2010 Recap

I’m still undecided on whether to keep this blog, or switch over to Racing to Thirty.  I’d like to focus on half marathon training, but I’m still interested in posting random recipes and updates, and pictures of my dog 🙂  What are your thoughts on having two blogs?  Should I combine them?

This seemed like the proper place to do a 2010 recap, for now.  It was a big year for us, and it’s fun to look back!


The year started on a sad note, when we decided to adopt a puppy at a local animal shelter.  We adopted a chocolate lab, but the policy at the shelter is that all dogs must be spayed or neutered before they leave.  Our puppy did not make it through the spaying surgery, and we were heartbroken.

But the shelter told us they had another chocolate lab mix, and they would hold her if we wanted to come visit.  We went and met Bailey (she was named Nestle at the time), and although we were sad about our loss, we instantly fell in love with Bailey.  She was a two month old chocolate lab/boxer mix.

She was a handful, but it was so much fun to have a puppy around!  We also began to house hunt in January.  It was a little stressful managing the house hunting process with house training Bailey, but we made it work!


In February, we closed on a home that we fell in love with.  It was only our second weekend looking at homes when we found this one, but it was unique, and in a great location. 

Bailey enjoyed her new home after living in the apartment, since she now had more space to play, and her own (small) yard!

I also took a trip to New Orleans to celebrate a good friend’s bachelorette party – during Mardi Gras!  It was such a fun experience, I hope to make it back for another Mardi Gras.


After moving into the new home, we began to make a few improvements.  We started by painting the walls.  The dining room & master bedroom were both orange, and our office (which was previously a nursery) was pink & green with a tree painted in it.

We began by testing paint colors in each room.  We picked out a white/cream for the master bedroom, cocoa rose (brownish red) for the dining room, and taupe for the office.

We thought we would try to paint ourselves.  It took close to three weeks, but with the help of a friend, we completed the dining room on our own.  At that point, we decided to hire someone to do the other two rooms 🙂

My parents came to visit shortly after we moved into the house.  Our house was still a mess, but it was nice to have company!

We also took a trip to San Francisco in March, to visit some friends from grad school.  It was so much fun to explore the city and catch up with our friends.


April brought more home improvements (we installed blinds in the bedrooms) and more visitors – Pat’s mom and aunt.  With their green thumbs, they helped us to plant flowers and even food in the flower pots in our yard.  Unfortunately, thanks to my black thumb, most did not survive the hot Houston summer.  But I learned which plants do well in the heat, and learned that I cannot even go one day in the summer without watering them, and I have hopes for better luck next year.


In May, I ate my last burger, and became a vegetarian.  I considered vegetarianism more seriously after reading Skinny Bitch, but I wasn’t able to eat a bite of meat since finishing the chapter on factory farming.  I thought I would try it for a few weeks to see how I did, and it stuck!  It’s been fun to try new foods, and I really have not missed having meat in my diet.

May also included a trip to Austin.  Unfortunately, I spent most of our weekend sick in the hotel room, but we loved what we saw of Austin, and can’t wait to go back!


My parents visited again in June, and this time my youngest sister came with them.  We took a tour of Minute Maid Ballpark, went to an Astros game, and went to see the Waugh Bridge bats.

On June 27, Pat and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary!


My highlight for July was definitely the Lady Gaga concert!  It was an amazing show – I hope we get to see her again when she returns in 2011 🙂


August busy months at work, and the most “exciting” thing that happened was someone hacking into my personal email account 😦  Luckily, I don’t think they were able to steal any credit card info, but the did send out an email to every single person I had ever emailed before, stating that I was stuck in London and needed money to get home.


Pat’s birthday month!  We went to see the Pixies, which was just an unreal experience.  When we first started dating back in 2004, Pat got me hooked on the Pixies, and I think it was always his dream to see them in concert.  This was my anniversary gift to him (well, to us).


We dressed Bailey up as a pumpkin for Halloween 🙂  But sadly, we had no trick or treaters.


A trip home to Ohio for Thanksgiving!  We drove 18.5 hours each way, with Bailey in the hatchback.  It was so much fun to relax with family and friends for a week.  Pat got to go to a Bengals game with my dad, and we went to see Trans Siberian Orchestra.  They were amazing!  At one point, they were walking on beams that lowered to right over our heads:

I also started running outdoors in November.  It was a big deal for me to be able to run 5 miles straight with my dad while  I was home for the holidays, and I set a few personal records for myself, including 6 and 7 mile runs.


