What weekend?

My last day off of work was February 11th, the day I went to Disneyland to see the Main Street Electrical Parade (which I wrote about last week). Starting last Sunday I worked night shifts for five days, and then put in as many hours as possible in the office over the weekend. That kind of schedule doesn’t make for much of a social life, but sometimes it is necessary.

On Friday morning I blearily stumbled out of work at 6 AM. There was a major winter storm bearing down on Los Angeles that day, but it hadn’t arrived yet. I was lucky to get home before the crazy wind and rain hit Orange County. I fell asleep around 9 AM and slept through a lot of it, but I had to get up around 2 PM to get ready for an appointment with my sports chiropractor. It was still storming when I had to leave the house and an umbrella wasn’t the least bit effective in such severe weather. I threw on my raincoat, but still got soaked by the time I got to the chiropractor’s office. The reason I was there was to get some relief from my knee pain before starting my highest mileage week of LA Marathon training. My chiropractor does great work, but it always hurt like crazy during the treatment. He always leaves bruises behind! It’s worth it for the great results, though. After I got home again I knew I needed to get ready and go to work, but I stalled because of the terrible weather that I wasn’t willing to face again quite yet. I even resorted to filing my taxes to have an excuse to stay home a little longer! (The good news is that I got a decent refund.) Eventually I made it to work for a few hours to make sure everything was set for the tests I planned to run over the weekend.

On Saturday I woke up late because my body still hadn’t readjusted to a normal schedule (i.e., being awake during daylight hours) after a week of night shifts. I dragged myself to work for eight hours, and only got home in time to wash a load of laundry before bedtime (workout clothes, of course). Sunday was slightly more interesting because I didn’t go to work first thing due to some computer maintenance that was happening in the morning. It was the perfect time to get together with my running buddies and complete a 14-mile LA Marathon training run. We ran on a path in Brea which was very pretty, but our pace was much slower than usual. We also got rained on for a while in the middle. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but luckily, thanks to the slower pace, I still felt good when we were done. The downside is that we weren’t done until a lot later than I expected. I drove home, ate lunch, showered, and rushed to work as fast as I could, but I didn’t get there until 2 PM. After seven hours there I managed to escape. Since it was already 9 PM all I accomplished after that was getting ready for work the next day. And thus a busy, but not very entertaining weekend came to an end. Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to write about after this coming weekend.

Blog excuses

Try as I might, the regularity of my webpage updates has suffered lately. There are multiple reasons for the reduction in frequency, just like my excuses for not getting back to the gym sooner that I wrote about in my last post. I miss writing every day, but it just hasn’t been possible. The bottom line is that all of my waking hours have been consumed with one of the three activities below for the last week or so. I haven’t really had any free time in nine days, and I don’t really expect that to change until the upcoming weekend when I head to Las Vegas for the Hot Chocolate 15K with my running buddies.

1) Work
Last Sunday night I started my first of five night shifts at work. It was rough. Working from 10 PM to 7 AM takes its toll on you, especially when sleeping soundly during the day is challenging. My body just didn’t want to stay asleep when it was warmer than usual in my bedroom and sunlight was pouring through the cracks in my blinds. I did get paid a little extra for working such odd hours, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the upheaval in my daily routine. Even after my night shifts were over I still had to work both days this weekend. Not the best way to spend my days of rest, but my overwhelming workload demanded it. I can’t wait to have next weekend off!

2) Running
Luckily my crazy work schedule still allowed me to complete my weekday runs and attend my usual boot camp classes in the evenings before I went to work. I got my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays training runs done without too much trouble. The above photo was taken during my 9-mile run at Bolsa Chica State Beach last Wednesday which I was able to start at 5 PM (something that’s not possible on most regular work days). The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I got to see a beautiful sunset as I was running along the Pacific Ocean. You just can’t beat that. I also ran 14 miles with my running buddies this past Sunday morning. Some computer maintenance at work that morning gave me the perfect excuse to get another marathon training run done. I can’t believe the LA Marathon is in less than four weeks!

