December 23, 2014

Hot Buttered Run 10k Race Recap

This past weekend I ran in my last race of 2014, the Hot Buttered Run 10k.

Full disclosure: I only signed up for this race because a few months ago I was looking at the sidebar of my blog (where I list upcoming races and races completed) and noticed I had a race every month this year except for December.  Yes, I participated in at least one event each month (whether a run-only, bike-only, swim-only, or triathlon) and December was blank. I've never had a year where I raced each month, and while it was totally accidental that it worked out that way, I couldn't leave December blank.  I didn't want to do a half marathon, or a 5k....and this 10k worked beautifully into my schedule.  They also had a kid's 1k race that day, so I registered my 8 year old daughter, A

Three weeks ago, I was talking to my 10 year old son, D, about his running goals. He's been running 5ks with me for a few years now, and is quite good at them (much faster than me!). I asked him if he wanted to bump up to a 10k....and was excited when he agreed!  At first we were looking at a 10k next March, but then I thought of this race, which I was already signed up for.  He agreed to try.  So two weeks ago I took him to Miramar Lake, a local lake with a 5 mile loop.  He ran it with me, and liked it, so when we got home I registered him for the 10k.  After all, as I told him, if he could run 5, he could run 6.2.

Fast forward to race weekend. This past weekend was CRAZY!  A was in the Nutcracker (a feat that deserves its own post) on Saturday and I had no time to get the race packets. My husband was kind enough to go down to Road Runner Sports to get all three of our packets---just a bib and the race shirts, but the 10k shirts were long-sleeved tech--score!  A's 1k shirt was cotton, but adorable.  Sunday morning came all too quickly, but since the race didn't start until 10 (!!) we got to sleep in.  We left the house at 9, drove to Paradise Point in Mission Bay, and easily found parking. I had enough time to wait for the port-o-potties, then D and I made our way to the start line.  There were 3 corrals, and we chose the last one, which was for 10 minute or more milers.  A stayed with my husband to wait for us.  By the way, they also had a kid's zone there, a place you could leave your child in a daycare-type situation while the parent ran the race. I didn't need to use that, but I'm sure a lot of people did.

tree-lined finish line

So, D and I lined up.  Finally it was time for our corral to start (they released all 3 corrals separately).  We started with my 2 minute run/30 second walk ratio, which helps me tremendously with my sciatic pain.  I told D he could run on ahead if he wanted, but wisely he stuck with me, knowing that if he went out on his own he'd burn out too quickly.  It was getting warm, and I was glad I had brought Gatorade for the two of us to drink in my Fuel Belt.  They did have two aid stations on the course, but with a race that long and a day that warm, I needed more.

start line

The course was gorgeous----circling all around the Mission Bay area.  The sun, the water, and everyone dressed in their holiday gear made for great things to look at. I hadn't brought my iPod with me, as I was running with D, but had so much to look at to keep me occupied.  Oh---I dressed up too!  I got us each a headband with a present on it, jingle bell bracelets, and Christmas light necklaces that actually lit up.  D ditched the headband, but the jingle bell bracelets made a nice festive noise the whole run.

view of Mission Bay

The first four miles were great.  At around mile 4 D started to tire and want more walk breaks, so I reduced our ratio to 90 seconds run/30 seconds walk.  Soon he was complaining that his ankle hurt.  He said it was a 6 (out of 10) on the pain scale, which worried me.  We were only at mile 4.5 at that point.  We actually stopped so I could take his shoe off and look at it.  His ankle looked fine to me----no swelling, no discoloration, etc----but I told him we could walk the rest of the way, or I could carry him, or we could call for a pickup (not finish).  He wanted to finish, and in fact decided to run faster so he could finish quicker!  At mile 5 I  told him I wasn't going to do any more set intervals--that the last mile was his, and I'd run when he ran, and walked when he walked, at his discretion.  And run he did!  He is much faster than me, and the next half mile I was chasing after him at a 9:35 pace (by contrast, my usual run pace is about 10:45 [minus walk breaks]).  Half a mile later, I thought I was going to burst a lung. He didn't need a walk break, but I did after that sprint, so I told him to go ahead and finish.  I watched him fade in the distance, and then met him at the finish line, where they called my name.

 D finished 45 seconds faster than me. I was so impressed--not only was this his first 10k, but he hadn't really trained for it, save for that one 5 mile run two weeks ago. I'd love to see his time if he trains, and doesn't have ankle pain. As for me, it wasn't a PR, but I was only 2 minutes off my 10k PR, which is great considering I stopped in the middle of the race to look at his ankle, and slowed down my ratio. 

After the race, we found my husband and daughter.  There were no medals for the 10k runners, which was a bummer. I didn't really care too much for me, although I do enjoy them to remember the race by, but my son was sad, especially as he just got a medal rack for Hanukkah!  Oh well.  They had nice snacks after, and hot drinks---hot buttered rum for the adults, and hot chocolate for those under 21. I tried the rum drink, but personally didn't like it at all, and ended up tossing it.

hot buttered rum

When the last 10k runner crossed the finish line, it was time for the kids' races.  First they changed the sign at the start line---a nice touch!  They had a mini race for kids 8 and under---it literally just went to a nearby parking lot and back, and those runners were back in about a minute!  Then it was the 1k runner's turn.  Most kids ran alone, but I ran with A, as I didn't want her to get lost or trampled.  The cutest part of this race (just an out-and-back to another parking lot) was when A turned to me and said, "I'm doing great!".  The kids got a medal when they crossed, and an opportunity to receive a candy cane from Santa Claus, which A refused. 

kids' sign is up

All in all, a great race. It was fun to run with both my son and my daughter.  And to see my son complete his first 10k---all I can say is, WOW!!  We're thinking ahead a few years to when he's a teen...that may be a good time to do his first half marathon. In the meantime, we've officially bumped him up to 10ks!  And I'm proud of my daughter. While I'm not sure she's ready to start training for a 5k anytime soon (although, who knows?) she did great on the 1k!  I would definitely recommend this fun, festive race as a great end-of-the-year event.

December 9, 2014

Annapolis Running Classic Half Marathon Recap

Boy, am I late getting this recap up! I ran it two weeks ago, on November 22, and while I couldn't recap it while I was away (no computer access) I meant to write this up when I got home last week.  Alas, life has gotten in the way again.

