Category Archives: Celebrations

Welcoming 2017 (or The Start To My New Year’s Eve)

As I have done for so many past New Year’s Eves, I got to ring in the new year with so many friends at the party that my friends Marie and Chris threw. The parties are really such a great way to celebrate the new year since I really don’t care to go out to a bar where it is overpriced and way too crowded. Being at a house party with awesome people is perfect for me and I’m always so grateful that Marie and Chris open their house up to all of us.

I got to the party this year a bit earlier than normal. Since New Year’s Eve was also the last night of Hanukkah, I promised to bring a menorah and candles with me. A lot of people at the party don’t celebrate Hanukkah, so this was the first chance they were going to have seeing a menorah lit and I wanted to make sure I got there before it got too crazy with people. I managed to find a pretty cheap menorah on Amazon (after shipping it was only $4) and brought that and some candles with me. I think it ended up looking pretty nice and everyone appreciated getting to see a little bit of Hanukkah.

There was a lot of really great food at the party that I got to enjoy, but I didn’t have any of the drinks. I’m allowed to drink right now, but I’m not doing it since I don’t think it’s necessary. But with everyone else drinking, we did get a couple of fun photos of everyone a bit loosened up.

I was having a lot of fun hanging out with everyone (most of whom I hadn’t seen since the Halloween party). I was eating more than normal, but I also figured that I had worked out earlier that day was going to be working out the next morning so it was fine to splurge. Also, like I’ve said before I have to get used to having occasional treats from time to time as that is normal eating. So I enjoyed myself and knew that I should be able to get back to my regular food the next day.

It was a pretty cold night outside so most of us ended up inside for a lot of the party. Typically I hang out outside, but after going back and forth a few times, I gave up on being cold and hung out inside where I was comfortable and warm. Marie and Chris got a disco light for their living room and there was a ton of open space in there, so they started up a dance party. I’m not a huge dancer, but the fun was infectious and I had to join in after a while. We were all jumping around and being crazy and it was perfect.

We all were hanging out in the living room after the dance party and for the last 45 minutes of 2016 we were watching the NYE shows on TV (we had heard about Mariah Carey and wanted to see what really happened). And just before the new year, we all got cups of champagne to ring in the new year in a festive manner. I had a tiny sip of the champagne because it seemed like the right thing to do, but then I passed my drink on to a friend since they were drinking that night.

I know that several friends are always sad that they are spending NYE without a significant other, but to me it doesn’t matter that I don’t have a boyfriend. There is so much love at that party with my friends that I don’t feel alone or sad at all. To me, it is most important to spend NYE with people who you love and who make you happy and that’s exactly what I did.

Since I had an early workout the next morning and because I want to get on the freeway before the bars close and dangerous drivers get on the road, I left pretty soon after midnight. Things are still fun at the party after that, but I’m never able to stay up that late (plus, since NYE was a Saturday I had to work starting at 8am that day). So by 12:15am I was on the road and headed back to my side of town.

I know a lot of us said that we were hoping that all the sadness and bad luck that they encountered in 2016 would end on NYE, but for me it wasn’t exactly that way. I’ll write more about this next week, but at about 12:30am while I was driving home my car completely died. This wasn’t like any other time that my car died, this time actually scared me and there was no way to pull over somewhere that felt totally safe to me. So I ended my NYE by sitting in a dead car on the side of the 405 with no power or heat waiting for a tow truck. I’m grateful that AAA got to me in about an hour and I had a safe way to get home. That wasn’t at all how I planned on ending my night, but it ended up being ok.

So while technically my car died 30 minutes into 2017, I’m not thinking about it that way. Someone said that even though it was already the new year, I hadn’t gone to bed so my car died in 2016 and it counted toward the bad luck of last year. I like that and I want to think of this year as the year that good things are coming my way and happening to me. And because of the dead car, that did end up happening. But that’s a story for next week!

A Christmas Lunch (or The Levin-Levin-Levine Summit)

I hope that you all had a really nice Christmas! I knew my day was going to be pretty low-key, and it was exactly that and perfect! Not everything went the way I was expecting, but I think overall I had the exact day that I needed.

It’s tradition to watch movies and eat Chinese food on Christmas for me. I love the tradition and I was looking forward to it again this year. The only thing that was slightly stressing me out was getting delivery food. I set it as a monthly challenge earlier this year to stop getting delivery food. And with the exception of getting Chipotle delivered from Postmates a few times (which to me is more about being too lazy to go to Chipotle than it is about delivery food), I haven’t had delivery food since February.

I was ok with breaking that streak for Christmas and was planning on doing just that. But then my friend Sarah Levin (technically we aren’t related but there is a study out there that says all people named Levin are 30th cousins or something) asked me what I was doing on Christmas. I invited her over to watch movies and get Chinese food, but she asked if we could go out for food instead. She had a friend (named Sara Levine) with her and wanted to go out for lunch. That sounded perfect to me and we all met up for Christmas lunch!

