Waco-ing

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Austin suffers from big little city syndrome. We are on not really a little city anymore, but not quite a big city. We have the restaurants of a big city, certainly the traffic, and a massive university. We are definitely lacking the museums of a big city. Our children’s museum had a recent upgrade and is better, but still not on par with a major city. While Waco is much smaller than Austin, their children’s museum absolutely rocks. Jaspy’s daycare was closed today, so we headed up north to Waco.

First we hit the Y, and he did child watch while I did yoga. I also ran this morning at a ridiculous hour, so I am completely pooped now, and the yoga teacher was a bendy, little Lululemon model, so I will be hurting tomorrow. We went straight from the Y to the highway. First stop was Cameron Park, which is one of the best parks I’ve been to. 20 miles of trail, people! How awesome is that? And it’s just beautiful. There is a fantastic race here every spring that I’ve done twice…it’s a trail race that is super hilly, but runnable. And 100% old school….inexpensive with a post race fajita cook out. Note to self….must do it in 2015. We hit the splash pad which was just meh, but just being in a new place on a “trip” made Jasper declare it’s awesomeness. We next hit the playground which was pretty good. Then we headed over to the museum. I was starving by this point, and Jasper was living on crackers and milk, so he could care less about lunch and was foaming at the mouth to get into the dinosaur exhibit. I pretty much drug him to a Starbucks on the Baylor campus and ate their last breakfast sandwich and inhaled a latte. I found it odd the Starbucks had kid’s squeeze-y fruit pouches. I’m pretty sure Jasper is the only child to ever hit up the Starbucks at the Baylor science building….but we were happy to find a kid’s food.

The museum was just amazing. I love natural history museums and this was a mix of natural history and kids discovery stuff. It seemed endless. We had a great time. Friends with kids listen up…I totally thought this was worth the drive. Just don’t go on a football game day. I thought it was vastly better than the Austin museum. I coerced Jasper to leave by giving in to a gift shop purchase, and we ended the day with a trip to Sonic in nearby Lorena. Side note: are you a Sonic or a DQ person? I hate to admit, but I think I prefer Sonic. If I’m on the road and in a food wasteland, a Sonic grilled cheese will do the trick. Anyhow, I’m tired now….and in need of popcorn and a movie in bed.

In running news…it’s going. It’s the meat of the marathon training. My victory this week was hill running on RainCreek parkway. Trust me, it’s hilly, and forcing myself to run hills at 5:30 am is a victory, no matter what the pace. And I listened to an old Western States podcast at work this week. Why did I do that? It just makes the wheels in my head start turning when I should not think of such things. Then again, a day with a long drive, a park, and museum and a long drive home with a hyper 4 year old is probably the equivalent of a 40 mile run. Can you say training?

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Routes…

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This is a very old picture. Probably about 13 years old. Scary. But it remains one of my favorite runs ever. It was on a path in Montana that was a perfect 6 miles long along a rushing river. What made it so perfect? Great weather, a very runnable path, some hills, and beautiful scenery. This is my favorite kind of run. I never loved trail runs for rough rocky trails. I much prefer something runnable with pretty views, but still with some challenges. Some of my top runs meeting this criteria have been the Estes Park marathon, the St George marathon, my running last month in Langley, WA.

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One of my few running pictures…

I bring all this up because I have been doing a great long run route from my house that fits my criteria. Now it’s obviously not in the mountains, but I get views of Balcones Canyonlands, there are some very challenging hills, and I usually see deer. There are definitely plenty of reminders of the suburbs, but overall it’s a run that recharges the soul after a week’s worth of sitting in traffic and the general rat race that happens most weekdays.

Side note: Have I mentioned we are going to Florida in a couple weeks? We are doing a big family trip for my brother in laws birthday near Destin. My fingers are crossed that I find a route meeting my criteria, and that we are not up against a major highway or that I’m limited to running up and down a touristy strip of neon tshirt shops and piped in Jimmy Buffet songs. Give me some pine trees and white sand please!

