Friday, May 31, 2013

Food Pen Pal Virgin

For a year, I watched people post about Foodie Pen Pals at The Lean Green Bean and I was intrigued. It was a cool concept; bloggers and non-bloggers are matched, emails are exchanged, and then packages of food related items are sent off by the 15th of the month. I love food. I love meeting people. I love getting packages in the mail. However, I didn't do it. I had previously tried another secret present thing via a blog, but I never received a gift. So, I started to get a nervous about this and put it off.

Finally, I  decided that I wanted to participate. On May 4, 2013, I signed up for my first Foodie Pen Pal experience. Immediately, the person (Mary at that had me as a receiver contacted me for information on what I liked and disliked. I contacted my assigned person. I was excited and immediately got my package ready.

And then I got my package.

I devoured the Mini Peanut Butter and Mini Cheddar Crackers almost intantly.

Mary made me homemade mustard...yum!

And I got a little surprise added recipe. 
My package included:

  • Late July Mini Peanut Butter and Cheddar Cheese Crackers from Massachusetts are YUMMY!
  • Homemade Brown and Yellow Mustard is made from Vidal Blanc Wine. I absolutely love this mustard and mustard in general. As soon as she said, "I make homemade mustard," I was sold. 
  • Trappist Preserves made from Trappist Monks is such a great jelly for my PB&Js. I love their beer, so why not preserves.
  • Sunbutter Natural is sunflower seed butter. I haven't tried it yet, but I plan to soon. 
  • Equally Exchange Organize Chocolate Espresso Bean bar was great, but compared to everything else in the box, it was not my favorite. And I love love LOVE chocolate. So, for me to pick other things over the chocolate means that those other things are THAT good. 
  • I can't go wrong with a recipe for roasting Cauliflower. I loved that touch.
I want to just say THANK YOU Mary at You rock for my awesome foodie package. And go check out her blog.

For my first experience, I was impressed and can't wait to do it next month. Maybe you will be on my list.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back Injury DONE

After several weeks of being down with a back injury, I'm finally healed. I did a couple of tests during my fabulous birthday week by running across a busy New Orleans street or a Memphis street and I didn't feel any pain. However, I wasn't planning on running at that time. Jim and I did try to swim at the Peabody Hotel Memphis, but some kids overruled the pool and we ended up joining them in the fun.

So, last night in attempt to break me out of the sad funk I was in since Jim left to go back to England, I put on my  new Nike Capris that my man bought me for my birthday, my new shirt, laced up my shoes, and headed out the door.

I don't I look like a super workout mama!
I decided on a nice walk to the little track by my apartment and just do an easy run. If I need to bail, I can get home quickly. On my walk, my mother called to check on me, but I resumed my walk shortly thereafter.

My run was slow. I felt slow and looked slow, but I didn't care. I was running. My back wasn't hurting at all. I did full two laps around and a half lap...WITHOUT STOPPING. I wanted to add an extra lap, but I didn't want to push myself. Rule #1 when returning off an injury (and boy do I know this routine well), DON'T PUST YOURSELF...EASE BACK IN TO IT. I did 1.6 miles, with an average of 12:06 per mile (Ouch). I burned almost 200 calories.

When I got back, I changed in to my swimsuit for 20 minutes of swimming fun. This is by far the best thing I have added at the end of my runs. I can't wait to continue this tradition.

The shirt was really cool; however, it left alot of blue fuzz all over my sweaty body. Maybe it's the humidity and the fact that I hadn't washed it first before wearing. At least, I hope that is the problem, because it's a really great shirt.

