Winging it

Still. You haven’t been training and you can punch out 13.1 miles? You’re amazing.

The above sentence was part of a larger email conversation with some friends this week.  It was a work conversation but somehow it came back to running.  And my friend’s mistaken belief that I’m amazing.  Well, I am. Amazing (and humble too! Ha!).  But not an amazing runner.   Probably it’s just that I am amazingly delusional.

Okay maybe delusional is a strong word.

You read stories (if you read running magazines) about people who decide on a whim to start running and they wind up running 2 miles a day for 2 weeks and then they pound out winning times in half marathons.  Or I’ve heard of people whose longest runs were 8 miles (maybe) and they just totally rocked a marathon with paces I never have approached and probably never will. Seems that the more I read about running and people who take to it – the more I hear of people who are just flying down the roads even as newbies.

But I realize that most of those stories are of people who fall into one (or more) of three categories.  Either they have had previous athletic experience (high schools sports or the like) or they are those blessed with incredible DNA.   Or maybe they are really really motivated, active people.

Me?  I’m just ordinary.  Just your run of the mill middle aged woman who took up running cause she likes shiny medals but who does not have athletic genes or any high school sports awards (other than a varsity letter in badminton – which is a sport but albeit it not a showy, challenging one) and whose motivation level depends on how many cookies she’ll be rewarded with at the end of the given challenge.

In other words – I’ve not turned out to be one of those people who took up running to discover that there was a hidden Ironman inside just waiting to burst forth. I’m just putting one foot in front of the other and hoping for the best along with some small miracles.

And I do sort of look out for those miracle moments.

In response to my friend’s comment about being amazing, I said: I once swung randomly at a ball in putt-putt and got a hole in one.   I live life expecting random good things to happen to me when I am underprepared.  (it helps to know that prior to that incident, I once skinned both my knees playing putt-putt.  But that is a long story for another time)

Running 13.1 miles is obviously not the same as a putt-putt hole-in-one.  I get that.  But sometimes you just realize that while you might be winging it – maybe something good will come of it.  Certainly not award winning paces.  But maybe not bad ones either.

And winging it is really not a great description of what I think Saturday will hold for me.  I am a runner.  I do run.  My training plan fell apart but I still ran. And I’ve run Disney 2x before.  I have a good mental grasp of what it takes to finish those 13.1.  I know where my favorite parts of the course are.  I know how I feel (mentally and physically) generally speaking at about the halfway point and at other mile markers.  I know what it’s like to round thru the last part in Epcot when the freaking finish line seems to not be where it should.  I know how much I hate going up the ramp when the green solider from Toy Story yells at you.  But I also know that thus far I’ve been successful at looking down from the overpass after that and seeing MANY people still behind me.  I know which port-a-potties to avoid (the ones in the grassy areas with lots of bugs in the grass) and I know what it’s like to meet my family afterwards. I even know how to get to the medical tent (but that will NOT be necessary).  I know that I hate yellow Gatorade so I’ll wear my fuel belt but I also know I’ll give in and drink some of the darn yellow Gatorade anyway.  (WHY can’t races use orange Gatorade?  Hello??)

But I also know I am so blessed to have two legs and some (not lots but some) stamina. And I know I will be going into this with family members who are most likely going to yell at me and push me past some of my own limits.  But they’ll also be cheering with me to the end. And I know that I’ll be happy to have done the experience again because I like to run.

So yeah – all in all that seems pretty amazing, I guess.

Getting psyched!

Happy New Year!

I often tell myself that if I were to be a baseball player, I would be a starting pitcher – who would probably not have a lot of complete games.  I’m so much better at starting things rather than ending them.  When I was a college student, I was great at starting the semester – fresh notebooks, new pens, neat handwriting, copious notes and study plans.  And then somewhere along the way I’d find myself limping into the last weeks and finals with nary a pen in sight and only a handful of illegible chicken scratch notes to study for exams. And I’d wonder where and when I lost my oomph.

I know my blog suffered in 2013 from that lack of closing.  I ran throughout 2013 – and I even ran three 5Ks (in July, Sept, and Oct). I had lots of ideas of what I wanted to write and share….but it never really came together. And thus it seemed this blog was going to suffer the fate of so many others.  Yet, here it is a new year.  A chance to “start” all over again. And maybe have a better closing 12 months from now.

