New running shoe day!

During the San Dimas Turkey Trot I knew it was time to retire my running shoes. I was feeling that familiar old ankle pain that led me to see a podiatrist last year. Not good. Luckily I’ve had a brand new pair of the same style in my closet for months in anticipation of this moment. I should have started breaking them in after the Wine & Dine Half Marathon earlier this month, but I put it off since the Avengers races were right on its heels. But on the 10K on Saturday there was no doubt that my old shoes had run their last race. I don’t have any more half marathons this year (my next one is in mid-January) so it’s the perfect time to start the clock on a new pair of running shoes. When I took them out of the box and set them down next to my old shoes I was shocked at the color difference. The new ones were incredibly white! (Due to the fact that I need narrow width running shoes I never get to wear cool colors I see on everyone else. Narrow shoes from Brooks only come in white. Boring!) I can’t wait until they are broken in and look a little less blinding. In an effort to hasten that process, I wore them running with a friend after work this afternoon. She’s the one who’s pacing me on Thanksgiving for my 10K personal record and we’ve been trying to figure out a strategy for the race. I met her at Bolsa Chica State Beach where we could run on the bike bath. It’s a great place to run. Nice and flat, with no speeding cars to worry about. And the view of the Pacific Ocean is pretty spectacular. I feel better about my PR chances for Thursday after running with her a couple of times. It’s not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m going to be thrilled when we’re successful. (Notice I said ‘when’ and not ‘if.’ I’m trying to be as optimistic as possible!) And hopefully the two races on Thanksgiving get my brand new shoes a little scuffed up and dull their insane whiteness!

Once Upon A Time (season 5)

When “Once Upon A Time” started back in 2011 I absolutely loved it. That first season was so much fun. I loved the heroes and I loved the villains (Regina aka the Evil Queen is awesome). Unfortunately seasons 2 and 3 weren’t quite as enchanting, but I kept watching in the hopes that the show would recapture that spark that made it so enjoyable in the beginning. I rarely give up on shows after I’ve gotten invested in them, even when I probably should. There have been exceptions, of course, but I generally soldier on until the show is cancelled and finally put out of its misery. Luckily everything started to turn back around in season 4 of “Once Upon A Time”. The first half of the season included characters from “Frozen” which was just OK, but the second half of the season revolved around the villains. That’s when it got fun again. And season 5 has been great so far. It’s definitely one of my favorite shows this year (probably second to “Doctor Who,” but I’m sure that’s not a surprise). I’ve just got my fingers crossed that “Once Upon A Time” continues to be so entertaining.

As a side note, the actor and actress that play Snow White and Prince Charming on “Once Upon A Time” are also off-screen husband and wife. I read somewhere that they are big Disney fans, which I greatly admired. Then one day this spring I saw them at Disneyland with their new baby! I was star struck, but I didn’t want to bother them by being a fangirl. So I just watched as they walked past me. Imagine seeing Snow White and Prince Charming at Disneyland!

November 21st

I started this morning at the San Dimas Turkey Trot 10K. (Yes, I’m crazy enough to have signed up for a pre-Thanksgiving turkey trot in addition to the two races I’m running on Thursday. Don’t worry, I’ve already admitted that I have a problem.) This was the second in a three-part holiday series. The race was at Bonelli Regional Park where I’ve run a couple of other times in the past year. It’s a hilly course so I knew my time wasn’t going to be spectacular, and it turned out to be unseasonably warm so that didn’t help. Needless to say, it wasn’t my fastest 10K, but it wasn’t my slowest either so I was ok with that. No need to push myself too hard before Thanksgiving Day. That’s going to be tough enough! I also got to see a friend of mine and her two adorable kids at the race so was a lot of fun.

