Fun Friday Q and A

I’ve noticed several bloggers have been doing Q&A posts recently, so I figured now is as good of a time as ever to answer some of those burning questions that I know are keeping you up at night!

1. How long have you been running and why/how did you start?  I have been running for 4 years.  The catalyst for my transition to a healthier lifestyle was seeing my fat arms in a picture that was taken from behind.  Nevermind that I had a muffin top and needed to lose 15 pounds, I was worried about the arm fat!  I started making healthier food choices almost immedately and started running with a Couch 2 5K program within a couple of weeks.  I ditched C25K when I had to walk for 5 min after running 8.  I figured it was easier to keep going….and I haven’t stopped since!  (Except for the stupid ITB injury, but I’m not going to mention that)

2.  Which Jen likes hills?  And why do you name them?  First, both Jens LOVE hills.  (If you are unfamiliar, I have a split personality: Crazy Jen and Sane Jen)  The bigger the hill, the better.  And, for the record, I’ve only named one hill… I affectionately call my “go-to” hill “Old Friend”.  (When I’m on my way to the hill, anway.  When I am 3/4 of the way up Old Friend, I usually say words that I hope other people don’t hear.)

Old Friend.  84' increase in .44 mile.  Making my mouth water just thinking about it!
Old Friend. 84′ increase in .44 mile. Can’t wait until I tackle this ‘friend’ again!

3.  If you could live anywhere other than Texas, where would it be?  I would not, could not live anywhere else.  So, if living in another state is required, I respectfully request to be taken out to the back 40 and put down like a lame horse.  Just make sure I’m buried in Texas!

Ain't Texas.  'nough said.
Ain’t Texas. ‘nough said.

4.  What is this obsession with peanut butter?  Peanut butter is quite possibly the most wonderful substance ever invented by man and is even better when paired with honey (God bless the bees!)  I consumed an inhuman amount of PB & honey during marathon training.  Even though I’m not 26.2 training these days, I still consume an inhuman amount of peanut butter.  This has, no doubt, been a big contributor to the 4 extra pounds I’m carrying around these days.

No caption needed.  This is greatness.
No caption needed. This is greatness.

5.  If you’re from Texas, why the hell don’t you own cowboy boots?!?!  I have owned cowboy boots, just not currently.  Even though I AM a die-hard Texan, I don’t pull off the ‘cowgirl look’ very well.  I can, however, pull off the ‘runner look’ without a hitch.

6.  What do you have against summer sausage?  Basically, if I have difficulty eating meat that has been ground up, mixed with mystery ingredients and shoved into a casing.  I have a similar aversion to bologna, weiners and the like.

Threw up in my mouth just looking at this pic!
Threw up in my mouth just looking at this pic!

7.  Why did you lock Crazy Jen up and throw away the key?  Crazy Jen caused a hitch in my get-along during marathon training.  Crazy Jen does things like: runs every long run at race pace, sets PBs during training, doesn’t strength train, doesn’t cross train, pushes through a run 6 miles after ITB starts hurting.  Just to name a few…  Let’s just hope I don’t lose my mind and go dig through the landfill to retrieve the key.

8.  Are crazy cupcakes for Crazy Jen?  Of course not!! All the Jens love all the cupcakes!  However, even Crazy Jen would prefer to avoid another Caramel Crack Cupcake debacle.

My "Caramel Crack Cupcakes", as they became affectionately called.
My “Caramel Crack Cupcakes”

9.  What is it with the pink compression socks?  There’s really no color better than hot pink.  I do have to admit, it can be blinding, at times.  Since compression socks are $50/pair, the pink ones were the only ones I owned, for a time (so naturally I always wore pink compression socks).  Santa brought me some black ones, and I have to say that I really don’t like wearing black.  I know my ninja brothers and sisters would disagree, but black is soooooo boring!Compression socks

Yes, Coach Bounds RAN across the field when I came to stretch on the track after my run last August.  And YES, I know he was making fun of me, but I really didn’t care 😉

Happy Friday, Happy Weekend, Happy Spring Break!

