Spider-Man 5K (NaBloPoMo day 17)

Last Friday was the beginning of the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. Not only did it take place only a few days after I got back from the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend in Orlando, but it was the last Disneyland race weekend for an unspecified period of time. (Smart money is on the West Coast runDisney races returning no earlier than 2020, but it could be later due to all the resort construction.) I was really glad that I’d signed up for all three distances (5K, 10K, and half marathon) so I could bid a proper farewell to the Disneyland races. However, when my alarm went off at 3 AM that Friday morning I seriously questioned that decision. Having to wake up hours before dawn has a way of dampening your enthusiasm, even for things you love! I quickly got dressed (no sunscreen required for such an early race) and drove to Disneyland. Continuing my superhero apparel theme from the weekend before, I picked my Black Widow shirt and a red skirt for the Spider-Man 5K. The shirt appropriately said “spider” on it and everything! And since it was 10 deg cooler in Anaheim that it had been in Orlando the week before I was able to wear my favorite running capris rather than needing shorts. Fall in Southern California is the best. The 5K snaked through both Disneyland and California Adventure parks and it was a lot of fun. There were multiple Spider-Man sightings in both parks. If I’d been smart I would have stopped for some pictures with characters on the course, but I didn’t take advantage of that opportunity. When I finished the race I got my medal, grabbed a banana, and headed back to my car in the parking structure. It was a weekday and I needed to go to work – after a shower, of course. The Avengers Half Marathon Weekend was off to a good start and I still had the 10K and half marathon to look forward to.

NaBloPoMo day 11

It’s not even 7 PM and I am ready to go to sleep. It’s an incredibly thrilling Saturday night around here! Actually, this weekend is pretty exciting due to the Avengers Half Marathon Weekend, but the races cause my bedtimes to be much earlier than normal. So for that reason I’m not spending a lot of time on a webpage post today. Honestly, I tried to write something more substantial. but my brain just wasn’t cooperating. I have gotten up insanely early the last two mornings for the Spider-Man 5K and the Thor 10K so I’m already operating with a sleep deficit, and tomorrow morning is the Super Heroes half marathon. I’ll be setting my alarm for 3 AM again tonight which just sounds ridiculously early. Suddenly going to bed at 7 PM seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. The half marathon tomorrow is going to be the last race at Disneyland for a long time (more on that later) so I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Fortunately the weather is much nicer here than it was in Orlando last weekend! The simplest way to make a runner happy is to give them good race weather. Tomorrow is going to be bittersweet. I’m really going to miss running at Disneyland, especially the Avengers races. Here’s hoping the half marathon goes smoothly!

Wine & Dine half marathon (NaBloPoMo day 8)

On Sunday morning my alarm didn’t go off at 3 AM like the two previous days, but at 2:45 AM instead! I figured I needed an extra 15 minutes to apply all of the necessary sunscreen before catching the bus to the start line. Daylight saving time ended shortly before I woke up, rolling the clocks back one hour, so the sun would be rising earlier as far as the clock was concerned. I’d definitely be running part of the half marathon in the sunlight and I had to be prepared. The upside of DST ending was that I fell asleep at 8:30 PM the night before, which was equivalent to 7:30 PM, so I got 7 full hours of sleep! That’s hard for me to do when my schedule is so out of whack on vacation. I picked my Wonder Woman shirt and white sparkle skirt to wear for 13.1 miles. The last time I wore those items was for the Long Beach marathon a few weeks earlier and it was such a miserable experience that I wanted to have a more positive memory associated with that outfit. Spoiler alert – it worked! It was very humid on Sunday morning so I was sweating like a pig, but the temperature was as low as I could have hoped for central Florida in November. Similar to the 10K, the half marathon started in the Magic Kingdom parking lot and went south, so the first three plus miles were on boring access roads. But after that we ran through Animal Kingdom, and this time I got to see the new Pandora area in the daylight. It’s absolutely amazing! After leaving Animal Kingdom we had another few boring miles before getting to Hollywood Studios, but that was quickly followed by the Boardwalk resort hotel area and Epcot. I actually enjoyed the last 5K of this half marathon, which is usually the hardest part of the race for me, due to the clustered entertainment along those miles. It was a lot of fun. My time wasn’t amazing, but it was better than I initially expected after my slower than average summer and fall running so I was happy. I was even happier to pick up my half marathon and Two Course Challenge (10K + half marathon) medals after crossing the finish line. Afterwards I hopped on the bus back to my hotel so I could shower, scarf down some Mickey waffles for breakfast, and take a nap! I needed some rest before going to Animal Kingdom later that afternoon for an amazing dinner at Tiffins (pea fritters, venison tenderloin, and sorbet) – seriously, everyone needs to eat there – and the Rivers of Light evening show. I skipped the Wine & Dine post-race party at Epcot that night because it didn’t start until 10 PM and I was dead tired much earlier than that. Repacking my suitcase to fly home the next day and getting a good night’s sleep were more important. than staying up late for the party!

