Academy Awards 2017

Turns out I didn’t have enough free time while I was in Las Vegas to write anything at all. It was a whirlwind trip with very little down time. So when I got home this evening (around 7 PM due to heavy traffic headed back to Los Angeles) I sat down with my laptop to try and write a decent blog post. Obviously I was unsuccessful. I’m tired and dreading the week ahead, so I escaped into the world of the Academy Awards. It wasn’t too long ago that I fervently tried to see as many of the Best Picture films as possible before the Oscars, but it’s been impossible to find the time for that these days. Especially now that there can be up to ten nominees. And this year may be my poorest showing ever. I looked through all of the nominated movies and I’ve only seen five of them – none of which fall in any of the major categories. Take a look at the list below. First of all, I’m supremely embarrassed to not have seen “Hidden Figures” yet. As a woman in the aerospace industry I’m a little ashamed that I never made it to the theater for such an important piece of cinema. But in maybe an even more shocking confession, I haven’t even seen “Moana,” for heaven’s sake! This should highlight just how few times I’ve gone to the movies in the last six months. Fortunately there’s always On Demand to help me catch up on some of this year’s most acclaimed films. That’s if I can find any free time.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (Costume Design, Production Design)
“Star Trek Beyond” (Makeup and Hairstyling)
“Suicide Squad” (Makeup and Hairstyling)
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (Sound Mixing, Visual Effects)
“Doctor Strange” (Visual Effects)

What weekend?

My last day off of work was February 11th, the day I went to Disneyland to see the Main Street Electrical Parade (which I wrote about last week). Starting last Sunday I worked night shifts for five days, and then put in as many hours as possible in the office over the weekend. That kind of schedule doesn’t make for much of a social life, but sometimes it is necessary.

On Friday morning I blearily stumbled out of work at 6 AM. There was a major winter storm bearing down on Los Angeles that day, but it hadn’t arrived yet. I was lucky to get home before the crazy wind and rain hit Orange County. I fell asleep around 9 AM and slept through a lot of it, but I had to get up around 2 PM to get ready for an appointment with my sports chiropractor. It was still storming when I had to leave the house and an umbrella wasn’t the least bit effective in such severe weather. I threw on my raincoat, but still got soaked by the time I got to the chiropractor’s office. The reason I was there was to get some relief from my knee pain before starting my highest mileage week of LA Marathon training. My chiropractor does great work, but it always hurt like crazy during the treatment. He always leaves bruises behind! It’s worth it for the great results, though. After I got home again I knew I needed to get ready and go to work, but I stalled because of the terrible weather that I wasn’t willing to face again quite yet. I even resorted to filing my taxes to have an excuse to stay home a little longer! (The good news is that I got a decent refund.) Eventually I made it to work for a few hours to make sure everything was set for the tests I planned to run over the weekend.

On Saturday I woke up late because my body still hadn’t readjusted to a normal schedule (i.e., being awake during daylight hours) after a week of night shifts. I dragged myself to work for eight hours, and only got home in time to wash a load of laundry before bedtime (workout clothes, of course). Sunday was slightly more interesting because I didn’t go to work first thing due to some computer maintenance that was happening in the morning. It was the perfect time to get together with my running buddies and complete a 14-mile LA Marathon training run. We ran on a path in Brea which was very pretty, but our pace was much slower than usual. We also got rained on for a while in the middle. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but luckily, thanks to the slower pace, I still felt good when we were done. The downside is that we weren’t done until a lot later than I expected. I drove home, ate lunch, showered, and rushed to work as fast as I could, but I didn’t get there until 2 PM. After seven hours there I managed to escape. Since it was already 9 PM all I accomplished after that was getting ready for work the next day. And thus a busy, but not very entertaining weekend came to an end. Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to write about after this coming weekend.

A perfect day

I survived my first night shift, but it was rough. I was completely exhausted when I got home earlier this morning. Now I’m getting ready to go to boot camp before my shift starts tonight. This week is just terrible!

