Wednesday, March 27, 2019

RUN/RID-erful Wednesday

It's important to take stock in life's everyday blessings. Sometimes I have so much going on that focusing on the small things make me smile, as well as force me to live in the moment and not take things for granted. My goal is to set aside one day a week to discuss a favorite quote or theme that currently resonates with me when it comes to running, BMX or just life in general.

This week's thoughts include:

I think patience is so underrated. It can be tough to practice, but where would we be if we lacked it at all? Patience is like self-confidence, it's not something we attain and once we attain it we always have it. It's something that I find myself constantly working on. Once I learn to have patience for one event in my life, another event comes along and I begin that whole process over again, albeit a lot stronger, and taking with me lessons learned. Sometimes I feel so impatient that I can't help but get frustrated at whatever perceived slow pace my path is taking, weather it's practicing my BMX skills, trying to get faster or farther with my running, job searching, getting through college, or whatever else life throws my way. 

It's always good to have friends who remind us to be patient, and I feel really lucky to have them remind me of this virtue, especially with everything changing recently. Receiving that text telling me to be patient and to keep working hard can sometimes change my outlook on a subject. I couldn't agree more on that subject, b.t.w. When you feel yourself getting frustrated and impatient just remember that good things take time. You might not get something accomplished in the short term, but patience in the long term is so rewarding!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Big Sur Marathon Training - 4 weeks out

I can't believe my 2nd marathon is already happening in April! I'm a little less nervous this time around, and I went over things to figure out what worked and what didn't. Since I don't have as long to begin to completely re-train with mileage, etc., I'm taking an intermediate training plan and modifying it to meet my needs. I want to work more on hills, technique and speed and I feel that this allows me to reach those goals in a shorter time period. 

4 weeks out

Monday 3/18 - Rest day (and laundry day). 

Tuesday 3/19 - 4 miles today in the park. The benefit of our early spring is the gorgeous weather. I feel like I've been cooped up in the gym too long this winter. 

Feelin' strong! Haha!

Wednesday 3/20 - Spinning class today at Revolution Studio for a nice cross-training/break in my training plan. I also just miss my bike so much, so being able to pedal on something helps. I LOVE these classes and they really give a great workout.
Click here to go to their website

Thursday 3/21 - 6 more miles in the park today. LOVING this weather. The pollen can go away though. Like now. 

Friday 3/22 - Rest day!

Saturday 3/23 - 20 mile long run today at the park. I knew two miles in after cramping up that this would be a tough challenge, but I hung in there, did my thing and got it done. My stomach was hurting so bad towards the end that it became a walk run, but I was BEYOND happy after. Not to mention, this is good practice in case this situation happens in a race. You just never know. 

This smile was NOT on my face during the last 10 miles, lol. It sure popped up after though. 

Sunday 3/24 - 4 mile shakeout run by Rice University with Robyn and the Kite Festival after with her and our other friends. Just like last year, this year's fest was a blast. There were also some AMAZING food trucks there. If anyone else in the Houston area hasn't triend the Nom Mi Street Vietnamese food truck, be on the lookout for it. 

Another trick we used was to show up early (8 am), get good parking, go for a run, then by the time our run was done the festival started at 10 am. By this time people are swarming the lot trying to get good spots. We walked across the lot after our run and were asked by at least 4 cars if we were leaving. Crazy! 

Nothing better after a run than a kite fest where you already have a parking spot!

The Mary Poppins song was running happily through my head all day, along with the DJ's music.

Love them 💓💓
Ninja mode!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Big Sur Marathon Training (5-ish weeks out)

If there's one thing I've learned, it's that every race is different. Weather its a BMX race, a running race, or any kind of sport you can imagine. That said, I decided to forego my usual structured training schedule this last week and instead took a close hard look at my diet. A good diet is important for so many reasons other than looking good - it's fuel for your body and sometimes I feel like we put higher quality fuel into our cars than we do ourselves.

