Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Long Overdue Update

Well, it’s time for a long overdue update. We left off with the Tri Doc Wacky Costume 5K, which means we left off in May. Geeze. A lot has happened since then. The New Jeep After driving my trailblazer for 11 years and over 200,000 miles, we finally decided it was time for momma to get a new car. I couldn’t decide at first if I wanted to go practical (and get an Equinox) or go sporty (and get a Jeep). In the end, sporty won out and I drove home with a new 4 door Jeep! USAT Coaching Clinic I had been wanting to attend the USAT Level I Triathlon Coaching Clinic for a while but could not get in. I finally got into the one in Des Moines, IA at the end of May. Not the most desired locations, but I knew I wouldn’t get to see much of the city anyway, so off I went. As expected, I was in class most of the time. I even took a CEU class AFTER the regular class that Friday night to get a head start on those. The weekend was filled with lots of good information and I came back excited to get my coaching business going. Run Streak Also toward the end of May, I saw a post from Runner’s World about a run streak challenge they were doing. The challenge was to run every day between Memorial Day and July 4th. The only rule was you had to run at least one mile for it to count. That didn’t sound very hard to me and it was only for a little over a month. I decided to do it, but didn’t “officially” sign up for it or tell anyone. It was my own little challenge. Would I be able to do it? I’ll tell you what. I learned a lot from that little challenge and I’m glad I did it. First of all, I needed it mentally. I needed the stress relief it provided. I needed it to get me out of the house and focus on something else. Why? you ask. Because on June 4th, I was called into my bosses office and told that I was being laid off. One of the clients had made some major budget cuts and I was one of four people let go that day. The good (and bad) of it was that due to the nature of what I did, they wanted me to keep coming into the office for another month to transition the accounts out and to another agency. It was good because it meant continuing income, but it was hard to go to work every day and face people when everyone knew I wouldn’t be there much longer. I needed the stress relief that running provided me. Every day. The other thing I learned from the run challenge is that, as much as I love running, I’m not a streaker. I run 4-5 days most weeks as it is, but every now and then I just need a day without it. If I don’t feel like running, I don’t want to feel guilty about it. There were days where it was hard to get myself out the door and get the run in. And there were plenty of days where I did my one mile and was done. I much prefer running on my schedule and running as many miles as I feel like and then taking a break when I want/feel like. Lake Pflugerville Triathlon On Father’s Day, as I always do, I did the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon. I’ll try to do another post with just my race report, but I don’t really remember anything being out of the ordinary. I was proud, however, of my bike time because I had not really been on my bike much in the spring. The one thing I do remember is that after the race my daughter said she wanted to do it next year. We will see if that holds true or not. Yoga Teacher Training I had already signed up for several more yoga teacher trainings before I found out I was losing my job, so I still planned to attend. I had already paid for them and most of them were on the weekend, so why not? In fact, I ended up adding a training that I had not originally signed up for because I knew the class was right after I would end my days in the office. So, this summer I attended Level 2, Anatomy and YogaFit for Warriors. Vacation Again, I will try to do a separate post to cover vacation, but lets just say it was much needed. And like the yoga training, it had already been planned before I got laid off. It actually worked out fairly well. My last day in the office was July 3rd. July 4th was a holiday. I had already asked off for July 5th – 14th because we had a wedding to attend in Shreveport and then were moving on to our vacation in Orange Beach, Alabama. When I walked out of the office July 3rd, it was kind of like I was just going on vacation. Only I never went back. We left Saturday morning to head to Shreveport for the wedding of one of our former youth members. We didn’t want to miss that. Then we got up early Sunday to head to the beach, stopping in Monroe along the way to get pictures at the Duck Dynasty warehouse. It had to be done for the kids sake. I was so happy when we got to Orange Beach. I had rented a condo right on the beach. It was heavenly. I had also used some birthday money to download some books on my kindle. I planned to spend the week doing nothing but reading and laying on the beach. I had planned to sleep in a little as well, but I was up every morning fairly early so I either ran on the beach for a little bit or did yoga on the beach, then ate breakfast on the balcony, then staked our claim on the beach. I only left for a few minutes at lunch and stayed until the sun was going down. It was great because the kids are old enough that they could come and go as they pleased and I didn’t have to worry about them. It was a very much needed week. I ended up reading 5 ½ books during the week. Now that’s my idea of a vacation. Back to Reality Once we got back, I decided to take a couple of weeks and clean the house. And not just clean as in sweep, dust, vacuum, etc. I mean clean, as in get rid of stuff. So that’s what I did. We ended up having a garage sale, making around $400 and STILL having two truck loads of stuff to take to Goodwill. I’m glad that got done. In the meantime, I began looking for a job. In the beginning I was pretty picky about what I applied for, but over time I began to relax my standards. I also looked for new opportunities, not sure that I want to go back to an 8-5 desk job (I only worked until 3:30 at my last job). At the end of August I discovered an opportunity to run my own women’s boot camp. I just needed to pass my personal trainer certification, which I did at the beginning of September. I joined forces as an independent contractor with Texas Fit Chicks and just recently started a morning boot camp close to home. It’s not enough right now to replace my income (in fact it won’t even pay the car payment yet), but I hope to grow it. In the meantime, I am still looking for that elusive job. I know there is something out there that is perfect for me. I just haven’t found it yet.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Tri Doc Wacky Costume 5k - 2013

Well, I certainly wasn’t planning on doing another 5k race so soon after the last one (one week later), but if the schedule allows and there’s a race, why not?

One of my former high school classmates also happens to be a chiropractor who I happen to go to for Active Release Therapy and Graston when I need it.  He is also an Ironman triathlete, so he understands the injuries and tightness we have and he fixes it so you can get back to training.  I had seen him post on Facebook that he was hosting a 5k race.  And not just an ordinary 5k race.  It was a Wacky Costume 5K Race.  You had to wear AND race in a costume, or you got 5 minutes added to your time.

