Thunder Thighs

On Monday night we had a meeting of the minds (or maybe it was a meeting of the feet) for the ambassadors of the Chevron Houston Marathon and the Aramco Half Marathon.

I was really pumped to meet the other people deemed worthy of representing my favorite race, in my favorite city in the entire world. After being seated and chomping on California Pizza Kitchen, we started chatting and getting to know each other a little better. They really picked a phenomenal cast of characters:

First up was Glauco, who I knew in passing from Brian O’Neil’s Running Club (which I’ve been going to for the past 3 years- it’s a running club with beer, what’s not to like?). He’s such a charming gentleman and a seasoned runner.  Post meeting he shared some hilarious race stories and gave me my new favorite phrase: “What doesn’t kill you makes for a great story.”

Then there was Shirin. Can you say gregarious and an absolute hoot? This gal is a super fit (her arms were incredible, so jealous!) and she was going running post meeting (that blew my mind). She’s running the Marine Marathon in a few weeks and I could tell that girlfriend means business.

To my left was Rebecca, in the middle of training for Ironman Texas. That’s 140.6 miles. REPEAT. 140.6 miles. Chew on that.

Next was Kelli, who runs six days a week (SIX!). And is working on qualifying for Boston. She’s also running the OKC marathon this weekend and then getting married. She was so laid back and calm, you would never have known her plate was so full.

Finally there was Heather, who I know through my favorite person to run races with (Trisha). I might know Heather a little better (we’ve run a ton of the same races together), except for she might be the fastest person I know IRL. So there is like zero possibility we would ever chat during a run. She is such a doll, and an incredible runner. I remember during the Lucky Trail Challenge (you run a half marathon on Saturday, celebrate St. Patty’s day and then run a full marathon on Sunday) a few years ago, we would see her whizzing past us since the trail was multiple loops. And she was at the finish line cheering for us as we finished what felt like hours later.  She’s also run the Comrades Marathon at least TWICE, which is easily the most badass thing I’ve ever heard.

It was a great brainstorming meeting and a true pleasure learning more about everyone. And Vicky with the Chevron Houston Marathon was so darling and patient with our incessant questioning. It was lovely as far as meetings go.

But I walked out of that meeting feeling like a lazy fat ass (at best). And horribly INADEQUATE.

I almost died when I did the half Ironman last year (like literally almost died). And if I run once a week, I consider it a productive week. My only goal when I start a race is “finish and don’t poop my pants“. Seriously.

I actually hung around after the meeting because I was deeply considering telling Vicky that I probably wasn’t a good person to represent the Chevron Houston Marathon. These people are athletes. And runners. And serious. And fit.

I’m just an uncoordinated and goofy blonde that likes medals and wearing tight running pants.

(And to be perfectly candid, flirting with hot shirtless guys at the beer tent)

I stayed up ALL night thinking and writing about how I felt (this is probably the 8th version of this post). And I finally came to this conclusion:

Not everyone that is running the Chevron Houston Marathon is a perfect athletic specimen.

There might even be some other non-runners who struggle to find time to train (because, really and truly going on a date is wayyyy more fun than running 17 miles alone).

And maybe, just maybe, there is at least one other person training for this race that is more proud that they ate 4 cupcakes after lunch and didn’t barf, than of their best 10k time.

And if that ONE person that could maybe relate does exist, then I’m going to keep plugging along both here and on the pavement. If my thunder thighs can make it 26.2 miles (no matter how long it takes), then so can yours. 

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I’m expecting.

You read that correctly.

I’ve been keeping this secret for almost a month now. I’m expecting… to really miss the Lone Star state.

What? Y’all should know by now that I would never be “expecting“.

I’ve been offered (and accepted) a position with a medical device company. And that offer includes moving away from the land of my people. And far away from real Mexican food.

First I’ll be moving to Boston, Massachusetts for about a month. Then it’s looking like I will either mosey over to Salt Lake City, Utah or Seattle, Washington. We’ll see where the wind takes me after that.

Wanna know something crazy? Except for a man that I met at a Nude Bike Parade in Seattle this summer (this is a true story), I don’t know a single person in either SLC or Seattle.

That really excites me.

I’m going to miss everyone in Houston (minus a few crazy ex-boyfriends), as it has been my home for the past 7 years and I’ve grown to love so many special people here. And not that anyone is going to miss my zany antics, but just in case, I’ll be back every other weekend until the Chevron Houston Marathon (I signed up for races and there is no way I’ll skip them).

Any advice for when #AverySecedesFromTheSouth ?

Adios Tejas

Saying adios to Tejas!

A walk down memory lane

When I was growing up, I had two parental figures in my life. My single and hard working mother, and my grandmother (from here on out I’ll call her by her real name, Gran-Gran).

