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!

Secondhand Disney pins

I had to work today (yes, on a Saturday), but the whole time I was there I was daydreaming about being at Disneyland instead. I should have gone yesterday when I had a day off, but it was really hot in Anaheim and I’m not ready to break out the shorts quite yet this year. Winter cannot be over already! But anyway, back to my story. In addition to all of the pins I buy at Disney parks and events, I have quite a few that I’ve gotten off of eBay as well. What usually happens is I see a pin that I like at Disneyland, but I don’t buy it before it sells out or gets retired. Other times I see a single pin in a larger set that I want to get without buying the whole thing. In both of these situations eBay is very helpful. Usually I can find what I’m looking for at a decent price. On the other hand, sometimes the pin I want is either very popular or very rare and I have to decide whether acquiring it is worth the inflated price. Specifically, the new series of pins commemorating the Disneyland 60th anniversary this year. One new pin is being released each month, but usually on days that I can’t make it to the park to buy one. And they sell out quickly. I was tempted to get one off eBay, but people are selling them for way too much there. I still haven’t given up hope of making it to the park on one of the upcoming release days, but that depends on whether I’ll be able to take the right day off work. Once I learned about the 60th anniversary pins I thought back to the Disneyland 50th anniversary back in 2005. I didn’t have an annual pass back then, but I did go to the parks with Dan and his family that summer. (It was the Fourth of July and the crowds were insane!) At the time I hadn’t started a Disney pin collection yet, but I wish I’d picked up a 50th anniversary pin or two. The good news is that people who did buy them then are now selling them on eBay! I got one for a great price and I love it. After that I thought about the Disney World 25th anniversary. That was back in 1996, and as it turns out, I was there that summer too. It was during the Mu Alpha Theta national convention in Orlando and we spent one day that week at Disney World. Buying pins wasn’t even on my radar at the time, but a couple of weeks ago I searched eBay for Disney World 25th anniversary pins out of curiosity. There isn’t much of a variety available (I don’t think pin trading was that popular back in 1996), but I did find one for a very low price. It’s adorable and it looks great with the rest of my pin collection. I like having souvenirs of those Disney trips on my corkboard, even if I had to buy them years later. Great memories!

Moving again

“I’ve had a weird couple of days at work. A few weeks ago we found out that our work area was going to be turned over to another program, meaning that we were getting kicked out. Thus began the aforementioned Great Cubicle Move of 2005. We had to be out of there by the end of the day today so things were a little hectic. … Our personal belongings (of which I have very few) turned out to be the easiest part of the move. We also had to prepare our computers for the movers. Disconnecting the computers was pretty disgusting work because of the accumulated dust. … So, as you can tell, many strange things happened at work this week. I’m sure things will be back to normal on Monday, though, as long as I can find my new cubicle.”
9/30/05 webpage post

History certainly has a way of repeating itself! Nearly ten years after the Great Cubicle Move of 2005 my program is in the midst of another migration. Actually, we’ve moved a couple of times in the last decade, but I couldn’t find any posts about the interim ones. One of those moves was from the Huntington Beach facility to the Seal Beach facility so I’m surprised I never wrote about it, but I guess there are a lot of events (both small and large) that I never shared on my blog. (Per my New Year’s resolution #4 I’m trying to change that! Not that anyone is really interested in reading about the tedium of cubicle musical chairs, but that’s what’s going on in my life today. Deal with it!) Back in 2005 my co-workers and I were moving from one area of a building to another within the Huntington Beach facility, and this time around we’re moving from one building to another within in the Seal Beach facility. It’s a pretty big change. I should have started packing up my office a week ago, but we’ve all been incredibly busy preparing for and executing several important events. I’ve been pretty frantic. But the move is scheduled to happen tomorrow, so I spent almost all of today boxing up my personal belongings (my 2015 race medals, work awards and certificates, and my Gandalf toy I got from Burger King back in 2001) and dismantling all of my computers and phones. It was messy work. I really need to dust my cubicle more often. Specifically the computer. Thank goodness my neighbor brought a Swiffer duster today. Even though I waited until the eleventh hour to pack, by 3:30 PM I was done. Everything in my office had been sorted, boxed, and labeled. I was exhausted! It was a little strange seeing the cubicle empty as I got ready to leave. I felt a mixture of sadness and nostalgia. I don’t have the same attachment to my work area as I do to my home or anything like that, but I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years. But I know that I’ll be settled into my new office and working as hard as ever soon. There are plenty of good times ahead!

