How to plan a non-wedding party

Full disclosure: this is a non-running post. If you don’t care about party planning, feel free to skip this. I just wanted to document my process in the hopes of helping anyone else out there in the same boat and looking for advice.

OK, so where do we start? Last year, the Gypsy Runner and I eloped. We headed down to the County Clerk’s Office in Oakland, called in a friend last-minute as a witness, and got married. We told no one of the official date. Being that neither of us are religious, this was perfect for us. Also, I’ve attended (and been in) enough weddings to know that I wasn’t eager to do the whole traditional ceremony plus reception thing. Not to mention that, while the GR loves going to other people’s weddings, the idea of being the center of attention himself was probably the worst thing he could imagine.

However, I have always wanted to have a party/celebration where all of my favorite people get together, eat, drink, and are merry. Oh, and have a fun dance party, too. My parents, as a wedding gift, generously gave us money to host a celebration. We decided to have it a year after we got married and call it an anniversary party – one, to get away from the idea of a wedding; and two, to have it in the summer time, which was more convenient for our out-of-town guests to join us.

Once we decided on a general time frame, it was time to start planning. While there are tons of resources out there for wedding planning, there are less/almost zero for what I had in mind: a non-wedding party. Yes, there are websites like Offbeat Bride, which offer more non-traditional suggestions, but they are still very much geared towards wedding-weddings. So, I’ve written this post for anyone out there looking for tips or even just to read about someone else’s experience planning a non-wedding party.

Before you start planning…
The biggest thing in event planning is the budget, which dictates how many guests you can invite, how much you can spend on the venue, food, drink, decorations, etc. Fortunately for us, my parents’ gift paid for most of the party. I foolishly thought that a non-wedding would cost a lot less than a wedding. I mean, it was substantially cheaper, but it was still the most I’ve ever spent (or will ever spend) on a party.

The next thing is to write out a guest list. I listed names on a spreadsheet, and I also tried to guess who would attend. We invited a lot of out of town guests who either came solo or couldn’t make it. We also had our party during peak vacation time, so several people bowed out for that reason. Having a solid headcount was super helpful in deciding on a venue and on the food and alcohol budget.

Finally, prioritize what you want out of the party. We considered a Chinese banquet style sit down dinner, but ultimately decided that an evening cocktail party would be more casual and fun. Our top priorities were good food and drinks, a logistically easy venue, and for me – dancing. Just as important, we decided what was not important to us — things like favors, flowers, a professional photo booth, etc.

The Venue
This was pretty challenging, since I was looking for a non-wedding event space and there are very few resources out there. Somewhere along the way (probably Googling, “non-traditional wedding venues”), I came upon Peerspace, which is like airbnb for event space rentals. (For what it’s worth, Yelp also led me to a couple of venue options.) Even though I didn’t really know what I was looking for, I was ultimately drawn to industrial spaces with a modern appeal. The GR and I also talked about hiring a food truck, so being able to park the truck at the venue was essential.

Other keys (some of which I had in mind at the start, others which became important during the planning process):

  • central location
  • parking or public transit nearby
  • enough space for guests and tables/chairs
  • clean/updated restrooms
  • bonus: audio/sound system (no need to hire a DJ)

As for cost, I will say that many of the more popular spaces (i.e., easy to find on the internet) that jumped out at me were very pricey, especially for Saturday evening rentals. When looking at the rental rates, you have to also consider things like:

  • does the fee include set up and/or clean up time?
  • in what state do you have to leave the venue (in terms of cleanliness)?
  • are you limited to specific vendors?
  • are you limited in terms of alcohol? (we had to buy wine from our venue, since they’re a wine importer)
  • are there additional costs? for example, some places require an on-site manager or security during the event, an additional clean-up fee, and/or additional fees for bringing in outside food or drink
  • does the venue have tables, chairs, and/or glassware that you can have access to?

Ultimately, the place we chose was slightly pricier per hour, but they also gave us about 3.5 hours of free set-up time (2 hours on the day before the event). They also received our party rentals for us on the day before. Another reason I went with this particular venue was that I hardly had to decorate. There was lovely bar area already set up, and the interior had nice paintings, lamps, and plants. I just had to add a few personal touches and it was all set.

