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!

2015 resolutions revisited

Time to recap my 2015 resolutions before 2016 arrives! Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!

Resolution #1: Decide whether to train for a full marathon
I’m going to count this one as a win even though it required little to no effort on my part. After getting hurt during the Disney World Half Marathon in January I decided to postpone my full marathon attempt for another year. It took me almost two months of rest to recover and get back to running again, but it was worth it. I’m glad I didn’t commit to marathon training this year because it allowed me to participate in quite a whole bunch of fall races that I otherwise would have had to skip. (I’m working on another post about that. My fall race schedule was insane!) Luckily I’ve been healthy for a majority of the year, and as of right now I am eagerly anticipating signing up for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2017. It will be the day before my 38th birthday so it seems like the perfect time to tackle such an ambitious feat. Registration opens in April and I’m nervous, but excited too! I’ve already put my marathon training plan on my calendar (purchased in Alaska this summer) that I’ll hang on the wall in my cubicle in 2016. It’s going to be a crazy year!

Resolution #2: Less screen time
If you’d asked me about this one halfway through the year I would have called it a win, but after that I started slipping back into old habits. Earlier this year I was turning off the television when I started getting ready for bed, but work/life/running stress caused me to go back to watching mindless TV at night. I know it has a negative impact on my sleep quality, but I just like the noise. With this in mind I want to try using a radio app like Pandora or iHeartRadio with a sleep timer on it instead. Also, I want to go back to turning off the television when I start getting ready for bed in favor of listening to podcasts or radio instead. I put blue light filters on my laptop and iPads at the beginning of the year because I was worried that my evening screen time was detrimental to my sleep, and I think it did help. However, I know that turning off all of the visual stimulation at night will be even more beneficial. Let’s just hope I can stick with it this time!

Resolution #3: Wear a bikini
An unequivocal win! When I went to Hawaii in June there was no way I was going to leave without donning a bathing suit and swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it since I’d put on a few pounds while I was recovering from my knee injury in the spring, but I still packed a bikini (newly purchased, of course, to replace the old suits I hadn’t worn in years) in my suitcase and I was determined to wear it. Not just to fulfill some silly New Year’s resolution, but also to prove that how I perceive my body won’t stop me from having as much fun as possible. I want to get the most out of life, no matter what the number on the scale happens to be at any given time. That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be healthy (and slim, if I’m honest), but that I refuse to allow my weight or my measurements to dictate my happiness. I’m 36 years old and finally starting to make this distinction! I still have a long way to go, but wearing a bikini this summer in Maui was the first step. And what better place than the incredible beachfront mansion with a private pool where my friends and I stayed? That’s a vacation I’ll not soon forget.

Resolution #4: Blog about events in a timely manner
I’m not quite sure which category to put this one in. It’s a win in the sense that there are only a couple of major events from 2015 that I haven’t written about yet, but the “timely manner” part of the resolution points towards failure instead. I still haven’t posted about my amazing trip to Alaska! (Hopefully I can get that done before I have to go back to work on Monday. It’s going to take a lot of effort on my part to not squander what remains of my free time during this holiday break.) Looking back, 2015 was an unbelievable year for me (which is obvious looking at my photo albums from races, vacations, and holidays), but I haven’t done it justice in writing. It’s a shame. Luckily January is historically my most productive month as far as blogging is concerned, so maybe I’ll be caught up on my recaps before 2016 is too old. I can’t promise that I’ll be any more prompt with my documentation of my life in the coming year, but as always, I’ll certainly try.

Resolution #5: Visit more states
This last resolution is definitely a win, but to a lesser extent than I original planned. There were a few obstacles that prevented me from adding more color to my “states visited” map in 2015. First of all, I only travelled to DC for work once this year. I wanted to take a side trip to Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont when I was on the East Coast, but I just didn’t have the time required for such a venture during my business trip in July. I did have the opportunity to take a quick jaunt (more like a three-hour drive with all the traffic) to New Jersey on the last day of that trip, but it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped it would be. It was still progress, though. Also, I was supposed to meet my family in Oregon in May, but fluid work obligations made that impossible. Maybe I’ll be able to visit California’s neighbor to the north sometime in 2016. On a positive note, the crowning glory of 2015 was our family vacation to Alaska in August. Denali National Park is such a breathtaking place and I loved every minute that we got to spend there. It was an absolutely incredible experience. More on that when I finally get around to writing a post about the trip. So as of the end of this year I’ve visited 35 of 50 states. Not bad when you think about it, but I still have 30% of the country to go. It’s a good thing I already have plans for 2016!