Two years ago I when I bought my house I had no idea what I was in for.  Sure, I understood the facts that surround a mortgage, I comprehended the idea that a maintenance man would not be coming around to replace my light bulbs, and I accepted that I would the the sole yard manicurist, however there was so much I didn’t realize I’d get out of my new curb.

I live in East Austin.  It is the new “up and coming” neighborhood in the area and has attracted many new faces.  There are neighborhoods in which the houses have been sold, the roofs have been replaced by extra stories, and the side walls now contain funky colors and hip shiny new trim.  The old residence have moved out of their structures that have been passed through generations and relocated to other areas.  I’m a bit different.  I love my house and I love my neighborhood.  I live there not because I wanted to be in the new cool zip code but because I wanted to buy a house and, though I am smart with my money and could have actually been approved for much, much more, I was realistic with what house I could afford.

I moved in July 2008 and have been so happy in my little house and on my street.  I live on a beautiful street where many are related and all look out for each other- including the new little white girl.  I did get some questions from one neighbor when I first came about when my husband or boyfriend was going to show up and received a confused look when I explained that I bought the house by myself and would be living there by myself also  (I also look much, much younger than I am so I believe that the question was posed as if I was 20 or so). I have the most amazing neighbors and am very happy there.

Driving home from a long day of work lately I am reminded how much I love being in my neighborhood.  The Christmas lights invite me down the streets as I get closer to my door.  It brings such a big smile to my face to see the multitude of colors that lace my neighbor’s houses with no rhyme or reason other than celebrating the season.  A traditional catholic manger scene lit up next to a holiday Mickey Mouse next to an illuminated agave plant- no rules or concerns for systematic matching of lights like in some of the richer neighborhoods of Austin.  Just colorful lights and happiness on each driveway.

I just bought a book that celebrates the unique character of the East side and tells the history of so many of the places which I love to go.  The book is called, “East of I-35: A Photo-Essay” by Rama Turi.  Please take a second to look at the author’s website http://www.tirugallery.com to see more about the book.  It is a great deal, at just over $25, I ordered it a few days ago as another Christmas present to myself.

Another wonderful thing about living on the East side is the food- oh, the food!  My fiancee loves food and we have so much fun trying each and every Tex-Mex and Mexican food restaurant we can find.  The East side is full of little taco trucks, shacks, and places where the food is as close as you can get to sharing it with the cooks at their own home table.  If you are use to spotless floors, ten dollar appetizers plates, and waitstaff who’s Mexican food knowledge is based on a spring break weekend in Cancun, these places are not for you.  Referring to the establishments as a plethora is completely wrong.  A plethora is an overabundance or excess- there is no excess, it is just the right amount.  There is  a whole bunch of very unique places, each serving plates hand crafted with care from a family tradition as if you were their own relative.   You can also stuff your stomach with enchiladas, tacos, or fajitas without pulling much green from your wallet. We have our favorites that we go back to time and time again like Las Dos Mariposas, where we got coffee for two and five breakfast tacos for under $10.  There is the wonderful tortillas of Joe’s Bakery on East 7th, Colombian food brilliance at Casa Colombia, and the multitudes of taco trucks.

The taco trucks are their own special and beautiful jewel of East Austin.  Most places are as fluent in English as I am in Spanish but there is an understanding when it comes to the napolitos, barbacoa, and pollo.  It is all good and tastes slightly different from window to window.  Our recent favorite is the Al Pastor truck a the intersection of Airport and Manor where you can get five al pastor tacos for six dollars but if the truck advertises such offerings as lengua, tripas, and barbacoa, there’s an outstanding chance that it will be good.

Though we try as many as we can, we know that we haven’t even scratched the surface of tacos all over Austin.  For help and advice on this venture, I turn to one of my favorite blogs.  Taco Journalism is a great blog.  The writer has dedicated his taste buds and GI tract to seeking out and exposing the wonders of the taco world of Austin.

The blessing of a good taco truck taco becomes part of who you are and what you begin to crave once you have consumed just a few.   Visiting a taco truck before or after (and sometimes both) a race is common place for us.  When we are out of town, we search out the neighborhoods where we know a taco truck will be and try it out.  On a recent trip to Palo Duro Canyon, our craving was nonnegotiable but on the road to the race, we were not sure where to stop along the highway.  We luckily made a pass through a small town and found the familiar outline of a truck.  I don’t remember where we were but when we hopped out of our truck, our stomachs became much more happy. Below is a picture I snapped as we were waiting for our breakfast to be made.

