May 19th

“I finally dismantled my Christmas tree on Wednesday. I was stuck at home for a fifth day with this wretched cold/flu and getting quite restless so I started undecking my halls. I still haven’t put anything away properly yet (i.e., in the cabinet with all of my other seasonal decorations), but my house no longer screams, ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ ”
1/21/17 webpage post

“I still haven’t put away my Christmas decorations. The tree currently is lying on the floor in pieces, and all of the ornaments and other decorative items are covering my entire kitchen table. One of my goals for tomorrow afternoon is to finally close the books on Christmas 2016. Otherwise I should just put the tree back up and pronounce my house ready for Christmas 2017 a little early.”
1/28/17 webpage post

One month ago something amazing happened. On May 19th, just about a month shy of the official first day of summer, I finally put away all of my Christmas 2016 decorations. The good news is that my tree wasn’t up and trimmed that entire time, but none of my holiday baubles had moved far from where they had been on display in December. My Christmas tree was first put up on December 18th which means that it was out of storage for a solid 5 months. Like I said, the tree wasn’t out and decorated that long, but it might as well have been. I disassembled it in January, but the pieces were sitting in a box on the floor of my living room until the miracle day of May 19th. And all of the ornaments and other decorations, like my multiple nativities, took up every square inch of real estate on my kitchen table for those 5 months. Holy cow, how did it come to this? With the Los Angeles weather threatening shorts and flip-flop conditions very soon, I was dangerously close to the tipping point between putting my Christmas tree away and just putting it back up in anticipation of Christmas 2017. So on the afternoon of May 19th I found myself standing in front of that mountain of yuletide cheer and vowing to finally put it back in the closet. At least for a few months. After all was said and done I was very happy to have closed the door on the 2016 holidays. It’ll be that much more exciting when, in six months, it’s socially acceptable to start decorating for Christmas again. But for now, ’tis the season to survive another summer without air conditioning!

Saturday random thoughts

***I’m still sick, but I think I’m finally getting better. I got through a full day of work yesterday without feeling like death. I was still exhausted afterwards, though, and it didn’t help that I had to stay until 8 PM running a test. And I probably need to work for at least a few hours tomorrow to get some seriously overdue documents ready for release, but being able to go to work regularly is one step towards being completely healthy again.

***My good friend Natalie and I were planning to celebrate my birthday at Disneyland this afternoon/evening, but after admitting that we are both sick, we decided that it was necessary to reschedule. We had to give up our dinner at Steakhouse 55, but now we have a meal reservation for February 11th that will give us a reserved spot to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade that has recently returned to Disneyland. I have never actually seen the Electrical Parade, either in Anaheim the last time it was here or when it was in Orlando up through last year, so I can’t wait!

***Except for the Star Wars 5K and one other solitary 4-mile run over a week ago I haven’t done any exercise since my marathon on January 8th. Even so, I am going to attempt to run 10 miles at the Great Chocolate Race in Long Beach tomorrow morning. I am incredibly nervous. First of all, I have no idea if my foot is going to be up to the challenge. Luckily I haven’t had any foot pain since I got back from Orlando which is a very good sign, but I only have two successful short runs to convince me that I won’t fracture any bones tomorrow. I didn’t even go back to the chiropractor this week because I was sick. So that’s one unknown. And then my secondary concern is that I am completely out of shape after deviating my training regime for so long. There’s a good chance I have no endurance at all anymore. Tomorrow is going to be interesting, to say the least. One way or another I’ll let you know how it goes!

***This morning my running buddies and I had to pick up our race packets for tomorrow. While figuring out where we needed to go to get the bibs, we discovered that the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck was going to be parked at a mall nearby so of course we decided to check it out. We arrived only 30 minutes after it was scheduled to open, but the line was already around the block! We waited for about an hour in the surprisingly warm late-January sun, only advancing a fairly short distance, before we gave up and left to get our race bibs without acquiring any Hello Kitty merchandise. So we saved money, but wasted a lot of precious weekend time.

***I still haven’t put away my Christmas decorations. The tree currently is lying on the floor in pieces, and all of the ornaments and other decorative items are covering my entire kitchen table. One of my goals for tomorrow afternoon is to finally close the books on Christmas 2016. Otherwise I should just put the tree back up and pronounce my house ready for Christmas 2017 a little early.