Several months ago, we decided to visit J's family in Maryland for Thanksgiving.  We hadn't been back East to visit my in-laws since 2010, so we were way overdue.  When considering the trip, one of my first questions was "is there a half marathon I can run?"  You see, I have a lofty goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states. I've only done 3 states (California, obviously, since I live here, but also Nevada and Oregon).  I was hoping for an opportunity to check Maryland off the list.  Amazingly enough, there was a half marathon in Annapolis the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Annapolis Running Classic.  With it only about 45 minutes away from my in-law's home, I had to sign up.  We ended up flying in early, the Thursday before Thanksgiving, in order for me to do this.  It really worked out well, because we didn't hit too much holiday chaos going this early (or coming back, which was the day after Thanksgiving).

While I have been to Maryland countless times over the years with my husband, I'd never been to Annapolis.  All I knew was that it was a Navy town, with the Academy there.  My friend Ted was a physician in the Navy years ago, and he lent me a Navy baseball cap to wear; I wanted to get into the Navy spirit!  While this race offered packet pickup in various sports stores around town, I opted for them to mail me my bib, which worked out perfectly; we got in late Thursday night, and went sight-seeing in Washington, DC on Friday, so I wouldn't have had time.  The week before the race I got an envelope in the mail with my bib and safety pins.  The finisher's shirt would be given to me upon crossing the finish line. One thing I was in a tizzy about was what to wear!  Living in San Diego, I'm not used to cold weather, and the forecast showed that at 6:00 a.m. (when the race started) it would be 28 degrees, and by 8:00 a.m. (when I'd be only an hour into the race) it'd be 32 degrees.  What do you wear? I asked on dailymile and twitter, and was told to wear capris, a short-sleeved shirt and arm warmers, along with a throw-away jacket. At the last minute while packing, I tossed in long running pants, a long-sleeved tech shirt, and also throw-away gloves. I figured even if I didn't wear them on race day, I'd be running other days while on vacation so I'd wear them.  After desperate emails to my cold-weather-expert-friend Barb, I was glad I'd packed the warmer things!

So what did I end up wearing?  My long running pants, a long-sleeved tech shirt, my arm warmers under the shirt, a throw-away jacket, throw-away gloves, a skullcap, and the Navy cap over that. It ended up being perfect.

Go Navy!
Race morning I was up very early. The race started at 7, and they advised getting there by 6:30 to avoid road closures.  I had read a few recaps from previous years that said traffic was a nightmare, as there's apparently only one highway going into the area (the same recaps also talked about how hilly the course was....uh oh!).  With my in-law's house 45 minutes away, and me not knowing where I was going, as I never drive in Maryland, I was up at 4:30 and out the door by 5.  Luckily the Garmin in the car didn't lead me wrong, and I breezed over to Annapolis with no traffic whatsoever.  I mean, NO traffic. I was glad I avoided that!  I entered the parking lot at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium before 6:00...which was great, except that now I had a lot of waiting to do.  In the car.  Which was freezing.  I kept turning the car on to get some heat going, then turning it off, then turning it back on.  Finally I braved the elements to run to the port-o-potties (I wanted to go before the lines started, which eventually formed) and then ran back to the car.

Pre-race in the tent. These people know how to throw an after-party!

Getting set up for their oyster festival

pre-race. do I look freezing? I am.

more pre-race
at the stadium


At about 6:40, I headed over to the big tent, which was supposed to be heated.  I'm not going to sugar-coat it---it was COLD!!!!  No more than 30 degrees, which I guess is literally freezing.  I wandered around the tent for a bit, which was warm not only from the heat lamps but all the people!  Different booths were getting set up for the finish line festival, which would feature an oyster festival.  People were in a good mood, although I heard a few people grumbling that it wasn't this cold in previous years (indeed, the website itself says that the average temperature for November 22 is 59, with a low of 39. It was 30 or lower, definitely not what they expected!)  Eventually we were herded out of the tent to the start line.  I lined myself up in the back, not knowing how to pace.  As usual, I've been injured (this time with capsilitis) and while I have my doctor's blessing to run, I'd taken some time off to try, in vain, to heal.  And having never run in such cold weather, I didn't know how it would affect me---I'd heard it can be hard to breathe, etc.  I shivered my way to the start line, pulling a second pair of gloves on so that my hands were double-gloved---and my poor fingers were still frozen!  A few announcements, the singing of the National Anthem, and we were off!

I'm pretty sure that's the capital building

The first few miles ran us around the stadium, then heading into their downtown area by the harbor.  By mile 3 I was sufficiently warmed up enough to feel comfortable tossing my throw-away jacket at an aid station. I also took off one of the pairs of gloves. I was amazed by how warm I felt in literally freezing weather!  The downtown area was very cute.  Cobblestone streets, little shops, boutiques and restaurants...the kind of place I'd like to come back to explore one day.  We ran by the boats docked in the harbor.  The views were spectacular!

look how quaint this downtown is!

One thing that was funny for me was the first aid station.  Usually when there's an aid station, there's lots of water all over the ground from the discarded cups.  There was a volunteer at the table yelling a warning for everyone to watch the ice!  That was a new one for me---because it was freezing out, the water had frozen into ice!  I was glad for the warning, as it definitely looked slippery.  Also my Gatorade in my Fuel Belt was ice cold the entire run, even though it had never been refrigerated.


A logistical problem seemed to happen when we exited the downtown area.  It seems like we had to cross paths with the slower runners/walkers who were going the other way---we had to intersect their line. It wasn't a problem for me, as there was a big gap, but if it truly was an intersection (maybe I was mis-seeing it) it could have been an issue for other people.

After exiting the downtown area, we headed to the latter part of the run.  First we had to cross  big bridge, the Severn River Bridge. It was easily the biggest hill on the course, forming an arch shape that had us running uphill and then downhill---and, since this part was an out-and-back, we'd have to do it twice. Until this point, I was doing great maintaining my 2 minute run/30 second walk ratio, but at the bridge I ended up walking up most of it. I was suddenly spent, as I'd been doing a quicker than normal pace.  I was also getting very warm (weird in freezing weather!) and I ended up tossing my throw-away gloves at another aid station by the bridge (knowing I had a backup pair in my Amphipod Belt).  After the bridge we ran a few miles up a road (mostly a slight uphill) that was very pretty and wooded.  There was a turn-around point a few miles in here, then back down the road, to the bridge, and back.
The Severn Bridge looming ahead

gorgeous view from the bridge!

For a while I thought I might actually PR the race, but I blew up a bit in the second half.  The cold weather made me run faster, which I'm not used to. By the end, I just wanted to finish.  Finally I crossed the finish line in about 2:35---5 minutes off a PR, but still a great time for me, especially as I hadn't even considered "racing" this, only running it to cross a state off my list! I had taken some time to take pictures (as you can see) and had to stop to tie my shoe four times before I finally thought to just knot them, but even without those stops, a PR wouldn't have been in the cards for me.

