When in Texas…

So one of the perks of being a teacher is that I get decent chunks of time off work throughout the year.  Over the Easter break, I went back home to Houston to visit family and friends, and meet my new niece, Eleanor, who was born last November.  Though generally not a ‘baby person’, I have to say my niece is one of the cutest babies I have met to date.  Although she doesn’t talk or draw or do gymnastics or anything tremendously exciting, we invented a new, appropriately Texan game called ‘Bucking Baby’.  I am the current champion, having managed to balance the shoe on her head for over 8 seconds.

10995920_10155337946975234_6998126110431081380_nI also found myself unable to resist tacky impulse purchases for her:

10985451_10155353052130234_7988303610724729197_nBut playing with drooling babies was not the only thing I did in Houston.  In honour of my visit, they moved the annual Art Car Parade to the only full weekend I was around for, and I met up with my friend Zareen and her colourful boyfriend to check out some of the sights.  Below are a few of my favourites.

The Houston Skyline + Houston Skyline:

10390442_10155343517365234_3335181581025812248_nThe Trojan Horse:

11129914_10155343518930234_244399275164916609_nThe Peacock:

11130087_10155343518825234_3747716390157724230_nAnd this thing:

11147089_10155343519095234_4276915191502596658_nObviously, a visit to Texas would not be complete without shooting stuff, so my brother took me and my dad to a gun range, where I humiliated my brother with my skill and accuracy, and even managed not to accidentally shoot myself in the elbow.

10560548_10155327641925234_1263789864740640174_oThere was also a lot of looking back through old photos/high-school yearbooks, and my mom found a box of my stuff in the attic for me to look through.

IMG_20150426_210743

Me and my friend Jen jumping off a wall.  Somewhere in Indonesia.  Sometime in the 90s.

Me and my friend Jen jumping off a wall. Somewhere in Indonesia. Sometime in the 90s.

One of my favourite finds was some of my old swimming medals/ribbons, including these bad boys:

11074363_10155386500270234_19202535711089105_nI also managed to get a temporary gym membership at my dad’s 24 Hour Fitness where I took advantage of the free classes like Body Pump and CX Worx.  I even tried out Grit Plyo and Grit Cardio for the first time, and can safely say I am a convert.  There was a 25 meter pool as well, but sadly I only managed a single 3km swim as the flight over seemed to have done something to my back that made tumble turns (and a lot of exercises) pretty painful.  This is not where the bad news ends.

The day after I arrived in Houston I was up at about 4:30am.  Thanks, jet-lag.  As I traditionally do during my visits home, I crept downstairs, had some breakfast, and did some reading until the sun started to rise.  I dusted off my Garmin and headed outside for the 3 mile track around Rice University.  My plan was to continue the trend of adding 1 mile/10 minutes to my longest run, which meant 9 miles was my goal.  That would be 3 laps of Rice.

The first mile was a sub 9 minute mile.  Not outstanding by any means, but considering I have been doing all of my recovery runs at a 10:00/mile pace, this was dumb.  But being back home, feeling the warm morning air on my skin, running outside like a normal person – it felt good.  So good that the nagging voice in my head screaming at me to cool the jets was easily ignored.

The first lap went by without incident.  The second lap was a breeze as well.  Lap 3 started well.  In fact, after about 7 miles I was starting to talk myself into going for 10 miles instead of 9.  I had visions of posting sunny selfies to Facebook triumphantly exclaiming that I finally hit my first double digit run since my injury.  I could already feel the warm afterglow of my definitive comeback run, on home soil.  I was killing it!  Until I wasn’t.

8.5 miles arrived and I began to feel that familiar twinge that was the harbinger of disappointment and frustration.  I trudged on to 9 miles, knowing that I was probably only making things worse by continuing, but there’s just that desperate need to hit that target sometimes, and this was one of them.  As soon as my watch beeped, I walked and stretched, before gingerly walking home, deflated.  9 miles at a 9:09/mile pace.  Dumb.

Throughout the next week and a half, I focused on the elliptical, weights, HIIT classes, and core work.  I tried a 10 minute stint on the treadmill to make sure I could manage a mile, and I could.  The morning of my flight home, I thought screw it.  I laced up my trainers, strapped on my Garmin, and set out aiming for 10 miles.  Maybe the last run was a blip.  Maybe if I control my pace a little more, I’ll fare better.  The first 5k felt great, but by 3.5 miles the twinge had returned.  Even stopping twice to stretch/massage, I had to pack it in before 4.5 miles, and trudge home again.

I tried to keep it together on the way back, but….

Since returning to Scotland, I have managed a 4.5 mile run on the treadmill with no consequence, and I plan to try 5.5 this week.  Hopefully I haven’t set myself back to where I was in January, but only time will tell.  My back is also still tweaked, so I haven’t managed any swimming, though I’m planning on hitting up the 90 minute endurance session tomorrow night after spin.

So I guess you could say, especially after a weekend of seeing a lot of my friends achieve their running goals at the London marathon and the Highland Fling, to name but a couple of this weekend’s events, that I am not in a positive place when it comes to running.  I have tried hard over the last 7 months to occupy myself with other activities, but that’s a lot easier to do when you can see yourself making progress.  A lot of people told me to expect setbacks, but I’m just worried that it’ll be another 2 months before I get anywhere near double digits, meaning Berlin is now a fading dream.  Which is clearly distressing.

In an attempt to remain upbeat, I have (finally) booked onto a spin instructor course next weekend.  I have also been trying out more workouts at home that focus on strengthening glutes/hip flexors which will hopefully help with my recovery as well.  I can’t say this move will feature heavily (or at all), but I couldn’t resist posting this spiffing workout gif.

I am also trying to throw myself into activities that will keep me from wallowing in self-pity at home, like going to this year’s school prom with some of the other teachers.  Although it’s pretty depressing that I looked younger at a prom I attended as a teacher than one I attended thirteen years ago as a teenager, if my Benjamin Button thing keeps up I’ll be a smokin’ 80 year old, so watch out Helen Mirren.  I’m kidding, Helen Mirren is an untouchable babe.

(Left) Prom 2002, (Right) Prom 2015

(Left) Prom 2002, (Right) Prom 2015

Injured runners of the world, unite.  And give me ideas of what I could fill my free time with that don’t include drinking alone during the day.