Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Brrrr....cold weather running

Or cool weather running if you live in Texas....

Obviously this picture was not taken in Houston!  (source)

Since we've been fortunate enough to have a few cool fronts come through, I decided to send some tips to my running group regarding how to dress for running in cooler weather. I'd love your thoughts and some input on what you use as a rule of thumb, too!

Of course here in Texas, we tend to have highs in the 50's one day, then a low of 70 the next.  We get these little teasers of Fall weather and not much more.  And of course, it may be nice and cool all week, only to have an 80-degree day on Saturday when we're running our longest and toughest mileage...this was the case for last Saturday's group 12 and 21 miler.  Ugh!

So, I took a few tips that I found on the Runner's World website and added my .02 as well.  Per Runners World, you want to be warm without sweating so much you get a chill. And, I have always heard that you want to dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer.  When running, I've always found that I warm up pretty quick and start shedding layers.  A lot of this is trial and error.  What you think is a cold morning may be perfect to someone else...there are some people who will wear shorts and a singlet regardless of the temps!  Here's what I've compiled so far:
  • 50 degrees: Usually, shorts and short sleeves are sufficient once you are warmed up. Capris and a short sleeve top might also be okay if you tend to be more cool-natured.
  • 40 degrees: A long sleeve top, or you can wear a short sleeve under a long-sleeve. You can always take off the long-sleeve shirt and tie it around your waist if you get too warm. Shorts or Capri-length tights should be sufficient. Gloves can be helpful, too! Arm warmers are also a good option that you can remove if you begin to feel too warm.
  • I love me some arm warmers, especially if they're cute like these! (source)
  • 30 degrees: 2 tops, 1 bottom. Long-sleeve base layer and a vest keep your core warm. Tights (carpis or shorts, for polar bears).
  • 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms. A jacket over your base layer, and wind pants over the tights.
There were also tips for running in temps less than 10 degrees, but I did not include those since we rarely have to worry about that here (thankfully!) 
Personally, I LOVE running in cold weather.  Maybe this is only because it doesn't get cold here very often, which makes it more of a treat?  I dunno.  One of my favorite memories was a run when it was only 19 degrees when I woke up.  I was supposed to be running with friends, but no one else wanted to brave the cold temps. (wimps!)
Now you Northerners may scoff at us thinking 19 degrees was cold, but that is positively frigid here in the South, y'all!
Luckily, it warmed up pretty quickly and was closer to 26 degrees when I went out for my run.  I was running through my neighborhood and there was frost everywhere.  There were even icicles hanging from the rooftops!  (Again, a rarity here!)  When I made it to the retention pond in our neighborhood near the nature preserve, the light layer of frost on the ground looked absolutely gorgeous with the sun shining on it.  I was bummed that I hadn't brought my phone to take a picture.  It was breathtaking!  Last year, we had such a mild winter, I don't think I even had a chance to wear my long sleeve tops or long tights. Sigh. I hope it's a little cooler this year!

What do you wear when the temps get cooler?  Do you have certain attire for certain temps?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Last Week's Workouts - Mixing it Up!

So instead of a boring recap of each day's workouts, let me just say that I have really been mixing things up over the past couple of weeks....

First, I welcomed Insanity back into my life.  Okay, so it's not like life isn't already insane enough...but I felt the need to cheat on my 1st DVD workout boyfriend, Tony Horton, with Shawn T.  Yes, it's hard and makes me sweat...I love Insanity!

Insanity....Dig Deep!
Okay, so I am two-timing...I squeezed in a couple of P90X workouts in last week.  I forgot how painful push-ups and chin-ups can be!  Feels so good, baby!

Can't forget P90X...Bring It!
And, there was some Brazil Butt Lift going on...sorry, no picture of that one!  And finally, I finally used my Living Social coupon for CrossFit!

I have to admit, I was a bit scared to go to CrossFit.  I have not lifted in Olympic-style lifting...since I was 19 and I had my very 1st gym membership.  And at that time, my wimpy little 19-year old arms only lifted the bar.  You'd think I'd have more muscles from all the gymnastics I used to do. Guess not!

