Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hiking the Boulder Flatirons

To say that it's been awhile since I've seen Ingrid is an understatement. As soon as I met her, she was pretty much gone and we could never coordinate our schedules when either of us have been in Texas or Colorado. But that all changed when I went to Denver for training. I gave her plenty of notice and she was all for a hike or just drinking or both on the Sunday that I got there. It didn't matter. Denver was our oyster so to speak.

After hanging out at the Rock Bottom Brewery for some beer and delicious food, we made the plan to head to Boulder for a quick hike. In all my times in Colorado, I've never been to Boulder. I've heard about Boulder. I read the Shut Up and Run Blog where she runs in Boulder, but never been there. So, this was a real treat for me to not only see my friend after many years, but also to visit a new town. We stopped off at her cute little Colorado home where she has her own garden and the biggest Zucchini that I've ever seen (wished I had gotten a picture of it). I was supposed to get one before I left, but didn't. Shoot. After a quick change, we headed out with Ingrid driving.

On the horizon, I could see the clouds and darkness forming in the direction that we were heading. This was not good. We got closer and it got windier. Then, it started to rain a little bit, but not too bad. We abandoned our plan to hike this location at the top mainly because there were no cars and the weather was getting nastier by the second. Instead, we went down to the bottom (Chautauqua) where we saw lots of people and less scariness coming from up above. It took awhile to find a place to park, but we did. I saw people doing yoga, class trips (mostly from Boulder University), etc.

Ingrid taking a picture of the Chautaugua trails.
This is a close up of the Chautauqua trails.
As soon as we hit the trail, it started to get windy cold. Thankfully, Ingrid let me borrow her rain jacket (which is now mine...THANKS INGRID...and no, Jim, she actually gave it to me). I was thinking this was a bad idea when it finally stopped and then it started to get hot. This could have been a result of the trail being steep right off the bat and making me hot. I was already huffing and puffing within a quarter mile. I couldn't believe it. I had to take lots of stops and I didn't care if Ingrid thought I was a wuss. I'm not used to this. I need a break. Although, I'm pretty sure Ingrid was happy to take the breaks too since she wasn't expecting the steepness so quick.

Looking at where we have to go at the start of the trail. It doesn't look steep, but it is.

This is my view to the beautiful.
The Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado.
Finally, we got off the open path and in to the trees where it sort of leveled off. What I mean by that is we had more level off points to take a break. And there were a lot of breaks mostly executed by me. I'm not upset about it. Ingrid did notice these berries throughout our hike that had such a pop of color to them. I also saw (and smelled) my first Vanilla Tree. The bark literally smells like vanilla extract.

Ingrid was a great guide telling me about the Flatirons and these bugs (sorry that I can't remember the name) eating away at the roots basically suffocating the trees to death. You could see the change in color, which was very different than a tree that was dead. It was sad to see and why there is a big effort to clear out these trees before the bugs spread to other trees (and they do spread fast).

Getting closer to the Flatirons.
We were smart not to eat them, but they are beautiful.
This is the Vanilla Tree that smells sooooo good!
We are getting closer with every break.

Our second big break for a beautiful photo op.
The trail began to turn a little rocky, but not too bad. And then we saw the eagle flying around. I tried my best to get a great shot, but it wouldn't just stop for me. I mean seriously how selfish can it be to not just fly down and perch on a tree for my perfect shot. So, I got what I could.

Little bits of rock are starting to show up more in the trails. 
Picture / Break time for me.
They are just so majestic.

My best close up.
We had an opening in the trees to get this picture.

That's Boulder University to the left and I believe that's the lake next to a dropzone. Imagine getting this as your view from the sky.
Ingrid and I finally made it to the halfway point and of course, we had to have our picture taken. Now, anyone that knows Ingrid knows that she doesn't do pictures. I'm actually surprised that I was able to get this picture of her (and one of her later). She would rather take the pictures, but I see she's gotten better. In fact, that's what she told me. We had this group of church folks from all over the world (Norway, Colorado, Sweden, and possibly Netherlands). They were really sweet, but we kept running in to them where they had to mention over and over to us about checking out their church on the web. I started to feel like I was being followed by a cult.

