Category Archives: Texas

Yay for running in colder weather !

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A frosty morning
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Beautiful sunrise

 

I say ‘colder’ weather, because it is relative and people always think their weather is the worst, hottest, or coldest. I know for many our temps were not very cold, but we do have some pretty hot and miserably humid days that last for many months so , as I said, it’s all relative.

Here in Southeast Texas, most of us are not acclimated to temperatures below 50 degrees , especially with wind or rain. Me personally, I love cold weather and you could say I live for these days because they are so rare. I feel like a kid with a new toy when I get to wear long sleeves, sweaters and even a coat and hat sometimes!  So when I see anything below 60 degrees in the forecast I get super excited and start planning my runs. Last week  we had some very cold (for us) days that started in the 20s and 30s and there was even snow in the northern parts of Texas. We get excited , y’all! Of course, my poor husband was not too excited, nor my oldest son, because they work in unheated, open mechanic shops where they almost freeze their poor hands and noses off . Sorry, guys. I am going to enjoy this!

So one day I bundled up in my tights, long sleeves, gloves and beanie  and ran 6 miles on the trails and felt like I had really done something, lol! Then another day it wasn’t quite as cold , but I still felt the wind when headed north, and I was able to get in a good 16 mile run on the roads. To be honest it warmed up to almost 60 by the end of that run but some of my friends still thought it was cold. 🙂 I wasn’t able to get out and run Thursday or Friday because I do have other responsibilities even though it may not seem like it. So by Saturday morning I was well-rested and super ready to run. I went to bed early Friday, barely slept and got up at 4AM to go meet a friend at a park where we ran 20 peaceful and lovely cool miles together.

Unfortunately, nasty cold rain returned that evening and all day Sunday. Today I ran on the treadmill to avoid the rain, which changes everything for me. I do not like cold and wet!  I am already counting the days until I get to run another long run, most likely on trails on Friday, which in the U.S, we call Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which is this Thursday. And , good news, it’s going to be nice and cool!

 

How about you? What is your favorite running weather ? Do you hibernate in the cold months or enjoy winter activities?

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Enjoy the Little Things

It’s that time again! No, not pumpkin spice everything time. Hummingbird migration time! I know I’m not alone in loving the little, buzzing birdies because there are photos everywhere on social media. Today I stood three feet away from the feeder and still ended up with sub-par pictures of the hungry horde. I just couldn’t get my phone camera to focus fast enough and my background is pretty terrible. Hello barn!  A real camera with a zoom would be nice. But it was still fun to stand so close and hear and see them. Here are a few of the better photos that I tried to enhance a bit to make them easier to see. Use your imagination! I love the ruby-throated ones, but we have more of the green ones. I also love hawks, painted buntings,  and water birds which we have in good supply.

Today has been a busy day. I ran 3 miles, my first run since my race and injury. I was slow and it still hurts a little,  but it felt good to move again. Then my kids and I spent a long time on our Bible study lesson because we had to look up tons of verses, actually big chunks of the Old Testament. After that I tried to refresh their math skills. Why do they seem to retain so little from last year ? And the last subject for today was Life Science. They are studying about ecosystems, which I find interesting. I know it sounds like we didn’t do much, but I like to ease into the school routine, for my sake and theirs!

I’m thankful for this day. I’m blessed to be a stay-home mom who can look at birds while drinking coffee and study the Bible with my kids after a nice run. I may not have a fancy car or clothes, but I appreciate the little things !

How was your day? Are you a birdwatcher? What kinds do you get excited about?

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Paddling on Lady Bird Lake with my kids in Austin

(NOTE: This actually happened last month, but I forgot to post it.)

 

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In front of the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum. My babies. ❤  

Kids grow up so fast. I have six children.  The older three have pretty much established their own lives, and my daughter is a perpetual child, due to her condition.   But my two youngest are quickly approaching the years when we will be seeing less of them because they’ll be driving and working. I want to fit in as much life with them as I can before it’s too late, doing stuff, learning, making memories, building relationships.

So yesterday we headed out for adventures unknown.  My sister was available to take care of my daughter and circumstances were fairly good for me to go away for one night. Our first stop in our destination city was to rent  some kayaks for the first time ever on the lake in the city of Austin. Not Lake Travis, which is a popular and large lake outside of the city. Lady Bird Lake, or as it was called when I was a student there, Town Lake, runs right through the city of Austin. It’s more like a river in that it’s long and cuts the city in half, north and south. The interstate and city streets cross over the lake. Here’s a map.

