Final LA Marathon prep

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.

Day off for a cause

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!

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.

Blog excuses

Try as I might, the regularity of my webpage updates has suffered lately. There are multiple reasons for the reduction in frequency, just like my excuses for not getting back to the gym sooner that I wrote about in my last post. I miss writing every day, but it just hasn’t been possible. The bottom line is that all of my waking hours have been consumed with one of the three activities below for the last week or so. I haven’t really had any free time in nine days, and I don’t really expect that to change until the upcoming weekend when I head to Las Vegas for the Hot Chocolate 15K with my running buddies.

1) Work
Last Sunday night I started my first of five night shifts at work. It was rough. Working from 10 PM to 7 AM takes its toll on you, especially when sleeping soundly during the day is challenging. My body just didn’t want to stay asleep when it was warmer than usual in my bedroom and sunlight was pouring through the cracks in my blinds. I did get paid a little extra for working such odd hours, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the upheaval in my daily routine. Even after my night shifts were over I still had to work both days this weekend. Not the best way to spend my days of rest, but my overwhelming workload demanded it. I can’t wait to have next weekend off!

2) Running
Luckily my crazy work schedule still allowed me to complete my weekday runs and attend my usual boot camp classes in the evenings before I went to work. I got my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays training runs done without too much trouble. The above photo was taken during my 9-mile run at Bolsa Chica State Beach last Wednesday which I was able to start at 5 PM (something that’s not possible on most regular work days). The picture doesn’t do it justice, but I got to see a beautiful sunset as I was running along the Pacific Ocean. You just can’t beat that. I also ran 14 miles with my running buddies this past Sunday morning. Some computer maintenance at work that morning gave me the perfect excuse to get another marathon training run done. I can’t believe the LA Marathon is in less than four weeks!

3) Sleep (or not)
At the end of each of my night shifts last week I was completely exhausted. It was all I could do to throw on some pajamas and crawl into bed when I got home. Falling asleep wasn’t my problem at all, but staying asleep was another story. Even though I wasn’t able to get enough hours of slumber in between work shifts I still spent a fair amount of time in bed either trying to go back sleep or lying there staring at my iPad when sleep was elusive. It was kinda nice to lounge in my lovely flannel sheets before getting up and facing the day, but I’d have much rather have worked and slept on a normal schedule. And speaking of a normal schedule, I’ve stayed up way too late tonight writing this post. At this rate I won’t get enough sleep to face a day shift (you know, that thing I was longing for last week?) at work tomorrow. Good night!

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!

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.

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!

One day more

December has flown by and 2017 is almost upon us. Lucky for me I don’t consider the holidays to be over until I have to go back to work. That gives me a few more days to enjoy the season, but not nearly as much as I’d like. To kick off the last three days of my holiday break I woke up early this morning for the first time in about a week. (My sleep schedule has gotten really out of whack since Christmas. That needs to change or I’ll have a lot of trouble making it to work on time on Tuesday morning.) But this morning I needed to run 8 miles with one of my running buddies before the chance of rain increased sharply, so my alarm went off at 6 AM. That waking up portion wasn’t a lot of fun, but we got our 8 miles done and stayed dry. (It’s raining now as I’m writing this so we made a sound decision to run early.) It was my last long run before the marathon next Sunday so that was a bit of an exciting milestone. I can’t believe I’m leaving for Orlando on Friday! After finishing the run I headed to McDonald’s for breakfast. Yes, for a second time in 24 hours. I really need to diversify my meal options. As soon as I got home and logged into my computer I discovered that one of the members of my Galloway running group was looking for a partner for the Run the Year 2017 challenge. It entails one or more people joining forces to run 2017 miles over the next calendar year. Between the two of us we decided it was doable, so we decided to sign up! Not that I really need another challenge in the coming year with all of the crazy races I’m already registered for, but it’ll be fun all the same.

