Touristy Tuesday: San Diego & Santa Clarita, CA

It’s a double whammy Touristy Tuesday Saturday this week as I’m trying to catch up on our road-tripping adventures across the Southwest. It’s been awhile, but the blogging absence has been because we’ve been having so much fun!

After the trip to Madison, Abe and I flew back to California and made our way down the coast to San Diego. Hungover, jet-lagged, and exhausted from too much Midwestern fun, the sight of the Pacific coming into San Diego was more than enough to get us pumped up for the week.

Incredible sand castle from Coronado Beach

It was a pretty busy week, with only one day off, but as I posted about in my previous blog, I still got plenty of running in. In addition to being a great week for scenic workouts, it was also a great week for meeting up with people.

The Hotdogger reunion continued with a trip to Hotdogger Monica’s, from Class VII, Pollo Grill restaurant in Lemon Grove.

Talk about some hardcore delicious authentic Mexican food. We visited her in the afternoon after my 23 mile run so the grub hit the spot!

I also stopped by the Hotel del Coronado to visit my old coworkers in the marketing department there. It was great to catch up with them and hear about all the exciting new things going on since I left. It could have only been better if we were able to meet up over Sunday brunch in the Crown Room!

From San Diego we headed to Santa Clarita, CA in the San Fernando Valley. We had two days off right away there and here’s all the exciting things I accomplished:
– Assembled a 1,000 piece puzzle
– Finished the book “When Everything Changed”
– Started 50/50 by Dean Karnazes about his 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days
– Ate a ton of fro-yo

It was two days of total vegging out. Literally the least two exciting days on the road yet… but not the least fun! Doing that puzzle was actually a total blast. I had been telling Abe that I wanted to do one (semi-joking, semi-serious) for weeks. I started the first evening and watched chick flicks all night (Mean Girls, Runaway Bride, and Sliding Doors – yeah, clearly Abe wasn’t around) and then finished the puzzle in the morning while streaming This American Life and The Truth podcasts. It was the perfect way to relax.

I also got some quality reading time in. It seems that I’ve got a growing library collection in my bags right now. I finished the book “When Everything Changed” that chronicles the women’s movement since the 1960’s, which was both inspiring and informative. After starting it I also ordered “The Feminine Mystique” and “Sex and the Single Girl.” While I haven’t opened “The Feminine Mystique” yet, I did start and give up on “Sex and the Single Girl,” which was far too dated for me to really get into.

Instead, I nursed my sore legs in the hot tub next to the fire-pit (the reason I love Residence Inns) while digging into Dean Karnaze’s book “50/50 – ” Talk about absolutely incredible! My two friends Josh and Barrett got to meet Dean when they did their Northface Endurance Challenge ultra-marathon in Wisconsin. Very jealous now, although at the time they posted the picture I didn’t even know who the guy was!

I did leave the hotel eventually, to meet up with Cleveland Dave (from Monterey and Fresno) for dinner. He’s on orders with the military, moving from Monterey to Virginia and stopped through LA on the drive.

We had some great pizza, but more importantly some phenomenal beer. I tried my first Lambic – where has that been all my of-age life? That stuff is delicious!

Work this last week has easily been the best week on the road yet. We’ve had fun event after fun event.

While in Santa Clarita we did have two days of grocery stores, which are usually the least glamorous part of the job. They were a total blast though because they were really busy from all the media attention we scored this week.

Abe and I did two radio interviews in Lancaster. During the first one the rock station DJ Fathead made a joke that Ron Jeremy should drive the Wienermobile, which we greeted with awkward silence. I thought he was might have been confused and trying to talk about Paul Ryan or that this guy was some rock musician and that I was the confused one.

Well, I later learned just who Ron Jeremy was and was absolutely mortified! Google it if you don’t know who he is, but make sure you’re not on the work computer for that one!

Friday we drove down to University of Southern California for an event on campus. It was a total blast being back at a college and USC was a lot of fun!

When Abe and I showed up we initially thought everyone seemed to cool for the Wienermobile and I was definitely jaded when they told us we couldn’t play the jingle horn. But the day turned out to be one of the best events yet! I tried to sell just about every student on postponing life in a cubicle to drive the Wienermobile for a year and we also got to network with some Kraft bigwigs.

The most fun part of the day was when this comedy troupe showed up across the sidewalk from us. Commedus Interruptus does improv comedy and they were absolutely hilarious! Their show was about an hour long and had students stopping the entire time. Afterward Abe and I tried to recruit the whole cast to apply to be Hotdoggers.

We thought one of the guys looked familiar and when Abe googled him later we realized it was because it was this famous actor who has been on Glee! What a sweetheart for not stopping us and saying, “listen guys – I’m famous and a big deal – there is no way I’m driving a hot dog!”

After the awesome day at USC our next day at work consisted of a parade in Agoura Hills, CA.

If you ever see the Wienermobile in a parade and the Hotdogger is singing the jingle, will you please send some love and join in? Those solos from the bunroof were rough – it’s way more fun when the whole parade route joins in!

We finished our tour of the region with an event called Bark in the Park in Lancaster.

THOUSANDS of dogs, from 4 lbs to 180 lbs! They had costume contests, best “human barker”, and lots of obstacle courses for the dogs. Talk about an easy and fun day!

I can spend a Sunday hanging out with a bunch of fur children any day!

Abe and I also had the incredible opportunity to give rides to two Make a Wish siblings. Riding in the Wienermobile wasn’t their wish (they both took trips to Disney) but it was nice to bring the whole family a sense of joy. They definitely relished that experience.

