art of running and taking the cups of water, I had to stop and chug it down. The girls kept running and I sprinted to catch up with them. It was a half a second stop, so I don't really consider it a stop.

I was starting to lose steam fast and made the statement that I'm going to need to walk soon. The goal was to make it to the bridge and do a quick rest, but then we changed it to the 4 mile flag (near the top of the bridge). However, when Amy got within sight of the flag, she sprinted ahead of us and I just couldn't catch up to her. Haley kept telling me to slow down and I obliged. Amy was now gone and we didn't see her again until we were about to cross the finish line. I know how she felt, because when I finally saw the flag, I was going faster to get there, too. But Haley just kept reminding me to slow down and I again would oblige. I hate people when they are all right and stuff. Haley and I made it to the 4 mile flag without stopping, but it wasn't much of a stop. I had to fast walk and then Haley told me to speed up enough to a slow jog and keep doing that until we can break again. There was not much of a break with her. In fact, we didn't do another stop until the next water station after the bridge (and around the corner). And each time I wanted to walk, she would just tell me to do a slow slow jog.

I love the views from the bridge during our run; however, it stunk down under the bridge and by the houses.

At one point, Haley told me that we were almost there and I had Vietnam flashbacks of that girl yelling those statements to her friend at the Race for the Cure. I told her to stop that or I will punch her in the face...as soon as I could catch her. She gave me a "come catch me look" and sped up. Grrr!

We finally made it to the final stretch and then we saw this girl that had been with us a great deal of the run even when Amy was still running with us. She walked way more, but she ran faster. So, she was always with us. Haley said, "We can't let her beat us," but I was worried that she would beat us. We needed her to walk so that we could catch up and you know what, she did walk...2 or 3 times. We were able to get ahead of her. When we made the left on the final turn, I saw her out of the corner of my eye running to make up time. She didn't know it, but she was in a full on competitive race that I was not above tripping her if she tried to overtake us. I'm just kidding...maybe. I said, "She's catching up, we can't let her win," and I sped up. Haley was trying to say, "No, just long stretches," but that wasn't good enough. I wanted her dessimated. I'm not sure what she did to me in a past life, but it was something bad. Haley and I ended up winning and getting the 10K done in 1 hour, 12 minutes (1:12:22.3 to be exact). Haley was yelling at me to walk it out, keep moving, and for God's sake, stretch. I was moving and finally did stretch.

It was now time for our after shots.

Haley and I right after the race.

We caught up with Amy and took this photo.

It's just me after the race. I wasn't sure if Haley wanted her solo picture up since I got so much grief for putting every picture up on this blog, which I don't.

I ran in to a skydiver friend of mine, Matt. It was good to see him. They had pizza, beer, chocolate chip cookies, and Halloween candy. Surprisingly, I didn't have beer, but I just didn't feel like it at 8:30 a.m., even if it's 5 o'clock somewhere. The biggest difference in this race was that it was a long, slow climb verses the Kemah one, which was short, tall inclines. I actually felt better after the Galveston one, but I still zonked out on the couch when I got home. And I was so tight to properly do the moves during my Yoga for Athletes class the next morning. It did help me though.

I got alot of compliments on my t-shirt. Hence the title of my blog. Thanks to Kirsten Johnson for making this awesome shirt and now it will be my official race day shirt. I think it's so fitting for me. Thanks to Amy and Haley for joining me on this run...I really appreciate it. And I really want to thank Haley for pushing me to keep on running when you know Amy left us. This was the most that I have ever run and in not a bad time. I'm proud of myself and my time.

Now, it's time to start training for the half marathon. I must run at least 10 miles this week. Who's with me?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting Ready for the Toughest 10K

Well, the 2nd Toughest 10K in Galveston is fast approaching...yeah, on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. I haven't ran since last Monday or Thursday and that wasn't a very good run either. I have had a great deal of personal things going on in my life that has knocked me off my secure shelf. But I had to put those thoughts away and get to training. Hell, I have a half marathon in December and I would like to run more than 6 miles at some point.

Since I'm still separating the dogs and it's getting darker earlier, I have to include Remi on my run or I have to run in dark (not going to happen this week). I know it's not going to be a really great run, but I have to deal with my options at this point to get some training in before my events (and I got alot scheduled between now and then). I have to take him on the short path, because it's quieter and he still likes to stop to go to the bathroom. In fact, he went poop for the second time as soon as we started running. UGH!

