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Goodbye CR-V

March 29th, 2015

A few weeks ago I was just about finished with all of the spring cleaning I planned to do in my apartment. It felt like quite an accomplishment, going through just about everything I own to figure out what stuff to keep and what to give away. I had cleaned out and reorganized every cabinet and closet, and also made a couple of large donations to Goodwill. My apartment looked great, but there was one last item on my spring cleaning list. My car. For several months I’ve been driving around with several items in the trunk, waiting to find time deal with them. As my final act of spring cleaning my goal was to completely clean out my car – specifically, get off my butt and do whatever it is I need to do with all of the things I’ve been toting around town for so long. Unfortunately fate intervened before I could even get started. I told you I had a weird and somewhat disappointing Saturday, right? Well, here’s why. I drove my CR-V for the last time yesterday. I woke up early with the intention of going to Disneyland. Due to a variety of reasons I haven’t been there in a while, and I wanted to take advantage of the cool morning air before the heat of summer sets in. I jumped in my ailing car at 7 AM and set off. However, I only made it a couple of blocks before I realized something was seriously wrong. Third gear was completely gone. Rather than shifting gears around 30 mph when it was supposed to, the RPMs went way up and the “check engine” light came on. This had happened once on Friday afternoon on my way home from work, but I thought it was an isolated incident. I was wrong. My poor little CR-V is completely done this time. I’m thankful it didn’t wait to fall apart on my way back from Disneyland and leave me stranded somewhere, but it kind of forced me to rethink my weekend plans. So instead of going to the Happiest Place on Earth, I stayed home and did some serious car research. The first thing I did was start the process of donating my car. Since it’s worth almost nothing with the busted transmission, I figured the tax write off for donating it would be more beneficial than the few dollars I’d get trading it in to a dealer. I should be getting a call tomorrow to schedule a time for my CR-V to be towed away. I’ll be sorry to see it go, but at least then I’ll be able to focus on finding my new method of transportation for the next decade. After making the call about the donation I cleaned all of my personal items out of my car. Besides all of the registration and insurance paperwork in the glove box, this also included a box with my wedding dress inside that I’ve been meaning to donate to charity for a while, a lamp I should return to Pottery Barn, my old quilt that I need to take to the cleaners, more reusable grocery bags than I care to admit, and my extensive CD collection. What a mess! Hopefully this will be the catalyst I need to finally take care of all this extraneous stuff. When my CR-V was finally cleaned out, I rented a car for a week to facilitate vehicle shopping. I’m not exactly sure when that’s going to happen, but hopefully sometime this week. Like I said a couple of weeks ago when I first wrote about my car troubles, big changes are coming!

Rewards and incentives

March 28th, 2015

I’ve had a weird and somewhat disappointing Saturday, but I’ll write about that tomorrow. It’s late and I’d like to spend more time on that subject that than I have tonight. However, I would like to share a little something before I go to bed. Last week I wrote about my internal struggle regarding the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend in November. I spent a couple of days debating it, and in the end I made a deal with myself. I would register for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge (10K + half marathon), but then I had to get serious about training again. Afterwards I realized it was like giving a child a treat before they earned it. Oops. I didn’t say it was a good deal! (Not that running 19.3 miles is exactly a treat, but I sure do enjoy the medals at the end!) Fortunately I did get my rear back in gear as far as exercise goes this week. I ran last Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and went to a spinning class on Monday evening as well. It felt really good to be active again. Difficult, since I’m still out of shape after my injury, but good. And the best news is that I was lucky enough to sign up for the Avengers Infinity Gauntlet Challenge on Tuesday during Disneyland annual pass holder early registration. Once again the process was a bit of a disaster, but I was fortunate enough to get a spot two weeks before open registration. According to my deal with myself, this means I have to stick to my training schedule during the summer and fall. (It also means I need to make a training schedule for the summer and fall, but I’ll worry about that after my races in May.) This dedication should help me with my New Year’s resolution #3 to wear a bikini in Hawaii in June too. I’m going to Maui in less than three months. Yikes! I got myself another treat, of sorts, to help me with all of this. New running shoes! I bought the new incarnation of my Nike Zoom Structures to see if they work as well as for me the old ones. So far the results are promising, but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve put more miles on them. Hopefully they will be properly broken in by my next race. I’ve got a lot of work to do!