The running last week DID happen, but instead of making that my first extracurricular priority I decided to research good nutrition and monitor everything I ate for a week. Let's just say...I was UN-pleasantly surprised. My list was full of processed, high fat, high sugar, etc. etc. CRAP food- and this was just a regular week. I'd fallen off the healthy wagon a while ago apparently, and really not noticed. Honestly, I'd hate to see what would happen if I wasn't running all of that solid mid range mileage every week. But...
This week I decided that a major overhaul was in order. I instead have stopped randomly eating unhealthy snacks during the day, replaced them with things like various dried fruits, and filled my meal times with clean, unprocessed foods like salads, some soups, nourish bowls and whole wheat bread. Even though it's too soon to really see a change I can feel it. I have more energy and just generally feel better. This is a lifestyle change I intend to stick to. I'm not saying I'll never eat sweets again or have a cheat meal, but that's exactly what they'll be - a special occasion splurge, not an everyday meal. (I know I'll appreciate it a lot more that way as well.😃) As a friend once said, those foods will always be there. 😀

I'm excited to undertake this new challenge, not to mention there's only a handful of weeks left until I leave to run the Big Sur marathon with my AWESOME, SUPER AMAZING (yep- I talked him into this) boyfriend. Alright - deep breathe, and time to move on from here! I hope you guys are having a wonderful week!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Race Re-Cap: The Woodlands Half Marathon

On Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 I gathered my wits about me, rolled out of bed at 5 am, got dressed in my pre-picked running gear, and drove the 45 or so miles up to the Woodlands, TX to run the Woodlands Half Marathon. (Click on the photo/caption below to visit their website.)

This year, as a Woodlands Marathon Ambassador, I was privileged enough to see and hear more of what goes on behind the scenes to put on such a well run, amazing event. I felt so incredibly lucky to be chosen as an ambassador to a race that I've always considered to be a top of the line event. In fact, ever since I began running a few years ago, every single race I have run in the Woodlands went off without a hitch. The races have always been so organized, started on time, the food was always beyond delicious and everyone there was so kind and helpful.

Specifically for the Woodlands Marathon/Half/5k, I have run 2 half marathons (including this one) and a 5k. I wouldn't say no to a possible marathon there in the future, but since I just started running marathons this year, my time and schedule hasn't allowed for it.

With that said, if you're curious about my volunteer experience and race day adventure, read on (I'll keep things short and sweet). 😄


On Friday, March 1st (the day before race day), I signed up to volunteer at the Expo. I signed up as a "floater", meaning that I did anything that needed to be done, and I also picked up my own race packet. At one point I stood by the exit door to direct foot traffic, as well as next to the swag pickup table, asking people to have their bibs out and ready. After that and a light lunch (thank you taco guys!) I was asked to manage some of the newer volunteers. The volunteers were so nice, and they made end of the day trash duty actually somewhat enjoyable. I plan on volunteering again after this, because it made me realize how much goes into a race like this. In the future however, I'll try to volunteer two or more days before the race. I didn't  get to eat well that Friday due to being so busy, and after 4 hours of work and 8 hours of volunteer time I was pretty much lightheaded and dead by the time I got home. After I got home, which was about a 1 hour drive, I ate and quickly got into bed to get as much sleep as possible before race morning. 😵 

Race Day

As always, race days are early days. I was really happy to have my VIP badge since it made parking super easy by allowing me to park in the garage nearest the race. It was so hard to wake up that morning, and I stayed in bed longer than I should have because by the time I drove there and parked I headed right to the start line as the front runners were already taking off. I also couldn't make it all the way up to my correct corral, and had to start in the back instead. This was enough to make me not be late again, because with such a large crowd it was so hard to pass anyone. There were a few others like me too who were late, so I just followed them through the crowd, bobbing and weaving until I got a good pace going. 

With the cooler weather and slightly rainy drizzle it felt great out that morning, and my legs felt great for the first 10 miles. Around the time when I hit mile #11 my stomach started to hurt, and everything seemed to seize up. Let me preface this by saying I was rushing around so much that morning I didn't take the time to stop and think about having my usual breakfast (oatmeal or a cliff bar and juice), and I had been eating the intermittent GU gel here and there - something great for fueling but not so great as to replace an entire meal. At this point I had been successful run/walking for about a half mile, but it got to the point where I would start to run, take 5 steps, then have to walk, a situation that had me gritting my teeth and power walking the last two miles like an old lady with a cane around the mall on Sunday (see horrendous photo below, please). I finally made it to the finish line with runners trying to energize me and talk me into running (sorry guys, I would have if I could), made it across the timing mat, collected my medal, skipped the photo and shirt line since they were so long and my stomach wouldn't stop seizing up, and hightailed it to the VIP tent for food (the pure thought of sickened me at that point, but I was NOT about to miss out on all the good stuff 😀). 

Random thought: I hope for the next race that the t-shirt pickup is back at the expo. Waiting in line after a bad (or even good) race, all sweaty and feeling like crap doesn't really make one happy about collecting the rest of their stuff. 

Riiight about the point when I started to slow down. This run was a toughy but I learned from it.

