Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Year of the Broken Kristi

Last year, my most popular post was the Year of Kristi. I thought I would end 2012 with a simliar post...a recap of my year and something that I finally accomplished.

To say that 2012 has been rough on my body is an understatement. Last year was mentally tough in every way possible. I thought I would never get out alive. Now, I'm not even sure my body will make it to the proposed end of the world on December 21, 2012; however, NASA put out their argument against this set date for the end of the world).
I have had two, COUNT THAT TWO surgeries in one year. I had a scope done on my left ankle to find out why after 15 months, I am still swelling up and in pain. The scar tissue damage was cleaned up, but my ankle still swells and causes pain. So, it's pain management for the rest of my life I guess. Then, I caught a viral infection, which caused me to have vertigo for the first time ever. And in true Kristi weird fashion, the vertigo came first before the actual deathbed sickness (typically, it's the other way around). I did lots and lots of tests. Having the vertigo first threw the norm out the door and we had to test for EVERYTHING. This lasted for four weeks straight. Also, this weakened my immune system. If someone gets sick around me or I just catch a simple head cold, I would be out of commission for a week. Then, I had surgery again to deal with my cyst removal. This was so hard for me, because the anesthesia made me sick...really sick. I didn't leave the hospital at a normal time, because I was kept under observation. The nausea and vomiting lasted for about 48 hours.
On a side note, I want to thank Lori (the best sister-in-law ever) for taking care of me that day. Words can not express how greatful I am to you. I want to also thank my parents for again being there after my surgery and all the people that came to visit me (you know who you are). And I can't forget my wonderful dog walker, Esmeralda and her family.
Then, there is the weird, mysterious right foot issue that caused me to stop running for a bit. I had a steroid shot last Friday on it (well...this pain has been there since May with minimal relief) and that took about 36 hours to fully recover. And last but not least, I have a hairline fracture in my right wrist (radius) in which it's in a removable cast. I will explain later how that happened. I'm looking at a total of four weeks of recovery and no running. So, on Friday and Saturday, my whole right side of my body was out of commission and had to do that driving with a stick shift. Oy Ve'!
It's red for the holidays. I never miss an opportunity to be totally holiday cliched'.
Consequently, I have had to eat alot of 5K registration costs, because I couldn't run them (Oxy Fun Run 5K, Run in the Park, Graffiti Run, and Run for Your Lives). Okay, last of the whining done. I swear.

But in spite of all that listed above, I did do some really awesome things and some related to my Goals post for 2012 (obviously I failed miserably with my goal to make it to 2013 without an injury):
  • The big one for me in 2012 was that I finally FINALLY learned how to not only drink wine, but really and truly love it. I started off slow, but my friend Gary said, "You have to just have a glass with whatever meal and get used to the taste (paraphrasing since I don't remember what he actually said...I tune him out alot). That advice helped...oh and sharing with people. Mal even got me a wine journal and I kept track of wines that I liked vs. wines I didn't like (thinking Merlots). Going to France in May was my turning point since the wines there were fantastic. However, it did take awhile to like red wines, but I do love them now. I think Malbec is my favorite red wine (Gracias Luciano...but you may have spoiled me). I also took a wine education class and went to a winery with the intent of liking the wine (Veramar Vineyard) instead of just tasting it to be nice. If you are in Northern Virginia and looking for a good winery, head that way. It was so beautiful. 

Northern Virginia in October brings out some of the most amazing colors...and wine.
  • Haley and I finally went on our kayaking adventure in February. It was a long time coming, but we managed to go out there for a fun time. I couldn't have asked for a better experience tandem kayaking with my girl. Afterwards, we had discussions of learning to sail, which is next on the list.
Haley and I in our tandem kayaks with all smiles.
  • I joined two outdoor bootcamps that kicked my butt and I loved every minute of it. Mean Green was my favorite and bonus that it was closer. Silverback Fitness was still a good option.
  • One of the things on my list was to travel to a new U.S. city. Well, I traveled to three different U.S. cities. I went to San Diego for the first time to watch my beautiful friend Susan get married to the awesome Dan (my designated driver for life since he likes to drive my Porsche). Even though I completely missed the wedding, I enjoyed the reception and loved her mother's friends. I also traveled to another part of Northern Virginia to see my friend BranDee marry Martin (who I haven't seen in several years). While I was there, I stopped in Washington D.C. to make up for my quick car trip through D. C. several years before this. I went on a family trip to take my grandmother to see Mt. Rushmore, which was a bucketlist item for her and an amazing experience for me.
Susan and Dan cutting the wedding cake. Yes, this a Sabre sword as a tradition from her parent's wedding.
BrandDee and Martin walking down the aisle as husband and wife.

Three generations of women at Mt. Rushmore.

  • Because I couldn't run a large percentage of this year, I was handed down my mother's bike for me to use. I became a Tour de Force. I'm still not used to it, but I have had some good biking adventures. Also, my wonderful man, Jim gave me a bike for me to have when I visit him in England.
  • Me and Grease lightening leaving Sykes House Farm, England.

  • I participated in the Sprint For Life 5K in honor of MaloRee, BranDee, and MegGan's mother. We raised over $1,700 for our team. This was also the first time I ran with Kate and well, Kate's first of many 5K's with me. She's an athlete now.
Kate is an ATHLETE!
  • Another 2012 goal checked off was running the infamous El Chupacabra de Houston night run with Sara and Kris. I had so much fun and I hope to do it again next year.
    We plan to welcome the visitors from another planet.

