Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fuel Up

Before I get into my blog post, I wanted to give a shout to blog buddy This Stop Willoughby. She's got a great blog over there. Anyway, I was a guest blogger over there for what she called her "Cocktail Party." Even though I haven't been drinking much lately, I figured it would be worth to stop by.

Anyway, check it out if you have a chance.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled programming.


It's only been part of my repertoire for all of three runs but I can say one thing about my fuel belt with certainty: I heart you.

My fuel belt is awesome. From the first run, the positives vastly outweighed the negatives. There are drawbacks, of course, with the fuel belt but I think you can say that about most any piece of equipment you introduce. It's easier to run without the iPod for instance, in the sense that you don't have to worry about the iPod seizing up on you or the cords getting tangled anywhere.

The belt has allowed me to feel much, much better after long runs. For instance, after the Half Marathon in April, I was completely and utterly wasted. Immediately after the race I felt like I was going to collapse. After my previous double-digit mileage runs I was wiped out the rest of the day as well. But this time around, I've ran 10 and 11 miles respectively with the fuel belt on. I've had a lot of energy the rest of the day.

My only problem, if you can call it a problem, is that I don't know quite yet how to time my drinks. So, it has four small bottles and all total I'd say they hold like 20-25 ounces of liquid between them, maybe more. After each run, I've finished with Gatorade in the bottles still. Not a whole lot but still, some liquid in there. So obviously I'm not drinking all of it during the runs.

I think for Sunday's run I'll start taking a sip after Mile 2. It's a 12-miler on Sunday so a little sip at Mile 2 and then probably finish off that bottle on Mile 4 and then go from there.

Also today I'm going to try and get me some Gu. If you aren't familiar with Gu, it's an energy gel. I've heard it described as flavored toothpaste. The purpose of that is to replenish your body since after a certain point you start to deplete your reserves. After about an hour's worth of running, no matter your pace, you should use Gu. Not sure if you should use it after each hour or at what point you use it frequently but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Now, I say after an hour and I mean that for normal people, not professional runners who run marathons in under three hours.

As far as drawbacks, it's still a matter of getting used to. As the belt has liquid, it can weigh you down slightly. It's not enough to prevent you from running or anything but it can slip if it's not on properly. But that's a minor issue that is corrected once you use it. And once I'm getting into the run, before the first mile is up, I've usually been able to get it on properly so it doesn't move too much. And I anticipate having it down to where it's on right before I even start the run.

Mostly, though, it's been a great experience so far and I look forward to my long-distance runs more now because I know that I won't be out of it the rest of the day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ragnar Checklist

I can't believe it's almost Oct. 9, the start of the Ragnar Relay. I've done well to prepare, mostly. I've been preparing for the marathon with the Lopers, so I've been on the schedule set out for that. I ran 11 miles last week and will run 12 on Sunday, my last long run before the Ragnar.

However, I did not do a middle-of-the-night run as I'd hoped. Every time I thought of it, I was like "No way!" so I'll just have to jump into the fire then.

I haven't had too much contact with our group of late, so I'm not sure where we all stand in terms of provisions. We'll need a lot of stuff with us, such as water, Gatorade, food, you know, all of the essentials. I seriously can't even wrap my mind around all of the things that we'll need.

However, I have some things that I can start getting together, or at least make a checklist of to have with me when I set out on the Ragnar Relay.

* Clothes. I'll need a lot of changes of clothes. I'm not going to take a suitcase with me or anything but I will need clothes to change out of and into after my respective runs. I sweat a lot when I run. Usually by Mile 2 or 3, I'm dripping with sweat. And my runs are all more than 5 miles, so I anticipate a lot of sweating. I figure I'll need to take two full outfits. I'll just begin the day with what I'm going to run in, then will have to change before my second run and then before my last. I suppose I should throw in something to change out of for the drive home, unless I want to drive home all stinky. I have an idea of how to bring the stinky clothes back. I'll take the resealable plastic bags with me and then just put the dirty clothes in there. I hope that will work.

* Snacks. I'm going to bring my own snacks. I don't want to rely on what the captain brings for snacks because his tastes and mine are probably not the same. I'm going to bring some epples and banenes, probably a bag or two of trail mix, at least three energy bars (which will serve as my pre-run meals), and... I don't know. I have to figure out some other good snacks.

* Meals. I'm going to cook some pasta next week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I can carbo-load like a mother. I'll have plenty of leftovers to take with me. I'm also thinking of making a pasta salad too, for the trip and to have some semblance of a real meal. However, we will be driving through towns and stuff, so we won't exactly be traversing the Sahara desert or anything.

* Body Glide/Tape/band-aids. Anything to prevent the nipple chafing.

* Fully-charged iPod. I have to make some playlists.

* Camera. An absolute must. I might take both my cameras so I don't run out of battery juice.

* The Garmin. I'm undecided on The Polar. My old Polar would have been a slam dunk. I miss my old Polar. Sniff.

* Fuel Belt. Another must.

Well, I suppose that's it for now. I'm sure I'll think of three or five more things, and I'll probably think of them on the drive out there.

Halloween Time, At Least Calendar Says It Is

It's nearly October, which around here means two things.

1. Birthdays. Both Yvie and Kennedy celebrate their birthdays in October.

2. Halloween. The girls enjoy Halloween and we've already ordered their costumes.

While it feels very much like birthday season around here, it does not seem much like Halloween. After all, you tend to associate Halloween with chilly weather. Maybe not freezing cold temperatures but definitely more cold than warm.

Instead of that, though, we've dealt with 90- and 100-degree weather for pretty much all of September... well, the entire summer it seems like it but in particular this last month has really dragged in terms of hot weather.

So, in that sense it feels more like we're getting ready for the 4th of July than Halloween.

But it's Halloween Time after all, and to commemorate that Kennedy and I went to Disneyland on Monday. Well, we went because we had the chance to go but it just so happened that the Disneyland kicked off their Halloween Time celebration on Friday, so the park is all done up with Halloween-type themes.

Now, I will post some of those pictures but not today. For two reasons: 1) We're going again on Thursday (Yvie's birthday) so I want to take pictures of other things such as the Haunted Mansion since Kennedy and I didn't get over there; and 2) I never posted pictures from last Halloween, neither here nor anywhere else really so I figured I'd get those out first and then post the pictures from 2009 Halloween Time later in the week or next week.

Kennedy dressed as Cinderella.

She still has that dress, and it still kinda fits her. It actually fit her pretty big last year. She's eating a cookie we decorated. It was a bat cookie and we got some frosting and other candies to place on top, like candy eyeballs and a candy mouth.

Kennedy playing Texas Hold 'em with her friend Linda and a couple of Jacks.

Yvie (dressed as Rosetta, Tinkerbell's friend) posing with another pumpkinhead.