Getting back to normal

I finally dismantled my Christmas tree on Wednesday. I was stuck at home for a fifth day with this wretched cold/flu and getting quite restless so I started undecking my halls. I was particularly sad to sad goodbye for a year to the adorable yuletide Mickey and Minnie I purchased at Disneyland last month. I’ve been meaning to get myself a set forever and I finally pulled the trigger this past holiday season. I still haven’t put anything away properly yet (i.e., in the cabinet with all of my other seasonal decorations), but my house no longer screams, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” It’s always a little depressing when the lights and tinsel and garlands disappear in January, but it’s also nice for things to get back to normal. Post-holiday malaise is never fun and I have to constantly remind myself of the lovely things that I have to look forward to in the first few months of the year. Now that my Disney World trip is over it feels like the drudge of everyday life is setting in, but I have to remember that I have so many other exciting events on my calendar in 2017. Granted, being sick, injured, and idle for more than a week hasn’t helped raise my spirits, but I think that will turn around soon. If only my body would get back to normal then life would be less dull and monotonous! I only got out of the house today to pick up my bib for the Pasadena Half Marathon tomorrow morning – a race I’m not even going to run! But I had to pick up the bib in person so that I could pass it off to a friend. At least it won’t go to waste this way. While making the long drive up to Pasadena with my running buddy this afternoon to go to the expo I realized that I am still pretty sick. I wheeze when I laugh and I can’t talk very much without coughing. It’s really frustrating. I was determined to run at least a few miles today, but I am resigned to rest at least until Monday in hopes that this blasted illness vacates my body. As far as I’m concerned it can’t happen soon enough. I’m still unsure about my foot too. After a visit to the sports chiropractor yesterday afternoon I remembered why I don’t like going there. It’s insanely painful! The chiropractor worked on not only my foot, but also some muscles in my right leg in an attempt to loosen things up a bit and improve my gait. I won’t know if going through that ordeal made any difference until I feel well enough to run again, but I sure hope the discomfort produced results. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m going back to Wednesday for a follow-up. Fingers crossed that I am breathing and running normally again by then, and that I’ve also found the energy to actually pack up the Christmas decorations that are currently covering my entire kitchen table. It’s time to get everything back to normal around here!

2017 Resolution #1

New Year’s Resolution #1: Donate some of my old medals and scrapbook my old race bibs

I’m starting this year off with an easy resolution. Relative to some of my past ones, that is. I’ve been accumulating medals and bibs from races since the spring of 2014 and I’ve never really figured out what to do with them in the long term. Race medals from the current calendar year get hung up on the wall of my cubicle at work, which slowly but surely adds a garish amount of sparkle to my workspace over the course of twelve months. But then every January the previous year’s accolades come home and get stashed away in a box under my bed. In the beginning I had every intention of hanging all of these hard-earned medals on the wall in my bedroom, but over time I realized that I didn’t really want to. It’s not that I don’t enjoy receiving the medals as recognition of my accomplishments, but I don’t have the drive to display them anywhere afterwards. Over the holidays I sorted through the box of my old race medals from 2014 and 2015 and decided that most of them weren’t worth keeping. There’s a charity called Medals 4 Mettle that gives donated medals to sick children so I think I’ll send a portion of my collection there. Hopefully I can get that done soon. As far as race bibs go, I have a huge stack of them in the same box as the old medals. The most recent ones get displayed on the front of my refrigerator, as you can see in the above photo (Disney ones get top billing), but after their tenure there is over they are filed away. Some of the bibs are so nondescript that I probably should have just tossed them, but others are lovely souvenirs from of races that I’ve loved (and others I’ve hated). Luckily race bibs are small, thin, and light so I think I’ll keep them as a reminder of my progress over the last few years. My goal for 2017 is to put all of them (OK, maybe not the ones that I can’t even remember what race they’re from) in a scrapbook or album for future reference. Neither of these goals is too difficult, right? Now if I can just follow through before the year is over!

Holidays are over

Today was the last day of my holiday break which means that I have to go back to work tomorrow. I’m not crazy about that prospect, but I’ve had a paid vacation since December 23rd so I can’t really complain. If I didn’t accomplish as much as I wanted to that’s my own fault. Today didn’t really help me feel like my time off was well spent either. Unfortunately I spent most of the day trying to figure out what’s wrong with my stupid iPhone. A couple of days ago I noticed that the battery was draining very rapidly (losing 50% in about 15 minutes) even with very light phone usage. At first I thought it was due to my new Garmin watch that was connected via Bluetooth or some of the new running apps I added recently. However, reverting those changes didn’t fix the problem. I won’t bore you with the details, but as of this afternoon I’ve tried everything in my power to resolve the issue, including completely wiping the phone and restoring the factory settings. This is particularly because I need a reliable phone for my marathon and I’m leaving for Orlando on Friday morning. I have an appointment at Best Buy tomorrow to perhaps replace the battery. From what I’ve read in Apple forums this was the only thing that seemed to help at all, even though my battery passed a diagnostic test at a local repair shop. If my poor phone is still afflicted after that I’ll have to walk in to an Apple Store on Wednesday without an appointment and hope they have a solution. Let’s just hope the “solution” isn’t simply a brand new phone. I’m not really ready for that yet, but I may not have much of a choice. Kinda like my car buying experience last spring! I’ll let you know how it goes.

