Monday, April 30, 2018

Volunteering

This past Friday and Saturday (I raced Sunday) I volunteered for the first time in probably a year or two. In other words, it's been waaaay too long. I volunteered with various groups I belonged to throughout college, including everything from serving food weekly at a homeless shelter, trash pickup on roadsides, yard cleanup for the elderly and helping during field day at a school for the blind. It was so much fun, and I got to meet so many really cool people along the way, but sometime after graduation and trying to figure out my next move, volunteering fell by the wayside. A few years later I started volunteering again, this time helping with the hydration stations at local 10Ks, half marathons and marathons. I ended up falling back in love with giving back.



This weekend, Katy BMX held a big racing packed weekend, so I volunteered after practice. I was sent to scoring (at the finish line), and when I went there Sally and some of the nicest ladies helped teach me how to score. During scoring, there are generally three people there, each with a clipboard, a pen, and a copy of the moto sheets. That way they can compare with each other to make sure everyone's finish got recorded correctly. It was tough work with some of the motos. If it was a close race we had to be on our game (one of the track owners, Kim, was also to record photo finishes in the case of a tough call).

It was a lot of fun learning how to do something new, and I also have so much respect for the scorers, that is a TOUGH job at times!

It makes me feel really great to volunteer, and I will definitely be looking for other local opportunities in the near future.




Have you ever volunteered, and if so, where? 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Feeling Festive

Festivals are SO much fun, and there are all kinds of festivals for whatever makes you happy! There are music festivals, art festivals, Cinco de Mayo festivals, film festivals, Mardi Gras...I could go on but then I'll start sounding like Forrest Gump's friend Bubba. 



I LOVE festivals, and two weeks ago some friends and I got to check out the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco.



This is an annual festival and is held to showcase Japanese culture and diversity. After a lunch of the best ramen (seriously, I still have dreams about the stuff), we walked the half mile or so to the festival, sat for a bit and watched part of the beauty pageant.





We also got to check out all of the goodies the rows of table tents had for sale, and they had EVERYTHING! They had jewelry, art, clothing, home decorations and keychains. My favorite table was one set up for everyone to learn more about and pet Shiba Inu's, a super sweet and cute Japanese dog breed. 





People had the cutest pets there as well.






We also got to take some photos in those cute Japanese photo booths, where you can decorate them after.





If you ever have the opportunity to be in Northern California during the Cherry Blossom Festival, check it out!



Our view on the way back to the airport

What was your favorite festival to go to?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

New Bike!

Happy hump day everyone!!




This past weekend was a good (but tiring!) one in so many ways. One of those ways included a VERY quick trip to Austin to see Amber and Brent and some of my other favorite people I've been missing for a few minutes, pick up my new rebuilt BMX bike (BIG thank you to my team Gold's Gym) from Striker Wheels, and head on back to Houston. Whew.

Being that Bryan, TX is almost exactly at the halfway mark between Houston and Austin, I planned to make the drive after the run, provided that my legs were still in okay shape. My legs were toast, but toast that could survive a few more plans if they didn't have to go too fast and sat in a car. I headed back to the hotel after the race to shower up and check out before noon, then I was on the road.

The countryside between Bryan and Austin was absolutely breathtaking in the Spring time. The sun was out, the sky was a perfect blue dotted with big fluffy white clouds, everything was green and flowers were an explosion of colors. Halfway there, I got so tired I ended up pulling over in a small town for a cat nap.


The random small town nap time view! Gorgeous day

I felt so refreshed after that, and soon I made it to Central Texas BMX. I was so excited to see the new ride!




Changing the frame and fork ended up taking longer than we thought, since it ended up requiring almost all new parts to go with it, but we tried to stick with a pink/rainbow theme.