On a side note, I had an amazing birthday week. Jim came in to town, which is enough said on how happy and bouncy I was. But my birthday alone included a foot massage, a horrible Hangover III movie, Mi Luna tapas bar with friends and family, presents, birthday twins, crossbow, turtle racing, my cowboy boots and a dress, road trip to Memphis (bucketlist town for me), Beale's Street, Western Conference Final Game, NOLA, new beer, presents, my Uncle, great music, a private cementary tour, the best gumbo ever, fried aligator tails, and crawfish. Did I mention presents? I can't thank Jim enough for the loot that he gave me on this special day. Thanks to my mom for paying for the hotel room in Memphis. Thanks to everyone that came out and wished me happy birthday. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful presents. I love you all! It was a great birthday week. And I'm sad to see it end.

So, I leave you with this tune. This is exactly how I feel right now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

35 Things I've Done By My 35th Birthday

May 23, 2013, marks my 35th birthday. I thought I would try something different this year. I was inspired to write a post about what I have done in my 35 years of life after pulling out a book an old friend gave me for my 30th birthday (Thanks Hiroko!).

It talks about all the things a girl needs to know to do everything at their best. I laughed at some of them, but then it got me thinking. I've done a lot, but I still have so much left to accomplish. With that, here are my 35 things (some are from the book):

  1. Made S'mores. Every Girl Scout is required to make these. In fact, we are really known for two things:  cookies and S'mores. Yes, we earn badges for other things that we do, but these are the main ones. If you don't know what it is, I'm so sorry for you. It's graham crackers, marshmellow, and a piece of chocolate warmed up by the fire.
  2. Made friendship bracelets (page 26 of the book). This was important when I was a girl. I would ask my mother to take me to a craft store and buy string or yarn or whatever to make these all day long for my friends. They were really cool. I should make another one.
  3. Learned and performed one of the best dance routines (page 79) that had nothing to do with cheerleading or drill team for a Talent Show at school. Nicole and I dressed up in 50 styles outfits (jeans, of course) and rocked out to Your Mamma Don't Dance and Your Daddy Don't Rock N' Roll by Poison.
  4. Learned how to ice skate (page 54), but I was never really good. I slowly skated around the rink hanging close to the walls. I think I did one twirl...slowly.
  5. Went windsurfing. Okay, really, I walked up to the guy on a beach near Singapore and told him that I would like to ride on the board. He placed me at the front of the board and I dangled my feet in the Pacific Ocean, while he steered. I still count it though!
  6. Learned how to scuba dive. My family was big in to this and I first learned at age 11 in the Bahamas. I was certifed a year later. I've swam with sharks, eels, and grouper the size of an adult human body. I've dove in an a part of the cave where you can actually breathe without your regulator. I've done shore dives, boat dives, ladder dives, etc. I've swam through a wall of small teeny tiny jellyfish that stung the crap out of me and been hit by a tarpon, while it was on his way for the 6 p.m. feeding in Cayman. I've been on night dives, deep dives, cave dives, grotto dives, and powerful surge dives. I've almost had my hand taken by a puffer fish. I've actually screamed in water when the dive master scared me on a night dive. Unfortunately, I haven't scuba dived since 2008.