There was some good news today – Florida beat Iowa in the Outback Bowl! Go Gators! It was a lot of fun to watch them win a game after the disappointing end to the regular season. Let’s hope that this portends a promising 2017 season for Florida. I guess we’ll have to wait until the fall to find out. Right now I need to go to bed so I can get up on time for work tomorrow morning. My holiday break ended with a bit of a whimper, but I still had a relaxing and fairly productive week and a half. Now it’s time to put the holidays behind me and get started on 2017. My Christmas tree won’t come down until after I get home from Orlando, though. I didn’t put it up until December 18th this year so I’m going to enjoy it for a little longer. Happy January everyone!

Ringing in the New Year

Welcome to 2017! I can’t believe it’s January 1st already. Once they finally arrive the holidays always seem to pass so quickly, and now I only have one more day left before I have to go back to work. Yikes! That’s why it was so important for me to start 2017 right. I decided to stay home from the New Year’s Eve party last night due to a stomach ache, so I watched the ball drop in New York on CNN at 9 PM and then got ready for bed. I was asleep, wearing earplugs to avoid being awoken at midnight, by 10 PM. It was pretty glorious. After spending a lovely New Year’s Day at Disneyland last year I knew I wanted to do that again today, so I got up early and drove to Anaheim. It was an appropriately chilly morning at Disneyland – the perfect way to ring in the new year. I’m going to savor sweatshirt weather at the parks for as long as possible because I know the warm weather will be here sooner than I’d like. In order to keep my daily calories in check I avoided the warming effects of the delicious Ghirardelli hot chocolate, though. I’m trying to start the new year healthy (although I ate quite a few peanut butter blondies this afternoon which didn’t help). Walking around Disneyland for three hours helped with that, luckily. I rode a few rides, bought a couple of pins, and basically enjoyed being there for the last time during the holiday season. I’m leaving for Orlando on Friday so I won’t be back to Disneyland until the middle of the month. I’m running the Star Wars Light Side 5K on Friday, January 13th (spooky!) so I’m looking forward to that. Speaking of which, I went for a 5-mile run tonight. I didn’t have a workout planned today, but after signing up for the Run the Year 2017 challenge yesterday I got a little paranoid about being idle on January 1st. Running in this chilly winter weather is ideal so I’m glad I went. I even ran into a friend and her family on the Seal Beach Pier! That was fun. Now it’s time for me to get ready for bed and prepare for my last day of this holiday break. It’s going to be a good one!

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!

2016 resolutions revisited

For a lot of people 2016 was a dumpster fire. And that was in addition to the disaster that was the presidential election, which I still haven’t written about, and the heartbreak of losing so many important cultural icons. Aside from those unfortunate events, this year was actually pretty good for me. I am one of the lucky ones. However, when I look back at my 2016 resolutions it doesn’t look quite so positive! I thought I avoided setting myself up for failure by making a small enough number of seemingly achievable resolutions, but it looks like I misjudged. A lot changed for me in 2016 so the grand ideas I had in January weren’t valid later in the year. Fortunately that’s not a bad thing, but it still makes me look like a failure when looking at my list of resolutions.

Resolution #1: Track my running differently
Success! I got my first Garmin GPS watch (a Forerunner 220) for Christmas last year and I started using it to track my running even before 2016 started. And it has been amazing. Being able to see my current distance and time at a glance without pulling my phone out of my pocket is incredibly convenient while training. Also, the Garmin Connect feature stores all of my data so I can look back and see how much progress I’ve made over the last twelve months. (I’ll create a plot of my monthly mileages to share when the year is officially over.) I switched over to my new Forerunner 235 watch with a built-in heart rate monitor a few days ago and I absolutely love it. After only a year I’d be lost without my GPS watch. Here’s to another year of meeting and beating my running goals!

Resolution #2: No more McDonald’s
Failure! I even had McDonald’s for dinner tonight on my way home from the gym. I must admit that these days I have an Egg McMuffin at least once a week, usually after finishing a long run on the weekends. I’m always famished shortly after a long run so I need protein and carbs, and I need them fast. In addition, when my Wednesday night marathon training runs started getting longer I began grabbing McDonald’s for dinner afterwards. In spite of this apparent fiasco I do not feel guilty about being a frequent McDonald’s patron. When it comes to fast food, an Egg McMuffin is one of the best choices I could make. And on an even more positive note I’ve greatly mitigated the unhealthiness of my usual meal by switching from regular soda to diet. So even though on a superficial level it looks like I crashed and burned with respect to this resolution I couldn’t care less. I’m in much better shape at the end of 2016 than I was at the beginning so there’s no use stressing about such a small indulgence!

