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Summertime

Jesus I am in love with my city. I really love living here in Austin. I’m so happy with all there is to experience here, there is no way I’ll ever see and do it all. Summer here is fantastic, it gets hot but we can still get out and enjoy our surroundings. Refreshing after spending years in a scorching desert.

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Onion Creek Wildflowers

 

 

I have been trying new things – one night I went longboarding with an old friend. I loved it! (I’m the goober in the center) Planning to meet up and do it again this weekend. She has a rad blog as well: The Sartorial Skater.

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Longboarding

 

As usual, Matt and I have continued exploring the city and parks. Everything I’m posting is within just a few miles from my home.

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Barton Creek Greenbelt

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Thistles Growing at Circle C Park

Lady Bird Lake, Austin TX

Lady Bird Lake, Austin TX

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Barton Creek Greenbelt

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Arbor Trails

I am very happy that Matt has decided to try running with me as well. He has never been too much of a fan of it but recently he had a change of heart and we are running together once a week. We are alternating running and walking and he is already running more than he is walking on 4-5 mile loops. So proud! It took me so much longer to get to where he is, it’s awesome. And it’s really nice to have a running buddy again.

Matt and I after a run

Matt and I after a run

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Springtime

One of the many reasons I was excited about moving to Texas from Arizona is the change of seasons in hill country. Don’t get me wrong, AZ runs through the seasons too, but the summer lasts most of the year. Winter typically doesn’t get very cold. Spring in the desert is glorious but very short lived. It always leaves me wanting more and cursing the 100+ degrees that seem to appear as soon as I would get used to mid seventies. It frustrated me year after year while I lived there.

Springtime in TX has not disappointed. We’ve had some warmer days (high 80s) and then cool days down in the 60s. AND RAIN! This weekend we had badass thunderstorms roll through; all the rain makes everything bloom. I fall more in love with living here every week.

I’m also glad how willing people are to come visit! We’ve been here less than 2 months and already had visitors from AZ, plus all of my immediate family in Houston has come by to spend weekends in Austin. It is not hard to convince people to spend time here, this city has such a heartbeat. There is so much happening here all the time! Lot’s of great craft breweries, great venues to see live music, and amazing food trucks and restaurants. One thing I also dig about the food here is that so many places really like to rely on what is grown and found locally. Fresh local grub – right up my alley. And going back to the weather: by this point of the year in AZ many adventures would be harder to plan as it’s already getting close to triple digits some days there. I wanted to live somewhere that I could enjoy the outdoors for a greater portion of the year. I don’t want to feel trapped by my environment. It’s just like I wouldn’t want to live someplace that snowed all winter long.

I’m so happy! I’ve already discovered so many spots I love to explore. I’ve fallen in love with a couple of the local independent radio stations and discovered tons of new music, rekindling that somewhat forgotten passion. I really missed going to little rad shows here, I hated most of the venues in Arizona and I adore the fantastic locations here.

I need to get more hardcore with my fitness though. I’m not doing bad… I still run 3 times a week. I’m active at work. But there is WAY better food options here and that’s my achilles heel. I also drink more beer than I used to. As a result, my usual 125 is now up above 130. Usually about 132, 133. Now, I’m not stupid. I know that isn’t a huge deal and I can drop it. But even though I know that, I’ve definitely been beating myself up about it. I don’t look like I’ve gained much weight, but it is more obvious to me when I’m naked or in a bathing suit. I’m trying to find a good balance because I want to go out and have a good time here without worrying myself over every little thing. But at the same time I’ve worked so hard to get where I am with my fitness journey. It’s really driven home that idea that we are always a work in progress. I’ve found myself in a different phase now. It’s even more confusing when there are women at work who tell me how skinny I am, how “lucky” I am to be so teeny, or how they wish they could fit into my clothes, etc. I’m not a fan of being called skinny because it always sounds sickly to me but whatever – I know it comes from a nice place with these ladies. But as soon as these conversations begin, I want to tell them how fat I feel, how they don’t know how much I want to be about 7-10 pounds less. But of course there is no way I can say that, so instead I have this bizarre little freak out in my head and muster up a ‘thank you’ or find a way to change the subject. I know I am still healthy and other than a few extra pounds I really do look good, and I am in great shape. I just know that previously I got further than this, so the little backslide feels gigantic. I thought about using MyFitnessPal again but I’ve decided no. I know what I need to do, and I know how to do it. If I can’t get things back towards my 125 goal after some time then maybe I’ll consider it, but not yet. I want more freedom.

