Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reunited and It Feels So Good

I'm actually writing these next two posts out of sequence, because I haven't gotten all of the pictures ready from my trip that involve my two exercise activities I actually did when not drinking wine and eating cheese and eclairs chocolat (bloating section to come soon).

Yesterday was Memorial Day, a national holiday that honors the many men and women who have lost their lives serving for our country. Most Americans use this day off to bbq, go to the beach/lake/pool, or pretty much do any outdoor activity all day as much as possible since the end of May is not a miserable hot yet like the months to come. My outdoor activity...running with my old running partners. Hence, the title of this blog. I'm reunited with Haley and MaloRee and it feels so good. Yeah, I went there.

The girls showed up and in my naivetee, I thought we would swim first and then run in the evening when it was less sun. But noooooo, we had to run the middle of the day. Thank you Mal and your sadistic new attitude that you picked up in Grenada. At least the pool would feel exceptional once we were done.

Our before shot showing us still alive.
The plan was to go to Hermann Park for a quick 1 mile (ok, really, it's 1.98 miles, but I wasn't informing Haley on the details). However, I forgot that it was Memorial Day. Everyone was at the zoo and they had so many roads blocked off. We couldn't find parking and didn't want to pay to park at Rice University. So, we went back home to run around my apartment. I mentioned to the girls that there is a new running path that opened and I've used, but I didn't know how long it was and there was absolutely no shade whatsover. I apparently was the only one concerned about this, but I digress.

We parked the car at my apartment and walked up to the running path. Haley immediately wanted to run, but I'm all about a warmup first. As soon as we got in the gate, we stretched a little bit and started our short jog. Haley and I are still slow; Mal is not. Along with her brand new super skinny and tanned body (hate you Mal...seriously), she's faster, as well. The route was HOT. The iron fence surrounding the path made it even hotter. Sometimes, I felt smoke coming off of my skin from the burning. We ran around without stopping, but I needed a quick walk break as soon as we got to the starting point. Our conversation was mostly catching up with eachother's lives...Haley's weird disease, their country dancing, my trip, Mal's trip to Nicaragua, school, family, etc. When we made it around halfway, I started to get nauseaus. I managed to find the only 1 ft diameter of shade underneath this small tree where I could just stop to get better. I walked around the shade line to keep moving, while Haley and Mal kept moving around in the sun. Hey, I just got back in from England the night before with lack of sleep and it was after 3 p.m. on a hot day.

Finally, the vomiting feeling passed and I was cleared to run. We kept going until we got across the street where the shade was located. I walked not for a cooldown, but just to walk. Afterwards, we got in the pool and had fun like old times.

Mal and Haley goofing off in the pool.

Sexy women poolside.


Okay, Haley and I can be serious.
My new camera is waterproof.

Haley and Mal underwater...if you couldn't tell.

Mal's like a fish.

Seriously, how did Mal make this look easy?

I had a smile on my face in the other pictures, but this is the only one that came out of all 3 of us. I blame Mal.
We did do 1 lap in the pool for some exercise and I'm pretty sure I stretched. I swear it. Really. Then, Mal asked about when we would have dinner, which was code for I'm hungry. Haley finally answered and I laughed, because I was thinking the same thing...FOOD now. So, we got out of the pool and made a really healthy dinner (at 5 p.m.). I guess old age is finally hitting me now.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hunting the Infamous El Chupacabra de Houston

Probably the best race day shirt that I've gotten besides my Toughest 10K Kemah shirt.
On Saturday night (8:30 p.m. to be exact), May 12, 2012, I completed one of my 2012 goals by participating in the El Chupacabra de Houston 5K/10K. If you don't know, which I suspect some of you don't (looking right at you mother who keeps thinking it's a zombie), the el chupacabra is basically translated as the goat sucker. It is a creature of legend that drinks the blood of the livestock, especially goats (and people, whatever) in Mexico, Puerto Rico (allegedly the first sighting), and USA. I'm sure it shows up in the other Latin American countries, as well.

I've wanted to do this race ever since I saw it on the Run In Texas website (love this site, because it has a listing of all these unique events like my famous Sand Crab run) last year, but I just never got around to registering. Then, I found out that not only did Kris and Sara run this event before, but they wanted to do it again. SOLD!

