Saturday, September 29, 2012

DIY Bib Coasters

Shortly after my marathon I saw an advertisement for a site that would turn your bib into coasters. I thought it was a fun idea, but at the same time I thought “hey I could do that!” So I decided to take on the challenge of doing it myself. Ends up, it’s really rather easy!

What you will need:
1)      A copy of your bib, preferably about 8x8
2)      Four tiles, recommended 4x4 and with a slightly rough texture
3)      Mod Podge
4)      Rubber feet or felt pads
5)      Sponge brush

What you will need
You will need a copy of your bib. I would not recommend using your real bib. You can scan it or photo copy it. If the bib you want to use is bigger than 8x8, try resizing it. It can be slightly bigger, but not much bigger (you can have it go over the sides of the tile). I made two sets of coasters, one was exactly 8x8 and the other was just a touch bigger. I personally liked the look of the edges going over the sides a little.

I found that the best size for the tiles is 4x4. You will want a slight texture to it, so that everything adheres better. You can find these at the local hardware store. Next you will want some mod podge. I don’t know a lot about mod podge, so I just grabbed one that said “glossy” at my local craft store and it worked great.
You will want something for the bottom of your coasters to protect the surface you put it on. I picked up little rubber feet at the hardware store, but felt pads will also work. And lastly, you will need a sponge brush. I unfortunately used a regular brush (I thought I had a sponge brush but couldn’t find it) and I was picking bristles out of my mod podge the whole time I was working with it.

Once you have all that, you are ready to get started.

First cut the copy of your bib into 4ths (4x4 squares). I used a cutting board to keep it exact, but if you don’t have one, use a ruler to make sure of your measurements.

Next, brush a layer of mod podge onto the top of your tile and place your first bib square on top. Use your brush to smooth it out and work out all the bubbles. Once you have the bib where you want it on the tile and smoothed out, brush a layer of mod podge on top, making sure to get the edges fully covered and flat. Set the tile aside to dry and do the same with the other three.
Layer of mod podge on top of tile
First layer of mod podge over the bib
Once the tiles are dry, I recommend brushing on another layer of mod podge. I let it sit for about an hour before adding a second layer. Some of you may want to even add a third. Although I did not do it, it is recommended that you sand lightly between coats with a fine grain sandpaper (I was worried about damaging the paper, so I didn’t). Once everything is dry, put your rubber feet or felt pads on the bottom and voila, you are done!

Rubber feet on the bottom

Monday, September 24, 2012

Goleta Education Foundation 4-miler

After much debate, I ran the Goleta Education Foundation 4-miler. For some reason they like to host 4 mile races in my area and most go along the same route. This one was almost identical to the Super Bowl 4 miler and the Lakes of Love 4 miler that I ran earlier this year. It started in a different location, but most of the route was the same.

I hadn’t reached 4 miles in my training runs yet since I’m supposed to be increasing slowly, but I was really itching for a race. I decided that I would make up my mind about running it or not on race morning, but honestly, my mind was already made up. In fact, I had my gear already laid out the night before. Besides, all the money was going to the school music programs, so that’s always a bonus.

I was determined to take it easy and not reinjure myself, but when the race got started I had a hard time listening to that little voice in my head. Instead of doing intervals of seven minutes running, one minute walking, I took two one minute walking breaks. My body was feeling good, so I let myself enjoy it.

Overall, I didn’t PR (which I knew wasn’t going to happen), but I did a better time than Lakes of Love, so I’m in better shape then I was during that period of time. I did lose just a little bit of time running down a loose dog for an old man during the last mile of the race, but I don’t regret that. Again, I wasn’t going to be setting any records and grabbing the dog was a little more important then a few seconds off my final time.

The race had a really great atmosphere. Lot’s of goodies at the end, live music, a fun looking play area for the kids and tons of gift cards raffled off. Even though I was flying solo that morning, I hung around and chatted with some of the other local runners. I almost ran up the street to Goleta Valley Church to attend the service just shortly after the race, but was self conscious about my sweaty running outfit, so I didn’t do it. I probably should have, it would have been epic to show up at church in running clothes and a race bib.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Carrying your GU on your… head?

