Friday, September 23, 2016

FMM - Heeerrrre's Paco!

Poor neglected Paco.  Well, from his starring role as blog dog, that is.  Trust me, he's not neglected at home.  In fact, Jeff let him sleep on our bed while I was gone, which has made him automatically head toward our bedroom when I tell him it's time for bed, instead of down the hallway toward his crate.  A couple of times Jeff has gone to bed earlier than me and let Paco go with him - I have to say, a sleeping dog is almost as cute as a sleeping baby, so of course I have to take a picture when I go in:
Naturally he was sleeping on the pillow - I don't know how he survives the night in his crate with only a pad, and not a pillow as well.

Some mornings, he goes back to bed:
I take Dad's side dis morning...
Mom's side is gud plus she cobers me up.

Of course, this is what he looked like a couple of days ago:
CONE. OF. SHAME.  Because he licked and chewed on his paw so much he started limping.  Nothing more pathetic than a limping dog.

Anyway, he's good, and I'm sorry he hasn't been featured on the blog lately.  I'll try to remember why you all come here, LOL!

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Is it weird to get excited over a new hose?  What can I say, I'm weird.  I'm the one who usually waters the pot plants on the back patio, and I've struggled with the hose out there.  It's heavy and I'm always heaving it around, plus I hate to gather it back up after I'm finished watering, so I usually just shove it over to the side of the patio.  Here's a shot before I went out to blow off the leaves and water:
I have to blow the leaves off the patio several times a week - our dumb oaks lose their leaves year-round!  Giant hose in its usual spot, sadly.
I had to put in the after shot - this lasted for less than a day before the leaves started falling again.

Anyway, I saw a neat coiled hose at a garden center while I was in California - where has this been all of my life?!  Now, I don't shop for hoses on the reg in Texas, so maybe they had them here and I just never knew, but this one came with a sprayer attachment and was on clearance, and I had room in my suitcase, so I bought it:

I love this hose SO MUCH.  It's the perfect size for our patio, plus, it cleans up after itself - take a look:
More leaves, the bane of my existence.  But check out the hose!  I just hang the sprayer on the old hose holder and boom.  Neatness achieved.

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One last thing regarding plants (for today, anyway) - we finally went to town weeding the front bed; it had gotten really overgrown, thanks to it just being too dang hot to want to get out and do any kind of yard work.  But it had to be done, so we weeded (even I got my hands in there, icky bugs and all) and pulled some plants, divided and replanted the daylilies, and moved the lantana that we'd bought last March from the pot in the backyard to the ground - it should have gotten a lot bigger, but we think the pot was constricting its growth, so hopefully it'll do better there.  Then we put down new mulch - black mulch.  I had to talk Jeff into that color, but he liked it when we were finished.  I think it sets off the plants really nicely:
Oh, and I also freshened up the little flag holder with some black spray paint.
I can't remember what this plant is called, but it has really spread, even with being choked out by weeds.  If it survives the winter, we'll get more for some ground cover.
We also pulled out the mostly dead plants in this area and put in two more yucca - hey, the one yucca thrived there, so might as well go with what works.  Brown mulch here because that was our compromise at the garden center.

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No races this weekend, just our normal running on tap.  Diane will be out of town so I'll be on my own, which will be good practice for Houston in January.  I need to charge my iPod and let the music carry me away - well, for five miles, anyway.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Run for Education 5K Recap!

Race shirt - really pretty deep red color.  Cotton, so I'll wear it after I run.

On Saturday, we ran another race - this time, it was the Run for Education 5K, conveniently located in town.  One of the women on the race committee works with Jeff, so he wanted to support her and the race, and most of our Renegades signed up as well.  This is the fourth year for this race and all proceeds go to their scholarship foundation.  They had a record turnout of 171 registrants - there was a nice crowd of runners and families participating.

The race didn't start until 8:00 am, which meant we got to sleep in a bit on a Saturday, yay!  It also meant that it would be daylight when we ran, so I chose my black Nike shirt to wear - I love it but almost never get to wear it because I like to be visible when we run in the pre-dawn hours.  That turned out to be a bad decision - more on that later.

