Tag Archives: thanksgiving

2017 Thanksgiving Day Race recap

4 Dec

2017 thanksgiving day race.jpgI did not have high expectations for this year’s Thanksgiving Day Race. Thanks to Pokemon Go, I hadn’t trained as hard as previous years. My A goal was a PR, but I would settle for a B goal of finishing in under an hour. And after I did a 2-mile shakeout run the day before to test my new trainers and thermal compression shirt, a C goal of just finishing seemed more attainable. I was used to running on the flat park paths of London in 50-degree weather. The forecast for 9am on race day was 26 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 C).

In the past we’ve always gotten to the race too early with nothing to do but stand around and shiver, so we left later this year, only to find they really do close the roads at 8am, so it was nearly impossible to find parking. My parents dropped me off near the stadium while they searched for a spot. I had just enough time to queue for the loo (can I say that in America?) before I walked to the start. I was feeling ambitious and lined up with the 9-minute mile crew. I took two puffs of my inhaler and soon we were off.

The problem with the Thanksgiving Day Race (and a lot of other races that aren’t serious marathons) is that no one takes the timing corrals seriously. Immediately after I crossed the starting line I was boxed in by a crew of walkers, only to get around them and encounter slow runners. All my runs on tourist-infested Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus prepared me for this, so I maneuvered around them effortlessly, hopping up on the sidewalk, then down on the road, then back on the sidewalk. I was feeling good. I had my music blasting, my two pairs of gloves were keeping my hands warm, my new thermal compression top was doing its job, and I let myself think that maybe — just maybe — I had a personal best in me after all.

frenchie tripping.gif

And then I was on the ground. It happened so suddenly, but at the same time felt like slow motion. I could feel myself falling, but couldn’t do anything to stop it. My right knee and left hip hit the sidewalk hard and my brand new iPhone went flying. (The fact that it didn’t get damaged is a testament to my Speck case!) Runners around me stopped to make sure I was OK. I quickly got up and gave a little kick to make sure my leg wasn’t seriously injured. I was so close to the starting line that I could easily have called it quits and walked back. I decided I would try running for a minute and if it didn’t hurt, I’d continue on. I quickly discovered that a pain-masking adrenaline rush is a very real thing, and I felt faster and stronger than ever. It was also so cold out that it probably had the same effect as icing my knee. So when Britney came through my headphones and told me to “get to work,” I took off, as if the spectacular wipe out never happened.

I ever started to get cocky around mile 3. I opened Pokemon Go and started spinning stops for items as I ran. I even placed a Pokemon in a gym along the course. MapMyRun was telling me my pace was around 9 minutes a mile, which I knew wasn’t right, but I still felt like maybe my shot at a PR wasn’t lost. And then the final bridge came. I didn’t walk it, but it definitely slowed me down. The last mile of a race always seems to go on forever. I sprinted the last bit, but it wasn’t enough. I crossed the finish line in under an hour, but a minute slower than my time from two years ago. Not too shabby considering I wiped out in the first mile and almost didn’t continue.

By the time I met up with my parents and Cherry and collected my swag, the reality of my injuries started to kick in and really hurt. Blood was seeping through my two layers of pants. My hip didn’t begin to hurt until days later, but my knee was extraordinarily bruised and beat up. I spent the rest of the morning icing it while watching the parade. It’s now 11 days later and it’s still bruised and scabbed. I’m quite fortunate that I wasn’t seriously injured and that it only hurts now when Cherry jumps up on me or I forget and slam a cabinet shut with my knee. My hip was really bothering me last week to the point that I almost went to the doctor, but I tried some stretches I read about online and it really made a difference.This whole week I’ve felt 30 going on 70 complaining about my hip and knee pain. Getting old is the worst. I thought running was supposed to keep me young and healthy?

How is it mid-November already?

17 Nov

Is it just me, or does the time between the end of August and Thanksgiving go by in about 10 minutes? I swear we were just getting back from our summer holiday, and now I’m looking at the massive amount of Christmas presents I’ve purchased over the past few weeks and am wondering how I’m going to fit them all in my suitcase when I head back to the U.S. on Tuesday. I’m seriously contemplating not packing any clothing — I have a closet full of sweaters at my parents’, and we already have plans to hit the outlet mall on Black Friday. The only thing I need to bring is running clothes for the Thanksgiving 10K. I keep checking the Thanksgiving Day forecast for Cincinnati hoping for it to warm up. It has changed from snow to rain to sun, so we’re headed in the right direction, but my body is definitely not used to running in freezing temperatures. A PR would be nice, but I’m not sure I’ve trained enough for one, so I may have to settle with just finishing.