Sane Jen

 

Everything is connected

I haven’t run since last Saturday because my right ITB bothered me during my run.  I was waiting to see my myofascia guy before I made the decision of when to run again.  At my session last night, I was reminded how true it is that everything is connected.  He immediately found that my hips were off….AGAIN.  I don’t know WHEN I am going to learn that everything is connected to my hips, but recently my left foot has been striking the ground weird.  All the time….walking or running, it just felt….off.  To the point that I was beginning to think that I had become an over-pronator.  (OK I realize how ridiculous this thinking is and WHY don’t I immediately assume my hips are to blame?!)  When I got home after the visit, I noticed that my foot was striking the ground normally again.  Whew!

Back to the visit.  So I really went in because my right ITB was angry during Saturday’s run.  (It was also VERY angry with me the rest of the day on Saturday.)  I couldn’t help but laugh when he agreed that it was indeed very tight.  But the best news of the evening came when he went to work on my left side.  He felt that my ITB was in a better place than last week, and remember I ran on it Saturday!!  That left me very hopeful that I can and will make a glorious comeback!

I love my myofascia guy and seriously learn something new every visit!  Last night, I learned that your fibula (the bone on the outside of the shin) is supposed to move 1/4 inch in either direction.  And guess what??  Mine didn’t move well on either side.  So he fixed that, too.

Looks like my next opportunity to run will be Friday afternoon, so look forward to a full report!

I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but last week my myofascia guy STRONGLY recommended that I find Ab Ripper from the P90X series and start doing it to strengthen my hip flexors.  So I mentioned it to some of my Twitter peeps and my friend, Earl, from New York IMMEDIATELY volunteered to lend me his copy.  I breifly wondered why he was so excited about sharing…..until the package came in the mail and it’s contents held more than just some DVDs.

I love NY (< Texas)!
I ❤ NY (< Texas)!

So Earl thought it would be funny for me to post a pic in this I ❤ NY outfit to our group.  But, I HAD to add some Texas flair!  What I’ve learned:  Texas folks have reason to be suspicious of New Yorkers and the general population has NO idea what the < and > signs mean, or how they are to be interpreted.

Seriously, though, I appreciate Earl letting me borrow his P90X DVDs!  I can tell that I will enjoy them and, hopefully will get a little stronger in the process!same kind of different

Last night I finished reading Same Kind of Different as Me, which is a book that has been on my “To Read” list for quite some time.  Originally, I had it on my list because I remember Allison telling me that I HAD to read it.  (In all honesty, I haven’t read much since her death, because she was the main person who kept my my list of books to read completely full.)  Anyway, I decided to get back into the habit and have been reading each night before bed.  So when I downloaded this book and opened it up, I noticed that the date it was published was 2006, 2 years after Allison passed away.  I SWEAR she is the one that told me to read it.  In fact, over the years, each time it has been mentioned I have responded with, “oh yes, Allison was insistent that I read that one.”  And I am quite convinced she told me that I needed to read it, although I’m just not exactly sure of the way she told me.

The book was AMAZING.  It is how the paths of a homeless black man and affluent white man cross, and the life-long friendship that developed as a result.  It was raw and honest and totally up my alley (and it had Allison written ALL over it!)

Happy Thursday, all!

Jen

Baby (running) steps and Brussels sprouts

Even though the rest of America had the day off yesterday, I did not. But since I did get off earlier than usual, it had the vague feeling of a holiday.

The weather in Texas has been PHENOMENAL the past few days.  Temps have been in the 60s, with the beautiful sun smiling down on us everyday.  Saturday, I was cooped up indoors reffing volleyball ALL DAY, so Sunday I took full advantage of the weather and did my biking OUTSIDE!!  It.  Was.  AMAZING!!! (Well, except for the cross-winds, but I was so deprived of outdoor activity I welcomed even those.) Texas winterTook this beautiful pic on the ride back to my house.  I know the landscape is brown and dreary, but with the hay bales in the background and the clear, blue sky, it took my breath away.  Even in the midst of winter, I love my Texas!  Later in the day, I went outside at dusk and couldn’t resist snapping this pic.  SunsetAlli has gotten into the habit of making herself hot chocolate every evening.  She loves to pile her mug high with marshmallows.  Sadly, this happened Sunday evening….Marshmallows

Alli forgot or didn’t realize that I had recently used that burner and it was still VERY warm!  And yes, the marshmallows at the bottom of the pile were melted.  Honestly, I’m just glad that she didn’t burn her hand.  There is a joke in our family about me burning the kids….of course, I would have been off the hook on this one! I wiped as much as I could off the burner and let it sit to cool and came off much easier than I expected when I cleaned it!