Ingrid and I at the halfway point. Now, we have to figure out which trail to hit.
Then, the trail got really rocky. I was advised by Ingrid (she's also preparing me for summiting my first 14er in Colorado that I plan to do next year...uh hum...Ashley) that this is how it is close to the top of the mountains. So, I have to get used to the rocks. I was starting to get tired and the loud yells from this young girl looking for her lab (the church group) was beginning to get on my nerves. Break time for sure.

Did you say rocks?

I really loved this picture from the light hitting the rocks through the trees and Ingrid climbing up. I had to see what it looks like in black and white. Which one do you think is better?

I sat on a big flat boulder looking up to this view. Ingrid told me she used to climb things like this back in Alabama just like a monkey. I swear she was human when I met her.

Again, I thought this was such a pretty shot that may need grayscale. Which do you think is better?

I looked over to see where we came from on the path. Do you see a trail?

Ingrid is not only part monkey / part human, but she also has super strength.
Finally, we were on our way down and I'm not going to lie, I was happy to not being in the incline position. Ingrid gave me one of her walking sticks since I started to lose control of my step.

You can see Boulder below us.

There was this little shack in the middle of the trail. Naturally, I had to take a picture.

They have apple trees?
Ingrid and I finished our great hike for the day and went home. I was so happy to get this in with her and well, to really see her for the first time in I think 7 years. At first, I was worried that when we finally got together, we wouldn't click as friends like before. We so clicked and I had so much fun with her. I just want to thank Ingrid for taking me out (and later on in the week, too) for a great hike. I wish that I could have gone on another hike Friday before my flight left. 

I wanted to do some urban Denver downtown running, but didn't get a chance. However, I did get on the bike in the hotel gym where I biked for 12 miles. Ingrid also gave me advice on doing the MS 150 and taking breaks every 12 miles. So, if I could make it 12 miles, I think I can do this next year. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Hot Undies Run Recap

On a rainy and muggy Saturday afternoon, 4 girls donned in red, white, and blue ascended on to Brian O'Neill's Irish pub, June 30, 2012, in the Village to run in their underwear and drink some beer for a good cause. The event...The 2012 Hot Undies Run. This is a 2 mile fun run during the middle of the day (HOT) around Rice Unversity in your underoos, which benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Undies for Everyone. You start at O'Neill's with a free beer, stop at a bar in the middle of Rice University for another free beer, and end at O'Neill's to claim your free beer if you didn't get it before the race.

You might remember, I ran this fun event last year with Amy and her fiancee, Brian. So, naturally, I couldn't wait to run it again this year. However, this time, I wanted to actually wear underwear and participate in a team costume for a chance to win some prize money or at least some more free beer. Once I found the girls (Kate, MaloRee, and Amy again), then it was time to come up with a theme. There were so many to choose from, but we decided (maybe me) that since it was close to one of the greatest days of American history (July 4th if you really must know...suck on that ENGLAND...yeah, that's right, I went you, mean it), it would probably be easy to get American themed costumes/undies. And Team Maiden USA was born.

Myself, Kate, MaloRee, and Amy as Team Maiden USA. I just want to point out that Kate had just chugged her beer right before this picture was taken. We weren't the only ones drinking before the race.
All week, Houston has been hit with storms a plenty, all after 3 p.m. But not this day, nope. On the one time we need it not to rain, it pounded starting at 10 a.m. The race was at noon. We were either going to 1.) be up there mostly alone in our underwear, because everyone got scared to participate, 2.) be rained on the entire time making it somewhat of a miserable event, or 3.) start running right after the rain stopped, just in time to let out the heat and mosquitos (the squitors have been unbearable for the week). What do you think it was? It's Texas and anyone from Texas knows that it's option 3 almost every time.

But we didn't care. We worked on our costumes as soon as everyone got there, including ironing on the Maid in the USA. Kate of course bought a pink shirt instead of red. There is no pink in the American flag. So, I gave her my tank top and wore a sports bra with Mal. Kate and Amy looked alike and Mal and I looked alike. In a rather OCD way, we totally matched perfectly.

