Day 19 – Surf City 10

On Sunday morning I ran the Surf City 10 race with a bunch of my running buddies. Since it was the weekend after the Long Beach Marathon I was originally only registered for the 5K, but I was convinced to upgrade to the 10-mile distance instead. Perhaps not the best choice I’ve ever made. Luckily I was feeling amazingly recovered from that train wreck of a marathon the week before, probably because I walked so much near the end of the 26.2 miles. My plan for surviving the 10 miles was to run it slow and steady in case I had any lingering issues. My short shakeout runs after the marathon had been pretty terrible, maybe due to he lower carb content of my October diet. My energy levels seem to be higher now that I’ve been on this Whole30-like plan a little longer (that first week was brutal!), but my workouts have still not been amazing. (Although there’s a host of reasons that could be the case, not least of which being that the Los Angeles summer is still in full swing. I’m so ready for fall.) My pace for the 10-mile race was indeed relatively slow, but I felt surprisingly strong and crossed the finish line without being completely drained. That result was very encouraging. I have a lot more running plans and at least one race on my calendar before these 30 days are up and I want to enjoy as many miles as possible. I picked up with my training plan for the Dopey Challenge in January and I’m supposed to run 7 miles this Saturday and the 17 miles on Sunday. That’s going to be rough, especially since it’s forecast to be 90 deg in Seal Beach over the weekend. And even hotter next week. This is insane! We may have another record-breaking Halloween this year!

Today’s meals:
Breakfast – Breakfast hash (sausage, butternut squash, onion, spinach, and apple) by itself since I didn’t have time to make eggs
Snack #1 – Apple, cashews
Lunch – Turkey taco meat, roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced sweet potato
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Salad with shredded garlic chicken, red onion, red bell pepper, shredded carrots, nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Day 8 – Marathon #4 survived

Today I ran the Long Beach Marathon. Marathon #4 for the year. I can’t say I was fast, and I can’t say it was all that enjoyable, but I crossed the finish line on my own two feet and that’s what really matters. I spent most of the last six miles hating running, races, myself, and basically everything else under the sun. And crying. There was a lot of crying. But when I rounded that last corner and the end was in sight (a very timely downhill stretch, thank goodness) I was incredibly proud of myself. This time it wasn’t pain or exhaustion or nausea that got me choked up, but knowing what a monumental accomplishment it was to run 26.2 miles and still be upright afterwards. (Granted, immediately after getting my medal I went to my running group’s tent and lay down flat on the grass for a few minutes. It was something I just had to do.) I know that marathons aren’t as much of challenge for everyone, and that a majority of runners finish at a faster and more consistent pace than I did, but as a good friend reminded me once, “Everyone gets the same medal at the end.” And I’ll cherish that medal because I had to work so hard to earn it. I run not so much because I love it, but because it’s a challenge. It’s certainly not an activity that comes easily to me. I struggle a lot (way more than I’d like to admit, actually), and I have to train very hard to be successful. I redefine my goals every time I line up to start a race. Maybe I want to finish in a particular time, or maybe I want to run a comfortable, steady pace, or maybe I just want to have fun. I’m not competing with anyone but myself so I set the rules. It’s my life and I do whatever it takes to make myself happy. And tonight I’m happy because the Long Beach Marathon is behind me and I have the medal to prove it.

P.S. My diet today included a lot of sugar. During the marathon I had Sports Beans (Jelly Belly has made my long runs so much tastier), Gu gels (new s’mores and toasted marshmallow flavors), and three 10-oz bottles of Pedialyte (apple, grape, and strawberry). I needed all of it to survive, even at my slow running pace. After I got home from the race I ate whatever I wanted during my marathon recovery. Now my stomach is all weird, though, so I’m looking forward to getting back on the healthy diet bandwagon tomorrow. Stay tuned for more super exciting news about my daily menus!

Day 7 – Long Beach Marathon preparation

As usual I’m completely exhausted. I got up this morning at 4:30 AM so I would have time to throw a pork roast in the Crockpot before leaving for the Aquarium of the Pacific 5K. While looking for some new Whole30 compliant recipes I ran across this one for slow cooker carnitas (sweetened only with fruit juice!). So last night I seasoned the roast so it could marinate overnight in the fridge, and then this morning it started cooking in my Crockpot while I was at the race. My apartment smelled delicious when I got home a few hours later. I’m sure I will enjoy it as part of my lunches next week. It’ll add some much-needed variety to my midday meals. As a side note, after shredding the whole 3.5 lb pork roast I realized that I don’t own enough Pyrex and Corningware containers to refrigerate and/or freeze all of the food I’ve been cooking! This situation was exacerbated by the fact that I also made two other dishes today. I put my second Crockpot to work to whip up a batch of my favorite slow cooker marinara. I figure it will go great with chicken and any variety of roasted vegetables. You’d never know that I was supposed to be resting in preparation for the Long Beach Marathon tomorrow, but that didn’t stop me from also making a batch of pumpkin chili during the disastrous Florida football game this afternoon. I needed a distraction because somehow the Gators managed to lose their homecoming game by blowing an extra point after a touchdown. They lost by that one point. Good times! The only positive outcome is that I’ll have plenty of chili to enjoy for my dinners next week. Cleaning up after all of these ambitious cooking endeavors is another story. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t wash all of the dishes yet. Some of them, but not all. The rest will have to wait until I have enough energy to get up off my couch after the marathon tomorrow. But for now I need to go to bed as quickly as I can. My alarm is going to go off really, really early tomorrow morning!