3) Sleep (or not)
At the end of each of my night shifts last week I was completely exhausted. It was all I could do to throw on some pajamas and crawl into bed when I got home. Falling asleep wasn’t my problem at all, but staying asleep was another story. Even though I wasn’t able to get enough hours of slumber in between work shifts I still spent a fair amount of time in bed either trying to go back sleep or lying there staring at my iPad when sleep was elusive. It was kinda nice to lounge in my lovely flannel sheets before getting up and facing the day, but I’d have much rather have worked and slept on a normal schedule. And speaking of a normal schedule, I’ve stayed up way too late tonight writing this post. At this rate I won’t get enough sleep to face a day shift (you know, that thing I was longing for last week?) at work tomorrow. Good night!

Gym excuses

Three night shifts done with the fourth starting soon. I’m starting to get into the groove of this schedule – just in time for it to be over after tomorrow night. While I’m waiting to go in to work tonight I’ll start catching up on some of the backlog of blog topics that I’ve been intending to write about for a while.

I didn’t get back to the gym after the Disney World Marathon until last Monday, 2/6. That was a hiatus of more than a month. I intended to go back a lot sooner, but there were some extenuating circumstances. Illness and injury kept me sidelined for a while after I got back from Orlando, and I only seriously considered going to boot camp on Friday, 2/3. However, it didn’t happen on that particular day for a couple of reasons.

1) Cubicle move…again
My work group was slated to move our offices to a different area at the end of the day so all of our belongings, including our computers, had to be boxed up and ready for the movers by 5 PM. Since I started working on my program in 2005 I have moved my cubicle so many times that I’ve lost count of the actual number. It’s somewhere on the order of 6 or 7 – enough to make you wonder whether unpacking is even worth it. So on top of having a lot of work to do that Friday, I also had to pack up all of my personal items and disconnect all of my computers (I have more than one in my cubicle) before leaving for the day. It was a messy and time-consuming endeavor. The office move preparation was complicated by the fact that I had to leave early that day for a doctor’s appointment at 3:30 PM.

2) Doctor’s appointment
If you read my blog then you’re familiar with the foot and knee injuries I sustained during the Disney World Marathon. Luckily the foot problems disappeared shortly after I got back from Orlando and never reappeared, but The knee pain lingered a bit longer. Every time I went running my knee would hurt for about 24 hours afterwards, especially when I was going up or down stairs. This made me wonder if there was something more serious going on. So just in case I made an appointment with the physician’s assistant that I saw the first two times I had running-related afflictions. The last thing I wanted was to continue running through the pain (which was admittedly mild compared to previous ailments) and cause permanent damage. I was late to my appointment due to the cubicle move at work, but that annoyance was forgotten because I got good news from the PA. I was very happy when she told me that my symptoms are simply due to IT band tightness and nothing serious. Phew! Nothing some stretching and visits to the sports chiropractor can’t fix!

After this ordeal last Friday I did make it back to the gym on Monday, 2/3. I’m so happy to be back to my regular workout routine so I hope I can keep it up. No more excuses (or injuries, hopefully)!

A perfect day

I survived my first night shift, but it was rough. I was completely exhausted when I got home earlier this morning. Now I’m getting ready to go to boot camp before my shift starts tonight. This week is just terrible!

Saturday was a perfect day. It started out a little rocky when my alarm went off at 5:30 AM so I could get ready for my 18-mile training run for the LA Marathon, but then I went back to sleep for an hour. Luckily the weather cooperated to make my run comfortable even though I didn’t get started until 7:30 AM. Running 18 miles this time around was more difficult than back in December, but I successfully completed the feat without any serious problems, and that’s what really matters. In fact, I felt better after 18 miles than I did after the Surf City half marathon the weekend before, which is extraordinary. Miraculously there was no knee pain, no foot pain, and no nausea (thanks to some nutrition tweaks), but I did realize that my running shoes are at the end of their life. They will always have a special place in my heart for helping me survive my first marathon, but out of necessity I will start breaking in a new pair (that just arrived today, actually) this week.