On my way home from the turkey trot I listened to the Florida vs. Florida Atlantic football game on the radio. I was still running when it started, but I got to listen to the end of the first half while I was driving. Gotta love satellite radio! Unfortunately the Gators struggled a lot more than they should have this week. At halftime neither team had put any points on the board. But then when Florida scored two touchdowns in the third quarter I thought I could finally relax. Not even close. Florida Atlantic answered with two touchdowns of their own to tie the game and force an overtime. Then things got really nuts. The Gators managed another touchdown in OT, but the extra point afterwards was blocked. This was potentially a disaster. The kicking game has been a thorn in Florida’s side this whole season. A missed extra point could be the only thing that separates victory from defeat. All Florida Atlantic needed to do was score a touchdown and not botch the extra point attempt to beat the #8 team in the country. Much to my delight, they were not able to pull off the upset. I was so relieved!

After the game was over I had to take my car to the Honda dealer for service. I’ve owned it for over six months and it just now needs its first oil change. Living in Seal Beach means that I put much fewer miles on my car every month. When I bought my car I was promised free oil changes for two years, and I did receive the service at no cost, but it took almost two hours. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, I guess. I did get a lot of reading done on my iPad while I was sitting at the dealer, though. That was a plus. The last thing I did today was go see “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.” I rarely go see movies at the theater any more, and almost never on opening weekend, but I made an exception this time. My weekends have been so busy so far this fall that I figured I’d better make the most of any free time I can scrounge up. I really enjoyed the movie. It was a fitting end to the franchise. The books are still better for anyone who’s wondering, though.

Now I just have to decide what to do tomorrow!

Thanksgiving anticipation

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Time is moving way too fast this fall! I know I say that every year, but it always seems to come as a surprise. In an effort to make the most of this time of year I’ve been walking a fine line between enjoying the holidays and getting burned out. Unfortunately I’ve been working a lot recently so “burned out” is basically my default state. Hopefully this upcoming week will change that. I’m staying in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving for the first time since 2011 so it’s going to be a bit more relaxing than usual. I’m going to work all three days next week, which sounds insanely boring, but I might actually get some things done with the relative quiet that surrounds a major holiday. I’ve had to wear a lot of hats at work for the last six months so I feel like I haven’t had a chance to make any real progress on my main projects. Three days without people bugging me every five minutes is going to be a blessing. An overworked engineer’s dream! But uninterrupted work is definitely not the reason I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving week. I’m both excited and nervous about the turkey trot I signed up for on Thursday morning. For a couple of reasons I registered for the Oceanside Turkey Trot combination 10K and 5K. It certainly wasn’t the most geographically obvious option, but it has its benefits. First of all, it maximizes my Thanksgiving mileage (9.3 miles between the two races) which is a big plus. Also, I’ll get a tech shirt in a women’s style, in contrast to the usual cotton unisex shirts that don’t fit me properly. Then there’s earning two medals instead of one. What can I say? I’m a race addict. So why am I nervous? A friend of mine is running the 10K with me and pacing me so that I can achieve a personal record. This is a scary prospect. When I’m running alone and I don’t maintain my expected pace or I fall short of a finish time it’s not a big deal. I brush it off and start thinking about my next attempt. This time I’m going to have someone else running with me, keeping me accountable for the goal I’ve set. I want to cross the finish line in 1:10 which is slightly faster than my current PR. It’s a modest target, but I’m still worried about succeeding. My friend and I ran together on Wednesday night and did four miles at my planned pace. It was not easy for me! I’m still optimistic that I can get my PR, but it’s going to be tough. My reward after the races in Oceanside will be a trip to Disneyland! The parks are usually not busy on Thanksgiving Day and I have a dinner reservation at Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel. It’s undoubtedly going to be delicious, and I’ll heave earned it after running 15K earlier that morning. So that’s what I have to look forward to on Thanksgiving this year. It’s going to be here so soon!

