Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Running in the summer

This picture has little to do with this post, aside from the fact that I'm sweaty from running. I was laying on the floor blasting the fan and AC trying to cool down, and it was game on for Sophie. She's licking the sweat off my face. Cats are weird.

So we're about halfway through the summer? Kind of? Lets say yes. I haven't quit running (!!!), which is something I was very scared would happen. However, let me say this has been the mildest summer I've experienced in a long time. I can't remember a summer like this. We haven't hit 100 degrees yet, which is amazing as we are mid July here. We've also had a fair amount of rain (never enough) to keep it relatively cool. It rained last night, and when I ran this morning at 9:30 it was only like 78. Although the humidity was a whole different beast. So it's been a mild summer so far. But still, it's Texas and it's hot. But I've kept up the running.

This is my first summer as a "runner", so I've got nothing to base any of this on. I am also not competitive or hardcore or any sort of expert. I just run because I like seeing myself improve and, well, I love running. But this is what I've learned so far during my first summer of running:

WATER. Dear lord, drink you some water. All day every day. Before running, after running, while running. Take water with you. Brendon and I have a big water bottle that we run with, and he carries it because I'm a huge wiener and can't run with it. So when I run alone I run waterless, and boy does it suck. We've also just about run out of water on our "longer" runs. I've been talking about buying one of the little handheld water bottles, but I've yet to do it. I need to. Water is so so so important, especially in the heat.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If you feel like you're going to puke and pass out at the same time, stop running. Get into some shade, drink some water, and cool down. Overheating and dehydration are not playing around. Twice this summer I've come close to losing my cool, literally, and it was very scary. Both times I thought I was going to puke, then my brain was going to explode. Not cool. If you feel ill, stop. If you're dizzy, stop. If you're seeing spots, goodness STOP! Listen to your body!!

SLOW DOWN. You're going to be slower in the heat no matter what, it just comes with the territory. I run about a minute slower now than I did in the spring. And that's okay. But it also helps if I make a conscious effort to run a little slower, especially if I'm trying to run a longer distance. If I'm just running a 5k I'll push myself a little harder because I know I've only got a few miles to do. But if I want to run farther, or run hills, I make sure I stay at comfortable pace. I focus on my breathing and slow down when I feel it's getting out of control (this works well for me in any temperature).

And on that note, IGNORE YOUR MILE TIMES. This is a personal thing for me. At first my slow pace was discouraging, but right now I just focus on getting out there and running. Getting in your run in no matter how slow. We have this Garmin watch that tells you your current speed, and I completely ignore it. It also makes this lovely beep when you wrap up a mile and gives you the mile time, and I also try to ignore that. I focus on, "YES, ANOTHER MILE DOWN", not "oh my god that was almost an 11 minute mile". You're out there doing the damn thing, sweating your ass off. Give yourself credit.

HIDE FROM THE SUN. Seriously. My dad is one of those crazy folks who loves running in the heat of the day because it's a better work out. I did not inherit that gene. I am a vampire, the sun sucks the life out of me. It makes everything more difficult. Run in the mornings or evenings, when the sun isn't high. I am not a morning runner because I'm usually at work by 5:30am and if I'm not, I want to sleep in! So we run in the evenings at like 7 or 8. It's hotter than in the morning, but the sun isn't shining directly on you and man that makes a world of difference. The downside is the mornings and evenings are a bit more humid, but I'll take humidity over the sun any day.

WEAR AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Seriously. If it's real hot, I'm running in shorts and a sports bra, that's it. Your shorts come with built in undies? Use 'em. Layers are not your friend. Also, swamp ass. No one wants it. On days I do run in a shirt, it's moisture wicking and relatively loose fitting. No cotton. You will sweat all over it and it will get heavy and hot and gross. Also SUNSCREEN! I am not good at this, thus, I have a very prominent runners "tan". By tan I mean freckles.

KEEP POSITIVE AND KEEP RUNNING. The big one, y'all. The heat and humidity are humbling and can be incredibly disheartening. It takes time to acclimate, and during that time you feel like you've never run in your life. I've had runs this summer when I've thought "I wasn't cut out for this, I'm not a runner, I suck I suck I suck, why am I doing this???". But you keep running. And I'm not saying it's easy to run in the heat, but it does get easier. Just keep trucking through. You might not be able to run as fast or as far, but it's a hell of a workout. And although this is my first summer as a runner and this will be my first fall as well, when that first cold snap hits, I'm thinking I'll be feeling pretty damn good. Stronger and faster. And that's what I tell myself when I'm a hot sweaty zombie mess and I feel like if I take another step I'll melt into the pavement and/or burst into flames.