As soon as I finished, I was freezing. Shivering.  I got my medal and hobbled down toward the tent where I was to get my finisher's shirt. And what a shirt it was!  A half-zip pullover with thumb holes. I love it, and have been wearing it all the time since I got back.  (They did run small, and I ended up exchanging my medium for a large).  While I was looking for some food, I saw someone with a cup of soup.  Soup!  Hot soup! I found where a big kettle of soup was steaming, and gratefully got a cup (it was vegetarian tomato!! Score!).  After relaxing with my soup for a bit, I shivered my way back to the car, cranked the heat up, and went home.

shirt and bling

Proud--and shivering---finisher

All in all, I am THRILLED I got to do this race. I can't say enough good things about it. I feel great that I was able to run so well, in unfamiliar weather.  I also enjoyed seeing all the Navy landmarks.  I wish I lived closer, because if I did I'd definitely do this race again.  It was scenic, well-organized and had a small-town feel. Not a lot of course support (ie no bands/entertainment, not a lot of spectators) but that also could have been a factor of the weather. Regardless, it was not needed---the views were entertainment enough.  Well done, Annapolis Running Classic!

November 6, 2014

Having My Cake---and Eating it Too

I have always said I would never do a full Ironman (140.6 miles).  The idea of swimming 2.4 miles, then biking 112 miles, and then running a FULL MARATHON (26.2 miles) did not appeal to me. At all.  I have referenced this all over my blog, in various posts, and whenever I wrote that I meant it.  Whenever people would ask me why I didn't want to do a full, I'd answer that I love to swim, bike and run, but not THAT much. I likened it to a cake:  I enjoy eating a piece of cake, but the thought of eating a whole cake at once seems really unappealing.  I've done the distances before. I've done a marathon, back in 2003, and never want to run another. Although running is my passion, that's TOO much running for me.  I've biked a century (it was 106 miles, only 6 miles short of Ironman distance).  And I've done the Tiki Swim twice, both times the 2.4 mile distance. I had no interest in putting it all together.  I even remember telling someone once that even if my Ironman entry was comped, and I got free coaching, and all new gear, I still wouldn't consider it.  I simply, and truthfully, had no interest.  And it was telling to me that, after both of the half-Ironmans I have done (SuperFrog and Ironman Oceanside) I told my husband and best friend that I would never do a half-Ironman (70.3 miles) again.  If 70.3 seemed like an ungodly amount of mileage, you can imagine how 140.6 sounded to me.

Well, now I'm considering eating a whole cake.

Let me back up.

A few months ago, my friend Steena was doing Ironman Wisconsin (for the second year in a row, I might add).  Ironman puts live feeds on their website on race day, and I was on the computer watching for her on the finish line live feed. Now, I've watched these finish line live feeds quite often---whenever I have a friend doing one of these races I try to check it out.  Never before have I been pulled in.  But for some reason, on this day, watching the finish line of Ironman Wisconsin, I thought to myself "I want to do that!"  The thought sure surprised me!  I mentioned it to my husband, J, and he was not surprised at all!  He said that over the years, as he's watched me increase my distances from sprint to Olympic to half-Ironman, he's expected that one day I'd want to do a full.  I guess it's taken 4 years of me doing this sport  to wrap my head around the thought of actually doing it.

And can I do it?  I think so. I need a lot of training, obviously. There's a 17 hour time limit, and because I am so slow in swim, bike AND run, I'll be cutting it close.  But I know this---if I complete the course and don't make the time cut-off (and therefore be an official DNF--did not finish) I will still be proud of myself.

But I won't find out for a while.  Although I'm suddenly hungering for a full Ironman, I won't do it for about 5 1/2 more years. I have my eye set on Ironman Texas, 2020.

Why wait? Why 2020? And why Ironman Texas?

Well, when I train for a 70.3 race, it takes a lot of time. Obviously. I am fortunate that I don't work, so I am able to train a lot in the week while the kids are at school, but I still have to do a long run and bike (and sometimes a bike-run brick) on the weekends.  J has NEVER made me feel guilty about my time away from the kids on the weekend, and neither have the kids, but, as a mom, I feel guilt anyway.  Because for both half-Iron races I tried to train as much as possible on the course, I biked a lot on Coronado and the Silver Strand for SuperFrog, and on Camp Pendleton for Oceanside.  That meant that on top of the 3-4 hours or so of biking I was doing, I had to add on 60-90 minutes of driving time to get to and from my destination. I would be gone all morning and into the early afternoon.  Again, my FAMILY never made me feel guilty. It's me.  I know I need, and deserve, my own life and time away, but still. 

So when I think about doubling the training effort, and knowing that I will be away a lot on weekends, it makes sense to wait 5 years.  In 2020, my son, D, will be going on 16 years old. My daughter, A, will be going on 14.  It will be after her Bat Mitzvah, which will be a stressful year.  They will be both be teenagers, and while I'm sure they will still need me on weekends, I don't think they will need me in the same capacity as they do now, at ages 10 and 8.  For my own sanity and mommy-guilt, I would feel better about this.  They are only young once, and while it's unrealistic (and unhealthy) to be with them every minute, I don't want to overdo the swim/bike/run and sacrifice my time with two of the loves of my life.

Also, 2020 is the year I turn 50.  What better gift can I give myself than to do an Ironman?  Yes, waiting until 2020 makes sense.  And Texas?  Because I have a lot of family there. I have two sisters, who are my best friends. One lives in Houston (where the race is) and one lives in Dallas.  And my dad and step-mother live centrally, so it's not too far for them. If I'm going to be spending 17 hours (or hopefully less) on the course, I want everyone there cheering me on---my husband, children, father, step-mother, sisters, brothers-in-law, niece and nephews. While I don't really relish the thought of traveling to Texas for the race (and all the expense and hassle of shipping my bike, etc), having my family there to cheer me on, as we also celebrate my 50th birthday, is gold. That's priceless.

My son is very excited about me doing this.  I have two caveats---I need to make sure that my body is holding up enough to train (I'm perpetually injured) and I need to make sure my family situation is ok (we have so many medical issues in my family, so really, knock on wood)....but I'm committing right here, on my blog, that if my body and family situation hold up, I'll be competing in the 2020 Ironman Texas Ironman.  April 25, 2020. Oh---and also if my passion for triathlon holds up.  There's always that. I can't, and won't, put in the hours upon hours of training if I'm over triathlon and training by then.