Last month I made a random purchase, I bought a running hat that had elastic loops to hold GU or other types of gels. Yes, I did say a hat that holds gels. This creative product is the GasCap Endurance hat. Mine can hold up to 6 gels, but they also make visors that only hold two. It was an intriguing idea and the price made it easy to give it a try.

Since I haven’t been running distance, I hadn’t had an opportunity to give my GasCap a test till I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. Wearing my R2D2 skirt, I didn’t have anywhere to put my GU and coincidentally, my GasCap somewhat matched my skirt. It was like it was meant to be. I loaded up my hat with four gels for the race. The hat fit comfortably and held the gels securely. I was afraid it would look silly, but it actually looked fine. I even got a few compliments about the hat.

There's GU on my head!
When I needed a gel, I just reached up and tugged one loose. When I received some gels during the race, I did have to take the hat off to put them in, but I think with practice, I could probably do it on the move. The hat was so comfortable I kept forgetting I even had gels!

Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with my purchase. If your running shorts or skirts are pocket free, check out a GasCap for your gels!  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Disneyland Half Marathon!

Their race motto is “The happiest race on earth” and of course, I was skeptical, although that was more the out of shape, grumpy me thinking negative thoughts. This race has been on the top of my wish list since I first saw an ad for it in Running Times. Who wouldn’t want to run through Disneyland?!?

I signed up for this event back in January. I was still riding on the high of the Santa to the Sea half marathon and couldn’t imagine another injury knocking me out. Two injuries later and I was seriously contemplating selling my number, honestly I even asked around. Selling numbers is a no, no, but my goodness, have you seen the price tag on this race? So two negatives right off: you have to sign up unbelievably early since they sell out fast and two, the price tag is steep.

At the last minute, I booked the Eden Roc hotel because it was cheap and close. I highly recommend it if you are running this race in the future. The hotel is old and tired, but without booking one of the Disney resorts, you can’t get much closer to the start and finish line of the race. Check out isn’t till late, so I even had time to go back to the room and shower before hitting the road home.

The expo was good, not great, but good. Well, I’m critical. I haven’t been wowed by any race expo yet. I came from the geeky world of comic con and gift shows. Running expos haven’t held a candle to the many other large expos I have experienced. It almost makes me want to become a race expo vendor. Fill the niche that just seems to be missing. Maybe one day I’ll give up my flashy life as a code monkey and do just that!

They ask you to be at your starting coral by 4:30am. Since I work such early hours during the week, this wasn’t too big of a deal for me. The race didn’t actually start till 5:45, so I didn’t leave the hotel till around 4:50 and with the walk, wasn’t in my coral till after 5. It really wasn’t a problem. I could have headed there later.

The weather was perfect for the race. It wasn’t too cold in the morning, I didn’t ever feel the need for a jacket and it didn’t get too warm during the race. I felt comfortable the whole time, although Daddio did feel overheated near the end.

I was sporting my R2D2 skirt I made for comic con and I got a lot of compliments and call outs. Many times during the race, I had to weave through people to give kids high fives on the sideline who were excitedly calling out to me.

The race starts out on the street, but within a short time you enter California Adventure. It was still too dark for my phone to take any good pictures, so I unfortunately didn’t get many in the parks. They had a lot of characters for photo ops. Plan ahead if you want any. There are lines for pictures, so calculate your pace with that in mind.
Almost there... not
I didn’t recognize much in California Adventure. I’ve only been there once and it was when it first opened and the park only had a handful of rides. It looks like a really fun place to go. The water show in front of the farris wheel just about took my breath away in the predawn lighting. It was really something. Cars land was super cool to run through. I can see why people were excited about that new area in the park.

Shortly after our Cali adventure, we were in good old Disneyland. There is just something magical about that place. I kept telling Daddio “This is just so cool”. I probably sounded like a broken record. I got excited around every twist and turn. Every character we saw was a thrill. Running through the castle was definitely a highlight!

I was tempted to stop for a picture with Darth Vader, because of my skirt, but the line was already super long. Two Disney employees in Jedi robes called out to me, saying “There’s our droid”. I really wish that I had stopped to take a picture with them.

The inside of the park section of the run really went by way too fast. The whole race actually did. After the parks, we hit the streets of Anaheim. I was surprised by how many spectators were out in the early hours. So much support and funny signs! At this point, it took on the usual race feel. There were cheerleaders, school bands, dancers, etc. all the things that make races like these wonderful.

