Monday, May 7, 2018

Project 300 Miles: Day 1

A little over 1.5 years ago, I started running. I've posted about this a couple of times, mentioning completing my first 5k, participating in virtual runs, and how I've hoped to run a half marathon - and someday a Disney Half!

Next spring, the Walt Disney World Star Wars race weekend will coincide with my birthday. To celebrate, my sister and I are planning on running the 5k together! I will also run either the 10k or half. (and of course I have a costume planned already...)

To be perfectly honest, it was my sister telling me about the runDisney Princess races a few years ago that made me start seriously trying to run. It took a couple more years to complete c25k, but I can genuinely say it was my sister and the prospect of running at Disney that helped me finally finish that program - and keep running after. I was so excited when she first told me about the Princess races that I went to JoAnn's and bought fabric to make us racing costumes - her, Ariel, and me, Snow White. That fabric sits untouched, but maybe another year we will run the Princess 5k (or 10k, or Half).
Right now I can run a 10k. Not super fast, mind you - it takes me about 70 minutes. But speed will come with more miles. And that is my goal for this summer - get those miles.

Between now and when we leave for Walt Disney World to celebrate my niece's birthday this fall, I will run 300 miles. That's an average of 15 miles per week. What better deadline (and motivator!) to rack up those miles than a trip to the place where they will all pay off six months later?

Today is Day 1 - this week, I have three runs planned, doing intervals that will probably net me about 5 miles per run. When this summer is over, barring injury or something else that prevents me from running, I will hopefully be completing 20-25 miles each week. I think I'll blog about it occasionally, to help record my progress and hold myself accountable. I'll probably also post on Instagram.

May the Force be with us!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

No-Spend February: Review

No-Spend February is over, and I'm fairly happy with how the month went.

My goals were:
  1. Avoid frivolous/non-essential/impulse spending.
  2. Don't eat out or order take-out, with exceptions for a weekend spent traveling and a date night to see Black Panther. 
  3. Post updates here.
  4. Sort through old collectibles and clothes for sale or donation, in order to clear out some space in my office and closet.

Goal 1:
I did very well on goal one - the only "non-essential" item I bought all month was the Disney's Robin Hood themed shirt-of-the-month from Jordandene, since it was a design I was hoping for, with limited availability.

My credit card does have more on it this month than I was planning on when I set out at the start of No-Spend February.  This is because Sideshow shipped the Hoth Leia Hot Toys figure I preordered last year AND I bought our Disney World tickets before the annual price increase (on February 11th this year). But I'm shrugging that off because it was something I had already budgeted for and neither purchase was an impulse - that was my real goal this month, to curb the little $10-$30 purchases I was developing a habit of making throughout the holiday season. And I succeeded in doing that.

Goal 2:
I chose this goal for health and financial reasons. We sometimes have a month or two where we eat way too much fast food or take-out. The cost adds up, but it is also difficult to fit that into my calorie goals. I lost 15% of my high bodyweight in 2016, and I maintained that loss through 2017. Now I am ready to finish my weight loss and get down to my goal weight, and that'll be easier if I am cooking at home. This goal helped get me in the groove of calorie counting and cooking at home again.

We did have our date night - Black Panther (#WakandaForever!) and burgers! And we had a couple nights at the end of the month where we made room for pizza and some fast food.

Goal 3:
I did post a couple of updates, but by the end of the third week it was like "yeah, didn't buy anything, didn't even visit a store this week..." It felt kind of silly to post about that, so I just saved last week's post and rolled it into this recap.

Goal 4:
I didn't do this. At all. I had some writing deadlines, quizzes to write, the first exam for the class I'm teaching, and I started running again in the evenings... The one weekend I had time, I spent it on the couch watching K-dramas because I was so tired! (excuses, excuses)

Now that my Hoth Leia Hot Toy is here, I really do need to sort, reorganize, and donate stuff from my home office because I don't have a space for her! The university has spring break soon, so I'll take a day or two during that week and knock this one out.

