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 kid...you 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 www.livestrong.com 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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Liebster Award Tag

I was tagged for the Liebster Award by the amazing Petra Run, which is given out to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. I really don't have anything close to this...like at all.  I wished I had a picture of us like she had with the person that tagged her, but maybe in time.
The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
Rules for receiving this award:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Then answer the questions the tagger sent for them, plus create 11 questions for the people they’ve tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Notify the people you have tagged.
5. No tag backs. ;)
Here are 11 things about me (I had to come up with new and creative things about me since Petra had a few on her list that match me):
  1. I have several things going on at once. I have lots of ideas. I want to travel everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE. However, it doesn't always pan out the way I want. More or less, I just don't sit down to do it. Let's call it the Gemini in me (and I'm going with the old zodiac).  I think my boyfriend rolls his eyes when he gets an email from me (sadly sometimes every week) with a "Hey, look. I want to go here. Take me."
  2. I like being busy all the time at my full-time job. I think it keeps my mind settled. And I especially love to complain about how busy I am. I personally don't like lots of busy all at once that comes unexpected and then long periods of downtime. This is how I lose stuff.
  3. I'm trying to reduce the amount of time I crack my knuckles. This is a long and bad habit of mine that I'm working on for the time being. Hey, I quit caffeine, I think I can do this.
  4. After watching the Olympics, I really don't understand why Jessie J (English artist) has a career. Her songs aren't even that catchy and she was not a good live singer. I can't believe she's a judge on a singing competition show.
  5. I want to have my own garden eventually and use the herbs, veggies, and fruits from it in my meals. Although, I can see myself getting lazy about actually tending to the garden and eventually killing everything I just planted. My parents had a green thumb; therefore, I have a green thumb (I think). I just have to learn how to use it.
  6. I want to take a professional cooking class really bad either to learn how to make a sushi roll, mexican food, or real authentic Italian food.
  7. I'm worried that this mysterious foot injury is going to turn in to something big, something that will have me out for 6 weeks (and possibly more) and maybe force me to cancel my marathon. I have had so many injuries these past couple of years and I just want to make it to end of this year without a "couch me" new type of injury.
  8. My marathon training scares me more than the actual marathon (granted that will change when it's the night before). I'm going to be hitting long distances (more than 9 miles) as soon as it gets dark early. Without someone to run with me, Im nervous about what to expect or me getting lazy. Seriously.
  9. My guilty pleasure is My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. It's the last remaining reality show that I watch. I know it's a trainwreck, but I can't turn it away. And I don't like the My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. I think it's stupid and I don't see how they are different from rednecks. 
  10. I'm excited about getting a chance to run near Mt. Rushmore when I go visit there with my parents and my grandmother next month. I'm also hoping for a chance to take a picture of the three generations of the Sykes women.
  11. I am able to admit that I am an Adrenaline Junkie. I even took a test to see what type of exercise training is me. This was my answer. Wow! And he even has a parachute.
Questions from Run Petra Run:
  1. What is your next big goal / challenge?
    My goal is to complete my first ever marathon called the Day After End of the World Marathon on December 22. My challenge right now is to run a 5K event within 30 minutes.
  2. What language would you like to learn to speak? I would have to say Spanish since I was well on my way to learning it and using it in my everyday life/job. However, I quit that job and stopped listening to the CDs. So, I really forgot a lot of things. I would like to get back in to it. I would love to also pick up German again.
  3. Which book has most inspired you? This one was easy even though it's a clique'. Eat, Pray, Love has inspired me the most. It helped me realized what I was going through in my own marriage, helped ground me during my divorce, and inspired me to go backpacking by myself for the first time ever in England. I only went for two weeks instead of a full year to three different countries. And I met the man of my dreams even if he's English.
  4. What is the one thing you'd like to do but are afraid to try? Well, I've been dabbling with the notion of triathlons. So, I have sort of been thinking about Half Ironman as one of those off in the distance things I may try some day (maybe), but I just don't think I have that in me. It scares me, but Ironmans absolutely and positively frighten me to no end. Also, one of my bucketlist item is too go deep sea fishing. I'm afraid of it, because it will be physically and mentally draining. I'm not sure how I will react, because this is something my dad and I should have done together before he died. I'm afraid I might ball in front of a bunch of guys in the middle of the ocean or maybe just not catch anything.
  5. Best moment in the 2012 Olympics? Watching my step cousin Jessica Hardy win the Bronze in the 4X100 freestyle relay and a Gold in 4 X100 Medley Relay (although, she didn't swim in the final) was by far the best thing about the 2012 Olympics. I would have LOVED to see her win a medal in the 50m or 100m freestyle, but it was still awesome to cheer her on and send her my support.
  6. Favorite cuisine? SUSHI is my favorite ever, because I can eat it several times a week. Plus, majority of it is super healthy.
  7. To what extent is your lifestyle shaped by the exercise / sport you do? I am antsy when I don't run. I am now also modifying my life schedule to fit my marathon training. This will naturally change in the Fall when we lose lots of daylight. I will probably have to wake up earlier in the morning or run with mace. Also, running and cycling (and even hiking) have provided me new ways to enjoy a vacation. I get excited when I see that you can do a cycle trip in Florence Italy with the Toscano professional cycle team. This would have never crossed my mind before. Speaking of vacations, I always have to wrestle now with bringing my running shoes or my hiking shoes when packing. It sometimes stresses me out.
  8. Has your exercise / sport affected your diet? I'm actually eating better, paying attention to what goes in to my body since I really started getting serious about running. I eat way more vegetables than I have ever in my life. I'm not sure if running got me to want to do that or just wanting to lose the weight after my January surgery. I do know that when I had a good run, I don't want to fill my body up with crap food. I want something healthy to eat. I also bought Runner's World Athlete's Palate Cookbook recently. It's about chefs creating recipes who are also runners. So, I'm trying that out. I won't turn vegan like most runners, because I just love meat too much. 
  9. What is your favourite post-race treat - food or otherwise? Pachuigo apparently has become my Memorial Park run treat (as long as I'm with friends, because then, I'm just some girl getting gelato by myself all the time).  It is Italian gelato and it's so good. They have sorbet type ice cream, with has less fat in it.
  10. Which bloggers inspire you? I am so inspired by Leslie Carter's blog, because her blog is about her very large bucketlist that she has checked off. I also love that one of her bucketlist items was to help five people reach their bucketlist dream. I think that was amazing and was sad that we just couldn't make it work. I read Shut Up and Run's blog. She's funny and not afraid to talk about bowel movents on the run. Plus, she just finished an Ironman. I think that's amazing. I love the Traveling Gypsy. She up and quit her job to travel the world. And she's not just traveling. She's volunteering. She's giving out free hugs. She's making videos and she always has time to respond to me. Plus, she's a skydiver. I have to have a bond with fellow skydiver girls. There's not that many of us.
  11. If you're not my FB friend, will you friend me now? I would love to be one as soon as I figure out how to friend request on FB. I'm so awful at finding people.

