Short post: Sam Houston, who’s running for AG – and couldn’t have a better name, amirite? – visited the party office today to visit with Battleground Texas folks. So of course, I came up and took some photos. I wanted to stay longer and get some individual photos of him with my colleagues, but I had to get to the track and squeeze in some miles. So all I could shoot was the little stump speech he gave.

So, take a look:

SamHouston_010 SamHouston_019

 

Today I transferred my runs from my Garmin and checked out my miles since Sunday. I was surprised to see my weekly mileage total:

garminreport

To many, many runners, this is not a big deal. It would not have been a big deal for me early last year, when I would go out on Saturday and do a 13-miler, then 5- or 6-mile runs the rest of the week. But being injured lowers your standards. A lot. So I was happy that my body was strong enough to allow me to achieve this milestone, modest though it may be.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. A while back, I resolved to do more strength training to reduce my risk of injury. For a long time, this consisted of a once-a-week group barbell class at Lifetime. And…I really didn’t see any changes. So this past week – in addition to running 20 miles – I stepped it up on the strength front, doing a bootcamp class on Easter Sunday, yoga on Tuesday, and group barbell on Wednesday. To do all that in ADDITION to running 20 miles – well, I feel pretty good about myself right now.

I’m not going to say that I’ve seen any concrete changes from this super-active week, but I have been sleeping better (I guess I’m wearing myself out) and I do feel tighter and trimmer all over. I’ve also been half-assedly trying a clean eating challenge with my new running group, so that’s probably part of it, too.

Will I be able to do a repeat this week? We’ll see. One of the ladies in the Sunday bootcamp class told me the class is usually super-duper crowded, but attendance was pretty light due to Easter. I hate hate hate crowded classes so I’m thinking I’m going to skip tomorrow’s session, but with a little planning, I think I can fit in a couple of strength sessions somewhere.

Here’s to a great end-of-April and beginning-of-May!

I will say, first thing, that I did not have high hopes for my performance at the Trek the Trails 5K in McKinney this past weekend. Some kind of head cold had dragged me down and I had not run for about 4 days when race day rolled around. I still had a good bit of congestion and just was not feeling on top of my game. But, like a good runner (who had paid her entry fee!), I made the journey up to McKinney on the morning of April 19 and lined up with all the other runners.

As far as races go, it was a fairly small one. The race’s web page had said the start time was 8 a.m., but that was really for the handful of people running the half marathon. Since I didn’t have anything else to do while waiting, I snapped a photo of them taking off:

trekthetrailshalfThen it was time for our race. I found the course to be fast and flat, and the weather pleasantly breezy, but my feet felt like lead and it was a struggle to keep an 8:00 pace. I cursed all of those times that I trained at an easy 9:30 or 10:00 pace and decided right then and there to start speed work ASAP. Sometime after mile 2, I ended up stopping and walking for about 20 seconds, because my body was just worn out and I needed a brief respite.

But something interesting happened in the last two-tenths of a mile. My head was telling me to slow down, but I knew I was doing OK. So I started to pick up the pace. The slightly faster pace felt all right, so I took it up a few more notches. I picked off a handful of runners that were a few paces ahead of me. Usually, I am the one being picked off, so this was HUGE for me. I ended up crossing the finish line doing something like 7:30. Wow!

My end time was 25:52, about 40 seconds slower than my last 5K two weeks prior, but I gave myself a pass since I had been sick. So I was really blown away when I checked out the results and saw that I had placed first in the 35-39 age group!

trekthetrailsresultsGiven the fairly-fast-but-not-quite-competitive pace that I run at, awards are a hit-or-miss thing for me. So this was a really nice surprise. While waiting for the awards to be handed out, I managed to meet up with some fellow members of the local chapter of Moms RUN This Town. I have only run with this group once so far, but they are terrific ladies. I had never met the fellow group members who came to the race, but introduced myself anyway and they didn’t even think I was a weirdo. (At least, I don’t think they did!) They even took a pic of me with my participation medal (which everyone got) and the age group award:

trekthetrailswithmedals

My hair is really weird here.