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The bar area. The only things we added were the banner, bar menu, and drinks.

Food
Like I mentioned above, we had considered a Chinese banquet (such a great value, IMO), but we preferred the idea of being able to walk around and mingle, as opposed to a sit down dinner. We gravitated toward food trucks because they’re slightly cheaper than catering and everything is made to order. They come with their own utensils and napkins – one less thing to think about. And yeah, they can be unique – though also becoming passé/less trendy. We tried 4 different trucks before deciding on KoJa Kitchen, which worked out great for us. Everyone loved the food and the servings were satisfying. I heard that they were fast too – people waited about a minute for their food after ordering.

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Our guests at the truck

If you’re thinking about going the food truck route:

  • popular food trucks (like Chairman Bao) were already booked 6 months in advance, so if you have a place in mind, jump on it immediately
  • contact the food trucks in advance and they might offer a free tasting. We got to try food from 2 trucks for free this way.
  • food trucks are more affordable than most catering options, but they aren’t cheap. Expect to pay ~$20-30/person.
  • think about where the truck will park and if you’ll need a system to make sure only your guests get served (i.e., tickets, tokens, passwords, etc.)

Other food: we didn’t know if everyone was going to like the food truck, and we were also worried about wait time, so we had plenty of appetizers from Ann’s Catering just in case. We ended up ordering way too much food, but I guess better too much than not enough? We also ordered too many cupcakes from our favorite shop. A lot of people told me they were too stuffed from the food truck to enjoy them, unfortunately.

Drinks
We had planned on an open bar where people could just help themselves, but when our venue’s event planner suggested a bar service (Polly Martini), I decided to look into it. While I couldn’t afford what was suggested (2 bartenders and a busser), we ultimately decided on 1 bartender plus consultation services. This included pre-party planning (to decide on cocktails), a shopping list, and bar setup and service for 5 hours. It was a splurge, but I decided at some point during planning that anything or anyone who could make decisions for me was worth a bit of extra cost. Also, the idea that someone would be manning the bar helped to decrease my stress level. I wouldn’t need to worry about chilling and restocking the beer or opening the wine. Plus, the signature cocktails ended up being a big hit! I also hired a busser – actually, she’s an undergrad who works at UC Berkeley, to help me with the event. That was super helpful too.

Photography
I initially wanted to hire a friend of a friend to take pictures, but the GR didn’t want to do that for various reasons. Fortunately, we have a very talented friend, CC, who happens to do portrait photography on the side and agreed to take pictures at the party.  I just got the pictures back and they’re great! Some nice posed shots and a lot of funny candids too.

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Photo credit: Casey Chattler Photography

Decorations
This was the one thing that caused me a lot of anxiety. I had no idea what to do for centerpieces on the two tables I was renting, or any of the other decorations. Luckily, the venue didn’t need much, and with the advice from some helpful friends and a little perusing on Pinterest, I came up with a few simple ideas. For flowers, I ended up going to Whole Foods the day of the wedding and getting a couple of pretty bouquets. My friend CC made us a cute banner, and I hole punched table confetti (it was pretty ridiculous how much they charge for round pieces of paper).

The one thing that ended up being more work than I anticipated were the printed photos. I wanted to hang up pictures of me and the GR, our families, and friends who would be at the party. But this required sorting through my whole photo collection (16,000+ pictures!) and deciding which ones would make the cut. My one consolation was knowing that I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, and this party forced me to sit down and get it done.

Dancing & Entertainment
We purposely left the structure quite loose, though I definitely wanted to make a speech about halfway through the party to thank everyone for coming.

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Making a quick speech

After my speech, our friend JS ended up giving a surprise roast/speech, which was hilarious and well-received. Our other friend ME had made some games (cornhole and giant Connect 4) for another wedding, which he set up for us. I also set up a little DIY photobooth with Instax cameras, which was fun. People were supposed to take a photo for our guestbook and one for themselves – the closest thing we had to party favors.  20170722_203218Instead of hiring a DJ, I set up a  playlist on Spotify. Our friend IV is a Spotify expert and he introduced me to the crossfade playback option to get rid of those pesky silences between songs. He also helped me sort songs by beats per minute so that they would flow better.