Future Goals:
Now that the month is over, I'm going to continue with goals 1 and 2 - avoiding little purchases that add up too fast, and not relying on take-out when I'm exhausted and don't want to cook. I will also take some time to work on goal 4 and reduce the amount of clutter in my house.

Also - I have been tracking how I spend my free time in the evenings. In February it was almost entirely spent watching TV. Not good! I want to read more, make some crafts, and play more games. For March I am challenging myself to spend three evenings each week doing something other than laying on the couch, zoning out to whatever's on TV until I can reasonably go to bed.

I really like this exercise as a low stakes way to adjust a habit. I will probably use it again in the future if I find myself eating too much take-out or slacking with my running.

Thank you, Barb, for suggesting No-Spend February!

Monday, February 12, 2018

No-Spend February, Update 2: February 12

Goal check-in: One slip up on "Not eating out/no fast food" and one purchase that was sort-of planned.

One of my big goals for this month was, "No unnecessary expenditures or impulse buys," right?

Would buying Disney tickets for my niece's birthday trip now, rather than later, to avoid a predicted $50 price increase count? Because I was going to buy them eventually and wanted to avoid the price hike. Even though that's an expense I really didn't want on my credit card until the end of the semester and a couple more paychecks...

(Disney has raised their prices around February the past few years, so I suspected this was coming... in the end, the 2018 price increase on a 4-day WDW base ticket was only $30 per, not the $50 predicted by one source, but that's still money that is better saved for Dole Whips!!!)

Dole Whip'd by Robbie Thiessen

Alright, so we're saying the Disney tickets were a planned expenditure.

Unfortunately, the take-away we had for dinner on Friday wasn't! At least it was from the really good Indian restaurant, and wasn't just some run-of-the-mill fast food burger, right?

So that's week 2 of No-Spend February, and I missed my goal of not eating out this week.
/shrug emoji

Next week I need to start working on the third goal: donating stuff I don't want or don't use. Our house is very cluttered, and we lack sufficient closet space to hide away the things that are harder to organize or don't see much use. I'm really hoping to convince The Boyfriend to sort through his clothing and dump the pieces that no longer fit/he no longer wears/are too worn to keep. It should help with the floor-drobe problem (seriously...)

Good luck to anyone else who is starting their spring cleaning early or trying to avoid unnecessary expenses this month!

Monday, February 5, 2018

No-Spend February, Update 1: February 5

Happy Monday!

Well, we're a few days into February now. My plans to avoid frivolous purchases and spending money on fast food and take-out remain intact, in spite of the bout of Disney-fever I've had that led me to design Mickey ears over the weekend... and the urge to buy craft supplies that accompanied that.

I do have a purchase planned for this week that I wasn't expecting, except it's a shirt that is a limited design, only available this month. Of course, I'm talking about Jordandene's February shirt-of-the-month! It's inspired by Disney's Robin Hood, one of my favorite movies (and one of my first crushes!)

I've been hoping she would choose this phrase for a shirt ever since a couple years ago, when a bunch of us bonded on Twitter over our shared love for the foxy rebel!!! I'm excusing myself to order a tank top for myself, I really can't miss this particular shirt!

(And I'll wear it to Walt Disney World later this year! Too bad Robin isn't a character you can take photos with at those parks... #bummer)

Hope everyone else is having a good month so far. Stay warm!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

No-Spend February: February 1st

Recently, Barb suggested doing a "no-spend" month on Twitter, and I thought that sounded like a great idea. Since she first mentioned her idea, she has posted on her blog about it and what her goals for a No-Spend February might be.

After the holidays and buying a few things on sale for myself, the little purchases of $10 here and $30 there have started to add up. I want to nip this kind of spending in the bud before it becomes a habit.

I have a couple of Walt Disney World trips planned for the next year - one in the fall for my niece's birthday, and one in early 2019 for the Dark Side races and my own birthday. If either trip is going to happen, I need to save some money! I also have a bunch of collectibles that need organized and displayed, crafts that need made, and my clothing size is changing because I'm back counting calories after maintaining the weight I lost in 2016... so right now I really don't need to buy more things.