I mentioned that I had to work yesterday.  I went with the clinic supervisor to Wal-Mart to buy supplies for the clinics at each of our campuses (I work in the school system).  I was tasked with buying a sympathy card for a lady at our campus whose father recently passed away.  I tried to tell everyone that buying cards is NOT my forte, but I was given the job anyway.  When we got back to campus, I dug the card out of the sack and immediately noticed something wasn’t quite right. Card

Ok….the card is on the bottom and the envelope I grabbed is on the top.  See the problem??  I doubt I will ever be given card-buying duty again.

Since Monday was a teacher work-day, I got off earlier than usual and found myself FIGHTING the urge to go for a run.  (In case you don’t know, I have been nursing an ITB injury for the last 5 weeks.  IF things are looking good, I plan to run this weekend.)  The weather was SO BEAUTIFUL and I had that feeling in my gut that I NEEDED to get out and get in a run.  Thankfully, I have good friends who were able to point out the folly in that and with their help I was able to suppress the urge.  As usual, this incident got me to thinking.  At first, I was focused on poor me and not being able to run (yet).  I acknowledged (to myself) that I am suffering some depression as a result of the injury and the fact that my body isn’t able to do what I want it to do.  But I didn’t want to stay in that place.  I was able to shift my thinking from the things that I am unable to do to the progress that I’ve made since the marathon, and ended the day feeling mildly optimistic!  Here are some things that made my list:

  • I can bend my knee without pain and stiffness.  If you had seen me the week of the marathon, you would completely understand.  Plus, I had a few weeks of residual knee stiffness that would happen after sitting for extended periods of time, that is now GONE!!
  • I can sleep on my left (injured) side without pain.  In the beginning, and even before the beginning, sleeping on my left side caused A LOT of stiffness when I got up in the morning.  Problem: I sleep mainly on my left side.  But, every day, when I get up I feel better!
  • My ankle has regained range of motion.  It’s ALL connected, people.  EVERYTHING is connected to the hip.  I had noticed that when my ITB was starting to act up, I would feel some pain in my ankle when I moved it a certain way.  That feeling is gone!!
  • I can’t feel my ITB.  This is a biggie, because my ITB has been so tight that I could feel it when I moved certain ways (well, most ways to be honest).  I personally like it better when I don’t even know it is there!  LOL
  • I don’t have TFL tightness when I get up after sitting.

See?? #winning

I saw my chiropractor yesterday and he was unconcerned about my plan to begin running this weekend AND thinks our weekly visits should be extended to bi-weekly.  But I have one more hurdle.  I see my myofascia guy on Wednesday and that will be the real test.  I haven’t been in 3 weeks and to say that I am anxious would be an understatement!  To me, my body feels like it is in a much better place than when I visited him 3 weeks ago, but I will rely on his assessment to made the final decision about running this weekend or holding off a little longer.  I welcome ALL of your good mojo, because I need some good news!!

I’ll leave you with last night’s dinner.  Grilled chicken, baked potato and one of my faves – Brussels sprouts!!  I recreated a dish that my niece brought to Thanksgiving, by baking the Brussels in olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and dried cranberries.  It was DIVINE.  And I am sharing this photo for my ONE friend who LOVES Brussels sprouts SOOOO MUCH!  This is for you, Jane!Supper

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

 

Winning is fun!

On Monday evening, Logan’s soccer team made history.  Well, history was being made one way or the other, but the boys came together and made history in a positive way!  The first “official” game EVER was held on our soccer field (first historic moment of the evening) and then, something magical happened…..WE WON!!!!  The win was historic because: it was the first in program history, the first win of the season and the first win on our field!!  Now, there may not be another win this season, but we have already improved our record from last  year (ALL losses and one tie)!

