Monday, July 29, 2019

Moving Into the Future: Big Sur, Pods & Planes

This last weekend has been beyond tiring, but we did it! Almost everything that I own is now tucked, prodded, placed and arranged neatly into a moving pod like a game of 3D Jenga. After having not gone through a move in a few years, I conveniently was able to forget how taxing the whole experience is. Things must be carefully bubble-wrapped, placed in blankets and towels or cradled inside a nest of waded up newspaper before then being expertly arranged in boxes and added to the pod pile. There's no point in throwing everything in haphazardly or all your hard work will be for nothing, meaning that you should've given away all your possessions to begin with. So here we are, with 48 hours of careful packing successfully behind us, much needed family and McLovin time, a Tex-Mex date night at a favorite restaurant, a short plane ride and 6 hours of sleep later. I feel like passing out, like crawling back into bed and hibernating for another 10 hours, but no time for that right now- there's running and a short boot camp-y workout to do first!

I'm both grateful to the weekend and glad it's over; next time I visit I can concentrate on the fun, hanging out with friends and family part instead of the bubble wrapping and taping part. With half of the move behind us (UNpacking will be a WHOLE new beastπŸ˜“), I'm free for a while to concentrate on pre-marathon training and riding after work. My boyfriend and I will be running Big Sur again next year and I'm beyond excited to run it again. One plus will be that this area will make hill training so much easier. In Houston I had to find ONE lonely hill and run up and down it over and over again. It wasn't much fun, and it wasn't enough to be ready for Big Sur's elevation either. Here there are hills for days, so I'll have a plethora of fun and beautiful locations to choose from.

Aside from Big Sur and visiting friends in California and Texas, I'm planning to make my race schedule local this year. There are so many new races to run, and while I'm not a big fan of going super overboard on signing up, I always keep an eye out for a fun one! I've got a few ideas but nothing set in concrete yet. If anyone has had an amazing time running a race in the Kansas City area, please let me know!

Image result for marathon ebib

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Trail Nerds Psycho Psummer Race Re-Cap

Trail running is something I’ve recently fallen head over heels in love with. I’ve run semi easy, non-technical trails for a while now (with exception to the Mt. Diablo hill climb in California), but until last weekend any trails including rocks had been a no-go. Watching the most talented tail runners descend a rocky hilly trail with the ease and speed of a gazelle did two things: it inspired me, and it also made me think twice about trying to accomplish something that demanding. Thinking about a “real” trail race gave me impostor syndrome like no other. However, being new to the area and wanting to experience something new gave me the much-needed push to sign up for this race. With that said, on Saturday, July 20th, my boyfriend and I decided to test our skill and endurance on a blistering hot day through the most technical and challenging trails we’ve taken on. A.K.A., the Psycho Psummer 10-mile trail run, created and managed by a local trail racing group, Trail Nerds.

Once we signed up, we ran a bunch of hills over the next month (we didn’t really know what to expect), the bf picked up our race packets that Friday, and after getting lost and going to the wrong park, we made it to Wyandotte Park on Saturday morning with a tiny bit of time to spare.

This race was a smaller one, so they didn’t have to implement their usual plan of off-site parking. Since we got there late, parking was tight, but we found a space anyway. The area was SO beautiful already, with a lake to our right and so many geese hanging out. When we got there, racers were warming up in the 80-degree weather, running back and forth in the parking lot, and some were stretching out or using the port-o-pots. I was a little intimidated because it looked like many of the runners were super in shape and experienced, and the impostor feeling stated to grow, but I pushed that way down and reminded myself that everyone was new at this at some point. Besides, everyone seemed so nice!
KC area trail runners!
The start and finish lines were right next to each other, which helped with getting back to the car. After a countdown, we started in an open field, running across it and into the first section of trails.