Taco truck on the way to the panhandle.

On the way to our last Houston races, we stopped early, early in the morning at a little BBQ truck- slamming on the breaks and taking a U-turn soon after we noticed the “Breakfast Tacos” sign.  Freezing and a little bit rainy on the weekend cars coming from Houston had snow on their roofs still, we were excited that this place boasted slow cooked BBQ.  They didnt have corn tortillas (neither of us eat flour) but the cook made our tacos without actual tortillas and put them in a to go box for us.  Brisket breakfast tacos and free coffee were the best way to start our race weekend.  The brisket was so moist and juicy and played well with the fresh scrambled eggs.  As a person who recently left the full vegetarian camp due to a severe soy allergy, I have been mindfully discovering many new dishes.  It is a very wonderful thing when the chef takes such great pride in their product and respects the animal so much for the sacrifice.  This was no different.  The BBQ master was up early that morning and he served us up the brisket himself.  I finally located the name of the place and will save you my awful girl directions.  The place is called Fitties and you can find out more here.

After our Sunday races, that same weekend, we searched the Houston neighborhood near the park for a truck or two.  Luckily we came on a corner with a truck on each corner, all with lines of hungry people.  I’ll be completely honest here, you know it is a good truck when those standing outside have thick accents and dark skin.  In the same way you should never eat at a Chinese restaurant where no native Chinese go to eat, stopping at a taco truck where all patrons are have creamy white skin and drive BMWs, just sets you up for failure and if you are the type who would rather eat at these overly sterile places, you deserve each unseasoned bite.  We decided on one of the trucks, though any of the ones in the vicinity would have been as equally as yummy, and as we began to look over the menu, we saw new words we haven’t read before.  We know the basics of “unusual” meats like lengua and intestines but there were a few selections we’ve never seen before.  We asked one of the other patrons what certain selections were but they didn’t even fully know so I took a picture for  later research.

It may be hard to tell from this picture, but I’ll type and define each of the brilliant selections.  Though I was disappointed that they did not have one of my favorites, Napolitos, which is cactus, we got five five tacos and a dollar a piece for corn- one pollo, one lengua, two pastors, and one buche- which we still didn’t know what the last one was.  It was all good and tasty and held us over for our long drive back to Austin.

Here are the selection translations- but I’m not standing behind them 100% because it is all from internet searches-

Buche – pig esophagus (a bit gamey for my taste however Greg liked it)

Chicharron- pork skins

Longaniza- pork sausage similar to chirizo

Molleja- sweetbreads (didn’t specify from where but mollejas de cuello is from the neck and thymus glands, de corazon is from the heart, de panzo is pancreas)

Pollo- chicken

Suadero- thin cut beef from brisket (breast of cow) with smooth texture rather than a muscle grain.

Bisteck- (also spelled bistec) beef steak

Lengua- tongue of cow

Barbacoa- generally the way the meat is cooked, typical meat used is from the head of cow, lamb, or pork.

Trompo- another name for Al Pastor, means “spinning” after a spinning top, somewhat specific to Houston area

Pastor- (al pastor literally means shepherd’s way, meat carved from a vertical spit, often seasoned with pineapple, onions, cilantro, and lime.

Tripitas- pretty sure that this is the same as tripas which is tripe, aka small intestines

Fajitas- grilled meat, but if you don’t know this, you have a whole lot more to learn

Now if some of these make your stomach question the plate, I beg you to recognize how much care, preparation, and knowledge goes in to cooking the non-typical meats and that it takes a much better cook to make these taste as wonderful as they do.  There is a beauty in what these cooks do and it outshines any four star chef who can put a piece of premium filet mignon on grill then transfer it to a plate with a tiny selection of vegetables.  I have much more respect for these chefs and the fact that this is their food, the food their families have made for years and years, and am honored that they share it with me in each bite I happily take.

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Second semester is over for my Kinesiology master’s program and I finally have a tiny little bit of time to write.  I’m planning on doing a whole post on all the cyclocross madness that I’ve gotten myself in to over these last 3 weeks but that will come.  My time is limited and since my “gear changing” announcement has been questioned and theorized to be much, much different than it actually is, I’ll take this short post to reveal.

The wonderful crew I began my mountain bike racing life with, Team NRC, is no longer together.  At the end of the run, a group of women and I were working to form a premier women’s mountain bike arm of the team.  When the team dissolved, we stuck with the plan and three of our headstong leaders hit the pavement to find a new sponsor.