After the race, I immediately went home and fetched my kids, met some friends at the park, went to the farmer’s market, and then came home and cleaned up just in time to catch an FC Dallas game in Frisco. When my hair is clean, it makes all the difference in the world, I think.

jenandpatrickatfcdallas

I then got up Sunday morning and did some serious working out…but that’s a post for another day. Have a good week!

Trek the Trails 5K, McKinney
April 19, 2014
Time: 25:52
Avg pace: 8:21

 

tiredrunner

How I feel after running outside in July in Texas.

At this time of year, the weather is absolutely PERFECT in Texas. Breezy, cool in the mornings and evenings, pleasantly warm in the middle of the day. But I always get sad when this weather arrives, because I know that within a few weeks, it will get hotter … and hotter … and hotter, until running outside becomes more of a chore than an enjoyment.

I know a lot of runners around here love running in warm weather, but I hate it. It slows down my pace and adds a lot to my pre-run preparations – slathering on sunscreen, remembering to bring water, and carrying something to wipe the sweat from my face. If I’m out for a REALLY long run, I also have to carry extra sunscreen with me, because I tend to wipe it off when I’m clearing away the sweat.

I usually do my last road race sometime in May, and then switch up my running to be about 50 percent indoors-50 percent outdoors, until about October. Granted, it’s not ALL about weather. The kids aren’t in school in the summer, and I can’t exactly leave them alone in the house while I go for a run, so I either log the miles on the upstairs treadmill or go to the gym, which has childcare. So there is a practical edge. But the other reason for heading indoors is to escape the searing heat. Unless you’re willing to be out the door by 5 a.m., running during the day in July is not really an option around here. At least, it’s not for me, being the heat wimp that I am. And being a night owl, I can rarely get up at 5.

So this always leads to the question: What’s going to be my last race until the fall? I still haven’t decided. I’m considering the Lovejoy Country Run, which I missed last year, but I’m also thinking about pushing myself and doing a 10K, like the Derby Run or the Sprint for Cancer. It’s so funny – a year ago, I could have practically run a 10K in my sleep, and in fact, did runs of 7+ miles several days a week. But times have changed, injuries have persisted, and these days, a 10K would be a challenge.So that’s what I’m penciling in as my goal…but I’m reserving the right to change my mind. 🙂

Next up: The Trek the Trails 5K in McKinney. Hey, that’s tomorrow. I better get to bed!

not my wrist.

not my wrist.

So last night, I accompanied my husband to a vaguely-work-related type dinner at a very fancy steakhouse in Dallas. In the middle of the meal, it came out that the woman across the table from us was an avid tennis player, so I shared that I was a runner. The other ladies at the table then got interested in our conversation, and asked that question that I get at least once a week:

“How do you find the time?”

And the answer is: I don’t really know. Truth be told, I really don’t have time to run. I own my own business, work a part-time gig that requires me to be out of the house, take care of 2 kids, and serve as the house’s chief cook and bottle-washer. (And laundry mistress, and toilet scrubber, and playroom organizer…and…) And yet, I find myself fitting in anywhere from 15 to 20 miles per week – which I know is not a huge amount of miles, and certainly not anything that’s going to get me to the Boston Marathon, but it works for me, my schedule, and the various aches and pains I’m dealing with from week to week. Emphasis on it works for me. What works for me isn’t going to work for everyone. Hell, what works for me right now isn’t going to work for me when the kids get out of school in June.

But when people ask me this question, they usually want an answer. So over the years, I have come up with a few tips for fitting running into a busy schedule. I’ve decided to share them here. These suggestions may help you, or they may be garbage for you. Like I said, these are my strategies.

1. Run early. I am currently at a job that requires me to be in an office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – the majority of the hours that my kids are at school. So I can’t get out on the road in the mid-mornings like other people do. So, I get dressed in my running clothes first thing in the morning and eat a pre-run breakfast while helping my kids get dressed and pack their lunches.Then, the moment I step back inside the house from school dropoff, I’ve got my Garmin on and I’m out the front door. After I get back, I have about 45 minutes to shower and get off to work. It’s hurried, but the miles are out of the way first thing, and then I get a nice endorphin boost to help me be energetic at work.