Finish & VIP Tent

At this race I've never been happier (or more frustrated at myself-given the issues) to make it across this finish line. I was trying to get a sub 2, but with my walking disaster the last 3-ish miles I ended up with around a 2:20. 

I'm not even sure if I'm in the official results because there had been a mix up that gave me two different bib numbers. I searched through my emails, talked with the packet pickup people, made an educated guess, and just picked one. I was going to wear them both but that might have been an even bigger problem, lol! 

The VIP tent was a tented off structure located on an elevated ramp right next to the finish line, making it super convenient. The food here was the best post race food I have had by far as well, with different companies there catering, including Kirby's (those mashed potatoes...mmmmmm😍- I had 2nds- my stomach hated me but I didn't care, the potatoes the filet were too good to pass up). I got two bottles of Element Kombucha, a drink which, with its good flavors and low sugar count, has now become my favorite brand by far. I saw some really nice people I had volunteered with the day before but didn't stick around to talk to them, mostly because I wanted to lay down and die and was trying to act normal. All said and done I would definitely do the whole thing again (just with breakfast lol). 

An overview of the VIP tent. It was pretty crowded but I found a space to put my stuff and watch the runners come in.

Kirby's food mmm 💗💗💗

My view from the tent. It was perfect since it was misty out that day. 
My finisher's medal. I LOVE the sea monster on the front, how cool is that?! 😎

Ambassador Experience

Long story short, I loved being an ambassador for this race! We had a Facebook group where we communicated; everyone was so nice and I loved meeting some in person at the Expo as well. I love the running community so much and love meeting people I normally would not have the chance to meet.

I do wish there were more options, or even a mail option to pick up our ambassador jackets and t shirts. Meetups seemed to fall on a time when I was working (and once when I was legit out of town- so that's my issue) and there was NO way to make it to the Woodlands in rush hour traffic on I-45 by 6 pm. I don't live or work anywhere remotely near the Woodlands, and as much as I loved my experience it would have been great to be able to actually have and wear the gear for the race I helped represent -I know I wasn't the only one who couldn't pick up their stuff.

Maybe most lived in the area, but it would be good to have an alternative option. That being said, I still loved the experience. If I ever do it again I know I will need to take a half day off work to make one of the meetups.

Not my favorite photo - basically trying to look like I wasn't going to keel over. 😲🙅😷

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

RUN/RID-erful Wednesday

It's important to take stock in life's everyday blessings. Sometimes I have so much going on that focusing on the small things make me smile, as well as force me to live in the moment and not take things for granted. My goal is to set aside one day a week to discuss a favorite quote or theme that currently resonates with me when it comes to running, BMX or just life in general.

This week's thoughts include:

Never Give Up

Recently I just re-read Elizabeth Clor's book Boston Bound, which is an account of her 7 year journey to run the Boston Marathon. While I'm not trying to run Boston anytime soon, her struggle resonates with me. Like many of us, she's going after her dreams. When the road gets bumpy she becomes frustrated - I know I have, too. What sets Elizabeth apart is that even though she goes through these rough times she ultimately refuses to give up. That resilience of will is something I look up to and appreciate. 

We hear so many stories of people shooting for the stars and reaching their goals, but many times we fail to hear the struggles, setbacks and heartaches surrounding those attempts. We take in these huge and seemingly "easily accomplished" success stories and no matter how inspiring they can be, they can also give us the feeling that any portion of failure on our own part is permanent. Nothing's set in stone. Chasing a dream is a lot like living life - we want it to be an easy ride but somewhere along our journey that path becomes bumpy. Like Elizabeth's struggles, how we react to those obstacles becomes the definer, not the bump itself. 

If you're chasing your dream and something prevented you, try again - maybe even change up how you go about it. It's OK to fall about a million times as long as you take that breath, get up on the million and first time, and try again. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Big Sur Marathon (8 weeks out)

I can't believe my 2nd marathon is already happening in April! I'm a little less nervous this time around, and I went over things to figure out what worked and what didn't. Since I don't have as long to begin to completely re-train with mileage, etc., I'm taking an intermediate training plan and modifying it to meet my needs. I want to work more on hills, technique and speed and I feel that this allows me to reach those goals in a shorter time period. 

8 weeks out

Monday 2/25 - 5 treadmill miles today! I normally don't push my treadmill runs even to 5 miles, so this one I'm really proud of. 

Tuesday 2/26 - 2 treadmill miles. I had some stomach issues so my workout got cut short, but that's okay, things happen. I'm just really glad I got a few in. :) 

Wednesday 2/27 - Rest and laundry day. Woohoo!

