Gearing up for MS150

The MS 150 is a one hundred and fifty mile bike ride from Houston to Austin over 2 days. The event beginning in Houston is held once a year at the end of April and raises $16 million dollars on average ($13,000 riders) for multiple sclerosis.  MS effects 2.3 million world wide. You have to raise $400 in order to participate as a rider.   This  has been a dream of mine for a long time, and this year that dream is coming to reality.   With the purchase of a road bike last year, I am ready for the challenge.  I went to the new rider orientation this week and learned that after the almost 40 years they have been doing this event they have come up with 19 medications to help with symptoms and just 10 years ago there were 3.  They raise a tremendous amount of money for support of this disease ($232.7 million/year) and it makes me sad that no cure has been found.  I hope that the money that is contributed to this disease also benefits advances in repair to nerve damage.

How do you achieve that fund raising amount?  I have to admit, everything about this is a challenge.  Sure I have participated in giving and asking for funds, but never to benefit me directly.  I mean, it is for MS, but in order for me to ride in the event, I need to raise $400. That’s the way I look at it anyway. I posted on Facebook and told family and friends and business associates.  To my amazement and surprise I achieved the minimum. Apparently for ever dollar contributed 84 cents go directly to research and services.  About that, as I learned, events like this are responsible for about 63 percent of the overall fundraising for the year.  It is absolutely amazing how many volunteers it takes and the overwhelming logistics involved in running the event.  I guess you have to spend money to make money and that works better on a larger scale.  They make it easy to receive donations by setting up your own page

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?px=15548823&pg=personal&fr_id=28263&s_src=BF_emailbadge

A friend of mine encouraged me to join a team and went so far as to forward me an email from the team leader with an entire Power Point on the team.  Joining a team is a great idea because you get some additional support in that they provide a team tent for camping at the 1/2 way point in LaGrange.  (They will have generators and their own food/water, showers and toilets)  They also transport your gear to LaGrange as well as Austin.  If you don’t join a team, you can camp on your own in the general camp area and food is still provided (your luggage will be transported to LaGrange for free).  So now I am a part of Team Wood Group!  It does cost me $100 because I don’t work for the company.  So my investment so far is $200 (team+registration fee).  I am going to get the team jersey, don’t know how much that will be but expect it to be between $50 and $75. And since the team doesn’t transport back, I will need to take the event provided bus back from Austin for $35.

I learned that there are rest points every 10-12 miles, support vehicles to assist riders, lunch provided 1/2 way on day one and the day two ride as well as overnight camping, dinner, showers and rest rooms.

I now plan to leave from the Wood Group which is about 9 miles away from Rhodes Stadium (which is one of the three starting points).  The team captain will pickup the team member’s ride packet and have a night before food fest or carb load.  We leave at 7AM.

Now onto training.  At this point I need to do 20 miles a week, I have been doing 15 and I need to ramp up to 40 miles (will have to be over two days because I don’t have that kind of time in one sitting).  Also, they have plenty of rides in preparation with a group.  I am taking a group riding skills class offered for free and required by the Wood Group in February.  There are rides to register for almost every weekend around the state that can be used for training for distance and have the support vehicles in case you need assistance. Might try one of those.  And lastly, some additional gear.  Need a light, case with tube and CO cartridges as well as a tool to change a tire to carry on the bike.  Also need to be sure to have sun screen for face and lips, and sunglasses.  Will also find out during the group skills training what to pack for the Wood Group team tent for sleeping.  SO EXCITING!!!

The route:

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Gearing up for MS150

20 days of grey

This has been a tough month.  Every day pretty much has been grey.  Having such a mild winter you would think we would be spared the dead that comes with a freeze.  Nope, just two days of temperature drops into freezing and everything looks dead.  We don’t get snow, but we sure do get rain.  I feel like I need webbed feet.  The entire week of rain adds to mildew that is all over everything and makes things look dirty with a backdrop of grey and dead.  Sounds pretty depressing doesn’t it?

grey2

I’m really trying to keep light here.  Added to this my dog was really sick. She is 12 and 1/2 and blind.  The vet told me her kidneys are failing and that a bladder infection was irritating the kidneys to the point she needed to be hospitalized.  My dog was so lethargic and sick.  It is really sad.  With the expense of blood tests to let us know what is going on and fluids they taught me to give under her skin she has been on the mend.  I have been able to spend an additional 2 weeks with her and there is always hope!  Dogs are very special.  There is nothing like the greeting you get from a dog when you return from being out.  That never gets old.  She sleeps most of the day and likes to lay around with you when you are lazy and she loves french fries! I’m so glad that she has been in my life.  Just need to focus on this day that I have with her <3!

