Walking in the Shadow

Before leaving for work Monday morning, I checked the weather.  Rain was predicted all morning, followed by a sunny afternoon.  I was really hoping the rain would cool things off and water my newly planted flowers.  No rain.  I even checked at lunchtime to see if the rain had been delayed, and the radar showed a huge storm over Houston, yet there was no rain in sight.  Without the rain, the temperatures continued to rise, and when I got home from work it was 90 degrees.  As per our weekday routine, I took the dogs on a walk around the neighborhood.  It was very hot outside.  On hot days like this, Tabasco finds shade wherever she can, even if the only shade around is my shadow.

Tabasco in the Shadow

Today after work I went on a run with Kellie at Mercer Arboretum.  The area was nice and provided lots of shade along the trails.  We ran a 5k and even saw a bunny along the way.  After the run, Kellie and I decided it was an awesome and awful run – the run was good, but the weather was hot and miserable.  I am not looking forward to the summer if this weather is any indicator of how hot it will be.

Sunday Fun Day and Spring Gardening

When Nick is out of town, I try to keep myself as busy as possible.  I dropped him off at the airport Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the store.  I browsed the shoe department for a while, then decided to head over to Home Depot.  My goal for Sunday was to cleanup our two flower beds.  While perusing the garden section of Home Depot, I found the plants I wanted, but would have to return Sunday to get them because I needed Nick’s truck to be able to haul everything.  After that, I went to a friend’s house for dinner and a few glasses of wine.

Before and After

Before and After

Sunday morning I was up bright and early.  I had a full day ahead of me.  I wanted to try a new recipe, Cuban Lechon Asado, so I put a pork shoulder on the smoker.  Then I drove to Home Depot, arriving just as the doors opened at 8am.  I picked up some shrubs, a few flowering plants, potting soil, several bags of mulch, and concrete edging.  I got home and began working in the garden.  I pulled the weeds, planted the flowers and shrubs, added the edging around the two trees in the yard, and mulched the garden.   I didn’t finish working in the yard until almost 2pm.

Once inside, I ate lunch then took a short nap.  I woke up around 4pm and walked the dogs around the neighborhood.  When I returned home, I did my strength training dvd (more on that next week).  I took the pork off of the smoker, let it rest, and then pulled it.  Next, I made arepas.  This is only the second time I’ve made arepas, so I don’t have this recipe perfected yet.  Nonetheless, dinner was quite tasty.

Cuban Lechon Asado ArepasAfter cleaning the kitchen and doing some housework, around 8pm I was finally able to sit down and relax.  Sunday was a fun, yet very productive day.

A Flight that Almost Wasn’t

As I said in my last post, I am in Germany for work.  There was a time when I travelled for work a lot more and I got used to travel.  I had status with an airline and could use the clubs when I was waiting for flights.  When things didn’t go right, the airline would find ways to make it up to me.  I almost always was upgraded to business class, except for a few times when it was completely booked.  It was a good time.

Now, however, I travel quite infrequently.  I don’t have status, and I am not used to travel.  So, Saturday, after our ride and run, I got ready to head to the airport.  Emily dropped me off around 3:30.  For a bit I sat and entertained myself, reading the news, playing games, and just generally goofing around.  Boarded the flight at 5 and got comfortable.  The flight was to take off at 6, but that didn’t happen.

Issue #1

We were first delayed due to a maintenance issue with one of the bathrooms.  I guess I was happy that they wanted to fix this and not make us suffer without.  The problem was that it wasn’t recognized until it was flight time, so the doors were closed and we were ready to push back.  Around 6:30, the captain announced that the problem was corrected and we would be getting on our way.

Issue #2

Since this is a flight “over water” (quoted from the captain), there is some sort of check that has to be done once the doors are closed.  Since our flight opened and then re-closed the doors, we had to have the check done a second time.  We were first told to expect a 10 minute delay.  This soon turned to 20 minutes, then finally the check was completed at 30 minutes.  We were going to push back an hour late.  Not a big deal as far as delays go.

Issue #3

We pushed back from the gate at 7.  Once out, we sat for about a half hour, not moving just a few hundred yards from the gate.  No announcements were made.  At 7:30, the captain made an announcement that one of the engines was not starting and that we were going to head back to the gate and the there was a possibility of another plane taking the place of the one we were on.  By the time we arrived back at the gate we were told that there was another plane and that if we had connections that would be missed due to late departure, we should talk to a gate agent.  I waited in line until about 9 to get this done, but wasn’t far enough in the line to get it done before needing to run to the next gate to make our new plane.