My old frame was a Standard Byke Co. chromoly frame and I went to a Speedco aluminum frame, so it required new cranks (the bottom bracket wouldn't work so one of those as well), seat, seatpost, headset, chain and brake cable. Some of these parts didn't fit but some, like the chain and chain ring bolts were older than they should be, and it was safer to replace them. I am SO excited about the seat post clamp being usable, so I can go for long rides and actually raise up the seat! Here are some more close up photos taken by Brent Sterriker:




New Avian crank set 

We went with some pink on this one too 💖


I like my oil slick parts


Avent carbon fiber fork


Some TNT hubs, in rainbow theme wheels


Since I tended to have to ride squished up and over the bars on my last bike, I'm hoping this will be a better fit.

After saying hi to everyone and getting to pet this - YES - BABY PIG (it was the cutest thing I have ever seen!!), I stopped by Jenna's house to see her for a few minutes and hang out with her daughter, A. A is so adorable and sassy, I absolutely love it. We played zoo and a magnetic doll dress up game. She has so much imagination and I hope she never loses that, and I also wish I had more time to see everyone in Austin.




These last two days have been comprised of work, unpacking, laundry, some upper body work and a little bit of chill time. As soon as my legs are refreshed, I am going to take my new bike for a spin!





Thank you Striker Wheels! 


Does anyone else name their bike? Suggestions welcomed. 😄





Monday, April 23, 2018

Race Re-cap: Wine and Roses Half Marathon

As I opened my eyes this morning, took a minute to take in the beautiful blue sky outside the window, and finally hobbled out of bed and to the closet to change, two things happened. One, I thought about how busy but fun this last weekend was, and two, I instantly regretted not taking an Epsom salt bath yesterday night.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, I ran the Wine and Roses Half Marathon put on by the good folks at the Messina Hoff Winery in Bryan, TX. I drove the 1 1/2 hours in from Houston the day before, and I'm so glad I did! It started raining and never stopped. By the time I got to the Hilton it was about 50 degrees and the thunder and lightening had somehow set off the 2nd floor alarms, so the front desk was busy checking in everyone manually. I got to the room, set out my race gear for the next morning, got ready for bed, set my alarm for 4:40 AM (yikes SO early), made some tea and settled in to watch TV and have a super chill Saturday night.

Hoping the weather would dry up soon, ALL the fingers crossed! 

All ready to run! 

The next morning I got dressed, ate some quick breakfast, and drove to Rudder High School to catch a shuttle to the winery and pick up my race bib. Since I wasn't sure if I would be in the area until race day, I paid an extra 10$ for the morning of option. I probably won't next time and will just get a hotel again and pick up my packet Saturday, but it's all a learning experience. The shuttles ran until 6:45 AM, and since it was 49 degrees out, I tried to time it to leave on one of the last ones so I could hang out in my car and stay warm. It worked haha!


SUPER nice drivers on the shuttles

Me on the bus freezing and regretting wearing shorts

We made it to the winery a few minutes later, and they had a table laid out with plenty of breakfast items and hot coffee for anyone who wanted some. I grabbed a few GU gels (Tutti Frutti flavor - it was pretty tasty), and found a spot to stand by one of the service doors. It was next to a fence which blocked the wind, and every time the door opened so would a blast of warm air. It was the perfect spot to stand in! 😎







The race started right on time, and we took off down the road. After about a mile or so I was really happy I wore shorts and a tank top, because it felt like the perfect temperature. Some runners who had been wearing jackets, long sleeves and tights started taking off layers or rolling sleeves up. We ran almost the entirety of the course on country roads. We were supposed to run through the vines as well, but the race detoured our course due to all of the standing water. My ankle bothered me a bit the whole race, but I paid attention to my body and it was nothing that was really bad so I just kept running, and it's fine today.

Despite not being able to run on trail, the whole course was beautiful. It really showed us more of Bryan, TX, which was nice since the school was the only area I was used to seeing. It was peaceful and the pacers did such a great job. There were plenty of aid stations with water, Gatorade, snacks and port o potty's along the route. We only ran on the side of one busy road, I believe it was Hwy 21, for about a mile, but it was coned off well, and then we turned back in to more country/farm land.