And there’s no better way to start a new year than to go for a run. A long run – with medals at the end.  And Disney characters along the way!

This Saturday I’ll be running my third Disney Half Marathon (my fourth half marathon overall). And my sister requested a blog post so that it “becomes real”.  Here you go, Stacia!

The Disney race weekend has truly become quite the family affair for us.  When my husband Steve ran his first Disney in Jan 2011, he “merely” ran the half marathon and our kids and I cheered him on at the end. The next year, he ran the marathon while my sister and her husband joined me in running the half.  Actually Rob ran well ahead of us – but Stacia and I finished together.  Last year Steve chose to do the Goofy while Rob and Stacia and I stuck to the half.  So all four of us crossed the half finish together while my parents and kids cheered us on.

This year we are all running this half again – and we’ve added two cousins and one uncle to our merry troop!  My uncle (Paul) and cousin (Nicole) have run the 5K before – and they decided to up their game this year.  My other cousin (Mary) has finally gotten her knee fixed and ran circles around me this year.  And my parents, our kids, and my aunt will all be cheering us on at the finish.

And what an interesting group we shall be.  My training has not been what it should have been.  (Lots of short runs – not so many long ones.) And I think that’s possibly true of everyone except Steve and Mary.  Steve ran his first Space Coast Half Marathon just after Thanksgiving.  And Mary has been racing like crazy. But the rest of us have had our share of busy-ness this fall.  Again – closing out the year less strong than we perhaps wanted or planned to.

But it really doesn’t matter. I’m psyched anyway. I get to spend a few hours (hopefully less than 3!) with some really cool family members.  And the weather will be warm (a plus for everyone winging it down here from DC and NJ during this frigid weather period). And we’ll be running Disney!  And we’ll get a medal and t-shirts.

Disney is not a great race to try to PR in – namely there’s just too many people. But given that it was my first half – I got the PR. And last year (while I never quite blogged about it) – I did shave some time off my PR. I remember the moment it dawned on me that I could have a new PR and I just kicked it during mile 11.  (Okay well then I slowed down again – but I really pushed for those last miles.)

But the strongest memory I have of running last year is not that last kick….but the fact that I was running with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my husband. And they all stuck with me – slow running me. I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I have some awesome family members.  Ones who will stick it out for the long haul and be by your side no matter what. I think I might have gotten weepy around mile 6 as I was considered that fact. But that didn’t last long as Stacia probably yelled at me to hustle and stop crying.  That’s what sisters are for.

Anyway – I am sure this won’t be my fastest half marathon. But it will be fun. And it will be a great way to start the year.

Here’s to starting strong – and finishing strong as well!

 

If you don’t write a blog post, is it really happening?

So this first post of the new year is dedicated to my sister, Stacia.  Which makes sense cause when I spoke with her on the phone tonight she said, “Well, you’re not blogging.  I didn’t even know if this race was happening cause you haven’t written anything about it.  How am I sure that we’re running?”  Ah – the layer of guilt that insulates a good sisterly-bond.

She then kept talking in a self-labeled attempt to “give you more material to write about.”  Ah – the support sisters show each other.

Tomorrow, she and Rob fly in for our 2nd annual Disney running weekend.  We three are doing the half again like last year.  But we’ll be joined by my husband, Steve, who is doing the Goofy – running the 1/2 on Saturday and the full on Sunday.  (Yeah, don’t ask, I don’t know why either.  Other than you get three medals and three t-shirts. And yes, it makes my stomach cramp a little and I worry but he just poo-poos it so I keep it to myself.)

Steve’s plan to survive Goofy is to run the 1/2 with me.  Or as he put it when he hatched his plan: “I’ll walk with you.”  Nice.  And Stacia and Rob are just over the flu.  So we’ll all be sticking together to do things nice and easy. Or as Steve has dubbed us: “Team Turtle”.  (All I can say is, he’s lucky he’s cute.)