Now, these pictures were taken over in the petting zoo area. It's kind of out of the way; it's along the path that runs between Fantasyland and Adventureland. Many people just walk right past it, but to me this is a great spot because it is out of the way so it's quiet compared to, say, New Orleans Square, and there are things to see here particularly now and around Christmas. Maybe this won't appeal to the older crowd or those who don't have children but it's appealing to me.

There's lots to see here.

Case in point: carved pumpkins.

Here's a typical carving. Remember, all these pictures were from Oct. 2008. And all these are actual pumpkins, not plastic pumpkins. I have proof! (I took a picture of one of the ladies who carves out the pumpkins carving out a pumpkin)

There is one very similar to this one this year (and I left all the pictures big so if you click on them, you can see them in more detail). That's Mickey and Minnie all dressed up.

Some of our friends from 100 Acre Wood:

That was Eeyore and this is the big honey-lover himself, Winnie the Pooh.

A couple of nightmarish figures. This year's display is more complete than just their goulish heads.

A seemingly random carving. Can't place this, if it indeed comes from a movie or not.

A couple of dogs here on this one from what I think is a bit of an underrated Disney movie.

Now here are a couple of friends, at least at Disneyland they are always together.

Merry Unbirthday to you. Check this one out. It's a two-parter. First, looking from behind...

And then peeking out...
Here's one of last year's movie heroes. There's a similar display this year of a movie that was a hit this year for Disney/Pixar.

And then there was this little display. So simple yet something I probably never would have thought of making. Well, I guess that goes for all of these but this one looks good.

I hope you enjoyed this little picture display. When I took the pictures, I didn't really have anything in mind in terms of displaying them or coming up with a theme. And I only went once during Halloween Time. This year, I'll make at least three trips there and probably will make four so I plan on taking a blowout amount of pictures. Also, last year I didn't go to California Adventure, and I've already gone there to their display. The Halloween ambience there wasn't as prevalent as it was at Disneyland but there is a cool Candy Corn Acres display which I'll have pictures of.

Anyway, I'll be enjoying Halloween Time at Disneyland even if the weather is in the mid- to high-90s.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Sept. 28)

I did it!

I can't believe I did it!

I officiallly signed up for my first marathon. My day of marathon glory will be Feb. 7, 2010, if everything goes as planned.

I'm excited and scared and worried and anxious and jazzed... pretty much any and every emotion I'm feeling right now.

But despite all of that, I'm also motivated. I know that what I'm doing now in terms of running 2-3 times a week for 30-45 minutes along with my long run days on Sundays will help me get to the finish line on Feb. 7. I don't know in what condition I'll be once I cross the finish line but I'll get there one way or another.

I've got my moments in terms of crossing finish lines. I will always remember the Half Marathon finish line fondly and still use it for motivation during runs. But reading about my blog buddy Angie Eats Peace and her experience in the Surf City 2009 Marathon really made me want to run a marathon, and this one in particular. So when the form asked me if anyone inspired me to run this marathon, I put her name down, because she is an inspiration.

And knowing that I have my family behind me, my Loper friends and fellow Surf City marathoners and all of you loyal readers in my corner as well will make everything easier and makes everything easier now.

Now that the easy part is over (signing up, completing the first third of my marathon training), I can prepare for my first marathon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cooking With Yvie: Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Welcome to another episode of Cooking With Yvie.

Today, Yvie tackles the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. She's not a fan of oatmeal (truth be told, none of us here are big fans of oatmeal) but we have some around to make the Granola Bars and cookies such as this one.

The recipe is below the video.


1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups quick-cooking or old fashioned oats, uncooked)
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat margarine and sugar until creamy; add eggs and vanilla, beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats and raisins, mix well.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack
Makes 4 dozen
Made It

My feet are sore. My clothes are dripping wet. My nipples are tender but not bleeding.

And my 11-mile run is over. Whew. I'm not going to say that I worried for nothing but I will say that I was perhaps overthinking it. Or maybe that's just how I best prepare for a run.

Anyway, time to rest. Cooking With Yvie coming soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I'm nervous about my 11-mile run scheduled for Sunday morning. No reason to think that I can't complete it. I ran 10 miles last week just fine; got in two runs during the week, including a four-point-something run on Friday that went very well; I've been doing well in terms of nutrition and carbo-loading (though I need to do more research on carbo-loading).

I guess it's the distance that's frightening me. I've done 11 miles before, but I think I've only done 11 miles or more either two or three times. Yes, it's all part of my evolution as a runner, running these long distances but I'm nervous/anxious/worried nonetheless.

I will do something that I've not done before, and that's to take my iPod out to the Lopers. I haven't used it once, not even during my 10-miler last week.

Anyway, just had to get that off my chest since I've been thinking about it all day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Leftovers

It's Friday, the end of the week and I've got another edition of the Friday Leftovers (thanks Polly for the name suggestion!).

Word Association
Disconnect :: Reconnect
Contribute :: Pay
Dismay :: Sorrow
Constant :: Craving
Nails :: Dutch
Vibrate :: BuzzTherapy :: Practice
Stupid :: Lame
Poo :: Cachoo
Commune :: Live

I'm not a KD Lang fan so don't know where the Constant answer came from.

We did record a Cooking With Yvie this week so Sunday we'll be back to our regular feature. Yvie was quite happy to have recorded the episode. We did have a slight problem though. I let her try and crack an egg and she did but most of the egg came out on the countertop. I had to clean up the mess. Needless to say, that won't make the show.

Non-Trip A Blessing?

Remember when I said I could have gone to Honduras but had to pass up the chance due to the Ragnar Relay? Well, it might have been a good thing. Honduras is undergoing some tough political times right now as there was a coup of some sort and he was exiled to Costa Rica (I wish someone would exile me to Costa Rica...). Anyway, he tried to return but his plane was turned away and not allowed to land but he was determined and eventually went back to the country and is entrenched in some foreign embassy.
Anyway, the airports have been shut down and travel in and out of Honduras is virtually impossible, so much so that the game I was going to go for might be played in another country altogether.

Sometimes traveling is great but other times, such as this, it's not so great. I guess I'll be lucky to be in the Nevada desert on Oct. 9 and not trying to figure out what country I'll be in.

Baby Blue Wildcat

Last year, when I wasn't Yvie's soccer coach, I took many, many pictures of Yvie in her soccer uniform. This year, I've taken exactly one such picture.

Anyway, this is after her second game of the year. It was played at 1 p.m. a week ago, when the temperature was a comfy 92 degrees at the start of the game.

Luckily, our game starts at 8 a.m. this weekend. We can't handle another 90-degree-plus outing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blood And Guts

If you have read this blog with any regularity, you know about my bloody problem.