Gran-Gran had a difficult job- dealing with a mouthy and stubborn little girl (me). She took me to endless ballet classes, swim meets, Nutcracker rehearsals, soccer games and would help me memorize pages and pages of dialogue for community theatre or enormous passages of the Bible for school. And I never heard her complain (although that doesn’t mean she didn’t send me to the backyard to find a switch to whip me when I talked back- which was often, no surprise there).

A fun little nugget about Gran-Gran: we call her the “sports savant” because to this day she can name any stat, player or score for the Cowboys, Mavs, and Rangers…from any year. If you talk during a Cowboys game, you are told to leave (needless to say, we don’t watch many Cowboys games together).

I am so fortunate to have built so many incredible memories with my Gran-Gran over the past 28 years and to have such a Godly woman to look up to.

Unfortunately, this past year, my darling Gran-Gran was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Wanting to always be positive and full of sunshine, I refused to believe it. When I’d call her, she would know all the scores, game times and heckle me about being a fan of the worst team in baseball. In my mind, nothing had changed.

As the year has progressed, I’ve seen some changes in Gran-Gran that make my heart (in all it’s cold, black glory) hurt.

She’s 88 years old, and with Parkinson’s, she can’t get around quite like she used to. So you can imagine my surprise, when my mom called to tell me that Gran-Gran was going to do the Dallas Alzheimer’s walk (being pushed in a wheelchair). I immediately signed up to support the woman who had supported me unconditionally for the past 28 years.

My marathon training this week was fully dedicated to Gran-Gran. All 2.5 miles of the Alzheimer’s walk. And in all honesty, it was the most rewarding 2.5 miles of my life.

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Enjoying my time with Gran-Gran after our “long run”.

A Beginners Guide to Running a Marathon

Can I tell you a secret, interwebs?

I am 100% NOT a runner.

Ask my dear friend Amy. She always laughs when people ask me about running, or think I’m this great runner, because she KNOWS that I’m not. I am huffing and puffing on our 6 mile walks around Rice every day. And training? Well that’s a funny topic. I don’t follow a training schedule, because it just doesn’t fit with my hectic lifestyle (i.e., I’d rather go on a date with the cute guy I met at the doctors office than go for a run). Somewhere all the real runners are judging me, and I’m a-okay with that (and the Chevron Houston Marathon is probably wishing they hadn’t picked me to be an ambassador).

Let me tell you a little story before I give my 10 tips on how to start training for your FIRST marathon (if you don’t want to read my little story, just use the scrolly button on the right side of your screen).

Back when I first moved to Houston, I had never run more than a mile (except maybe when forced back in high school). I started dating this guy who my friends and I commonly refer to as “TOTGA” (the one that got away). I was head over heels for this guy because he was the kindest and most brilliant person I had ever met. To this day, I can only find one flaw with him- HE LIKED TO EXERCISE (what a jerk, right?).

At that time in my life, I still had great metabolism and superb muscle tone, so I didn’t really need to exercise. But TOTGA was a former collegiate athlete. And he enjoyed doing activities that made you sweat (read into that what you want. . .except you, Mom).

One blistering hot afternoon, in the middle of a Houston summer, he suggested we take Sadie Burns  to go run around Rice. Wanting to do something that made him happy, I obliged. I could not tell you the last time I had run before that day, but it became apparent after about a quarter of a mile that I was DYING. Even Sadie Burns was out running me. I was panting. And sweating. And I ended up walking almost the entire 3 mile loop. I was beyond mortified. Here I was, this cute little (and immature) 23 year old, and my 32 year old boyfriend out ran me. My copout solution was to never run with him again, and when he suggested it, I would ride my bike along side him as he ran. Maybe that’s why he really was TOTGA.

Fast-forward to a few years later. I finally found the right shoes that didn’t make my back, or neck, or feet hurt. I signed up for the Blue-Bell 10k with some girlfriends and my boyfriend (like 3 boyfriends after TOTGA). Truth be told, the only reason I signed up for the Blue-Bell 10k was because I was PROMISED unlimited ice-cream post race (it’s totally true). I ran that 10k and didn’t stop running (except up hills, because I don’t do hills) the entire race.

My heart felt like it was going to explode.

My lungs were on the verge of collapsing.

My feet hurt like a bitch.

Then, I was finished. And I ate 3 ice cream sandwiches and 2 popsicles. It was glorious.

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This was my boyfriend. Just kidding, this is Jim and we ran together because we both had an affinity for Texas flag shorts. Note the popsicle. And my sheer happiness.

And that’s how I got hooked on running (I ran my first marathon roughly 7 months later). I just needed the right motivation (and for me, it was, and always will be, FOOD).

And now I present to you my 10 tips to training for your first marathon:

1. Find the right shoes. I have worn Vibrams or run completely barefoot for almost 5 years, but those don’t work for everyone. They don’t have to be expensive shoes, but they do need to fit your foot. There are so many specialty running shoe stores now that can help you find what works for you.