Hair & Makeup
This wasn’t directly related to party planning, but it was definitely a thing I was worried about. A lot of hair and makeup people will charge you extra if you want to do a trial before a special event. I didn’t feel like doing that, so I tried to do some DIY shortcuts. For hair, I learned how to curl it myself, which was fine. But in the end, I took a risk on a stylist from a local salon on the day of the party, who curled my hair for only $35 and in about half an hour. So worth it! For makeup – my original plan was to go to Sephora and get a makeover before a friend’s wedding (they’ll give you a “free” makeover as long as you spend $50 on products). If I liked the makeover, I’d try to book the same person for the party. Unfortunately, the makeover turned out too heavy for my taste. So I spent the next few weeks learning how to do my own makeup more naturally – but also with a bit of dramatic pop. I have to say that I’ve learned A LOT about applying false eyelashes, using concealer to look less tired, and how to shape my eyebrows – thanks to some friends and also YouTube tutorials. 😉

Reflections
All in all, I think it was a fun and successful party. The biggest downside was that I didn’t get to talk to everyone for as long as I wanted (or some, hardly at all), but that’s bound to happen.

If you have any questions at all about planning, please let me know in the comments and I’ll try my best to help!

 

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Checking in

Oh, hey there. Long time, no blog. I’m still alive and running, but I’ve had zero bandwidth to actually engage in the blogosphere – whether that meant writing or reading (and commenting). So I’m sorry to my blogger friends for being MIA – I still care about your lives, it’s just that any downtime I have these days, I’m spending zoning out, reading books, or watching Netflix with the Gypsy Runner. 

I feel like a broken record, but this year has been challenging on many levels. I’ve only recently realized that I probably have some form of accumulated decision fatigue. (Talk about #firstworldproblems!) With all of the events that I’ve had to organize in my personal and professional life, my brain is plain worn out. Thankfully, I have trusted friends and colleagues to whom I can turn to answer basic questions. And many times, all I need to do is to take one step back and get some perspective. Will that one choice or decision *really* matter at the end of day? 

Y’all know this already, but choice is a double-edged sword. Example: recently, I was shopping for 5 oz. plastic cups on Amazon. You wouldn’t believe how many people feel so strongly about plastic cups that cost pennies per cup that they’d devote a whole paragraph or two to a review. Because I couldn’t see these cups in person, I felt like I had to depend on reviews, but also recognize that reviews can only tell me so much. In the end, I decided I was spending too much time thinking about cups and chose ones that were economical and had decent (but not the best) reviews. And you know what? They showed up last week and they’re FINE. Because they’re just plastic cups. It’s great to have options, but sometimes, it’s better when there are only one or two choices.

So, to understand my last few months, you need to take that one small example and multiply it by about 50. Because that’s (at minimum) the number of decisions I’ve had to make about two major events. One, at work, where in addition to my normal contributions, I had to plan 20 meals for 30-50 people over the course of a week, and set up a impromptu dining area for each meal. The second, a big party that the GR and I are throwing in less than 2 weeks – it’s essentially a belated wedding celebration without the ceremony (or most of the wedding-y things). I thought it would be easier to throw a non-wedding, but it turns out that any event that involves out of town guests, venue rental, food catering, booze, and decorations actually require quite a bit of planning. And for someone who has no idea how to design a centerpiece, my head was spinning for sure. I may have a Ph.D. in Biology, but I’m clueless when it comes to Pinterest DIY. 

Anyway, long story short: this is why I haven’t been blogging much lately. Since I last wrote, the GR and I went to Mexico (maybe I’ll write a separate post about that), I attended a weeklong Python (coding) bootcamp/crash course, and we went away to Klamath, CA for the 4th of July weekend with some friends. I’ve been running about 3 times a week, probably averaging about 12-15 miles/week. This past weekend, I ran 9 miles at Lake Chabot with DD. Man, was I out of shape! True, I’m still getting over a headcold, but still. It was sad. Fortunately, DD wasn’t in a rush and we had a nice time catching up. 

Mexico did not suck

For the first time in ages, I don’t have a race on my calendar, and that’s fine with me. It’s what feels right to me right now. I’m putting off any race registrations until after the party, when I’ll hopefully have more time and energy to train for something that I feel passionate about. The only thing that’s on my radar is that I might pace the Summer Breeze Half Marathon on August 5th.

