Christmas again

This has been one whirlwind of a month. From Disneyland to preparing and hosting a bridal shower, December seemed to have slipped away from me.

I was struggling to find time to have “me time.” Laundry day kept getting pushed back. I was up late many nights baking Christmas cookies and wrapping presents.

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I started to feel a little “ugh” about the holiday season. I was constantly exhausted. My rest time occurred more at work (while actually working) than during my home time since I was hardly at home and was busy doing a million things on my to do list.

But, here it is. Christmas day.

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Going on a run with some of my family, even if it meant slowing my pace way down. Laughing until everything hurts. Meticulously crafting our gingerbread houses. Seeing my cousins open the gifts that I carefully picked out for them.

 

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All of that sleep deprivation. All of that pre-Christmas business.

Everything makes it all worth it.

Because, I am with my loved ones.

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Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Halloween means Christmas is coming!

IMG_3897The only reason I like Halloween is that it is a stepping stone to the real holiday season.

Halloween to me just means that Christmas is coming!

And, this is a happy Christmas-is-coming attitude.

You might have been fooled by this post two years ago about my “sadness” with the evolution of the Halloween holiday.

But, just to make sure we are all on the same page, I am reiterating my sentiments today.

This year I am not going to any Halloween parties. I was invited to one last night but with a 5K this morning, I didn’t want to be out late. And, Joanna invited me to a P1030992friend’s party tonight, but I am just too tired from said 5K.

Plus, I don’t have a costume.

I’m basically the Scrooge of Halloween.
And, I’m OK with that.

But, invite me to your caroling get-togethers, ugly Christmas sweater parties, holiday drinking shindigs, white elephant gift exchanges and gingerbread house building competitions and you won’t receive a single decline.

So, let’s talk in November!

When fun running turns into actually sort of (holiday) racing

When it approached close to midnight, Phyllis and I knew that we wouldn’t be racing the Seattle Jingle Bell Run 5K the next morning. After all, we wouldn’t be getting ample sleep and we had just stayed up all night playing Wii Sports and drinking ciders (ahem, one each, but still!) Our arms were embarrassingly sore from all the “punching” at Wii boxing and my fingers were starting to cramp from all the button control pushing during Super Smash Brothers. We bid farewell to our gaming host, Bryce, and set off into a deep albeit short 5.5-hour slumber at my house.

Before we went to sleep we were in agreement on one thing: That was a fun evening and we will take the morning’s race easy. We will just have fun.

We arrived at the race area super early without meaning to. Parking was a breeze! Neither one of us had to use a portapotty! We had nearly?more than? an hour to spare before the race would start. It wasn’t freezing but it was cold pre-8am temps. I was wearing shorts because I never race in full length tights or pants.

Pre-run selfie

As the minutes ticked by, we started talking more and more about “racing the race.”

(Let’s be real. We both knew we were always going to race from the beginning. It’s difficult not to unless you sign up for a race with someone who is not a runner).

The faster we ran, the sooner we would be done. The faster we ran, the warmer we would be. The faster we ran, the more time we would have to hang out together before Phyllis’ ride came to pick her up.

Since the Jingle Bell Run is a huge fundraising and community event, I knew that we would have to push our way toward the front of the pack to get a “decent start.” I know we weren’t setting out to PR or anything — after all, this was supposed to be a fun run so no training had gone into this race — but we at least didn’t want to get stuck behind walkers or joggers.

Lots of participants were wearing creative holiday costumes. Phyllis and I had Christmas-themed T-shirts on and bows tied around our ponytails. I guess we were going to race this but at least we would look festive while doing it!

The gun went off and Phyllis and I still had to scramble and weave around people to get up to our pace of “pushing-ourselves-but-not-dying-because-this-is-supposed-to-be-fun.” Once we were in the expressway (where a majority of the race takes place,) we were in our rhythm and finally had space and weren’t crowded by other runners. As we ran in the tunnel, there was just the sound of footsteps and jingle bells. It was both peaceful and kind of creepy.

After the first mile, I was burning up. I was regretting my decision of wearing a long sleeve shirt under my T-shirt now that we were “racing.” Our first mile split was 7:40. Not too shabby.

But, I didn’t think I could maintain this pace. I was getting tired! My lungs had that harsh feeling from just running fast combined with breathing in and out the cold morning air. I told Phyllis she could push ahead if she wanted to, she said she was good at where we were at.

Two miles down, one to go.

