Thursday, March 27, 2014

Great Urban Race Recap

Last Saturday, I participated in the Great Urban Race or shall I say, the greatest race EVER. I have wanted to do one of these urban scavenger hunt type races for some time, but I have always been out of town or injured. So when Sara texted me out of the blue about needing a fourth person on a team, I was quick to say yes. I checked my schedule and BOOM! Registered done.

Team Name:  Urban Quizzlers
Team Members:  Elizabeth, Sara, Marco, and myself (each possessing extra special qualities)
Team Colors:  Black pants, capris, or shorts with a red top (clearly Marco missed the memo)
Team Motto:  Not Sure 
Meeting PlaceCeltic Gardens, 12 p.m.

May I present the Urban Quizzlers!
The organizers read off the instructions for the urban race at noon at Celtic Gardens. The rules were that we got our clue cards, solved the clues, found the locations, took a picture with the sign of the location, performed the competition at the location, and then kept the flyer provided after we have successfully completed the competition. We could go in any order that we want, but we have to do everything correctly as stated or we got time added. Once we crossed the finish line, we could not go back. We could use our feet, buses, or the light rail to get to each location, but we could not use a cab, bike, or car. There were some other instructions, but most of them, I didn't understand and/or I just don't remember.

As soon as we could, we got to work on the clue cards. Some groups took off choosing to solve on the go, but most groups stayed to figure out where they were going. Some of the clues were hard and I'm still not sure to this day how Sara figured out the weird writing (looked like it was in Russian) clue.

To drink or not to drink beforehand...that is the question.

This was the second page of our clue sheet. #11 was the weird and hardest clue to solve.  

Eventually, we got the locations and grouped the closest ones to maximize our time and headed off. Unfortunately, Sara had a horrible foot injury and we couldn't run. Next time.

First stop, Christian's Tailgate. Our competition was to stack five plastic cups, with a piece of paper between each cup. One member pulls out the paper and the cup goes nicely into the bottom cup until all the cups were into one cup. I was scared. Everyone around were freaking out and doing it over and over again. This one team was yelling. And then Marco stepped up and said he would do it. He pulled out the paper saying, "Like this?" BOOM into the cup it went perfectly. He did it again and again until they were all done. We got it on the first try. The cups tipped over at the very end after all of the cups were into one cup. But it counted and proved that we were bosses of this competition.

Next stop, Junction Bar where we had to toss a fried mushroom from above into another team member's mouth stationed on the ground. This proved to be one of the more difficult ones for our team. Eventually, Sara (who doesn't like mushrooms) managed to get one in her mouth and we completed the competition.

It is harder than it looks.

Sadly, I didn't get a fried mushroom. I couldn't catch them, because they were chunked at my teeth or my chest area. Oh, they smelled so good.
I would like to say at this point, the sun came out. We expected rain and cooler temperatures all day. It was not. In fact, it was muggy and gross. I was thankful Marco got some sun tan lotion, but I still managed to get burned.

The next stop was the Refinery where we had to drop a golf ball on to the top of a beer bottle and then knock the cap off at the same time. Elizabeth proved to be a star at this when she said, "I don't get it," and then, immediately got it. I; however, could not. It took awhile, but I eventually got it.

A place known for burgers and whiskey, some place I want to go. This is where I learned that Elizabeth likes whiskey, too, and will help me on my scotch journey.
Sometimes a picture helps to understand the game.
Then, it was a long walk to District 7 Grill. There was no real competition at this location. We had to tweet our picture in front of the sign and then, we were encouraged to make a donation ($27 from the Urban Quizzlers). Thank God Sara had twitter on her phone.

Sara's picture that we tweeted.
On a side note, I did learn that Table 7 Bistro is owned by District 7 Grill when looking up the links for this blog post.

We then headed to the light rail station on Main to get to Birraporetti's where I learned that it serves Italian food, but is also known for their Irish bar. I never even put two in two together that there was a clover and wine grapes. This was also my first time using the light rail.