The restaurant we went to ended up not being too crowded. It wasn’t one of the restaurants that does Jewish comics on Christmas (those were all booked up), but it had good Chinese food and had a large vegan selection since Sarah is vegan. We ordered several dishes to share (some vegan and some not) and it ended up being a really great selection for us all.

And besides great food, we had great conversation! We had so much random stuff we talked about (somehow the conversation took a dark turn, but that was fine with us all) and since the restaurant wasn’t too crowded, we didn’t feel rushed out or that we needed to hurry up. It was a relaxing lunch and all the food was so delicious!

And of course, with Chinese food you get fortunes and I think we all got some pretty awesome ones.

And because we thought it was so funny that 3 Jewish girls (2 named Levin and 1 named Levine) were together for Christmas lunch, we had to get a photo together. We took some normal ones, but I think the silly ones were best!

After lunch, I was planning on going home and resting for a bit before another friend was going to come over to watch movies with me for the evening. I felt fine at lunch, but after getting home I started to have some bad cramps. I thought at first it could have been from indulging at lunch, but sadly they ended up being menstrual cramps. I haven’t had to deal with those in forever because I was on the pill, but now I get to have them again. One of the reasons I was on the pill and took it continuously was because of the horrible cramps I used to get. Now I don’t have a way of avoiding them.

I texted my friend to let him know of the situation and ended up cancelling our plans. I was taking painkillers, but I was still feeling awful (the cramps ended up lasting about a day and a half so I’m doing better now). My afternoon and evening were spent on my couch with a heating pad on my abdomen, fake fire on my tv, and a good book on my Kindle.

I would have liked to have been able to be social on Christmas evening (I was invited to several parties that night), but my body needed me to rest. I’m working on listening to my body even though sometimes I do push through things because I’m stubborn. And my body said that my evening was going to be low-key and that’s exactly what I did.

It really was a nice way to spend Christmas. I have never really celebrated Christmas so all I care about it the few traditions I have been doing that day. Chinese food is only one part of that, but spending it with friends is important. And getting to combine the food and friends that day made things so much better. I didn’t order delivery food, which is a big risk for me to have a binge episode, so I’m glad I found another way to continue the traditions and to make them even better.

SAG-AFTRA Holiday Party (or Getting Ready For Elections Again)

This past week was the SAG-AFTRA holiday party in LA. Even though I’ve been a member of SAG-AFTRA for a while, I have never made it to a holiday party before. Either I was working the night it was held, I had a commitment I couldn’t get out of, or I got sick. So even though I RSVPed for the party this year, I was worried that something would come up that would prevent me from going.

Fortunately, nothing came up and I was able to attend the party! When I arrived, it was just as things were starting and there was a pretty big line to get in. But they had several representatives from the union throughout the line to talk to people and greet them. Many of those people were people I know from Unite For Strength, so it was nice to have some time to catch up with friends even before I got inside the party.

Most of the people standing in line with me were people I didn’t know, but I didn’t pay too much attention to that since I was so focused on catching up with the friends who were hanging out with the line. And as soon as I checked in for the party, I walked past the food area (I wasn’t hungry so I wasn’t planning on eating) and tried to find some more friends.

The problem with big events like these are that they do make me a bit nervous and shy. I was there alone (it’s always easier when you arrive with a friend) and was really trying to find someone I knew so I could hang out with them. It took a bit of time to find a friend, but once I did I felt much calmer. And once I found one friend, it seems like more people I knew were coming over to where I was.

Since I don’t get to see my delegate friends that often, there was a lot of catching up to do. It’s been an interesting year for most of us so it was fun to hear the cool projects that they have been working on. And since most of us are friends on Facebook, they wanted to hear more about the liver tumors since they had seen the posts about them.

Most of the stuff about the liver tumors was pretty quick since I don’t have a lot of updates right now, but I did realize something at the party that I didn’t think about. SAG-AFTRA elections will be coming up next year. While the elections will most likely be in the summer, getting signed up to run and doing the prep work will be in the spring. And that will be when I will be having my surgery and recovering.

As soon as I realized that, I talked to some of my friends who are higher up in SAG-AFTRA. I explained how I have every intention of running for a delegate position again (and I’m still considering running for the local board) but I’m worried the timeline of election stuff and my surgery will be an issue. They reassured me that they will do what they need to do so everything works out for me. Hopefully the surgery won’t take me out that long, but if it does I’m glad there is a plan that we can follow that won’t cause the recovery to be an issue for the election.

For most of the party, I stuck with the few friends I found there. I don’t know if more of my friends were there, but we were all looking around and didn’t really see too many people we all knew. And as things always seem to be at a party, I started to say goodbye to people and it seemed to take about an hour for me to leave. I did run into a few more friends while leaving so the goodbye got mixed in with trying to quickly catch up, but I was able to leave at a time that was early enough for me to not have to stress about rushing home to get to bed.

I’m so glad that I was able to go to the holiday party this year. It was a good positive thing to get to do when my day had been a bit long (customers have been getting pretty angry the past week at my day job). And I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in a while and was able to start planning for the election next year. I know I keep saying I need to do more with my union, and having fun at this party proved that I need to work harder at that.

Happy Birthday Dani (or Another Awesome Disney Day!)

