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!

It’s progressed

I know you guys are tired of reading about the ongoing saga of my current illness, and I’m pretty exasperated to still be writing about it. Believe me, I want nothing more than to be healthy again. To be able to go to work consistently again, and also to be able to exercise regularly again would be heavenly. But I woke up this morning just as sick as I have been for the last two weeks or so. My head was still congested, my cough was as bad as ever, and I felt exhausted in spite of getting plenty of rest. That’s when I realized that this isn’t just a cold anymore. After sleeping nearly all day I went to CVS Minute Clinic again to see if there was anything else I could do to hasten the healing. Turns out that my wheezing is indicative of bronchitis, and my congestion means I also have a sinus infection. Exciting! I got some antibiotics, an inhaler, and some nose spray to help with the symptoms. Hopefully with these medications I will start feeling better soon. I really can’t afford to miss any more work, and I have got to start running again if I don’t want to lose all of my endurance. (My foot has had more than enough time to heal too.) I know that in the grand scheme of things this illness is just a minor annoyance, but I’m ready to be over it already. Not only have I watched all of the shows on my DVR, but I also already binge watched the entire first season of “The Crown.” I’m tired of being cooped up at home! Here’s hoping I wake up significantly improved tomorrow morning.

Sixteen years ago

Over the weekend I was looking back at some of my posts from previous years and found a couple of gems from January 2001. The first presidential election after I was old enough to vote was in 2000 and what a doozy it was! Especially since I was still living in Florida. (For the record, Alachua County didn’t have any ballot irregularities. We colored in circles on a scantron with a Sharpie rather than punching holes in our ballots. No chance of hanging chads for us.) Some of the things I wrote about that election are eerily similar to the 2016 outcome. And as it turns out, neither case benefited my preferred candidate. History repeats itself, and much sooner than I ever expected!

“Speaking of the media, tonight we have a new president, George W. Bush. Don’t blame me, I voted for Gore!”
1/20/01 webpage post

“As I was waiting at a traffic light near I-75 I saw a billboard that caught my attention. It read ‘You Get the Government You Elect!’ My first thought was, ‘Not this year!’ At least we didn’t get the president that the majority of the population voted for.”
1/26/01 webpage post

Disney World Marathon (Part 2)

I had big plans for my birthday (January 9th) at Disney World, which just happened to be the day after the marathon. To celebrate not only turning 38, but also successfully completing my first 26.2 mile race, I had several reservations booked throughout the day at different Disney parks. First was breakfast at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom. If you haven’t eaten there before it’s a beautiful place with three different dining rooms that are impeccably decorated like the Beast’s castle. I had a delicious meal of quiche and pastries in a spectacular ballroom setting. The Magic Kingdom is my favorite Disney park so my parents and I spent a lot of time there after breakfast. As soon as we arrived that morning I made sure to get my birthday button so just about every Cast Member we encountered all day wished me a happy birthday. I also wore my Disney World Marathon shirt to the parks that day to advertise my accomplishment, but it was cold enough to warrant wearing a jacket over it most of the day. In the afternoon we caught a bus from the Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios where I had an early dinner reservation at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. The opportunity to have a meal in a booth shaped like a car at a drive-in movie theater was too intriguing to pass up. And it was a lot of fun. The food wasn’t very impressive, but I loved watching the old sci-fi movie trailers, clips, and cartoons while eating. But by far the highlight of the evening was the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. Rather than have a birthday dessert with dinner I made reservations for all three of us for the dessert party preceding the Star Wars fireworks, which also came with priority viewing for the show. The party was in the Star Wars Launch Bay and I ate more than my fair share of indulgent sweets to celebrate my birthday. It was great. I also got my picture taken with Chewbacca where I was able to show off my marathon medal. And then Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Fireworks were really incredible. For a nerd like me it was the best way to end a birthday.

January 10th was my last full day at Disney World, but it was a little less structured. After breakfast my parents and took the bus to Disney Springs and spent the morning doing a little shopping there. We ended up being pretty frugal, only buying some Disney t-shirts at Uniqlo. They turned out to be the perfect souvenirs from our trip, and much more affordable than anything from the parks too. Our only obligation for the day was dinner at Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood Studios. It turned out to be one of the best meals that we had the whole trip with salads, steak and duck entrees, and delicious desserts. It was a fixed-price meal that included priority seating for the Fantasmic show later in the evening. Fantasmic has been on hiatus at Disneyland for over a year now due to extensive construction so I haven’t seen it in a long time. And the viewing options are much better at Disney World anyway with stadium bleacher seating. I really enjoyed seeing the show again. As soon as we got out of Fantasmic I made a beeline for Tower of Terror in order to use the Fast Pass I’d reserved. At Disneyland Tower of Terror closed permanently on January 2nd (I wrote a whole post about the last time I went on it back in November) to be transformed into a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride so I was excited to be able to still be able to experience the Disney World version. It’s a bit more elaborate than the one in Anaheim was so it was an enjoyable surprise.

