Thursday, January 16, 2014

Going Coast to Coast!

The decision has been made. Yours truly is officially planning to earn one of these babies in 2014:

That's right, folks. I will be taking on the Disney Coast to Coast Race Challenge this year. Woo hoo!

(If you are not a runDisney aficionado, this challenge means that within one calendar year I will run one RunDisney half marathon at Disneyland and another at Disney World. I will thereby earn two medals for the two half marathons, in addition to one of the adorable Coast to Coast Race Challenge medals pictured above!)

The cards fell in place very nicely for this endeavor. Here is the plan:

The Disneyland Half Marathon takes place over Labor Day Weekend. As luck would have it, the 2014 NAAAP Convention takes place in Anaheim this year and happens to be scheduled for the weekend following Labor Day. (Usually the NAAAP Convention takes place in August, so the September timing this year was a huge stroke of luck!) Since the two events take place on consecutive weekends with a short workweek in between, I got permission from my workplace to stay in Anaheim and work remotely that week. Excellent!

I haven't been to Disneyland since I was a young child, so it'll be great to go again after so many years.


The exact travel plans to Anaheim are under investigation right now, but there are some absolutely amazing lodging options available on Airbnb (helloooo, Pacific Ocean!)

Then, I am planning my second running of the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Orlando. I had a BLAST running it last year and I am so pumped about doing it again. This time around, I plan to take even more advantage of all that Wine and Dine has to offer (e.g. finally wearing a costume to run? I am bouncing around the idea of trying to dress up as Lilo from Lilo and Stitch.)

Left: Stitch
Right: Lilo

The official race date hasn't been announced for Wine and Dine, but my guess is that it will take place sometime in November. In any event, I have lots of flexibility in my schedule to accommodate!

Disney World!
Recognize the image from the front of the Coast to Coast medal?

Who else is planning on running either of these races and/or going Coast to Coast this year? Any tips on the Disneyland Half Marathon specifically? Suggestions on Disneyland Park or the surrounding areas? I am all ears!!! (Both literally and figuratively!!!)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Frames From The Last Few Weekends

Sorry for disappearing again there. It's been an insanely crazy busy couple of weeks in the office. I'll spare you the details but just to give you one example, I worked a 15-hour day on New Year's Day. Thankfully over the past week there have been higher-than-usual instances of folks bringing chocolate into the office to share.

So other than working, what have I been up to these past few weeks? I will go ahead and tackle that by linking up to Irina via a MASSIVE Frames From The Weekend post.

(Since these pictures really cover the past two weeks or so, I am going to call this my "Frames From The Last Few Weekends" post.)

In no particular order...

Brunch with great friends!!!
L to R: Luiz, Xaarlin, me, and Adam
By the way - notice Luiz's perfectly placed virtual Santa Hat (it was actually a decal on the window behind us). Hilarious!

Road-tripping to Columbus, Ohio to visit more great friends!
Top from L to R: me, Adam, and Bradley
Bottom: Lynette
The focal point of the trip was to catch a Penguins-Blue Jackets Game at Nationwide Arena. As you can see, I was flexing my dual-hockey citizenship between the Blackhawks and Penguins. Adam and Brad are high school friends from Pittsburgh and therefore they are both Penguins fans through and through. However, Lynette is a Columbus native and was proudly sporting her Blue Jackets jersey. It made for some interesting banter. =D

Here is the view from our seats:

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Brad, Adam, and I went ice skating before the game (we called it our pre-game morning skate):

L: Adam and me
R: Adam and Brad (as you can tell, morning skate was getting more hostile at that point ;-) )

Brad and Lynette were great hosts and it was a lot of fun to check out a new hockey arena. (Side note: One of my hockey-fan goals is to attend a game at all of the 30 NHL arenas. So far I've been to Chicago, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, St. Louis, Tampa, and now Columbus. I've also visited the Bell Centre in Montreal, though I haven't been to a game there.)

Speaking of dual hockey citizenship flexing, it should come as no surprise that there was recently some...

Live Blackhawks action!
The view from our seats of the warm-up skate during the Blackhawks vs Avalanche game

The game surprisingly ended up being a blowout. The Hawks took a massive lead early on and never relinquished it. It's always great to see a Hawks victory, of course. But there was such a disparity in play that even Adam was surprised:

(I tweeted this picture to the United Center using a Blackhawks hashtag, hoping that it would get traction like the Tommy Hawk picture did. Unfortunately, no go this time (much to Adam's relief.))

In addition to the usual plethora of my hockey fandom, there was:

New Year's Eve celebration with more great friends!
Top from L to R: me, Adam, Jenn, and Kassia
Bottom from L to R: Vanitha, Laura, and Kerry

We had decided in advance that for extra festiveness, we would all wear something red. It was fun to see how everyone chose to do so (notice that Kassia is wearing a red wig!)

Shifting gears a bit. What's been going on with me from a running perspective? 

I never mentioned that I completed my Runner's World Run Streak challenge, running at least one mile every day between November 16 and January 1:

My training log

While I was very happy to have completed the challenge and found it easier than originally anticipated, I may or may not attempt something like this again. My daily mile ended up becoming burdensome and even boring at times, especially towards the end. Plus, my cross-training routine took a bit of a hit while I was focusing on the streak. That was not good. Thankfully, I finished with no injury problems. And I was very happy to take a few days off from running starting on January 2. =)

Getting back on track with racing, earlier this week in a span of 30 minutes, I signed up for some new-to-me races:

At Illinois Marathon weekend, I'm doing what's called the Illinois "Half I-Challenge" - which is a 5K on Friday night, and then a half marathon on Saturday morning.
This is a highly-rated 5K which is organized by Erin's running club.

If all goes well, the Illinois Half Marathon and The Race That's Good For Life 5K are both going to be PR-attempts for me (the Illinois 5K will probably be treated as a shakeout run). More about that another time.

I had mentioned here that I had finally received the opportunity to try the Salted Caramel GU. The verdict? LOVE! Some Amazon gift-card proceeds were immediately invested in some inventory. Forget running, the flavor is so good that I might even consider eating them daily as a mid-afternoon snack. 

And finally. I recently went for a run in the ugly gray slush where my feet go so soaking wet that they squished with each step. I hated that disgustingly uncomfortable feeling. For that very reason, I self-justified the addition of a new type of running shoe to my arsenal. 

What new type, you ask? A pair of Gore-Tex (aka water-proof) running shoes! Say hello to the Brooks Ghost GTX!

These bad boys are being shipped to me as we speak. I am super excited to give them a whirl. I am very hopeful that these shoes will be the end of having to run with soaking wet feet!

Allright - back to the grind, but I'll try to stay more consistent with my posts. Even though I haven't been doing much commenting on your blogs, I am still reading them all. I am loving hearing about all of your new goals, training focuses, races (especially from the Disney Marathon!), and comings-and-goings!