It's funny, because awhile back I googled "CrossFit" and discovered that there were about 6 boxes within a 10 mile radius of my house.  Two boxes stood out to me.  One, because it seemed to be really well established, the instructors there all had multiple certifications and they offered CrossFit Endurance, which is something that I thought I might want to check out at some point.  The other, because I was intrigued by the owner.  She's an Ironman and amazing athlete, but her box was new and didn't offer quite as many sessions at times that worked for me.  Things all worked out - I had friends who went to the 2nd box I mentioned and were put off by lack of friendliness there.  They did not feel welcome at all, and there was almost no explanation of the exercises.  In fact, a "you must have never lifted" type of comment was made.  About that time, I noticed the Living Social coupon for the 1st box....the decision was made!  I bought that coupon MONTHS ago.  It was expiring in January, so I figured no time like the present.

The 1st two sessions you are required to attend are called the "Elements" sessions.  In these sessions, you learn the proper form and technique for lifting, how to use the equipment for everything from rowing, to box jumps to doing assisted chin-ups.  We learned what a "kipping chin-up" was (still weird to me), "butterfly chin-ups" and how to use the bands for chin-ups.  The staff and everyone else was extremely friendly, helpful and supportive...pretty much everything I had heard about CrossFit.  I learned that I need to get my chest to the deck on my push-ups, and I was told that I was not allowed to do knee push-ups.  Darn! :-) I discovered that box-jumps freak me the hell out...maybe because I am afraid of missing the box?  After about an hour of instruction, we had a mini-WOD (workout of the day).  Between taking turns demo-ing each move and the mini-WOD, I was freaking sore the next day.  I can't wait to see what it will be like when I am finally there for a real WOD!

So that's how I've been mixing it up.  And yes, I am still running too.  I had to miss my regular bike rides thanks to a busy schedule and bad weather, but made up for it with the other workouts!

Monday, December 17, 2012


I know this is a running blog, but I felt the need to express my condolences to the community of Newton, CT.  I looked at my phone on Friday when it beeped and saw a headline.  I immediately thought, "Good Lord, not another school shooting!"  As time went on, the updates just got worse and worse - it was an elementary school and the number thought to be dead increased with each update.  Later that day, I checked the news websites and began to tear up as I read the stories.  I teared up multiple times over the next couple of days just thinking about it.

Such a horrific, mind boggling crime.

This weekend, I looked at my 8 year old daughter.  I watched as she prepared to go to a slumber party at her good friend's house.  Her excitement was contagious.  And cute.  Sometimes, I swear I can catch a glimpse of the young woman she will become....and boy, we are in for some serious trouble!  I thought back to when she was the same age as the young victims and starting Kindergarten.  She was so excited about school and felt like such a big kid, going to the "big kid school" and all.  She adored her teacher and loved the school work.  It made me sad on Friday to think that the survivors from Sandy Hook Elementary may never be excited about school again.  Their excitement may now be replaced by terror.

I looked at my 4-year old son.  He will start Kindergarten in the Fall.  I have been worried about whether he's going to be ready - he's such a smart kid, but also a bit more reserved and more sensitive than his sister.  His sister approaches pretty much everything with confidence, but he tends to be a little timid until he sees that everything is going to be okay.  I want him to be excited about school and not be fearful about his safety.

Who am I kidding?  I want to feel confident that they are safe, too!  For both of my kids, I am looking forward to all those special moments - starting school, club activities, first dates, proms, weddings, and the list goes on.

I sent my husband a text on Friday as I was leaving work. It basically said that I wanted to start homeschooling....something that I would be terrible at! But then then I started to reflect on everything that has happened this year.  What would be next?  Home shopping?  Home churching?  No more movie theatres?  These types of things happen in a variety of places.  I decided that hiding out in our home is not the answer.  We cannot live in fear.  I refuse.  Really, the only thing we can do is keep living and show that we are not afraid. 

This weekend as my group ran our 12-miler, we didn't talk about the incident at all.  At one point, some runners approached us from behind and were talking about it.  It's just not something I wanted to talk about during a run.  But, I did think about it during my run.  A lot.  I silently dedicated each step to the administrators and children who were lost.  I sent mental prayers to the first responders who had to witness the scene and notify the parents.  I sent comforting thoughts to the parents and families.  The Hubs, kids and I spent quite a bit of quality time together this weekend, even with the Kiddo's slumber party on Saturday.  I gave both kids some extra hugs and I love yous.  And, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't feel some anxiety when I dropped both of the kids off this morning.

