Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Jabba and I wanted to wish you a very HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!   We hope it is Spook-tacular, full of candy, and just a tad bit spooky.

Jabba wanted to share his Hallooween costume with you all that he is wearing TRICK-OR-TREATING tonight.  He saw this costume and went 'batty for it'.

Happy Halloween everyone and HAPPY 33rd BIRTHDAY to my sister Laura.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Houston Half Marathon Race Recap

This past weekend was the most running I have ever done.  Mega mileage.  First I had 3 miles on Friday, 9 on Saturday, and then 13.1 on Sunday.  Total of 25 miles for the weekend.  Whew, I am tired!  I am so glad Mondays are rest days from marathon training, otherwise I might just collapse!

I awoke at 4:11 am on Sunday morning so I could make it to my groups meeting place at the cop shop to carpool together to the race.  Unfortunately for me, Starbucks was not open at 5 am today. :/

Four of us from my running group met at 5:15 am and then headed downtown to the Houston Half Marathon.  Of course this weekend had been unbelievably cold so it was freezing outside.  I did not want to take off my jacket!  About 15 minutes to the start I took off my jacket and checked my bag at the station, went to the rest room, then headed to the start line. 

The course took us through downtown for about two miles, then all the way out to 610 and back.  There is also a relay (which Aly and Claudia did) that stayed with us to about mile 4 then turned around.  At mile 8 or 8.5 we turned around and headed back to the post race party.  I took almost an entire bag of sports beans at mile 4 and 8ish, and lots of gatorade at the water stops.  I was proud of myself that I didn't stop running except at the water stops!!

Mile 10-13 were rough.  Mile 12-13 was the worst!  People were walking all around me but I kept on trucking.  Mile 12.5 I really wanted to stop and my pace was waaaaaaaay slow, but I kept running.  Our coach Alain said that the final part of the course was Mile 20-25 of the marathon course in January.  That will be good practice for when I need to visualize in the coming months.  Finally I saw the 13 mile sign and tried to pick up my pace, but I couldn't go much faster.  I came in, got my medal and some water, found Claudia and we waited for Aly to finish her part of the relay.

I had seen Aly on the course at Mile 10ish I thought, but apparently I saw her later.  Claudia and I went over to the food line but saw the long line and headed back to the finish line to just wait for Aly, but while we were walking back I guess she crossed the finish line and we missed her.  Finally Aly called us and we found her at our designated meeting place.  Aly and Alain had already gone through the food line so Claudia and I made our way through.  I grabbed a bagel and two longhorn bars, but I only ate the bagel.

We headed back to the car and were joking how Alain better not make us run up the parking garage inclines when we get there (which we do every Tuesday at group practice), but once we got there the stairs were locked so we did have to go up the inclines! haha.  We walked though, no more running for me!

We went to Pappasito's for brunch and I had a DOUBLE mimosas and breakfast tacos.  I could only eat one taco and some potatoes then I was too full.  I brought the rest home and ate them about 5 o'clock for dinner.

I went home and took a three hour nap, then hung out with an adorable cat that I have neglecting too much this week.  Mommy-Kitty time is the best (besides when he decides to bite me).

My final time was 2:29.39, a 11:34 minute mile average and a PR of 23 minutes from my previous half marathon.  I am getting faster!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monster Mash 15K Race Recap

On Saturday morning at got up at the crack of dawn early to run a 9 mile race at Sam Houston Race Park, the Monster Mash 15K.  There is actually a 5K, a 10K, and a 15K all at the same time, and also later there is a short kids Candy Corn Race a bit later.  The race was organized by Onurmark Productions, who were the same people who also put on the Bridgeland Triathlon that I did in August.  I gave Onurmark much better ratings on this event because they seemed much more prepared for the crowds.


I woke up at 5 am to make sure I was on time and also so I could eat a small breakfast before I left. I of course also had to stop at Starbucks to get a Pumpkin Spice Latte if I was going to make it anywhere that early in the morning after being out late the night before.

The race started at 7:30 am so I knew I needed to be at the race park early, but once I got there I didn't want to get out of my car.  It was so cold!  I eventually got out of my car and made my way inside to the waiting area.  Thank goodness we were able to go inside and wait before the start!

They called us to the start line, sang the national anthem, and we were off!  The course started off on the horse race track for a 1.5 (ish) mile loop in the sand, then we went in the street for two loops.  I really liked how we got to go on the same track as the horses, but I hate running in sand!  Oh well, it was fun. 
The street loop took you around back to a parking lot area, to the side down a street, to the front on the frontage road, to the side, and repeat it again (for the 15Kers).  The 10Kers only did the track loop, and one loop on the street, and the 5Kers did the track loop and went out to the street for just a little bit and came back in.

I actually felt really good the entire race, each time I passed the  finish line area I wanted to turn in, but I knew that this training run would help boost my confidence to be able to run my marathon in January.  At mile 7 I decided I wanted to go faster so I picked the next person in front of me to pass and picked up my pace until I did.  They call them 'roadkills' in running, but that sounds gross so I won't call it that.  I picked off at least 7 people for sure, but I was having a hard time running at this point since I was going so fast (for me) that I really wasn't paying attention. I just picked the next person, past them, and then picked the next one. 

I was going a lot faster than my comfort zone, but I pushed through.  I kept grunting and I am sure the volunteers at the last two rest stops thought I looked crazy, but I didn't care. LOL.  I turned the final turn back into the stadium area and had the longest run to the end ever!  It was like it would never freakin' end.  I grabbed my medal and some water and headed inside.

I finished my first 15K race in 1:46.36 at at 11:22 minute per mile pace.  I think that is pretty good!  Automatic PR baby!

Afterwards I headed to the food area and grabbed a ton of goodies.  I only ate the kolache (potato and egg), carrots, tomatoes, and drank the gatorade there though.  I saved the rest and will eat it this week (minus the chips, I am not a big chip person).