So, we headed out on the long drive talking about how we really weren't up for this race. It had been raining all night and most of the day, which meant the ground would be muddy. Sara hurt herself and was downgrading to a 5K, which I was thankful for since I didn't feel comfortable running a 10K in the dark (haven't ran 6 miles since the half). I ended up downgrading myself, but Kris stayed with it. He also mentioned how we were complaining and looking for any excuse to not go, but yet, we will probably have a great time (yes, we did).

After you get in to the park, there was a long drive to the event. In fact, everything was a long ways away; from the parking to the actual start line seemed like a 5K itself.

So, light and cheery and happy.
The light gets dimmer as we go farther in the woods.

Seriously, this is how horror movies start.

We trekked the LONG way to get our packets and then back to the car and then back to the start line with only 7 minutes to spare. It's funny, we were heading to the car, while everyone was heading back to get ready for the start.

Wait? What? How do I get out of this race?
I guess everyone is okay with this sign.

I had my new Shut Up and Run shirt, but Sara gave me this shirt so we can match. Way cooler.

Although, next time, I'm wearing the tank top.

Kris, Sara, and I in our high volume bright before shot. I have a feeling my mother will love these shirts.

People getting ready to start, while we are going to the car. They had the coolest light horns. I'm so wearing those next year.
Finally, we made it back to the start line and just people watched. There were so many cool lights.
Starting to think about what we are hunting. I mean, it sucks the blood of goats. Am I a match to defeat it?

We are so scared that the El Chupacabra will suck our blood before we can kill it.
It's like I'm at a rave.
And then we were off. Kris left us quick weaving in and out of the crowd. Boy, was there a crowd. There were a couple hundred people all trying to vie for a spot on the trail. But it was a pretty sight to see and the one time I wished I had gotten a picture. The line of people with their lights was so much more amazing than the lights on the Sand Crab race. Since there were so many people, I just couldn't stop to get that shot. Oh well.

Like I mentioned before, it was packed. At times, you were forced to walk due to a traffic jam. Although, we missed the crowd later on, because Sara and I realized it was easier to see the ground (and the large roots and holes) with everyone's lights. In fact, I almost ate it. I tripped over a big root, but caught myself just in time. Sara was behind me ready to grab me to safety if I didn't make it. She didn't know I was secretly a ninja.

Throughout the run, you could hear the calls of roots, mud, holes, etc. Sometimes, it helped and sometimes, it didn't. The mud pits always snuck up on us (except once since I saw the puddle of water glistening), which caused some slipping and sliding.

Then, you heard the chants of CHUPA in which we followed with CABRA. The gun shots were blasting in the background giving us and the hunt the extra oomph we needed. Somewhere a long the trail, we saw a guy go down holding his ankle. Sara and I stopped to make sure he was okay and help him, but we never saw him again; I hope he made it.

I just want to mention that lots of people running on a creaky bridge is not how I want to spend my Saturday. I swear that thing was going to fall.

Sara and I kept up a good pace albeit slower than I wanted. I actually hit another root (didn't trip), but my bad ankle twisted a bit and Sara's knee was hurting. Plus, you had to stop to walk everytime you hit the mud pits. Other than that, we pretty much ran the whole way and I felt good about it. In fact, I felt like I could have tackled the 10K, but that's just me being overly confident.

As we approached the finish line, I sped up for a big finish. My time was 43:34.0 and Sara's time was 43:35.4. After that, we got some water and waited for Kris. I missed the shot of him coming in, but we were cheering anyways. He finished in 1:11:19.4. Click here for full results. We didn't stick around for the party, but instead headed to Petrol Station for a post celebratory beer where I was informed that Zane from Three Sheets was just there. Grrrr!

Sara and I just got done with the race and waiting on Kris.

Kris just ran a 10K, didn't get El Chupa, and couldn't find us even though we were right in front of him.

Unfortunately, we didn't catch the El Chupacabra, but I'm so happy that I did this run and I can't wait to do it again...with more lights. Thank you to Sara and Kris for going with me. Now, we look on to other races in the future. It's funny, but Kris mentioned that we would be talking about signing up for our next race over beer (just like how this race happened). At the end of the night, we are doing the Sand Crab together and I'm joining Kris on the MS 150 next year with his team called Liver Strong. Maybe we shouldn't plan races over beer....nah.

