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!

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!

Racing through 2016

Once again I’m splitting my day between my bed and couch due to this lovely cold/flu combo, but luckily I’m starting to feel better. As I’m sitting at home recovering I’m having trouble not being active, especially after my rigorous training regimen of the last four months or so. But then I remember that going to CVS this morning to pick up a few things completely exhausted me and I realize that I’m still too sick to exercise. So instead of physically exerting myself any more than necessary in my current state I’ll reflect on my physical exertions of 2016 instead!

According to my spreadsheet I finished up 2016 running 1092 miles. Holy cow! I originally started the spreadsheet to keep track of the insane number of races that I register for, but at the beginning of 2016 I decided to also maintain a tally of my yearly miles just for fun. Looking at the graph I made at the end of the year it’s easy to see where I was injured (February and March), and it’s easy to see where I was marathon training (September through December). The rest of the year was surprisingly consistent, which I’m happy about because that isn’t easy to do when the summer heat is at its worst. I’m pretty proud of how consistent I was with my running for most of the year, especially for not missing any scheduled runs during marathon training. I was really lucky to not contract any serious illnesses during that timeframe! (Being sick this week has made me a little nuts. I feel like a lazy slob for not running at all over the last three days, but even walking up and down my stairs at home is more than I can handle right now.) 2016 was an incredibly successful year for me running-wise, and I hope I can follow that with an even more rewarding 2017. And with one marathon behind me I’m already on the right track! I have a whole bunch of races coming up this spring so I should have a lot of stories to tell in the near future. Let’s just hope I can lace up my running shoes again soon because all this lying around doing nothing is making me crazy!

New shirts

I’m spending the weekend sick at home with a wicked cold, which always seems to happen when I get back from vacation. With all this time spent on my couch in front of the TV I figured I’d have plenty of time to write some decent blog posts, but my brain isn’t cooperating. I can barely breathe, I have a lovely cough, and I’m reaching for my Rogue One Kleenex box pretty often. Doesn’t that sound like fun? So instead of working on my marathon recap post(s) I am writing about something silly instead. Silly is about all I can handle in my current state!

I used some of my down time over the holidays to clean out my closets, my dresser, and all of my storage boxes, and in the process I assembled a huge pile of clothes to donate. I seriously filled up the entire backseat of my car with bags. The discarded clothing was a mix of items that I haven’t worn in ages, items I don’t really like (i.e., ugly race shirts), and items that no longer fit since I’ve lost weight. It was a relief to drop off all of that stuff at Goodwill earlier this month, and also to have some free space in my closets and drawers that used to be filled to the brim. Even after reducing my wardrobe by getting rid of all that I still can’t believe how much I own. Which is why my acquisition of six new shirts (not including my Disney World marathon shirt which was included in my race registration) over the last week or so is pretty ridiculous. First of all, I picked up two of these shirts on my trip to Disney World (see bottom left of the above photo) – a Magic Kingdom 45th anniversary shirt and an Iron Man shirt from the Uniqlo store at Disney Springs. (If you’re a Disney fan and haven’t seen their line of shirts at Uniqlo yet you are missing out!) Next, I discovered that a package containing my Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival shirt (bottom right) arrived while I was in Orlando. I contributed to the Bring Back MST3K Kickstarter over Thanksgiving in 2014 so I guess it’s about time! Then I went to the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend expo on Thursday at the Disneyland Hotel and rounded out my new collection. Not only did I get the Star Wars 5K shirt that came with mt registration (top left), but I bought two shirts from New Balance that struck my fancy (top right). I feel pretty ridiculous to acquire all of these shortly after donating so much to Goodwill, but it seems I have no restraint when it comes to graphic t-shirts. At least I’ve got my weekend outfits covered for a while!

Marathon training done!

As of right now my marathon training is complete! I ran my last few miles tonight in the chilly wind that usually follows a Southern California rain storm. (Our winter weather has been more typical so far this season with a good deal of rain. It’s a good thing too because we need it!) The next time I lace up my shoes will be for the Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday. I’m nervous and excited at the same time! I know I’m as ready as I can be to successfully finish 26.2 miles, but I’ve never actually run that far before so at this point that’s my only reservation. I’m confident that I’ll be able to cross the finish line under my own power, though. I can’t wait to earn that medal! Tomorrow morning I’m flying to Orlando and my bags are just about ready to go. I packed all of the essential items days ago to make sure that the most important articles of clothing (i.e., my carefully chosen marathon outfit) didn’t end up dirty at an inopportune time. However, I need to rethink my wardrobe for the rest of the trip since there is a cold front coming through central Florida on Saturday. It’s going to be a lot colder than I expected! That means absolutely perfect running weather on Sunday, but my selected t-shirts for Disney World park time might not be warm enough. That’s what hoodies are for! I can’t believe the marathon is almost here. It’s been nine months since I registered and four months since I started training, and now I’m less than three days away from the race. Fingers crossed that this trip has a positive outcome!