P.S. I’m not going to even go into what I ate today. Let’s just say refined carbs were involved – both grains and sugar. And I regret nothing. If anyone objects to my carb-loading methods you can find me at the finish line of the Long Beach Marathon tomorrow!

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.

Surf City half marathon 2017

Before I write about more recent events I’d like to go back and cover a couple of happenings from earlier this year. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since the 2017 Surf City Half Marathon, which took place on February 5th. That Sunday morning was perfect running weather, cloudy and cool, but unfortunately my running form wasn’t quite as perfect. I was still recovering from my lovely cold/flu/bronchitis combination so my breathing wasn’t what it should be to run 13.1 miles, and my training had fallen off sharply for that reason. But I needed to restart my fitness regimen somehow, and I was feeling much better than even a week earlier, so I arrived for the half marathon with cautious optimism. Before the race started I chatted with a friend about our time goals (I just wanted to finish!) and took a picture with my running group. I was nervous, but ready to get started. And the first few miles of the course were great. I even passed my friend who is usually a lot faster than me around mile 4. That was a surprise. (In her defense, she’d been fighting her own illnesses throughout January as well.) Training for the Disney World Marathon had gotten my body into pretty good shape, and I hadn’t lost all that much in the way of fitness in the month that followed. I did remarkably well for a number of miles, but by mile 10 I was gasping for breath. No surprise after having bronchitis, really. My pace wasn’t suffering too much, but trying to recover during my walk breaks was a losing battle. I passed my running group’s cheer squad and told them I was ok, but couldn’t breathe. The other runners around me overheard and thought I was trying to be funny. They all laughed, but I was being serious! With only about a 5K to go I pushed myself to finish without slowing down. And I did! My official time for the half marathon was 2:37:46 which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either. Not that I’d been expecting much. I was happy to have averaged a 12 min/mile pace for the whole distance. After getting my medal I grabbed a carton of chocolate milk that I’d been looking forward to all morning, and chatted with a couple of friends at the finish line before driving home. Even though it wasn’t my best half marathon showing I was still encouraged. I knew I was only going to get faster and stronger with renewed health and consistent running in the weeks to come. And with the LA Marathon fast approaching I needed all the help I could get.

Too busy to write

I haven’t written anything since Thursday, and now it’s Sunday night and I desperately need to go to sleep if I want to get any sleep before work tomorrow. The last three days have been a blur, to say the least. Not only did I run the Surf City half marathon this morning, but I had to work both days this weekend. It wasn’t pleasant, but I got a lot done. This week isn’t going to be any more relaxing either. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to take a day off due to all of the extra hours I worked this weekend, but that may not be possible. There are just so many obligations! I’m insanely behind on basic chores like cooking and laundry that I don’t know when I’ll be able to catch up. Right now I’m going to publish this sorry excuse for a webpage post and tackle a little housework before I go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have time to write something worthwhile. Doubtful, but I still have hope!

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.

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.

