Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fit Foodie 5k – say what?

I don’t write a lot about food anymore, because there are so many other people who do it a whole lot better than me, but I am happy to say I still cook a bunch. I fortunately married a foodie husband as well, so we have a lot of fun cooking for each other. We have a small kitchen so we mostly take turns cooking, but sometimes we combine forces – like for this awesome Easter brunch at my parents’ house.

easter brunch

That said, I’m forever a foodie, which is why I’m so stoked about this fun event at Mueller in Austin this Saturday, June 13. It’s the Fit Foodie Run, a 5k with a sweet finisher’s village all focused on food.

Picture your local 5k’s post-race offerings… some cut-up oranges, bananas, maybe bagel halves if you’re lucky. Now destroy that image in your mind completely.

This is going to be like those upscale grocery stores with their bonanza of fancy samples. At a recent day at Central Market (the fancy older cousin of HEB), I tasted a roasted red pepper panini fresh off the press, a bunch of cheeses, fresh multigrain bread with butter, and fresh fruit. Needless to say my love can be bought with food.

Anyway, after the Fit Foodie Run there will also be celebrity chef demos and tastings, mingling with other like-minding foodie-runners, fitness demos (run. eat. repeat.), beer and wine tastings, giveaways, and delicious bites from swanky restaurants and sponsors. SIGN ME UP.

I’ve got a discount code from the race organizers that’s good for half off registration, but only until the end of today, so hop on it – it’s “CATERUNS”.

Register here.

See you there.

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Simultaneous success and failure

16:55. That was my finishing time at Music City Distance Carnival, the track 5k I raced two  weekends ago in Nashville, which works out to be about 5:27 per mile.

To put this in context, it was my first track 5k in three years, and 40 seconds faster than any road or cross country 5Ks I’ve done in this time as well. It felt great; I’ve run slower races that are much more painful than this. This also capped a full season of consistent training and competitive racing, which I haven’t had since 2012. These are big wins for me.

At the same time, a 16:55 5k was 15-25 seconds slower than my realistic goal, which I’d been training for all spring. It was also 42 seconds off my personal best, and over a minute away from what I would need to run to qualify for the USA Track and Field Championships in 2016.

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I’m trying to figure out if it’s possible to be simultaneously thrilled and crestfallen at a performance. Did I win or did I fail?

I love how running forces you to measure yourself against a standard, to lay it all out there with a concrete objective that you either hit or miss. But I also hate it.

It bites when you don’t meet your goal, which I didn’t last Saturday. Sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you can even begin to experience the feelings of disappointment at failing BEFORE THE RACE IS OVER! This delightful condition doesn’t do a lot to spur you on to work any harder, and is probably best ignored. I’m both fascinated and flummoxed by the mental techniques of racing and do not consider myself great at them even after being in this sport for 8 years.

There’s an upside to failing too, though: it instills a fire in you to keep going. Squandered opportunity, or “missed” to speak more lightly, is motivating, and shows you where you can improve.

I know I can improve by turning off my brain during racing much more. At the Nashville 5k, I was with a pack of girls who were running consistent 78-second laps (16:15 pace). This was just a hair quicker than my goal of 79-80 second laps, which is almost exactly a perfect race set-up.

But about halfway through the race, with 6 laps to go, I let that pack go and slowed down. I was mentally fatigued from hanging on to a faster pace than I wanted for the first half of the race. Logically, if I would have run with them longer, they could have pulled me to a faster time – as long as I could have hung on. We won’t know how long that would have been, but based on how easy I felt I think I could have made it a couple laps longer, at least. Running with a pack has myriad advantages though, and getting a pack of competitive runners was exactly why I traveled to Nashville in the first place. I’m upset I didn’t make it happen when I had the opportunity.

An aside… As I’m about to apologize for that whole last paragraph as “pardon my track geekiness here, distinguishing between 78 and 79 second laps on a track,” thinking an average person wouldn’t distinguish between these paces, I realize maybe I shouldn’t try to distinguish between those paces either. Extra proof for “quit thinking so much, Cate!”