  • And again, another 2012 goal was checked off. My plan in life is to travel to a new country once a year. Last year, I traveled to England and Ireland. This year, I traveled to France and had basically the trip of lifetime that included beer festivals, wine, cheese, England's only defeat on English land by the French (you know I had to throw that in there), Normandy invasion and all the WWII stuff I love so much (by far the most moving thing I have EVER seen), family, birthday fun, hiking, and kayaking the great water terror.

I'm standing on Omaha Beach where many soldiers lost their lives in the D-Day invasion.
  • I finally participated in a costumed themed run. Now, I have done the 2011 Hot Undies Run before, but this time, I managed to convince four girls to dress up as Team MadeIn USA for the 2012 Hot Undies Run. Next year, we have an even better costume idea that may just get us close to winning.  
    Team MadeIn USA at the 2012 Hot Undies Run.
  • One of my goals was to hike with Ashley; however, we couldn't make our schedules work. I did get to hike in America in 2012, but with someone else. I reunited with Ingrid (who I haven't seen in YEARS) to hike the Boulder Flatirons.  It was so good to catch up with her and do something fun.
Ingrid and I hiking the Boulder Flat Irons.
  • I participated in my first ever volunteer job for a 5K run.
  • I participated in the 2012 Turkey Trot alone and realized that I'm not a fan of crowded runs.
  • Me at the 2012 Turkey Trot
  • I finally bought a filing cabinet to organize ALL of my documents. I have been dealing with some financial things out of my control that forced me to get organized quick. It's been great. In fact, I had an invoice for the dogs and I immediately put in the correct folder instead of just placing it in a box somewhere. At work, I have gotten alot better at organizing my printed files, electronic files, and the files for our group. It's still a working progress, but I'm getting better at it.
  • Haley and I had a 2012 Bakeathon of Christmas goodies for friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. on Sunday. We made Christmas cookies, peppermint chocolate pretzels (the best ever), chocolate cornflake balls, and pumpkin spice muffins. We also added a candy cane to each bag. I handed them out yesterday and everyone loves the pretzels. I learned that I am not a good icer and I can only decorate the candy cane cookies.
My fridge in an explosion of chocolate.
This really only shows a quarter of the Christmas cookies we made.
But the biggest accomplisment of 2012, occured on December 2. I finally got up the nerve to run the Houston Hash. Last Summer, Mal and I were supposed to go (she is already a hasherette), but we just couldn't make it work. At the Flying Saucer working on my plate goal (70 out of 200 completed with a deadline of August 2013), I ran in to a friend of mine (Keelan aka Platypus). He convinced me to join him on that Sunday's run and I did. I was so nervous and excited, but I couldn't wait to go.
The deal is that you don't know the location until the day of the event. You call the hotline to find out  where you have to go and viola! You run. I called the hotline a dozen times that morning and managed to get the bike hash location without knowing it. As I was hurrying out to the Woodlands area, I decided to call again just to check. It was changed and I turned around to wait for the actual hash run.
I showed up early and not wearing the proper clothing. Some of the people looked at me funny, but thankfully, I had a bunch of clothes in the car (don't ask). So, I put on some long socks and capri pants. I was good to go.
The Hares went over the rules and they were a little too excited to have a virgin in their mixes (newbie aka me). I just wanted to make it through to the beer. As we started, everything was confusing. People were yelling ON ON. People were going one way and then another. The groups split and I went with one group (the correct direction). I stayed with some people for awhile and then I was by myself. It was interesting. At one point, I turned at a checkpoint and then ended up back on a path I just came from only to find a guy telling me I must have missed a checkpoint. I was like...yeah...I've already been here. I just made a mistake. Then, I ended up next to a guy where we pretty much stayed together for awhile.
The trail lead us in to the middle of a BMX bike area complete with ramps. This is where I got hurt. I started to walk down this steep hill and slipped. I put my arm out to catch me like a moron and slipped some more. Then, I slammed my whole right arm in to the ground. I thought I was going to survive with just a little soreness, but it turned out that I did in fact have a hairline fracture. GRRRRR! Whuffos (non-skydivers) have all been like that is a normal reaction. Skydivers just laugh and tell me that this is what happens when we aren't skydiving anymore. As skydivers, we are taught on the first day never to put our hand down to catch the landing or you will break your wrist. I should know better.

After I got through that, I started to get worried that I was really lost since I hadn't seen a white dot in a long time and then finally I spotted one. We headed in that direction and met up with more people. We went through some pretty crazy areas of the trail and I kept thinking I hope I don't get poison ivy.
But finally, we made it to the end where beer was a plenty. I was so happy to finish, especially a five mile run (although, it felt more like six-seven miles) since that was the furtherst I had run in a long time. I was initiated into the group and forced (cough cough) to chug my beer. I had a huge smile on my face, because I have found where I belonged. After stepping back from skydiving, I have had a void missing. The Hashers basically do what skydivers do, except they have way more songs. I loved it. As soon as I get healed from this stupid wrist thing, I'm heading back to do my second hash and many more to come.

Look at that smile...yeah, I found my home. I just need to stay injury-free.
So, I bid farewell to 2012, with much anticipation for 2013. Hopefully, I will have some awesome surprises in store for me. I only ask that I don't endure anymore injuries. Paapappaallleeeeezzzeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 Turkey Trot Recap

A week or two prior to Thanksgiving, I was really getting an itch to run on this day to burn some calories before I gorged myself on the deliciousness that is Turkey Day (and boy did I gorge). I had heard about the famous Turkey Trot, which is a 5k/10k in the early morning hour around the Galleria area. I wasn't too sure about actually doing the run or just running on my own at Hermann Park without having to pay the registration fee. But then I talked to some coworkers and a few friends and they were doing it, too. So, I registered thinking this was a go.