In running long distances, I am my worst nemesis.

Actually it is my nipple who is trying to hold me back. I'm still looking for a solution to my problem. But I think I am close.

I've tried many things to keep my nipple from bleeding like crazy. I switched shirts from one fabric to another, tried band aids, vaseline, Body Glide. The Body Glide actually helps ease the immediate pain but does nothing to prevent the bleeding, and once the Body Glide has worn off, I feel pain.

Not fun.

But one of my fellow Lopers suggested band aids, so I'm going to try that again. I just have to go find some at the store. I need some that will stick and that cover a lot of space. I used a small one Wednesday but it fell off during the run.

I feel that I must rid myself of this problem soom. My nipples will only continue to take a beating throughout the rest of the year and into next year, so I'm worried that it'll get to the point where the pain becomes unbearable.

I'm going to try band aids on Sunday. I hope I can find some good ones, for my nips' sake.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Double Digit Madness

11, 12, 0, 13, 14, 15, 6.2, 15, 15-18, 10, 9.3, 12, 18-20, 15.

What are those? Lotto numbers? The number of times I've sworn at bad drivers in the last few months?

No, actually, although those respective numbers would probably be high as well.

Those are the distances I will run on each Sunday from now until the end of the year, health permitting.

There is one zero in there, but that's the weekend after Ragnar, and running the 10 miles with the Lopers that weekend might be preferable to running my combined 19.5 miles in the Ragnar. At some point during the race, I'm sure I'll feel that way.

Honestly, looking at those figures that way frightens me a bit. It's like, holy crap!

And that's just until January. There are five double-digit Sunday runs in January, the most being a 20-22 miler on Jan. 17. Double holy crap!

It's a means to an end, though. My end is 26.2 on Feb. 7 (gotta sign up soon). Those numbers are my means.

It might be enjoyable. It will definitely be rewarding. And it probably will be the hardest thing I've ever done in terms of running and exercise, the entire end-of-the-year stretch.

Whatever the case, my Sundays are spoken for from now until... forever it seems like.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Last Call For Alcohol?

I used to drink beer. A lot. Well, maybe not often but when I drank, I drank.

I was responsible, though, and tried my hardest not to put anyone in a position of danger or anything like that. I've never had a DUI, God forbid, or anything like that.

Still, I enjoyed knocking back a beer or eight when the time was right. I drank a lot in high school. Yeah, I was pretty irresponsible back in the day. When I lived in Mexico at 17/18, I drank a beer with dinner quite often and didn't really think nothing of it.

Now, it wasn't like I used to keep an 18-pack in the fridge at all times, but when I had beer around, I drank it. And I could drink. I could hold my liquor quite a bit. One Super Bowl, I think in 01 or 02, I drank about 13 beers and wasn't passed out or anything.

Don't get me wrong, I've passed out before. Last time was in October 2007. It was never fun but it wasn't something that prevented me from drinking.

How much did I enjoy beer? Check out this slideshow I made out of some pictures I took in August 2006, during a family trip to Mexico. One of my goals before the trip was to take a picture with as many different types of beers as possible.

If you watched it and didn't understand it, the song is basically saying "I was born a drunk and I'm going to die a drunk and what fault do I have that I was born this way."

Anyway, you'll notice that I've been speaking in past tense here.

I think I'm coming to some sort of crossroads. Or maybe I'm making too big of a deal over something minor. Not sure yet.

What I am sure is that beer affects me quite a bit more than it used to.

Eight beers before and I'd feel it. Eight beers now and I'll black out.

Eight beers before and I'd probably have a little headache in the morning but I'd be fine during the day. Eight beers now and forget about functioning at or near 100 percent the next day.

Actually, I can drink three beers and not feel good. I can drink one beer and feel it the next day. That was unheard of for me a few years ago.

But throughout this weight-loss journey, I've had some changes. Things affect me more now at 185 pounds than they ever did at 300-plus pounds. Alcohol is one. Medicine too. I used to have to take a double dose of a cold medicine or whatever just to have it work. One aspirin before was akin to taking a skittle to try and combat a headache.

Now though, I can take the suggested dosage of medicine and feel it working.

And I can drink one beer and feel it working through my body.

And I hate that.

I hate alcohol-induced headaches. They are really annoying because they render me useless. I can do things around the house I suppose but forget about working out. Forget about something that requires a lot of walking, like a trip to Disneyland.

That's totally taken the fun out of drinking. Having a few beers, maybe not eight but say two or three, used to appeal to me. But now, when I'm around beer the only thing I can think of is how I'll be hurting the next day.

The last time I drank was in Mexico City, and the next day I paid for it. I was sick and had a raging headache. Now, part of that was because of the altitude and travel and such, but the alcohol played a role in that as well.

I think the previous time I drank before that was in Montreal in June. I had a couple of beers in Costa Rica as well.

It's just not fun anymore. But does that mean I'm going to give it up altogether? Am I going to make it official and not drink ever?

Probably not. But I've had the chance to drink a few times since Mexico City and have passed them up, and really I haven't felt bad about it. It's not like when I go out to eat with people and they all get burgers or some other greasy food and I get a salad. The most difficult thing is the peer pressure and the "Aw come on, you can drink one" replies I get. But usually I tell them that I'm going to run in the morning and don't want to drink because of that, and that works. And if that's not good enough for others, screw 'em.

I never really thought I'd be to the point where I could not drink alcohol anymore and be fine with it. I don't dislike it, don't look down on it or those who drink responsibly, but it's just not important to me anymore.

And if you're wondering about hard liquor...

I drank almost a whole bottle of tequila by myself on New Year's in 2007 (Dec. 31, '06) and since then the smell of tequila pretty much disgusts me :)

I've never been into wine or champagne.

A bad experience with Schnapps at age 16 completely turned me off to most other hard liquors.

I've been pretty much a beer-drinker my whole late teen/adult life.

Until now.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Sept. 21)

On Sunday, I ran 10 miles. It was the first time since late spring that I'd done so, and probably the fifth or sixth time I've ever ran as much. It feels great to have the ability to run 10 miles and to know that I have the ability to run more than 10 miles.

But there was a time when I wasn't able to run that much at once. There was a time, not too long ago, that five miles was about all I had to give, and even that was a stretch.

And there was a time when one mile was daunting, heck, any distance was daunting.

It's part of my evolution as a runner, but it's also more than that. I've been able to take important steps along the way as I try to evolve and develop as a runner. I'm not a gifted athlete. Every time the seven-minute-per-mile pace group zooms by us, I am humbled and left wondering what it would be like to run that fast for such long distances.

That's not me, though, and that moment of wonder/envy passes. I focus on my steps, my distances, my goals. I've come a long way but I still have a long way to go.