Wanna see some cool race bling?!  It's a GLOW IN THE DARK ZOMBIE MEDAL!!!!!!! I love it so much, ever since I had seen it on their FB page I couldn't wait for this race.  I actually went to bed last night and came back out a few minutes later because I forgot something and all the sudden I see something glowing on my wall (it sort of freaked me out), and then I realized it was my medal. haha.  The t-shirts were also glow in the dark tech t-shirts also.

I had so much fun at this race!  It was a great race to do as a mini-long run for my marathon training.  Hopefully next year some of my friends will want to run it with me. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Way to cold to be outside

Last night in the Woodlands Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean played a concert at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion.  My friend Sallie won a set of tickets on the radio, but couldn't go to the concert so she gave them to me!  I wasn't sure who I wanted to invite, but then I thought it would be fun to ask my Mom to see if she wanted to go since I don't get to spend much time with her since I live so far away.

I left work at noon so I could run errands and not be in traffic at 5 pm on a Friday sitting on I-45N.  Sallie couldn't pick up the tickets until about 1:45 so I went to Memorial Park to run for a bit while I was waiting for her.  I had planned on running 6 miles (per my marathon training plan), but by the time I got there and changed clothes I only had time to do 3 miles.  Oh well, at least I ran something!  I knew that I would be getting home late and I wouldn't run then.

I met Sallie for the tickets and headed to Spring (with mild traffic) to my parents house to pick up my Mom.  We went to Chili's in the Woodlands for dinner and drinks.  Before going I told myself that I would not drink anything so I could be good for my race in the morning (Monster Mash 15K), but what did I do?  Had TWO drinks!  Sigh.  When will I learn?

Me and my Mom at the concert!  She was my hot date. ;)

We parked and started walking to the concert but it was FREEZING!  O. M. G. So. Flippin'. Cold.    There is a reason I do no live in cold places! We thought that if you won tickets on a radio show they would be good seats, but they were lawn seats.  That's ok, I don't mind lawn seats!  We got some lawn chairs and settled in for a long, chilly concert.  We went to the concession stand and there was hot chocolate!!!!!!!!!  With marshmallows!!!!!!!!!  I <3 marshmallows!!!!!!  It definitely warmed me up.

Some girl played first, then a DJ came on and played a random remix of songs, then finally Luke Bryan came out.  Let me tell ya, he is really funny!  He commented on it being so cold saying 'Houston, when did it become so cold, Lord!  My nipples are showing!'  haha.  Then later in his set he was playing the piano and started doing the Justin Bieber "Boyfriend" song. He didn't sing much of it thought thank goodness! :) I really think Luke Bryan puts on a great concert.

After Luke Bryan finished his set they started setting up for Jason Aldean.  I swear, it took about 25 minutes at least for them to set everything up.  Then, for a while they weren't doing anything on the stage at all, it was like he wasn't ready to perform or there was some sort of problem.  I don't know, but it took forever.  Jason Aldean came on and we listened to 2 songs, and then we left.  We wanted to beat the rush out and honestly, Jason Aldean does not sound very good live.  I had never heard him live, but my Mom said he sounded really slow and his voice was off. 

We could hear him playing while walking to the parking lot and it didn't sound good.  I didn't realize that so many people tailgated right outside the gates by the pond.  Apparently it's a big deal to hang out right there and listen to the show because you could hear it perfectly.  Some couples seem to be making a date night out of it with wine and dinner. haha.  Cute!

We had a great time and I am glad I got to spend some time with my Mom.  Thanks Lyndsey and Sallie for giving us the tickets!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rock the Vote

Today my friend Tonya from work invited me to go with her to early voting.  We left the office at about 10:45 (early lunch) and were in and out in about 30 minutes.

At first we were worried about finding a parking space, but we found one easily and got in line.  I didn't have my voter's registration card with me, but I was able to use my Drivers License with no problem.  I got my number to cast my vote for the candidates and also several propositions.  Super easy! 

I was super sad that they didn't have any "I Voted" stickers.  I would have rocked it. :/  Oh well.  I vote to vote, not for a sticker.  :)

I was looking at my registration card the other day and I have been registered to vote since July of 2000.   I was living in Philadelphia at the time and was able to vote in my first election which also was a presidential election year for the Bush vs. Gore election.  I have voted in each presidential election, and I have voted a few times in a non presidential election year.

Everyone, GO VOTE! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

New GPS watch

Last year when I was training for my first half marathon my friend Andrea let me borrow her old Garmin Forerunner 201 when she bought the upgraded version.  I didn't use it as much as I should have because I didn't realize how helpful they were when you were on your run.

Fast forward to this training season.  In my running group the majority of the people have some sort of GPS watch and all I had was an app on my phone that only sometime worked.  The app would randomly say I was on mile 7 when I had barely done 3, or I would keep it in the pocket of my water belt and have to slow down to see what my pace was <--defeating the purpose.  So I looked at several watches online with different brands and models to determine which one I wanted.  All of them were $150+ and I didn't want to spend that much on one.  I only needed to know the distance, time, and pace so I didn't  need a super fancy one (like one with a heart rate monitor).

I heard that Nike had some sort of sports band that you could wear a chip in your shoe and it was only about $60.  I saw one at Luke's Locker but when I read about it online it had mixed reviews.  I didn't research it very well so it might be a great tool and it has a terrific price point if you don't need tons of options.

I kind of forgot about it for awhile then I remembered Andrea still had hers and I thought I might be able to purchase hers since she never uses it.  I emailed her and asked if I could buy it from her if she wasn't using it and she said yes!  A friend of hers was borrowing it, but I could buy it for $30 when she got it back from her.

It's an older model and it's really big on my wrist, but I don't care!  I am happy to pay $30 for a cheaper version of the same thing.  I am a simple girl.

I love my new watch!! I honestly do not think I would have gotten my two new PR's this past weekend without my new watch.  I could tell my pace the entire time and knew when I needed to step it up to have the sort of finish I wanted.  It has absolutely helped me with my training.

What GPS watch do you use?  How did you decide?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Self Defense Class

On Sunday I took a self defense class through Leisure Learning that I have always wanted to take.  The class itself lasted for 3 hours with a break halfway through and it was held in the Richmond area of Houston.  Since I am a woman and sometimes run by myself it's good to know how to protect yourself.  Plus, living in Houston (or actually anywhere!) it's good information to know.