  7. Rode a horse...and a couple of times bareback.  
  8. Pressed flowers in high school (page 55) for a school project. In fact, that's when I became friends with Cristal.
  9. Customized a t-shirt (page 13). I first made my own tie-dyed shirts when I was younger. And then Kate and I made an awesome t-shirt for was was awesome.
  10. Rode an elephant with Hiroko in Singapore.
  11. Went bungee jumping (albeit the reverse kind and not off of a bridge).
  12. Created a scrapbook. Thank you Kate for being the best ever scrapbook partner. Many rainy days at the dropzone didn't seem so bad when we worked on one of those. In fact, we are crafty when together.
  13. Went skydiving and met some awesome people. I've done some scary jumps and crazy jumps and fun jumps and big way jumps. I've jumped out of helicopter and landed on a beach and used a raft. And how could I forget the 11 way Horny Gorilla that pulled off until out of a Skyvan until Nick moved his foot.  
  14. Competed and placed in U.S. Skydiving National Championship. I had the best team (thank you Shannon and Jon) ever. I learned that I love competing and I don't let the stress of the day get the better of me.
  15. Went on a solo trip to another country. I think everyone should do this, especially if you are a woman. It will give you confidence you wouldn't believe.
  16. Helped fulfill my grandmother's bucketlist item and managed to see the amazing Mt. Rushmore.
  17. Stood on the beaches where so many men died in WWII.
  18. Visited a concentration camp (Dachau)
  19. Been to almost every cultural show, including a Broadway show, movies, concert, opera, play, musical, and ballet. Symphony is the last remaining cultural experience left for me to see.
  20. Watched loved ones pass away in a hospital. Nothing will build strength more than that right there.
  21. Survived a divorce...barely. Okay, this will build strength, too.
  22. Went repelling down a cliff...scary stuff until I got over the first hump. Then, it was absolutely fun.
  23. Went hiking alone.
  24. Ran a half marathon with Haley.
  25. Went tubing down the Guadalupe. Every Texan must experience this at least once. And if you don't lose something, you aren't doing it right.
  26. Got my Master's Degree. I don't often brag about this, but it was a mighty accomplishment.
  27. Went on a yoga retreat.
  28. Went and survived several road trips. If there is one thing you should do in life, it's a road trip with friends. Family is bound to whatever the head of the family wants, which is why friends can be so much more spontaneous.
  29. Partied with a celebrity.
  30. Played piano at a recital. I do not have a clue how to play anymore, but I remember those recitals and my little composer statue heads as a gift.
  31. Held my nieces in my arms and felt instant love...well, besides when I got Lady Loo Loo.
  32. Got left behind in Galveston during Mardi Gras at 2 a.m....this was before cell phones and I had no ride. Thankfully, I knew some friends down there to help me out.
  33. Performed on a trapeze.
  34. Went kayaking in some beautiful locations, which included seeing manatees, dodging boats, and surviving The Great Water Terror.
  35. Sat in a Buddhist temple and watched a closed celebration. I wasn't supposed to be there, but the guard let me watch the first half. It was amazing.