Wine & Dine 10K (NaBloPoMo day 6)

The theme of this vacation was doubling the number of miles I had to run each morning. (My January trip will have a similar theme, but it will be a startling four mornings, rather than just three. Doesn’t that sound like fun?) So on Saturday morning, much to my chagrin, my alarm again went off at 3 AM so I could get ready for the Wine & Dine 10K. This is what I signed up for on this vacation! Fortunately my pre-race preparations were minimal because the entirety of the race would take place before sunrise, same as the 5K. No sunscreen required! For someone who takes sun protection extremely seriously, bordering on obsessively, not having to slather greasy lotion all over my exposed skin at 3 AM is a huge convenience. (One of the reasons I love winter is having more hours to run in darkness. I cannot wait to get back to Los Angeles to enjoy the earlier sunsets and lovely fall weather.) To continue the Avengers trend I started the day before, that morning I selected my Hawkeye shirt and a black skirt. I don’t get to wear black running shirts often because they get so darn hot in the sun, but luckily that wasn’t a factor this time! I jumped on the bus to the 10K start line at 3:30 AM. It was just chilly enough for me to use a mylar blanket to keep warm while waiting for the race to start at 5:30 AM. Usually I get annoyed at the DJs who “entertain” the crowds that early in the morning, but this one conducted a lip sync battle between the corrals of runners and it turned out to be surprisingly delightful. It was certainly more fun that sitting there doing nothing for hours. I always read a book on my Kindle app since there is so much time spent waiting around, but singing a bunch of great songs was a much more engaging way to pass the time. Once the race began I didn’t cross the start line for about 15 minutes since I was in corral C. The 10K started in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, but didn’t actually run through that park. (It’s a shame because it’s my favorite.) Instead we made our way south for a little more than three miles before briefly entering Hollywood Studios. The Christmas decorations and music there are fantastic. After that we headed to the Boardwalk resort hotel area, and then to through a portion of Epcot before finally hitting 6.2 miles in the Epcot parking lot. The weather was beautiful that morning, the second half of the course was lovely, and I got back to my hotel in plenty of time to take a nap before I needed to be at Epcot for my first Fast Pass. A decisively successful morning!

Wine & Dine 5K (NaBloPoMo day 4)

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 3 AM and I was so groggy that couldn’t immediately remember where I was. I have many early wakeup calls due to training and races that you’d think I’d be used to it by now. I blame this particular confusion on being in a strange hotel room. I was still really sleepy, but I had to scramble to get ready for the Wine & Dine 5K at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Actually, it was rebranded as the Fall Feast 5K this year which is a shame because it used to be a Christmas-themed race. It would have been the perfect way to kick off the post-Halloween season. With the new race name I was tempted to wear my Thanksgiving running shirt, but I decided against it. When I was packing for this trip I realized that I own six or seven superhero running shirts – more than any other category. They are by far my favorite. Given that there are only three Avengers races at Disneyland next weekend (of course I’m running all of them) I decided to extend the superhero theme to the Wine & Dine weekend as well so that I could wear as many of the shirts as possible. This morning I picked my Iron Man shirt and a red skirt for the Fall Feast 5K.