2. Run late. This is the strategy I usually switch to after the kids get out for summer vacation. My kids are too big (and easily bored) to take them in a jogging stroller with me, so I will wait until my husband gets home in the evenings and put in my miles then. I really don’t like this routine as much because it tends to be hotter in the evenings than first thing in the morning (this is Texas, after all!), but it gets the job done.

3. Get creative. When Mark is going to be super late getting home in the summers, or when he is out of town, I will sometimes improvise by logging miles at the gym on the treadmill. They allow up to 2 hours in the child-care center, and that’s usually plenty of time to log a mid-distance run. Again, not my favorite because I hate the treadmill and I tend to run slower on it. But again, I’m “out there” running, and it accomplishes more than sitting on the couch.

4. Let some other things go. Sometimes, there is simply no way to fit running into your life without letting other things slide. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating tossing aside the important stuff – family (and sometimes, work) should come first. But I would bet 98 percent of us have some other things in our lives that we could scale back on a bit without too much damage. For example, my bathtub is impossibly dirty right now. I probably could have cleaned it this morning instead of running, but I chose running. This past weekend, I also got up early on Sunday to log some miles, even though it would have been nice to sleep in. It’s all about priorities. You have to decide if running is important enough for you to put it ahead of other things. If you put it dead last on your list, you probably won’t get to it very often.

5. Plan ahead. If your life is even remotely busy, you’ll probably have to do a decent amount of scheduling on some days to make those runs happen. Say you’re an evening runner, and you have a business function after dinner. Can you get up super duper early that day and run? Go to the gym midday? Do a shortened version of your run and arrive at the function late? See what you can come up with.

6. Realize that your plans won’t always work out. I have seen many, many people give up on running because they got waylaid by one thing or another. One day off turned into two,  two turned into four, and so on. Don’t fall into this trap. It happens to all of us. And it sucks when it does. But you slip on those running shoes the next day and you deal.

I hope this helps someone. What are the tips that work for you?

springsprintA few weeks ago, when I was visiting my mother in Alabama, I was on a post-race high and impulsively signed up for the Stonebriar Spring Sprint – not even thinking about the fact that the Fairview Half and 5K, practically in my backyard, was being held the same day. Oh well. So, on April 5 I got in my car, passed all the blocked-off roads in Fairview, and headed over to Frisco for my race.

A little backstory. Three days prior, I had visited Run On McKinney to pick up my packet and found out that they did not have any race shirts in my size (adult small). If this were a plain cotton shirt I would not have cared one bit, but the shirts were tech shirts and I really wanted one. I can always use another tech shirt to train in. Anyway, the ladies at Run On told me that I would probably be able to swap out my adult M for a S. OK, cool.

Anyway, on to race day. I got there about half an hour before the race and came to the registration table, shirt in hand, ready to exchange. They didn’t have any smalls. Oh well. I took the (extremely large-cut) shirt back to my car.

The race: It was a good crowd and everyone seemed enthusiastic. I understand this is the first year of this race, and they managed to put together a nice vendor fair with free shaved ice and treats from the local Corner Bakery. I took off at a steady 8:00 pace, being sure not to venture too far into 7:00 territory, lest I lose steam. The course had one 180-degree turn, which I hate.

The most notable thing to happen, however, came as we were in the middle of mile two – a very tall gentleman fell right in front of me. And I don’t mean “fell” as in tripped a little, or stumbled. No, this dude went flat on his face right on the road. People started dodging him. In a split second, my brain did this little calculation: Help him or go on to preserve my time and pace? Of course, the right thing to do would be to stop, but in the heat of a race, sometimes common decency goes out the window. In the end, I yelled “Are you okay?” and extended my hand to help him up, made sure he was able to stand and looked mostly uninjured, and then went on without another word. I saw him later a few paces behind me. (I found the gentleman after the race and he told me a kid darted in front of him, causing him to stop short and lose his balance. Darn kids!)

