Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Motivation: LaKeisha and Give It 100

I'm probably way out of the loop on this… and this has probably been posted/shared a gazillion times… but I saw this video for the first time today and was SO MOVED.

It's a time-lapse video of a woman named LaKeisha, who committed to going to the gym every day for 100 days. In three minutes she made me cry (0:54), laugh (1:32, when she'd dancing with her bear), and cheer (2:05, day 78, when she steps on the scale and it settles on 299.2 -- "out of the 300 club!").

click the image to watch the video on YouTube...

Then I went to the Give It 100 site and discovered other people doing great 100-day projects, from hip hop moves, to musical instruments, to languages, to pushups and headstands. There are so many things I can think of… but what to do first???

Here's something slightly shocking … in 100 days we will actually be BACK from Peru. How did that happen? 

In Peru news… two nice things. 

1) I was pretty sure that in a previous adventure, years ago, I had purchased a pair of Gore-Tex trousers. It took some digging -- I had put them with other snow/winter outdoor gear -- but I unearthed not one but TWO pairs of such trousers… and one of them even fit Wil. So we're sorted from a waterproof standpoint for our trip!

2) I've FINALLY started getting organized re: immunizations. We had looked at the site to determine the shots we needed, which (since we're going to the rain forest, too), are:
- Hepatitis A
- Typhoid
- Yellow Fever
- Malaria

Now, yellow fever is the tough one. Only certain pharmacies / doctors are licensed to dispense it… possibly because it has to be kept cold? I have a long list of places who, in theory, stock it… but almost all of them are out of stock. In fact, the only people I have found who have it, are the folks at the King County Health Department. But the problem with going there? You need to pay $110 PER PERSON to meet with the nurse. And then you pay for the vaccine on top of that. Other places, such as Bartells or Pharmaca, charge $50 per person. Oh, and at the Health Department, you have go to during banker's hours, on Monday, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays. So I see that as a last resort. 

Then I discovered Katterman's Pharmacy -- they're open more reasonable hours, AND they don't charge for a "travel consultation" when you can just walk up and tell them that the site says we need A, B, and C… They can even prescribe malaria pills for you -- no trip to the doctor required. So that's pretty amazing. 

So, anyway, yesterday we went to Katterman's, filled out some paperwork, and received our first Hepatitis A shot (we'll have another in 6 months) and picked up the Typhoid tablets -- "a vaccine in a capsule!". (We took tablet 1 this morning, we'll take the additional three on a day off, day on cycle.) We'll go in another time to get our malaria tablets organized, all the while hoping that -- as the pharmaceutical company has said -- the Yellow Fever vaccine shortage will ease in April so that we can get that without paying a $220 premium…

I loved Katterman's, by the way -- it's a proper family pharmacy, with travel supplies and scarves and Easter decorations and a staff who knew most of the customers by name. I only wish it were closer to our place, rather than a 30-minute drive away. (A big challenge: balancing the desire for shopping at independent stores with the desire to not need to drive…) I'd just like to highlight how personal the service felt, how fast and efficient it was -- I'd highly recommend them to anyone in greater Seattle who is planning a trip to a faraway land… or even just folks who need a prescription filled. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

A funny thing about race registrations...

Running is booming. Every year more races are held… and more people run 'em. It's exciting to watch so many people getting out there to run, walk, skip, or crawl their way through races.

But the boom means that many races are now so popular that they sell out very quickly. The biggest races -- such as the New York, Chicago, and Marine Corps Marathons -- have all gone to a lottery system. Boston, of course, uses qualifying times … and the faster you are, the earlier you are able to register.

I'm torn between the "it's more fair for everyone" idea of a lottery system and the "fastest fingers win" idea of just throwing open registration. For example, the year Wil and I ran the New York Marathon, we both entered the lottery. He got in, I did not… so I chose Girls on the Run as my charity and raised a few thousand dollars in exchange for a bib. It was frustrating to wait to see if I got in -- I wanted the instant gratification. But in the end, it didn't make for a weirdly stressful hour… I just put our information in the system and waited.

Today was a different story. Today registration opened for the Beat the Blerch, the inaugural "the Oatmeal" theme race.

From the delightfully disturbed mind of Matthew Inman, aka "The Oatmeal", a 10K / half marathon / marathon race based on his amazing comic, "The Terrible & Wonderful Reason I Run Long Distances."

I knew this was going to be a difficult race to get in to. It's being held on a small trail in a small town -- I believe the total number of spaces was capped at 2500 people. And people, rightly, LOVE The Oatmeal.

I knew I would be busy at 9am -- was conducting an interview -- so Wil took over race registration duties. And, well, most race registration sites aren't designed to take that kind of traffic. Heck, last year the Chicago Marathon site melted down (hence: 2014 lottery system). A lot of people banging on a site that isn't architected for that sort of traffic = slow response times. Add that to a lot of people who perhaps don't know that much about how websites work, and continually refreshing the page, well… you end up with a lot of angry and frustrated folks.

Wil managed to get us registered, but it took 25 minutes of grinding away to get it done. And since both Wil and I work on web sites for a living, we totally understand that a site that's not going to get that kind of stress 364 days a year doesn't need to be built to withstand the 1 day a year it does. It's just simple economics.