Sure, we can shelter our children from the world as much as possible. I love that they are so innocent and so naive. I have no intention of saying anything to my kids about this.  They know nothing of the mall shooting in Oregon or the movie theatre shooting in Aurora. There are evil things in the world, which they will eventually learn.  Other than "stranger danger" and knowing what to do in the event of a house fire, they don't need to be exposed to the scariness that is the real world.   Not yet, anyway.  In the meantime, I will try to be strong in faith and know that He is with us.  That gives me comfort.

So as we go through the week and through the holidays, remember those who lost their lives on Friday.  Pray for them, their families, the first responders and the community of Newton, CT.  And do one better - think of a way to do something this week to make a difference.  Give someone a compliment or smile, open the door for someone, take your neighbor's newspaper to their doorstep, pay someone's toll, leave an extra tip, or offer to watch a tired mom's kids, something to make the world a better place.  The world can use all the help it can get.

Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart. ~Anne Frank

More information... 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My 15-minutes...almost

A friend from my triathlon training group posted something on Facebook a couple of weeks ago about a casting director needing "female cyclists age 30-45" for a commercial. The audition was the following day and you had to e-mail the casting director with your name, height, weight, etc. and a picture. I decided "why not?" paid $800 and I figured that, if I was lucky enough to be selected, the money could come in handy for the holidays. I sent in my information and received an email that evening asking me to come in the following afternoon. My reaction?  "HOLY CRAP!"
So I went to the audition...the minute I entered the lobby, I felt completely out of my element.  The lobby was filled with other women and several children who all seemed to have head shots and acting resumes in hand. The other women were auditioning for the role of "Mom" in the commercial and I think they were sizing me up to see if I was competition.

Obviously, they had nothing to worry about!

Really, everyone was nice.  They all seemed to know each other...maybe from classes or other auditions. It was sorta like they were in a secret club or fraternity...and I was not a member.  LOL!  Fortunately, I found out that one of the other "cyclists" was in the same triathlon training group as the Hubs and she is an Aggie, so we had time to talk about training, triathlons, etc.  Another "cyclist" was a member of a cycling club on the other side of town, and we talked a bit about riding.  If nothing else, I met a couple of really awesome women!

We were told that we'd be auditioning together and it was finally our turn.  We had to ad lib and I think it was obvious that we had no acting experience! It was very awkward! The scenario...we pretend to be walking in the park and all of a sudden we see a huge egg (that was really a poster board).  We had to walk up to the egg and interact...then, the egg handed us some Kashi cereal. The tag line was "As much protein as an egg!" So we fumbled through the audition and laughed as we left the room.  We all wished each other luck and were on our way.

Much to my surprise, I received a call back the following week!  I went in again on Wednesday evening, and this time auditioned for the director and some of the Kashi people. I auditioned with one of the women from the last audition (yay!) and a different woman (who had an awesome New Zealand accent).  We were instructed to pretend to have just finished our ride, we're stretching a bit, we see the egg and we approach. Again, it was awkward, but not as bad as last least we kind of knew what to expect. The commercial was scheduled to shoot on this past Saturday.

I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but yes, I sat by the phone like a school girl waiting for the cute boy to call. Unfortunately, I never got a call. Boo!

Honestly, I am totally okay with it.  I had a lot of things that needed to get done over the weekend anyway. But, that $800 at Christmas was very appealing! I mean, who couldn't use and extra $800 this time of year??? And, it would have been kinda cool to get a behind the scenes look at how a commercial filming works.  So, I had a fun experience, met some cool people and my kids now think I'm sooo cool!   Oh, and I learned that Kashi has "as much protein as an egg"! 

I can't wait to finally see the commercial to find out if one of the women I auditioned with was selected. :-)

Have you ever auditioned for something?  Have you been on TV, in a commercial or something else?  Tell me your experiences if you've had them!

