Saturday, October 26, 2013

First Run (And Post) Back

You guys probably thought I didn't make it home from San Francisco due to the fact that I have neglected this blog for the past week. It may have been midnight when I stepped foot inside my house, but I made it back to Austin safe and sound. I didn't manage to do one bit of homework on the flight home, but I did watch Midnight in Paris, and I absolutely fell in love with it. If you have never seen it, go out and rent it (if that's even a thing anymore). It's wonderful.
I wasted no time getting back into the swing of things, as along with Monday came class, Westwood, YoungLife club, and some serious lesson planning. I am teaching my fifth and sixth lessons this coming Monday, and we have to turn in our lesson plans 48 hours in advance, excluding weekends, so that meant my lesson plan was due by Wednesday afternoon. Since I didn't get to talk with my teacher until Monday about what I would be teaching, that meant I had very limited time to actually put the plan together. It also meant I had a couple of late nights, but I managed to get the plan done in time, and I think it's a good one, but I'll get back to you on that one after I actually teach it!

Things slowed down for me a little bit on Wednesday as I didn't have to go to Westwood, and I only had one class in the morning, so I did a lot of laundry, cooking, and cleaning (though I still have yet to fully unpack from San Francisco. I seem to enjoy living out of a suitcase), and the highlight (or lowlight) of my day would probably have to be the fact that I got all the way to the register at Target, and realized I hadn't transferred my wallet over from my backpack to my purse. Unfortunately, that kind of thing happens far too often, but luckily for me, Dylan needed to get a few things at Target anyway, so he came to my rescue and took me back later that same day. 

Thursday was another whirlwind of a day, as I had class from 9:30am-12:30pm, and then I immediately set off for Westwood so that I could teach the lessons that I was going to teach a couple of week ago, but that were canceled due to a change in the schedule. I thought they went pretty well, but I also know that identifying and analyzing ethos, pathos, and logos is forever a tricky concept for many students (including myself). These classes are also pretty rowdy (especially her 8th block), so that is also a challenge for someone like me who is typically pretty timid and not prone to raising my voice, but it's something that I am working on! After school I decided to go for a walk at Town Lake, because it is one of my absolute favorite things to do, and I haven't gotten to do it for quite some time. Lucky for me, I hit it right as the sun was going down, and I got to catch a glimpse of this lovely sight.

Friday was a really wonderful day, and just the kind of day that I needed after a crazy week. I had my 9am class, and then I immediately went for a swim over at Gregory, before hurrying back to my house to shower so that I could meet Melissa, my freshman year roommate at SRD, for lunch. We decided on Galaxy Cafe in the Triangle, and since it was such a beautiful day outside, we decided to walk the 10 blocks down Lamar. Because I have my car with me in Austin, it is so easy to just drive myself everywhere, and I tend to forget how much I enjoy walking. It was a very tough decision on what to get, but I went with the garden salad (with the added grilled chicken), and a side of fresh fruit. I pretty near cleaned my plate, and it was so wonderful catching up with Melissa. It's hard to believe that we are now seniors who are about ready to graduate, but here we are, about to register for our final semester of college!

After lunch, I finally took my car back into the shop so that I could replace my headlight, and in the meantime, Dylan and I made a quick trip over to Sports Authority and Home Depot, so that he could complete yet another DIY home project. As someone who still calls her dad anytime something needs fixing or improving, I am pretty impressed with the way he just attacks any type of project. We worked in his backyard for a while, before our stomachs got the best of us and we tried a new (to me) restaurant that I absolutely recommend - Blue Star Cafeteria. It's located on Burnet, which has got to be one of the coolest streets in Austin, and everything on the menu looked wonderful. I went for the garden burger with a side of fries, and with Dylan helping me a little with the fries, my plate was clean by the end of the meal. Both of us have been pretty crazy busy this semester, so it was nice to spend some extended time together, and we were even productive in the process!

I let myself sleep in a little bit today, waking up just before 9am, and I immediately set out on running a few quick errands before coming back home to make breakfast. Breakfast was my usual scrambled egg whites and spinach, with a small honeycrisp apple and a cutie. 

