Monday, May 24, 2010

A weekend of gardening

I was debating what to write about this week. Of course there have been many things going on lately, but I think I'll spend tonight and talk about my new garden(s). Why gardens? Well because there are two, one in Houston and a, now smaller, one in Austin. No, it's not smaller because I killed some of the plants, but only because the garden in Houston is now planted and is bigger. First though, my garden.

My jalapeno plant is growing great! When I planted this in March, I wasn't sure how it would do. But now, 2 months later, I have 3 medium size peppers and 1 baby pepper growing. Within 1 week they almost doubled in size, and I can't wait to see how they look after next weekend. I'm so excited to use them in something tasty! I also have basil, parsley, and chives which are all doing quite well.

As for the Houston garden, that got started this past weekend. I finally convinced Jeremy that it was time to do something with the back patio and landscaping. For the past two weeks we've been collecting plants and pots for the patio, and of course the awesome monkey, so that was looking good, but the back landscaping needed work. This weekend we spent Saturday morning digging up all the old mulch (there was a lot of it) and tilling the soil to get ready for the plants. We also took a trip to Maas Nursery and found tons of great plants.

Since it was so late in the planting season, we picked up a large tomato plant. Because it was already quite large, that meant it was pretty developed and would survive the hot temperatures and the transplanting better than a small plant would. Plus it already had a bunch of tomatoes on it, so it would be a little easier to keep alive. We also picked up some green pepper plants, about 5 other different types of peppers, eggplant, squash, and tons of herbs - basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, parsley, chives. I also grabbed some seed packets and decided to try my hand at those. Some directly in the soil (beans) and the others started in little pots in the kitchen. We also picked up a jasmine plant, mmm they smell so good.

So it took 2 days worth of work, but the garden is finished. Okay, well maybe not "finished," the brick work still has to be put in, but the plants are in, and are even on an automated watering schedule! Yep, after putting in the plants, we put down a soaker hose, and snaked it through all the plants. We're hoping that it will work out well. We also tried to go fully organic, so we used organic soil and organic compost. You can see on the pictures below where the soaker hose went, as we need to get a bit more compost to finish out the top soil. I think it looks great and really makes the back yard look good. Plus, with luck, we'll lots of fresh produce for the next few months (at least).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lone Star Stampede 31:28

Saturday morning I did my first 5k run. My training had consisted of 3 5k runs up to this point, each of which had gotten progressively better. The last run I did was last Tuesday morning and I managed to finish the 3.1 miles in 30 minutes flat. Or at a 9.67 mile pace. It was awesome, but I did get some side stickers around mile 2.5 and my legs were in pain the rest of the day. Because of this, and taking into account other factors I decided to set my goal at 34 minutes.

There are a few things that I found out during my first race.

1. I need to learn how to pace myself. I positioned myself in the middle of the group, but really I should have started toward the back more. Immediately I found myself running at the speed of the main pack, which was somewhere between 8.5 and 9 minute mile. After realizing this, I kept trying to slow myself down because I knew I couldn't run that fast for 3.1 miles. Sure enough, those side stickers that I had experienced on my Tuesday run at mile 2.5 had now shown up at mile 1. Mile 1! Ugh, how was I gonna get through 2.1 more miles like this. So I "ran" to the side and stopped a minute. In reality I finished my first mile at 9:07, but I was now paying for it. I found that throughout the rest of the race I had a lot of trouble keeping my pace. If faster people would pass me, I'd speed up and run with them, and then realize that I wasn't breathing well enough and the side stickers would come back. I think around mile 2 I was finally starting to feel better. And regain my pace.

2. Running a boring course is hard. The Lone Star Stampede was a road race on a road.. not a pretty trail like Town Lake. I think I've spoiled myself by running on Town Lake so much. The gravel is nice to run on and the scenery is soooo beautiful, especially this time of the year. It makes it much easier to find distractions and that's good because then I'm not focusing on how much longer to run or how my side hurts.

But even with these little annoyances, I'm glad I did the run. I finished with a time around 31:28 and I felt good. Jeremy did the 10k and he finished right around 43:58 or something like that. While I can't say that I'm looking forward to my next run, I will say that I'll probably run again and I will work my way up to 10 miles before the Army 10 miler in October.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Lone Star Stamped

In three days I'll be running in my first ever race.