We continued on.

Once we exited the expressway, I knew we were at the homestretch. But, as soon as we made a turn onto the main road, I had a sudden gag reflex. I coughed up spit and was 75 percent worried I was actually going to throw up! But, how can this be? I never throw up from racing! I’m not even going super fast!

I slowed down and let Phyllis fly on ahead. I was not going to throw up during a fun run!

I somehow gained composure and hacked up some spit and took a few deep breaths. I could see the finish line. It was time to get on my horse and go. With probably about 200 meters left, I sprinted to that finish line. And, in the nick of time, I caught Phyllis. We came in one second apart! Me at 24:15 and she, 24:16. Not too shabby.

Post-race photo

Post-race photo

It was painful, but fun. Racing with friends can make any race fun and any fun run even more fun!

I’d say we concluded 2014 racing the only way you can: To actually sort of race a fun run. (And jingle all the way while doing it!)

Running to Christmas

Let’s be honest, it’s not as dazzling and magical as it was when I was 6 years old.

But, it’s a part of my childhood.

That’s why I ran to see those specific houses all lit up with the candy-cane decorations adorning the lawns. It’s Candy Cane Lane. It was in the low 30s last night but I didn’t really care. I was going to go take a visit to a piece of my youth.

 

 

Maybe that’s why people enjoy the holidays so much. It brings them back to a time that can only be recreated with (now) LED lights  and a spinning carousel.

10 reasons you should visit Disneyland in November

Reasons why you should visit Disneyland in November (as I experienced when I visited Disneyland and Disneyland’s California Adventure parks in Anaheim, Calif. on Nov. 9 and 10, 2013).

1. It’s warm (for my hometown of Seattle standards) but not hot.

Hello, short-sleeves and sunglasses!

Hello, short-sleeves and sunglasses!

2. It’s less crowded than the summer months. We didn’t have to wait more than an hour for a ride* (even the roller coasters).

Cars Land!

Cars Land!

3. Christmas + Disneyland = the most magical, happiest place on earth.

4. Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.

Nov. 9th line-up

Nov. 9th line-up

5. Getting to see some taping of the Christmas Day Parade that will air on ABC on Dec. 24! Hey, Jordin Sparks and Jason Derulo!

6. You can tell Santa Claus what you want for Christmas before he makes the rounds at the local malls.

7. The rides that are decked out (and in) with holiday goodness will make you feel really happy. Don’t miss the wonderful smells in the Haunted Mansion! And, if you think It’s a Small World looks festive on the exterior, wait until you see what’s inside!

It's a Small World

It’s a Small World

8. The puns get even punnier on the Jungle Cruise, I mean, Jingle Cruise!

9. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with garlands and lights and “snow.”

The Christmas castle at night

The Christmas castle at night

10. None of the typical Beach Boys music on the California Adventure side — it’s only Christmas tunes playing all day and night throughout the park.

Lights! Lights! Lights!

Lights! Lights! Lights!

 

Seriously. If you have only been to Disneyland in the summer months (like I had up until this trip,) go now. If you don’t go now, go next November. You will not regret it. It’s so freakin’ magical I almost could not handle it. (All in a good way, of course).

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*Some of the more popular rides like Indiana Jones and Radiator Springs Racers on the California Adventure side had estimated wait times of up to two hours so for those we either used Fast Passes or waited in the single rider line. (A few times even though we waited in the single rider line, it just so happened that we were able to sit together on the ride!)

Truth: The most wonderful time of the year

Christmas really is for the children.

All the presents, Santa, the sparkling tree — all for the kids.

And, that’s the thing.

Christmas strikes a sense of nostalgia — of childhood — that we cannot revert to, but Christmas is that small bit of childhood goodness that we can all experience again. It brings back warm feelings with every bite of a Rudolph sugar cookie we eat. It brings back that tug to your heart with every wish Santa grants when you walk by his “workshop” at  the downtown Nordstrom seeing all the children smiling and in awe. It makes your dark run in the rain so much better when flying by house after house lit with glowing icicle lights.

My cousin, who is in fifth grade, still believes in Santa Claus. Christmas is about that innocence. It’s about believing. It’s about giving. It’s about being with the ones you love and care about — and remembering those who cannot be with you.

So, on this eve of Christmas Eve, I say a Merry Christmas to you and yours!

(It’s also the only time of year I can justify having red and green nails with a bejeweled image of Santa on the thumbs!)