It was enough to fuel me through my first run since the half marathon last Sunday. I have been doing a lot of swimming this week, mainly just to give my knees a little bit of a break, but today felt like a good day for a run. I hit the gym around 12:30pm, and ran 5.3 miles, mainly following my 45-minute treadmill workout. It felt good to get in a good run, though running always turns my stomach into a bottomless pit, and I never seem to be satisfied no matter what I eat!

I quickly showered after my time at the gym, and headed down the road to House Park for the Anderson High School football game. A lot of my girls are on the dance team or in the band, but a lot of them were just there watching. The biggest shock for me was the fact that none of the students were wearing mums. Apparently they just aren't a big thing at Anderson! They were a huge deal at Stratford, and though they were extremely annoying to wear and carry around, it was fun to look at all of the different mums!

Seniors got gold mums
I left the game at half-time, and came home to eat some of my pineapple chicken and vegetable dish, along with a handful of grapes and a honeycrisp apple (#2 of the day!) and peanut butter about an hour later. I'm now trying to convince myself to do some homework, but I might just go run a couple of fun errands before settling down to watch the Texas-TCU game tonight.

I hope that is my longest hiatus for a while - after Monday this week should be pretty relaxed, so hopefully I'll be checking in pretty frequently. Have a great one!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nike Women's Marathon: My Experience

Good afternoon from the San Francisco airport. Our flight doesn't take off until 3:10pm, but my mom and I are currently sitting at our terminal (and we have been since about 11:15am). We had to check out of our hotel by noon, and I figured I might actually look at my school work if I am forced to be in the same place for four hours, so here I am, avoiding said school work. But, I will get down to business once this post is up and running.


So, let's pick up where we left off. I went to sleep around 9:15pm last night, and I woke right up with my alarm, not even minding that it was currently 5:00 in the morning. I immediately ate my traditional race day breakfast of peanut butter and bananas on whole wheat bread, and it, once again, proved to be the perfect breakfast.

After I finished eating breakfast, I quickly got dressed and ready, pinning my race bib to my jacket, and I headed out the door for the quick 10-minute walk to Union Square. Because we got so lucky and our hotel was located so close to the start line, my mom was able to sleep in a little bit and stay back at the hotel until the transportation shuttle was scheduled to take her to the finish line at Golden Gate Park.

I somehow made my way to the very front of the pack, so I started very, very close to the beginning. The atmosphere was a lot of fun, and they even shot off fireworks for us prior to the start of the race. Everyone around me seemed very excited and friendly, but how could you be anything less than excited when you were just 13.1 (or 26.2) miles away from a Tiffany necklace? Plus, where better to run than through the streets of San Francisco?

View from above (Source)
When I checked my weather app this morning, it told me the current temperature was 54 degrees, and that it was only going to get up to 57 degrees by 9am. I made a game-time decision to wear a Nike running pullover with my black Lululemon shorts, and I am so glad I decided to wear long sleeves for this race. It was cold to start, and though I started to regret my decision between miles two to five, I was very happy for the extra coverage once we started running by the water. It was extremely foggy, and the sun never came out (until I was on the shuttle that would take me back to Union Square, of course), so I think I made a good decision.

The Race

Now, onto the race itself. The first couple miles were "downhill," but I considered them to just be flat road. In any case, they were a very pleasant first few miles, though it was still fairly dark outside. I ran a pretty quick (sub 8:00) first mile, but I knew to slow my pace down so that I would have enough energy to propel me up those later hills.

That being said, it took me about four and a half miles to get into my groove. First of all, I made a bathroom stop around mile three, which I normally don't do, but there is nothing worse than having to go to the bathroom during the middle of a tough run, so I sucked it up (and held my breath) and used a Porta Potty, before rejoining the pact. Second of all, I got a stitch in my side that I just couldn't shake for about a mile. I considered stopping and walking, but I knew I wouldn't want to start again, especially because I was about to approach that daunting mile six. I finally found my groove, just in the nick of time to tackle that very tough hill by the Golden Gate Bridge (at least, I assume it was by the Golden Gate Bridge, because I couldn't actually see it due to the extreme fog). It was very much an ongoing, gradual hill, and I was very excited to see the flat road, and eventually, the downhill. That being said, I think I covered more ground during the uphill, and the downhill was a lot harder for me (and there were a lot more people passing me). I'm not used to those kind of downhills, and I took it nice and easy so that it would have as little impact as possible on my knees. I discovered that I am very much a product of Houston, as those flat roads are definitely my favorite!

