Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WWU - Tag Team Run, Plus a Race Entry Giveaway and Discount!

As a group, we Renegades support our runners.  So when one decides she wants to run a marathon, we help in whatever way we can.  Which is how Julia and I ended up running a tag team with Diane on Saturday to keep her company while she ran 14 miles, which also happened to be her longest distance ever run to date.

Julia had an event to attend that morning and would have had to miss out on running with our group, seeing as we start at 6:00 am, but Diane wanted to get a head start on her long run, so she and Julia met up at 4:00 am and ran 8 miles.  I was waiting for her at the clubhouse just before 6:00 am; they showed up, Julia dropped off and I picked up the remaining 6 miles.  And even though it was 57 degrees with 100% humidity (we were running through light-to-heavy mist at times), the run felt great.  I also made an effort to down more of my Tailwind, on the advice of Wendy - apparently you are supposed to drink 20-24 ounces per hour, which is more than I normally do, but that's the ratio for not bonking.  The warm morning helped with drinking a lot, although I didn't end up finishing the bottle in an hour.  I'll keep working at it - I don't have any stomach issues with Tailwind, so if I don't have to add any chews or gels, I'd be a happy camper.

Considering I started with Diane after she'd already run 8 miles, she was looking good - we just cruised through the rest of her miles and boom - we were done!  She's in great shape and is going to rock her upcoming marathon, I can tell.  It's fun to watch her train for it, but I still don't have any desire to run one myself.

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Speaking of marathons, I was offered a free entry for the Utah Valley Marathon, or half marathon, this coming June.  I have to admit I was tempted for the half, especially when I saw that it's a point-to-point downhill race...I love running downhill.  Unfortunately, Utah is not right around the corner from Texas, and I just couldn't make it work, travel-wise, with other trips we've already planned.  So instead of me running this race, the organizers have offered up two free entries to my readers - you can do any distance:  they have a 10K, a half marathon, and the full marathon.  This is the tenth year for this race, and they're giving away a commemorative jacket instead of a race shirt, plus you'll receive a huge medal at the finish.  This race is also a Boston Qualifier, if you've got that goal in sight.

If you'd like to enter the giveaway, just leave a comment saying "I'm IN!" - I'll announce the winners on Friday, March 3.  Be sure to link your email in the comment so I can send you the promo code.  And if you don't win, but still would like to run this race, I also have a discount code for you - use "sb15" to receive 15% off your race entry.  Good luck!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Knitting Update

Part of the throw - it changes on a daily basis as I add on a square or two.

While I've been completely captivated with knitting on my mitered square throw lately, I do have a couple of finished projects to show you, and though I'd share a bit of the thought process that goes into how I make something.

First up is a hat I made for my dad's birthday.  I wanted to make one that was a little lighter weight than the other hats that I've made for him - this way, if it's not super cold, he can still wear a hat when he's outdoors and not get too hot.  Of course, I didn't count on this year being the winter that never ends for Oregon, so it may not be warm enough quite yet, but when I started this, I thought surely their snowfall would be trailing off...apparently not.

I had some yarn that I wanted to use, plus I had enough of a coordinating color that I knew I wanted to do some sort of stripe in the hat; I searched in Ravelry using the yarn weight and yardage I had on hand for hats, which brought me to a pattern by Tanis Lavalee called Grammy's Hat - there were over 500 projects made with it, so I figured it was a well-written pattern, plus I could see variations that other knitters had made, including stripes.  Perfect!  I cast on and played around with stripe widths and ended up with this:
Yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash in Turtle colorway, with Madelinetosh DK in Worn Denim colorway for the stripes.  I used a size 8 needle for the body of the hat (size 6 for the brim), which made it have a looser, softer drape.  
I really love how the variations in the blue stripes look so good with the green of the main color.

