Friday, June 28, 2019

Lessons in Hill “Training” – 2 Weeks Out

Well, here we have it! I’ve officially been living in the Kansas City area with my amazing boyfriend for three weeks, and while everything has its ups and downs (sometimes spurred on by my almost superhuman ability to not take any kind of stress well), I’m really liking this big change and enjoying Kansas City more and more each day. I’ve been exploring something new each week and “hill training” – and I’m using quotations around this because I don’t really have a choice in the matter; everywhere you go has hills – for going on the 2nd week now. Sure, I’ve run races with hills in them and even Houston and Austin area streets with slight inclines from time to time, but nothing like legit, seemingly non-ending hills almost every day. What I’ve learned is this:

1.) Hill training is just like training for any other aspect of running; you feel like you might keel over and die but as soon as you’re over the top and heading downhill you love running again.

2.) Be mindful on the downhill! Your legs might be screaming at you going up, and your heart might be pounding out of your chest, but those downhills are sneaky- they are the little sneaky ninjas of nature’s running terrain- if you don’t watch your form and how you’re feet are landing and you just slap down your favorite sneakers any old way you feel like it you will regret it. Take my word on this.

3.) Pacing is harder on hills but just as important. I still like to run by feel and I find that if I try to keep by the books and continuously stare at my Garmin to see if I’m keeping good time, I get frustrated at the numbers, and in turn my run. I like the Brooks moto: Run Happy, and while I have been using my watch for pace more often (I DO see the importance in it), upping the ante a lot more and trying harder than ever this time around, I still like to just get out there, set my Garmin and go (and most times forgetting to stop it). 

4.) Hills are all relative. I learned this one mostly from running the Big Sur Marathon, but also from the KC area. Some hills are taller, some shorter, some longer and sometimes the roads aren’t even level, but every time I think I have conquered a big hill, sometimes a smaller one can be just as challenging. It just depends on life.
My 1st KC hill race last year - source

      That said, I’m looking forward to running more hills and to enjoying the (a lot) less humid weather. With running there is always something new to learn, even if we think sometimes we have it all figured out, and it’s good to embrace that. No matter how many years we run or how proficient we become it’s always good to truly embrace being a student of this- or any- sport. When I embraced this thought process, I felt true enjoyment and got my love of training and competing back. Cheers to anyone out there slugging up and down hills (whatever incline they may be) in the Summer!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Getting Used To Kansas City

Kansas City - source

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind, but I’m proud to say that everything (well, 99.9% of everything) has been unpacked and put away and I’m starting to learn how to navigate around my area of town. Things feel like they are coming together more, and I’m sort of starting to feel like my less timid self again.

Training-wise I feel so much more motivated. Something clicked over the last few weeks and I’m excited to try my best here and take on new challenges. I miss running with my friends in Houston, but I still talk to them a lot and plan on doing a run there again. I’ve been running hills a lot recently which has been helpful. Every run consists of hills no matter where you are here, but I love how I can control how hilly I want them to be. On days when I haven’t signed up for a spinning class in the Plaza or a running class at KC Endurance, I get home from work, lace up my shoes and take off from the house, trying a new direction each time. Aside from meeting people in class and getting a little social (sometimes I need to force myself to be social in new situations, so this is a way I can do that), choosing a random running path has been super helpful, both in helping to orient me and allowing me to find new fun things. Also, talk about chasing a rabbit! There are rabbits everywhere you look here! The other day we were out for a walk and must have seen about 10 or 11 of them, hanging out together and most likely plotting world domination.

House-wise, I finally have the clothes and toiletries I brought with me (most of it’s still in Houston) all put up, and mostly folded except for a set of drawers holding my running gear. That’s its own beast, and I plan on tackling that this weekend. Since the house is older and closet space is limited, we have had to come up with some out of the box ideas for storage. So far we have some hanging clothes racks, and an empty room upstairs is becoming part closet, part gym space and part nail station (more on that later). We have our custom printed San Francisco themed artwork (thanks SCA Sign Group!) framed and hanging around the house, and when it’s ready I can’t wait to post a bit about it. It’s been hard work decorating this house, and I’m proud of how it turned out!

I also found a few thrift stores within a few miles of the house and have already been to one, where I found some amazing gems!  I was planning on going to the BMX track today, but it’s been thunder storming out like crazy, so as soon as it dries I can’t wait to go ride them. Kansas City, winter notwithstanding, is a, awesome area and I’m so grateful I get to experience it. I’m still homesick, but it hits in waves so that’s getting better too, even though I can’t wait to go back and see Mc Lovin and everybody.