Other than that hill, and a couple others, the hills really weren't that bad. It also helped that the fog was so dense that I couldn't see the hills until I was already making my way up them, so I had no time to freak myself out about them!

Another thing about this half marathon is that the miles seemed to FLY by. I was shocked to pass mile marker 8, because I couldn't possibly believe I had been running for that long. I told myself that it was just an easy five miles, and the next thing I knew, I was at mile 11. I will say that the last two miles seemed to drag on a little bit, probably because my knees and feet were starting to hurt, but there were so many motivational signs lining the streets, that I knew stopping wasn't an option. I crossed the finish line just under two hours, which might be shocking to you, because it was definitely shocking to me. With the hills and a bathroom break, I was extremely surprised to see a time of 1:59 on the clock, but I certainly won't complain!

I immediately grabbed a Whole Foods water bottle, and headed back to the finisher's area, where I got my finisher's shirt, a goodie bag full of food, and of course, my little blue box. Like they said, the fireman were all jazzed up in their tuxedos and Nike's, handing out smiles, congratulations, and the best medal of all, a custom Tiffany Necklace.

I sat in the friends and family area so that I could catch up with my mom, and we took a few pictures by the water before catching the shuttle back to Union Square. I was still pretty cold from the race, but I warmed up very quickly after a hot shower and some food. Overall, I had a wonderful race experience. The extremely organized packet pick-up and expotique, seeing my name on the side of the Nike San Francisco store, the beautiful Tiffany blue Nike shoes (which I am currently wearing), the race route, and the way the race organizers made this feel like everything was a celebration of us was just wonderful. And I can't forget to give credit to the wonderful volunteers who made this race possible. Everyone did an incredible job, and I couldn't ask for much more in a race.

And now I am here at the airport, contemplating what I am going to get for lunch. I purchased a NuGoOrganic dark chocolate pomegranate protein bar from the airport bookstore, and I scarfed it down in approximately 30 seconds flat. If you know me at all, you know I love chocolate, and I was happy to see that this bar can be called "vegan." Though I am far from being a vegan, it means the bar is completely dairy-free, so I knew eating it would be a safe bet. I might purchase a few more before I board my flight, because I have a long day of traveling ahead of me.

Thanks for reading these San Francisco posts - I have had so much fun writing them, and more importantly, so much fun living them. I am so, so, so incredibly thankful for this trip - an opportunity to explore a wonderful city, a chance to get another half marathon in the books, and most importantly, a full weekend of time spent with my mom. We had an incredible time together, and I wouldn't change one thing about our trip. I will be sad to say bye to her in Phoenix, but I will be seeing her quite a bit in the month of November. I can't promise I'll be very active this week on the blog, as I have a fairly crazy school week ahead of me, but I'll do the best I can. Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

San Francisco: Day Two

It has been another wonderful day in San Francisco. First of all, the weather has been absolutely incredible. I have worn shorts, a short-sleeve shirt, chacos, and a sweater, and I have been so very comfortable temperature-wise. The sun has been shining, and some (most) of the views I have had today have taken my breath away.


Following the same plan as every other half marathon I have run, I woke up and got dressed and ready to run a two-mile run through the streets of San Francisco. It was my first bought of running these monster hills, and let me tell you something - they are just as intimidating as they look. I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top of Jones Street, but even though it was extremely difficult for me, I felt empowered once I got to the top, and in talking to people who have run this course before, the hills aren't "too bad." Then again, these people might not be from the flat land of Houston, Texas. Apparently the worst hill is at mile six when we're near the Golden Gate Bridge, so be thinking good thoughts about mile six!


After I returned to our hotel, I laid on the floor for a few minutes trying to catch my breath, and then I hopped in the shower so that we could be on our way to begin day two of our trip. We once again went downstairs so that I could snag two pieces of bread for tomorrow morning, and my mom ate another piece of toast with butter, before heading back toward Union Square to check out another breakfast place that we saw yesterday: Cafe La Taza.