I had to use a spaghetti noodle to stack five penne noodles on without using my hands.

We walked over to Blue Fish (quite possibly the best clue ever since it had to do with Dr. Seuss, Red Fish, .... Fish). Again, it was my time to shine. We had to pick up the blue M&Ms with chopsticks. Elizabeth commented that she should do a challenge. But yeah, I've got this one. I'm going to say it was record time for me to get them out of the bowl.

We then headed over to Lucky Strike Bowling, which had probably our hardest competition yet. We had to roll this marble and knock over the pencil standing up on the other side.


It's harder than it looks.
And then we were off like a dirty shirt to Ben's Beans, which was literally right around the corner. I also had a hard time saying Ben's Beans; I kept wanting to say Bean's Bens. This was a memorization contest, as well as having two members like their Facebook page. While Marco and Sara prepared for the competition, Elizabeth and I went to the counter to get the cake balls. By this time, we were starving and they looked so good. So, we bought a dozen. Don't judge us. I didn't like the strawberry or pecan pie ones though. I did love the lemon ones.

We got back on the train to head back to midtown. Our first stop was a vegan place called Radical Eats where we were to learn how to make a tamale. Sadly, they ran out and just gave us our flyer. Oh well. I can't wait to come back and try this place out.

So, we hurried over to Katz's Deli right across the street and the first and easiest clue to get. Our competition was to hold a popsicle stick in our mouth and then stack five dice on top of each other at the end. We were given advice to use those molars and lock in to the stick. I'm not sure if Marco used that advice, but we got this one pretty quickly. 

Like a boss.
Finally, we made it to our last stop at Lankford's Grocery with quite possibly the best competition of the entire race. Using two team members and no hands, we had to pop three balloons. Elizabeth and I got there first and designated Sara and Marco as the participants. Yes, that's how we roll.

We learned the white balloons worked the best. Not sure why.

See, the balloon poking out the other end?
There was one competition I haven't told you about yet. The last clue was to get pictures of certain things listed in the boxes. Like Tic Tac Toe, we had to get three of those pictures lined up diagonally or across. These are some of our pictures.

Take a massive selfie with three strangers like Ellen at the Oscars. We found this bike party bus thing and took our opportunity. This was one of our boxes.

Take a picture with a store sign that says 50% or Half Off. We tried so desperately to find the movie Frozen, but didn't. This was also one of our boxes. 
Find a sign that had a misspelled word. Challenge Accepted! This was the first box we got and we used it. 
Take a picture with a Rodeo Houston sign.
Take a picture with a person wearing a belt buckle in which we missed a golden opportunity on the train with all of the rodeo goers.
And coming in just under four hours, we finished. We had a perfect entry of our stuff with no penalties. We definitely need to work on time though since we weren't in the top 25. Next year, though, we got this with or without being tethered to each other.

Sara and I eating our medals like true Olympians.
The awesome girls of Urban Quizzlers.

From left to right, Me, Marco, Elizabeth, and Sara.

 Other pictures that we took from that awesome day.

The guy in the costume wanted to take a picture with just me first.

I didn't know Nick Buckley was free, but apparently, he is and taking orders.


This looks like a good time.
I highly recommend this fun and exciting scavenger hunt. It's good exercise and it gives you a chance to see your city. I can't wait to try all the new places I discovered. Oh and we may be dressing up next year to try and win the costume contest.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Preparing for the Half

It's been hard to say the least preparing for this Texas Wine Half Marathon and 5K Series next Sunday. Hell, training in general has taken a nose dive, but I'm preserving. I think I'm, I AM ready. It won't be a fast half and I'm certainly not expecting to PR, but I'm confident I won't die on the course. Driving home from College Freaking Station might be the issue.

