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.

Saturday random thoughts

***I’m still sick, but I think I’m finally getting better. I got through a full day of work yesterday without feeling like death. I was still exhausted afterwards, though, and it didn’t help that I had to stay until 8 PM running a test. And I probably need to work for at least a few hours tomorrow to get some seriously overdue documents ready for release, but being able to go to work regularly is one step towards being completely healthy again.

***My good friend Natalie and I were planning to celebrate my birthday at Disneyland this afternoon/evening, but after admitting that we are both sick, we decided that it was necessary to reschedule. We had to give up our dinner at Steakhouse 55, but now we have a meal reservation for February 11th that will give us a reserved spot to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade that has recently returned to Disneyland. I have never actually seen the Electrical Parade, either in Anaheim the last time it was here or when it was in Orlando up through last year, so I can’t wait!

***Except for the Star Wars 5K and one other solitary 4-mile run over a week ago I haven’t done any exercise since my marathon on January 8th. Even so, I am going to attempt to run 10 miles at the Great Chocolate Race in Long Beach tomorrow morning. I am incredibly nervous. First of all, I have no idea if my foot is going to be up to the challenge. Luckily I haven’t had any foot pain since I got back from Orlando which is a very good sign, but I only have two successful short runs to convince me that I won’t fracture any bones tomorrow. I didn’t even go back to the chiropractor this week because I was sick. So that’s one unknown. And then my secondary concern is that I am completely out of shape after deviating my training regime for so long. There’s a good chance I have no endurance at all anymore. Tomorrow is going to be interesting, to say the least. One way or another I’ll let you know how it goes!

***This morning my running buddies and I had to pick up our race packets for tomorrow. While figuring out where we needed to go to get the bibs, we discovered that the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck was going to be parked at a mall nearby so of course we decided to check it out. We arrived only 30 minutes after it was scheduled to open, but the line was already around the block! We waited for about an hour in the surprisingly warm late-January sun, only advancing a fairly short distance, before we gave up and left to get our race bibs without acquiring any Hello Kitty merchandise. So we saved money, but wasted a lot of precious weekend time.

***I still haven’t put away my Christmas decorations. The tree currently is lying on the floor in pieces, and all of the ornaments and other decorative items are covering my entire kitchen table. One of my goals for tomorrow afternoon is to finally close the books on Christmas 2016. Otherwise I should just put the tree back up and pronounce my house ready for Christmas 2017 a little early.

2017 Resolution #2

New Year’s Resolution #2: Be more frugal

I always joke that my entire paycheck goes directly to the Walt Disney Corporation. And with my Disneyland/Disney World annual pass, race registrations, and a couple of trips to Orlando per year it’s not that far from the truth. Not only did I just get back from Disney World two weeks ago, but over the last two months I’ve registered for four different Disney race weekends. Add up what all of those races cost me (Disney races are notoriously overpriced), including one related plane ticket I’ve already purchased, and my recent credit card bills have been extraordinarily high. I’m lucky to have a good job that pays well and a healthy bank account so I can afford these things that I enjoy so much, but they are most definitely luxuries. After this concentration of 2017 and 2018 race registrations, plus the holidays with gift-giving and irresistible sales, and a trip to Orlando on top of all that I need to think about how best to spend my discretionary funds.

Over the last week (especially while I’ve been sick at home with only my laptop to keep me company), I’ve found myself looking at something online like a pair of shoes and thinking, “Those would be nice to have.” But then I realize that I already have enough shoes for just about every occasion so it would be a completely unnecessary purchase. This thought process has already saved me from a number of expenses. I even got a surprise gift card from favorite running apparel company the other day because I’m a member of their club, but I gave it to a friend so that I would avoid buying anything that I don’t need. I already have workout clothes coming out of my ears! Not only am I saving money, but I’m also avoiding augmenting the wardrobe that I purposely pared down over the holidays. I didn’t donate a carload of clothes to Goodwill just so I can acquire more. I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ve saved enough money by skipping frivolous purchases that I don’t stress quite so much about those expensive race registrations or other bills from my favorite activities that come up in December/January.