We arrived just in the nick of time, snagging a table on the ground floor, and we saw many other marathoners stopping in for a healthy bite to eat. I opted for the veggie scramble, which was egg whites, spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, and avocado, with a side of fruit and four pieces of whole wheat toast. I was apparently pretty hungry, as I finished off the egg scramble and fruit, and I scarfed down two pieces of whole wheat toast, while my mom helped me with the other two. It was both delicious and filling, and I was more than ready to attack the day.

We then made our way back over to Union Square, so that my mom could pick up her spectator wristband, and I snuck back over to the Nike store, where I, unsurprisingly, made a few purchases. After my mom picked up her wristband, we found ourselves purchasing two bus tickets that would take us over to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. It was a beautiful drive, and I found myself getting more and more excited the closer we got to it. One of the perks of taking one of these tour buses is that you get a lot of history (shout out to my roommate Jamie Lynn, as she would appreciate this the most), but it opened in 1937, and the bridge has to be continually painted, because the fog that comes in from Alaska corrodes the paint, meaning it has to be an ongoing process. Pretty cool! Anyway, the bridge is absolutely beautiful, and it just took my breath away. I snapped a few too many pictures, and I won't share all of them with you, but gosh, the views were just stunning.

We hopped back on the bus at promptly 11:00am, which took us back to Union Square. My mom and I had casually talked about visiting Muir Woods (thank goodness the government shutdown is over), because she and my dad had visited it when they came to San Francisco about 25 years ago, and they still talk about how incredible it was. Luck was on our side (luck favors the lucky, so I've been told), and there happened to be a bus leaving from their office at Fisherman's Wharf at 1:45. DJ Paul took care of us, making sure we got over to the office, where we picked up our reserved tickets. We had about an hour to kill before catching the bus, so we ate lunch at a delicious restaurant right next door - Hollywood Cafe. I ran back over the Pier 39 to pick up a souvenir, so my mom ordered for me so that I could take it to go with me on the bus over to Muir Woods. I opted for the grilled chicken salad, and y'all, it was incredible. I'm not sure if it had more to do with the actual salad, or the fact that I was downright starving by the time we got on the bus, but I ate every last bite. The toasted almonds and avocado stole the show.

After a minor bus malfunction, we made it over to Muir Woods just before 3:00pm. I have never seen anything quite like it, and I don't think the pictures even do it justice. There is so much to see, with so many different trails to take, and I would love to spend an entire day hiking all of the different trails. As it was, my mom and I walked for about an hour through the woods, and these redwoods were some of the prettiest things I have ever seen. My mom and I agreed that it was well worth the trip, and I am convinced that we came during the perfect season.

We got back on the bus around 4:30pm, and stopped for about half an hour in Sausalito, a small little town that is located just across the Golden Gate Bridge. My mom and I picked up two grilled chicken sandwiches to go, but had we more time, I would have loved to go to this gourmet burger and wine restaurant. Oh well, next time! I also stopped to snap a few pictures of the bay. The sun was starting to go down and it was an absolutely beautiful view.

We got back on the bus, and our driver had a little surprise for us - we were going to stop to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. Though I had already seen it, I was certainly not going to complain about another chance to see it, especially when the sun was starting to set. We approached the bridge from a different angle, and I think I liked it even better than when we saw it this morning. The wind was blowing, the sun was setting, and I really couldn't ask for much more than that.

We enjoyed a curbside hotel dropoff, where I am currently sitting here writing this post, and getting ready to wind down for an early night. I have had such a wonderful two days in San Francisco, but I am so excited to try my legs at these hills. I am going to have my phone with me on the run tomorrow, so I will likely be tempted to stop and snap some pictures (which will consequently give me a break from running up those hills)! I will be back with a full report on the race, but wish me luck tomorrow! I'm a little bit nervous, but I think I'm more excited than nervous. And if the going gets tough, I will have some incredible views to motivate me to keep going. I will see you guys on the other side!