Starting in the clearing

The first two and a half miles were super rocky and hilly. I quickly learned to pick up my feet more after a few instances of catching my toe on a rock (thank you for saving me Brooks trail shoes!) and catching myself. On a few rocks I noticed my ankles wanting to turn, and the faster runners began slowing down to pick their way through the area, so I took a page from their book and picked my way through as well. It rained earlier in the week, so parts of the trail were a little soft, but most of it was hard and nothing got too muddy. Plus, like another runner next to me pointed out, the elites had already gone before us so the spider webs were gone! I had to laugh at that but, hey, it was true! I didn’t see a spider at all in those 10 miles.

The middle 5 miles helped me make up time. The trail remained narrow but became less rocky and hilly. Every 2-3 miles there was an aid station, and the volunteers there were BEYOND amazing! Even in the now 90-degree heat (the trail itself was 85% shaded, which helped tremendously), they were so upbeat and happy to be out there. Also, a trick that I was recently made aware of for summer running is boob ice. You read that right- boob ice! After having some watermelon, Gatorade, and having my water bottle refilled, I also asked for a big scoop of ice right in my sports bra. It’s not a new thing, because the volunteers knew all about it, and with the extreme temperatures of the day, boob ice helped so much. It didn’t feel bitingly cold, it just kept me cool enough to keep pressing forward. Guys can do it if they are running with a shirt and running vest on. Just tighten the vest straps and pour it down! I stopped at each aid station for more, since boob ice (at least for me) melts every 3 miles. The trails took me past ruins as well. Just as breathtaking as the lake spreading before me in certain parts, there was an old chimney, a ranger station, and an old bathroom building we ran through, the ceiling long gone and the walls a canvas for the many stickers placed there by mountain bikers.

This was on the flatter side of the course - to the right is the lake.

The aid stations for trail races are stocked with everything you can dream of – M&Ms, candy, fruit, pretzels, chips, multiple types of drinks, gels, the list goes on. Trail races are also cup-less, which is great for the environment! You were required to bring some type of hydration on you, either a vest or a handheld (the requirement to carry personal hydration in this race was due to the heat, but it’s always a good idea). You can then fill it up when you get to each aid station.

The bf kicking some trail booty

The last two miles were crazy hard- hilly, rocky, everything is thrown at you in the last part. The trail in that section is made of up three hills, called the Three Sisters.  These sisters don’t take any crap, either. A runner ahead of me had one more lap to go, and he told me he was regretting that decision. After jumping back and forth for a few hundred feet to avoid a deep part in the trail the rain had eroded, I was SO happy to make it to the last aid-station with two miles to go. My clothes were soaked with sweat and melted boob ice, and when I got there (a.k.a. heaven), the volunteers took out a washcloth soaked in ice water and put it around my neck. I was SO happy for it, I felt like Christmas came early lol! The station also had a GIANT blow up unicorn, so that was a good sign. The last two magical miles took me through the Three Sisters to a flatter portion. Suddenly I could hear people cheering and whooping! I ran out of the trail and through the finish line to collect my medal.

Looking as dead as I felt (but feeling fabulous in my cooling scarf that didn't work. 
Also super pale, curtesy SPF one million πŸ˜‹
Those 10 miles were the toughest mileage I’ve done so far, and the challenge didn’t disappoint! To give you an idea of the heat index on Saturday, the El Salvadorian place we decided on after the race for pupusas had actually closed down early due to the heat in the kitchen (I’m guessing they had no A/C back there)! Proper trail shoes were a necessity in this race (my boyfriend used his road shoes and he said after that they weren’t enough protection from the rocks).

He came in about 10 minutes ahead of me.
That all said, I can’t wait to run another Trail Nerds race again. They can take a scorching hot day and have you run 10 miles and enjoy it. That’s talent! If you’ve never run a trail race before and have been curious, I highly encourage you to try one! You can get a feel for the technicality level before you sign up, and they are SO much fun. Another good thing about running a trail race vs. finding a trail is that usually the trails have been checked, weed-whacked, cleared, etc. Also, the sheer number of runners on the trails make it harder for you to encounter a snake, etc., since they typically shy away from all the noise (be careful regardless). Until then I’ll see you on the hills!