Some of our group wanted to get in a couple miles before the race, so we drove to the race site while the harvest moon was still bright in the sky:

I waited around with Jimmymeow while Jeff, Brian, Cary, and Karen set off for a two mile run.  I actually ate something before the race - a Honey Stinger waffle.  I did this before the race last week too and it set well with my stomach...I normally can't eat before I run, but I'm trying some new things this season, and this seems to be working OK.

It was really hot when the race started, and, being 8:00 am, the sun was out and blazing down on us from the cloudless sky.  That's when it was pointed out to me that wearing a black shirt might not have been the best choice - oops.  Still, I had hopes for a decent race; my runs earlier in the week had both gone really well and I was feeling pretty good.

The race started - here's proof, courtesy of Jimmymeow, Renegade photographer:
I'm behind Jeff, next to Diane (in the periwinkle shirt).  You can see how sweaty Jeff and Brian are already, thanks to their two mile warm up run.

Diane and I set off running.  I figured we'd run the first mile straight through and then start on intervals; we've been running straight through on Mondays, but with this hot sunny day, intervals would probably become necessary.  We had a great first mile - considering the feels like temperature was in the high 80s, I'm impressed that we finished it in 12:53.  We started our intervals at that point and passed by the aid station - we were carrying our water bottles since it wasn't clear if there would be an aid station during the race, so we didn't need to stop on our way out.

We hit the turnaround point and it was really hot.  We were running right into the sun, ugh.  I was struggling more than I thought I would be, considering I'd run three miles just a couple of days before, but then again, I wasn't running when the sun was out.  We hit the aid station and were offered Gatorade; Diane asked for water to pour down the back of her neck but they were out.  Later on we heard that they were handing out bottles of water to the runners in the beginning and that's why the water disappeared so quickly - hey, middle school cheerleaders were (wo)manning the station, so I can't fault them for not knowing to pour the water into cups.

Anyway, we kept running - mile two came in at 14:36.  Have I mentioned how hot it was?  It was brutal - sweat was just pouring down my face, which felt like it was on fire.  We took a couple of extra walking breaks, and then we were running again when suddenly my ears started ringing and I got that "echo-y" feeling - like the world around me was far away, if that makes sense.  I told Diane I needed to walk and tried to get her to go ahead with the race, but she wouldn't leave me.  Which, in hindsight, was probably a good thing as I was not feeling great at that point and it was nice to have a friend with me.  This was at the 2.6 mile mark; ack, so close!  I figured I could walk the rest of the way in, so that's what we did, until we made the turn toward the finish line - then we gently ran in:
I like our synchronized strides in this shot!
Finished, whew!

Last mile was 17:07; our total time was 46:04.  This race was so much harder than the Burning Pine 5K that we did the week before, even with the steep hills there.  A half hour later start, plus hotter temperatures just did me in (and wearing that black shirt didn't help, I'm sure).  We got water, Diane brought out her folding chair for me to sit in, and then she got me a towel full of ice from the water cooler, which helped tremendously.  After a while we halfheartedly attempted a group picture:
Motley crew - we were all pretty beat by this race.
Sitting in the shade of a car; Jeff was soaked through with sweat!

Brian was with the first pack of runners so we thought he might win an age group award; we stuck around and listened as they called out the winners.  They were doing them in five-year increments, but suddenly they moved to twenty-year increments!  So Brian was in the 40-to-59 group, same as Jeff, which was kind of crazy.  Anyway, Brian won second place - two weeks in a row on the podium!  He's gonna be disappointed when he does our regular run this Saturday and there's no podium afterward. :
Crossfit boxes served as the podium, but I didn't see any of the winners do a box jump to get on them...that would have been funny.

We headed over to Blue Baker and after a while sitting there in the air conditioning, I finally felt normal again.  Even though I'm used to running in heat and high humidity, adding sun meant a whole different experience.  Hopefully the next time we race, the temps will be cooler!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Weird, But I'll Take It

I mentioned that I came down with a cold on my trip home from California last month - yes, I was the person you all hate to be on the airplane with, sneezing my head off like a fool.  I was pretty miserable, but at least I had the window seat with the middle seat empty, which was a small favor for humanity.

