Interstellar Adventure
Adventure: the pursuit of life — Daniel Roy Wiarda

Something nice from an Anonymous Angel

Friday, January 28, 2005

Something nice happened to me this morning. On Fridays I like to treat myself to a Starbucks (venti non-fat, no foam chai tea latte) and grab a paper. I subscribe to the paper, by my hubby is home on Fridays during the day and I leave the paper for him to read. So, after dropping the chillin's off at school, I stopped by the Starbucks on my route (it's not the closest one, but on the way) to work. This SBux has a drive-thru which is normally at least 10 cars deep. Sometimes I get lucky and can zoom right through, but when the line is that long I park and go inside. So, today as I entered the store an inhaled the bouquet of a cornucopia of coffee aromas, little did I expect such a pleasant surprise. I snagged a paper and stepped up to the counter to order. I was given a total, and then told by the barista that my order had been paid for by an Anonymous Angel. Someone had purchased and left a Starbucks card to pay for other peoples' morning coffee orders! Now, I have heard of this kindness propogated by others, but had never received the benefit of being on the receiving end. I've always thought this was a wonderful way to spread a sense of community and caring. I will find some way today to repay the kindness of this Anonymous Angel. I don't know how or where just yet, but I will look for the next opportunity to be an Angel to others. I challenge you to do the same.

Shame on me!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

For not posting for three whole days! What a week. After all my activity this weekend, I was just tired the last couple of days. I was such a slug on Monday and Tuesday. But, yesterday I suppressed my slug-like tendencies and put on my new exercise pants and headed out for a run. And yes, I wore more than just the pants. I ran for an hour, mostly ran anyway. I'll have to drive it later to approximate the distance. I don't have a GPS or a HR monitor yet...they're both on the supply list. One thing on the supply list that I have obtained is a head lamp for running/racing in the dark. OK, so my neighborhood has a lot of trees, but maybe I didn't need the headlamp. There were only a few really dark spots, but it made me feel better to have it. It was funny to see animal eyes glowing back at me! On Monday I went to an AT (AdventureTeam.com) meeting. We saw slides from the backpack trip to the Grand Canyon that one of the Team Leaders put on last November. The photos were awesome. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but it's now on my list. Also on my list is hiking the Appalachian Trail -- the whole thing. (AT describes both Adventure Team and Appalachian Trail, hope I don't get you confused!) I actually have a long list of places to see and things to do. Hopefully I will be fortunate enough to do all of these things. Tonight I will go to the gym and do some strength training. My arms are sadly neglected and need work. If only you didn't get so sore when you lift weights. OOh, and then ER is on. This has been my favorite show for a long time. I've watched it since the first season, but I just have two words. Goran Visjnic. Yum.

Weekend Adventures

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Doh! I lost the post. I shall attempt to re-create it as best I can below. So, after a week of posting things unrelated to the "official" topic of this blog, I have my recent weekend adventures to report. Saturday was a day of mountain biking at Rowlett Creek Preserve. I checked the trail conditions online (reported dry) met my friend, Stephanie, at the trailhead, donned our bike helmets, reviewed the trail map and decided to ride loops 1-6 for a total of 8 miles. I should note that I'm not a very skilled mountain bike rider, and Stephanie had never ridden before. The trails were mostly flat and slightly twisty with few trees close to the trail. There were a few dips that were very visbile, which we decided to skip and so walked our bikes down or around. It wasn't too difficult, which was good for us, excepting the one tree that I tried to move with my shoulder. I now have a nice sized bruise forming and a sore shoulder to remind myself not to do that again. We quickly finished loops 1-4. Heading towards loop 5, we encountered some other riders heading back. The shouted at us not to try it. "Too muddy." they yelled. Who were we to argue? We had encountered some slimy spots already, which were increasing the further we rode. Instead we turned around and headed back to the trailhead after just about 4 miles. We then called it a day. There's not supposed to be too much mountain biking next weekend at our practice adventure race. We do, however, know that there will be a potato involved. This will keep you intrigued, I know. Today again was a day for the bike. Despite the cold temperatures (in the 20's this morning) I loaded up and headed out to White Rock Lake. Having lived in Dallas all my life (nearly anway) I have never been out to WRL before, but have found myself there two consecutive weekends now. I met a group of AdventureTeam.com members. I should also make a note here that I only have 1 bike...a faux mountain bike. See, I did a pseudo-adventure race last October that required a bike. My husband, who knows my penchant for starting many things but finishing few, wouldn't let me spend a lot of money on a bike. Everyone else was on road bikes, so they quickly left me behind. However, one kind soul decided that she didn't want to go very fast, and hung back with me. The morning quickly warmed, and we made a fairly decent average of 9mph in a loop around the lake. We made it back to our cars and had just finished loading up our bikes when the others in the group made a pit stop, having finished two loops in the time it took us to finish one. I think I've said it before, and I'll re-iterate, I do very little of this for time. For me, the completion of the activity is the goal. My other activity this week included visits to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I ran on the treadmill (the bane of my existence) Monday, and did the elliptical machine on Wednesday and Friday. I love the elliptical machine. I could glide on one of those all day. I'm proud of myself for all my physical activity this week. Keep it up self. The rest of my day today was dedicated to sitting the lazy boy watching CBS's 2 hour coverage of the 2004 Primal Quest Adventure Race. This is one of the biggest adventure races, and the biggest in the US. Teams from all over the world come to compete and push themselves to the limit of their capabilities. Last year's race was darkened by the death of one of the racers on the course. It's a sad fact, but it's one of the dangers of the race. I want to do this one day, or at least something like it. But maybe I should finish a 12 hour race first, then work my way up.