2. Set a goal. I’ve been running for a while now, and I still have days where my ONLY goal is to run the entire way through a song on my playlist without walking. My goals change every day. Sometimes I start with a goal to run 2 miles without walking, and it’s a “good running day”, and I end up running 12 miles because it feels right. And there are days where I suck wind, my feet hurt, and I tell myself it’s my last run ever. But whatever my goal is, I try to stick to it.

3. Get a running buddy, or join a running club. I walk every week day with Amy, but I run a couple of times a week with my friend Megan and virtually plan runs with my brother Preston. Megan and I are at a similar pace, and it helps to have someone to push you. We always pick a point in our run where we race each other to get our hearts really pumping, which I love.

4. SIGN UP FOR A RACE. I don’t exactly “train” for races , but I sign up for a boatload of races so that there is always something on the horizon. When my pocketbook is directly tied to something, you can bet that I’m going to get up and get the most bang for my buck.

5. Make a playlist you LOVE.  It helps me keep a good pace, and “get in the zone”. Some races don’t allow music, so make sure to check before putting your headphones on.

6. Figure out at what distances you might need “fuel”. I try to run always run with a snack (I like slices of apple or Kind Bars) in case I feel faint or get “hunger pains” in my back. My deal is that I get terribly sick (think runners trots) and crampy if I eat/drink more than 100 calories per hour, but do what works for you.

7. Find your second wind. Let’s get real y’all. I thought the second wind was just a myth. Or something my boyfriend would do after dinner. But it’s real. I can’t tell you how to find it, except to push through the pain until you start to feel awesome.

8. Get supporters. My friends are so sick of me asking them to come to my races, but do you know what? Sometimes the only thing that keeps me from calling a cab mid-run (which I’ve done before), is knowing that my friends are waiting on me at the finish line so we can all go have brunch. And pick them up. That way they can sleep in the car, and you can guarantee they’ll be there.

9. Walk the water stations in a race. It gives you mini-milestones to look forward to. I typically pick out the hottest guy at a water station, take my hat off, and pour water all over my body. I’d like to think I look sexy, but I’ve been told I just look like a moron. Whatever makes you happy, I guess.

10. Find your motivation. Mine is food and medals. You know what YOU love, make that your reward.

Do y’all have other tips for people considering doing their first race, like my friend Chad?

Dallas Running Club 15k

If you know me IRL (that’s in real life, for those of you not up to date on your acronyms), you know that I grew up in Dallas, but have lived in Houston for the past 7 years.

This weekend I went home to Dallas because my brother came back to Texas to see my grandmother (I’ll tell you more about her next week) and go to the Cowboys game. After what turned out to be a very exhausting day of travel (I left at 2:45 am and arrived around 11 pm), I arrived incredibly worn out. Long story short, there was a ton of traffic and I left my entire wallet in Houston (which is still missing, but that’s another story), so I had ONE dollar, which was absolutely terrifying and stressful. After eating a very late dinner with my mom, I went straight to bed and woke up at 5 am to run the Dallas Running Club 15k.

When I arrived at Winfrey Point on White Rock Lake, the temperature was a balmy 82 degrees. I picked up my race bib, stretched and headed to the starting line.  The clouds to the North were dark and foreboding, but it appeared that we were going to out run the rain (for what it’s worth, I enjoy rain runs as long as it’s over 80 degrees).

Winfrey Point View

The view from Winfrey Point, and the starting line.

Before I started the race, I had set a goal to run one extra mile after the race because Ineeded a little bit longer distance this week because I’m preparing to run the Dallas Marathon about a month and a half before the Chevron Houston Marathon. The race started and I ran the first 6 miles at a pretty decent (for me) 8:50 mile pace. Something I like to do during a race, is pick out someone that is my same speed and under no circumstances, let them beat me. It’s a good way for me to stay motivated and it helps to keep a steady pace. So I picked a waifish girl with strawberry blonde hair and pitted myself against her (in my mind).

Around mile 6, I started to have some trouble.  On Friday morning, I drank coffee (because at 2:45am you need something to keep you awake on the road), which is a diuretic and causes me to convince myself that I have an extreme case of OAB (this probably has something to do with the fact that I sell a drug that treats OAB, thus becoming a borderline hypochondriac every time I need to void). I hit mile 6.2 and all I wanted to do was go to the bathroom, but there wasn’t a port-o-potty in sight. I was forced with the decision to either pee in my pants (which I’ve only done once before while running, and it was accidental. TMI?), or pop a squat and hope no one was offended by nature calling my name. I opted for the latter.

Right as I was slowing down because I was in so much pain from my full bladder, I spotted a port-o-potty (I actually think angels started singing, it was such a glorious moment), and made my way over. It was surprisingly clean (considering it was public and on the lake), so I did my business and picked back up on my run.