This will be me after a few glasses when I finish the half.
My goal these last two weeks were to get six miles in and then 9 miles a week before. Done and done. However, I didn't get a chance to run the six miles the week before due to the massive storm that hit on Sunday when I got back in from my trip to Detroit (and yes, Veronica Mars is a must see...and The Wind Rises...AMAZEBALLS). So, I had to push my six mile run to last week (same as my 9 mile run), which I admit isn't the smartest idea. But I just didn't want to go straight from three miles to 9 miles in a week or run 9 miles less than a week from my half.

Below is a list of what my last two weeks looked like in relation to training. Swimming weirdly took a nose dive, as well. Pun intended.
  • 3/10:  Rest
  • 3/11:  3 m run at Hermann Park
  • 3/12:  25 min swim/25 min aqua jogging
  • 3/13:  3 m run with the Karbach Running Club
  • 3/14:  Rest
  • 3/15:  Rest
  • 3/16:  Home to storms and generally feeling blah about Rest
  • 3/17:  2-3 m run, but mostly walking on the St. Paddy's Day Pub Run (so much fun and met lots of new people)
  • 3/18:  6.19 anger-fueled run at Hermann Park
  • 3/19:  20 min swim/20 min aqua jogging (actually counted 15 laps)
  • 3/20:  The I should have rest 3.22 m run at Hermann Park (worst one yet, because my body was done)...should have taken a rest day
  • 3/21:  Massage and Rest
  • 3/22: The Great Urban Race, which included at least three miles of walking (sore afterwards)
  • 3/23:  9 m run at Hermann Park
So, now back to a synopsis of my 9 m run, because this is the longest I have ran since my first half marathon. Because I was sore from the Great Urban Race and looking at the wind outside, my motivation was seriously tanked on Sunday. I was not looking forward to it.

Note to self and to others training for their first marathon:  I read in Runner's World that a big mistake people do when running a vacation marathon is to walk around the day before looking at all the tourist sites. I now know why. I walked around at least three miles on Saturday (more to come in a later post) and I was so sore on Sunday. And it was probably more than three miles...almost guaranteed it was. You can easily do 10 miles in the UK walking around if you are not paying attention. So, I'm going to get all my tourist stuff done on the Friday before the Edinburg Marathon and just chill out on Saturday.

Anyways, I put on my big girl panties and headed to Herman Park regardless of the wind, the soreness, my lack of motivation, etc. I was running.

This is how I felt driving up to the park.
The good news is that I increased my overall speed by 10 seconds (11:20 a mile for the first mile); the bad news is that it didn't last too long. I kept up with the run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute after the first mile (all running) for most of the run. My overall time for three miles was around 36 minutes, which is much faster than what I have been doing. So, that's a positive.
When I got to six miles, things started to go south for me. I could feel my toe (surgery toed) pretty badly by this point. It was still sore from the previous day and this was the second day with my new Saucony running shoes. I hit the ground with the outside of my foot taking all the weight to relieve some pressure, but I felt myself rolling it during the step. This is not good. Then, my back started hurting around seven miles. I eventually went to 5 minute run, 2 minute walk to give me some back relief there, as well. I also noticed that when I run faster, my back doesn't hurt; however, I can't keep up the pace.
At eight miles, I was just done. I had hardly anything left in the tank when I completed the 9 miles. I will say that I did increase the speed so that I could get my time in under 2 hours. My Garmin time was 1:56:03, which is not bad considering I expected it to be 2 hours total. I burned 957 calories.
I was feeling pretty bad ass after the run, but then I felt another problem pop up. I got up from laying on the couch like a sack of potatoes all day and noticed how much the back of my knee hurt. It was weird. The only other time I felt my knee was after the aqua jogging the previous Wednesday. Eventually, it went away. Today, it's still very much hurting. So, now I have to keep an eye on this, as well as my back. Yay me! It's going to be easy week for me anyways since I don't want to push it before my half. I think I will be fine and if not, I will be at the doctor again.
So wish me luck everyone!