Friday, October 18, 2013

San Francisco: Day One

Good evening from the home of the Golden Gate Bridge. Which we didn't visit today, but it is most definitely on our agenda for tomorrow. And have no fear, I will be sure to cover every single detail of our glorious first full day in San Francisco.
My flight to Denver
Both of my flights were excellent. We flew Southwest, because my dad has racked up quite a few frequent flyer miles, and neither flight met any complications. My dad even provided me with his in-flight wifi, so I was able to peruse Pinterest work on homework while I was in the air. Pretty cool! I arrived in (45 degree) Denver (wearing shorts and chacos) earlier than scheduled, so I promptly went off in search of a food court. The Denver airport is no Bush Intercontinental, but I found a TCBY where I decided to indulge in some (dairy-free!!!) silk chocolate almond frozen yogurt, along with a water bottle to curb the dehydration that often comes from flying.
If it has fruit, it's healthy, right? ;)
Our flight to San Francisco arrived pretty much on time, and we got to our hotel, which is located very near Union Square, a little after 11:30pm. We were both pretty exhausted, so we crawled into bed pretty quickly after that. We let ourselves sleep in a little bit, before waking up around 7:15am (I realize that is not really "sleeping in," but we are used to waking up at 6am when we are "on vacation," in order to get to the local convention center to play a long day of volleyball) to get ready for a very full day.


First things first. Breakfast! We wandered down to check out the complimentary breakfast served at our hotel, but I didn't find anything that looked like it would hold me over for very long. I ate an orange, and my mom ate a piece of toast with butter, but then we wandered in the direction of the race expo so that we could try and find a real breakfast. After looking in at a few places and deeming them unworthy, mainly because they didn't offer anything that was dairy-free, we settled upon an absolutely precious restaurant by the name of Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery. The menu had everything under the sun, so I knew I was sure to find something both nutritious and delicious. After much deliberation, I ordered the Post Street Omelet - sans cheese, substituting egg whites for eggs - which had mushrooms, ham, and green bell peppers inside. My omelet came with a side of potatoes and two pieces of whole wheat toast, so my mom ate my potatoes, and I had one piece of the warm, crispy toast. Everything about this place - the food, the atmosphere, and the location - was fabulous. We are even considering going back again tomorrow!

And one of the best parts about my Honey Honey experience is that I saw three separate people taking pictures of their food. Granted, their crepes were very Instagram-worthy, but I feel as though I am surrounded by people who understand the importance of food presentability.


The first stop on our list today, after breakfast, was the race expotique, so that I could pick up my race packet and materials. However, prior to the actual expotique, we had a very special stop to make. This year is the 10th anniversary of the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon, and that resulted in the production of some very special, limited-edition Nike shoes. You may or may not be aware that this race is the one in which you are presented with a one-of-a-kind Tiffany necklace upon crossing the finish line. So, when I saw the announcement that Nike was selling some unique-to-the-race shoes that you could put on reserve starting last Thursday, and that one of the options was a shoe consisting mostly of the beautiful and non-replicable Tiffany blue color, I knew immediately that I would regret not getting them. My mom so generously offered to get them for me, and I cannot wait to lace them up and go for a run.

This particular shoe is the Nike Lunarglide+5 running shoe, which I definitely looked up and read reviews on before reserving my pair. Fortunately, they received rave reviews, so I knew I was good to go. I know I just got a new pair of Mizuno's this past week, but in all fairness, it's not like I don't get my money's worth out of them! Anyway, we went to the fifth floor of the Nike store, and I immediately went and picked up my shoes - it was quick and easy. After paying for them, I was told to take a picture that would simulate the end of the race. To my surprise, I was proposed to by my very own San Francisco firefighter. I didn't realize marriage was part of the deal, but it sure was fun!

After I picked up my shoes, my mom and I headed over to the expotique, which was just awesome. It was extremely organized, and they did everything up so well. The carpet lining the entrance was Tiffany blue, and everything inside the tent just looked so sleek. I could tell they really put a lot of effort into making this a special event, and it made me even more excited for the run on Sunday. I will be starting at Powell Street, and my race number is 28202, if you are interested in tracking my progress. The hills in San Francisco are pretty wild, so I am not anticipating a new PR, but it isn't going to take a PR to get that little blue box!

