Oct 14, 2014

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014

Our first Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has come and gone, and it was a bit of a disappointment for us.

If you are not familiar with the Balloon Fiesta, it is an annual hot air balloon event that takes place in Albuquerque. The Balloon Fiesta first took place in 1972 and is now the largest hot air balloon event in the world. It also has the distinction of being the most photographed event in the world and is one of the major tourist attractions for the city of Albuquerque.

We decided to go to the morning session on the second day of the festival, which was Sunday, October 5, 2014.

We left for the Park N Ride lot at around 4:45 am and arrived at Balloon Fiesta Park around 5:30 am. After arriving, we walked around the vendor area for quite a while, waiting for the action to start. Since it was so early and cold, we grabbed some hot beverages and purchased breakfast burritos to fill our bellies.

The time set for Dawn Patrol was 5:45 am. This time came and went with nothing happening. We headed down to the field at around 6:30 am, the time for Morning Glow. This time came and went. Still nothing. 

At this point, we saw a few balloon pilots inflate a few regular balloons and let them go into the air. It was obvious that it was far too windy for them to fly. The official festival flag was also yellow and flapping like crazy in the wind.

Balloon Basket Sitting on the Field

The sun finally started coming up and there still was nothing happening. By the time 7 am, the scheduled time for Mass Ascension, rolled around and there still wasn't anything going on, I was ready to throw in the towel. We overheard one of the "zebras," Balloon Fiesta launch directors, say that they would decide by 10 am whether to cancel or not. 10 am! We were in for a long day.

Balloon Fiesta Zebra

Finally at 8 am, after two and a half hours of standing in the cold, the Mass Ascension was cancelled and instead, many of the balloon pilots inflated their balloons for a ground display.

Balloons are finally going up!

This did not last long though, because the winds started to pick up again and the balloons quickly went down at around 8:30 am.

Sleeping Cow

Strong winds, they are. 

Although this is not what we were expecting to see that morning, I am glad we stuck it out until 8 am. Otherwise, it would have been an entirely wasted morning.

We planned on going to the Night Glow on Friday, October 10th, but this was also cancelled due to rain.

Since we both have to work and we had a lot to do during the weekends with our house, we couldn't schedule another good day to visit the Balloon Fiesta. While the days we were able to go to the festival were bad days weather-wise, many of the other days went off without a hitch!

Hopefully, we have better luck next time because I am still waiting to see the amazing sight of hundreds of balloons launching at the same time!

Oct 9, 2014

Hiking Elena Gallegos Open Space

From my first visit to New Mexico last year, I discovered that one of the things that sets Albuquerque apart is its gorgeous landscape. Enjoying the outdoors is one of the things I was looking forward to the most when we learned that we would be making this city our new home.

Over the weekend, we went on our first hike in Albuquerque since we moved here. It also was Gus's first hike ever! We decided to head to Elena Gallegos Open Space or Elena Gallegos Picnic Area, which it is alternately called.

The location of the park allows for amazing views of the Sandia Mountains.

The weather was sunny and beautiful, and the sunlight illuminated all of the colorful desert plants.

We did not bother to look at the trail maps before we went because we did not think Gus would last very long, so we just picked a direction to go in and then turned back around when it seemed like he had had enough exploration of nature.

Gus was very curious about all of the plants. He was a little too curious about the cacti though because he wound up with a spine stuck in himself! Ouch!

The trails were well maintained and well-marked. We wound up going on a portion of the Pino Trail, but I can't tell you how long the trail is or where it leads to because we had to turn back after about 0.7 miles.

The park is located at about 6,500 feet so we also had great views of some of the city below.

When it was time to leave, we hopped in the car and made our way back to the exit. I missed a turn and wound up in a different part of the park. Then I saw something in the middle of the road that made me exclaim, "That is awesome!" I put the car in reverse and there it was: a huge hairy tarantula!  It was at least the size of my hand. Normally, I would be grossed out, but seeing this thing out in the wild was....well, wild!