My ONE action shot that actually turned out.  This was taken before my camera died of frostbite.
My ONE action shot that actually turned out. This was taken before my camera died of frostbite.
Team photo after the big win!
Team photo after the big win!

I was proud of the integrity shown by our coach and our players in the 6-0 victory.  We played a first-year program and had the opportunity to run up the score.  But, we were the recipients of that type of play last season (last season was our first) and it always angered our coach, because he felt it unsportsmanlike and disrespectful.  During the second half, he gave our reserve players most of the playing time.  When our starters were on the field, they were not playing their normal positions.  Logan, for example, usually plays right back on defense, but asked to play our midfield wing for second half.  He ALMOST scored a goal!!  When I asked him about it after the game, he said it was the worst decision he could have made.  He was tired after 5 min at mid and had 15 to go!  When the opportunity for the goal shot came around, he was so tired that he wasn’t able to get a good foot on it.  (And I was ROLLING, I laughed so hard!)  The REAL hilarity in all this is that Logan was ALWAYS midfield prior to high school (and yes, last year I thought Coach was CRAZY for making Logan a defender….maybe one of these days I will tell a funny story from my soccer coaching days).  Of course, the level of play is different, but it still cracks me up that midfield now tires him out!  (And let’s not forget he is my 6 min. mile Cross Country runner!)

Score

Game-time temps were brutal and only got worse (brutal by this Texas gal’s standards, anyway).  I don’t even know what the temps were except they were in the low 30s.  I don’t know what the wind speed was, but it was TOO much!!  Even with my handwarmers in my shoes, my poor toes were frozen.  It was so cold that the shutter on my camera wouldn’t even snap properly and the majority of the pics look like those extended exposure pics where figures are moving, but you can see the blur of where they had been.  And then the kicker – when I got up to leave my left thumb was hurting.  Like down in the joint by my wrist!  Tuesday morning it was still hurting so badly that I had to skip my stretching and foam rolling because putting weight on it hurt so badly!  I slapped some KT Tape on it, took Ibuprofen and it became manageable as the day went on.  Thankfully, I woke up this morning and it felt almost normal.

One-handed application.  Not bad.
One-handed application. Not bad.

In other news, I’m STILL addicted to peanut butter (and honey!).  I wasn’t THAT concerned during marathon training, although going through a 3 lb jar every 2 weeks should have been a clue.  I just figured that when marathon training was over, I wouldn’t have such an urge to eat peanut butter with every meal and every snack.  The peanut butter/honey combo goes with anything, everything, really.  I start my day with English muffin, topped with peanut butter and honey.  Banana with peanut butter and honey is divine!  The combo also goes with saltine crackers, Ritz crackers, pretzels…..I could go on and on and on!!!  Just call me the Bubba Gump of peanut butter.  (OK, NOW I need some peanut butter!)

I realized on Monday that I may need an intervention, when my (tiny) 2 lb. jar of peanut butter was half-gone in less than 5 days!  My concern isn’t so much my consumption of peanut butter, but my lack of exercise right now to offset it! I’m not TOO concerned, though, because I’ve only gained 4 lbs since my marathon and I really haven’t worked too hard to control my diet.  A little off-season weight gain is good, right?!?

My 2 lb jar of PB, half way gone in just 5 days!
Approaching emergency status if I don’t replenish SOON!

Happy Hump Day!  Texas is cruising to sunny and temps in the 60s by the weekend! (CAN NOT WAIT!!!)

Later,

Jen

Topsy-turvy Texas craziness

I live in North Texas, about 70 miles North of Dallas.  We had NINE earthquakes yesterday.  NINE!!!!  The epicenters of most of yesterday’s quakes were around Irving, which is between Dallas and Ft.Worth.  The two strongest were 3.5 and 3.6, respectively, with the rest were under 3.  No, I did not feel any of the quakes.  I was in the area, just at the wrong time (or right time, depending on which way you look at it).  I have several friends who did feel the quakes and the news is reporting several houses with damage.  We Texans tend to use humor to deal with things that push us out of our comfort zone…

OK...earthquakes ARE serious, but I snickered at this!
OK…earthquakes ARE serious, but I snickered at this!