For No-Spend February, my goals are: 
Avoid all impulse purchases and unnecessary expenses - no collectibles, no Steam games, no extra craft materials, no clothes, no new books (my TBR pile is sufficient to get me through the whole year...)  Unless the house is going to fall down, I need it to teach, or I'll be naked without it, it can wait.

Donate stuff I no longer want or need - I've been saying for years that I'm going to sell some old clothes and collectibles online, or hold a garage sale... but if it hasn't happened yet, it's not likely to happen soon. This month I want to find a local charity I can support (not Salvation Army, which has a huge presence in our region), bag/box it all up, and get it out of my house!

No fast food/take-out - we sometimes get in the habit of eating A LOT of take-out. That's one of the reasons I gained so much weight during grad school and after moving in with The Boyfriend. Since eating fast food and take-out adds up fast and doesn't always align with my weight loss goals, might as well scrap it for the month!
(Exceptions to this goal: We'll do a date night to see Black Panther, and we're traveling to visit family for a weekend, so there will likely be a meal in the car.)

Check in weekly here and on Twitter to see how things are going - I'm more likely to buy toys and other random stuff on the weekends when I have some down time, so I think I'll check in on Mondays. Just a quick note or post to say "Hey, I'm weak and I'm Leia-trash, and I bought seven Star Wars t-shirts" or "No-Spend Feb is still going well! I made my porg kigu this weekend using fabric I had on hand instead of buying more craft supplies I'll never use!"

Is anyone else joining in? What are your goals? Have you done a No-Spend challenge before?

Friday, December 1, 2017

My First 5K: A Christmas Story Run 2016

One year ago, on December 3rd, I participated in my very first 5K race, A Christmas Story Run in Cleveland, Ohio. Proceeds from this annual race are donated to the Christmas Story House Neighborhood Restoration Project.

The 1983 movie "A Christmas Story" was filmed in Cleveland, and the race route goes between Tower Square, where the old Higbees was once located, and the Christmas Story House, which is now a museum and has been renovated to look like it did in the film. There are 5K and 10K race distances - the 5K ends at the Christmas Story House, the 10K loops back to the start at Tower City.

The 2017 run is this Saturday, but I'm not participating this year.


The race itself was a lot of fun. Temperatures were in the mid-30s, the sky was cloudy but it wasn't raining or snowing. There were a lot of people there - 5827 people finished the races in 2016! Many came in costumes based on the film - people dressed as leg lamps, bandits, Santa and his elves, dogs with stuffed turkeys, and pink rabbit suits as far as the eye could see. My favorite costume was the Tapestry of Obscenity - a woman was wearing a poncho decorated in Symbol Swearing! It was hilarious. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo because I saw her during the race.

At the finish line racers received their medals and snacks - bananas, yogurt drinks, cookies, and Ovaltine! Be sure to drink your Ovaltine!

Race entry included one free admission to the Christmas Story House Museum, but we didn't go inside because the line stretched down the block. I had planned to go back with my mom at Christmas, but that never happened.

My Race
Not know how fast I would be running, I lined up at the back of the 11 minute mile group (the slowest marked pace) so I wouldn't block anyone running faster than me. Unfortunately there were still a lot of walkers who ignored the mile group markers, so I was ducking and weaving through the entire race, trying to pass people. I've read that this is pretty standard, especially for casual fun run races like this one, so it didn't bother me (too much) - we were all there to have a good time!

I ended up averaging about 13 minutes per mile and finished in 39 minutes - great for my first 5K! I set a pace at the start of the race and maintained it throughout the run, which was my goal - no walking breaks. I was very proud of myself when I accomplished this. My aunt, who ran with me, was very proud of me too. We're hoping to participate in more races together, though that will depend on my being able to drive back to Ohio.