Thursday 2/28 - Today there was a thunderstorm. It was pretty bad so I stayed in and worked on core. 

Friday 3/1 - Volunteer day at the Woodlands Marathon Expo! I used to get anxiety being in new situations, but after years of intentionally putting myself in new situations to combat that feeling, I'm happy to say I was so excited to volunteer and I enjoyed getting to know everyone and seeing a more behind the scenes take on everything. 

Saturday 3/2 - Half marathon day!! 13.1 miles (10 of which were good haha). I must not have had a good enough breakfast and pretty much imploded by mile 10. I forced myself to run/walk mile 11 and walk the last 2. It was a bummer but I learned a lot about race prep, the VIP section rocked and the medal was BEYOND cool! Race review coming soon! 

Such a cool medal! Look at the sea monster! Hi Nessie 😃

Sunday 3/3 - Because a half marathon wasn't enough, I took a spinning class this morning. My legs felt a little sore but not bad, and just a tad more sore after, so that's got to be a good sign. Stretched and Epsom salt/bath bomb bath after. Hanging around the house after that is the BEST feeling. 

Doin' work.

Friday, March 1, 2019

"Ugly" Location Photo Challenge

When I'm not working, or marathon training, or riding BMX, or traveling with my boyfriend, or whatever else we all do that suddenly takes a 24 hour day and squashes it into a tiny ball comprised of a few precious hours of down time (sheesh!), I like to take photos.

In fact, I LOVE photography. Most of my YouTube history is made up of how-tos, info. on camera specs, photography ideas and editing tips. Up until now I've been using either A.) a point and shoot camera (pre-smart phone) or B.) My trusty smart phone.
Brandon Woefel is one of my all time FAVORITE photographers. This is one of his photos. 
Click here to visit his site.
A while ago I purchased a used Canon T3 DSLR from a friend and fellow amateur photographer. It was missing a few key items to make it work, and after procrastinating on that subject for about a year, I finally have it together and running and I can't wait to play around with it this weekend. (If anyone knows how to change the settings to shoot in the RAW I am all ears. Some Google research might be in order.) 😄
My "new/old" camera

Having not grown up with a lot I learned to make use of what I did have, and I applied that thought to my photography-- can I call it that yet??-- as well. I can't wait to learn to use my new camera, Light Room and Photoshop but there's no reason not to try this on an iPhone and some apps. I've been loving to take photos with my phone's camera and edit them in different apps, and recently I've been seeing a lot of "ugly" photoshoot challenges on the internet.

The point of an ugly photoshoot challenge is to shoot in a location that isn't necessarily used for traditional photoshoots. The location may not be ugly, but it IS challenging. Challenging is probably a better word for it, but for the sake of continuity I'll be using the original term here.

Some examples of locations are the grocery store (what we used), Hobby Lobby (this one is VERY popular), JoAnn's, a movie theatre, outside, in front of some dumpsters, in the thrift store (we did a mini shoot here), Home Depot, Lowe's, an underpass or somewhere outside that presents a challenge. As always, make sure you are SAFE wherever you go to take these photos. Your safety > a picture.

Thrift store fun

Earlier this year a friend took me out for my birthday dinner (it was DELICIOUS- thank you J!) and we stopped in to the grocery store after since she needed a few items. That's when the idea presented itself - why not do an ugly photoshoot challenge?? So we did.

We went to the awesome HEB grocery store for these
Adding some props to the shoot

Playing around with edits

A borrowed fur coat gave this a little something extra, wouldn't you say? 😜💁
We tried out a few aisles, eventually settling on the Valentine's Day aisle, and just had fun. There really was no rhyme or reason to our shoot, it was just fun to laugh and be silly for a minute. Editing them was probably my favorite thing to do. I have several apps I like that all do different things, so trying to come as close as I could to a professional or "real" photoshoot effect was both a challenge and a blast. They're not perfect but here's what I've come up with so far. If you like to take photos I encourage you to take the "ugly" location photoshoot challenge too! These aren't perfect, but I'm having fun and learning a lot!

IKEA with my boyfriend. 
He saw "quick chore" and I saw cool backdrop challenge lol! 
Poor Yuan. 😆

Hobby Lobby with the boyfriend 💘 
I love how he puts up with my obsession. 
Now for a little disclaimer: If you do this, be mindful of what you are using, watch out for employees (depending on the store or what you try to do they might kick you out- we didn't get too crazy in any of ours, nor did we have a big professional camera hanging from our necks), and don't try to attract too much attention to what you're doing. This may help you not to get kicked out haha! Don't forget to have fun! The finished photos will speak for themselves. ❤💥