In preparation, I have signed up for my third half-Ironman. I will be doing Vineman 70.3 in July! I'm very excited about this race.  It's a very popular race, and it sold out in about 7 minutes, so I'm very lucky to be registered. It's supposed to be hot---can get up to a yucky 90 degrees--but also beautiful, as the course goes through the vineyards of Sonoma County.  Unlike my first 70.3, when I felt nauseous after hitting the registration button, or my second, when I felt nervous, I have only felt excitement about this one.  Yes, the nerves will come, but I KNOW I can do the distance. While I'd love to improve my times, my main goal is to have fun and practice my nutrition for long-course racing (which I always mess up on during race day).

So, that's that.  I'm doing another 70.3 in 2015, with an eye in the future for a full Ironman.  Putting out there on the interwebs makes it seem more real.  And I know that though it seems so far off right now, the time will fly by and soon enough I'll be in the depths of training!

November 4, 2014

Awesome 80's 5k Race Recap ('14)

For the third year in a row, I ran in the Awesome 80's raceThe inaugural year, 2012, I ran the 10k option (it was my first 10k ever).  Last year they only offered a 5k option, which was fine with me, as I ran it with  my son.  This year it was again only offered as a 5k, and an untimed one at that.  Still, my son, D, and I were excited to run it, as we had fun dressing up last year and wanted to again this year.  Plus, the theme was Pac Man, and we were coveting the cute medals!

Having learned from the mistake I made in last week's 5k (not reading the instructions carefully) I made sure I knew when packet pickup was.  They only had a few hours blocked out on Friday afternoon, which was Halloween.  My kids were troopers, going with me to packet pickup at Road Runner Sports in their Halloween costumes, which they had worn to school.  While at Road Runner Sports, I treated myself to a new Amphipod belt for my phone (we have a Nathan brand one at home that doesn't really fit my huge phone), which I used during the race and loved.  We were given a t-shirt and bib; no goodie bags or timing chips, as it was untimed.  (Side note: I wasn't aware that this race was untimed until I received the race day instruction email just a few days before. Not that I wouldn't have run the race anyway, as I do love this race, but it would have been nice to know this fact at registration. All previous years were chip timed).

Friday night, soon after trick-or-treat, it began to rain. I heard that it hasn't rained on Halloween in San Diego since 1988, so this is truly rare.  I asked D if he still wanted to go with me in the morning if it was raining (I would go regardless) and he said yes. I had to laugh---he's hardcore like his mama!  But I wasn't laughing when I woke up early Saturday morning. The plan was to leave the house by 5:30, and I was up before 5. It was POURING rain.  Ugh!  I woke up D and he still wanted to go. We decided not to wear our 80's costumes; we'll save them for next year.  We got dressed in alternate clothing, grabbed some windbreakers, and headed out the door. Luckily it stopped raining soon after we started driving down to Mission Bay, and it didn't start raining again.

The last two years parking was hard.  There's a dirt lot at the corner of Mission Bay Drive and Sea World Drive that most people park in, including us. It's a bit of a walk to the start, but not too far.  However, I didn't want to park there this time, as I knew the lot would now be mud. I didn't want to park in it, OR walk in it. I chanced getting off the freeway an exit early and made my way down a back way toward Fiesta Island. I was glad I did, as there was PLENTY of parking in a real lot, and very close to the start line at that!  We got down there by 6, and waited in the car for half an hour, as the race didn't start until 7.  We finally got out and made our way to the start. It was very uncrowded, especially as compared to the previous two years.  They had port-o-potties, but also there is a real bathroom there, as it's a park. Last year I waited in a long line for the real bathroom.  This year I walked right in and had my choice of stalls! I believe the rain scared people away, which was a shame because it did stop raining after all.  D and I check out the DeLorean that was there for display, and then lined up to run.  D wanted to be up in the front; it wasn't a timed race, but there was a finish line clock and he wanted to check his time at the finish so he wanted to be first out the gate (I had my Garmin for me, so it didn't matter about my placement).

view of the DeLorean and hoverboard
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Soon we were off!  This course is always very boring...a loop around ugly Fiesta Island. I didn't take pictures this time, as I was actually running really well and didn't want to stop.  I've been running a 2 minute run/30 second walk ratio during training, but during the race I did 4 1/2 minute run and 30 second walk. My injuries (sciatic nerve compression and capsulitis in my toe) didn't hurt at all.  I felt great! At the finish line I double high-fived Chewbacca and Mario. Only at an 80's race, right?  I ended up finishing (unofficially, of course) with a 10:46 minute/mile pace, which is pretty darned good for me in a 5k.  Not a PR, but one of my best.  D finished the run in 29 minutes flat.  Much faster than me!

finish line

We got our cool Pac Man medals and were home by 8:15. I was proud of him for not only running such a great race, but for being willing to run in bad conditions.  We hope to do this run again next year, this time in costume!

loved this year's theme!

October 28, 2014

Surfing Madonna 5k Race Recap

The Surfing Madonna 5k/10k is a run that benefits the "Save the Ocean"project. I'd never done this race before, but was intrigued by the course, which is all on the beach.  I signed up months ago to do this run with my son, but only a week before found out that he had testing for his next karate belt at the same time (he is now a first degree brown belt---the next belt he tests for will be junior black belt!).  I asked my good friend Kelly to take his spot, and the race coordinators easily transferred his name to hers at no cost.

I've been injured lately (what's new, right), this time with capsulitis in my little toe, and coupled with my other injuries I had no illusions about a PR for this race. I ran simply for the joy of having a beautiful run along the ocean.  The race did NOT disappoint in this regard.

Although I've been running and doing races since 1998, I made a rookie mistake for this 5k.  I didn't read the website carefully.  Normally a few days before a race I receive an email with instructions for packet pick-up, race day parking, etc.  An email never came.  On Friday morning (the day before the race) I decided to look at the website for packet pickup info.  I had assumed that I would be able to pick up my packet on race day, which is typical for most local 5ks.  I was shocked to read that there was mandatory pickup on Thursday and Friday----at Road Runner Sports in Carlsbad, which is over half hour away!  The site also said there would be race day pick up until noon at the latest (the races started at 2:00) but didn't say where.  Ugh!  So I had to drive straight to Carlsbad after my kids got out of school. Heading north in Friday rush hour traffic is never fun, especially with two cranky kids who did NOT want to go to a packet pickup!  Once there, I easily got my bib and t-shirt (and was able to get Kelly's as well).  In a Facebook exchange with one of the race directors she pointed out that emails were sent out earlier. I checked---and yes indeed emails were sent out, but the latest one was on September 30!  As the race was October 25, that email was not on my mind.  I suggested to her that next year emails be sent out closer to the race date.  And, lesson learned for me---always, always read the website carefully.  You'd think with all the races I've done I would know that, but apparently I didn't.