As far as issues go, I am happy that they found the problems while we were on the ground and not in the air.  Better safe travel than expedited.

Once on the new plane all seemed to go well.  We pushed back at around 10pm, just 4 hours late.  In the air, I watched a movie and dinner was served.  The options were so very appealing, it was hard to choose.  In the end, I decided on Chef Boyardee pasta.  It was not good.  I did eat it since I hadn’t had anything to eat since before noon, and based on the options (the others being spicy indian food and chicken with cream sauce) I made the right decision.

I haven’t mentioned yet, but I don’t sleep well on planes.  It’s uncomfortable and I typically just nod off and wake up in seconds.  I like that United had personal screens on this flight and I could choose from a bunch of different options.  That was until . . .

Issue #4

My screen stopped responding.  I could not choose a movie and it would not play anything.  Several resets later and I still couldn’t do anything.  So, not much to do but sit and wait to land.

Over the next couple of days I will send some updates from Germany.  I have a few runs planned.

 

UPDATE – 

After our first flight was delayed so long, we made it to Frankfurt with -2 hours to make our original flight and about 30 minutes to catch another.  We moved directly to that flight, but were turned away to get Lufthansa boarding passes.  This proved to be a bit challenging.  Apparently our tickets were goofed due to the disruption to our earlier flight.  While waiting for the tickets to reprocess, we missed that flight.  Soon after we were put on a flight, and now we had a finish line in sight.  40 minutes later, we landed in Hanover.

A Faster Pace

A second training ride, long one, is now complete.  This ride included a new rider, a friend from work joined us.  She is a very proficient rider and rides a bit quicker than our pace.  During the ride today she pointed out a few things that I could improve on and I appreciate that.  Today, I completed 12 miles in 42 minutes.  The 6 miles out went very good, but we hit about six red lights on the way back.

Following the ride, we set off for a 5K.  Nothing of notes to mention, other than my watch froze up.  Not a huge deal since I knew the route pretty well and didn’t have to guess too much where I was in relation to a 5K.

Following the ride, I had to get home because I am off to Germany for a few days.  As I type this, I am about 2 hours from landing.  It has been quite eventful so far and I will detail it a bit in a day or so.

Too Fast

As you can read in the post Emily wrote, we purchased bikes recently.  The intent of this is to work ourselves into some triathlon events, likely starting at shorter distances (sprint/Olympic) and then moving up to an Ironman 70.3.  Last weekend we completed our first training with the bikes and then a 5K run right afterward.

Starting just before 9am, we left the 24 Hour Fitness parking lot for a 12 mile ride.  The first couple of miles were tough, I am used to seeing my speed and distance on runs and I didn’t have that right in front of me, so I decided to switch on my running watch in order to keep track.  Honestly, I never felt terribly tired and as we rounded the half way mark, I really felt like I could do more.

Now, running doesn’t require one to be in traffic while practicing.  We have running trails and paths that are there for us and for the most part this keeps us moving at a good pace without being in the way of vehicles.  In the case of cycling, we are riding in the road.  This was a bit nerve racking in the beginning but got easier as the ride went on.  That was until the road became very narrow due to construction.  At this point cars were trying to pass us within a single lane and were driving on the shoulder to do so.  The part that truly concerned me was the bridge, where there was no shoulder.  Were cars going to try and pass us there?  They did not.

As we finished up the 12 mile ride and got back to the truck to change out, I was still feeling quite good.  We changed into our running shoes, I put on a visor and we headed off for the run.  This is where learning is going to happen.  As we started, I didn’t find any issues with my legs.  They weren’t tired, really they felt quite good.  So as we finished the first ¼ mile I looked down at my watch and realized that I was maintaining an 8 minute mile.

TOO FAST

Apparently getting off the bike and going in to running, my legs continued to move at the cycling pace.  I am going to have to learn to slow myself a little so that I don’t wear myself out in the first mile.  I slowed down and eventually completed the run with a 10 minute pace.

Overall, a great workout and I am looking forward to doing it again this weekend.

