Holiday running apparel

Last week I ordered a Christmas running shirt from my favorite company so that I’d have something to wear for the Holiday Half Marathon this Sunday. It’s a red shirt with a reindeer and Christmas lights on it – perfect, right? I knew I was cutting it a little close for delivery before the race, but I haven’t had any trouble getting apparel from this company in a short period of time. Unfortunately this has been the exception. As of this evening the shirt has yet to ship. There’s about zero chance it will arrive in time for me to wear it on Sunday now and I’m annoyed. I know it’s mostly my own fault for not ordering earlier, but what’s the point of getting a Christmas running shirt after my only holiday race weekend (5K on Saturday, half marathon on Sunday)? I guess I’ll stick it in a drawer for next year. (Yes, my running buddies and I have already started thinking about which races we want to run in December 2017!) The only Christmas-themed running shirt that I have in my possession is from a race last year and it has long sleeves. There is absolutely no reason to have long sleeve running shirts in Los Angeles. They are useless because it doesn’t get nearly cold enough here! Usually I wear arm warmers when I start a run on a cold morning, but I take them off after a mile or two when I’ve sufficiently warmed up. The climate is just too mild here to require full arm coverage for very long. So the big question is, what do I wear for my races this weekend? I’m thinking of wearing a shirt that says “Will Train for Chocolate” for the 5K (appropriate since I consume more chocolate during the winter holidays than any other time of the year), and then my “Frozen” Elsa shirt for the half marathon (snowflakes seem fitting for a December run). I know I’m over thinking this, but these are my last two races of 2016 and I want them to be great!

Christmas cards in progress

Last year I mailed 30 Christmas cards to friends and family and I thought that was a lot. However, so far this year I already have a list of 32 households that I need to send cards to and I haven’t even received my annual card swap list yet! Yikes! Back in November I ordered two boxes of 18 cards (one Star Wars and one Peanuts, as you can see in the above photo – I’m nothing if not classy) so I thought I’d be more than covered for 2016. Then once I started tallying the folks I wanted to send cards to I realized that 36 may not be enough. So I went out and bought another box of 10 cards. If that doesn’t get me through the holidays I don’t know what I’m going to do. I started the Yuletide activity of sending greeting cards to everyone I love on December 1st, and as of this evening I have completed and mailed out 21 Christmas cards. Not bad, really, but there’s still so much work to do. I think next year I’m just going to get my picture taken with Darth Vader at Disneyland and have custom cards printed. That’ll save some time!

Week 13 done

This morning I ran 18 miles to close out week 13 of my marathon training plan. It was my longest run ever. Somehow I completed those 18 miles at an average pace of 11:19 min/mile, which is probably faster than I should have run (surprisingly, only a tiny bit slower than my half marathon PR time from last month). Those last two miles were really rough! I got up later than I originally planned this morning so I didn’t start running until right around sunrise (6:45 AM). This meant that I spent a lot of time out there while the sun was high up in the sky. Thankfully it was a lovely LA winter day with a high only in the 60s, but the sun still warmed me up considerably. I was running along the San Gabriel River so shade was hard to come by a majority the time. But I successfully completed my 18-mile run with minimal problems (thanks to my twice-repaired orthotics that I picked up from my podiatrist on Friday), and now I am much more confident that I’ll be able to cross the Disney World Marathon finish line without passing out. I have the Holiday Half Marathon next weekend with my running buddies, and then my last long run will be 20 miles the weekend after that. I am cautiously optimistic that I will finish this 18-week training plan and be completely prepared for the marathon in January!

P.S. My holiday celebratory activity today was fairly subdued – I watched last year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Husbands of River Song,” while ordering some presents online. The presents were mostly for other people, but I also got some running pants from Lululemon for myself! I intended to put up my Christmas tree this afternoon, but I didn’t have enough energy after my 18-mile run. While lounging on my couch I should have worked on my Christmas cards, but that didn’t happen either. I’d better get my rear in gear soon because time is running out!