Whatever goals you've set for yourself, whatever the pinnacle is that you are trying to reach, just know that it will take time.

Before you lost 50 pounds, you have to lose five.

Before you save up $1,000 to pay off a debt, you have to save $50.

Before you quit smoking for good, you have to go a day without it.

It might seem like you are not moving fast enough towards your goals, that it's not worth the time and energy you are investing, that your frustration and anxiety levels are too high.

It is worth it, though. You just have to take each step as it comes and know that if you follow along your path, eventually those steps will get you to where you want to be.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Quiet Sunday

Sundays are normally set aside for Cooking With Yvie, but sadly there is no new episode today. Our beloved chef is adjusting to life as a first-grader, which means getting out of school at 2:30 pm as opposed to 11:25 am, and this week was an adjustment period.

It also was a first for me, as I volunteered for the first time in her classroom this school year. Actually, that was probably what torpedoed our hopes of this episode as I had planned to do it Friday but I was so run down after my day at school that I had to lay down for a nap. Yes, I realize how terrible that sounds, having to lay down after three hours of volunteering.

However, to be fair, the teacher had me do some actual work - take multiple workbooks out of multiple boxes and make multiple piles of said workbooks, break down the empty boxes, piece together the homework packets, a quick trip to the teacher's lounge - so I wasn't sitting around on my arse doing nothing. And I also ran four miles at the gym before going to school. Probably what did me in was not having water and/or Gatorade for myself after my run. I set myself up for failure.

Anyway, we'll be back with a new episode for next week.

But we do have an Yvie video for you today. It's quite old, from January 2006. I was talking Spanish to her because I only spoke Spanish to her for the first few years of her life. At first, she started talking in Spanish, but at around this time when her vocabulary really took off she started to talk more in English and later that year I started talking to her in mostly English, I think because she started talking to me in English and it went from there.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baby Blue Wildcats

That's the name of our team. Our uniforms are, yup, baby blue. A few of the girls suggested the Baby Blues or something to the effect and another blurted out Wildcats, probably for High School Musical, and thus a name was born.

We started one week ago. Last Saturday was our first game of the season, and while I wasn't exactly pumped for it - I was feeling a mixture of excitement, anxiety and fear - things went well.

One of my major things about coaching soccer is that I never played it. I've watched literally hundreds of soccer games, from high school all the way up to the World Cup. I attend about 50 games a year, give or take, and watch more on television. And last year I spent a few months as a high school soccer referee. I know the game. But knowing the game and playing the game are different things. And I was worried that my lack of playing will come out into not being able to coach a team.

But there is one factor that I didn't include in my formula: my team is made up of 4- and 5-year-old girls. Some had never really kicked a ball before. One prefers to sit on the grass and pick flowers or grass petals. I turned my back on them during one of our two practices and Yvie was trying to teach two of her teammates how to dance a Hannah Montana song.

It's not so much about soccer as it is about having the girls participate in an activity. I'm just trying to steer them in the right direction.

Now, don't get me wrong. I do want to teach the girls about the game. It would be nice if they developed a love of the game at some point in their lives, but if all they get out of this is a positive experience and some good memories, I'll be happy.

Unfortunately, there are lots of other things I must do that don't involve my team at all. Since our organization is a volunteer-driven one, that means we have to do a lot of things and deal with a lot of stressful situations. Our uniforms, for instance, came in two days before our first game, so the day before the game I drove around and distributed the uniforms to my team. We have to have all sorts of paperwork and commitments fulfilled that don't involve our girls and our team, and sometimes the people in charge can be less-than-helpful.

I'd say the actual coaching and playing part of coaching is about 40 percent of my duties.

But I try to overlook all the negatives and try to make it enjoyable for everyone, including the girls.

For now, my biggest challenge today will be keeping the girls cool. It's supposed to be 92 degrees when our game starts and I'm going to have to figure something out because the girls were tiring quickly during our first game last week, and that one started at 8 a.m.

Weather notwithstanding, it should be a good day for the Baby Blue Wildcats.

Friday, September 18, 2009

New Feature, Sort Of

As the week ends, I always seem to have extra thoughts and things that wouldn't really make a good blog post in and of themselves, so sometimes those thoughts just kind of vanish into the nothingness that is the back of my mind. So, I figure from now on I'll just kind of compile them and make a post every Friday of just random thoughts. They may or may not be about running, may or may not be about family... just whatever's kind of left over.

For some reason, Fridays have seemed kind of slow, like a low-traffic day so this is just a kind of light way to end the week and maybe give my readers a reason to check out this trusty blog.

Word Association

These Friday posts will be a good spot to put this Word Association post, which I get from Unconscious Mutterings.

1. Omelette :: Denver
2. Classic :: Rock
3. Thrifty :: Store
4. Search :: Function
5. Fan :: Air
6. Fussy :: Whiny
7. I am not :: cool
8. Indulge :: Eat
9. Poor :: Little
10. Manicure :: Pedicure

* I think I'm sending myself a subliminal message with number 7.

Toe's A No Go

Remember when I said that my torn-up toe was getting better? Well, it's not. I noticed a slight pain during my 9-miler a couple of weeks ago.

A quick background: the second toenail on my right foot went completely black earlier this year and the same toe on the left foot followed suit sometime around April or so. The right foot's toenail is back to normal and the left toe started to recover but after that recent run, it's gotten its black color back.

Now, this isn't a bad thing. I still consider it a badge of honor.

I think what happened was that whatever nerves were damaged down there started to get back some feeling but the toenail itself is damaged so it probably was rubbing up against the inside of my shoe and then quickly damaged the nerves once more.

Maybe that was too much info for you to handle, but I figure if you've put up with my bloody nipples before, then this bit of description is nothing.

Spending Money On CDs

I don't know what is with me and music but I'm just becoming more disenchanted with music. What's out now is just awful to me. I don't know, maybe I'm just closed-minded with music and there are some good songs out there but I just can't get into music right now. Mrs. LB will watch videos on VH1 or whatever and I just don't hear much that I like.

But I went through an iTunes gift card I got recently with no problems. Actually, the only problem really was the fact that I blew it all on music for the girls. I got the Yo Gabba Gabba! CD and a few other assorted songs.

If you're not familiar with Yo Gabba Gabba, it's a bit of a strange show. I did not like it at first but it's grown on me. A lot, obviously if I bought it. Now, I bought it because there were three songs I was going to buy anyway so I just bought the CD. The girls like the show and have enjoyed the CD.

Yo Gabba Gabba is one of those shows that either you like a lot or despise. There's really no in between. But even if you don't like the show, there are some songs on there that are pretty good (Happy Birthday by the Ting Tings, Pool Party by the Aquabats and Lovely, Love My Family by The Roots fit that description).