My Favorite Things...My Friends

Thursday, January 20, 2005

I have a great group of friends. I don't make friends easily (see my previous post. However, I have made a great group of friends. See, we were all victims of the same trauma. Our employer, who shall remain nameless. I don't wanna get sued ya know. It all started about 5 years ago. I had been out of work for 3 months (5 years ago, this was a long time...now I know people who have been out of work for over a year). I was getting desperate, so I submitted my resume for an admin position at this company. I got a call, and the nice HR lady stated that I was over-qualified for an admin position, and they might have another job open up. Well, they did, and I took it. Not the admin position, but the one that I was actually qualified for. I had never met so many crazy people in such a short amount of time. There was the guy in the office that was a psychotic-manic-something-or-other that would scream obscenities on the phone, then slam down the receiver and stomp down the hall to some executive's office. This guy was also my boss for a short time. I was confused every minute that I reported to him. There was the techie-guy who had to "research" all the porn link bouncebacks we received from our bulk email sends. There was the guy I shared an office with that showed me a picture his girlfriend sent to him. She was naked. He spoke German on the phone to his friends too. Needless to say, I fit right in! My first "client" was an internal client, and I spent a lot of time in meetings, taking notes, and updating Visio flows. I did this for weeks on end. Visio is my friend. Then I got a new client. My contact was a lovely person and is one of my friends still. She was also an internal client. Sort of the step-child in our company. But, since she was so wonderful, I did as much for her as I could. We also hired a lot more people in my position. We were called Producers for some reason, even though we had nothing to do with television. One of these other individuals also became a very close friend. We also worked closely with our developers, and I made several friends among them as well. We moved offices and people came and went in our group. For awhile, a lot went. Sept. 11 impacted everyone's business, and a lot of people in our group were let go. We all worked hard, amid management changes (in just over 4 years, I had 6 managers, counting one twice), business changes, new clients, new products and services, and much, much more. For awhile it was fun. Then, one day it didn't become fun anymore. It gradually got worse, and then it all just went to heck. I decided that I needed to leave, so I did. While I miss my client and my project, I don't miss the stress and the anguish. Once you cry before you go to work, you shouldn't be there anymore. I feared that I would miss my friends, we wouldn't get to hang out as much, and eventually we wouldn't be friends anymore. Thankfully, that has not been the case. We still talk frequently (thank goodness for IM). Parties, birthdays, and just-for-the-heck of it dinners or happy hours are a blast. Some of my friends are still at that company. I hear the goings-on, and most days I'm glad I left. It was my friends that I made while there that made all the difference to me. I'm thankful for them every day. They make me laugh, we cry when something bad happens to one of us, we complain about the things we need to, and then we feel better. These are great friends that I hope to have for a very, very long time.

My Favorite Things...Places to Shop NOTE

Ohhh, I fogot another reason I love to shop at Kroger. Over the last few months they have been running a promotion that for every $100 in qualifying grocery purchases you get 10 cents per gallon off of your next gas purchase. Woo Hoo! And, with gas prices being what they are, every little bit counts.