Hope you’re all having a great summer so far! 

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Race Recap: Lake Chabot Trail Challenge 2017

If 2016 was a year of super consistent running, then 2017 has so far been the polar opposite. As I’ve complained all year, I’ve yet to find my groove, whether that’s been due to burnout, lack of motivation, and/or life/work events. After a grueling race at the Cinderella Half, I had a week off before I dove into a full week of 12-14 hour work days (not including commute). This left me very little time at home, let alone run. So, for the first time in a long while, I ran zero miles for a week.

The day after the crazy week at work ended (and one week before the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge, or LCTC), I slept in and went on a trail run, thinking my legs would be all rejuvenated. Hm, maybe my legs were fine, but I was definitely still very, very tired. I cut my run short, though I did make myself ascend one of the steep hills just to make the run feel worthwhile.

I continued to have short, crappy, sluggish runs the week before LCTC. So, when race day rolled around, I didn’t have high expectations. Because of some construction going on at Lake Chabot, the course was different than in years past. This was in some ways a relief, as I wouldn’t have a point of comparison to past years that I’ve run this race (2012, 2015). Also, coming off a tough race at Cinderella, I really just wanted to finish feeling strong (i.e., not like death). My plan was to start easy, and try to run as consistently as possible during the race. I didn’t have a specific time goal, but I thought it would be nice to finish in less than 3 hours. Since I wasn’t racing with friends, I decided to bring music with me to keep my spirits up. I don’t normally race with music, especially on trails, but I made an exception this time.

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Strava GPS trace (full activity details here)

Pre-race activities all went smoothly. It’s such a small race that logistics are really easy. At 10 minutes to race start (5K runners started 30 minutes after the half marathon), there were announcements and directions. Then the kids of the Lake Chabot Track Club, which this race benefits, came out and did a little sprint warm-up in front of us. Right around 8:00 a.m., the race director did a count down and then we were off!

As planned, I stayed in the back of the pack for the initial miles. The first (and last) 1.5 miles of the course are paved, and people have a tendency to go off too fast. I took it as a warm-up and didn’t think twice as people passed me. I had to make a quick pit-stop as I forgot to go for a pre-race pee (TMI). Fortunately, there are pit toilets all along the first part of the trail. I was in and out in less than a minute.

The rest of the race went according to plan – except for one hiccup (*foreshadowing*). On the hilly portions, I thought about a trail running podcast where one of the hosts said that runners have a tendency to run up hills too fast/hard and down hills too slow. So I made sure I wasn’t charging up hills and ran more aggressively down them. I ended up passing ~10-15 people this way, and only one runner passed me back up.

The other thing I made sure to do was take in a lot of sugar. I knew I wasn’t well-trained, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to make sure my glycogen stores were topped off at all times. I ended up eating 2 gels and 4 clif bloks, and drinking 3 cups of Gatorade. I guess that’s not a ton, but it seemed like a lot at the time!

OK, so the one bummer of the race happened in the last part of trail – less than a half mile before the pavement. I was cruising downhill, excited to be almost done, when I tripped on a rock (or myself, who knows) and flew forward. I might have been able to ease my fall a bit had my left calf muscle not seize up at the same moment. I scraped up my left hand and right knee, but I appeared OK otherwise. After a few gentle steps of walking, I started jogging again.

Finally, I got to the paved portion and I felt I had enough left to finish strong. I passed one more runner, then crossed the finish line in 2:35:46 – much faster than I expected! (Note: I expected to finish around 3 hours because the race website had listed the elevation gain/loss at 2200′, but my GPS and others have it closer to 1700-1800′ gain/loss. I’m not sure why there’s such a huge difference, but I’m not complaining!) I went to the medical tent and got my knee and hand cleaned up – which I think was instrumental in how fast they’ve been healing.

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My gnarly knee

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Elevation profile in gray, pace in blue, GAP pace (adjusted for elevation) in purple.