My schedule was free and I hoped, once again, that maybe it might be a small race and I might be able to place, so I signed up.  And then I raided the Halloween box to find something to wear.  Because there was absolutely, no way I was getting 5 minutes added to my time.  I needed all the help I could get.  I finally decided I would wear my red Nike shorts, a red tank top and the devil ears and tail I had.  I also had a pitchfork that I would carry.  Me being a devil.  Not really out of the ordinary. 

Unlike last week, today was muggy.  The temps weren’t bad, but the humidity was.  When I showed up for the race, there were some pretty good costumes.  I was glad I wasn’t the only one in a costume, but kind of wished I had put more effort into it now.  Oh well.  I would be spared the extra 5 minutes and that’s all that matters.

And I picked right this time.  It WAS a small race.  Maybe 30-40 participants total.  Surely I had a shot.  Although there were some fast looking women, and again, no age on the leg to tell me what age group they were in (I knew there was a reason I like triathlons).

As the horn blew for us to start running, we took off.  For a while, the race organizer, another woman and myself were running in a pack.  We were doing well, but I could tell the humidity was getting to me.  This course was run on a paved trail in a park and was an out and back.  This would give me a good chance to see who was ahead of me.  There weren’t many, but I didn’t know exactly how many.

Since it was such a small race, there were no mile markers, but when I heard my garmin beep that we had been a mile I glanced at the watch and saw 8:30.  Not bad.  Not as good as last week, but not bad. 

I started to see the lead runner on the way back.  I looked for costumes and bibs and counted.  If I was right, I would be placing.  It was just a matter now of where.  I rounded the turnaround point and headed back to the finish line. 

The little pack we started with had broken up now.  The race organizer had pulled ahead and then I pulled in front of the other lady.  I could feel her on my heels though.  Not knowing her age, I did everything I could to keep her from passing me.  I even sprinted at the end.  Turns out I didn’t really need to as she wasn’t in my age group.  Oh well.

I crossed the finish line in 26:44, just a little bit slower than last week.  I waited around for the awards and was actually surprised to learn that I got FIRST place in my age group.  Out of seven. But I was first.  I was a very happy devil!

Ants in Your Pants 5k - 2013

I didn’t really have many races on the spring schedule, but when I heard about the Ants In Your Pants 5K, I thought I should do it for multiple reasons.   The first reason to do the race was that it was being put on by a local elementary school and all of the proceeds went to benefit their PTO.  When my kids were in elementary school (gosh, that seems like ages ago), I was on the PTO.  I know how much money the schools DON’T have.  It seemed like a good cause.

The second reason to do the race was that it was really close to my house.  I thought about running there as a warm up on race day, that’s how close it is.  And the final reason is that selfishly I hoped that word had not gotten out about the race and that I might actually have a chance of placing in my age group.

Running a race in May in Texas is almost guaranteed to be hot.  It’s a no brainer to get up, throw on some shorts and a tank and go race.  Well, normally.  Not this morning.  When I woke up this morning, the temps were in the 40s.  In May.  Wow.  What to wear?

The wind was also blowing, so I decide to wear shorts with my tank and then throw a long sleeved dri-fit over that.  I also took gloves and my ear band as my hands and ears get cold pretty easy.  Instead of doing that warm-up run over to the school, I drove.  I knew I’d get warm on the run, but I didn’t want to get there and be sweating and then get cold from standing there and waiting for the start.  So yeah, I drove.  And sat in my nice warm car until just a few minutes before the start.

There weren’t a ton of runners there, but there were some running groups, so I knew there would be some fast runners.  It’s hard to tell what age group the runners are in (you know, their age isn’t written on their calf like it is in a triathlon!), so I had no idea who my competition would be.

When the horn sounded and we started running, I just went with what I could.  There was a group of us that pulled away pretty quickly from the main pack, but I was at the back of that pack.  Interestingly enough, however, no one really passed anyone else.  Whatever place we fell into was kind of where we were.

The first part of the course wound through a neighborhood and was relatively flat.  I’m pretty good about judging distances, but didn’t know if the course would be marked well or not, so I glanced at my garmin to see where I was.  What I saw scared me.  At 0.91 into the race, my time was 7:50.  Um, I’m not usually that fast.  I hit mile 1 at 8:05.  The other scary part was it really didn’t fell all THAT hard.  Yes, I was pushing it and didn’t know if I could keep that up the whole time, but why not try.

The second mile was still fairly flat with a little downhill through another neighborhood.  I started getting a little warm here and debated about taking my long-sleeve top off.  I did take my ear band and my gloves off.  I hit mile 2 in 8:08.  Surprised myself with that one.  I thought to myself that I might actually place if I could just keep up the pace.  But the last mile was a lot of uphill.  And into the wind.

I took off my top and wrapped it around my waist and then prepared to climb the hill back to the school.  With the wind blowing straight at us, my pace slowed.  But I wouldn’t stop.  I wanted to finish strong.

Mile 3 was a bit slower, with a pace of 8:49 and then the last 0.1 mile took 1:04.  I crossed the finish line in 26:05.  My 5k PR is 24:42, so not too bad for not running a lot lately.  I hoped that it might be worth at least 3rd place.

I hung around to see what the results would be and got a massage in the meantime.  Then I saw where the results were posted and headed over to check it out.  I can’t remember now exactly where I placed but it was either 6th or 7th, so no podium for me.   Since it was still cold and I had a soccer game to get to, I headed home.

This was a great first year small race and if the schedule allows, I’ll do it again.

