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.

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!

Up way too late

As far as I’m concerned it’s Saturday night, but this post isn’t going to be finished until Sunday because it’s already after midnight. Normally there’s no way I’d still be awake this late, but I’m trying to alter my sleep schedule since I have to work nights this week. It’s going to be awful no matter how I prepare, but hopefully I can make the transition slightly less painful. My plan for tomorrow (or rather today, since it’s technically Sunday already) is to go to bed as late as possible (hence why I’m awake in the wee hours of the morning) and then sleep as late as possible so that I’ll be at least somewhat prepared to work my shift that starts at 10 PM. Unfortunately I’m really struggling to stay awake right now. It doesn’t help that I woke up early today to go running, and then met my good friend Natalie at Disneyland to see the Main Street Electrical Parade which has recently returned to Disneyland. This was my first day off from work in two weeks and I loved it. I wish I could write more about it tonight, but I’m so tired that I can barely see straight. I think it’s finally time to give up and go to sleep. More details tomorrow!

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!

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!

Last race weekend of the year

“I don’t think the promise of an extra medal will tempt me to return next year, though. That half marathon course was killer and I’d honestly rather not repeat it.”
12/20/16 webpage post

It’s funny how often I’ve vowed never to run a particular race again, only to find myself back there at some point. I this case it took me two years, and encouragement from my running buddies, for me to sign up for a repeat of the Golden Snowflake Challenge. The first time I ran the Holiday Half Marathon two years ago I hated how hilly it was. I wasn’t all that used to running long distances (I think it was only my third half marathon?) and my overall fitness wasn’t the best, so the uphill portions of the course were not enjoyable. Luckily things were different this time around.

Last Saturday morning was the first part of the Golden Snowflake Challenge – the Holiday 5K. The first half or so of the 5K course is steadily uphill, but then it finishes with a lovely gradual downhill that makes you feel like you’re flying. I was prepared for that this year and I was excited to see how well I could handle it. The first two miles were just OK, averaging about 10:30 min/mile which wasn’t terrible, but then the amazing downhill portion kicked in. My last mile was under 10 minutes, which earned me a 5K PR of 31:45 minutes! That’s 2 minutes faster that I ran the Long Beach 5K back in October so I was really pleased. The fall is definitely PR season thanks to the rigors of marathon training and running with friends who push me to increase my pace. It’s a lot of fun!

The Holiday Half Marathon on Sunday morning wasn’t quite as fun. Not only did we have to tackle those same hills that I hated in 2014, but it was drizzling heavily on us for most of the race. The temperature was in the 50s which was great, but thanks to the rain we were pretty soaked. The good news is that since I’m in much better shape these days the hills didn’t feel nearly as difficult as they did two years ago. Still challenging, but I was able to maintain my running intervals without taking extra walk breaks on the inclines. In spite of our legs feeling incredibly sore from boot camp on Friday and the 5K on Saturday, my running buddy and I finished the half marathon in 2:35:06. It wasn’t a PR for me (I hung back a bit to run with her), but it’s still really good compared to some of our other race times from earlier this year. That’s 20 minutes faster than the OC Half Marathon. We’ve both improved so much since May! It was a great way to end the 2016 race season. Here’s to an even better 2017!

After a busy weekend

I thought I’d have plenty of time to write a couple of webpage posts this weekend while I was in Pomona for the Holiday Half Marathon and 5K races (the combination of which is the Golden Snowflake Challenge), but that didn’t turn out to be the case. When will I learn that December is far too busy to have any free time? I actually had a lot of plans for the weekend, but I only accomplished a few of the items on my to do list. Besides the two races, I did finally complete all of my 2016 Christmas cards, though, which was a huge effort. The grand total this year was 53 cards. Yikes! Unfortunately I didn’t get my Christmas tree put up like I wanted to. I’m disappointed about that. My time management needs to be a bit better this week, especially since I’ll be tackling the highest mileage of my marathon training plan. It’s very daunting, but I think I can do it. It remains to be seen if I can get anything else done this week, though. I guess we’ll find out!

Christmas cards in progress

Last year I mailed 30 Christmas cards to friends and family and I thought that was a lot. However, so far this year I already have a list of 32 households that I need to send cards to and I haven’t even received my annual card swap list yet! Yikes! Back in November I ordered two boxes of 18 cards (one Star Wars and one Peanuts, as you can see in the above photo – I’m nothing if not classy) so I thought I’d be more than covered for 2016. Then once I started tallying the folks I wanted to send cards to I realized that 36 may not be enough. So I went out and bought another box of 10 cards. If that doesn’t get me through the holidays I don’t know what I’m going to do. I started the Yuletide activity of sending greeting cards to everyone I love on December 1st, and as of this evening I have completed and mailed out 21 Christmas cards. Not bad, really, but there’s still so much work to do. I think next year I’m just going to get my picture taken with Darth Vader at Disneyland and have custom cards printed. That’ll save some time!

Beginning of December

The last month of the year always seems to slip by so quickly, and it’s a real shame because I love December. Because this is my favorite time of the year I have vowed to do at least one celebratory thing every day this month. The daily activities don’t have to be big, but I want to make sure I enjoy every remaining day in 2016. I started on Thursday, December 1st (after I got home from my boot camp class) with my first viewing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” of the season while I got started on my Christmas cards. I want to get all of my cards in the mail as soon as possible because my schedule is just going to get more packed as the holidays approach. Then on Friday, December 2nd I watched the Seal Beach Christmas Parade with some friends, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. That brings us to today, December 3rd, which was a big day because I met my friend and her daughter at Disneyland to watch the Christmas Fantasy Parade. I got there right when the park opened so I was able to hop on Star Tours, Hyperspace Mountain, Path of the Jedi, and Haunted Mansion Holiday before the others arrived. Actually, I had a Fast Pass for Hyperspace Mountain but I lost it at some point so I had to stand in the regular line instead. With as often as I go to Disneyland I’m getting spoiled! Luckily all of the lines were short this morning. After I met up with my friends we rode Alice in Wonderland and It’s A Small World Holiday before scoping out seating for the 1 PM parade on Main Street. We were there early enough to get a spot on the curb in a prime location. Front row seating for a Disneyland parade is the best! While we waited we had chili cheese dogs and churros for lunch. The Christmas Fantasy parade was wonderful, and my friend’s daughter absolutely loved it. That was the most fun part of the experience. This is how the holidays are supposed to be. I’m looking forward to the rest of December!