Resolution #3: Revamp dinners
Failure! The original intention of this resolution was to keep me from eating something outrageously unhealthy for dinner, like handfuls of Cheez-Its straight from the box. Even if I wasn’t having something homemade for my evening meal I wanted to transition to “real food” and away from my destructive habit of heavy snacking. In that sense I suppose I’ve been somewhat successful, but not in the way I planned at the beginning of the year. I owe my weight loss over the last four months to Nutrisystem, but that also means that I’ve been relying on pre-made food for most of my dietary needs. I know I can’t do that forever, though. Next month I’m going to evolve this resolution and add it to my list of goals for 2017 as I start cooking for myself again and working on some additional weight loss (and eventual weight maintenance). The diet struggle continues!

Resolution #4: Train for a marathon
Success! Tomorrow morning is my last training run of 2016, and my last long run (8 miles) before the Walt Disney World Marathon which is just nine days away! Holy cow! Next week I only have three very short runs on my calendar as I close out the taper portion of my training plan, and then I leave for Orlando on Friday. Believe it or not, I haven’t missed a single training run (thank goodness for relatively good health), and I’ve actually overachieved on my required mileage due to the myriad of races I was signed up for this fall. I knew when I started this journey that it wouldn’t be easy, so I am really proud of myself for following through. I can’t believe how strong I feel right now! I don’t expect the marathon next weekend to be easy, but I know I’m prepared and I can’t wait to cross the start line. And then hopefully cross the finish line too!

See my post from earlier this month for details on Resolution #5 (Weight training/cross training) and Resolution #6 (Fit into my old clothes). Luckily for me these were two unexpected successes to close out 2016. Here’s to an even more successful 2017!

New Year’s Eve preparations

After yesterday’s impassioned post you may have expected me to have a supremely productive day to make up for recent laziness. Unfortunately you’d be wrong, but I didn’t stay in bed all day either. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between. I intended to spend a few hours at Disneyland this morning, but I slept in (again) instead. I don’t consider it wasted time, though, since the holiday break is meant for catching up on sleep. After running a few errands I had an appointment at the DMV to renew my driver’s license. I had to do it in person this time around so that was annoying. Luckily with the appointment I was done in about ten minutes. After I left I realized that I might not get my new license before it expires (on my birthday), which could complicate my upcoming trip to Orlando. Having an expired driver’s license when I’m trying to fly back home to Los Angeles could cause a bit of a headache with TSA. Fortunately the solution is simply to bring my passport. Problem solved!

When I got home from the DMV I tackled some New Year’s Eve preparations. Specifically, cookie baking! I promised to bring treats to a New Year’s Eve party and I didn’t want to leave making them until the last minute. So this afternoon I whipped up two different kinds of cookies – peanut butter blondies (because I still had a jar and a half of peanut butter left over from my Christmas cookies) and chocolate chip snickerdoodle bars (a holiday favorite). For the peanut butter blondies I started with this recipe from Averie Cooks and simply replaced the original mix-ins with a combination of semisweet chocolate and milk chocolate chips. (I had to sort through quite a few ancient bags of chocolate chips in my cabinet before finding some that weren’t expired! That’s a testament to my attempt to eat healthier over the last couple of years.) The jury is still out on these blondies so I’ll give you the verdict in another post. For the chocolate chip snickerdoodles, I got the idea from Pinterest, but I based them on my own amazing snickerdoodle bar recipe. I simply added some mini chocolate chips to the dough before I baked them. I’ll have to ask my friends what they think about them because I’m not immediately a fan. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I think the chocolate chips may have ruined the snickerdoodles! At this point I wish I hadn’t tampered with such a perfect recipe, but I’ll wait to pass final judgement until I get a few more opinions on New Year’s Eve. Only two more days left in 2016!

In between holidays

The lull in between Christmas and New Year’s is always an unusual week. I’m one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to work during this interlude so I generally have a ton of free time on my hands. It’s a strange sensation! Every December I imagine that I’ll get a lot of work done around the house while I’m out of work for a week and a half, as well as do all of the lovely things I don’t have time for the rest of the year. That idyllic dream never actually comes to fruition due to a myriad of holiday obligations and the inevitable exhaustion that follows, but I still try to make the most of my winter break. So far I’ve been somewhat successful, but my list of recent achievements is shorter than I’d like. In order to avoid doing nothing for an entire day end I really should get up early in the morning and get out of the house, at least for a little while. If that doesn’t happen I tend to stay home all day and not accomplish very much. Unfortunately the last two days I haven’t followed my own guidance and I’ve stayed in bed until after 9 AM! Sheesh. While I have been able to check a few chores off my to do list, as well as keep up with my fitness regime (running on Monday and Tuesday, and going to the gym today), I definitely could have been more productive. It’s time to get my rear in gear again. Starting tomorrow I have five days before I have to go back to work so I need to make them count. Too bad I’ve stayed up way too late writing this blog post!