Friday, June 28, 2013

June Foodie PenPal

I had so much fun doing the Foodie PenPal last month, I decided to try it again for June. I sent off my Texas inspired package to Elizabeth over at The Law Student's Cookbook by June 15, 2013. Her blog hooked me with food inspired by movies. Yes and Yes.

Naturally, I received my package all the way from Florida. And you guessed it...lots of fruit, which I can't complain about since I LOVE fruit and all things fruit related. My package came from Leslie over at Training for Life.

Without further ado...

  1. Rickland Orchard Greek Yogurt Bars, where have you been all my life? Seriously...hiding somewhere...oh yeah, in Florida or something. These were great and the Toasted Coconut was by far the best. 
  2. The Trader Joes, Dried Soft and Juicy Mango fruit things were awesome. At first, I was weirded out by them. I have a thing, an obsession, whatever for mango right now, but I haven't had dried mango before. After three bites, I was hooked. In fact, I can only take out three of them at a time and then immediately put them away. They are THAT addicting.
  3. Dried Blueberries from Trader Joes are great to add to salads (like cranberries) and that's what I have been doing. Very good.
  4. The Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps (Tuscan Three Cheese) were good. They were a bit saltier than I expected, but what pretzel isn't? Again, I have to eat a couple and then put away or I would finish a whole bag in one setting. 

Thank you again Leslie for a wonderful package from Florida. If you want to join next month, then visit The Lean Green Bean.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Working Out on Vacation...NO SERIOUSLY

Ever since I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I've wanted to be there...and yes, we did the hey batta batta swing batta.

Last weekend, I checked off one of my bucketlist items...see a game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. There are few historical stadiums still left in existance that I want to see before they go buh bye (like Yankee Stadium), including Fenway Stadium and Lambeau Field. Call me a sports me an me a traditionalist. Whatever, this is what I want to see. So, my brother and I decided to make it a sibling bonding trip to see our beloved Astros (yes, I know they aren't doing well blah blah blah) play against the Cubs at their home turf. This would also be my first time cheering my team on at an away game. I heard horror stories about opponent team fans getting mistreated, banged up, etc. In fact, it was all over the news how the White Sox fans treated the Stros fans in Chicago. I witnessed unruly White Sox fans on our home turf during the World Series and a few were ejected from the game. Consequently, I wouldn't go to Oakland, any Philly games, or a White Sox game wearing my team that they are playing on their home turf. However, this was the Cubs and this was a historical site. And from what I read, many people come from all over just to watch a game there (so true). So, I didn't fret and we both wore our team outfits with pride.

But like I said, this blog is about exercising. I will start off by saying, I haven't walked this much in a city since London. Boy howdy, was I ever tired and sore after just an hour of walking walking walking. I felt like that's all we did. We were just so close to everything that we didn't feel it necessary to get on a train or catch a cab to go a couple of blocks.

So, I woke up early on Saturday morning to go for a run. I debated back and forth between just running on the hotel gym's treadmill or going out for a run on the street. I'm still having issues with my back and the last time I ran on pavement, my back got worse. So, at the last minute, I decided that I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to run in this city where they have the Chicago Marathon. I would just run a mile and walk if anything got bad...and naturally, run slow like a turtle in quicksand.

The best part was our hotel location; we were right next to the Chicago River. You can't get any better than that when it comes to a good run. Our hotel was big on fitness and even provided running, walking, and bike paths for their guests. The line at the Conceriage Desk had too many people doing the same thing, but I didn't want to wait. So, I took off with the plan to just run down the river and circle back.

On the 11th floor, this was our view of the House of Blues. I loved this design and learned it served as a theater for the very high condos above it.

I snapped this photo in the middle of the Dearborn Bridge over the Chicago River.

It looks like they are rebuilding Chicago.

Another view looking back at the Chicago River.

At this point, I was stopped by some people. They said that I had to move so they could film a commercial. Eventually, I was let go and these were just a few of their cars. They filmed throughout the day.

I wished I got to see some famous people, but sadly, all I saw were the million of workers blocking off the streets.

I ran back over the Orleans Bridge to make my way back to the hotel.

I saw some stairs and headed down to this little park area, which I later found out on the Architectural tour that it has a Native American name and grows wild onions. There are two possible meanings and I only remember the Stinking Onion one.

I saw a water taxi go by in the river.

The LaSalle Train tracks and railings, which to me, looked very cool.

This was a look back in to downtown.

As soon as I saw this sign, a car honked and scared the crap out of me. much for signs.

I thought this was such a cool architectural element to this building.