My two friends (Sara and Kris) that you may remember from the El Chupacabra run were planning to do the 10k. I wished I was ready, but sadly, I was only ready for the 5k. My coworker was doing the 5k and we planned to go together. I was excited about the run, because it's exercise on an high calorie day and I always love to try new runs whether good or bad.

But then things turned grrr for me on Thursday morning. I woke up kind of later than I wanted and spent too much time walking the dogs. I wanted to be there early to get a decent parking spot and meet up with Kris and Sara since their race started 30 minutes before my race. I didn't have enough time to eat anything but a banana. I also didn't have time to pick out my running outfit. Then, as I got to the race, I realized that I forgot my Garmin watch to track the race. And to top it off, the person I was picking up canceled on me so I was alone running like I didn't want to do in the first place. Needless to say, I was grumpy by the time I got to the packet pickup area.

I managed to find a parking spot rather close (after two failed attempts) and then headed to get my packet. My race was to start in 20 minutes, which gave me just enough time to head back to the car to drop off my goodie bag and get to the starting line before they blew the whistle. But no one mentioned to me that the starting line was far away from the finish line. I think it was a half a mile of walking just to get over in the general vicinity and I never really found the end of the line, because the crowd was so huge. Eventually someone mentioned that there was a gap that we all would try to get in to, which would dump us right next to the starting timer mat. Basically, it took awhile to actually start the run.

I looked up to see the William's Tower on my long walk to the starting line.

I'm still learning how to take pictures with my iphone, but I still like this picture.

There is a gap right around the people. Can't see it? Well, neither could I.

I broke down and asked someone to take my picture.
This race was stupid packed (yeah, I'm bringing that phrase back). I generally do not like overly packed runs like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, because there are too many people and too many walkers and runners mixed together. This run was no different. In fact, it was worse since they started the 5k walkers and runners together.

By walkers, do not be confused with these types of walkers. When you see this type, chop off their heads.

Finally, I made it across the starting mat. My run was not even a run. It was a frustrated slow jog just trying to get by the crowd. There were so many people. I think the crowd emcee mentioned something like 15,000, but I'm not sure if he meant all of the Turkey Trots combined. Last year's Turkey Trot was 11,000. So, it is possible. Many of the people were families, which meant I had to try to squeeze through a wall of eight family members (with a stroller) next to another family wall of three people (with another stroller). When I say squeeze, I mean that if I wore a corset and went down three waist sizes, I would still not be able to get by without hitting someone. The human walls were clueless; they didn't care that they were in fact blocking people from actually running. I eventually made it to the sidewalk to run with the faster runners. I stayed to the far right and got out of their way. Then, the walkers HAD to get on the sidewalk, too. Do you think they stayed to the right? Nah...of course not. That would require awareness of their surroundings. Thankfully, there were little incidents of this happening. 

And this is why I do not like crowded runs. 

I remembered Kris talking about a point where the 5k runners meet up with the 10k runners. When I got to that point, I looked and looked for them, but never saw them. However, judging from when they finished to when I finished, we were very close to one another. I ran most of the run, with only two stops. My run time was about 41 minutes (I think that's what I remember seeing as I crossed the finish line), which isn't too bad. The race results are still not up at this point, but it's going to be around that time.

After the run, I walked over to the water station (tried getting water during the run, but way too packed) for a drink and some food. It was packed. People stopped where they wanted not realizing there were people behind them. I tried to go over to the free massage area, but too packed. Did I mention I was grumpy? 

But seeing this cute Labrador Retriever all dressed up in Native American feathers made me smile.

I also decided to take my picture at their finisher's backdrop. This is a first for me. And even though I was grumpy, I still had a smile on my face. Running just does that to me.

I hadn't heard from Sara and Kris, so, I just left. As soon as I got to my car, that's when Sara got back with me. We realized our phones had a delay. Oh well. 

Even though it wasn't my favorite race or that I didn't have a great time running alone (could have helped with my mood towards the race), I still was happy I ran on Turkey Day. Afterwards, I met up with Caroline and her aunt to deliver meals to elderly people for the Meals on Wheels Program. It was an interesting experience and one I hope to continue as a Turkey Day tradition (or at least some type of volunteering). 

I got to spend this day with my dad's family, which is something I haven't done in a long time. The food was excellent and plentiful and the company was fun and loud as always (but I wouldn't have it any other way). I have so missed them. 

Next race is the Graffiti Run on Sunday...if I'm not alone. This race should be with more than one person.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cobwebs, Dogs, and World Running


I felt a lot like this dog waiting to run again.

Well, I hope I am back to running. This past weekend, I had a determination, a will power, a goal to get back in the saddle again (er...running shoes); I wanted to run. Since sunday was World Running Day, it seemed a match made in Heaven to start last weekend. And start I did.

Saturday morning, I got up early enough to head to Hermann Park with Remington in tow. It's been so long since the little man and I have gone out on a run. I tried to take both Lady and Remi to the park for just a walk the week before, but that experience made me want to cut off my arms so that I would never do that again. Anyways, I got my iPod ready, my shoes laced up, my dog leashed up (with baggies), and headed out. This time of year in Texas has been just wonderful. It's cold in the mornings (but not too cold), sunny, and absolutely no humidity. Unfortunately, every man, woman, and child (by child I mean dog) was out at the park, too. It was packed and reminded me of Memorial Park.