Story of a jacket

I went to New Zealand for the first time in June 2007. It was summer in the northern hemisphere, but winter south of the equator so a warm coat was an essential part of my wardrobe on that trip. It was also the rainy season in that part of the world. It rained every single day I was in New Zealand, which got to be pretty annoying by the end, although it made sure all of the tourist sites were nearly deserted. I wore my heavy wool peacoat everywhere I went (it’s in almost every photo) which helped with the cold, but didn’t do much to protect me from the rain. It absorbed a substantial amount of precipitation whenever I was outside and didn’t exactly smell like roses afterwards. As much as I loved my peacoat, after that trip I knew I needed to buy some kind of rain jacket for any future trips to potentially rainy locales.

Fast forward more than eight years…

This weekend started off with rain. It was crazy! I don’t think we’ve had any real precipitation in Los Angeles since February so the storm that rolled through on Friday night/Saturday morning was extremely beneficial. (And it stayed away until after the kids finished trick-or-treating so that was a bonus.) I hope we have a lot more storms this winter to bring us a deluge of much-needed rain. On my way to Disneyland yesterday morning and I stopped by McDonald’s for breakfast. (I know, it’s not grain-free, but Egg McMuffins are so tasty!) I thought the storm had cleared out for the day, but I knew it was still around when I got rained on walking back to my car. I had an umbrella in my bag, but that wouldn’t be ideal at Disneyland so I drove home and grabbed my Arc’teryx GORE-TEX rain jacket instead. I bought it at an REI sale back in 2009 in anticipation of an upcoming vacation. To be honest, I haven’t worn it very much since then, but it did come in handy once or twice in Hawaii. I guess a raincoat is something you want to have in your closet, but hope you don’t need. Although, I expect if I lived somewhere like Seattle it would have seen a lot more inclement weather. Even though I drove through some pretty substantial rain on the way to Anaheim, by the time I got there I was debating leaving the Arc’teryx jacket in the car. But when the sky opened up as soon as I got outside the parking structure I was glad decided to wear the rain jacket! Having that GORE-TEX layer was very helpful during my first hour at the parks. No soggy sweatshirt on a cold and rainy morning! It was lovely. So while it’s a piece of clothing I don’t wear much, I was very appreciative of my raincoat yesterday!

Sunday Runday – One year later

I started running on July 5, 2013. It was a fairly insane whim born out of stir craziness after a few months of relative inactivity surrounding my surgery in June. But out of that insane whim was born a hobby/mini-obsession that has changed the way I define the word “challenge.” I’m not sure I’ve ever asked as much from myself as when I committed to training for a half marathon. I am not a natural runner – my body protests just about every time I run – but over the last year I’ve learned a lot about what I’m capable of. Last night I ran 9.5 miles. Can you believe it? That’s crazy! Never in a million years did I imagine that I’d be able to do that. And I actually felt pretty good when I was done! A little tired and slightly sore, but otherwise not too bad. I guess this training program I’ve been following is working so far. However, three weeks ago when I had to run 8 miles, with absolutely brutal results, I had a decidedly more negative opinion. That was the worst run I’ve ever had, by far. When I set out I was nervous because I’d never run more than about 6.5 miles before, but I thought I was pretty well prepared. I’d eaten a decent breakfast and lunch, and I’d had plenty of water during the day. Also, I took a handheld 10 oz water bottle with me since there weren’t any easily accessible water fountains on the route I had mapped out. Unfortunately it was still a miserable run. By mile three I was completely exhausted, but I was determined not to quit. So I dragged myself around Seal Beach until my Map My Run app told me I’d run 8 miles. That night I remember getting in bed and thinking, “I’m going to die.” I felt that horrible. Fortunately the next morning I was mostly recovered so I was able to meet some friends at Disneyland. Crisis averted, but I wasn’t exactly looking forward to running 7 miles the next weekend. Luckily, that run was much, much easier for some reason. Who knows exactly why (there are numerous possibilities), but I was very encouraged when I finished a 7-mile run feeling like I could keep going if I needed to. It made me think that I was making some serious progress towards half marathon distance. This was bolstered by how excited I was to hit 9.5 miles last night and still be on my feet. My feet and legs were definitely feeling the effects this morning, but relatively speaking, I was in good shape! I still have a long way to go before I’ll be ready to run 13.1 miles on 8/31, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m starting to feel confident that I’ll actually be able to cross that finish line and not collapse right afterwards. One year ago I could barely run a half mile and look where I am now! It’s practically a miracle. Here’s hoping that the next year holds just as much progress, at least as far as running goes.