About this time, the wind started to whistle, and I could see the impending storm was getting much closer to the lake (this race was one full loop around White Rock). It was still warm out (and I was sweating), so the rain would have been a welcome respite from the heat.

The problem with the wind, is that it caused my timing chip to keep blowing up and hitting my foot. For a normal person, this might not have been a problem, but I have some major sensory issues (I can’t wear jewelry, wristbands, etc. otherwise I get very panic-y from things touching my skin) and this made me crazy. And not just the normal crazy, but the full blown, “getting upset and considering calling a cab to take me to my car” crazy. I was stopping every 100 feet to adjust it and try and calm myself down, but after 2 miles of this, I couldn’t take it anymore and I ripped off the timing chip and put it in the zipper pocket of my running pants. This calmed my nerves, and I picked my steady pace back up.

I was feeling good when I hit mile 9 and could tell that the temperature was rapidly dropping, because I’d get gusts of wind off the lake that would send shivers down my spine. Around mile 9.2, I heard a noise, and turned around to see the sky had opened up, and I was about to get drenched. I pulled my sunglasses off and kept hustling, trying to out run the rain, but no such luck. I crossed the finish line, and kept going for another 9 minutes, getting whipped by the wind and rain. By the time I had finished my extra mile, I was drenched and shivering. I walked a very cold mile or so back to the finish line (only to discover there were no medals, which was disappointing) and hopped in my car and headed home. It was 54 degrees (a temperature differential of 28 degrees). Brrrrrrrr.

It definitely wasn’t the greatest race of my life, but it was really nice to get a training run in alone, because I think I’ll be running the Dallas Marathon sans a running partner, which can definitely be more challenging (if anyone reading this knows someone who runs an 8:30-9:30 minute mile doing the FULL Dallas Marathon that’d like to run with me, please reach out to me, I’d love a buddy on race day!).

Did any of y’all have good training runs or races this weekend? I’d love to hear about it to put on the race calendar for next year!

-anb

Running Buddy

If you’ve ever run further than, I dunno, say around the block, you know that it’s helpful to have a running buddy (or two) to keep you motivated and hold you accountable. Especially if you are training for a longer race.

This is the twisted story of how I obtained my running buddy for the 2014 Chevron Houston Marathon.

Last year, I went to go visit my brother Preston at his mountain home in Colorado.  I don’t remember exactly what we were doing (I think we might have been rock climbing, or something that I was really not good at), but I came up with this wacky idea that I wanted Preston to run a marathon with me.

A little background on my little younger brother- he is 6’2″ and 98% muscle (I’m 5’11” and 2% muscle). He volunteers multiple hours a week rescuing people off the sides of mountains, or when they get lost in the wilderness. Remember the floods that happened in September? When the national guard couldn’t get to people, they called my brother’s team to save them, because they are the experts in swift water rescue in Colorado. I’ve never seen Preston try something and not be exceptional at it. He is handsome and incredibly smart. He gets along with everyone and is hilarious and quirky. Basically, every good gene that my parents possessed, was given to him (which is a pretty decent explanation of how I turned out to be so medicore).

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Here we are together, right after I challenged him to a swimming competition (because I’m actually an excellent swimmer). But of course, he won. In my defense, it was close.

So what was I thinking, begging him to run a marathon with me?

I was thinking that he HATES to run.

And maybe, just maybe, this would be the thing that I was better at doing.

So I suggested that he run a Turkey Trot  with me.

His response?

HELL NO.

Hmmmmmmmm.

Perplexed, I came at it a different way. I suggested we make a wager. If he would run a marathon with me, then I would climb a 14,000 ft mountain (better known as a Fourteener) with him. Surprisingly, he agreed to it (and for what it’s worth, his first race ever was that Turkey Trot, [that he ran in someone else’s shoes because he forgot his], and he came in like 10th place, further proving that he is seriously good at everything).

And that’s the story of how I got my running buddy for the Chevron Houston Marathon. We’re doing training runs together across the country, and encouraging each other via texts and the “challenge” section of the Nike+ training app. This will be his first time in Houston and I am thrilled that he’ll get to see so much of the city I love, by running it.

A funny thing happened after Preston was accepted into the Chevron Houston Marathon lottery. He went and bought REAL running shoes. And he started running (up mountains, because that’s totally normal, right?). And then HE started sending ME links to other races we could run together. Turns out, Preston has learned to love running. Maybe if we’re lucky, he’ll guest blog one day about his experience thus far (hint, hint).

And in case you’re wondering, he is 100% going to kick my ass. Even my biggest fan (our mom) agrees.

Do you have any training suggestions for Preston’s first big race?  Who do you think is going to win between the Burns siblings (vote in our poll below!)?

-anb