Monday, March 26, 2018

Weekend Re-cap: Enjoying the Houston Springtime

Those first weeks of Spring are always so enjoyable in Texas! The sun’s out, birds are singing, allergy pills are available from your local shop, and the temperature tops out somewhere around the high 70’s. With every one of these factors in the mix, I had to go out with friends and enjoy this weekend to its fullest potential.

SPI Belt was nice enough to send me their limited edition large pocket belt in the Havana print. It’s perfect for holding my keys, gels, money, ID and phone, and this one is big enough to hold the larger phones like the iPhone 8 plus and Galaxy Note 8. The print is so gorgeous, and I love their belts so much. I love to run with them because they’re not bulky and don’t bounce around when I run. I also wear them while riding my bike and have used them in hikes a few times. They also have an easy clean factor, which I love; just throw them in the washing machine and lay to dry (you might be able to dry it, but I don’t like to machine dry my running stuff). I tried out my new SPI Belt on a long run this Saturday at the park. Memorial park is amazing, and the trails are tiny pea gravel trails, so much easier on your joints. I had originally planned on a 6-mile run (each lap is 3 miles), but even with the high humidity, I was so happy to be out there I decided to add an extra lap in, making it 9 miles for the day. It was such a fun yet tough run, and the entire time my belt didn’t bounce around or bother me once. I’m so thankful to SPI Belt for letting me try the new size and print and will be sticking with this company for my key and GU and ID and phone holding needs, thank you SPI Belt!!!!

After my run I hurried home to get ready for my brother’s birthday celebration. Family means a lot to me and it was great to celebrate with everyone. We ate at a cute bar and grill that was half inside and half outside. There were plenty of sand and slides and everything the kids there could want, plus a double chocolate cake and great food. Long run cheat day consisted of a cobb salad and plenty of fried pickles! I don’t know what it is about fried pickles, but they’re good. I got to play with my little nephew, and instead of running around, he wanted to sit next to a little man-made stream and dip his feet in the water. With the birds chirping and some golfers walking by, it was nice and peaceful. 

On Sunday, I met Robyn and Tiffany near the CentennialGardens for an early morning run. We did a 4.5 mile run in Hermann Park, and it was so much fun. I have never been along that trail and there was so much to see. We did an easy out and back, making it back in time for the Houston Kite Festival. We had been planning this for the last month, so the idea of meeting early there to run worked out really well. By the time we got back there were lines of cars still trying to find parking. We grabbed some waters and kites and walked over to the Miller Outdoor Theatre to join the celebration. There were so many beautiful kites out and the crowd was happy and laid back. Robyn let me fly her kite, which was nice of her. I hadn’t flown a kite since I was maybe 5, so it was a cool experience. We met up with Victoria, her husband and baby and a few of their friends and just spent the next few hours talking and laughing and flying our kites.

We packed up after a few hours and made our way over to the multitude of yummy smelling food trucks set up to the right of the kite fliers. Thanks to Robyn’s suggestion we tried a Vietnamese/Mexican/Korean fusion truck called Nom Mi Street. Tiffany and I had tofu banh mi sandwiches that were simply to die for, and Robyn for a kimchi quesadilla that looked amazing.

By the time I got home around 2 pm I was beat! The rest of Sunday was super chill and included a few movies and a family dinner. I hope you all had fun too. Back to Monday..

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hill Yeah!!!

Happy Spring and happy hill time guys! Woohoo! Hill running is pretty rare in Houston. I've run hills before, and they pretty much consist of short gently rolling grades leading to more flat land. I ran very short hills in Austin while I was there working, but I didn't want to be there, so I wasn't taking my training seriously or eating right, and was trying hard to get back into the right mental space. Hills are gorgeous though, a pretty change to the flat fields we have around here, and I still get a kick out of running a hill whenever I see a little one.
Recently I decided to sign up for a real mountain trail run with friends, a 10k up a pretty steep grade, and am SO stoked!! Mt. Diablo here we come! Recently I've just been trying to up my mileage, but this new adventure has me seeking out anything hill shaped. I'm new at the elevation thing, so am not really sure how to really approach my training. This weekend I'm going to find a few hills and continue doing repeats until my legs are rubber, BUT with a smile on my face, because I have been loving the challenge lately, as I get back into my stride (pun totally intended). 
Running those hills is an opportunity to prove to myself that I'm stronger than I could imagine. Whatever hard thing we decide to take on also teaches us that while something can be tough, never give up. I do also love that feeling of swooshing down the other side! This has been a year of firsts so far, and a year of trying to get out of my comfort bubble. Also, who doesn't want to run up a beautiful mountain with their best friends??! It's time to research some hill training, and here's to a new challenge! 