The instructors name was some sort of name we couldn't pronounce so he said to call him R.A.  He told us his background on how he got into martial arts and that he is about to test for his Masters Black Belt (I think he said something about a 4th degree black belt).  After he told us about himself, he had us all go around the room to introduce ourselves and tell why we were taking the class.  The class was made up entirely of women (but guys sometimes take it) and we all had varying reason as to why we wanted to take the class.  For the most part it was all about safety and being in Houston at different places alone (like running, parking garages, college, work, the mall, etc).  One lady told a horrible story about someone was breaking into her house and she was hiding in her closet under clothes until the cops got there.  Scary!

We learned moves and techniques to help us defend ourselves.  He demonstrated the moves first with a volunteer then we all took turns practicing on each other.  He came around the room to make sure we were doing the techniques correctly and answered questions.

Some of the things we learned were:
-Choke Holds (standing up and lying down)
-Weapon Situations
-Bear Hug-like holds
-Rape on the ground holds
-Blocking techniques
-Using your 'power center' (core) vs muscle
-What to do if someone is pulling you by your hand and you can't get away
-What to do if someone is picking you up and carrying you
-Use the first two knuckles (pointer and middle) on your handles to strike with and keep your fist and wrist in a straight line

The last thing we did was learn how to kick correctly.  Bring your knee up, then kick with the ball of your foot for better force.  We got to practice with the instructor (he was wearing a padded vest) he said my kick was really good.  I kicked him backwards a few feet and I felt horrible and apologized-I said I am sorry!  I am training for a marathon and my legs are powerful. :/

I would ABSOLUTELY recommend everyone to take this course.  You can take the course through Leisure Learning or you can contact the instructor to have private group sessions with him (like a work, church, family, friends, book club, etc) and he will come to you.  Loved it and would absolutely recommend him as an instructor.

How to contact:
Leisure Learning class description: Here
**I am not sure if he would want me to put his contact information on this blog so I didn't add it.  Contact him through Leisure Learning to set things up (but if you are the instructor you can email me and give me the ok to put your info online and I will add it to my blog!).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Two PR's, Two Days

Spoiler alert:  I got a new 5K PR!!!!!!!!!! (thank you, thank you, I will  accept my lavish gifts of diamonds, pearls, and tiaras by mail only.  And you can kiss my hand and ask for my autograph when you see  me next ;o) )

My running group Gotta Run of Katy runs sometimes at George Bush Park for our training runs.  The last Sunday of every month there is a free 5K that is put on by the Houston Wellness Project.  My previous PR for a 5K was 34:34 from a year ago and I really wanted to beat my time.  With Saturday's PR at a 10K, I was hoping to break my 5K time also.

Alain, our coach, sent an email for all of us to be at GBP at 6:30 to get in 3 miles before the race but I of course was 5 minutes late so I didn't hear the instructions he gave us so someone in the parking lot said go about 20 miles out and them come back, so I did.  I met up with our group at about 1.2 miles and was going to keep going til 1.5 miles,  but Alain told me to turn around so I would be on time for the Wellness 5K.

The race started at 8 am and was a simple out and back course.  There was a timer set up, but no timing chips so you had to look at the clock or have a watch on you.  Since I brought my new GPS watch with me I could keep track of my pace and I new if I wanted to hit under 30 minutes (which was my goal) I needed to run in the 9:20's.  For the majority of the run it was between 10:00-11:00 minute miles, but sometimes I saw 9 and 12 minute miles (one time I saw a 8:30ish mile! That didn't last long though-like a split second).  At the turn around point I was really, really, really hurting and really, really, really wanted to stop and walk/rest for 'just a bit,' but I knew that if I did that I wouldn't get a PR and I would never start running again or I would do a walk/run combo for the rest.  I resisted the urge to walk.

I kept looking at my watch for reassurance that I was doing great and that I would still PR.  I was so happy that I brought it with me, if not I would just be running along with no idea how fast I was going, and probably never would have PR'd.  When I got to the finish line a girl that was right behind me told me that she had tried to keep up with me and I thought it was so cool!  I have never been someone who people try and stay with because they are trying to pace me, I have always been one of the people trying to pace off someone else!

At the end of the race they give out awards (not sure what they were) and also had a door prize drawing.  I didn't win. :(

My official time was 31:55, a 2:39 minute PR!  What's even cooler was that I had run over 2 miles about 30 minutes before and ran a race the day before.  I wonder what my time would be if I hadn't done all that?  I have been shying away from 5K's this race season because I am focusing on longer distances and it tends to leads to greater chance of injury if you work on speed and distance at the same time.  Plus, after I finish a race I am done, I don't want to keep running 7 more miles when I just finished 3.  No, give me a race with 10 miles and race bling, then call it a day.

Next weekend is the Monster Mash and the Houston Half Marathon!  Look for recaps soon. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Toughest 10K Galveston Recap

Today I did race #2 of the Texas Bridge Series, the Toughest 10K Galveston.  The Texas Bridge Series is a three part race series where you can do 1, 2, or 3 races and get medals at each.  The medals this year have been great so far!  I heart nice race bling with glitter!

Since I live on the West side of Houston now it takes me a lot longer to get to Galveston so I had to wake up super early (4:15 am) to be there on time.  Two of my other friends were going also so we carpooled together to the race.  We all had planned on meeting at 5:15 am, but we ended up leaving at 5:30 am and headed that direction.  The traffic was not bad at all until we got to the exit and then we sat in line for a good 30 minutes.  The race director had warned everyone in the parking situation would be difficult and for everyone to get there early so they can start the race on time.  We finally parked and had just enough time to use the restroom then head to the starting line for the prayer, a moment of silence, and then the National Anthem.  The announcer said that there were about 1,600 racers participating that day!!  My Uncle Roger and Aunt Laura also did the race with us, but I didn't see them before the race.