My Favorite Things...Places to Shop

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I'm a bargain shopper. This habit developed when I was a poor college student, a working mother, and well, pretty much broke. I didn't grow up learing this lesson. In fact, my parents didn't teach me much about handling money, and I learned my lesson the hard way. But, now at the age of 30, I am debt-free, excepting the one school loan that, in terms of school loans, is relatively small. I love to shop and save money while doing so. I comb sales racks, clearance shelves and I cut coupons. Smart Source in the Sunday paper is what I go for first! OK, second after the comics. A perfect example is my shopping trip to Kroger last night. I shop at Kroger for my groceries as they have good prices, a member discount card, and they triple coupons up to 39 cents, and double them up to 50 cents. So, after comparison shopping the items with/without discount card promo, coupon, or regular price, I proceeded to checkout, and gleefully reviewed my checkout ticket. Kroger prints a neat little summary of savings at the bottom of their tickets. As of last night, I saved $10.65 with coupons, $1.90 in bonus coupons (double/triple), and $14.78 in Kroger Plus savings (their member discount card). In total, I saved $27.33, which was 25% of my total bill. The highest percentage I think I've ever saved was 27%. My goal is to one day achieve a 30% savings. Stating this, I realize it's sad, but it's the little things in life that keep you going! I also love to shop at Target. Target has a plethora of products. They sell clothes, toys, home products, toiletries, sporting goods, electronics, DVDs, video games and more. I buy all my non-grocery products here. These items are less expensive here than at the grocery, and Target sells the "bulk" sizes that the grocery stores don't carry. You can also get a great deal on classic movies on DVD. Over the holidays some DVDs were $5! Granted they were 80's/90's movies that no one has watched for years, but $5!!! I also use coupons here. Did I mention I love coupons? Our Target also has a Starbucks which is nice. And, best of all...it's not Wal-Mart! I don't like Wal-Mart. To me Wal-Mart is dirty, poorly lighted, and everything there has a strange odor. The only time I go to Wal-Mart is when it's an emergency and Target is closed. Or to buy paint. World Market is another favorite place. I believe they are also known as Costco, or are owned by Costco. They have "imported" products, mostly of a decorative nature, as well as imported European cookies/snacks and an extensive selection of wines. I bought a pretty rice-paper window shade and drapes from there for my dining room. It's not an everyday kind of store, but if you need a gift without spending a lot of money, this is one place to look and you'll usually find something. Tuesday Morning is also a good place to find a gift that's a bit out of the ordinary. They get leftover and out-of-season stock from department stores. You can get some nice crystal serving pieces and decorative art pieces for up to 75% retail! Happy Shopping!

Definition of Frou-Frou

Ah, I love looking up the meaning of words. As the proud holder of a degree in English with a concentration in British Literature, I don't spend enough time dedicated to composition. Perhaps my postings on this blog will give me reason to use new words (new to both myself and you readers) and provide their definitions. Per my previous post dedicated to my favorite lunch establishments, I receive a request for the definition of a "Frou Frou Sandwich". So, as requested by Moody, here is what I found: Hyperdictionary.com provides the following definition: \Frou"frou`\, n. [F., of imitative origin.] A rustling, esp. the rustling of a woman's dress. Freesearch.co.uk defines it as: decorative pieces added to women's clothing: - a frou-frou gown/skirt And,Dictionary.com explains: frouĀ·frou also frou-frou (froo froo) n. 1. Fussy or showy dress or ornamentation. 2. A rustling sound, as of silk. As I used the word, the meaning was to indicate fancy or overdone. During my search I also discovered that there is a band called Frou Frou. Evidently they have a track on the movie soundtrack for Garden State, written and directed by and starring the cutie-patootie star of NBC's hit comedy show Scrubs. I haven't seen the movie yet, but it's on my list. Having 2 young children doesn't often allow me to see any movie except on DVD. Unless it's rated PG and/or animated. Anyhow, hopefully this will clear up any questions about the usage of Frou Frou.

