Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Break!

So, the kids were on Spring Break last week.  They spent the first couple of days at daycare, which is always fun because of the activities and field trips they get to take.  However, I took the last half of the week off and we took some field trips of our own!

Huntsville State Park
 Actually, we started our Spring Break with a family reunion at Huntsville State Park. That's right folks, the same location of my first trail race and the place where I earned my black eye!  The weather was a bit drizzly and cold at first, but luckily it cleared up enough for us to take the kids on a walk through the nature trails.  It was fun listening to the kids talk about what creatures might be living in the woods, where they live, etc.  Of course, after about a mile the adventurous talk soon turned to whining about aching legs and being tired, lol!  This park is quickly becoming one of my favorite places! It's only about 35 - 40 minutes from our house, so we may be getting a season pass and coming out here more often.

The kiddos...not really wanting to get their picture taken!

Checking out the trail map before we set out on our adventure...

Blue Bell Creamery
Being a native Texan and only a little more than a hour away from Brenham, you'd think I'd been to Blue Bell numerous times...but no, I'd never been.  We woke up super early in hopes of beating the spring break crowds and make the trek to Brenham. My Mom joined us for the day (thanks for helping me corral the kids, Mom!) and even though we hated waking up so early on our day off, it was totally worth it!  There were not many people (yet) and we were able to take the first tour of the day.

Brrr...not very spring-like weather!

Inside where it's warm, waiting for the tour to start!

The tour was great!  We were able to learn a little about the history of Blue Bell and see how the ice cream and other frozen treats were made (never, ever say Popsicle!).  We saw the cookies being added to the Cookies & Cream, we saw the strawberries being poured into Strawberries & Homemade Vanilla, we saw ice cream sandwiches being made and much more.  And, at the end of the 45 minute tour, you get a scoop of Blue Bell ice cream.  It was the perfect brunch!

Enjoying some strawberry (Munchkin) and dutch chocolate (Kiddo)!

The Munchkin showing us how ice cream really should be eaten!

Washington on the Brazos
After enjoying our ice cream, we drove to Washington on the Brazos state park.  Not to be confused with "Washington on the Potomac", Washington on the Brazos was the site of the Convention of 1836 and where the Texas Declaration of Independence was know, back when Texas separated from Mexico and became its own country.  Since it was getting close to lunch time, we decided to tour one of the park's three attractions - The Barrington Living History Farm.  The farm is great way to see how pioneers lived back in the mid-1800s.  There was a main house, a kitchen, smokehouse, slave quarters, barn, gardens and amazing people who work there.  On the farm, you're encouraged to participate in the work of the farm.  The kids tried to wash clothes, pick carrots and saw how thread was made on a spinning wheel.  After hearing about all the chores that the children were required to do back then, the kids realized that they had it pretty easy!

Fresh Carrots!

Checking out the slave quarters...awesome history lesson!

We ended the day with a late lunch in Brenham and then checking out a few cool stores.  The kids loved the candy at Yumm!  I have to admit, I did too!
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

I'll be the first to admit, that I am not really a country music person.  t, I will also admit that the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is an amazing event and one of the coolest things to do while on Spring Break! 

This is the 3rd or 4th year we've made a point of going to the rodeo over spring break, so a spring break just isn't complete without it.  However, I should probably clarify - we don't really go to the rodeo with the kids (yet), but we take full advantage of the livestock show and carnival. Every year, we arrive super early and see the livestock first, then have lunch (hello carnival food!) and finally play games and ride rides. This year was a bit different, because the Munchkin decided that he would try out Mutton Bustin'!  He'd been telling us all week that he would do it, but earlier that morning it sounded as if he wasn't quite sure about it.  In fact, I was a little hesitant about signing him up (and paying for it), because I wasn't quite sure he'd really do it.  To our surprise (mine, the Kiddo and Grandpa), he did it!  And, he did great!  He didn't win the grand prize (a big, shiny belt buckle), but we were still super proud of him.

