OC Fair 5K 2015

This morning I ran the Orange County Fair 5K and it was a lot of fun. This is in contrast to my experience at the same race last year. In early August 2014 I was nearing the end of my training program for my first half marathon so I had already completed several long runs (mostly successful – the less than stellar ones were still in my future). So when the OC Fair 5K rolled around I figured I would breeze through 3.1 miles with absolutely no trouble at all. It wasn’t even going to be a challenge! I couldn’t have been more wrong. (This should explain why I didn’t really write anything about it on my webpage at the time. Dwelling on failed runs is not helpful!) The summer had been relatively hot up to that point so I was thrilled on race day to see that the sky was overcast. This didn’t mean it was as cool as I would have liked, but the temperature was fairly reasonable and at least the sun wouldn’t be beating down on me the whole time. I was really confident when I started the race. 5K was nothing! But about halfway through I felt awful. When I walked through the water stop to get a drink I was sweating like a pig and I had a hard time catching my breath thanks to the high humidity (yes, it does happen in LA sometimes). I was not expecting to do so poorly running such a short distance. And I couldn’t quite get back into a good rhythm after the water stop. During the second half of the race I walked more than I ran. It was so discouraging. It was the first time I regretted running a race. Luckily I was able to put the bad experience behind me and happily participate in many other races.

I went into the OC Fair 5K this year with much more realistic expectations. 1) I made my #1 priority for the race to enjoy myself. Running through the Orange County Fairgrounds is pretty cool and I wanted to appreciate it this time around. Also, I got to hang out with a co-worker of mine and her awesome kids before the race so that by itself made the whole thing worthwhile. 2) I knew the weather was going to stink so I lowered my time/pace goals accordingly. I still had to take more walk breaks than I wanted to in the second half of the race (humidity is killer!), but that didn’t dishearten me as much as it did last year. Funny enough, today’s weather was almost exactly the same as last year’s. 3) I did not allow any poor performance to ruin my opinion of myself as a runner. While I wasn’t exactly proud of my performance today, I knew it wasn’t representative of my overall progress in my running career. The 2015 OC Fair 5K was just another step of my journey. And it’s a journey that doesn’t have a definite end! That’s what makes me smile every time I cross a finish line. Well, that and the cameras. Speaking of which, hopefully I’ll have some good photos to share soon!

2015 Resolution #5 in progress

I’m back in Los Angeles today after my business trip, but I spent yesterday working on one of my New Year’s resolutions. I visited state #34 – New Jersey! (Based on NJ’s relative size, the above map is almost identical to the one I shared last year with only 33 states colored in, but there’s a subtle difference. And that’s what matters.) While there’s no way I’ll be able to visit as many new states as I did last year, I’m very happy to start making progress on new travel destinations in 2015. Even if they aren’t any more exciting than New Jersey. Ideally I would have checked this state off my list last year when I took a day trip to Delaware on the tail end of a business trip, but for some reason I didn’t drive the few extra miles to do so. Due to my laziness a special trip was required visit the Garden State. So I tacked an extra day on to the end of my latest pilgrimage to the DC office and took a road trip to New Jersey. It wasn’t really that far to drive, really. Just a couple of hours, right? Unfortunately traffic wasn’t on my side yesterday morning. It took me over three hours to drive through three states and finally get to Fort Mott State Park in the southern part of the state. This wouldn’t have been a big deal except I missed the last ferry of the day to Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island that I really wanted to visit. So instead I just walked around the remains for Fort Mott for about an hour or so and headed back to the DC area. (Lucky for me the traffic going that direction was much better.) It was a short visit in state #34, but it counts! Even better, I’m going to be setting foot in state #35 in less than two weeks. I’m going to Alaska on vacation! More on that soon!

2015 Resolution #3 follow-up

I’m on a plane headed to DC for the week and this travel day has been quite an experience already. Between checking my bag and getting through security my flight was delayed by an hour and the gate changed. No big deal. I sat down for a leisurely breakfast and then wandered around the terminals to pass the time. (Today is the last day of Boeing on the Move 2015 and I wanted to rack up as many steps on my pedometer as possible before getting on the plane.) By the time I made it back to the second gate assignment it was in the process of changing again. And then as soon as people started lining up at that gate to board the plane, it changed again. I guess United decided to switch our flight to another plane since the original one was running late. I seriously contemplated sneaking on one of the three flights to Hawaii that were leaving from our terminal. In the end the flight to DC took off about two hours late. This kind of ruins my evening plans once we arrive, but I can be flexible. It should be an interesting week.

