I ran the Doctor Strange 10K at Disneyland this morning, but I don’t have time to write a recap post today. Way too much stuff going on this weekend! I’ll work on that tomorrow afternoon when I’m lying on my couch recovering from the Avengers Superheroes Half Marathon. Didn’t I say there’s way too much stuff going on this weekend?

I’m going to make a bold statement – Softsoap’s holiday edition cinnamon & clove is the best hand soap scent ever. Usually for the holidays you get products with essence of berry or pine or something like that, but the cinnamon & clove hand soap has a lovely spicy fragrance that is perfect for Christmas. (And also for the rest of the year when you’re not so patiently waiting for Christmas to roll around again.) I loved it so much when I first bought it a couple of years ago that I went back and stocked up on some extra bottles so I could use it all year. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to replenish my reserves last year because I couldn’t find any holiday Softsoap hand soap varieties. Not cool! And then just recently my stockpile of cinnamon & clove cleanser finally ran out. I was so disappointed. Now I’ve had to resort to washing my hands with some peppermint candy cane hand soap that found in the back of my cabinet. It’s not bad, but I sorely miss my old favorite. Luckily this is the epitome of a first world problem. My quest for the 2016 holiday season is to find a new festive hand soap variety. This is important stuff!

It’s official

It’s official – my pants are too big. This morning as I was getting dressed for work I slipped on a pair of my favorite pants – olive green skinny jeans from Old Navy. I ordered them just a couple of months ago, about a week after I started my Nutrisystem diet. I was so excited to have started losing weight that I treated myself to some new clothes to celebrate. What I didn’t think about was those new clothes being too big for my shrinking body a few short weeks later. Even though I knew I’d been making great progress, I was still shocked when I buttoned my pants this morning and discovered how loose they are in the waist. Really baggy everywhere but the legs (this runner’s legs are muscular!). Not quite unwearable yet, but they’re getting close. As of today I’ve lost 13 lbs since Labor Day and I couldn’t be happier. The number on the scale this morning was a bit of a surprise because I ate quite indulgently while I was in Arkansas over the weekend. My cousin is a great cook and we also went to a couple of delicious restaurants. Luckily I didn’t gain any weight while eschewing my diet for a few days. Phew! The above photo is from the Rock N Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon on October 30th. Don’t I look great so far? Seeing results makes sticking with my plan so much easier. Looks like I’ll be buying some new pants for my thinner self on Black Friday!

P.S. I started a post regarding the results of yesterday’s election, but it’s not ready yet because I haven’t fully processed my feelings on the subject. Today I’ve alternated between anger and sadness, but I think I’m still basically in shock. I simply cannot comprehend how our country got here. Maybe I’ll be able to put my thoughts into words more eloquently soon.

Old shorts, new pants

Last Sunday I decided to go to Disneyland. I hadn’t been to the parks since before Labor Day (pre-Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend) and I was beginning to suffer from withdrawal. I was hoping that September meant I could wear some jeans, but unfortunately the forecasted high for Anaheim that day was 104 deg! It was going to be the hottest day we’d had all year (after our mostly mild summer). Since long pants were out of the question I pulled out a pair of shorts that I bought earlier this year instead. But when I went to put them on I was thrilled to discover that they are way too big! I had to dig deeper in the drawer for a pair of shorts from last year (pictured in the above photo at EPCOT last November), and even those were a little baggy. That was an amazing feeling. I knew I’d definitely been more comfortable in some of my old clothes recently, but the shorts were a surprise. I didn’t realize I’d changed that much already.

On Labor Day I started Nutrisystem. In spite of lots of exercise (obviously a lot of running and, more recently, the addition of weight training) and what I thought was a relatively healthy diet (except for my soda addiction) I hadn’t had any luck dropping the weight I gained last year when I hurt my knee. My body was just clinging to the extra pounds and none of the small changes I’d tried seemed to make any difference. I knew I had to do something drastic to jump start the weight loss process. So one day I took the plunge and place my first Nutrisystem order. I really had no idea what I was doing, but I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I started the meal plan the day after the Disneyland Half Marathon and started getting results immediately. I won’t lie, I was hungry ALL THE TIME, but I lost a pound a day during that first week. It was like a miracle. The weight loss has slowed a bit since then, but I’m keeping at it. Based on how much I exercise I eat a little more than the system allows, but I think it’s necessary. The other day I realized that some of the new pants I ordered from Old Navy recently (during a 50% off Labor Day sale online) were feeling loose. Not like I’ve lost a full pants size yet, but I might be getting there. Will I be disappointed if all of my brand new pants don’t fit in a month? A little, but I’ll be much happier being smaller and lighter than I’ve been in about a year and a half. And running will be easier too. We’ll see how it goes!

Saving the planet?