Anyway, it kind of struck me as odd when I was sitting on iTunes, wondering what songs to buy and the only ones that came to mind were children's songs.

Entertaining Pictures... For The Little Ones

Seems the girls like it when I put their heads on something else.

I showed off my magnificent drawing skills here. Yes, my photoshop skills are awesome too... Okay, neither are that good but the girls don't really know any better right now.

Anyway, here's another one:

Yvie has the body of Rosetta, a fairy (Tinkerbell's friend) whom Yvie is particularly fond of. Kenna, meanwhile, is just wearing an outfit she saw and liked.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fuelin' The Runs

It's not often that I add things to my running repertoire. In terms of adding things that I will use often such as watches, GPS and things like that, I've only had a handful of those moments. From my first pair of running shoes to taking The Garmin out for the first time, those moments have been few and far between.

Today, though, was one of those times.

I got my new fuel belt on Wednesday. It will accompany me on Sunday's run.

Now, I won't use it every run of course. No need to break out the belt for a three-miler, for instance. But from Sunday to Dec. 13, a span of less than three months, I am scheduled to run in more than 10 double-digit runs with the Lopers. Not to mention my Ragnar runs, when I'm sure I'll utilize the belt at some point during my respective three legs, and I'm going to put some use on the belt soon enough.

I got the fuel belt for a total fo 32 dollars on Amazon (thanks Willoughby for the tip!). That saved me about 15-20 bucks from having to buy it off the rack at the local running store. I used some of the mouse funds to buy the belt so thanks Mickey!

I like the color but really I didn't care... too much. I couldn't bring myself to run with a purple belt but red suits me fine. The belt fits me nice and snug so I don't anticipate having any problems of it slipping when I fill up the water bottles. The shiny part in the front is a little pocket, which I'll use to store some Gu. I'm not up-to-speed on Gu yet since I haven't tried it but it's an energy gel that you are supposed to use during long runs to help restore some of the resources you've depleted. Gu is just one of many brands but it's the one that's been recommended by the Lopers (at least my pace leader) so I'll have to get on that soon enough.

But I'm pretty psyched this morning about my run on Sunday. I plowed through The Interval on Wednesday and felt so good afterward. Friday's a 4-5 mile run (sadly, on the 'mill) and then Sunday's my first 10-mile run since late spring/early summer. Can't wait.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Creating Time

In April and May, I longed for the summer because I was getting tired of the morning ritual that involved a trip to school to drop Yvie off followed by (Tuesday through Thursday anyway) a trip about an hour later to take Kenna to her preschool some 10 miles away. I figured that, Tuesdays through Thursdays, I was spending about two hours in the car every day. And that was just taking the girls to and from school.

I wanted some peace and quiet. I wanted to have time to gather my thoughts in the morning, to plan runs around my schedule instead of trying to squeeze in runs whenever possible.

Well, the summer came and went and hardly any of that happened. I took three international trips, the girls had swim lessons that ate up a good portion of four consecutive weeks and we took a few family outings that also ate into the time. While enjoyable for the most part, it left me with a bit of a desire to get back into a bit of a set schedule.

Yvie is back in school, and so far it's been great for everyone.

She loves school and was dying to go back, so she has transitioned into first grade seamlessly. Kennedy has always done well playing by herself and keeping herself entertained when she's alone, and she has continued with that. She isn't quite as sad when we drop Yvie off this year as she was last year and when we get home she has done well to entertain herself.

I've been able to find time to catch up on work and also plan out some runs. Last week, Yvie's first back at school, I was knocked out by the illness but this week I'm already planning on getting in three runs. And it isn't a hopefully-it-will-happen plan; it's a after-dropping-Yvie-off-I'm-going-to-the-gym plan. It worked well on Monday, will work well today and will work well on Friday.

Kennedy likes going to the gym because she gets to play with other kids and I think she enjoys doing things there that maybe she can't do when Yvie's around, simply because they distract each other.

Of course, this means more runs on the treadmill but that's better than not running at all because I'm too bogged down with running around town.

Now this will soon change. Kennedy's preschool starts in October, and I'll have to repeat my 10-mile drive and all that good stuff. But that's only twice a week as opposed to three times, and I won't have to get Yvie before picking Kennedy up. I'll be able to do whatever I want/need to for three hours and then get Kenna. Last year, I'd leave my houst at about 11:10, get Yvie, drive to preschool which let out at 12 and go home, usually arriving here at about 12:30-12:40. It was a pain in the arse.

Yvie's days seem long. Going from a half day to a full day certainly makes it seem long. But it's good because she hasn't gotten home too tired, is still enthused about school as she was a year ago and is ready for more similar days. Of course, this is just a few days into the school year but I don't think it will change.

For me, I actually have time. Last year, I didn't feel like I had time to do anything. It seemed like it was always 11 before I knew it but this year I can relax and plan some things during the day.

Today, for instance I've got the gym, will head over to say Hi to Kennedy's preschool teacher, storytime at the library and then might go visit my mom before getting Yvie.

Now that sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slowly But Surely

I went to the gym after all on Monday and my workout went about as well as I could have expected.

I was worried about just running cold so I did 10 minutes on the exercise bike before getting on the treadmill and it worked well, got my heart rate up and everything. Then I headed over to the treadmill with a mix of anxiousness and anticipation. I wanted to run but I didn't know what to expect.

About a half-mile in, I realized that I would be able to finish just fine. I ran at a conversational pace, which is about the speed I run on during my long runs Sundays with my Lopers. That was the kind of pace I needed, not a blistering pace that could have set me back farther but one that would allow me to transition smoothly back into running.

After about a mile at a 5.5 speed, or about 10:50-per-mile pace, I got up to a 10-min-per-mile pace and ran the rest of the time at that speed. A few times my wrists hit the bar in front of me so I knew my body wanted to run a little faster, wanted to stretch my legs out but I heeded the "take it easy" warnings I received and took it easy. I also felt like running for more than the three miles I'd intended to but once I got to three miles, I reduced the speed some and walked for about 3-4 minutes to cool down.

I don't know what I had. My daughters had something and I got whatever they got. Luckily Mrs. LB has not shown any signs of any illness. It's Tuesday now, a full day after my workout and I feel great. About the only thing that is bothering me now is this cough of mine that comes and goes.

But the rest of the week I've got planned out in terms of running: The Interval on Wednesday (yay!) and a 4-5 mile run on Friday. Then I've got my 10-mile run on Sunday, so this week of build-up is important in order to get me back on track.

But at least I took the first and most important step.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Sept. 14)

I can do it.

I know I can do it.

I mean, it's just three little miles. Three miles, well, they may not be so little but I'm going to keep telling myself that.

