Another month for the #TotalSocial linkup! This month’s theme is “favorites,” so here are a few of my favorite things…
City: Los Angeles. Yes, the city is smoggy and parts of it are slummy (like any big city,) but I love the beaches and the buildings and the culture. There’s a reason I try to make it out there once a year – it just reboots my life in a way the east coast (and even the midwest) never have.
Holiday: Thanksgiving has always been the best for me. Lots of family, lots of food, and Black Friday (say what you want – it’s family bonding time for us.) It’s gotten tougher over the years since I’ve lost my grandpa and my aunt around this time, but I’ve never fallen out of love with it.
Vacation: Ironically, the best vacation of my life is one that includes a vivid memory of me, on a balcony of a Century Plaza penthouse, singing “Sloop John B”: this is the worst trip I’ve ever been on. For two years I went out to LA with a group of my friends for the NARM conference where we networked and learned all about the music business. Not only were those trips educational, but very relaxing, and it was fun to do touristy things on Sunset Strip and put my feet in the Pacific for the first time.
Beer: I can’t lie. As much as I enjoy nice, fancy, expensive beer… Summer Shandy will always hold my heart.
Song: Obviously, this changes daily, but today (and lately) I’m really loving “Vows” by Half Light Music.
Album: Another day-to-day changer, but I’ve really been enjoying Pete Francis’ Untold all year.
Now that I’ve been running for almost two years, I think I can safely say that it’s not a passing trend. Especially given that lately, I’ve found myself lusting over drool-worthy photos and race recaps that have been popping up. In a few days I’ll be running the Nike Women’s Half in DC, a race on the bucket list of many bloggers. I thought today I would share my race bucket list!
LA Marathon – if I ever run a marathon, I want this to be it. (Or one of them.) It’s no secret that I leave more and more of my heart in LA every time I leave, and the city seems like it would have enough for me to look at and not be bored after 5+ hours of running. I’ve heard really great things about this race, and I’ve always said I wanted it to be my first.
Run Rock ‘n Roll Vegas Strip at Night – this list could easily be made up of about half the Rock ‘n Roll series cities. Obviously I love music, I love bling and beer, and so many of my favorite cities play host to these events. Vegas and I really agree with each other, and one of my fitness idols (Luc Carl) used this race as his goal when he first started training.
5/3 Riverbank Run – my hometown race. When I was growing up I was always so in awe (or horrified that people would willingly run) of these runners, and now, it’s important to me to run this someday. This was supposed to be the year, but work got in the way.
Detroit Half Marathon – I’m trying to not be state-biased, but the Detroit Marathon (and half marathon) take you over the bridge, into Canada, and back. Combine that with some pretty cool medals, and I can’t keep it off my list.
Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole – another music themed race, this one takes place during Milwaukee’s Summerfest festival. I’ve heard it’s very similar to Rock ‘n Roll, but with much better course support and entertainment.
Hollywood Half – this race looks like the most fun thing in the world. So many great costumes, so many celebrities, and so many important landmarks! This race has to be fantastic, and registration seems to be extremely competitive. Someday!
It has taken me awhile to even really know where to start talking about Tinker Bell Half Marathon because honestly – I did not have a good experience at all. I wanted to sit on it for a few days to make sure that I wasn’t writing and reacting out of emotion but the longer I think about it, the less my feelings change. I’m not sure if it was the fact that they were just coming from WDW Marathon weekend the prior week, but everything felt sort of disorganized to me. I am really going to try to be positive, but here’s my take on the runDisney experience:
The expo was the first thing to disappoint me. I had high hopes thinking it would be packed full of vendors offering great discounts like the Flying Pig expo.. it was definitely not. I liked the talks they had by Jeff Galloway and the other speakers. After I made the first pass through everything, the only place I really wanted to stop was KT Tape. I can tape myself of course, but I had some questions about the knee app I use and wanted to watch a trainer do it. I expected a long wait, but I didn’t expect to be standing in line for awhile before a Disney employee told me I had to purchase there in order to get taped. I had some rolls in the hotel room, so decided to just go back later. After a few more rounds with the Disney employees manning that station I never ended up getting taped. Oh well. I was not impressed by any of the runDisney Tink merchandise either. I had gone in fully prepared to drop at least $200 on new gear and I walked out of the expo without anything. It was also set up in a confusing way. We also didn’t get safety pins in our packets, which wasn’t a problem for me since I was wearing my Fitletic race belt, but NP had to find some at bag check on race morning.