A couple of months ago I started going to the gym with a co-worker/friend/running buddy. We have been running together since the OC Half Marathon in May (more on that in another post) and her cross training habits inspired me to include other activities in my exercise routine. I haven’t even been to spin class in months, and resistance training has been extremely sparse for a number of years. So since I can’t survive on running alone, in early June I went to her gym as a guest to try it out. Most of the classes are Crossfit-style and have a different group of exercises each day. My first class was awkward and slightly embarrassing due to my lack of overall fitness an unfamiliarity with a lot of the exercises, but I kept going back. And now my friend and I are usually there three times a week. Not bad! But discussing my new workout schedule is not the reason I’m writing this post. When I showed up at my first gym class I brought a plastic bottle of Arrowhead water with me for hydration purposes. But when I looked around at all of the other attendees I noticed that everyone else had reusable bottles instead. I felt so wasteful! It was time for me to cut the cord with disposable water bottles. So over the next week I researched and ordered three different stainless steel bottles to use at work, at the gym, and while driving. All of them are insulated so I can keep the water cold longer, which is especially refreshing at the gym. And one of the bottles has a sippy cup lid which turned out to be a necessity after a couple of spillage incidents on my way to work. It’s important to hydrate safely while on the go! I’m pretty pleased with my purchases and I feel good about my little attempt to save the planet. Not more plastic water bottles in my life!

Summer apparel

It’s almost that time again. Warm weather is coming. A lot of people are happy about this, but I’m not one of them. And I think most runners in warmer climates probably feel the same way. Running in cool weather is spectacular, but running in hot weather is miserable. Last summer was a horrible experience from July through October so I’m not looking forward to repeating it again in 2016. That doesn’t mean I’m not preparing for the worst, though. I got through the hot months last year alternating between my only two pairs of serviceable running shorts, but there’s no way I’m going to do that again. So even in the middle of the Southern California winter I started replenishing my supplies. Now I have about eight pairs of running shorts from several different companies and I feel prepared for the coming heat wave. I even wore two pairs of the new ones for the Star Wars races at Disney World earlier this month and they worked great. It was the first time in 2016 that I had to trade in my capris for shorts, but it definitely won’t be the last. But even with my new warm weather wardrobe I’m going to refrain from saying, “Bring on the summer.” As far as I’m concerned it can arrive as late as it wants (preferably after the Fourth of July).

As a side note, I have a little anecdote from my trip to Florida. Before I left for the Star Wars races in Orlando I realized that I needed a couple of new pairs of shorts. Not running shorts (I had already invested in plenty of those), but some khaki and denim shorts I could wear to the parks in the warm April weather. I had one or two pairs that might work, but it’s always good to have choices. So I turned to Old Navy, my most reliable supplier of basic apparel. I placed an order for a couple of pairs of shorts and prayed that they would arrive before I had to leave for Florida. So I was excited to find the package on my doorstep a few days early. Hooray! But when I opened the bag it was full of toddler clothes rather than the much-needed adult-sized shorts. The packing slip had my correct order listed, but the items themselves were WAY off. I sent everything back to Old Navy after writing, “Not even close!” on the packing slip. Luckily my trip was short enough for me to get by with the shorts I already owned. I’ll have to give Old Navy another chance because I know I’m going to need all the shorts I can get this summer.

Unnecessary purchases

When I went to DC the week before last I took four jackets with me. Not to wear all at once, of course, but for different situations (inside, outside, cold, not so cold, etc.). This Florida/California girl does not handle much more than a mild winter very well so I packed two fleeces, a sweatshirt, and a North Face jacket that I’d just bought. I haven’t needed a heavier coat in years so in order to be prepared for potentially cold temperatures in DC I went in search of one before I left on my trip. The first place I looked was REI, but I was underwhelmed with their selection. My next stop was the North Face store at South Coast Plaza which I figured would be chock full of good options. But strangely I wasn’t crazy about the offerings there either. The warmer jackets that I was interested in were really expensive and I wasn’t willing to spend $200 on something that I would need for a week, tops. In desperation I tried Sport Chalet. Surprisingly I found an acceptable option, a North Face jacket that was also on the sale rack. The only downside was the color. It was a drab light gray that I never would have selected given any other choices. But I bought the jacket anyway because time I didn’t think I’d have time to shop for another one before my trip. When I got home that day I did a quick search and found out that this particular item comes in a seemingly endless array of colors, all of which were more appealing than the light gray. I immediately ordered one in a lovely dark purple from REI online with assurances that it would arrive in time for me to take it to DC. Unfortunately my plan didn’t exactly work out. The jacket from REI didn’t get delivered as promised so the stupid gray jacket made the trip to the East Coast with me. And after all that effort I ended up not needing it at all! In fact, it was too warm in DC that week for just about all of the outerwear I brought with me. So this new jacket that I went through so much trouble to obtain went completely unworn. The good news is that I returned it to Sport Chalet this weekend without any trouble. Now I have to decide whether I want to keep the purple version. I’m not sure there’s any reason to. It’s not exactly useful in Los Angeles, and I don’t anticipate visiting any cold climates soon. What a ridiculously drawn out scenario for a jacket that I might never need!

New running shoe day!