Post-race thoughts:
I was really happy with how I executed this race, given my general level of fitness (or lack thereof). It was mostly a mentally-driven performance in many ways. Of course, I wish that I hadn’t fallen, but I supposed that’s par for the course given how clumsy I am. I didn’t do as well as I thought in the standings, but that all depends on who else shows up on race day. The LCTC was the second race in the East Bay Triple Crown, and it usually draws some good local runners. The other thing that struck me was how much easier it was to run on fire roads and non-technical terrain (Captain Obvious here). Compared to Cinderella, LCTC had significantly less rooty and rocky trails with tricky footing, making it a much faster course. Anyway, all in all, LCTC was a pretty good race for me!

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Victory!

Official results:
2:35:46 (11:53/mile)
6/10 AG, 38/57 F, 114/144 overall

Race logistics can be found in previous reports (2012, 2015). Or, feel free to ask questions below in the comments.

 

Posted in Race Recap, Trail running

Race Recap: Cinderella Trail Half Marathon

Back in 2012, the Cinderella 10K was my second ever trail race. It was in some ways the perfect introduction to trail racing – a brutal but scenic course, with technical terrain to constantly remind me to pick up my feet. In fact, I fell halfway through the race, and ended up spraining my thumb (I was holding a handheld water bottle and fell with my hand still clasping the bottle, but my thumb decided to go the other way.)

Fast forward 5 years and many more trail runs and races, I decided to sign up for the Cinderella Half Marathon. My main motivation was to run with DD, who had signed up for the 30K as a training run for next month’s Big Basin trail marathon. My other motivation was to force myself to keep doing some long runs, and hope that my growling laziness wouldn’t take over. I also love portions of this course – in particular, Sequoia-Bayview in Joaquin Miller Park and the French Trail in Redwood Regional. If you’re ever in Oakland, I highly recommend that you hike or run these trails; they’re fantastic.

I woke up race morning with a sore throat. Correction: I tossed and turned all night with a sore throat. I debated for about 2 seconds whether I should bail, and decided to table the decision until I got to the race. I could always downgrade to the 5 mile race (they’ve changed the course since 2012, switching the 10K to 5 mile, which makes all of the distances – half marathon, 30K, marathon, and 50K – easier to handle logistically). It was really cold that morning – probably in the mid-40’s? I decided to bring my hydration pack so that I could start out with a long sleeve and stuff it in the pack if I got hot (which I did).

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Start line selfie! (Photo credit: AS)

DD’s friend JO was also running the 30K, and our friend AS ended up getting a free bib from an internet friend for the half marathon. The 4 of us started together, but within the first quarter mile, JO shot off like the speedster that she is. We didn’t see her for the rest of the race. AS, DD, and I had a nice time chatting, running along at a relaxed pace and hiking the steep parts. Because of the technical terrain (mostly loose rocks and big rutted holes), we had to hike many of the downhill sections as well.

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Elevation gain: 2,370′ over 13.22 miles

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Gorgeous redwoods

It was a tough course and without looking at pace, I would say that I ran consistently throughout the race and felt fairly good. Approaching the 3 hour mark though, I was ready to be done. DD ran ahead, and soon AS was also a few runners ahead of me. I think we were all getting impatient. There was a tricky section of single track where I moved over for a passing runner and fell into a ditch and rolled my right ankle. Argh. Luckily, I was able to run through it. A few minutes later, I came to a complete stop as another runner had taken a bad fall and was blocking the path, with about 6 other runners stopped making sure she was OK.

Fortunately, there were no hiccups after that. I knew from the 2012 race that the finish feels like it comes out of nowhere, so I kept pressing on even though I was tired. I saw that AS was slowing down too, so I optimistically yelled out, “I think we’re almost there!” And sure enough, we turned a corner, went over the tiniest of hills, and ran into the glade where the finish corral awaited us.

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Finish line “sprint” (PC: Coastal Trail Runs)

I finished in just under 3:18, my slowest half marathon to-date. But it was a technical uphill and downhill course, and I knew I wasn’t in the best shape. I was happy to finish strong despite the impending head cold. I celebrated my race with an ice cold Coke from the cooler.

It’s fun to think about how many trail miles I’ve run in the past 5 years. I’ve certainly learned a lot and experienced some beautiful vistas. I look forward to exploring many more trails in the future!

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Cheers to another finish!