2017 Resolution #1

New Year’s Resolution #1: Donate some of my old medals and scrapbook my old race bibs

I’m starting this year off with an easy resolution. Relative to some of my past ones, that is. I’ve been accumulating medals and bibs from races since the spring of 2014 and I’ve never really figured out what to do with them in the long term. Race medals from the current calendar year get hung up on the wall of my cubicle at work, which slowly but surely adds a garish amount of sparkle to my workspace over the course of twelve months. But then every January the previous year’s accolades come home and get stashed away in a box under my bed. In the beginning I had every intention of hanging all of these hard-earned medals on the wall in my bedroom, but over time I realized that I didn’t really want to. It’s not that I don’t enjoy receiving the medals as recognition of my accomplishments, but I don’t have the drive to display them anywhere afterwards. Over the holidays I sorted through the box of my old race medals from 2014 and 2015 and decided that most of them weren’t worth keeping. There’s a charity called Medals 4 Mettle that gives donated medals to sick children so I think I’ll send a portion of my collection there. Hopefully I can get that done soon. As far as race bibs go, I have a huge stack of them in the same box as the old medals. The most recent ones get displayed on the front of my refrigerator, as you can see in the above photo (Disney ones get top billing), but after their tenure there is over they are filed away. Some of the bibs are so nondescript that I probably should have just tossed them, but others are lovely souvenirs from of races that I’ve loved (and others I’ve hated). Luckily race bibs are small, thin, and light so I think I’ll keep them as a reminder of my progress over the last few years. My goal for 2017 is to put all of them (OK, maybe not the ones that I can’t even remember what race they’re from) in a scrapbook or album for future reference. Neither of these goals is too difficult, right? Now if I can just follow through before the year is over!

An unexpected day

I am now the reluctant owner of a new iPhone 7. This is not how I expected this day to go. I left work a little early on my first day back after the holidays to try and restore my ailing iPhone 6. I had an appointment at Best Buy to hopefully get the battery replaced, but it was a short visit because the Geek Squad told me they weren’t authorized to do that. Since none of the local Apple stores had any appointments available before I have to leave for Orlando I saw my chance to have a reliable cell phone on my trip slipping away. So in an act of desperation I got in my car and headed to the South Coast Plaza location to beg for help from any employee that would listen. By the time I got there even the store’s walk in queue was closed for the day because they were so busy. I was at the end of my rope. I almost started crying while talking to a manager. At this point I made a desperate decision to solve the problem by throwing money at it. Hence the iPhone 7. I hadn’t planned on making for such an extravagant purchase today, but it was the fastest and easiest way to have a fully functional cell phone before Friday. A half hour later I walked out of the Apple Store with a brand new phone that will hopefully last me for a few years. It’s not that I won’t get my money’s worth out of the iPhone 7, but it’s disappointing that I had to go to such lengths just because the new operating system didn’t play nicely with my old iPhone 6 battery. The upside is that I have the latest and greatest technology, including an upgraded camera, to play with while I’m at Disney World. Happy early birthday to me!

Adding to my unexpected day I skipped boot camp this evening. It took me 45 minutes to get home from South Coast Plaza in rush hour traffic which barely gave me enough time to get ready and make it to boot camp by 7 PM. I quickly checked my Facebook messages as soon as I walked in the door to find out that my workout buddy was wavering on going to the gym. That was excuse enough for me to suggest that we go to tomorrow’s class instead. The last thing I needed today was more stress. Suddenly I had no plans for the night and no desire to go running again after three straight days and 18 miles. I hardly knew what to do with an unplanned rest day! Luckily I had more than enough chores to keep me occupied. And even with all of the extra free time I had from skipping boot camp I’ve stay up too late writing this post. I have a feeling I’m not going to get a lot of sleep before I leave for Orlando on Friday. No more rest days until then!

Holidays are over

Today was the last day of my holiday break which means that I have to go back to work tomorrow. I’m not crazy about that prospect, but I’ve had a paid vacation since December 23rd so I can’t really complain. If I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to that’s my own fault. Today didn’t really help me feel like my time off was well spent either. Unfortunately I spent most of the day trying to figure out what’s wrong with my stupid iPhone. A couple of days ago I noticed that the battery was draining very rapidly (losing 50% in about 15 minutes) even with very light phone usage. At first I thought it was due to my new Garmin watch that was connected via Bluetooth or some of the new running apps I added recently. However, reverting those changes didn’t fix the problem. I won’t bore you with the details, but as of this afternoon I’ve tried everything in my power to resolve the issue, including completely wiping the phone and restoring the factory settings. This is particularly because I need a reliable phone for my marathon and I’m leaving for Orlando on Friday morning. I have an appointment at Best Buy tomorrow to perhaps replace the battery. From what I’ve read in Apple forums this was the only thing that seemed to help at all, even though my battery passed a diagnostic test at a local repair shop. If my poor phone is still afflicted after that I’ll have to walk in to an Apple Store on Wednesday without an appointment and hope they have a solution. Let’s just hope the “solution” isn’t simply a brand new phone. I’m not really ready for that yet, but I may not have much of a choice. Kinda like my car buying experience last spring! I’ll let you know how it goes.

There was some good news today – Florida beat Iowa in the Outback Bowl! Go Gators! It was a lot of fun to watch them win a game after the disappointing end to the regular season. Let’s hope that this portends a promising 2017 season for Florida. I guess we’ll have to wait until the fall to find out. Right now I need to go to bed so I can get up on time for work tomorrow morning. My holiday break ended with a bit of a whimper, but I still had a relaxing and fairly productive week and a half. Now it’s time to put the holidays behind me and get started on 2017. My Christmas tree won’t come down until after I get home from Orlando, though. I didn’t put it up until December 18th this year so I’m going to enjoy it for a little longer. Happy January everyone!