The purpose of this inflight blogging session wasn’t to share boring travel stories, though. Last night I was looking through all of my draft posts that I have been neglecting lately, and I realized a terrible trend. It’s one thing to have a backlog of fairly inconsequential posts waiting to be polished and published, but I’ve started a few on big and exciting events that I can’t believe I haven’t finished yet. Earlier this year I made a resolution to blog about events in a timely manner, but it’s a struggle for me. Finding the time and the motivation to write at the same time isn’t easy. I will continue to work on that going forward. The funny thing is, this post isn’t going to be about one of those big and exciting topics. Well, I guess it is a little bit, but only barely. I just want to make sure to tell this story before I completely forget about it.

On my way back from Hawaii I wrote about my bikini experience. Well, that was just half of the story. While getting ready for that trip I learned that by mid-June the bathing suit selection at most stores has dwindled down to almost nothing. Not only did this hinder my search for a bikini top that fit properly (as I documented in that post last month), but also for some bikini bottoms that would work with (or at least not clash with) whatever top I ultimately wound up with. Fortunately some of my old bikini bottoms still fit so I wasn’t quite as panicked about having something to wear with the black Rip Curl top that I was lucky enough to find. But on my last desperate trip to Aerie to complete my swimsuit collection for Maui I saw a purple bikini with white polka dots and little lobsters all over it. (See the photo above. Cute, right?) After discovering that Aerie bathing suit tops don’t fit my very well I didn’t even bother trying on the bandeau top, but the bottoms were just too adorable to pass up. And while they didn’t exactly match the black bikini top, it was still an acceptable combination and I loved wearing something whimsical on the beach in Hawaii. I was never one to follow fashion trends so why start now? I know this wasn’t the wrap up post that my amazing trip to Maui deserves, but I will work on that this week while I’m in DC. I promise!

Inaugural Pixie Dust Challenge

I was so excited for the Pixie Dust Challenge at Disneyland last month, but I was nervous too. When I registered for it back in August I couldn’t believe I was going to run 19.3 miles in one weekend. I wondered if it was ridiculous to even consider for a fairly novice runner like me. After successfully completing three half marathons in the fall (slow as molasses, but I crossed the finish line under my own power all three times) I felt much more confident, but then I got hurt in January and that feeling of disbelief returned. I did almost no running in February while my knee was healing, and then I had to practically start my training from scratch in March. How in the world was I supposed to finish both a 10K and a half marathon without a decent regimen? The longest run I completed prior to the Tinkerbell Half Marathon Weekend was 8 miles. It wasn’t ideal, but it was enough to make me reasonably sure that I’d be able to survive the 19.3 miles to come. I gave myself permission to run slowly and take as many walking breaks as I needed to avoid burning out in either of the races.

The Tinkerbell 10K on May 9th was lovely. The weather was cool, the sky was overcast (as I wrote about a few weeks ago), and I felt great. The course for this race was almost entirely on Disney property so it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it more than any other Disneyland event I’ve participated in. After I crossed the finish line and got my 10K medal I walked back to my hotel for a much-needed shower. I was a little rushed because I had a brunch reservation at the Carnation CafĂ© inside Disneyland for later that morning. Fortunately I was able to get ready and walk back to the park in time. (There was a lot of walking over the weekend, in addition to all the running. My poor legs!) I had a delicious meal of eggs, sausage, potatoes, toast, and fruit to refuel after running 6.2 miles. It probably wasn’t necessary after that short of a distance, but I justified it as preparation for the half marathon the next day. I walked around Disneyland and California Adventure for a while after I finished breakfast and then went back to my hotel to rest. Not only were the races going on that weekend, but the “Tomorrowland” movie premiere was being held at the Downtown Disney AMC theater on Saturday night. Due to the crowds I couldn’t get a dinner reservation anywhere I wanted to eat so I just got some takeout lasagna (carb loading at its best!) from a restaurant at Downtown Disney and took it back to my hotel. I wanted to go to sleep early that night, but I had to wait until after the Disneyland fireworks to even have a chance. Luckily I slept well after they were over.

I woke up on May 10th and was disappointed to discover that the sky was clear. A sunny day is not good for running a half marathon. I crossed the start line of the Tinkerbell Half Marathon at 6 AM, which is right around the time the sun came up. The race course didn’t leave Disney property until almost the 6 mile mark so the first half was really enjoyable. But around mile 8 I started to get tired. Since it was my first healthy half marathon in months I allowed myself to take extended walk breaks as needed. That kept me from getting frustrated with my slow pace and I didn’t get completely exhausted. At one point I saw the 3-hour pace group ahead of me and I was determined to finish the race before they did. And I succeeded! My final time was 2:51, which is far from my slowest half marathon. I was happy! The best part was getting my medals, though. Not only did I get the Tinkerbell Half Marathon medal, but I also got the Pixie Dust Challenge medal, and my Disney Coast to Coast medal for completing a half marathon at both Disneyland and Disney World in 2015. (All three are in the above photo.) It felt so great! Granted walking back to my hotel with all of the medals clinking around my neck was a little annoying, but I was too proud to care. I had conquered my first Disney race challenge!