This weekend we plan on training, checking out an amazing downtown KC art exhibit, helping friends move (I’m a moving machine lately!) and doing a few things around the house. Here’s hoping for some sun and fun! Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Moving Update: Houston to Kansas City

Life got away from me last week/weekend. There was packing and the move and my near constant breakdowns this last weekend (let's be real here - I really like Kansas City and being with my boyfriend full time, but after we made the initial drive here in my car on Friday (a 13 hour drive) versus flying (1 1/2 hours at MOST)- I finally felt so far away from home and the homesickness hit). I feel like a mess right now - a mess who wants to curl up alone with a good book or anything to distract me.

So many people I love and miss are back in Houston, along with my cat McLovin; sometimes waves of sadness hit and I just can't help breaking down into a sad, teary-eyed, mushy pile. McLovin has medical problems that require specialized care and medication, he can't fly, get many inoculations (per his vet) or take the drive. I truly know now what it's like to do something purely for the goodness of another being. I miss him so much I ask for photos and updates constantly. I am happy that he's with my parents, who love him so much (my mom is his favorite person ever). Let's just say I will be back in Houston a lot and I'm looking forward to a time when I can see his little face soon.

McLovin Bear πŸ’“πŸ’“

This week, to try and make myself feel more at home here I've been going out on runs. I start at the house each day and each day I have been going in different directions and exploring different paths and at times - large hills. I have a little over 7 miles so far this week and my legs are shredded. I haven't felt this way during lower mileage in a long time lol! So far I've been over some crazy elevation changes, saw a runner dressed as a robotic t-rex, bunny rabbits galore, discovered new places including a high school track close to the house and some beautiful spring foliage.


I also plan on running some miles for Gabe Grunewald this weekend (click this paragraph to visit her website and learn more about her). Gabe has been so inspiring to me for the last year or so, even though her story extends well beyond that time. Gabe was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer during her professional running career. She fought it hard, even when it spread. She continued running even through chemo, and she was so fast she almost qualified for the US Olympic team one year. Gabe fought cancer with all she had, and early this week she passed away at home, surrounded by the family and friends she loved. She was 32. Gabriele and her legacy live on through her beautiful spirit, memories and the constant examples she set for so many in the running community. She touched the hearts of people who didn't even know her personally, and  #bravelikegabe reminds me to never give up, no matter how scared I am of something. 

I'm trying my best to get used to something new and to be brave, and even though I'm not feeling quite like myself yet I'm very grateful for everything I have and each opportunity I get. I will go into this weekend running in Gabe's memory, and will be grateful for those I hold dear, no matter how far away they are right now.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Rock n Roll Half Marathon San Diego: Race Re-cap

On Saturday morning, May 25th Yuan and I made the trek from Houston and Kansas City to beautiful Southern California to run the San Diego Rock N Roll Half Marathon. I have never been to San Diego before and was instantly blown away by how beautiful it was! We met up in the airport after landing, dropped our stuff off at the hotel and walked over to the Expo center to hang out a bit and pick up our race packets. The expo was run very smoothly (a HUGE thank you to the volunteers there! You guys are WONDERFUL). When we entered there were computers that allowed us to find our bib numbers. We wrote them on pieces of paper there and took them to the corresponding line for the packet pickup volunteers to give us our race bibs. From there we went into the main portion of the expo, picked up a few pieces of merch (a tit dye running hat for me and a pair of tie dye shoes for him) and our bus passes. Little tip: pre pay - it will save you from waiting in a LONG line! I also got to meet a friend from Instagram who was there to run it too, which was really cool!

When you see a giant tie dye shoe, you take pictures with it! Haha
There were so many cool booths set up at the expo

The lines to buy a shuttle pass. The near line with one person in it was for the pre-paid passes.
Be like that person - pre-pay.

Free (really good) vegan ice cream and a photo booth! 

After leaving the expo and dropping our packets off at the hotel, we walked around the city a bit to explore and grab some food, then laid our race day flats and got to sleep early for race day.

We got upgraded, and our room had an amazing view!

Some of the ships in the bay

San Diego has some of the coolest looking shops!

Checking out the big ship (suggested by my dad, who was stationed around the area in the Marines years back).

Race day came before we were ready (and really, who is actually ready for that 4:30 am wake up call- ugh). We got ready and walked the small bit from our hotel to the bus line to catch our ride in to the starting line area. After waiting in the port o potty line we tried our best to get up to corral 10 (I'm not sure how many corrals there were, but my guess is something around the low 20's), but the crowd was so thick we made it to corral 11 by the time we started. Originally this didn't seem to bad but even in the single digit corrals there were walkers. This race was similar to the Rock N Roll San Antonio in that regard, so my tip is to get as far up as you can, because we were having to work extra hard to get around walkers for the first few miles.

