Friday, August 30, 2013

Dry Comal Creek 5 Mile Whine Run: Labor Day 2013

I am thankful to have the day off on Monday!  I will celebrate with D who is coming to visit for the weekend and we plan to run the San Antonio Road Runner Labor Day 5 Mile Whine Run at Dry Comal Creek Vineyards in New Braunfels.

I am embarrassed to say that in all my time in San Antonio I've never been to New Braunfels though it is just up the road.  And the home of some great barbecue: a friend recommended Cooper's BBQ.

I've never even done an event with the San Antonio Road Runners either, and I'm looking forward to learning more about this group.

It's a chip-timed race and from the website, the scenery looks beautiful.  I can't find a course map but I hope that the race travels through the vineyards.  I imagine there is some wine at the end...or during!

Who's in town and wants to celebrate with me?  Does anyone know why this run has the word "whine" in it?  Is it all uphill?  That would certainly be appropriate...failing that I will focus on the wine vs whine :)

Happy running and happy and safe Labor Day weekend to all!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bikram yoga...are ya with me?

I picked up a new hobby a few days ago- Bikram yoga!  The neat thing about being temporarily assigned away from home is that I get to try out activities that aren't otherwise available. And this hot yoga seemed the perfect thing, now that our 3 weeks in the field had rather acclimated us to the heat!

My friend Jenny and I attend hot yoga classes with The Union Bikram yoga franchise here in San Antonio.  We tried the introductory class and liked it so much that we bought passes for 10 more days of classes.  And then we convinced more friends to join us!

Here are some benefits I've noticed over the past 3 days already:
  • Sleep, that is far more restorative than usual (this is HUGE with me!)
  • Less anxiety
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Improved skin clarity
I couldn't find any scientific evidence that Bikram yoga is superior to other forms of yoga, but for me and my exercise proclivities, Bikram is a good match.

I like that these classes, for 90 minutes at a time, enable others to experience my everyday level of sweatiness.  I should probably wear floaties or a lifevest to class, but the instructors are so tolerant!  And that's what yoga at The Union is all about.

The class consists of a 26 + 2 regimen:  26 postures or "asanas" and 2 breathing exercises, each repeated twice.   I love that the instructor follows a Bikram script and speaks for the duration of the class without performing the postures themselves.  This allows me to focus on the words and directions as opposed to craning my neck to watch a demonstrated pose.  They do circle the students and provide very helpful feedback.  I found them to be encouraging without the sycophantism that plagues other types of group exercise.

It's amazing how fast the 90 minutes in the "torture chamber" fly by!  I spend the whole time focused on surviving the 105F heat and so the physical challenge of the postures pales in comparison.  The Bikram Asanas!

I find that I am somewhat sore the day after, less than if I'd been lifting heavily.  It's a soreness that's well-dispersed over my body.  After just a few classes, though, I have less SI joint pain and I feel my posture has improved in my thoracic spine.  Or maybe I just now have an increased body awareness?

I paid for a special offer of $20 for 10 days of consecutive classes.  I'm on day 3.  I may skip a few sessions over Labor Day weekend but I'll after-action the 10 days for you for sure :)

The classes are about 50/50 male/female.  I wear a sports bra and spandex shorts like most of the other female participants.  Other gals wear tank tops, yoga pants, etc.  The men in class wear spandex or swim-type shorts.  I think a few even are there in their boxers, hey, whatever, it's yoga, no room for judgie jerks there and no one's focused on anyone else.

Yes, it's hot in there.  But it's safe.  It's challenging.  It's fun.  And you can do it!

I don't know that this is going to improve my running but I do appreciate any activity that mitigates pain and purportedly improves flexibility.  Any thoughts on yoga as an adjunct to other forms of exercise?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jalapeno Del Sol 10K

First, an apology.

To the mighty MRE!

Home stretch!
 I did something highly unusual yesterday morning here in San Antonio.  I took first overall female in the Jalapeno Del Sol Trail Run 10K and I am just as surprised about it as you are! 

What am I doing with this winner's medal??
 The only difference in my training for this event and all others is that there was none.  Quite literally I've been living in a tent, not doing any running whatsoever, getting little to no sleep, and eating MREs.  I'm just gonna call this one an overwhelming victory in the MRE corner.  Maybe, just maybe, there is something to all the scientifically designed meals?  Sample size- me.

I am back from the field for good and Friday night I decided to look for a fun Saturday race to celebrate my return.  My googling showed the Jalapeno Del Sol Trail Run was close by, had race-day registration and a military discount.  There was also a 5K option if I decided not to do the full 10K.  Perfect!