I was hoping to fit in one more West End show before my trip back, but I couldn’t manage to score lottery tickets to see Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell from Game of Thrones) in Venus in Fur and didn’t want to see it badly enough to queue for day seats. I only managed 3 day seat queues this year, which is impressive considering I saw 16 shows. I finally got out of the 9 shows a year slump! 16 is a nice even number to go out on, and is setting the bar high for next year. And while I may be done with London shows for 2017, I’m not done with theatre for the year — my friend and I got tickets to see Hamilton in Chicago next month! We’ll see if it lives up to the hype (and believe me, at the insane ticket price and the non-stop “OMG HAMILTON!!” on social media, my expectations are sky high).

As per tradition, I walked around Oxford Street yesterday to take in all the Christmas lights. It’s the same display they had last year (and possibly every year), which is beautiful, but like most things in life, would be even more beautiful if there weren’t so many people everywhere. I was particularly intrigued by the conversation this couple walking next to me was having.

“Look how impressive this is now, just imagine how it will look once they turn the lights on!” the guy said to his girlfriend.

I did not take any photos of the Oxford Street lights, so I’ll post one from Time Out.

oxford st lights

That’s what the street looked like. As the American saying goes, “It was lit up like the 4th of July.” From the stores to the hanging bulbs above the street, the whole area was awash in light. No bulb remained unlit.

What was he talking about?!

He kept repeating it too. “It’s gonna look so cool with all the lights on!”

“All the lights are on, you nitwit!” I wanted to shout.

Perhaps he was confusing Oxford Street with Regent Street. Oxford Street turned their lights on on November 7, while Regent Street waited until yesterday. I walked down Regent Street in the early evening yesterday and the lights weren’t on yet, and it was very obvious to tell. I’m not sure what additional lights he was hoping would be turned on on Oxford Street. He certainly needed to turn on the light in his head.

Thanksgiving Day Race Recap with pugs and corgis

3 Dec

I did it! After months of sprinting on the track, huffing it up Primrose Hill, and crapping out on 4-mile weekend runs, prompting Stephen to say, “There’s no way you’ll finish that 10K in under an hour,” I did it — I ran the Thanksgiving Day Race in 58 minutes and 49 seconds — a whole minute and 11 seconds faster than my goal.

It was really the perfect race in all aspects — the weather was ideal (50 F instead of the usual 25 F), my playlist was killer, and I saw a pug at the starting line and two corgis along the course. Years ago I declared that a pug sighting automatically improved the quality of my day, so it was a good omen to start the race with one. I also declared that races should have corgis along the way to make me run faster, and there they were — two corgis — on the side of the course cheering us on! However they didn’t make me run faster because I briefly slowed down to take their photo. I decided this race nothing was going to slow me down — I had various mantras I kept repeating in my head, from Shaun T’s “Dig deeper!” and “Never sacrifice form” to¬†Enrico Pollini from Rat Race:

its a race gif.gif

I also really wanted to prove to myself (and Stephen, who runs with me the most) that I am capable of digging deeper and reaching my goal. But when there is a corgi along the race course you cannot not take a photo. (Pics or it didn’t happen, right?) So I got this blurry pic and took off again:

thanksgiving day race corgis.png

As I ran my family was texting me from the finish line, letting me know a guy won the race in 30:39 (how??) and that the very pug from the starting line was standing near them.

cincinnati pug.png

Not only that, but there was a corgi puppy nearby too!

race corgi.png

I wasn’t able to find my family or the pug and corgi after I finished since I was on a mission to get to the snacks by the stadium, but the thought of the pug and corgi (and OK, my family too) waiting for me helped me to push through on the hills.

I was elated that I finally reached my goal, but now there’s that “what now?”. Each year I shaved about 3 min off my 10K time — do I try for 55 min next year? But this race was so good I’m not sure I want to run it again next year (or if I’ll even be in town). When I brought up my “what now?” conundrum to my runner friend, she replied immediately: “You gotta run a half!” It’s always been in the back of my head that I want to tackle a half marathon before I turn 30. So many runners of varying sizes and abilities have done it — why not me? The London Half is in October, so I’ve got 310 days to decide and prepare. In the meantime I’ve “registered my interest” and have been carboloading as only Americans during the holidays know how.

Inner monologue while packing for America

23 Nov

I am not going to bring that much stuff this year. Just some Christmas presents, old sweaters to keep at my parents’/sell and my running gear. I am going to have so much extra space, I better add even more sweaters and old clothes!