I am headed to a New Year’s Eve party in a few hours, but I wanted to finish this post beforehand. I don’t plan to stay up late tonight so I’d rather not have to worry about blogging when I get home from the party. Plus, I need to be rested for Disneyland tomorrow morning! Last year the parks were so lovely and quiet on the morning of New Year’s Day that I vowed to make a January 1st visit a tradition. It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly time to say goodbye to 2016. I’m grateful for all of the lovely things this year has brought me, but there have been plenty of grief too. I am hoping for a much more positive 2017 for all of my loved ones. Most of us are in a pretty good position at the end of 2016, but we all have wishes and dreams that we’d like to see come true over the next year. Maybe if we’re lucky, one year from now we’ll look back on 2017 fondly. Happy New Year everyone!

White Christmas

It’s Christmas Day and I’ll run if I want to! My marathon training plan had me running 12 miles this weekend, but my running buddy sneakily signed us up for the Operation Jack virtual half marathon so I stretched this morning’s outing into 13.1 miles instead. It was nearly the same distance and the race was for a good cause. Plus, it gave me the perfect chance to wear my Christmas running shirt again and listen to my Christmas playlist before the holiday season is over. I must admit that I slept a bit later than I planned this morning, though. I intended to get up and start running right at sunrise, but I ended up walking out my door about an hour later instead. Good thing it wasn’t a hot day! In fact, it was really chilly in Los Angeles this morning, perfect weather for Christmas Day, so I had to wear my gloves and arm warmers for a few miles before I sufficiently warmed up. The storm that came through LA a couple of days ago covered the local mountains with snow for the first time this winter so it was actually a white Christmas in some parts of Southern California! I had a great view of the mountains during the first half of my run this morning and it was really beautiful. My last double-digit run before my marathon in two weeks (yikes!) went very well so I was happy about that. I was relatively fast and I didn’t get too exhausted. But when I got home I realized that I should have run yesterday when McDonald’s was open. Since they’re closed on Christmas Day I wasn’t able to have my traditional post-run breakfast of an Egg McMuffin and a Diet Coke. A travesty! My Nutrisystem breakfast sandwich just wasn’t the same. Luckily this is the only day of the year that I’ll have this problem. Running this virtual half marathon was a great way to start my Christmas Day. I didn’t accomplish much else afterwards, but I’m getting ready to go see “Star Wars: Rogue One” with friends in a couple of hours. I can’t wait! Merry Christmas, everyone!

P.S. There’s a nice cross-section of my nerdy Christmas tree on display in the above photo. BB-8, Elsa, Cinderella, Cookie Monster, and Mickey Mouse. Too bad you can’t see my Thorin Oakenshield ornament too!

20 miles

Today my marathon training plan reached its zenith when I successfully completed a 20 mile run. I was anxious about it all week since I’d never run that far before, but this morning I pushed all of my worries aside as I got ready to go. My usual running buddies were going with me so I knew I could count on them to keep me from being nervous as we racked up the miles. Since a storm came through Los Angeles on Thursday it was quite chilly this morning when we set out on the San Gabriel River path at 6:45 AM. The temperature was in the upper 30s so I had not just my arm warmers, but a pair of gloves too. These Southern California ladies were cold for the first few miles! I took the gloves off after about 2 miles and tucked them into my belt, but I wore the arm warmers for 6 miles, which is unprecedented. Much to my surprise I felt great during a majority of the run and I know the winter weather contributed to that. I guess the strict training plan that I’ve stuck to for the last fifteen weeks has really paid off! I didn’t even start to feel tired until after the half marathon mark which was a miracle. It did get a lot warmer during the slightly over 4 hours that it took us to finish the 20 miles (my average pace was 12:01 min/mile). I started feeling pretty toasty as I got near the end and the lack of shade on the river path didn’t help either. Luckily I kept the nausea at bay that plagued me as I wrapped up my 18 mile run two weeks ago. Diluting my sports drink and alternating between caffeinated Gu gels and non-caffeinated ones made all the difference. I’m glad I figured these things out before the marathon next month. Is the Walt Disney Marathon really only three weeks away? Holy cow! Looking back at the beginning of my running journey in 2013 I never would have imagined that I’d run 20 miles in preparation for a marathon. But here I am, with a completely successful 20 mile run behind me, and I think I’m just about ready! I’m excited!