See, I've been out of action for a week now. My last run was a week ago Sunday, when I ran my nine-miler with my Lopers. I got sick later that day (though I'd been feeling something coming on for a few days before that). I tried to go to the gym on Friday but I could not get out of my truck. Instead, I went home and crashed out on the couch for about two hours, in and out of sleep, and then went and laid down on my bed for another 45 minutes or so.


I despise being sick and not feeling myself. I don't like how this has taken over my ability to make my own decisions regarding runs. I want to be the one to choose whether I run or not and it irritates me that this infection or whatever I've battled made the decision for me.

But today, I'm going to try and run three little miles. Have to. Must. No choice. I missed out on a 10-mile run Sunday and I'm really bummed out about that. My Sunday ritual has, for the most part, been to get up early, get dressed, grab a bar and a water bottle and leave the house by about 5:55 in the morning. Then, I go and listen to some awesome and unrivaled running advice which is then followed by a long run.

But yesterday was no such morning. I rolled out of bed after eight, which is a rarity for me, believe me. I felt groggy for a while, then felt okay, then felt half-okay. I'd known a run was not an option so I wasn't going to try and fool myself that I could get up and run.

Still, today's a new day and I feel like I must get out and run. I desperately want to run 10 miles on Sunday and the only way to do that is to get up on my feet and run. My tentative plan is to run three miles today, run an interval session on Wednesday and try for 4-5 miles on Friday. Slowly but surely is the only way I'll make it.

In a way it feels like I'm starting from zero but I'm not. I know once I get out and run my three little miles I'll be able to make it through just fine. I felt fine Sunday afternoon and evening and really started to feel like myself again.

Now, I just have to go out and run.

I can do it.

After all, yesterday's over.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cooking With Yvie: Strawberry Smoothie

Welcome to another episode of Cooking With Yvie.

In this episode, Yvie makes a yummy Strawberry Smoothie, which was courtesy of this recipe from All Recipes.

We made a blueberry smoothie recently but since strawberries were 98 cents for a dollar, we couldn't resist passing up this opportunity.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Musings

Woe Is LB

I've been feeling run down all week. I was able to run nine miles on Sunday but that night I got a fever and I've been carrying a nagging headache/stuffy nose/sore throat all week. I feel so run down and haven't been able to run. I'm going to try and go today, going to head to the gym to see if I have it in me to run 20-30 minutes.

I really don't want to struggle through Sunday's 10-mile run, and I really don't want to miss it. If things go well today, then I think I'll be good for Sunday but we'll see.

I don't understand why I got sick. Well, I do I suppose as Yvie and Kennedy have been battling it as well, but I just don't know why this late in the summer they've come down with what they got.

Ragnar Costs Me Trip

I could have made another work-related jaunt to Central America. The same company I do work for that sent me to Costa Rica asked me if I was available to go to Honduras on Oct. 10. Sadly, I had to say no, I was not. I don't think it's put a damper on the Ragnar at all but it still would have been nice to have been able to go.

Disneyland On 09-09-09

We took the girls to Disneyland and California Adventure on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009, not to commemorate the 090909 date thing, but I guess that was an added bonus for no extra charge.

Anyway, just wanted to share some pictures.

Can you believe they already have Christmas stuff up? Okay, well, this is a half-truth. Yes, there are some festive decorations up, but it's for a commercial that will presumably air sometime this holiday season. I didn't realize that until well after I saw this wreath.

The girls and I on Dumbo. I used to think that ride was nothing, but I came close to feeling it on Thursday, and that would not have been a good feeling. Did I mention before that I have officially hit the wall?

That's Quincy of the Little Einsteins. Thought I'd do my best Quincy impersonation. Almost.

Kennedy's favorite form of transportation around the respective parks. It works but only for a while because she's getting heavy and I'm just getting old.

Kennedy and Cinderella. Mrs. LB took this picture and said that when they were two back of Cinderella, someone cut in line and Cinderella told them that since they cut they had to go to the back of the line. Ha! Can't pull a fast one on Cinderella.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yvie's First Day

It seemed like it was a long summer and for the most part it was. We got to do so many awesome trips, both as a family and just Mrs. LB and I. But today our summer is officially over.

Yvie is now a first-grader.

(I did her hair!)

Of course, First Day of School 2009 was not quite as strange as First Day of School 2008, when we didn't know what to expect. She was happy to seem of her classmates from last year and we were happy that she is with some familiar faces.

Yvie has been excited about school for quite a while now. She's still in the Dual Immersion program but this year instead of 90 percent Spanish and 10 percent English like she had in Kindergarten, it went to 80 percent Spanish and 20 percent English. She'll get more English-language instruction which is good but she's already such a strong reader in English.

I might get more into this as the school year progresses but Yvie can read in both English and Spanish. She first learned to read in Spanish at school and then sort of figured out English on her own. We specifically didn't teach her to read in English because we didn't want to mess her up with whatever they were teaching her in school, but she did just fine on her own. She actually reads better in English but now she'll be exposed to more Spanish and it will be interesting to see how she improves in that aspect.

While I think she'll do fine with first grade, I think her only problem might be adjusting to the long days, and that goes for her as well as us. School starts at about 8 and gets out at about 2:30. Last year, she got out at 11:25, so that's an extra three hours for all of us.

Kennedy for one found something to entertain herself with.

That would be Kennedy holding a lizard tail.

After posing with the lizard tail for a few pictures, I put on some music. She moved the tail around in her hand and said "Look, the lizard tail is dancing."

As my mom likes to say "Aye, aye, aye, la Kenna."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Month Away

It's exactly one month away from the Ragnar Relay. On Oct. 9-10 our Desert Tortoise team will be in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, getting ready to head out on our 170-mile trek.

The good news is that we've got our team filled out as we now have a full team of 12, rarin' and ready to go. We probably won't be able to get together again once more for a run but we're all (hopefully) training for it and should be ready to tackle this journey head on.

There have been some slight modifications in terms of the legs.

I am still Runner 11 so that part didn't change. And while I always had the most mileage of anyone, now it's quite a bit more than anyone. Runner 12 will have 17.5 total miles and that's the closest any runner will get to my 19.5 tally. I don't, however, have the single-longest run as there are three legs longer than my longest, which is a 7.3-miler.

Still, I'm not complaining. I'd actually prefer it that way. I'd prefer to take on some of the more difficult legs since I can handle it. I'd feel guilty if I opted out of the tough legs just because it seemed too challenging. This doesn't seem too challenging, but it does seem a bit daunting.

We're close to having our start times ready. We submitted some start times, the earliest of which I believe is 10 a.m. Hopefully we'll be done in the early afternoon on Saturday so I can cruise home and be back in the early evening. Sadly, I won't be able to partake in any of what Vegas has to offer. I don't know that I'd be up for it anyway as I'll probably be quite a bit tired.