Stationery card

So I finally took the time to order our Christmas cards!  I can't see it from my computer, can you?

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Turn your favorite photos into personalized Christmas cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Week in Pictures

Well, we've been doing more of the same in the past couple of weeks.  The kids have continued with their running club.  We missed a few weeks here and there, so the kids have actually be doubling up and running two miles instead of one.  They have the much anticipated "Jingle Bell Run" with the group coming up this weekend, so that should be a blast.
The kids getting their run on!

This year, we started the "Elf of a Shelf" tradition at our house.  The kids have had a great time waking up to see where "Elfey" will be and what mischief he has gotten into.  The kids named him...real original, huh?  And, the spelling?  Well, that came from a 2nd grader.  It's been fun surprising the kids each day, but I know that by the time Christmas is here, we will be running out of cute ideas for our buddy, Elfey.

Elfey making his debut (top), ziplining from the ceiling fan (center) and getting into the Advent calendar (bottom)
The kiddos were at my parent's house four a couple of days, so the Hubs and I had a rare opportunity to take a walk in the neighborhood nature trails. I've been wanting to run and bike here, but I was afraid of getting lost.  The one attempt I made to run here was foiled by some very aggressive horseflies.  The Hubs has been through the trails both on his bike and on foot and was a bit more familiar with them.  I've been wanting to take the kids here, but not without knowing my way around a little. The trails are awesome!!!  Now that the weather is cooler and the horseflies are not around, I plan to do lots of running here and want to take the kids on some fun adventures.

Some pics of the trails and the creek near out house.  Even butthead Brady enjoyed them!
And since I am on the topic of nice weather and the trails near our house, I just had to share this pic.  I took it as we were coming home one afternoon last week.  The leaves are kinda, sorta changing color (as much as they change color in this part of Texas) and it was just a gorgeous day!  This is why I love living where we feels nice and wooded, plus we have the nature trails and creek.  But at the same time, we aren't far from the big city and all the amenities we could ever hope for!

Just appreciating a gorgeous day!

And finally, we've managed to get a brief taste of cooler/cold weather.  FINALLY!  The Munchkin was excited, because he's really been wanting to wear his new Avengers shirt and matching knit cap.  I love how little it takes to make my kids happy!

My sweet Munckin!  I love this silly boy!

Life is about to get a bit crazier, as we've hardly done any Christmas shopping at all and I have photobooks and Christmas cards to hurry up and order.  It seems that I vow each year to get my shiznit together the following year, but yet I never do!  Ugh!  Oh well, somehow we still manage to get everything done.  Funny how that happens!

What is the weather like in your neck of the woods?   Do you have an Elf on the Shelf?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

RunGirl 13.1 Relay Report

Since my first year in triathlon, I've had a place in my heart for the TriGirl sprint triathlons and the women who created these races.  A couple of years ago, they added the RunGirl 13.1 and relay to their list of races.  Even more recently, they added MuddyGirl.  Since RunGirl's inception, I have wanted to do this race, but it never seemed to work out with my schedule.

This year, I had already signed up for the Bridge Series, which meant I had a 1/2 marathon the weekend before this race.  Not sure what my hip could handle, I decided that doing a 1/2 marathon two weekends in a row might not be the smartest thing to do.  But, a 1/2 marathon relay?  Yep, that I could handle!  My friend, Megan, agreed to be a part of our 2-person relay team and we registered as "Run Like a Mother". 

Last year, it was incredibly cold on race day. We were hoping that would be the case on Sunday. Unfortunately, the weather was almost identical to last weekend - about 68 at the start with the temps quickly increasing into the 80s with lots of sunshine. Yuck.

We arrived at the race about 45 minutes early. I found the bathrooms and then we headed to the start. I ran into a lot of my running peeps and some folks from the Fantasy Fit Camp Challenge. As the name suggests, this race is all women...about 1,000 of them. Around 10 minutes before the race, we all lined up, sang the national anthem, bowed our heads for the invocation and were off!

"Run Like a Mother" ready to go! No, we did not plan to be matchy matchy, but we look cute, no?
I agreed to run the first leg.  It was a bit slow going at first due to the crowds, but the masses spread out pretty quickly. I looked down at my watch and saw that I was running a 9:40 pace.