Did I mention it has been awhile for Remi and I? This meant Remi forgot a lot of his training to be a good boy, but he's gotten better with other dogs since I have taken him to the water park.

Does it look like he's smirking?
We started out slow and easy, with a little walking and then to the running. Okay, it was a light jog. At first, my stomach was sore and tender and I could feel it in every bounce. However, within a couple of minutes, it went away and I didn't really feel it anymore. It was so good to get out there, although my mind wasn't calm. I kept thinking about when I should stop and if I was pushing myself too much, too soon. I also noticed that my foot thing only hurt during the walks, but not too bad. So, I worked on heel striking, which eliminated a great deal of the pain.

I read another blog and she has the same weird and mysterious foot thing in the exact same foot. I'm no longer convinced this is not running related. Sad face.

Remi was so out of shape; he was worse than me. Poor doggie. Finally, I could see he was struggling and I made the decision to walk more. But I'm proud to say that I made it over half the 1.5 mile loop around without stopping. Remington was just wore out at the end.

Mom, I am so over this whole running thing.
I was also so excited to try my new Garmin Forerunner 110 watch for the first time. I got it pretty much at the time of my mysterious foot injury and never really used it for running. This watch is for the most part comfortable and easy to use once you figure out how to use it. It's weird, I am a Technical Writer and required to love all new technology. However, I think sometimes that I'm an old man from the 20s trapped in a 34 year old woman's body. I held on to my Blackberry for as long as I could, because I hate the finger screen tapping. It took forever for me to get an iPad and I still don't use it to the full extent. I was finally forced (mother...cough...mother) to get a Kindle a couple of months ago. I can't understand my Nike + iPod app. I long for the days when I could just call up a pizza place and order a small, medium, and large. Okay, that last part doesn't have to do with technology, but you get my drift. I read these instructions (usually done by people that designed the product and from another country) and I don't understand them. Everything is just so simple to use, they say. Just click, click and go. But it isn't that simple. I didn't realize that starting the timer, starts your distance counter, as well. I figured this out halfway in to the run. But once I learned it, I was golden. It gave me all the information I needed. Now, if I can figure out how to properly use the heart rate band thing, then it would be like Heaven. Although, I don't like how you have to risk loading the satellites if you let up on the button every single time you want to turn it on just to view the history (just happened).

According to my watch, I burned 115 calories for 1. 29 miles in 22 minutes. My pace was a slow 16 minutes. I can't complain too much. This was my "dust the cobwebs off" run. It wasn't about speed or distance; it was about being able to run again.

Sunday was World Running Day. I opted out of the virtual registration and run to just do my own run without paying. That's the key here. Some of these runs are getting out of hand with the registration fees. Anyways, I digress.

My day was slammed with things to do and I knew that I could only run in the early early morning. I took the dogs out for a quick bathroom break, laced up my shoes, plugged in my iPod, and got Remi ready to go.

Mom, why are we up so early on a Sunday morning?

Shut up and run!
I decided not to drive up to Hermann Park, but instead just run the 1.5 mile loop around my apartments. I haven't done this in sooooo long. I started out slow and easy and just kept a steady jog. I immediately felt my tummy and the soreness from yesterday's run. It wasn't too bothersome, but it was there enough to let me know not to do this running thing too much. Remi and I rounded the main street and finally walked for a short time before picking up the run again. He was better than yesterday, but he was also sore. I did feel some pain in my knee and my foot hurt more than yesterday. All in all, not only did I feel like that old man from the 20s on the inside, but now on the outside of my body, as well. I felt creaky. I didn't like it. But that didn't matter since I was out there running. Like the day before, it felt good to run.

Must get the lawnmowers. Must get the lawnmowers. Must get the lawnmowers.

I did try to hurry it up since I wanted to beat the incoming storm so I could take out Lady for some ball throwing. It wasn't pretty. I made it home just in time for it to rain all hell down on me.
Oh and this time, I used my watch correctly and I put on the heart rate band. My stats include 1.49 distance, heart rate of 149 (not sure if that's good or not), 257 calories, and a pace of 16.35 minutes. Still not great, but whatever. Cobwebs...GONE!

This brings me to the end of my post and I want to bring up the five things I love about running with my dog.
  1. I have a protector. No matter who or what gets near me, that dog goes in to super alert and watch mode. He doesn't do anything, but he's ready if anyone or anything tries to harm me. This makes me feel safer in the park known for some scary things.
  2. Dogs are great for running when just starting back up again. They don't go hardcore unless you want them to go hardcore. And in my case, Remi would rather run just a bit and walk more. I will have to remind dog owners that your dog is like you. Just because you can run five miles, doesn't mean your dog can run five miles on his or her first time. Be wary of this, especially if you are running in the heat. I remember Lady falling down in the bushes with full on diarrhea, because she overheated.
  3. Remi no longer wants to tear the living soul out of any dog who passes us by on the trail. In fact, I get compliments that he is a good dog, while their yippy dogs are trying to destroy my baby. So, I feel pride when I run with him.
  4. He gives me somebody to just be there with me. I know he can't talk to me, but I like to think he feels my accomplishments. I also give him a high-five or hug at the end of really good run, especially on a sprint.
  5. I get to spend time with Remi alone away from the cat and away from Lady. He loves it and is so appreciative. Remi can get grumpy when he doesn't have his mommy and me time.
However, the two things I hate about running with my dog is the constant stopping. I have to keep an eye on him, otherwise, I'm trying not to fall over him when he cuts me off. I also hate picking up the poop, but it's a necessary evil. Since I changed their eating times to morning, my two dogs are pooping so much in the morning. On our Sunday run, he went through so many baggies before we even got out of the apartments. Then, he pooped again using my last bag. It's not like the park with an abundance of trashcans. So, I had to carry that bag of poop around the entire way. UGH!