All of us after the race. Don't we look sexy?




Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sprint For Life 5K Recap

Sorry for the week delay of this post and I will be delayed on the El Chupacabra post, as well. 

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, I participated in the Sprint for Life 5K under Team Teapot for MD Anderson in an effort to raise money for Ovarian Cancer. This event really meant something to me for 2 reasons:
  • I was running in honor of MaloRee and BranDee Allen. They lost their mom to this disease and couldn't be here for this event. I took their place to run with their other sister, MegGan.
  • This particular 5K started the whole, "I'm training for a half marathon and then writing a blog about it" thing for me 2 years ago. I did sign up for the Chevron 5K a couple of months prior, but that was just to run in a 5K for nothing other than to see if I could do it (didn't do it, foot surgery). See my posts here and here
The big surprise to this whole day was that I FINALLY got Kate to run with me. I was doubtful that she would even sign up; she did. I was suspect when we talked about getting to the run and how; she picked me up. And on that morning, I was surprised that I didn't get a text to say that she had caught this weird disease skiing in the Pokonos (which inadvertantly set off the zombieapocalypse) and is now quarantined in the CDC (meaning she wasn't going to make it). But then she showed up right on time and I was so glad, because I was nervous about running alone sick (MegGan was walking and I didn't know the others in the group, except Derek). I have dealt with a viral infection for about 3 weeks and then it turned ugly on Thursday. Consequently, I woke up still very sick on Saturday morning and not sure I would actually survive. I made a promise to not push myself and I'm glad Kate was there in that matter. It's the only time I'm going to say that, Kate. You hear me?!

Anyhoo, on to the race. We got up really really early (Kate much more than me since she lives in the sticks). If I was at normal capacity like last year, I would have walked up to the event (2-3 miles away), but there was no way that I could do it. The event organization and information was not great. They sent out a pdf, but didn't inform us that it was NOT at MD Anderson; it was across the street. Naturally, we parked far away providing us with a good warmup. We found Team Teapot hanging by the balloons although we left them to go pick up our packets.

Kate and I in our standard before shot.
 Kate made the mistake of eating a free kolache. She should have seen that I didn't, but I wasn't going to tell her. Actually, I just wasn't hungry since I ate oatmeal before we left. 

When we got back to the group, we took pictures with our cool new shirts that were made.

Team Teapot in our new awesome shirts.
Kate and I can't NOT be goofy
Then, we started to hear the calls for the runners to take their place (that's Kate and I since I believe everyone else in the group was walking). Kate and I head to the mass herd of mean people.

Waiting on the race to start. 
It's getting packed all around us.
Thankfully, it wasn't as packed like at the Susan G. Koman Race. We took some pictures, heard the Star Spangled Banner (forgot to take off my hat), and we were off. I held on to Kate's hand (yeah, I know) to guide her through the masses. We managed to clear the crowd and start the actual running. Stupid me forgot to start my nike + ipod app.

I love that I'm so close to my house.
We ran for about a half a mile before Kate needed a break to walk. Our goal was to make it to 1 mile, but she was huffing pretty hard. I had us stop after the light so that we could beat the traffic. The main thing that I didn't like about this event was that there were at least 4 times where we had to stop at a light to let the cars go in to the parking lot (I believe the VA Hospital). We managed to miss most of them, except for 1. It just messes up the flow of running.

Kate begging the Gods to let her stop.
This was a nice easy run and so cool to be in my neighborhood running for an event. I never get that...ever. I tried to steer us to the middle of the road since I knew how bumpy the roads were. One guy complained that we were running up hill; we were not. It was mostly flat the entire way. I had to set short goals for Kate to keep her going without dying ("Let's run from the light pole to the stoplight."). To keep her mind off the whole I'm running thing for the first time ever, I talked to her about random things. I told her about my first 5K in June (MUCH HOTTER) where I was only allowed 2 breaks of walking that lasted 10 seconds maybe. So, she should be greatful that I'm letting her walk and reward me with beer.

She's moving. 
Look closely, I'm running backwards.