The weather was cool (almost too cool since I was wearing capri pants a running thin shirt, but still great for a nice run. All in all, Remi and I ran the entire 1.5 loop without doing actual break stops due to exhaustion. We only stopped a few times for some passerbys and for him to sniff or a quick bathroom break. However, we did have to stop when the ambulances came (three in a row), because they were loud. I had him sit, gave him a treat, and covered his ears so he didn't freak out as they passed. Also, this was a good time to let the dog in front of us get some distance; Remi was surely focused on that poodle. With Remi, I worked on keeping him at my side, but he has a tendency to move fast when he sees something throwing me off.

I didn't make it to meditation for various reasons, including that I wanted to run and didn't have time to take out 2 dogs, run, and get to Bellaire in time. I had to pick running. I read some more chapters in Miracle of Mindfulness that you can practice meditation while running or walking. So, I decided to try focusing on my breathing, while I ran. It was hard, but I was starting to get the hang of it. Every so often, I would take a short breath in between my long breaths throwing me off. This helped me not think about being on the run giving me that extra endurance.

When we got close to the car, I picked up the pace and then I picked it up even more to an all out sprint to the parking lot. Poor Remi was doing what he could to keep up, but I wasn't going to let this run be a crappy one. My side was hurting at the end and I told Remi good job. I also gave him a treat.

Next up, either take him for 2 loops around or he's getting a short work so mommy can go to Memorial Park for a long run with Amy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Run Not So Good Yesterday

I need to get cracking on this running; I mean, I have a 10K next weekend over a bridge. So, I took out Remington for another run at Hermann Park mainly because I was running out of time. Having to hold back Lady and fight Bank of America just sucked up my time.

I got there with all my electronics that loaded down my waistline and neck. I had keys, ipod, leash, mace, running belt full of cards and phones. UGH! We started walking and I chose a different way to go, but Remington was just fired up for some reason. Maybe it was a lot of me yelling at them to calm down and all the noise getting there (doing construction by my house) or maybe it was the fact that I got there late when a lot of people were there with their dogs.

We started trotting along, but immediately, he had to go to the bathroom. Then, my earphone kept popping out. We kept moving, but he was always stopping. This was a much noiser side with lots of traffic (won't do that again). When we got around the corner, I noticed a Chinese Pagoda and the trees that overhung on the running path...beautiful. But then a dog came and I couldn't get Remi to be settled. He didn't bark or anything, but he lunged and then I got him to sit. He lunged at two runners and then another dog, but still no barking. I decided to take off my ipod for good, cut the run short, and go down the quieter path where all you hear is the click from the clubs hitting the golf ball. He seemed to relax more. And since I'm not even sure we ran a mile (I'm going to say we did), I picked up the run at full pace...even faster than my normal full pace. Remi was moving along, but slowly falling back. I ran all the way to the parking lot like that and I was proud that I ran so fast. We walked back to the car for our cooldown where I smelled the pot and looked over to see three people in a mini van burning one. Nice.

Afterwards, I got back in my car and took us home so that I could take out Lady (bouncing off the walls to get out of the house). We had a good ball throwing session in the grassy knoll in my apartment. She was pretty much dead at the end.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Year of Kristi

When I was younger, I was fearless, ready to do anything. If I wanted to try it, I would just go ask to get it done. My dad often told the story of when we were in Malaysia. He was sitting on the beach asking where I was and then he looked up and out to the ocean. He saw me sitting on the front of the windsurfer board dangling my feet in the Pacific Ocean, while the windsurfer moved us along the water. I think he was proud of me, because I didn't know the guy and just went to ask him if I could try it. As I got older, I retreated in to myself, getting scared by the minute. I mean, even riding a plane was something scary for me. Now, you are thinking, but wait a minute, she skydives. Yes, I do, but I had to be talked in to it. I just didn't go for me. I had no desire to ever do this in my life, but I did it and loved it.