My next run is tonight (I think). If not, then for sure all weekend, starting Friday. It looks like I will be trying on some clothes Thursday (shhhh, it's a suprise). I'm looking at running in the turkey trot. Anyone want to join me, hit me up with an email!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My First Volunteer Job

I should clarify that this is not my first volunteer job ever; it's just my first volunteer job within the running world. I'm really trying to get involved with programs like Girls on the Run where they teach young girls confidence through training for a 5K. In order to do that, I have to start volunteering. So, I signed up for the 12-2 p.m. slot at the Gritty Goddess all female obstacle course at Moody Gardens on November 4, 2012.

On a side note, I signed up for two 5k events:  Oxy Fun Run on October 27 and the Run in the Park November 4. I opted out of the Oxy run, because my stomach was just not ready (still brought things for the military care packages). However, I was looking forward to running for the first time in months at the Run in the Park. I had every intention to go, but I was still a wee bit nervous. I ran (okay, super light jog) up and down the stairs at work just to prepare for it, but I could feel every bounce in my tummy. It wasn't always feeling great. Needless to say, I opted out of this run, too, but not before I picked up my free water bottle and koozie.

Anyways, back to my volunteer job. I made my long way to Moody Gardens from Tomball (whew, that's just long typing it) and realized that I stupidly volunteered on the same weekend of the Lonestar Bike Rally in Galveston. There were so many motorcycles (and if you saw my posts, you know why I was annoyed) and so many cops (mostly pulling over the bikers...if only for driving slow in the fast lane).

I finally made it to the really packed event at Moody Gardens. There were lots of girl groups in their costumes ready to tackle the mud in all its' glory. I didn't really know where to go, because the Volunteer sign was not near the main area. Eventually, I made it there and it was mass confusion on where to put me. So, they put me at the finish line handing out dog tags (instead of medals) and water. Apparently, the dog tags that were put together were all knotted in to one big ball. They spent that time undoing them and had a whole bunch ready to go for the competitors. When I got there, they had very few hanging on the rack and the dog tags were in baggies.

My job: Open baggies and put them together to hand to the ladies. Oh and say, "Good job" or "Congrats ladies!" When I got there, it was the busiest time of the day. Groups and groups and groups of ladies came in a continuous flow. We couldn't keep up and there were six of us helping. We would catch up and then two groups would wipe us out of dog tags. And of course, most of the ladies wanted to be presented with their tags of survival. I obliged, while one girl just handed them the bags if they didn't want to wait. A family ended up helping us out at the end, which did. The lady thought I was much younger than I was since she was sure I wouldn't know this song from the 80s (can't remember it for the life of me...see I am getting old). I guessed we were about the same age. I thanked her for such a nice compliment though.

I have never put together so many necklaces in such a short amount of time. It was tiring and my back hurt at the end from slumping over. I stayed 30 minutes after my end time, but I didn't care. I also met another runner named Christy (I told her that she spelled it wrong). I gave her my number if she ever wanted to run with me some time. I sound like a girl waiting for the crush to call, but I hope she calls. We had a great time together and I can easily see us running an event like this one. She was running in the 3 p.m. heat. I would have ran if I wasn't recovering and if I would have known it was free to volunteers. The Gritty Goddess looks amazing, but it's expensive and the money doesn't go to any charity. I pay that price for half marathons and this was only a 5K.

The starting line for the Gritty Goddess...I was no where near this line.

I was next to foam pit, which I find ironic since I hate foam pits.

This is where I was stationed.

Look at all those dog tags. Oh and I was muddy from putting the tags on the survivors.
Anyways, I had a great time and I'm glad I did it. And I look forward to volunteering for more events.

This weekend, I'm running. I don't care. If you want to join me on what will probably be a slow and painful run, please join me. I like the company. It's World Running Day on Sunday, but not sure I want to pay for a virtual run (even though you get a t-shirt). I may just run anyways and claim I did it.

Also, I'm toying with doing the MS 150 in April and my first marathon sometime between February and May. It would be like training for an ironman I presume without the swimming piece to it. Thoughts? Suggestions? This is only a thought (a strong one though), because this might be the last time I get an opportunity to do the MS 150 and I do want to do it. And I think I might want to do my first marathon here in Houston (sorry Dawn, but I may have to bow out of the Paris Marathon in April). Plus, if I wait any later for the marathon, I will be doing it in the summer and I just don't want to run a marathon in that much heat. I'm still talking through everything. So, any advice would be much appreciated, especially if you done both.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cycling Across the Pond

After months of waiting, I finally made it Jolly Old England last weekend to see Jim. While I was there, I went to a wedding (not mine, of course) and a Beer Festival, did some cycling with Jim, and took part in my very first Sunday Roast Dinner (many more to come, I hope). Jim had a couple of surprises for me. Naturally, he had a stockpile of Terry's Chocolate Oranges waiting for case the zombieapocalypse occured while in England. Thankfully, it did not and I was able to start munching my way through the delicious heaven that is Terry's Chocolate Oranges. In unrelated news, my weight has increased. He also had a package of Persil detergeant and the softner on the table for me to take home. I love the smell of my clothes after a good tumble with this sweet smelling stuff. I wanted to order it online, but it was far too expensive. And Jim opted out of actually mailing it to me since he felt that it would raise a flag if he sent me a box of white powder through U.S. Customs.