On the chart, my 10K time and my mile pace were based off the run I did last month, the one and only time our team got together and will get together before the race. If I can maintain that 9:07-per-mile clip, I'll be done with my second and third legs in under an hour. However, I'm not sure how close I'll be able to stay to that as my second leg will be run in the middle of the night and I'll be on fumes for the third leg.

In some ways, the race doesn't seem real. I can't imagine what it will be like or what we'll feel like when we're out there in the middle of the night on our runs. Also I'm feeling guilty (of course) because I'm leaving Mrs. LB and the girls for a couple of days to do this and in some ways that's being selfish. But Mrs. LB supports my running endeavors and knows this is important to me, so it's all good. I think she's like most people, though, and doesn't know why anyone in their right mind would willingly participate in something like this. But that's me, I guess. I suppose I'm not in my right mind.

So that's what I have facing me. The last thing is to find out when we start so I can have an idea of what time I'll be running my respective legs. And then all I have to do is to continue getting my 30-45-minute runs in during the week and my long runs with the Lopers on Sundays and everything else will take care of itself.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Word Association

A few topics here for you this morning...

I had fun with this Word Association on Saturday so I'm going to try it again. Here's the link in case you wanted to have a go at it yourself. This blogger does this once a week apparently. Anyway, if you do try it, of course I recommend not reading this first so my awesome answers won't influence you.

1. Abusive :: Strangle
2. Psychotic :: Neurotic
3. Parents :: Grandparents
4. Yell :: Rebel
5. Amulet :: Romeo
6. Sandstorm :: Iraq
7. Amusement :: Park
8. Imitation :: Fur
9. Baby :: Crying
10. Rainbows :: Colors

Sorry but amulet didn't ring a bell when I did this. Juliet Capulet popped into my mind. Apparently, an amulet is sort of like a talisman. I must have missed that day in English class when amulet was on our spelling list.

Oh The Pain!

On Sunday, I ran 9 miles with the Lopers. It was a great run but had two consequences. First, it left my body depleted and I came down with a fever on Sunday evening. I think, though, that the fever had more to do with my daughters' respective health (they were not feeling well last week) than the run itself but I do think the run played a role, no matter how small. But my fever broke during the night and I suffered through only a sore throat on Monday. Only... as if that didn't bother me...

Anyway, the second part of the run was my bloody nipple. Body Glide (not to be confused with the other glide) took the pain element away but it didn't prevent my nipple from bleeding. My shirt had a large red spot from the blood. Luckily it didn't hurt during the run. Nor did it bother me too much after the run (believe it or not) but it still frightens me.

I don't know what to do about that. If nine miles is enough to make it bleed, what will 26.2 do to it? I guess I should ask the Lopers. They seem to have answers for everything.

Fuel Belt? What's That?

Last week, I'd intended to get out and buy a fuel belt. In case you don't know, a fuel belt is a belt that has small water bottles and pockets so you can store water, Gatorade and other small items on your respective runs. They help you hydrate yourself which is important particularly during long runs.

I went to the local running store, where I got my shoes. No luck. All they had in my size was purple. Then we went to another sporting goods retailer and they manager there said they didn't carry them. Instead of hitting up another store, I decided to call ahead to save myself another trip.

LB: "Just wondering if you carried fuel belts."

Dunce On The Other Line: "I'm sorry. What?"

LB: "A fuel belt for runners. Do you guys carry them?"

DOTOL: "I'm sorry. Say again."

LB: (with increasing irritability) "A belt for runners."

DOTOL: "I'm sorry. Could you explain..."

LB: (laughing, an angry I-can't-believe-this laugh) "Nevermind. If you've never heard of them, you obviously don't carry them."

So what did I do on Sunday? I filled up a 16-ounce water bottle with Gatorade and ran with it. I needed the extra fuel during the run to keep from getting too depleted. It worked. I'm still lost with what to do about a fuel belt. I might try ebay. Or maybe I'll get the purple belt.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Sept. 7)

A friend of mine recently asked about my running. He wanted to know: "What are you running from?"

I told him that I was running from 120 pounds.

The first picture was me circa Thansgiving 2004 (along with my three brothers and my dad). The last one was during my legendary karaoke performance for my 34th birthday (okay, maybe not so legendary).

I'm enjoying life much more these days. As long as I keep running away from my not-so-glory days, I'll keep enjoying life.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cooking With Yvie: Tomatillo Salsa

Hello and welcome to another episode of Cooking With Yvie! I'm quite pleased to present this episode today for several reasons.

First, check out what Yvie made:

That's a mighty tasty Tomatillo Salsa! Wonderful recipe. It's actually my mother's recipe (Yvie calls her Mama in the show).

The recipe... the way my mom told it to me and the way I interpreted it...

Mom: You probably want about a pound or so of tomatillos (LB: 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, skins removed)
Mom: Some garlic, you have to have some garlic (1-2 cloves garlic)
Mom: Salt, just put some salt in there, no pepper, but you need salt (one teaspoon salt)
Mom: You can put cilantro in with it or wait until after when you add the onion (3-4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped)
Mom: Just boil the tomatillos for about 10 minutes or so, they'll change color (rinse tomatillos, cover with water, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes until tomatillos have changed color)
Mom: Put everything in a blender (Drain water. Put tomatillos, salt, garlic, cilantro in blender).
Mom: Just a little in the blender, not too much because you want it chunky (Blend until chunky or smooth)
Mom: Oh yeah, then you need to add some onions and cilantro (Add 1/4 cup diced onion, 1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro).

That's a rough transcript of our chat (it was actually in Spanish so I translated over the rough transcript).

Oh yeah, one other thing about today's episode. I added an actual introduction. I changed up the song and threw together a short slideshow to serve as the intro. Just figured I needed something in there, like a real intro. Let me know what you think.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Word Association Test

I got this idea from this Random Ramblings blog who in turn linked to this blog here. It could be fun.

Anyway, it's word association. You know how that goes, right? Read the word and then write the first thing that pops into your head.

Well, here goes.
  1. Spinning :: Turning

  2. Impasse :: Deadline

  3. Gravy :: Turkey

  4. You are :: Awesome!

  5. September :: October

  6. Divulge :: Information

  7. Training :: Marathon

  8. Crap! :: Snap

  9. Results :: Race

  10. Shutting down :: Turning off
Interesting. Might do it again.

I suppose after a while this might reveal more of my inner thoughts and someone could analyze them and paint some portrait of me. Or maybe I've been watching too many of Mrs. LB's cop drama mystery shows.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Run, Interrupted

Good news: I got in a 34-minute-plus run on Friday, and ran for almost four miles.

Bad news: I'd wanted to run for 40 minutes and/or 4.5 miles.