After about 4 miles the runners began to thin out, and I began to notice the beauty of everything around me. Despite the 50 degree weather and wind I was sweating, but it was a great temperature to run in. The last few miles were tough, since it was the highest mileage I've put in this year, but I thought of Des's quote about when it's a grinding day, just keep showing up, and I just kept on grinding and not giving up. I'm proud to say I ran 98% of that race to my best ability!

I could hear the race announcer about a mile away from the finish, and that also just kept me pushing forward. IT was the BEST feeling crossing the finish line and receiving that medal. I ended up finishing in 1:58. There was a runner who was even with me for the last few miles, and we congratulated each other at the end. I love making new running friends!😊 The wine glass line was close by, so I headed over, got my free engraved wine glass, showed my ID, and got a wrist tag. The wine was delicious by the way, I had a dry red with my breakfast, but forget what it was called.


Runner's coming in to the finish (the start and finish were in the same place)
Love this medal!

The wine line! Yippee! 

The winery also had a hot breakfast for all the runners (if you didn't run you could pay for a breakfast), consisting of everything you needed to make breakfast burritos. It was hot and exceedingly good!




After I ate and took a few pictures, I walked across the road and caught a shuttle going back to the school, got in my car and took off for the hotel for a hot shower. I know ice would have been better, but the warmth felt great. After that, I took off for Central Texas BMX to pick up my bike, but that will have to be another blog. Happy Monday everyone. My legs are beyond sore, but it's the good kind of sore, the type that makes you proud that you accomplished something and tried really hard! That said it is VERY hard to stand and sit. 😂

If you like races where you run in large crowds and go by lots of cheering sections, this is definitely not that race. However, if you like smaller sized runs through beautiful backroads and lots of room to maneuver, with a kick-@ss medal, nice people and great food at the end, I would highly recommend this run (they also have a 5k option).

What has been your best accomplishment race wise? 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

BMX Update

I love racing BMX. It's something that I have loved since I was a kid, took a break from and still love it so much. I guess by now BMX is just a part of me, it's something that both brings back great memories and makes me new ones.

Katy BMX for our breast cancer awareness race

One of my favorite memories includes spending long days out in the fields during the Summers with my friends. We would dig jumps and clear them. If one was too big we would get wood to turn them into a table top, then practice that until we cleared it. We were always riding everywhere, to stores, friend's houses, wherever we wanted to go.


source

When I started racing I had to learn how to balance on the gate, so I spent countless hours at home in the garage, my wheel wedged between two cabinet doors, sweat dripping down my forehead (this IS Texas), just sitting there, balancing. It was always a good feeling to know how with hard work I could accomplish something.

Recently, with a BIG thanks to my team Gold's Gym, my bike has been getting a bit of a makeover. The makeover has taken longer than expected since a lot parts on my old frame just won't fit on the new one (chromoly to aluminum).


Saying goodbye to my old bike

I have been missing my bike for a while, but should be able to pick it up this weekend, and possible name it, if the weather behaves.




I can't wait to start getting bike time in! I always have that fear that I will have to completely start over with training, but you know what? Challenge accepted! 😊 I love being able to ride, and it makes me so incredibly happy every time I'm out there. No matter what happens, it's always important to keep trying and to never give up. 😎

What makes you happy?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Taper Week: Wine & Roses Half Marathon

Well, it's that time again! TAPER WEEK AGGHH! Also known as the taper crazies.


It's two days 'till my half marathon and it's the week where I cut back on all of my training, stretch a bit, foam roll, and come up with an excuse to eat more carbs than normal. Taper week makes me feel antsy, like I have plenty of energy and no place to go. It also makes me feel unnecessarily lazy.




Tapering IS incredibly important, and I respect the heck out of that, but it also brings me back to when I was a kid and I was grounded from riding my bike or playing outside. My stress relief has been temporarily taken away and I am patiently waiting to feel great and fast and race ready but worrying when that will start to happen.