My Favorite Things...Lunch Restaurants

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I have lots of favorite things. I love to go out for lunch. Yes, it's more expensive than a PB&J, but when you've just got to get out of the office, lunch is the way to go! I'm not normally a gushy person, but I just love... Chipolte
Flavor: Mexican
Why I love it: The mix & match burrito bol. What's a bol? It's nekkid burrito...a burrito with no wrap. Their rice is fantastic, sort of a cilantro-lime flavor, and their medium corn salsa is to die for. Meats are spiced without being overly spicy. You pick your toppings from the line. Create your own for how you feel that day.
Pei Wei
Flavor: Oriental
Why I love it: Variety of dishes with rice or noodles, and most dishes you get to pick your filler...seafood, chicken, beef, tofu, veggies. LOVE Pad Thai and Coconut Curry.
Tin Star
Flavor: Mexican
Why I love it: Tasty salsa bar. Interesting menu with tacos, burgers, salads, entrees. Queso & fries. Yum.
Flavor: Indian
Why I love it: This was one of my first forays into Indian food. Their menu offers classics such as a curry dish, tikka and kabob, with your choice of filler including paneer (a cheese), chicken, lamb, veggies and shrimp. Their nan (a pita-like flatbread) is soft and warm and makes a great "scoop" for finishing off the side of rice with the left-over sauce from the dish.
Moe's Southwest Grill
Flavor: Mexican
Why I love it: Funny menu names for their dishes. My usual is the "Billy Barou". Now, I just watched part of "Caddy Shack" the other night, and found what I believe is the reference for this dish. At the end of the movie, Ted Knight's character pulls out the "Billy Barou" putter for his final putt. I think their other menu items are named for movie references too. A Google returned this site.
Jason's Deli
Flavor: Sandwiches, Salads, Soups, Spuds
Why I love it: Their food is fresh (well, not according to my mom, but she's slightly neurotic and a vegetarian, so what does she know). The salad bar lacks some variety, but it's always well stocked. Classic deli-style sandwiches and gigantoid baked potatos.
Red, Hot & Blue
Flavor: Barbeque
Why I love it: Pulled Pork Sandwich, Mojo Mild BBQ Sauce, and some darn good potato salad. Their dry-rubbed ribs are sooo tender they fall off the bone. Also a plus is the mini-pitcher they use to serve their drinks. No 16-oz glasses used here. We're talking "Big Gulp" sized beverages. Plus, the cool guitar-playing, sunglasses-wearing dancing pigs make me smile.
Corner Bakery
Flavor: Frou-Frou Sandwiches, Salads & Soups
Why I love it: Black Currant flavored tea. (see note about tea addiction below) They also have asparagus soup, which is so fabulous, nice pannini and a good mixed-green salad.

This is my initial list. I'm sure there's more if I really thought about it, but these are the places I visit most often, as is evidenced by my bank statements. I see that I have shown slight favoritism to Mexican-style food. This is because I have been raised in Texas all my life. I think I could eat Mexican-style food meal-to-meal on back-to-back days, and not be tired of it. I also love Italian food, but there aren't a lot of good, quick Italian restaurants that aren't full service. I try to avoid full service at lunch. I also have a serious addiction to iced tea, and especially flavored teas. I know which restaurants have which flavors of tea (and which restaurants don't have flavors) and some days this influences my lunchtime decision. I don't drink sodas (pop, coke, fizzy-drinks, cola for whichever part of the world you're from), so I give myself this luxury. That and Starbucks...ohhh, Starbucks. That's a whole 'nother post. Happy Lunching!

Waiter boy at Tia's

Monday, January 17, 2005

Today was one of my co-workers' birthday. Joined her for lunch at Tia's (that's Tex-Mex) and had a very cute waiter. He had lovely light green eyes, nice red lips, a tongue ring and a tattoo peeking from under his sleeve. All the ladies at the table were enjoying admiring this young man. At some point, we decided that the birthday girl needed a birthday kiss from the cute waiter. One of the bolder ladies informed cute waiter that we thought he had nice lips and that our birthday girl wanted a birthday kiss. He blushed bright red and wasn't sure what to say. After a few moments recovery away from the table, he came back, loving every bit of attention we paid him. This led to lively discussion at the table, including the guys in our group, and we had a great lunch. Just at the end of the meal, when we thought the kiss would never materialize, cute waiter boy up and laid a smooch on my co-worker! Yes, we caught this on a camera phone, just not mine. Darn if I can't get my hands on it. I'll have to work on that. Birthday girl asked him for his number too...which he readily provided. What a great lunch.