Anyhow, a good running route is a precious thing. A good running route close to home is as good as gold…..or at least as good as dark chocolate.

Ok, time for a little core work since I have a fondness for dark chocolate…..

Like a wet blanket…

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A humid Texas morning is often described as feeling like you’re out in the heat with a big, wet blanket draped over you. Definitely the case today….it was brutal. But I knew it would be. We are in the dog days. So I tried to psych myself up all week that it would just be hard. It was. At 5:30 am it was 82 already. The run was pretty much brutal from mile 10 on….and I did 20. I was happy to have buddies for this one. But, on the home front, the morning had been plotted out for me to run, I really felt fine, just hot, so I had to suck it up. I’m glad to check the 20 miler box, but I’m hoping the next one isn’t quite so hard. I honestly think 20 on the treadmill may have been easier than this. And note to self….if I drive to a 20 miler, pack a snack for the ride home. I was scavenging the glove box for a half eaten jolly rancher or something…..anything. I don’t think I’ve ever been so hungry.

Now I’m at a bounce house sipping Nuun and wearing compression socks. I look ridiculous, but I don’t think the 4-7 year olds around me care. The adults around may question my outfit, but I don’t think explaining ” I have on funny socks because I ran 20 miles in the heat that you are currently inside escaping.”, would do much for justifying my fashion choice. Luckily at the bounce house Jasper has no trouble playing with other kids and going all out so I just sit on the sidelines and ignore the urge to lay down on the couches set out for parents.

But it’s done! Always a big victory to knock out 20 milers in marathon training cycles. Even if it was done under a wet blanket the entire time.

Better? Easier? Different?

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It wasn’t that  long ago that this was most of my runs…

Jasper is 4 1/2 now, and I think we’ve finally hit the point where it a lot easier to do just about everything. Not that all the other ages didn’t have their merits…they did, but there were a lot of challenges. Birth to age one is just a blur of sleeping in 2 hour stretches, and little did I know this would continue for a LONG time. Actually, predictable sleep , finally at age 4, is what has made things much better. Its totally changed my running. We said good bye to the running stroller at 4, and I was ready to strike out on my own again. Over the last few months I’ve started meeting other people to run much more regularly. We’ve started using the gym childcare and all the classes I’ve wanted to do for the last couple years are now a possibility. I’ve been able to run errands with Jasp without massive tantrum protests. I credit a lot of the changes to going to OT, and some of it I think was just aging out of toddler behaviors.

We do a lot more stuff than we did a couple summers ago…..I’m never really at a loss for activities and we get a lot more variety. The big challenge that has started at 4 is scheduling. We’ve got a lot more activities and I feel like we have days we never slow down. But I’ll take it.

Another really nice thing about age 4 1/2 is I’ve added a lot of my stuff back into my life. I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve never really had to give up running, even when Jasper was a baby. But I put other stuff on hold. My evenings are much more predictable now than even a year ago. I’m reading real books again! Some nights I’m really tired because we are always on the go, but I now have a pretty good idea of what time I get to have a little downtime, and I don’t worry about going to bed only to get woken up a couple hours later.

Travel is waaaay better too. No more pull ups, diapers, bottles and all the baby supplies. We have to pack all Jasper’s special foods still, but at least that’s it. I look back and wonder why we ever took vacation when he was little. It was so hard! Our last trip he did great, other than a hunger strike, but I guess living off milk and crackers for a few days won’t kill him.

So very cautiously, I say things have gotten easier. We’re crazy busy, but I get enough sleep most nights, I can schedule my runs when I want to do them ( not at 4am with a stroller, and a child who woke up at 3:00), and we get to do a lot of fun things together. Like today….gym, Trader Joe’s and swimming. It’s going to be a good day….