On a final note, I’m due to renew my Disneyland annual pass which I was planning to do this weekend. With two planned trips to Orlando during the next year (November and January) it makes sense for me to once again get the Premier pass that is valid in both California and Florida. The only problem is the huge upfront price tag. It seriously dwarfs a race registration cost. However, the Florida option will more than pay for itself after two Disney World vacations so it’s kinda of a no-brainer. It doesn’t really help me fulfill this New Year’s resolution, though!

Star Wars 5K

The Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon Weekend took place one week after my marathon at Disney World. As much as I wanted to participate in the Rebel Challenge (10K + half marathon) like I did year, I knew it probably wasn’t advisable after completing my first full marathon. And it’s a good thing I restrained myself during registration because I was in no shape to run more than a few miles that soon after the marathon due to my injury and illness. But Disneyland only has four race weekends a year, so rather than completely skipping this one I signed up for the Star Wars 5K so I could still enjoy the experience without exerting myself too much. Because I was only running 3.1 miles on a relatively chilly morning I decided to wear last year’s Rebel Challenge shirt even though it has long sleeves. Running shirts with long sleeves are basically useless in Southern California (I think I’ve written about this before), but I figured I wouldn’t overheat too much during such a short race. I also wore my R2-D2 headband to match the Rebel Challenge shirt because nerdy runners love stuff like that. I was in corral A for the 5K which is insane because I’m just not that fast, but I still loved it. Usually waiting for Disney races to start is tedious, but this time they showed the 1977, 1980, and 1983 movie trailers for the original Star Wars trilogy which was intriguing. There were scenes there that weren’t even included in the final versions of the movies. Pretty interesting. (Do yourself a favor and check out this Empire Strikes Back preview. If you’re sharp you’ll notice a seriously disturbing moment in there. Let me know if you discover it.) Since I was in corral A I got to start the race right at 5:30 AM. I was worried that my foot would hurt while I was running, requiring me to walk at least part of the way, but I was surprisingly pain free! My lungs were burning because I was getting sick, but I pushed myself to keep running to prove that I could do it. I even ran the entire 3.1 miles which is rare for me, even during a 5K. Disney 5Ks aren’t officially timed, but my Garmin watch told me I averaged 10:26 min/mile pace which was really good for my first run after the marathon. And it was a lot of fun too. After collecting my medal and taking some pictures I walked back to the parking structure and drove home to shower and get ready for work. The rest of the day was less entertaining because by the end of the work day I realized I was getting really sick. I was sneezing left and right in the afternoon so I knew an unproductive weekend of rest and recuperation was in my future. Unfortunately the cold deteriorated into the flu on Sunday…and I’m still suffering right now. The Star Wars 5K ended with a whimper, but I’m still glad I did it. I live for these races!

It’s progressed

I know you guys are tired of reading about the ongoing saga of my current illness, and I’m pretty exasperated to still be writing about it. Believe me, I want nothing more than to be healthy again. To be able to go to work consistently again, and also to be able to exercise regularly again would be heavenly. But I woke up this morning just as sick as I have been for the last two weeks or so. My head was still congested, my cough was as bad as ever, and I felt exhausted in spite of getting plenty of rest. That’s when I realized that this isn’t just a cold anymore. After sleeping nearly all day I went to CVS Minute Clinic again to see if there was anything else I could do to hasten the healing. Turns out that my wheezing is indicative of bronchitis, and my congestion means I also have a sinus infection. Exciting! I got some antibiotics, an inhaler, and some nose spray to help with the symptoms. Hopefully with these medications I will start feeling better soon. I really can’t afford to miss any more work, and I have got to start running again if I don’t want to lose all of my endurance. (My foot has had more than enough time to heal too.) I know that in the grand scheme of things this illness is just a minor annoyance, but I’m ready to be over it already. Not only have I watched all of the shows on my DVR, but I also already binge watched the entire first season of “The Crown.” I’m tired of being cooped up at home! Here’s hoping I wake up significantly improved tomorrow morning.