Anyway, for this being just a cold I was really sick - zero energy, and zero appetite.  I always come back from my California trips on the tired side, being that we are on the go pretty much the entire time, but this was a different tired.  I even cancelled most of my runs, which is rare, but I could tell that I needed to give my body a chance to get over this cold.

Along with feeling so worn out, I didn't want to eat.  Let me repeat that:  I didn't want to eat.  I can count on one hand the number of times I haven't wanted to eat in my life - seriously, food is always there for me.  Even when I have motion sickness, I look to food - crackers or Sprite - to make me feel better.  So this was weird, but ever the dieter, I went with it...I figured it wouldn't last.

Enter week two of no appetite.  Which, except for the whole feeling crummy and having no energy, was working for me.  Kind of disordered, wouldn't you agree?  But this is where my mind went.  Credit for that thinking goes to practically a lifetime (well, since I was a teenager) of dieting, of thinking about my size, of feeling out-of-control with my eating for so long - so hey, this was dieting made easy!  And let's face it, no one could look at me and be worried that I was withering away...it would take more than a couple of weeks of this to be apparent to anyone but me in terms of seeing weight loss.

By week three, I started to feel better in terms of the cold, and I also started to at least want a meal every day.  That was helpful, especially considering that I'd actually bonked during a two mile run a week earlier - I literally ran out of energy and had to walk back to my house after 1.5 miles!  Still, I wasn't eating a lot, and the dieter in me was actually happy to feel not very hungry, as well as feel really full after a small meal.

Even though I'm mostly in a much better place with how I approach food, I kind of hate how much I can appreciate losing my appetite like this.  It's probably not normal, but long-term dieters like me all probably feel the same way, and just go with it.  It's weird, it's temporary, it's easy...and like all "lose weight fast" diets, it won't last.  But for now, I'll take it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Adventures With My Amigo, Part II

A few days after our first adventure, I drove over the hill with Barbara; she was off to teach at the local university, so she dropped me off at Matt's house. First things first - we went out to breakfast:
I wanted something substantial, like bacon and eggs, but when I saw Frosted Flake strawberry pancakes on the menu, I was torn...luckily, our waiter made both happen for me in smaller portions (YES, these pancakes were the smaller portion, haha). Delicious! 

Then we set off for Vasona - even paid to park so we'd be closer to the boat docks:
Six dollars?!  Life was cheaper when we were kids and our parents paid for everything.

We headed over to the docks, passing by this awesome company picnic going on:
Now this looked like fun - it's called bubble soccer - and we really wanted to join in!  Also, please note the geese in the foreground...there were gangs of geese throughout the park, which was quite the change from our childhood - back then, the place was full of ducks.  Weird how nature changes like that - I think we saw one duck the entire time we were there.

We got to the docks, but they were locked up with a gate, which wasn't there back in our time - no more free range at the docks, apparently:
Locked.Up.Tight.

We thought we might have been too early to rent a boat, but when we found the rental area, it was closed.  We'd missed it by one week - they literally just changed over to weekend rentals because school had started.  Such a disappointment!!!  We were really bummed.  Now, astute readers might note the glassy surface on the water, meaning an absence of wind, which would have made sailing a little challenging, but dang it, we were ready to sail!  We walked off our disappointment, going around the part of the lake that we didn't get to the other evening.  There was beauty everywhere:
OK, maybe not EVERYWHERE...
But here...
And here...
The trees were gorgeous and smelled so good!  These pinecones were tiny; I told Matt he should pick some up for his fairy gardens.

Mostly I got a lot of pictures like these:
I'd look at what Matt shot and say "send that one to me" - he was better at framing nature than I was.

Then we decided to go check out the railroad.  This was the coolest thing when we were kids - it was called the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, and while we remember seeing the train go through the park, neither of us remember getting to ride it.  We reasoned, as we walked over to the train station, that it must have been on the expensive side and that's why we weren't handed the money to ride it.  We got there and checked out the ticket price:
$2.00 in 2016??  It was probably a quarter back in 1971!  What the heck, Mom and Dad??