My final time ended up being 25:11, well ahead of my previous race time of 26:26 and even better than the race before that, the Allen Eagle Run. Would I have gotten a better time if I had not stopped to help my fellow racer? Possibly. But at least I can sleep well at night knowing I did the right thing.

I didn’t really take any race pics except this one: A shot of everyone crowding around the printed race results (which were already online at that point).

springsprintresults

UPDATE: I did a little polite complaining on the race’s Facebook page and the good folks who put on the race have informed me that they do, in fact, have a size small shirt for me. I’m going to get it tomorrow. Way to go, organizers!

 

 

 

"Hi Rick, have you changed your mind about being a raging tool?"

“Hi Rick, have you changed your mind about being a raging tool?”

Today I was working at ye olde party office and got a phone call from a gentleman, and it’s been weighing on my mind. Today, of course, is the signup deadline for commie death panel insurance Obamacare and he was trying to arrange things for his father, who is 72 and was not able to sign up for an insurance plan. Why? Because he doesn’t make enough money to afford the premiums, and since our illustrious governor was pigheaded enough to pass up $13 billion in federal aid to expand Medicaid, the father in question was stuck. He’s old enough for Medicare, but since he only became a permanent resident 4 years ago, won’t be eligible for that program for another year.

In short, the gentleman on the phone was trying to file a hardship exemption for his father, but didn’t know which form to use. After giving him the number for the Urban League of Dallas, which has trained Navigators on staff, he thanked me and switched topics. He wanted to know how he would go about volunteering with the Democratic Party, “because you are the ones looking out for Latinos.” I invited him to stop by the office and fill out a volunteer sheet.

It’s tough to describe how I felt after hanging up. On the one hand, I’m sad that there are so many people out there falling into the Medicaid expansion gap, simply because we have a preening asshole for a governor. On the other hand, if this guy is representative of how most Latinos in Texas feel about the Democratic Party…we are in for a big sea change in Texas politics, sooner rather than later.

If they are going to stay afloat, the Texas GOP needs a new strategy. A better one than “Hey, my wife is Latina.”

When I first started writing about running, I wasn’t sure how – or if – having a blog would directly benefit my running practice. Well, today I found something that might fill this very hole: Run This Year’s April Instagram Challenge. Every day of the month has a different running “task” for you to complete and share on Instagram. For example, on April 5 I could share a pic of my Garmin, on the 21st I could take a pic of a new running course, and so on.

I already know that I won’t be able to complete every day of the challenge, because my IT band issues make it hard to run every day. But I’m going to try to share a picture every day regardless. If you would like, you can follow me on Instagram to see them.

Here’s the challenge! I’m excited!

runthisyearapril

 

texaspoliticalorganizers

Will work for free pizza and crappy coffee.

1. No, I’m not getting paid to do this. Sadly, Battleground Texas is not issuing me a paycheck. I’m just someone trying to make the state a better place. Hey, would you like to volunteer too?

2. I don’t have life-sized Obama tapestries in my home, but I do have shelves in my closet devoted solely to name tags and convention swag.

3. I actually have friends that are Republicans. And some of them (some!) are damn good people. We just keep the political discourse civil, and to a minimum.

4. Political donations, while absolutely essential, usually just lead to more outfits hitting you up for cash. So research your organizations carefully, decide which ones are most representative of your values, and send your money there. Over and over again.

5. That Democratic congressional candidate running in that super-red district probably won’t win. But we’re going to get him as many votes as we can, because each cycle, we get a little closer. For Democrats in Texas, winning is about the long game, not flipping tons of districts in one cycle.

6. I really don’t want to knock on your door any more than you want to answer it.

7. No, I don’t have the personal phone numbers for Wendy Davis or President Obama. I do, however, have the business cards of 100+ of their interns, field directors, and operations directors. And none of them ever return calls.

8. If you see a group of 5 or more of us working together somewhere, there’s a really, really good chance that at least two of us have screamed at each other in the past 24 hours.

9. We may go on and on about how much we love organizing, but most of us secretly harbor fantasies of being the next Wendy Davis or Julian Castro.

10. Drinks consumed at or near a political convention don’t really count. We’re working, right?