Monday, March 10, 2014

What I Learned This Week

As you might remember from my last post, I'm in the middle of an injury and doing less running than I should for a marathon training plan. However, I am doing lots and lots of swimming and aqua jogging. And I LIKE IT!

Really quick, my exercise stats for this week include:
  • Mon:  REST
  • Tue:  Swim breaststroke for 25 min and aqua jogging for 15 min (using my new water shoes)
  • Wed:  Swim breaststroke/backstroke for 25 min and aqua jogging for 20 min (using my new kickboard to stabilize me)
  • Thu:  3 mile slow run with the Karbach Running Club (3rd one, 2 more to go before I get a shirt)
  • Fri:  1.5 mile walk with dog
  • Sat:  Swim breaststroke/backstroke for 25 min, aqua jogging for 25 min, and 1 mile walk with dog
  • Sun:  Swim breaststroke/backstroke for 25 min, aqua jogging for 20 min (didn't have kickboard and it was miserable), and 1/2 mile walk with dog.

I also walked down 20 flights of stairs one day this week (more on that later). So, this is not bad for the week. I tried to get a run in on Sunday, but the weather was just miserable and cold. So, I decided to swim instead.

And that brings me to the point of my post. I have learned quite a bit about myself and swimming since I stepped it up a notch this week with doing the most swims ever in a week that didn't involve beer and laying out.

How I used to look.
  1. Even though I have banged my head against the pool wall a few times now, I really like the backstroke. I start to feel the power of my arm pushing me through the water and I just get in to a zone (hence why I smacked my head).
  2. The pool at LA Fitness does not have markers on the ceiling to help alert you to when the wall is coming up. On some of the lanes, you can tell with the ladders. However, one lane (the "smacked my head" lane) only has one ladder instead of two. I can tell when the wall is coming up on one end, but not both ends.
  3. I splash a lot when I'm doing the backstroke. I see others doing their backstroke and they don't spew up as much water as I do both when moving my arms back and when the hands hit the water. I'm constantly getting water in my nose and mouth.
  4. It's really hard to kick your feet with water shoes on even with using a kickboard. I move no where. I guess I see why people wear fins. I'm going to have to bring mine even though my fins are super duper scuba diving fins.

    This is how I look after making it halfway down the pool on a kickboard. NOT. GOING. ANYWHERE.
  5. The kickboard works awesome to stabilize me during aqua jogging.
  6. Apparently, on Sunday (could be anomaly), the gym increases the water level in the pool and the intensity of the jets in the Jacuzzi. I forgot my kickboard and I slowly jogged on my tiptoes in the deep end, while trying to hold on to the wall to push me forward. Then, I would get blown away by the strong current losing my balance and slipping...a lot. I couldn't even sit without moving in the Jacuzzi, because the jets were so strong.
  7. Men will jump in to the lane assuming they can share, but then nonchalantly ask if it's okay to the other lane person. Women will ask before jumping in to share the lane. One lady kept thanking me over and over again.
  8. When sharing a lane and doing breaststroke, I had to modify my hand position so I wouldn't scrape my hand on the wall. Note to self...when the woman is asking which side of the lane I prefer to use, use the side with the rope thing instead of the wall. OUCH! 
  9. My legs jiggle less in the water now that I have done four days of aqua jogging. I feel like a rock star.
  10. I seem to have perfect timing with the pool. Since I get in to the Jacuzzi for 20 minutes before I swim, the pool generally clears out by the time I get in to pool. Then, halfway through my swim or aqua jogging, the new people show up ready to swim. And by then, I'm already in the pool with an established lane. They have to work around me.
So, there you have a review of my last week using the new training plan. I'm really digging it, but I do need to run more. I plan to attempt a six mile run some time this week, which may be hard since I'm hopefully heading to Michigan (come on standby, don't let me down) to see a good friend of mine and watch the bestest ever premier of the world on Friday...VERONICA MARS!!! Well, okay, Veronica is no Buffy, but she still is bad ass!