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Settling in

Still getting settled here in Texas. I’m learning my surroundings better every week and finding great spots to enjoy in Austin. After being here a month, I found a job that I’m really enjoying so far. Still waiting on our house to sell in Arizona. We had a buyer, but last night we got news that there is a problem with his lender so it looks like we might have to start over with a new buyer. Man, what a pain in the ass. I just want that part to be done, it’s a scary dark financial cloud hanging over our head. I guess I shouldn’t worry too much; the weekend we listed we had an open house, by that Monday we had 7 offers to choose from. From here the next step is to reach out and see if any of them are still interested. If not, another open house should bring plenty of potential again! I just hate this feeling, like this long cord that is forcing me to stay attached and keeping me from completely getting comfortable here. It stresses me out.

I’m already getting very comfortable at my new job after a week. It’s great because it has me on my feet for most of the time I’m there. Running errands, organizing, working on projects, even dashing between two buildings with a few flights of stairs between them. It’s nice having a job that helps keep me active! I can’t sit still for very long at work, it makes the day drag. Days fly by when you keep moving, I love that. It’s only part time at this point, although I’m already being asked to stay longer some days here and there. I am hoping to get closer to full time hours before too long. One benefit to having shorter work days is that I’m easily running 3 times a week during the week (as well as getting out and hiking/exploring with Matt on the weekends). I’m back on track with my running, which makes me happy. Matt is still getting used to his life working full time in an office. It’s tough, as he primarily worked from home before. I hope he feels more comfortable in his routine soon. He’s amazing though, I have no doubt he will figure out how to juggle this new schedule.

Per usual, photos of some of my outdoor adventures:

A heart cactus found at Onion Creek

A heart cactus found at Onion Creek

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Barton Creek Greenbelt

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Barton Creek Greenbelt

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Barton Creek Greenbelt

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The view from Mt. Bonnell

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Garrison Park

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Arbor Trails

 

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Hello, beautiful

I am all settled in. The move to Austin was successful. It was a frightening move; there was a major freeze that overtook the state of Texas which just so happened to coincide with us driving across it in a giant U-Haul. But we made it! The apartment is great, we are about 95% unpacked, and Matt is doing well at his new role at work. The dogs seem to be settling in, and now that we are getting sunnier days we have finally been able to do a little exploring. Boy, we picked the worst stretch of weather to relocate. It has been unusually rainy and cold ever since we got here.

I have been getting runs in when I can – I am a total wuss when it comes to trying to run in cold + rain, so if that combo occurred I was not having it. But I’ve run at Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) a few times now, plus I’ve explored a few other parks and trails. I am definitely not in a routine yet, and I feel less in shape than I’m used to because of the sporadic nature of my ability to get out there. But I guess I’ve at least still managed at least 2-3 runs per week, so it’s not like I’ve fallen off the wagon completely.

I’m loving it here, I’ve already been able to make a quick trip to Houston to visit family and my brother and sister have also come here for a visit. It’s so great to have the people you love nearby. Not being close to them for so many years was rough. The surreal feeling of living here is still very strong, I’m wondering when it will fully sink in.

Per usual, I have taken lots of photos of my new surroundings. Most of these were taken while out running…

Tree in Zilker Park

Tree in Zilker Park

Bridge over Lady Bird Lake

Bridge over Lady Bird Lake

The State Capitol

The State Capitol

Along Lady Bird Lake/Zilker Park

Along Lady Bird Lake/Zilker Park

Onion Creek Greenbelt

Onion Creek Greenbelt

Longview Park Trails

Longview Park Trails

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Goodbye desert

I am really looking forward to the environment we will find in Texas; green trees, grass, and lush plant life. But there is one aspect of nature I will completely miss from Arizona: desert views and rocky mountains. I’ve had a love affair with South Mountain over these last few years and saying goodbye has been difficult. This weekend I went out with a friend to run it one last time. My husband and I want to cram in one more hike if we have time once we’ve wrapped up the last of our packing. But this pristine playground will no longer be a few miles from our front door.

