Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Houston Half Relay Race Report

Sunday morning was the Houston Half Relay, my second race of the weekend, and my ex (only because he left me) gay work boyfriend B's VERY FIRST RACE!!!  6.6 miles.  Dude is ballsy.  Hell, I was scared for my first race and it was less than half of that. ;-)

Hit the road early that morning, parked in the Theater District parking, which was totally convenient and under-utilized (note for next year).  Walked over to the start where they had the speakers turned the wrong direction, boo.  B was running late, so I left his packet with P and lined up.  Oh, also it was cold as all get-out, this weekend was actually the first fall weather sort of weekend in H-town.  It was about 40, so I wore my capri running pants and a long sleeved top.  While I waited for the start I topped that with a running jacket and sweatshirt which I removed and tossed to P right before I ran off.  We brought blankets for him and Z and bundled her as best we could, but I know they were cold, my amazing sherpas.

The first 3 miles looped through downtown, and when I ran back by P and Z there was also a B there. :-)  I high fived the boys and gave my baby a kiss, then ran off.

I think relays are interesting because up until the turn-off, I was running with a huge crowd, but after the turn-off, I was on the "bleeding edge" of the race.  I was actually passed by the top 3 finishers for the full half as I was on the lonely road in.  And I know for B the experience was exactly the opposite - he was lonely for his first half, but finished with everyone else.

And oh, Allen Parkway, how I HATE running on you.  Seriously, the camber of the road is hell on my knees.  I hate that the HHM has medals and great singlets, otherwise I'd never run a race on AP again.  Ever.  I'm literally taking injury into my hands every time I do it.

Though all the famous AP hills, I did 9/1s, and was really proud of myself.  My hill race/training has really come in handy this year.  I do not mentally feel scared of hills, and really am able to hold my own.

Finally I saw the relay hand-off.  I came in at 1:12:33.  This is slower than I wanted, but honestly pretty good since I ran 5.5 the day before then walked goodness-know-how-much at Ren Fest that afternoon.  I saw a chick from work, said hi, then grabbed B's jacket and sent him off, then got my medal from chick-from-work's hubby.

Then I grabbed P and Z and loaded up on goodies and beer and found a nice wall on which to sit and eat the spoils, with a baby in my lap and a blanket around us.  Life is good.

Oh, and B is FAST.  He CLAIMS he hasn't been training, but he ran sub-60!  Punk. :-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ren Fest

After the Lemm 5K, we hit the road to the Texas Renaissance Festival because our friends had gotten us free tickets.

I'd been to a Ren Fest up in Dallas, but never the one down here.  We got there around 11.  It is a huge complex.  Really impressive, and really nice.

We found our friends, bought steak on a stick, which Z looooooooved (like seriously, cave-baby loved, lunging for the stick and using her teeth to rip the meat off, loved), then caught a parade and a show.

Then we wandered around looking for food again.  I ended up with fried alligator (you guessed it, on a stick).  OMG, the beer batter on that baby was AMAZEBALLS.  I also had some super-yummy sweet potato tots, nomnom.

Then we all wandered around for a while.  There was a swing ride.

And then the boys decided they wanted to shoot arrows and throw stuff.  We all know I'm a boy at heart, so Z and I stayed with them.

Met back up with the girls for some belly dancing, then took off at 6pm.  Baby (napless, of course) was asleep before we hit the car.  Success!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Lemm Harvest Trail 5K Race Report

Saturday morning I had planned on 5 or 6 miles to precede the Houston Half Relay that I had on tap for Sunday - good old two-day-in-a-row training.  In my race packet from the 10 for Texas, I noticed a flier for the Lemm Harvest Trail 5K, which starts off about a mile from my house.  So, perfect.  I ran to the start, signed up, ran the packet over to my parents' house (closer to race start than my house), ran back to the start and sat on a curb reading my Kindle app until the start.

Ran 5K through the park.  It was chip timed, but I can't find the results online, and since I sandwiched this run I have no idea my 5K time.  The park is really a lovely one, 3 lakes, crushed granite trails, etc.  And the run was really nice.  I was #116, and they were going in order, on a race day sign-up, so really tiny, but that gave the whole thing a really nice grassroots feel.  There were tons of waterstops with little Boy Scouts manning the stations.  Tons of families and kids running.  It was totally relaxed and just... nice.