I had no race strategy this time around. I wanted to go slow enough that I wouldn’t set my physical therapy back, but I wanted to go fast enough to avoid the pickup car. We intervaled running and walking, averaging in the mid 12’s for each mile. It was a comfortable pace and I never felt out of breath.

Around mile 8 we came across a car show, all setup just for the runners. It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The cars went on and on, one beautiful old car after another. After that, we were running down by the canal with Angel stadium quickly approaching. My favorite part of the race had to be Angel stadium. We got to run down into the stadium and jog along the dirt around the outside of the grass. The lower part of the stadium was filled with spectators and the roar and cheers washed over me as we ran along. To say the least, it was epic.

From there, it’s roughly three miles back to Disneyland. The distance just flew by for me. I couldn’t have been happier.

Once we were within sight of the park, the cheer squads were intense. Everyone was cheering and yelling. People were reading names off bibs and calling out encouragement to complete strangers. I gave more high fives in the last leg of the run than I think I ever have in a race. I almost wanted to slow down and experience that last leg just a little longer, but the finish line was calling to me. As soon as the finish line was in sight, I picked up the speed and threw my hands in the air. Victory!

Almost there!
Overall a great race! The atmosphere is amazing and the course was spectacular. The finisher medal was beautiful and everything seemed to run like a well oiled machine.

There were water stops just about every mile. I was glad I didn’t wear a hydration pack, because I really didn’t need it and it would have clashed terribly with my skirt. Food on the other hand was scarce. There was one GU stop around mile 9, but that was literally it. There were a handful of spectators along the course that were holding out bowls of pretzels or candy, but I was never within reach. Outside of Angel’s stadium, they were handing out samples of extreme sports beans and I did grab one of those (which were really tasty. I might need to buy some of those!). Overall, I was very happy that I had decided to carry my own GU.

There wasn’t much after the race either. They did give us nice cold hand towels, that Daddio threw on top of his head and I used to wipe down my face. Instead of having food, other than bananas, they gave us a box that had a few snack items in it. I picked through it, but didn’t find anything too appetizing. So overall, one more negative: don’t expect too many freebees. There was nothing in my bag at the expo other than my event shirt and there wasn’t anything really worth mentioning at the end of the race either. You’d think being Disney and with the price of the race there would have been a little more, but now I’m just whining.

Overall, it was a great race! Two thumbs up. I am so glad that I did it. Would I do a Disney race again? Probably, but not in the near future. Would I recommend it to others? Definitely! It is, after all the happiest race on earth!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bad Geek Girl!

I am a terrible, terrible blogger. Bad, bad Geek Girl! I disappeared, I know, I’m sorry! A couple days after the Lakes of Love run in May, I was at physical therapy doing some jumping exercises when I experienced an intense pain in my foot. Eli took it easy on me that day and the pain faded pretty quickly, so I went for an easy run right after the appointment. Bad idea! The pain in my foot resurfaced and this time decided to stick around.

To make a long story short, I tried running on it a couple times, but soon realized that it was a little more serious then I first suspected. Two physical therapy sessions later and one x-ray, we came to the conclusion I had a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal of my left foot (finally something on my left side). I was stuck in a boot cast for three weeks! 

I tried to keep up exercising by swimming and biking, but everything was hurting my foot. It wasn’t till I gave up all exercise that I started to see improvement. So just when things were getting better…. Dun dun dun…

In the early morning hours of the 4th of July, I had an emergency appendectomy. I’d started feeling sick on July 2nd, figured it was the flu and tried to ignore it. Went into the emergency room on July 3rd after some tests revealed I had appendicitis and at that point they thought it had already burst. So instead of volunteering for a local race taking place on the 4th, I spent it in the hospital. Don’t worry, I did get to see some fireworks from a hospital window.

The next day, I was working from home and less than a week later I was off to San Diego for four geeky filled days of Comic Con! So, my recovery took slightly longer than originally expected.

On August 14th I was finally given the green light to start running again! The restrictions were intense, but I was just happy to be pounding the pavement again. Two days ago, I ran, ok, I jog/walked the Disneyland Half Marathon (shhh, don’t tell Eli)! I’ll get a race report up soon, I promise!

What a journey!