Even though I was just at Disneyland last week, I went back again this week! But this time, it wasn’t just a regular Disney day. We were going to celebrate my friend Dani’s birthday! Since Michelle and I knew last week we’d be coming this week for the birthday adventure, we did some planning while we were waiting for the rides!

The first thing we did last week was pick up a birthday button. Even though we knew we could get one when we came back, we wanted to have it in advance. This way, not only did we have it to give to Dani when we all met up to drive together, but Michelle was able to jazz it up with some rhinestones to make it even more special!

I think it looked amazing and Dani loved it! Also part of our pre-planning was making a fancy lunch reservation for our group, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

It was 4 of us for the day (Michelle, Dani, Dani’s boyfriend, and me) and we got to the park around 1pm. We had our lunch reservations at 2, so that gave us just enough time to ride the first ride Dani requested to go on: Toy Story Mania. I’m not that great at the shooting part of the game (I don’t go on this ride that often), but it was fun and I tried my best. And as soon as we were done with the ride it was time to head over to lunch.

I hadn’t had the opportunity to eat at Carthay Circle yet (I did go once to eat at the bar, but that’s different), so when Michelle and I were figuring out where we should make lunch reservations this was the first place we thought of! When we checked in for lunch, there was some time before our table was ready so we relaxed in the lounge area. We ordered some drinks and toasted to Dani and her fabulous birthday! And soon enough we were led upstairs to our table.

I had checked out the menu online earlier, so I was pretty sure what I wanted to get. We ordered the biscuits for the table (I heard those were a must-have) and a couple of appetizers to share among us. I tried the chili relleno that had duck in it. The pepper was a bit too spicy for me (I think it had spicy breading on it), but the filling was delicious!

And for my main course, I got the tri-tip with blue cheese risotto. It was very filling and rich, but I had planned for a meal like this. It was so good and I would totally order it again!

And of course, we needed some dessert! Dani chose the monkey bread and the servers put a candle in it for her to blow out.

It was a very relaxing lunch and I’m so glad that we splurged on doing this. We probably spent almost 2 hours eating, but it was worth it! Cathay Circle is a gorgeous space and I feel very lucky that I got to check it out. And while we were getting ready to leave, I noticed some floor length mirrors and decided to do a mirror selfie in there.

Our next stop was Tower of Terror (yes, right after we ate a big meal). This was possibly my lat chance to ride Tower of Terror because it will be closing in the beginning of January. I might make it to the parks next week, but it’s not for sure. So we all wanted to ride the ride once the original way and once at nighttime. It had been a while since I had been on the ride during the day, but it was just how I remembered it. And we tried to take a ride photo with us all doing clock faces, but I think there was a bit of miscommunication because I just look like a goober in our photo.

After the ride, we did a bit of walking around the park and noticed the nice sunset that was happening. I think we were all feeling a bit goofy because all the photos we took there were pretty funny. While I tried to take a nice photo, Michelle decided it was time for a funny face behind me.

And I didn’t realize that we were taking a funny group photo so while Michelle and Dani have silly faces I just have a ridiculous grin.

Our next ride was on the carousel right next to Toy Story Mania (since that was going to be our next ride). We all sat in a row and tried to get a group photo, but that wasn’t happening since we were all up and down out of sync. But Dani got this fun picture of me and her boyfriend.

Just as we were able to ride Toy Story again, the ride broke down. It was sad that we couldn’t go on it, but we were given a pass to ride any other ride in either park as an apology. We saved those for later and went on our next ride which was California Screamin’. I couldn’t wear my Minnie ears on the ride since I knew they’d fly off, but I held them so that I could get them back on my head for the photo.

And then it was back to Tower of Terror to ride it in the dark for possibly the very last time. Dani and her boyfriend didn’t know what they were in for with the ride and Michelle and I wanted it to be a surprise. They figured it out when we were in line since there were signs advertising that this was a chance to ride the ride in total darkness. I was a bit sad that this might be my last ride on this before it’s closed and changed into another ride, and I think everyone else agreed. So we decided our ride photo should be a sad one.

After that ride, we headed over to Disneyland for the rest of the night. The first stop was Space Mountain and it was awesome as always. It does feel a bit slower when you aren’t seated in the very front, but we wanted the birthday girl to have the best seat on the ride.

Then we walked across the way to ride Buzz Lightyear. I had told Michelle about the point values for the targets last week, and it turned out she had no clue that the targets had different values! That was a huge mistake because she ended up kicking my butt on the ride!

And we knew we wanted to watch the fireworks and it would be less crowded over by Small World, so we headed back that way in the park. We rode on Small World before claiming our spots to watch the fireworks, and it looked so festival with all the lights in front.

We found some steps to sit on for fireworks and Michelle and Dani went on a food run to get us all some corndogs to have for dinner. And while the view of the fireworks were partially obstructed by a tree for me, they still looked nice. And since it was less crowded back there, I think that I’m going to try to watch fireworks back there from now on.

At the end of the fireworks, they have “snow” falling. It was pretty magical to see and even though the soap in the snow made my hair so gross, I couldn’t help but go out and get a picture of me in the middle of it.