After running for about a month outdoors, I ran my first 5k!  It was a benefit for Run Over Cancer, and had a holiday theme.  I ran with my friend Maggie.

We also got to go home to Illinois to spend Christmas with Pat’s family.  Although it was so cold, it was nice to have a second long break to relax, and I was happy to have a white Christmas!

2010 Favorites

My recap wouldn’t be complete without highlighting some favorites of 2010!

Top 10 recipes of 2010:

  1. Tofu Pot Pie from Hungry Girl (probably my most frequently made meal in 2010)
  2. Strawberry/Avocado Salad
  3. Orange Bell Pepper Pasta
  4. Blueberry-Lemon Coffee Cake from Cooking Light
  5. Soy Burritos from Hungry Girl
  6. BBQ Tofu
  7. Meatless Sloppy Joes
  8. Italian Couscous and Beans from Oh She Glows
  9. Mexican Stir-Fry
  10. Egg Souffle from Joy of Cooking

Top 5 Favorite Houston Restaurants (reviewed)

  1. The Original Marini’s Empanada House
  2. Blue Nile
  3. Shiva Indian
  4. El Tiempo Cantina
  5. Catalan

See y’all in 2011!


New Blog: Racing to Thirty

I’ve started a new blog, focused just on running and training for my first half marathon.  Visit the new blog here!

I may or may not keep up Home Sweet Houston… I haven’t been very good at updating, and for now, I plan to focus on Racing to Thirty.

Trying to Keep Up

My dad was just going easy on me yesterday.  Today I tried to run closer to his normal pace, and I had to quit after 4 miles.  The last 1/2 mile or so was a lot of uphill, and I just couldn’t keep the same pace.  I shouldn’t be too disappointed though, because I still had a personal record for time and distance – 4 miles in under 40 minutes!

  • Mile 1:  9:28
  • Mile 2:  10:09
  • Mile 3:  10:09
  • Mile 4:  10:10
  • Total:  39:58 (average = 10:00)

It’s amazing to me that increasing the pace just slightly has me worn out so much more quickly.  I also looked at my Garmin for the 5k time – 30:47!  I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull off a sub-30 minute 5k for my first race, but I shouldn’t be too far from there.

7 Miles

Good news!  I found my camera 🙂  It’s been missing for over a month now – I wanted to get back into posting pictures, but I couldn’t find my camera.  Hopefully I will be posting pictures again soon – but until then, I just have a run recap.

My dad runs 5 miles almost every day.  It’s always amazed me that he’s in so much better shape than I’ve been, and I’ve wished before that I could run the 5 miles with him.  Today was that day – I ran 5 miles with my dad.  And then 2 more on my own!

Not only did we run 5 miles, but we did much of it on hills – not big hills, but it was a challenge to me since I’ve gotten used to running on fairly flat trails.  We also slowed down over the first 3 miles (which included the biggest hills), but picked up the speed for each remaining mile.  The average pace was 10:39.  Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:38
  • Mile 2:  10:46
  • Mile 3:  11:05
  • Mile 4:  10:58
  • Mile 5:  10:36
  • Mile 6:  10:23
  • Mile 7:  10:04
  • Total:  1:14:31

A big day for firsts – first 5 mile run with my dad and first 7 mile run ever!  I celebrated with a heath bar chip pancake…mmmmm.

Feel the Burn

After my run tonight, I felt the burn.  I haven’t really experienced this before, but when I got in my car after the run, it felt like my legs were on fire.

I ran 5 miles tonight, and my focus was on speed work.  I wanted to do a slow warm up, run a fast mile, recover for a mile, run another fast mile, then cool down for a mile.  I’d say I was successful, but my “recovery” mile was definitely my slowest – I had to walk so much of it, but it seemed to pay off in the next fast mile.

