Icy Day Workouts, Cupcakes and Puppies

What a strange combination, this really does sum up the highlights of the week.  In Houston we had the ice storm-ageddon.  Schools and businesses shut down, the roads were icy especially the many overpass bridges that are around here.  The city doesn’t have enough vehicles to salt the roads, we hardly ever have this kind of weather.

I love running at night, however with the patches of ice, I figured if I want to extend my ability to run, better do it safetly.  So that means the dreaded gym.  Moving to this apartment has the gym “perk”.   The overall goal is to workout for an hour. There are treadmills, cycle machines, elliptical and some kind of stair thing… Oh and weight machines too.  People were working out on these machines and I snagged the last one.  It’s kind of embarrassing when you have no clue what to do to get started.  After moving and just pressing buttons, I got the machine to work.  My goal was two miles, there was a TV playing a show I never watch without sound so the time goes by like a hamster running on a wheel…booooring!  The people cleared out and I pretty much had the place to myself so I moved to the cycle and eliptical machines and tried a few minutes of each, this time there was no one to watch my awkwardness of fumbling with the machine to get it to work.  Lastly I found what I call the Pilate ball, something I actually know!  The ball had exercises printed on it and they were things we normally do in Pilates.  The hour was finally over….by the end of the week we are in the 70s!!!!


Many people trapped indoors put their culinary skills to work.  In the beginning of the week, we scrounged around to find things to eat because no one wanted to walk to the store.  However, a friend made a night of baking cupcakes and that sounded good to me!  Maybe a cupcake with fresh strawberries?  I came across this Martha Stewart recipe which seemed perfect.  Martha Stewart is the queen of all things home.  And her recipe for strawberry butter cream swiss meringue frosting is a considerable feat.  The cupcakes came out great, but the first time I attempted the frosting it was a flop.  My husband was irritated with all of the mixing that was going on.  I tried again and the frosting worked out for the most part, I used some complicated frosting piper that mixes three icings because it was the only one in the store with a coupler…frustrating!




There is at least one shining star and that is baby Luna.  A puppy is like having a baby in the home.  I don’t like to leave her more than 3 hours.  The exercise pen connected to the cage thing didn’t work out.  Apparently she is a climber at 3 lbs she can scale the wall no problem.  She even figured out out how to get out of the cage, so I had to clip it closed.  This is for her own good because she puts EVERYTHING in her mouth.  I’m so afraid she is going to choke on something or eat something that will hurt her.  We took her to go see the house and I bought a puppy sling to carry her, she wasn’t too thrilled about it.  Oh well, most people love to see her and our few visitors come just to see her!

pooch purse

Icy Day Workouts, Cupcakes and Puppies

Cyclists stick together

It’s a sunny Sunday in Texas and early enough in the morning before the blistering heat. About 1030AM I air up the tires to 120 and set off for the lake.  There is hardly any wind. At the lake, there are some people fishing, dogs at the dog park and the usual walkers, joggers and a couple of cyclists.  My goal is 20 miles.  This route includes a 2 mile loop around the lake.  I was on lap 4 when an explosion occurred behind me.  A burst of wind blew on my feet.  My back tire immediately went flat.  I was startled!  Fortunately there was shade from a recently planted oak tree.  I took out my spare tube and CO2 cartridges and began replacing my tube.  There were two fisherman in front of me.   Upon examination of the flat tube, a split at the seem was visible.  I got to the point where I needed to fill up the new tube with CO2 just enough so that it wasn’t completely flat.  That’s when the CO2 pump failed.  As soon as I put on the CO2 cartridge it discharged at the threading and you can’t touch it to stop it because it instantly freezes.  I had a full cartridge and two partials…all no good now.  I thought I would at least get the tube and tire on to walk it home.  A man who was walking came by and asked if I needed help.  He didn’t have his tools, but offered me water.  I was grateful and told him I’d be ok.  I kept working on my tire, it’s so hard to get the last stretch of tire over the rim, but I kept trying.  I went on with this for at least 30 minutes all the while fighting an attack by Texas ants.  It’s so weird, you can sit or stand on a spot that appears clear, then they come up through the ground and start attacking.  There really isn’t a place on the ground in Texas that is safe from ants.

