May 19th

“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 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!’ ”
1/21/17 webpage post

“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.”
1/28/17 webpage post

One month ago something amazing happened. On May 19th, just about a month shy of the official first day of summer, I finally put away all of my Christmas 2016 decorations. The good news is that my tree wasn’t up and trimmed that entire time, but none of my holiday baubles had moved far from where they had been on display in December. My Christmas tree was first put up on December 18th which means that it was out of storage for a solid 5 months. Like I said, the tree wasn’t out and decorated that long, but it might as well have been. I disassembled it in January, but the pieces were sitting in a box on the floor of my living room until the miracle day of May 19th. And all of the ornaments and other decorations, like my multiple nativities, took up every square inch of real estate on my kitchen table for those 5 months. Holy cow, how did it come to this? With the Los Angeles weather threatening shorts and flip-flop conditions very soon, I was dangerously close to the tipping point between putting my Christmas tree away and just putting it back up in anticipation of Christmas 2017. So on the afternoon of May 19th I found myself standing in front of that mountain of yuletide cheer and vowing to finally put it back in the closet. At least for a few months. After all was said and done I was very happy to have closed the door on the 2016 holidays. It’ll be that much more exciting when, in six months, it’s socially acceptable to start decorating for Christmas again. But for now, ’tis the season to survive another summer without air conditioning!

Final LA Marathon prep

I spend a lot of money on appointments at my sports chiropractor. This basically goes against my New Year’s Resolution #2 to be more frugal, but I think the results are with the expense. My right knee hasn’t been quite right since the Disney World Marathon in January, and it’s been particularly unhappy since the San Diego half marathon on Sunday. (I guess that’s what happens when you earn a new half marathon personal record!) But after seeing the chiropractor this afternoon I am feeling much better. Having your muscles manipulated is a painful process, but it’s amazing how effective the treatments can be. And it’s a good thing too because the LA Marathon is this weekend and I can’t say I’m all that prepared. I didn’t maintain my fitness level for a while after the Disney World Marathon due to illness and injury, and I’ve only completed two runs longer than 13.1 miles in the last two months. My 18 and 20 mile runs went well, but that might not translate into decent performance on a 26.2 mile course (as I learned on January 8th). I’m fairly confident that I can successfully finish the marathon on Sunday, but I’m definitely not as well trained as I was for the first one. Fortunately I’m planning on running with one of usual buddies and we have very modest time and pace goals. Neither of us is in peak condition right now (we both have knee problems) and we have no reason to push ourselves to go any faster. There’s always a possibility that she’ll send me ahead after a while, similar to what’s happened in our long training runs, but we’ll just have to see how it goes. The course isn’t the most runner-friendly and the weather isn’t going to be all that pleasant either. The forecast for Sunday is improving, though, so maybe we’ll be OK. During this last week of marathon prep I’m taking it easy, but still staying active. Tonight I went to a boot camp class at the gym which thankfully consisted of only upper body and core exercises. I definitely couldn’t handle a lot of lower body work right now. I’m going to complete my last few (very short) training runs over the next three days and then rest as much as possible on Saturday. I’m nervous about running the LA Marathon in give days, but I think I’m ready! Well, as ready as I can be.

Monday night placeholder

It’s Monday night and I really should be getting ready for bed, but instead I’m sitting on my couch attempting to write a worthwhile webpage post about the last few days. Unfortunately I just haven’t been able to find enough energy to keep my blog updated lately. Not that I’ve had much free time to even consider writing with my ridiculous work commitments recently, but I was hoping that having a long weekend away from the office would finally help me churn out a few entries. (Often I mentally compose posts at completely inopportune times to document them – like while I was running the San Diego half marathon yesterday – so many of my brilliant ideas are lost forever.) I did spend some quality time with my laptop this weekend, but nothing much came of it. I think my brain was just too weary after the last few weeks to be able to formulate more than the few coherent sentences you’re reading right now. And they took longer to write than I’d like to admit. I haven’t slept enough in quite a while and I’ve been on the go for far too long now. Luckily I have a little bit of a break coming on the work front, but with the LA Marathon next Sunday morning I still have important fitness obligations I have to fulfill this week. (Of course today all I did was go to Disneyland with my friend and her daughter, even 5 hours of walking was a break for my aching knee after the race yesterday.) I am in serious need of some time to relax. I have a plan so we’ll see if I’m able to execute it this week. If I am successful I’ll be able to let you know how it goes in a new webpage post soon!

