Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Houston Half Marathon - January 13

Sometime during the night, a cold front blew into town.  And with that cold front came rain.  When I woke up and checked weather.com it looked like maybe the rain had moved on through and we would be ok for the race.  The temps were in the 40s, which is about perfect for a half marathon or full marathon.  I decided to wear shorts and my run top with a long sleeve dry fit top over that.  Not really knowing for sure what the weather would do, I also brought with me a rain jacket, gloves, an ear band, a visor and a trash bag.  Trash bags are the greatest thing at the start of cold races.  You can huddle in them to keep the wind and rain off you and keep you warm until you get going and then just toss it.

I had spent the night with my Aunt Denise and Uncle Bob.  I would be doing the race with my Aunt Denise.  Bob drove us downtown and dropped us off as close to the convention center as he was able.  As soon as we stepped out of the car, I realized I was glad I had brought extra clothing.  It was VERY windy and a light rain had started.  We hurried inside where we got everything ready and dropped a dry clothes bag for after the race.  Knowing that the chance of rain was good, I wore the rain jacket, gloves and ear band and then attached my visor to my race belt in case I needed it.  I don't mind running in the rain, but I hate the rain getting in my face.  I put the trash bag over me and when it was time to go get in the coral, we headed outside.

Oh my goodness, the wind had picked up and it felt cold.  I knew that once I got running I would be ok, but I was freezing as we walked to the start.  And then it happened.  It started raining.  Not just a light rain, but a heavy enough rain that I went ahead and put my visor on.  By the time we got to the starting coral and the national anthem was sung, my feet were already soaked.  This race would be interesting.  Wet feet and at a slower pace than I am use to in cold and rain.  I figured I'd have blisters for sure before it was over.

When we got to the start line we started running.  My aunt is slower than me but we had planned to do this race together and I told her we would go at her pace and I would stay by her side the entire race.  It felt good to be moving, even if it was slower than normal.  Although I have to admit that as cold as I was at that point I wasn't sure I could move any faster myself.  The rain was still coming down and it actually started coming down harder.  It looked to me like a few people were actually turning around and heading back to the convention center.  If you were not prepared for this, I could see how you would be miserable.

Anyway, we got to mile 1 and I hit the split button on my garmin.  13:22.  Not bad and much better than I had anticipated based on the way my aunt talked.  The way she made it sound, I wasn't sure we'd make the cutoff.  Seeing the 13:22 made me feel better about that.

We kept going, making fun of the situation we were in - cold and miserable.  Why not make a joke about it rather than be miserable.  It was actually quite fun and made the miles go by.

Mile 2:  13:34 
Mile 3:  13:41
I'm thinking if we can keep this up we will be just fine.   The rain would stop for a while and then start again, but we just kept going.

Mile 4:  14:38
Mile 5:  14:14

We are slowing a little bit, but not much, and we are still doing ok.  Almost to the halfway point.

Mile 6:  14:38

Somewhere in here Denise said she needed to visit the port-o-potty.  I don't normally have to do that during a race, but because it was so cold, I needed to stop as well.  We should have gone one more mile, because the stop we picked cost us over six minutes.  Oh well.

Mile 7:  20:29

And of course when we saw the next stop for port-o-potties there was NO ONE in line.

Mile 8:  13:43

Yeah, we've picked up the pace a little bit again.

Mile 9:  14:34

It was at this point where my aunt started having some pains in her knees and lower back and she asked if we could slow down and walk some.  I suggested we do a run/walk interval, so we tried that for a while.  It worked great except I started getting cold when I was walking.

Mile 10:  16:00
Mile 11:  15:39
Mile 12:  17:09

At this point I knew we would make it.  We were heading back into downtown.  I still had my trash bag on at this point (I know, can't believe it either) and I thought about ditching it, but then we turned a corner and it was like a hurricane sweeping through the streets of Houston.  Luckily it was at our backs, but it was strong (it was actully pushing me along) and it was cold!!!  I was glad I still had the trash bag.