A cyclist stopped by and asked me if I needed help.  He said he had an air pump in his truck.  Again grateful, I told him that would help!  He returned with the pump and at the same time the walker had made another round and stopped to offer assistance. Unfortunately the air pump was for a mountain bike and not the presta valves for the road bike. Still both men helped me get the remaining 4 inches of tire over my rim which helped me get the bike into rolling condition.  I was offered a ride and more water, even a phone in case I needed to call someone.

This is amazing to me.  There were a few people that passed and of course the fishermen in front of me, it’s the cyclists that stop to help and even offer water.  I really didn’t think anyone would offer to help.  This was a pleasant surprise to my older eyes.  At this point in life, taking care of my business on my own is what a strive for.   Having the tools, and a spare tube on my bike along with replacement practice is preparation just for this problem.  With the hotter temperatures, it wasn’t wise to fill the tubes to 120.  They needed to be filled between 100-110.

Another lesson learned.  You need to be prepared if you go out and ride. The cyclist that helped me mentioned he runs a lap around the lake and rides 4.  It’s great exercise.  I am amazed at how many people don’t pay attention to what is going on directly in front of them.  They are looking back, sideways or even down and just don’t see a cyclist coming towards them.  There is plenty of room to stay on the right side, however people walk directly in the middle of the path.  Many oblivious!  LOL!

I walked the 1.5 miles home in the heat with my clip in shoes on which is awkward.  I could have asked the family for help, not today.   What’s the rush?  Getting home will just take longer.  Instead, I looked more at my surroundings.  Maybe there was something I was suppose to see or that the walk was an opportunity to think about something I was suppose to think about (Like next time figure a way to check the CO2 cartridges or get an air pump to include on the bike).  Who knows!  It was hot and I feel as though my shoulders were sunburned through my shirt!  Once home, I filled the tire up with air and will complete the remaining 10 miles soon.  A new tube and additional CO2 cartridges have been ordered!


Cyclists stick together

What the heart likes to do

I am so happy about the opportunity I had to give an old bike away to a friend who needed it.  My friend’s son is interested in bike riding and actually rides to school (college) from home.   My friend told me the current bike was not functioning and how much her son enjoyed biking.  They needed a functioning bike and I happened to have my husband’s bike that has been sitting in our garage for far too long.  It’s really old (1993) and it’s a Schwinn when Schwinn was good.  Before I was married my soon to be husband had me believe that he would adventure on bikes, canoes, camping, etc.  That lasted maybe a handful of times.

I had to get new tubes and a chain for the bike (about $50) to get in into working condition.  The gear shift doesn’t work anymore, despite the attempt to flush the lines.  I was told they may start working, although admonished not to get my hopes up.  Still the bike is stuck on a comfortable riding gear.  With Houston being so flat, you don’t really need to shift gears anyway.  It will cost $40 to get new shifts and $20 to install on each. For this bike as old as it is, the $50 spent to get it functioning was well worth it.  A new bike now-a-days is at least $400 at the bike store.  Of course they have the latest and the greatest options.  This bike is steel and heavier than the carbon frames.


My friend arrived with her son.  Which warmed my heart.  Now a days it seems that kids just aren’t as appreciative.  Not this kid.   My kids would never ride a bike to and from work or school.   I would ride to work back in the day, not to save gas, just for the exercise.   My friend’s son was so appreciative and told me about his riding paths.  Again, warming my heart that he has found exercise he enjoys.  It is so special to me that I can contribute something that fosters the desire to keep going on this path.  There is just not a better feeling.  I hate throwing things away.  Finding a purpose provides meaning.

Cycling has so many good purposes, traveling from here to there, good for your knees, exploring beautiful scenery, physical challenge, etc.  There are so many places to travel in the USA and ride.  Back in the day, I almost planned a trip alone to Martha’s Vineyard to cycle the island.  I may someday go back to that plan.  Just listening to the bike shop chatter, there are trails in the blue ridge mountains and in many other places that you can ride for miles. I can’t wait for retirement.  I can definitely see me on these trails.

What the heart likes to do

Tour de Houston

Tour de Houston is part of the MS150 ready to roll series.  It’s a cycle ride that begins at City Hall and loops to the south east of Houston and ends in south Missouri city,  then the ride goes back the same way to City Hall. You could choose 20, 40 or 60 mile distances.  There were three rest stops at about 10 miles apart (so the turn around at each one gave you the 20, 40 or 60 mile distance depending on the one you go back from).  Your $40 entry goes towards restoring parks sponsored by Apache Corp.   The ride began at 7:30a.m. and they had police controlling the intersections.  On this ride I took the road bike with the clip in shoes.  This would be a good test to see if I can handle the stops and the crowd.