Source

A Few Tidbits About Tapering:

What is tapering? 

Tapering is when you cut back on your mileage/training for a designated time period before a big race or competition. This helps your muscles heal up and gets your body ready for peak performance.

What happens during taper time? 

The only thing to continue doing, at least for me, is to continue stretching and get mentally prepared. Even though I can get cranky and moody while tapering, I do it because deep down inside I know how important it is to rest up, even though I would rather be out at the park or track.

How long do you taper? 

For a half marathon my taper times always differ. If I've been training on the higher side of my mileage, I'll add in a few shorter runs during taper week, but nothing too strenuous. This time, since my mileage is not at its highest and I just ran a 10k at high elevation, I am taking a few days longer to taper. I never have a set amount of taper days, and prefer to live in the moment with each race and take each day as it comes.

Won't you lose the strength you have been working to build up?

I used to worry about losing that physical edge, but that's just part of what I always think about during the taper crazy days, and it really never happens. The best thing I can try to do is to ignore those thoughts and try to replace them with positive ones, such as how happy I will be on race day and how lucky I am that I get to do this. It might sound simplistic, but working to get your mental game strong is just as important.


Two more days to taper and two more sleeps, I can't wait! And to all of you out there tapering as well, stay strong my friends, it's almost race day!


How do you keep the crazies away while you're tapering? 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

San Francisco Food Re-cap: Pre and Post Run Eats In the Bay Area

What we choose to eat pre and post run/race plays a large part in how we perform, as well as recovery afterward. While I CAN do it, I don't go all out too often when it comes to preparing and cooking a large meal. Like most of us, my days are filled with work, training, and various other issues that don't leave me with a lot of leftover excitement for cooking. I have been reading cookbooks written for athletes by athletes, and have been learning lots of new ways to cook a meal that's simple, fast, and healthy. That being said, since I was on a trip this past weekend I didn't cook a lick! Nada. I did however try to keep it healthy...for the most part. 😎 San Francisco has SO many good places to eat. They really inspired me to try making some simpler versions at home. If you are ever in the Bay Area, and are looking for some good options, or just like to look at pictures of food (yes, please!)💗, keep reading.


The Stinking Rose

With locations in Beverly Hills and San Francisco, the Stinking Rose is ALL about garlic. Yep, you read this right. Located at 325 Columbus Ave. in San Francisco, The giant sign is what catches your eye first. Their mottos is "We season our garlic with food.", and I don't think anyone would disagree with that sentiment. When you walk in you are greeted by a friendly wait staff, giant hanging strings of garlic and a very obvious aroma.

The front entrance


Their specialty is California-Italian food and it's delicious. I had squid ink pasta with mussels, and Yuan had their famous plate, the 40 clove garlic chicken. Justyna had a shrimp pasta and James ordered the crab. We all liked everything, including the rolls with a garlic pesto sauce that came in anticipation of the meal. I did taste garlic for about two days afterward, so if you don't want to smell like garlic, I'd recommend saving this meal until after that big office meeting. 

James and Justyna 


After our meal was over, the waitress asked if we wanted some garlic ice cream. By that point we were garlic-ed out enough for the night so had to decline. No vampire would dare mess with us after this meal! 

Little Gem

The Little Gem, located at 400 Grove St., C1 in San Francisco was a quick stop for us as we walk around the city. Since it's located in a corner location, it was a good place to sit and see the sights while we ate and caught up. Cathy, Yuan and I ordered two items off the menu to share, more of a quick snack before we were on our way. We ordered the bipimbap, a traditionally Korean bowl made up of brown rice, vegetables, radishes, a fried egg, and...yep...chili garlic sauce (because we hadn't got our fill from the night before 😜). We added salmon tartare to our bowl, mixed it up and it was delicious!


The second item we tried were these little pork tacos (we had them add an extra taco so we each had one). It was so good, and the pork was seasoned to perfection! 