Official results:
time: 3:17:57 (14:53/mile)
5/9 AG; 98/133 overall

**

Race details:
Organizer: Coastal Trail Runs
Distances: 5 mile (60 runners), half marathon (133), 30K (28), marathon (25), 50K (16)
Cost: I think I paid $40 or 45? As usual, registering early is cost effective. Skip the shirt to save another $5.
Parking: free parking along Joaquin Miller Road, though DD says her car has been broken into many times there (I have yet to experience that). There was also parking inside the park. I don’t know if there was a fee.
Bathrooms: 2 porta potties set up at the road, and 2 more set up near the flushing toilets.
Aid stations: They’re pretty far apart, so I would definitely bring my own water and back-up fuel. For the half, they were at mile 2.8, 8.2, and 11.3.
Terrain: Everything from relatively level, easily runnable trail, to slippery, rocky single track. I did get a rock in my shoe at some point, so maybe gaiters would have been good.
Tips: This is a challenging course — the ascents are steep and lung busting, and the descents are treacherous. I was glad to be running “just” the half marathon. I wouldn’t want to run two loops of this course like the full marathon and 50K runners did! Register to run pretty and tough trails, not for a fast time.

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The Running Sweet Spot

I’ve run a lot of different race distances from 5K to 50K. Lately, I’ve thought a lot about what my favorite distance is… or rather, what my least favorite distances are. I’m currently in the frame of mind that longer isn’t necessarily better. Some might accuse me of being bitter after having a disappointing race at my last marathon (CIM) – and I think that there’s some truth to that. But the more I think about it, the more I realized that I’ve never really enjoyed running longer than 2.5 hours – either in training or during races. For me, that translates to about 15-16 miles on roads and 12-13 miles on trails. The one time I can actually remember having FUN while running longer than 2.5 hours was when I had a magical day at the Santa Rosa Marathon. Sure, I’ve had the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction following a 20-mile training run, but never joy or fun. Maybe I need to run more of them? I’m not sure I’m invested enough to try. When I think about why I don’t want to run another marathon in the foreseeable future, 3+ hour long runs are at the top of my list. Even when I’ve had company, even in decent conditions… I don’t know if it’s because I’m not fueling enough (2.5 hours seems like the point when you enter glycogen depletion) or if I just get bored. Or maybe physiologically, I’m not meant to be a marathoner.

When I think about the times I’ve been happiest running, it’s almost always between 6-10 miles. I should clarify: not 6 miles into a road 10K, but 6-10 miles into a half or full marathon. I’ve literally been giddy with joy as I cross the 10K mat numerous times, not knowing how hard I would bonk later in the race. I’ve also really enjoyed the 2 ten-miler races I’ve done. They didn’t hurt as much as a 10K but I still felt like I put forth enough effort to warrant a substantial breakfast as a reward. I’ve felt similarly after a tough trail 10K race. So, I guess my sweet spot is about 1-2 hours of running.

What about you? Do you have a sweet spot – either race distance, time on your feet, or weekly mileage?

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Steps in the Right Direction

I’m finally beginning to see the light at the end of the (low motivation, very fatigued) tunnel. I went to see Dr. W, my general practitioner, on Monday and had a complete blood panel done. Dr. W suggested we look at the usual suspects (iron, vitamin B, thyroid hormone). I asked her,”What if the tests come back and there’s nothing obvious?” I was a bit afraid that it was all in my head. I mean, who DOESN’T feel tired these days? If that happened, she recommended that I “top everything off” with a daily multivitamin. She said it wouldn’t hurt and could only help if I was just slightly (but not detectably) deficient. So, I dutifully went to the store and picked up a women’s multivitamin and have taken one everyday. So far, so good.

The great thing about Kaiser (my healthcare provider) is that they believe in transparency. They emailed me the results as they came in, along with the normal range and a link to find out more about each test. I still need to consult with Dr. W, but from what I understand, I’m very deficient in vitamin D and magnesium, and my ferritin levels are low for a runner. Everything I’m about to write needs to be predicated with this disclaimer: I may be a doctor (Ph.D.), but I’m not that kind of doctor (M.D.), so everything I say should be taken with huge grain of salt. I will say that I’ve found the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements page to be extremely informative.