Reverse snob-ism

Sunday, January 16, 2005

This didn't fit with my last post, so I had to back-to-back post. I hope this is allowed. I have a problem. I have a huge fear of being not liked. I wanted to be liked so much as a kid, I think I actually turned some people off. Now I don't have that problem so much. I don't think. I'm more choosey about who I want to be friends with. I don't have to be part of the "clique" so I don't try so hard. This is good since I'm now a 30 year old adult. I do think others might still have the problem of wanting to be part of the "right" crowd, so I consider it to be an accomplishment. I have another problem. People who I perceive to be fake really annoy me. Does this make me a snob? Maybe I am. I'm a snob to the snobs. Looking down on those who look down on me. Is that possible? Keeping up with the Joneses. Spending so much time thinking about what's "right" rather than thinking about what is truly important. But aren't we all guilty of that? Rushed, busy, preoccupied multi-taskers. Watching little Billy's soccer game while responding to work email on a Blackberry. Spending more than the 40 hours a week you get paid to be at work at work. Why do we spend more time getting ready for/getting to/at work/getting home than we actually do with those that we love? Take time, relax, have fun, spend less time at work (unless you actually get paid more!), more time with people who matter. The world won't come crashing to an end! In fact, it might actually make it better. A friend of mine noted last week that the longest she expects to be remembered by anyone is 2 generations. This is two generations of people related to you genetically. A lifetime is all we have to be remembered by others who we meet along the way. Unless we do something magical like cure cancer, once we're gone, the only people who will care are the ones who love us. Now all I have to do is take my own advice.

Am I un-interesting...or is it just me?

So, in an effort to extend my blog-awareness beyond my small circle of friends, I am employing the use of Blog Explosion. I've checked out a couple of others, but this one was the first that I could figure out how to use. I get the game...check out other people's blogs to earn credits and get links to my blog. It seems to be working because my "hit count" on my site has gone up. I actually am taking the time to review the blogs I'm hitting. Some I do pass by quickly, but I've blogmarked a few for later perusal. I haven't been blogmarked yet. This is disappointing to me, but perhaps I'm being a bit impatient. I've only been at this "blogging" thing for a few days. Give it time. My greatest fear is that I'll be un-interesting to anyone except the people that already know (and pity) me.

Keeping Score

Do you know anyone who is a "score keeper"? This person keeps a mental tally of all of the things they have done and all of the things you have done. These "things" can be good or bad; you hurt their feelings saying this, or you unloaded the dishwasher x number of times in the week. This person then uses the scoresheet to determine their attitude and actions towards you. They decide that they can treat you in a certain way based on your score versus their score. Once you realize this person is a "scorekeeper" it causes you to swing between the attitude of "I must do this so that the scorekeeper will be happy and will be nice to me and do the things I want to do", or you have the attitude of "GRRRR. They're keeping score again and it makes me really mad. I'm not going to do anything they want me to do just because he's keeping score". Neither are healthy ways of living, I'm sure. Would the tables have been turned, and had score been kept on the scorekeeper, score on the "bad list" would have been so high that score would have burst through the roof and they could not have done enough good things of high enough mangitude to ever achieve good/bad balance. Now the scorekeeper has changed things in their life and that "bad list" doesn't get a tally much anymore. Except when they "keep score". Still, how does one deal with a scorekeeper? Confront, ignore, keep your own score? All sound exhausting and have their own issues. I shall confront. We'll see where this gets us. Probably not far, but it's at least out there.

