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!
“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!
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!
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!
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!
Against all odds I finished National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) only missing one day out of thirty. Not bad! I compensated for my misstep by posting the second half of my Thanksgiving wrap-up on December 1st. That’s a fair trade-off, right? I’m going to try my best to keep up the same frequency of posts in December since this is my favorite time of the year (and I’m determined to enjoy it), but don’t know how successful I’ll be. The month has barely started and my calendar is already completely full! Like today when I had about four obligations after I got out of work. I actually left early to pick up my orthotics from the podiatrist so that I could run my scheduled 5 miles this afternoon. Since the Seal Beach Christmas Parade was taking place in the evening I didn’t even attempt to run my usual route around town. Even at 4 PM Main Street was just too busy and crowded. Instead I drove down to Bolsa Chica State Beach and completed my 5 miles there. It was really windy today, but running by the ocean is always lovely. Since I was planning to meet some friends at the Christmas parade I had to get home and quickly shower after my run. Luckily I live one block from the parade route so I could walk out my door just a few minutes before 7 PM. It was a chilly night for the Seal Beach Christmas parade and I got cold sitting there for an hour and a half, but I enjoyed hanging out with my friends. Now I am back in my warm house, but I need to go to bed soon. I’m meeting a friend and her daughter at Disneyland for the Christmas parade tomorrow. Happy holidays everyone!
I’m on a plane to Miami right now where I’ll catch my flight to Tallahassee this afternoon. I paid for extra leg room this time around (worth it for nearly five hours between LA and Miami) so using my laptop is a breeze! Also, there’s an empty seat next to me so I don’t feel like anyone is looking at my screen while I type. I figured I’d take this time to finally write a post about a races from earlier this year that changed the way I run. It was a big deal!
In May of 2015 I was registered for the Orange County half marathon, but ended up skipping it because I was still recovering from my knee injury earlier in the year. Of course I managed to get hurt again in early 2016, but much to my delight I was healthy enough to run the OC half marathon this year. However, I was pretty out of shape when the race rolled around in May. So in order to keep from being completely bored on the course for three hours I decided to run with one of my co-workers and her sister-in-law. They had modest expectations for their finish time so I figured I wouldn’t be holding them back. This was my first introduction to the Galloway Run/Walk/Run Method. Previously I only took short walk breaks about every mile, but that particular strategy broke down after the first seven or eight miles when I couldn’t run a full mile at a time anymore. That made the rest of the race pretty frustrating. But using the Galloway Method during the OC half marathon the other ladies and I ran for 1 min 15 sec and then walked for 40 seconds, repeating those intervals for the whole 13.1 miles. (Mostly. There were a couple of monster hills that we broke down and walked all the way to the top!) This approach to running was completely new to me and it took a while to get used to. Taking a walk break after only running a little over a minute felt really strange at the beginning of the race, but as the miles passed I was amazed at how well the Galloway Method was working for me. I didn’t hit the wall at mile 10 like I usually did during a half marathon, and after we crossed the finish line I actually still had some energy left which, for me, is unheard of. It was a remarkable outcome. My finish time wasn’t anything to be proud of, but I didn’t care. After that day I was resolved to buy an internal timer and join my co-worker’s Galloway running group. I loved it that much! It’s been over five months since then and now I use the run/walk/run method exclusively for my races and other long runs. Like my highly successful 16 mile run last Saturday. I know the Galloway method isn’t right for everyone, but it has worked wonders for me so I’m glad I got the opportunity to try it during the OC half marathon. The course was really beautiful too so I’m looking forward to running it again in 2017.
As a side note, there was one particularly funny moment before the race even started. After getting on the bus from the fairgrounds parking lot to the start line I realized that I hadn’t put any sunscreen on my legs! I slathered it on my arms in the parking lot, but I had completely neglected my legs below the hem of my running capris. So once I got to the start line I started searching through the crowd, looking for someone who might have sunscreen in their bag of supplies that I could borrow. I probably looked creepy, but I was desperate! It took a while, but I finally found someone who had a bottle of sunscreen out and was willing to let me use some. Bless that kind stranger! I would have had lobster legs otherwise!