What the what???

If you know me and my paces since my hip injury, I have not been running faster than about a 10:20 pace. I have not been running a 9:40 pace. Not for 6-miles. Not even for a 5k. I really have been sticking to my "don't push the hip, you might hurt it" philosophy. In fact, I was expecting to run about a 10:15 pace, but was kinda hoping for something closer to 10 minute miles. But with the heat, all bets were off...I am a wuss in the heat.

Funny thing is, that 9:40 pace didn't feel too bad. I thought to myself, "It's only 6-miles, why not see how long you can keep this up?". So I kept chugging along, fully expecting to have to slow down at some point. I'd look at my watch one minute and it would show me at a 9:30 pace, a few minutes later I'd look again and be at a 10:15 pace. I was all over the place.

The course was nice. There were lots of trees, so it was actually pretty peaceful. I've been on these same roads multiple times, but it was during a triathlon and I was on my bike. It's a little more difficult to enjoy the views when you're zipping by on your bike. On a run, you have more time to take it all in. There was one especially nice downhill with a canopy of trees overhead. Pretty awesome. Unfortunately, there were a few uphills, too. Nothing significant, but enough to make your heart rate increase a bit!  I stopped at the first aid station to grab a bit of Gatorade while I walked, then I suddenly thought, "Doh, why are you stopping?  You're only running 6.55 miles...keep going!!!"  I didn't grab anything again until about mile 4 where I attempted to drink and run, only taking a few sips and pouring the rest on me.

Another great part of the course was when we ran near the relay hand off point. There were a lot of people cheering there and then again near the finish line. However, there were a couple of women wearing shirts that said "CHEER SQUAD" on the front who were just standing there frowning. Kinda ironic, lol.

I talked to a few runners along the way and tried to play the ol' roadkill game. I am usually not the type of person who tries to see how many people they can pass, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea on this race.  The game started when I got a bit too close to someone who was wearing jingle bells.  Not that there's anything wrong with wearing jingle bells, especially this close to Christmas and all.  But, it was annoying me and I decided to increase the distance between us.  The second victim had ice in her fuel belt bottles.  Again, nothing wrong with that, but the noise it was making was bothering me, so again - roadkill.  I saw a few girls in green shirts - took'em down.  A few reindeer - splat.  I did this again and again the entire time.  Surprisingly, I was still maintaining my 9:40-something overall pace. By the time I reached 5.5 miles, the pace was starting to feel a little harder. It didn't help that the sun was now shining directly on us and it was getting hot.

Finally, I was done!
My final pace - 9:46, yay me!  The course seemed a bit long the entire way - my final mileage was 6.65.

I wish I could say I sprinted to the finish, but I think that would be an exaggeration. I was already running faster than normal for me, so I just kept it going. For some reason, I didn't think I was supposed to run down the entire shoot and I stopped a little short. This caused me to miss the medals and water. Doh! Fortunately, someone pointed me back to get it. I wouldn't have wanted to miss out on the awesome bling!

Nice bling, huh?  You can remove the charm in the middle for a necklace...

After I finished, I hung out with some peeps and cheered for the other relayers as they came in.  I saw my Woodlands Fit friend, Jennifer, finish and we hung out and walked over to the official finish to wait for the 2nd leg of our relay teams to finish.  We cheered while we waited.  Since it was a smaller race, there weren't a lot of people there cheering as runners came down the chute and not a lot of hoopla.

Once Megan finished, we headed over to the post race celebration.  They had plenty of goodies - My Fit Foods, breakfast tacos, cookies, cupcakes, fruit, Muscle Milk, water and sodas.  There was even a photo booth where you could take a post-race pic and get it right there!  Cool beans!
Our post-race pic from the photo booth

All in all, this was a fun race.  With the temps getting as warm as they did, I was happy to only be running the relay.  And, I was happy that I surprised myself with my pace and it made me realize that maybe my hip is capable of more than I thought!  And, I wondered what kind of pace I might have had if the temps had been 20 degrees cooler...faster?  The same?  I would definitely do this race again and might even run the entire 13.1...if only we could know the temperature before we registered....