Team Red, White and Blue Triathlon Camp 2013

For the second year in a row, Team Red, White and Blue held a triathlon camp in Austin, Texas.  This year’s camp was held April 11-14 and had over twice as many participants as last year.  This year’s participants also included two amputees and a visually challenged athlete, which meant when we were planning the activities we needed to keep this information in mind.
Planning was fast and furious, but it all came together in the end and worked out well.  Since we had so many athletes this year, we rented vans to transport them all from the hotel to the training venues.  Thursday afternoon those vans came in handy as we ran shuttles to and from the hotel and airport most of the afternoon.  Once the athletes were picked up at the airport, some of them headed over to Jack and Adam’s, the local bike shop, to either pick up their bike and assemble it or to get fitted to a new bike that they would take home with them from camp.  It’s always exciting to see the new athletes get their gear.
After most of the athletes had arrived, we headed to Zilker Park for the team dinner that was hosted by the Texas Beef Council.  This is the second year they have partnered with us as well and the athletes love eating a nice steak on their first night in Texas.

Friday morning we all met back at Jack and Adam’s to make sure that everyone had their bikes and to make final adjustments for anyone who was getting a bike or who had gotten in late and not yet assembled their bike.  Then it was time for the awesome bike clinic that Derick put’s on for the athletes.  They are taken to a large grassy area and run through a bunch of drills to work on clipping in and out of their pedals, work on riding in a straight line, work on drinking while on the bike, etc.  There are always several people who fall, but no one laughs at them.  We all laugh with them, because we have all been there.
After the clinic it was time for some lunch on the lawn.  Then we all headed north for some swimming.  The athletes get to experience open water swimming in a wetsuit and get to learn some tips and techniques from the pros that come to help at the camp.  This year we were fortunate to have Jessica Jacobs, Jessica Myers, Tim O’Donnell and Logan Franks.  The pros are so amazing and friendly and willing to share any information they have with the athletes.
After swimming everyone headed inside for a yoga session.  This was something I asked Derick if I could do for the athletes this year and he worked it into the schedule.  I had so much fun teaching the class to these military veterans and several of them came up to me afterwards and told me how much they appreciated it.  I loved doing it so much in fact that I am going to take the YogaFit for Warriors training class in August.
After yoga we headed to dinner at BJ’s Brewhouse.  Everyone got lots of time to bond and we heard from the founder of Team RWB, Mike Erwin, who had joined us throughout the day to see how the camp was going.
Saturday morning was a group ride, which unfortunately I missed.  I was being a good mom and attended my son’s soccer game before meeting back up with the group for lunch.  After lunch was more swimming and some running and then dinner at a Bar-B-Q place, which again, the athletes loved.
Sunday was another full day of camp.  The athletes got to play garbage can ball on their bikes.  If you don't know what that is, it was kind of a combination of soccer/rugby, but on the bike.  Oh my!  Those men and women did not hold back.  It was great to watch them have so much fun and be so confident on their bikes. The day ended in a nice dinner with a pro panel where we were joined by Patrick Evoe and Kelly Williamson.  What an honor to have so many pros to share with the awesome veterans. 
Everyone had a great time and year two was another success.  Being a part of organizing and putting together this camp for Team RWB and the military veterans who attend is one of the highlights of the year for me.  I look forward to meeting the men and women who attend and seeing them progress in their skills.  Even the ones who come in having done long distance triathlons walk away with some new knowledge.  It’s a great group to be a part of.

Cap 10K 2013

Every year I do the Cap 10K.  This year was no different.  There were several folks doing the race as part of the “Do It Like It Means Something” non-profit, so we met at the start line for a group photo.  Most of them are walkers or very slow runners, so I knew I would not stay with them in the race and headed up the coral toward the start line until I found the group that would be running my pace.

Last year the race didn’t start until 9am and it was already hot and humid before the race even started.  At least this year, the start time had been moved back to 8am.  It was a little bit better at least. 

I have been doing a lot of studying this year and not as much training as usual and after the TIR two weeks ago, I knew this would not be a PR race for me.  I just hoped to come in under an hour.

The Cap 10K course is fairly hilly in the first half and then flattens out in the second half, so it’s a good course to negative split.  I think I did that.

Mile 1:  9:43
Mile 2:  9:29
Mile 3:  9:42
Mile 4:  9:20
Mile 5:  9:24
Mile 6:  9:24
last .2:  1:53

Somewhere around mile 5 I started running next to a guy who had about the same pace as me.  I would pass him on the slight inclines and then he would catch me on the slight declines, but we kind of stayed together.  It was motivation to not slow down and it worked.  We crossed the finish line about the same time.  My final time was 58:58 for a 9:30 pace.  I was ok with that and got to say another Cap 10K is in the books.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Texas Independence Relay

For years now, I’ve been wanting to do a relay race. You know, the kind of race that covers over 200 miles with someone running at all times. The problem has been that I never could find anyone interested in doing one.
Well, that changed this year. Several of the local folks I do triathlon training with mentioned that they were interested in doing the Texas Independence Relay. That’s the one that I’ve wanted to do. We talked about it and had 8 people interested. It’s best to have 12 on a team and we figured we could find 4 more people crazy enough to do it with us.

We got registered and our numbers sat at 8. And sat there. And sat there. It was harder than we thought to get 4 more people. We had several who were interested, but because of other obligations or financial issues, they had to decline. Then we found out that one of our members had an injury and would not be able to participate. We did everything we could to replace her and ended up finding someone on one of the triathlete forums. We all hoped that he would fit in. Worst case scenario, he was at least fast.

Due to the small town in which the race started and the finances of some team members, the majority of the team decided to just get up extra early on race morning and drive to the start (about 1.5 hours away). So, we all met at the local HEB, loaded our things into the rented van and headed to Gonzales.

Because our predicted overall pace was a little on the slower side, we had a 6:30am start time. We pulled in to the parking lot, picked up our packets and it was time to rush to the start to run our prologue lap and begin our 200+ mile trip to the San Jacinto monument.

With just a few minutes to spare, we were at the start. Our team song began to play, I got to light the cannon, and we were off as a team. We kept the start pace fairly slow so we could all stay together, finishing the 1.13 mile prologue in 12:55 for a pace of 11:25 per mile.