We ended our night with a going on a few more rides. We made it on the Storybook Canal Boats, Peter Pan, and the Jingle Cruise. And even though we all said that we didn’t want to stay at Disneyland super late that night, it was close to midnight by the time we got back to the car!

This may have been my last Disneyland adventure until 2017 (if I make it there next Monday it will probably be a very short day). I’m so glad I got to spend it with amazing friends and being able to celebrate someone’s birthday!

Full Thanksgiving Week (or Lots Of Family Time)

I feel like I’m still decompressing from my Thanksgiving week. It was such a great week and even though it was the same length as most of my Thanksgiving trips, I felt like I got more family time this year than I have in the past.

I was able to get my work shifted to be a bit earlier during Thanksgiving week, so I could start my drive to San Diego 2 hours earlier than normal. That made a huge difference in my drive since I ended up missing the big rush of traffic and was able to get down to San Diego in about 2 1/2 hours (normal for me is 2 hours and last Thanksgiving was over 4). My drive got a bit delayed when I was almost to the rental house when I got pulled over by a cop. Turned out my loaner car from the mechanic didn’t have the current registration sticker on it! It took some time for the cop to write the ticket, but since I’m not the owner of the car it isn’t my ticket.

Even with the time spent waiting for the ticket, the drive was easy and fast and once I got to the rental house I relaxed. I felt like I was totally in vacation mode and the view we had from the house really helped.

first-sunset

And Tucker decided to make himself very comfortable by using me as his personal pillow. At least I know he loves me since he was always laying on my legs if I was on the ground or on my feet if I was sitting in a chair.

tucker

The day I arrived, we didn’t do too much. Most of us had gotten to San Diego that day, so we were fine with relaxing and not rushing around. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, and I went out to dinner that night which was nice since we were going to be around a ton of family the rest of the week.

On Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, I had to work from the rental house in the morning. There was a breakfast bar in the kitchen so I worked from there. It was a bit noisy, but it allowed me to still hang out with my family while I was working. I didn’t want to isolate myself so it worked out nicely! After my shift was done, I went with my dad to take the dog to a dog park (he needed to get out some energy). It was another pretty low-key day until dinnertime. We all headed over to my aunt’s house for dinner that night. Almost the entire family was there (we were only missing 1 person) and it was awesome!

It was a casual dinner which was nice. I ended up at a table with my brother, sister-in-law, cousin, and my cousin’s kids (so we were at a kids table), but that was fine. Eating dinner was pretty quick and most of the time we were there was spent in the living room talking. I was telling my grandma how you can look up census paperwork online and showed her how I found the paperwork her parents (my great-grandparents) filled out when she was little. Their maid was listed on their paperwork since she lived there and my grandma was telling us all stories about the maid and her parents. It was a really special thing to get to hear  since we don’t know a ton of stories from when my grandma was growing up.

Thanksgiving day was pretty busy. My morning included the family workout at Orangetheory (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite traditions!) and then I was trying to help out my mom with getting dinner ready. A lot of stuff was done in advance but there was still plenty to do the day of. One of my jobs was to help with the big table we were using, but unfortunately even with all of the muscle in the family, we weren’t able to get the extra leaf in the table. But we managed to get everyone in between the main table and a card table (for the little kids), so it worked out well.

table

On Thanksgiving Day, my cousin Adam and his girlfriend arrived and with them there we had the entire family at Thanksgiving for the first time in a very long time! It was a very full dinner, but it was incredible to have 17 people from 4 generations together.

img_1499

This was also the first time in 6 years that the 5 of us in my generation (my cousins, brother, and I) were all together. I’m hoping this will be happening more often, but we had to get a photo together just in case it is a few more years before we can do this again.

cousins

The day after Thanksgiving, I had to work a full shift for work. I was able to get my hours shifted early again, so I only had to work from 8am-1pm. And I worked in the kitchen so I was spending time with my family in between customers (we didn’t get a ton of people calling or using our chat system so there was a lot downtime). My brother and sister-in-law left to go back to Santa Barbara while I was working, but everyone else was going to be coming back to the house for dinner again that night.

That last night in San Diego had another incredible sunset and my mom and grandma pulled some chairs over to the big windows so they could relax and watch the sun go down. We also tried to see the green flash with the sunset, but it was a bit too cloudy.

family

After having leftovers for dinner, I got back into my loaner car to make the drive back to LA. It would have been nice to spend another day in San Diego, but I really needed to get back. I said goodbye to everyone (a lot of them I might not see again until next Thanksgiving) and made the drive back up. Fortunately, I had a very easy drive (and didn’t get pulled over again) and was home in time to unpack before needing to go to bed.

Overall, it was a pretty wonderful Thanksgiving week. I know that I’m so lucky that my family can get together like this and I’m very grateful that we all make the effort to continue this family tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving! (or Time To Be Grateful)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that all of you are having a great day celebrating with whoever you choose to celebrate with. I am with 4 generations of my family (plus the dog) and I will post a recap of my Thanksgiving next week. But for today, I just wanted to do a short post of things I’m thankful for this year. Things have been so negative lately in the country (and the world) so I just wanted to put a little bit of positivity out there.