I flew home to Los Angeles on January 11th, but my flight wasn’t until the evening so had a chance to spend a few more hours at a Disney park before departing. I decided to go back to the Magic Kingdom and get on some rides that I missed on my birthday. Like Space Mountain, the Peoplemover, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and Country Bear Jamboree. I also bought a Disney World 45th anniversary shirt and pin. I realize that the 45th anniversary was technically in the fall of 2016, but Disneyland was decorated for its 60th anniversary for over a year and a half so I figure the Disney World celebratory items were still applicable. I was really sorry to be leaving Orlando after such a great trip, including completing my first marathon and my 38th birthday, but it was time to get back to reality. I have a few souvenirs, a bunch of pictures, and even more great memories. And luckily I’ll be back at Disney World for the Wine & Dine races in November!

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!

Resolved to rest

After nearly a week of being idle due to a combination of post-marathon recovery and illness I went for a run last night. It was only 4 miles, but it was rough. There was a lot of wheezing involved thanks to my lovely cold symptoms and my pace was slower than usual, but I was happy to be out doing something again. Unfortunately my foot didn’t agree. It didn’t ever start hurting like it did after the marathon, but it didn’t feel quite normal either. That was troubling. Except for the Star Wars 5K last Friday I have done almost nothing physical since my podiatrist prescribed a week of rest so I was expecting my foot to be close to healed. And maybe it is and I’m just being paranoid. I know that a lack of pain is a good sign, but I’m still not satisfied. I’ll see how it feels after this weekend. Speaking of the weekend, I’m registered for the Pasadena Half Marathon on Sunday, but after a lot of deliberation today I decided it was not in my best interest to participate. Not only is my foot a little iffy, but I’m still sick and the weather prediction for Sunday is dismal. Looks like it’s going to be raining cats and dogs that morning which will make for an unpleasant race experience. So in order to avoid the possibility of setting myself back by running 13.1 miles when I shouldn’t, I managed to find a friend who can use my bib instead. I won’t blame her if she decides to skip it too after seeing the forecast! As disappointed as I am to skip this race I have to think about the future. I’d much rather rest this weekend and be healthy later in the spring than run on Sunday and be hurt for months. The LA Marathon is in March so I have to be ready for another 26.2 miles by then. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted on my progress whether you want me to or not!

Disney World Marathon (Part 1)

I got to Orlando without too much trouble on January 6th. It was my first time having TSA Pre-Check clearance and I definitely enjoyed it. Not having to take off my shoes or jacket, and being able to leave my laptop in my backpack when going through security was definitely worth the minor hassle involved in getting cleared. When I arrived at the Boardwalk hotel at Disney World my parents and I had some pizza for dinner and made sure to get inside before the storms arrived that night. Even wearing earplugs the thunder and lightning woke me up overnight. It was quite the storm. Run Disney preemptively cancelled the half marathon for the next morning due to the storms so a lot of runners were not pleased. It was the best choice for everyone’s safety, but I understand their disappointment.

Due to the rain we did almost nothing the morning of January 7th. The only thing I absolutely had to do that day was go to the expo and get my race bib for the marathon the next morning, but we waited until the rain was just about over before attempting that trek. The expo was a madhouse with not only the marathoners picking up their things, but also the half marathoners returning to get their medals for the race that didn’t take place. Some of them were really dedicated and ran 13.1 miles in the rain earlier that day so that they felt like they truly earned the half marathon medal. I applaud them for the extra effort, but I’m not sure I would have done it! Most of Saturday afternoon was unproductive due to the time required to get to and from the expo with the added ridiculous number of cars and buses that were trying to get to ESPN Wide World of Sports in the bad weather. It was nuts. Fortunately I picked up my bib and shirt, and purchased a skirt for the next morning, without too much trouble. That night I had a delicious pasta dinner at Trattoria al Forno (conveniently located at the Boardwalk hotel where we were staying) in preparation for the marathon the next morning. I went to bed as early as I could manage, but I was really nervous about the upcoming race.