Over the years, my ex husband and I joked about how we wanted to be like George Constanza in Seinfeld and have the Year of George, but we were thinking of it in a different context. I look at it now more as doing things that I never thought possible instead of just doing nothing for a year. For me, this year has been the hardest year that I have had to deal with, even beating the year my dad died. However, even though I have gone through some crazy things that I don't wish upon my worst enemy, I still conquered my fears to try some new and amazing things. I pushed passed the fear and my self doubt to say I did it, because I wanted to do it. And this has been The Year of Kristi.
  • I had to ask for help. My friends and family know that I don't do this like at all and if I must, I am kicking and screaming to avoid it. When I broke my leg, it took everything I had to not only let them wash the dishes, but to be okay with it. So, when I was kicked out of the house and had only a few friends to call, they were there to help me and they knew what a big deal that was for me. I called and emailed them days and nights with endless talk and cries about whoa is me, which I just don't do, but they let me. They knew I needed it and I'm thankful to have those friends and family in my life. Without them, I would be a lost little puppy right now.
  • I hiked to the top of a mountain (even if it was only 2,000ft) with my good friend, Ashley. Now, I have the bug and can't wait to do my next big climb. Tibet anyone?
Ashley and I finally making it to the top even if I almost missed my flight.
  • I hiked alone in Colorado and Utah even though they were small hikes and not a great deal of summitting so to speak.
Me at the Colorado National Monument.
  • I went to England for 2 weeks by myself, just backpacking around. I did have some friends there that I met up with and some that I hadn't seen in years. Normally, I would just cancel the trip if my friends couldn't go (England has been planned 3 times before, Ireland once, and Spain once). I would have never thought to do this alone, but I did and it was the most amazing time. I met so many people (one in particular that puts a smile on my face everyday) and got my confidence back in humanity again. I met an Aussie at the rugby match and although he was super drunk, he gave me his Australia flag and bracelet (yup, went to England to come home with Australia stuff) since he had just recently gone through what I was going through. I never take that bracelet off, because it reminds me that I have the strength to be me and do whatever I need to do by myself, if necessary. I even drove a canal boat. I don't care if it was for a couple of minutes, I still did it.
I walked the famous Abbey Road with a great couple and survived it since there was a lot of traffic there (angry drivers).

Of course I went to London and found the Texas Embassy.

Yeah, even if it's just a photo op, I drove the boat and made it through a small narrow passageway under a bridge.
  • I started yoga and LOVED it. I remembered taking yoga awhile back to try something new instead of Tai-Chi (so much better on my back) and it threw out my back for weeks. So, I have pretty much avoide yoga like the plague. But through a Groupon deal, I tried it again and I'm glad I did. Some of those classes and teachers and moves are scary and hard, but I'm working on it. I'm always scared to go, I'm sweating and dying in the middle of it, but I come out of it completely feeling just awesome.
  • I started bootcamp where I get up for the 6 a.m. class when I can.
  • I tried Zumba.
  • I ran in some crazy and tough events, some that I thought would actually kill me. Do you remember the Toughest 10K Kemah? And I have my second Toughest 10K next week. I ran in my undewear with Amy and her boyfriend down in Rice Village. I ran in my first running event alone. My my mother was there to cheer me on, but not running. If I didn't have someone to go with, than I wasn't going. I ran in the dark at night by myself, which I never do unless I have people around me like at the Sand Crab event.
Amy and I at the Hot Undies Run.
  • I tried kayaking for the first time and LOVED it. I'm hooked like hiking. And my next kayaking trip is with Haley in a couple of weeks (cross your fingers it happens, because it has taken forever to schedule).
  • I participated in an EcoChallenge (ends officially on October 15) where I am learning to change the way I consume food (Sustainable Food Options challenge) and use water (Water Conservation challenge). I mean I went 3 days a week for 2 weeks without meat. I know me, right...the big carnivore. I also shopped at a Farmer's Market and learned new recipes (mostly vegetarian). I stepped out of my comfort box to try some new vegetables and fruits, including cremini mushrooms, which helped me win a prize (well, that and what I did for breast cancer this month). And on Saturday, I'm taking my recycleables up to Discovery Green and going to my first ever pumpkin patch with my nieces some time this weekend.
  • I learned how to make a pumpkin pie from scratch...FROM SCRATCH...even the crust with my friend, Haley. Even though, it took forever, it was so worth it and I'm forever ruined on pumpkin pies made from the can.
Haley and I after our first pie done...at 1 a.m.  Yeah, we had a bite...don't judge us.
  • I finally quit the one big, last addiction of my life and that was sodas. I have had at least one everyday for over 25 years. When I was young, I drank 8 cokes a day, but as I got older, they got less and less. And finally, I was down to 1 coke and it was the 7.5 oz. All week, I didn't have cokes, but I could get them free at my job. But on Sunday, October 2, I was lazy and didn't feel like walking to the store to get one and just decided to quit. It was my second day of the EcoChallenge and thought that it was time. That sunday was fine and gave me false hope that I could get through this without issues like when I quit smoking. But boy howdy was I wrong. I have never felt so horrible in my life. I was up there with crack addicts trying to break their addiction in rehab. The range of emotions were textbook that would have been a pyschotherapists' wet dream and I probably could have hurt someone if they got in my way. But I'm finally at a place where I don't crave it as much (took me about 5 days). Am I ready to drink a coke without going back in to an alley giving services for soda? Hell no, not yet.
But in all the things I have tried, one thing got put on the backburner for various reasons and for a little bit of fear. Last night, I finally went to meditate. March and April (well and February since that was the worst month ever), I was looking in to meditating to calm my mind and maybe get some sleep. I read Eat, Pray, Love (which is how I got the inspiration to go off to England by myself) and thought that this might work for me since that book was a timeline of my life (well, except for spending a year away). I searched the internet and found a free Buddhist learning center called Chung Tai Zen Center of Houston in the heart of Houston's Asia town where the road signs aren't in English anymore. I liked this place, because it was free (only donations), they had other classes like Tai-Chi and Mandarin (started learning that a LONG time ago when I lived in Singapore), and you could go on day retreats. I also learned that you can get a free vegetarian dinner at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays (possibly everyday, but the meditation was this day).