Bob's Donuts

Now here's where things get a bit unhealthy (but oh so sweet!). Cathy wanted to pick up a few donuts, so we stopped by Bob's Donuts on 1621 Polk St. to satisfy her sweet tooth. Maybe it was because I had way to many donuts as a kid, or maybe because our tastes change, but ever since I was 10 I have never been a fan of donuts. Bob's sells these HUGE donuts and they are a hit at parties, etc. However, if you're feeling a little extra competitive that day, Bob's will give you one for free if you can finish it in 3 minutes or less. Someone post marathon may be up to that haha!

Are you up to the giant donut challenge?

We grabbed a seat at the bar and I did try some of their apple fritter, which was freshly fried and so good! It tasted like an apple pie but only about 100 times better. They also have an entire wall of donut art for the donut aficionados out there! How cute is this??


Bob's Donut's is so cute and one of a kind, not to mention the staff working behind the counter and making the fritters and donuts were a blast to meet and talk to! Check this place out if you are in the Bay Area and have a hankering for something sweet.


I could come up with donut puns all day.


Nojo

Nojo Ramen Tavern has been the BEST ramen I have ever eaten hands down. Located on 231 Franklin Street, we decided to meet up here for an early brunch or late breakfast, however you want to look at it. When we arrived a few minutes before opening, there was already 5-6 people standing at the door, a very good sign. We ordered a few different appetizers, including a Nojo Salad, Nikumaki Rice Balls and Chicken Nanban, served with a sriracha type sauce on it that if given the chance I would eat everyday. Nojo is known for it's Chicken Paitan Soy Sauce Ramen, which is to die for. I ordered the seasonal veggie ramen, and I am still dreaming about it today. It came in a curry broth with noodles, edemame, alfalfa sprouts, pumpkin, peppers, lotus, and veggie balls (I don't know what these are called). I also separately ordered a soft boiled egg to add. The flavors worked together to create something out of this world. I highly recommend Nojo, and will be visiting them again on my next trip to the city. If you know of any places this good in Houston I'd love to try them out! 


Nojo Salad



My veggie curry ramen

The Boba Guys

What is a trip anywhere without some Boba Tea?? After our Sunday visit to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown, we walked a few blocks down to Boba Guys on 836 Divisadero St. Boba Guys has some really good boba tea, as well as different milk options to serve in the tea. I always avoid milk teas due to being lactose intolerant, but one of the milks they offer here is oat milk. I tried some oat milk in my matcha tea and it was so good! It was sweet and had an oaty taste, but mixed perfectly with the drink itself. Right after we got our teas the line got super long and was snaking out the door, so we happened to time our visit perfectly. Boba Guys also offers a small place for brunch. You walk down a hallway through the initial drink serving area and then it's a mystery. We didn't go in there. Maybe a new world of possibilities opens up, I wouldn't know. This place is on my list of re-visits though.

Cathy and the amazing tri-colored tea: matcha, oatmilk, and strawberry




New Village Café


My friends and I saw an interactive play titled Compton's Cafeteria Riot, presented by the Tenderloin Museum. It was in interactive historic play, recounting the events in the 1960's leading up to the famous LGBT riots that took place in the Tenderloin area of San Francisco. Dress was 60's attire, how fun! The acting was incredible, and since the play was put on at the New Village Café, dinner was provided as part of our ticket (they were all sold out by the way). We got to eat (we had the option of pancakes and sausage or veggies and potatoes, which is what I got..it was simple, good, and hit the spot), watch a play and feel the historical significance of the area. The blocking of the play was really well done, as the actors performed to the sides of us, as well as in the aisle in front and behind the bar. They entered and exited through the front door and the kitchen area.
I absolutely loved dinner and a show with friends, and would love to see a production like this one day again. 

Our "second row" seating, looking at the bar patrons


Some of the actors making their way across the floor after the play to take their bows

Have you been to the bay area, and if so, what is your favorite pace to eat? I would love any suggestions in Texas as well. 😀