Then, the biggest suprise came later on in the day. For a month, he has asked me to measure my body (i.e., leg length, inseam, waist, chest, etc.). I thought a.) he was buying me a new car racing suit for when I finally get to race his car (or my own); b.) he was buying me a new jumpsuit, which I thought was strange since he didn't ask for my opinion on colors (it's very important for us skydivers to be all matchy matchy when we have picked out our colors); c.) he was buying me a bunny suit, cat suit, or any furry animal suit, which just perplexed me, but he's English...whatever. He walked me in to the garage where I saw two bikes. I didn't think anything of it since the plan was to borrow his neighbor's bike for our cycling adventure that day. Then, he told me it was my bike. At first, I didn't get it (jetlag, lack of sleep, he talks funny, etc.) and then it clicked what he was saying. Jim bought me a bike. WOW! HE BOUGHT ME A BIKE. How freaking cool and sweet is he? I think I jumped on him with a big old hug and kiss and then, kept repeating, "You bought me a bike!" Of course, I texted images to some of my friends and parents to show my new bike that Jim had bought me. If you didn't get it...Jim bought me a bike. He also bought me a new helmet. It was black; it was beautiful; it was mine o' mine.

My new bike. I have named him Grease Lightening. And of course this song will be on my biking playlist. 
On a side note, the helmet will come in handy since the insides in my current helmet are distingrating. However, I was not able to pack the helmet in my suitcase due to detergeant, booze, and chocolate oranges.

The plan was for both of us to cycle up to the Sykes House Farm (about 3 miles maybe roundtrip) to purchase meat for the Sunday Roast Dinner and give me a chance to see this farm. Everytime I come to England and see the sign, I always want to stop. Sykes is part of my family name. I'm not sure if they are actually related to me since Sykes is apparently a common name in England.

I couldn't wait to ride with Jim since he could help me with the gears. Granted, I was ill prepared for a new bike with a new way of displaying the gears; it took awhile to get used to it. As you know from previous posts, I have struggled with the gears and well riding in general. Plus, I've got to say, I have been bored and lonely. So, it was nice to have someone there. 

Jim and I started out riding on his street so that I could get used to the bike, the gears, and well riding the bike on the wrong side of the road. This includes looking for traffic coming from a direction that I am not used to at all. Thankfully, I am used to looking the other way when we walk up to the village, but now I'm riding a bike. It's just different. Also, I had to get used to sharing the road with parked cars and two lanes with cars coming and going, all in a narrow space. 

When we reached a hill, Jim would yell out what gear to to be in at this point. Most of the time, I just plum missed it, but I remembered it for the next hill. And speaking of hills, wow, was I mistaken about the inclines that I dealt with in Houston. Holy moly, England has hills. I struggled. I mean, I am already slow, but I felt massively slower here in England. Poor Jim had to go slow to stay with me and would lose his balance trying to look back for me. 

Finally, we made it up to Sykes House Farm and it was as lovely as I pictured (only saw the sign).  The meat was excellent and inexpensive and the guy that helped us was awesome. He even made me a special bottle of Sykes House Farm Yorkshire Sauce.

That's me at the Sykes House Farm sign.
Thumbs up for a good bike ride.

Yeah, I'm rocking the velcro pant holders with my new bike and new helmet.
After we picked up our goodies, we left for the house. The ride home was a bit difficult since I was tired and the wind picked up. Okay, not that much to English standard, but for me, yes. When we reached the last big hill straight in to town, I had to stop. The traffic was bad, the street was narrow, and the hill was steep. Jim suggested to just walk up it and I was thankful for that suggestion. Plus, we could easily stop at the pub at the top where we usually stop in for a beer on my first day.

Jim stopped for a good photo op.

Coming back from the Sykes House Farm.

You may be used to it, but I'm not. We have lots of cows in Texas.

Loving my bike, my helmet, and our bike ride. 
At first, this was our only scheduled bike ride for this trip. We had a short amount of time and lots to do. But somehow, we managed to
squeeze in another cycling adventure on Sunday before our Sunday Roast Dinner. We couldn't decided between riding to Tadcaster or Wetherby. Each one had their selling points.

How could you not want to have a beer at this pub in Tadcaster?

But in the end, we chose Wetherby since we could ride on this bike path that used to be a railway. Not only is that just cool, but it would also shield us from the wind and light drizzle. So, we headed out.

Jim and I getting ready for our bike ride.
 I felt better on the gears, but still very slow. The ride was me trying to keep up with Jim, dodging dogs and walkers and well, other cyclists, and not dying. Even through all of that, the scenery was beautiful. I couldn't take my eyes away from my surroundings. It actually reminded me of our canal boat trip.

It was cold and raining when we started.
We made it to Wetherby just in time for the wind to pick up slightly. I was tired and all I could think about was resting. I made it clear that I wanted to stop at a pub for a beer before we headed back home to make dinner.

I'm having a Beck's Beer in front of the sign.

I swear he asked me to do this.

It was about a 7 mile roundtrip bike ride...I think. Well, I'm going for it anyways. We came home and made a delicious pork tenderloin with crackling (spelling?) and my first ever homemade pecan pie.

