Spooktacular 10K 2014

Spooktacular 10K 2014

Pre-race

The morning was very cold, a shivering and goosebumps and “why the heck did I think this light jacket would be sufficient” cold. We got there early to pick up our packets, put on our bibs, bathroom break, etc. This particular race encouraged costumes, so I wore a Wonder Woman shirt and glittery gold sweatband that was too tight. I spent the majority of our waiting time stretching the headband out so it would be more comfortable for the race (it worked!). As far as dressing up went, I saw everything from MC Hammer, a full-body penguin costume, Doctor Who, witches, zombie Dodger players, in addition to seeing said characters doing the full Thriller dance as a warm-up before the races.

I kept my gear simple: Nike spandex running shorts, Wonder Woman shirt, sweatband, and carried my phone to track my run with the Nike+ app. No headphones this time.

The Race

Following the gun, the start of the race was slow. For some reason, folks who were walking (or weren’t planning to run more than the first half mile) situated themselves near the front of the starting area. They did have pace groups for the half marathon, but the 10K seemed to be a free-for-all. Pro-tip: have consideration for your fellow athletes; stick to the right if you’re planning to have a slower pace, and stick to the back if you intend to walk.

The course was absolutely gorgeous with rolling hills, a large lake, beautiful misty morning haze, crisp energizing air, along with mixed dirt trails with tree canopy and paved trails. It was a very hilly course which was a new challenge for me (races thus far have been on flat terrain, and our last 10K just had a small bridge). While my legs definitely took more of a beating than usual, the hills were a great breakup to the course and the downhills gave me momentum to keep up my pace. None of the hills were too large, so I was always able to see the top which was also a good motivator to run them all even if “running” meant shuffle-jogging my way up on the steep last hill.

I loved running without headphones. Music and Zombies, Run! are a good distraction on a boring treadmill, but I wanted to wean myself off of them running outside.  I loved the sound everyone’s breathing, my own breathing, the conversations between runners around me, the cheers of encouragement, the birds chirping, the fishermen on the lake chatting. There’s a whole world out there!

The Results

Time: 1:09:52
Pace: 11:15/M
Overall Place: 116/309 | 37.5%
Age Group Place: 10/32 | 31.2%

This was a PR for me from my previous time of 1:14:52 a month ago! Andrew PR’ed as well, and got third in his age-group which awarded him a fancy certificate which I am trying to encourage him to frame.

My goals are to get in the top 25% of a 5K and 10K, and to finish a half and full marathon.

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I am a runner

Over the last couple of years, I’d told myself that I wanted to become a runner, as if this were a label that one had to strive to obtain. The title had to be earned, and wasn’t something that was going to come easy to me for many reasons I had concocted over the years.

I’ve always been overweight. Even as a small child I was chubby, and it carried through my adult years. I’m short with even shorter legs, and have never excelled at sports (particularly those that involved running). Don’t get me wrong though – I was rarely ever inactive. I swam in middle school, did karate into high school, and even lost about 40 pounds in college with a mixture of elliptical, cycling, and swimming laps. However, I always avoided running.

“I’m not a runner.” “I’m not built to be a runner.” “I’ll never really be a runner.”

This past year, with the motivation and encouragement of my boyfriend, I gave running a proper go. I downloaded a C25K (Couch to 5K) program onto my phone, had Netflix queued up with Fringe episodes, and trudged my way through the program. I successfully graduated and ran a real 5K race in September 2013 with a time just under 38 minutes. I didn’t run the whole way, but I ran most of the way and I felt accomplished. Nevertheless, I didn’t feel like I could call myself a runner.

Shortly after the race, I got lazy again. A 5K was as good as it was probably going to get. I wasn’t an actual runner, just an amateur. Short legs, remember? I could hike just fine, and did regularly, but it would be a waste of time to pursue running more seriously.


My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Last Christmas, just a few months after my first successful 5K, she commented how it was going to be her last Christmas. She seemed all right to me; tired, but the chemotherapy had always left her drained. A mere 6 months later, she was gone.

As my father and I helplessly watched her slipping away from us due to disease, I found, of all things, that I wanted to run. I wanted an escape from the flood of emotions. I wanted a punishment for not having spent more time with her as she always wanted. I wanted to live a longer and healthier life when hers was cut so tragically short.

We are now just over two months since she passed away, and today I’ve run the farthest I ever have in one session. I ran 5 miles without stopping, at an average pace of just over 5 mph. The entire run wasn’t easy, but as I continued I caught a second wind and it got easier and easier as the hundredths and tenths of miles ticked by.

“I’ll just run a 5K.” “Oh, what’s another .9 miles to an even 4 miles.” “Let’s find out if I have another mile in my legs.”

I’ve been running for weeks – months – now, and today was truly the first day that I realized what running can give me. The awe that my legs are capable of propelling me for a full hour without stopping made me feel human. I didn’t earn the label of being a runner; I simply had to realize in my own time that I had always been a runner. I only had to give my legs the chance.