I would say there were at least a thousand people there (the news reported thousands).  After the multiple warnings about road hazards (expansion joints in the road) and to remain in the right lane we began.  The first thing I noticed was that the road changes quite a bit from smooth to pretty rough.  Immediately I saw people with flats (that was quick), I was able to maintain a speed between 16 – 20 mph.  The scary thing is that there were multiple wrecks, I saw at least 5.  Two or three so bad the ambulance had to be summoned.  We rode through the spectrum of economic communities in Houston from the uber rich to poorer communities.  All while hearing the calls, “Slowing”, “Rolling”, “Crack”, “Car back”, “Stopping”, etc. (cycle lingo)

Starting early in the morning I knew I would need sunglasses and noticed I really didn’t have a place to put them.  And it’s important to put on sunscreen which I forgot.  If you are ever training for a long cycle ride, I found it useful to have trained outside (rather than spinning indoors).  One person commented that the headwind was kicking butt.  This is a challenge I face every time I ride around the 2 mile lake.  The wind can almost blow me off the road or slow me down to 8 or 9 miles an hour.  I didn’t even notice it during this ride.

There were ride marshalls riding along and checking the path to make sure people were safe.  They would call SAG (support vehicles) in case a rider needed assistance.  I didn’t need to stop at the first two rest stations.  After passing the second one at 20 miles, I had met a milestone. I have never cycled in one sitting past 20 miles.  I was really happy to keep going.  The scary part for me was after that 2nd stop, the crowd thinned out and at a few points I didn’t see any other cyclists ahead of me.  Then came the stretch of road that was two lanes.  So you are riding with other cars (to me that is too close for comfort).  Added to that I could hear gunfire from some massive gun range and started to worry about a stray bullet heading my way.  This was for a good couple of miles.  At the end was the neighborhood and the last rest stop (and turn around).  Surprisingly the port a potties were clean!  And you could wash your hands with a portable hand washing station .  That and grab a “Kind” bar and you are on your way.  I was worried about leaving my bike unlocked at the bike stand.  I did bring a chain and noticed no one locked theirs.  I thought it would be so easy to select a “new” bike and head out.  You only wear your number on your body, your bike isn’t numbered like it will be in the MS150.  Luckily, my bike was where I left it and I completed the last 30 miles.

Afterwards I was surprised that I wasn’t sore.  I do think I was dehydrated and it effected me weird!  I felt like I had no sleep.  But then again, I did get up early and didn’t sleep soundly the night before.  Only this lasted into the next day.  This was a good test to indicate, I can do this!  It’s only 20 more miles to equal the 80 miles in the 1st day of the MS150.  It took me 4 hours to do 60 and would probably take me another 1.5 hours to do 20 more.


Tour de Houston

Orange Theory

A fellow fitness enthusiast friend of mine told me that Orange Theory (which is a workout place) is offering a free trial class and suggested we try it together.  Inspired by my blog, I thought, why not try it and write about it?   I do plenty of fitness (sometimes every day of the week), but sometimes you have to change things up a little.  There will be less tennis during the holidays, so maybe a little new fitness routine may be in order.


The Orange Theory studio is definitely new and kind of small.  The lighting in the studio is lit with big brilliant orange lights.  The class can have 20 people (maybe a little more) and depending on the popularity of the class they can have multiple groups.  The first thing you do is put on a heart monitor.  They call their class types endurance, strength, power or a combination.   We spent about 20 minutes on a tread mill, and the rest split between a rowing machine and some floor exercises that incorporated some Pilates like movements and equipment like the TRX.   The treadmill exercise was at heart rate intervals.  So the theory, as they say, is to keep your heart rate in the orange zone when you “push it”(for me that was about 150 beats per minute) for about 20 minutes of the class.  That way you will keep burning calories for up to 36 hours (that would be the after burn effect, or a speed up in metabolism).  They split the treadmill work into three groups: “base pace”,  “push it” and “all out”.  And that was split into three more categories based on if you are a power walker, jogger or runner.  There are monitors with your name on it so that you can see your heart rate and the percentage of time you are in the target zone.  This is also important because your goal is to stay in that zone 84% of the time.  And then there is something called a splat point which is earned by remaining in the target zone for a minute.