sign on the course
Race day was weird for me, as I'm used to running most races first thing in the morning. I've done a few at night, but never in the afternoon. Because this race is run on the beach, it started at 2:20, which was low tide.   I wasn't sure what to eat all day, so I settled on a light breakfast and lunch. I picked Kelly up and we headed north to Encinitas, where we found parking on a side street without too much trouble.  I was really impressed with the festivities set up there--tons of booths, especially aimed at keeping the ocean clean; lots of people; and great music filled the air.  Kelly and I got in line for the bathrooms (real ones, not port-o-potties) then headed down to the staging area.  We had thought the race started at 2:00, but again, having not read the website carefully, I didn't realize they started to line people up at 2:00; the race itself would start at 2:20.  We settled in for a long wait. I was already regretting my decision not to bring my handheld with me, as it was hot and I was thirsty!  Yet ANOTHER rookie mistake!

start line

Finally the race got under way.  We started out running north. I began my new run/walk ratio, which is run 2 minutes and walk 30 seconds. I've found that this ratio really helps me run better and stave off the pain.  The race was entirely on the sand, mostly hard packed, as it was low tide.  There was only one spot (for the 5k, at least) where there was a large stream of water that was unavoidable to step in, but even that didn't really get my shoes wet.  I was expecting to run out a mile and a half and then turn back, so I was surprised at a 5k turn around just over a mile into the race (the 10k runners kept going, and I'm unfamiliar with their route).  I made the turn and ran back south.  Here I grabbed water at the water station, something I don't often do in a 5k but man, it was hot. Again, I was regretting not bringing my handheld.

on the course

a race doesn't get more beautiful than this

Soon I was passing the finish line area, because the course went south of that.  We went maybe half a mile south, then made another u-turn north.  In this area was a second water station (odd, because most 5ks that I do only have one water station, but this was much needed and appreciated as it was hot!)  Just before the finish line, the course got hard, as the sand turned loose and it was uphill, so that made me trudge rather than run.  I finally crossed the finish line, got my medal, and immediately went in search of more water! I found Kelly soon after, and we headed home.

seen at the finish line

A fun race for a great cause. And many lessons learned for this seasoned runner---make sure to read the website carefully, and if it's hot outside, it's better to be safe than sorry in terms of hydration!

September 29, 2014

Tiki Swim Race Recap ('14)

Yesterday I raced in the Tiki Swim, a 2.4 mile open water swim. I did this race last year and had so much fun that I wanted to do it again. Last year it was my first swim-only event. Since then I've also done the La Jolla Pier to Cove, and again I really enjoyed doing a long-distance swim without having to worry about biking and running after.  I signed up for Tiki right after they opened registration. It has become so popular, now in it's 4th year, that it's a sell-out.  There is also a 1.2 mile option, and both distances have increased registrants every year.  It's a point to point race.  Starting just south of the Oceanside Pier, swimmers swim out to a buoy, then north, then into the Oceanside Harbor, finishing at the boat ramp.

from the Tiki Swim website

I trained hard for this race.  Last year I finished in around 1:49 and change.  This year I wanted to beat that time. My friend (and coach!) Steve designed a 7 week Tiki Swim training plan for me, with 3 swims per week, plus an optional open-water swim.  I hit almost every workout. I think I only missed three and a half.  Two because the kids were still on summer break and I just couldn't fit it in without too much guilt; one because I had a migraine and was in bed; and a half because I did go to the pool but it was during a 100 degree heat wave and the pool was literally too hot to swim in (the water must have been 86 degrees when I got in; after doing 700 yards I was too hot to continue).  I did long sets, speed work, drills, and even a 4200 yard swim (2.4 miles).

The best part of training was seeing real improvements in time.  I am not a fast swimmer, but have markedly improved just in the past few weeks.  Steve had me doing a periodic time trial of 1000 yards (20 laps) where I had to swim as fast as I could and record the time. On August 8th, my first TT, my time was 23:08.  On August 27th, it was 22:30.  And on September 10th, it was 21:36.  That's a 1:28 improvement from my first one in just a month, which is huge gains in the water.  I've been feeling extra strong and confident, and was having dreams of a 1:40 swim, or even 1:35.

Of course, the pool is very different than the ocean. The pool has no variables, save for maybe a temperature change or if someone is sharing a lane.  Likewise, swimming in the bay, like my friends and I often do, has very little variable.  No waves, very little current, and only temperature to worry about.  The ocean, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast.  You never know, not just hour to hour, but minute to minute, how the ocean is going to be behave.  Between waves, swells, currents, and undertow, not counting temperature, seaweed, etc, you never know what you're going to encounter.

Enough foreshadowing. Onto the recap!

Last year I had gone to the packet pickup on Saturday, and it was a cluster f**k.  You can read my recap to see why I didn't want to deal with it again this year.  They said this year it was mandatory, and there was only a 3 hour window on Saturday to do it. Luckily, I contacted the race director, who said there WOULD be pickup Sunday morning. I opted to do that, and save myself 90 minutes round trip of driving and a headache getting through the crowds.  As I wanted to be there at 6 when they opened, I set my alarm for 5:15. I had a surprisingly good night's sleep, and woke up well rested. I got ready quickly and was out the door by 5:35, eating a Luna Bar as I drove. Plenty of time to get to Oceanside, right?  Well, I was glad I had left extra early when traffic was stopped due to an accident!  I never expect traffic at 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday, but that's why I always leave extra time.  I finally got to the Oceanside Pier, parked nearby in the paid parking (had to admit I got a bit choked up; the last time I was on this street it was to park for my last half Ironman, which was exactly 6 months ago!)  got my packet, my race number marked on my hand,  found my gym friend Bill, found my friends Steve, Leah and Leo, and suited up.

with Steve, Leah and Leo pre-race

Now, when I first got there, the waves were tiny.  Maybe 2 feet tall.  But after suiting up, we went down to the water to warm up,and the waves were suddenly taller.  Stronger.  It reminded me very much of Super Frog, my first half Ironman which, ironically, was exactly two years ago.  Then, the water started off glassy, but when it was time to race the waves were 6 feet tall.  I was nervous yesterday. I don't like big waves.  I have a fear of getting pounded.  I know how to go through them, and have practiced enough.  But they still scare me.  During Super Frog, one hit me so hard that I was underwater, tumbling, and didn't know which end was up.  I hated that scary feeling, and ever since then am fearful.  Only a month or so ago, Steve and I did an open water swim in the ocean and I had to get through similar waves. I was actually crying as I fought through them.  So during our "warm up" I was getting very nervous.  The water felt good, though, likely in the high 60's.  We got out, lined up with the rest of the 2.4 miler crazies, walked through an arch where we were counted by hand, and waited for the siren to go off before we ran into the water.