On Sunday, our last night in Cali, Abe and I went separate ways. He headed off to Universal Studios with one of the Hotdoggers from Class XXIV for a Fright Fest. Since being scared isn’t really my thing, heavens knows Abe does it far too often and I get my fill of fear that way, I decided to do something a little different.

That night I went and saw The Giver at the Canyon Theatre Guild, a local playhouse. It was unbelievable! Not only was it really cheap, but the performers were phenomenal! The Giver was one of my favorite books as a child and I was really excited to see how it would turn out as a play. It was so well done. The lead was this 17 year old who blew me away with how well he played the part. The rest of the cast ranged from a 3rd grader to a retired senior. I told the five young performers how floored I was with their talent and how proud they should be of being able to get up there like that!

That was about it for San Diego and Santa Clarita. While we took it fairly easy I still had a great time! I’ve told people before how much fun this job is each week, but having fun can be hard and tiring. It was nice to have some nice and easy fun for a change!

That was perfect timing too because this week we’re in VEGAS!!! Yeah, no nice and easy here. I can’t wait for next week’s blog – it’s going to be a good one… you can bet on that!

Where I’ve been Running & The Climax of Marathon Training

For having a running blog, I haven’t blogged too much about running lately. For being about to run a marathon in 20 days, I also haven’t blogged too much about training!

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, that’s for sure, with quite a few highs and lows along the way.

While in San Diego I did some absolutely spectacular runs along The Strand, which is the strip of land connecting Coronado Island to Imperial Beach. That was definitely something to check that off the bucket list!

In the Spring of 2011 I actually lived in Chula Vista and worked at the Hotel del Coronado, so I drove The Strand daily. Back then I wasn’t a runner and didn’t take advantage of that beautiful trail even once. My one goal for my return to the area was to make up for lost time and get some miles in out there! Mission accomplished.

I figured go big or go home and decided to recreate my own version of the Goofy Challenge. You know, where you do a half marathon one day followed by a marathon the next. I really just wanted to see if I was up to it. So Monday of last week I headed out for my own half marathon. Easy breezy and I finished first – haha!

The next day I woke up at 4 a.m. and went out for the second half of the challenge, running 23 miles.

Sure, I was 3.2 miles short of the total challenge, but I proved to myself that I could definitely handle doing 13.1 + 26.2 miles back to back.

For the 23 mile run I started at The Del and ran almost the entire way back to my apartment in Chula Vista. That was a fun throwback to all the drives home from my internship at the Hotel del Coronado that spring.

When it came to the actual run though, I was a little worried because there was almost no elevation gain the entire route, so I felt like I was cheating myself.

That is, until I looked up the elevation map for the Marine Corps Marathon, which is almost equally as flatline. After I saw that I went from thinking it was inadequate training to perfect training!

Recovery was surprisingly not too bad. Obviously after the 23 mile run I went back to the hotel, collapsed into bed, and didn’t move for about 4 hours. But that afternoon I was up and out on the town with Abe. The next day I would say I was at 85% and by the next day I was at 100%.

The run marked the peak of marathon training for me. While I was thrilled to have topped out the miles, I almost instantly felt a mentality shift. I could feel my motivation begin to taper off along with my training.

Anyone who has run a marathon will tell you that the race is almost secondary, it’s the training and the process that is the most meaningful. For me, entering the taper stage was almost like starting the final chapter of a good book. I’m excited to see how it will end but am already lamenting the fact that it actually does have to end.

Feeling a bit deflated, this week I ended up taking two days off back to back on Monday and Tuesday. I was definitely in a weird funk, feeling sad and anxious about the marathon and just plain antsy! I knew I had to snap out of it though – two days are really the most I can take off in a row before I let it become five days and then two weeks off and I didn’t want to end up sacrificing 16 weeks of hard training!

My runs this week were brutal. No sugar coating – they were hard and slow. We were in Santa Clarita, CA which seemed to be in the middle of the mountains! There was an enormous hill to summit in mile one and although I got to run down it during mile two it just meant another climb on the way back! On a cool note, I did see a TARANTULA one night on my run.

My pace has gone to hell lately too, which has me concerned. If anyone has any suggestions for why this might be or how I can get that pace back down I definitely want to hear them! I had been training at an 8:40 pace for my shorter ~5 mile runs and around 9:00 for my longer runs. This week I could barely maintain 9:00 and truthfully creeped into the 9:30 range for many of my miles.

Luckily, on my long run, some kind soul had chalked some random inspirational sayings along my route. I don’t know that I would have made it without these little pick-me-ups along the way. There were about 5 of them!

Here’s what I’m thinking. I’ve probably (read: definitely) overtrained. My long run this week (13 miles – I was going to do 16 but didn’t think I’d survive) was the worst run I’ve done in my life. My legs were SHOT.

I’ve also gained weight, which could also be contributing to the slow down. Yeah, whhaatt? As someone who has struggled with weight gain, weight loss, and weight maintenance, this has definitely contributed to my weird mood lately. I run 50 miles per week and gain 5lbs?

This week I have one focus: recovery. That long run this week was so miserable that I know my legs need some TLC and that means taking it easy. So while I’m clamoring to get my pace back down, I’m hoping that if I invest in slow runs now it will pay off with a better pace on race day, which is when it counts.

So here we are, 20 days until race day! I’m thinking about posting a motivational quote each day just to keep me pumped up and avoid getting too taper nutty!

Good luck to everyone else training for fall marathons and congrats to anyone who has run one, especially all those folks at Chicago this weekend!