After a little trouble finding the place, we faced our anxiety, we are all a bit anxious, and actually left the van and went inside the kayak rental place.  Thankfully the people were easy-going and experienced with newbies . We rented single kayaks for each of us. I was determined to do this even though my kids were not making it easy on me. I tried to seem confident that this was going to be fun!  Inside I was praying that no one would drown! I decided to change clothes which turned out to be a good idea .

We were told to walk down path where we’d find a dock and boats. We did that and found two young guys hanging out. They helped us get into our boats and off we went! We took a little time to get used to paddling in a nearby cove, which was easier than expected since there was barely any current, then headed up to where the first bridge crosses. There was a guy fishing in a small boat under the bridge, some ducks and geese floating around, lots of turtles ducking under the water, and some people doing who knows what down there under the bridge in the little parking area. The kids and I  loved it. ( Wish I was there now!)

Six lanes of interstate traffic were slowly moving over our heads. We paddled a little past the bridge and encountered a slight wind pushing us back and lots of floating leaves and trash which we were surprised to see. After a little while longer I asked them if they wanted to go to the next bridge or  go back to the dock.  They were getting tired so we turned around. I noticed the time would be close to one hour by the time we returned and you pay by the hour, so, being the always money-conscious mom,  I decided to pick up my pace and try to beat the clock, thus saving a few bucks.  I let the boys go at their own pace. I glided up to the dock and the friendly and helpful young guys at the dock helped me out of my boat.   A couple of minutes later my kids made it to the dock and climbed out while I chatted with the dock guys.

Life is short. Try new things! I’m so glad we did. If you are in the area, I recommend Live Love Paddle on Riverside! Easy access and reasonable prices. The people in the rental office were super nice as well. My only regret is that I didn’t take my phone with me so I didn’t get any photos! Next time! A couple of suggestions. 1. Wear your bathing suit, a hat and sunglasses. 2. Bring one of those plastic things you wear around your neck that you can put your phone in . 3. Bring water and a snack if you want to stay out there over an hour. Happy paddling!

 

 

When a good race takes a Wrong Turn

Ever notice how falling down while running feels like it lasts for a long time? But actually it just took a second to go from upright to lying in the dirt .

I was having a great race before that! The course was three loops of 5.4 miles , with an out and back section in the beginning and end of each loop on the most rocky, technical section. This means that there people going in both directions on that section. That’s where I fell.

I was feeling good , getting excited because I was almost done with the second loop. I had never run here before today and was looking forward to it but also a little nervous because the race director described the first mile as horrible. I didn’t think it was horrible but definitely a tough section, especially with the heavy traffic.

I had been chatting with other runners on the climb and decided it was time to pick up the pace when my eyes and feet became disconnected from each other. Suddenly I felt myself going down. I always fall the same way, superman style. I was freaking out in my mind . I knew it was going to hurt because of the rocks. Well boom, it did hurt because I landed smack dab on a rock right on my hip flexor.

Several nearby runners instantly came to my aid and helped me up and asked if I was okay . I knew I wasn’t because I felt that hit . I thanked them as soon as I gathered my senses and told them to go on .

After that it hurt so bad I couldn’t run and could barely walk but I made it to the start/finish. I was so discombobulated that I didn’t know what I should do. I went and washed the dirt off my scraped hands , and decided I was going back out on course.

But I couldn’t run! How could I finish 5.4 miles of these trails? I’d be there all day! People were running past me, including all the people I’d previously been ahead of , and they asked if I was okay . No , I whimpered. I was seriously upset and feeling sorry for myself. I remembered I had some Extra strength Tylenol and took two. I kept trying to walk fast but it hurt a lot. I stopped and tried to stretch it but that didn’t help much

I just kept going but my mental math was really scaring me, thinking of how long those slow miles would take. Should I just turn back ? I’d get a DNF . I really didn’t want that! I tried different ways of moving. Nothing was very good . But long story ,short, the Tylenol finally kicked in , plus I discovered that by pressing hard on the hip flexor I could do a kind of shuffle jog and go faster. I made it to the halfway point and was feeling better about my pace . 16-18 minute miles weren’t as bad as 20-30 minute miles . I want to give God the glory as well because I was praying and asking for help and I know He hears and he helped my pain and my attitude.