My splits:

  • Mile 1:  11:25
  • Mile 2:  9:17 !
  • Mile 3:  12:50
  • Mile 4:  9:15 !!
  • Mile 5:  11:38
  • Total Time:  54:25 (average pace = 10:53)

I couldn’t believe the 9:15 and 9:17 minute miles – or the fact that there were two of them!  I am not a fast runner, but I saved most of my energy for those two miles and went as fast and as long as I could.  During the beginning of the second fast mile I watched a guy fly by me, and decided to try to keep up with him (at a distance, didn’t want him to think I was stalking!) and I managed to follow him for almost half a mile at a sub-9 minute mile.

I felt really great about the speedy miles, but very sore by the end of it.  I also feel exhausted now – I’m heading to bed!

I Heart My Garmin

The Garmin has made running so much more fun for me.  It’s all the statistics it displays – I love playing with the numbers.  It definitely pushes me, as I set mini time goals for myself.  I find that I am constantly watching my pace to make sure I’m running fast enough, but not too fast.  I’ve also noticed that I never seem to keep a steady speed.

My goal for today was to run 3 miles, increasing my speed slightly each mile.  I wanted my run to average a 10:20 pace.  I did not increase my speed each mile, but I did average a 10:08 pace.  I probably could have increased each mile if I had just taken it a little more slowly in the beginning.  But I had to walk twice (about 30 seconds each time) during the final mile.  My splits were:

  • Mile 1:  10:18
  • Mile 2:  9:59
  • Mile 3:  10:07
  • Total:  30:24

As I got closer to the end, I really wanted to do the 3 miles in 30 minutes, but I just didn’t have it in me.  However, even walking for about a minute total, my final mile was better than my first.  Maybe walk breaks aren’t so bad!  I wasn’t as sore today either.

6 Miles

It’s been awhile!  I have neglected this blog for too long.  I actually considered starting a new blog on a new topic, but Pat encouraged me to come back to this one, after all the work I put into it earlier this year.  So, here I am!

I spent the months of March – October running on our treadmill.  It’s very convenient, but not very exciting.  I wasn’t very consistent with my running, and never made it more than 2 or 3 miles at a time.  So I decided to try running outside. There are a number of reasons excuses for why I have not really run outside up to this point.  Such as a fear of it being harder, not knowing my time & distance, weather, and safety concerns in running by myself.  But when Pat agreed to go to Memorial Park with me 2 weeks ago, I decided it was time to give outside running a try.

And I LOVED it.  There are so many people on the 2.93 mile track, the people watching alone makes the time fly by.  It felt good to feel like I was really moving, and I found that I didn’t get tired so quickly (probably because I always push the speed on the treadmill, out of boredom).

Last Saturday I ran/walked about 5.85 miles in 1 hour, 9 minutes.  It felt great, and I felt proud of myself for completing that distance, even if I had to walk a lot of it.  I went home and ordered a Garmin Forerunner 305.  I figured that if I bought an expensive toy, then I would have to use it.

I continued to push myself with shorter runs this past week, knowing that my GPS would be delivered on Friday, and I would want to test it out with a long run on Saturday.  Last night was a late night, but I still made it out of bed by 7:30 AM (thanks to Bailey, who is always an early riser), and I made it to the park by 9:30 AM.

I ran six miles this morning, without stopping once.  In the rain.  This is the farthest distance I have run in my entire life, and it felt great!  I took it slow and easy – my goal pace was 11 min miles.  And as the miles flew by, I knew I could make it the entire six.  I ran 6 miles in 1:04:15. My average pace was 10:43.   I don’t have the split between miles because I still haven’t figured out that feature on the Garmin.  Does anyone have suggestions??

I didn’t feel winded at all until I hit 2.5 miles (this usually happens during the first mile).  I actually felt really strong, up until 4.5 miles.  That’s when the rain really picked up, my knee began to hurt and I found myself struggling to keep my 11:00 pace.  I tried to pick other people on the trail to keep up with, to encourage myself to keep going.  And once I saw that I hit 5 miles, and then 5.5 miles, I really pushed it to race to the end.

My left knee was killing me by the end, but it felt 10 times better as soon as I stopped running.  I stretched a little before leaving the park, but felt self-conscious and decided to head home to finish stretching.  This was probably a bad idea because my calves have continued to hurt all day.

I’ve decided that I will register for a race this weekend.  According to this article, it’s the best way to stay motivated to continue running.  I will also put together a training plan for whichever distance I end up choosing.

Any tips for a runner recently converted from the treadmill?