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Another project that I've been working came from one evening when I was knitting in front of the TV - it was one of our rare cold winter days, and I was wearing a pair of thick wool socks that I've had for ages.  They were faded and boring, and I thought, why haven't I made myself a pair of pretty house socks?  So I went hunting in my stash for a heavier yarn - these weren't going to be worn in shoes, so I could go up in yarn weight and really get the warmth from the socks.  I found this yarn, which I'd originally bought to make a pair of mittens with, but never made them because I was always unhappy with how the thumb turned out and I didn't want to waste the yarn on something that I wouldn't wear - but I could picture the bright colors on my feet, and that made me happy:
Yarn is from Blueberry Pie Studio, colorway is My Box of Crayons.

I used my standard sock pattern - just reduced the number of stitches (44 instead of my usual 64) because the yarn was heavier, and knit away.  I was nearly finished with the second sock when I got distracted by my mitered square blanket, but one afternoon my feet were cold, and that was the final push I needed to finish them:
I didn't even block these, just put them on the sock blockers for a picture.  Once I finally block them, the stitching will smooth out a bit.
THIS is where they ended up - on my feet!  I love my new house socks so much!  Bright colors, happy stripes, warm feet...exactly what I wanted.

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I still haven't picked up my sweater to finish - blame the mitered throw.  I did read on another blog about "second sleeve syndrome" - which is similar to the well-known "second sock syndrome" and of which I am well aware, having three single socks waiting for their mates:
I have the toe and part of the foot started on the sock on the far right, at least...

And on any given day, my knitting area looks like this:
Two projects out, cart with more projects pulled close.  Actually, this was a fairly neat day if I'm being honest.  Two water cups because knitting is dehydrating.  Or else I'm lazy and don't want to have to get up to refill as often.

I had all of my leftover sock yarn strewn about on my coffee table and finally got tired of that mess, so I went looking for some sort of tray and found this one - I like it because it makes the yarn mess look intentional now:
Yarn on a table is a mess, but yarn in a tray is art...?

As always, I'm enjoying what I'm knitting - life is too short to knit what you don't want to.  One of these days I'm going to have to break into more of my sock stash yarn and knit up some more socks in order to get different leftovers for my throw.  But that day is not today - right now I'm still playing with mixing and matching the yarn in my tray for the throw.  Back to my squares I go!

Friday, February 17, 2017

FMM - Fun in San Antonio!

Since Jeff was already in San Antonio (he was teaching a class there for the week), I hitched a ride with Karen and Jimmymeow, which was very entertaining.  It takes about three hours to drive there, down highways and some country roads.  Along with a stop at Buc-ee's along the way, we got to see a house - well, half of one, anyway - being moved down the road:
Honestly, it didn't look like there was anything special about this house to warrant the expense of cutting it in half, removing it from the foundation, and trucking it who knows where...but maybe there was sentimental attachment to it, I don't know...

We arrived in San Antonio with enough time to stop at the Pearl Brewery, which is a really cool shopping/restaurant/living area that is being developed in an older, industrial part of town.  We all agreed that if we were single, it would be cool to live in one of the apartments there and hang out in the square below.  We did a little shopping and had lunch at a bakery - Karen and I had creamy tomato soup with cheddar toast, while Jimmy had a BLT that looked amazing but had a little too much garlic aioli on it:
Yummy!  They had some beautiful desserts in the bakery case, but we restrained ourselves.
My traveling amigos for the day!

Once everyone had arrived in San Antonio and checked into the hotel, we walked to Alamo Street Eat food truck park, which was about a ten minute walk away.  Everyone was able to order whatever they wanted for their pre-race meal, which worked out nicely except for us - our dumb pizza took forever to be cooked.  After we finished, we walked over to a restaurant that sold gelato and everyone had a treat.  The ladies sat inside while Jeff, Jimmy and Brian sat outside and waved to all of the people riding by in lighted, horse-drawn carriages.  Inside, we rated the carriages - there was one princess-looking carriage where the horse was even wearing a little crown!  Fun times.

The next morning was the race, and afterward, we drove to the Guenther House, for our traditional post-race breakfast extravaganza.  This go-round, knowing how long the wait would be (totally worth it, btw), we planned ahead and bought one of their ginormous cinnamon rolls to share from their bakery.  They offer complimentary coffee and water while you wait, so we were set.  This cinnamon roll was amazing.  So good - doughy and soft and I'm just going to say it, better than the cinnamon roll at Blue Baker.  Probably a good thing we can only get this in San Antonio, though:
I didn't get a picture of it before everyone started unraveling it, but it filled the container!

