Tuesday, February 7, 2017

California therapy

Holy smokes. What an adventurous weekend!

I will start by spoiling the ending, and saying that this trip was EXACTLY what I needed for my mental health. The day before I left, it was like a bunch of stress accumulated and came to a head, and I just had to do something. I felt like I wanted to just go to sleep and wake up a couple of months later--just put everything on hold for a while.

Of course, avoidance doesn't solve anything, but I was worried I was going to have some sort of breakdown if I didn't get a break. Thanks to a buddy pass from my brother, hopping a plane to San Diego at the last minute was a possibility, and it ended up being just what I needed to destress.

I left off my last post on Saturday morning, when we were getting ready to drive up to Huntington Beach for the Surf City Half.
Since my trip was so last minute, none of the other people going to HB knew that I was going. There were a few fans of the film that were going up for the race, and John was really excited for them to meet me.

It was fun to surprise Colin on Friday night, and he was going to be picking us up from John's. While we waited for him, Shawn showed up. Shawn is a big fan of the film, and I saw a post she wrote on Facebook that I was on her bucket list of people to meet. How fun to get to surprise her, right? ;) So, she came in to John's house, and we chatted for a little while before Colin picked us up.

Shawn is amazing, and I'm thrilled I got to meet her! She does a lot of fundraising walks, including Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. For Relay for Life, she walked 55 miles around a track in about 23 hours. I can't imagine walking that far, but to do it around a track?! Just wow. Anyway, I was so impressed by her endurance.

Colin picked us up at John's, and then we drove up to Huntington Beach to meet up with everyone else (Angela and Jennifer, the producers of the film; Nora, who works for the FFTFL company; and Teri, a fan of the film and part of the FFTFL community). Everyone kept telling me that Teri was going to be crazy excited to meet me, which made me a little nervous (I always hope that I meet people's expectations of me!).

They hadn't arrived just yet, so Colin, Shawn, John, and I grabbed a quick dinner at Quizno's. Surprisingly, I've been sticking to my challenge of eating a salad every day! I had a Caesar salad and soup at Quizno's (which I later regretted because we went out to dinner with everyone else at a really nice place and I wasn't hungry!).

We went to the hotel, where we waited for the others in the lobby. It was super fun to surprise them, and I was excited to get to meet Nora and Teri. I always love seeing Angela and Jennifer, too.

Packed into the elevator at the hotel
The eight of us went to dinner at a place across the street. I didn't order anything, but I tried one of Colin's frog legs because I'd never had frog legs before (it was surprisingly really good). The owner came over and chatted with us, and we learned that he, himself, had lost 100 pounds! He was in REALLY good shape, and I never would have guessed he was once overweight, but he showed us his before picture. Very inspiring!

Dark photo, but: John, me, Shawn, Angela, Teri, Nora, Colin, and Jennifer
On the walk back to the hotel, I got a chance to talk with Teri, and she is super inspiring. She's lost a lot of weight (I can't remember exactly how much--but I want to guess 80 pounds?). She showed me her "before" picture, and I didn't even recognize her. So amazing!

Teri and me (my hair is enormous from the "heat" in California--60's, haha)
The next morning was the Surf City Half. I had been hoping to walk the race, but it was too late to register and we couldn't transfer a bib to my name. Colin wasn't doing the race, and was planning to just run eight miles on the boardwalk while the others were walking the race, so he said I could join him. That sounded like a good back-up plan to me!

I was really hoping the sun would come out for me, but
it stayed cloudy the whole day. Bummer!
We stayed at the starting line until John, Jennifer, Shawn, and Nora started the race, and then Colin and I walked to the boardwalk and started our run. Colin does heart rate training, so he runs at a pace that keeps his heart rate under 150. He guessed it would be about 11:30-13:30 pace, which sounded perfect to me. The scenery was gorgeous!

We ran an out and back right along the beach, and we discovered early on that the boardwalk was a big part of the marathon course (it was still open to the public, despite the race). It was fun that we were able to run the course, but without having to run a full marathon ;)

We were wearing From Fat to Finish Line shirts, and I was so excited because people actually recognized me from the film! How crazy is that?! There were some guys who set up a Beer & Bacon Station (not part of the race, but just for fun). I think this should be part of races all over! I did have a little beer, because I was thirsty and I obviously wasn't going to take anything from the water stations on the course without being part of the race. Beer always tastes so good during a run!

Chatting with Colin made the time go by really quickly, and before I knew it, we were back at the starting line/finish line. We did 8 miles at a 13:00-ish pace. Lots of fun with this guy!

We met up with Angela at the finish line, and I was on the lookout for Martine, who I asked to come meet us as well. Martine is a reader of my blog that I've gotten to know through emails. She always used to leave the nicest comments on my blog when I had the "Anonymous" option for commenting, and then she'd sign them "Martine". When I turned off anonymous commenting, I felt bad that she'd no longer be able to comment, so I emailed her to let her know my reasoning and to apologize for it. We then started emailing pretty often, and when I decided to go to San Diego, of course I wanted to try to meet up with her. She came to the finish line, and I was happy to see that she is just as delightful in person as she is in her emails!