*For an overview of the race, including course and aid stations, click HERE!

It's a beautiful day for a beautiful medal!

We did it! We also mostly take photos after we've been through the ringer. Run life. πŸ’

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Finding A "Good Race" to Run

Recently I've had a few friends ask me for recommendations on a good race to run. Naturally, I have my suggestions, like the Big Sur Marathon, anything from Brazen Racing in California (all trail runs put on by such a GREAT group of people, especially the Brazen Mt. Diablo trail race (straight up a mountain), anything from the Bayou City Half Marathon Series in Texas, the Woodlands marathon/half marathon/5K, the Chevron Houston Marathon for their typically cooler weather and flat course winding through my H-Town 😎❤, and quite a few others on the list as well. The thing is, not every race is the same, including the same race from year to year. The course can change, the weather can change, the timing can change and you might not be in the same headspace you were in when you ran it last.

That said, I love how every race is different, and in the past year I've come to embrace races with hills and similar challenges. In finding a good race to run, suggestions are always good but a lot of it depends on you - your ability at the time, headspace, training regimen, work schedule and so on. Personally, I like to switch up my races - a tail run here, a nice flat run there, and a huge hilly killer run to cap it all off. They're all "good" races, it just depends on what you want. πŸ˜„

Below is a list of what I look for when choosing a race:

1. Time Of Year - Time of year is very important to me when choosing a race, and sometimes it's chosen for you. For example, in Houston most if not all of the larger races (trail racing excluded, the TROT Habanero Hundred and similar races is a traditionally hot run) are held exclusively in the winter, spring and fall. With the exception of a small handful of shorter road races held in the summer months, it's basically off-season for races, crazy heat being to blame. A hot race can be fun, and those come with their own challenges, but even so I will be running a hot, humid and muddy trail race in a week- so obviously summer racing isn't a deal breaker for me. πŸ˜‹ Personally though, if you are looking to PR, a flat, cooler weathered locale would be what I'd look for.

Hill Running Tips on

2. Complexity/Challenging Aspects - I personally love races that are challenging, hence many of my favorites listed above. A flat, fast course allowing for that top speed time is great, but lately for me, the feeling of accomplishment arrives hand in hand with some very hilly terrain. It really depends on how you'd like to challenge yourself, and not your perceptions of what others think you should be doing. For me that changes as well, with the Summer months being less about speed and more about other aspects to change things up and keep it fun. I'd like to PR again though, and I heard Grandma's Marathon would be good for that (if anyone's run that one I'd love to know more), but for now it's all about hills, baby. 😎


3. Location - Location plays a large part in what races I choose. When I began entering races I ran a lot in my hometown, year after year. After that I got curious about running in different locales, so that interest, and catching the traveling bug, began a love of traveling to races in my 3rd year of running. After that, and because I was traveling, I met my boyfriend and we began traveling together and incorporating races into those travels since we both ran. I had a blast, and I will travel to one or two maybe these days, but taking the time to explore my new city has been a great adventure in itself. Now, traveling to a race is incorporated into a small vacation for the year.


4. Distance - I've run everything from 5Ks to marathons now, and I really love all those distances, but distance matters. Proper training matters. I've known people who have entered half marathons with the attitude of "Go hard or go home." (they actually said this out loud), and after having to walk 99% of it, they wished they had gone home much earlier. The point of pushing yourself isn't to hurt yourself, so if I don't have the time to properly train at least enough not to hurt myself, I always take that into consideration when entering a race. This goes right into my next consideration...

5. Prep-time Required - It goes without saying but I'll say it anyway, marathons take A LOT more time to train for than a 5K or 10K. No matter what I really want to do, I try to be as realistic as possible when considering a race to sign up for. Do I really have the time to train for it? Is it super close to another race I'm hoping to PR in? If you don't have the prep-time, don't sign up. There will always be another race, unless you just have money to burn.