By the way, I feel much more prepared in the event of a tornado.  I can spot a wall cloud easily, tell if it is rotating and know when to run for cover.  Earthquakes??  All I know is that you’re supposed to stand in a doorway, but am unsure of that because didn’t that change??

A couple years ago, we had a handful of earthquakes in my town.  I felt NONE of them, although I’m not sure they were strong enough to register at all.  I was even awake and on the couch because I was unable to sleep during one when I read about it on Facebook.  Another miss.  I’m not sensitive to spirits either.  Just call me insensitive.

Logan is playing in a soccer tournament Thursday-Saturday.  Naturally, snow and sleet is predicted along with the coldest temps of the season.  This time, I will be prepared!!  My latest purchase was waiting for me when I got home yesterday.  These new mittens, along with hand warmers (for my fingers and toes) and the SIX blankets I have stowed in my car should keep me from freezing to death.

There is even a pocket for the hand warmer to keep my fingers toasty!
There is even a pocket for the hand warmer to keep my fingers toasty!

Yes, these mittens feel HUGE….they ARE huge!!  It will take some getting used to because I rarely wear gloves (I am 99.9% sure I have NEVER owned a pair of mittens).  In fact, I couldn’t even tell you where to find a pair of  gloves in my house.  I don’t wear coats until it is too cold to venture out without them (read: below freezing and/or wind over 20 mph), so gloves aren’t even a thought in my mind. I never wear gloves when running because after a mile, my hands get sweaty and I feel like I need to strip completely.  It’s better for all involved for me to deal with cold fingers for 10 minutes.

Speaking of running……I think I mentioned that I am using a rehab plan in a book I recently purchased.  Monday was the first day I started truly following the plan.  Last week I decided to take the week off and let things calm down, so all I did were the suggested stretches (3x/day) and foam rolling.  Monday I added the strength exercies (3x/week) and bike trainer (every other day) for 15-30 minutes.  I decided not to go ALL out first time and rode 22 min on the trainer.  Yesterday I felt great!!  I had no stiffness or soreness in my knee after sitting for the first time since my marathon!  I will be doing the trainer and exercises again tonight and, for the first time, I am beginning to get REALLY excited about this rehab process and my eventual return to running!

BUT, I still have A LOT of things to work on, one being my arm swing.  One of the first things that caught my eye from the book discussed your arm crossing your body and how that was a symptom of your body being out of sync.  (I think we all know by now that I am out of sync, and not just physically.)  When I posted this pic from the Plano Balloon Half Marathon in September, I commented about that left arm crossing my body.  Other race pics have shown that I don’t cross my body with my right arm.  I think it’s terribly interesting, but scares the heck out of me because I want to be balanced!!

Yes, I wore the SAME out fit in this race AND Dallas Marathon.  #creatureofhabit
Yes, I wore the SAME out fit in this race AND Dallas Marathon. #creatureofhabit

I don’t often do Woman Crush Wednesday, but am doing it today!  I am so blessed with all of my children, but Taylor continually surprises me with her kindness and compassion.  And each time I wonder why she suprises me.  I mean, I raised her and know what a tender heart she has!  Surprised or not, I just love her “never take no for an answer” attitude.  IF it can be done, she will find the way!  And if you tell her it can’t be done – just get out of her way, because she WILL prove you wrong!

This past week, one of her college friends was involved in a wreck in which she was not at fault.  The person that caused the wreck drove away.  Her car was totaled, and since she did not have full coverage on the car, will not be financially able to replace it.  She had a job lined up for the spring to help out until she can get a teaching job next Fall, but without a car was going to be forced to quit.

In true Taylor fashion, she immediately started trying to figure out a way to help out her friend.  When she was discussing the situation with us, she asked if we could help her pay the tax on a car, because she was planning to buy it herself!  As it turns out, Bobby has been wanting to upgrade a van that he uses for work….perfect timing, right?  So Taylor cleaned up the van and delivered it to her friend Monday evening.

Taylor continually reminds me that it only takes one person to make the world a better place.
Taylor continually reminds me that it only takes one person to make the world a better place.