So the siren went off, I ran into the water, and immediately stopped.  How the hell was I going to get through the waves?  They were strong, they were fierce, and they were tall. Not as tall as the 6 footers at Super Frog, but I'd estimate 4-5 feet.  It's an awesome and eerie sight to see swimmers IN the big waves---right before they broke I could see dozens of black-clad bodies with orange caps, in the middle of the wave, like a pack of sardines. It's a hard image to describe. I found a similar image from a recent Ironman Florida swim start to show you:

From Ironman Florida. See the swimmers IN the waves?  source

I started swimming, but only felt comfortable swimming Tarzan style (head out of the water) as I needed to see where the next waves were.  I was suddenly thankful for all the Tarzan drills Steve had me do in the pool!  It was slow going, as the waves just kept on coming! I was tired already, and couldn't have gone more than 200 yards.  Other swimmers were around me, struggling as well.  I saw one man turn back and swim back to shore. I asked him if he was heading back, and he replied that he couldn't see because his goggles kept filling with water.  I thought about him often during the race, knowing that no matter where I placed in the race, I beat THAT guy! (As a side note, if that had happened to me, which it could have because goggles do leak, I would have at least swam with one eye open out to the first buoy before making a final decision about dropping out.  Anyway...)  After I got past the breakers, and was able to put my face in the water to really swim, MORE waves came.  Really?  What was going on?

The first buoy was still so far away and I was exhausted.  I had thoughts of giving up and calling for a lifeguard, but knew I wouldn't.  I was swallowing so much water.  I have never swallowed so much water swimming in my life! I started to feel despair. I developed a new mantra, based on a picture a friend had recently posted on Facebook:
"I am strong. I can do hard things.  I am strong. I can do hard things. I am strong, I can do hard things."

Finally, I got out to the first buoy and paused to reorient myself and catch my breath. I felt nauseous from all the waves and the swells in the water and the gallons of salt water I had ingested. I have done many an ocean swim, and have never felt seasick until yesterday.  I must have looked a mess because a lifeguard there asked if I needed to hold onto her boat to rest! I declined, of course, and headed on my way.  I started swimming north. I was hoping for calm water to swim in, but I never found it. It was swells all the way.  I had originally planned on not taking any breaks (last year I briefly stopped at each buoy) but I had to yesterday---not only did I need a few seconds respite from swimming, but I needed to find the next buoy to sight off!  They were hard to see with the swells, the water covering them from my line of sight.

"I am strong. I can do hard things.  I am strong. I can do hard things. I am strong, I can do hard things."

My mind went to some dark places during some of the tougher portions. I have been entertaining the thought of doing my first full Ironman in a few years, and this swim really messed with my head.  Negative thoughts kept going through my head.  How can I do a full Ironman?  Clearly I'm too weak.  Everyone else is way up ahead of me. I'll never make it.  Luckily, my mantra really helped to stop those thoughts, and I was able to clear my mind for a good chunk of the swim.  I told myself I will never do this damn swim again, to just get through it.

At the triangle buoy, which is supposed to signify where the 1.2 milers join in and where the floating aid station is (again, for the second year in a row, I didn't see it. Not that I needed it, but still....) I asked a lifeguard what time it was. He answered 8:33. Since the race had started at 7:30, I had been swimming for 1:03.  I thought that was the halfway mark, and got really down.  All my goals for beating my time went out the window. I figured I would be over 2 hours.  And really, that was ok....the conditions were awful!  I spent more time that I probably should have resting at a few buoys.  At one point, in between buoys, I stopped and just floated there for a bit, orienting myself.  A waste of time, yes, but I needed a break with the exhaustion and the nausea, and at that point my time goal was out the window. My new goal was literally just to finish.

It was also around this time that I noticed lots of other swimmers around me, and behind me.  What?  I wasn't last?  Not by a long shot.  I even saw a 1.2 miler clinging to a paddle board, resting; last year, I never saw one 1.2 miler (the 2.4 and 1.2 people have different colored swim caps so it's easy to tell).  I felt a bit rejuvenated. I could do this thing!

Finally it was time to turn into the harbor.  This was confusing to me, as the buoys suddenly switched from big orange balls to small green balls.  My goggles are orange tinted, which meant that the green balls looked pale yellow, and since they were so small I could barely see them.  Now I was in familiar territory.  I've swam this harbor twice before, in both Tiki and in the half-Ironman. Like last year, the smell of funnel cake overwhelmed me from above. The water was much warmer there, and I was getting hot in my wetsuit.  All I wanted to do was be done.

"I am strong. I can do hard things.  I am strong. I can do hard things. I am strong, I can do hard things.".

 At long last I was making the turn into the boat ramp. Lots of people lined the dock above me, shouting encouragement.  As I was swimming, and had my ears in the water, I couldn't hear what they were saying but I heard the cheers.  I swam until my feet could touch the ramp, and then stood up.  This year it was a bit confusing, as they added a new feature of two different finish chutes, one for wetsuits and one for non-wetsuits.  I didn't know what to do, but a kind volunteer helped me to my feet, pointed me in the right direction, and I ran up over the timing mat...almost five minutes quicker than last year!  I have NO idea how I managed to be faster in tougher conditions, but I'm going to assume that my swimming itself was stronger, and that got me through.

Oh, sweet land, how glad I was to see you!

Steve was at the finish line waiting, as he, as well as Leo and Leah, had finished with kick-ass times way ahead of me.  I got my swag (my earned truckers's cap, a medal and a handmade lei). After getting my free breakfast (which I couldn't eat, since it was a burrito with meat in it) I found the rest of my friends and debriefed.  ALL of us struggled. It was a tough race.  That ocean was angry yesterday, and it didn't spare anyone some struggles.  The lifeguards were amazing---there were tons of them out on the course, and I'm sure many swimmers needed them, at least to rest.

proud finishers!

Of course, after finishing, I felt proud. Not only had I PR'd the course, but in much, much tougher conditions that last year.  And, I had energy!  Would I have been able to immediately get on a bike?  Yes, I believe that if I'd had a few minutes to settle down in transition, I could have gotten on a bike. Maybe not for 112 miles, but I could have ridden.  I felt good. My shoulder was sore, but not in pain.  And, unlike last year when I didn't apply Body Glide and my neck badly chafed, this year I learned my lesson and applied it liberally---and had no chafing. Yay for that!  I would love to do a similar swim but in body of open water with no big waves or swells to contend with.  If I hadn't stopped so much to rest and reorient myself (ie find the buoys over the swells), I think could have swum a 1:40, or even quicker.  This is just a theory, but one I'd like to test out some day.