Mile 13:  16:14

At this point I finally ditched the trash bag.  As we turned the last corner to head down the finish chute, we grabbed hands and crossed the finish line together.

Last .1:  1:35

Total time:  3:19:30 for a 15:14 pace

This was definitely one of my slower half marathon times (I don't remember what my time was on my first half ever), but I have to say it was one of the most fun and definitley one of the most rewarding races I've ever done.  It was a real pleasure to spend that time with my aunt and to encourage her through the race.  I wouldn't trade that for anything.

We got our medals, got our picture taken and then headed inside to get our finisher shirts and some food.  I then went to try to find where I could get the third medal for doing both races.  That took a while, but eventually I made my way to meet my uncle and head to the car, which was nice and toasty.  After a warm shower and a quick stop for food, I made the drive back home.  It was a busy weekend, but I got to spend lots of quality time with several of my relatives who live in Houston, so it was a great weekend.

Houston 5K - January 12th

Last year my Aunt Denise and I planned to do the Houston Marathon this year.  Well, she had some issues during training and we decided to drop down to the half marathon instead.  Then, I heard that there was a 5K the day before the half marathon, and if you did the 5K and the half marathon then you would get a medal for each of those races PLUS a third medal for doing both races.  I'm all about the medals and since I knew the half marathon would be a slower race than normal for me, I figured what the heck.  Plus, my Uncle Josh and two of my cousins were doing the 5K as well, so I thought it would be fun.

Friday night I drove to Houston and spent the night with my grandma.  Saturday morning my Uncle Josh (along with my cousins) picked me up and we headed downtown.  As typical for Houston, it was muggy and warm - high 60s.  Shorts and a tank top for me. 

We checked out the little outdoor expo, got our packets and headed to the start line.  My 13 year old male cousin wanted to run, but my 16 year old female cousin wanted to walk most of it.  Since my Uncle Josh was doing the full marathon the next day, he said he would stay with Keeley and I said I would run with Blake.  Blake thought he would run the 5k in about 28-29 minutes which is my normal training pace, so that was perfect. 

Well, when the gun went off, so did Blake.  He sprinted fast in the beginning and it takes my body a little while to warm up, so I let him go.  I could still see him for a while but then he finally got too far ahead of me.  I thought either he would have a great race or I would catch up with him at some point in the race.

Mile 1 split:  9:46

I was perfectly happy with that pace and just kept going at a comfortable pace.  Just before mile 2, I saw Blake up ahead of me.  I caught up with him and asked how he was doing.  He said good, but I could tell he had gone out too fast.  I didn't want to change my pace at this point.  He tried to stay with me for a while, but then at some point he dropped back.

Mile 2 split:  9:29

One more mile and I would be done.  I never did see Blake again, but just enjoyed the nice run and getting my legs ready for Sunday.

Mile 3 split:  9:34

Last .1:  1:01

Total time:  29:48 for a 9:37 pace

For not racing, I'll take it.

Waited for Blake to cross the finish and then found my Uncle Josh and Keeley by the car.  Headed back to my grandmas to shower, take her to lunch at her favorite place (Luby's) and then wait for my Aunt Denise so we could go to the expo and get our packets for the half marathon.

More Yummy Recipes

Since my last post, I've tried quite a few more recipes from the Happy Herbivore and Everyday Happy Herbivore Cookbooks.  Below is my summary:

*Neapolitan smoothie - this was good, but didn't really taste much different to me than my typical morning shake.  Anything with bananas, strawberries and cocoa powder has to be good, right?

*Black Bean and Salsa Soup - this was really good.  I like soups in the winter.  They are easy to make, they are warm, and they usually yield a lot of leftovers.  Always good in my book.

*Southwest Chop Salad -  not much can go wrong with a salad.  This was a decent change from normal and good for taking to work for lunch.

*Strawberry & Spinach Salad - not much of a departure from normal other than adding strawberries, but it was yummy.  I even made the special dressing for it and that tasted really good and gave me a change from the normal.