I wanted to leave you with a story that one of the volleyball mom’s shared with me this past weekend.  She was playing a game with her daughter, Blair (who just happens to be one of Alli’s favorite teammates!).  They were to answer the question, “Name a female athlete.”  The mom’s answer was Misty May Trainor, but Blair’s answer was ALLI’S MOM, because she is a RUNNER!   I knew there was a reason I love that kid!!

Blair is the one being held.  These girls were SO excited when they learned they were picked for 10 National!
Blair is the one being held….these 3 played together last year.  This pic is from tryouts after they found out they were all picked for the National team.

Happy Hump Day everyone!!

When the winter sun kisses Texas, everything is better!

Yesterday, the sun came out to say hello!!  It was a welcome sight after hiding behind clouds for well over a week.  I took advantage of the mild temps to do some past-due pool maintenance and to spend some time soaking up those wonderful rays!

Don't let the sun fool you....that water is COLD!
Don’t let the sun fool you….that water is COLD!

Let’s hope that the tumbleweeds are all blown away by now.  I’ve been cleaning them out of the skimmers for a couple of months and I’m always on edge because the things are FULL of them.  I have to reach down through the weeds that are packed in to grab the handle of the skimmer basket. (GROSS!!!)  I DO NOT like seeing ANY kind of spider, alive or dead in those skimmers and the thought that one could be lurking (alive or dead) underneath all those weeds just creeps me out!  (Snakes almost as bad!)  And even though I know all those critters are long gone with the warm summer temps, I still get a little nervous every time I pop off the cover.  Yes, I spared you a visual of the nastiness of my pool skimmers. You’re welcome.

Sophie and Izze LOVE to come out in the back yard.  Especially Izze.  She just loves to run.  Sophie is a little more refined and, well, not ADHD, so she simply walks around like royalty (or a nice, slow gallop).  As much as they love the trip outside, they love going back in even more, because it means a treat for using the potty outside! LOL

Izze is quite the photogenic puppy.  Sophie WILL NOT look at the camera.  EVER.
Izze is quite the photogenic puppy. Sophie WILL NOT look at the camera. EVER.

I did something else yesterday.  It was one of those “facing my demons” type of exercise, even if loosely so.  I don’t think it is a surprise to any of my friends in the running community that I was not ecstatic about my marathon time.  Yes, I KNOW I ran it injured and yes, during the race I just wanted to finish and tried not to worry about my time.  But I worried about my time.  Until yesterday I had not even opened that run on RunKeeper.  Usually, I am back on RunKeeper almost immediately to analyze my splits, elevation and cadence.  But not this run.  I could not bring myself to look.  And while I’m still not to the point that I can post the splits here, they weren’t AS bad as I expected.  I actually held my pace fairly consistently through mile 14, which was longer that I remembered from the race.  Even then, I was able to hold it together fairly well until mile 18, which is when I started really slowing down.  I’m glad I finally looked because it made me realize I didn’t suck it up quite as badly as I initially thought.  At the end of the day, I am beginning to accept this first effort for what it was and I can feel the disappointment slipping away.   I’m actually starting to appreciate what I was able to accomplish. Yay!!

I also started the “rehab” component of my recovery.  I walked 15 minutes on the treadmill at a brisk, but manageable pace, then went through a few of my hip exercises – leg lifts and clam shells with the resistance bands and hip thrusts.  I cut the reps down to 20 and used the lighter resistance band.  Thankfully, I have not noticed any new aches or pains so far!!  I will continue walking every day and increase that a bit at a time, but I think I’ll keep the hip exercises to every other day for now.

I stopped by my chiropractor and even though I told him last week I was taking some time off, he was speechless when I told him my decision not to run for 4 weeks.  I thought I saw him swaying back and forth for a moment, so I wonder if he was on the verge of fainting.  In any case, I’m confident that he NEVER expected to hear those words coming from my mouth.  At the end of the visit, he was glowing like a proud parent.  My Christmas present to him: one visit with a non-combative Jen.