I took a few photos during yesterday’s run, it was a perfect cloudy morning.

Hidden Valley, South Mountain

Hidden Valley, South Mountain

Early morning at South Mountain

Early morning at South Mountain

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The desert has been really good to me. It helped to inspire me to wake up at the crack of dawn for over a year now to get out there and run it. It will be missed, but I am excited to explore new terrain in Austin and elsewhere in Texas!

Just a few days left, and we are out of here. SURREAL.

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The stars at night, are big and bright

Deep in the HEART of TEXAS!

Pee-Wee Texas

 

It’s finally happening! Matt got a promotion/transfer with his company and we are moving to Austin, TX. This has been our goal for what seems like forever. It feels unreal that it’s actually happening. Before I moved to Arizona I used to live in Austin. I miss living there. Matt fell in love with it years ago when we first visited the city together. We knew it was the place for us. There’s a handful of cities we’ve talked about over the years that we thought would be a fun, interesting location to live. Unsurprisingly most of the places we like have a much higher cost of living than Arizona which would make it difficult to consider (thankfully, Texas is pretty similar). Being in Austin also means I get to be near my family, who live in Houston (I am SO HAPPY I will just be a car ride from them!!!). The company Matt works for has 2 locations that are in line for his career goals: Austin or Phoenix. We knew we didn’t want to stay here forever, so when this spot became available in Austin it was was a dream come true!

I will miss my desert. I will especially miss South Mountain, my favorite place to trail run. But there are miles and miles of greenbelt and trails where we are going, which just means a different environment in which to hike and run. I know I will always miss SoMo but I am not worried about being able to find new outdoor venues to fall in love with. I am not going to miss the AZ summers, they’re brutal. For several months it’s so damn hot the temperature barely drops even after the sun has set. Texas summers are hot too, don’t get me wrong, but there are cooler mornings and evenings that make it much easier to handle even the hottest days. This has become a bigger concern ever since I’ve been running. This last summer in Arizona was more torturous than previous ones because I knew the only chance I had at running for practically 5 months straight was waking up as the sun rose and being done before it was too high in the sky, to avoid possible heat stroke. There was such a short window to get a run in. But those desert views – I will definitely miss those views.

I am very excited to discover new spots! I already know I love Lady Bird Lake (just called Town Lake back when I lived there), I used to love taking my dog for walks around it. Hell, that was even one of the places I made a few failed attempts at running years ago. I also used to spend time wandering through parts of the greenbelt around Austin, but looking at maps I see there is still so much of it I have yet to see. Austin just has so much for outdoorsy types like myself and my husband, I am ready to explore. If you are familiar with Austin and have any suggestions for great places to run/hike/bike, feel free to add it to the comments!

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Progress – September to November 2014

I haven’t done an official “progress” post in months. Not much to report, other than I’m really dialed in with maintaining. Still hitting right in the 120-125 range I aim for.

Finally, cool weather! Hitting up my normal weekly runs, as well as mixing in some hiking and biking as well.

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South Mountain, gloomy day

Running South Mountain

Running South Mountain

Screen grab by Matt of me running South Mountain

Screen grab by Matt of me running South Mountain

I’ve been running at my work’s gym during the week a lot but now that the temperature dropped I think I will be able to just go running outdoors after work. Finally! I mean, it’s November already for Christ’s sake. It’s about damn time I can go running in the afternoon without roasting alive.

Hiked/ran a mountain new to me today. North Mountain.

North Mountain, view of Phoenix

North Mountain, view of Phoenix

It was cool, pretty steep but a little less intense than Camelback. Hiked up and ran down, nice little workout!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was able to model for a local photographer, as she was looking for tattooed people to shoot. I got the photos back, and I really love them!

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Photo by Araya Photography

Thrilled. (If you are local to AZ and want a great portrait photographer, check out Araya Photography.) I don’t know how to say this without sounding a little lame: I feel pretty. It’s really fun to see photos of myself that look so nice! When I saw the first one, my mind was blown. I didn’t actually recognize myself at first. I recognized the tattoos before my own face. Weird, right?

