Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sunrise Kemah Bridge Run and What Not To Do

My friend, Martha posted a picture on Facebook of the Fred Hartman Bridge (remember I did my first half marathon on this bridge). We started talking and then the plan was formed to run the bridge. Eventually, we changed it to Kemah Bridge and at sunrise so it would be safer for our first time running in a larger group. We met at Miramar Park at 6:15 a.m. to get this going. Some of the group would run 9 miles and the other group would run six miles.

We decided to have a nice pasta dinner (and slumber party) at my apartment with some wine and a viewing of Kill Bill, Part 1 the night before the big run. And it was going to be a big, steep run. I had painful memories of my Toughest 10k Kemah run. So, I didn't want to do too much the day before to prepare myself.

I was up early and ready to head to Kemah, but because of some complications in the morning (needed gas for car, getting lost, etc.), we showed up 15 minutes late. It's not my finest hour and I know that I'm not always an "on-time" kind of girl (thanks mother), but I'm usually on time for running events. And that is the absolute worst thing to do when leading a group of runners. Consequently, we missed the sunrise. The only thing that made me feel better is that we wouldn't have seen the sunrise anyways, because of the clouds and rain.

I'm not the only one crazy.

I'm praying to the knee and ground Gods to get me through this.
John ended up leading our group (including the six miles, while I would take the 9 miles) and through a slightly different route to see more of the water front in the beginning. The temperature wasn't too hot, which was nice for a change. We started off faster than I wanted, but I expected that would happen with John and Jim in the lead. I started out at front, but quickly dropped to the back of the pack. John would stop the group so that everyone could catch up and we could continue our run together as a group.

Heading up onto the bridge.

Looking down at Kemah Boardwalk.
I lost momentum on the bridge, but I made up for it on the down part. In fact, my first three miles were under 11 minutes or just at 11 minutes (the bridge part caused this). We ran around the boardwalk and got to a point where we would could split off from the group to run the planned 9 miles. We decided to stay together and then just run the extra three miles on the trail by Miramar Park. Several groups of runners kept asking what group we belonged to for this run and we just responded with friends running. There was one lady who kept running by us and saying what a good job we were doing. She was really positive and I liked it.

The other great thing about this run was Shane. Martha somehow convinced him to get up early in the morning to ride a long with us and provide us water. He was awesome and had music.

My issues with the toe started to occur when I went back over the bridge the second time. I was physically okay to keeping running (albeit slower), but my surgery foot/toe was hurting. I ended up walking on the bridge for a bit and after I got off the bridge. I finally caught up to the group and we headed back to Miramar Park. At the last stop, John stayed back to run with me and I forced him to walk some of the way to help out my foot.


In the end, I couldn't continue on with the extra three miles and the whole group decided to just stop at six miles. But now I'm worried about my foot. I mean it gave me issues before, but never like this. I'm hoping that the bridge is the main and only reason for the pain. Otherwise, this training cycle is going to suck. I am working with my doctor to find out a cause and a plan for the foot, because something isn't right and I've known that since May.

We did a total of 6.03 miles in around one hour give or take seven minutes. My Garmin said something more, but can't remember at this time. I don't necessarily believe the mapmyrun (mainly because I didn't have an average pace of 9:13, but here you go.

Afterwards, we went to Seabrook Classic Café for a much needed reward of food. It was really good.

Jim had the Garbage Plate...yeah, this is it.

Our next run is scheduled for Sunday, August 3, at 6:15 a.m. However, this time we are running the Fred Hartman Bridge and I will be early to the run start. We won't miss the sunrise this time, I promise (unless weather prohibits us).

Come out and join us. Bridge runs are great for speed training and making you feel like a bad ass.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Midway Point Planks Challenge Update

I realize now that the title of my last post made it seem like I was doing five minutes of planks in one setting. Um...no...I was doing five minutes total throughout the day. I may be a ninja, but I'm not that good. Yet.