Have you raced in conditions that you didn't necessarily like?  How did you do?  What's your favorite temp for racing?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

LaPorte By the Bay Half Marathon - Race Report

Well, we made it! It's the final race of the "Bridge Series"! You've read my race reports for the Toughest 10K Kemah and the thoughest 10K Galveston, this one was toughest of the three races - the LaPorte by the Bay Half Marathon.

This race is labeled as "the Highest Off-the-Ground Half Marathon in Texas" with
177 feet water clearance. The race leads runners over the 2.6 mile Fred Hartman Bridge not once, but two times.  The bridge spans over the Houston Ship Channel and is considered a "cable stay" bridge - it is really cool too see.  And out of the 3 races, this bridge is definitely the toughest!

The race had an 8 am start, so we arrived a little after 7 am. Parking was plentiful, there were more than enough porta potties, there was coffee and water at the start...what more could a runner want?  I decided to wear my standard black running skirt and my "Run Aggieland" shirt.  The shirt was an excellent choice, because I ended up getting shouts of "Gig'em Aggies!" the entire race.  Yep, that famous "Aggie Network" even exists at races!

The view of the water before the race

Hanging out before the race

The Hubs and his friend placed themselves in the front of the middle of the pack. M and I placed ourselves farther in the back, as we were planning to run the 5/1 intervals that M had been using for training. After the anthem, we were on our way. I saw Jon Walk, who was announcing, and he shouted something about me being too far in the back. I yelled back, "Not today, Jon!".

Just like the two 10K races, this was more of a training run than a race for me. The Hubs and I wanted to try this series, and we were in it primarily for bling fun. My focus remains on the Aramco Houston 1/2 Marathon in January and The Woodlands 1/2 Marathon in March.  And, I'm running a 1/2 marathon relay in one week, so I had no desire to attempt a speedier pace.

When we started the race, the temps were in the high 60s/low 70s. The high on Sunday was supposed to be 83, and it did warm up really quick. The heat doesn't do much for my pace either! Thank God there was a bit of a breeze on the bridge and the race volunteers provided cold towels and sponges. To make things a bit more uncomfortable, it was a bright and sunny day...and I forgot to wear sunscreen, doh! 

The race route took us down some residential streets for a few miles. Then, a little before mile 5, we made our way onto the bridge. I'm not sure of the grade, but it was definitely steeper than the previous two races. We charged up the first half of it, but then it was time for a walk break. We kept walking. And kept walking. Downhill was awesome, though! Before we knew it, we were off the bridge and making our way into a local park and to the turn around point. M's hubby and kiddos met us at a couple of places along the way and this was one of them. And, they came bearing gifts of ice cold water and Gatorade!

Up, up, up we go...

Taking a quick break and photo op!

Next, we made our way up the bridge once more. Again, we ran a good portion of the bridge and the opted to walk the rest of the way. The race is a point to point, so we knew once we were off the bridge, we only had a few miles left. Honestly, with all of the catching up M and I had to do, the miles seemed to go by pretty quickly. I was kind of surprised when we made it to the mile 12 marker, because I was pretty sure we were only at mile 10! Gotta love it when that happens!

Going up.  Again.

Spectacular looking bridge!

The view of the bridge from the turn around point.

Before I knew it, we hit the 13 mile marker and then the finish. As usual, Jon made me feel like a superstar when I crossed the finish line. I sped ahead, while M's 4 year old son crossed the finish line with her. We collected our bling, which was amazingly huge!  Next, we made our way over to our families and friends and enjoyed all the post race food and drinks. I was excited to see that they had my favorite beverage - Mike's Hard Lemonade!  Yum!

Post race with our amazing bling!!!!

All in all, this is a great race series and the La Porte by the Bay 1/2 Marathon was an excellent race! Will we do it again? I don't know. All three races require a pretty long drive from our neck of the woods. We decided after the 2nd race that there are enough races in our 'hood and Downtown (which is closer), that we really don't need to drive this far for a running race. Triathlon is a whole different story...most of those do require an hour drive from us. But, we really enjoyed each race, so who knows? I do highly recommend this series, especially to the folks who live near the Kemah, Galveston, Clear Lake area.

What races are you training for right now?  How is the training going???