Travel

19.52

by Shawnda on January 18, 2014

in Running,Travel

That’s the number of miles I ran through Epcot, Magic Kingdom, the Speedway, Animal Kingdom, and Wide World of Sports.

It wasn’t 26.2. But you know what? I wasn’t even going to run it at all. I’d convinced myself that it was pointless to even try – I’d run 3 times in the previous 8 weeks. And my foot hurt just as badly after that second post-boot test run as it had when my ortho stuck me in the boot in the first place. The only thing that the rest period did for me was put me behind schedule.

But I’d run as far as 15 miles before I went on the IR/non-football-injury list back in October. So the day before the marathon, I decided that I would go ahead and set my alarm for an unGodly 3am wake up call. If nothing else, it would be fun to make it to the 6-mile mark and run through The Castle.

My prize wasn’t waiting on me at the finish line, it was hearing Landry squeal “faster! faster!!!” while Jason tried to make us puke on the tea cups (that girl has a stomach of iron, just like her mom :)). Or “higher, momma, higher!” as we rode Dumbo or the Magic “Couches” (Carpets) of Aladdin.

Frankly, my prize was the trip itself and all the magical moments that come with seeing your 3 year old light-up like Christmas morning, all week long. (Ask her about getting to ride in a tea cup with Alice from Wonderland!)

And Lapu Lapus from ‘Ohana.

So when I crossed the 13.1 mile line, I high-fived myself. Literally. Half a marathon down, another half to go. I was certain I had it in the bag. I was moving pretty quickly, the bottom half of my body was holding up surprisingly well, and I had just sang a Rains in Africa chorus duet with a dude in a kilt (that was not. awkward. at. all).

And then it was all over. I took a quick potty break and Oh shit I can’t get up.

My legs were done. DONE. The muscles in my legs had tightened up and I was trapped inside that disgusting blue rectangle of hell. And all because evolution couldn’t come up with a better solution than that whole pee-sitting-down thing. I mean, really. Having to limp by all those lucky bastards who ran almost to the tree line to pee standing up was a little insulting.

I did manage to get up (because that could have been bad) and out and then spent the next 5 miles trying to get my legs moving at more than a 3mph pace. The pain in my hips, excruciating. My feet were burning. Stabbing pain from inside both ankle joints. And whatever usually holds my right knee together was probably back in Animal Kingdom having an African Margarita.

Around mile 18.5, I got a second wind for about 5 minutes and when the pacers passed me, they shouted: “You have two minutes to get to the bridge or they’re going to pick you up!”

*** that. Let ‘em pick me up. I need a beer. (And a beer I had… followed by a 6-glasses-of-wine chaser.) (God, I love Epcot.) (It does seem pretty lame on the outside. Totally worth burning a park day, though.)



And picked me up they did. At mile 19.52. I was the happiest person on a bus full of sad people. “Failing” had never felt so good.

I made it a personal best 19.52 miles. And set a half marathon pace PR. Not too shabby for someone who hadn’t run more than 4 miles at once since late September.

6 days later, everything is back to normal. Even my right knee has decided it belongs on a human, not a flamingo.

I’d completely forgotten how addicting running is. My foot is getting a couple weeks of full rest and then we’re going to be back on the road again, training for the next half marathon. I seriously cannot wait. I need to wait a few months before suggesting to Jason that we go back for the Dopey Challenge next year (that’s a 5K, 10K, half, and full over 4 days). At this point, he might divorce me. Or worse – make me go get a real job :)

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by Shawnda on November 22, 2012

in Texas,Travel

At the last minute, we changed our Thanksgiving plans and went home. My home.

My hometown is a modest, quiet little dot on the map north of the big city. The room I had decorated in Wildcat purple & white my senior year is now a sewing room. Mom spends the days of her retirement, when her arthritis allows, stitching lace trimming onto Victorian-era dresses and taking care of my dad. My dad spends his days annoying the every loving crap out of my mom.

Not much has changed in 14 years.