McAllister Park, just north of the airport, is such a wonderful oasis within San Antonio.  I had been here once before, a few years ago, to take Nugget to the dog park.  The race began at the Classics Elite Soccer Fields within the park. 

Everyone was in such a great mood.  I showed up by myself but I met some new friends, Carrie and her boyfriend Allen from Austin.  They are veterans of the Prickly Pear 50K and Chupacabra 10K Night Run, raced in this same park and also organized by the same folks creating the Jalapeno Del Sol.

I wore the Pace Setter Skirt.  Love that thing.  I saw many other gals of all ages in running skirts so I guess they are more popular that I thought?

It pains me to be more than a few feet from a reflective belt at any moment
 The 10K and 5K courses are completely the bike and hiking trails of McAllister Park. The hilly and winding paths are entirely shaded, but replete with rocks and tree roots.  The Good Lord has seen fit to give me cankles and so I steadfastly sailed over the uneven ground.  Others took a few tumbles but despite a few scrapes and bruises no one was seriously injured.  I even saw a few deer as I ran.  The fellow trail users, cyclists, hikers, puppy dogs, were all very courteous.  Don't tell Nugget :)  The trail was well marked with arrow signs, orange flashes on trees at eye-level, and flour "x" marks at intersections to indicate where not to run.  The organizers had run the course the night previous and morning of the event just to ensure it was easy to follow.  Of course, I did get turned around in a few places but that's the fun of a trail run!  There was a little confusion at the 5K/10K turnoff point but a race volunteer stood at the junction and told us which path to follow.

The finish for all three races is along the soccer fields.  Nice for picture-taking and for meeting up with the 5K and kiddos.

Post race cerveza provided by the New Braunfels Brewing Company.  Treats included tacos, water, bananas, HEB's Quench sports drink.  Medical tent on hand, too.  Great technical t-shirt.  Cute medals.  Water/sports drink stations every 2 miles.

D says he will never run this race due to the shirt's overwhelming cuteness
I was worried about the heat at 0800 since all the outdoor PT I've been doing lately has been at 0530 or so, but it was still cool while light enough to safely wind through the woods without headlamp.  

The kid's mile begins 15 minutes later at a different place, a few hundred meters away.  I don't think it travels quite so deeply into the woods but I saw quite a few kids and I was very impressed that some of these kiddos were independent enough that they accompanied their parents to the 5K/10K start and then walked back to the Kid's Mile start on their own.  Not sure I would've been that brave as a kid.  And I definitely wasn't out running either!  I only mention that to show what a safe and fun environment it was.  Extremely well organized. So cool, too, that a small-scale race was chip-timed!

The price was a little steeper than I liked, but I did get a $5 discount and I could've saved even more by registering a month ago...I will just silently laugh at that prospect right now :)

This is my first trail run, and my first big win...if you can call it that.  I am never going to be an elite athlete, and I will never win a big race, but if you are like me, why not try a small-size race and see what you can do?  I have a feeling that this race will not be small forever.

This machine fueled by MREs and tacos
 Other upcoming related Run In Texas events:

Galveston Sand Crab 5K/10K Nighttime Beach Run (Sep 7, 2013)
Johnson City Lighthouse Hill Ranch 10 Mile, 20 Mile, 50K Trail Runs (Sep 21, 2013)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

MRE, no questions answered

I have been eating lots of these recently:

What do the numbers mean??
I do not like this fact.

I do not eat most of the things that come in this Meal, Ready-to-Eat package.  And I definitely am not interested in heating any of it up with the neato water-activated heater that is in every package.

It took me a few days, but taste-wise I learned to go the vegetarian route, meals which can be easily acquired through trading, like candy trades among children on Halloween.  Yes, I was the one who would give you a king-size Snickers for a measly Chunky.  No one is surprised I didn't pursue a degree in business.

I ate the peanut M&Ms that were in here, same with the crackers:

Not so bad!
I don't know how these are made, but my veterinarian friend tells me they are regularly inspected for food safety.  By veterinarians.

I seriously crave fresh veggies.

The urban (field?) legend is that each MRE, if you ate the whole thing, is approximately 2000 calories.  There is nothing on the outside package that verifies this, and I haven't saved enough wrappers to do the math on the individual packages of food.  I am not able to run or exercise as before, so I am excessively wary of anything that has 2000 calories in it- not a problem, it's easy to give the more delicious contents of these meals away (refer to the aforementioned Chunky Situation of 1988). 

NUMBER 13!!!! MREs you taunt me with your enigmatic code...
I do admire the creative MRE menus that I see, and I love the condiment packages: moist towelette, toilet paper, sugar, instant coffee, salt, maybe a packet of hot sauce.  MREs from years ago included a teeny bottle of Tabasco sauce, a cute thing that always made me smile.  It's gone, but so are the Charms candy, an improvement now that I see Skittles and Peanut M&Ms instead.