A lady thought we should have our picture taken together during the race.
At one point, she poured water all over her head.
Finally, we got towards the end. I got worried seeing these people running the opposite way and thought that there might be a turnaround point. Usually turnaround points for 5Ks are at 1.5 miles, but I was pretty sure we were at 2 miles. Thankfully, it turned out to be the showoff people running to the event, running, and then running somewhere else. In fact, I wasn't even sure they were in the event. They were just there to make us look bad.

We got to the last turn in to the final stretch and I had to stop to take this lady's picture.

What an awesome shirt.
I let Kate walk ahead of me. In her words, she was hoping that I would take my time and then she heard my feet running up in which she let out a loud moan. She also mentioned to me that she felt that she was running like a banshee in heat and I'm not going to lie, it looked similar.

And then it was the final stretch. I got in to pure motivation mode to keep her going. People on the sidelines were cheering us on. It was 40 ft, then 30 ft, and then I had her pick up the pace. We crossed the finish line at 43 minutes. I high-fived Kate and then we waited for the others (okay, Kate was dying on the side looking like she just gave birth), while I high-fived strangers until the rest of Teampot crossed.

What a drama queen.
Keith and David waiting for MegGan to cross.
We finished. So very proud of Kate.
MegGan and other Team Teapot member (didn't get her name) crossing the finish line.
Now, everyone say Ahhhhh. 
 Team Teapot at the finish line.
Congratulations to everyone that participated and especially, congratulations to Kate on her first ever 5K. This won't be her last, oh no, it won't. Thank you to everyone who donated, everyone on the team, and to MegGan's hubby and son to cheer us on during the race. Team Teapot raised a total of $1,765.50 raised by 15 people. I raised $485 of it. Kate also told me that her coworkers were going to a donate a dollar for every minute that she made it under 1 hour. This was our motivation throughout the race and I'm hoping they stay true to their word.

Next race for me is a 2012 goal for me...the infamous El Chupacabra race this Saturday. Somehow, I need to run 6 miles between now and then. EEK!

On a side note, I've lost a total of 6lbs.

We saw this gazebo on our walk back to the car and we couldn't resist.
Yeah, I'm rocking it.
Picture 56 of 60 in this style. For some reason, I couldn't get it right and this was the best one.
This was a Chinese food truck called Happy Endings. Yeah, we thought it was funny, too.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tuesday's Bootcamp

I got there in enough time to setup and do some introductions before we started our stretches. I haven't had a stretch feel so good in a long time. We first ran our 2 warmup laps before we headed to map for the dreaded ab workout. I thought last Tuesday was rough with over 600 crunches. I was wrong, so wrong. We had to do the dreaded military style ab crunch (forget the name) where you hold your legs straight about 6" off the ground. After a certain amount of time passed, we moved our legs up and down (and a little bump at the end for more challenge) and then return back to the holding position. Then, we did the Russian Twists instead of moving our legs up and down. My tummy felt like a rock. The torture was finally over only to go on to other things.

There were 3 sections set up:  1 group (me) were to do the high-knees, 2 group would do bicep curls/shoulder presses 100 times, and 3 group would do jumping jacks. Once the 100 was reached, we moved to the next section. This was our first run through. The second run through had 1 group doing 250 high-knees. The third run through had the 3 group doing 75 jumping jacks. I was proud to say that I was the first to reach 75 jumping jacks. Actually, we had a mini competition on the second run where I reached 100 of the tricep curl workout before we could move on to the next section. There were other exercises, but I just can't remember everything. I really should write this as soon as I get home, but I was tired and hungry. Anyways, we ended with more ab exercises, but this time with planks. Oh my, the planks. So much planks. In the end, I felt good for going, because I had some issues with my sickness that reared its ugly head. I wasn't sure I would make it there or not.

Also, I made Veggie Paella for the first time with Lime-Butter Grilled Corn. It was so delicious and so very healthy.

I'm going to try to go to Bootcamp this evening, but it's looking highly unlikely. My sickness again has hit me harder than before, but thankfully, it's not dizziness. I think it's just the viral part of the viral infection. And hopefully that means it's on the way out of my body for good. I'm not sure I will be able to run tomorrow and basically, I'm just showing up to the 5K on Saturday. Cross your fingers that it goes well.