How far I’ve come

March 27th, 2015

Last night I went on just about the most pathetic run of my life. I knew things were going to be bad when I started getting winded after only about a quarter mile. And it didn’t get any easier after that. It was one of those runs where I just couldn’t catch my breath. Very discouraging. But throughout the misery, I kept telling myself that every run helps me get ready for my next race. Some people say a bad run is better than no run, and most of the time I agree with them. (There are other times that I’m pretty sure I should have stayed on the couch eating junk food, though!) I’m still seriously out of shape since getting injured back in January (sometimes Disney World is not such a magical place), but the Orange County half marathon is on May 3rd and I’d like to be at least somewhat prepared for it. It’s going to be tough, but my plan is to ramp up the mileage of my weekend runs between now and then so that 13.1 miles won’t be such a shock five weeks from now. I’m definitely nervous, but I think I can do it. Unfortunately awful runs like last night make my confidence wane. But as I was recovering from those 4 miles that I barely survived, I looked back and realized just how far I’ve come on this journey. First I got horrible blisters from my Nike Frees so I bought several other types of running shoes to try. Then I started getting really bad ankle pain, which led to a podiatrist telling me I was a severe overpronator. Luckily a pair of orthotic inserts and some stability shoes fixed that problem. Then I developed tendonitis in my foot. I have to lace my shoes up pretty tightly because the orthotics prevent my running shoes from fitting too well. The good news is usually I can keep the tendonitis at bay by keeping my laces a bit looser. Finally, my January injury during the Disney World half marathon. What I initially thought was a knee problem turned out to be iliotibial (IT) band syndrome. It took several trips to the chiropractor and an appointment with an orthopedist to figure that out, but at least it’s a problem solved. Rest and lots of stretching was the cure. There have definitely been a lot of obstacles so far! What’s next? Hopefully nothing serious! I’ve registered for way too many races already this year and I don’t want to miss any of them!

Wordless Wednesday – Orange blossoms on my street

March 25th, 2015

Bad Saturday

March 22nd, 2015

FYI, this post contains discussion of pseudo-personal medical information of a female nature. Nothing graphic, but I wanted to inform everyone upfront in case any male visitors want to stop reading. I completely understand if you either don’t care about such matters or would just rather not read about them. Either way, you’ve been warned!

When I was eighteen I started taking birth control pills because I had debilitating menstrual cramps. Once a month I would wake up in unbelievable pain, and sometimes it was so bad that I vomited. I remember lying on the bathroom floor in a fetal position, crying because I felt so terrible. I could barely function until the cramps subsided. This made going to school on such days really miserable. Sometimes painkillers would help, but only if I took them soon enough. If not, there was nothing I could do but wait out the pain. Then when I was eighteen my mom took me to the doctor to find a solution. After trying a few different options, one particular variety of birth control pills finally got my cramps under control. It was wonderful. Some months I still had mild pains, but they were completely manageable compared to what I used to endure. I ended up taking birth control pills for fifteen years. I only stopped in January 2012 when my ex-husband and I decided to try and have a baby. That’s when I was reminded of how horrible menstrual cramps can be. I usually miss a half day of work every month because I can’t do much of anything when I feel so awful. I dread this day every month.