I wasn't surprised to see that people were ranting and whining on Facebook. The same thing happened with the registration for SeaWheeze, the Lululemon half marathon. Except that race had 20,000 spots. I believe they attempted to run the registration through their own e-commerce site. Well, that's not built for that kind of traffic either. So it crashed… and the disappointed turned to FB to vent their frustrations.

It did make me sad, however, to see people so angry, and so few people saying that they were excited or happy. I hope Matt knows that the disappointed will always be louder than the quietly happy. My favorite comment, however, was the person who pointed out that, okay, if the site had it's own super awesome cloud server, all the places would have been gone in under 3 minutes… because it's not as if the entries were "disappearing"...

(And maybe I'm just quietly, SMUGLY happy that we got places… )

(If we didn't get in, yes, I'd be sad… but I already had a back-up race that I was ready to sign up for if we didn't get in to the Blerch.)

(Part of me hopes that Matt takes a note of all the folks complaining on FB, refunds their money, and opens up the places to people who said, "Oh, bummer, but congrats to everyone who got in!"… Hey, a girl can dream, right?)

Then, of course, there's tomorrow's adventure:

Tomorrow general registration opens for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland from November 14-16. This one is gonna go fast, too -- though I was a little surprised that the Annual Passholder pre-registrations stayed open for more than 24 hours for the half. Still, the 5K pre-reg slots sold out in under 35 minutes… but I guess the combination of the smaller field and the lower barrier to entry made it go faster…

Wasn't this supposed to be the year that I didn't run as many races? I keep being tempted by other races in other places… We did, in the end, sign up for the Daffodil Challenge 5K… I was unable to resist the logistical challenges of 4 5Ks in 4 different cities in one day. And the fact that a princess in a yellow ball gown is going to put a medal around my neck. Plus, I love a race where you can register and pick up your bib and shirt. It'll make race morning slightly less hectic!

Oh, and, um, did I mention that I signed up for this fella?

Yeah, it was irresistible, too. I'll be in Chicago the week before… and yes it's a long drive, but shorter than it would be to get to Iowa from here, right? Of course, for the Marathon To Marathon, I just sent a check to the race director… easy peasy…

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Public musing about private thoughts...

So many races, so little time.

And I love races -- absolutely love 'em.

But I had decided to cut back on racing this year -- after the 40@40 challenge in 2012-13, plus running a lot of odd little runs in 2013 (and 15 halfs)… I was really really going to cut back in 2014.

My goals this year were to run more regularly, race less, and spend my "fitness dollars" on more key events, such as working toward the 50 States Challenge. That is, spend $$ on going to, say, Indianapolis and Cincinnati for the weekend to pick up two new states, rather than spend the money on a local race that I have already run, or seems overpriced, etc.

Of course, Spring is here, new races get announced, and my tiny, bling-lovin' heart soars…

I do know that I don't need a race to validate my running. But I also know that I love putting the effort in someone else's hands -- someone else figures out the route, hands me cups of water, and maybe even gives me a medal. Sometimes I even get a shirt -- even though I will most likely never wear it. (And I'm thrilled with races that offer a "no-shirt" option and cut $30 off the price.)

I like a race to offer something interesting -- either in experience, location, or even swag. I'm currently obsessing over a new race called the Daffodil Challenge.

It's tied with the annual Daffodil Festival and Parade. Actually, paradeS. I didn't realize that the Daffodil Parade extends outside Tacoma… but it actually is also held in Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting. Apparently, the first parade is in Tacoma, and then it travels to the next city, and then the next, and so on. Four parades in one day. (Those princesses must get tired of all the waving!)

This year South Sound Running (a really fine running store in Tacoma, should you ever be in town) has put together a Daffodil Challenge: 5K races in each of the four parade cities in one day. Run all four and when you cross the finish line in Orting, one of the Daffodil princesses will give you a medal… and you have the option of marching in the last parade.

Now, this is exactly the sort of ridiculous running event that I love. It seems like more of a logistical challenge than a physical one; 20K isn't a long day -- especially when staggered into 4 - 5K bursts. The hard part will be moving from city to city while massive parades are happening!

Of course… do I need to do something like this? Nope. Of course not. It's $80 for the four-race challenge. But I keep obsessing about it.

Another race I keep thinking about is the Cupcake Run. Wil and I ran it last year and had a good time -- and raised money for a local family. I love how low-key the race is, that the money really goes to charity (not just a buck or two per runner, but the vast majority of it), and that you get a cupcake when you finish. What's not to love? This lovely run is only $30. But, again, do I *need* to do this?

I look at my list of races in 2014 and see that I've included a few races that I've run before… for no particular reason.

I mean, why exactly am I proposing the Lakefair Run in July, other than it's a nice little race that offers a no-shirt option? We ran it a couple of years ago, had a nice enough time (no complaints whatsoever to the organizers!), but do I need to run it again? It's only $30 with if you register before 3/31 and opt out of the shirt. Still, no. But… but… my race calendar is looking so empty!!!

Maybe that's the rub -- I worry that not racing means I'm not a real runner?

Or maybe I'm just trying to be a little more frugal?

I just feel a little odd and conflicted about things.

I guess it goes back to my goals this year -- run more regularly, be smarter in when and where I race. Race only for new experiences and new challenges -- new states, new races, that sort of thing. Which means accepting that there will be fewer races on the docket, and (sniffle) fewer medals.

Still, I have three new states this year -- at least, I'm signed up for them and have the travel sorted. And I might even pick up a fourth later on. Eyes on the prize, right?