The course was a simple course that went through a small part of a neighborhood then over the Galveston Causeway to the other side, then a short loop and back over to the finish line.  The first mile or two or so I was doing about a 10:30ish minute mile (fast for me!) according to my watch and a few times I saw that it was about 9:07 (WTH?!!!!!).  <----I didn't stay at the pace for long though, LOL.  Once I got to the bridge my pace slowed down to about 11:30-12:30 minute miles while I was ascending the hill.  Once we were on the downhill I booked it to make up time. Kennisha was ahead of me somewhere, Aly was just behind me but I did not see them on the turn around.  I was ascending the bridge heading back over when I saw Roger, and then a bit later I saw Laura.  I took some sports beans and water at around mile 3 and headed back over to the other side of the bridge (why did Stephanie cross the road bridge?  To finish the race! hahaha). 

The entire time I was looking at my  new GPS watch (I will post an update about that) to try and figure out what time I would be finishing.  I was getting discouraged until about mile 4.5 when I realized I could finish with at least a 5 minute PR if I hurried up and went faster.  Somewhere between mile 4.5 and 5 I passed Kennisha and she ran up besides me and was like 'when did you pass me?' I wasn't exactly sure but I managed to say that I was on pace to get a 5 minute-ish PR if I ran fast enough (I was going pretty fast because I could barely talk).  I didn't stop at the last water station (I had my water belt so it was ok) because I didn't want to mess up my time.  I rounded the corner to where  I thought the finish line was, but apparently it was further.  According to my GPS watch I had already gone over 6.2 miles so the course ran a bit long (not sure what my time was exactly at 6.2 miles, but it would have been over a 5 minute PR).

As I was crossing the finish line and one of my water bottles came loose and fell on the course (it did that on the bridge also), once I crossed I wanted to go back over and get it, but I was afraid that it would mess up my timing chip so I walked around and picked it up.  Kennisha finished about 40 seconds behind me (a PR!), and Aly was about 10 minutes after us (another PR!). 

After we cross the finish line, got our medal, and removed our timing chip, we got into the food line and grabbed pizza, oreos, Rita's Water Ice (I had the Red Velvet flavor and it was awesome!), half a banana, and two mini cookies.  They had water, beer, and Muscle Milk to drink but I only had the water.  We headed to the sidelines of the finish line to cheer on Roger and Laura.  Roger finished first, then Laura came later (another PR!).  Once they all finished we took a few pictures and headed back to our cars.

Final time: 1:11:04, a 4:23 minute PR from my previous PR of 1:15.27 one month before. :)  

Aly, Kennisha and I went to the Strand area of Galveston and shopped at a craft show they had where I got the cutest new cross for my cross wall.  I need to make a post about my cross wall <--coming soon I guess!  Then we stopped in Friendswood to my favorite mexican restaurant on that side of town called Madres.  I had a stuffed avocado and tortilla soup.  Yummy!    Afterwards we headed back to our side of Houston so I could make it to my self defense class on time.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weird Dream Last Night

So last night I had a weird dream and I thought I would tell you about it.  I am not a dream interpreter so I have no idea what it means but if anyone does feel free to let me know!

I was apparently back in college and I was in my professors office talking about how I completely forgot that I had a Biology class this semester and what can I do to make it up?  He said it was no big deal, that it happens all the time, and that I will just get an incomplete for the semester.  Then he proceeded to flirt with me, ask me out, and give me coupons for cookies at the cookie store on campus. 

I was thinking that I didn't want an incomplete because I would have to take it over again next semester. Then I figured that I could just take it at a community college and transfer it.  I calculated all of my classes (yes, in my head-I am super smart in my dream) and figured I would have to take it that summer instead putting me graduating in August.  I didn't want to graduate in August. Oh! LOL. 

Then I left with my friend who was pregnant (I don't know) and as we were walking out the door the professor called out to us asking us out to a bar (it was like 2 pm) so we said no, and my pregnant friend said she couldn't drink because she was pregnant.

We proceeded to go to the cookie store for our free cookies with our coupons, realized they were expired, and tried to use them anyway.  We also wondered if our free cookie coupons were good for other treats that they had in the treat case, they looked better than the cookies of course. Let me tell you, this free cookie store was super crowded.  I was waiting in line for my cookie when my dream ended).

A few things here:

1.  I graduated college 5 and a 1/2 years ago.
2.  I didn't even take Biology, I took 2 semesters of Astronomy
3.  I  have had a dream several times that I forgot I had a Biology class (sometimes it is English class) and when I remembered I couldn't find the classroom.
4.  When you don't show up for 3/4 of the semester you get an F, not an incomplete (unless you drop it by the deadline).
5.  The coupons for free cookies were expired. :/ WTH Professor?  You can't give someone free coupons if they are expired!  That's just mean.
6.  It's even meaner that my dream ended right before I got my free cookie!  I have no idea if my dreaming self got a free cookie or not.  Since I try not to eat them in real life (at least while I am training for my marathon), I can't get one. :(

Like I said...WEIRD dream! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pitch Perfect

We went to see Pitch Perfect today at the theater and it was really funny.  Since I don't have t.v. at my house I don't see movie previews as much as I used too.  I was watching a YouTube video or something and I saw the preview and couldn't wait to see it.  (edited to add:  I do have A t.v. at my house, but I don't have it hooked up to cable or even one of those antenna boxes.  I can watch dvd's on it, but no t.v. shows).


Since I moved on this side of town I haven't been to the movies yet so I looked on Fandango to see what theater was closest to me and what time the movie started.  Lucky me, the theater closest to me was a the mall (destiny?!) and I needed to buy a new pair of black heels for work so I stopped by Macy's on the way. 

The movie started at 12:55 pm and I hadn't ate lunch yet so I got a drink and cheese sticks (not healthy!) and found my seat.  There were literally about 5 other people in the entire theater with me so I found a seat at the top easily.

The movie is really funny and I laughed a lot of the time, although some things that were said were inappropriate.  I was singing along (not out loud) to most of the songs that they sang, and I really want to buy the soundtrack now!  I wish I could sing. :/  The movie is predictable but still worth seeing.