Get out there and run your hill, whatever that may be! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Weekend recap: USA BMX Spring Nationals, Albuquerque, NM

“Riders ready, set ‘em up!” The weekend of March 17th and 18th was one full of adventure and racing at the USABMX Spring Nationals in Albuquerque, NM. I had never driven 13 hours by myself before, and had never been to Albuquerque, and have also been wanting to prove to myself that I could do both for quite a while. The drive up was great- good weather and smooth. I stopped in Amarillo to see the Cadillac Ranch, and met some awesome people there who were on a road trip from Chicago. The Cadillac Ranch has always been on the bucket list. Many years ago, an eccentric millionaire decided to purchase a new Caddy every year and bury them nose down in his field. The field (minus the Cadillac part) is still in use. Checking out the colorful spray-painted cars in person was something I’ll never forget. The wind was super crazy though, so I silently thanked myself for bringing a hair tie.

Friday afternoon I practiced at Duke City BMX, which was a lot of fun, and I also did a bunch of sight-seeing around town. I checked out Cibola National Forest and drove the 10 or 11 miles up Sandia Mountain. It was full of hair pin turns, a slow speed limit, and the most beautiful scenery ever. Not to mention, it was 70 degrees on the ground and when I made it all the way up the twisting turning road, it was snowing at the top! Being from Houston, I just about freaked out and did a happy dance! However, going up with a long sleeve shirt and a hoodie on meant that it was a quick trip hanging out up there.

I also checked out the Spaceship House and the Cigar Box House by famous architect Bart Prince. He lives in the Spaceship House, and his neighbor was nice enough to talk to me about him. He is amazingly creative and if you are around this area, I highly recommend checking it out.

Old Albuquerque was interesting and beautiful as well. It was full of neat adobe buildings, people singing in Spanish and cool shops. I stopped by a chocolate shop and picked up a few things. :) 

Saturday and Sunday were full of racing fun. I qualified out both days and got 3rd place both days. This was not as good as I was hoping for, but also not bad for my fourth time on a track since the rain started in November. The weather was great on Saturday, and Corena and I got pictures with Alise Willoughby and Sam Willoughby, both amazingly talented athletes. Sam is an absolute inspiration for never giving up and is working hard to walk again after his injury, of which I have no doubt he will one day. Sunday started out like any other, and I qualified out to the main event. Closer to the mains the temperature quickly dropped to about 40 degrees, and a huge dust storm came up all around us, spurred on by 30 mph winds. I had sand in my eyes, my nose, mouth, and couldn’t see in the main, so that lap was rather unremarkable.

My favorite race of the weekend belonged to Mckenzie “Skittles” Gayheart. In one of her laps she took a hit but stayed up, coming from the back of the pack to 2nd place and qualifying out. After the race, under the shade of their EZ up, she had 4 or 5 missing spokes in her wheels, already dismantled from the bike and ready to be fixed. She told me about how she feels it is so important to never give up, even when you're in last place. She really knows her stuff, and that sentiment stuck, because watching her try her hardest on that track and make such a huge comeback was so positive. We don’t always get what we want right away, and we might not even get it if we try our hardest, but if we give it everything we’ve got, we get so much further ahead in the long run. Good racing and good attitude Skittles!
Original Source

The weekend was a blast, but I was glad to get packed up after it was over and get back on the road. After driving back through a wind/dust storm, snow, 70-degree farmland with tumbleweed everywhere, and finally the hill country, I’m glad to be home. I also got to see Jenna and Lauren and have a quick lunch with them, so that was the perfect cap to a race weekend. Currently Brent with Striker Wheels is working on my new bike, thanks Brent! Also, a huge thank you to my team Gold’s Gym. Can’t wait to see everyone at the next race, and so excited to see the new bike! Hmm...will have to give it a new name too...suggestions welcome. :)

Time to shake everything out tonight with some short speedwork at the park. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pi Day and lunch

Happy Pi Day!! Pi Day is such a wonderful day - it incorporates my love of all things nerd with happy thoughts of so many kinds of delicious pies with their flaky crusts (minus the kind Sweeny Todd makes, sorry not sorry Sweeny), or pizza pies. 