As we finished the first mile, our first runner continued on for his first leg of the race. The van I was in was the first “active” van meaning that our runners had the first 4 legs to run. We knew that we needed to find a convenience store to get ice for the cooler and find a bathroom. We knew we would have time, but needed to make sure we got it done and got to the next exchange point before our runner. Mission accomplished.

Because we only had 8 runners, each of us would be running 5 legs of the race. I was assigned to Legs 3, 11, 19, 27 and 35. As our second runner was running her leg, I began to get myself ready to run. I made sure I had my garmin, sunglasses, etc. We parked by the exchange area and waited for her to arrive.

At 8:34 a.m. Saturday morning, it was time for me to run my first leg. This leg was 5.33 miles long. It was a little overcast as I ran, but it helped me to not overheat so I was fine with that. This 5.33 mile stretch took me down a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. The interesting thing about running in the middle of nowhere is that you see some interesting things. Toward the end of my run, I came upon a group of people in the middle of the road. As I got closer, I realized that one of them was holding a baby armadillo! How often do you get to see that? Pretty cool. I finished my run in 52:10 with a pace of 9:47 per mile and got in the van to relax before my next run.

After the first rotation, our van was now the “rest” van. We found a place to stop and grab something to eat, took the time to finally get situated (since we had such a quick start in the morning) and got more familiar with the process of what we were doing.

We tried to judge when to be at our next starting point based on the projected paces of the runners in the other van. When it was time, we headed to the exchange point that would make our van the “active” van again.
My next leg didn’t start until 3:34 p.m. This was a 4.15 mile leg straight down the side of the highway. While it was straight and flat, it was also a very hot leg as the sun was now out. I knew it was relatively short and if I ran my pace it would be over in about 40 minutes. I could do it. It also helped that the van was near me and my teammates were cheering me on. I couldn’t slow down in front of them.

I arrived at the hand off place in 39:36 for a pace of 9:33 per mile and had a very nice man spray cold water on me to cool me down. I was also handed a baton from the town of Weimer to commemorate my finish in their town. Very cool touch.

We finished out with our fourth runner and then found some food again while we were the “rest” van. We knew our next run rotation would be somewhat challenging. We had been up since 4am and we were getting tired. We would all be running our next legs in the dark.

At 10:14 p.m. I started my next leg. Running 6.61 miles this late at night was new for me, but again it was straight down the side of the highway. It was actually very peaceful as the only people out on the road at that time of night were the other runners and the support vans. The moon was out and looked pretty full, so it illuminated the country where we were running. I finished this leg in 1:04:46 for a 9:49 pace. Not bad considering all of the miles I had run today.
After the runners in my van were done with our legs for the night, we headed to the exchange where we would start running again in the morning and tried to get some sleep. It’s kind of hard to sleep in a van with bright lights and lots of people outside the van making noise, but we got what sleep we could before getting ready in the early morning hours to start running on day two.

Sometime right before our van began our legs, a cold front blew through the area. It had been pretty warm and muggy for our runs and we knew today’s runs would be different. Temperatures dropped into the 50s and the wind was relentless. I was actually dreading it. I don’t mind running in cold, but I don’t like running in the wind, especially in the dark and by myself. But we had a finish line to reach.

We weren’t sure what time exactly to be at the next exchange as some of our runners were slowing down. Lack of rest and high miles will do that to a body. Standing out in the cold waiting for my turn to run was not exactly the fun part of the race.

But finally, at 5:23 a.m. I began my first leg of the day. This stretch of running was interesting for me because about 3 miles of it were in the “city” and then it took me into George Bush Park in Houston. I ran in the park on the hike and bike trail for the remainder of the 6.23 mile leg. It was really dark in the park and even though I had my headlamp on and a flashlight in my hand, it was a little spooky at times. There were times where I did not see another person at all. I was just hoping that no one popped out of a bush at any time. I was ready to attack! I was very happy when I finally saw bright lights that were at the exchange point where I would end my run and our next runner would begin. My knee was giving me troubles (most likely IT band issues) this morning and my times had slowed down, so I finished this leg in 1:11:27 for a pace of 11:28 per mile. Slow for me, but oh well.

As soon as I finished that leg, I told the people in my van that when it was our time to “rest”, we needed to find me a Whataburger. I needed a breakfast taco to eat and get my body ready for my afternoon leg.
After grabbing breakfast for everyone, we headed into downtown Houston which is where our van would become the “active” van for our last round of runs. It was here that I began to realized how the contestants on The Amazing Race must feel. When we first arrived, there were lots of vans waiting for the exchanges to take place. I felt like we were doing ok on time and we were right there with everyone else. But one by one, those vans disappeared. It wasn’t long until we were one of the only few vans left. I began to get the feeling that we were at the back of the pack. And I mean at the very back of the pack.

Finally, the runner showed up and our van became “active”. Our runners were slowing down. We were tired, we were hungry and some of us were hurting. But we kept moving forward.

The last and final leg I ran started at 1:20 p.m. My knee was still hurting and I was tired, but I had people counting on me and I knew I had to do my best to get my run done. This was a shorter leg of only 3.71 miles and I was very thankful for that. What I wasn’t really thankful for was the sketchy neighborhood that this leg took me through. I told my van to stay very close to me and make sure they could see me at all times since there weren’t many runners around. As I was heading up and over a pedestrian bridge, another runner came along. He was doing a run/walk, so I joined him. It was nice to have the company and we motivated each other along. We came into the exchange point together and high-fived each other. I was glad to be done. this leg took 39:19 for a 10:36 pace. Other than the last little bit as a team at the finish line, I was done.

I took off my shoes, put on my compression socks and grabbed some food. It felt good to be done, but I felt for my fellow teammates who still had runs to get done. And finally, we could see it. The San Jacinto Monument stood there like a beacon in the night calling to us to come to it. When we got there and our last runner came in, we would be done and could claim those glorious medals we had been running for. What a great feeling that was.