I’m so grateful for my family. I don’t get to see them that often, but spending time with them at Thanksgiving is very special to me. And this year, I also got to spend time with my dad’s side of my family. I don’t get to see them that often (because they are on the east coast) so it was really wonderful to spend any time I could with them. I’m hoping I can see them more often, but I know that with the difficulty for me to go back east (or for them to come out there) it might be a few more years before I see them again.

I’m beyond grateful for my friends. This year so far could have been a very difficult one for me, but because of my amazing friends that didn’t happen. I’ve had more fun adventures this year than I ever could have imagined and I know that more crazy outings are coming up for the end of this year and through next year.

I am grateful for my health. I’ve had a couple of health setbacks this year (I’ll have an update on my liver tumor next week after I see my liver surgeon again) but they are not life-threatening. Having a tumor isn’t great, but it is far from the worst thing that could be happening to me. And I know that whatever my surgeon says next week about what needs to happen next, it will be ok and I will not have any problems getting through it.

I’m grateful for my eating disorder recovery journey. The journey is not as easy as I would like, but I am seeing progress and things are getting better and easier over time. While I really wanted to be fully in recovery by the end of this year, I know now that it’s not realistic to have a timeline set in my head for recovery. It is coming to me when it comes to me and I just need to keep working on building my recovery skills so I can use them when I’m recovered.

I’m grateful for my fitness. This year, I started to run again. Not only did I start running at Orangetheory, I was doing a really great run/walk interval in my last 5K. And that run/walk plan got me my new PR! But it’s not just running that makes me grateful for my fitness. I’m lifting heavier weights and I’ve noticed that the strength I’m gaining has made more of my day-to-day stuff easier. This is just going to keep improving and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next.

And finally, like I say all the time, I’m grateful for this blog and my readers. This has been a great sounding board for me and I’ve gotten some incredible advice from you all. Thank you for joining me on my journey and hopefully you are all excited to see what the future will bring!

Now go and enjoy your Thanksgiving however you chose to celebrate the day!

My First Run/Walk 5K (or I’m Still In Shock)

This past Saturday I had the Hard Rock Cafe 5K. I’ve done this race several times in the past and I had been really looking forward to it. It’s a really nice out and back flat course and since I have done the race before I’m very familiar with the course and know when I’m getting close to the turn around. For a while, I had been training hard to make this a run/walk race (for the first time ever!). But after getting sick I wasn’t able to train like I was before and I felt like I lost a lot of progress and endurance. I figured that I would do my best, but I wasn’t expecting too much for this race.

I was able to pick up my race stuff on Friday after work, so I prepped all my stuff Friday night before going to bed. I usually wear a hip pack to carry my phone, keys, and anything else I need before/during/after a race. But I knew that wearing that would make running very difficult, so I had to plan differently. Since my workout pants have a little pocket, I could put my phone in there and I strung my keys through my headphone cord and put those in the pocket too. So I was feeling very free for whatever running I was going to be able to do.

Race morning I woke up at 5am and quickly got ready. I ate a little bit of a banana so I’d have something in my stomach, but my nerves were getting the best of me so I couldn’t eat or drink too much. By 5:30am I was in my car and headed to Hollywood and Highland where the race was. Once I parked, I got ready in my car and in the parking lot since it was nicely lit down there and it was a bit warmer than it was outside. And about an hour before the race was supposed to start, I headed up to street level to stretch and do my best to prep before the start.

pre-race

I tried to keep moving around so I didn’t get too stiff and was stretching my legs and hips. I really didn’t want pain to be a reason why my race wouldn’t be good, so I was working hard to make sure my body was ready to go. I did find some friends before we started, and seeing them made me feel a bit more relaxed and ready to see what I could do. And before I knew it, we were ready to go (we started right on time at 7am which was nice).

I had my running watch ready to go with 1 minute intervals set. So I was planning on running for 1 minute and then walking for 1 minute for as long as I could. In my training runs on my own, I usually could do that 5 or 6 times and then I would have to start cutting back on the running time. I would do 45 or 30 seconds of the 1 minute run and then walk the rest. I knew this was likely to happen, so I wasn’t thinking ever that I could do the full running minutes for the entire race. I just wanted to try my best and see what I could do. For this race, I really just wanted to finish in under 50 minutes (which would easily be a PR). My long-term goal was to finish in under 45 minutes, but that wasn’t even a though for this race.

Once I started, I started my watch and my music and started to run. The first minute of running went by quickly and very easily. I tried to stay toward the side of the course so that I wouldn’t bother people by walking. Sometimes I had to go around walkers when I was running, but that wasn’t that big of a deal and just tried to not obstruct any other races.

When my running watch is doing intervals, the default screen is showing how much longer is in that interval and how many intervals I’ve done. I keep it on that screen and while I can get an idea of what time it is, I didn’t want to focus on my time while racing. The first mile marker came up and I was still able to do my full minute of running each interval and I was very happy with that. I passed the water station while walking and took a few sips of water before focusing on the second mile.

