Saturday, May 31, 2014

Pedernales Falls State Park

Today (why yes, today! I am blogging on the same day I did something! Rarity!), we went to Pedernales Falls State Park. We'd been before, but it was in the depressing summer and epic drought of 2011, and water was not a'flowin'. It was a whole different ball game today, that water was moving. The falls were roaring from the recent rains and it was very awesome. We got in the water a bit down at the swimming area and the current was cray-zay! Kids were getting scooted down the river and parents were freaking out. (Everyone was A-okay, just dramatic.)

We hiked around the falls area for a while (and by hiked, I mean leaped over rocks and steams. My joints are going to hate me tomorrow), then settled down near the swimming area to have a picnic.

There was a lot of this. It was hot and the sun was brutal. I'm such a vampire, I can't hang when the suns out.

TAKING SOLACE IN THE SHADE. Trees are our friends. And speaking of friends, lizards everywhere!


We found this sweet rock to have a picnic on next to the river. Contrary to how grumpy I look, it was my happy place. I mean, how perfect is it? Under some trees, right next to the water, off the ground away from bugs; it was great. No lie, I napped for a couple hours under there. I'm really digging napping outdoors.

The swimming looked nice (we just waded in a bit) but like I said, the current was crazy! Such a 180 from the last time we were there. Keep it up rain! It was a really fun and relaxing trip. Pedernales Falls, you're a winner. It still blows my mind how close we are to such lovely places. I feel like more people should take advantage of this. It's sooo cheap and so much fun, get out to those parks, y'all!  Not sure where we're headed next, but we'll be off exploring again soon!

And I leave you with this lovely man of mine. Because he takes me to pretty places and puts up with me getting sleepy in the sun.

That smirk. Get out of here with that smirk.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bastrop and Buescher State Parks

Sunday after running our 8k we hit up a couple nearby state parks. First we went to Bastrop State Park, which is still very much recovering from the fires of 2011. (I HATED the summer of 2011, it was the worst for so many reasons.) It was a really, really sad scene. SO many acres of burned trees. We only stayed for a bit, since we wanted to hike a bit and the trails just kind of meandered through the burned area. There's a very scenic and windy 12 mile road that goes between Bastrop and Buescher State Parks so we headed that direction after hanging out in a little gazebo on top of a hill, where there was a marvelous breeze going on.

The drive to Buescher from Bastrop (and vice versa) is really very pretty if you're ever in the mood to cruise. It's also apparently a very challenging and fun bike ride! Buescher is kind of a tiny little park surrounding a little lake, but it's got a really decent amount of hiking trails above the main park area. We did a little over three miles of hiking, and it was beautiful! Everything was so green from the recent rains, and there was a wicked variety of plants out there. Also lots of cute little lizards. I think the trails are pretty new, so they're relatively even, I think they'd be excellent for trail running. There's a couple more sets of trails to check out there, next time!

Two of the bigger trails meet on top of this hill, and it's got an excellent view of the surrounding farm land! A great place to take a breather. Another hiker was having a little snack up there!

Take note, it's late May and still cool enough to hike with your hair down. I have to say (and I'm jinxing us all here) but this May has been super mild and awesome. It totally hasn't hit 100 degrees yet. And today, it was like 65 at 2pm. Granted, it was raining, but still. KEEP IT UP TEXAS! I'm loving it!

Mr. Hogan took this lovely picture so I thought I'd share. :)

Autism Speaks 8k - 2014

Sunday was the Autism Speaks 8k! This was the second year they've held the race and our second year to run it! (Here's the post from last year. I'd like to think my legs look better now. ;)) Coffee Bean is the major sponsor of the race, something I'm pretty proud of. I'm a big fan of this organization and am happy we've gotten the opportunity to work with them two years in a row!

The weather was, oddly enough, almost exactly the same as it was last year. Although it didn't really rain this time (it poured last year), it sprinkled on us and it was HUMID as all get out. The good news was that the temp was pretty low and there was no sun! The sun is my enemy when I run. It sucks the life out of me. This course is challenging. It's a loop you do twice. The first section of the loop is lovely and flat and all things nice, but then the second half of the loop is hellishly hilly. There's two big hills and an insane downhill. And then you do it all over again! Last year I ended up walking some of it so my main goal this year was to not walk! And I didn't! Although oh my gosh there was one point on the second loop I was running up a hill and my legs were just like NOOOOOO, but somehow I kept going!

We did the course in 45:30, which is five minutes faster than last year! I don't know how we placed overall (for some reason our stats online are off), but I was 51st out of 198 ladies, and 14th in my age group of 41 chicas. I'm very pleased with how we did. We averaged 9:10 min miles, which is pretty dang fast for us, considering the hills!

We ran it with a few awesome folks from work (and my bosses were there serving coffee, which was super cool! They were so supportive!), and I made the ladies from my store matching shirts! They look a little bit like prison shirts, but whatever.

And following tradition from last year, one of my baristas got third in her age group! This girl is a running rockstar and very much an inspiration! She keeps me motivated!

You can actually SEE the moisture in the air. It was cray humid. But even with the humidity, we had a blast. It was a good race with good folks for a good cause. And I think our last race for the rest of the summer! Just training training training all through the heat!

And I must must must mention my how wonderful Mr. Hogan is as a running partner. Brendon runs MUCH faster than me. By quite a bit. But he runs with me. To stay with me he slows down, circles back, or runs backwards, asking me how I'm doing (my pet peeve, but really, it's kind of sweet). He could finish with much better stats, but he finishes with me. I feel rotten about it, because really, I'm so much slower, but I love that we run together. We're a team! It's so nice to have him by my side and the best motivation. And we always run across the finish line holding hands. Because we're sappy like that. :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

McKinney Falls... again!

We went to McKinney Falls today, again! Even though we were there Saturday, it rained a ton this week, and we wanted to check out the falls now that there was an influx of water. And dang, it makes a difference! The water is a good three feet+ higher than it was when we were there a few days ago, and the falls are fallin'! It was really awesome.

I love having that park pass. Seriously, such a good investment and such good motivation to get us outside! We ran a bit, tossed around a football (Brendon's new thing?), hiked a little, and "swam". By swam I mean, we sat in the water a little. It was COLD water and although it was warm outside, it wasn't quite warm enough to make us brave enough to get all the way in.

Such a seriously lovely day. We brought a lunch and ate it picnic style in the shade, and even napped a little. I love this place! So glad we got that state park pass. Next on my radar is Pedernales Falls State Park. That's another park I think you should visit just after a big rain. The last time we were there was during that insane drought a couple years ago and it was a bit depressing. I'd love to see it after a good rain!

And really, if you're in Austin and need something fun and cheap to do this weekend, go to McKinney Falls! The water is perfect right now! Go, go, go!