Sunscreen experiment #13

I’m kicking off this year’s sunscreen experiments with a positive review! About a week ago I was perusing the sunscreen aisle at Target, as I usually do when it looks like summer is imminent, and I saw something new. It was called Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (the untinted version). I was initially drawn to it because it was a mineral rather than a chemical sunscreen, which I generally prefer. Luckily a lot more companies are coming out with “natural” options that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which makes my fair skin and me very happy. Unfortunately most of these mineral sunscreens have turned out to be thick and gooey, make my skin feel sticky, and leave a ghostly white cast on even my pale skin. But I keep trying them, looking for a diamond in the rough! One of the reasons I picked up the Bare Republic sunscreen is because it’s made by Coola. Back in 2013 I tried Coola Sport Mineral Citrus Mimosa Sunscreen (SPF 35) with mixed results, but it did have one thing going for it – no yucky sunscreen smell! That benefit was enough for me to take home a tube of the Bare Republic sunscreen (which seems to be Coola’s less expensive drugstore line) and give it a try. I first used it on my face and neck when I went to Disneyland yesterday. And it was great! Initially I was skeptical because the sunscreen is more liquid than cream, which I wasn’t expecting, and my skin didn’t absorb it quickly. But after about a half hour my face was powdery soft with a surprisingly flattering matte finish. No greasy or shiny skin? I was sold! And the best part was that I spent about three hours at Disneyland with no hint of a tan. Very promising. Then this morning I gave the sunscreen a bit tougher challenge – the LA Galaxy 5K. June Gloom abandoned us today so it was hot and sunny at 9 AM when the race started. I wasn’t sure if the Bare Republic was going to do well in this particular environment, I slathered it on my face, arms, and legs this time to put it to the test. And it worked great! There wasn’t much shade on the course so I sweated profusely during the race, and the sunscreen didn’t get sticky or run in my eyes. It was a brilliant success! I will definitely be taking the Bare Republic sunscreen with me to Hawaii in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait!

May Gray 2015

The above photo was taken after the Tinkerbell 10K at Disneyland on May 9th. See how overcast it was that day? It was glorious! Cloudy and cool – perfect running weather. The phenomenon known as “May Gray” really delivered this year. The whole month was spectacular. A few weeks ago the Timehop app on my phone reminded me that is was 100 degrees around this time last year (check out the shudder-inducing reminder here), but I loved every moment of May 2015. My sweaters, jackets, and sweatshirts got a lot of wear! Running was so enjoyable during the pleasant evenings and with a cool wind off the ocean. And the days I didn’t go running I walked around Seal Beach in the evenings to make the most of the amazing weather. We even got a good amount of rain in May! A friend of mine and I went to Disneyland on May 15th and it was pouring for the first few hours. We resorted to buying sweatshirts and ponchos in order to stay warm and dry that day. It’s so rare that we get any rain between April and October in the LA area, but it was very much appreciated during this drought. There were a couple of nights where I was awakened by storms, and I swore I heard hail one of those times. Pretty crazy. I knew the beautiful weather wouldn’t last so I spent as much time outside enjoying it before summer arrives. If the last two years are any indication, June through September are going to be uncomfortably warm. I’m definitely not looking forward to that, but luckily June has been lovely so far (“June Gloom” has been in effect in the mornings). We’ll see how long it lasts!

Orange County 5K 2015

A couple of weeks ago I ran the Orange County 5K. It was my reluctant backup plan after deciding to forgo the OC half marathon because my abbreviated training plan after my knee injury hadn’t really prepared me for it. Actually, by the time race day rolled around I probably could have handled 13.1 miles, but it was better than I didn’t try. (This was a huge benefit one week later when I ran the Tinkerbell 10K and half marathon, but that’s a story for another post.) One of my co-workers ran the half marathon wearing my bib so at least my registration didn’t go to waste. May 3rd was perfect running weather – cool, cloudy, and calm. May Gray has been kind to us so far this month. (Another thing I’ll write about in a later post.) This was in stark contrast to last year when we were at the tail end of an unseasonably hot week. Actually, the 2014 Orange County 5K was my first 5K, and only my second race ever. I’d like to say I was faster this year, but that wouldn’t be true. After my injury back in January I was just happy to be running without any pain! I was slow, but fairly steady, and I crossed the finish line with a smile in my face. Maybe it was just a 5K, but I was still proud. My running regimen was finally back on track!

P.S. My co-worker finished the OC half marathon in less than two hours! Crazy!