The second mile is always the tough one for this race for me. The turnaround is in this mile and I know the course probably too much so I’m pretty focused on how many blocks were left before turning back. I just tried to focus on my music and trying to do the best running I could do. I was still able to do my full minute of running each interval, which is significantly better than I’ve ever done during a training run. When I saw the turnaround sign, I was very happy. Normally, I try to tap the sign and I see it as good luck. But there was a slowish walker in my way and I couldn’t touch the sign this time. I tried not to let that get to me and just thought about how I was halfway done!

The second half was a bit tough. There were times where the running minute was feeling like it was taking forever. I would glance at my watch and see that there were less than 15 seconds to go before I could walk and I kept deciding to finish the running minute. I know that I told myself that I didn’t have to run/walk the entire race, but I am so competitive with myself and wanted to test my limits. Once I saw the 2 mile sign, I finally started to realize that I might actually be able to maintain my intervals for the entire race. There is a bit of a downhill going toward the finish line and that is always really nice to get to. I saw the markers for the 10K race and knew I had .2 miles left to go. I just kept saying to myself that I can totally finish at this pace because it was almost done.

My last walking interval was very close to the finish line. I knew I didn’t want to finish knowing I could have done more running. So I cut my walking minute short and decided I would run for the rest of the race. It ended up being about 90 seconds of running and I finished the race sprinting across the finish line.

I stopped my watch as soon as I crossed the finish line. I had seen the official race clock say that it was almost 46 minutes and I knew that I started after the official start since I was toward the middle of the pack. But when I looked at my watch to see what it said, I was so sure that I had screwed something up because I really could not believe it.

garmin-watch

My watch was saying that my time was 44:47.8. I really thought that I either started it too late or stopped it too soon and figured I would wait to see what the official time sheets said before I got too excited. I knew I finished in under 46 minutes because of the official clock and that was also unbelievable but I knew it was right.

While I was waiting for the official times to be posted, I found some of my friends. My friend Brenda is a part of the Oscars/Halloween party group. She also had some issues with being able to train recently and was not expecting anything too crazy. But she was able to PR for the race and did amazing!

with-friends

I also ran into Heather, who is the executive director of My Friend’s Place. My Friend’s Place is the official charity for the race and they always have a team running it. It was great to get to see her again and I’m hoping I can do some more work with My Friend’s Place in the near future.

with-heather

Finally, the official time sheets were updated so I could check what my time was. And after looking at it, I finally had to believe that I did was well as my watch claimed.

official-time

My official time was 44:48 (which is basically the same thing as 44:47.8) Not only did I PR (by over 9 minutes) I actually beat the long-term goal I had of doing a race in under 45 minutes! I really did not expect to do anything close to this and even a few days later I’m still in a bit of shock. After having several disappointing races when I felt like I did really great, I was expecting this to be similar. But I actually did better than I ever could have imagined!

post-race

I wasn’t able to drive home right away because I was in such disbelief. I made a couple of phone calls to people who I knew wanted to know how my race went. Each time I said my time, I could barely believe what I was saying. But soon enough hopefully I’ll start to believe that I did it. I’ve got to focus now on some new race goals because I did all of them in a race that I was so stressed out about.

Once I got home, I added my new medal to my medal hanger (I’m looking at buying an extension for it since I’m running out of room).

medal-wall

I spent the rest of my day relaxing and trying to nap since I had gotten up so early that morning. I kept looking online at my race time trying to believe it and not think that I’m dreaming or that some mistake happened. I know that I had trained hard for this race, but my training never got such incredible results. I think a lot of it had to do with race day adrenaline and that helped me to run more than I normally can do.

I never expected to have such an amazing race day. I’m glad that I still pushed myself even though I knew that things might not go the way I was hoping they would. Even though I thought I had given up on myself a little bit, I guess deep down I really hadn’t and this was my mind’s way of telling me to keep pushing it. And I’ll get the chance to test that out again in about 6 months when I have the next 5K happening (unless I find another race I want to do before then). But for now, I’m just so happy and grateful that my hard work paid off and I had the greatest race day I even could have wanted.

best-race-ever

Low-Key Halloween (or A Work In Progress)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but this past Halloween I was feeling a bit down. While my stomach was pretty much completely better by then, I was still feeling off and the night of my friend’s Halloween party I was pretty exhausted. But even though I was feeling not myself, I wasn’t going to miss what I knew would be an epic Halloween party!

The party was held on Saturday night (so most people didn’t have to work the next morning) and originally I thought I would have to work that night before the party. Since that’s what I though my schedule was like, I planned a costume that would be easy to do going from work. But then the week before, I found out I wasn’t needed anymore that day, so I had all the time I wanted to get ready for the party. I debated changing my costume, but I decided to go with my original idea.

