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. 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 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 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 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 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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taking My Dog on a Run

Well, some of you may know that I have had some issues with Remington (my younger dog). He is obviously not adjusting well to the apartment life. Going from a big house with a big yard in a suburb, quiet neighborhood where the only time it gets loud is during New Years and Indpendence Day to a small apartment with no backyard and lots of noise. And I think he's just gotten old and cranky. I take both of my dogs on long walks to get them out of the small apartment, but I guess it's not good enough. So, last week, he tried to attack another dog, he may have attacked my other dog, he barked at runners and passerbys, and he bit me. I was now thinking about putting him down, which I didn't want to do. After some advice, I went to the vet to maybe see if he's going through early stages of alztheimers since he is 9 or if some other medical issue is going on with him. It turns out he's normal, which I figured. But Dr. Baxster gave me lots of things to try to see if this changes him before we consider that other alternative. Also, she had a dog that did the same it got older, she got finickier and just aggressive. It made me feel good that she went through the same things I did. Some things she suggested include the following:
  • Take Remi on walks by himself and in a quieter area. I live near the medical center where it's busy and helicopters/ambulance sirens/police sirens are going off constantly and loudly, which I know makes him on guard more.
  • Give Remi alittle bit more me time.
  • Give Remi treats and say, "Good Job Remi" whenever I do take him on a walk so that he would rather sit and get his treat than go after another dog or person.
  • Get Remi a harness for control on the walks and possibly a gentle leader around his mouth. I did buy the gentle leader, but it's too big.
  • Give Remi a treat on his own, which this didn't work out so well. He's not interested and Lady is definitely interested in a cong full of peanut butter.
So, now I'm wrestling with taking out my dogs separately and then somehow I have to fit in a run. I was already strapped for time fitting in my run with taking both of the dogs out together. Well, I took Remi up to Hermann Park after my vet visit (with new harness) since it's quieter than around my apartment. He did awesome. The harness works perfectly (need it more for Lady though) and he was sitting and being so calm; a motorized golf cart went right passed him and all he could focus on was my hand with the treat. He was walking right next to me and just looking like his old self.

With that really great walk, I decided that I might take just Remi on my runs. I've seen other people do it and he did so well on our walk. Plus, I don't have to spend 3 hours exercising on an already tired body. So, I drove Remi and I up to Hermann Park. I hate doing that since it's only 1.8 miles away (usually, I'm walking up there), but there's lots of traffic and loud sounds between my apartment and the park. I was following the vet's recommendations. Plus, it saves me some time.

I didn't do any stretching and just started walking the dog a bit (good mini warmup) to get out of the parking area. Once we hit the gravel path, I picked up the pace to a light jog to see how Remi reacts. He reacted just fine. He loved it in fact. He mostly stayed by my side and with the harness, I was easily able to get him back to me. If someone passed by, we would stop, I had him sit, and then I gave him a treat and said, "Good boy." We went all the way around the 1.5 loop running as much as we could. He actually  makes his run look slower, like it's a fast walk. Was it the best run? Gosh, no. Remington still has a habit of stopping right in front of me, tripping me so that I get close to falling on my face. He did that a bit, but I was prepared for it. He also is sniffing around, but he doesn't go far.

My only issue was this one dog. We had to pass this white toy poodle dog since they were walking and  we were running. Remi just wanted to get to the dog, but I kept telling Remi to let it go. And what was cool about that whole scenario was that it was the other dog barking and going crazy. Sure, Remi was pulling so hard that I thought my arm was going to get ripped out, but he wasn't growling or barking or anything. There was another dog ahead of us that he kept sprinting to try to get it, but I pulled him back towards me with no issues. I was very happy with Remi's performance when it came to other dogs. He did try to run after some joggers passing us by, but he didn't bark.

Towards the end, Remi was getting tired. I was now running ahead of him and trying to drag him along. I kept up the run until we got about 100 ft from the car and stopped to do our cooldown walk. I was so proud of him and now, I'm going to start taking him on more runs (shorter for now). Hopefully, I can build up his endurance to go longer. He looks happier and hopefully, his grumpiness will subside.