Except the arthritis. And the surgeries and heart attacks and weekly trips to the various specialists. All the things that happen when you get older and so caught up in the day-to-day churn that you forget that the people around you get older, too.

But I’m thankful for another day with the people who drove me crazy in high school. The ones that couldn’t even entertain the idea that the pack of empty wine cooler bottles belonged to me. (Sweet underage baby Jesus, were those things terrible.) The ones that couldn’t see that the broken piece of siding on the house outside my bedroom window was actually the perfect height for a foot-hold.

And I’m thankful for a baby brother that shook some pretty dramatic, troubled teenage years and is now responsible for a family of his own. For the record, he didn’t throw a hissy fit when his beloved broccoli & rice casserole was replaced by a fancier, less-processed version. (He saved the hissy fit for when I handed him a beer that wasn’t Bud Light. Or Miller Light. Or whatever else he usually buys from the gas station.)

And I’m thankful for a partner-in-crime who taught me how to use a camera and would burn a sick day at the drop of a hat to play Halo with me.

And I’m thankful for the little punk with the shiny blonde hair who’s obsessed with dinosaurs, and lizards, and gross bugs. I just wish she’d inherited her father’s attitude instead of mine. And her father’s patience. And her father’s – SERIOUSLY?! BUGS AND LIZARDS?!

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Texas Beer Festival

We met up with my friend Erica and her husband downtown to celebrate all things Texas craft beer (read: to drink beer outside on a beautiful day) at Texas Beer Festival a couple of weekends ago. Dozens of craft brews, many of them from Texas – every style for every taste, from the easy-to-drink “intro” Alamo Golden Ale that my Bud Light-drinkin’ baby brother would actually drink to a wildy fragrant Chai Porter that Erica and I decided would make a killer cupcake. And frosting! But, you know, maybe just not… beer :P

Texas Beer Festival

My husband seemed solidly unconvinced on the “cupcake + beer = successful bakery” business model.

Clearly, his glass was still half full.

Texas Beer Festival

If you’ve been around here for more than 5 minutes, you probably know that Jason and I are hobbyist craft brewers. We like to drink beer. We like to make beer. And we love to drink the beer that we’ve made.

Texas Beer Festival

Our latest project? I call her “Ruby Moon.” She’s a Belgian-style wit beer (the same style as Blue Moon, hence the awesomely creative name) that we infused with the zest and juice of Texas ruby red grapefruit.

Beer and ruby red grapefruit. They actually were kind of meant to be.

Texas Beer Festival

Our origins in craft brewing were very simple. We bottled our first wine the year before and wanted to do something a little different. Jason printed the description of a beer that he really liked from a brewery’s website, handed that piece of paper to the guy at our wine supply store, and 15 minutes later we had everything we needed to make beer. At home!

Jason’s favorite brew was our first, an agave wheat beer. My favorite brew is our latest, the Ruby. And the good ones in between: a Blue Moon knock-off, a Texas-style bock (Shawndabock!), and a honey wheat. But J loves his Agave Wheat. And I’m going to be hard pressed to find one I love as much as the Ruby.

And that’s coming from a margarita girl :)

Texas Beer Festival

Two things came out of this weekend: renewed interest for pushing the envelope on our next brew and 2) a wicked tan line. It’s a good thing that I bought 5 of those summery kimono dresses from Target. Because after forgetting to put sunblock on my chest, they’ll be the only things I wear for a while.

Texas Beer Festival

Interested in brewing your own beer? If you’re in the Houston area, DeFalco’s is our go-to for beer- and wine-making supplies. They were so nice and super helpful to the two dorks who walked in to their store 6 years ago and declared that we wanted to make wine. And their grain room smells like heaven. If heaven were a beer supply store.

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How perfectly gorgeous is your spring weather right now? We’re right smack in the middle of a stretch of storybook-beautiful weather in southeast Texas.

It’s actually like this every year. But after a short stretch of annoyingly cool weather (“winter”), you learn to really appreciate the rest of the year. Most of it, anyway.