I’m tempted to think I’m weak, that I’m not as tough as other runners, but after about five years of thinking that about myself when I don’t meet my racing goals, I’m sick of believing that. I’m sick of believing there’s something that other people have that I don’t. I just need time, and as cheesy and simple as it sounds – belief.

Post-race high fives. This gal set a huge PR and won in 16:15. Just being there, being part of this world  again is exciting. Stoked for her.

Post-race high fives. This gal set a huge PR and won in 16:15. Just being there, being part of this world again is exciting. Stoked for her.

Outcome – maybe failure. Learning from an experience – win.

15 years of running and Mom

I started running when I was 8 years old, with my mom. She said she could tell I had a knack for it, so she started bringing me along on her daily three mile runs. We trained during my brother’s soccer practices, and she’d ask me about my day as she led me around our suburban routes. I would cut corners and cul-de-sacs and complain, but she kept getting me out there day after day. We ran local 5ks together in the spring, which was my favorite part.

When I started cross country in high school and got more serious about running, we learned about the sport together. She knew all my times, all my competitors, and even all the online message board gossip of the Texas high school track scene.

She was there at every high school race, driving me to the ends of the earth (Ok, the Woodlands) when I was a homeschool kid with no team.

She was there at every college race that didn’t require a plane trip (and some of those too), cheering loud enough for me to pick her voice out of the crowd at an indoor track stadium.

She’s still there now, coming to watch me run my road races. I’m on Rogue AC, a professional / post-collegiate group based here in Austin. Mom holds my bag and water and gives me a good luck kiss at the start.

Mom still runs too. She’s on her steady 5 days-a-week plan, waking up at 5 a.m. and running in the dark to get her mileage in. On Saturdays she sleeps in until 7, and I get to cheer for her starting her long run.

Running has been a consistent thread in my life for the last 15 years and so has my mom’s support. Cliché but true – wouldn’t be where I am without her.

A very happy mother’s day to you, Mom.

Mothers day

Getting your face off Facebook

The irony here is that since I turned on the “publicize” feature of my blog, this post is going to be posted to Facebook. Ha, don’t be deceived friends, it’s an auto feature; I didn’t have to log on.

Since I got Facebook in 2007, it was evident the site was a tool that could be used for good … and for evil. Everyone laments that they spend too much time on there, but I really had a problem with it. The site also enabled my bad behavior like procrastinating homework, getting jealous of or criticizing friends and acquaintances, and comparing myself to others.

ImageHowever, as the site testifies, it allowed me to connect with friends both old an new, keep up with more people overall, and even to build professional relationships – which is why I could never rationalize deleting it completely. Plus, I hate it when there’s someone you really need to talk to but their Facebook is completely gone. Thus the addiction and its detrimental effects wore on.

The solution:
In August I finally figured out a way to deal with it all. It’s not permanent; I’ll need to use Facebook again at some point, but it’s better than what I was doing before. I still have my page up so that I can log in if I absolutely have to, and I can be tagged in photos. I have my cell phone number in the “about” section so people can contact me. But I got my mom to change the account’s password and now I don’t know it, so I can’t check my page unless I’m visiting home. One of my friends told me you can also do this trick sans-mother by changing your password to something random (use a password generator), writing it down, and hiding the piece of paper.

How’s that workin’ out for ya?
I have seen the light. Coming from a person who loves Facebook, this is a big deal. The biggest difference of not being on Facebook is that I surf the internet less overall, because there’s less instant gratification for me to seek. This is the root of my time-wasting problem; I face something hard that I don’t want to do like schoolwork, then turn to the internet to entertain me and hit that pleasure center on my brain (SCIENCE: Why is Facebook So Hard to Quit, 5 Scientifically-Proven Reasons to Ditch your Facebook).