Sixteen years ago

Over the weekend I was looking back at some of my posts from previous years and found a couple of gems from January 2001. The first presidential election after I was old enough to vote was in 2000 and what a doozy it was! Especially since I was still living in Florida. (For the record, Alachua County didn’t have any ballot irregularities. We colored in circles on a scantron with a Sharpie rather than punching holes in our ballots. No chance of hanging chads for us.) Some of the things I wrote about that election are eerily similar to the 2016 outcome. And as it turns out, neither case benefited my preferred candidate. History repeats itself, and much sooner than I ever expected!

“Speaking of the media, tonight we have a new president, George W. Bush. Don’t blame me, I voted for Gore!”
1/20/01 webpage post

“As I was waiting at a traffic light near I-75 I saw a billboard that caught my attention. It read ‘You Get the Government You Elect!’ My first thought was, ‘Not this year!’ At least we didn’t get the president that the majority of the population voted for.”
1/26/01 webpage post

Disney World Marathon (Part 2)

I had big plans for my birthday (January 9th) at Disney World, which just happened to be the day after the marathon. To celebrate not only turning 38, but also successfully completing my first 26.2 mile race, I had several reservations booked throughout the day at different Disney parks. First was breakfast at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom. If you haven’t eaten there before it’s a beautiful place with three different dining rooms that are impeccably decorated like the Beast’s castle. I had a delicious meal of quiche and pastries in a spectacular ballroom setting. The Magic Kingdom is my favorite Disney park so my parents and I spent a lot of time there after breakfast. As soon as we arrived that morning I made sure to get my birthday button so just about every Cast Member we encountered all day wished me a happy birthday. I also wore my Disney World Marathon shirt to the parks that day to advertise my accomplishment, but it was cold enough to warrant wearing a jacket over it most of the day. In the afternoon we caught a bus from the Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios where I had an early dinner reservation at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. The opportunity to have a meal in a booth shaped like a car at a drive-in movie theater was too intriguing to pass up. And it was a lot of fun. The food wasn’t very impressive, but I loved watching the old sci-fi movie trailers, clips, and cartoons while eating. But by far the highlight of the evening was the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. Rather than have a birthday dessert with dinner I made reservations for all three of us for the dessert party preceding the Star Wars fireworks, which also came with priority viewing for the show. The party was in the Star Wars Launch Bay and I ate more than my fair share of indulgent sweets to celebrate my birthday. It was great. I also got my picture taken with Chewbacca where I was able to show off my marathon medal. And then Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Fireworks were really incredible. For a nerd like me it was the best way to end a birthday.

January 10th was my last full day at Disney World, but it was a little less structured. After breakfast my parents and took the bus to Disney Springs and spent the morning doing a little shopping there. We ended up being pretty frugal, only buying some Disney t-shirts at Uniqlo. They turned out to be the perfect souvenirs from our trip, and much more affordable than anything from the parks too. Our only obligation for the day was dinner at Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood Studios. It turned out to be one of the best meals that we had the whole trip with salads, steak and duck entrees, and delicious desserts. It was a fixed-price meal that included priority seating for the Fantasmic show later in the evening. Fantasmic has been on hiatus at Disneyland for over a year now due to extensive construction so I haven’t seen it in a long time. And the viewing options are much better at Disney World anyway with stadium bleacher seating. I really enjoyed seeing the show again. As soon as we got out of Fantasmic I made a beeline for Tower of Terror in order to use the Fast Pass I’d reserved. At Disneyland Tower of Terror closed permanently on January 2nd (I wrote a whole post about the last time I went on it back in November) to be transformed into a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride so I was excited to be able to still be able to experience the Disney World version. It’s a bit more elaborate than the one in Anaheim was so it was an enjoyable surprise.

I flew home to Los Angeles on January 11th, but my flight wasn’t until the evening so had a chance to spend a few more hours at a Disney park before departing. I decided to go back to the Magic Kingdom and get on some rides that I missed on my birthday. Like Space Mountain, the Peoplemover, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and Country Bear Jamboree. I also bought a Disney World 45th anniversary shirt and pin. I realize that the 45th anniversary was technically in the fall of 2016, but Disneyland was decorated for its 60th anniversary for over a year and a half so I figure the Disney World celebratory items were still applicable. I was really sorry to be leaving Orlando after such a great trip, including completing my first marathon and my 38th birthday, but it was time to get back to reality. I have a few souvenirs, a bunch of pictures, and even more great memories. And luckily I’ll be back at Disney World for the Wine & Dine races in November!