My alarm went off at 2:30 AM on Sunday January 8th. I got dressed and ready for the marathon as quickly as I could because I wanted to be on the bus to the start line at 3 AM. After the storms went through the previous day it was extremely cold on Sunday morning. I had arm warmers, gloves, a fleece jacket (courtesy of my mom), and a mylar blanket, but it still felt frigid outside. I had the foresight to sign up for Race Retreat which gave me access to a tent and breakfast before the race, but it was only marginally warmer inside. I could still see my breath as I was eating my banana with peanut butter! I was a bundle of nerves waiting for the race to start. I’d never run 26.2 miles before and I had no idea how it was going to go. I met my old high school friend Missy at 4:45 AM and we started the long walk to Corral L. While we were moving it didn’t feel that cold, but standing still was awful, especially when the wind was blowing. We were huddling close to strangers and stomping our feet to stay warm, but neither was really working. We finally crossed the start line around 6:20 AM (being in the 12th corral didn’t do us any favors that morning). I was so glad for all of the layers I had on even after we started running. I only took off my fleece jacket around mile 5, right before we reached the Magic Kingdom, and I kept the gloves on even longer because my hands felt so toasty warm. The arm warmers stayed on a bit longer, but had come off by the half marathon mark. The sun was plenty warm by that point, but anytime we ran through the shade we got a reminder of how cold the air still was. I was feeling pretty good for a majority of the race, but between mile 17 and 18 it started to go downhill. My stomach was upset and I was tired, and I basically felt like garbage. I expected to get a second wind eventually, but it never happened. Luckily I had Missy with me for moral support and we crossed the finish line in 5:28:41 which is a lot faster than I expected for my first marathon! I wasn’t in great shape after the race, though. My knee hurt, my foot hurt, and my body started going into shock when I got back on the bus to my hotel. Luckily a hot shower, a piece of pizza and a Coke, and some rest helped. Many hours of rest and relaxation later my parents and I walked over to Epcot. My foot was still really hurting, but I figured it would pass. I purchased the Disney World New Year’s pin that I wanted and we had a fabulous dinner at Spice Road Table that night. It was the perfect end to my marathon day!

Still sick

Still sick, but I’m finally recovering. I have barely left the house in the last five days and I’m getting restless. I had every intention of going to work this morning, but then I woke up still exhausted even after a full night’s sleep, and with a lovely hacking cough that sounded disgusting. I couldn’t see myself being around my co-workers with a cough like that so I stayed home instead. I’m getting pretty sick of this routine, though, which is how I know I’m almost over this illness. Not only do I need to get back to work tomorrow, but I also need to get back to exercising. At this point I’m going to have a tough time getting back to the shape I was in when I ran my marathon, but at least I can get started. I have way too many races coming up this spring I need to be ready for. That includes the Pasadena Half Marathon on Sunday morning which is going to be difficult at best after being sidelined for so long due to this cold/flu. And it might be raining too so that won’t make it any easier. I’m really looking forward to getting back on my feet, though. Plus, I still have a weight loss goal that I want to meet in the near future. My diet while stuck at home has been less than optimal for progress on that front. Getting back to normal can’t happen soon enough.

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!

Ailments

I have a confession to make. January is just about halfway over and my house is still fully decorated for Christmas. I justified leaving my Christmas tree up until after I got back from Orlando due to the fact that I didn’t finish putting it up until December 18th. I figured this weekend I would put on a movie, take down all of the holiday decor, and put it away for another year. But then I got sick. After a couple of days of denial I realized I had a cold on Thursday. The symptoms were pretty mild at that point so I hoped I would avoid a serious illness. Unfortunately I wasn’t that lucky. When I ran the Star Wars 5K at Disneyland on Friday morning my lungs were burning during the race, but it didn’t seems to negatively impact my performance. More on that in another post. However, by the time I left work that afternoon I knew I was deteriorating. Yesterday my cold symptoms were in full swing so I spent all day either in bed or on the couch watching TV, dosing myself with DayQuil and NyQuil. So much for the productive weekend I’d planned on. And then instead of the hoped for overnight improvement I actually felt worse when I woke up this morning. Unfortunately I had flu symptoms. My diagnosis was confirmed at the CVS Minute Clinic where I got a prescription for Tamiflu from the doctor. Fantastic. Another day of zero productivity. So my Christmas tree is going to stay up for a little longer, it seems.

Being sick does have one tiny upside, though. It’s forced me to rest which has been helpful at healing a running-based injury. During the marathon last Sunday I hurt my right foot. It didn’t bother while I was running for five and a half hours, but it was pretty painful afterwards. I was having some problems with my knee during the race and I think I subconsciously adjusted my gait to try and protect it. That is probably how I hurt my foot. I did a lot of walking around Disney World the three days after the race even with the pain because nothing was going to keep me from park time while I was in Orlando. To be cautious I went to see my podiatrist the day after I returned to Los Angeles and he told me my foot was probably in a pre-stress fracture state. He likened it to a hanger that’s been bent several times so that the metal is hot, but not yet broken. Fun, huh? My instructions were to take it easy for a week or so to prevent a fracture from happening in my bone’s current weakened state. Funny enough, I didn’t have any foot pain after I got back from Orlando so I figured I was on the mend. Being a rebel, I wasn’t really intending to follow my doctor’s instructions. Case in point, running the Star Wars 5K the morning after my podiatrist appointment was probably not the best idea, but luckily my foot felt perfectly fine over those 3.1 miles. After that positive outing I thought I’d be able to resume my workout regimen over the weekend, but then I was struck down by illness. This cold/flu has brought on a period of forced rest over the last two days, and that will continue at least through tomorrow while the Tamiflu hopefully takes effect. Fingers crossed that I feel better tomorrow!