I saw an idea for this costume online, but I changed it up a bit to make it my own. But all it took was some caution construction tape and a hard hat to turn me into a work in progress! It’s not my best costume, but it made me happy and I liked that it wasn’t something that was obvious right away. Plus, I felt cute and that is so important when you aren’t feeling totally like yourself.

halloween-costume

Every year, Marie and Chris make their parties bigger and better. They said that they were going to tone things down a bit this year, but clearly that plan went out the window! As soon as I got to the party, I saw that they turned their back patio area into a huge carnival tent!

circus-tent

Inside of the tent, they had different little rooms set up with seating and lots of old carnival posters.

in-the-tent

And they had a photo set up with a stage advertising a freak show!

freak-show

It was incredible! They put months of work into the party and I know all of us are so grateful that they love to host and do these insane parties! And none of us expected them to go as big as they did this year, so I think everyone was extra surprised when they saw all the work in the backyard.

Because I was feeling a bit low, I spent most of my time sitting down and talking with friends. But that was perfectly fine with me. We got to have a lot of fun conversation about our costumes, we discussed politics (which I love because we can have a polite debate), and several people asked me how I was doing and what was going on with my liver.

And as always, they had amazing food at the party. Most of it was stuff that I knew I shouldn’t have, so I tried to eat before going to the party. But fortunately someone made meatloaf with mashed potatoes on top (it almost looked like a cake) so I was able to eat something and feel like I wasn’t missing out on too much.

I really wanted to be more social than I was especially since there were friends there that I hadn’t seen in a while, but after being at the party for about an hour or so I started to feel a bit worse. I took it easy and tried to relax while sitting down and that helped the odd feeling go away. But I also knew it as a sign that this wasn’t going to be a party that I was going to be at for as long as I would have liked.

I ended up leaving around 10pm (I had been there about 3 hours) and unfortunately I ended up missing the costume contest. But everyone else there had such incredible costumes that I knew there was no way I was going to win or place, so I was ok missing it. I’m just glad that I got to be there for a few hours to see my friends and the super creative costumes that they made!

It was a low-key Halloween party, but it was perfect with me. And as far as what I did on the actual day of Halloween, that will be tomorrow’s post!

Getting More Productive (or More Monthly Challenges)

I’ve completed 9 monthly challenges so far this year and I have to say that each one that I set for myself has made such a huge improvement in my life! It’s so crazy to me that I haven’t been doing these before because they aren’t hard for me (which makes me wonder if I’m picking challenges that are too easy) and I’ve pretty much been able to keep up with every single one.

I’m not 100% perfect, but I’m learning to be ok with that. But for the ones that seem to make the biggest difference, I’ve had no issues continuing with them. Reading recovery books has been one of the best ones for me so far and I’ve been learning so much with each book I read. And I think after that challenge is when I felt more inspired to push myself more and more.

Last month, I challenged myself to do 1 yoga pose a day. I really wanted to challenge myself to do 1 iPad yoga class a day, but I had been having so much trouble doing those classes on even a semi-regular basis. I had been making those classes part of my weekly goals for so many weeks, and most of those weeks were not successful.

Even though I set the bar really low for myself and I decided to do the best I could to do one iPad yoga class most days of the month. If nothing else, I’d learn more yoga poses I could do as my pose for the day. With the app that I have, there are a bunch of classes but you can also create your own class. Since I’m new to this, I stuck with the pre-made classes. They ranged from 5 minutes to an hour and I started with a short class.

It quickly became a habit to do one of my classes in the morning. When I couldn’t do one in the morning, I was feeling off and was missing how good I was feeling when I did the class before breakfast (which was most days except Mondays which I didn’t do since I have an early workout).

And wouldn’t you know it? I managed to do one iPad yoga class every single day in September!

yoga-challenge

I plan on continuing this, but I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with just this app. There are so many yoga classes on YouTube and I think I might try exploring those. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while and for some reason when I set it as a challenge it finally kicked in!

And that helped to inspire my challenge for this month. First of all, the Volt Planner (the planner I use that has these challenges in it) is on Kickstarter again for the 2017 planner. They are way beyond their goal, so the new planner will be printed. And while they do try to sell them outside of the Kickstarter, those are limited so I recommend buying one on the Kickstarter if you want to join me in all the challenges next year!

I became a backer of the Kickstarter within the first few hours that it went live. I had no doubts that I needed to get a planner for next year, and I’m so excited to continue doing amazing with my goals. As a backer, I get updates on the campaign from time to time and one of the recent updates had a nice perk in it! It was a daily task sheet with a to-do list along with space to write notes, write where you need to follow-up, and set daily priorities.

I make to-do lists from time to time, but they usually are just on a post-it with a few random things that I don’t want to forget. I don’t plan out my day, especially since things are pretty consistent from day-to-day. But that also makes it where I will have a day and wonder what I actually got done outside of work. Sometimes I finish work and just don’t do anything else. And I need to make sure that I’m not slacking on things outside of work and being as productive as I can.

So I’m setting my monthly goal to be to use the daily task sheet every single day. I printed them out so there are 2 on a sheet and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep them together or just grab one each day. I’m not sure if setting up my tasks the night before of the morning of will be best so I’m going to play around with both options. Whatever I end up doing, I have a feeling that this is going to make October the most productive month for me!