This took several attempts. I tried 3 times, at which point, I gave up, turned off the iron, and mumbled some curses to Hobby Lobby for selling us defective iron ons. It took Mal a couple more times to get it right.

Good job Mal for sticking it out and making that iron on actually work.

Mal and I looking super cute. I think this is going in a frame or something.
Finally, we were on our way to O'Neills. But wait, I forgot the 4 packages of unopened underwear to bring for donation. I would say just forget them, but what am I going to do with 9 year old undies for boys and girls. Yeah, I don't need that on my conscience. So, after we made a quick stop back at the apartment, we were really on our way this time.  The rain finally let up enough for a light light drizzle and even stopped right before the race.

I was wearing my rain jacket thingy. Yes, the stars spin while running.

Mal didn't want Amy to feel left out from all the picture taking.
When we got to the parking area, I saw a lot of women in boxers or shorts. I started to get an uneasy feeling about what I was wearing. I mean I was super exposed. I was now thinking that I shouldn't have given Kate my tank top so that I could wear it for myself. But then Amy reminded me that there were lots of women in underwear last year. That's when I started the mantra, "I'm wearing a bikini. I'm wearing a bikini." I mean to be honest, it's more material than my actual I needed to get over it and be proud to wear underwear in public...for a good cause.

After we got our first free beer (had to medicate Kate), we walked around taking pictures and people watching. Really, I just handed the camera to Mal and she was off like a flash. She came back with some great photos. This is one event where people watching is just awesome, but you can't look like a creeper (uh hum...Mal).

Of course, we found the other America Proud team. These guys got in the top 10, but we didn't. Cue sad face now.

This was their motto.
But there was another group of all guys supporting America.

Bringing back Risky Business, although they should have worn whitey tightys like Tom Cruise.

Can't have underwear runs without the Justice League.

Superman and Wonder Woman stop saving the planet to run for the cause.
These were the Runaway Brides.

Team I've Got the Runs.

Mal didn't like the fact that the girl didn't have a crazy wig and kicked her out of the picture so she could be in it.

Super cute!

I'm not sure if you remember this gem of a song that came out of England. Look it up.

Wild Things were super adorable.
Someone has to support the Olympics.

Wow! Had to stop to take a picture with this very good looking male who I believe was with Team Magic Mike. Notice the hand...not mine.
The start was announced and everyone threw away their beers to push together as a big mass of cows. Finally, we were off to start our 1 mile run to beer (and literally what kept Kate going).

The 2012 Hot Undies Run on the go. The storms were all around us at this point.

What a goofy picture.

So, Mal screams out, "ENGLAND" and of course, the guy wearing the British flag underwear looks. We got a picture of him later.

And then Mal screams out, "HANDS ON BUTT!"  She took off sprinting to get this picture.

Elmer Fudd and the Pink Bunnies (not exactly the name) won 2nd place and concidentally, Sara's old team.

This was such a great shot.
Kate made it about half a mile before she started to talk about walking. I kept her running for a little bit, but then told the other 2 girls to just go. I stayed with Kate to keep her going, otherwise, she would have walked the whole darn thing and maybe never finished. So, we walked a lot and I set up goal points for her just like in the Sprint for Life 5K. This is when it started to lightly rain again, which meant that your sweat was mixed with the water. It wasn't a great combo. I was still proud of Kate for going as much as she did. And boy howdy, when you say that beer is literally just around the corner, that girl fired on all 4 cylinders for a strong finish to the halfway beer point. I have chosen to not include the photos of us sprinting in, because I look awful running. I don't care what you think, it's my blog and I'll post pics if I want to. Okay, tantrum ended.

Waiting in line for our beer.
This costume was just hilarious. He was the other half of bride and groom (will see them both later).

They wanted to see if Mal's stars spin...they do.

Olympians Costa Rica, China, and Great Britian stopped touching the stars to take a picture.
We finally got our beer and a much needed break.

I'm not sure what is going on here, but I have a feeling that sweat was stinging my eye.
This is for Jim.