For anyone who’s not familiar with #tbt, it’s an Instagram hashtag that means Throwback Thursday. But Tuesday starts with a ‘T’ as well so I’m going to capitalize on that technicality and post an old picture today. Well, the photo itself isn’t old, but the subject is. This is my little Samsonite suitcase that I bought back in 1997 to take to Europe. It’s not readily identifiable as a Samsonite anymore because the badge got ripped off on one trip or another in the last couple of years so you’ll just have to trust me on the brand. I remember going into JC Penny to buy this little guy before I went to Europe. I needed something with wheels for mobility, but small enough (it’s a carry on size) that I could easily carry myself when necessary. And I got a green suitcase because I wanted it to stand out a little from the sea of black you usually see on baggage claim turnstiles. See those pink and yellow neon ties on the side handle were? They were added so that we could easily recognize all of the suitcases from our large group at every airport (London, Munich, and Amsterdam). I can’t believe those ties have stayed on for nearly seventeen years! I also can’t believe I fit three weeks worth of stuff into that little green suitcase. I took this picture on my way home from a business trip last August because I thought it might be my last trip with that suitcase and I wanted something to remember it by. Not that I have any reason to replace it at the moment, but I don’t think it will be too long before I do. Thanks for all your years of faithful service, my trusty Samsonite!


During the summer of 2000 I worked on the Space Shuttle during my first Boeing internship. It wasn’t the most exciting job I’ve had, but at least I can say I was part of the Shuttle team, even for just a few months. The one assignment I remember the most during that summer was integrating the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory into the Shuttle payload bay for transport to the International Space Station. About eight years later, after many trials and tribulations the Columbus was ferried to the ISS as part of STS-122. I wrote about it in December 2007 when the STS-122 launch was postponed and again in February 2008 on the day it finally launched. So when I was at the Kennedy Space Center visitor’s center last month I bought a patch and pin of the STS-122 mission logo. Yep, I worked on that! I was also reminded that it was the Atlantis orbiter that flew that mission, the same one that’s on display at KSC these days (check out my photo). Pretty cool, huh?

Sports Authority

Since I can’t seem to find the motivation to write about what I’ve been up to for the last two weeks in Florida I figured I’d tell a little story instead. Today we got the day off after six straight days of work, and it was the first day since I’ve been here that I didn’t have anything planned. Time to drive around and explore the area! I went down south to Melbourne and visited the mall there. It was fairly disappointing, but I did get a pair of yoga pants and some socks for running. (Most of my recent purchases have been for running, now that I think about it! I’ll write another post about running soon.) I’ve been having a lot of trouble with blisters so I’m trying a bunch of new kinds of socks to see if that helps alleviate the problem. Band-aids and tape have helped, but it’s going to take more than that to keep me from getting blisters. The Melbourne mall has a Dick’s Sporting Goods and that’s where I bought the socks I got today, but I also checked out Sports Authority at the Merritt Island mall on my way back to my hotel (before the rain started!) to see if there were any other options available. There weren’t, but I remembered something about Sports Authority when I was a kid. My grandparents moved to the Tampa area in the early 90’s, and just about every year they lived there my family drove down from Tallahassee for Thanksgiving. They lived in Sun City Center, a large retirement community, which wasn’t very interesting for kids, but there were other things to look forward to. Like eating Thanksgiving dinner with family, driving my grandparent’s golf cart, and Black Friday shopping at the nearby outlet malls. Plus, there was one stop that we always made on our way back to Tallahassee. Sports Authority. It was a once-a-year visit that everyone looked forward to. I remember the store was warehouse-sized (although I might be remembering it from a kid’s perspective) and it had everything sports-related you could ever want. Going to Sports Authority was an opportunity to buy new sneakers from their huge selection, pick up some new Speedos for synchronized swimming or summer camp, and generally wander around and look at everything in the huge store. It was lots of fun. Now that I live somewhere that Sports Authority is much more accessible, going there isn’t quite the same magical experience, but I will always remember those childhood visits with my family that wrapped up the Thanksgiving weekend.