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Hiking and climbing

I enjoy trying new things, I want to avoid total repetition (and a potential rut). I have been hiking, running, and biking for awhile now. I absolutely love all three,  but I was open to trying something a little different. A friend invited me to go check out Echo Canyon at Camelback Mountain with her. This still falls under the category of hiking but it has A LOT more climbing involved. The climb is nearly 1300 feet, whereas my normal steep incline at South Mountain is just over 800 feet. Camelback has a much more intense incline as well, it’s not switchbacks but instead steep boulders throughout most of it.

It was a beautiful journey throughout. Strenuous. And to be honest, parts of it were a little scary to me. One part of the trail definitely gave me a feeling of vertigo.

Here are a couple of pictures from that first trip. This is the view looking up at the mountain, near the parking lot:

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon, Arizona

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon – looking up

This photo was taken of me at the top of the climb:

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I was thrilled by it. The next day, my body was sore all over! I used so many muscles to pull and steady my balance, scrambling up and down giant rocks. I felt tender not only in my legs but my arms and sides. I knew that this provided a completely different type of cardio than I was used to. After one trip I really wanted to try it again. I told my husband about the hike and he was interested. My best friend hooked up to do some hiking so the three of us hit it again today.

I wanted to try to get a photo to try and provide a little perspective of how steep some of the climb is:

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon trail

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon – looking down

I don’t think pictures do this place justice.

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon - Sunrise

Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon – sunrise

Gorgeous.

 

I’ve been continuing with long trail runs every Sunday at too. During the last two my running buddies and I have been doing a 7.3 mile at South Mountain by going to “the waterfall” and back. There is no actual water, instead there’s a steep section of boulders – more famous with mountain bikers.

I took a photo from a ledge on it this weekend:

View from "The Waterfall" National Trail, South Mountain

View from “The Waterfall” National Trail, South Mountain

Plus an artsy photo I took and played with, just for the fun of it:

National Trail, South Mountain

National Trail, South Mountain

Another exquisite Arizona sunrise, taken at South Mountain:

National Trail, South Mountain - sunrise

National Trail, South Mountain – sunrise

I am completely addicted to beautiful sunrises.

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Alright already, summer

Enough! I’m ready for fall! Living in the Arizona desert is rough. Every summer is torture. You wake up and look out at what appears to be a beautiful sunny day only to feel the burn akin to opening an oven when you step outside.

Now that we are about halfway through September the extreme heat is winding down some. That’s good news since my absolute favorite way to exercise is to get outside and explore with running, hiking, and biking. My rad husband Matt took some very flattering photos of me last weekend on a hike (Fat Man’s Pass, South Mountain, AZ):

Fat Man's Pass, South Mountain, AZFat Man's Pass, South Mountain, AZFat Man's Pass, South Mountain, AZ

I’m going to level with you: I’m sharing these purely for vanity reasons. I’m feeling really good about how fit my body is and I love these photos! I’m not ashamed to admit it, I work hard and I know this is the best shape my body has ever been in. I’m proud of myself.

I’ve decided after a lot of careful consideration that when my gym membership expires this month I won’t be renewing it. I get bored at the gym. If need be I can always join again, but I want to focus on outdoor activities now even if it means waking up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat. I’ve been lucky enough to befriend active folks and be invited with various  groups to go running; plus there is my eternal partner in crime Matt who is always down to hike and bike. Big decision for me and my routine, but it makes sense. My work also just put in a gym at their new building too, so I figure I can always use that if there is a crap weather day.

Plan in place. Less indoors… adventure it is.

 

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5k

My first step in the goal to do a half marathon has been officially checked off the list today. I ran my first 5k this morning and I did pretty well!

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My goal was to try to get it done in 30 minutes. I practically nailed it, got it in 30 minutes, 8 seconds! Quite pleased with myself.

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I went solo. It was a little strange to not have any familiar faces there with me. My husband was out out of town on a business trip (he wasn’t told about it until after I signed up) and my friend who was planning to join me got an opportunity to work (very late) the night before and couldn’t run so early. I was a little nervous; I didn’t have the social buffer of someone else to chat with and figure out what to do. But I went, and I did it. Ultimately this was something I did for myself so doing it alone kind of gave me an added sense of accomplishment. Even still, I know that the 5k was not a huge hurdle for me at this point. I’m already planning to sign up for a 10k when an interesting one crosses my path. By next year, I am planning to tackle the half marathon. I feel pretty confident that I am progressing well and will be ready.