I wasn't sure how they'd mark the trails off in the park, and I was worried it'd get confusing, because I use that park and the map looked confusing to me, but they were *really* smart.  They used those strings of flags all over the place and it was honestly totally clear and understandable where you were supposed to be going.  I was really impressed.

Before I knew it, I was done.  I grabbed a bottle of water and ran home.  5.5 miles in 55 minutes, total.

Because the next stop that day would be....

Ren Fest!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Peanut butter jelly sandwich = the only reliable loved food, currently.
Looks red to me. :-)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Toughest 10K Galveston Race Recap

This race report requires a little bit of history.  When I was a kid, my parents took me to Galveston every year.  We went enough where we had favorite restaurants, favorite attractions, favorite beaches.  This was a once a year thing, and we didn't live near the beach, so Galveston was an exciting, magical place for me.  I looked forward to those trips so much.  As I got older, I added new layers of loving to Galveston.  Mardi Gras with my best friends in college.  P popped the question on the Seawall near 80th street.  And Z just had her 2nd birthday down there.  Galveston will *always* be a really special place for me.

If you've never been to Galveston before, it is an island connected to the mainland by a huge freaking causeway bridge.  Big ass bridge.  When I was a kid, I always asked my parents to wake me up for the bridge.  I don't know why, but I always loved going over that monster, getting my first glimpse of the ocean.  As I got older I'd roll down the windows on my Mustang and crank the music and just feel and smell the island.

All of this to get you into my headspace: I really love Galveston, and the causeway bridge holds a special symbolism in my mind and heart.

So when I read that there was a race that went over the causeway, I was in.

We had to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to get down there, unfortunately: it is a 90 minute drive.  So got up, got ready, and hit the road.  Set up the Z in the back with Honey Nut Cheerios, which we've decided she eats like a dog - she'll eat them until they are GONE despite any consequences to herself.  We actually made great time due to light traffic and arrived near the race site at 6:15 to a clusterflock of traffic.  After waiting about 15 minutes to turn onto the road that led to the parking lot, and we saw people beginning to park along the roadside, so we pulled a quick u-turn and pulled over.  This was a good decision.  It was only maybe a quarter mile to the start line and we stayed out of the worst of the traffic.

When we got down to the site it was weird - the race was running out of a parking lot and the lights weren't on.  It was still practically pitch-black with the occasional flashlight or phone lighting a small area.  I grabbed my packet and made my deposit in the porta-can (holding my phone in my teeth with my flashlight app on) and we returned the packet to the car.  Then it was just about time to start.  I downed a Honey Stinger gel and lined up.

The start was also kind of a clusterflock.  It was 1 lane of a pretty slender road and there wasn't enough room, so the line actually curved around back into the parking lot.  But it worked.  The gun went off and it was about a mile to the bridge.  Then we were on it, and wow, how amazingly cool.  I was running with a permanent focus towards the water where I definitely saw fish, may have seen a dolphin, and also saw boats.  It was just... lovely.

Remember "Spidey" from the Toughest 10K Kemah?  Saw him, too.
And long, omg, that is a long freaking bridge.  Just under 2 miles, I think.

Original plan was 9/1's, but for some reason at the last minute, I switched to walking only water stops, and I did!  Which is more impressive, I think, because there were only 4 and none on the bridge.  Oh, and as for the bridge, they only had 1 lane and the shoulder blocked off, so it was tight.  The leader passed me before I even got to the top on his way down, less than 20 minutes into the race.  What must that be like??

I was struggling on the second pass over, but I didn't walk.  I was also floored by how low the barrier to the water was.  For some reason I didn't notice it on the first pass, but after I noticed it I was so freaked out that I was running as far from the edge as possible.  I'm not normally scared of stuff like that, so it was... weird.

On the downside I got passed by an awesome mama pushing a double BOB, and then it was only a mile-ish to the finish!

Awesome beast mama with double BOB.  Passing me.
1:03:46.  Not bad at all!  Several minutes faster than the Toughest 10K Kemah only a few weeks ago!