But even this ectotherm has goals.  As Steve wandered the Orlando outlet stores last year in his post-marathon deluded state, he promised to buy me a Coach purse if I ran again this year and beat my time by 13.1 minutes.  (Get it?)  So I have to pace at 11:51 per mile to win the deal.  Stacia intends for me to win – as evidenced by our conversation tonight:

“So, last year, we started out great – it was your foot injury that slowed us down. So I’m going to start you at an 11:45 pace and we’re going to keep it up. And I have a whole bunch of motivational speeches prepared…”

“You’re writing all these down to remember them?”

“Heck no. I’ll remember them – I’m a genius.”

She is actually very smart. As for genius….hm…

“And how do you feel about Minnie ears? Cause I’m thinking we’re going to run with Minnie ears.”

I love my sister.  She cracks me up – ears and all. She rags on my attire and my worries. And yet she can out worry me any day of the week (yes, you can – so don’t go posting a comment that you don’t!). And she can outrun me any day of the week. But she is the most kindhearted, loving person out there. And if she ever gives up her day job – she can totally be a motivational speaker – or fitness trainer.

So Stacia – here’s the first of a few blog posts about Disney this year.  Cause if I don’t blog about it – it won’t happen.  Let the magic begin!

 

 

Everything old is new and vice versa

The kids started back to school yesterday. Which meant that in the last few weeks of summer, blogging got pushed aside for things like camp (ballet and rockets), Vacation Bible School (where my husband and I stretched our acting chops in the skits), a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and lots of back to school shopping. And definitely running.

Including the running from Target to Walmart to find the darn pocket dividers that one teacher required. Of course once I had everything purchased and labeled, we got an addendum list with MORE things on it.  And once again….off to the store. Our son’s lunchbox made it through ONE day of school before it ripped. As I had officially declared back to school shopping OVER, I went the route of duct tape to fix it. And now he can tell his lunch box from the other boy’s exact one by virtue of the tape.  Several life lessons there – including buy the more expensive lunch box no matter how much your child begs for the cheaper one. And the corollary one – you will have to purchase another lunch box when the duct tape is no longer cutting it.

As we walked the kids up to school yesterday, the street got thick with bikers and car riders. I spied one little girl excitedly sticking her head out the car window as she waited for mom to get to the corner to turn into the already jammed school parking lot and car line. I’m sure for every one of the “hanging the head out the window in breathless anticipation” kids, there were equally sullen kids rather excited by the traffic snarl which ensured another few precious moments of summer freedom.

Thankfully our children were more excited than sullen – if only because our son is cheered by the fact that we are going to Orlando on Saturday for the Star Wars Convention.  He sees that as the ultimate reward for surviving the first week of third grade. Our daughter is concerned there aren’t enough “girly” things at Star Wars.  

And so the circle goes.

As an academic, I’ve lived all my life on the school calendar.  K to 12. Then college.  Then 2 years of a Masters program.  Then 4 years of a PhD program.  (Yes I am over educated, why do you ask?) Then the years since then as an adjunct instructor, a visiting instructor, a post-doc, etc across a variety of institutions, depending upon geographical location.  For the last 8 years, I’ve been very blessed to be an adjunct at the same university where my husband is a tenure faculty member.  (In fact, we are in the same department – because we are both psychologists – but not THAT kind of psychologist.)  I’ve had the fun of teaching without the requirement to be advisor, go to meetings, and do other faculty related things.

But this year – I have the pleasure of serving a one year visiting assistant professor position in the same department.  In my mind that has meant I get to teach 3 classes a semester rather than 2, I get more money, an office to squat in, and I get the option of attending the department meetings that Steve tells me are not all that exciting. To the university that means – I have a lot of meetings to go to and things to think about that other adults tell me they worry about (like benefits) but I have chosen by marriage and profession to largely ignore.

Thus once we had the kids off to their respective classrooms (and I had deposited the immediately-wiped-off-while-scowling kiss on our son’s head) I had to race home to drive in for the day long orientation for “new faculty”.  I don’t feel so new as I have been around long enough for my husband to get tenure, but that is a mere footnote to the university. As I drove to campus I was a mixture of that girl hanging her head out the window and that child who wants summer to last forever.  Yes, I love teaching and new notebooks.  But I love summer and being an academic means that summers can be rather laid back.  And I was headed to all day meetings – oh joy. The only consolation being that I was required to go to a faculty reception at the end of it all which included an open bar.