We lazed around waiting for our table to be ready - the sun came out and I ended up getting a little bit of a sunburn before we moved into the shade!  It was nice, though - we all chatted and got to catch up with each other, including Cristy, who we don't get to see very often as she lives near Austin.  When we were called for our table, we were pleased to see that they'd given us our own room...it's like our reputation preceded us (or maybe we just smelled bad from the race, haha):
Julia's daughter Jessica took this picture - we had one shot, as right when we decided to take the picture, the waiters arrived with our food!

Speaking of food:
Their biscuits are ridiculously good.  Guenther House is home to the Pioneer Flour Mills, so yeah - they do biscuits right.  I had one with homemade peach jam and the other with sausage gravy.  You will notice that most of the peach jam biscuit is gone because I was hungry and dove right into eating before thinking of taking a picture.

After we ate our fill, we went back to the hotel for showers and siestas.  It is really nice to do a race on Saturday instead of Sunday, because we had time to relax afterward and still enjoy the area. 

That evening, we walked back to the food trucks for dinner - I didn't think I was very hungry, but once my food arrived, I was ravenous!  Of course it was after 7:00 pm, so that might have had something to do with it as well.  I ordered a new-to-me item - a grilled cheese sandwich filled with BBQ pork and mac and cheese, served with spicy jalapeno pickles on the side.  It was AMAZING.  Again, probably good that I can only get this food once a year in San Antonio (I do not need to know if I can find a sandwich like that locally because seriously, I do not need to eat a sandwich like that, yummy as it was, more than once a year).  Then we walked over to a boozy ice cream shop, where you could get homemade ice cream that was infused with booze (or had a shot poured over it), or not.  Jessica had a flavor that was full of edible glitter, which was very colorful, as you can imagine!  I had cookie dough - no booze for me.  Jeff had The Dude, which was a White Russian in the form of ice cream.  Mine was really rich and I only ate half of my ice cream - I almost ordered the kid's size, and I should have, but my brain told me I needed more.  I did not, as it turned out. 

We poked around in a shop nearby, and then half of our group walked to the Riverwalk, while Jeff and I, along with Julia and Jessica, headed back to the hotel.  Jeff's feet were not having much more in the way of walking at that point.

The next morning, we woke up and walked over to El Mercado, or Market Square, for breakfast at Mi Tierra restaurant.  This restaurant is a San Antonio institution and is celebrating 75 years.  Some of the waitstaff have been working there for 40 years, which is pretty amazing.  The restaurant looks like Christmas year-round:
 ...and yes, there are Christmas trees behind Jeff!

We ate breakfast - Jeff ordered pancakes, which are called hot cakes on their menu, but he insisted on saying "panqueques" to our waitress - LOL.  I had a breakfast taco and also I bought a shirt, because I loved it so much:
I do, I do indeed!

We finished earlier than expected, and had a bit of time to kill before the shops opened, so we walked across the street to a park, where I thought for a moment that birds were actually part of this statue:
Nope.  Especially not the one on his head.  This is Ben Milam, from Kentucky.  He played a big role in the Texas revolution and you'll see his name everywhere (there's even a Milam elementary school in our town).

The Market Square shops opened at 10:00 am, so we went poking around.  I was looking for a couple of things and came away happy:
I bought a bowl for my coffee table, and a bigger planter for Marvia, my succulent.  Bottom shot shows one of the smaller shops - I took the picture, with the name of the shop showing, so I could remember that I wanted to go back there when I was considering planters...there are so many shops carrying similar items that it's hard to remember what you saw, and where it was.

The outdoor vendors sold food and we all had to get some fresh fruit:
They cut up the fruit right as you ordered it!

Jeff bought me an early Valentine's Day present - a pair of micro flower earrings:
Tiny sunflowers, grown in a greenhouse in Spring, TX.
Here's a closeup that I took with my Macro lens from a kit that Mini sent me - there's something about taking a picture of a micro flower with a macro lens from Mini Cooper that warms my alliteration-loving heart.