I hope to never find one of those in my backyard though! I would probably throw up and then faint.

Hopefully, we will have lots more visits to Elena Gallegos Open Space in our near future.

Elena Gallegos Open Space
7100 Tramway Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87111

Oct 7, 2014

{Product Review} Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips

Disclosure: I received a sample of Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips for the purpose of this review. No compensation was provided for this post. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

If you have not figured it out by now, I am always looking for snacks. healthy snacks to satisfy my mid-afternoon work day cravings. One of my favorite snacks is potato chips (or as I call them, "chippies"), but I usually try to avoid them because they are so bad for you.

When I heard about Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips, I was definitely intrigued as I had never heard of this brand of chips before. The new stackable Garden Veggie Chips come in 5 oz. canisters and are available in the following flavors:

- Cheddar Cheese
- Sour Cream & Onion
- Sea Salt

The chips have no artificial colors or flavors and no added MSG. They are also GMO-free and gluten-free. The Garden Veggie Chips are available exclusively at Walmart for the suggested price of $1.98.

For this review, I received a canister of the Sea Salt chips. During shipping, most of the chips fell apart, but I managed to find a few that were still in one piece.

Canister of mostly broken chips

Unlike conventional potato chips, these had a green tinge to them, which I couldn't decide if it bothered me or not.

In terms of taste, the chips satisfied my salty craving. The chips also had more of a baked chip texture than say a kettle-cooked or fried chip texture.

Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips are described as a "better-for-you" snack product. However, upon examining the nutrition facts, I did not find this to be entirely accurate. Maybe slightly better-for-you would be more believable?

Here is a comparison of the nutrition facts and ingredients list of the Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips and my go-to brand of chips (both sea salt flavor), which I will not name here.

As you can see, the Sensible Portions chips had slightly fewer calories and slightly less saturated fat. It has the same amount of calories from fat and total fat, but 2% more sodium. Additionally, my go-to brand of chips has only three ingredients, while the ingredients list for the Garden Veggie Chips is longer and has more dreaded "things I can't pronounce" than my go-to brand!

What's my take: While I did enjoy the taste and texture of the Sea Salt Garden Veggie Chips as well as the convenient packaging, the chips to me are not significantly better for you than my go-to snack chip. Since I eat chips only occasionally, I do not see myself replacing my go-to brand with the Sensible Portions brand. In addition, it is unfortunate that these chips are sold exclusively at Walmart because I avoid patronizing Walmart if I can at all help it. Therefore, they would not be available at the places I do shop at.  

Disclosure: I received a sample of Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips for the purpose of this review. No compensation was provided for this post. All opinions are my own. Read my full disclosure here

Oct 6, 2014

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2014 - Week 6 Training Recap

A little over 30 days to go for Wine & Dine and I am woefully unprepared. The last few months have been way too much for me to handle. On top of moving across the country, we moved into a new house that is needing about 100 percent more work than we anticipated - basically, we thought we would not be doing many renovations. Instead, we are needing to fix up each and every room in the place! We also brought home our little Gus two months ago. If you have ever had a puppy, you understand how much work and supervision a little puppy needs.

These two changes in my life have brought on a lot of additional stress, and making time for half marathon training has been extremely difficult. Not having time to work out is also stressing me out!

I did not have much of a goal for this race besides the fact that I wanted to run/walk with my sister. It looking more and more like I am going to either need a good training push over this next month or I am going to have to walk most of the race. I am a little disappointed with my training progress to date, but life happens.  

This week saw absolutely zero running miles.