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Real Milestone with Cycling

This past weekend was awesome weatherwise for us Texans (well, Houstonians since people often think that what happens in one area of Texas happens to all areas). We had a cold front come in, which means that we dropped down to the 80s on Saturday, 60s that night, and 70s/low 80s on Sunday. Plus, the sun was shining both days. We basically had our Spring weather hit in September, which quite frankly, never happens. I wanted to relish in this wonderful outdoor temperature by getting outdoors as much as possible. I even turned off my A.C. and kept the balcony door open (when I was home, of course).

I have slacked all week with my cycling. It's like the Weather Gods wanted to punish us with intense heat before the cool front came. I guess they wanted us to appreciate it more. So, I waited for the humidity and heat to dissipate before going out, which meant that I sat on my tush coming up with every excuse in the book to not go biking and those excuses won. But I could not waste this weekend temperature by staying indoors.

Saturday, I rode around Rice University for a rough total of 7 miles. It was a nice relaxing ride although, I had some issues with drivers. I was finally feeling my gears the way they should be feeling when I ride. I was beginning to understand just how they worked and ended up with a more productive ride than ever before. I still can't go up a hill or incline without going super slow. I also found out that the insides of my helmet are falling apart and black grit fuzz stuff falls on my face. I noticed it on my fingers and arms usually when I wiped my forehead or something. I tried to do the best that I could, but there was really nothing I could do. So, I kept it going and hope people wouldn't look at me funny. I did get some looks. When, I got home, my entire forehead was black and I can only hope that it looked like a black bandana or something. Otherwise, I was just a freak that got carried away with the camo warpaint.

And then Sunday came. I was feeling the call of the cycle again with much better weather than the previous day. I had a good amount of time before the Texans started to play (right by my apartment). I grabbed a bandana that I got from the Susan G. Komen race and put on my helmet. Nice. I headed out the door ready to ride to my goal point where Brays Bayou hits 610. However, I got about a quarter mile when I realized that I forgot my water bottle. There was no way that I would make it to the my turnaround point without water. So, I went back home to retrieve the bottle and then officially got on my way.

I began to really use my gears and watch them. Everything felt different and better. I even got to pass a couple and caught up to someone that had sailed past me (didn't take a break, because I could see him). There were loads of people out, which was good and bad. I had to stop a couple of times to let a runner go by and the cyclist behind the runner on a skinny trail. I also did my ab work out at that gym thing in the park (50 crunches, 50 bicycle crunches, 50 scissor kicks, 60 second plank, and 2 sets of 25 arm dips).

I was just biking along to my music (one ear, of course) and enjoying the outside. Before I knew it, I was passed the point where I turned around a couple of weeks ago. And then, I got to 610. I was so happy that I made it there; I felt great. I even contemplated going alittle farther, but since this was my longest ride ever, I probably shouldn't push it. It's a good thing that I turned around when I did. There was so much wind against me on my way back home; it was hard and I was tired.

I made it home in 1.5 hours, which is not good, but not bad for me. Afterwards, I did 2 sets of squarts with arm curls.

So, how far did I go? I had to know exactly. I was thinking maybe 6 miles one way, but it turned out that it was 6.9 miles. I roughly biked 14 miles and I couldn't believe it. This was a major milestone bike ride for me. Maybe now I'm finally getting this whole cycling thing. Maybe.

My next bike ride will probably be in England when I head to the Sykes Farm (you know it) to pick up the meat for my first Sunday Roast dinner. It's supposed to be an easy one or that's what Jim claims. We shall see since I will have just come in from America on that day. Oh, we also have our infamous swim competition. He used to swim hardcore back in the day. I just have powerful arms that move me across the water like Phelps. Yeah, I so got this in the bag.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Just Don't Get Cycling...Yet

My foot has basically gotten worse and of course, right as soon as I was getting ready to officially start my marathon training. I swear, I can't catch a break when it comes to injuries. I went to the doctor again, but the x-ray doesn't show anything (story of my life this year). However, the nice doctor knows something is wrong. He can see it's dark and swollen and that I came in June with the same issue. I have an MRI scheduled for September 4th to see what the hell is going on with my foot. My luck, nothing will show. What makes it worse is that I can't even get advice from the runners out there, because their injuries and advice have to do with running. My injuries (or sickness) are unrelated to running, mysterious, and come right as I've made a decision to say...I don't know...train for a marathon or 2 months before I'm supposed to run my first ever half marathon. It's quite discouraging, because I'm losing weeks to start training. I was finally losing a great deal of weight and feeling good about my training. I could run 3 miles without stopping or feeling like a zombie afterwards [not to be confused with a real zombie...please don't cut off my head]. I could finally visualize myself completing the marathon. After the Olympics, I visualized myself in professional running competitions.

I was finally feeling like a RUNNER...until this mysterious foot thing happened Memorial Day weekend that I hoped would eventually go away like a good injury. It didn't.

In an effort to get some exercise and maybe help a bit with my training (okay, really my weight), I wiped off the dust on the bike and got to that thing they call cycling. Ever since the Olympics, I've been swept away by sports and specifically cycling and running. I mean I watched the freaking marathon on TV; I watched the women's cycling (all of it); hell, I watched the open water swim marathon or whatever they called it. As I write that sentence, I realized I wrote about a triathlon. HA! All in good time. So, I was determined to get this cycling thing down. I want to make myself better. I want to understand it better. I even watched cycling events on TV to get me pumped and motivated.