Go see it! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sweet 16

Last week I mentioned that I had a new PDR of 14 miles, this week however I upped it again to 16 miles.  That's right 16 long sweaty miles.

I woke up at 4:45 am so I could be on time in Katy at 5:30 AM to start the run.  I was about 2 minutes away when I saw this guy in the middle of the street on the phone and a black Mercedes stuck to a light pole.  I have always been taught if you see an accident or you pass a scene of an accident without police or an ambulance you need to stop and help.  I turned around to make sure the guy was OK and to see if I could help in any way.  It turns out that the guy was just running by (he was on a 21 mile training run also) and he saw the accident and stopped too.  The police were already on their way but I didn't want to leave until they got there just in case.  When the police got there they made the girl (who was no more than 25) get out of the car and she was drunk as a skunk.  She had been sitting in the passenger side of the vehicle and had no idea where she was or anything, she looked like she had been partying all night.  Oh, and did I mention that the Mercedes was brand new with paper tags?! WTH?  I despise drunk drivers!  Grr!!!  Anyway, once the cop got there we asked if we needed to stay since neither of us had seen anything, the cops took our info just in case but we were free to go.  I wished the guy good luck on his run and he wished me the same.

I was about 5 minutes late meeting with my group since I stopped to help, but they hadn't left the parking lot yet.  We all left at the same time, but the faster group pulled ahead and us slow pokes followed behind.  I stayed with the 10.5-11 minute mile group for about 5 miles, but when I stopped to take some GU and drink water they pulled away and I couldn't catch back up.  It was ok thought because I don't think I would have made it the entire 16 miles going that fast (that is fast for me!).  The 16 mile course we went on was a big loop all around the Cinco Ranch area, and also around the big lake off of Spring Green.

Our group leader Alain was at miles 4.5, 8, and 16 to make sure we didn't need anything.  Around mile 3 I got sprayed by a water sprinkler, and when I say sprayed I mean SOAKED!  It felt good since I was getting hot by mile 3, but I literally had to ring out the water from my shirt. haha. When I saw Alain at Mile 5 he gave me a Snickers mini bar (Halloween fun size) for extra energy, and also I had one (or two!) at mile 8.  Also at mile 8 there was a water station set up so I could refill my water belt. I thought Alain had said he would be at the gas station on Cinco Ranch also, but he just went back to the parking lot where we started (it was one big 16 mile loop). 

Around mile 13 I wasn't sure when we turn left, the map he gave us didn't have a street name but with the help of another runner (not in our group) and a random bicyclist I was pretty sure I made the correct turn (but even if I didn't, I didn't care...I wanted to be done!).  I made it to mile 15 and Alain was waiting for me in the parking lot to give me my keys back.  He said he would wait for me to finish my last mile around the lake, but I told him to go ahead and leave and I could finish the last mile by myself since he probably had stuff to do and I was the last one to finish (a lot of our group was only doing 12 miles and the faster 16 mile people had already gotten done).

When I saw Alain at mile 5 he said that when he made the schedule he accidentally put today's run as a 16 mile run, but it should have been 12.  I figured since I had already psyched myself up to do 16 miles that I should go ahead and finish what I came to do.  I don't know what I am going to do when I have to do another 10 miles on top of that 16!  16 almost killed me!  I was soooo tired the last 3 miles.

Afterwards I drank some chocolate milk, ate some nuts and pretzels, then headed home to shower.  I got out of my car and was walking very slowly and I thought 'I don't think that even if I wanted to I could walk faster' but then I thought, 'Well, if a zombie acpolypse happened I could probably go a bit faster.'  Luckily though, there were no zombies and I made it inside safely to take a shower.  I needed to go to my parents house in Spring that day, but I took about a 45 minute nap first then headed out that direction.  The rest of the day I spent in Spring hanging out with my family and resting.  I did end up taking another 2 hour nap at my parents house this afternoon.  So tired.

Sweet 16 baby!!  Let's give it a few weeks before I do that again!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Essential Running Gear

I am no expert on running, but this is a list of items that I love and must have when running.  At first when I was running I would just lace up my tennis shoes and have at it, but as I started increasing my distance and running more often during the week is when I started purchasing more and more items.  I personally am always on a budget so if you are like me you want to know which equipment is best to purchase as you go along and increase distance, this is the list for you.

In order of importance (in my opinion):

1.        Running shoes-I had heard that everyone should purchase good running shoes when they first get into running, but I thought they were so expensive (average $125). I finally broke down and purchased them and they were worth it. First of all, when they fitted me for shoes they noticed that I walk on the outside of my feet (under pronate) and were able to find a shoe that helps fix that problem.  I didn’t really notice much of a difference until I wore my old tennis shoes (which were bought because they were pink) at the Beachpalooza 5K.  I put them on and they were heavy and made me feel like I walked funny.  Absolutely worth the $125 spent.
2.       Wicking socks-I HATE blisters and wicking socks help bring the moisture (sweat!) away from your feet to prevent blisters (you can still get blisters, but they are fewer).  I bought my first set at Kohl’s for $9 (pair of 6).  I have seen them at Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, Target, and sometimes even Ross.
3.       Wicking outfit-Wicking shirt (such as dri-fit) and pants are good to have.  I sweat a lot so the shirts help bring the moisture away and prevent chafing.  I also like to wear Capri pants and not shorts because of chafing between the thighs.  I am cheap when it comes to clothes in general, and workout clothes are not exception, I purchase most of my clothes on clearance or at discount stores like Ross or Marshall’s.  The same shirt at a running store or Academy for $30 costs $12 at Ross or Marshall’s (check Marshall’s first since they have a bigger selection).
4.       Sports bra-absolute must!  Even after my breast reduction I still am a member of the BTC so I am always looking for a good sports bra.  I have looked everywhere and found one I really like at Walmart.  I have heard that Lululemon has awesome ones, but I am still to big (working on getting smaller) to fit in theirs.  Again, don’t get cotton sports bras because of chafing.