My questions for the tagged ones are listed below (sorry, but Petra's questions were too good not to include some).  I'm sorry if this is weird for you, but it's a great way to get to know my fellow bloggers and maybe bring in more traffic for all of our sites.
  1. Why did you create a blog in the first place?
  2. What is your next big goal?
  3. How do you handle challenges in your [insert reason for your blog]?
  4. Which book has inspired you the most?
  5. What is the one thing you'd like to do but are afraid to try?
  6. What is the number one thing on your list that you would like to do?
  7. What is your guilty pleasure?  See mine above.
  8. Which bloggers inspire you?
  9. What is your favorite post-run (if you don't run, than hike) treat, snack, or meal?
  10. Have you gone to a blogger-related conference?
  11. What is your favourite healthy recipe that you care share with all of us?
The following people have been tagged. I know that some of you have more than 200 followers, but I thought it would be nice to hear about you anyways. Plus, I don't have that many people I follow less than 200 followers. I hope you take the time.
  1. Suzana
  2. Morgan
  3. Kandace
  4. Dawn
  5. Leslie Carter
  6. Traveling Gypsy
  7. Shut Up and Run
  8. Daily Nibbles
  9. Texas Runner Girl
  10. The Adventures of Mother Nature
  11. Powered by Tofu

Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Galveston Sand Crab 5K Recap...Again

On Saturday, August 11, 2012, I participated in the Galveston Sand Crab 5K for the third time. I love this race, because it's on the beach and at night. Plus, they have beer at the end and I feel better about drinking beer at 9 p.m. than 9 a.m. The only thing I don't like is that I have to drive to Galveston for a 3 mile run.