If you had told me ten years ago that I would not only be able to run 3 miles without stopping, but that I would enjoy it I would have laughed. But I am very glad that this is something I can do now, and something I enjoy. Running became my "me time" and I (usually) look forward to it - and I have found that my mood is more level when I run regularly, probably due to the combination of physical activity, and taking some time each week where I can tune out and not feel guilty about it. I'm looking forward to participating in more races this year and one day I hope to participate in a Disney half marathon!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Carrie Fisher is my Queen

I originally wrote this post on October 18th, 2016, a few short weeks after I met Carrie Fisher at New York Comic Con 2016.  I never posted it because I wanted to clean it up - it's just a rambling account of meeting her, our brief interaction, typed quickly to record the moment so I wouldn't forget the details. But I never cleaned it up, I never hit post, I never added photos.

I miss her, like so many of us that she touched with her humor and wit and portrayal of Princess (GENERAL!) Leia.

Today is her birthday, so eff it, I'm hitting post. No edits, except to include this brief explanation. 

Last week I met Carrie Fisher. It was amazing. I'm considering going broke to Celebration Orlando in the hopes that I can meet her again.

The day started with us sleeping in and taking it easy. We had been up early to get in line to previous three days, and all we had on our schedule today was my photo op and one late panel.

I had decided to wear my "Kylo Ren is a punk bitch" shirt by Jordandene. I had originally bought the tank top, but since I've lost weight it's a little big now. It wouldn't be too bad, but it gapes at the sides and I didn't have anything to layer it with to hide my bra, other than a cardigan! On Thursday of NYCC I made sure to stop by Jordan's booth and buy a tee in a smaller size, so I wouldn't have to wear the cardigan and cover up the print.

It was the perfect choice, because Carrie Fisher LOVED it.

My photo op timeslot started at 2:00pm. Instructions said to arrive fifteen minutes early, but we arrived at 1:30. There were lots of people there already, so we got in the correct line and waited until it finally started moving.

The Boyfriend was going to hold my bag for me and just walk through to the exit with the line - possibly catching a glimpse of Carrie, keeping track of me. I can't put words to it, but I wanted this photo to be mine, and being the easy-going guy he is, he had no problems with that (I did offer to buy a second photo op when I bought mine). But they weren't letting people walk through with bags - all bags went into a "bag check" area, to be picked up immediately after taking your photo. So The Boyfriend decided to just wait outside the curtains with the stuff.

I entered the tiny curtained room and there she was, sitting on a chair with Gary, her loyal dog, beside her. She was leaning in to give everyone hugs and cracking jokes.

An attendant was reminding everyone to go quickly, walk up, hug, photo, leave behind Carrie's chair. Funneling everyone in and out, in and out. This was reminiscent of the experiences I read about at Wizard World Philly, though everyone here seemed nicer about it.

I waited my turn and walked up to Carrie, saying hello as I took my place beside her chair.

She asked me what my shirt said, so I turned towards her and held it out, making it more legible.

"Kylo Ren is a punk..."
"Bitch!" I cheerily replied.
She repeated the quote, and added "He certainly is!" Then she told me she wanted one, to which I replied they were being sold upstairs. She turned to the people standing near the camera, "Did you hear that? They're selling them upstairs! Someone go get me a shirt!"

We hugged and took our photo. I thanked her, but she made me pause before I could make my obedient, quick exit - "Did you guys see this shirt?" She gestured at me, so I held it out again. The door attendant was trying to shoo me away. "Kylo Ren is a punk bitch!" Carrie repeated.

I was simultaneously in awe and cracking up! She is so friendly and funny and she's as amazing as I expected her to be! I said thank you again and left so the next person could get their photo. And as I walked out through the maze of curtains, I started to cry. I wanted that moment to last. I wanted to go buy her a shirt. I wanted The Boyfriend to have seen Carrie.

Thanks for reading. If you want more Carrie today, I recommend her memoirs (Wishful Drinking, Shockaholic, and The Princess Diarist) and HBO specials (Wishful Drinking and Bright Lights) - she pulled no punches, held nothing back, and I love her voice. She'll always be royalty to me.