We got our medals, took our team picture on the steps and grabbed some free pizza. I don’t even eat pizza (the cheese makes me sick), but I pulled off the topping and just ate the crust. And let me tell you, that was the best darn pizza I’ve had. I was so hungry.

Over the two days, I ran a total of 27.14 miles. I had a lot of fun with my teammates (yes, even the stranger we found at the last minute – turns out he’s a really great guy) and would even consider doing this again. But next time, we need a team of 12!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mommy / Daughter Trip To New York City

Madison and I have been saying for several years that we needed to do a mommy/daughter trip.  And we had always talked about going to New York.  Since Dalton and Joel would be going to Tampa the first weekend of Spring Break for a soccer showcase, we decided that our mommy/daughter trip would take place the last part of Spring Break and that we would, indeed, head to New York.

I had been to New York with the family the summer between my Junior and Senior years of high school, so I was about the same age then as Madison is now.  Plus, I use to travel to New York several times a year to visit a client at my first job out of college.  I love visiting NY.  And it surprised several people that I was taking Madison there by myself.  But you only live once, right.  We would be just fine.


Wednesday morning we woke up early to catch an 8am flight.  I wanted to get to NY in time to still do a little bit once we landed.  We had a little layover in Chicago where we grabbed some lunch and then caught the next flight to the big apple.  Once we landed, we got in line for a taxi and then headed toward our hotel. 

When I booked the hotel, I remember the name as being The Jewel at Rockefeller Center, so that’s where we went.  We walked in, told them we were checking in and then the lady asked if we had a reservation.  Ummm, yes I do.  I started to pull out my confirmation and she asked “it’s under Madison?”  No.  It’s not supposed to be, but that’s probably the reservation.  She said that we were actually a couple of doors down at the Guest Quarters, which was also a part of their hotel.  Well ok then.  We walk a couple of doors down, check in under Madison’s name and head to our room.

In typically NY fashion, the room is tiny, but it’s nice.  There is a small desk area and the bathroom is fairly large.  It will work for the next few days. 

I had booked the hotel near Times Square because most of what we were wanting to do was in that general area.  We got situated and then walked down the street to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for dinner.  I vaguely remember eating here before on one of my business trips, but wanted Madison to eat here.  It’s fairly touristy, but the wait staff are all aspiring broadway performers, so I thought it would get us in the mood for the shows later in the week.

We were taken to a small table upstairs, but Madison still had a good view of the main dining area.  The food was decent and fairly large portions.  And not unreasonably priced for NY.  During diner, one of the singers came upstairs and sang to Madison. 

After diner we bundled up (it was really cold in NY while we were there – in the 30s and 40s) and headed toward Times Square.  I wanted Madison to see it at night with all the lights.  I think it was a little overwhelming for her.  We started walking the strip and took some pictures.  I asked if she wanted to keep going and she said “no, there are too may people”.  Welcome to NY.  We headed back to the hotel and called it a night.


Thursday morning we got up REALLY early, bundled up and headed over to where the Today Show is filmed.  It was a little confusing at first, but we finally found the “line” to get into the barriers for the outside portion of the Today Show.  We were probably about 20-30 people back in line, so we figured we had a fairly good shot of getting on TV.

Finally it was time to move into the corralled off area and wait…..and wait…..and wait until it was time for Al to come out and do the weather segment.  We had made a sign, but were on the opposite side from Al.  A little while later, Al, Matt and Samantha all came out.  Al walked around and said hi to everyone as did Samantha.  I can’t say the same for Matt.  He came out, did his segment and went right back inside.  I was not impressed.  Unfortunately, due to where we ended up standing, I don’t think we made it on TV.  Oh well.

Once they went back inside, we decided to leave.  We had been out in the freezing cold all morning and wanted to warm up.  There was a cute little bakery right behind us, so we headed inside for a small breakfast and warm drink. 

Once we were a little warm, we headed over to Rockefeller Center and to the Top of the Rock so that we could get a bird’s eye view of NY.  Despite the chilling cold and wind, the views were beautiful.  To see Central Park from that perspective is just amazing.  It’s hard to imagine that big of a park in the middle of all those high rises.

Because of the cold, we didn’t stay long.  We headed back to street level and found a subway station so we could head down to lower Manhattan and the 9/11 Memorial.  Yes, Madison and I rode the subway.  Multiple times in fact.  And we did just fine.

Arriving at the 9/11 Memorial was emotional for me.  As I said before, I had been to NY in my teens and I actually have a picture of the Twin Towers.  I need to scan it and save it before the picture totally fades.  The other reason I got emotional is that I could have been in NY on 9/11 right across from the towers.  The company I worked for in 2011 had been bought out by a company based in NY.  I was in their leadership program, which meant 3-4 leadership meetings throughout the year at various locations in the US.  In May of 2011, we were told that our office would be closing at the end of July.  We could either transfer to another office or leave the company.  I did not want to move, so I chose to leave the company.  Had I not left the company, I would have been in NY on 9/11 for one of the leadership meetings.  I believe things happen for a reason and I am so thankful that I was not there.

I don’t think seeing the Memorial had as much impact on Madison as she was only 6 at the time, but it definitely made an impression on her.  While I wish it had been warmer while we were there so we could spend more time taking it all in, it was powerful to see the reflecting pools and the survivor tree.

From there, we went to St Paul’s Chapel which is where a lot of the first responders went to rest and get some food while working on the site.  There is LOTS of memorabilia in that church.  We spent a good amount of time in there looking at all the posters, cards, well wishes, etc. from those days.  It’s something that everyone should see.

We then headed back north, grabbed some lunch and then went on the Rockefeller Center tour.  We had a City Pass Card and Madison had wanted to do the tour, so why not.  It was actually really good.  We did some walking around the general area of the Rockefeller Center and then also inside of the building, learning about history as we went.  The tour guide was very knowledgeable.  We even got to stand on the very spot where the Christmas Tree stands every year.