Before:  Looking confident, but still a little unsure in a "What did I just sign up for?" way

After:  Proud and giving me the thumbs up that, other than the dirt in his mouth, it all went well
After congratulating our little cowboy, we grabbed some grub, played some games and rode a few rides.  The weather was perfect and it was just an all around awesome time.

Riding this case, the Ferris wheel

Awesome view of the's HUGE!
The Kiddo enjoying one of the many treats...she's checking out the Kona Ice here

After the rides, we finally made it to the livestock show. We saw the baby animals, learned about milking cows, saw baby chicks hatching and so much more. It's a great learning experience for the kids (and us grown-ups, too).

Checking out the livestock show...lots of fun for us city folk!

Before we left, I decided that I would get something that was deep-fried.  I couldn't make up my mind - deep fried oreos?  cheesecake?  pop-tarts?  snickers?  Finally, I decided on none of those and ended up with a funnel cake.  I hadn't had a funnel cake in years!  And no, I would not typically eat anything deep fried, but once a year at the rodeo?  Heck yeah!

Yes, I went there...Yummy fried goodness!

Since we were gone pretty much all day on Wednesday and Thursday, we decided to do something a little more low-key on Friday.  We went to the movies to see the Lego Movie (yep, I was taking one for the owe me, honey!). 

Clowning around before the movie

Now this, I want to see!

Ready for some 3-D action!

Afterwards, we went to the mall and let the Kiddo chop off about 6 inches of hair.  She's been tired of the tangles and wanted it short again.  As much as I hated to see the hair go, I have to admit that I do love her new 'do!

The Kiddo sporting her new 'do!  Bye, bye tangles!

Overall, we have a great week!  It was probably one of the most enjoyable Spring Breaks we've had...well okay, other than our Disney Cruise last spring.  We loved the mini-road trip, the rodeo and just hanging out.

When is your Spring Break?  What do you have planned?

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Project: Love One Half Marathon Race Report

I'm kind of going out of order with my race reports.  Technically, I should be posting my race report for the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, but that one might take consumed an entire weekend, after all.  Instead, I'll start with my first trail race!

(also known as tree root.trip.fall.)

The race was located at Huntsville State Park, which is about a hour north of where I live.  I left super early, since I hadn't driven to the state park before and wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to figure out where I was going. 

Entering Huntsville State Park...let the adventure begin!

When I arrived, I headed into the lodge, grabbed a cup of coffee and hung out a bit.  It was pretty chilly (high 30s I think), so the warmth of the lodge was awesome.  I actually ran into a couple of my peeps from my Houston Fit days and chatted for awhile.  On my way back to my car, I ran into my Woodlands Fit peeps and hung out with them until it was time for a final potty stop before the race.

Gorgeous view of the lake!

Just trying to stay warm before the race...

The Race
Of course, before the race I realized that I could have signed up for the 10K, since this was my first official trail race.  But, no...I had to register for the half-marathon!  I was worried about feeling out of place, being a newbie to this trail stuff and all.  But, the gun went off and everyone (including me) started moving forward.  It wasn't a huge crowd and trust me, after doing Disney, it was a nice change!

The turning back now!
I have run the trails near my neighborhood, but they are not quite as technical as the trails in Huntsville.  There were lots and lots (and lots) of roots, plus some uphill and downhill sections that I am definitely not accustomed to running. I had a couple of almost know, where you trip, fly forward, but manage to regain your balance just in time.  Honestly, after a couple of those jolting trips, I wondered if it might hurt less to just fall.  It didn't take me too long to find out...I think I had my first fall around mile 6.  It hurt a bit, but honestly, you just get up, dust yourself off, keep going and chuckle a little.  (Yes, I laughed at myself. A lot.)  And just to be clear, a lot of people we falling, so it wasn't just me! Every so often you'd hear the sound of someone tripping, followed by a "humph" (or a swear word), and finally a "Are you okay?"  That's one thing I can say - trail runners are courteous and caring, anytime someone tripped, there was someone there checking to make sure he/she was okay.  I quickly learned that when we were on a less difficult area, like a dirt road, I could pick up the pace a bit.  Then, I would slow down and be careful when there were more obstacles to watch out for.