By the time I got to the flatter section I could jog some but my leg started cramping. I finally made it to last part and crossed the finish line with a smile! It was disappointing to fall and mess up my time like that but I’m really glad I didn’t quit. I thought of my friend who ran that hot 100 mile race recently. His knee was hurting for many hours and he didn’t quit! I thought of how running often hurts and I need to push through so I did.

For those who like data, here’s my loop splits and finish time.

I’m sitting here with an ice pack on my hip now . I’m super tired because I had to get up at 2:30 this morning to drive 2.5 hours to the race. So I hope this post isn’t too bad. Happy weekend and happy running everyone!

***Many thanks to Debbie Bush and Pamela Lockhart for the trail photos!

Sweating with the boys at the 7IL Ranch: Habanero 100 Trail Race setup

 

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The 7IL Ranch at the start of the October 2016 Blazing 7s race.

Yesterday I did something I haven’t had time for lately. I volunteered. This is not a big deal for most runners, you know you should and you want to and it’s fun , so a lot of us volunteer at races. But, with the way my month and year have been going, it just hasn’t been possible. I’ll spare my male readers the gory details, but let’s just say that AF has been visiting me VERY often and staying a LONG time and leaving me feeling pretty bad, and guess what , she was with me yesterday. But I had made a commitment and I really, really did not want to back out, so I took multiple protective measures and off I went with determination, prayers and a positive attitude.

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The 7IL is a working cattle ranch with trails for running and horseback riding . They also host an obstacle course race there.

Now this volunteer shift was not a fairly easy one like registration, packet pickup, or working the aid station, which I’ve done before. This was SET UP. I had a vague idea of what that might entail, but I’d never done it. I knew it was a lot of hard physical work. I chose this shift because it was most convenient for my family and also I plan to pace at the race so I need to be available. Well, I busted my  ass yesterday, my arms are sore today, and I feel good about it! I worked with two young men and I tried hard to do my share of everything. There were a few boxes that were too heavy and a few things that were too high for me to reach,  but I helped put up many tents, carry boxes, carry cases of Redbull, etc, etc. The fun part was working as a team, having the boss/ race director, Rob Goyen,  tell us what to do. I’m so used to being the boss of my kids all day, it was a nice change! I hope my work , even though it was voluntary, was satisfactory.

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This is from the Blazing 7s race which is held in October at the same location.

I’ll be out there again on Saturday, this time at an aid station all day, which I hadn’t planned, but an empty volunteer spot came up. Then I’ll sleep a few hours and then go back out and run all night as a pacer with my friend to help him stay awake to finish his 100 miles. This race is really crazy! It’s called the Habanero 100, put on by Trail Racing Over Texas. It’s only a few miles from my house, so how can I not participate as much as I can? More people than ever have signed up this year, and I look forward to helping them do the best they can to survive in the heat. This is TEXAS, the race starts at noon, the temps will be in the upper 90s and the course is a sandy, grassy, hilly, sunny 10k loop in a cattle ranch over and over . It is a very hard race! Good luck to everyone!

The 7IL Ranch website. 

Did anyone catch that on video?!

I set out with determination.

It was 75 degrees before the sun rose. 97% humidity. As per usual, I changed my previous plan for the day and decided on a new one when I woke up. Packed up and loaded up and headed out with my hydration pack full and my happy-to-be-going dog, Ellie.

My return to running from injury in February has been slower than expected and a little confusing. I’ve only been running 3 or 4 times a week since April started and mostly short runs, the longest was 8 miles, I think. I purposely took my time but I was starting to get nervous and wonder if I’d every make it to double-digits. Am I still a distance runner? Do I even care? Maybe I should stick to hiking? After 7 years of running many, many races, I haven’t run a single race in 2018.  Today I planned to try to run more than 8 miles. However, we are having a heat wave in Texas and I really didn’t know what would happen.

I put ice in my pack and plenty of water, but I made the mistake of not bringing salt tabs or NUUN tablets. That really hurt me after about 2 hours. I also brought some GU and some leftover chicken strips and a couple of Larabars . I only ate the GU while running. That was a mistake. Not enough calories for what I did. The park is 1 1/2 hours away even with light traffic, so I ate a little breakfast on the way there, half a large banana and some raw pecan halves. I usually don’t eat before short runs.