At first, I considered not going. I didn't have anyone to go with and/or anyone to run with me. However, I paid money for this event and I'm not about to waste money, especially for the next year. I have lots of saving to do.

But I sucked it up and got in my car only to see that it was storming for most of my drive. Thankfully, it was not raining at all when I got there. In fact, it was beautiful, with less heat than Houston. Well, only a degree or 2 less. Let's not get carried away here. One thing I noticed when making my way on to the Seawall was the amount of people. Good golly, I haven't seen Galveston this crowded since Spring Break or Mardi Gras (when I was 18 and younger). Hurricane Ike destroyed a great deal of Galveston, but to be honest, Galveston was on a decline of tourism before that storm. Even though it was sad to hear stories about how people lost their homes, jobs, and family members, friends, and coworkers, Ike gave Galveston a chance to rebuild and make it better like how I envisioned Galveston before 1908. It's thriving now. There were people everywhere. I was worried I might not to be able to find a place to park. Hell, I was worried I might not make the event in time. It's also pretty clean compared to what Galveston used to be, but it's still has a long way to go from Jersey Shore to Cape Cod (being maybe South Padre Island). The other big change to Galveston is no longer seeing the famous Flagship Pier and Hotel a long the Seawall. The pier still stands, but that hotel from my memories is gone. It is now called Pleasure Pier, which I thought of something different when I read that name. The new pier is now about lights, food, fun, and rides. Even though I was sad to see a pier from my childhood changed in to something I didn't recognize, I was happy the city of Galveston was able to build something productive and good for their economy.

The new Pleasure Pier, Galveston, TX. I wished I got a better photo, but I love this shot anyways.
Okay, back to the race. I made it to Porretto Beach to park (forced to park on the sand paying $10 since there was no free parking on the street). My car is a low car and well, I wasn't too sure about the sand since I had to park way far down on the beach. Thankfully, I had no issues getting in and out. As I headed to the start, people kept asking me about what was going on and why we were all there. Some really cute girls wished me good luck. As I walked to the race, I realized that I wasn't remotely prepared. I forgot my head lamp and to wear a brightly colored shirt. There was no reason to get bent out of shape since I did wear a white tank top and I don't use my lamp as much anyways. I also debated not wearing shoes, but decided against it since I could cut my foot on a piece of glass for all I know.

I was disappointed that I didn't see a great sunset, but I looked over to my right to see this image. I just couldn't take my eyes off it and no, it wasn't the girls in the lighted tutus.
Another view of that puffy and the sun coming out from behind it.

I was standing around waiting for the event to start. I'm not sure why the sign doesn't have FINISH on this side. Someone messed up.

Since I didn't have my wonderful photographer mother with me, I had to take my own pictures.

I bought these Asics Nimbas before the 2012 Sand Crab Run, but this is the first time I've worn them for this event.

I had to get creative, while standing there by myself.

Thankfully, someone asked me to take their picture. I had them reciprocate.
As I headed to the middle of the pack waiting for the race to start, I looked over to my right to see a bunch of ladies with very bright colors just dancing to themselves. One girl had a fish net type thing draped around her shirt, which I thought was great since this run was called the Sand Crab. I saw their shirts and it read Black Girls Run. I've been reading about them at Sheryl Yvette's blog. It's interesting how you read something on the internet from miles away and it can show up in your life like when I saw my friend show up on a Traveling Gypsy's blog that I read from freaking Madasgascar.

Finally, the race started. It was slow to get going as per usual, but I eventually made it through and started my journey. I had my ipod going and just stayed next to people with lights. I was actually running with this one girl for a distance, but she slowed down way too much. So, I latched on to someone else like an alien. Throughout the race, you could hear the various calls of HOLE. Some of them even came from me. My favorite was saying, "BIG ALLIGATOR THING."