Sunday morning I got up, slithered into my race outfit, and, armed with coffee, a Luna bar and banana, we set out to get on the shuttles. I know Anaheim pretty well and knew it would have been shorter to walk to the start than to get on the bus, but walking even an extra half mile seemed impossible at 4am. We found some safety pins and made our way to the last corral (since we had been told we could switch corrals at the expo, neither of us submitted times), trying to push forward as much as possible. Around 5:45ish, we crossed the start and were on our way. I HATED that we immediately started going up hills. That made me lose NP in the first mile, and I figured I’d be able to hang with her at least until we got out of the parks. I was really nervous about being swept for some reason (even though at no point was I at risk of it.) Before I knew it, we were in the parks – I’m not even sure how we got there. I do know that there were some parts that were so narrow and crowded we had no choice but to walk, which was frustrating. I guess it’s better at WDW races because it’s bigger. I had been unsure if I wanted to stop for characters, so I passed the first few until we got to Cars Land. I posed for the Marathon Foto photographer and got back underway. Cars Land was so beautiful. The race itself wasn’t so bad – the course only felt boring for about two miles, and I loved all the cast members backstage who were cheering us on. I had also chosen not to run with my camera after deciding not to stop for characters. In the end I do wish I had stopped for Merida as well, but c’est la vie. I was wearing my Happy Birthday button as I was celebrating my 27th birthday that day, and it made me so happy when other runners or cast members would say “happy birthday” to me!
I was chugging along, not really sure what my pace was because I had set my Nike+ pretty long before we started running. Since runDisney had runner tracking, I had them sent to myself and figured that I could adjust pace once my first split came through. My first split, at 5k, said 1:28:41, pace 28:33. I was only kind of mad at that point because I figured no matter what, I would probably PR, and I should just keep on trucking. They never corrected but they did start thankfully decreasing rapidly. For the first time in my life, I started feeling like I was going to have some digestive distress during the race. It held off, THANKFULLY, but I was on stormy seas for awhile.
As far as fuel, I thought they definitely had enough water stops, but wish they would have had one more GU station or that it had been a little earlier. I always run with my chews of course, but there were parts of the run where I felt like I could use a little something more.
Typically the mid-stretch of the race (miles 7-10) have always the hardest for me, but not this time. This time I struggled through the last 5k and had a husband and wife team I was using to pace and motivate me. They were not going to beat me across the finish line.
They didn’t, which I was thankful to at least have beaten them, and I was so ready for the medal. I felt pretty good about the race and when I went to grab my medal, the girl started shouting at people around us “KEEP GOING, THERE ARE MORE MEDALS BEHIND ME.” I found that kind of rude. There were a layer of three medal volunteers and I actually made it all the way through all of them without getting a medal. -_- I looped back around and grabbed it and found NP pretty quickly. She had almost beaten her goal time of 2:30, but crushed her last race time so I was proud of her. My timing chip never updated, and my time was reported as 3:49:13. I have no idea what it actually was (it has since updated on the runDisney site, but I’m still pretty sure it’s wrong, since my Nike+ app was at 3:03 when I finally turned it off.)
I did really like the organization and layout of the medical tent at the finish line. I didn’t feel like I was swimming upstream, it was very adequately staffed, and the girl who wrapped ice around my knee was so sweet. I like the idea of the food boxes, but felt like it took forever to walk over to them after getting through the photo line. (Which I’m very glad I stood in because there were almost no photos of me from the course, and they lost my Cars Land photo.)
Am I going to do runDisney again? Yes, probably. I want a Coast to Coast medal, and I’ve never been to WDW, so we’re looking at doing Wine and Dine. (But after that, I might not do any others.) It just feels like a LOT of money to spend on an only okay experience. Am I glad I did it? Yes, overall, even with the hiccups along the way. As upset as I still am about the timing chip, that alone shows me how serious I have gotten about my running which makes me happy. I feel like a Debbie Downer for having a bad runDisney experience but maybe gigantor races are just not for me!
Even though we were really only in California for a few days, I feel like we did SO much! I’ve already written about one of the best parts of our trip (Sweat class with Richard Simmons!) and obviously Tink will be its own post, but I thought I’d give another update on what we did while we were there. I feel like we didn’t sleep at all, and we laughed SO much. I feel very fortunate that NP went on this trip with me!
Over Christmas while watching all the talk shows with giveaways, we thought we should try to see a taping and see if we could score some free loot 😉 I would have loved to see Ellen, but her shows book so far in advance that there was no way. NP is a really big fan of The Doctors, so I signed us up to see that one. A couple weeks went by before I heard anything about it, and figuring we didn’t get tickets to it either, I forgot about it. About a week before we left, a show producer called and we were in!
We definitely thought there was no way we were going to make it – this was the only time we hit traffic during the whole trip, and all the signage and e-mails we got made it sound like if you weren’t there by 7:30 that you wouldn’t get in for the taping. Apparently this show is hard to fill audiences for, so we were in just fine. They held us in the Dr. Phil studio while the doctors wrapped up their rehearsals, and a page came and took everyone with a pink VIP ticket to the studio. It was a pretty long day and they did two shows (we had gotten up at 5:30 and were at the taping until 1:30,) but it was a fun experience. We came away with about $300 in hair and body products and it was cool to see the “behind the scenes” stuff of a talk show. Plus it will be funny to see which of my friends watches this show when I get the “I SAW YOU ON TV!” messages. If you’re ever in LA and want to go to a TV taping, it sounds like The Doctors shows are easy to get into. (Plus Dr. Travis is not too bad on the eyes – I actually met and got a rose from him back when he was on the Bachelor!) Dr. Berman asked NP if we are sisters, which I loved. I have always thought that NP is the most beautiful woman in the world, so it’s nice when people see some of her in me!