Star Wars 5K

The Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon Weekend took place one week after my marathon at Disney World. As much as I wanted to participate in the Rebel Challenge (10K + half marathon) like I did year, I knew it probably wasn’t advisable after completing my first full marathon. And it’s a good thing I restrained myself during registration because I was in no shape to run more than a few miles that soon after the marathon due to my injury and illness. But Disneyland only has four race weekends a year, so rather than completely skipping this one I signed up for the Star Wars 5K so I could still enjoy the experience without exerting myself too much. Because I was only running 3.1 miles on a relatively chilly morning I decided to wear last year’s Rebel Challenge shirt even though it has long sleeves. Running shirts with long sleeves are basically useless in Southern California (I think I’ve written about this before), but I figured I wouldn’t overheat too much during such a short race. I also wore my R2-D2 headband to match the Rebel Challenge shirt because nerdy runners love stuff like that. I was in corral A for the 5K which is insane because I’m just not that fast, but I still loved it. Usually waiting for Disney races to start is tedious, but this time they showed the 1977, 1980, and 1983 movie trailers for the original Star Wars trilogy which was intriguing. There were scenes there that weren’t even included in the final versions of the movies. Pretty interesting. (Do yourself a favor and check out this Empire Strikes Back preview. If you’re sharp you’ll notice a seriously disturbing moment in there. Let me know if you discover it.) Since I was in corral A I got to start the race right at 5:30 AM. I was worried that my foot would hurt while I was running, requiring me to walk at least part of the way, but I was surprisingly pain free! My lungs were burning because I was getting sick, but I pushed myself to keep running to prove that I could do it. I even ran the entire 3.1 miles which is rare for me, even during a 5K. Disney 5Ks aren’t officially timed, but my Garmin watch told me I averaged 10:26 min/mile pace which was really good for my first run after the marathon. And it was a lot of fun too. After collecting my medal and taking some pictures I walked back to the parking structure and drove home to shower and get ready for work. The rest of the day was less entertaining because by the end of the work day I realized I was getting really sick. I was sneezing left and right in the afternoon so I knew an unproductive weekend of rest and recuperation was in my future. Unfortunately the cold deteriorated into the flu on Sunday…and I’m still suffering right now. The Star Wars 5K ended with a whimper, but I’m still glad I did it. I live for these races!

Disney World Marathon (Part 2)

I had big plans for my birthday (January 9th) at Disney World, which just happened to be the day after the marathon. To celebrate not only turning 38, but also successfully completing my first 26.2 mile race, I had several reservations booked throughout the day at different Disney parks. First was breakfast at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom. If you haven’t eaten there before it’s a beautiful place with three different dining rooms that are impeccably decorated like the Beast’s castle. I had a delicious meal of quiche and pastries in a spectacular ballroom setting. The Magic Kingdom is my favorite Disney park so my parents and I spent a lot of time there after breakfast. As soon as we arrived that morning I made sure to get my birthday button so just about every Cast Member we encountered all day wished me a happy birthday. I also wore my Disney World Marathon shirt to the parks that day to advertise my accomplishment, but it was cold enough to warrant wearing a jacket over it most of the day. In the afternoon we caught a bus from the Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios where I had an early dinner reservation at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant. The opportunity to have a meal in a booth shaped like a car at a drive-in movie theater was too intriguing to pass up. And it was a lot of fun. The food wasn’t very impressive, but I loved watching the old sci-fi movie trailers, clips, and cartoons while eating. But by far the highlight of the evening was the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. Rather than have a birthday dessert with dinner I made reservations for all three of us for the dessert party preceding the Star Wars fireworks, which also came with priority viewing for the show. The party was in the Star Wars Launch Bay and I ate more than my fair share of indulgent sweets to celebrate my birthday. It was great. I also got my picture taken with Chewbacca where I was able to show off my marathon medal. And then Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Fireworks were really incredible. For a nerd like me it was the best way to end a birthday.

January 10th was my last full day at Disney World, but it was a little less structured. After breakfast my parents and took the bus to Disney Springs and spent the morning doing a little shopping there. We ended up being pretty frugal, only buying some Disney t-shirts at Uniqlo. They turned out to be the perfect souvenirs from our trip, and much more affordable than anything from the parks too. Our only obligation for the day was dinner at Hollywood Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood Studios. It turned out to be one of the best meals that we had the whole trip with salads, steak and duck entrees, and delicious desserts. It was a fixed-price meal that included priority seating for the Fantasmic show later in the evening. Fantasmic has been on hiatus at Disneyland for over a year now due to extensive construction so I haven’t seen it in a long time. And the viewing options are much better at Disney World anyway with stadium bleacher seating. I really enjoyed seeing the show again. As soon as we got out of Fantasmic I made a beeline for Tower of Terror in order to use the Fast Pass I’d reserved. At Disneyland Tower of Terror closed permanently on January 2nd (I wrote a whole post about the last time I went on it back in November) to be transformed into a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ride so I was excited to be able to still be able to experience the Disney World version. It’s a bit more elaborate than the one in Anaheim was so it was an enjoyable surprise.

I flew home to Los Angeles on January 11th, but my flight wasn’t until the evening so had a chance to spend a few more hours at a Disney park before departing. I decided to go back to the Magic Kingdom and get on some rides that I missed on my birthday. Like Space Mountain, the Peoplemover, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, and Country Bear Jamboree. I also bought a Disney World 45th anniversary shirt and pin. I realize that the 45th anniversary was technically in the fall of 2016, but Disneyland was decorated for its 60th anniversary for over a year and a half so I figure the Disney World celebratory items were still applicable. I was really sorry to be leaving Orlando after such a great trip, including completing my first marathon and my 38th birthday, but it was time to get back to reality. I have a few souvenirs, a bunch of pictures, and even more great memories. And luckily I’ll be back at Disney World for the Wine & Dine races in November!