During the San Dimas Turkey Trot I knew it was time to retire my running shoes. I was feeling that familiar old ankle pain that led me to see a podiatrist last year. Not good. Luckily I’ve had a brand new pair of the same style in my closet for months in anticipation of this moment. I should have started breaking them in after the Wine & Dine Half Marathon earlier this month, but I put it off since the Avengers races were right on its heels. But on the 10K on Saturday there was no doubt that my old shoes had run their last race. I don’t have any more half marathons this year (my next one is in mid-January) so it’s the perfect time to start the clock on a new pair of running shoes. When I took them out of the box and set them down next to my old shoes I was shocked at the color difference. The new ones were incredibly white! (Due to the fact that I need narrow width running shoes I never get to wear cool colors I see on everyone else. Narrow shoes from Brooks only come in white. Boring!) I can’t wait until they are broken in and look a little less blinding. In an effort to hasten that process, I wore them running with a friend after work this afternoon. She’s the one who’s pacing me on Thanksgiving for my 10K personal record and we’ve been trying to figure out a strategy for the race. I met her at Bolsa Chica State Beach where we could run on the bike bath. It’s a great place to run. Nice and flat, with no speeding cars to worry about. And the view of the Pacific Ocean is pretty spectacular. I feel better about my PR chances for Thursday after running with her a couple of times. It’s not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m going to be thrilled when we’re successful. (Notice I said ‘when’ and not ‘if.’ I’m trying to be as optimistic as possible!) And hopefully the two races on Thanksgiving get my brand new shoes a little scuffed up and dull their insane whiteness!

iPhone repairs

This time last year I pre-ordered an iPhone 6 and I was so excited about it. I’d been living with a broken screen on my iPhone 5 after dropping it a few months earlier and I was pretty fed up with pieces of glass falling off all over the place. Instead of paying to fix it I just waited for the new model to be released and replaced it instead. (I’m not sure if this was smart or sad. Maybe a little of both.) And then, of course, just a few months after getting my pristine iPhone 6, I dropped it and cracked the glass. Aargh. I was so annoyed with myself. As a preventive measure I usually keep my phone in a case, but I have to take the case off when I go running so that the phone will fit in my pocket. Of course I was taking the phone out of my pocket at the end of a run when I dropped it on the sidewalk and broke it. And since the phone still worked fine I’d just been using it as-is since then. I figured I’d just wait for the iPhone 6S announcement and pre-order the new model. Easy, right? Well, the announcement happened last Wednesday. But when I logged in and discovered how much is was going to cost me to get an iPhone 6S I couldn’t believe the price. It was way too high for me to even consider. So I decided to finally make an appointment at the Apple Store to get my current phone fixed. I can’t believe I put it off for so long! It only cost me a little over $100 and an hour of my time, and now it’s like I have a brand new phone. Now to find a new case that it is slim enough that I don’t have to remove it when I go running. I found a couple of very low profile cases that I’d like to try. Hopefully one of those does the trick. I know this is a first world problem of the highest order, but I use my phone for everything so I’m much happier having one that’s back in one piece!

Retiring my backpack

I’m not sure why I didn’t keep my backpack from college. It was a red Jansport with lots of pockets and a mesh water bottle holder on one side. (If you’ve ever had to walk a college campus in Florida when it’s hot you know how important it is to always have a bottle of water with you.) It was a great backpack, but for some reason it didn’t make the transition to grad school with me. When I went to UCLA I bought a cheap Eastpak backpack from Target (I think.) It was the most utilitarian choice (i.e., extremely boring), but it served its purpose. Since then it’s the only backpack I’ve owned, although it’s been mostly sitting neglected in the back of my closet for the last ten years. But when I went to Hawaii in June and had a little trouble with luggage capacity (you have to be fully prepared when you go on a tropical vacation) I discovered that the ol’ Eastpak was more versatile than I expected. It’s just the right size to hold my laptop, a pair of sneakers, snacks, and all of the other essential carry on items. For years I’d been using a shoulder bag as a carry on when I traveled, but I loved how a backpack freed up my hands for the inevitable (and potentially unnecessary) magazine and soda purchases before hopping a flight. I also used my Eastpak to great effect in Alaska last month. Denali National Park doesn’t have any services past the visitor’s center so we were required to carry all of our food, water, rain gear, etc. on the 8-12 hour bus tours into the park. To my delight my old backpack was much more comfortable than I remember from my grad school days and worked remarkably well carrying a day’s worth of supplies. But after the recent discovery of holes in the bottom of the Eastpak I realized that it was time to retire and replace my trusty thirteen year old backpack. Luckily “back to school” made this really easy. Not only were there bags for sale everywhere I turned, but the prices kept dropping as the summer was drawing to a close. (And by “summer” I just mean the period of time when kids are out of school. The hottest temperatures of the year settled in here a while back and they’re going to stick around for another month or two, much to my chagrin. It was 97 deg in Seal Beach today and I don’t have air conditioning. Aargh.) After doing some research I settled on a North Face backpack from eBags.com with a laptop compartment and water bottle holders. I figure it’ll work well for all sorts of travel situations, from an airplane carry on (like when I go to Orlando for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Disney World in November) to hiking (like when I hopefully go back to Alaska next summer). So while I have a lot of respect for the old Eastpak that I am replacing, I look forward to many years of exciting travel with my new North Face backpack!