So that's the plan. I can survive a couple more months of this and I WILL be a better runner because of it. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger! (But running in the heat can kill you, so BE CAREFUL! Pace yourself! Water water water!)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cadillac Ranch

We drove through Amarillo on our way up and back down from Colorado. I didn't know much about Amarillo. In fact I thought it was a tiny tiny town. Turns out it's pretty big! Probably bigger than the town I went to college in and definitely the biggest town we drove through on our way to Colorado. Conveniently it's halfway there. Anyway, about the only thing I knew about Amarillo is that it's the home to Cadillac Ranch. On our way up we got into Amarillo after dark and then the next morning when we were leaving it was storming something fierce. So on the way home we had to make sure we stopped to see the Cadillacs. And it was perfect weather!

Cadillac Ranch is an art installation just outside of town in the middle of a field. It is totally open to the public and spray painting is allowed, and encouraged. It was made in the 1970's by a group of artists and funded by Stanley Marsh 3, who actually just passed away this past month. He owned the land it's on, and actually had to move the installation a few miles away from it's original location because the growing city of Amarillo was approaching. They had everything moved and put just as it was, including all the trash. I could talk forever about this (remember that Bachelors of Fine Arts I have?), but lets just say I think it is very cool for a variety reasons. It looks cool, the idea is cool, the interaction is cool. I like it.

We found a can of spray paint that still had some juice left in it and made our marks.

Why yes, I did spray paint a cat. Our tags are long gone by now. Apparently they painted all the Cadillacs the original colors not too long ago and they didn't last 24 hours before they were spray painted up again.

My inner art history nerd was in her happy place. It's a neat thing, and if you're in Amarillo I highly suggest checking it out, and bring some spray paint!

And that's all folks. The end of the vacation posts! Back to reality and the usual programming of very sporadic posting.

The rest of our vacation here!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Capulin Volcano

On our way back from Colorado we stopped at the Capulin Volcano in Capulin, NM. We kept saying capuchin (a very cute type of monkey). The coolest part about this place was the seriously amazing view. You can drive up to the top and hike around the entire rim of the volcano, which gives you a 360 degree view of the area. This is super neat because this volcano is right where the great plains meet the mountains, so you're seeing two very different landscapes touch each other. You can see Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Endless plains and the snowy rocky mountains. This was our last view of the rockies, which for me is the hardest part about coming home. Driving away from the mountains hurts and makes me super sad. I'm constantly turning around and checking the mirrors in the car, making sure I can still see the mountains. It's the saddest when they finally disappear.

A big ol' shout out to the Bruce Wayne for being such a rock star road tripper. You've driven us all over the mountains three times now! You're such a good car. We love you, Bruce.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Colorado, part 4

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY Y'ALL! Hope you're wearing an obnoxiously patriotic get up and have fireworks and grilled goodies in your future. Or you're just relaxing and laying on the couch (yessss please!). Or working and getting that time and a half!


Our last day in Aspen we spent mostly in town. We got a hotel for the night, ONLY BECAUSE we decided at the last minute that we wanted to camp our last night there (the original plan was to stay at a hotel the last night) because our campsite was so amazing and we didn't want to leave. However it is so amazing that it, and every other campsite in the Maroon Bells area was already booked by 10am. So we had to get a hotel. While waiting for our check in time, we walked around some of the paved hike/bike trails in town. We found a little off-shoot actual hiking trail up a little ridge so we checked that out. Panted our way to the top, as usual. Worth it though, stellar views of the city.

How amazing is it that this is in the middle of the city. We were surrounded by houses, but this big ridge in the middle of everything was left to nature. So very cool. Aaaand we got to see a deer! Very close!

So let us discuss this hotel business. There is an app called Hotels Tonight. It was mentioned on one of the blogs I read, so I figured I'd try it out. FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING, do not use this app. Oh my gosh, we got so screwed. Not only was it still very pricey, we were put in the absolutely worst room in the lodge. It was teeny tiny, and even though AC doesn't exist in this hotel, there were NO WINDOWS OR CEILING FAN. It was a hellish and very hot nightmare. When we brought this up to the manager, he said he was aware it was the worst room in the hotel and they only use it for deal sites. WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT? Mountain House Lodge in Aspen, CO. They're evil, don't stay there. Hotels Tonight is also probably the devil. BUHHH I HATE HOTELS.

Yeesh. Anyway, here are the culinary highlights of the trip. We recommend Victoria's Espresso and Wine Bar, Poppycocks Cafe, Main Street Bakery and Cafe, and if you're feeling fancy, Acquolina Aspen. Also we discovered Paradise Bakery and bought an embarrassing amount of mandarin orange muffins.

That's it for Colorado. Couple more stops on our way home and that's it. Back to the sporadic posting you're used to.