SO cool to see my name on the window 

A little piece of home

After all of that excitement, we walked on back to our hotel to drop off our bags, and we were on our merry way. The first stop on the agenda? Alamo Square to visit those Painted Ladies, aka the houses featured in the theme song to Full House, one of my absolute favorite childhood (and adulthood) shows. My roommates make fun of me for going to the local video store - Vulcan Video - and renting the seasons, but it is easily one of the most wholesome family television shows there is. You got it, dude!

It took a couple of tries to get a good picture, but I just couldn't stop smiling after visiting this beautiful park. It afforded us some pretty sweet views of the city, too.

We got back on the same bus that took us over there, and then we transferred to a bus that would take us directly to the oh-so-touristy Fisherman's Wharf. And though I am well aware that Fisherman's Wharf is a tourist trap, I loved every minute of it. 


We had worked up an appetite by this point, so our first task was finding a restaurant to eat at for lunch. We went with Wipeout Bar and Grill, and we both just loved it. Our food was fabulous, our service was great, and the view was unbeatable. I knew I had to get some sort of fish, so I finally decided on the salmon salad, and my mom went with the turkey burger and a side of sweet potato fries. I ate most of split the sweet potato fries with her, and we both agreed that they were some of the best we have had. I even tried a bite of her turkey burger, and I really liked that, too. It was jut what we needed to perk us back up for more exploring (and walking).

One of the reasons we decided to come to Pier 39 is because of one particular store: Lefty's. I may have mentioned once or twice before that I favor my left hand. I also may have mentioned that my life has been significantly more difficult due to the fact that I am forced to live in a world made for right-handed people. Though I am obviously just kidding, I still wanted to visit a store dedicated to products made only for southpaws. It had scissors and notebooks and can openers, but it also had a fruit peeler and playing cards and coffee mugs, all made especially for a lefty. I ended up purchasing a left-handed oven mitt, as well as a fun little ornament that would remind me of my visit (not that I'm very likely to forget).

My mom and I continued walking around, visiting a beautiful art shop, an NFL store, a chocolate shop, and a Christmas store. There was so much to take in, and I was absolutely loving every minute of it. We considered taking an hour-long boat tour that went around Alcatraz and under the Golden Gate Bridge, but we were already cold enough as it was, so we nixed that idea and headed in the direction of Ghirardelli Square. 

My mom took the complimentary shuttle, but I chose to walk, enjoying the cool breeze from the water, and wanting to get in as many hills as possible before Sunday. We went into the chocolate store, where my mom bought some of her favorite non-pareils, and I, because I unfortunately can't take a chance on eating any actual chocolate, purchased a Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook. You might have noticed that I really love to bake, so this purchase seemed right up my alley. 

After strolling through Ghirardelli Square, I took the plunge and hiked up a monster hill to the most crooked street in the world - Lombard Street. My mom wasn't sure she felt up to the challenge, and once I got going, I wasn't so sure that I was up for it either. However, I was afforded some pretty unbeatable views, so I ignored my screaming calves.

Once I reached Lombard Street, I couldn't help but smile at how many people were standing at the top snapping pics, as cars drove carefully down the street as though they do it every day (and they probably do). I walked down the stairs to the bottom of the street, and it was truly a spectacular sight. It is hard to tell from the pictures, but the street really is a one-of-a-kind sight, and it was worth every grueling step.

My mom was smart and took a cab up that monster hill, where she promptly found me at the corner of Lombart and Hyde, and we rode the cab back to our hotel, where we are recharging our bodies (and our phones) before deciding where to go for dinner. I think we're both thinking something pretty low-key tonight, as we did a heck of a lot of walking, and we are both pretty worn out. The day really was everything I could have dreamed of and more, and I am so happy I get to share this entire weekend with my sweet mom. The weather is my favorite (though it got a bit chilly the closer we got to the bay), the views are absolutely incredible, and everyone we've talked to has been eager to point us in the right direction. Tomorrow we are planning to visit the area surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge, ride a cable car, and I am even trying to talk my mom into a Golden Gate bike ride to Sausalito. I'm not sure I've managed to convince her quite yet!

And we're off to find something to eat! I hope your Friday was one to remember, and I will talk to you guys again tomorrow!