Yesterday morning I was awakened at 4:30 AM by a twinge in my abdomen. I knew exactly what that meant. I sprang out of bed, ran downstairs to grab my Aleve, and took two tablets as quickly as possible. I was hoping to ward off the worst of the symptoms because I was registered for the Seal Beach 10K at 8 AM. Much to my chagrin, it wasn’t very long before I was in major pain. I stayed in bed with my heating pad, unable to go back to sleep, and prayed that I would feel better in time for the race. Unfortunately luck was not on my side. I only began to feel a little better around 7:45 AM, which was far too late to get ready and make it to the starting line in time. What a disappointment. I can’t believe I had to miss the race in my own hometown! At least the shirt is pretty cool this year. That’s something, right? The rest of my day was basically a wash since the Aleve wore off around noon and my cramps came back with a vengeance. I felt terrible pretty much the whole day. What a way to spend a Saturday. So for anyone out there who thinks women are exaggerating when they talk about period pain, please understand that some of us are truly suffering. And it’s even worse when I miss something I was looking forward to, like a race, because of cramps! Better luck next month.

Foodie Friday – Coconut oil roasted green beans

March 20th, 2015

I’ve shared a roasted green beans recipe before (roasted Parmesan green beans back in 2013), but I have much more experience making them now. Just about every week I whip up a batch for my lunches, which means that I’ve absolutely perfected my recipe. And I’ve learned a few lessons from failed experiments too. First of all, coconut oil is a must. The nutty flavor is fabulous. You can substitute olive oil if you want, but I think coconut oil is just a lot tastier. Also, salt is not an optional ingredient. When roasting other vegetables I can simply use a salt-free seasoning (like Mrs. Dash) and they turn out great, but the green beans need salt. Without it they turn out bland and tasteless. so don’t skimp on the salt and pepper. Other than that, these green beans are basically foolproof!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb French cut green beans (I get the pre-washed bags)
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp coconut oil
Salt
Black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Dump the green beans into a large bowl. If yours aren’t the pre-washed variety, you might need to wash them and snap off the ends first. But I’m lazy and I buy the bagged ones to save time. Put your coconut oil into a small bowl and melt it in the microwave. This should only take 20-30 seconds. My apartment is pretty chilly most of the year so my coconut oil is always solid. Chiseling it out of the jar is a pain, but I think the flavor of the green beans is far superior using coconut oil rather than olive oil. Pour the melted coconut oil over the green beans and stir with a spatula to coat. (I have to do this quickly before the coconut oil solidifies again!) Generously season with salt and pepper, and stir as needed to distribute the spices. Pour the green beans onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray (I use Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray), and spread out as much as possible. A single layer is preferable, but I always have some overlap. Roast at 375 deg F for 15 minutes. Stir the beans and roast for another 10-15 minutes. I always end up cooking them the full 30 minutes because I like it when they start to shrivel and char a little. Enjoy!

Based on The Rising Spoon’s Oven Roasted Green Beans with Coconut Oil.

Run all the races!

March 19th, 2015

This may already be obvious, but I have a confession to make. After discovering Disney races I’ve become slightly obsessed with running as many as possible. Hence the fact that I participated in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend (not the half marathon, but the 5K and 10K) at Disneyland one week after the Disney World Half Marathon back in January. Oops. It’s really hard for me to see the registration for one of the races approaching and not at least consider signing up. Most of the Disney World events are out since I can’t make it to Orlando that often, but each and every one of the Disneyland races makes me drool. The combinations of running and Disney is irresistible. The shirts and medals are pretty attractive too!

Here is the latest example of my ridiculous dilemma. This morning Run Disney announced that they’re adding a 10K race as well as a challenge (10K + half marathon) to the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend in November. Cue the temptation! I ran the Avengers Half Marathon last year, and besides the gale force winds which made the middle of the race miserable, I enjoyed it. In fact, it’s my fastest half marathon time so far. (Fast for me, but not for anyone else.) For a number of reasons I’d love to sign up for the new Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. My only reservation is that the Wine & Dine Half Marathon is the weekend before at Disney World. I had been planning to do Wine & Dine for a while so signing up for it this week was a no brainer, even without the new Avengers race information. The big question is, should I commit to another big race just a few days after I get home from Orlando? I’m torn! The obvious compromise is just to run the 10K to make sure I don’t injure myself with too much running (I can survive 6.2 miles in just about any circumstances), but part of me is dying to do the challenge! One reason is that I have a chance to be a legacy runner for the Avengers Half Marathon if I participate all of the first five years. It’s not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but as of now it’s be the only race where that’s even a possibility for me. Annual pass holder registration opens on Tuesday morning so I have until then to make my initial decision. I’ll think about it. If this isn’t a first world problem, I don’t know what is!

