Tag Archives: travel

And then three weeks went by…

Well haven’t I been a delinquent blogger! I haven’t posted anything since I broke my November daily blogging streak. So there’s lots to catch up on!

Final days of #beaststreak

It was really anti-climactic doing the last three runs of a month-long run streak on a hotel treadmill all alone. I had so many great and rewarding runs during the month of November, but those were just strictly get’er done runs. Luckily Pippa made me a banner.

Vegas

My trip to Las Vegas was a huge amount of fun, and a very excellent way to cap off a crazy and amazing November. There was shopping, eating, drinking, lots of catching up. We stayed at the Stratosphere, which was okay, but waaaay down the end of the strip and really far away from everything else. We took a lot of cabs.

In keeping of the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” tradition, no photos of our adventures, just this one of the strip late in the afternoon. (The Christmas decorations all started to come out after Thanksgiving on Thursday!)

Exploring Las Vegas

Exploring Las Vegas

Running

After nailing all of my planned training runs in November and throwing in a whole bunch of extra runs, I have definitely been slacking a bit in December. I skipped my long run on December 1st (largely due to the fact that I traveled home from Vegas that day), but have done my other two long runs this month. I’ve made my hills sessions happen (even did last week’s on the treadmill!), but I’ve certainly missed/skipped a few of the others. I’m trying to get back on track this week so that I have some momentum going into Christmas.

24 Days of Christmas Karma

I’ve been trying to work these activities into my December. So far the items I’ve completed are:

4.  Go for a run without a watch, cellphone, music, no technology whatsoever! – I went technology-free on my hill run on December 4th.
7. Do a double run day – one in the am, one in the pm. – Last week I missed my opportunity to run on Tuesday, so I did Tuesday’s run and Wednesday’s hill workout on the same day! One before work, one after.
11. Donate something. – A book for our Christmas hamper.
14. Write a letter, postcard, and send it real mail, to whomever you choose. – I wrote all of my Christmas cards over the weekend and popped them in the mail Monday!
15. Read 1 book in December – Allegiant, Veronica Roth
18. Volunteer – Spark meetings x3! Part of me feels like it’s cheating to count Sparks because it’s not something I went out of my way to do this month, but just because I do it all the time doesn’t mean that it’s not special.
19. The age old pay it forward – Paid for a nice-looking young man’s coffee last Sunday on my way home from my run.
20. Reconnect with someone you’ve been meaning to – Check.

So that’s only 8/24, but I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far. I know there are some items on the list that won’t get completed before Christmas, but I’m not necessarily going for 100% completion. Every item I check off this list will make my December better!

Christmas shopping!

This gets its own category, because I’m actually doing pretty well this year. I’d say I’m 90% done shopping, and 85% done wrapping!

The beginnings of my gift wrapping!

The beginnings of my gift wrapping!

I’m counting down the days of work remaining!

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A very belated race recap: Disneyland Half Marathon 2013

I wrote about the beginning and the end of the trip here if you’re so inclined.

Sunday, September 1 – RACE DAY

3:45 came really early, but I can honestly say I’ve never been so excited to wake up that early. Three of the four of us put on our costumes: Tinkerbell, Peter Pan and Mike Wazowski. We were laughing about the fact that we’d all picked characters that involved green outfits when Mirae emerged from the bathroom in her green t-shirt – totally unplanned!

Tinkerbell is ready to rock!

Tinkerbell is ready to rock!

We left the hotel at 4:30 for the short walk to the start area. There were runners everywhere! So many awesome costumes! So much energy ALREADY! We found a nice spot in the crowded corrals and tried not to think about how warm we already were (it was about 20C if I recall correctly). Before we knew it, it was 5:30, the fireworks had gone off and we were crossing the start line.

We ran down Disneyland Drive, turned onto Katella (“Hey, there’s our hotel!”) and onto Harbor Blvd. At Disney Way, we turned in towards the back of California Adventure. The road was lined with Disney staff cheering for us and some neat props. We left Mirae at some point around here. She had told us that she wanted to run most of the race on her own. We assured her that she wouldn’t slow us down, but she said she preferred to do her own thing. Tommy, Alastair and I wanted to run together, and we weren’t sure how that would go, but we figured we’d give it a shot.

We entered California Adventure from Paradise Pier and they had all the lights and fountains on. Lots of people stopped to take photos. I snapped some blurry ones while running. We ran through Cars Land, which looked super cool with all the neon, and then back across by Soarin’ Over California. Tommy called a bathroom stop, so the boys used the bathroom while I fixed my hair. I had grossly underestimated how tightly I needed to secure my Tinkerbell bun situation. I’m glad I got a chance to fix it though.

