Throwing money at a problem

One of my favorite ways to resolve a problem is to throw money at it. Remember last year when my only available option to fix my malfunctioning iPhone 6 before leaving on vacation was buying an iPhone 7? All I really needed was a new battery, but the Apple Store couldn’t do that in an acceptable amount of time. It was ridiculous. So purchasing a brand new phone was indeed a viable solution to my problem, but certainly not the most economical. To be clear, I feel very fortunate that throwing money at a problem is a choice that is available to me. I don’t think of myself as an extravagant person (in spite of all these retail therapy posts I’ve been writing lately) so purchasing a very expensive smart phone was a big deal, even if I wasn’t worried about having enough money in the bank to pay for it. I realize that not everyone has this luxury.

A few weeks ago one of my running buddies confessed that she was feeling overwhelmed and depressed, and that she really needed to start exercising again to regain her work/life balance. After performing practically zero physical activity in 2018 I realized that she was speaking my language, so I told her we would go back to the gym together. A combination of companionship and guilt would motivate us to get moving again! This is the woman who initially got me started at boot camp classes almost two years ago, which was extremely beneficial, but things have gotten complicated since then. Last summer we got Groupons for a 4-week trial at another gym so that we could try out their classes. To make a long story short, I didn’t continue after the four weeks (I went back to my old gym instead), but my friend did. Fast forward to now and I decided to join her gym so that we can work out together even though it wasn’t my favorite. Hence, throwing money at the problem! Yes, this means that I currently have two gym memberships. But it’s been working really well so you can’t argue with results. The price of fitness (with a side of stress-relief and friendship) is high in 2018, but I’m hoping that the pay off will be worth it.

I’ve got no strings

For Christmas I asked for a pair of wireless earbuds for running. I’d been wanting a pair for years to make my running experience more enjoyable, but the technology hadn’t quite evolved enough to meet my expectations. The battery life was too short (only a few hours) and the connectivity issues that I read about were plentiful. In 2017 I made the switch from traditional in-ear running headphones to bone conduction ones instead, specifically Aftershokz Sportz Titanium. They sit in front of your ears and conduct the sound through your cheekbones so that ambient noise isn’t blocked at all. I was skeptical, but after my first wearing I was in love. They allowed me to better hear my running buddies conversations, traffic noise, or whatever, and they didn’t make my ears ache after wearing them for a long time. Marathons are tough on your ears if your earbuds aren’t comfortable! This was a hefty upgrade for me. So when I saw that Aftershockz had a new and improved wireless model, Trekz Air, I put them on my Christmas list. So far they have exceeded all of my expectations. Not only are they wireless, which removes one major annoyance from my running experience, but they are also light and incredibly comfortable. In addition, they have easily accessible volume and music control which my wired pair is lacking. I absolutely love them and I’ve worn them for all of my races in 2018. (The photo above is from the Pasadena 5K last month.) I think this is the beginning of a beautiful fitness relationship. Definitely one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received.

Dopey training continues (NaBloPoMo day 26)

When I go to McDonald’s I’m not overly concerned with my appearance. Usually I’m there to grab breakfast after a long run on Saturday or Sunday so I’m sweaty, wearing a weird outfit, and probably not smelling like a rose. Attractive is not the word I’d use to describe the situation. That being said, today I looked even weirder than usual when I ordered my Egg McMuffin. Let me explain. This morning I ran 20 miles, starting at my house and turning around after I hit 10 miles in Long Beach, and I was completely exhausted by the time I got back to Seal Beach. As soon as I stumbled in the door I took off my running shoes to free my feet from their temporary prisons. It felt amazing. But then I realized that if I wanted breakfast I’d have to put on footwear of some kind again. I didn’t have any desire to don my disgusting running shoes again I decided to slip on my cushy runner’s recovery flip-flops instead. They are what my friends and I would call “birth control shoes.” As in, no man will want to sleep with you if he sees you wearing them. Usually we use the term to describe anything your podiatrist would recommend. You know, the shoes that are good for your feet rather than the ones you’d actually prefer to wear? (I seriously haven’t been able to bring myself to buy anything from the brands my podiatrist endorses. He hates my Tieks and Toms, but until I have more serious foot problems you’ll have to pry them off my cold, dead feet.) I bought these cushy flip-flops when I was suffering from mild plantar fasciitis and I needed some shoes to wear around the house that wouldn’t exacerbate the problem. Apparently walking around barefoot can aggravate plantar fasciitis. Much to my surprise they made a huge difference and I rarely feel any foot pain anymore. However, they are so ugly that I I’ve never worn them in public – until today. I was so hungry after running 20 miles that I ventured out to McDonald’s in those bad boys. And it was worth it.