Martine's gorgeous smile
We hung out at the finish line to wait for our FFTFL crew to come in, and we saw lots of inspiring people! The "back-of-the-packers" are our kind of people, so we enjoyed cheering for them. There was one large group of people that came through, walking, wearing matching shirts. They were celebrating the 90th birthday of the woman walking in the center of the pack for the half-marathon!! How amazing is that?

Although, I do want to say that this particular race is NOT good for walkers or back-of-the-packers. I was shocked at all of the faster finishers who were taking huge armfuls of food and drinks at the finisher's chute, and then there was nothing left when the 3:00-4:00 half-marathoners came through. After our FFTFL people finished in 3:55, there was nothing for them to eat, and there were still half- and full-marathoners on the course! I think it's terrible that people would take so much when there were still people on the course. The race was not set up for slower runners or for walkers, unfortunately.

Nora, Jennifer, Colin, me, Shawn, and John
Anyway, we were all starving by that time, so we walked to a little restaurant near the finish line for lunch. I had chicken tortilla soup and a salad.

After that, I really had to figure out my plan for getting home. I had been planning to take the red-eye from LAX on Sunday evening, to arrive home on Monday morning. However, Becky called to tell me that the flight filled up, so I needed to do a different option.

Flying stand-by is great when you want to take a last-minute trip, but it's kind of a pain because you have to watch flight availability and your options are limited to what's available at the last moment. I thought about staying until Tuesday and leaving from San Diego, but I really needed to get back home to my responsibilities. There was a direct flight out of LAX on Monday at 6:50 AM, so I ultimately decided to get on that flight.

Martine ended up driving me (in her little BMW roadster!) to Angela's house in L.A. on Sunday evening. Angela, meanwhile, was staying another night at the hotel in Huntington Beach. I wished I'd have had time to plan an adventure in L.A., but going up there was so last-minute. I didn't have a car, so from Angela's, I walked down the street to a Carl's Jr. for dinner. I'd never tried Carl's Jr. before, so I actually looking forward to it.

I got a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun (I figured I should save calories wherever I can) and it was really delicious. I wish we had Carl's Jr. around here! I was surprised at how much I liked the burger without a bun, too. I have nothing whatsoever against carbs, but hamburger buns seem like a waste of calories because they are just used as a tool to eat the burger without adding any flavor. I'm going to do the lettuce wrap whenever I can from now on.

Anyway, I walked back to Angela's house and just had a relaxing evening. I went to bed early, because I knew I had an early flight to get up for. I'd never used Uber or Lyft or any sort of service like that before, so I was nervous to try it! But it ended up being super easy. I had Lyft credit from someone handing them out near the race course, and John told me if I use the option to share a ride, it'll be even cheaper (whether someone shares the ride or not).

I requested a ride at 4:00 AM, and Tris, my driver, showed up in about two minutes. I was worried about safety, but the app shows a picture of the driver, a picture of the car, and the license plate number. Tris was super nice, and we chatted the whole way to the airport. The ride was 25 minutes, but only cost $9! I wish we had services like that around where I live.

Thankfully, I made it on the flight without any problems, and I even had a window seat with an empty middle seat next to me! Jerry and the boys picked me up from the airport after school.

I am SO so so grateful that I was able to go on this trip! I feel rejuvenated and ready to make some changes for myself that will be good for me in the long run. I realized that even though I'm an introvert, it's worth stepping out of my comfort zone to meet new people and make new friends. I loved every single person I met this weekend, and they're so inspiring.

If you want to get in on the action or just meet some amazing people as well, you can join the From Fat to Finish Line Facebook community. I haven't been very active in it, because it's kind of overwhelming; but after this weekend, I want to make more of a presence there. There are groups of community members at all sorts of races, so it's a great way to meet people. If you see anybody wearing one of these shirts, I'm sure they'd love for you to strike up conversation. The community has over 12,000 members now!

I also want to stress that you don't have to be a "weight loss success story" or "running success story" to join in the fun. There are people who are just starting their weight loss or running journeys, and there are crazy people like Colin training for an Ironman and Shawn walking 55 miles around a track. There is support for everybody!

From Fat to Finish Line is hosting a big event in Vegas in November, and after this weekend, I've decided I must go :) That's for the Rock 'n' Roll race series on November 11 and 12. I'm kind of excited to be in Vegas on 11/11, because 11 is my lucky number. Don't think I'm not going to play roulette and bet on 11! ;) Jerry has never been to Vegas, so I'm excited for him to come with me, too.

Anyways, I'm home now, feeling a million times better than I did just a week ago, and motivated to move in a positive direction. Hope everyone else had a good weekend!