And they had a most excellent post-race party.  Oreos, pretzles, banana, flavored ice, cookies, pizza, beer.... it was stellar.  And they were really smart about it, too: they had the oreos and pretzles in cups, which made it really easy to grab and get out of the way.  I was very impressed!

Beer!  (It was 5pm somewhere!)
And a medal that doubles as a bottle opener, very cool. :-)  Great way to start out a Saturday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Foto Friday (Totally Random)

Umbrella at AD's.  Notice we got the carpet up!
Her new trike.
From my 10/6 8 miler on the Seawall.
Her new kitchen!
Big leaves.
Reading with Gaga.
My new shoes.  Love!
Dumpster at AD's.
Birthday beach house awesomeness.

10 for Texas Race Recap

The day before the race I went to Luke's to pick up my packet and I bought new running shoes.  I've known for a few weeks that I needed a new pair because I had started feeling a shin splint on my left leg.  Shin splints for me are a new shoe signal.  Also, my last pair was from January, which makes me guess they had over 500 miles on them.  Which is dumb because I know better, and I try to aim for every 3-6 months no matter how much or little I'm running.  10 months on a replacement pair is stupid.  So I got a pair of Glycerin 9's, and I decided to wear them to the race, even though they were new, because I didn't want to make the shin splints worse by running 10 miles in the worn out shoes.  And I felt pretty stupid for putting myself in the worst situation - trying new shoes on race day, idiot.

This conversation happened the night before the race:
P: How far is your race tomorrow, 5K?
Me: No, 10 miles.
P: Holy shit, you are fucked!
Me: Thanks for the vote of confidence.
P: Sorry, it is just so FAR!
Me: You realize I've fun 16 miles farther than that before, right?

The morning of the race we were able to wake up a little later than we had been for recent races.  That's one of the reasons I love this race: it is close to home.  (And it has hella great swag.)  I pounded down some coffee and a Snickers Marathon bar.  As we were driving to the race, I realized that it was so close to home that P and Z could  actually go home if they didn't want to hang out, so I had them drop me off at the entrance to Market Street and off they went.  I found a wall to sit on and read my book (Kindle app on iPhone) until a few minutes before the start.

Another reason I love this race is that it is so well organized.  They had pace signs up, so I went and got behind the 10 minute mile sign, totally knowing that I wouldn't be going for any PRs.  This was my first 10 mile run of the season and I was treating it as a supported long training run.  The gun went off and 2 minutes later I was across the starting line.

Oh, one more thing to add: it was hot, probably 75, and humid.  Bad conditions all around.

Early on in the race, I noticed that I was getting passed by an interesting cast of characters. 
Mile 1: a one-armed man.
Mile 2: dude pushing a DOUBLE Bob.  (On a TEN MILE RUN.  Dude is a beast.)
Mile 3: an 8 year old.
Mile 4: a 70+ year old.  (Not that you'd know it, looking at him, until you saw the back of his neck.  Funny give away!)
Mile 5: a race walker with a 4 foot "swing span".  (Seriously, y'all.  Dude was a menace.)

Then in mile 6 I made the kind of pass you never want to make: runner down.  I didn't stop to help because she was already being helped and I knew I couldn't do anything that wasn't already being done.  Soon after I heard the ambulance sirens.  I truly hope she was ok.  And after that I became determined in my quest to enjoy my run despite the pain I knew I'd feel by the end... because I was still running.

And so I did.

Ironically, mile 6-7 was the best mile of the whole race for me.  I took a Ginseng Honey Stinger gel at the mile 4 aid station and I think it kicked in right around 6, where I just felt like I was chugging along and I could go forever.

Speaking of nutrition, I did much better this race.  I took Gatorade at mile 2, gel at 4 and 8, an orange at 6, and water at 4, 6, 8, and 9. I had no GI/nausea issues!

And speaking of aid stations, I was running a 9/1, plus walking aid stations until about 8 miles in when I switched to walking the aid station plus about halfway between (which I think came out at about a 5/1).  It worked well for me.

I was tired by the end, and glad to be done, but I actually felt better than I did after my 8 miler in Galveston the weekend before, so there's that!