5.       Spi-belt-Oh, how I love thee Spi-Belt!  The spi belt clips into place and fits in the small of my back perfectly (some people keep it in the front, but I like the back).  It looks really small, but the pocket expands to fit my phone (smart phone), DL, debit card, and keys perfectly.  Love, love, love it.  I only wear it on shorter runs though because I need water and my water belt has pockets.
6.       Anti Chafe Stick-Texas is hot and I sweat a whole lot!  I put that stuff everywhere and it works beautifully.  It goes on like a deodorant stick and is handy to keep in your gym bag.  When you sweat a lot you would be surprised all the places you chafe!

7.       Water belt-I personally hate carrying stuff in my hands when I run so I opted for a water belt.  Water/Hydration is important so it should always be carried with you.  The water belt is #7, but water is #0.  Always have water, just the water belt itself is secondary if you are on a budget.

8.       Nutrition-Gu, Sport Beans, Picky Bars, Gu Chomps, Clif Bars, Lara Bars, etc.  Tried them all.  You really (in my opinion) only need them if you are going to be running an hour or more.  I would say if you are going to do anything over a 10K is when you need a food supplement.  When training for something make sure you test out different forms of nutrition to see how your body reacts to them, don’t try something new on race day.

9.       Nuun-Like I said, I sweat a lot and I need a way to add the salt back into my body.  I used to like Gatorade but it has A LOT of calories so I went looking for a substitute.  Enter: Nuun.  It comes in little dissolvable tabs (with a ton of flavors) that you just pop into your water bottle, wait 2 minutes, and then drink.  Super good.

10.   Compression sleeves-I got these a few weeks ago and I love them!  I can absolutely tell a difference when I wear them after a run and when I do not.  My legs feel as though they heel faster and are not as sore the next day. I got mine in lime green from CEP Compression.  My running stores said they were the best brand to get.
Things that I have heard about, but have not tried:
1.        Foam roller
2.       Tiger tail

These are just my suggestions, but is there anything else that you would suggest to new runners?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Open letter to owners of luxury cars

Normally I try not to post stuff like this on my blog, but today people deserve it!  After this rant, I will go back to my regularly scheduled posts about running and my life, but today dumb people are going to get a talkin’ to.
I am also talking to the owner of the Black Mercedes SUV that almost ran me off the road this morning on my way to work.  

Begin Rant:

Dear Drivers of Luxury Vehicles,

Let’s have a chat.  I have wanted to say this for a long time, but I have kept my mouth shut to keep the peace.  Today, not so much.  I am going to just let it out.
Paying $50K+ for a vehicle does not mean you own the road, you just own a piece of medal (or fiberglass) on wheels.  However, it does make you an idiot for paying that much for something that DEPRECIATES in value.   The road belongs to ALL of us.  I don’t pay taxes and tolls for you to not pay attention where you are going and take me out when you cross over 4 lanes.  It does not mean you can almost run the other vehicles off the road because you decide you are better than the rest of us with our Toyota, Chevy’s, Honda, and Hyundai’s.  Even if you think you ‘deserve’ to drive a nice vehicle you don’t deserve to treat the rest of us like crap and be a bad driver and almost hit us.  It doesn’t work that way. 
It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman; learn to freakin’ drive your car!  Just because you might be able to afford to pay for my stuff when you decide to hit it, doesn’t mean that you should continue to drive like a bat out of hell.  No!  If you must, take a driver’s education course, they aren’t that expensive!  You obviously can afford one because you paid a ton of money for your car.  Oh what?  You don’t have time because you are busy working to pay for your car?  Well, the rest of us would appreciate it if you would take the course because it would get you off the road for 3 hours and we could get some peace on the road.
So please, the next time you climb behind the wheel of your all leather vehicle of death please remember that the rest of us would like to live a long and prosperous life and we do not appreciate being run off the road.

Stephanie (and the rest of us ‘regular’ car drivers)

End Rant. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How to plan a 5K Fun Run Fundraiser

Edit:  In 2014 I planned a color run and raffle, raising over $8,000.  For part two of this series, go here.  Part two is how I planned a color run and raffle 5K fundraiser.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)

 A few people have been emailing me asking me how we planned the Driving Jacks 5K this past April, I guess it’s time that time of year to plan a 5K!  Hopefully I can help some of you plan a successful 5K as a fundraiser for your organization to raise lots of money for your cause.  
While I was running my 8 miler on Sunday (training run for my marathon) I was thinking about how great the DJ5K turned out to be and what a big fundraiser it was.  There is a non profit I suggested hosting a 5K to and if they end up doing a 5K as a fundraiser they could raise close to $100K.  The more people and sponsors you have the more money you will raise.  Go get the people.  Build it and they will come (quick, what movie is that from?!)
Here are some steps to follow, but I have also included a F.A.Q. list below.