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

Travel: Texas (and Canadian) Style

This weekend, I had the special privilege of meeting the one and only 50StateCanuck who came to Texas to run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio.  In the early planning stages, my daughters were both going to go with me but their schedules didn’t work out.  So I embarked alone on the 6 hour drive South last Friday morning, determined to show Jane the best of Texas.  I have no doubt that she will chronicle our time together in San Antonio and it will be more interesting to hear it told through her Canadian lens. For that reason, I won’t be going into great detail of our shenanigans,  but instead will give you non-Texas folks a lesson in travel for my great state.  (By the way, you will want to check out her blog full of professional-looking photos and a great rehash of the trip at 50statecanuck.com – be patient, as she travels back to Canada today 🙂 )

First, I will give you the Cliff Notes version of our weekend.  I arrived in San Antonio around 3:30 and met Jane on the Riverwalk for a drink.  I usually have a lot of anxiety over meeting new people, but was different with her.  She is so easy to talk to and it’s quite fun listening to her accent.  (Although, I think most people would say my accent is thicker than hers.)  I felt we hit it off right away.  (Let’s hope she says the same! LOL)  We made our plans for the evening: basically dinner and the River boat tour.  Thankfully our main goal on the tour was to see Christmas lights on the Riverwalk, because our tour guide……struggled.  That evening when we got back to the hotel, we exchanged gifts (who knew we would BOTH have gifts?!?)  I received, what I expect to be delicious, maple syrup and maple syrup candies.  If you want to see what I got Jane, you’ll have to read her blog. 😉

I don't think I've ever had REAL maple syrup.  I KNOW I've never had maple syrup candy!!  I can't wait to try it!
I don’t think I’ve ever had REAL maple syrup. I KNOW I’ve never had maple syrup candy!! I can’t wait to try it!

I know that Jane is interested in history wherever she goes, so I suggested early on that we tour the missions.  The missions are my favorite part of San Antonio, hands down, and the reason that San Antonio exists today.  The tour was amazing, and even I learned some new things this time around. 🙂   One thing that saddened me, however, was the renovations done to Mission San Jose.  Since it is an active congregation, the parish keeps up the inside of the church and the parks department maintains everything outside the church walls.  I personally felt it didn’t keep with the mission traditions, but it is still a beautiful building.

On the left: Mission San Jose sanctuary while I worshiped there in 2009. On the right: the updated sanctuary.  It is so ornate that it doesn't fit in with the simplicity of mission life.
On the left: Mission San Jose sanctuary when I worshiped there in 2009. (Shhhh -I took communion and I’m not even Catholic!)
On the right: the updated sanctuary. It is so ornate not that it doesn’t fit in with the simplicity of mission life.

Saturday evening concluded our time together with a trip out to Gruene (pronounced Green), Texas.  If you are a country music fan, chances are  you have heard of Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.  Many up-and-coming artists play there regularly, as well as established artists.  Somehow, successful country singers make their way onto the Gruene Hall stage at some point in their career.  If you’ve been to Gruene, I’m sure you have eaten at the Grist Mill, as we did!

Sunday morning I got up and ready to send Jane off to her race.  It was such a fun weekend, but too short, in my opinion, and it was difficult to say goodbye.  I was on the road by 7:45 to make the trek back to Big B and made great time because hardly anyone travels that early on Sunday morning!

Now, on to my Texas Travel Tips:

  •  If you are going to travel in Texas, DO NOT drive in the left lane unless and until you are prepared to drive AT LEAST an average of 20 miles over the speed limit.  On Texas freeways, speed limits are guidelines, really, open to interpretation and our interpretation is that the posted speed limit is much too slow.  (Hint: If someone is riding your bumper, you should probably move over.  If you don’t feel like moving over, just remember that we all have guns.)
  • You MUST stop in West at Czech Stop, going AND coming.  It’s the law. (If you don’t agree, we can’t be friends.)  By the way, West was famous in Texas long before the fertilizer plant explosion, which was just days after the Boston Marathon bombing.  But now, it seems even more special when I’m able to stop.
    The BEST bakery in Texas!
    The BEST bakery in Texas!
    I had some difficulty choosing the kolaches. Let's just say I bought "a few".
    I had some difficulty choosing the kolaches. Let’s just say I bought “a few”.
    OK, I didn't have trouble here.  These have meat.  And I didn't even photograph all the breads.
    OK, I didn’t have trouble choosing here. These have meat.  AND I didn’t even photograph the breads.