So, here we are at the midway point of my crazy challenge. I honestly didn't know if I could pull this off, but I certainly was going to try my hardest. And right now, I'm rocking it out, as well as Elizabeth. I do two minutes as soon as I wake up. Also, I close my office door at work and take care of a minute or two throughout the day. Then, I do whatever is left in the evening. I am thankful that my training program designed by Suzanne from Workout Nirvana (check out my post here if you are interested in virtual training) includes three minutes of side planks on one of the workout days. Sometimes on the weekend, I can knock out five minutes by 9 a.m.
These are called Lateral Pillar Bridges or side planks.
Regular planks in my office.
I'm not sure that I can physically see a big difference in my belly, but I definitely feel the difference. I used to have to work to get my stomach hard when I touched it. Now, with one feel of my thumb, my stomach feels almost rock solid. It's still a little soft, but not by much. I feel that by the end of this month, it will be like a boulder. I was hoping by the midway point that I would be able to do 1 minute, 30 seconds plank, but I'm not there yet. So, that is my goal by the end of the month. I know Elizabeth rocked that out yesterday (twice) and I'm so proud of her for it.
I swear I didn't mean to wear the exact same thing, but that.just.happened.
I'm not going to lie, it's been hard. There are times when I'm rushing quickly to finish the last three minutes right before I head off to bed, because I completely forgot. One Monday, I got home so late from a bike ride and was so tired, that I couldn't finish the remaining minutes. So, I added those onto the next two days doing six minutes instead of five minutes. The other issue that I have had with this challenge is the bruising and sore elbows. At work, the carpet is just too rough and I had to eventually put my big Fr jacked on the carpet to give me some cushion.

I'm not sure if these are from the side planks or not, but it showed up after I started the challenge.
Even with the hardships, Elizabeth and I are getting it done. We constantly text each other about the day's plank completions and discuss any struggles we have. I even convinced her to finish her planks at the airport...in a suit. I'm so glad I started this challenge and I can't wait to see how we look and feel at the end of the month.
If you started the challenge, how is going? Why haven't you started? You still have a couple of more weeks to get going. So, quit lollygagging and do it!
And have you seen this Kacy ninja badass?! She's the first girl to make it the semi-finals or finals (don't watch this show enough to know if Vegas is the finals) in American Ninja Warrior.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Raspas y Elotes Ride

I've been on this ride (takes place the second Friday of every month) with Crucial Matter a few times, but haven't written about it. I felt it was time since it's the perfect summertime treat ride and I remembered to take some pictures. For the gringos out there (or anyone not used to these words, because you live in a non Mexico bordering state), raspas is shaved ice/snow cones in a cup and elotes is roasted corn with lime, chili powder, mayonnaise, and white cheese. And of course, we always have beer at the stops.

Raspas y Elotes y Cervezas!
We met at Market Square downtown, but David (thank you so much for picking me up) drove me to La Macro (last stop and a great place for tacos) so we could meet a few people and ride into town. It was also Jim's first time riding on this adventure, but we forgot to tell him to meet us at La Macro. Whoops.

Crucial Matter leader, Ivan giving out the safety speeches. What is David doing seriously?

Open your eyes!

First stop was Tampico in the east/southeast side of Houston. Carolina was in charge of getting our elotes and thankfully THANKFULLY, we got a snow cone. This places puts the elotes in a cup and since we had a special order, we had to put on our own sauce. Caroline didn't realize how hot it was and poured a mountain of it on there. I said just a little bit for my cup, which was still a lot. People stared at her like she was stupid. Yes, she was and I was stupid for going with her. It was some of the hottest stuff I've ever had. From my torso to my mouth was burning and I couldn't finish it. We had the wonderful snow cone to give us a break, but it only helped a little. It took about 30 minutes before I felt normal again.

I can't really remember if we stopped at a second place or just went straight to La Macro. But at La Macro, it was roasted corn on the cob like I like it. Not too spicy, not too bland, just right!

Since we parked at La Macro, we just hopped in the car and left. And ever since this night, we formed a sub group of World Cup watching/country dancing/food eating fools.

Don't you wish your friends were hot like us?!

The Crucial Matter group holds several different social (and totally fun) bike rides throughout the month, including my favorite taco ride (1 year anniversary this Friday) on the first Friday of the month. If you haven't been, come out and join us. Check us out on Facebook, too. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Falconry or Otherwise Known As the Coolest Thing Ever

I know that this blog is about fitness, but sometimes, I like to change it up and veer away from always having fitness posts. I mean I have done posts wrapping up my year or my favorite birthday post. It's fun to just take a break from the norm to show another side of ME.

Therefore, this is a post about my epic birthday adventure learning the art of falconry, while visiting Edinburgh, Scotland to run my first marathon. I originally got hooked on the idea after Jim's neighbors did it for their little girl's birthday party. I tried to do it last year for my birthday, but couldn't find a place in Houston that would take first timers. Then, I saw an episode of Trip Flip in which they did falconry in Edinburgh...at a castle. When I registered for the marathon, I immediately started researching falconry and found Dalhousie Castle (like them on Facebook).

On a side note, it wasn't until I stepped on the Dalhousie Castle grounds when I realized it was the same place used in Trip Flip. I confirmed it right before writing this blog post. Also, when I get ideas to do something off of Trip Flip, I must research their travel guides section, which shows exactly where they went. DOH!