Of course, the railroad was only open on the weekends too, but that didn't stop us from trespassing - er, getting some photo ops:
The train station - and we might have climbed over that "keep out" chain...
 
How else could we have gotten the pictures on the left of this collage?
We walked across the miniature bridge and basically had about as good a time as we could have without actually riding the train.
We sat on a bench under the trees and people watched for quite a while; the weather in northern California makes it so easy to spend time outdoors, and getting to hang out at the park where Matt and I used to roam back when we were kids?  Perfection.

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After we left Vasona, we went to Petroglyph, which is one of those you-paint-it ceramic studios.  Matt was working on a gnome for his fairy gardens, so I chose a few tiny pieces that would go in them as well.  We had a blast, just sitting and painting and talking - and it didn't hurt that we were only a couple doors down from the burger place so when Happy Hour hit, Matt went and got us milkshakes:
 I think at one point we had just about every paint color on the table.
I painted a frog and a ladybug, and started on the dragonfly, but didn't finish it.  Matt was really detailed with his gnome; he painted the Nike swoosh on the shoes and then painted the box that the gnome was holding orange, like the Nike shoebox (complete with swoosh), so naturally, we named it the Gnike Gnome. 
 
Later on, after the pieces had been glazed and fired, Matt incorporated them into a new fairy garden:
So fun to see all of our handpainted art in this garden!

Barbara finished up teaching and came over to Petroglyph to pick me up.  We all ended up chatting for quite a while before we finally put everything away - it was a nice, relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

I got to see Matt one last time before I left - because I had such an early flight out and the airport is a 45 minute drive from Barbara's house, I ended up spending the night at his house. I was expecting to crash on their couch, but his sweet wife made me up a bed in her office, so I got a few hours of good sleep before a long day of travel.  Our last adventure was as we were driving to the airport just before 4:00 am - the "mileage to empty" on Matt's van read 9 miles when we started and was on fumes when we arrived.  As I waited in line to check in, Matt texted me a picture of him filling up the van with gasoline, so we both were good.  Thus ended another epic round of adventures with my amigo!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 Burning Pine 5K Recap!

The race shirts came in both men's and women's cut, technical fabric.  The organizers had a design contest for this year's shirt, and when we saw the winner, we were all "there's a water tower at the park??" - turns out, there IS one, but it's across the road from the park.  Not sure why that was notable, but the colors are cute on the shirt, and mine fits me well, so it's all good.

On Saturday, for the second year in a row, we ran the Burning Pine race at Bastrop State Park.  Once again I chose to run the 5K, but instead of me being the only person out of our group to do so, more than half of us picked that distance.  I think we were all glad we did, as the hills are so freaking steep!  But I'm getting ahead of myself - here's the recap from the beginning.

Jeff and I, along with Andi, Julia, and Diane carpooled to Bastrop in Andi's van, with Jeff driving.  Just before we got to the park, we stopped at Buc-ee's to use their awesome restrooms - we knew there would be porta potties at the race, but why not take advantage of real restrooms while we could?  Then we got to the parking area across from the park, met up with the rest of our group, got our bibs (Cary's mom did packet pickup for us the day before, since she lives nearby), and got on the school bus for the short shuttle ride into the park.

We took our traditional pre-race sunrise picture:
Jeff, Julia, me, Diane, Karen, Andi, Laura, Cristy, Cindy (Cristy and Cary's mom), Cary, Brian.
Here's a better shot of the sunrise - perk of being a runner, getting to see many sunrises.

The 10K started first, and I managed to get a picture of Jeff doing jazz hands as he passed by:
Karen and Cary are behind him.  Note that they get to start on a slight uphill; luckily, the 5K started at the top of this slope.

We took a quick selfie as the 5K group lined up:
Me, Julia, Andi, and Diane.