Surf City half marathon 2017

Before I write about more recent events I’d like to go back and cover a couple of happenings from earlier this year. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since the 2017 Surf City Half Marathon, which took place on February 5th. That Sunday morning was perfect running weather, cloudy and cool, but unfortunately my running form wasn’t quite as perfect. I was still recovering from my lovely cold/flu/bronchitis combination so my breathing wasn’t what it should be to run 13.1 miles, and my training had fallen off sharply for that reason. But I needed to restart my fitness regimen somehow, and I was feeling much better than even a week earlier, so I arrived for the half marathon with cautious optimism. Before the race started I chatted with a friend about our time goals (I just wanted to finish!) and took a picture with my running group. I was nervous, but ready to get started. And the first few miles of the course were great. I even passed my friend who is usually a lot faster than me around mile 4. That was a surprise. (In her defense, she’d been fighting her own illnesses throughout January as well.) Training for the Disney World Marathon had gotten my body into pretty good shape, and I hadn’t lost all that much in the way of fitness in the month that followed. I did remarkably well for a number of miles, but by mile 10 I was gasping for breath. No surprise after having bronchitis, really. My pace wasn’t suffering too much, but trying to recover during my walk breaks was a losing battle. I passed my running group’s cheer squad and told them I was ok, but couldn’t breathe. The other runners around me overheard and thought I was trying to be funny. They all laughed, but I was being serious! With only about a 5K to go I pushed myself to finish without slowing down. And I did! My official time for the half marathon was 2:37:46 which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either. Not that I’d been expecting much. I was happy to have averaged a 12 min/mile pace for the whole distance. After getting my medal I grabbed a carton of chocolate milk that I’d been looking forward to all morning, and chatted with a couple of friends at the finish line before driving home. Even though it wasn’t my best half marathon showing I was still encouraged. I knew I was only going to get faster and stronger with renewed health and consistent running in the weeks to come. And with the LA Marathon fast approaching I needed all the help I could get.

Goodbye February

This year is moving so fast. I can’t believe another month is over. Granted it’s the shortest month on the calendar, but still. I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to write nearly as much as I wanted to. I have a large number of half-finished, and some only half-started, blog posts waiting to be completed. Not only have I been faithfully training for the LA Marathon which is now just 19 days away (I made up for my ow mileage in January but running like crazy in February), but work has been completely monopolizing most of my waking hours. I even have to go in early tomorrow morning so that I can work a full day before going to the sports chiropractor in the afternoon because my knee needs more attention before the marathon. I’m dedicated to my work, but even more dedicated to my running! Free time has been so hard to come by lately, though. I’m hoping that I can be efficient enough this week that I can take at least part of the weekend off. I am planning to run 12 miles on Sunday morning, but I also hope to spend a few hours at Disneyland. If I can limit my hours at work this weekend I will be happier, more rested, and ready to face the even crazier week ahead. I know I shouldn’t be neglecting my mental health, but sometimes it suffers due to higher priority endeavors. One of these days I’ll be able to take a deep breath and relax!

Day off for a cause

Today was only my second day off since February 5th. Work has just been crazy, and even with wrapping up a major event yesterday, my list of obligations doesn’t seem to be getting shorter anytime soon. So how was I able to manage being out of the office on a Friday when I’m obviously swamped? Well, it was for a very good reason. Today was basically my only chance to complete my necessary 20-mile run in preparation for the LA Marathon as dictated by my training plan. Ideally I would have waited until tomorrow or Sunday for my last long run before the marathon, but being in Las Vegas for the Hot Chocolate 15K this weekend complicated things. So my running buddy and I decided to take some time off from work in order to run this morning. I’ll write more about that in another post. If I’m honest, I should have gone to work for at least a little while this afternoon, but that didn’t happen. Instead I spent my extra free time doing a things around the house and relaxing more than I have in weeks. It was lovely. But right now I’m exhausted and I need to finish getting ready to go out of town tomorrow morning. I’ll try to write something more substantial while I’m in Vegas!

Blog excuses

Try as I might, the regularity of my webpage updates has suffered lately. There are multiple reasons for the reduction in frequency, just like my excuses for not getting back to the gym sooner that I wrote about in my last post. I miss writing every day, but it just hasn’t been possible. The bottom line is that all of my waking hours have been consumed with one of the three activities below for the last week or so. I haven’t really had any free time in nine days, and I don’t really expect that to change until the upcoming weekend when I head to Las Vegas for the Hot Chocolate 15K with my running buddies.