And although I promised myself I don't have to do this race again, I likely will if my schedule allows it.  Because I am strong, and I can do hard things. Even a tough 2.4 mile ocean swim with huge swells.  And I am confident that, with training, I can do an Ironman if I choose to. 

September 11, 2014

My Joyful Manifesto

I know I've been absent from the blog for quite some time.  Like always, it's not that I have a lack of things to write about, or even the time (now that the kids are back in school, I do have lots of free time during the day). It's more of a lack of motivation...or, to be more specific, feeling too overwhelmed to just sit and put my thoughts down.

I feel like I am starting a new chapter of my life.  And in one sense, I am.  My mother died in February, and from here on out, things will always be dated in my mind as BEFORE MOM DIED and AFTER MOM DIED.  Just as with getting married, having kids, or any other major milestone, there's a before and after.  I am learning that I need to redefine myself as a person without a living mother.

I am also coming off of one of the most stressful 16-month periods of my life.  I've dealt with major stress before, most of which was in 2006.  That was the year my daughter was born and spent 3 months in the NICU, finally coming home  and leaving me to deal with a feeding tube and tracheostomy for 4 years, and also the year my husband got officially diagnosed with Young-Onset Parkinson's Disease.  Since 2006, many stressful life events happened, but things came to a crisis starting in 2012.  In a 16-month period, from October 2012 through February 2014, the following events occurred:
  • my daughter, age 6 at the time, broke her neck, requiring spinal fusion surgery and her wearing a halo screwed into her head for a few months
  • my mother got diagnosed with ovarian cancer
  • my husband had a stroke, as a side effect of a brain surgery designed to help his Parkinson's Disease
  • my daughter broke her ankle, necessitating use of a wheelchair while it healed
  • dealing with my mother's health decline, and flying back and forth to Houston to visit her
  • my husband had a heart attack
  • my mother died
This was all in addition to my everyday stress of dealing with my daughter's and husband's everyday health issues, plus regular parenting issues, schoolwork, friend drama, and everything else that can make life stressful.  Luckily, everything except for my mother ended up ok.  My husband totally recovered from both his stroke and heart attack, my daughter miraculously was unscathed from the neck break, her ankle healed, and I did end up with good closure with my mother before she died.

I've been thinking a lot since she died....about how I want to live my life.  Life is too damn short. She was only 68 when she died.   And while I'm only 44 today, I don't know where life is leading me. I can suddenly die tomorrow, or I can live until I'm 110.  But I want to be happy.  And truthfully, I'm not very happy at the moment.  I'm not depressed---I suffered from depression in my 20s and know what that feels like, and I KNOW I'm not clinically depressed.  But I'm not as happy as I'd like to be, and I'd like that to change. I'm tired of feeling just "ok".  I deserve more than that.

I'm declaring a joyful manifesto.

From here on out, I want to do things that make me happy.  Have meaning to me. Bring me joy.

Now I get that not everything I do needs to make me joyful.  For example, scrubbing toilets or driving the kids to all their activities don't exactly put a smile on my face all the time.  But, even those examples end up with me happy.  Having a clean house, or having active kids, bring me joy.

Here's a short list of what I've been thinking of doing in my life to create more joy.  It's short because I'm still working on it, and I'm sure it'll be a work in progress.  But here's what I've come up with so far:

  1. Be choosy who I spend time with.  I'm sick of making lunch dates and coffee dates with people who I'm not too close to.  I only want to socialize with people that I really care about. Yes, sometimes I need to suck it up and make chit-chat with acquaintances.  But most of the time, if I'm going to make plans with someone, it's going to be someone I consider to be a true friend.
  2. Say "no" more often.  I have the tendency to over-commit, and say "yes" when I should say "no".  This year? I will NOT be the room parent for either kids' class at school. I will NOT be the room parent for their religious school classes either. Been there, done that, and it's someone else's turn to step up.  Not that I won't help, of course I will---but I don't need to be in charge.  I am being very picky about what I am getting involved in with my school's Foundation, a Foundation that I myself started several years ago.  I am still active and involved with it, but I am choosing a fundraiser to chair that really speak to me.  I have dropped out of not one, but two, book clubs.  No more book clubs for me.
  3. Say "yes" to things that excite me.  I am getting more involved in Girl Scouts.  This year, not only am I my daughter's co-leader of Brownies, but I am taking a small role in our Service Unit.  Girl Scouts make me very happy.  I am helping a few friends train for athletic events that they are only dreaming of completing. 
  4. Purging my house.  I have a clutter problem with paperwork, especially stuff relating to the kids.  We just got our carpets upstairs replaced by hardwood, and everything had to come out of the rooms.  I am purging as I'm putting things back. I want to be a more clutter-free person. I do NOT like cleaning and de-cluttering, but when my house is freshly deep-cleaned, and things nicely organized, I am a much happier person in the end.
  5. Thinking about athletic goals. I have suddenly, as of this weekend, have thoughts of a full Ironman flitting around in my brain. I am seriously considering doing one, although IF I do, I won't be for several more years, not until the kids are teenagers. I have thoughts of Ironman Texas in 2020.  Even if I don't do it, the idea of completing it is making me happy. In the meantime, I want to sign up for more things that challenge me, scare me, and excite me.
 I am going to close out this post for now, but this is where I'm at right now.  I want deeper relationships, more meaning to my activities and time spent, and more challenges for myself. I'm hoping that in the end, more joy will arise.