With all those yummy thoughts floating around, I wanted to continue acquiring a habit of healthy eating. While I don't feel like I should completely cut out the pie, I also don't mind celebrating this day with a meal that will serve me better in the long term. I've been reading a lot about nutrition for athletes, and how important it is to be able to continue performing at your best in the long run (no pun intended, ha!). I will admit that I don't have the best history of eating healthy, but I think it's extremely important to take an interest in health, so have been working hard to rectify this. Recently, I've been searching You Tube for new lunch and dinner ideas, and have found lots of recipes for veggie type bowls. The neat thing about these bowls is that you can put whatever you want in them, and tailor it completely to your taste. I have been trying to incorporate more veggies into meals, and I like anything spicy. With these ideas, I have been making my own version of a rice bowl and have been loving it. Here it is in all it's non Pi glory:

It's fresh, super easy and quick to make and hits the spot. If you want to try to make a similar one, here's what I put in mine:

Corn (you can grill it or just leave it alone, I didn't grill anything since I was on a time crunch)
Black Beans
Rice (warm)
Cheese (a small amount on top of the rice so that it melts)
Cherry Tomatoes
Shrimp (cooked and still warm, but you can leave these out completely or substitute for meat or tofu)
Season Salt
Oil & Vinegar (a small amount)

I love these bowls because anything can be substituted or added in based on what you want. I'm definitely glad to have made this, and am feeling really inspired to make more healthy meals, with the occasional piece of pie on Pi Day thrown in. :) 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Weekend Recap - USABMX Cajun Nationals

This weekend I went to the Cajun Nationals in Monroe, LA. This is one of the closer BMX nationals to me, and is only about 6 hours away, and an easy drive, so it's pretty much a staple in the races each year. This national was very different than any other I go to, namely because I wasn't feeling very good and had a tough time on Saturday, and pulled out of the race on Sunday. There are a lot of opinions about traveling to a race and withdrawing. For me, I don't see the point in wasting entrance fees I work hard for if I can't put my all into the race or enjoy it. Blindly throwing money away just to get some points has never been an attractive option.

There are always good and bad days, and learning to deal with a bad day is sometimes just as important a lesson as enjoying the good days. There were A LOT of plusses to this weekend, however! It was good to get a bit of practice in on a track after being rained out for so long. I think my legs were confused about why they weren't expected to be on a bike trainer, ha!The track was also really cool. I loved the tabletop into a turn and back on to the same tabletop thing that was going on there too, and Y flew in from KC to watch me race and hang out, so that made the weekend great. I also got to hang out with some of my teammates and friends from CenTex BMX, and they got to meet Y too:). Having a bunch of good friends and teammates to just sit and chill with is something I am so grateful for. They make me feel really blessed. 

After Y and I got our Whataburger (they don't have that in KC), I headed back to Houston. The Rebel Run van passed me by, and I saw a few other BMXers making their way back as well. I passed through a lot of small towns, and while I don't really like to always slow down to 40, seeing so many little cute towns was interesting. I traveled through Tenaha and a few others before I made it into the giant amalgam of cities making up the Houston area. This was definitely an adventurous weekend, I am so tired, and looking forward to an early bedtime tonight (the 20 year old me would be shaking her head and rolling her eyes at that one, while holding a Starbucks cup). I hope you all had a good weekend, and got all your running or riding in or whatever makes you happy!

Actually a Starbucks Matcha Green Tea Frap sounds really good right about now.... :) 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Crafting and upping the tech game

Happy Wednesday everyone! The week is half over, in fact it seems to have flown by, even though I know that's not right. Yesterday was primaries in Texas, so in striving to be a more informed and active citizen (in my mind this includes voting and listening to NPR), I hurried across town in rush hour to make it to the booths. My gas tank was almost empty and I got lost and frusterated, but eventually made it there and cast my ballot. Got back in the car, made dinner which was a rice and veggie bowl, and chilled for the night.

Tonight is gym treadmill time. It still gets dark outside pretty early, so it's the safest place around. Running on the weekends is more fun because I get to visit my favorite parks, and have plans to try some new ones. When I began running, I just ran by feel. If something felt right, or the pace felt good, that's what I would do. Time to maybe switch that up? Right there with you! I downloaded Strava and Garmin Connect on my phone and plan on linking everything up soon. While I'm not crazy competitive about my running, and I mainly run to stay sane and stay in shape, I am intrigued to see if technology can help me become a better runner. Who doesn't want to become better at what they love?? :)
Recently I caught the crafting bug. That need to create something unique and special. I decided on customizing a pair of cycling (mtb) shoes, and found some white and red Spiuk's online. They weren't a bad price either. The total cost of the shoes, including shipping them from Madrid was a whopping $40. I've done my research, thought up my theme, and now just need to purchase some paints and off we go! I'm really excited about this new project, and a little bit nervous that it won't turn out the way I want it to, but if you never try something new you never learn anything. (Plus, I have spent the last two months pouring over every shoe painting guide I can find online.) These are the before shoes, and I will definitely post the process once everything gets going in about a month. During the course of your day, smile at someone, and happy International Women's Day tomorrow to all you she-roes out there!!!
When life get's stressful, craft!