A local bike store, Bicycle Sport Shop was just as enthusiastic about the opportunity to help us out as we were to get any support they could give us.  Hill and his crew over at BSS offered the team an amazing deal and unbelievable support for our vision.  There will now be a women’s mountain bike team through the shop.  I am very proud to wear the red and black of BSS and represent them as I do what I love.

“We believe that success in women’s mountain bike racing is more than just winning. Success equals growing the sport of mountain biking among women of all ages through grassroots involvement in the community and national race scene. …And winning”

When you’ve trained as best you can and you know your competition has done the same, nothing really matters but your mental strength and your belief.

Florence Griffith Joyner

A fitting Runner’s World “Quote of the Day” considering I turned in my last exercise psychology paper yesterday and am realizing that I’m kind of good at this whole psych thing.

Recharge Your Workout

There’s nothing like a new energy to recharge me and make me want to get in gym, carving the trail, or hitting the road.  Whenever I’m in a workout rut or in the mood where I just cant seem to get up and do it, I have little tricks to get my pumped and hyped.  After a long week of seriously good but hard workouts, early mornings, and rain in the forecast, I really need some extra help getting to the gym for a workout this week.  I havent completely decided if I will do my legs/back today or hold it off and do it tomorrow.  Today could be a well deserved rest day or maybe even a free yoga happy hour at Yoga Vida.

One of the easiest and cheapest ways I have is that I download the newest episode of The FitCast to listen to while I workout.  This is a podcast full of lots of useful info on working out, nutrition, and strength training.  Yes, I do listen to podcasts about working out while working out.  I do also like to listen to podcasts about running while running- a point made fun of by my friend’s husband on many occasion.    I like doing this because it keeps me focused on what and why’s of my workout as well as giving me a little knowledge which carries over in to my school and coaching.  Also, if a nasty little mid set cloud of doubt or tiredness creeps over my little head, I can push through it easier because I want to hear all of what Kevin, Johnathan,  Leigh, Cassandra, Tony and whoever else they have on the program have to say.  I’m downloading the newest episode as I type- yipeee!

Another little trick is to mix things up.  I love figuring out a new workout to try and do.  I either change up one I already have, try a new class at the gym, or incorporate a completely new element into my schedule.

Nothing beats having friends also.  Tuesday I hit the pavement with my two kick-ass training cohorts for a simple after work 15miler.  Typically we save our long runs for the weekend but schedules are hectic and we decided to give it a try this time.  It was actually pretty awesome.  We did a loop on the trail and then went in and out, up and down, all around downtown Austin to finish up the run.  It sure helped that Jen had her boy’s garmin so we could keep track of exactly how many miles we had ran and our pace.

I played the friend card again yesterday- friend and boyfriend.  I met Greg and Mel after work for the dread of my training, track work.  Mel enjoys track work and Greg wanted to play with speed so we went for it.   Mel and Greg did all of their workout barefoot and I did about 80% of mine sans shoes.  It helped my form so much.  I really did enjoy the work and surprised myself with easily beating our marathon plan prescribed pace each time.

Other ways I get out of my rut costs just a little more.  I like to buy new shorts or a new sports bra.  I have two brand new stlyin’ sports bra hot off the UPS truck from Sierra Trading Post in my office right now along with another goodie!

My new kicks also just skipped their way in here from Xterra.  Greg and I both won a pair of shoes at the Camp Eagle Xterra race.  As we were leaving, I said hi and had a nice conversation with the right person at the right time.  He was the race director and he forgot to give out the free shoe coupons so he gave one to me.  Pays to be friendly, eh?  I pushed it a little when I asked if I could take the other for my boyfriend but when he realized that it was the same guy who had the fastest bike time of all the racers, he happily gave it to me for his prize.

Still working on the plan for the day but my motivation to kick it is much higher now with my new shoes and new threads.  Maybe I’ll hit the gym, maybe I’ll snag the yoga mat, maybe I’ll just go home and get some much needed sleep.  After all, rest is just as important as getting your booty in to the gym. I’m good at the latter, still working on the shut eye.

I have some big, big, rocking, freaking awesome news to post up on soon but that will come later.  Just some awesome changing of gears to be had!