By then, it was time to hit the road for the drive home.  We had such a good time in San Antonio - I don't know why we don't go there more often.  It's a great town for a weekend getaway...and fitting a fun race in is just icing on the cake (or gravy on the biscuit, HA!).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 Missions 10,000 Race Recap!

This year's race shirt for the 10,000 - once again, they knocked it out of the ballpark with the design!  I love the color...I think this is the first brown technical shirt I've owned!  They had both women's and men's cut and huzzah, it fits!

For the second year in a row, I ran the Missions Heritage 10,000 race in San Antonio.  The race was held this past Saturday; you could sign up for a half marathon, a 10K, or a 5K.  Jeff and Brian did the half marathon, but the rest of my fellow renegades ran the 10K.

This is a special race.  There is just something about the feel of it - the community, the gentleness of everyone involved, the fact that 100% of the proceeds are going toward restoring these centuries-old buildings - that makes me want to come back year after year...and that's saying something because the course has some very challenging hills toward the latter part of the race and you all know that I do not like hills.  But I like this race, so there you go.

We all drove to San Antonio on Friday, and went to packet pickup, which was held at a local brewing company in an industrial area of town - it was a little challenging to find, but once we arrived, packet pickup went smoothly.  We were given our bibs, race shirts, and bags:
I really appreciate that once again, they gave out reusable tote bags!  The half marathon participants received a sling backpack, which was pretty cool (but not cool enough to make me want to run another half marathon, HA!).

It was a quick drive - about 15 minutes - from our hotel to the race start at Mission Concepcion.  We may have been a little too casual about the proximity, because when we got there, we had to park waaaaayyyy out in a field.  Luckily we still had about 30 minutes before the race began, but that was a pretty late arrival for us.  Still, we had time to take some pictures before the race started:
We were taking pictures while the race director was making announcements over a PA system, when he suddenly photobombed us!  Credit goes to our official photographer, Jimmymeow, for catching the moment.
 
We realized we were covering up the sign so we went behind it for another shot...also we can't get enough of ourselves.
Diane and I, pre-race.  I was a true renegade and wore last year's race shirt instead of our official RRC shirt.

One of the race officials started out singing the national anthem over the PA system, and then we all joined in.  It was a very sweet moment, with hundreds of people singing together.  Then the race began and we started our run.  It seems like the theme of our lives is that the Renegade Run Club cannot catch a break when it comes to race day weather, and this was no exception - it was 70 degrees, with humidity at a balmy 83%.  At least we had cloud cover for the entire race, but still - it would be really nice if just once this season, we could get some cool weather for a race.

Cary, Diane, and I ran together.  We left Mission Concepcion and ran through an older, more rundown section of the city, but there were plenty of people on the course plus volunteers and police officers directing traffic, so we weren't afraid.  Well before we could see Mission San Jose, we could hear the church bells ringing, which was really cool.  Mission San Jose is so interesting - we took our time going through the grounds, which added about three minutes to that particular mile, but it was totally worth it - check out our pictures:
 Approaching Mission San Jose.
Runners entering the grounds just ahead of us.
Selfie with a monk!
One of the wells, with all the different archways behind it.
Old brick oven in front of the tiny living quarters - see the wooden door and window?  A couple of the doors were open and we could see just how small the rooms were where the people used to live.
While Diane was taking pictures of the architecture, Cary and I slowly jogged ahead...she snuck in this shot of us and you can see how Cary is pointing out something - we were fascinated by the grounds and were talking about everything.  
Outside the Mission - we really need to go back and visit it when we're not trying to run through it.
The race course for the first part is either flat or slightly downhill.  This year, they changed the route a bit so that we'd finish right in front of Mission Concepcion, which meant that we took a different route down to the river.  It was a more remote and a lot more of a jungle feel, which made me extra glad I was running with friends this time (last year I ran this race solo).  Once we got to the river, we hit the rolling hills, along with the swarms of bugs.  They were bigger than gnats and stayed in groups that floated right along with us, which was annoying.  Mostly I was trying to not swallow any at this point.  We also saw a lot of ducks and waterfowl in the river, along with an otter.  Or a seal.  OK maybe it was just a large, slick-feathered black bird, but it was on a rock and the Californian in me saw an otter, plus I had runner's brain at that point.  Any case, it made for a nice distraction from the hills.