The smaller differences are subtle and unexpected bonuses. It’s been about five weeks since I logged off for the last time, and though I’m having so. much. fun. in daily life the time has also been just inching by! It’s weird. The days have been so rich. They don’t blur like last year; they’re full and joyful. Maybe that has more to do with my awesome new roommates/living situation in Waco, taking that sweet trip to Big Bend National Park with my family, and getting to run again, which are all hugely positive. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t used Facebook to treat my boredom or desire for significance and have been forced to be fully present in the world I’m in right now.

Regardless, not being being on Facebook is allowing me to live a fuller life.

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Quote that, suckas.

7 Ways Waco > Austin

I don’t know if anyone would argue for the superiority of “Wacko Waco” over Austin, my hometown and perennial maker of “best places to live” lists. But there are some things that are better here in Waco, my college town, that people might not know. Behold.

1. Traffic / commutes / parking

 bike marina

Stuff is closer together since it’s a smaller city. In Austin, it’s not uncommon for me to drive 15 miles down a highway to go run, go downtown to do something fun or shop somewhere nice, or see friends. Urban sprawl, y’all. In Waco, I live 2 miles from the track, 1 mile from school, 1/2 a mile from the grocery store, 1.5 miles from work and downtown shops and restaurants. It’s a major expedition to go to the Target 5 miles away. I can bike almost everywhere. There are never traffic jams and rush hour is unheard of. Finally, public parking downtown is a breeze. Campus parking does suck (that’s why, if for no other reason, you should bike!) but it sucks in Austin at UT too. Anyway, this stuff makes daily life a lot more pleasant.

2. Cost of living

In general, food at restaurants, rent and entertainment is a lot cheaper here. And theaters … which brings me to…

3. $5 movies! Seriously. Not even matinee.

And since they’re not crowded you can literally decide to go to a movie 15 minutes before it starts, drive there and find a seat in plenty of time. In Austin, this requires a lot more planning and money. Tickets cost twice as much.

4. Street cred. ‘Nough said.

5. The Zoo

Austin’s got an “animal sanctuary” with three-legged wolves and old turtles. Commendable, indeed, but not close to matching the Cameron Park Zoo with its array of animals, the natural habitats, playgrounds and sculptures, and twisting pathways and boardwalks covered with shade trees. It’s big enough to be well-entertained for an afternoon, but small enough to where you’re not overwhelmed. Fun for dates, family outings and out-of-towners.

6. Places to ride your road bike

bike lake waco

Austin’s road biking community can’t be topped, but as far as actual routes it’s a lot more convenient to ride in Waco. I can go wheels down right outside my door and hit rural roads in a couple miles. In Austin, I’m surrounded by more dangerous roads. I either have to ride through the city with a bunch of stop signs and street crossings, or drive 20 minutes to start my ride out of town.

7. Less distractions

I have a huge fear of missing out on fun stuff. I know there are cool concerts, bars, restaurants, fitness meetups, book signings or art galleries to go to in Austin every night, so if I spend an evening at home I feel like I wasted it. By contrast, Waco has a lot less to do (unless you’re into country music, ugh) so spending a Friday night baking cookies and getting a DVD from Redbox passes for sufficient entertainment. This fits in nicely with the runner lifestyle which requires a certain amount of restraint from the trappings of a rockstar lifestyle. This is actually what I tell people when they ask me if Waco is boring, if it sucks (no, you suck) or say “I’m sorry,” when I tell them I go to Baylor. Yeah, it is less exciting than other places sometimes, but that’s good for me. Besides, as long as you have cool friends, you can have fun anywhere.

In conclusion, most of these reason of why Waco is better stem from the fact that there are a lot less people who live in this metro (200,000 ish compared to Austin’s 1.7 million). This creates a paradox. You either have great service or a great experience, like a secluded mountain bike ride through Cameron Park or 1-on-1 customer service like at the running store where I work. Or you get crappy service because the place is way too popular for its own good and can’t scale their business big enough to help you, like at Chuy’s on the weekends.

I’ll be in Waco for the next five months at least, soaking up all the light traffic, cheap stuff, zoo animals sightings and good bikin’ I can get. Come visit anytime.