Getting back to normal

I finally dismantled my Christmas tree on Wednesday. I was stuck at home for a fifth day with this wretched cold/flu and getting quite restless so I started undecking my halls. I was particularly sad to sad goodbye for a year to the adorable yuletide Mickey and Minnie I purchased at Disneyland last month. I’ve been meaning to get myself a set forever and I finally pulled the trigger this past holiday season. I still haven’t put anything away properly yet (i.e., in the cabinet with all of my other seasonal decorations), but my house no longer screams, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” It’s always a little depressing when the lights and tinsel and garlands disappear in January, but it’s also nice for things to get back to normal. Post-holiday malaise is never fun and I have to constantly remind myself of the lovely things that I have to look forward to in the first few months of the year. Now that my Disney World trip is over it feels like the drudge of everyday life is setting in, but I have to remember that I have so many other exciting events on my calendar in 2017. Granted, being sick, injured, and idle for more than a week hasn’t helped raise my spirits, but I think that will turn around soon. If only my body would get back to normal then life would be less dull and monotonous! I only got out of the house today to pick up my bib for the Pasadena Half Marathon tomorrow morning – a race I’m not even going to run! But I had to pick up the bib in person so that I could pass it off to a friend. At least it won’t go to waste this way. While making the long drive up to Pasadena with my running buddy this afternoon to go to the expo I realized that I am still pretty sick. I wheeze when I laugh and I can’t talk very much without coughing. It’s really frustrating. I was determined to run at least a few miles today, but I am resigned to rest at least until Monday in hopes that this blasted illness vacates my body. As far as I’m concerned it can’t happen soon enough. I’m still unsure about my foot too. After a visit to the sports chiropractor yesterday afternoon I remembered why I don’t like going there. It’s insanely painful! The chiropractor worked on not only my foot, but also some muscles in my right leg in an attempt to loosen things up a bit and improve my gait. I won’t know if going through that ordeal made any difference until I feel well enough to run again, but I sure hope the discomfort produced results. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m going back to Wednesday for a follow-up. Fingers crossed that I am breathing and running normally again by then, and that I’ve also found the energy to actually pack up the Christmas decorations that are currently covering my entire kitchen table. It’s time to get everything back to normal around here!

Resolved to rest

After nearly a week of being idle due to a combination of post-marathon recovery and illness I went for a run last night. It was only 4 miles, but it was rough. There was a lot of wheezing involved thanks to my lovely cold symptoms and my pace was slower than usual, but I was happy to be out doing something again. Unfortunately my foot didn’t agree. It didn’t ever start hurting like it did after the marathon, but it didn’t feel quite normal either. That was troubling. Except for the Star Wars 5K last Friday I have done almost nothing physical since my podiatrist prescribed a week of rest so I was expecting my foot to be close to healed. And maybe it is and I’m just being paranoid. I know that a lack of pain is a good sign, but I’m still not satisfied. I’ll see how it feels after this weekend. Speaking of the weekend, I’m registered for the Pasadena Half Marathon on Sunday, but after a lot of deliberation today I decided it was not in my best interest to participate. Not only is my foot a little iffy, but I’m still sick and the weather prediction for Sunday is dismal. Looks like it’s going to be raining cats and dogs that morning which will make for an unpleasant race experience. So in order to avoid the possibility of setting myself back by running 13.1 miles when I shouldn’t, I managed to find a friend who can use my bib instead. I won’t blame her if she decides to skip it too after seeing the forecast! As disappointed as I am to skip this race I have to think about the future. I’d much rather rest this weekend and be healthy later in the spring than run on Sunday and be hurt for months. The LA Marathon is in March so I have to be ready for another 26.2 miles by then. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on my progress whether you want me to or not!