I felt good in this run. I was just going along without feeling an ounce of fatigue. The air was not so hot and the breeze was nice against my skin. So far, this was the best out of the 3 runs temperature wise. Then, I see it...the turnaround point. I think I yelled out, "WOW! Turnaround Point Already." Someone responded with, "Thank God." I actually couldn't believe I was already here. Am I that fast? Has Superman met his match? I do have buns of steel. As I start running around, the sand got deeper and softer. I should have remembered this from the past 2 years, but I was on a high from how fast I got to this point. My energy level plummeted when I hit the crosswind. When I'm turned around to head back to the Finish Line, I feel the wind hit my face like a freight train. Ohhhhhhhh....that explains why I got here so fast. I was in a massive tailwind just gliding me across the sand. Whatever, I will take it.

This one brightly green (my mother would be so happy) lady would run ahead of me and then I would run ahead of her when she walked. So, I finally just decided to walk when she walked. The wind was really hurting and I was getting slower and slower. I did this for a bit until I realized that she's just walking way too much and it was getting harder and harder to pick up the run again. I stopped catching up to her on the run and just decided to walk when I felt like it.

I looked out in the distance to see where the Finish Line was located in relation to me. It was so far away. I started to plan out my stops to walk so that I could still make it to the end in a decent amount of time. Then, I looked up right before I was about to start a walk and realized that I was hitting the softer sand towards the Finish Line. I was already at the end and made a mad sprint to cross the line as 35 minutes something flashed on the clock. Holy Moly! That was the fastest I've ever run a 5K. And I just checked my results; I actually ran the 5K in 34:06:08. I was 34 out of 159 in my age group. I don't think I've ever been in the top 20% of the runners. Thank you tailwind...er...I mean my awesome running legs and skills. Aftewards, I got some bbq and a nice cup of Alamo Draft Beer. I was a fan of the pasta, but not the bbq. Since, I didn't really have anyone to talk to, I left after my first beer.

Look at that smile. Could it be because I finally got food since I didn't really expect traffic nor eat before the race? Could it be because of the ice cold beer in my hand? Could it be because I just did a fast 5K?

This race gave me a thrill of pure speed within a 5K (okay, speed for me) and have now come up with a new personal goal. I want to be able to run my next 5K event in 30 minutes. I'm so close I can taste it (although that could be the sweat). I would count my training runs, but I don't ever keep time (I forget, but I could sure could use a nice GPS watch (hint hint).

I officially start my marathon training next week, but I'm starting this week just to give me some kind of buffer. Technically, I began 2 weeks ago, but I haven't been as serious. See my stats below. And to top it off, I'm now at 141 lbs. This makes me so happy.

I do have to mention about my Hatha Yoga class at my new yoga place (Yoga House) for a month. I made the decision to just go on Friday evening (against the pyschic's warning from NOLA). The instructors were pretty relaxed and totally looked like they would prefer yoga on the beach than in a hot classroom in Houston, TX. At first, I didn't know what to expect or why he was taking so long for us to go in to the room. Yes, he was heating up the place as if we need that in Houston. The room was 113 degrees; he said that it was closer to 110 by the doors and thankfully, I was by the door. I didn't really feel the difference. This was by far the HOTTEST yoga class that I've ever done. I thought the Vinyasa class was the hot one, but apparently, it's this one, too. WHOA! I actually was in a bridge and slipped in my own sweat (he thought it was due to me just crashing like everyone else). My big moment was that I got in the headstand after crashing a few times causing the instructors to come to my aid. Okay, so, he helped me, but I still did it. Now, I have that as a goal. I will get there some day.

On a side note, Kate (I'm calling you out) and I have started the 28-Day Challenge:  Project GET HEALTHY. I'm going to do 300 crunches and 100 squats (or some kind of leg/butt exercise) every day. This might adjust to an even split. I will also include my Extreme Abs workout DVD in this (at least once a week), because I know that is WAY over 300 crunches.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summertime Running with Mal

I have had very little posts this summer, but I have done quite a bit of exercising and running. I just didn't really feel like writing about every single run. In fact, I came up with the idea to do a collaborative post of all Mal and I's summer exercising that we did at the end...when she left. And sadly, she left on Monday for good. It's been interesting and freaking awesome having her as my roommate (and well live-in maid, dog walker, and cat helper). I mean it was nice to actually not have to worry about leftovers. We have done so many things this summer like running, shopping, vet stuff, dog parks, healthy eating, smoothies, swimming, male stripper movies, Pichachuli, BINGO, boot camp, karaoke, wine, sushi, and more. So, this post is my ode to her and how much fun I had with her this summer before she went back to that dismal place they call Grenada.