  1. The trip looks like it was lots of fun! Sometimes a trip like that is the perfect refresh!

  2. This post is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I am glad you were able to get away and so happy you could meet Martine. :)

    1. Me too! There are always certain commenters that stick out to me, and Martine was one of them. It was great to meet her in person after all this time!

  3. So glad you had a good time and are feeling better!

  4. Hmmm...maybe its a sign or something but ya know MY birthday is on the 11th!! (This Saturday!!) I have never been to Vegas and the trip sounds like a nice get away with my hubby.....I may look into it too.

    Like you said...sometimes the introvert has to step out of her comfort zone. ;-) Your trip looked amazing!!

  5. That looks like an amazing weekend! I am such a planner, and don't think I have ever in my life done anything that spontaneous. haha It's one of those things that sounds like so much fun, but I couldn't imagine doing it. Sounds like the break was just what the doctor ordered! Glad you came home all rejuvenated.

    1. I'm usually a planner, too, but I think that's what made this SO therapeutic--it was the complete opposite of what I'd "normally" do! :)

  6. Sounds like you had an awesome time!! It is great that you got to see old friends and meet new people. Sometimes a getaway to recharge is all one needs :-) Happy to read you are feeling better!

    all the best: Kathryn

  7. So happy for you that you got to take a little getaway for yourself and are feeling so much better. Sometimes we need a little break to re-charge!

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post. I love how this weekend was like hitting a refresh button. And way to go on those salads. I am lactose intolerant and recently discovered a new line of lactose free dressings. I am excited to try them and eat salads more often. I would like to aim for daily like you.

    1. It's kind of funny, I've really enjoyed the salads! I thought it would be much more challenging than it has been.

  9. Cool! I sweet talked my hubby a couple of weeks ago to do the FFTFL Vegas trip in November! It's my birthday weekend, so I figured why not?! It'll be a HUGE step out of my comfort zone...I'm a total introvert as well!

    1. Marianne, I went to Vegas for the FFTFL meetup in 2015 but I nearly chickened out even though I had registered for the 5K and half marathon and had a plane ticket from Michigan and had booked my hotel room. I don't know why but the closer it got I became so worried about it. I am so glad that I went; it was life changing! I have kept in touch with so many people that I met that weekend and can't wait to see them again this year. I'm doing a Ragnar Relay in June with 10 of them plus one other woman from the film. It's crazy how so many people who had never met became life long friends instantly! Don't be afraid - GO!

    2. Marianne, I hope you'll go! To be honest, I'm very nervous as well. But you are welcome to hang out with me, so at least you'll know someone! ;)
      Lorenda, Angela and I were talking about you this weekend! It would be kind of funny if we meet in Vegas, considering we both live in Michigan. Haha!

  10. So great to see you and such fun showing you around San Diego!!! Let's do this again real soon!

    1. I can't even thank you enough for everything you guys did for me. Although I definitely blame you for the two pounds I gained while I was there! I will be dreaming of those chips until the next time I'm in San Diego, haha :)

  11. Katie, I'm so glad this trip is exactly what you needed! I love the FFTFL tribe. I'm a Vegas local and I really look forward to getting the chance to meet up with some of the tribe in November. I hope I get a chance to meet you there now too!

  12. I'm glad you had a great time! Getting out of town and out with friends can do wonders sometimes. I hope the effects last through the rest of the winter. :)

  13. Glad you had such a great trip!! Looks like a blast! I might have to check out this facebook community. I'm always looking for more support and inspiration!

  14. I'm a relatively new reader but have enjoyed getting to know you. It sounds like this trip was perfect for you :-)

  15. So glad you had a great time! I love that first picture of you and Colin on the beach--you're both adorable! :)

    It sounds like a great rejuvenating weekend--I'm glad you were able to go!

  16. Yay for a fun trip, and a nice re-set for your mood! Glad to hear it was awesome!

  17. Hi Katie, We DO have Uber and Lyft in SE Michigan. I use it all the time :)

    1. When I open the app, it says that it's not available in my area... ?

  18. That was fun and I am happy you enjoyed every bit of it.

  19. Great Post Katie and glad that you had fun and are feeling better. I'm going to be in Vegas for the Rock n Roll so maybe we will get a chance to meet up. My lucky number is 11 too..I was born on 11-11 so thought this would be a good fun birthday trip. Yip!

  20. I need more spontaneity in my life! I crave it as a Sag... lol. But alas responsibilities. I keep saying one day when my kids are more grown and I have more time off work... haha. So excited to hear you got to meet a lot of friends and fans. Sounds absolutely thrilling. Vegas sounds awesome, too. It has been 2 years since my last visit. I might have to consider a birthday month trip down there for that race. Perhaps something I can set a new goal for. I am trying to lose some more before I pick back up running on the regular but I did run laps around the playground with my pre-k class yesterday for a short time and it was a great feeling. Though some of them were enjoying beating me. hahaha


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