Final time: 1:52:10.4 for 11:27 a mile.  And a medal. :-)

And then we headed off to work on AD's house, but that's a whole 'nother post.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

2 Year Update

Dear Zoë,

Wow.  I cannot *believe* you are 2 whole years old.  Wow.  Just wow.  I never really understood the whole "time flies" thing until I had you.

Your stats:
Favorite animal: kitties

Favorite food: I think raisins have been replaced by watermelon, but you really love almost all fruit.  Meat is still your least favorite, though it goes better if we tell you it is "dark meat", and you do love fish, and especially shrimp.  You do have the ability to tell us when you don't like something - just the other day you licked a lemon then handed it to your daddy and said, "Yucky, I don't like that."

Favorite color: no idea yet

Favorite book: you went through a "One Duck Stuck" phase recently, followed by a week where you loved a Sesame Street book about sharing, and now you seem to be focused on all of your Kitty books without preference to a particular one.

What you sleep with: Big bear, pink bear, other bear, bunny, dollie, mouse, and a pillow, covered by the blanket that Miss Marguerite made you.

Sleeping habits: we try to head up to your room for 3 books before bed at 7:30, which puts you in bed right about 8.  Except for weekends, you get woken up at 6:30 to head to school.  You nap once a day, usually 2ish hours, though you can go anywhere from 20 minutes to almost 4 hours.

Teeth: 12 - still 4 each top and bottom front, then gaps, then 1 molar each side top and bottom.  Though you've had your hands in your mouth constantly for the last week or so, so I'm guessing more are finally on their way.

Words: you can pretty much say anything you want, though you still butcher a few words (nest comes to mind, sounds like mesk), you have a huge vocabulary and pick up words and their meanings quickly and accurately.  You can use pronouns appropriately and form complete sentences as long as 7-8 words.  You don't do verb tenses much, but you're working on it.  You know your alphabet (the song, not the letters) completely and have for quite some time.  You know all your colors in English, and most in Spanish.  You know every animal known to man in English, and many also in Spanish.  And not just in the context of books or other memorized situations.  Here's a good story/example.   
The other day, it was broad daylight and we were pulling into the driveway, 
Z: That's a raccoon.
Parental units: No baby, we don't see it.
Z, pointing: A raccoon, right over there!
P: Are you sure that isn't a squirrel baby?
A minute later, P: Oh my god, Amber, there *IS* a raccoon climbing the tree!
We got told. And I think that's the first real raccoon you'd ever seen!  And you ID'd it correctly and stuck to your guns when we didn't believe you.

Counting: you can count to 20 in English, 14 in Spanish, and 5 with your fingers.  And you can actually count, meaning you can (though you don't always choose to) point to the objects individually and say the numbers until you get to the end, at which point you stop.

Other skills: you've learned to open doors (goodness help us), you can jump with both feet now but you confine it to the bed where you can land on your butt, you frequently engage in pretend play.

In general: you're an absolute pleasure to have around.  Most mornings you wake up happy and sweet and you pretty much stay that way all day.  You can be a little bossy, but we'll call that knowing what you want.  You are consistently and constantly interested in the world around you, and you are always working on learning new skills.  Sometimes you seem to be a study in contrasts, gentle and loving, but mercurial and sharp, too.  You laugh out loud when things amuse you.  You have me read the same book to you over and over, then sometimes switch to a new one with no warning or reason.  You love to run, climb, jump, move.  You love books and stuffed animals.  You love me and your Daddy, and Gaga and Papi and Sally, and our kitties.  You love the beach, the aquarium, the zoo, carousels.  All in all, you're probably typically two other than your extraordinary verbal skills.  But you are my typically two, so you seem like a miracle every day.  As much as I want to freeze you in time right now, I also cannot wait to see what this next year will bring!

I love you,

Friday, October 5, 2012

Foto Friday

From National Night Out:

Crickets and 
Balloons and
Suckers, oh my!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Not Today

I didn't have it in me to run today.  I'm not quite sure what is going on.  When I woke up yesterday I had a terrible crick or something in my neck/back.  I powered through the day doing a patented whole body turn instead of ever turning my head, and took ibuprofen last night.  And my legs were sore last night, which I thought was odd because Monday's run was not a hard run.  And yesterday was an arms day, no leg workout.