Feeling fuzzy…

After spending the last 2+ months saying, “It’s not that bad out”, but it got real over the last couple weeks.  We finally hit a super hot long run this weekend.   multiple days in a row of 100 degrees means it just doesn’t cool off that much overnight.  I hyped it up in my head all week, since I’d come home overheated from just a short, weekday runs.  I guess I hyped it up so much in my head, it ended up being not that bad.  It was hot, but I felt no worse than I have on any of the other long runs I’ve done lately.  By evening I had a touch of fuzzy headedness….I always attribute to mild dehydration.  I just don’t think it’s possible to completely replace all that gets sweated out when it’s this warm out.  We skipped core class at the gym and instead I took Jasp to a new bounce house and did my own core class at home…which I must have done a good job because I am sore today.  Jasp spent the entire weekend on the move with flag football, swimming, trampoline park and a bounce house visit.   I think I absorbed some of his tiredness afterwards or something, because this morning I had the “I just don’t feel like I can wake up” sensation, and it was actually a welcomed off day.   But the really cool thing is I can tell I’ve been running hills.  They felt easier.  Dare I say training works?  This coming weekend is the first 20 miler of this marathon training cycle, so it’s really starting to come together. 

Not a whole lot to add…it’s been a busy couple weeks, feeling pretty stacked with all the stuff we put on our plates.   But sometimes that’s just how life is….schedule it, and get it done.

The weekend of a 57 year old…

Forgive all my food pictures, I must have been hungry this weekend, but come on, homemade pizza!!
Forgive all my food pictures, I must have been hungry this weekend, but come on, homemade pizza!!

I am digging my new running schedule.  I went so long stressing out every Saturday run, trying to make it to Jasper’s activities on time, and now on Sunday, I just try to finish by a time that is considerate to my family…but it’s so much less stressful!  Plus, taking Monday as an off running day is serving me well.  I am always tired and sore Monday, so it just makes sense. 

This weekend was how I define a good long run.  Company…yes, Steve joined me (thanks!), challenging…yes, we had some REALLY good hills, everything cool on the homefront…yes, this part is critical.  I so much appreciate my family excusing me for a couple of hours, (or 3 since I’m slow).  We did what is officially my favorite route through north Austin, which includes plenty of water stops, and always some wildlife sightings.  Next, taking advantage of Jasper’s still present declaration of love for the Y’s childcare, Mike and I went to another core class.  I would not normally do that after a hard long run, but you don’t always get to pick when you have free time, and you go when you can go.  I had to take a short nap or I may have died before taking Jaspy swimming.  He’s such a good swimmer now that I really don’t have to do much.  It really just means a lot of time in the sun which can be tiring after a long run, but then homemade pizza afterwards refueled me well!

These are the kind of run weekends I am thankful for.  I’ll take what I can get, and if the treadmill is what works, so be it, but a nice morning outside, followed by a nice day (and good food), is what makes me love marathon training.

Of course today I am sore, sore, sore.  The core class didn’t seem as intense as last weekend’s but perhaps I underestimated how much I’d feel it today.  And my legs felt it enough last night that I slept in compression socks…yes, I am a pitiful.  Speaking of, Jasper got a Wii Fit game this weekend after earning good behavior stickers in multiple categories (Wii Fit is not cheap….he had to pool together A LOT of good behavior stickers).  I created my profile and based on my BMI and balance score, it said my fitness level equates me to an age of 57 years old.  Yes, after my high of running 18 miles and doing 30 minutes of various plank exercises, a video game managed to put me back in my place.  I’m old, but not quite 57.  I’m hoping to knock a couple of years off  by the end of this marathon training cycle….or at least manage not to add even more years….

Snow monsters in August…

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Pure taro deliciousness….in the bowl, please excuse Mike’s arms

The above is a Taiwanese ice cream, aka a snow monster. It super fine crystals of taro flavored ice milk that just melt in your mouth, and the purple stuff is taro pudding. Let’s just say I have a new favorite dessert.

In other news…..I have 18 miles, a core class, and an afternoon of swimming with an extremely active child scheduled tomorrow. That could mean another snow monster….