As much as I wanted to relax when I got home there just wasn’t time because I had plans in the afternoon with Natalie. We were supposed to have a birthday celebration at Disneyland back in January, but we had to postpone because we were both sick as the day approached. Luckily two weeks later we were both almost fully recovered and ready to take Disneyland by storm. In reality, the first thing I did was wait in a really long line at the ticket booth to renew my Premier annual pass. For some reason the Florida/California pass is the only one that can’t be renewed online, which is annoying. Since I’m going to Orlando in November and January it makes sense for me to get the dual-coast pass at least one more time. It was a little complicated, but eventually I walked away with a new annual pass that doesn’t expire until March 30, 2018. Fantastic! Much to our chagrin, Natalie and I discovered that Disneyland was insanely packed that day, maybe because a ticket price hike was going into effect the next day. We only managed to get on a couple of rides (Haunted Mansion and It’s A Small World), but that was OK. We had dinner, shopped, hung out, and basically had a great time. The real purpose of our visit was to see the Main Street Electrical Parade which has recently returned to Disneyland after a stint at Disney World starting in 2010. Shockingly I’d never seen the Electrical Parade before so it was an amazing experience. I was entranced. We also stuck around for the Disneyland Forever fireworks which I hadn’t seen since about 2014. After all of that I deemed Saturday a perfect day. We all need lovely days like that every once in a while.

Since I was trying to prepare myself for working nights this week I intended to stay at Disneyland until it closed at midnight, but I was way too tired to do that. I might have been able to power through it if the lines for the rides were shorter, but the crowds didn’t thin out very much even after the fireworks. Natalie and I left to drive home at 10:30 PM. My perfect day ended with me struggling to stay awake after I got back to Seal Beach, but I did manage to avoid going to bed until about 2 AM. Working nights this week is going to be awful, but at least I had a great weekend beforehand!

Up way too late

As far as I’m concerned it’s Saturday night, but this post isn’t going to be finished until Sunday because it’s already after midnight. Normally there’s no way I’d still be awake this late, but I’m trying to alter my sleep schedule since I have to work nights this week. It’s going to be awful no matter how I prepare, but hopefully I can make the transition slightly less painful. My plan for tomorrow (or rather today, since it’s technically Sunday already) is to go to bed as late as possible (hence why I’m awake in the wee hours of the morning) and then sleep as late as possible so that I’ll be at least somewhat prepared to work my shift that starts at 10 PM. Unfortunately I’m really struggling to stay awake right now. It doesn’t help that I woke up early today to go running, and then met my good friend Natalie at Disneyland to see the Main Street Electrical Parade which has recently returned to Disneyland. This was my first day off from work in two weeks and I loved it. I wish I could write more about it tonight, but I’m so tired that I can barely see straight. I think it’s finally time to give up and go to sleep. More details tomorrow!

Don’t go breaking my heart

Life is hard. That being said, I know that I am incredibly fortunate. I have a wonderful family, I have friends that I can’t live without, and I’m an educated professional with a good job. Plus, on a more personal note, I’m strong, self-sufficient, confident, not unattractive (on my good days), and generally a good person. When describing myself I usually use self-deprecating language, but if I’m honest, most of the time I think I’m pretty awesome. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today, but that doesn’t mean that I have everything that I want. It’s human nature to want more out of life and I’m no exception to that rule. Luckily my heart is not as fragile as it used to be. I’ve gotten stronger with every distressing situation that I’ve had to live through. I’ve survived hardships that most people don’t even know about, but they’ve made me who I am today. And in spite of all the tears I’ve shed and all of the hurt I’ve endured, I wouldn’t change anything that brought me to this moment in my life. I have a lot to give and I just need to figure out where the journey is going to take me next.

Too busy to write

I haven’t written anything since Thursday, and now it’s Sunday night and I desperately need to go to sleep if I want to get any sleep before work tomorrow. The last three days have been a blur, to say the least. Not only did I run the Surf City half marathon this morning, but I had to work both days this weekend. It wasn’t pleasant, but I got a lot done. This week isn’t going to be any more relaxing either. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to take a day off due to all of the extra hours I worked this weekend, but that may not be possible. There are just so many obligations! I’m insanely behind on basic chores like cooking and laundry that I don’t know when I’ll be able to catch up. Right now I’m going to publish this sorry excuse for a webpage post and tackle a little housework before I go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have time to write something worthwhile. Doubtful, but I still have hope!

