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!

November 21st

I started this morning at the San Dimas Turkey Trot 10K. (Yes, I’m crazy enough to have signed up for a pre-Thanksgiving turkey trot in addition to the two races I’m running on Thursday. Don’t worry, I’ve already admitted that I have a problem.) This was the second in a three-part holiday series. The race was at Bonelli Regional Park where I’ve run a couple of other times in the past year. It’s a hilly course so I knew my time wasn’t going to be spectacular, and it turned out to be unseasonably warm so that didn’t help. Needless to say, it wasn’t my fastest 10K, but it wasn’t my slowest either so I was ok with that. No need to push myself too hard before Thanksgiving Day. That’s going to be tough enough! I also got to see a friend of mine and her two adorable kids at the race so was a lot of fun.

On my way home from the turkey trot I listened to the Florida vs. Florida Atlantic football game on the radio. I was still running when it started, but I got to listen to the end of the first half while I was driving. Gotta love satellite radio! Unfortunately the Gators struggled a lot more than they should have this week. At halftime neither team had put any points on the board. But then when Florida scored two touchdowns in the third quarter I thought I could finally relax. Not even close. Florida Atlantic answered with two touchdowns of their own to tie the game and force an overtime. Then things got really nuts. The Gators managed another touchdown in OT, but the extra point afterwards was blocked. This was potentially a disaster. The kicking game has been a thorn in Florida’s side this whole season. A missed extra point could be the only thing that separates victory from defeat. All Florida Atlantic needed to do was score a touchdown and not botch the extra point attempt to beat the #8 team in the country. Much to my delight, they were not able to pull off the upset. I was so relieved!

After the game was over I had to take my car to the Honda dealer for service. I’ve owned it for over six months and it just now needs its first oil change. Living in Seal Beach means that I put much fewer miles on my car every month. When I bought my car I was promised free oil changes for two years, and I did receive the service at no cost, but it took almost two hours. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, I guess. I did get a lot of reading done on my iPad while I was sitting at the dealer, though. That was a plus. The last thing I did today was go see “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.” I rarely go see movies at the theater any more, and almost never on opening weekend, but I made an exception this time. My weekends have been so busy so far this fall that I figured I’d better make the most of any free time I can scrounge up. I really enjoyed the movie. It was a fitting end to the franchise. The books are still better for anyone who’s wondering, though.

Now I just have to decide what to do tomorrow!

Avengers 10K

Yet again I’ve missed a couple more days of my NaBloPoMo commitment. As with the last time, I was away from home, although just in Anaheim for the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend rather than Orlando. A Disney race was still to blame for my lapse. I was just too busy and too tired to post anything on Friday and Saturday. Sorry about that. Luckily the weekend gave me a lot to write about so I’ll recap it this week.

I woke up at 3:30 AM yesterday morning for the Captain America 10K. When I’m staying at a hotel near Disneyland I usually don’t get up quite that early, but there were some additional security checks in place for the races after the terrorist attacks in Paris the night before. So I dragged myself out of bed and into the cold morning 45 minutes earlier than I had originally planned. Luckily I’d saved a couple of mylar thermal blankets from previous races so I could keep warm with one of those wrapped around myself until right before crossing the start line. It worked remarkably well. However, the extra security precautions turned out to be pretty simple so I spent about an hour and a half sitting around in the chilly pre-dawn air before I could start running. Without that blanket I would have been really uncomfortable. (What a difference two months makes! In September I was melting at the Disneyland races. November is a huge improvement.) I was in the third corral of runners so I started the Avengers 10K around 5:45 AM. The weather was perfect for running so I pushed myself to go a bit faster than usual and it paid off! It was my second fastest 10K at 1:12:27 (only 42 seconds slower than my personal record). I might have beaten my PR, but I stopped for a photo in California Adventure about halfway through the race. The delay might not have been worth it, but I’ll withhold judgment until I see the picture. After I’d collected my 10K medal (and a new mylar blanket) I stuck around to watch a friend’s daughter run the 100M kids race. It was so adorable!