Yep me... running... in a race... scary. This all started last October when I went up to Washington DC to watch Jeremy run in the Army 10 Miler. As I stood there waiting for Jeremy to cross the finish line (which I totally missed by the way), I pondered to myself "why in the world am I standing here?" Not because it was hot out, or I was bored, but because I am a fit person. I am an athletic person. I am a person who would rather be outside doing something physical instead of sitting inside watching TV. Heck, I don't even have cable for the simple reason that I would never watch enough TV in a month to justify the $70 or so cost. The point was, I felt very out of place just standing on the sidelines watching, and I felt anxious. I wanted to do something, my legs needed to move.

Now, if this were a marathon or even a half marathon, I would not feel this way. I have no desire to run that far, heck I have NO DESIRE to run 10 miles.. or even 3. But, to be clear, I was not feeling this way because I WANTED to run 10 miles, but because there was simply no reason that I should not be running 10 miles. There's not reason with my fitness level that I could not train up to this mark, and just then the challenge was born.

I thrive on a challenge, and a new one had been set.

Fast forward to 7 months later, two weeks after the MS150.

I decided that once the MS150 was over, I'd start running. Perhaps I should say that I'd start "running." Cause when you don't run, and you decide that you are going to start running, then you aren't really running those first few times. Instead you're doing some cross between a fast walk and a jog, and people around you tend to know to stay away because you may just fall over at any point. This is how I felt.

On the April 24th I started running. I ran around town lake in Austin, 3.1 miles, and it took me about 34 minutes. This included a walking break around mile 2.5 for about 2-3 minutes. Truthfully, after the 'run' was done, I felt good. I didn't hurt, I wasn't out of breath, I felt just fine. Well that feeling of accomplishment faded about an hour later... then the pain set in.

After the run, Jeremy and I took out a kayak on town lake and took a 1 hour slow moving kayak trip up the lake. It was at the end of this trip that I started to feel this strange pain in my legs. Pain from mussels that I didn't know I had. Pain that, over the next two days, would continue to get worse. My IT bands hurt so bad I didn't think I could make my legs move one in front of the other, and the next morning I almost fell on my face getting out of bed.

End result? Learning that running 3.1 miles for your first run is probably too much.

Move forward two more weeks.

Last week sometime a friend of mine sent me an email about the Lone Star Stamped in Houston. "We should do this" he said, motioning to both Jeremy and I. At this point I'd done two 3.1 mile runs around town lake, and I knew I had the 10 miler in October, so I thought, ok, I'm in. I've learned now, after having signed up, that what he really meant was "I'm going to Dallas this weekend, but YOU should do this." Yea, thanks Albert! So now, this coming Saturday I'll be doing my first ever running race. I'm doing the 5k and yesterday, on my 3rd run around town lake, I managed to get my time to 30 minutes flat. That's about 9.67 min/mile which I was totally impressed with. Then again, I paid dearly for that pace. Both at the 2.3 mile point where I almost collapsed due to horrible side stickers, and the rest of the day when my calves were so tight I could, once again, barely walk.

This Weekend

My goal for Saturday is 34 minutes. I'm giving myself extra time because 1) I'm sure it won't be nearly as pretty as town lake with all the trees, so there will be nothing to distract me from the pain in my legs/sides. And 2) Starting at 8am, (and I'm sure even as late as 8:30 cause you know things never start on time) I'm sure it will be much warmer out than I'm used to, having run at 7am the previous times.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Jeremy!

Last Friday was Jeremy's 35th Birthday, and since it's now over, that means that I can talk about it.

Of course there was cake. I made a chocolate cake with fresh raspberries and raspberry filling coated with a homemade butter-cream frosting. Since I was running short of time, I decided to go with a simple 8 1/2 x 11 cake with a few decorations. I did pull out my airbrush to tint the frosting blue along the sides and onto the top and wrapped a quick rope boarder around the bottom. It was decorated with marzipan figures: frosty beer mugs, Saint Arnold's DR9, and a taco. I find that marzipan figures are much more tasty than gum paste or fondant. Also you must forgive my sculpting on the beer bottle, as this tends to be the point where my skills as a cake decorator break down. The picture above is from my phone camera, but I'll post some more soon on flickr that you can see better.

For Jeremy's birthday I got him a registration to this awesome "obstacle" course coming to Austin in February, 2011. This one is called the Tough Mudder and is one of the more difficult courses around right now. Check out the website and you'll see what I mean. I'm so excited to be doing this with him next year!

Most of the rest of the weekend was spent relaxing. We did check out the JSC Chili Cookoff on Saturday (which was awesome) and Hubble 3D IMAX on Sunday (also awesome). I would highly recommend both, though you'll have to wait until next year for the chili cookoff to come around again.