Well I survived the meetings, introduced myself while turning beet red, tried to not yawn at the information I already knew (after 8 years I do know the policy on whether you can tell helicopter parents their darling snowflakes’ grades) and I tried to stop the brain explosion of information on benefits. Yes I get benefits and I am glad for that.  But trying to calculate 20% of a payment on a hypothetical medical appointment that may or may not occur makes one want to stab themselves in the heart with all the free pens we got. I stopped myself in time to realize that I wasn’t sure whether emergency room visits were covered before classes started.  Then again, there might be a caveat in the eye care benefits that covers it – I should have paid more attention.

I pondered all of this while I was running this morning. In addition to the three classes, I’ve packed a 1/2 marathon in this fall (Rock & Roll in Savannah) and the Disney 1/2 in January 2013. Yes I am insane. Even more so because, given our schedule for this fall, my running has gotten pushed to 5 am.  Four days a week.

Oh yes I am quite insane.  And it is quite humid here.

By the time I got back home this morning, I could wring my shirt out and fill the bathtub. At least 1/2 way up.  At times I wasn’t even close to outrunning the sweat dripping down my head. However, I had a steady pace for quite awhile that encouraged me. I hope the sweat cleared all the neurons that had shriveled during yesterday’s meetings and worked off all the sushi I munched on next to the open bar.  But moreover, I’m hoping these next few weeks are old and new.  Old in that running is a part of me now.  New in that I can get back to the 1/2 marathon shape I need. And running each run at 5 am will be new for me. I kinda like the lazy approach of walking the kids to school in the running clothes and then going.  Now I have to run, clean myself up, get dressed and packed for work and then get the kids all put together.  Hmmm…..what are odds this habit will get old sooner rather than later?  Or maybe I could get a new PR in the 1/2 instead.  Yeah yeah – I’ll lean towards that one…..

Here’s to good runs for you all – even those (especially those!) at 5 am!

 

Odds and ends

Been a busy week.  First week of no school for the kids.  Except of course I’m the mean mommy who makes them do homework all summer.  When your son who just finished second grade says, “Ummm what’s 6+7?”, you know you need to make him to math drills all summer.  We have to get into a new groove and routine for the summer….but I suppose that will take a few weeks.

Managed a few runs – including a group run today of 3.3 miles. (June lied and said we were only doing 3…she also burst off ahead of all of us turtles.)  At least I wasn’t alone in the back of the pack. And it’s been awhile since we had a group run (i.e. more than 2 people).  While I like being able to run with just me and my tunes, I also enjoy the time to talk, vent, and compare diets.  By the way, we are not talking about my weight loss challenge this week. Suffice it to say that my metabolism is not getting any of the memos I keep sending it.

We’re also working on getting healthier habits into the whole family. I refuse to allow the kids to keep grabbing juice boxes out of the fridge.  So we now each have our own water bottles – kept on the table from which to sip all day long.

Hydration!

Our son really likes the idea – despite a desperate need for a restroom while we were in line at the post office yesterday. Our daughter is coming around – as she does with everything that Mommy and Daddy suggest.  In fact, as I was typing this, she came up and declared “I’m thirsty.”  I pointed at the water bottle and she sighed, “oh I forgot.”  Ah six-year olds.

I’ve been eking out a few miles here and there in my Merrells.  Really really like the feel of the minimalist shoe.  I almost ran the group run in them today – but Steve reminded me I need to work up to longer distances.  But meanwhile I still love Merrells – and the fact that they have read this blog!!!  COOL!

Thank you Merrell!!

And sent me even more presents!  I really can’t say enough good things about this company!  I’ve started the Barefoot Running book.  It’s rather good – although some of the people in it – run barefoot.  Like really barefoot.  Like no shoes at all.  Ugh.  The summer I turned 9, I was running outside barefoot in my front yard.  Until I stepped on a piece of wire and had to go to the ER.  It was a really thick wire.  Hence, I’m rather fond of keeping my soles protected. But I’m encouraged by my, thus far, minimal strides into the minimalist world. And the book is encouraging.

 

You can do it!Speaking of encouragement – I saw this sign at Downtown Disney last weekend. I don’t recall any stories of Walt Disney being a runner. But as a visionary – he definitely knew how to put his efforts full force into something. If only we all could be so determined…….