From what I’ve read, it’s very difficult to accurately assess magnesium levels, so I’m not going to focus on my supposed magnesium deficiency (for now). My vitamin D levels are substantially lower than the recommended levels, and that wasn’t completely surprising given our rainy, dark winter. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight – it’s recommended that everyone gets 15-30 minutes of full sun exposure 3-4 times a week. Since I’ve been running early in the morning, a lot of my winter runs were in the dark or just at dusk. Fortunately, this past week has been much sunnier, so I’ve been working hard on “making” vitamin D. The confounding thing is that the symptoms related to vitamin D deficiency (mostly bone weakness and osteoporosis) aren’t the symptoms that I’ve been having (profound fatigue). Still, it’s good to know that my vitamin D levels are low so I can try to increase my bone strength and hopefully stave off any stress fractures.

The ferritin is the most interesting result to me as a runner. Ferritin is the protein that stores iron, while hemoglobin is the protein on your red blood cells that carries iron and oxygen around your body. My hemoglobin levels are normal, but my ferritin levels are low. Actually, I’m technically on the low range of normal (25 ng/mL), but according to this post, runners are recommended to have 40 ng/mL. According to the same article, as many of 50% of female runners are iron deficient, due to low iron intake (in their diets), menstruation, and loss through the GI tract. Moreover, iron is required for more than just oxygen transport, it’s also needed for oxidative metabolism. Therefore, runners who have low iron stores may suffer in performance due to multiple mechanisms.

Before I start downing iron supplements, however, I want to talk to Dr. W. There are risks involved in having too much iron and vitamin D. For now, I’m playing it safe and taking a daily multivitamin. It might all be in my head, but I’m already feeling better – my runs this week have been pretty decent. In particular, my 9.7 mile trail run this morning felt substantially better than many of my long runs of late. Hooray!

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Running happy at Lake Chabot today

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More Rambling

Hi again! Thanks to those of you who commented on my last post about lack of motivation and gave me encouragement and suggestions. Upon further reflection, here’s what I’ve concluded:

  • My lack of motivation extends beyond running. I’m actually thinking that there’s something physically wrong with me (maybe low iron levels, B12, etc.?) so I’ve scheduled an appointment with doctor this week. Hope to get some answers soon.
  • I realized that I’ve put some artificial constraints on myself in regards to scheduling time to run/workout. I need to reconsider some of these self-imposed restrictions to give myself more flexibility and less stress. For instance, I’ve become so used to being a morning runner that I’m having a hard time switching over running in the afternoon. Since I’ve been so tired, I would like to sleep in, but running during the workday also means staying a bit later at work. I know I’d rather *not* stay later, but if it means getting more sleep and being less stressed about going to bed by a certain time – so be it!
  • I need to break out of my normal running routine. I’m OK with running a familiar route, but maybe I’ll run a loop counterclockwise instead of clockwise, or take some detours. On Tuesday, I turned off the autolap function on my Garmin so I don’t look at pace at all. Before each run, I’ve been asking myself, “What would make me happy or excited to do this run?” So far, the answers this week have been: run a new loop south of campus, reintroduce a bit of interval training in the form of fartleks (oh hai speed), and go out for a medium length run (instead of forcing myself to do a long run) without any expectations or goals.
  • Consider why I have certain mental blocks to things and try to remove the obstacles. So, this one is kind of random, but one barrier to me running at work is dragging all of my stuff on BART. When I look at the contents of my bag, though, it’s not a lot of stuff – just clothes and my running shoes. What I realized is that I don’t like the BAG that I use… and if it’s one thing I learned from the Konmari method, it’s that things can help or hinder you mentally/emotionally in a subconscious way (as weird as that sounds). I don’t love my messenger bag that I currently use. It does not bring me joy. It’s bulky and heavy and I don’t like the looks of it (it’s what I get for buying it on clearance). The solution to this problem is easy: buy a new bag. So, I did some exhaustive research and ordered a bag last night. Some of the other barriers (like not having a locker room or shower at my work) will continue to be a problem, but I think (hope!) the new bag will be helpful.

Something I should’ve said before is that this post and the last post are full of first world problems. Yes, if there’s something physically wrong with me, that’s definitely a real issue. However, lacking running motivation is just not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. That said, thanks for letting my whine about it. 🙂

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On the docket…

9/17/17 – Alameda Half Marathon
10/1/17 – Tiburon Half (2:20 pacer)

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