But I just don't get it...yet. I am so close, I can feel it. I mentioned to Jim that I felt slow and stupid when I bike. I feel like everyone on the road is laughing at me, because I'm not wearing the right clothes or I'm going so obviously slower than normal people who just started cycling for the first time. I probably look like a turtle trying to cycle with a big bike 5 times the size of the turtle. I feel like everyone out there gets it, but me. I mean I did basically 5 miles in 40 something minutes. Something is not right. I can do faster than that at the gym. He told me about the gears and I was like yeah yeah yeah, I know, I've got the gears blah blah blah. He asked me about the left gear. Whoa! Wait! What! There's a left gear. I didn't even notice it. So, the cycling man candy that is Jim gave me some pointers on using both of the gears. I was ready to try anything. I mean other people like cycling. I see hoards of them in big groups riding around Hermann Park (please find me to ask me to join your group...please) having what seems like a good time.

So, I set out with my new knowledge for my bike ride. It was already a different ride. There were more people out biking and they looked like me. They didn't look like Tour de France. They actually looked like they were riding an easy pace just enjoying the day. And people were saying hello as I passed. But I'm not going to lie, it hurt...alot. Even though, I felt like I got to my last turnaround point faster than the other day, it was hard. With this new gear system, hills seemed almost impossible. I went farther than I have ever gone before (somewhere close to 5 miles or more) before I turned around. I ended up spending all my energy getting there and didn't have much left in the tank to get home. And since there was high upwinds that I hit coming back along the bayou, I was even slower. I did manage to bring my fancy new running watch (which I haven't figured out how to use best for my cycling, as well) so that I could keep track of my time. It was roughly 1.15 hours total. This is not good, although, I did stop for lights (because well, I don't like to be hit by cars) and to do 200 abs at this gym in the middle of a park I rode by in Bellaire. And when I got home, my butt and legs and everything was sore. Jim warned me that would happen, but I didn't believe him. Oh it happened and then some.

As I'm riding along the Bayou, I see this bird. I stopped to take a look and get a drink. It just sits there, not moving. A lady passes by to see it.

I begin to think it's dead or a statue and then finally it moves just a little bit. It was so freaky.
Looking back along the Brays Bayou Trail

Stopping to take a picture of myself at my turnaround.

I wanted a different shot.

This turtle was sitting on my path and almost got run over by another cyclist.

I went out again a few more times after that day. But I had a bad ride last Friday. I felt like every direction I turned no matter what slammed me with what I like to deem "all around wind." It wasn't crosswind or downwind or upwind. No, it was all over me hitting me from the back and to the left (reminds me of this classic episode of Seinfeld). I felt slow. I couldn't get any of the gears to work right. I ended up turning around sooner than I planned, because my legs were done. My butt hurt so much and my lady part areas were uncomfortably sore. I got home to complain and whine and yell at Jim about how ever since he told me about this second gear, I feel worse off and slower then before and I'm in more pain. I moaned that cycling was invented by the same people that invented Tennis. I ranted about how it was so easy as a just got on a bike and rode forever until it was time for dinner. There were no gears, no helmets, and no all around wind. He eventually calmed me down explaining to me (which he swears he told me before...I don't believe it) that you have 4 gears on the left and each of the 7 gears on the right go with one of those 4 gears. So, you get in to 2nd gear from the left, you have a new set of 7 gears. It totals 28 gears, which I was told from the beginning. It just didn't click to me that it wasn't 28 gears sequential. Since I felt like I was moving too fast and going nowhere with say maybe the 4th gear on the right, I never really went any higher than that (and I realize that I may be calling these gears the wrong number). This explains why when I changed gears to go up a hill or deal with the massive vortex of wind coming off the buildings, I never felt like I got back to the comfortable gear I just left when the wind dissipated or the hill was done.

Even with this revelation and watching more Cycling U.S. Pro event in Colorado on the TV, it still didn't hit me. I mean with running, you get that infamous runner's high. I got it early on when I ran my first mile without stopping. From then on, I was hooked. I started to think about why it's different for me or why it's taking so long for me to get it. That's when I noticed something that was different to when I started running and that was I had a running partner. I played basketball when I was young and only ran the mile at the beginning of the school year to ensure my entry on to the team. I had no time for a sport with no contact (that's why I didn't like volleyball). Consequently, I didn't know about running or long distance running. But when I started training for my first half marathon, I had a partner with me that had ran track in grade school and knew things. Plus, it gave me an outlet to talk to someone when I was struggling. With cycling, I don't have anyone riding with me. I don't know the rules. We have bike routes everywhere, but they sometimes just end in major traffic. I am just out there alone trying to pick which way to go and it can bore me. I think this is maybe why I just don't get it. I haven't had my cycling high yet and if I did, I wouldn't be able to share it with anyone anyways, while it's happening. I don't have someone giving me a high-five when I reached a milestone. I mean I even have my dog with me on runs and I get to pet him when we have a good run (he's sooo not ready for biking). I do talk to Jim about it afterwards and he helps me, but that's via Skype and so not the same thing.

So, in the last week and a half, I've bike roughly 35 miles. I have no idea how many calories I burned. I used the calorie converter on to see how many calories I burned on my longest bike ride. I burned roughly 320 calories. That's not so bad I guess.

I'm not going to stop cycling for 2 reasons: 1.) I have to do something, while my stupid foot heals. 2.) I want to get to that point where cycling is really fun for me like everyone else. I think I can do this, but I guess I'm going to have to buy some cycling shorts with padding. My lady parts are begging me.