September 29 to October 5, 2014
Monday: rest
Tuesday: Yoga - 25 minutes
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: Yoga - 25 minutes
Friday: Yoga - 25 minutes
Saturday: 1.28 miles hike with Raisin Bread and Gus
Sunday: Yoga - 15 minutes

Sep 30, 2014

Corrales Harvest Festival Pet Parade

Gus finally finished getting the last of his puppy shots and was cleared by the vet to go out and explore the world. While he has been around tons of people and is very friendly with humans, he hasn't had a chance to be around other animals or dogs until now, so we are trying to get him socialized as soon as possible. 

Raisin Bread found a fun event for us to take Gus to this past weekend, which would ensure that he would meet some furry friends. 

We headed to the village of Corrales for their annual Harvest Festival. One of the main events of the festival is the pet parade.

I bought Gus a costume, but unfortunately, it did not fit him. He's still a growing boy after all, so he joined in the parade sans costume. This year's theme was Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), so many humans and animals were dressed up according to the theme. 

The parade started off with horses. 

They were followed by a few goats. Then came a pair of llamas. 

This is where we joined the parade, with a whole bunch of doggies!

Gus has been pretty shy/scared around other dogs so far, but he started to warm up towards the end of the parade. He even said hi to this cocker spaniel in a peacock outfit.

Hopefully, Gus had fun during his visit to the Harvest Festival. He, at least, was very tired after his long walk along the parade route and from all of the mental stimulation he got!

Sep 29, 2014

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2014 - Week 5 Training Recap

40 days and counting until Wine & Dine! I can't wait to run my 3rd runDisney half marathon! This week saw some pretty consistent yoga and some mileage. Still not where I am supposed to be though.

September 22 to 28, 2014
Monday: Yoga - 25 minutes
Tuesday: Yoga - 25 minutes
Wednesday: 2.36 miles
Thursday: Yoga - 25 minutes
Friday: weed backyard
Saturday: walked 2 miles
Sunday: Yoga - 25 minutes and 3.55 miles

Total mileage: 7.91 miles 

Sep 25, 2014

Susan G. Komen Central New Mexico Race for the Cure 10K 2014 - Race Recap

Let me start off by saying - THE ELEVATION IS KILLING ME! If you have never gone from running in a low elevation region to a high elevation region, consider yourself lucky because it is tough!

To be honest, I was not even sure what the elevation difference between DC and Albuquerque was until I looked it up this weekend after this race. The mean elevation in DC is 150 ft while the mean elevation in Albuquerque is a whopping 5,800 ft! No wonder I can't breathe!

As I mentioned last post, I only signed up for the Susan G. Komen Central New Mexico Race for the Cure 10K four days before this race because I really needed to get some good mileage in for my Wine & Dine training. I am so glad that I did this race because I think I would still be in the three mile range if I hadn't.

For this event, there was a 5K option as well as the 10K. Additionally, there was an untimed option. I signed up for the chip-timed option.

On Friday, I picked up my bib and race shirt and prepared my race day outfit. I decided to stick with the theme and went with a hot pink top and KT Tape.

The race shirt was a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt. The design is cute and I am in need of more long-sleeved shirts, so this was perfect. 

Race for the Cure long-sleeved race shirt

The race started at Wilson Stadium at Manzano High School. The 10K started at 7:00 am and there were probably less than 30 people signed up for this distance. 

I predicted that it would be fairly small so I arrived with about 10 or 15 minutes to go to the bathroom, stretch and walk to the start line.

The race started promptly at 7 am and we were off to a slow and painful start. 

Obligatory pre-race selfie

Mile 1: 13:03

The first mile and half took us up Lomas Boulevard towards Tramway and it was all uphill, which is why my first two miles were also my slowest miles. 

Mile 2: 12:46
Mile 3: 11:17

Once we hit Tramway, we ran along a popular running/biking/walking trail and I started to get into my groove. We hit the turnaround point a little past Candelaria Road and made our way back.

Mile 4: 12:14
The longest distance I have run in this training cycle prior to this race was three miles. At the four mile mark, I was started to fade a little and started taking some 30 second walk breaks.