Snowman Shuffle at WRL

Saturday, January 15, 2005

It was a gorgeous morning to be out running. The temperature was cool and there was very little wind. The course was mostly flat but peppered with a few small hills. We started promptly at 9 am, and I hung to the back of the pack. There were both 5K and 10K runners starting together, and some racers had their dogs with them. Kudos go out to everyone who participated, but especially all the silver-haired racers. I hope that if I make it that far in life, I'm able to keep running like they do. One lady in particular made me smile. She was tiny, thin, with full makeup and fuzzy ear-warmers. She was probably one of the oldest racers on the course and was out there putting one foot in front of the other and workin' it! Go granny Go! I ran the first mile quickly (for me) at right on 12 minutes flat. I knew I wasn't going to keep that up...in case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm SLOOOOOW. I continued on as fast as I could for as long as I could, finally resorting to the 4/1 method...run four minutes, fast walk a minute. Not long after, I started seeing the 5K runners headed back to the finish line. Young kids running flat out. Ahhh, to be young again. My knee started to hurt just after mile 3, while I continued with my 4/1 pace. At the turn-around for the 10K-ers, I realized that there was only one person behind me. But hey, I wasn't running to win, I run to finish and better my own personal time. Still, I was glad to not be last. The way back seemed to fly by (sort of) and I started seeing mile markers faster than I expected. I had originally wanted to finish in under 1:15, but I could tell that wasn't going to happen. So, I revised my goal to finish under 1:20. That was attainable if I pushed myself just a bit more. I started to see racers running back to wherever they came from while I got closer to the finish. I could see the end, and I kicked it up a notch, and crossed under the time clock at 1:18:54. Not good, but not horrible. Next time I will finish under 1:15! It's good to have goals, right? I figured my overall average pace was somewhere around 12:45, which is a great improvement (I think) from my 13:19 average at the Turkey Trot back in November. My friend Judy is running the Houston Marathon tomorrow. I hope she has a good race. She just ran the White Rock Marathon a month ago. She's inspirational! Good luck Judy!

Snowman Shuffle

OK, so there's really no snow on the ground. This is Texas folks! It is at least chilly with current temperature at 37 degrees, feeling like 30. It should be nice for a 10K run this morning. So, a few more sips of coffee and gulps of water and me and my Gu will head out. It'll be my first outing at White Rock Lake. In all my time of living in Dallas, I've never been out there. Sadly, this won't be as exciting as my run last weekend (or will it?), so, all you 18 people who have ever whizzed by my blog may not have much to read later. Ciao.

Wrigley's doing great

I picked Wrigley up from the vet after work today, and she's doing pretty well. She's in her kennel in the kitchen, and once she settles she's doing OK. Doctor's instructions said to keep her confined pretty well, so I guess it's OK for now. I'm trying to walk her as much as I can to keep her from getting stiff. Poor baby. I know what it's like to have surgery and it's not fun.
Wrigley Posted by Hello This is an older picture of her. She's bigger, and even cuter (if that's even possible!).

Happy Friday! sort of

Friday, January 14, 2005

It's Friday and I can't wait for the weekend. I had to drop my dog at the vet this morning. She's getting "fixed" today. I actually have two dogs. Wrigley & Tori. Wrigley is a puppy...a 6 month old lab-mix. She's gorgeous! She's got a velvety, chocolatey brown colored coat, floppy ears and big brown eyes. Poor baby. I know it's best for her to get it done...lord knows we don't want any puppies running around the yard! Still, you feel bad. I know they feel pain, but you never know how much. I'm sure she'll be fine and the vet will tell us all we need to know to take care of her.

Keep up the blog...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Blog On... I can tell this is going to take some work to keep this up. My second day and I'm already at a loss for words. I could rant, but that wouldn't be in the spirit of keeping this a positive blog. So, I refer to the last fortune I received from a Chinese restaurant. "You are the master of every situation." That's a really good fortune. Especially if you follow fortune cookie rules and add "in bed" to the end of said fortune. He he he. My fortune is taped to my lucky bamboo sitting on my desk. I got it for Mother's Day last year and it's still alive! Over the holidays it got a little dry, so some of the tips are yellow. But all in all, it's very healthy and growing. Blog Off...

This blogging thing is cool

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

So, at a friend's suggestion, and after another friend's recommendation, I have now started my very own blog. They shall remain blameless for now. Later, when this becomes really annoying (either to me or the readers...if there are any), I'll point the finger at them and it shall be their fault. Until then, I hope to have a few adventures with my friends to relate to my other friends that weren't there. The ultimate goal is to get as many friends into my adventures as possible. What are these adventures you may ask? Well, my first was the Bandera Trail Run. I plan to do more of these trail runs, as well as regular (pavement) running, adventure racing, triathlons and whatever other trouble I can get myself into along the way. Adventures may also include my daily trek across the George Bush Turnpike. I have a few stories from that as well. Crazy drivers, construction, beautification of the freeway, things to ponder as I drive. Since life is an adventure of sorts, anything is game for this blog. I'll attempt to censure myself when necessary, keep it fun and positive and hopefully you (the reader) won't be bored to tears.