Beginning of December

The last month of the year always seems to slip by so quickly, and it’s a real shame because I love December. Because this is my favorite time of the year I have vowed to do at least one celebratory thing every day this month. The daily activities don’t have to be big, but I want to make sure I enjoy every remaining day in 2016. I started on Thursday, December 1st (after I got home from my boot camp class) with my first viewing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” of the season while I got started on my Christmas cards. I want to get all of my cards in the mail as soon as possible because my schedule is just going to get more packed as the holidays approach. Then on Friday, December 2nd I watched the Seal Beach Christmas Parade with some friends, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. That brings us to today, December 3rd, which was a big day because I met my friend and her daughter at Disneyland to watch the Christmas Fantasy Parade. I got there right when the park opened so I was able to hop on Star Tours, Hyperspace Mountain, Path of the Jedi, and Haunted Mansion Holiday before the others arrived. Actually, I had a Fast Pass for Hyperspace Mountain but I lost it at some point so I had to stand in the regular line instead. With as often as I go to Disneyland I’m getting spoiled! Luckily all of the lines were short this morning. After I met up with my friends we rode Alice in Wonderland and It’s A Small World Holiday before scoping out seating for the 1 PM parade on Main Street. We were there early enough to get a spot on the curb in a prime location. Front row seating for a Disneyland parade is the best! While we waited we had chili cheese dogs and churros for lunch. The Christmas Fantasy parade was wonderful, and my friend’s daughter absolutely loved it. That was the most fun part of the experience. This is how the holidays are supposed to be. I’m looking forward to the rest of December!

NaBloPoMo mostly successful

Against all odds I finished National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) only missing one day out of thirty. Not bad! I compensated for my misstep by posting the second half of my Thanksgiving wrap-up on December 1st. That’s a fair trade-off, right? I’m going to try my best to keep up the same frequency of posts in December since this is my favorite time of the year (and I’m determined to enjoy it), but don’t know how successful I’ll be. The month has barely started and my calendar is already completely full! Like today when I had about four obligations after I got out of work. I actually left early to pick up my orthotics from the podiatrist so that I could run my scheduled 5 miles this afternoon. Since the Seal Beach Christmas Parade was taking place in the evening I didn’t even attempt to run my usual route around town. Even at 4 PM Main Street was just too busy and crowded. Instead I drove down to Bolsa Chica State Beach and completed my 5 miles there. It was really windy today, but running by the ocean is always lovely. Since I was planning to meet some friends at the Christmas parade I had to get home and quickly shower after my run. Luckily I live one block from the parade route so I could walk out my door just a few minutes before 7 PM. It was a chilly night for the Seal Beach Christmas parade and I got cold sitting there for an hour and a half, but I enjoyed hanging out with my friends. Now I am back in my warm house, but I need to go to bed soon. I’m meeting a friend and her daughter at Disneyland for the Christmas parade tomorrow. Happy holidays everyone!

Thanksgiving 2016 (Part 2)

On Friday we decided to honor REI’s Opt Outside campaign, which emphasizes outdoor activities over shopping on Black Friday. Our first stop was Mission San Luis, a living history museum of that shows the interaction between native Apalachee Indians and Spanish settlers in the Tallahassee area. It’s a fascinating place and I can’t believe I’ve never been there before. After that we drove down to Wakulla Springs, a favorite childhood summer getaway, in the hopes of seeing some manatees in the springs. Unfortunately all of the boat tours in the near future were full by the time we got there so we only walked around for about an hour, but it was still fun to visit. There was even some beautiful fall color in the trees (not something that usually happens in North Florida), as you can see in the above panorama I took. The reason we couldn’t stay at Wakulla Springs and take a later boat tour was because we had tickets to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” at 6 PM. I was skeptical of the movie when it started out slow, but once it hit its stride I really enjoyed the film. I’m excited for the other Harry Potter universe movies that are coming in the next few years.