A New Set of Wheels

After completing our first half marathon, we wanted to add more to our exercise routine.  Running is great, and I have truly come to enjoy it; but my body needs more.  Both Nick and I had friends who were training for the BP MS 150 (a 150-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin to raise awareness for multiple sclerosis and support MS research).  My friend, Kellie, had just signed up for her first triathlon in May.  As we talked with them, we realized cycling would be our next sport with the expectation that we would eventually like to compete in triathlons.

As with running, we began to research bicycling.  What kind of bike should we buy – aluminum or carbon, road bike or triathlon bike?  How much would it cost to enter the sport?  What else does one need?  After talking to several people, some only cycle and others compete in triathlons, we decided to start with a mid-range aluminum bike.  If necessary, we can always upgrade in the future.  So we spent a weekend visiting bike shops in the area and test riding several bikes.  We each selected a bike to fit our needs, at least for now.

Contrary to what I thought, you don’t just buy a bike.  Once the bike was picked out, I moved on to road pedals and that, of course, goes hand-in-hand with cycling shoes.  But let’s not stop there, before I can even get out on the road I need a helmet.  And after speaking to the saleswoman, if I’m planning on riding any longer than a 5-mile ride, riding shorts are a necessity.  A friend of mine also suggested getting biking gloves with gel.  Also, if we are going to take the bikes anywhere, we will need a bike rack for one or both of our vehicles.

Last Thursday, Nick and I were fitted to our new bikes and we brought them home, as well as all of the other necessities mentioned above.  When we got home we took the bikes on a quick ride through the neighborhood just to test them out.  All was well.  We planned on a longer ride Friday morning as well as a 12-mile ride and 5k run Saturday morning.

First ride on our new bikes

Friday morning was a holiday, so we took the dogs on a morning walk and then got geared up for a bike ride.  I was still a little nervous about clipping in to the pedals, but didn’t have any problems the night before so I wasn’t expecting any for this ride.  I thought maybe I was a quick learner, and wouldn’t have a story like everyone elsIMG_0979e did about their first time clipping-in to his or her pedals.  I snapped a quick picture before leaving the house.

We were out of the neighborhood in no time.  As we approached the red light at the entrance of the neighborhood, I clipped out of my pedals and slowed down.  The light turned green before I stopped, so I clipped back in and continued the ride.

About ½ mile from the light was a 90 degree turn, I slowed down and made the turn like a champ.  At the 1 mile mark was another traffic light.  I started slowing down and unclipped my right foot.  As we approached the light, it turned red, so I knew I had to stop.  My right foot was free and as I came to a complete stop, it was out of instinct that my body leaned left.  My left foot was still clipped in to the pedal, and now I was frantically trying to put my left foot on the ground while my bike continued to fall.  Then I hit the ground, left knee first.  I lay there for a split second, trying to understand what just happened, and so scared about the number of people that witnessed my little mishap.  I wanted to just lie there and cry.  As I looked up, the light turned green and panic rose inside of me.  I turned to Nick, my left foot still firmly attached to the pedal. He told me it was okay, to get up and that no one saw what just happened.  I finally freed my left foot, stood up, and got back on the bike.  My ego was bruised, my heart was pounding, and my eyes wanted to open the floodgates, but I knew I was okay and that I had to keep pedaling.  Then I felt something drip down my shin and I pictured my knee gushing with blood, when I looked down it was just a bead of sweat running down my leg.

We continued another three miles, with only a few stop signs.  Because Nick rides faster than me, he approached them first and I was able to continue pedaling through most of them, only slowing down and not coming to a complete stop.  We reached our turnaround point, a church parking lot.  I was able to get some water and assess the damage that had been done to my bike and body – my knee was scraped up and I had a few scratches on my leg, my hip hurt from the impact, but no bruising.  My brand new shoes were now scratched on the left foot, and my handlebar tape had a small piece missing from the left side.

After our quick pit stop, we headed home.  I got really nervous as we approached the dreaded stoplight (I had already decided I was going to run it if the light was red), but continued pedaling.  To my surprise, the light remained green and I breezed through it.  We rode the final mile back to house without any further issues.  Round trip was approximately 8 miles at a 14 mph pace, not bad for the first real ride on a bike.  My legs were tired and not used to the motions, nevertheless I was happy overall (not counting my fall) with my first ride on my new road bike.