Funny story. Mal and I bought these garter thingys (okay, really they are baby headbands) at Hobby Lobby. They were the last 2 ones. This lady got another one.

Team America wanted to take a picture with us and you can only guess what we were screaming out.
After we finished our beers, we started the run again. Mal and Amy were faster than Kate and I, but that's okay. Again, we let them go on and this is when Kate complained of pains. I told her that I thought it could be Appendicitis or Kidney Infection, but really, I thought it was just running cramps after stopping for beer. It turned out it was her kidneys and she had to go to the hospital on Sunday. She called herself an Athlete (eating Luna bars and being sore after Sprint for Life), but now she was one. I'm glad she is okay and back at work.

The Devil and the Angel telling us to run or walk.
But back to the run. It was still raining and Kate and I just kept on going. We kept pace with the Mad Hatter chick and her boyfriend who I think Kate mentioned that he must be funny for her to be with him.

Kate and I passed this guy and his son. It was too funny, because the kid was trying to be polite and look away, but he was a pre-teen boy trying not to look at girls running in their underwear. He had a very distinct smile on his face that showed he was looking. It made Kate and I laugh out loud at the same time.

And then it was the final stretch. The sidewalk was too narrow for me to run with Kate, but I kept yelling at her to go. I wasn't sure where the finish line was, because by then, people were partying. There was no time clock, so who knows when we finished. Now, for beer and food and to find out if we won or got close.

Kate and I waiting to hear Team Maiden USA get announced.

Team Magic Mike and a very cool feature that my camera did.
Team Wang, yup appropriately name. This was another great shot.

Team Bride and Groom. What a great concept and I thought for sure would place.

 I felt that USA should be represented in the Olympics.
Unfortunately, we didn't win the costume contest. We didn't even get in the top 10. It turns out, that you need to do something to really stand out when they call your name. Not only were we in the wrong place like the other teams, but we also didn't have a skit. The other USA team got picked, because they started firing up the crowd with USA! USA! USA! Some girls poured pitchers of water on to them; they got in in the top 10 and their costumes weren't all that great. Team Magic Mike won it and rightfully so. They looked good.

We tucked our tail between our legs and went to have a celebratory beer and food. Well, technically, we had food. Mal had to wait 3 times before eating, meaning they came with food 3 times before serving her the right plate and it still wasn't right. Kate came up with a fabulous idea for next year that includes a guy. Any volunteers? You won't have to put on a dress...promise.

Team Maiden USA happy with our run, our outfits, and our beer.

Because it's us, we had to have a crazy photo. Amy didn't get the memo about us.


Mal and Kate's first pic together. Me:  "Amy, should we take one?" Amy:  "We already took one together and I think we have documented this day enough."

I just want to thank Kate, Mal, and Amy for joining me on this awesome costume running adventure. This was my first time to ever do that for an event. I had so much fun and can't wait for next year. I want to thank Mal for taking camera duties even though you were the creeper of the event. Kate was worried about creepy men being there to take pictures of the girls like a photo she saw on the website of last year (and apparently, there was a midget). It turnes out she had to be worried about the creeper in our group...Mal. In fact, I couldn't put majority of the photos on this blog, because they were inappropriate. I also want to thank Debs and Ricardo for coming out to see us and hang out. I really wanted to put that picture of all of us up here, but it's not a great photo. See comments above. Here are some pictures from ABC News.

On a side note, I'm in full (well sort of) marathon training. I'm doing it on December 22, 2012. I've set up my spreadsheet (yes, I know I am a dork) and figured out exactly what week makes 18 weeks (August 20th), which is how long you are supposed to give yourself. I will start a couple of weeks early, but I'm really starting now. Last week, I ran a total of 7.25 miles (3 on Tuesday, 2.25 miles on Wednesday, and 2 miles on Saturday). Plus, Mal and I did Jackie Warner's Crunchless Extreme Abs on Friday for our cross training. I'm running more this week (ran 2.25 miles tonight) and starting bootcamp tomorrow and Thursday. Wish Mal and I luck. I'm going to need it. I've also been doing the summer workout every morning.