August 14, 2014

Balboa Park 8 Mile Race Recap

When I sign up for a race, I usually do my due diligence. More often than not, it's a race I've heard of before, and know something about.  If it's a new race, or new-to-me race, I try to find out some essentials---course, elevation, etc---before shelling out money to sign up.  For some reason, though, I did none of this when it came to the Balboa Park 8 Miler.  I saw an ad on Facebook for this race, which is put on by the San Diego Track Club.  It was ridiculously cheap---only $35 for an 8 mile race, including a t-shirt and medal.  As I'd never done a race of that distance before, and love running in Balboa Park, I immediately signed up. 
After I paid, I did some research, and found a few bloggers that had recapped last year's race.  The salient features that people were writing about were the HILLS and the TRAILS.  What?  I used to run in Balboa Park quite frequently---in fact, I did much of my marathon training there in 2003--and never ran on hills that were THAT steep.  Or trails.  Turns out, I ran in the wrong part of the park.  Balboa Park has a lot of hills, and a lot of trails, and that was where the race was to be.  I had a brief moment of consideration to drop down to the 5k, but I knew I could do this race.  After all, a year and a half ago I did the Xterra Mission Gorge 15k, and THAT will always be my benchmark of how difficult trails and hills could be. If I could do that race, I could do this. Plus, this race wasn't even going to be entirely on trail, just part of it.  I consulted with my friend Mihael, who did the Xterra race with me, and he reminded me of the best way to get down hills, and basically boosted my confidence.  The Xterra Race, and frankly most of my recent athletic endeavors, including my two half -Ironman races, and my century ride---have given me a feeling of fearlessness,  that I could do anything. I may be one of the slowest, and it may not look pretty, but I can do anything I train to do.

packet pickup

Race day came and I made my way down to Balboa Park.  I easily found parking  I hadn't gone to packet pickup the day before, so I went to the registration table. It wasn't crowded, and the vibe was very low-key.  In a way, it reminded me of the Xterra race---just a chill vibe in the air, without the feeling of frenzy that often comes with the big races.  Because I had parked so close, I was able to go back to the car to put my t-shirt away, relax for a bit, then make my way to the port-o-potties and start line.  The 8 milers were to go first, followed by the 5k runners a while after that.

start line
The race started. I turned on my iPod and started out.  The weather was perfect---absolutely perfect for running.  While it was a bit muggy, the sun never made an appearance from behind the clouds. In fact, soon after the race ended it started to rain, which is odd for August in San Diego, but much needed. The first few miles were on a combination of pavement and groomed trails, nothing technical at all.  Soon we made our way into the depths of Balboa Park---and found the hills.

before the race

For anyone who is reading this and contemplating doing this run, let me assure you the hills aren't that bad. Yes, they are on trail. Yes, they are relatively steep.  But they are not THAT steep, and certainly not that long. Nowhere near some other hills I have done (I'm specifically thinking of not only the Xterra race, but the Washington hill during the San Diego Half, a big hill during the Hollywood Half, and Torrey Pines during the La Jolla Half). It was very doable. Now, I fully admit that I walked up and down every hill, which was in my plan (I have a hard time running hills, it usually irritates my sciatic nerve)....but I saw many people running them.  And, the best part for me was that although they were trail, they weren't slippery, meaning that I wasn't slipping and sliding on the descent.  Sadly, I didn't take pictures during the race, but really, they weren't bad.

After a few miles on the trails, we were on a back on a sidewalk, and then grass, heading toward the zoo for the turnaround.  Here we had to run in the zoo parking lot, which was partially blocked off, but not too much of a worry since it was so early.  Back to the trails, running back the same way we came, until the finish line, which was by the Air and Space Museum/Puppet Theater in Balboa Park.  They announced my name as I crossed, I received a medal, and was offered water and fruit. A very low-key ending to a very low-key race.  The course was a bit long---my Garmin measured 8.18, and believe me, I was muttering to myself  "where the heck is the finish line?"--but that was ok.  I was done.

bling bling medal
I was very proud of myself for a few reasons. Obviously, I was proud of myself for finishing---it was definitely on the tougher side, and I finished strong. I wasn't last by a long-shot, and even in my age group there were many women finishing after me. I don't care TOO much about my time, especially for a trail race at an unusual distance,  but I'd be lying if I said I didn't care if I was last.  But more important, I was proud of myself for starting the race in the first place. It would have been so easy for me to downgrade to the 5k, and not even see those hills.  I knew I could tackle them, and I did. 

While I don't know if I'd do this race again, I can definitely say I recommend it.  It's a great mixture of trail, concrete, grass and asphalt, which is fun.  The views are beautiful.  And I cannot say enough about the volunteers.  They were not only at aid stations, but sprinkled throughout the park, making sure we didn't get lost.  The trail was clearly marked, which was good because there were a few times no one was in front of me to follow.  The San Diego Track Club put on a great event.

July 31, 2014

Broadway Lovers

In March 2010 I took my son, D, to his first play. It was "Pippi Longstocking", a production put on by the local children's theater, the San Diego Junior Theatre.  He was almost 6 years old at the time. I saw an ad in one of those local free children's magazines, and thought it would be a fun thing to do with him.

Little did I know that 4 years later theater, especially musical theater, would be one of our great bonding experience.  For a few years, we would choose a few plays from the Junior Theatre to go to; last year I gave in and bought season tickets, as we had started to go to more and more of the shows.  While it's a children's theater, their caliber of execution is amazing----the acting, props, costume and choreography are simply amazing.  We have seen too many shows there to count, including "Beauty and the Beast", "Guys and Dolls", and "The Sound of Music".

In recent years we started to branch out to other theaters in San Diego; why limit ourselves just to the Junior Theatre? I "liked" the Facebook pages of most of the theaters all over town, from downtown to Coronado to Oceanside.  As a result, we have gotten to see some really neat productions, including "Cats", "Annie Get Your Gun", "Seussical the Musical", "Annie" and "Into the Woods". Actually we have seen so many shows over the past 4 years that I truly can't remember them all.  While I would love to take him to more shows at the magestic Civic Theatre, those tickets are very expensive and therefore we only see shows there that I feel we cannot miss (i.e. I'm trying to get tickets to take him to see "Wicked" there).

Musical theater is something I didn't expect to have in common with my son, but, like running and reading, it's something I delight in sharing.  A few weeks ago we were waiting to see "Thoroughly Modern Millie", and in the program was an ad for Les Miserables.  I asked him if he wanted to see it. He looked me in the eye, and said, "Mama, I want to see ALL the plays.".  A boy after my own heart.  We saw "Les Mis" last week.  We have also rented some musicals to watch on tv, and if I am able to rent the soundtrack from the library, we like to listen to the songs on the way home from the show.

Growing up, I didn't go to the theater too often, but the times I did really stick out in my mind. I remember my parents taking me to the big theaters in Los Angeles to see Cats, Pirates of Penzance and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  My mother furthered my love for musicals by renting movies such as "Carousel" and "Oklahoma!" for me and my sisters while I was in my teens.  These memories with my parents will always be with me---and I hope my son has the same warm memories when he gets older. 

I have taken my daughter to a few plays as well, and have tickets for some in the coming months, but she doesn't have the love for it (yet) that my son has.  If she develops that passion, I'll include her more as well.  In the meantime, I'm really enjoying my one-on-one time with my boy---and seeing some great live theater to boot!