I have a 5K scheduled in two weeks, and a 10K scheduled in five. I’ll also be running a 5K the morning of my mother’s Celebration of Life in October, and I know wherever she may be now, she’ll be proud.

If you have some money to spare and feel moved, please consider contributing to our 10K running team in honor of my mother: http://supportlongbeach.memorialcare.org/runfornancy.

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First Maxi Dress

I hit a new milestone! While in Target recently, I came across a maxi dress that actually looked like it fit me. Not in that it wasn’t too small/large, but that it wasn’t too long. I’m a measly 5’2″ so most maxi skirts/dresses wind up with fabric in a heap on the floor around my feet – and as much as I may not mind rocking heels, I never want to own something that has to have heels worn with it.

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Isn’t it lovely?! I was actually pleased it was a plain grey. I was hoping for a slightly darker fabric (slimming and less likely to show dirt on the long hem), but I definitely didn’t want any horizontal stripes (hello unflattering) or crazy patterns (too exciting for my style).

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It even came with a cute studded belt! Unfortunately, I’m still a bit fluffy to wear this dress confidently (it works, though!), and the belt is too small even at my waist. Nevertheless, it’s motivation to continue eating right and hitting up the gym!

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My favorite part of this dress, and what makes it most wearable for me, is the tapered hemline. The back of the dress is definitely very long, within an inch of the ground. If I wear flats with this dress, it will undoubtedly get dirty from my shoes hitting it or simply touching uneven ground. However, the front comes up almost to my knees! It makes it much cooler, and much easier to walk in. This is undoubtedly why the dress caught my eye and how it found a home.

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Top Valu

I recently moved to a different neighborhood and have had to find new shops – grocery store, pharmacy, convenience store, etc. As exciting as it is to explore new things, it’s simultaneously exasperating when you’ve finally just begun to feel as though you’ve got a shopping routine down.

Shaunna was telling me how, as part of her New Year’s goals of saving up for a home, she has begun to budget her grocery shopping to a dime. While I’m not quite prepared or motivated enough to be that strict with my food budget (yet?), I was inspired by her stories of mountains of food for about $50/week. Her secret? Local Mexican markets.

Living in the Los Angeles area, Mexican markets are everywhere (Superior, Top Valu, you name it.) Problem is, to the untrained eye, they’re also easy to overlook. Being from the southeast, we never had an equivalent; our market choices were limited to moderate quality/moderate price (Albertson’s or Winn-Dixie), high quality/moderate price (Publix), overpriced (Whole Foods), or small family-owned Cuban bodegas. These Mexican markets didn’t look like more than a glorified dollar store with their locations and bright yellow signage. I could not have been more wrong.

These markets are a steal. It’s mind boggling how affordable they are: 3 lbs of bananas for $.99; 2 lbs of roma tomatoes for $.99; 3 lbs of oranges for $.99; 4 2-liter bottles of soda for $5. That’s just what I remember off the top of my head.

While I’m still trying to master planning meals in advance and reusing leftovers for meals throughout the week, I’m excited at the prospect of reducing my grocery bills over the next few weeks with the weekly ads and our new found market!

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Learning to wear contacts

In third or fourth grade, we were given an eye test at school. That test would be the first test I ever failed in my school career. After several years of nagging by my parents, and a progressive increase in the severity of my astigmatism, I eventually got to a point where I needed to wear glasses full time.

Being a girl going through the usual growing pains and changes growing up, I of course didn’t want to wear nerdy glasses all the time! I never liked the concept of wearing a foreign object on my eyeball, but hey – don’t knock contacts ’til you try ‘em. So I tried them.

I failed miserably at using contacts. At the time, contacts for astigmatism were large and weighted. My eyes are quite small and set back in my sockets, making it very difficult to pull my eyelids open comfortably. The doctor had to help me get the contacts into my eyes both separate attempts; getting them out wasn’t too bad, but putting them in was the challenge. On both occasions, I got so frustrated trying to put them in on my own I wouldn’t bother with them again.

Fast forward to today, a little over 10 years later. I went in for a usual eye exam and thought, “You know what? It’s time to try again!” The doctor held my hand in putting them in myself at the office, which went surprisingly well. I went so far as to wear the contacts all day, but naturally, my eyes dried out terribly since they weren’t used to it. My eyes were itching like I’d never felt before. I got home in the evening, about 9-10 hours into wearing them, and I couldn’t wait to get them out.

… except I couldn’t get them out. My eyes were so dry, I couldn’t get a good grip on the lens. Thankfully my roommate (who wears contacts regularly) had eye drops to soothe my dry, itchy, tired eyes. The eye drops also served to loosen up the lens! I was able to get them both out easily within ten minutes of using eye drops.

Will I continue to try out the contacts? I think so. They’ll be incredibly convenient for my active days: the gym, hiking, running, or the beach. I’m definitely going to give my eyes a rest tomorrow though and try again over the weekend.

Wish me luck!

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