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.