::Packing begins::

How is the wheeled carry on full already? Does my purse really take up that much room? Last year I got scolded by the United lady and held up the queue as I forced my purse “into” my laptop bag (there was no way it was going to fit, so it just sat perched atop it), so this year it’s gotta go in the bag so I only have two carry on items. Lesson learned.

Now for the big bag. My clothes don’t take up much space at all! … I forgot about the sweater pile. And the chocolate. Why did I feel the need to bring over a kilo of British chocolate back for everyone? And why do sweaters weigh so much?! This bag is going to be overweight if I bring two winter coats… I’ll wear my puffy one and pack the dressy one. How is a coat so heavy?! I’ll stuff it in my carry on and just unzip the expand-o-matic, despite the fact that last year the United lady scolded me about that too. I will happily check the bag at the gate as long as they don’t charge me extra. I don’t want to throw my back out lifting that bad boy into the overhead bin anyway.

This advent calendar for my mom is definitely thicker than last year’s. It won’t fit in my laptop bag, so I’ll just bubble wrap the crap out of it and put it in the big suitcase. Bubblewrap doesn’t weigh that much, right?

Why did I buy presents for my brothers’ cats?!

I finally remembered to bring my old kitchen scale back so I can properly weigh food and eBay packages. Is Customs going to think I’m a drug dealer? Do drug dealers travel internationally with a scale?

Done! Just have to pack toiletries and makeup in the morning. Did I remember everything? There’s gotta be something important I’m forgetting. I know it. Did I bring… doesn’t matter, whatever it is, it won’t fit!

The trip back will be different. Once I unload all these sweaters, gifts and chocolate, my bags will be practically empty! I can bring so many Quest bars back! (::repeat inner monologue all over again in a month, replacing “presents, sweaters and chocolate” with “new clothes, Quest bars and random electronics Stephen saw online”::)

It’s the second week of October, Merry Christmas!

9 Oct

And now, part II of a feature I started in December 2011: Things White Middle Class People Get Overly Worked Up About.

On Monday during my weekly grocery shop in the rain (sans umbrella because the Fitbit-wearing left arm must always be free to swing and the right arm must pull the trolley) I saw chocolate Santas at Aldi. It didn’t really register with me, and I went onto Sainsbury’s. There I saw an aisle of Christmas gift suggestions. At Waitrose I saw Christmas poppers. And then it dawned on me that even though my parents and I had just booked our trip to Biltmore for December, it was still only the second week of October.

Had this been in America, there would have been an uprising — angry mobs with Halloween- and Thanksgiving-themed pitchforks. There’s an understood rule in the U.S. that you do not celebrate anything Christmas-related until after Thanksgiving. (6pm on Thanksgiving to be exact, or maybe earlier this year, I haven’t seen any Black Friday doorbuster ads yet). To get an idea of how worked up Americans get over this, take a look at these comics:

santa turkey comic
thanksgiving christmas comic
could we finish thanksgiving dinner first

thanksgiving mall decorations
As you can see, Americans get really riled up about this — but why? Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. Why don’t they want to get a jump start on it? I doubt they really care about how Mr. Turkey feels getting passed over (judging by the comics, he’d like that!).

Turkey christmas music

pumpkin santa turkey comic All I can think of is that it’s about time. As Jim Steinman wrote in Meat Loaf’s song “Heaven Can Wait”: “And all I’ve got is time until the end of time.” If you want to get deep about it, time really is all we have — everything else like health, wealth and happiness can extend our time and make it more enjoyable, but once it’s gone, we can’t get it back. Adam Carolla joked on his podcast that old people continually wake up and eat earlier and earlier in the hopes that one day they’ll actually gain a day back by moving everything forward (like showing up for Thanksgiving dinner so early that you arrive on Wednesday night instead). We don’t want to think about December in October because it’s like skipping over two whole months we’ll never get back, and we’re supposed to “live every day to the fullest.” On the other hand, I like getting into the Christmas spirit early (maybe not second week of October early, but November will do). Since I head back to the U.S. for Thanksgiving through Christmas, I would miss out on the London festivities if they didn’t start so early (and they’re allowed to start early since Thanksgiving is not a thing and Halloween barely is). I get that people feel like retailers are taking advantage of them by pushing the holidays too soon, but think of it the other way — if people started at least thinking about Christmas gift ideas a little earlier (not even buying yet), then there’d be less stress and rush in December. But of course, life is all about prolonging the inevitable, isn’t it?