On Saturday morning I got up early again (doesn’t everyone do that on vacation?) because I needed to run 12 miles. I slept later than I planned, and I was worried that it was going to be too warm for my run, but luckily the weather was lovely. I always forget that the tall pine trees in North Florida provide very accommodating shade! Once again we had McDonald’s Egg McMuffins as a post-run meal, which was perfect for me. My mom and I did a little shopping afterwards, but except for purchasing a few things at Old Navy we were less successful than on Wednesday. Our time was limited because we had to get home and prepare for the UF vs. FSU football game that night. We had some leftover spaghetti for an early dinner, and then I set up the Roku streaming stick that I bought my parents as an early Christmas present. Inexplicably, neither their smart TV nor Blu-ray player had the capability to connect to the Amazon Prime Video app so I covertly ordered the Roku streaming stick so we could watch “The Grand Tour” while I was in town. We only had enough time to watch half of the first episode before leaving for the football game, though. My dad got some amazing sky box tickets for the game so we got to watch in luxury with catered food and spacious seating. It was a fantastic experience except for the fact that the Gators lost badly. Florida lost both of the football games I attended this year – I guess I was a jinx! We managed to get out of the stadium a little early after realizing that the Seminoles were going to prevail, and we got home around midnight.

My alarm went off at 4 AM on Sunday morning so that I could get ready to go to the airport for my 6:12 AM flight. It was rough only getting a few hours of sleep, but the trade-off was arriving back in Los Angeles in the early afternoon. In spite of the serious sleep deprivation I would have survived the trip unscathed except for the fact that I caught a cold on my flight home. (Luckily it turned out to be fairly mild, and I am feeling 100% better now.) It was a rough end to my Thanksgiving trip to Florida, but I had a great time. Now it’s time to put up my Christmas tree and prepare for Christmas!

Thanksgiving 2016 (Part 1)

What better way to end November than with a Thanksgiving recap post? Or half of one, at least!

After flying to Florida on Tuesday, Wednesday was Thanksgiving prep day, but before that I got up early and ran 5 miles around the neighborhood. Being out of town was no excuse to let my marathon training slide. After I showered we ate some homemade egg sandwiches for breakfast and went to the mall for some pre-holiday shopping since we didn’t want to be anywhere near there on Black Friday. I was actually fairly successful. I found a pair of work pants at Loft and a blazer at Limited. On our way home we stopped at Supercuts so I could get a much-needed haircut, and also made a stop at Publix in the same shopping center for the last few required Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. Once we got home the cooking began. First I made some spaghetti for dinner so I could get my carb fix before the turkey trot the next morning. Then my mom and I assembled the ginger-coconut pumpkin pie and baked some sweet potatoes for a casserole recipe I found in Cooking Light. And while watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” I also made a batch of my favorite cranberry sauce recipe.

On Thanksgiving morning we all got up early to go to the Tallahassee Turkey Trot. I was running the 15K while my mom and her friends walked the 5K and my saintly dad waited for all of us at the finish line. It was a warm morning (the race didn’t start until 8:45 AM) and the 15K course was hillier than I expected so it wasn’t an easy run. My time was acceptable (for me), but it was challenging. I’m still glad I did it. Since it was week # 12 of my marathon training plan I was supposed to do an 8-mile mid-week run, so a 9.3 mile race fit very nicely. One the way home was stopped at the first open McDonald’s we could find and had Egg McMuffins for a late breakfast. The perfect post-race meal. Cooking started in earnest once we got home and got cleaned up. And of course we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while we prepped for the big meal. Thanksgiving dinner was absolutely delicious (see our complete menu here). We tried several new recipes this year and most of them were a success. Some could use a few tweaks, like the sweet potato casserole, so I’ll keep that in mind for next year. One recipe that is a definitely keeper (with no changes) was the ginger-coconut pumpkin pie. It was by far the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever tasted, so I have a feeling that one will become a holiday tradition in my family.

Check back tomorrow for part 2!