We were pretty beat after all the walking, so we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our first Broadway Play.  I love seeing Broadway shows (I got to see several on those client visits, including Chicago, Rent and Broadway Joe’s), so I knew Madison and I would HAVE to see at least one, despite the cost.  Our first choice:  Wicked.  And it did not disappoint.  We had fairly good seats and really enjoyed the experience.  I have a niece who is in acting, and Madison and I could both see her in the main role.

After the show it was back to the room and to bed.  We were totally exhausted.


Friday morning we slept in a little bit, but that doesn’t mean much in my terms.  We got up, had breakfast and walked toward Central Park.  I love Central Park.  One day, I will run in Central Park.  But with it still being in the 30s, today was not that day. 

It’s amazing how as you get closer to Central Park and start walking into it, the city seems to disappear.  I wanted to keep going, but Madison didn’t, so we headed back out.  It was at this point we were approached by a pedicab and offered a tour of Central Park.  We negotiated a price and climbed in.  This wasn’t in our plan, but I’m really glad we did it because he showed us parts of the park we probably would not have seen on our own.  He stopped a few times so we could take photos of some of the locations used in movies and such.  I was very glad we did this.

As we left Central Park, the plan was to walk down 5th Avenue and let Madison drool over the stores there.  We had to take a detour into Tiffany’s.  We stopped on every floor and admired the bright shinning diamonds.  We went into F.A.O. Schwarz and got some candy.  They had a box of Nerds I would have love to buy Dalton, but it was the size of a cereal box and $30.  Plus, I knew he would eat it in one day and then be sick.  No Nerds for Dalton.

After walking a good bit of 5th Avenue, we made our way over to Carnagie Hall.  Madison had also wanted to do a tour here.  While the Hall itself was very impressive and the history was interesting, this tour wasn’t as good as the Rockefeller Center one.  But oh well.  At least we were warm.

We then headed back to the room to shower and get ready for tonight’s show.  Yes, we decided to do two.   I couldn’t resist.  Rock of Ages was playing and it sounded like a great show.  Madison was game, so I got some discount tickets.

We had a little extra time before the show so we went to the Harry Potter Exhibit.  That was actually pretty interesting.  They have some of the clothes worn by the actors in the movie.  It’s funny to see how small they were when the first movie was filmed and then see the progression of their growth by the size of the clothes.  We were glad we did this.

Rock Of Ages did not disappoint.  While Wicked was in one of the largest theaters, Rock of Ages was in one of the smallest theaters.  I don’t think there was a bad seat anywhere.  It was an interesting mix of people in the crowd, and the alcohol was flowing – even DURING the show.  Not your typical Broadway production. 

As we left the show, we saw a huge crowd standing in the street at the theater directly across the street from us.  I looked up to see what was playing there and quickly realized they were waiting for Tom Hanks to come out from the play he was currently staring in.  I told Madison we needed to hang out a little bit.  It was just a few minutes later when he walked out the door, waved to the crowd, got in his limo and drove off.  At least we saw one celebrity on our trip.

Another long, successful day.


We had planned today to be a somewhat relaxing day.  We slept in a little later today and then did our final souvenir shopping.  One of our former youth members from church is a student at NYU, so we had made plans to meet her for brunch.  We headed that way and met her at Grey Dog’s.  Brunch was absolutely yummy!  No wonder the place is so crowded.

As we walked outside to leave, we noticed some stuff falling from the sky.  Um, that’s snow.  We don’t see a lot of that in Texas, so it was kind of exciting.  It wasn’t much at first and it seemed to kind of fade away as well. 

We had wanted to try to find a shop in SoHo, but we ventured into an area where we didn’t really feel that safe.  So, we found a subway station and headed into lower Manhattan again.  We thought that was where we needed to be for our next adventure, but were early, so we walked around the Wall Street area.  It’s amazing how different each area of NY can be from each other. 

We then looked at the map and realized we actually needed to be up north.  We were going to do a 3 hour Circle Line tour.  The “cruise” would take us on a complete circle of Manhattan Island.  I wasn’t sure with the snow if the “cruise” would still take place, but it did.  The snow was coming down pretty good now and I was just glad that the boat we were on was enclosed and had a heater.  We grabbed our seats and set of on the tour.

The main reason we wanted to do the tour was so Madison could see the Statue of Liberty.  Due to hurricane Sandy, the Statue of Liberty was not open to visitors (nor was the island even accessible) while we were there, so the best way to see it was to do the tour.  The boat got fairly close, we got some pics and off we went for the rest of the tour.

The tour guide was great, but I felt at times that we were the only ones listening to him.  I actually enjoyed the ride.  I learned some stuff and saw parts of NY I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.  And the snow just kept coming down.  It was actually really pretty to see some of the park area covered in snow.

After the tour, we caught a cab back to the hotel because it was snowing pretty good and we were just too cold to walk.  So Madison was able to experience all forms of transportation in NY.

After getting warm, we headed back out for diner at a little pizza shop and then headed to the Empire State Building.  We had done the Top of the Rock in the day, so we wanted to do the Empire State Building at night to see the city all lit up.  Unfortunately, due to the snow, we didn’t have as great of a view as we had hoped, but it was still really pretty to see.  We also did the Sky Ride, which is a 3D type video ride that gives you an aerial view of the city.

We were totally exhausted, had done pretty much everything we wanted and planned to do and were ready to get home to the warm Texas air.  We went back to the room, packed our bags and hit the bed. 

Until next time NY.  Because there will be a next time.

Friday, March 29, 2013

RRCA Coaching Certification Class

Two weeks after my Yoga Fit training, I headed to Atlanta, Georgia to accomplish goal number 2 of the year – get my run coach certification through the Road Runners Club of America.  And unlike the Yoga Fit training, we DID get a sample agenda for this clinic and I was made aware that breakfast, lunch and snacks would be provided.  Still, to be on the safe side, I packed some of my favorite snacks. 