I am a real runner now

3 Dec
It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since I traded the high street for strip malls, my shopping trolley for a car trunk, and healthy protein smoothies for brown butter salted caramel snickerdoodles and layered pumpkin pie toffee cheesecake. Yes, it’s good to be back in the land of the free and the home of the brave and high fructose corn syrup. It’s also been a week since I’ve gotten a real moment to myself when I’m not baking or rushing out the door to shop or run.

Speaking of run, on Thanksgiving I officially ran 10K, my first race ever. It still amazes me that six months ago I couldn’t run a minute without wanting to die, and five days ago I ran for an hour and 5 minutes through the streets of Cincinnati and northern Kentucky without stopping. I was proud of my time considering it was my first race and 25 degrees outside (-4 C), but I looked at the results and saw an 81-year-old man beat me. I guess that’s just motivation to go faster and try harder next time. I’m not sure when my next race will be, but I have a feeling my first won’t be my last. I really enjoyed the race atmosphere, the two guys dressed as pilgrims in a boat screaming, “You just got passed by a boat,” the high-fives and encouragement from random strangers as well as my family along the course, and that final sprint to the finish. I have no idea where that energy came from, but I gunned it at the end. So much that I finished disoriented and went right past the place to cut off my chip timer. Did I have enough energy to do the whole course again, which would equate to a half marathon? I don’t think so, but then again I never thought I’d be capable of 10K.

thanksgiving 10k edit

(I am wearing two thermal tops, the official race shirt, a jacket, thermal pants, leggings, shorts and a South Park scarf. The only parts of me that were cold were my hands until I scored free handwarmers and my feet until I got running. There was a lot of standing around time beforehand because we got there over an hour early because we are race noobs and thought there wouldn’t be enough parking at the Bengals stadium.)

The magical failed quest for the best Jingle Jammies

24 Nov

I am sensing a Thanksgiving pattern in our household. It goes something like this:

“Thanksgiving should be all about enjoying good food and precious time with family. It’s such a shame that our capitalistic commercialism-driven society has pressured stores to open up earlier and earlier and those poor employees have to work on Thanksgiving.”

::Looks through ads in newspaper on Thanksgiving::

“Dude! Have you seen these deals? We’re going out now!”

Such was the case both last year and this year, in particular with Old Navy. I didn’t particularly want or need anything from Old Navy, until I studied their ad. That’s when I saw them — $8 Jingle Jammie pants covered in Boston terriers wearing Santa hats. I do not need any new pajama pants. But I needed those.

So after stuffing ourselves with stuffing and the like, we headed off to Old Navy — my mom in search of deals, my brother along for the ride until the next store, and me in search of the magical Santa Boston terrier pants.

After searching the entire women’s section to no avail, I had to cave and ask an employee. It went down something like this:

“Excuse me, where are the maroon Jingle Jammies with the Boston terriers wearing Santa hats on them?”

The employee studied the photo in the ad closely. “Which one?” she asked, pointing to a pair of pink plaid pajama pants on the wall that clearly featured neither Boston terriers nor Santa hats. “These?”

“No, these,” I said, pointing again at the photo. “They’re maroon. And there are Boston terriers wearing Santa hats on them.”

“Oh.” She said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen those.” And she proceeded to look in all the same places I had just looked, before we moved onto the girls section. Soon enough several employees were involved in my quest for Santa hat-wearing Boston terrier pajama pants. It reminded me of the task force often assigned to me in China to find a sit-down toilet. One of the employees checked in the back, but came back empty-handed. “Sorry,” she said. “I thought we had everything in the ad in stock. I guess not.” Obviously disappointed, I told her it wasn’t a problem.

I went home empty-handed, but the magical Jingle Jammies that got away were always in the back of my mind. I finally decided to check the Old Navy website. As predicted, no Boston terriers wearing Santa hats. Then on a whim I googled “jingle jammies” and this photo appeared:

It’s hard to make out, but those maroon pants second from the left appear to be covered in Boston terriers. Wearing Santa hats. And they appear to be worn by a man. The wheels began to turn — the ad said “for the family.” Maroon is one of those¬†androgynous colors. Why did I think only girls or women would wear Santa BTs? Why did I not check the men’s section when I was at the store? So I checked online under “Men,” and there they were:

And what time did I realize this? At 11 p.m. Saturday, the day the $8 Jingle Jammie sale ended. Their original price is $16.94. Do I pay that now? Do I return to the store and demand a price match because none of the employees helping me the other day thought to check the men’s section? Or should I just let them be the Jingle Jammies that got away?

…Oh crap, they come in green flannel too?!

OldNavy.com, why must I spend $50 for free shipping?!