Mal said at the beginning of our Summer, "We are going to exercise alot and get skinny and eat lots of healthy food." Well, we did try our best, but that girl traveled too much; I lost only a few lbs. As soon as she came back, the following song immediately popped in to my head. Although, he raps about the summer heat...at 88! Wow, that's like Springtime for us down here in Texas.

Mal and I reunited for our first run, she picked me up when I was too tired to make it home, and you can't really forget the infamous run in our underwear.

Hermann Park #1

First off, we did a lot of running at Hermann Park. For our second run, I wanted to go 3 miles and decided to finally tackle the loop around Rice University. I knew it would be over 3 miles, but that was okay with us...well, really  me. When we parked, we decided to just go around the park instead of Rice. I calculated it to be very close to 3 miles. However, I forgot that it takes out a very big chunk that I usually run. It ended up being about 2.25-2.5 miles. The debate is still up on how much it actually is in miles.

We did some quick stretches and headed out. I mostly tried to keep up with her, but she runs fast (faster than I care to run). At first, I kept the ear phones low and only on one ear. Halfway through the run, I saw that I wasn't going to run next to her and fixed the music. I stayed pretty much behind her the whole way only catching up sometimes when we hit pavement. I noticed on this run that I run faster on the pavement than normal. Whenever a turn would come up, she would throw out a hang signal to indicate which way to go. I just yelled at her if she was wrong. She went down the stairs (the ones that I usually hit) just to wait on me; however, I wanted to do it, too. This did wear me out and I had to stop for another walk by the driving range. I planned to start running again when the new song came on, but I decided just to go for it. We ran all the way to the other side of where the car was so that we could run up and down the hill. Anyone that has ever been to Miller Outdoor Theater knows which hill I'm talking about. I had done exercises on it when I participated in the Mean Green Boot Camp, but never added it in my runs. It is now a staple in all of my runs even though I hate it when I'm running up it.

Hermann Park #2

It was a Sunday the next time we ran. I had to do a long Skype with Jim, while she took a nap. When I got done, I went to wake her up in which she assumed I was just joking about the run. I was not. I took her statement to get healthy and skinny seriously. Actually, I just really got in the mood to run and made her go with me. I think I even kicked her awake or yelled at her. We decided to do the same route again as before, but this time, I didn't expect her to run with me. She went off with both of us listening to our music. Again, we kept in a line with her in front. I caught up a few times mainly because she allowed me to catch up. We had only one quick walk stop, but I got back on the run again. We also did another hill climb and stair climb. The hill hurts, but I feel good after doing it. After the run, Mal commented on how she thought this run was more like 2.5 miles instead of closer to 2 miles. I kind of felt the same way. When we got home, Mal made a delicious tilapia dinner that was so healthy.


Mal also said to me that she wanted to do a bootcamp while she was here. So, my job was to scout out any livingsocial or groupon deals that I coud find. I did eventually find one for Silverback Elite Fitness Bootcamp (5 weeks for 2 people at $55). This was a really great deal. We did actually do the classes and have gotten some killer workouts. I like Mean Green better, because they are all about motivation whereas Silverback is all about the Marine style bootcamp. There isn't any yelling, but if we stop, we all suffer. I feel like that doesn't help the group at all. Plus, Mean Green makes a point to stretch before and after as a class. I know we have an hour, but Silverback should really try to make an effort to stretch.

The workouts are far superior to Mean Green. I have never done so many squats and lunges in my life. Some of the squats I had never even heard of before. We even did what I call suicides and line drills and side stepping. I had to do those in basketball and they were awful. Although, these line drills didn't compare to the toughness during high school. Even though the workouts are great, they take longer to recover. This has been a problem for me since I'm slowly starting my marathon training. I can't do any running the day after, because I'm far too sore. I can barely walk.

I ended up missing 4 classes, because I traveled to Denver for a week and then immediately got sick on my return home. I have since made up for those classes. Although, one of the classes I missed was pretty cool. They took pictures for the website (Mal was in them) and My Fit Foods was there with coupons (I did get a coupon last Tuesday that he had leftover). All in all, this was a great bootcamp and I'm trying to decide if I want to do it again. They are cheap and it's toughening me up, while losing some pounds. However, I can't be missing days when my marathon training gets in to full bloom, because I'm sore.