Now – put down the computer/smartphone/tablet and go RUN!

 

 

100 blog posts!!

100 posts!!!

Woo hoo!  This is my 100th blog post!  Wow….never thought I’d make it that far when I started this blog almost a year ago.  Then again – I never thought I’d actually consider myself a runner.

If this were a television show, 100 episodes would mean I’d be all ready for a party with cake and syndication.  Given my recent dedication to losing weight, the cake is right out.  As for syndication, I’m not sure how well these posts hold up in reruns. But if you haven’t perused the whole shebang – take a look back to some of my oldies but goodies while you’re here.

So how should a blogger (whose readership is limited to a few kind friends and family) celebrate such an accomplishment?  Cause clearly this is cause for amazement and wonder….and presents!  

Well in my case, I killed a fish.

No no – not intentionally.  In fact, I was doing the fish a favor at the time.  I was cleaning his bowl – see very nice – when he decided to keel over in the “holding” bowl.  I would like to point out that I was rather sweet to let him flop his last in my favorite Pampered Chef batter bowl.  Not all mommies would be that kind. But I’m thinking that I won’t be making pancake mix again until I disinfect it thoroughly. (My apologies to any and all Pampered Chef reps – I love your products….apparently fish would die for them.)  I would also like to point out that I refrained from yelling at said (dead) fish that I had now wasted all that time cleaning out a bowl for a fresh corpse.

If you are a fan of this blog (and if you are – definitely hit the Facebook button on the upper right side of this page!) you’ll know this is not the first time we’ve experienced fish death in our house.  (Click here for the full story.)  This was the last of our Rosy Reds….and we still have a beta that seems to thrive on filthy water.

And as with the previous perishings – our son got to witness the horror first hand.  He happened to get out of bed just at the right wrong moment. However this time he was less mad and freaked out.  In fact when the fish tried valiantly to kick himself back up (I presume to say good-bye), our son started saying, “Zombie fish, I have a zombie fish.” He’s all 8 year old boy – pets are cool but zombie pets are even cooler.

I pray we don’t encounter any zombie rats anytime soon.

In other news….. I did celebrate today with some running.  Managed 1.5 miles today with a friend.  Foot’s not doing too badly but we weren’t breaking any speed records.

And we signed up for Disney 2013!!   Steve is doing the Goofy (because he is insane) and I’m signed up for the 1/2 again.  And Steve has reiterated his promise that if I shave 13.1 minutes off my time from this year – I get to go shopping for a Coach purse.  Between the weight loss deal and the run – this could be a profitable year for me.  🙂   Before we signed up – I called my parents to very sweetly ask if they would join us in Disney to watch the kids the morning of the 1/2.  Because I called before his alarm went off, my Dad was very willing to say yes.  (Thanks Dad! Hope you didn’t rethink it after you had some coffee!)  I’m hoping my sis and her husband will do the 1/2 again with us.  (Pretty please??)

As for the weight loss …. I am actually down 1.4 pounds since I made the deal with Steve.  Woo hoo!  So I’m 24.6 pounds away from $1000.  Woot!  So far so good.  I’m trying to stay upbeat about it.  (Come on it’s $1000!)

So – here’s to Stumbling Forward into the next 100 posts….hope you join me!

Disney Weekend – Part III

….in which I finally detail Steve’s first marathon at Disney…..

Before I start – I owe an apology to all those 5 fans who read this blog….including Steve. Since the Disney 1/2, I’ve run a grand total of 6 miles.  Yup – barely an 8K. The pain in my foot has nagged me and beaten me down a bit and I’ve avoided blogging. But – that is for the next blog post. Right now – I’m documenting the last day of our Disney Marathon weekend…..

After the 1/2 on Saturday, we all crashed for a little bit in our hotel rooms. Then the plan was to get over to Downtown Disney in search of toys and food and back to the rooms pretty early.

Getting out the door to the buses proved a bit challenging to me – the foot was aching even after an hour or so of icing. So in order to get things put together, I sat on the end of one of the beds and barked orders at the kids. Or as Steve put it – I “held court”. Overall the kids were rather affable about the whole thing and were very willing to help out. (Maybe cause they knew that a trip to the LEGO store was on the line….)  We finally got it all together and I managed to hobble out to the bus stop.