    I brought Jane a pecan (puh-cahn NOT pee-can) pie.
    I brought Jane a pecan (puh-cahn NOT pee-can) pie.
  • If you stop in Georgetown for lunch, you might stumble upon a cupcake shop by accident!  Thankfully, I found this or my whole trip might have been a waste.  Jane clearly doesn’t understand the importance of eating cupcakes in every city you visit.

    Seriously was soooo delicious.  Oh, and the salted caramel I saved for later was TO DIE FOR.
    Seriously was soooo delicious. Oh, and the salted caramel I saved for later was TO DIE FOR.
  • DO NOT drive through Austin; take the toll road!  I have to admit that I made this mistake on Friday.  Set me back at least 30 minutes.  Austin traffic is terrible…..ALWAYS.
  • Do not stop at any Shell station in Round Rock.  I pulled up to the pump, got out, and all the pumps turned off.  I know I was 4 hours into my trip at that point, but I didn’t realize I looked that road weary.
  • Not even Texans know what those caterpillar/worm buildings are between Waxahachie and Italy.  It’s just best not to spend much time thinking about it.  The most likely explanation is alien activity, but you can’t talk about aliens in Texas.

    Pic courtesy of:
    Pic courtesy of: Roadside America
  • No matter what your destination, you must ensure that your route takes you past a Buc-ee’s.  If you don’t know what Buc-ee’s (pronounced Buck-ee’s) is; I am sorry and I hope that you actually live life one day and stop at one.  It is a rest stop/gas station/convenience store/clothing store/kind-of grocery store with more bathroomsthan you’ll ever find in one place AND they are all clean!  (HOW do they keep them so clean???)  Half the store is dedicated to every kind of trail mix/snack food currently available to modern man. Seriously, amazing.
    That's 120 gas pumps and the building is as big as a grocery store.
    That’s 120 gas pumps and the building is as big as a grocery store AND usually so busy that you have to wait for a gas pump.

    Your convenience store doesn't have a beaver statue in the center of a Texas star??
    Your convenience store doesn’t have a beaver statue in the center of a Texas star??

 

Seriously, though, this trip was exactly what I needed.  Of course, the BEST part was meeting Jane!  She is just as amazing, fun, kind and sweet as she comes across on Twitter.  But I needed a reprieve from life.  It’s hard to explain, but I have had a mental disconnect with my upcoming race yet at the same time I am a ball of nerves.  I was much more confident before I started having these ITB problems.  I worry (pretty much all the time) that my ITB is going to REALLY affect the race.  So I try not to think about it because it is unpleasant (that’s how I deal sometimes), but I’m usually unsuccessful.   However….I didn’t think about the race or my ITB all weekend, thanks to Jane!!

Spending time with her got me to thinking about my friends, though, because she really is loads of fun.  I am blessed with some very good face-to-face friends as well as friendships that have developed via Twitter through a common love of running. I am even more thankful for these friends now, because I have been struggling of late about what my friendship means with some of my friends.  There is one friendship in particular that I have been mourning: my running partner.  And while I know and understand that she is the type that moves from friend to friend, I have still been very hurt by the fact that she won’t even discuss with me how my training is going – yet she still calls to talk about anything BUT running.  Thinking about that on the drive home caused me a bit of sadness.  When I got home, however, I had a package waiting from my friend RunCarli.  She mailed me a note of encouragement for my upcoming marathon AND included some of her favorite gels.  The timing was perfect to remind me that it is natural to have people leave your life after a season, but new, sometimes more special ones, enter your life at just the right time!

Blessed by kindness!
Blessed by kindness!

I want to close with a BIG thank you to my husband, Bobby.  I am so blessed because he is so supportive of my running, and anything I want to do, really.  This weekend wouldn’t have been possible without his support.  He kept things going at home and put on the hat of Taxi Mom for all of Alli’s activities.  I appreciate all he does for our family very, very much!!

6 days until Dallas!!

Later, y’all!