The point of this post is that I’ve done a lot of running over the Thanksgiving holiday as part of my Dopey Challenge training program. Obviously there was the Oceanside Turkey Trot on Thursday where I ran 9.3 miles, but that wasn’t part of the official training plan. That picked up on Friday night when I ran my scheduled 4 miles around Seal Beach. And then the serious miles started over the weekend. Yesterday I ran 10 miles, beginning at 6 AM with my running group leader. We started at her house and ran 5 miles down to the beach where the rest of the Galloway group was meeting to run their planned 3 miles. I managed to squeeze in the last 5 miles in that timeframe and then got a ride back to my car afterwards. All of this was just a prelude to the main event – my 20 mile run this morning. I wasn’t looking forward to it for several reasons. 1) I was going to be running alone which does have some benefits, but is also extremely boring. 2) It’s been warmer than I’d like lately (especially for November) and that always makes long distance running more difficult. 3) My last attempt at 20+ miles was the Long Beach Marathon and it sucked. I did not want a repeat of that experience. Fortunately the stars aligned and today’s run was great! I started out slow enough that I didn’t completely deplete my energy stores before I was done, and I had my Christmas playlist to entertain me for most of the 4 hours and 15 minutes I was out there. It couldn’t have gone any better. That’s very encouraging. I might actually survive the Dopey Challenge in January!

Day 22 – My next challenge

This past January I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon. It was my very first marathon and it was really rough (many thanks to my friend Missy for getting me through it), but I was thrilled when I crossed that finish line. Shortly afterwards I was emboldened by my success and possessed by the notion that I could tackle an even bigger challenge in the future. And I’m not talking about the four marathons in a year that I did in 2017. No, I had something even crazier in mind. So it wasn’t long after the WDW marathon that I registered for the Dopey Challenge in January 2018. This challenge consists of running the Disney World 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon on four consecutive days. Sounds ludicrous, right? Well, it’s absolutely insane, and ten months later I’m not quite sure why I signed up in the first place. But now that January is fast approaching I’m committed to conquering these races. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll give it everything I have.

This weekend I picked up with the Galloway training plan for the Dopey Challenge. I’m actually one week behind because I didn’t want to run too much the weekend after the Long Beach Marathon, and now I’m making up some of the mileage. This training plan is different from the one for just a marathon because it calls for many weekends of Saturday and Sunday running to build up endurance and prepare you for long distances multiple days in a row. So I ran 7 miles around my neighborhood yesterday morning, and then 17 miles this morning with a couple of my running buddies who were kind enough to get up long before the crack of dawn to accompany me. Due to the unseasonably warm weather this late in the year (it’s going to be over 100 deg at the beach for the next two days) we started our journey at 5 AM to avoid the worst of it. And luckily we succeeded. The above photo was taken mid-run when we stopped to admire the sunrise at 7 AM. It was lovely. I’m very happy to be back on track with my training for the Dopey Challenge. I know it will be incredibly demanding, but that means I’ll be even more proud when I succeed.

P.S. I’m not posting my meals again today because not only did I have two packages of Sports Beans and two 10-oz bottles of Pedialyte while running, I ate whatever sounded good after I got home. I’m almost positive that my carb-fest yesterday is the reason I didn’t feel like I was dying during my long run this morning. Despite eating sweet potatoes and plenty of fruit, I’m afraid the restrictions of Whole30 are just not providing my body enough fuel for my athletic pursuits. However, I am going to do my best to finish this 30-day diet as faithfully as I can. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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.