Then we left CA and ran through the plaza and into Disneyland. As cool as it was to run through California Adventure all lit up, coming down Main Street USA was the part that felt the most magical. After that, we hung a left into Frontierland and took Big Thunder Trial around Thunder Mountain. At one point there is an ever-so-slight incline on this part and we laughed hysterically when one woman said to her running partner, “The hill I trained on is, like, four times this big.” What?

We waved to lots of characters as we ran through Fantasyland (including Peter Pan!) and pretty soon we were approaching the back of the castle. As expected, the traffic went kind of wonky at this point as everyone slowed down or pulled over to get their photo taken in front of the castle. We just kept moving. We ran through Tomorrowland and past It’s a Small World – I slowed down to snap a blurry photo of Merida as I ran by her. At this point we knew we were heading out of the parks pretty soon and tried our best to soak in as much Disney atmosphere as we could.

As we came up into Toon Town, a shirtless dude with a GIANT camera asked me if he could take my photo for Team Sparkle. Sure!

Thanks Team Sparkle guy

Thanks Team Sparkle guy

We ran out the back of Toon Town and along a lane. More Disney cast members cheering, more neat props to look at, and even some horses! Then we headed north on Disneyland Drive and turned left on Ball Rd, which took us up and over the I-5 (about 7 km in). The sky was starting to get brighter and it was slowly starting to get warmer. (My handana was already drenched, but I’m so glad I had it.)

The next 5 km were the toughest for me. The heat was definitely affecting me. Alastair’s knees started to really hurt (which was not a surprise, he has terrible knees and knew it was going to be brutally painful). We started walking through all the water stations (and a little bit longer afterwards). At just past 10k we celebrated Tommy and Alastair’s farthest runs ever.

To make up for the super boring Anaheim streets you run through at this stretch, they have lots of folks out there to entertain you. I remember seeing some tiny and adorable Mexican dancers. I think there were high school bands and cheerleaders along this part. But the coolest bit was where they had the classic cars lined up along both sides of the road and their owners are all out there cheering you on. Lots of them were offering candy and snacks, but the best thing I saw was the woman with a roll of paper towel she was sharing with sweaty runners. (We were so sweaty.)

We were also running due east for a lot of this part, just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. I had decided against sunglasses, because when I sweat a lot I find that they slide around or fog up or both. I stared at the pavement a lot.

Things started to get interesting again as we approached the Honda Centre (home of the Ducks). Then we turned and ran about a kilometer on a gravel trail along the Santa Ana “River” – I’m pretty sure it was totally dry. This was a really nice change of scenery. When we turned up away from the river again, we had arrived at Angel Stadium! I’m not a baseball fan at all, but I’d heard really cool things about this part of the race.

From the moment we entered the parking lot, the course was lined by people. People with signs, snacks, noisemakers of all kinds. It was really cool. And then we ran into the stadium. WOW. They invite local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to sit in the stadium and they spend hours just cheering for runners! The feeling of running into a stadium of people cheering was REALLY cool. It totally surprised me how much I enjoyed it.

Coming out of the stadium there were a whole bunch of cheerleading teams and bands again. Pretty neat. Then we ran back towards the I-5 and along sort of a frontage road. Not the most interesting stretch. At this point I had to walk a little bit more frequently than we had been. Poor Alastair though was actually in more pain walking, so I tried to keep it to a minimum. Tommy seemed to be doing okay, just very quiet. I still can’t believe how well he did for his first half marathon with his longest ever previous run being a 10k, and his “training” totaling about 10-15k per week. (Stupid boys.)

Finally we crossed under the freeway (thank goodness we didn’t have to go up over an overpass at this point) and were back on Disney Way heading right for the park. At about 19.5k crossed Harbor Boulevard and ran back into the Disney grounds where we’d run already on our way into California Adventure. (“Hey, we’ve run here before!”) This time we stayed outside of the park and made our way back to Downtown Disney toward the finish line.

Another one from Team Sparkle

Another one from Team Sparkle

As discussed, we crossed the finish line holding hands triumphantly. (Which doesn’t show up in the race photos. Tommy and I are there, but Alastair’s arm is cut off.) We got our medals and water and cold towels (my goodness was this ever amazing) and took a few photos. Then it was straight to the medical area to get some ice for Alastair’s broken knees. They had bags upon bags upon bags of ice, plus rolls of tape to affix them to your aching body. It was pretty cool.

I stood watch over the crowd going by and managed to somehow miraculously spot Mirae as she came in, only a few minutes behind us. We wrangled our gimp and went back to get a group photo with all of us (not facing the sun this time!) We found some space (by the porta-potties) and stood/sat around for a while eating snacks, stretching, etc. Then it was time to wander back to the hotel for breakfast, ice baths and other such recovery.