Great Chocolate Race

On Sunday I ran the Great Chocolate Race in Long Beach and somehow survived 10 miles. As of that morning three weeks had passed since the Disney World Marathon and I’d hardly run at all during that time. I was seriously unprepared for a double digit run, but I was willing to give it a try anyway. Besides, if I missed it I wouldn’t get the promised box of Godiva chocolates when I crossed the finish line! Who cares about medals when there’s chocolate to be earned? I started the race with my usual running buddies (wearing matching shirts even), but I didn’t expect to be able to keep up with either of them based on the lingering effects of my recent illness. I did end up having a lot of trouble breathing, but I managed to stay with the faster of my two buddies for almost six miles. Not bad! Some of those miles were fast too. Much faster than I planned to run during my comeback. So after gasping for breath during our walk breaks (it felt like I only had about half of my lung capacity available) for far too long I told her to leave me behind. I slowed down significantly after that and stopped for a water break which gave my other running buddy enough time to catch up. Even with a more leisurely pace it was all I could do to keep up with her towards the end! The second half of the 10-mile race was a lot slower than the first half and I was completely dead at the end, but I finished it. It felt really great to get back in to running, especially without any foot pain. I was worried about that, but it turned out perfectly fine. (On the other hand, my knee did bother me a little which is a whole new concern, but I’m still assessing the seriousness of that situation. I’ll evaluate the state of my joints after the Surf City half marathon on Sunday.) And that little box of Godiva chocolates was delicious too.

Goodbye January

The first month of 2017 has come and gone. Usually I love January, even with the usual mild case of the post-holiday blues, but this year it was a little uneven for me. On one hand I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of successfully completing my first marathon at Disney World so that was absolutely amazing. But then I got sick shortly after getting back from Orlando and the rest of the month was basically a disaster. I missed a lot of work, my fitness routine was all but abandoned (I haven’t gone to the gym since January 6th), and I’ve eaten more comfort food than I’d like to admit. Luckily things are starting to turn around. I’m finally getting healthy and I’ve started running again (my 4 miles tonight weren’t pretty, but I’m improving). Hopefully I’ll make it back to boot camp on Friday too. It’s going to be a rough road to get back in shape, but I’m glad to be getting started. February is going to be better than January, I’m sure. I already have a lot of plans with friends and running buddies that I’m looking forward to. Traditionally my blogging tapers off in February, but I’m going to try to keep it up in 2017. I’m really enjoying writing on a regular basis and I hope there’s at least one person out there who enjoys reading it. Here’s to eleven more months of 2017!

A fortune for the ages

I was at work for 11 hours today supporting an important event. Catered meals are one of the only enjoyable aspects about these kinds of activities and today we had a variety of options from Pick Up Stix for lunch. The food was pretty tasty, and we ended our meal with the usual fortune cookies. My co-workers each opened theirs and read the fortunes to the group. Most were encouraging but vague phrases about something like friends or trusting your instincts – exactly what you’d expect from mass-produced products meant to satisfy a wide variety of consumers. I was anticipating something similar from my fortune as I cracked open the cookie and pulled out the tiny slip of paper inside, but when I read what was written on it I was completely taken aback. It said, “Your judgement [sic] is a little off at this time. Rely on friends.” WTF? Did I just get insulted by a fortune cookie? Luckily I was in a positive state of mind so my first reaction was amusement. I found it so hilarious that I could barely compose myself enough to share it with my co-workers. They were all flabbergasted as well! Who in their right mind thought to put such a pessimistic statement into a fortune cookie? At least we all got a good laugh out of it, which was very therapeutic after our trying day at work. So maybe it wasn’t such a bad choice after all!

P.S. I decided to highlight my dubious judgment by photographing the fortune in question surrounded by my still not put away Christmas decorations. As you can see, Santa Yoda doubts my judgment too.