Some pictures from my run.

My boy is leading me for our walk back to the car.

Remi's new harness. I plan to get Lady one in pink.

Oh mom, quit taking my picture.

Thanks mom for a great day.
After I got back, I took out Lady for a 1 mile walk (roundtrip) to the big open field to throw the ball to her. She gives me more of an arm workout and I really need to get the harness for her. I tried to use Remington's but she's too big.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Recap

On Saturday, October 1, 2011, I joined my company to run in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. I signed up maybe a month ago when Amy sent me an email asking if I was going to participate (she was already signed up) and I said, "Why not." This is a 5K run to raise money for breast cancer research, which is something near to my heart since I have family members and friends that have dealt with this tragic disease and my own Lady LooLoo is dying from it, as well (although, they call it mammary cancer for dogs and why she has a pink collar). This run has 3 different groups:  Competitive Runners, Non-Competitive Runners, and Walkers (this is important later, I swear). Last year, I was signed up for this event with a Skydive Houston team; however, I got asked to participate on a Women's Texas State Record to raise money for a breast cancer clinic called The Rose. Not only was that for a good cause, but I was going to be on a record...I couldn't say no and my team did the run without me. On a side note, I am participating again this year in the Jump for the Rose on October 8-9, 2011, at Skydive Spaceland. If you can come out to see us or donate to this great organization, please do so; they helped save my friend's life.

Back to the run. Amy and I got up really early so that we can get downtown with enough time to park and find our group at the Sabine Bridge. I'm so glad Amy and I parked farther away (due out of laziness to even search for a parking spot), because there were lots of people. At this point, I didn't realize how many people. The lines to pay for parking were long, but it wasn't until we got in to the main Sam Houston Park area that I realized how many people were here. This is great for the run, but horrible when trying to get to a pre-determined location...or even the start line.

We went searching for the Sabine Bridge. It was surprisingly cold that morning, with a little breeze making it worse. I only had on shorts and a t-shirt and was badly looking for a long-sleeved shirt. Amy mentioned that it would get warmer once we started the race, but boy, was it chilly. I'm glad we didn't wear tank tops like normal. 

Amy said they were going to have pink port-o-potties, but I didn't believe her.

Just getting through to the main park area was crazy. Getting out of it towards the start was even worse. It was so packed.

This is heading to the main start area; it took about 15 minutes to get through.

We ran in to some other employees who also didn't know where they were going and then ran in to some more who told us exactly where to find everyone. We met up for some early snacks and hellos.

Waiting on the Sabine Bridge with our cool pink shirts, although, I think they could have had a catchy breast cancer slogan.

Then, we heard them announce that the competitive runners are about to start. Amy was going to just run with me in that section, but we decided that I would run in her group to be with the company team. However, when it got to be about 5 minutes and no one was going near the start, Amy and I decided to head over there. We were following the signs and people's shouts about running on this side for competitive runners, but then they said to go over on the other side of the fence for non-competitive runners. So, we followed to the other side, which was a huge mistake. It was insanely packed. And when they started the countdown (they didn't say what the countdown was for), the walkers just massively herded like cattle to the front. I use the analogy cattle, because they were slow masses just barely taking a step forward. I mean, most of the time, we were stopped. This is when we got goofy, because we didn't have anything else to do.

Our standard before shot, which I didn't realize that we would have ample opportunities to take more. We thought we were late.

Where we were told to go...BIG MISTAKE!

Memorial Hermann's inflatable breast.

At this point, we were still good.

And then it starts...this is towards the back where it was still so so.

Countdown was announced and the wall of people just increased.

Now, we aren't even moving, but the start is up ahead.

Look at us so angry, so UGH! We are never going to run.
After standing there for a minute or 2, we accepted our fates and just had fun.

Trying to take a good shot that showed us not fat, no sun, and Amy's head out of the way of my head. But we forgot something.

Did you see that shiny ring on Amy's finger? Yup, that's right, she's engaged, off the market, se la ve!
Oh and I'm not sure why this picture comes out vertical when I upload it. It was taken correctly and is a horizontal picture.