One thing I liked about the weird driving/parking rules in Chicago is having a big open bike lane next to the curb (instead of car parking). However, it looks funny to have the cars parked out in the street like this one is parked.

The only time I have been to Chicago, I went here to eat. Our hotel was next door to Harey Carey's.

All in all, it was a slow run, but a run nonetheless. And the best part, I could run after 8 a.m. without feeling like the humidity grim reaper was coming for me. I'm not saying it didn't get hot, but it was easier to run than in Texas.

On Sunday, I used the fitness gym to do my third personal workout training for the week. I was pretty happy with the exercising I did on vacation. I sure needed it for the amount of eating and drinking that took place. Seriously, how do Chicagoans stay skinny when they are eating the delicious Chicago Style Dogs, Italian Beef Sandwiches, and Deep Dish Chicago Style pizza all the time? Seriously.

On a side note, Wrigley Field was amazing to see, but needs screens and more bathrooms. We had minimal ribbing from fans (except from the troll lady and her ugly family next to us and one drunk girl at the end of the night). Also, Astros came back to win the one game we saw 4 to 3. GO STROS!!!

We lucked out that one fan would take our picture.
After the game...after we won...HECK YES!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Life Aquatic

11 1/2 was my favorite age.

My life has been pretty much all water these last couple of weeks (even bought a one piece swimsuit and goggles), because of my back. went back out again after the Viva La Run. It's not as bad as last time, but it is not run ready. I've done everything I can to get it back in to shape, including:

  1. Sports Massages (two to be exact) by the wonderful hand Goddess, Kirsten Hardmant at Total Kinetics
  2. FOAM ROLLING FOAM ROLLING FOAM ROLLING on my glutes and quads
  3. Epsom Salt Baths...oh yeah
  4. Virtual Personal Training designed by (on my second week and feel everything improving and getting stronger), which focuses on strengthening my back and shoulders and glutes
  5. Hot tub time and swimming (see post here about all of my tips for back recovery)
  6. Water Aerobics

I'm finally using a proper swimming pool at L.A. Fitness instead of my apartment pool. I'm not sure the length, because no one seems to know. I typically go 3-4 times a week. I get in the hot tub for 20-30 minutes and then immediately swim laps in the pool for 20 minutes. I have mostly done breast stroke and backwards swimming without the stroke. However, last week, I decided to try some freestyle. WHOA! That is a workout. I didn't last long, but I'm keeping at it. I'm working on building my endurance to do 30 minutes switching between breaststroke and freestyle. My goal is to get to 45 minutes within a month.

I also participated in water aerobics three times. It is not for old ladies anymore. In fact, the younger crowd outnumbers the older ladies there. I definitely burned some calories in those classes. Last Monday, I decided to go again. We had a new teacher from kickboxing. Her idea of us resting was to wade in the pool. It was a lot of work and I felt it when it ended. I highly recommend going.

Are there any helpful suggestions for not smelling like chlorine all the time?

My marathon training starts this week and I'm attempting my first run today since the Viva run. Wish me luck!

I also joined Healthy Living Blogs to get more insight for a healthy living life and connect with other bloggers like myself. If you have a healthy living blog whether it's swimming, running, or eating right, come join.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Meeting Meb Keflezighi

Wednesday, June 5, 2013, was National Running Day if you didn't get that from my last post, the blog world, or Faceworld. This was an extra special day, because I would get to run with Meb Keflezighi leading our 5k run. This event was hosted by Houston Chevron Marathon Committee. How freaking exciting?! Just one or two back hurt (read post here) and I was still sick. What to do? What to do?

I did what any stupid runner would do; I put that stuff aside and showed up anyways. Although, I had a plan to only run one mile and then just walk the rest of the 3.1 miles. Yes, that is a good plan. If my back started hurting or I couldn't breathe, I would stop running earlier. Easy Peasy.

Getting in to Memorial Park was difficult since the traffic was still bad at 6 p.m. I worried that I wouldn't be able to find a place to park, because there would be a lot of people there and it's 15 minutes until this run started, but I found a spot right by the event location. There were lots of booths, news crews, and people getting ready for the run. I tried to find the Houston Striders, but I didn't get the memo about wearing a Finisher shirt (I haven't finished a marathon yet). I wore my Striders shirt and was the only one. Anyways, I got back to the tent where Meb was signing autographs, which concidentally was next to the start line. I swear I didn't plan this. Then, they announced group picture shot and start. I literally took two steps and was the second row right behind Meb. How freaking cool was that?