The Florida vs. South Carolina football game started at 9 AM that morning. I missed most of the first quarter while I was watching the Avengers Kids Races, but it was worth it. As a loyal fan I wore a new Gator tank top (my parents gave it to me in Florida last week) during the 10K, as well as a Captain America pin to honor the race’s namesake. Superhero-themed races are no excuse to not support your team! I actually cancelled a brunch reservation at Carnation Cafe in Disneyland to stay in my hotel room and watch Florida’s last SEC conference game of the season, but the whole scenario kind of went awry, much to my dismay. First of all, ESPN was out of commission on the TV in my room. The whole entertainment system was a little finicky, but all of the ESPN channels were completely frozen. This annoyed me greatly, and I gave some poor guy at the front desk an earful on the subject. Luckily the hotel wifi was fast enough for me to stream the game on the WatchESPN app on my iPad. (Last weekend I watched part of the Florida vs. Vanderbilt game on the same app on my iPhone while in line for a ride at EPCOT. The wifi at Disney World is outstanding!) The Gators ended up winning the game, but not without a bit of an exciting fourth quarter where South Carolina scored two unanswered touchdowns and at one point Florida only had a three-point lead. A win is a win, but this one was much too close for my taste! Luckily the Gators clinched the SEC East last weekend so they already had a spot in the championship game in December. The rest of my Saturday was pretty quiet – I took a nap after the game, walked to Disneyland in the afternoon, had a large bowl of spaghetti for dinner (mediocre, but good pre-race fuel), and finished the evening with a Ghirardelli’s salted caramel hot chocolate. Delicious. I went to bed as early as possible in order to be rested and ready for the race the next morning.

Come back tomorrow for my recap of the Avengers half marathon!

End of October

My blogging has been sparse this month. Sorry about that. My only excuse is that the last three months of the year are my favorite so I have been trying to enjoy October as much as possible before it’s over. But I haven’t really succeeded because I’ve been working a lot too. That doesn’t exactly lend itself to having fun. These last 31 days have been incredibly busy! I mostly blame myself for that. I signed up for an insane number of races this month (as well as in November and December, but that’s a story for another time) because I wanted to run as much as possible as soon as the seemingly endless summer was over. Granted, “fall” is just barely arriving here in Los Angeles now. The Long Beach half marathon on October 11th was miserably hot. I’ll write another post about that later. For a couple of reasons (but mostly laziness) I’ve been saving a lot of the topics I want to blog about for November so I can attempt National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). It’s not going to be easy, but I will try to update my webpage every day in November. Last year was a miserable failure so we’ll see if I can redeem myself in 2015. Until then I’m going to do my best to enjoy what’s left of October. Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunscreen experiment #16

I knew the weather wasn’t going to be great for the Disneyland 10K and half marathon two weeks ago. Ever since we had a freak rainstorm in mid-July (thanks to a hurricane off the Mexican coast that wandered north) the weather has been less than ideal here in Southern California. Hot and really humid. I pretty much hate everything about it, especially since I don’t have air conditioning at home, and I’ve had to reluctantly make wardrobe changes accordingly. As much as I prefer to run in capri pants I knew I’d have to wear shorts and tank tops for both of the Disneyland races to keep as cool as possible. The problem with my favorite running tanks is that they have racer backs and I have a hard time properly applying sunscreen to the exposed areas of my back without help. So as an experiment I picked up a can of Bare Republic Kids Mineral Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 at Target to see if that made it any easier. And it did! I was able to get sunscreen in even the most hard to reach areas, although I wasn’t able to rub it in very well. But at least all of my skin was adequately protected. It always seems ridiculous to apply sunscreen at 4 AM for a race that starts when it’s still dark, but it’s definitely necessary after the sun comes up. I actually liked the Bare Republic spray sunscreen so much that I used it on my arms and legs as well. (I stayed loyal to my favorite Bare Republic Mineral Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (the untinted version) for my face and neck, though. That stuff is the best.) The spray version of the Bare Republic sunscreen isn’t greasy and doesn’t make a mess when you start to sweat. It was great! The only downside is that the actual application makes quite a mess. The spray goes everywhere and leaves a white residue wherever it lands. Not only did I end up with an abundance of white streaks on my running clothes, but I felt a little guilty about all of the sunscreen that ended up on the ottoman in my hotel room. I guess spray sunscreen is probably best applied outside where there isn’t anything that can be ruined. Lesson learned. I still plan to use Bare Republic spray sunscreen in the future, but I’ll be more careful when putting it on!

Labor Day

The last three days have been pretty crazy with the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend so I decided to spend the majority of Labor Day sitting on my couch. It feels a little strange to not have anything I absolutely need to do after the weekend’s packed agenda, but I’m enjoying a chance to relax before going back to work tomorrow. And for the third weekend in a row I’m trying to sort out all of the problems going on with my webpage. As far as I can tell, most of the issues were due to operator error (i.e., I caused them myself), but there are some underlying vulnerabilities that have to be dealt with at the server level. I’m still working on those. But in an attempt to keep things up and running in the meantime I started a new blog from scratch. Luckily all of the archives from my previous blog still exist so my old posts haven’t been wiped out. I’ll figure out a way to link to them from here so that the transition is as seamless as possible. So while the rest of the kinks are getting ironed out I’ll get back to work writing new posts. After three weeks I’m a little out of practice!