But it wasn't just the birthday party or Trip Flip that got me into wanting to have a skill of calling birds or animals to me. This stems from much earlier desires. As a girl, I pretended to be Sheena Queen of the Jungle by putting my hand to forehead calling the zebra (my cat) to me. When I saw Ladyhawk years later, I was mesmerized by the falcon swooping to Navarre. And then came probably one of the best Bud Light commercials shown below. Seriously, training my falcon to get my beer...priceless.

So, in essence, falconry was in my blood pumping just waiting for the right time to be let out. I'm only sad I didn't do it sooner.

And now on to the adventure.

I easily sold Ray, JL, and Jim on the idea (too easy), but unfortunately, Helen couldn't meet us there in time. We chose the Ultimate Experience, which included 2 hours with four birds of prey for 80 pounds each. Originally, I wanted to combine archery and falconry, but we all decided it was best to focus on the birds. I'm so glad we did.

We arrived a little late (we called to let them know) and met our wonderful falconer, Kylie. She showed us around and explained all of the birds of prey. Each of them had names and stories and made me want them even more. For instance, there was Jake the raven who was in movies and is probably the smartest of all the birds. He learned the alarm code key of his cage and got himself out twice, which is why he was at Dalhousie Castle.

That's right...I'm about to get my falconry on! 

We were all given gloves and headed out to the open area for our first falconry experience with the Peregrine Falcon. I was the birthday girl and was allowed to go first. I was so giddy with anticipation as she put the dead chicks on my bad ass glove and called him over. And then he swooped at me and landed on my arm. I'm not going to sugarcoat, I was scared; I didn't know what to expect. What if he missed? What if my head was more appetizing than the baby chick? But you know what, he was awesome, majestic to watch.

The others all got to go after me and we did probably 2-3 rounds for each. My smile was insanely huge.

Then, she brought out the smallest, cutest, bestest, owl ever named Puck. I swear to God, I wanted him. He was so light on my glove and I contemplated on how I would get him in my carry on to take him home with me. He was so darn cute and it took everything I had not to just pet him and squeeze him and love him. However, I was warned that he may look so cute and friendly, but he's actually pretty fierce. It's only after knowing you for a couple of days when he let's his guard down for you to pet him. Jim says that I'm just like him in that I am fierce, rearroowwwwingggggg, don't touch me and then he rubs my head and I purrrr like a kitten.

This was such a great picture! 

I love how they both are turning their heads away from each other. 

The best selfie with Puck.

Next up, was the big owl, Shiloh. Whoa nelly. After having Puck land on me, I was not expecting this girl to be so heavy. It was like an anvil landing on my arm, but she was beautiful. Her eyes were just beautiful. She was ready to get outside of her cage and go, but she was an older bird (not to be confused with a British term for a human female). She also didn't take orders to well and many times, she went on the ground to hang out looking at kylie calling her back to the stand. Then, she would look at us for support. It was incredibly funny. She also liked to go for your glove even after she ate all the baby chick. When we went through all of the food, we got to hold the owl and pet her. She was so nice.

And last but not least, was the Harris' Hawk. Wow, is all I can really say. He was amazing. He was cool. He was smart. He was fantastic to watch. My favorite part of the day was setting up obstacles for him to fly around and then he would land perfectly on your glove like it was no big deal. Sometimes, we would have two people stand in front of the person holding out the glove with the food. He would swoop in between the two people hitting them with his feathers and calmly land on the glove. We tried to get video or pictures, but he was too fast.

Afterwards, we went back over to the area with all the birds and brought more out to play. We saw another owl that looked like the tree rings in a cut tree. He did NOT want to get out and play. He preferred his cage over anything, but eventually, he warmed to us. We hung out with an eagle and rubbed our heads against another owl. It was so cute.

How cute. 

These are future falconers right here.
We learned that birds love Jim, because he's so tall. They have their own tree to perch on for viewing when they are on his arm. This eagle didn't do that for everyone. 

This by far was one of my top three experiences of my life, including the marathon and seeing Normandy. It was so much fun. Kylie was just amazing as our host and teacher. She was passionate about the birds and explained everything in detail, which made us as a group excited. I loved the stories. My only complaint is that I wished they had a card of all the birds with their names and type of bird, especially the ones we flew. It was hard remembering all of the information and the different types of birds, especially when I was trying to write this post a month later. I highly recommend falconry (anywhere if you can find it) if you are in Edinburgh; you only have to take a the 20-30 minute trip outside of the city center to try this epic adventure. You won't regret it.

And because there were too many pictures to choose from when writing this post, I decided to make another slideshow. I hope you enjoy it!