Saturday was a perfect day. It started out a little rocky when my alarm went off at 5:30 AM so I could get ready for my 18-mile training run for the LA Marathon, but then I went back to sleep for an hour. Luckily the weather cooperated to make my run comfortable even though I didn’t get started until 7:30 AM. Running 18 miles this time around was more difficult than back in December, but I successfully completed the feat without any serious problems, and that’s what really matters. In fact, I felt better after 18 miles than I did after the Surf City half marathon the weekend before, which is extraordinary. Miraculously there was no knee pain, no foot pain, and no nausea (thanks to some nutrition tweaks), but I did realize that my running shoes are at the end of their life. They will always have a special place in my heart for helping me survive my first marathon, but out of necessity I will start breaking in a new pair (that just arrived today, actually) this week.

As much as I wanted to relax when I got home there just wasn’t time because I had plans in the afternoon with Natalie. We were supposed to have a birthday celebration at Disneyland back in January, but we had to postpone because we were both sick as the day approached. Luckily two weeks later we were both almost fully recovered and ready to take Disneyland by storm. In reality, the first thing I did was wait in a really long line at the ticket booth to renew my Premier annual pass. For some reason the Florida/California pass is the only one that can’t be renewed online, which is annoying. Since I’m going to Orlando in November and January it makes sense for me to get the dual-coast pass at least one more time. It was a little complicated, but eventually I walked away with a new annual pass that doesn’t expire until March 30, 2018. Fantastic! Much to our chagrin, Natalie and I discovered that Disneyland was insanely packed that day, maybe because a ticket price hike was going into effect the next day. We only managed to get on a couple of rides (Haunted Mansion and It’s A Small World), but that was OK. We had dinner, shopped, hung out, and basically had a great time. The real purpose of our visit was to see the Main Street Electrical Parade which has recently returned to Disneyland after a stint at Disney World starting in 2010. Shockingly I’d never seen the Electrical Parade before so it was an amazing experience. I was entranced. We also stuck around for the Disneyland Forever fireworks which I hadn’t seen since about 2014. After all of that I deemed Saturday a perfect day. We all need lovely days like that every once in a while.

Since I was trying to prepare myself for working nights this week I intended to stay at Disneyland until it closed at midnight, but I was way too tired to do that. I might have been able to power through it if the lines for the rides were shorter, but the crowds didn’t thin out very much even after the fireworks. Natalie and I left to drive home at 10:30 PM. My perfect day ended with me struggling to stay awake after I got back to Seal Beach, but I did manage to avoid going to bed until about 2 AM. Working nights this week is going to be awful, but at least I had a great weekend beforehand!

Up way too late

As far as I’m concerned it’s Saturday night, but this post isn’t going to be finished until Sunday because it’s already after midnight. Normally there’s no way I’d still be awake this late, but I’m trying to alter my sleep schedule since I have to work nights this week. It’s going to be awful no matter how I prepare, but hopefully I can make the transition slightly less painful. My plan for tomorrow (or rather today, since it’s technically Sunday already) is to go to bed as late as possible (hence why I’m awake in the wee hours of the morning) and then sleep as late as possible so that I’ll be at least somewhat prepared to work my shift that starts at 10 PM. Unfortunately I’m really struggling to stay awake right now. It doesn’t help that I woke up early today to go running, and then met my good friend Natalie at Disneyland to see the Main Street Electrical Parade which has recently returned to Disneyland. This was my first day off from work in two weeks and I loved it. I wish I could write more about it tonight, but I’m so tired that I can barely see straight. I think it’s finally time to give up and go to sleep. More details tomorrow!