But not all was my fault, and I don't feel bad about it.

I had planned for a tempo run this morning. Well, planned maybe isn't the right word. I'd thought about running for 30-40 minutes on the 'mill at the gym, and on my drive there I figured it would be good to try for a tempo run since I hadn't done it in awhile. Once I was on the 'mill, I figured it would be good to run for 10 minutes at a 6.0 pace, then run for 20 minutes at a 7.2. Now, that's not the fastest time as it is about 8:20 per mile. I should be running at a 5K pace, and I'm using 8:00 per mile as my 5K pace so it wasn't quite there, but it was between my 10K and 5K paces.

Anyway, it was faster than the first mile. I felt great and was really cruising along when my iPod decided to take a dump. Just felt like not working anymore, I suppose. That was at minute 26, and I still had four more minutes of the tempo part of my run.

I made it just fine, got back down to a 6.4 and was going to make it to either 40 minutes or 4.5 miles, whichever came first. I didn't expect to get a call first, though.

"Attention please," the loudspeaker blared. "Luis Bueno to the kid's club."

Crap! I had to hit stop. Had about six minutes left, was at 3.87 when I stopped.

But Dad duty called. Kennedy's been feeling a bit off the last couple of days. She was fine in the morning but certainly wasn't herself when I saw her after my run. We went by the store and now she's resting at home.

It's good though that I got in my run, even if I didn't get to the 40-minute mark. Had I waited any longer, I probably wouldn't have gotten in any run at all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mum's The Word

Well, I'm back from my trip and although I'd love to report all that happened, I can't. Signed something saying I wouldn't. I suppose what I said before I'd blogged about before I signed anything so I hadn't agreed not to write about it but I can't share any part of the day.

All I can say is that I had a great time as I usually do and really it was a normal day for the LB Trio, as we usually go the three of us (me, Yvie and Kenna).

I got the girls a treat for being so well-behaved as they usually are.

The park was pretty slow (there was no need to get fastpasses for anything) but we were too tired after our day to stay and do more rides. However, we're taking a family trip next week, the day before Yvie starts first grade (can you believe her school doesn't start until Sept. 10?) so we're hoping it will be even slower that day. There's a good chance it will.

And the best thing about that day is, I'll be able to blog all about it.

A Different Disney Experience

As this posts, I'll be on my way to Disneyland. Now, I've been to Disneyland many times in the last two years, but this will be the first time Disneyland pays me to go.

I stopped outside the park recently to take a brief survey, which ended up consisting of me giving my e-mail address to a survey taker. A few days later, I got an email that asked if I'd be willing to go to the park, spend some time there, follow a specific itinerary and report back at the end of the day. Oh, and they'd pay me 75 bucks.

I'm supposed to report at 10:45 a.m. and I'll be given a camera to take pictures with. I'm supposed to take pictures of myself enjoying the attractions, which aren't just rides. They include visiting restaurants, stores, taking in shows, whatever. I know some of the rides could include Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion... many of the same ones we already go on anyway.

We'll see how it goes. I don't want to stay too late but I could have something on my list which requires a late stay. Supposedly they normally take 5-7 hours.

I believe this promotion was open for passholders, and these are the last days of the survey.

I'm anxious and excited about it, and hope my girls can make it. Kennedy had a rough night but she's her normal self this morning so we'll see how it goes.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

End-of-Summer Cheap Thrills

A while back, my blog buddy Willoughby (whose blog is awesome so go check it out) came up with the idea of Cheap Thrills, which is essentially finding a place to travel to that A) is within driving distance so no overnight stay is necessary, B) costs 20 dollars or less (minus the price of gas), C) appeals to children and adults, D) little or no fee to enjoy.

In July, we had a Cheap Thrill as we went down to Newport Beach.

Sunday, we took a trip that turned out to be a Cheap Thrill. We went to the beach in Oceanside. Now, if you're familiar with Southern California, Riverside to Oceanside is quite a distance. And while it is, we took the train, the Beach Train. It cost us 29 dollars for a family of four, which in and of itself would deem this trip a non-cheap thrills. However, since children under 6 are free, we had two extra tickets. We ended up selling them to someone else for 15 bucks, so essentially our tickets cost us 14 bucks. Add in the shaved ice and corn on the cob we had while there and we spent exactly 20 dollars!

We'd been planning this trip literally all summer (we had some close friends who went with us) and we could never really get our schedules to line up together until the final weekend of August. It took about two hours to get down to Oceanside (we could have gotten off earlier, in Mission Viejo but decided to stay on until the end of the line.

Now, since I went to Japan in 2002 I learned first-hand of the greatness that is train travel. I love trains and the idea of having trains available for mass transit. It's not practical in many places but taking the train places sure beats sitting in traffic and getting tired from driving. Anyway, I'll save my we-should-have-trains-everywhere rant for another day.

Here's a shot of the beach I took from the nearby pier.

Yvie and her two friends were all about the waves, but Kennedy didn't quite make it out as far as they did.

That's fine, though. Kennedy wasn't scared.

Okay, here's a little blast from the past. We went to Laguna Beach two years ago, and neither girl wanted any part of the water.

Compare that to now, when they jump off cliffs in a deep lake and spend hours on end dodging waves at the beach and, well, there's no comparison. The girls are quite adventurous now. Part of me wants to attribute that to Disneyland because somebody always made them go on the fast and scary rides to help them get over their fears (yes, I did and do) but also it's just them feeling comfortable in and around water. Plus, they are both developing their personalities and they might just be the adventurous types... which is great now but I have a feeling it will be tough when they are teenagers... again, another post for another day.

Anyway, back to this Cheap Thrill...

Kennedy was content playing in the sand near the water. She spent quite a bit of time there. What's great about now as opposed to before is that we can watch her from the comforts of our own spot on the beach without fear of her running away. When she was 1 or 2, we had to be right up on her because she would go off without any warning. Not so much now.

Later, I wanted to go up to the pier and asked if anyone wanted to join me. I got one taker.

All told, we spent about 5-6 hours on the beach and that was enough to properly knock us all out. Yvie and her mom got sunburned while Kennedy crashed out on my lap on the train ride back home. I dragged through Monday and was happy it was a rest day (no running).

Between Mrs. LB and I, we took about 100 pictures (I probably took 70 of them) and I think this one is my favorite.

Cheap Thrills rule!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I don't have much time this morning but I will squeeze in a run. I'm heading out to the gym for an interval run, The Interval run. I haven't been to the gym in a while as I've been able to run outdoors which has been great, but I miss The Interval!

Getting back to routine sometimes is great, especially when that routine is enjoyable.

The Interval, by the way, is my favorite 42-minute run, of which I'm actually only running for 24 minutes.