On a side note, I have learned that my viral infection weakened my immune system, which is why I'm getting sick a lot more than usual in a year. I'm taking more Vitamin C and eating other superfoods to boost my immunity levels. Let's hope it works.

Memorial Park

Then came the big one...the run of all runs at Memorial Park. Finally, we would run 3 miles only with a new person, Pier. After all this time, he joined me on a run. We met up with him on a Saturday evening at the adult playground. We stretched and got on our way. Again, Mal was off and I'm not talking a little bit like our normal runs. She was gone. Pier stayed with me, but I told him he could catch up with Mal if he wanted. He didn't.

Houston was basically flooded from the monsoon rainstorms every single day for the months of June and July (part of it anyways). The park itself had many little ponds. In the beginning, I could see Mal trying to get around this very large mass of water and this weird guy was jumping back and forth over it. Mal told us later that he was creeping her out, because he kept staying right by her. I guess maybe she should have stayed with us.

Pier and I kept a steady pace (I'm sure it was too slow for him) throughout, with various punchings and pushings of eachother. I had just spent hours the night before updating my ipod playlist, but as luck would have it, I didn't start hearing any of my new songs for the first half of the run. Yes, I complained. Yes, Pier made fun of me later.

We just ran along side of eachother taking in the scenery; one would overtake the other when we got to a pond. I get a little to in to the music, moving my arms around. He took this as a chance to make fun of me. He likes to do that. We had to go single file on this narrow stretch since there was a big puddle. We ran on the edge of it giving enough space for other people. However, this girl decided that she was that special and could only run in the middle of the narrow passageway forcing all of us (2 people behind us) to go in to the water or even closer to the water. I yelled out something like Thanks Lady. I really wish people would be less selfish or at least more spacially aware of their surroundings. I get so annoyed with people at the grocery store or on my runs that don't move out of the way. They just stand there in the middle of the only passageway that everyone needs to go through looking at a newspaper ad. It pains me how some people can just be disrespectful to other human beings. Don't we have enough going on in our world? Okay, I digress.

Anyways, the run was pretty good. I told Pier that I was probably going to stop a lot, because I was sore from bootcamp and slightly hungover. But as we ran, I didn't stop. I just kept going until we saw Mal again at the adult playground. According to her, we ran it in like 35 minutes. I haven't done that in so long. Pier says that I do competitive style running. If there is someone there running just a bit faster, I will run faster, too. I can't lie, that's what I do.

Mal, Pier, and I acting goofy after our run.
After our run, we went to Pachuigo Italian Gelato & Caffe where we had delicious gelato. We also got our picture taken for the wall, but sadly, it's not up yet.

Last Run in Hermann Park

Going out on our last run.

I have ran a couple of times, while Mal was gone. But for our last day together, we had a plan to run one last run together at Hermann Park. It was our signature route. We did a quick stretch and started our run.

My run was slow, so very slow. Unfortunately, bootcamp punished us for a weak Thursday the week before (I wasn't even there). There were so many lunges and it took me until probably about Sunday after Yoga For Athletes to make me feel less sore. That class kicked my butt and I knew it heading in to the run. I told Mal that I was going to be slow and I was. Everything that jiggled...hurt...so...bad. Several times, Mal had to slow down just so I could get close. She ended up making the executive decision to turn right at the zoo instead of going the full length (roughly 2.5 miles). And she stayed with me the whole time. I was thankful, because I just couldn't push myself any harder than I was going and we had a long day ahead of us. We did round back at the hill and did one final run up and down it. It hurt so bad and I was close to just crawling up there. I didn't though.

Yay! We survived the run and the hill.

Even though I was slow and it was a shorter distance then usual, it was still a run that I got to share with my friend. Afterwards, we went straight to the pool and got in with our sports bras and shorts. We didn't care.

Yeah, we're in matching sports bra in the pool. Don't judge us.
At the beginning of the Summer, Mal asked me to make her a photo presentation of our time together like I did when she left the first time. We have been photo hounds making sure to capture every moment as possible. The video is below and I hope you enjoy it like I did.