1) Work
Last Sunday night I started my first of five night shifts at work. It was rough. Working from 10 PM to 7 AM takes its toll on you, especially when sleeping soundly during the day is challenging. My body just didn’t want to stay asleep when it was warmer than usual in my bedroom and sunlight was pouring through the cracks in my blinds. I did get paid a little extra for working such odd hours, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the upheaval in my daily routine. Even after my night shifts were over I still had to work both days this weekend. Not the best way to spend my days of rest, but my overwhelming workload demanded it. I can’t wait to have next weekend off!

2) Running
Luckily my crazy work schedule still allowed me to complete my weekday runs and attend my usual boot camp classes in the evenings before I went to work. I got my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays training runs done without too much trouble. The above photo was taken during my 9-mile run at Bolsa Chica State Beach last Wednesday which I was able to start at 5 PM (something that’s not possible on most regular work days). The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I got to see a beautiful sunset as I was running along the Pacific Ocean. You just can’t beat that. I also ran 14 miles with my running buddies this past Sunday morning. Some computer maintenance at work that morning gave me the perfect excuse to get another marathon training run done. I can’t believe the LA Marathon is in less than four weeks!

3) Sleep (or not)
At the end of each of my night shifts last week I was completely exhausted. It was all I could do to throw on some pajamas and crawl into bed when I got home. Falling asleep wasn’t my problem at all, but staying asleep was another story. Even though I wasn’t able to get enough hours of slumber in between work shifts I still spent a fair amount of time in bed either trying to go back sleep or lying there staring at my iPad when sleep was elusive. It was kinda nice to lounge in my lovely flannel sheets before getting up and facing the day, but I’d have much rather have worked and slept on a normal schedule. And speaking of a normal schedule, I’ve stayed up way too late tonight writing this post. At this rate I won’t get enough sleep to face a day shift (you know, that thing I was longing for last week?) at work tomorrow. Good night!

Gym excuses

Three night shifts done with the fourth starting soon. I’m starting to get into the groove of this schedule – just in time for it to be over after tomorrow night. While I’m waiting to go in to work tonight I’ll start catching up on some of the backlog of blog topics that I’ve been intending to write about for a while.

I didn’t get back to the gym after the Disney World Marathon until last Monday, 2/6. That was a hiatus of more than a month. I intended to go back a lot sooner, but there were some extenuating circumstances. Illness and injury kept me sidelined for a while after I got back from Orlando, and I only seriously considered going to boot camp on Friday, 2/3. However, it didn’t happen on that particular day for a couple of reasons.

1) Cubicle move…again
My work group was slated to move our offices to a different area at the end of the day so all of our belongings, including our computers, had to be boxed up and ready for the movers by 5 PM. Since I started working on my program in 2005 I have moved my cubicle so many times that I’ve lost count of the actual number. It’s somewhere on the order of 6 or 7 – enough to make you wonder whether unpacking is even worth it. So on top of having a lot of work to do that Friday, I also had to pack up all of my personal items and disconnect all of my computers (I have more than one in my cubicle) before leaving for the day. It was a messy and time-consuming endeavor. The office move preparation was complicated by the fact that I had to leave early that day for a doctor’s appointment at 3:30 PM.

2) Doctor’s appointment
If you read my blog then you’re familiar with the foot and knee injuries I sustained during the Disney World Marathon. Luckily the foot problems disappeared shortly after I got back from Orlando and never reappeared, but The knee pain lingered a bit longer. Every time I went running my knee would hurt for about 24 hours afterwards, especially when I was going up or down stairs. This made me wonder if there was something more serious going on. So just in case I made an appointment with the physician’s assistant that I saw the first two times I had running-related afflictions. The last thing I wanted was to continue running through the pain (which was admittedly mild compared to previous ailments) and cause permanent damage. I was late to my appointment due to the cubicle move at work, but that annoyance was forgotten because I got good news from the PA. I was very happy when she told me that my symptoms are simply due to IT band tightness and nothing serious. Phew! Nothing some stretching and visits to the sports chiropractor can’t fix!

After this ordeal last Friday I did make it back to the gym on Monday, 2/3. I’m so happy to be back to my regular workout routine so I hope I can keep it up. No more excuses (or injuries, hopefully)!

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.