*Enchilada Casserole - this was a nice, filling meal and even the leftovers tasted good when I took them to work for lunch.

*Tuna Salad with homemade Mayo - oh my!  Growing up we ate a lot of tuna fish sandwiches.  As an adult, I didn't eat them much before I went vegetarian, but every now and then (like at a bridal shower or something) I just had to have one and it tasted good.  I was looking forward to trying this recipe, but was a little skeptical as to how it would turn out.  Well, let me tell you that in my opinion, it tastes just like a tuna sandwich should.  It even has the texture of tuna.  And, it made enough for several sandwiches.  Leftovers are always a bonus.  I'll definitely be making this one again.

*Southwest Zuchinni Pie - if you want some zing, this recipe is for you.  Very tasty, but definitely spicy.

*Tortilla Soup - this one will also be making it to my list of recipes to make again.  I even made the crispy tortillas to put on top of the soup.  It had a very nice flavor to it.  Very yummy.

As you can see, I've been doing more than just one new recipe a week.  It's been fun and has gotten me away from the same meals every week.  I've really enjoyed trying new things.  Stayed tuned to see what recipes I try next.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Making Progress

So far, the new year has been good and I have actually made progress toward my goals.  I finished my first book - Runner's Guide to Yoga by Sage Rountree.  While a lot of the book was repetitive information for me and I've done just about every pose suggested in the book, I did learn some things.  There were actually a couple of poses that she mentioned that I haven't done but will start incorporating into my practice based on where I get tight.  She mentions some tests to do to see where your balance is off and then offers poses to correct those imbalances.  And then at the end, she gives suggestions of quick warm-up or cool-down sequences to do before or after a run.  Hopefully, the new information I learned will help me and will help any future runner's I may coach.

I've also made progress in the "new recipe" department.  Both of the recipes I tried this past week were from the cookbook Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S Nixon.  Remember, I'm a vegetarian who leans toward vegan, and this cookbook is entirely vegan.  The first recipe I tried was the Mexican Frittata.  It's actually suppose to be more of a breakfast dish according to where it's placed in the book, but I made it as a dinner.  It's made with tofu and I still haven't mastered the art of cooking with tofu, but I keep trying.  The dish turned out ok.  I can't say that I was in love with the taste, but it wasn't bad.  To me, it needs a little more spice.  I did leave out the red peppers since I don't like them, so maybe I need something to take it's place.  Maybe a little cilantro or something.  Anyway, that one will go on my "maybe make again" list.

The one that will go on my "definitely make again" list is the Banana Frosty.  During the week, I drink a shake for breakfast every morning on the way to work.  I'm pretty boring and typical and usually just make a banana/strawberry shake.  Since I'm trying new things, I decided to try a new shake Friday morning.  OH MY!!!  It was yummy in my tummy.  The cookbook advertised it as tasting like a Wendy's Frosty and I think it was pretty darn close.  Plus, it was easy to make and I already had all the ingredients on hand.  That was a winner.

Progress is being made in my studies toward personal trainer as well.  Luckily, things haven't gotten really hectic yet after the holidays.  I only worked three days last week and we actually had a pretty free weekend this weekend.  For some reason it was really cold in the house today (although warmer than it has been outside - I think it's that thing where it gets warm enough outside to keep the heater from kicking in on the inside, so it just feels cold).  Anyway, once our morning errands were done I decided to build a fire.  And other than my 6 mile run, I've been in front of the fire all day.  Most of that time has been reading or watching videos.  I took my second test and only missed 3 out of 20.  Not bad.

I'm trying to really enjoy this weekend not having much to do.  The kids go back to school Monday and high school soccer started Friday, so there will be two games most weeks from now until the end of March.  Plus, the next two weekends will be busy with me traveling - first to Houston for the half marathon and then to San Marcos for the Yoga Fit training.  I'm getting really excited about both of those.

Here's to progress!!!