Wordless Wednesday – I miss winter (January 3rd flashback)

March 18th, 2015

Going to Orlando in November!

March 17th, 2015

I’m going to Orlando in November! I’m really looking forward to it, but this trip has already been fraught with difficulties. Two weeks ago early registration for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Disney World on November 7th opened for annual pass holders. I was already planning wanted to travel to Orlando for this race in 2015 so I went home from work for an hour that morning so I could sign up. I was logged on everywhere and hitting refresh on all of the websites right at 9 AM, but I couldn’t find the registration link in the usual places. And based on all of the Facebook posts I was reading (in between page refreshes), I wasn’t the only one. Finally I figured out where the link was hiding, typed in all of my information as fast as possible, hit Enter, and crossed my fingers. Unfortunately I was greeted with a message that said something like “capacity limit reached.” Pre-registration was sold out in less than 15 minutes. I had taken time off work for this? Phooey. My only saving grace was that I’d have another chance to sign up during open registration a couple of weeks later. Fast forward to this morning. After working all weekend I had enough hours to take the morning off so I could be sitting on my couch with my laptop, ready to secure my spot in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, right at 9 AM. Fortunately for me, this time it worked out, but not without another registration debacle. The Run Disney website went down right before 9 AM so no one could get to the registration links (again, based on Facebook posts I read while mildly panicking). Eventually I found a roundabout way to the half marathon link, but then I was put into a virtual queue to wait my turn. The queue initially said 12 minutes, but I think it was more like 15 before I got to actually register. I was so nervous that I’d miss out again! In the end I was one of the lucky ones who got through before the race sold out (less than 45 minutes later). I am extremely grateful, but there has got to be a way to make the registration process easier! After I got my confirmation email for the race, I called and booked a hotel room at the Disney Polynesian Resort, and bought a plane ticket as well. In less than an hour I was almost fully prepared for this trip already! I can’t wait to go back to Orlando!

Car troubles on my day off

March 15th, 2015

After working Saturday through Wednesday I was looking forward to having Thursday off. I was going to sleep in, run errands, and get a lot done around my apartment. It was going to be great. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. When my car started making some weird scratching noises on Monday I decided I really should take it in for service on my day off. Not the most glamorous use of my free time, but necessary. Actually, much more necessary than I imagined. Turns out the transmission is shot in my not quite 10 year old SUV. When the service rep sat down next to me in the lounge and said the word “transmission,” I knew it was going to be bad. And very expensive. But I left the dealer only paying for an oil change. There was no way I was going to commit to dumping five thousand dollars into an aging car that’s not worth much more than that in its current condition. To make sure the dealer wasn’t taking me for a ride I took my car to Aamco for a second opinion that afternoon. They agreed that the transmission was the problem, but they wanted to rebuild it rather than a complete replacement. The estimate for something like that was around three thousand dollars, minimum. That wasn’t enough of a savings for me to consider the repairs, though. I left Aamco paying nothing, despite the guy at the front desk trying to convince me otherwise. I know what the car is worth, and I’m just not willing to spend that much money on it. Better to save it for my next vehicle. So as much as I hate to admit it, I suppose I’ll be looking to buy a car in the near future. I was really hoping that my car would make it to it’s tenth birthday (September 15th), but it looks like that’s not going to happen. It’s so frustrating. The transmission in a Honda shouldn’t be falling apart this soon! I can’t complain too much since I haven’t had any major problems with my CR-V in nine and a half years, but I still wanted to keep it for a little longer. I guess I’m just not mentally prepared to buy a new car yet, but mechanical problems have forced my hand. So sometime next week I’ll start searching for a new set of wheels that I’ll hopefully be driving the next decade. Big changes are coming!