Asking all of us to get in line and of course, everyone waited to see where Meb went.
That's Meb looking around to see what would happen.

He's ready to start, but doesn't really understand why we haven't.

He looks at the kids to start with him.

Finally, he leads the pack and everyone is yelling out to go slow.
Finally, we were off. Oh, it was hot and sweaty already. I moved quickly to the right side and ran slowly.  didn't really have time to get ready before we started. Meaning...I forgot to set my watch up and I was putting my headphones on during the run. Lots of people passed me, but that's okay. I just kept chugging along. I noticed immediately that my back didn't hurt like the previous day. I'm just going to have to limit my runs to gravel for awhile before I can get back on to pavement.

As you remember, my plan was to run one mile without stopping (unless I'm in pain or can't breathe). Well, I made it to the 1.5 mile marker before stopping. I really felt good and didn't feel the need to end at the 1 mile marker. I managed to run a few times more, but not much and not that long. My running was more like run 1 minute, walk 4 minutes. Since the drought and devastation to the trees last year, there was less shade. I felt the heat and sun. Yes, mother, I put on my sunblock. 

I rolled up to the end line at about 45 minutes, which isn't bad considering how much walking I did. Then, I got in line to meet Meb and get some autographs. I talked with the rep for Stretchers (Meb's shoe) and managed to purchase a book (which he also signed). I even got my picture with Meb and shook his hand.

We're like besties now...seriously...okay, maybe not.

I had to take my picture with the banner.

The book I bought, with autograph.

The other item is a picture of him and the 2012 Houston Chevron Marathon program, which is the Olympic qualifer for the 2012 London Olympics (you know that he got 4th in).
This was probably one of the more memorable runs that I have done besides my half marathon. I was super excited and it was well worth any pain or sickness backlash. I did stop by the store on the way home to get some Epsom Salt and took a nice long, hot bath. My muscles didn't ache as bad the next morning (but could also have been the massage).

On a side note, I should have read all that was involved with that run so that I would have been more prepared, such as bringing old shoes to donate, cash, and $25 for a donation. I only brought $5 cash and donated it, but will go to One Fund Boston to make up the difference.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


This post will be in three sections.

First, I want to say that my heart goes out to everyone at the Houston Fire Department Memorial held out Reliant today. It's a somber day in Houston History. We have never had this many killed or injured in one day at one fire. Houston has never had a memorial like this before. However, it's amazing how many fire departments from around the nation and Canada are here; fire departments from Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas have come out to mann the departments so that all of HFD can be at the memorial. If you would like to donate to help the families, please donate to the local 100 Club. I have.

Second, I want to say Happy National Running Day. I will get to the details about my run last night a little bit later in this post. If you have a chance, get out there and run. It doesn't have to be long distances or always running (I'm not). You can run 0.25 miles if you want to as long as you get out there and do it. This could be the start of something great for you...that thing that motivates you to exercise or to train for that 5k you never thought possible.

With that, I run to train for my first ever marathon. My run tonight will be memorable (slightly miserable run), because I will participate with the Houston Striders (first time due to all of the injuries) on a run at Memorial Park at 6:30 p.m. And this guy is leading may remember him...he came in 4th at the London Olympics Marathon.

Source: Meb Keflezighi
It will be big party and all donations go to One Fund Boston. I can't wait. My plan is to run at least a mile and then walk the rest (more on that later). So, come out and join me.

Last but not least, I want to talk about my run last night with Luke's Locker called Viva La Run. It was only $15, which included a shirt, margarita, and a taco. The money went to fund new bike and running trails for Buffalo Bayou. Brooks was there with new shoes to try. Unfortunately, I didn't get over there.

I was back and forth about this run. I wanted to run it badly, but I wanted to run the National Running Day Memorial Park run more. I started feeling the throat and sniffles...oh great sickness. Then, I worried about if my body could actually handle back to back three mile runs (the run tonight is supposed to be 3-6 miles). Probably against my better judgement, I went to the run. The location was at this new craft beer bar and restaurant called Local Pour. Concidentally, my friend's husband works there. Since registration was at 6:30 p.m., I figured there would be lots more people at that time and no where to park. So, I parked at my mom's house and had her drop me off. I was wrong. Lesson learned.

In front of the Local Pour; it's a really cool place. I can't wait to go back and try everything.
But the race was not really at the Local Pour; it was actually on Allen Parkway. So, we walked over there to start the race. I never run over here, which sucks. This area is absolutely beautiful.
I met a really nice girl, Kimberly on my walk over. She got me excited about the Kenyan Way Boot Camp that I have been wishy washy about trying. She took this picture.
Finally, the race started. I was slow...very slow...again. Oh well. I took my time and hung out on the right side of the pavement. Wow! These paths are paved and full of beautiful surroundings like this gem below.