Day 2 and 12 miles later

Saturday morning Nick and I met up with my friend Kellie to ride bikes and run.  She is training for her first sprint triathlon (only 3 weeks away), so she started her day with a swim at a gym near the house, then the three of us were going to ride bikes and run.   We met up about 8:30am in the gym parking lot, unloaded the bikes, put our gear on and were off.  Kellie had mapped out approximately a 12-mile loop.  We rode about a block and came to our first red light.  I was nervous as we approached the light, not wanting to repeat the previous day’s events.  I unclipped, and stopped without any problems, whew!  Kellie and Nick rode in front, so at the next several lights they had to stop, however once I got to the light, it had turned green, so I pedaled right through them.  This was good and bad – good that I didn’t have to stop at all of the red lights, bad that because I didn’t stop I was getting thirsty, and I’m not nearly a confident enough rider to reach for my water bottle while in motion.

At about the halfway point my legs began to tire, but I knew I couldn’t give up because we were six miles from the truck and I definitely wasn’t walking back at this point.  So I pushed harder and willed my legs to go numb so I could continue pedaling.  The last few miles had road construction in some places we were down to only one lane of traffic.  For the most part the vehicles were courteous; we didn’t encounter any disgruntled drivers. The ride was good.  We made it back to the truck in under an hour, according to Kellie’s computer we rode at a 15-16mph pace.

We locked up the bikes, changed into running shoes and running shorts and then we were off.  The first few steps of the 5k my legs were still trying to pedal, so it took a little while for them to get used to the running motion.  And because your legs move so fast on the bike, I was running at a much faster pace than normal.  I slowed down and ran the rest of the way at Kellie’s pace.  We chatted as we completed the 3.1 miles.  Once back at the truck, we were all surprised at how well the day had gone.  We talked for awhile then headed in different directions.  Nick and I stopped by Chipotle for lunch and then headed home.  The rest of the day was lazy and uneventful.

Overall, it was a fantastic day!  I couldn’t believe I was able to ride 12 miles and then run a 5k, I was beyond ecstatic and my confidence soared.  Maybe a triathlon isn’t so far out of reach!!

2014 Muddy Trails Bash 10k

On April 5, 2014 we ran the Muddy Trails Bash 10k in The Woodlands, TX.

Emily & Nick 2014 Muddy Trails Bash

Emily & Nick 2014 Muddy Trails Bash

This, of course, is our second year running this race; we really enjoyed the atmosphere last year, therefore we decided to run it again this year.  It is a trail run that takes you through the George Mitchell Nature Preserve with race options for the entire family.  There is a 1k for kids, a 2K-9 race with your dog, as well as a 5k and 10k.

The weather threatened to rain all day, but we weren’t going to let this stop us from having a good time.  We arrived in time to see the kids finishing the 1k race.  Next up was the 5k.  Our friend Kellie entered this race, and we were able to watch her start.  Then Nick and I lined up for the 10k, which started 20 minutes after the 5k.  While waiting to start the race, we saw a few 5k participants cross the finish line – the winner finishing in 17:35.  Then the horn sounded and we were off.  (We weren’t able to watch the 2K-9, as this took place during our 10k race).

Nick and I didn’t have plans to stay together for the race, but we did begin the race running next to one another.  After the first hill, Nick ran ahead into a pack of people and I was never able to catch back up with him.  My goal for the race was to beat last year’s time, which shouldn’t be too difficult since last year I finished in 1:25:10.

The weather was cool, approximately 67 degrees with a little wind, making the air a bit dry (only 47% humidity, which is very dry for Texas).  The course had twists and turns, with a few loop backs.  We hadn’t really ran since our half marathon on March 23, so my legs  were wanting to give up shortly after we started.  Finally, I convinced my body that I could would finish this race.  I allowed myself two one-minute walk breaks – the first was just before the three-mile mark and the second around the five-mile mark.  After that, I knew I had to run until the finish line.

Kellie was waiting for us and snapped a few pictures as we approached the finish line.  The post-race party includes boiled crawfish, pizza, beer and other refreshments, as well as live Zydeco music.  Due to the threat of bad weather, the turnout this year was low, but we still had a great time.

IMG_0982          IMG_0983

Nick’s Official Time:  1:05:55                    Emily’s Official Time:  1:13:47

– 196 of 285 finishers                                  – 234 of 285 finishers

– 124 of 149 all males                                  – 101 of 136 all females

– 37 of 43 males aged 30-39                      – 45 of 63 females aged 30-39