After that, we headed over to The Grove to do some celebrity hunting. I was really hoping to spot a Glee cast member, but it was not to be. We wandered around and didn’t do any shopping here, but we ate at the Farmer’s Market which was amazing. I had the best shawarma wrap, NP got fish tacos, and I topped it off with a cabernet sauvignon sorbet cone. The environment was really cool, and it had way fewer stores than I expected. After sitting in traffic for two hours, we went to the race expo and ate and shopped at downtown Disney.
Saturday we planned to have just a really relaxing day before the race, and I could have laid next to the California ocean at Newport Beach all day long. We walked the boardwalk, grabbed some juice for breakfast, and set up camp on the sand. NP read while I napped. The beach was beautifully clean and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. (I also got a frozen banana and pretended George Michael served it to me.) We retired pretty early that night and just watched Bridesmaids in the room and prepared for the race the next morning. I did have a meltdown this day about my food, because I had tried to eat very intentionally and have set times I wanted to have specific meals. That didn’t work out at all and I called Sixx and just sobbed about my “food being messed up.” Clearly I was just beyond overly tired.
What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation? How do you relax and prepare the day/night before the race?
This past weekend I went to LA/Anaheim for my birthday weekend and to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland. LA is my favorite place on earth, and I couldn’t imagine a more fun way to celebrate my birthday than running with my cousin in the best city in the world.
The day before we left, I thought I would just check to see if there were any classes at Richard Simmons’ Slimmons studio happening that we could make. I grew up watching Richard Simmons sweat to the oldies, and over the last year, I have really been loving following him on Twitter and Facebook. He’s very motivational and I love his message of self-love and acceptance, so I lost my mind at the thought of getting trained by the man himself! There was a Thursday evening class that fit well with our flights, so we went to check it out. Your first class is $12, so I couldn’t resist.
Slimmons is located in Beverly Hills, and I knew from the website that we were on our own to find street parking. I had also heard that his classes are very hard to get into, so in order to maximize our chances, we headed to Beverly Hills pretty early to scope out the area. If you are going to a class at Slimmons, there’s meter parking in front of the studio (free after 6pm) that’s very convenient. The office opens an hour before class time starts. We were there very early, so we headed over to Starbucks on Rodeo Drive to change and get ready.
We were the first ones in the door at 5:30 when they unlocked the doors and were greeted by an extremely friendly woman whose name I cannot remember. If you go to class, make sure you bring a beach towel or yoga mat and a full bottle of water. (We only had one water bottle for the two of us, and it was almost gone by the time class started. I regret that after the first song!) Anyway. Being there so early really let our nerves pile up. NP, who is the fastest runner I actually know, didn’t tell me until we got there that she is scared in group classes! She is so confident and in shape that I never would have guessed. I am so used to it from all my Les Mills that I don’t think twice about group ex anymore. Anyway. We milled around for about an hour, spoke to some other participants, and I recognized one guy from Ellen. (Ellen’s mom is also a regular at Slimmons, but she wasn’t there Thursday.
I will be honest and say that I didn’t expect to be dripping sweat all over or didn’t think it would be as challenging as BodySTEP… I was completely wrong. There were so many different levels of fitness in the studio, so I just followed some of the participants who were more athletic. I was glad to see that the studio really does welcome all shapes, sizes, ages, and levels.
At one point in the class, everyone gets into a circle and he has people come to the center and dance with him. I knew that this happened, but didn’t mention it to NP. He motioned for the two of us to go out together during “Celebrate,” and it was crazy fun. Every person in the class danced in the circle, and everyone claps. Throughout the hour and 15 minutes, he walked around and encouraged and helped everyone. It was definitely one of the best fitness experiences of my life.
After stretching, he said “we have a birthday today.” I wasn’t sure if it was me, but he started talking about his friendship with Lucille Ball, and I figured it was me. (Desi Arnez and I not only share a name, but also a birthday!) He called me to the front of the class and sang to me! He asked how old I was, and when I told him, he said “shit.” I laughed so hard. It was wonderful beyond words.
After class, you’re allowed to get cell phones and cameras and he is happy to take photos. Richard led class the whole time with the same energy you see on camera in videos and interviews. It was so wonderful and I am so glad we got to go! If you have any other questions about going to a class at Slimmons, please let me know! I am happy to answer them, I felt a little lost and clueless while we were on our way.
What fitness guru would be your dream workout partner?