In researching my trip to Atlanta I discovered that the hotel and clinic were across town from the airport.  This is normally not a big deal and when I’ve traveled to big cities before I’ve used public transportation with no problem.  However, I was advised by former classmates of mine who live in Atlanta that I did NOT want to use public transportation while here.    The hotel did not have a shuttle to/from the airport and a taxi ride would cost $50, so……..that meant I needed to rent a car.  I wasn’t really excited about this because I don’t like driving in areas I am unfamiliar with, especially in the dark.  But I rented a car and packed my GPS.

I landed in Atlanta around 6:00p.m.  Perfect time for driving in rush hour traffic.  Lovely.  I grabbed my luggage and headed to the rental car counter.  Due to a weird computer glitch, it took longer than expected there and I was ok with that because I was hoping some of the traffic was now gone.  I ended up with a Toyota Camry.  I loaded my luggage, programmed my GPS and headed to the hotel.  The GPS took me through downtown.  Traffic was bad at times, but the speed limit in Atlanta was 55mph, so I just stayed in the far right lane and did the speed limit.  Thanks to the trusty GPS I found the hotel with no problems.  I checked in and decided I did not want to get back out to find food, so I just snacked on what I had and then went to bed.

I woke up early Saturday morning and headed out to make sure I could find the gym where the class was.  It was only two miles from the hotel and pretty easy to find.  The hard part was trying to figure out how to get to the parking lot.  The gym was located in a multi-level shopping center and the gym was on the lower level.  I was not the only one who couldn’t figure out how to get down there.  When I came out of one garage, there were three other cars circling around.  We stopped to chat and two more came upon us.  Finally we just all parked in the garage and walked down the stairs.  Not a big deal except that it was 28 degrees!!!

As we were walking to the gym I was talking to one of the guys walking in with us about where we were from, etc.  Turns out I was talking to the instructor.  He seemed really friendly and I could tell it would be a good class.

We signed in and then headed to our classroom for the weekend.  And oh boy, I don’t think it was any warmer in the room than it was outside!!!  It was freezing in there and I wasn’t the only one who thought so.  (I ended up keeping my coat on all day).

There were some tables set up and I quickly grabbed a spot in the middle where I would be able to see and hear.  Next to me was a guy about my age.  We got to talking and discovered he is also an Ironman triathlete.  Then I learned that he had just attending the USAT Coaching Clinic the weekend before.  We talked a lot about that since that is another of my goals if I can ever get accepted.  I believe things happen for a reason and was glad that I had sat where I did.

We went around the room for quick introductions.  There was one other person from Texas.   Most people were from somewhere around the Atlanta area, but one even came from California.  We also discovered that since we were in a gym that had it’s own deli, that no outside food could be brought in by RRCA.  So, breakfast was fruit and muffins.  I was ok with that since I had eaten a bar prior to arriving and I had snacks with me since I didn’t know what lunch would be.

We jumped right into the material.  They had prepared a manual for us that had all of the slides in it, so we were able to listen more and take notes when we felt like we needed to.  It was also a very interactive class, which I enjoyed.  And it didn’t hurt that our instructor was funny and kept class entertaining. 

As questions came up and as the class went on, we discovered more about several of the participants – two physical therapists, one who owns a running store, one who works for NUUN, an Olympic trials qualifier, etc.  We had a wealth of knowledge in that room and once again, I kind of felt out of place.  But that’s what I was there for – to learn.  And learn I did.

Lunch was a quick break with food from the gym’s deli.  I had a hummus wrap that was pretty good.  I talked with a few more people.  Yoga instructors, personal trainers, insurance specialists.  All people I could learn from.

At the end of the day I was mentally exhausted again.  And I was still frozen.  I had kind of hoped a group of people would go out for dinner, but I didn’t hear any ramblings about that, so I headed back to the hotel in hopes of getting warm.  There was a Subway just across and down from the hotel, so I decided to walk over there and get some food to bring back to the hotel.   I ate my food in the hotel and read over the course materials again, highlighting things I thought were important.  I also used the down time to study some of my personal trainer manual.  When I almost feel asleep while reading, I knew it was time for sleep.

Sunday morning I headed back to the gym for day 2.  It was still cold in the room, but not as cold as yesterday.  We jumped right into learning and decided to work through lunch since it was Super Bowl Sunday.  Today we went over some of the business side of coaching, which is the side I have questions about.  You know – setting up the business name as an LLC, legal waivers to cover you as a coach, insurance needs, etc.

Over lunch today, we broke down into small groups and were asked to write a plan for someone wanting to run a marathon in 12 weeks.  We were given a few parameters, but we quickly realized that we really needed more information to get really specific.   It was also interesting because all five people in my group had different ideas on how to get him there.  Some thoughts were very similar, but some thoughts were different.  None were wrong.  And that’s what we got out of the class as well.  As a coach, you have to determine what your philosophy and way of coaching will be.  If it works for you and your client, it’s not wrong. 

We wrapped up the afternoon, were given instructions about the procedure for taking the test, took a group picture and were sent on our way.  I felt really good about the weekend and was excited to get back and get the test taken.  In the meantime, I headed back to the room to watch the Super Bowl.

When I booked the class and my flights, the Super Bowl was not even on my mind, but I was glad that I decided to stay Sunday night and fly out early Monday morning.  I had stopped at the Target by the gym Saturday and bought some snack food for the Super Bowl, so I was set.  I got comfy, munched on bad food and then went to bed.

Monday I was up super early to head back to the airport, turn the car in and get through security.  Luckily, the GPS did me right again and I was sitting at the gate waiting for my flight with plenty of time to spare.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve worked my way through the test in my own time.  I finally got the nerve to hit the “submit” button and was very pleased to see that I passed the test with a 94.  So, I am officially a RRCA certified run coach.  Now I just need to get some clients!

