The day before I left for Orlando I got an email from my credit card company stating that there had been some unusual activity on my account. The email encouraged me to give them a call. Now let’s remember that this was Halloween so I was not only incredibly busy with the chili cook-off at work, but also trying to get some actual work done before my vacation, so I didn’t have a lot of time to make phone calls. Plus, I initially thought the email was a scam so there was no way I was going to call the number provided without doing some research. When I had a free minute I logged on to my credit card account to see if I could recognize anything strange. It took about 5 seconds for me to realize that the “scam” in this situation was not the email, but the recent $9600 charge on my card! Apparently, someone had gotten a hold of my number and tried to charge $9600 to Ticketmaster. Holy cow! I am grateful to the credit card company for identifying that this was out of character for my account and flagging it immediately. The downside was that my card had to be cancelled the day before I went to Orlando. Not the most convenient scenario, but I got along just fine with only my debit card while I was gone. I just wasn’t earning Hilton Honors points on all of my Disney World purchases. The horror! When I shared this story in one of my Facebook groups a good friend made a hilarious joke (see the photo above) that still makes me laugh two weeks later. I sympathize with any thief who was so desperate to get a ticket for “Hamilton” that he or she needed a stolen credit card number. I just wish it wasn’t mine!
“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.”
1/26/17 webpage post
Back in January, after the shock of getting my credit card bill from the holidays and a trip to Orlando, I resolved to be more frugal in 2017. About ten months have passed since then and I have to start this resolution revisit by confessing that I haven’t exactly succeeded in being more frugal this year with regards to Disney-related purchases. I’ve renewed my Premier Annual Pass which gives me unrestricted access to all Anaheim and Orlando Disney parks, gone to Disney World twice and run several races there, and participated in four multi-day race weekends at Disneyland. And all of that is on top of my usual visits to the Happiest Place on Earth that have nothing to do with running. These are expenses that, while technically frivolous, bring me a lot of joy. I get an immense sense of accomplishment out of conquering the Disney races (including the Avengers half marathon just this morning), plus I get to see the overwhelming excitement on my sweet goddaughter’s face when we watch Paint the Night or Fantasmic. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for any amount of money, but that doesn’t mean they were cheap! There’s some good news for 2018, though. Well, maybe not so much good news as really terrible news with an indirect upside.
On October 18th runDisney officially made an announcement that most of us in the running community had been expecting for a long time. All West Coast races were cancelled for 2018 and placed on an indefinite hiatus. This was not a huge surprise considering that back in March runDisney suddenly postponed registration for the Disneyland-based Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon Weekend shortly before it was supposed to open. (I was one of the lucky few who had already signed up for the 5K using a link sent out to previous participants so I was even more bewildered.) And then they gave us not one word of explanation for the next six months. After this extended radio silence we all knew that the race wasn’t going to happen, but we were still incredibly annoyed at being kept in the dark for so long. When the announcement was finally made last month, current and future construction at the Disneyland Resort was blamed for the race interruption. There’s no guarantee that is the true reason for the hiatus, but we have no idea when or if the race weekends will actually return. So the bad news is that my favorite races have disappeared for at least a year (the Avengers races this weekend were their swan song), but the good news is that I’m going to save a lot of money. Not just on registration costs, but also hotel reservations, food, and merchandise. My bank account is certainly going to thank me, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. The bottom line is that I’ve failed miserably at this particular 2017 resolution, but things are looking up for 2018! Stay tuned for more next year.
It’s not even 7 PM and I am ready to go to sleep. It’s an incredibly thrilling Saturday night around here! Actually, this weekend is pretty exciting due to the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend, but the races cause my bedtimes to be much earlier than normal. So for that reason I’m not spending a lot of time on a webpage post today. Honestly, I tried to write something more substantial. but my brain just wasn’t cooperating. I have gotten up insanely early the last two mornings for the Spider-Man 5K and the Thor 10K so I’m already operating with a sleep deficit, and tomorrow morning is the Super Heroes half marathon. I’ll be setting my alarm for 3 AM again tonight which just sounds ridiculously early. Suddenly going to bed at 7 PM seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The half marathon tomorrow is going to be the last race at Disneyland for a long time (more on that later) so I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Fortunately the weather is much nicer here than it was in Orlando last weekend! The simplest way to make a runner happy is to give them good race weather. Tomorrow is going to be bittersweet. I’m really going to miss running at Disneyland, especially the Avengers races. Here’s hoping the half marathon goes smoothly!
New Year’s Resolution #4: Cook for myself again
I’ll bet you’re wondering, “What happened to resolution #3?” Nevermind about that for now. There’s something I need to do before I write about that one so I’ll get back to it later.
While searching for topics for NaBloPoMo (my daily goings on are not nearly interesting enough to warrant sharing with anyone), I came across a couple of draft posts about the New Year’s resolutions I made back in January. Given that ten months have passed since I gave any thought to my goals for the year, 2017 has obviously not been very productive as far as resolutions go. Fortunately, there’s still a little time to take action and also to take credit for some progress. Case in point, I had absolutely no plans to do Whole30 back in the beginning of the year when I wrote resolution #4 to cook for myself again. At that point I was still halfheartedly eating Nutrisystem meals and snacks, mostly because I was ambivalent about cancelling my monthly deliveries. The premade food was something that required little effort on my part, but I was getting burned out eating the same meals week in and week out. They were edible, but not tasty enough to keep me as a loyal consumer.
After nearly a year where I cooked almost nothing, I started preparing my meals again in September in anticipation for the beginning of Whole30. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. This cooking renaissance reminded me not only that I have to go to the grocery store at least every other day to keep up with all the produce required for a healthy diet, but also that it takes a lot of time to prepare three meals a day! The upside was that I enjoyed knowing that I was cooking from scratch and eating whole, healthy foods. I haven’t written a wrap-up post about my 30-day diet experience yet, but the bottom line is that I was happy with the results. I lost about 6 lbs and I am certain I was healthier at the end than I was at the beginning. Since October 30th my diet has gone downhill a bit, mostly due to my vacation, but I’m working on formulating a maintenance strategy going forward. Especially with the impending holiday season. It can derail even the best-laid plans. I still intend to cook most of my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but I want to have some looser restrictions in regards to healthy carbs. I’ve learned that I need more than fruit and sweet potatoes to be able to run any significant distance, and I have a lot of long runs between now and the Dopey Challenge in January. In conclusion, Whole30 absolutely forced me, if unintentionally, to fulfill this New Year’s resolution that I made so many months ago. And since Whole30 is more focused on a lifestyle change rather than temporary dietary rules I think it will help me continue this beneficial trend into next year. Maybe it will even inspire a new resolution in 2018!
“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!
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 five days, but I think I’m ready! Well, as ready as I can be.
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!
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.
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!
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!