They were already announcing the non-competitive runners to go, but we weren't close to the start line. Finally, a line of people pushing their way to the front full of competitive runners and non-competitive runners shouting that they were here to run. Amy and I attached ourselves to this line and pushed our way to the start line. And we finally made it there. I'm so thankful for them, because we just shaved off probably 45 minutes of wait time so that we could actually start running.

I never thought we would see it.

Well, all I can say different about getting to the start line and the actual running was that it was less packed, still packed, but less packed. They were able to stop the Walkers so the runners could go, but there were a great deal of people in the running group that should have been in the walking group. I'm not Flo Jo, but if you have to walk within 50ft of crossing the start line, then you should be in another group. People were walking everywhere, taking up long horizontal lines across the street. It took more energy just weaving in and out of the walking traffic. People didn't know the cardinal rule (which is the same for driving) of MOVE TO THE RIGHT (or side) when walking during an event or at the park where it's crowded. Don't just lollygag in the middle talking about your day, swinging your arms. That was another thing, if you are walking, then pay attention to your arms. Since Amy and I were weaving in and out in these tiny holes that were sometimes created for us, we got very close to the walkers; however, none of them paid attention to where their arms were going. I know that the trend is to move those arms big and round to add more burn, but not in a packed event where people are trying to get around you. I swear everytime I passed by someone, I got hit in the arm, the thigh, the chest, the stomach, and a couple of times, I got hit with a water bottle. I just want people to pay attention when it's an event that is this packed.

I'm just saying, it's not easy to get around.

I thought this was such a cool picture. I couldn't get all of them up there due to fumbling my camera phone out of my running belt in time, but there were lots of people just cheering us on. That was cool.

As you can see...lots of people

Okay, rant over, back to run. Amy and I ran 2 miles without stopping and we were able to add more of a caloric burn by all the weaving around traffic. There were cheerleaders doing cheers for us and high school bands playing on the side. It was really pleasant to hear.

Our first stop was at the drink station and then we walked some more. We picked up the run again, then I stopped for a quick stop, and then we ran all the way to the finish line. Towards the end, I looked over and there were still a massive amount of people walking on the other side, not even close to the finish line. A girl was encouraging her friend to keep it up, keep running, we are almost to the finish line. She stayed with us the entire time. It did help keep me going, but after awhile, her loud voice was just...well loud. I turned to Amy to tell her that I was glad she wasn't doing that to me or I might slap her and she agreed.

When we crossed the finish line, it said 52 minutes, but that is from the countdown of the Non-Competitive Runners...I think. Well, I just checked my time and it was 35:15, which is great considering. I did want to beat my 5K run time from the Sand Crab event (38 minutes), but I was hoping for 30 minutes. Hey, I'm lucky that I got 35 with the extra slowing down and weaving in and out around walkers/slower runners. So, I'm proud that I'm improving my run time at each event.

Our after shot by the inflatable breast girl. Memorial Hermann created this so that you can walk inside to see the insides of your breasts:  one with cancer and one without cancer. We didn't go in, but there was a long line and such a great idea to educate people.

More of our group after the race.

Afterwards, we hung out at the bridge with the others and then went back to the main park to look around for free swag and knee high socks. Amy and I got this beautiful scarf (for free) and I did find my socks. Plus, I got some other goodies. We left fairly quickly after that and went to the Farmer's Market for some shopping and oh so delicious breakfast tacos.

I saw The Rose booth and I went to say hello since I'm jumping for them next weekend. This was their dog that liked to be in the box.

It's like she is Cousin It's baby, but oh so cute.

All in all, I'm proud to be a part of something so awesome. I will continue to participate in this race as much as I can, but I probably will only do a packed event like this once a year. I will also never EVER complain about the Toughest 10K being packed. 

I want to take the time out to personally thank everyone that donated to me and the team, especially since I sent out a last minute request for help. I really really appreciate it, more than you will ever know. Our team was able to reach our goal of $5,000 (actually, it was close to $6,000 by the end of the day), which Oxy then matched.
It's a blurry picture, but Houston was lit up with pink. And the Houston Texans were donned in pink for Sunday's game, as well.