Have a great day today!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So, Your Back Went Out...

My worst nightmare happened a couple of weeks, especially after considering everything I went through last year trying to run a marathon. I threw out my back three days before the official start week of my training for the October marathon.

This is my back right now crying, whining, screaming, etc.
How? Well, I will tell you it wasn't something cool like this.

It was by opening a bathroom door and the way I twisted as I walked through it. Yup....that's it. Pride completly deflated now.

On a side note, if they have installed automatic handicap doors, remember that it's just a little bit heavier than normal.

Okay, so weird. I typed Back Injury Images in and this is an image I got. I have no idea what to say about this picture or what it has to do with back injuries. There was another picture similar to this one. Oh the wonders of Internet. I had to include it in this post.
You may be asking what I am going to do about the marathon with this injury? Lucky for me, I budgeted rest weeks (every fourth week) in my training. I will now start the first week of June, which is the actual 18 weeks start before the marathon.

In the mean time, I'm doing my best to heal my back safely with some exercises, which is why I wanted to write this post. The following are things that I have learned along the way dealing with this back since my car accident in 2000.
  1. If this is your first back injury, then go see a Doctor. I didn't take care of my back after that initial car accident and it's been messed up ever since. I have had far too many of these injuries and plenty of extra meds from my 2012 year of pain to not have to call him. 
  2. This may be my little secret, especially when you have a really bad, painful back day. You know the kind....your back is out, but you had to walk around all day or sit in your computer chair all day. Well, the first thing you do is sit in a jacuzzi/jacuzzi style bath tub on the jets for 30 minutes (ONLY 30 MINUTES....too much heat is not good). Then, as soon as you are done, get in a cold pool or take a cold shower for 20-30 minutes. If you don't have a jacuzzi or a gym membership, then use a heating pad and a ice pack. This will relieve your back pain immediately, but it's only a temporary fix. Use it everyday if you can as part of your healing regiment, but DO NOT USE as your only source of recovery. As you can see, I do several things.
  3. Cobra and Low Cobra yoga poses are pretty much the only stretches that I can do at any time of the back injury. I typically do these in the morning as soon as I get out of bed to start my day off right. If any of it hurts, stop immediately.
  4. I do these poses slow and controlled and always use my breath.
  5. When I get home from work (and after I talk to Jim), I go for at least a mile walk. Monday night, I went for 2 miles. Walking is the best ever for your back. It's nice to get out in the fresh air (thankfully, it's not too hot) and just take in what you see, feel, breathe, and hear. I even saw a guy doing Tai Chi in a parking lot.
  6. Swimming is also another great exercise to do that is easy on the back and provides one heck of a workout. It also burns a lot of calories (20 minutes of breaststroke burned 240 calories). I was lucky enough to be at a hotel last week with not only a jacuzzi, but a big pool. I would do 30 minutes in the hot tub and then immediately in the pool for 20-30 minutes of swimming. The only style of swimming that I could really do was the breaststroke, because it has minimal twisting and movements around the backside. I did try the backstroke, but I tended to twist when I got tired. I also slammed my head against the wall. I eventually changed it up to swimming backwards for a few laps using my legs and one arm out to touch the wall. But for the most part, it was all breaststroke.
  7. REST! REST! REST! Do not overdo it or start to quickly. If anything, you should only do what's listed in 2-5.
  8. I could not do Yoga or Pilates, but Tai Chi was really helpful for my back in previous years. It has slow and controlled movements, while building your back strength. However, do not try this on the first week of your back injury.
  9. Talk to your Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) person at work (or maybe even Human Resources) to fix your chair for back injuries. Mine went out last year after getting rear ended at a stop light. They put extra padding on my chair and it has been a godsend!
  10. When your back starts to feel better, DO NOT assume that it is better. Go slow. I am looking at maybe starting to run next week. By that, I mean that I will walk and occassionally jog to gauge how my back feels.
  11. Exercising your mind keeps you in shape for when you do officially start your training. Right now, I'm reading Running with the Mind of Meditation, which is about a Buddhist Monk who runs marathons. I will do a full review later, but my initial feeling is that I like it. I have even applied some of his ideas to my walking.

Certainly, if you have any questions, ask me or go to your Doctor. They really do help! I did not include biking in the above list. I haven't tried it yet, but I hear it is good. I live on the second story and was not able to get my bike up and down the stairs with my back being out. So, maybe next time if there ever will be one again.

That last sentence brings me to my new goal (besides training for a marathon)...strengthen my back and core. I'm going to be a tyrant on this, because I'm tired of dealing with this crap. For starters, I've talked to Suzanne at Workout Nirvana about a virtual personal training program; she will design my program around strengthening my back and core. It's really inexpensive and it will help my running in the long run. I'm also adding swimming to my training weeks. We are supposed to have cross training anyways, but I wasn't sure what I would do for that type of exercise. I figured I would just go with whatever I felt like doing that day. I remembered how great it felt when I would stretch in the pool after a long, hot run. So, now I will use swimming as my cross training and even add it after my runs. If anything, I will burn extra calories and get so bad ass that I finally beat the Giant in our next swimming race. Oh, it's happening.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sprint For Life 5k Recap

My second Sprint For Life 5k was on May 4, 2013, at the MD Cancer Center, Medical Center, Houston, TX, which raises money for Ovarian Cancer research. I will not go in to detail about this disease or what this run means to me, because I have done this already in last year's post. To summarize, I organize this run under Team Teapot in memory of LeiLani Allen (MaloRee, BranDee, and MegGan's mother) and my Great Aunt, Betty whom have both died battling this horrible disease. 

On a side note, I have to remark that this is my third anniversary on my running journey (see post here). In 2010, I made a decision to run after missing my first Sprint For Life 5K. 