Even though there has been a bout of unpleasantness, additional sickness in the house, there have been rays of light.  I’m really happy to have achieved the fundraising requirement for the MS150!  That’s pretty significant.  I guess you just have to acknowledge the sad and count your blessings, after all, that is life.  It seems like there will always be sadness mixed with happiness.

Tonight’s forecast…thunderstorms!  Just have to weather the storm, tomorrow will be a new day brimming with hopefully sun shine and tennis!

20 days of grey

Taste in Texas

One thing about Houston is the amazing diversity in available food options.   Just because we live in Texas doesn’t mean it’s just BBQ.    As in most big cities, I’m sure, you get a really nice diversity.  You do at least in Houston, especially downtown.   You can get African, Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean, Cuban, Venezuelan, German, Cajun and of course Mexican it goes on!   Believe it or not Houston is famous for Czechoslovakian Kolaches (breakfast food).   Downtown has more specialty grocery stores and more choices for people interested in vegan and organic healthy choices.  I have noticed in the more rural areas, it becomes harder to find the variety.  In Livingston in particular, you can get hamburgers, fried chicken and fried catfish there are not many restaurant choices.    With the expense eating out, I’d rather eat at home anyway.

I’ve probably mentioned my daughter and I like to eat healthy.  She texted me today a picture of a dish that she got from Ruggle’s Green which has some amazing dishes.  I had some salmon in the fridge and thought maybe I’d make my own dish.   Her cost, $16 . Mine, less.  I think the salmon was around $3-$4.  And I only used a portion of the veggies.

Can you tell which is the restaurant version?  I could have added some crushed pistachios and maybe a little shredded parm. some hummus with pita triangles if I really wanted to be fancy.  (But I had already had some nuts earlier).  Anyway, it was VERY satisfying.  The salmon was baked with feta, chives, cilantro and a lemon vinaigrette.

My son and husband ate What-a-Burger.  A Texas legend!  Interestingly enough my son gets the chicken.  He also refuses vegetables except potatoes and occasionally broccoli.  The only fish he will eat is fried.  I ask him all of the time what do you want to eat?  This week, his breakfast request was Pop Tarts.  I have bought them in the past, but my daughter’s non GMO ways are rubbing off on me.  Really it’s more about the ingredients in our food.  I disagree with her on several things.   I think it’s necessary to make modifications to grow more to feed more (farmers have been doing it for years).  But, to her point, there have been some unsafe additions to the food supply that have been pulled out like transfats.

Anyway, I told my son that  I didn’t think Pop Tarts were nutritious.  What if I make “Pop Tarts”.  He made a face that indicated he didn’t like that idea, but I’m going to do it anyway.  My daughter and a friend did a school project with home made “healthy” Pop Tarts and entered a State contest.  They didn’t win, however, the younger generation’s trends may prevail eventually.   I hope the healthier ones will anyway.

So where did I go? Pinterest of course!  How does homemade compare to the real deal?  Nutritiously, there is nothing nutritious about it!  It’s a desert.  I compared a chocolate fudge Pop Tart to a home made Nutella tart.  For the Pop Tart, it’s 400 calories for 2, 10g of fat, 38 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 74 grams of carbohydrates and 460 milligrams of sodium.  Cost about $3.68 which has about 3 servings (6 tarts).  The home made ones are 320 calories for 1!  Oops!  Come on though!  If they  don’t taste good what’s the point?  I’d rather make them 1/2 the size and taste better if I’m going to compete on the calories.  Cost, it’s about $5.19 …ouch.  I’m not doing good here…  I made tarts that are more expensive and have more calories. I used pie crust for the pastry.  I am going to try some homemade preserves as a filler (at least that is real fruit and should have a little more nutritional value).  Anyway, it was fun.  They do taste better and have about 1/2 the sugar . For $5.19 I can at least get a variety.  And the preserves were a gift.

poptarts

Taste in Texas

January fresh

Does the spirit of clean hit you in January?  It does for me!  I mean a step above the usual cleaning.  This week I had the floors professionally cleaned.  There is really nothing better than walking around on clean floors in rooms that are de-cluttered.    This is a battle.  I’m home most of the time because I work from home. So there is always a mess to be made and one to clean up.