We ran back through the grounds of Mission Concepcion, where our fellow renegades were waiting for us at the finish line:
Diane and I - Cary had zipped ahead a minute earlier.

Whew!  I was HOT at the end and glad to be done.  But after a minute of cooling down I felt much better.  Diane and I ended up running into Father David at the finish area - he's the priest at Mission Concepcion and the person in charge of spearheading the renovations for the four missions.  The 5K race is named after him, so of course he ran it.  It was really interesting talking with him and hearing about the history of the missions - these buildings date back to the early 1700s!  Of course we had to get a picture with him:
He was wearing last year's race shirt as well!

Then we went over to the food tent, where they loaded us up with goodies - fresh fruit, Mexican cookies and pan dulce, and a cup of rice, black beans and grilled chicken from Pollo Tropical, which was really good:
The grass was damp, so we wandered over to the park sign to have a dry place to sit and eat.  While we were over there, Brian finished his half marathon - we cheered him on from our sign.

Jeff has been dealing with some foot pain for quite a while now and running hasn't gone well for him lately.  I was livetracking him via his Garmin, and could see that he was around mile 11.5, which was getting near the long, steep hill that we all had to run up (spoiler alert:  I walked that sucker).  Brian and Jimmymeow decided to walk back to meet him, which was really nice.  Another nice thing that Brian did was to take off his medal and leave it with Cary - I can tell you, there's nothing more demoralizing than still being on the race course when runners who've finished and gotten their medals and post-race refreshments are walking back toward you like it's just a day in the park.  At least limp, or act like you're in pain, you speedy runners!

We all were watching for Jeff when suddenly all three of them appeared - and they were all running!  I said to Karen that I didn't know Jimmy ran!  We may get him into a race yet.  They were too far away to get a good picture while they were still running, and then Jeff entered the finisher's chute and Brian and Jimmy pealed off, but you can see all three of them here:
Jeff, with Brian and Jimmymeow off to the side.
Here's Jeff coming in for his finish, with our friendly race announcer in the picture once more!

Renegades, post-race!  Cristy, Julia, Karen, me, Cary, Diane, Brian, and Jeff. 
My medal - once again, it's wood, which I love.

We had so much fun doing this race; it's challenging, the weather was warmer than we'd like, but the people and the location make it all worthwhile.  We'll be back next year.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tailwind Endurance Fuel Review

**Not a sponsored post - just sharing my experience with this product**

When you run for longer than an hour or so, you need to use something to refuel and rehydrate during your run.  Over the years, I've tried a lot of products, including all kinds of sugar-laden gels, jelly beans, and chews, along with Gatorade and Nuun.  More times than not I end up with the aching stomach that is known in the running world as runner's gut, and it can take me all day to feel better.

However, I need something to keep my energy up, as I have found out the hard way when my legs turn to jelly and I simply run out of oomph during a long run.  Plus I sweat like a fiend and will finish a run with a layer of salt crystals on my face and body.  But Gatorade gives me runner's gut and the new Nuun formula tastes terrible to me, so I was stuck with just water - at least I was hydrating, but I wasn't replacing the electrolytes.
I read about Tailwind in other running blogs - at first I wasn't sure what it even was, because they kept talking about using it as their fuel.  Was it a liquid, or was it a gel?  I finally had enough of the runner's gut and did a little investigating, and discovered that Tailwind is a powder that you mix with water - it has about 100 calories per scoop, and it provides you with a nice little trifecta in the form of hydration, electrolytes, and energy to replace some of what you're burning during a long run.  It's not sold locally in my area, so I had to order it - lucky for me, Amazon started carrying it while I was looking into it, which was nice because otherwise I'd have had to order it from the manufacturer and pay shipping, and I hate paying for shipping.
I got my first bag, which contained 50 servings, and both Jeff and I started using it for our long runs.  This was back in June, so we gave it a good test over the hot summer months.  My longest runs back then were 5 miles - 5 hot, humid, and very sweaty miles.  The Tailwind worked great and it was all I used for fuel, when previously I might have had a gel/GU around mile 3 if I was running 5 or more miles.  We used up the first bag and I reordered, thinking I'd given it a good trial and was ready to blog about it.  And then I had a longer run where I totally bonked while using it, so I held off on the review.  I ended up having to use some extra fuel in the form of GU, which I wasn't thrilled about because more than one will really make my stomach hurt, but we'd started our training for Houston and our runs got longer, so I didn't have much of a choice.  The Tailwind worked great, but it just wasn't quite enough for me - possibly because I am a slower runner - however, it certainly helped with giving me a steady stream of calories, as I'd take a drink way more often than I was taking a GU, and with every drink, I ingested a few calories.
I feel like a bit of a mad scientist, mixing up our special running potion...er, drink.