You may have notice my blurb about my hurt back during the Green 6.5. I spent all week nursing it, but just couldn't heal it. I forgot that when my back goes out, it doesn't heal in a week. In fact, I'm still in pain and had to change my exercising completely (more on this in a later post). Consequently, I would not run this 5k (maybe a little bit) to Kate's overly dramatic happiness. I was sad, but on the bright side, it would be a first for me. Normally, I would just stay home if I was injured, but I couldn't for a charity run that I organized. 

Kate and I got there with little time to spare. They changed the route and the drive there proved to be difficult. We also took the longest route to find packet pick-up. In fact, the race started when we were still picking up our things. Thanks to Dan, we were able to make him the bag lady so he could carry our stuff. We honestly thought MegGan would have the stroller to store our stuff like last year. 

As I said before, the route changed. The run took us down Holcomb and then had a turnaround point.
See, Dan, I did put the better picture on here.
We three stuck together like the Three Musketeers. Sometimes, we ran...very slow and mine was more robotic.
Quit Facebooking. We are trying to I mean RUN!
On a side side note, when you order a tank top, remember that cold weather happens in all the time. I ordered a tank top, but the temperatures dropped the night before. I had to wear a long sleeve shirt (with the tank on top) and long pants. I look like a dork. However, when we got out of the building and into the sunlight, it got warmer. I took off the long sleeve shirt and ran with my tank.

So, we walked. Old people were passing us, but we didn't care. Kate said multiple times, "While this is Kristi's worst run, this is my best run." From behind, we heard someone say, "Team Teapot...yeah." It was another girl in our group racing passed us deflating my ego and pride with every walking step. Oh well. When you are injured, you are injured. Apparently, Dan was happy that I didn't make him run so much like he thought. I'm not that much of a tyrant when I run.

Finally, we made it to the end where we ran in with all smiles ready for the camera. We walked/ran this event in 52 minutes, which is by far better than what I thought.

I saw them and raised up my arms in glee.

We crossed the finish line thankfully.

This is my favorite picture. Look at the smile on Kate's face.
Best quote during the run came from a cop who tried to stop a lady from driving through the race. He said as she was trying to turn, "I don't know how you think you can do that." Then, she tried to run him over.

These were the runners in the race.
Kate and I with some beautiful flowers.

We took the customary Team Teapot group shot. For the first time ever, we had three different groups in three different locales running for Team Teapot. BranDee organized a run in Virginia and MaloRee organized a run in Grenada.

All three Team Teapot running groups show their support.
It was awesome. And then, for the first time, Adam (MegGan's son) ran the kid's event. It was by far the cutest thing EVER.

Adam waiting for his chance to run after some ice cream, of course.

Mommy and son getting ready to run 150 ft in the under three year age category.

Wave to the camera.

Adam checking out the crowds.

This was just too cute not to post.

I'm a ribbon holder now!

But I bet you are wondering about the important much did we raise. Team Teapot raised a total whopper of $2,735. I personally raised $1,145. I couldn't believe how much we received. I want to go out of my way to THANK EVERYONE whom donated. Some of you donated twice and I love you for it. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! We also learned that the third place group winners only raised alittle over $5,000. Team Teapot was already over halfway there. I think that's going to be our goal next year.

I'm not sure how long I will be out with this back, but I'm doing what I can to get me running again. Marathon training technically started last week, but I budgeted for rest weeks. So, I just have to get to the first week of June. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Need Your Help

May 4, 2013, marks a special day in the Star Wars fan world. But it's also something else. I will run (or more like walk due to this back) again in the Sprint for Life 5K to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Research in honor of MaloRee, BranDee, and MegGan whom lost their mom to this horrible disease. I also run in honor of my Great Aunt, Betty who lost this battle, as well. Please donate here (any amount is greatly appreciated) or join us on Team Teapot. My goal is $2,000 this year. Please help us get there.

Have a fantastic day and MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!

P.S.-If you already donated, THANK YOU! I'm sending out a big virtual hug.