And then we were off!  I ran with Diane...this was her first time doing this race, and she'd only heard about the hills.  The first part - less than a half mile - is fairly flat, but then it starts to climb, and climb, and climb.  The road also curved, so you couldn't see just how far up you had to go; I knew it was going to be bad for a while, but Diane kept asking if that was it - nope.  We walked to the top of the first hill and then got to run down it, and that was glorious.  I went from feeling like "why am I doing this" to "I CAN RUN!!!" so basically for my running mental health, I should only run downhill, haha.  Then we hit the next hill, which was even steeper than the first.  More walking, but hey, that gave us time for pictures:
I believe we were actually running in the middle picture.

It was much hotter and way more humid this year - 73 degrees, 100% humidity, and the sun was beating down on us - and we were pretty wiped out after the hills, so we did random intervals (run to that orange cone then walk until the sign up ahead, for example) for the rest of the race.  We must have looked bad because just about every volunteer we passed by called out for us to keep hydrating - and we did take water at all three of the aid stations - but I think we looked pretty good when we crossed the finish line:
photo credit:  Jimmymeow
We got our medals (which were the same as last year's, only with a different colored ribbon) and then went over to wait for the 10K peeps to finish.

This collage includes both the 5K and 10K Renegade Runners:
Tough course; everyone was glad to be done!

Afterward, you could check your finish stats via a computer, which printed out a little receipt with your info on it.  Brian placed third in his age group, and Laura placed third in hers!  We waited around for the awards, but when they did the 5K awards, Laura's name wasn't called.  She went back and rechecked her info, and it was updated to place her fourth, whomp whomp.  So in between the award ceremonies, we had her stand on the third place podium:
You're still a winner to us, Laura!

We waited quite a while before they announced the 10K winners - I'm not sure why there was such a long break in between the two distances.  Everyone was getting tired of standing around:
Diane, Jeff, and Julia, just hanging out on the winner's podiums.

We took our traditional post-race finisher's picture with the #RunYourAshOff sign:
The gang.  You know who we are at this point.

And then we did some individual shots:
Give us a camera and a prop, and we'll entertain ourselves.

Finally, the 10K awards started.  Brian's name was called and we hooted and hollered for him:
Winners got a cool white hat.

At that point, even though we'd had some donut holes and coffee courtesy of Dunkin Donuts, we were all pretty hungry, so we hustled over to the shuttle bus and rode back to our vehicles:
Renegade Run Club - anytime we're together, it's fun, even on an old school bus!

We planned on going to Maxine's Cafe again for breakfast, but we all wanted to change into dry clothes, so Cary and Brian went ahead to the restaurant to put our names in on the waiting list and change there, but our group went back to Buc-ee's to change in their nice restrooms.  That would be trip number two, if you're keeping track.

We didn't have to wait too long for our table at Maxine's, and we actually had the same waitress as last year.  She was super nice and patient with us, and even took our picture:
We were seated in a little side room which was perfect - no worries about disturbing the other diners with our exuberance.

My appetite has not been great ever since I came back from California; I'm just about over that cold, but it's been weird to not be hungry.  I'm not complaining (always the dieter) - however, I'd like to feel more energetic.  Any case, I ordered a biscuit meal and ate about half of it:
No ginormous pancake for me this year...maybe next time.

We spent a couple hours at Maxine's, and then we all headed for home - but not before making one last stop at Buc-ee's!  Whoever was watching their security cameras that day must have thought we were a strange bunch, going in so often, and appearing in different outfits as well.  Thanks for having such nice clean restrooms, Buc-ee's!

Couple more things - this was the fifth year for the Burning Pine race, so they had extra goodies you could tack onto your registration, sight unseen.  Since it's a fundraiser, I went ahead and ordered the hat and coffee mug.  This is what we got:
Cool hat; either Jeff or I would be happy wearing it.
Somehow the coffee mug became a gigantic beer stein.  I actually weighed it on my food scale - it was 2.75 pounds, empty!!  Even Jeff thought it would be too heavy with liquid in it, so it's decorating his desk now.

All in all, this was a fun day with my Renegades.  The race is hard, but it's for a great cause - the proceeds fund planting new trees to replace the ones lost in the fire of 2011 - and we'll be back next year...and maybe by then I'll have forgotten how steep those hills are!