I'm not sure why the trunks are blue, but it was really cool. I wonder if they light up at night.
At one point, I ran over a bridge that I swear bounced and was soft. I'm not sure if I was just overheating or what, but it was weird and cool at the same time.

This run was hard for me. It was still hot and sunny, which meant that my energy would go quickly if I'm sick. There were ups and downs and it was all pavement. Since I cleared myself on the back injury, I have only ran on gravel type running paths. Pavement hurts, alot in fact. I felt my back pains with every step, especially after the turnaround. So, I walked more and more and definitely up hills. When I got to the last bridge at the very end, I messed with my earphones or something (can't remember). Anyways, I tripped on the uneven part of the bridge and caught myself just in time. I didn't wipe out, but I managed to inflame all of my back muscles that were already hurting. It wasn't good. So, I limped my way to the end to no one there to greet me home. I was part of the last group (but by no means last).

On the walk back to the Local Pour, I met Joan from Luke's Locker and Becca. I had fun chatting with them and made my painful walk back that much better. When I got to the bar, all I wanted was water and they were out of tacos. I didn't care to have a margarita and gave my ticket away to someone. But I was still hungry. Well, my parents were at California Pizza Kitchen waiting for me to finish. Problem solved, belly full.

Overall, it was a good run, but I paid for it. I'm still running tonight, but like I said, my plan is to only run a mile. I did get a sports massage today at my lunch break by the wonderful Kirsten Hardmant at Total Kinetics. She alleviated a great deal of the pain, but it's not 100%. It will at least help in tonight's run. I highly recommend her!

Wish me luck tonight that I not only survive the run, but maybe just maybe, I will get a picture with Meb (or at least a closer picture of him).

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Best Time to Run and New Headphones

It's officially Summer in Texas, which means HEAT and HUMIDITY. There are only a few times during the day when a Houstonion or a Texan can really run without feeling like death has fallen upon you.
  1. Early in the morning usually when it's dark and as long as it's not after 7:30 a.m. (and that's pushing it)
  2. Late in the evening when it's dusk or sometimes around 6-6:30 p.m. if the day was not as hot 
  3. Right before a rainstorm
Today, was no exception. It stormed all morning, but stopped just enough for some cooler weather and clouds before the next rain band. Normally, it gets hotter when it starts raining and certainly after it's done. However, with another rain band ready for action, cool weather occurs. And this my friends is an absolutely perfect time for running in June in Texas.

With that natural weather phenom, I headed to Hermann Park for my run. But I was most excited about using my brand new Koss Fit Series Headphones designed by Dara Torres (Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer) for women. My biggest problem with headphones is that they don't fit my teeny ears. They constantly fall out and I spend most of my run trying to fix the problem instead of just running. When I saw Skinny Runner's post about her visit to the Koss Factory, I was immediately intrigued. I was pretty much fed up with my headphones after Tuesday's run and purchased the Lime Fitclip Series the very next day. They arrived in the post yesterday to much bouncing around and hollering.

I chose the lime color so that I can pick them out in my running tub of black here.

They fit my ears relatively well.

It's hard to take a picture of your ears, while running.

Here's a shot from the other ear.
I ran 2.51 miles without stopping in 29 minutes using the new headphones. My overall thoughts on these headphones is that I love them. They are lightweight and easy to put on my ears. They came with three different sizes for the actual ear piece and of course, I had to use the smallest ones. As I have mentioned, I have teeny ears; I call them elf ears. The clips are still alittle too big for my ears, but that's expected. However, at no time, did they fall off my ear or the ear piece fall out. I did wish the clips were adjustable, but that's a wishlist item for me. They were so lightweight that I kept thinking they would fall off, but they didn't. It didn't stop me from checking every minute though.

The music was clear through the headphones and they were not at all uncomfortable to wear. Did I mention they were lightweight? I'm not sure if they are waterproof (I assume so since they are designed by Dara), but I sure tested them today. They worked the whole time during the band of light rain I ran through. I can't wait to use them again...for everything.

On a side note, I mentioned to Koss on Faceworld that I just bought the fitclips. They responded immediately and gave me suggestions for clothing to match my new lime headphones. I love that the company gave me attention.

I did a lot of running this weekend, because you know...I'm back and all. Pun intended. I ran a total of 6.5 miles. This week was 8 miles total. YAY ME!