I’m not a big fan of the treadmill, but I do like the interval training that this offers.  The rowing was more momentum oriented which for me, a big Pilates advocate, is abnormal. The floor work was the same, too fast.  Just because you do more reps at a fast pace doesn’t get you results if you think of working out in Pilates terms.  Slow and controlled is the Pilates way.  I had some questions too, the instructor demo’d the exercise once and was almost too busy to spend additional time explaining.  I guess I am really spoiled by the attention I get at the Pilates studio.  My Pilates instructor is really careful with the 8 in her class watching to make sure your position is correct so that you don’t get hurt.   I don’t feel like this level of attention is given because the instructor has so many to look after.   That is a big red flag, especially as you get older.  I need to be careful working out.  Fitness is something that can turn into injury that will prohibit me from playing tennis.  And I’m not about to let that happen.  I like the slow and controlled strength training you get out of Pilates and the balance work.

Overall the best thing about the class for me was the interval training for your heart.  And for me that is important with tennis.  So many times you go all out in tennis, then have to recover.   The rest, was concerning for me because of the possibility of injury.  I don’t know how places like this make it with easy injury risk.  I think my friend and I were the oldest in the class, but we “killed it”…for first timers.


The cost was not bad.  It’s $59 for once a week for a month.  And $99 for two or three times, and $159 for as many times as you like.  No contract.  And you can just show up for $28. I burned 400 calories. Whoo hoo!



Orange Theory

Cyclist-Road Warrior

It’s not surprising to know that Texas is great for cycling, especially around Houston because it is so flat!  One of the biggest cycling events is the MS150 between Houston and Austin.  When I first moved here I was into cycling and I thought, I want to do the MS150!  What a daunting feat!  Now I have been here for a while and am probably in better condition older than I was then.  So don’t ever think age can hold you back.  I think I might want to do the MS150 next year.  We will see!

I haven’t been cycling for quite a while.  This week I decided to try out my bike to start training for the triathlon in September.  Good thing too because I have some challenges!  I have a really old Cannondale mountain bike which is special to me because it is made out of aluminum and is super light weight, that is what I love about it.  I keep struggling with the tire inner tube and took it to Tri-Sports.  They adjusted the tube and filled it with air and warned me that the tires probably need to be changed because they are starting to dry rot (I have had this bike forever).  They are going to get back to me on whether or not I can have road tires on that bike.  Anyway, sure enough as I found my way to my favorite subdivision (the one with the recreational lake) my tube blew through the tire and then quickly popped and I had a flat.  Another issue is that my brakes hit the frame and are not aligned.  A mountain bike is probably not the best choice for a race.  (Not that I’m really thinking I’m going to win my age group).  When I went to this shop I noticed they sell road bikes.  I saw a Fuji bike that is a light weight road bike that wouldn’t break the bank and now I’m really curious if I should spend the money for a good bike for this upcoming race and commit to the MS150.

I also wanted to try out a Mother’s day gift with cycling.  I got a Polar fitness wearable.  And have found some interesting things with it.  First of all, not all exercise is the same (Of course!!!)  I do Pilates, jogging and tennis regularly.  I highly suggest everyone find some fitness activity that they enjoy …it is essential!!  Not only for the physical benefits, but for mental as well.  So for me, tennis is the one activity that I absolutely love.  It just doesn’t feel like exercise, yet I’ve noticed, with proof of the wearable, that it is the most beneficial exercise I do.  You get in the anaerobic zone because you are constantly sprinting then stop then sprint again.  I tracked exercising with Pilates, bike riding, running and tennis and found I can burn:

600 calories easily in 1.5 hours with tennis

200 calories with Pilates in 1 hour

330 calories in 40 minutes of bike riding

200 calories 30 minutes of jogging

The other thing to note is that your heart rate with tennis goes higher than it does with any of the other activities.  Did I mention tennis is my favorite??

I have yet to try the measurement on the tracker with swimming, which I really wanted to do this week, just didn’t have time.

So I’m trying to convince hubby that a new bike is NECESSARY!!!  And he can ride it with me if he wants to try cycling…LOL!  I think we still need a mountain bike which can work on the road.  I would continue to ride the mountain bike if he would at least try cycling with a good new road bike.  When I went to the crawfish tournament in Louisiana at the hotel there was a cycling group staying there.  They would ride about 60 miles a day.  I noticed that there were older people (couples) participating.  How cool is that?  The couple I talked to was from Missouri.  They are retired and spend time traveling to different places and ride bikes.  Yeah!


Cyclist-Road Warrior