Too busy to write

I haven’t written anything since Thursday, and now it’s Sunday night and I desperately need to go to sleep if I want to get any sleep before work tomorrow. The last three days have been a blur, to say the least. Not only did I run the Surf City half marathon this morning, but I had to work both days this weekend. It wasn’t pleasant, but I got a lot done. This week isn’t going to be any more relaxing either. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to take a day off due to all of the extra hours I worked this weekend, but that may not be possible. There are just so many obligations! I’m insanely behind on basic chores like cooking and laundry that I don’t know when I’ll be able to catch up. Right now I’m going to publish this sorry excuse for a webpage post and tackle a little housework before I go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have time to write something worthwhile. Doubtful, but I still have hope!

Great Chocolate Race

On Sunday I ran the Great Chocolate Race in Long Beach and somehow survived 10 miles. As of that morning three weeks had passed since the Disney World Marathon and I’d hardly run at all during that time. I was seriously unprepared for a double digit run, but I was willing to give it a try anyway. Besides, if I missed it I wouldn’t get the promised box of Godiva chocolates when I crossed the finish line! Who cares about medals when there’s chocolate to be earned? I started the race with my usual running buddies (wearing matching shirts even), but I didn’t expect to be able to keep up with either of them based on the lingering effects of my recent illness. I did end up having a lot of trouble breathing, but I managed to stay with the faster of my two buddies for almost six miles. Not bad! Some of those miles were fast too. Much faster than I planned to run during my comeback. So after gasping for breath during our walk breaks (it felt like I only had about half of my lung capacity available) for far too long I told her to leave me behind. I slowed down significantly after that and stopped for a water break which gave my other running buddy enough time to catch up. Even with a more leisurely pace it was all I could do to keep up with her towards the end! The second half of the 10-mile race was a lot slower than the first half and I was completely dead at the end, but I finished it. It felt really great to get back in to running, especially without any foot pain. I was worried about that, but it turned out perfectly fine. (On the other hand, my knee did bother me a little which is a whole new concern, but I’m still assessing the seriousness of that situation. I’ll evaluate the state of my joints after the Surf City half marathon on Sunday.) And that little box of Godiva chocolates was delicious too.

Long overdue update

Happy Easter everyone! It’s been far too long since I wrote anything, I know. It’s been a busy month! But before I write anything about this latest holiday let me catch up on some of the events from earlier this month. The good news is that I’m getting back to running regularly again. I’m still pretty out of shape, meaning my lungs feel like they’re on fire when I run at even the slowest possible pace, but at least my leg isn’t hurting anymore. As of my last post I had run one time without pain and the orthopedist gave me the green light to ease back into my normal routine. So that weekend I made a bit of a judgment call (that a friend of mine questioned, actually) and ran two 5Ks, the Country Music 5K in Anaheim on Saturday and the San Diego 5K (in San Diego, of course) on Sunday. I was actually registered for the San Diego Half Marathon, but after not running for a month I knew I wasn’t ready for that distance even if my leg wasn’t bothering me. I’ll try it again next year. I felt great during the 5Ks (with the exception of the burning lungs from having lost all of my endurance), but my leg started bothering me again the next Monday. I was concerned that I did indeed have a stress fracture, which the doctor warned me was a possibility, so I made a follow-up appointment with the orthopedist for the next week. Unfortunately my cold also had a resurgence after those two 5Ks. I guess I was overly ambitious that weekend after being injured since early February and sick since the end of my vacation because I felt horrible on Monday and Tuesday.