I finally reclaimed the dining room.  Although I’m not sure why.  We don’t use this room at all and it’s on the small side as well.  It’s the room right next to the laundry room and it’s perfect for folding clothes.   The laundry “room” basically fits the washer and dryer.  From watching shows about houses around the world this is a luxury space we have.    So now we have a dining table and chairs on display…art.

Next the shower, it’s funny how in your social media feed you will see something that will strike you.  I saw a post about deep cleaning with a picture of a dirty shower (before) and the same shower clean (after).  Thinking of our shower, I thought maybe it’s time for a deep cleaning.   This house is 20 years old and even though the shower has been cleaned, the glass enclosure gets spots on it.  (I guess it’s the soap).  The spots only come off with a razor!   I scrapped the doors until you could see through them again.   And the caulking after a while gets moldy.  The entire shower enclosure is old and outdated.  It just needs to be ripped and replaced, but that is not in the budget so a deep clean will have to do.  I spent two days (not the whole time) scraping. I am forever hiding any bar of soap that goes in there.  From now on it will be liquid soap and hopefully that will help!  I replaced some of the caulking.  The shower base is fiber glass and the coloration is uneven.  I called two places asking about either painting it or replacing it and was told that you shouldn’t paint it. To replace it meant that the shower walls need to come out. UGH!  I might just paint it and keep doing it until someone rips it out. I still have more scraping to do on the frame but it is getting there.

 

With money saved by not hiring a deep cleaner, I thought maybe we can get a new shower head.  At least that’s my pitch.  The old one needs replacing because it is looking like a victim of corrosion.  Since I share this shower now comes the “discussion” with my husband.  We at least know that I will be installing it.  With that said, I have a lot of leverage.  I am not a plumber so there will be no re-configuring anything.  With all of the choices out there it came down to, finish, style, feature/functionality, ease of installation and most importantly water pressure. Home Depot had a lot of choices, most of which you had to order online.  Amazon had the same one for the same price and delivered faster.   (2 days and free shipping).  I will probably install an extension S bar so that it will point more downward.  I like it.

shower-head

 

January fresh

Welcome 2017

Project for New Year 2017

Happy New Year!  I have read some great ideas on goals for the New Year, such as writing down your new year goals and then reading them at the end of the year.  I just re-read my blog from New Year’s last year and feel like I did meet those general goals.  Which were, being a better parent by recognizing and allowing my children to be responsible for themselves. Eating well and exercising and making the most out of work.

We must go forth and live life!  In the last month or so I recognize that it doesn’t seem that I have that enthusiasm I did last year.  Need to bring that back!  There are so many things to be thankful for and to look forward to.  Maybe it’s just the gray skies and dark days of winter, being a little too merry with food and not being able to play tennis as much.

Even though 2016 was a year full of very cool things, I would like to explore more.  Not necessarily to top the things that have been done, just to have new experiences.

So this year, new goals are :

Complete the MS150 (bike from Houston to Austin)

Go see something naturally beautiful (ideas: Grand Canyon, Big Bend, still want to see Hamilton Pool).

Stay on track with healthy lifestyle (maintain healthy weight and activity level – with fitness tracker)

Definitely want to keep the goals simple and I think there are some specifics there to keep on track.  Some less specific goals, remain teachable,  be mindful and present.  The less specific goals really help with the day to day.  And of course the BIGGEST one, let go and let God.  I never forget who is in control and continually pray and walk the path with God. There wouldn’t be light on those dark days without God to help you along the way.

Wishing you the best this New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome 2017