I was in corral A for the 5K which was a rare treat. I was one of the first runners to cross the start line at 5:30 AM. Funny enough, after I finished the race and was walking to catch the bus back to my hotel the final corral was finally crossing the start line! That was surreal. It was a really fun 5K running through Animal Kingdom. I think it’s my favorite Disney World park to run through. We got a glimpse of the new Avatar area as well, but it was so dark I didn’t recognize anything. I’m planning to go back tomorrow and take a better look, assuming it’s not completely packed! I got back to my hotel room after the Fall Feast 5K long before sunrise which gave me plenty of time to shower and get ready for my breakfast reservation at Magic Kingdom at 9:30 AM. One Wine & Dine race down, two to go!

NaBloPoMo day 3

This morning was the Wine & Dine 5K (officially rebranded as the Fall Feast 5K this year, but I’m not a big fan of that name) and I intended to write a whole post about it tonight, but I’m so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open. I’m sitting in my hotel room watching this week’s new episode of “Once Upon A Time” and dozing off briefly every commercial break. I can’t wait to take a shower and climb into bed. My alarm went off at 3 AM this morning for the 5K, and it’s set to the same time tomorrow morning for the 10K. Yikes! These races always sound like a good idea when I sign up for them, but are less appealing when I have to get up so many hours before dawn. I will try to devote more time to writing tomorrow so I can share a full account of the Wine & Dine 5K, but for now it’s bedtime. Good night!

Day 22 – My next challenge

This past January I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon. It was my very first marathon and it was really rough (many thanks to my friend Missy for getting me through it), but I was thrilled when I crossed that finish line. Shortly afterwards I was emboldened by my success and possessed by the notion that I could tackle an even bigger challenge in the future. And I’m not talking about the four marathons in a year that I did in 2017. No, I had something even crazier in mind. So it wasn’t long after the WDW marathon that I registered for the Dopey Challenge in January 2018. This challenge consists of running the Disney World 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon on four consecutive days. Sounds ludicrous, right? Well, it’s absolutely insane, and ten months later I’m not quite sure why I signed up in the first place. But now that January is fast approaching I’m committed to conquering these races. It’s not going to be easy, but I’ll give it everything I have.

This weekend I picked up with the Galloway training plan for the Dopey Challenge. I’m actually one week behind because I didn’t want to run too much the weekend after the Long Beach Marathon, and now I’m making up some of the mileage. This training plan is different from the one for just a marathon because it calls for many weekends of Saturday and Sunday running to build up endurance and prepare you for long distances multiple days in a row. So I ran 7 miles around my neighborhood yesterday morning, and then 17 miles this morning with a couple of my running buddies who were kind enough to get up long before the crack of dawn to accompany me. Due to the unseasonably warm weather this late in the year (it’s going to be over 100 deg at the beach for the next two days) we started our journey at 5 AM to avoid the worst of it. And luckily we succeeded. The above photo was taken mid-run when we stopped to admire the sunrise at 7 AM. It was lovely. I’m very happy to be back on track with my training for the Dopey Challenge. I know it will be incredibly demanding, but that means I’ll be even more proud when I succeed.

P.S. I’m not posting my meals again today because not only did I have two packages of Sports Beans and two 10-oz bottles of Pedialyte while running, I ate whatever sounded good after I got home. I’m almost positive that my carb-fest yesterday is the reason I didn’t feel like I was dying during my long run this morning. Despite eating sweet potatoes and plenty of fruit, I’m afraid the restrictions of Whole30 are just not providing my body enough fuel for my athletic pursuits. However, I am going to do my best to finish this 30-day diet as faithfully as I can. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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!