The next week was busy as well. Thursday was St. Patrick’s Day so I had to represent my Irish heritage, but I realized that I don’t have a lot of green apparel in my wardrobe these days. My green North Face jacket would have been perfect except the spring weather was too warm to make it a feasible choice. I do have a couple of great St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts, but neither would have been really work-appropriate. (Hello Kitty is perfect on the weekend, but I generally avoid cartoon characters on my clothes when I go to the office. Except maybe on Fridays.) So I donned my dark green pants and a black shirt and decided that the outfit was sufficient for a weekday St. Patrick’s Day. However, just as I was arriving at work that morning one of my co-workers asked me why I wasn’t wearing green. Really? Do green pants not qualify? It turns out the dark green threw a lot of people off that day so I had to defend my St. Patrick’s Day participation a few times, but at least I avoided being pinched. The next day I went for a 5-mile run after work and I’m happy to say that my leg felt mostly fine. I hadn’t seen the orthopedist yet, but I was pretty sure that the lack of pain meant that I didn’t have a stress fracture. This made me really happy because I was registered for the Hot Chocolate 15K in San Diego that Sunday and I really didn’t want to skip it. They have four candy stations along the course! How could I miss that? I knew running 9.3 miles would be a challenge at my current fitness level (or lack of it), but I figured I could complete the race without any ill effects as long as I didn’t push myself too hard. The course turned out to be incredibly hilly and challenging, but I survived and I’m glad I did it. It convinced me that I can ramp up my mileage in preparation for my next half marathon in April. Let’s hope I can put this injury and illness combination completely behind me soon. It’s been long enough!

Surf City half marathon 2016

“I felt like such a fraud collecting my medal after crossing the finish line because it took me significantly over 3 hours to complete that half marathon. Pathetic!”
2/2/15 webpage post

I was so excited to run the Surf City half marathon again, but this time without an injury. This race last year was by far my slowest half marathon and the least enjoyable one I’ve ever run. Luckily after a month of rest things started to improve. My IT band still bugs me occasionally, but not enough to prevent me from running. Thank goodness! So the 2016 Surf City half marathon was my chance for redemption. Despite two great half marathons in January, today didn’t go quite the way I hoped. It started out well, though. Last year I discovered that parking for this race can be a fiasco so I tried a different strategy this time around. I arrived earlier and parked in a more remote lot, right next to a shuttle stop. Stress free parking! The problems started when I walked over to catch the shuttle. At some point between my car and the bus I dropped my timing chip that was supposed to be attached to my shoe. I was going to put it in its proper place after I adjusted my laces at the start line, but the timing chip made a bid for freedom before then. This was problematic for a number of reasons. Not only would I not get an official finish time, but I wouldn’t get credit for completing the race at all. This wouldn’t be a big deal if not for the Beach Cities Challenge (Surf City + Orange County + Long Beach). I haven’t decided whether I want to run all three of the races this year, but my initial thought is that I want to try. (The OC half is the only one that’s really up in the air right now because I already have two other half marathons in May. I’m still considering whether I’m crazy enough to add a third.) But if I want a chance to earn the new sand dollar Beach Cities Challenge medal I need to get credit for the Surf City half marathon. But that was a situation I would address after crossing the finish line.

The next problem of the day was the weather. We’re having a little heat wave in Los Angeles right now. It’s not nearly as bad as the scorching summer that was had last year, but warm and sunny are not the ideal conditions for long distance running. And the fact that the half marathon didn’t start until almost 8 AM didn’t help. Despite a little bit of a cool breeze off the Pacific, the whole race was really uncomfortable. After the first two miles I was rethinking my wardrobe. Shorts and a tank top would have been a better choice than the capris and short-sleeve shirt that I chose. I’m not sure if these unfavorable circumstances themselves caused my poor performance today or whether it was a combination of factors, but I was exhausted by the second mile. My body just didn’t cooperate today so there was a lot of walking involved in this “run.” I was so glad to make it to the finish line! It wasn’t my slowest half marathon, but it was close. Luckily my only goal for the race was to finish it, so in that sense I was completely successful. (The focus of 2016 is going to be distance rather than speed. This will become apparent when I start marathon training in the fall.) After collecting my medal (which is gigantic this year for the 20th anniversary) I headed over to the expo tents to figure out what to do about my errant timing chip. I ended up telling my admittedly ridiculous story to a race administrator who then took down all of my information for further review. Hopefully she will be able to verify that I did indeed complete the race today so I can get credit for it. That would make all of the discomfort worthwhile. Beach Cities Challenge 2016, here I come! Hopefully.