Alastair was captain of team ice bath. We discovered that the runDisney bags they give you for gear check are the perfect ice transporting devices. I think he made 3 or 4 trips to the ice machine with that bag. Watching someone take their first ice bath is priceless. Both Alastair and Tommy braved the bath for 8 minutes. I was planning to take an ice bath too, but I didn’t last longer than about a minute. I don’t know if I got in too fast or if it was just the shock of going from being so warm to being so cold, but I kind of panicked as I got in, and then was hyperventilating? It wasn’t a good scene. I got out.

Bag of ice!

Bag of ice!

After we all showered and had some breakfast and coffee, we packed up our beach stuff and walked (very slowly) 15 minutes down the road to Budget to pick up our rental car. We picked up some lunch (my first In’N’Out burger!) and drove to Huntington Beach, where we had a lovely afternoon sitting on the beach and playing in the waves. (Spending half an hour in the ocean is way more my speed when it comes to ice baths!)

Rocking our race shirts at the beach

Rocking our race shirts at the beach

We wandered around Downtown Disney in our medals that evening, and then had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory again. Our intention was to order cheesecake for dessert this time, but we were all so full by that point that we didn’t.

My stats for half marathon #5 (the slowest one yet!)

Finish time: 2:20:44
10k split: 1:08:52
Overall Place: 3567/15872
Gender Place: 1517/10017
Division Place: 142/837

(You can see my fun race results page here)

Also…

November 14

Blog: The other half of the Disneyland story
Run: Evening 4.4k with the run clinic

November 15

Blog: You’re looking at it
Run: Early morning (!) 3k. In the rain. Yuck.

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My first runDisney experience, of many I’m sure (preamble to the race recap)

Next up in my series of belated race recaps is an event I had been looking forward to for AGES: the Disneyland Half Marathon. I have way too much to say about the trip, so this will be a two part-er. This post is the everything-but-the-race recap.

Disneyland Half Marathon 2013

Disneyland Half Marathon Bling

When I found out that Disney puts on races, I knew immediately that I would be running some. I have been a huge fan of Disney parks since my first visit to Disneyland at age 7. I got to go again at ages 12, 14 and 22, plus a trip to Disney World earlier this year. Tommy and a group of his friends are also Disney enthusiasts, so when I heard about the Disneyland Half Marathon, I thought I might FINALLY have a way to convince Tommy to run a race with me.

Tommy seemed pretty keen on the idea, and so did his good friend Alastair. But Alastair was writing a huge professional exam in September 2012, and asked if we’d wait until the next year so that he could run with us. So we did. We’re such good friends.

In January 2013 we were on the ball and registered the day registration opened – good thing, it sold out that day! One of Alastair’s coworkers had decided to join us, so all of a sudden we had a solid foursome. We had a team meeting over pizza to discuss dates, flights, hotels and how many Disney days we could fit in to this trip. Unlike a lot of people who see this event as a half marathon that happens to be at Disneyland, we definitely saw it as a trip to Disneyland that happened to have a half marathon in the middle.

Thursday, August 29

Evening flight to LA! We thought about trying to save money by going through Bellingham, but the consensus was that we’d all rather fit in a full work day and then fly from YVR. Arrived at our hotel at 1am and got sent to the wrong room TWICE. They’d messed up the room assignments, but we finally ended up in a room with one king sized bed and twin bunk beds. For a foursome with one couple, it worked out pretty well!

Friday, August 30

First Disney day! We were up early to be at Disneyland when it opened and got in a very full day. We left the parks in the afternoon to head to the expo to pick up our stuff. I was pretty impressed with how smoothly it all ran, considering how many people were there! I could have stayed at the expo for hours, but my less running-focused group members were happy to just get some free food samples and then find a spot to sit while they waited for me to purchase a shirt and beer glass. Dinner at the hotel restaurant (not our best choice), then back to the parks for the evening. We watched World of Color and discovered our new favourite ride: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.

SPLASH MOUNTAIN!!

SPLASH MOUNTAIN!!

Saturday, August 31

Second Disney day! We decided that we hadn’t had nearly enough water the day before, so the theme of this day was hydration. And bathroom breaks. We rode Radiator Springs Racers for the first time (after a lengthy delay when the ride closed down for a bit while we were in line) and LOVED IT. We had soup in bread bowls for lunch – best pre-race carb loading meal ever. We took it easy in the afternoon – saw the Aladdin show to rest our legs for a bit. We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (no cheesecake though) and went back to the hotel to try to get as much sleep as possible before our 3:45 alarm.