The sky was full of clouds that were really just humidity rising as the sun warmed up the atmosphere. I figured I would not be so lucky to have a cloudy day to protect me from the heat. While driving I was still not 100% sure where I’d go, but this park is just so nice , even though I’ve been there many times lately, I chose it again. When I parked the van the outside temp was 80 degrees F at 8:15 am. I headed out after a quick stop in the very nice bathrooms which are there thanks to a Zip Line company that shares the park.

Everything was going great . I took off running the route that would take me to what I consider a big and steep hill. 168 ft per Strava segment, with an average 14% grade. My goal was do as many repeats on that hill as possible. First I took my dog down to the river to get a quick drink of water. I always bring water for her but she prefers rivers and streams! It’s only 1.4 miles to the river so I wasn’t really that warmed up, but I headed up the hill and my running slowed to walking. It levels out a little near the top so I was trying to run again when all of a sudden my life went into slow motion mode.

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The retractable dog leash handle disappeared from hand when my dog took off after something that I did not see because my head was down.  For what seemed like a long time, actually only  a couple seconds,  I was in a stunned state of falling forward with my arms outstretched like Superman  and also being very conscious that it was going to be a hard fall that I had no chance of preventing. I have fallen on trails several times after tripping on invisible roots and rocks and it’s always surprising, but it has been a while and I was totally not expecting this. It was the leash being ripped out of my hand that made me fall this time. I actually had the thought flash through my mind to just relax and not fight the fall. I’ve tried to stop myself before with rapid foot movement and actually hurt my hamstring. But I didn’t have time to do that anyway.

Thunk! Sliiiiiide!  It would have been a viral video if someone had caught it on tape. I got up fairly quickly from the dirt and sat down to catch my breath on the conveniently placed bench that is at the top of that big-ass hill.  I was already out of breath from climbing that hill, and the fall had knocked out the remaining air in my lungs, or it felt like it. But I started calling my dog and hoping she was still nearby. I took an assessment of my body to see if I was okay. Just dirty and some scrapes on my forearms and hands from the home-base slide.   My Garmin watch had a bunch of dirt in the band and the front of my shirt was dirty along with my hands and arms. I poured a little water on them and used the small sweat towel that I carry to clean up a little ,but I didn’t want to dirty up my towel. I need it to wipe my eyes.

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My boo-boos. Amazingly nothing on my knees! For some reason it stings a lot even though it doesn’t look like much. 

All that only took a minute or two and then I got up and started looking for my dog. That hill ends at a trail intersection and she was just around the bush from where I was sitting . At first I thought she was being good and maybe scared since I’d yelled at her because of how she was sitting down looking right at me. Then I realized her leash had gotten stuck in a bush and she couldn’t get away. That worked well for me, but I did have to crawl into the bushes to get it free. So I got her situated again and decided to jog slowly back down that hill to gather myself .

The rest of the morning was all about just staying in the game despite the adrenaline drain from the fall,  being dehydrated, under-fueled, and really hot, but I am happy to say I RAN 10 miles  ! Goal achieved! I mostly walked the last mile back to the parking area because I was so overheated, it was over 90 degrees by this time,  but I’m very happy with the day overall. I learned some things. I need to train my dog better. I assume she saw a deer and went after it. It’s hot and I need salt. I need to bring two towels. And I am still a distance runner.

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Three words that thrill a homeschool mom

As we count down the last few weeks , two and a half actually, until we will declare our school year to be completed, I’ve been trying hard to stay in the race and not just walk it in . It’s not easy when you are in control and can decide to call it good basically at any point after May 1 since we all know the public schools are not teaching anything new in the last month. The focus is on end of year testing and graduation and survival until the last day when the kids go home and the teachers rejoice. But in my house we are still learning . I’m thankful to live in a state where home schools are considered equal to private schools and there are no testing requirements. I’m the mom/teacher and I know what they’ve learned.

And that brings me to the title of this post. Yesterday I was teaching the boys a Spanish lesson where they had to conjugate verbs and make sentences using the model provided. We were doing this activity orally and one of my sons was taking too long to answer when my other son said those magic words, “Come on! This is easy!” . I didn’t react outwardly, but I was grinning on the inside! Easy! He thinks conjugating verbs is easy! He actually learned something that he actively resisted learning because he thinks he’ll never need to know it. I think that means we’ve had a pretty good year.

And I’m happy to say that many other things were learned as well.

How about you? Do you homeschool? How was your year?