Step 1.  Pick a date!  Look online for a date that is free and book it. is where a lot of runners go to choose their runs. 
Step 2.  Pick a route and get it approved by the city/town you are in.  Permits are a must if you are on the streets. You don’t want a fine!
Step 3.  Book your timing chip company!  It isn’t fun (I know by experience) to choose a date and have the timing chip company you want to use be booked up then you have to change the date or go with another company.  Before you start advertising make sure you have this locked (and your route permit)
Step 4.  Get a website up and running to start advertising.  Advertise on FB and any other social media you can advertise on (for free-tell your friends to spread the word also).  Post weekly updates on your website about the 5K to keep people interested (we used a blog format-see the f.a.q. section below).  Also you can advertise by printing a small flyer and adding it to other running events race packets.  Ask the race director of a few races that are before your event and ask to add a flyer for your event.  You might get a few registrations that way!
Step 5.  Put a sponsor packet together and start getting sponsors
Step 6.  About a month in advance you can order the t-shirts and awards.  Start working with the t-shirt company and getting quotes before then, but don’t place orders until you know how many people will be at the event.
Step 7.  Plan for miscellaneous items to bring to the 5K, plus items that you will need.  If it’s not written down someone will forget it!  Delegate each item to someone.  Some suggestions: walkie talkies, clip boards, extra pens, door prize tickets, cups, bibs, napkins, paper plates, trash bags (you will use more than you think!), cups (average two or three per participant), extension cords, camera, awards, door prizes, laptop, tables, t-shirts, chalk, food, water jugs, serving utensils, ice, water, sponsor banners, money bag (for onsite registrations-keep an eye on this!), goodie bag items, signs, etc.  I am sure there is more, just brainstorm for every scenario.
Step 8.  Have each committee member have a specific duty and give them volunteers.  See F.A.Q. below
Here are some questions that I have been asked about our 5K:
How long did it take to plan the 5K?
I came up with the idea while on a trip back from Nacogdoches with my friend Hector (also a committee member) in September.  We started to really work on it in December, but we were holding bi-weekly conference call meetings since October. Not much was happening until we got our first sponsor in December.
How did you get sponsors?
We created a sponsor packet and each of the committee members were supposed to get at least two sponsors each.  Not everyone got two sponsors, but our goal was to get as many as possible and having everyone individually responsible for two helped a lot.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)
Where did you get the t-shirts and was that a big budget item?
We had two different shirts, purple for the volunteers and white for the participants.  The white shirts were about $4 each and the purple ones were about $6 each, plus you had set up charges and misc fees (we were a nonprofit so we didn’t pay sales tax).  Work with your t-shirt company for the best deal, but you might be able to get them for even cheaper if you add them as a sponsor (offer to put their logo on the back of the shirt).  We used Bull Shirts in Houston and they were wonderful to work with and very professional.  The t-shirts were a big budget item, but necessary. 
Did you use a timing chip system?
We had a timing chip system company drive to Houston to time the event.  There is only one in Nacogdoches and she was busy (there were two other 5K’s in the area that day), so Run Wild Sports Timing drove up (we paid per mile in addition to his per person fee for him to drive up).  Google timing chip companies in your area or you can go to a local 5K and get the timing chip companies phone number and website to call them.
How did you get door prizes?
We got door prizes the same way as we did sponsors, going door to door asking!  Start with family and friends then ask for referrals on Facebook.  If you tell friends what cause you are doing the 5K for, most people will help.
What about the day of the event?  How did you decide who did what?
I am a super freak O.C.D. planner.  I had a spreadsheet with every committee member, what they would be doing at what time, what they needed to bring from home, and what other volunteers they would be assigned.  For instance, Robby was in charge of the timing chips and bibs.  He needed to bring the timing chips, safety pins, and a first aid kit from home.  Anything having to do with the timing chips he was assigned to, from helping set up the timing and p.a. systems to coordinating the awards that were given out to the winners.  By 6:30 am everything needed to be set up and the awards needed to be finalized at 8:30 when they were announced.  I knew that we would start right at 7:30, the winners should be back no later than 7:45ish, and we would be handing out awards no later than 8:30.  We ran on time.  I like schedules, like I said; I am a super control freak planner.  If you have a plan down to every detail, you can work around small hiccups along the way.  If you show up and say ‘well, I wonder what’s going to happen?’  I know what will happen…everything will happen and you will get your butt handed to you, then you will wonder what the heck happened.  Plan ahead! :) 
What about a logo or theme?
We had our logo designed by a graphic designer that actually designed the Driving Jacks logo a few years ago.  Sometimes t-shirt companies offer t-shirt designs as part of the price. 

Did you go to any 5K’s to watch them plan or run one?
I have done a ton of 5K’s (but this was my first to plan), so I knew a bit about 5K’s in general.  I emailed a few different 5K’s in the area and asked them questions like this F.A.Q.  Just go to one in your area and observe how they do things.  Most organizers are happy to help you answer questions, just be patient with them, a lot of them volunteer their time and it might take a few days for them to respond to your questions.
How did you determine the budget?
I knew that our timing chips would cost X amount, and t-shirts would costs X amount so once we determined the participant fee ($20-$25 is average for adults, $10-$15 for kids) we had a base outline.  I tried to keep our expenses to less than half of the registration costs.  If your registration cost is $20, have no more than $10 in expenses so the other $10 will be money raised, but try and aim for about $6 or $7 per participant (or less).  The more participants you have, the cheaper the cost per registrant will be.  Once you cover the costs of the timing chips and misc expenses, all other money raised will be icing on the cake!  I created a spreadsheet with formulas on how much money we had raised between sponsors and participants fees.  I am a spreadsheet nerd.
What about awards?
We had age group awards in 10 year age ranges and also 18 and under.  Male and female two deep.  Next year when we have more registrations we will add more awards.
How did you get people to register for the 5K?
We used for the registration process.  Some timing chip companies offer registrations as part of their timing package, but we just went with  The fees are minimal on Active and they has a super easy to navigate website for the participants and for the committee, plus you can pass the fee on to the participants.
Did you have any big groups register for the 5K?
Yes!  We held a team registration contest to get more people registered.  As part of the registration on you can add a team and they can recruit their friends as members.  The largest team we had was about 25 people and the smallest team was about 3 people.  When we were making announcements after everyone had finished and were giving out door prizes we announced the winner and had the entire team come up to get their award.  We wanted something everyone could share so we had a cookie cake with their team name on it.  Unhealthy? Yes! :)  Side note on team registrations:  When a person registers with a team they get a small discount (I think 10%) so be sure to include that in your budget calculations.
What about an email address and website?
We purchased a domain name for $12 a year and signed up for a free blog on to forward the domain name to. forwards to  You can easily edit the layout and add pages to customize the look.  I like using a blog format because you can post updates on the site and your participants can easily find new information pertaining to the race.
Email addresses are free on several sites like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.
Did your 5K committee have meetings?
The DJ5K committee was spread across Texas!  I signed us up on and we called in weekly with updates.  I wrote down everything that happened and sent out meeting minutes as well as a to-do list for each person to finish before the next week.  During the meeting we just went one by one and gave up update as to what we were all doing and what progress we had made for the week. We didn’t see a need to meet face-to-face (and it would have significantly lowered our committee member count!) since you can call in from anywhere.   For the members who weren’t able to attend the meeting that week I just asked that they send me an update by 5 pm and I would give their presentation updates during the meeting for them.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)
What about finish line food and drinks?  What about water stops?
One of our committee members worked at a grocery store part time and she was able to get them to donate water bottles and bananas for the finish line.  Set up a meeting with your local grocery store manager and ask if they will donate anything to the 5K.  If they can’t donate, ask if they can give you a significant discount or the items at cost to save money.  If they give them to you at cost, they aren’t losing anything.  You need to start this process a few months in advance since they will probably need to speak with a higher up for approval.