Lunch with co-workers

The first week of November I was really burned out after all of the Halloween events that I’d participated in (parties, races, Disneyland, etc.), but the excitement wasn’t over quite yet. That week one of my co-workers from Denver was in town for his quarterly visit and I usually bring in lunch for our group when he’s here. I generally make something in my Crockpot because it makes heating and serving really simple, but this time I whipped up a lasagna and a couple of salad options to share. As I’ve said before, I make the world’s best lasagna, but it’s not the healthiest option. So I rounded out the meal with a mixed greens salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and a cucumber salad with a red wine vinaigrette. Fancy! I never leave work to go to lunch anymore so this was an opportunity to eat some good food (better than my usual lunch fare, at least) without having to go somewhere to get it. And there’s always so much work to do when our Denver colleague is in town so having lunch at our desks is helpful. We always have so much fun when we’re all working together. We catch up, gossip, and make stupid jokes. I swear we laugh all day. It’s a blast. And sometimes we even accomplish stuff at the same time! I was leaving for Orlando the day after our working lunch so it made my trip preparation a lot more difficult, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. I love my co-workers and spending quality time with them, even if it’s just at work, always brightens my day.

Thank goodness for technology

Thank goodness for technology. I was getting caught up on this season of “Arrow” this afternoon when I accidentally deleted the most recent episode before watching it. Oops! Obviously I still have some things to learn about my DVR. Luckily cable TV providers aren’t the only game in town anymore. (Actually the first place I looked for the episode was Time Warner’s On Demand catalog, but it wasn’t there. Two strikes for cable TV.) Instead I turned to my iPad. It only took a few minutes to download the CW app and start watching last week’s episode. Not too many years ago I would have had to wait for summer reruns to see whatever I’d missed! But now with readily available episodes of just about every television show you could ever want to see streaming online, my little DVR mistake made no difference at all. I love it! I’ve been under a lot of pressure at work lately and watching TV when I get home each evening helps me unwind. Unfortunately it also keeps me from getting an optimal number of chores done around the house, but it’s a small price to pay for stress relief. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to relax and watch Sunday’s “Once Upon A Time” before going to bed!

2015 Avengers Half Marathon

If you run the same Disney half marathon each of its first five years you become a legacy. One of my friends is earning her Tinkerbell Half Marathon legacy status in May and I’m jealous. But with my late appearance on the running scene the opportunities for me to attain this kind of distinction have been minimal. But last November I participated in the Inaugural Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland, and began my journey towards legacy status without realizing it. This year when I signed up for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (Inaugural Captain America 10K + 2nd annual Avengers Half Marathon) keeping my legacy status alive was forefront in my mind. Granted, it doesn’t really mean much, but I must admit that I’m slightly addicted to running perks. Shirts, medals, photos, etc. At least it’s a healthy addiction, right?

On Sunday morning I woke up at 4 AM rather than 3:30 AM. I didn’t want to spend as much time out in the cold with only a mylar thermal blanket for warmth while waiting for the half marathon to start. As lovely as the weather was for running, it was too chilly to be standing around doing nothing for over an hour. I decided to wear an Elsa t-shirt for the race because it kept my shoulders and back covered (less frustrating sunscreen application required, and it also kept me a bit warmer pre-race), but I stuck out like a sore thumb in the sea of red, white, and blue in the corrals. You’ve never seen so many people dressed like Captain America in your life. In stark contrast to the Disneyland Half Marathon, I was one of the few runners in princess-inspired gear. Dare to be different! I actually intended to wear an Iron Man pin as an homage to the superheroes, but I forgot it in my hotel room. Sorry, Mr. Stark! When I crossed the start line I had no idea how the race was going to treat me. Was I going to be fast or slow? Was my breathing going to be easy or labored? The answers were not immediately obvious, but I wasn’t feeling too bad early on so I had that going for me. The weather was nice and cool which helped a lot. When I passed the 10K mark and got a text on my progress for the first 6.2 miles I realized that I was on pace for a personal record. My fastest half marathon (by about 5 minutes) was this same race last year and the thought of setting a new PR on the same course was really exciting. And I did it! The last couple of miles were tough, but I pushed myself to finish strong when all I wanted to do was walk. As I crossed the finish line I knew I had achieved a PR (based on some rudimentary subtraction I did in my head when I saw the clock time). This led to an embarrassing celebration on my part, which should make for some interesting professional photos. I’ll let you know once they’re available. My official time was 2:39:48, which is more than 6 minutes faster than my previous personal record. That’s incredible! I was so happy. After collecting my Avengers Half Marathon and Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medals, a new mylar blanket, and a much-needed bottle of water, I walked back to my hotel room for a lovely shower. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. I drove back to Seal Beach, ate a delicious late breakfast at McDonald’s, and then spent the afternoon on my couch catching up on TV shows. It was glorious. While basking in the glow of my spectacular success I was already looking forward to next year’s Avengers Half Marathon so I can not only maintain my legacy status, but also chase a new personal record. This is definitely my race!