Monday, March 4, 2013

YogaFit Level I Training

If you remember from reading a past post, one of my goals this year was to start on my journey toward becoming a yoga teacher.  Due to past exposure, time limitations, etc. I decided to begin that journey with Yoga Fit.  Yoga Fit is the type of yoga I have been practicing for the past 11 years and it’s a program that allows you to go at your own pace to work toward your 200-RYT.

So, January 18th after work I headed to San Marcos and checked into my hotel for the weekend.  The class was going to be held at the rec center on the Texas State University campus.  I wasn’t sure where that was, so after checking in I drove over to make sure I knew where I was going and where I could park and then grabbed some dinner.

I also wasn’t really sure what to expect with the class.  I have to say that from my type A personality, that was my one complaint about the class.  Other than the email confirming my registration and an email to remind me that I was signed up and that I should be at the rec center at 8am Saturday morning, there was no other communication about the class.  Usually when I attend these kind of things, there is at least a sample agenda and they tell you whether breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided or you are on your own.  Nothing from Yoga Fit on that.  Nor did they say whether we should come in yoga clothes or not.  Since it was a yoga training, one would assume that we would be doing a yoga session, but you never know.

Since my yoga teacher was trained through Yoga Fit, I asked her and knew that I should at least wear my yoga clothes.  I also planned to take snacks just in case.  Because of the food limitations and pickiness I have, I always like to be prepared.

The other thing I was curious about was how many people would be in the class and what their background would be.  Being that the class was taking place on a college campus, I wondered if I would be surround by 20-something year olds getting their kinesiology degree.  I figured I would be one of the older ones in the class.

Saturday morning I woke up early, got ready, ate a Lara Bar in case there were no food offerings and headed to the campus.  Being a college campus and being that it was around 7:30 when I got there, the only other people there were obviously attending the yoga training as well.  I headed into the room where the class would be.  There were a few people already there, but not many.  The instructor told us to find a spot on the outer edge of the room, so I made my way to what would be my spot for the weekend.

There ended up being over 20 people in the training.  When we went around the room and introduced ourselves, I started to feel a little out of place.  Some of the people were there to retrain Level I (part of the 200-RYT requirement).  Others were there for the first time like me, but it was obvious that I was one of the very few in the room who were not already teaching yoga somewhere.   And I was not the oldest in the class.

We started the day with some basic stuff and then did a 2-hour yoga session.  This was the longest yoga session I have ever done.  It did not seem like a 2-hour class, which was good.  There was a lot that I was familiar with, but there were a few poses that I don’t do on a normal basis or that maybe she got us into in a different way that I am use to.  I decided that it would do me good to attend some different yoga classes back home to get use to a variety.

After the class we broke for lunch.  Which we found out was on our own.  And we only had 1 hour for it.  Normally that would be fine, but just learning that and not knowing what was close by was a little challenging.  I managed to find a Subway, grabbed a veggie sandwich, inhaled it and headed back.

The afternoon was spent breaking down poses with each student in the class reading the cues for the pose and other students modeling the pose.  Then we would model the incorrect poses so we would know what to look for in our students.

After a long and mentally challenging day, we were assigned homework and told we would start at 7:30am Sunday morning and would work through lunch so that we could leave a little earlier.

I headed back to the hotel for a bit and then went to grab some dinner and stop at the HEB to grab some food for Sunday’s lunch.  Luckily the hotel room had a fridge and I still had an insulated lunch bag in my car from work Friday, so I wasn’t totally limited on what I could pack for Sunday. 

After getting back to the room I sat down to do my homework.  Basically we were asked to write out cues for getting into 3 poses in a flowing manner.  It sounds easy, but when you are writing it out it is much harder than it sounds.  Once I was done, it was time to sleep.

I was up again early Sunday to pack and check out before heading to the rec center to start day 2.  We had a shorter yoga session in the morning and then we broke down some more poses before breaking into smaller groups to “teach”.  This is where our homework came in to play.  We had to instruct the other participants in our group through the series of three poses we had written out for homework.  Even after practicing yoga for as long as I have, I was nervous to have to instruct someone through the poses in the 2-3 minutes we were given.  The first time was the worst, but then it got a little more comfortable, which was the whole point of the exercise.

We wrapped up class, discussing the insurance options and certification requirements and then it was over.  I was mentally exhausted and my body hurt from sitting on a hard wood floor all weekend.  I drove home and just chilled out.

Since the training, I have been working on completing my 8 hours of community service.  This just basically means I have to teach 8 hours of yoga (preferably to people who would not normally be exposed to yoga) for free.  The first session I did was for my family.  That way if I messed up, no big deal.  The hard part for me was getting the timing of it all down – did I have enough poses in the sequence to last an hour or would I be done with the sequence and still have 20 minutes left?  would I recognize the song right before meditation so that I could make sure we were on the mat and ready to start meditation at the right time?  Ultimately, I didn’t do so bad the first time.

I branched out after that and did a session for six of my fellow triathlete friends.  Only one had done yoga before and only a time or two, so a whole class of beginners.  They really enjoyed it and I hope to find more opportunities to help them.

From there I was trying to decide whom to teach to.  I originally thought I’d do my community service hours for a group of soccer players my son trains with, and I still want to, but that just hasn’t worked out yet.    What I discovered in the meantime was that a high school classmate of mine is bipolar.  I know that yoga can help people with mental disorders, so I asked if he had ever tried yoga.  He said he had not but would be willing.  So, we set up a time and off I went.  He said he enjoyed it and would like to continue, so I see my community service hours coming from there.  I hope that I am able to help him, even if only a little bit.

The next step in all of this is to complete my community service hours and then decide what I want to do as far as teaching.  I’m not sure a gym would hire me since I’m not 200-RYT trained, but I don’t really have a “place” where I can teach one-on-one sessions, so this will be an issue.  Hopefully I’ll figure something out.  I am also hoping to attend the Level 2 training at the end of June and continue down the path of learning and knowledge.