I’m lucky that I got inspired by the Kickstarter for this month’s challenge since I was really drawing a blank on what I want to work on. There are a couple of fitness related challenges that I want to try, but I don’t want to do 2 fitness ones back to back. I think this is going to be a great way to start getting ready to close out 2016 and help me get even more productive than I ever could have imagined!

Epic Disney Evening (or 8 Rides In 3 Hours)

After my dentist appointment was over, I had something fun scheduled. A few days before the appointment, my Disneyland friend June asked me what I was doing on the day of my appointment. I told her that I should be free after 4pm and she asked if I wanted to go to Disneyland for a few hours to check out the Halloween stuff.

I said yes right away since I wasn’t sure if I’d be at the parks anytime while the Halloween stuff was up (now it looks like I’ll make it there next month), and even though it was going to be a long drive in rush hour to get there I was super excited! I needed something positive to focus on during the dentist appointment, and I think knowing I had a Disneyland adventure after really did help keep the panic away (June and I have already said that we will have to go to Disneyland after my next appointment).

The drive down was a bit longer than usual, but fortunately there were carpool lanes on a few freeways we used. It was just over an hour to get to the parking lot but it took quite a while to get through the parking booths and parked (lots of people going into the parks for some after-work fun). By the time we got into Disneyland, it was 6pm and we were on a mission to check out all the Halloween themed stuff.

Our first stop was the Tower of Terror. This ride will be closing in a few months, but before it closes they are doing a special totally dark version of the ride at night. Instead of seeing the various scenes before the elevator drops, it’s totally dark and you only hear the voiceover. There are some tricks that they do that make the ride feel very different, but I don’t want to give away the fun! But I have to say that riding it was really awesome and I was laughing so hard I was crying.

tot-total-darkness

They also have a really awesome photo spot in front of the ride and we took advantage of that. I’m glad we did that because I’m hearing now that the Hollywood Tower sign was taken down that night and I don’t know if it will be put back up before the ride closes.

tower-of-terror tot-photo-spot

After Tower of Terror, we actually decided to leave California Adventure and go over to Disneyland where the other 2 Halloween rides were. We really only had a plan to ride those 3 so we were on a mission to get them done! Our next stop was going to be Space Mountain, but as we passed Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters with almost no line so we made a quick detour and battled each other on the ride. I ended up hitting one of the secret targets that gets you a ton of points, so I did beat June. But I’m guessing if I hadn’t hit it that June would have beat me.

Then it was time to ride Space Mountain. I’ve loved the Hyperspace Mountain overlay, but for Halloween they do a Ghost Galaxy overlay. It’s fun to ride the ride with different theming and it does make it feel like a totally different ride even though it is the same track. It felt super fast and while we did pose for a photo during the ride, the photos weren’t working so we didn’t get an official ride photo.

The last Halloween themed ride we wanted to go on was Haunted Mansion Holiday. This technical lasts through Christmas, but we wanted to go on it for Halloween too. They have added some stuff to the ride each year and it was very fun spotting what was new and different while riding it. It was just as good as I remembered it from last year, and while I love the regular Haunted Mansion too the Holiday one is fun too!

haunted-mansion-holiday

After accomplishing all of our Halloween rides, we realized we had about an hour before the park closed. We were impressed with riding 4 rides in 2 hours, but we wanted to see what else we could do!

Our next stop was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We noticed it while walking back from Haunted Mansion because it looked so beautiful in the dark!

nighttime-at-disney

It had been a while since I had been on the ride and it was more intense than I remembered. I wanted to keep my hands up in the air (how I ride roller coasters), but I kept sliding on the seat so I had to ride with one arm up and one holding on.

We decided to continue on with our crazy ride count and went to Fantasyland where several rides had almost no line at that point in the night! We almost walked onto Snow White right away! We figured this ride fit into the Halloween theme of the day since it is one of the scarier kid rides (which is probably why there was no line). Then we ran next to Snow White to ride Pinocchio which also had almost no line.

With about 5 minutes until the park closed, we decided to do one final ride which would bring us to 8 rides between 6 and 9pm (which is insane since on a normal full day we don’t always get 8 rides done!). Our final ride of the night was the Carousel which was also a walk-on. It was a nice calm ride to end our evening with and it felt like we really had the perfect Disneyland outing.

Since our first 2 rides (Tower of Terror and Buzz Lightyear) both had ride photos, we decided we needed to do a ride photo or a selfie on each ride that we went on. Some of them are in the dark so it’s not as easy to see, but we did get our 8 ride photos in that night.

disneyland-rides

As we were walking out, it was pretty crowded since the park was now closed for the night and everyone was heading home. But I did manage to get a picture of the big Mickey pumpkin in Main Street with no people in it! I don’t know how that timing happened, but I thought it was pretty cool!

mickey-pumpkin

Overall, this was the perfect thing to do after a dentist appointment. It kept me positive, gave me something else to focus on, and I got to walk off all the nerves I had while walking from ride to ride. We had no idea that our 3 hours at Disneyland were going to be so amazing, but I’m so grateful that June had the idea to do this because it really was one of the best Disney adventures!