The rest of the trip here!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Colorado, part 3

Thursday was the Epic Hiking Day. We headed up to Maroon Lake which was just a mile or so from where we were camping and explored the wilderness for a bit. We hiked and hiked and ate some lunch and hiked some more. This place was B-E-A-UTFUL. Seriously disgustingly scenic. There are a couple lakes up there that are just punch yourself pretty, and of course, they're filled by waterfalls and streams of crystal clear snow melt coming down from the mountains. Those things are also not bad looking.

This right here. These streams aren't always around, while the snow is all frozen up top and once the snow completely melts they disappear, so I'm guessing hikers/park rangers kind of had to improvise to get across the rather fast moving water. So someone piled a couple of logs together, boom, bridge. Totally unstable and bouncy but very cool and functional if you're careful. We crossed over it the first time without any issue. But coming back, I ate it. Big. At the very end, just before I was about to get to the other side, the log bounced and I lost my cool and slow-mo crashed and burned. I mean like limbs flying around, getting scraped up, me laying on the logs/bank. Huge mess. I didn't fall all the way in, but somehow both my feet ended up in that cold ass water, so I had soggy kicks for a looong while. My left leg took most of the damage, I still have some pretty sweet scratches and bruises.

I think this is may be my first official "fall" while hiking as an adult, so I'll take it. It could have been WAY worse, and it was hilarious. Although it did hurt. A bit. But whatevs, kept on hiking!

That mountain there, Maroon Peak, is the most photographed peak in North America. I'm only telling you this because it's one of those tag lines that is on EVERYTHING and everyone says. Like we stopped in the visitor's center and the lady was all, "Oh, well it's the most photographed mountain in North America!" I mean, for real though. It is beautiful.

BABY GOOSE OMGGGG! So many animals everywhere! Beaver dam!

These streams, man. Raging rapids! After hiking our selves sleepy, we headed back to camp for campfire dinner. And here's our little campsite:

DAWWW, look at that baby tent! That thing has been with us for a while. We've had it for eight years! Since we were wee teenagers! It's a very good tent, the perfect size for us, and definitely from Walmart.

And this ridiculousness was just STEPS FROM OUR CAMPSITE. Like immediately to the right of our tent:

We slept to the sound of rushing water. We also sat and read books by it every afternoon (I read the Divergent and the Help, unimpressed by Divergent but the Help was lovely). It was like those "Nature Sounds" CD's, but real life. If you're in Aspen and you want to camp, Silver Bell campground is where it's at. Also can we talk about how much cheaper camping is than staying in a hotel? We stayed for four days and three nights at our campground for $50, including our car pass. I can't wrap my mind around how much it would have been to stay that long in a hotel in Aspen. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Plus we grilled/picnicked quite a few of our meals! Camping is such a money saver and 100 times more fun than staying in a hotel. Get ye a tent! More on hotels, and the nightmares they present, in the next post.

The rest of the trip here!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Colorado, part 2

Wednesday on our first full day in Aspen, we took the gondola up to the top of the mountain. It's a long trip up. Like twenty minutes. But man the views... They're stellar. And again, we were on top of a mountain! We took a guided nature tour (that I think was designed for 8 year olds) and then hiked around the top on our own. Since it's part of the wilderness area you can basically hike (or mountain bike or atv) wherever! There was even a trail that you could take to Crested Butte, but that might have taken a looong while. Also, hiking on mountains is hard when you're used to living close to sea level. We were huffing and puffing all over the place. Our lungs just aren't used to that altitude!

Having my Maria von Trapp moment. The hills were alive, y'all. Also, ya dig my soccer mom outfit? I was just trying to fit in with all the Aspenites.

Seriously. That is just ridiculous. Way to go Rockies. You are fabulous.

After walking all over the mountains, we headed down to the town to explore a little. I don't know if you've ever been to Aspen, but the place is FANCY. Like super affluent. For fun we looked at real estate listings and you're lucky to find anything under a million. And that's the very low end. We'll be real here for a second, it's a bunch of obscenely rich ass yuppies. Downtown is basically a mall. There's a Prada, a Chanel, a Louis Vuitton, and they're building a Dolce and Gabbana. Among a gazillion other shops, restaurants, and fancy places I'll never step foot into. But it is very pretty and if I was a millionaire, I'd live there.

And holy cow is Aspen bike/pedestrian friendly. The whole city, and really the surrounding area, is connected by trails. You can bike from one mountain town to another. Tons and tons of hike/bike trails. And TONS of cyclists. There is an insane cycling community in Aspen and I guess Colorado. We saw people biking up the interstate! I mean, we've got lots of cyclists in Austin, but nothing compared to these guys. And they are killing it up these mountain roads. I could barely breathe up there (and although we planned on it, running was out of the question), so mad props to those folks! I mean, with an area so beautiful, why not get outside as much as possible!

Next up, more hiking! And more mountains! Surprise!