This morning my legs were still sore and my neck, while better, is still not well.  I was tired and Grimmy was super cuddly, which he hasn't been being, so I thought the universe must be trying to tell me something.  So I laid in bed and then got 35 minutes on the trainer and called it good.

I need to run tomorrow, though.

And I didn't realize it (I mean I did, but not really), but 10 for Texas is only freaking 10 days away.  Holy schnikes!  I need to get at least 8 this weekend, which is going to be difficult because we're going to be in Galveston for Z's birthday.  But I need to make this happen somehow.  Missing the 8 last weekend and missing my mojo for the last 2 weeks does not a confident 10 miler make.  I am ok that it will be my first 10 miler of the season - I've been treating races as nice long supported training runs, after all - and I know if I can get an 8 than I can get to 10 one way or the other.  But I'm starting to get nervous!

And I need this little blip to be just that - a blip that is over by tomorrow. 

I can do this.  Thrill of the fight, and all that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September Book Reviews

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters - What would you do if you only had 6 months to live?  What would society do if everyone only had 6 months to live?  The story of a policeman who chooses to keep investigating as an asteroid hurtles towards Earth.  Good book, the twist made it interesting!

The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig - I wish I could explain this, I just keep thinking about this book.  Not a lot actually happens in the book.  Like, at all.  But it is a GOOD book.  Very good.  Kind of a slow read, but not in a bad way.  Actually in a really good way.  Rich in historical detail.  Rich in everything, really.  I'm not *excited* about this book the way I was about... say.... Redshirts.  But this is a really good book.  Highly recommended.

The Country of the Bad Wolfes by James Carlos Blake - I really enjoyed this book.  It was a multi-generational story of a family that involved a huge cast of characters, but magically I still managed to care about the characters and their storylines, which I think shows a master manipulation by Mr. Blake.  Great read, highly recommended.

Prepare to Die by Peter Toban - Ha, this was actually a fun book.  I think the audience is realllllllly specific.  You have to be a comic book nerd, or at least open to that sort of thing.  I also think that the conversational style of the book, while purposeful (I believe) on Toban's part, will make it not appeal to everyone.  And if Goodreads is any indication, not all of the ladies are liking this book; to be fair, the narrator... objectifies women.  But the plot was fast-paced, I thought the story was engrossing, and I had a great time reading it.

Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway - started and having an incredibly difficult time with this one.  It might get abandoned in October.

Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines - about halfway through this one and loving it!  Full review next month.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monthly Goal Review

Goals for the Year:
Lose 12 pounds in 2012.  Weight on 1/1 was 138.8.  Weight on 9/1 was 132.6. Weight on 10/1 was 133.2.  (I ate some chinese food the other weekend, and it *still* hasn't dropped down!  Then this weekend, I ate about 2 months worth of sugar at a birthday party.  And it is hard to regret it when it is sooooo good!)
Read at least 12 books (other than to my child) in 2012.  34 books read in September bringing the total to 69. 30 of these were the aforementioned sappy/crappy romance novels, but, hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.
Race 12 times in 2012. 2 races this month! 
And I have one other secret 12 goal. 8 more to add, making it 24.

Goals for September:
Continued progress towards 2012 goals.
Stay steady on the run, work up to 4 days per week with long runs 6-working-up-to-8 miles.  Done!  Complete 2 scheduled races. Done!! Enjoy the rest while maintaining consistency!  Done!!  Try to get some core work in there.  Done!!
Financial goals: liquidate SMH account and reallocate to J.  Fail, but we *did* FINALLY get the other outstanding AD issue on the road, and that is a very good thing!
House goals: clean AD house. Progress made!  Progress towards floors in my house. I had a great month - guess I couldn't have everything - no progress on this front.

Goals for October:
Continued progress towards 2012 goals.
Throw a successful beach birthday party for my (OMG) precocious 2 year old (OMG).
Keep up the consistency on the run, building to 10 mile long runs.
Complete 3 (!!) scheduled races.
Continue with the core work and other "fun" working out the rest of the time.
Financial goal: liquidate SMH account and reallocate to J.
House goals: finish cleaning out AD house, make progress towards floors in my house.