Growing up in the great state of Texas, we didn’t take many out-of-state vacations. We didn’t have to. Living just north of one the largest metro areas in the US, we had our choice of day trips and weekend outings, from a trip to Austin and the Hill Country, where the wildflowers are plentiful and smoked brisket is king, to a trip to Galveston for a day of fun in the sun at the beach. We had an array of options that had to satisfy two important criteria:

1) It must be fun for the whole family.
2) It must include delicious food.

Today, #2 is really #1. And also leads to #1.

Look any direction in Southeast Texas and you can get just about any food from any culture; our blend of Tex-Mex, which is heavily influenced from the South, fades into influences of Czech and German as you head west. You will see more Cajun influence as you head east, and there’s a plethora of Asian and Asian-fusion cuisines to be found everywhere in the city. But this trip would take us down to the coast, to one of the other perks of being in Southeast Texas: access to some of the freshest seafood anywhere.

A couple of weekends ago, we packed up our little family for a day trip. We were driving down I-10, windows down, dreaming of a lunch of fresh Gulf oysters, the smell of salt and sunscreen on the breeze, with skies clear enough to help banish the lovely shade of “winter white” we’ll sport until June. And then it will fade to “aren’t you a little old for a sunburn?” red.

Just the wind in our hair and … Jingle Bells blaring on the radio (don’t ask), and a gigantic pile of stuff in the back seat.

There’s a direct correlation between how tall a person is and the amount of luggage they require on a trip. At 6’2″, my husband had a wallet and his Baylor ball cap. At 3’2″, our toddler had a stuffed-to-the-gills duffel bag and a soft-sided cooler. Because when she yells “food!” out of the blue and completely (of course) off-schedule, you better be able to quickly produce some yogurt and string cheese.

An hour away sits the Kemah Boardwalk, an entertainment center complete with several restaurants, games, amusement rides and an aquarium. At the boardwalk you can eat ceviche, ride a sky-high ferris wheel and break your “15+ years without a cherry ICEE” streak.

We enjoyed every minute, from lunch at the Flying Dutchman, where we all shared several fresh gulf seafood favorites, to feeding the fish and ducks, to watching sailboats and speedboats drift by as they left the nearby marina, to the double-decker carousel and a “see for miles in every direction” spinning observation tower.

This is where I tell you that I have a small fear of heights. And if you know me, by “small” I mean huge. I white-knuckled my camera until we were back within 10 feet of the ground. This is also where I could tell you about the time I was seven and was so paralyzed with fear that three adults had to pry me from an upper staircase on the Battleship Texas. But I won’t.

I couldn’t find a single souvenir T-Shirt that read: I Rode the Tower at Kemah and Didn’t Die. But for the record, I did. And I didn’t.

We splurged at lunch, sharing an order of baked oysters topped with grilled peppers and crispy bacon, grilled fish topped with an indulgent crab-butter-heavy-cream-more butter-more-cream sauce, and the table favorite: fresh ceviche served on a bed of crunchy coleslaw next to a pile of cool avocado slices, lime wedges and a mountain of tortilla chips.

After a day of fun in the sun, walking the boardwalk, watching the little one go ’round the carousel for the 14th time (unlimited-ride day-passes — get one if you, too, have a carousel-obsessed child), feeding the ducks (but not the birds!), and riding the rollercoaster, we cooled off with the most refreshing, delicious cherry ICEE that has ever been sold. EVER.

It was only 85 degrees out but it was gone in 12 seconds flat.

After a stop off at the small shops for some Boardwalk Fudge (don’t pass on the caramel-turtle!), we headed home, with our partied-out toddler snoring in the backseat and us discussing how delivery pizza for dinner was both one of the most disappointing and the greatest ideas ever.

$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

Travel Texas and BlogHer are sponsoring a great giveaway to one lucky reader. Please leave a comment telling me where you’d like to visit in Texas. You can request a free Texas Travel Guide from the TravelTex.com website where you can get lots of great ideas!

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