I don't have any photos of this course because I wanted to actually run it and not meander around. It was a fun course! It was flat in sections with hills thrown in. Hills are still really hard for me, but my boyfriend encouraged me and I am so proud to say that I didn't get frustrated and stop to walk. Another fun part(s) of this course include people who came outside of their houses to set up their own cool stations. There were also bars set up with things like beer, Fireball, etc. that people could stop to take a shot or a drink of. I'm not much of a drinker and that would have been disastrous, so I didn't stop at those, even though many runners did. We went through subdivisions, as well as some really cool streets lines with different shops, then we circled around, down and up some hills.

We collected our shirts and headed for the beer line and main stage.

How cool is this art piece!?

By the time we got done and picked up our medals and some snacks and drinks, we made our way down to a large grassy area around where the main stage was set up, got our tech shirts and stood around what I call "beer jail" for a while sipping a beer. It's really more of a beer garden, but it was all caged in. It was fun though. We found a cool art piece close by, then walked back to the hotel to shower and nap a bit before making our way out to discover more of San Diego.

Race medal and cat cafe after - pretty cool!

We stopped by a couple breweries. I'm not a beer person but it was fun seeing how different they were. There was one that was down the street form a ball park and we spoke to a runner there who was recovering from an injury.

Sitting on the porch of a brewery post-race, chilling out.

Brewery with a view of the ballpark! There was a game going on, so the area was pretty busy.

Ramen was our food of choice that day, maybe because of its saltiness, but whatever it was it was delicious. We had a bowl of Ramen for lunch and after much walking, another bowl for dinner lol!

Ramen bowl #1 for the day lol!

This appetizer was like pure heaven!

Brewery #2 and Cards Against Humanity. This place was fun!

After flying back to Houston I realized that this weekend passed way too fast. With the move happening that next weekend I wished with all my heart to make time slow down, to have one more weekend at home with life as I know it, but as far as I know, time keeps rolling right on. That was a really great weekend/adventure! Another tip - it's Southern California- wear sunscreen lol!

I see you! LOL

The flight home had an upgraded seat and a beautiful sunset. Who could ask for better? 

The Rock n Roll San Diego is DEFINITELY a race to be run - If you haven't, go sign up for 2020. If you have, go again. Some races I focus on the course, and some on the general weekend, and this one had both to admire. Both this race and the city has me wanting to come back as soon as I can. Right now I'm going crazy battling the tail end of a cold, so I haven't started up running and training again, but hopefully soon. Until then I'll be treating it with soup and lots of rest. Wishing you all a wonderful start to your Summer! Does anyone have any races planed?

The San Diego explore the town dance. Ahhh we're crazy.

Moving: Houston to Kansas City

OKAY - Let's keep things light here.

I love Texas, especially Houston! My immediate family is here, my friends are here, and there's so much to do and such a great selection of food. My favorite parks and trails and BMX tracks are in this area, and so are the greatest people to go along with them. Most of my life I've lived in Houston, and while I love to travel I always find myself back here one way or another.

However, life can take us on adventures we never even dreamed up for ourselves, and change is good. Really- change is just tough with a lot of long term good flowing through. I'm a dreamer with a realistic side thrown in for good measure. I met my boyfriend a few years ago in San Francisco and we started talking and have been long-distance dating ever since. Distance worked for us; it gave us the time to get to know each other, and since we both have running and a love of travel in common we were able to travel to different places to see each other as well as go to running events. He also came to several BMX nationals to cheer me on! I'm so lucky to have met such a great guy. πŸ˜πŸ’“ And of course we also have much more than that in common, but that goes without saying. Anyways, after a few years of these adventures, we finally decided to make one city home for both of us, and right now that's Kansas City.

It's bittersweet to leave Texas, but I'll be back all the time; that's the beauty of a relatively cheap 1.5 hour flight! I've already Google stocked the BMX tracks in the area (there are a couple), as well as tested out areas to run on my previous trips. I will also be starting a new position in Marketing & Communications for a company there, so I'm looking forward to working with the new team. Securing a job halfway across the country also taught me a lot about the job search process along the way, including resume and cover letter building, what should go into the application process as well as what to look for before applying, and interview skills. It wasn't a walk in the park and took up a good deal of time, but without a doubt I firmly believe that  you get out of something exactly what you put into it, wouldn't you agree? I'm also very happy to actually be sad to leave my current position, rather than feeling like I needed to head for the hills lol!

I'm going to miss everyone so much, but I'll be leaving in a little over a week with a full (and heavy) heart and an appreciation now more than ever for everyone's kind words and support. I truly could not be more grateful for you guys, my friends and family. Life can be scary and it's amazing to feel so loved! There's just ONE more trip I'm going to take while I'm here, and that's because it was planned a year ago before I knew about the move- that will be to San Diego this weekend to run the Rock n Roll Half Marathon. I signed up on National Running Day last year, that's when the RnR prices go WAAAY low, so this race and San Antonio costed a whopping $45. Really I just wanted to see San Diego since I've never been there. Bucket list trip #343323 will be officially crossed off haha!