Have a wonderful weekend. Ride blessed and be safe.

in no particular order

a good long run with good friends (thanks Mel and Jen for the 15miles on tuesday)

getting in my car on a hot austin day and feeling how warm it is

waking up, taking a hot shower, then running back to bed and getting a few more minutes of sleep

a hard workout

the way my covers envelope me on a cold morning

halloween

when a dog leans in real close to my face when he first meets me and looks me in the eyes and knows we know each other

when my boyfriend gets really excited about something and it makes me think of what he must have been like as a 6 year old

when you are sick and you sneeze and you feel so much relief

my dog shaughnesy (my childhood dog)

the pain of a really great ab workout

waking up in a tent and realizing i’m outside in beautiful scenery

the end of a hiccup marathon

breakfast club, pretty in pink, farris bueller’s day off, loverboy, cant buy me love, goonies, say anything, love actually, shaun of the dead, happy gilmore, billy madison, edward sissorhands, (i’ll keep adding)

when i cant stop laughing to myself (sometimes about myself)

abner smoothy bear-bear jonhnathan quindlen (age 24) and sugarbear (age 28) my teddy bear and t-rex (stuffed) i’ve had for ages

marthastewartliving magazine day, bike magazine day, mother earth news magazine day

when my cat hops up on my chest as i am falling asleep and falls asleep too

I started the Palo Dura Marathon race this past Sunday.  The course was beautiful, the pace was doable, and with every twist and turn I was learning more about handling my bike, my gears, and my lungs.  Things were hard then easy, killer then peaceful, doubtful then positive.  The first lap was a bit more torturous than I had thought it would be mainly because every time I’d get a flow, there would be another hold up of riders in front of me just by the fact that the marathon group was a huge group and if one person gets stuck in a little place, everyone has to put on their brakes.  I had a low tire one hour in to it (probably was  going to be a 6 hour race for me) but used my CO2 to get it back solid.

I played flip flop with a number of guys throughout the course.  Most of them were 1 lapers (15 miles) or half marathoners who went out way to fast for their britches and had to stop and rest every mile or so.  I was going back and forth with a real nice guy for a while when I took the lead up a short climb and around a left hand turn and then…BANG!!!!  I introduced my left cheek bone to the hard ground with all the force of my body attached to my bike.  I haven’t endo’d in a while (something in my beginning days that was a regular occurrence) and I didn’t miss the bone compressing a single bit.  I got up, a bit shaken…well, really shaken, with the wind completely out of my lungs, and steadied myself with my bike while I looked it over.  The guy who was behind me said the crash was “really freaking loud” but said my bike looked alright to him as well.  No blood, just shaken and freaked out, I hopped back on for the last 3 miles of the course.

I came in to transition to refuel and hopped off  the bike to stretch.  The feeders in transition told me I already started to bruise on my cheek.  No broken bones so I figured I was lucky and could try my legs for at least one more lap.  I got back in the saddle but as I rode on, I started to have strong pain in my face.  I kept opening and closing my jaw to make sure it worked but that hurt.  I continued to pedal but then realized I wasn’t having fun and that was what I was there for.  I went a little more and decided to turn back and take my first race DNF ever (DNF=did not finish).  I hung out at a crossing for a while to see Greg (who finished 6th overall) go by and then rode to another to cheer others on.  I finished up the last 2.5 miles of the course, rolled through transition, and motioned to the officials that I was done.  It was the right thing but to be honest there is that stubborn part in the back of my head that wonders what I would have been able to accomplish if I had stayed on.  Maybe the pain would have gone away, maybe the course would have become so fun that the third lap would have been a guarantee- but you cant  live your life with what if’s and could of’s- so I put it on the shelf and learn from it.

Scrolling through reports and results yesterday Greg yelled that I made the Amarillo paper, kind of…

One woman sported the beginnings of a bruise from a bad tumble on the course. But when she stopped briefly to refuel near where Halfpop was stationed, she stressed her bike was fine – that was the important thing – before pedaling off again.

Yep, that was me!  I’m a legend in o’Amarillo, ha!  Next year I’ll be back and ready to take on more.  Each race I learn something and work on skills so there’s never a loss as long as I line up.

Then next marathon race is Camp Eagle next month.  I think I’ll sign up for the half for that one but you never know!

A whole lot has been going on lately and I’ve seriously neglected my blog.  School has kept me busy, work is keeping me busy, workouts are keeping me busy, I got sick, I’ve been racing, been reading, been getting things done, mountain bike team has dissolved, a new team has come up, and been dreaming of Colorado a whole lot.  I’ve experienced a bit of a post-vacation depression of sorts after we returned from our trip which has loomed over me still.  Some things are making me feel like I’m constantly running into a windowless wall while other things give me the power to leap up and fly.  The pieces will all fit soon I know.

I dont yet have a good picture to put up here but I’m sure one will come to me soon.

 

Be blessed, ride blessed, ya’ll….