I know there are some MRE aficionados out there...tell me, which one is your favorite??

River City Run...5K jog tour of San Antonio

Last Saturday morning, just a few wee hours after the Pub Run, my pals and I decided to re-trace our staggering steps with the help of River City Run.  I now know of no better way to appreciate the history and culture of San Antonio while burning off the previous night's celebratory indulgences, which are a must when we are sweating away every sodium ion living in tents during the week for the next several weeks.
Hillary, Me, Mark, and Jenny + reflective sweat puddle beneath me = the start
River City Run starts at the Alamo at 0800 sharp where we met up with our lovely guides Tommy and Tina who took us on a 5K running tour of some of San Antonio's greatest treasures, embellished with well-researched and entertaining information to share with us at our stops along the way.  I saw the city in a way I never had, even though I used to call SA my home.

Running *is* yay
I really admire Tommy and Tina's low-overhead business model and I would do this tour again especially since return customers get to enjoy the tour for free.  I'll bring D if he is ever able to visit while I'm here since I know we'll take a trip to Magnolia Pancake Haus afterwards.  

I'd recap all the things Tommy and Tina shared with us, but I'll save that for the pros and their great tour of this great city.

The tour is $30, includes a t-shirt, water bottles during/after the run, and digital pictures.  Worth it for sure, even in the record-breaking summer heatwave.  We were able to park in a lot charging $5/3 hours which was plenty of time- the River City Run took just under 2 hours.

Torch of Friendship
 I also used the Pub Run and River City Run (clean laundry is for suckers) to try out my birthday present to myself..the Lululemon Pace Setter running skirt in white and black stripes and polka dots.  I love it.  It's got great pockets- large enough for phone, keys, credit cards, gels if need be.  Great silky, moisture-wicking feel.  Undershorts were comfy without cutting off circulation.  Cute enough to wear as a sporty skirt even when not running.  Hate the $58 pricetag, hence the birthday present part.  Everyone who has worn one loves these skirts, I'm no different.  If you have the cash, and are willing to try out a running skirt, you might like this one.  I do.  But I won't buy another for a long while unless I win the lottery or, even more unlikely, find a Lululemon fire sale..

Saturday, August 3, 2013

San Antonio Pub Run Recap!

Friday was an early work morning for all of us, but that didn't deter a great night: my first go at a Pub Run!  Jenny, Hillary, Mark and I and 1000 of our new friends enjoyed the San Antonio Pub Run together across downtown San Antonio.

We had to hurry from work to the start, luckily easily identified by the streams of neon-clad folks circling towards Pat O'Briens.  We made it by 7 pm and the party was already in full swing.  Mullet wigs, leotards, leg warmers, guitars and headbands for everyone, why not.  We had an unofficial Hulk Hogan citing, and for sure Pee Wee Herman was well-represented, but his likeness still creeps me out.

Finally putting a reflective belt to a good use!
 The 10+ bars and clubs we visited were a great slice of San Antonio and well chosen both in location and theme.  The drinks were (thankfully) a little weak in some places, but we weren't gunning to lose our  motor skill or memories so we maintained a fairly wholesome alcohol : water ratio.  A midnight stop at the County Line BBQ kept our strength up, and much thanks to our fellow diners for accommodating our festivities as part of your evening.

Here's the thing about clubs and bars and me:

Hot Mess Recipe
But something magical happens when you have running clothes don't really care about your hair and makeup and sweatiness quotient (mine is really high) and instead there's much much much more room for fun. 

He called, Jenny, but you were stuck in the 80s and hadn't come back yet

 Highlights of the evening/morning included the fantastic relaxed and safe atmosphere, great bars without cover charges, and participants who did not mind Jenny accosting them with her gratis and real-time clothing alterations.  Parking might have been an issue had we not driven together and found a garage to stash the car in overnight for about $18.00.

Pub Run conclusions:

1.  Wearing workout clothes to a club: 100% fun and eliminates 99% of d-baggery
2.  San Antonio is a gem -- the greatest tourists and citizens and the most copacetic traffic
3.  County Line BBQ is the best, I don't care what you say
4.  I can still hang out until the wee hours with adult beverages and have a productive next day, thirty schmirty!
5.  I could not have done this without my iPhone, Location Services I love you.

We will be back next month!  I don't expect the same turnout or the same level of high spirits, but with a theme of "college sports" I know that it will still be a great experience.

Strangers, AKA best friends for the duration of a picture