My first 25K (plus some)

Wow. Well, I must say that it wasn't easy...in fact it may be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I conquered Bandera and lived to tell about it. I did a 25K trail run in Bandera, TX this weekend. That's in the heart of Hill Country just 50 miles from San Antonio. Some friends told me about the race, and I took a look at the pictures on the web site and said, heck, let's go for it! Little did I imagine that every stretch of the course was rocks, rocks and more rocks, and seemingly all uphill. The day started off early (7:30 amm), foggy, and quite surreal. The starting temperature was about 40 degrees. After about 2 hours of running, the fog finally burned off, and the views from the top of the hills were stunningly beautiful despite the pain it took to achieve them. The first aid station was 5.6 miles into the race, and I still felt pretty good, even though my fingers were starting to swell, resembling the sausage I had for breakfast hours earlier. Someone told me to hold my hands above my heart to help reduce the swelling, so off I ran from aid station #1, resembling either a surgeon waiting to be gloved or a crazy woman running off in the woods with her hands above her head (the latter being the most likely scenario). Faster than I expected, just about 3.3 miles later, I made it to aid station #2. Please note that this aid station was used twice in the race, the third leg being a giant loop back around a really big hill and ending at the very same spot. Filling up on all the goodies to be had, I was still feeling good after a total of 8.9 miles and dashed off ready to conquer the next leg.
Entering Crossroads Aid Station (where I went the wrong way) Posted by Hello Alas, being the novice racer that I am, I made a really dumb mistake and didn't ask directions when leaving said aid station #2 and, instead of starting the third leg of the race, I headed off to the finish line. I realized my mistake when I got passed by another girl from the group I run with who is WAY faster than me. She said we were less than a mile from the finish, and reality hit me over the head. I struggled for a few moments with my options. But, rather than get a 'DNF' by my name on the official race report and succumb to my error, I turned right around and went back to the previous aid station...a 4 mile detour if you will. I then headed off to the correct leg of the race. This was the toughest part of the whole day. Having already run ~13 miles (8.9 plus 4 mis-directed miles), and the day heating up into the 70's and sun coming out, I then faced the mental challenges of fatigue (no wise cracks here please...I know, I know) as well as the physical. Seasoned racers running the 50K and 100K races passed me with barely a gasp for air and seemingly fresh legs. After some time, and struggling to the top of hill after hill and not seeing the blue-tented aid station and terrified that I had again gone the wrong way and ended up on the 50K course, my frustration welled up, and I shed a few tears for awhile. I managed to pull myself together whenever I would hear another runner approaching from behind, and as soon as they were (hopefully) out of earshot, another tear or two would flow. FINALLY, I saw the blue tent I had been dreaming of for so long. I don't think I have ever felt such relief. Oh Yeah! Posted by Hello A few shots of Gatorade, a half-peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chocolate nutty bars and I set off for the final 2.6 miles. Having already had a preview of what lay ahead, I knew that it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, and I would be munchin' on burgers and beans in no time. I think I actually managed a smile somewhere in here. This was also the shadiest and coolest part of the course, which was also rather refreshing. I could hear the finish line quite some time before I saw it, as other racers ran in ahead of me (yes, even some people completing twice my distance in less time) and winding around the trail up the last sneaky hill. I kicked myself in the rear and threw it into whatever gear I had left and finished the race (plus 4 extra miles) in (according to my watch) 6:35. Yes, all you math whizzes out there, that's just under a 20 minute mile! But, I wasn't racing for time and I knew it going in. Had I not made such a cololassal error, based on my previous splits, I could have finished right around 5 hours (not much faster really). The hills were steep, the rocks were sharp, and I'm more afraid of falling down than I am interested in going fast. My friends had all waited for me and were there to cheer me across the finish line. In fact, they even had to tell me when to stop...I didn't see the yellow cord marking the end! Right now, only last year's pictures are up on the web, and no official results are posted yet, but you'll get the idea from these. http://hillcountrytrailrunners.com/raceBandera.html All in all, this race was a great experience for me. It was very well put together, with great food before, during and after, a free massage after, and a really cool racing shirt and finishers medal that I will wear proudly for at least a week. It was really, really hard, but now, knowing what I can do amid great difficulty, nothing is out of reach for me now! My next 25K is in Tyler on Feb. 12 (yes, I'm going again!), but this time on soft pine needle-covered hills. And each time I leave an aid station I will ask "which way please".