Winter Dreams 1/4/16

The holidays may technically be over, but since Disneyland keeps the celebration going for a while after the New Year I didn’t let the season end without one last hurrah. The World of Color – Winter Dreams water show was going to end for the year on January 6th and I wanted to make sure to see it before then. So on Monday night I went to California Adventure after work. I had a dinner reservation at Carthay Circle in order to get a spot in a preferred viewing location for World of Color. Parking was a bit of a pain (the structure often becomes a free-for-all at night), and there were a bunch of other people trying to enjoy the last few days of the holidays, but it was actually a beautiful night at the parks. It wasn’t too cold due to some cloud cover (a rainstorm was on its way overnight) and the lingering Christmas lights were lovely. I had a really delicious dinner at Carthay Circle – winter squash minestrone, steak with sweet potatoes, and a peppermint dessert. It was amazing. (Not exactly the best meal to kick start my healthy New Year’s resolutions, but worth every bite.) World of Color was scheduled to start at 9 PM, but I got in line early so I would have a good spot to watch the show. The Kindle app on my phone is a lifesaver in these situations. An hour sitting on the cold concrete really flies when you’re reading a good book! The Carthay Circle viewing location isn’t right on the waterfront, but at least I got a spot on the closest railing so there wasn’t anyone standing directly in front of me. I went to see the regular World of Color show back in August and had a front row seat in the “splash zone” due to my dinner reservation at Wine Country Trattoria. That meal was much less enjoyable than Carthay Circle, but the viewing location was amazing. The version of World of Color I saw in August was just OK, but the Winter Dreams version this year was much better. No surprise there were a lot of songs from “Frozen,” but I’m a huge fan of the movie so that was fine by me. I can never get enough of “Let It Go.” I stayed up much later than I should have for a weeknight, but it was worth it to see World of Color – Winter Dreams.

2016 Resolution #1

New Year’s Resolution #1: Track my running differently

Since I started running two and a half years ago I’ve used the MapMyRun app on my iPhone to track my mileage, routes, and other statistics. In general it’s served me very well, but I’ve discovered that it has some limitations. While it’s convenient to only need to take one piece of technology with me when I hit the pavement, it was obvious that the MapMyRun app was giving me credit for more distance than I was actually covering. I’m not exactly sure why it’s so generous, but some of my half marathons appeared to be on the order of 14 miles rather than the expected 13.1. That’s just not realistic. There’s no way I could run the courses that inefficiently so I surmised that the app was lying to me. (Or trying to boost my ego, which isn’t altogether a bad thing.) So after discussing this situation with some friends I decided that I need to get a GPS watch to give me a better indication of my distance and speed. This was especially important when I was training for an attempt at a 10K personal record during the Thanksgiving turkey trot. I needed to average a certain pace to achieve my desired time and I wasn’t going to get accurate information from the app. Luckily my friend who ran with me that day had a GPS watch and she used it to make sure I crossed the finish line ahead of my goal time. So I asked Santa (i.e., my mom and dad) for a Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS watch for Christmas, and it’s my favorite gift that I received this year. It’s incredible. I used it for the first time on Christmas Day when I went out for a jog with my dad. (The weather was hot and humid – pretty much the exact opposite of what you want for running. More on that in a Christmas recap post later this week.) I’ve gone running four times since I got back from Florida last Monday and I love it. I haven’t exploited all of it’s features yet, but it’s already been extremely helpful. I look forward to wearing it for my upcoming half marathons (two in the next two weeks – yikes!). And the Garmin Connect app that pairs with the watch is pretty great too. At this point I’m still using the MapMyRun app on my phone when I run (with the audio turned off) because my last two and a half years of workouts are on there, but I don’t know how important it is to have all that in one place anymore. I have a feeling it won’t be long before I abandon MapMyRun and just use the Garmin Connect instead. I’m moving on to bigger and better things and that feels good.

All holidays, all the time

The weekend after Thanksgiving I put up my Christmas tree. On its own this is nothing out of the ordinary, but this year I did something a little different. Since I had neglected to decorate my house for either Halloween in October or Thanksgiving in November, I decided to make December a celebration of three holidays instead of just one. So while I trimmed my little Christmas tree and decorated my living room with all the traditional Yuletide ornamentation, I also decked the halls with pumpkins, ghosts, pilgrims, and turkeys. Every surface was covered with festive d├ęcor. I loved it! Yoda dressed as Santa Claus is flanked by Lucy and Snoopy bobbing for apples at a Halloween party on one side, and Donald Duck holding a cornucopia and wearing a pilgrim hat on the other side. It’s a mash up of the very best kind. All of my favorite things mingled together for the whole of December. What better way to celebrate the holidays? Unfortunately now it’s time to put everything away again. Usually I take down my Christmas tree on New Year’s Day, but I’ve been procrastinating this year. I’ll take care of it before I have to go back to work on Monday. A few more days of enjoying the decorations is all I want.

Weekday running vs. weekend running

I did almost no weekday running in the fall. Besides the turkey trots on Thanksgiving and a couple of training runs with a friend leading up to that, all of my running was confined to races on the weekends. I always forget how hectic the holidays can be until I’m in the middle of the October/November/December rush. My schedule, including my running plan, always suffers as the year draws to a close. My inconsistency this fall was killer and I am going to strive to maintain a more regular exercise regimen for the majority of 2016. So on Tuesday, the day after I got back from Florida, I went for my first weekday run in over a month. I hadn’t run my usual route in Seal Beach in a long time and I was pretty annoyed at myself for that since December is a prime opportunity for the viewing of Christmas lights while burning calories. People in Seal Beach do amazing things with Christmas lights, but I know some displays were taken down before I got back to California on Monday. Fortunately I got to see what was left on everyone’s houses on December 29th. And it was really beautiful. The four miles that I ran that night made it obvious that I have some work to do if I want to get back in shape, but I really enjoyed seeing all of the holiday decorations before they disappear for a year.

As far as my weekend running this fall, here are all of the races I participated in:

  • October – RunLove 10K (10/3), Aquarium of the Pacific 5K (10/10), Long Beach half marathon (10/11), Silverado Days 5K (10/17), Spooktacular 10K (10/18), Adventure Run (10/22), Terrifying 10-miler (10/25), Grab the Swag 10K (10/31)
  • November – Dinosaur Dash 10K (11/1), Wine & Dine half marathon (11/7), Captain America 10K (11/14), Avengers half marathon (11/15), San Dimas Turkey Trot 10K (11/21), Oceanside Turkey Trot 10K and 5K (11/26)
  • December – Santa Monica-Venice Christmas 10K (12/5), Renegade Santa 10K (12/12), Edison Resolution Run 5K (12/13), Magic Mountain 10K (12/19)

The grand total for October through December is 18 races and 121 miles! Holy cow! Just as a note, when I added everything up I did take into account that the Wine & Dine half marathon at Disney World was shortened to 6.7 miles due to the lightning delay and weather concerns. So even though I ran almost exclusively on weekends this fall I’m still pretty proud of that mileage! While I’m already registered for quite a few races in the next couple of months (including a 10K tomorrow morning), the frequency of my medal earning is probably going to decrease somewhat in 2016. I need to find internal motivation rather than relying on organized events to make me lace up my running shoes on a regular basis. If I can maintain a consistent running schedule through the end of August I should be ready to start my marathon training plan in September. Thinking about that makes me nervous, even though it’s eight months away, but with proper preparation I know I can do it. Here’s to big challenges in 2016!