Mmmmm, sourdough bread bowl

Mmmmm, sourdough bread bowl

Sunday, September 1 – RACE DAY

Race recap to come in a separate post!

Monday, September 2

Third Disney day! Our original plan was to drive up to Universal Studios this day, but we realized that Disneyland’s hours were much shorter on Tuesday than on Monday, so we decided we’d just pay to extend our rental car another day and save Universal until Tuesday.

Unfortunately, we spent a huge amount of time while in Disneyland trying to get through to Budget on the (pay)phone and were ultimately unsuccessful. (The one time we reached a real person we got hung up on.) The automated rental extension service didn’t work for that location, so we had to leave the park to go to Budget to talk to them. The guy at the desk’s explanation: “I’m the only one working today, and it’s been really busy all day.” (There’s no one else in there at this point.) “It should have put you through to the automated service.” “Well we finally found that number, but they said this location doesn’t participate.” “Oh.”  Thanks buddy.

So anyway, rental car sorted out, we went back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and some pizza and beer. We went back to the parks and planned to make a full evening of it. On our way, we discovered that they hadn’t yet moved the 12 mile marker. It was in a spot where you clearly weren’t supposed to drive to, but there was no fence between us and the sign, so we just hopped over a short shrub to take pictures with it. We each got a photo before we heard the “Excuse me, please return to the sidewalk!” from down the way. “Sorry sir!”

Look what we found!

Look what we found!

Our next order of business was to get some drinks. We headed to “Lunch Island” (aka Paradise Pier) in California Adventure, only to discover that they don’t accept Canadian drivers licenses as ID, and I was the only one with my passport on me. Alastair decided that he needed a beer, so he RAN back to the park entrance and took a cab to the hotel to retrieve the other passports. (Meanwhile I bought myself margarita and then went over to the beer stand and bought beers for Tommy and Mirae.)

But Alastair finally made it back and we had an AWESOME evening in the parks. We may have watched World of Color again.

Tuesday, September 3

Universal! We had our first experience driving in LA traffic, which was exactly how we expected it to be. We didn’t get suckered into paying twice the price for the “close” parking and then enjoyed that our “long walk” was less than 10 minutes from the car to the park entrance.

As much as there are some really awesome things about Universal Studios, it always feels like such a letdown after several days of the Disney experience. We definitely enjoyed riding Jurassic Park many, many times. (They have more water on in the summer than they do in May! We got DRENCHED every time, it was great.) And the studio tour is always AWESOME. (We didn’t see any celebrities, but we did see Mindy Kaling’s car!)

So much water!

So much water!

When we finally got tired of Universal, we drove back to the hotel. Faced with the decision of where to have dinner, we said screw it and went right back to the Cheesecake Factory. And this time we finally got cheesecake (to go).

Wednesday, September 4

Our last Disney day! We knew we had to leave the park about 3:30 to get back to the hotel and get to the airport, so we decided to use our Magic Morning to make our day longer. Only we didn’t check that they were actually doing Magic Morning, and they weren’t. So we spent our extra hour waiting in line outside the park. Oops.

We had a fabulous day, riding all of our favourite rides one last time and doing our last minute shopping. We said a final goodbye to the parks and went back to the hotel to pick up our stuff. Our shuttle was not just on time, but early! Seemed like a pretty great sign.

Then we got to the airport (early!) and tried to check in. The computer couldn’t find our flight. Not a great sign. Went to talk to a person – our flight didn’t exist. They’d changed the schedule months ago and the flight we’d originally booked on no longer flies on Wednesdays. Not only that, but Alaska Airlines didn’t have any more flights to Vancouver that evening, and couldn’t connect us through anywhere either. They said our only option was to rebook on the 9am flight.

On hold at the airport!

On hold at the airport!

We’d booked through Orbitz, so the agent suggested we call them to see what they could do. After 3 hours on the phone with Orbitz, we learned that the only option was to stay the night and fly out in the morning. Alastair and I were none too pleased, as both of us were supposed to work in the morning, but what were we going to do. We’d talked Orbitz into paying for our hotel for the night and were expecting something really crummy, but were pleasantly surprised by the place we ended up!

The woman who checked us in was WONDERFUL and felt sorry for us. She upgraded our room for free, gave us each a voucher for a free beer at the bar and gave us detailed directions for finding pizza and beer. We had a lovely bonus evening on vacation watching the Mentalist in bed (and trying not to think about the fun we could be having at Disneyland instead).

Thursday, September 5

Finally made it home!

 

November 13

Blog post: A long one!
Run: A steady 3.4k run at lunch.

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