I couldn't go in May when the Summer session started, because I got in to a car wreck and didn't think I could sit with my back straight for minutes on end mainly because I couldn't keep my back straight. So, I put this off and put it off and finally, my mind calmed a great deal (not 100%) largely due to England and getting that hurdle crossed in August. But my friend, Jules, in my opinion needed this more than anything and I thought it was a good time to go. I had a couple of fears:  1.) Do they speak English? 2.) Do they let non-Buddhist practicing people show up? 3.) Are we okay to join if the Fall classes started? 4.) What happens if someone farts...me? Yes, yes, and yes were my answers, but who knows about the last question. We just needed to show up at 7 p.m. to get a quick class on how to meditate, such as body position, hand position, and breathing.

The Buddhist Monk was really nice (unfortunately, I can't remember his name, but will get it next time) teaching us everything since it was my first time (not for Jules). This was zen meditation and the breathing was different than yoga, but the principles were still the same. After we were done, he showed us where to go and we stood around and waited. I was nervous and intimidated, because everyone already knew what to do (this being their third week). Jules and I went in the room and I immediately noticed the incense. I hate incense (damn hippies), because it gives me a headache. So, I was starting to worry how I was going to survive 2 hours of meditation with a headache and nausea. I just took a breath and sat down in the position he told me. It was quiet...oh so quiet...death quiet. And of course, Jules and I stupidly picked the one seat that was directly under the hot lamp. At this point, now I'm worried I may not make it. Then, they started, but they didn't really say it. It just happened. I was hoping for a bell, but nope.

I spent the time focusing on my breathing, breathing in for so many seconds and out for so many seconds. It was hard, because I could hear myself breathe and it was loud, so very loud. I kept wondering if people could hear me and if my nasely breath is disrupting everyone else. I mean, how is everyone else so silent? So, I tried to flush out those thoughts and just focus on the breathing. I was finally getting the hang of it where my breath was flowing and not choppy and then I moved my foot alittle bit. Darnit, why did I do that? My foot was asleep and not just asleep, but in a coma. It was dead and then it started to bother me making it the only thing I could focus on at that moment. So, I had to undo my foot, shake it up as silently and slowly as I could without disrupting the class, and reposition myself. This was hard, but I finally got it awake and changed footing. It took some more time to get back into a more meditative state, but I did. And then the bell chimed, the lights came on. I was like was that 2 hours? People were moving around and folding their blankets. I took the cue to do the same, but Jules didn't catch on so quickly. Yup, the entire class was waiting on us to get done.

The monk told us to follow the others and we started the walking meditation portion. You step and breathe each time the bell chimed. We are supposed to relax in to the walk and not anticipate the bell, but that's like telling someone not to push the red button...you ALWAYS want to push the red button. It was still cool. We did this for a bit before the bell chimed again. Everyone looked like they were leaving. So, I asked if it we were done, but the person said that it was just a break. They were gathering their things, because we went in to the classroom to discuss the principles of meditation. The men were on one side and the women on the other side; however, a young girl wanted to sit with her father bucking the system. I liked her immediately. It was so neat to hear the ideas behind it. And I'm reading a book called the Miracle of Mindfulness that talks about the idea of duality. I did speak about it, but I got the name wrong. Oh well. I also realized that skydiving relates to zen meditation and the ideas behind it, but we as skydivers are so focused on...well, skydiving that we don't see to apply it to other things in our life. Afterwards, we had some Chinese bread and went home, with the promise to come back gain next week. I was really excited to try this meditation thing and I might even hit up the Mandarin classes next session. Also, Jules and I did talk about doing the Tai-Chi class on Saturday afternoon if anyone is interested.

Oh and sorry for the long post. It was deep reflection time, growing my avacado tree when I wanted oranges...I think the Buddhist got to me.