Water stops-for water stops we had a special water stop sponsor option on the sponsor packet.  They water stop sponsor got to put a banner at the water stop and had the option of volunteering for the event at the water stop in their companies shirts/outfits.  We did end up having two water stop sponsors, but they choose not to work the event but we did have their banners on display.  Make water stops fun with a boom box (do people still call them that?  I am old school. Yo!)  Also, plan for 2-3 cups per person at each water stop and fill them as you go.  If you buy to many cups, use them next year.  It’s better to have too many than not enough.  You don’t want people dying from dehydration on you.
Finish line-we had water bottles, bananas, and misc fruit at the finish line that were all donated.  I wanted kolaches or donuts (Sugar is bad, bad, bad, but yummy, yummy, yummy!) but we couldn’t find a place to donate them in time.

How did you communicate with everyone to make sure they were OK and running on schedule?
We borrowed walkie talkies and each committee member got one plus each water stop.  I couldn’t figure out how to work my stupid walkie talkie so everyone called or texted me on my cell.  It was dead at the end of the day. LOL.

How many participants is an average amount for a first year 5K?
I don’t know the average participants nationwide, but with ours we had about 130.  We were competing with two other 5K’s that same day (one was free and in the parking lot next to us!) for registrations so we had a lower amount.  Our organization is pretty big on campus so we were able to get the word out, but our goal was 250.  We will hit and then exceed that number in years to come!  I would say 100  is a good number to aim for and budget for, but shoot for 250. 
How much money can we expect to make?
We made around $3,000 after expenses, but a sponsor matched what we raised and so we raised $6,000.  We had income from sponsors plus registrations to make the $3,000, of course the more sponsors and participants you have the more money you will make.  Pick a number and start working towards getting more and more registrations.  The numbers below are examples of how much registration fees would bring in, then you add your sponsor amounts, then subtract your expenses.
For example:  # of registrations. 
500 x $20
300 x $20
250 x $20
200 x $20
150 x $20
100 x $20
50 x $20

Where did you get your bibs?
We got them from an online company called, you can customize them to your event with colors, logos, and numbers.  We started them out at #619 because that is how many free rides we gave out the first semester of operations (Driving Jacks is a free designated driver program).
How many people were on the 5K planning committee with you?
There were about 5 alumni members that met via conference call every week, and then we had a committee of Driving Jacks members (about 6 or 7 I think) that would meet every few weeks.  The alumni group would concentrate on timing chips, t-shirts, awards, etc and the DJ Nacogdoches group would do anything we needed to be done in Nacogdoches itself.  For instance, a student must apply for a permit to use the facilities and since we couldn’t drive up there easily apply for the permit, they did it for us. Or they would reserve tables and walkie talkies, put up flyers, hand out sponsor packets to companies in Nacogdoches, etc.   They were our feet on the street since we couldn’t be there.  The alumni members each live about 2.5 hours to 5 hours away from Nacogdoches plus we all worked full time, so it was hard for us to travel to Nacogdoches for little things here and there.  The DJ Nac committee was awesome!
Did you need more volunteers than you thought?
The current members of Driving Jacks were our volunteers and several other people as well.  I would say we had about 30 volunteers plus committee members?  I think it was enough, but we could always have used more.  Mainly the volunteers stood on the course and directed the runners (long story, but there was another 5K in the parking lot next to us that was sort of on the same course as we were so our volunteers stood on the course in lime green shirts directing people-we know that it wasn’t a good idea but we didn’t have a choice!  Like I said, long story.  It worked out though), but some of them were at the registration table, the water stops, and the finish line.
Did the setup take a long time the day before and the day of the event?
I got to Nacogdoches the day before the event around lunch time.    We had some miscellaneous small items to do and some stuff to pick up, but for the most part we had done everything ahead of time.  We did walk the entire route (in the rain!) and decide where to add the signs, where we needed volunteers, and where all the registration/food tables would be set up.
The day of the event we all got there by 5:30 and started setting everything up.  We unloaded the cars and sent a group of about 5 people to put the signs in place (see below about signs).  We set up the registration table with the t-shirts, then the awards table, the food tables, the water stops, and timing chip system.  We were done with everything by 6:45 am and the race started at 7:30 am.  We were done taking things down and cleaning up by 9:15 am.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)
How did you go about getting your route approved?
We used a pre-approved route from the US Track and Field website (Go here and put in the area you want and a list will come up or you can pay them to create you a customized one).  We were staying on the SFASU campus area only so we didn’t have to get the city’s approval, only SFASU’s approval.  In regular cities you would need to talk to the city hall and they will get you a permit.  You might have to call around to a few different places to find the correct office.
How did you mark the course?

We had a committee member walk the entire route and decide what signs we needed (I think there was about 60 of them total) and we had them printed with arrows.  We had these donated (a committee members friend owned a sign company), but you can ask if you can them printed at a discount (offer them to be a sponsor).  We also had volunteers pointing (and cheering) participants in the right direction every so often along the course.
I think that is it!  Hopefully your event will be a success.  Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions that I didn’t cover.  I love hearing your success stories, I am so glad I have been able to help so many people with this post! :)

Edit:  In 2014 I planned a color run and raffle, raising over $8,000.  For part two of this series, go here.  Part two is how I planned a color run and raffle 5K fundraiser.

Edit:  I have now created an entire website about planning a 5K and also ebook with forms, spreadsheets and sponsor packets.  Go to to purchase the ebook to have access to the forms we used (including a bonus section about creating color runs)