Technology trials

Written on my flight from Miami to Tallahassee on 11/22/16:

I love technology. How else could I have written and published a blog post while on an airplane today? I also found some potential Thanksgiving vegetable recipes and emailed them to my mom, as well as chatted with some friends on Facebook Messenger. It’s truly amazing. I’m anxiously awaiting the day when inflight wifi has enough bandwidth to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime content. That will make traveling infinitely more entertaining. Speaking of Amazon Prime, I am hoping to have a chance to watch the first episode of “The Grand Tour,” the new motoring show with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, while I’m in Tallahassee. I’ve been looking forward to it for months.

In a similar vein, Run Disney published the registration dates for all of their late 2017 through early 2018 races this morning and everyone is a bit baffled. Usually registration for these races opens around seven or eight months before the race date. And you usually have to sign up immediately since you never know how quickly a race will sell out. (It varies from within 30 minutes to never, and it’s impossible to predict.) However, it looks like the lead time for upcoming Run Disney races has increased to nine or ten months now. In fact, my friends and I have to register for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in about two weeks! So much for waiting to recoup some of my holiday spending before giving hundreds of dollars to the Disney Corporation.

Speaking of giving money to Disney (one of my favorite pastimes), the other day I got wind of an email that had supposedly been sent to all of the 2016 Avengers Half Marathon Weekend participants inviting them to pre-register for next year at a discount. This is unheard of for Run Disney! My biggest gripe is that even as an incredibly loyal participant who ran all three Avengers races in 2016 I didn’t receive this fabled email! With a desire to maintain my legacy status for the fourth year I would most definitely jump at the chance to sign up for 2017 now before the official registration begins. But for some reason I was left off that particular mailing list. I was so disappointed! Luckily one of the members of my Galloway running group was kind enough to share the link with me today so I should be able to pre-register after all. Thank goodness for understanding runner friends!

Notes as of 11/29/16:

I have now finished watching the first episode of “The Grand Tour” and it was amazing! I was only able to watch the first half of it while I was in Florida because I had to get my parent’s TV to connect to Amazon Prime first. This required ordering a Roku streaming stick which only arrived on Saturday afternoon. Also, I did successfully sign up for the 2017 Avengers Half Marathon Weekend last Tuesday so that’s one Disney race registration that I have out of the way. The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend registration is coming up next Thursday so I’m going to have one hefty credit card bill coming in December!

Sick day

On my flight from Dallas to Los Angeles yesterday I started sneezing. I dismissed the first few sneezes as simply caused by dust or irritation, but after several more I started to think I was getting sick. That theory was confirmed when the sneezing continued, followed by some nasal congestion, after I got home from the airport. So I ended up taking a today day off from work to avoid sneezing all over my co-workers. Such an inauspicious end to the Thanksgiving holiday!

I was hoping that spending the day at home recuperating would give me ample opportunity to write an extensive webpage post about Thanksgiving. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. First of all, I ended up sleeping until 10 AM. I can’t remember that last time I did that. Obviously illness and jet lag took their toll on my body. And then when I woke up I remembered that my kitchen was lacking in a few basic staples that I needed this week, so threw on some clothes and went to the grocery store. When I was back at home I curled up on my couch with my laptop intending to do some writing, but I got distracted. Not only did I have a wealth of TV shows and movies on my DVR to watch, but it’s Cyber Monday so there were a lot of websites I had to visit to discover what deals were available today. So I spent the better part of the day watching episodes of “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow” (interspersed with FXX’s “The Simpsons” marathon), and placing orders for everything from running clothes to sunscreen. The Cyber Monday sales saved me a lot of money so I’m happy about that. Eventually I ran out of excuses so I started writing this post. It’s fairly pathetic given all the free time I had today, but it will have to do. I still have several chores I need to do tonight so that I’ll be prepared for tomorrow. This cold is mild enough that I’m confident that I can go to work tomorrow. At least it won’t be another wasted day!