It’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving and instead of being responsible and productive I did something completely frivolous – I spent the day at Disneyland! I went with my good friend Natalie and we had an incredible time. The theme of our trip was Tower of Terror since the ride in its current incarnation is closing on January 2nd. Since Disney announced that they are converting the building into a “Guardians of the Galaxy” attraction in 2017 the responses have been mixed. While Disneyland is always changing in on way or another (like the ongoing construction of Star Wars Land that’s supposed to open next year) it’s a little sad to see such a unique landmark be completely overhauled. Due to the imminent shuttering of the Hollywood Tower Hotel it has become the most popular ride in the parks with long lines and quickly disappearing Fast Passes. When I was there last weekend the wait time was 150 minutes! Yikes. So in order to make sure we got on Tower of Terror without spending hours in line, Natalie and I headed directly there as soon as California Adventure opened for the day. That was what we’ll call ToT #1, and it was amazing. After our first experience we walked across the street and got Fast Passes that we could use an hour later. After some coffee, hot chocolate, and a little shopping we made use of the FPs – that was ToT #2. We were lucky enough to be in the front row that time and the photo that’s taken on the ride turned out great. You’d think two times through Tower of Terror within an hour and a half would be enough for us, but you’d be wrong! Upon exiting we got another set of FPs for a little later in the morning. While waiting to use those we made our way over to Disneyland and got Fast Passes for Hyperspace Mountain, my favorite. But then it was time to get back to California Adventure for ToT #3. After walking out that third time we figured there was no use tinkering with a successful formula and so we picked up a third set of FPs for the afternoon! At that point it was time for a delicious lunch at Carthay Circle and then Hyperspace Mountain over in Disneyland. Due to crowds and a little rain we almost didn’t use our last Tower of Terror Fast Passes, but there were some Christmas presents that needed to be purchased in California Adventure so there was no use letting them go to waste! That was ToT #4 – our final check-out. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll be content if I don’t find my way to the Hollywood Tower Hotel again before January 2nd. Thanks for all the great memories!
Photos from all four ToT experiences will be available in my Disneyland 11/20/16 photo album once I am able to download them from the Disneyland PhotoPass website!
The annual chili cook-off at work wasn’t the only thing I had planned on Halloween. (I tend to oversubscribe myself during the fall/winter holidays because I’m afraid of missing out. This is my favorite time of year and I’m determined to enjoy it as much as possible!) Since it was a Monday I had a welcome day off from running, but I still wanted to get to the gym before my evening obligations. I was ambitious and signed up for a 4 PM boot camp class which meant I had to leave work an hour beforehand to drive home, change clothes, and get to the gym on time. Note to self: Leaving work early on the day of the chili cook-off is a bad idea! As much as I try to keep the cook-off from affecting my productivity, I always spend a lot of time configuring the conference room tables and chairs in the morning and deconfiguring them in the afternoon. It requires more effort that I’d like to admit. Luckily I was able to successfully leave work and make it to my 4 PM class at the gym. And it’s a good thing too because I really stuffed my face at the chili cook-off. In an effort to not blow my diet too badly I started off with a small bowl of chili (3 different kinds I wanted to sample, including my own) and some salad, but eventually went back for chips and desserts. I couldn’t help myself! The delicious food my co-workers made was just too hard to resist. I also had my first sugary soda since September 10th (more about that in another post), but it was an incredible specialty cherry cola and worth the calories. Fortunately I felt better after an hour of resistance training at the gym.
After boot camp concluded I drove home as quickly as possible and jumped in the shower. I was due at a friend’s house to trick or treat with a few families and their kids at 6 PM so I had to rush. In an effort to make it there on time, after my shower I simply threw on the same clothes that I had worn to work that day – jeans and my Mickey Mouse Halloween hoodie (see above photo). I bought the sweatshirt at Disneyland when I was there with a friend back in September, but it had been too hot for me to wear it until the last few days of October. Much to my delight it was gloriously cool and fall-like for Halloween this year. The last three years summer has lasted until early November so it was really lovely to have a comfortable Halloween for a change. Trick or treating with the kids – dressed as Harry Potter characters, superheroes, Star Wars icons, and Disney cartoons – was a lot of fun. They were so excited that they dashed from house to house like they were already hopped up on candy! I was actually a little chilly being outside for so long, even in my hoodie, but the kids weren’t affected at all. All they wanted was to fill their buckets with treats. I was completely wiped out when I went home at 9 PM, but trick or treating with the kids was the perfect way to end Halloween.
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!