6. Am I Qualifying For Anything/Do I Want A PR? - I touched on this one briefly in some of the above issues, but in signing up for a race I do like to take into account my personal goals as far as time. We all run for our own love of running, to de-stress and for our own reasons. If I want a PR or to qualify I will look up several races and check out their course maps, race re-caps from other bloggers, weather in the area during that date, etc. If I just want a fun race in either my local city or a destination locale I do the same, but without studying the course map or weather too hard. Mostly it's the latter.
7. Scheduling - This one is fairly simple, but an important quotient in your equation all the same. Ask yourself, "What do I have going on around not only the time of the race, but the time I need to train leading up to the race?" Be realistic about this as well, because usually races can be fairly expensive. You can't help needing to pull out of a race because of an illness, getting hurt, or an unexpected work trip or (in my case - sorry, El Taco Loco) a move. However, I always try to minimize scheduling concerns up front because unless someone has a money tree growing in their backyard, mindlessly signing up for a race without taking this last bit into consideration seems like a waste.

And last but not least...
Don't Overthink It! I hate to admit this, but I'm can get a bit timid when it comes to trying new things, and it's something I always try to work on. When I began running I realized that if I didn't sign up for a half marathon soon I would chicken out forever, so a few months after I began running I signed up for the Katy Half Marathon, and a few months later I was a half-marathoner, and SO happy! I did the same thing with the marathon a few years later, and I am now signed up for my third one next year. 😊 Every race can be a "good" race, you just have to find the right one for you. Good luck in your next race guys, you got this!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Feelin' Thrifty

Running these last few weeks has been a blast, but every once in a while I do take the time to get off the trails and roads and out of my running shoes- usually for a nice long shower, a pair of denim shorts, a shirt with some kind of running or pun-tastic graphic on it and a good long Summer hair air-dry (runner hair don't care, right?? 😎). Contrary to my appearing lackadaisical in my choice of fashion, it has always been something I consider an art form, and is something I have a great appreciation for nonetheless. That said, when the miles are logged and the weights are lifted and the track is ridden, I like to go on the hunt for something fun in some unlikely places.

I'm viewing this as FAUX fur, b.t.w.

As many of my friends know, I'm a thrifter at heart. Going to the mall is nice for some things, but what makes my heart sing (aside from running of course πŸ˜„) is a good thrift store off the beaten path, or a nicely curated (while still moderately priced) vintage shop. Recently, in my exploration of the Kansas City area I've been able to check out a few thrift shops near me, as well as a vintage shop with my boyfriend (I'll share it with you in a later post). So far I checked out Goodwill, Savers and City Thrift. For those in the area, 4-11 on City Thrift on Shawnee Mission is that the manager educated himself on vintage, gathered a bunch of it, put it in a separate area and marked it up like crazy. Wait?! Whaaaa? Yes- that's crazy. Isn't the point of a thrift shop to find vintage without paying giant marked up prices? Regardless, I still managed to find some really cool pieces the manager missed AND scored them at pretty good prices. Vintage haul later with tips, anyone?

In case anyone's interested in what I found from a recent (non-vintage) haul, keep scrolling. My haul today is from Savers. I hadn't ever been in a Savers (we didn't have them in Houston) and wanted to check it out. Price wise they aren't the best, and they are a gold mine as long as you aren't looking for anything vintage. Below is what I found:

This little blurry number was J. Crew. I think it would go so well with some navy blue paper bag style capris I have.

Ann Taylor Loft cute embroidered top

Anthropologie cotton tank (new with the $58 price tag still on it)

Ralph Lauren Polo Sport white tank. I was looking for a white top that will go with a lot, and this fits the bill for Summer.

Black Limited tank top, again, I wanted some solid tops for Summer and this was a good fit (pun intended haha!)

Unlined no-name maxi dress. I just need a slip and this baby's good to go for something light to wear on a Summer night out.