Mile 5: 11:11 
Somewhere around mile five an older gentleman who was on his Sunday morning run came up from behind me and gave me a few words of encouragement. Then he said that he was going to run with me for a little. At this point in the race, I knew that I was almost at the end but I really really wanted to walk. Instead, I had a really nice man pace me and gave me my fastest two miles! 

Mile 6: 10:01 *fastest mile*
Once we reached Lomas again, the gentleman shook my hand and told me to, "Keep it up." From that point, it was all downhill.

The finish line was inside the stadium, and I am pretty sure I was one of the last people in the 10K group to cross the finish line.  

Finish time: 1:12:28

After the race, I picked up some refreshments, and visited some of the booths set up around the stadium. The 5Kers seemed to be gathering at this point and it was fairly crowded. There was even a face painter and balloon animal maker. I was tempted to get my face painted but the line was too long. 

After the race, I grabbed a breakfast burrito and coffee from Golden Pride to enjoy at home! I was so hungry!

I am really glad I ran this race. If nothing else, I got in my 6 miles and also am beginning to understand how rough the elevation is on me. I do have one big gripe about this race though. I cannot for the life of me find out how to get my chip time. Every other race I have run had the results posted to their website that day or the following day, and I cannot find it anywhere. 

This is a problem because I paid extra to be chip-timed, and the only way I know what my time was is from my RunKeeper app. Not cool! I would have just gotten the non-timed option, saved the extra $5 and bought another burrito. 

UPDATE: I sent an email to Komen Central New Mexico, and they finally posted the results. My official time was 1:12:32 for an average pace of 11:42.

Sep 22, 2014

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2014 - Weeks 3 and 4 Training Recap

It has been another crazy two weeks! As I described last time, we are currently in the middle of remodeling our guest bathroom. It still needs a few finishing touches, so I am not going to share the pictures of the room just yet! 

The in-laws returned home on Monday, and Gus immediately got sick. He went to the vet and got some tests and it turned out to be nothing major. (Thank goodness!) Speaking of Gus, he is going to be going in for his last round of shots this week. I am so excited to be able to take him out soon! He is on my last nerve, but because he is so cute, I can't stay mad at him. 

While he was sick, Gus was on a diet of boiled chicken and rice with pumpkin. He ate so messily that when he was done eating, his face was orange from the pumpkin! He is so silly.

With all of the activity going on, I haven't been keeping up with my training runs. I decided to sign up for the Central New Mexico Race for the Cure 10K four days before the race because I had a 6 miler on the calendar and figured this would probably be the only way I would actually get it done.  

September 8 to 14, 2014
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 2.34 miles
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: weed backyard
Friday: weed backyard
Saturday: weed backyard
Sunday: rest

Total mileage: 2.34 miles 

September 15 to 21, 2014
Monday: rest
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 1.6 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: rest
Sunday: Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 10K (recap later this week)

Total mileage: 7.8 miles 

Sep 8, 2014

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2014 - Week 2 Training Recap

This week's training did not go as scheduled. I was away on business for two days this week, and we currently have visitors staying with us. Our first visitors to New Mexico actually!

We are also in the midst of remodeling our guest bathroom. Just another project in our 6,000 home improvement projects!

I thought I had taken before pictures, but this gives you an idea of the horror that was in the bathroom. There was three different types of tile: all different sizes and not matching. The floor was partially tile and partially laminate. The hardware and electrical outlets didn't match either, and also was not our style. 

This is what the bathroom looked like after day 1 of demolition. I'm so happy to see it go!

September 1 to 7, 2014
Monday: rest
Tuesday: Yoga Flow at home (25 minutes)
Wednesday: Travel to DC, ran 1.65 miles, YogaVibes.com - Post Workout Stretch Yoga for Athletes (9 minutes)
Thursday: Travel back from DC
Friday: rest
Saturday: help with bathroom remodel
Sunday: help with bathroom remodel

Total mileage: 1.65 miles