Avengers 10K

Yet again I’ve missed a couple more days of my NaBloPoMo commitment. As with the last time, I was away from home, although just in Anaheim for the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend rather than Orlando. A Disney race was still to blame for my lapse. I was just too busy and too tired to post anything on Friday and Saturday. Sorry about that. Luckily the weekend gave me a lot to write about so I’ll recap it this week.

I woke up at 3:30 AM yesterday morning for the Captain America 10K. When I’m staying at a hotel near Disneyland I usually don’t get up quite that early, but there were some additional security checks in place for the races after the terrorist attacks in Paris the night before. So I dragged myself out of bed and into the cold morning 45 minutes earlier than I had originally planned. Luckily I’d saved a couple of mylar thermal blankets from previous races so I could keep warm with one of those wrapped around myself until right before crossing the start line. It worked remarkably well. However, the extra security precautions turned out to be pretty simple so I spent about an hour and a half sitting around in the chilly pre-dawn air before I could start running. Without that blanket I would have been really uncomfortable. (What a difference two months makes! In September I was melting at the Disneyland races. November is a huge improvement.) I was in the third corral of runners so I started the Avengers 10K around 5:45 AM. The weather was perfect for running so I pushed myself to go a bit faster than usual and it paid off! It was my second fastest 10K at 1:12:27 (only 42 seconds slower than my personal record). I might have beaten my PR, but I stopped for a photo in California Adventure about halfway through the race. The delay might not have been worth it, but I’ll withhold judgment until I see the picture. After I’d collected my 10K medal (and a new mylar blanket) I stuck around to watch a friend’s daughter run the 100M kids race. It was so adorable!

The Florida vs. South Carolina football game started at 9 AM that morning. I missed most of the first quarter while I was watching the Avengers Kids Races, but it was worth it. As a loyal fan I wore a new Gator tank top (my parents gave it to me in Florida last week) during the 10K, as well as a Captain America pin to honor the race’s namesake. Superhero-themed races are no excuse to not support your team! I actually cancelled a brunch reservation at Carnation Cafe in Disneyland to stay in my hotel room and watch Florida’s last SEC conference game of the season, but the whole scenario kind of went awry, much to my dismay. First of all, ESPN was out of commission on the TV in my room. The whole entertainment system was a little finicky, but all of the ESPN channels were completely frozen. This annoyed me greatly, and I gave some poor guy at the front desk an earful on the subject. Luckily the hotel wifi was fast enough for me to stream the game on the WatchESPN app on my iPad. (Last weekend I watched part of the Florida vs. Vanderbilt game on the same app on my iPhone while in line for a ride at EPCOT. The wifi at Disney World is outstanding!) The Gators ended up winning the game, but not without a bit of an exciting fourth quarter where South Carolina scored two unanswered touchdowns and at one point Florida only had a three-point lead. A win is a win, but this one was much too close for my taste! Luckily the Gators clinched the SEC East last weekend so they already had a spot in the championship game in December. The rest of my Saturday was pretty quiet – I took a nap after the game, walked to Disneyland in the afternoon, had a large bowl of spaghetti for dinner (mediocre, but good pre-race fuel), and finished the evening with a Ghirardelli’s salted caramel hot chocolate. Delicious. I went to bed as early as possible in order to be rested and ready for the race the next morning.

Come back tomorrow for my recap of the Avengers half marathon!