We are now on our third bag of Tailwind, and both Jeff and I still really like it.  I mix it up in a pitcher the night before our long run and usually pour some into our water bottles and put them in the freezer overnight, and then add the rest of the Tailwind to the bottles in the morning.  The bag of Tailwind costs $35, which makes it 70 cents per serving, which is pretty reasonable for us.

My favorite flavor is lemon - it's very light, and not at all artificial tasting, nor is it overly sweet.  My water bottle holds 24 ounces, which gets me through most runs on its own, but during my half marathon last month, I stopped at the water stations when my bottle was about half empty and topped it off with water.  An additional benefit to having lemon-flavored Tailwind in my bottle became apparent when, around mile 11, I noticed that as the volunteer was pouring water into my bottle from a plastic pitcher, a bit of debris (probably a small leaf) was poured into the bottle, so I dumped it all out and started with clean water.  I ran on, and when I took my first sip, I realized that the lemon flavoring had been masking the taste of the water, which wasn't very good.  I was really glad I hadn't had to taste that for all 13.1 miles!

As with a lot of things related to running, I'm always on the lookout for something new and magical that will make my running better.  And while Tailwind doesn't make me run super fast nor am I able to get through a longer run without still needing a little extra (right now I'm trying out the Bolt chews - jury is still out as to whether they will affect my stomach but so far it's looking good), it's been a great form of fuel and electrolytes that is working very well for both Jeff and I.  Tailwind didn't provide me with any free product nor have they compensated me for this review - I just wanted to share this with you, in case you are looking for something similar.

Friday, February 10, 2017

FMM - Meds, Plants, Pups...er, Pup

Nothing like coming home from Target only to discover you've purchased Children's Flonase instead of the adult version to make you feel like an idiot.  In my defense, the packaging is very similar, and I've been buying this stuff OTC for years; I didn't realize they started making a children's version.  See for yourself:

I think the ingredients are the same, just the warnings are different, but still.  Maybe they shouldn't put them right next to each other on the same shelf.  Or maybe I should learn to pay attention...

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My succulents have been loving the winter sun - almost all of them are thriving, and some have even started to turn a little pink, which happens when they get a lot of sun:
See the withered leaves on the bottom?  These were started from leaves pulled from other plants - you just set them on top of the soil and they grow from there and eventually root themselves, and you remove the withered leaves when they can easily detach from the new plant.
Here's a new set that I'm attempting to grow - these leaves broke off of another plant when I was repotting it.
Always in the midst of everything, Paco is.
 
 Here's Marvia...and a very curious nose.  Plant is named after my friend Matt's mother, who gave it to me when we visited her last August.
Better shot, although I couldn't quite get the pink on the edges to show up well in the pictures.  This plant has done the best out of everything that I brought back from California, and I think I need to move her to a bigger pot soon. 

I'm really enjoying my succulents and plan on buying some new plants in the coming months.  While we don't see quite so many varieties in Texas as I do in California, I think I can find some different shapes and colors to add to my little windowsill display. 

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Paco finally seems back to his old self.  On Wednesday, he was eating like a champ and even willingly went outside and laid in the sun while I trimmed some plants in the yard.  Yesterday, he posed for a picture for his blog friends:
Tank yu for all da nice words while I was sik.
 I lub yu.  Heer's a kiss.

Have a great weekend!