Sunday in DC

The search for the perfect DC hotel continues. When I booked this trip a few weeks ago I picked a place to stay based on its access to covered parking and a fitness center with ample treadmills. These two attributes are seemingly unrelated, but both are conducive to avoiding the pitfalls of winter weather. Underground parking means no ice or snow accumulation on my car overnight, and a fitness center with plenty of treadmills will help me maintain my running regimen without relying on the sidewalks and trails being satisfactorily cleared. Sounds perfect, right? However, when I checked in today I discovered that this hotel does not have free internet access in the guest rooms. Seriously? I’ve tried quite a few different hotels in this area over the last nine years and I have yet to find one that has the ideal combination of comfortable rooms, a well appropriated fitness center, decent parking, and a few other desirable amenities. It’s like looking for the Holy Grail of accommodations! The good news is that my room at my current hotel is a lovely suite and the fitness center looks great (I haven’t tried it yet), but the lack of convenient internet access is really annoying. Hopefully I can just go downstairs to the lobby when I’m ready to publish this post, because otherwise I’ll have to find a Starbucks that’s still open this late on a Sunday. I might be eating exclusively at restaurants that have free wifi for the next five days. I know this is pretty much the ultimate first world problem, but I have a lot of work that I want to do online during my downtime while I’m out of town. Like book a hotel room in San Diego for a race next month. But that’s a story for another post. And hopefully that place has free wifi!

Traveling to DC

I made a mistake this morning. Considering all of the difficulty on the East Coast due to the blizzard last weekend I should have checked my flight status before I left for the airport, but I didn’t. As soon as I parked my car and caught the shuttle to the airport I found an email in my inbox informing me that my flight to DC was delayed – by two and a half hours! I thought I was running late while getting ready to go to the airport this morning, and I was actually a little worried about not being able to grab anything for breakfast before getting on the plane. Little did I know I could have stopped for a leisurely morning meal on the way! As it was, I got to sit down and have a nice egg sandwich after going through security, and then I had enough time leftover to wander around the United terminals for over an hour. It was boring, but luckily I had no reason to get to DC by a certain time today. Before takeoff the pilot explained the delay – the plane that was originally assigned to our flight was coming from Hawaii this morning, but it had to divert for some reason and obviously didn’t make it to Los Angeles on schedule. Weird. Funny enough, after everything the region had to deal with this week, the delay had nothing to do with the weather!

I didn’t get as much sleep as I should have last night because I had too many things to check off my to do list before going on my trip. I left work early yesterday so I’d have more time to prepare. My first order of business when I got home was baking the three batches of cookies that I promised my East and West Coast co-workers. I didn’t want to make them earlier in the week because I was afraid they’d dry out and get stale before anyone got to eat them. The cookies I ended up making were slightly different from what I described in my previous post. The “classic” chocolate chip cookies ended up including browned butter, bacon fat, and molasses. And they were amazing! (I sampled quite a few while slicing up the cookies. This is why I limit my baking these days!) I will share that recipe later this week. Of the other two batches of chocolate chip cookies, one had a full pound of cooked and crumbled bacon mixed into the batter, and the second had some reconstituted dried cherries (but no liquor as I originally planned). After the cookies were done I seriously considered skipping my planned 5-mile run because I still needed to finish packing my suitcase and attempt to get to bed at a decent hour. I figured I could hit the treadmill after arriving in DC instead. But then I remembered how much I hate running on the treadmill so I threw on my shoes and went for a run on the sidewalks of Seal Beach instead. There’s a possibility that it will be warm enough for me to run outside while I’m in DC, but more than likely I’ll be stuck on the treadmill in the hotel fitness center instead. It’s not ideal, but there’s no way I’m going to miss any of my training runs this week. The Surf City Half Marathon is next Sunday and I need to be ready! But I digress. I stayed up too late last night getting ready for my trip, but it was worth it. I will sleep well tonight!