Just one of the amazing views along the way...

The trails were gorgeous!  The views of the lake were gorgeous, even if I had to watch the ground more than I could look at the lake.  For a split second I questioned why I had signed up for the half, but the thought passed quickly as I ran through the woods.  I talked to quite a few people along the way - a lady who had run marathons in all 50 states, a woman training for a double Ironman (hello?  How did I not know this existed?), etc.  The temperatures were warming a bit into the 50s, so it was still nice running weather.  There were several aid stations and the volunteers were encouraging and fantastic!  We ran on a little sand, through a little mud, uphill, downhill, over bridges, on a dam and through more trees.  I tripped a few more times, tweaked an ankle once and managed to fall again.  When I was a little more than a 1/2 mile out, I got excited. I could hear the announcer at the finish and I recognized parts of the trail from the beginning of the race.  I remember picking up the pace a little in my excitement and must of stopped worrying so much about the ground, because a second later I was flying forward with so much momentum that I fell forward and my face slammed into the ground.

Yes, that's right - I managed a face plant.

After my initial shock, I slowly picked myself up.  My head hurt and both of my hands were bleeding.  I had dirt and leaves all over me.  (And huge thanks to the couple behind me who stopped to check on me.)  I tried to run it in, but running made my head hurt.  So I walked.  When I was almost at the finish, I finally managed a slow jog through the finish.  I accepted my medal and went straight to the information tent to find out where I could get a couple of band aids.   I was directed to an ambulance and felt kind of silly asking the paramedic for help.  She was nice enough to help me wash off my wounds (including my face) and cover everything with band aids (not including my face).

I had no idea what was in store, but it felt great to finish!

The awesome bling! 

Post Race
After getting all cleaned up, I grabbed the most awesome, warm soup ever and waited for my peeps to finish up.  They also had mini-cupcakes and great music, so it was party-like atmosphere. The race wasn't a large one and well, we were in the woods, so there weren't a ton of people around.  But still, those who were hanging out were cheering.  One highlight of the day was cheering for Ken Johnson complete his 101st (and final) marathon.  He came through the end of his first loop not long after I finished the race.  Ken is 72 years young and a member of the 101st Airborne Division, which is why Ken is stopping at marathon #101.  He was running with Team RWB, who were carrying Amercian Flags.  Cheering for Ken was the perfect way to end the whole exprience.

The amazing Ken Johnson during his 101st marathon!

Even with the bleeding hands, scraped knees, road rash and what eventually turned into a black eye, I had so much fun at this race.  I am in love with trail running - the solitude of the woods and being out there in the middle of nature is an amazing feeling.  And, I love the added challenge of needing to carefully plan your every step.

Yep, nothing like a little road rash on your face!

One of my should have seen my thigh and knees!

I will definitely be doing this race again next year. And, I think I may have even convinced the Hubs to join me!

Oh, and here's the eye.  One week later.  With make-up.  I'll admit, at first I wore my shiner proudly...kind of like a badge of honor.  After a week, and then two..well, I'm kind of tired of it! :-)

Why no, that isn't mascara under my eye!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

What I've been up to...

Holy moly, life has been crazy!  I'm sorry for not posting more regularly lately, but promise to at least post once a week for the remainder of the year!

Here's a brief summary in photos of what I've been up to.  I will be spending the next couple of weeks writing my race reports and getting you all caught up!

The Hubs and I finished The Goofy Challenge!!!

It felt weird to not be running the Houston Marathon or Aramco 1/2 Marathon, so we got our cheer on instead!  So much fun!!!

Since my running season is officially over, I volunteered to man an aid station for the Woodland's Fit 21-miler to help prep runners for the upcoming Woodlands Marathon...this group was crazy, fun!

I ran my first trail race - a 1/2 marathon...can't wait to tell you this story!

I had the opportunity to serve on a committee for The Woodlands Marathon...I was head medal lady (not to be confused with heavy metal lady)!  So much fun!