I forget the brand name on this one, but it wasn't something I recognized. The dress is off the shoulder and flairs out and is beautiful though! I can't wait to wear it.

I have absolutely NO idea why I bought this other than 1.) it's PINK 2.) It represents CALIFORNIA and 3.) I used to work here. It'll be cute to lounge in.

Because nothing makes me feel like the digital loving, recycling, succulent loving millennial that I am than this Go Green t-shirt. That and I grew up with EPA Earth Day posters all over my bedroom walls. πŸ‘Œ✌

A Star Wars brand Star Wars tee. 'Nough said.

New York & Co. button up blouse, perfect for cuffing the sleeves, safety pinning them and tying the bottom (once it's laundered and ironed of course). Bam. you look like you just went to Anthro and dropped a paycheck (or two).

Roxy brand sundress. Isn't it ADORABLE? ❤

I lied. I found ONE vintage piece by Hang Ten. It's a suuuuper high-waisted skirt with pockets. I fell in love. 

That's my haul for now, and I'd love to see some of yours. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some laundry to do, more miles to run and one of those kettlebells to swing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

RUN/RID-erful Wednesday

HAPPY HUMP DAY GUYS!!!! Woohoo! We made it! It's all downhill from here (and that's GREAT news when it comes to running and biking as well). πŸ˜„

With all the new and at times hectic experiences going on currently (and more to come!), it's been awhile since I've taken the time to focus on the small things, and the things that make me smile. No mater what goes on in our lives, it's important to live in the moment and to focus on what's important to us. A recent visit to a BMX track and subsequent chat with a friendly racer I met there left me thinking about the reasons we do what we do in our spare time; a piece of insight and honesty that I've been applying to my running, BMX, and really anything we choose to do for fun (as well as work- to a point). 

This week's thoughts include:

Enjoyment vs. Ego
Why do we choose to do certain things over others in our spare (and not-so-spare) time? Why do we choose to peel ourselves out of bed, rub the sleep from our eyes and hit the gym? Why the heck do we get home as fast as we can after work just so that we can change into our leathers and jersey and sit in rush hour traffic all the way to the BMX track, or get our shorts and running shoes on as fast as humanly possible to be on time for an appointment with a running instructor? Most of us have the freedom of choice in what we do in our off-time, so I'd have to say that the answer for me is enjoyment. I LOVE doing all of that. Do I love not having much time in the day after all of it? No. Do I love rushing around or setting the alarm extra early? HECK no. But in the end, I feel that the end justifies the means. I LOVE the feeling of sailing down the straightaway on the BMX track, or getting the best gate of my life. I love the feelings of accomplishment, happiness and post track tranquility when I'm done with riding for the day, A/C on high in the Summertime, sitting on an old fraying zebra printed beach towel from my college days, folded and placed to protect the car seat, hair a huge mess (what's new), stomach grumbling for dinner, and legs burning as I drive happily home. I love the feeling after a super hard running class or outdoor run, of feeling stronger and faster every day, and happy for being able to accomplish something new.
That's the short and long of it - I do what I do because I love it. It makes me smile. I run and race my own race. Every once in a while, as I'm sure we all do from time to time, I cross paths with someone in my line of hobby who is either ego-driven, overly competitive, or jealous of anything and everything (or a mix of those three) and I wonder if they even really like what they do. They seem to enjoy their hobby so much they want to be the only one doing it- on the planet- and the attitude matches. After all, being a rude competitor off the playing field won't make your legs pedal faster or make that mile time get lower. It also won't intimidate anyone (#frownlinesareforever). Egos are essential, but an overly inflated one can be detrimental.
In the end, do something because you genuinely enjoy what you're getting out of it, even if you don't love everything about it (hopefully career-wise as well). From time to time remind yourself why you are grateful for what you already have in life. I definitely feel lucky, not only to be able to do what I do, but to be where I am in life and be with who I'm with.

Well, time to go. I don't want to be late for my running class.