Downtown Disney is one of our family’s favorite places in Orlando.  We often meet up with friends and family there to grab a bite and not have to pay the prices to enter the parks. I’m pretty sure the kids occasionally think that Downtown IS the real Disney….such is the life of a Floridian. We got to explore a new restaurant there and checked out Wolfgang Puck’s Express in order for Steve to carb load. The plate of pasta he had was bigger than his head. The rest of us were rather relaxed and reliving the moments of our races from earlier in the day (kids included as they had run in the kids races).  Then we managed to get the kids in and out of the LEGO store rather quickly and with minimal damage to our wallets.

The key to that night was getting everyone (read: kids) settled down while helping get Steve prepped. I kept telling him to focus on him while I battled over excited kids. We did manage to get to bed at a decent hour….and Steve got great sleep – till he woke up at 12 or so and thought it was 2.  I do think he managed some more sleep though before the 3am alarms started ringing. I felt bad that his send off party was just me – but it did seem silly to get everyone else up to see him off.  And I quickly hit the hay again after he left.

My morning started again at about 6am….as I was getting the kids up and moving, I tried calling the front desk for late check out.  Unfortunately every other runner had already called to do the same and we were out of luck for getting that option. And thus began our morning….and our daughter told Aunt Stacia that “Mommy’s in crisis mode!”  Actually I was concerned about how fast I could move (the foot hurt a lot) and how quickly Steve would finish so we could get him back for a shower before we checked out.

Thus, the kids and Stacia and Rob and I started getting everything packed up and organized. We were getting texts that Steve was going faster than we anticipated….which would have been good for getting a shower – not so good for us getting over to him if we didn’t run just as fast. We decided to pack everything in the car and pack clean clothes for Steve separately. Managed to get it all sorted out and hobbled on down to breakfast. I did check at the front desk and discovered that Steve could shower at the pool if necessary.

The bus trip over to the finish line was a lot shorter than Steve and the kids had experienced trying to get to the end of the 1/2 on Saturday. The best part of it for me was watching the kids have such fun with their aunt and uncle.

And then the hilarious part … Stacia was watching out the window as we made our way to the Epcot area for the start/finish of the race. She was explaining to my daughter that it looked a lot like where we had started the race yesterday.

I said, “Well it should – it is the same place.”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is – we ended the race near where we were dropped off by the buses.”

LOL. From the height of the bus, and the daylight that was absent when we had made our way to the start line the previous day, Stacia finally figured out that they didn’t actually move the bag drop off location….but the drop off and meet up and finish area were all the same thing.  (Gotta love chances to laugh at your baby sister!)

We did have a lot of waiting around for Steve….ventured into the merchandise tent (You are not at Disney if there is not a store within 30 feet)….wandered….and then finally made our way to the spectators area next to the finish line. We couldn’t find any seats but stood on the sidelines while the kids sat on the ground.  We weren’t sure exactly how far off Steve’s time was from clock time….so we started looking carefully when we guessed he was likely to finish.  He had been on track for a 3:45 time or so…..he finally crossed in 3:55:37!  WOO HOO Steve!  Of course with all the crowds and the roar of the past 26.2 miles still echoing in his head….he didn’t hear us.  Stacia managed to run down the fence and catch his attention….but barely.

I have to admit I was a bit worried when I saw him cross. He wasn’t limping or anything….but his whole body read “weary”.  And I wasn’t sure he was actually aware of his surroundings.  But then again – remember I’m an expert worrier.

We finally caught up with him after he got his medal and post-race food.  We got him to a bench quickly and tried not to hug him too much (he was pretty smelly after all!).  I think he was happy with his time….but at that moment, Steve just seemed happy to be done. He had been worried he was going out too fast too soon. But he really managed to keep up a decent pace for awhile. While he didn’t use the words “boink” or “wall” – mile 18 and on were a bit of a struggle.  Later when I was looking at his Garmin results – he lamented some of his slowest paces….I lost sympathy when I realized his slowest were still faster than my fastest!  🙂   But he was moving better than I had been…..and he was rather quick to perk up….

No matter that he met his goal of under 4 hours but not his “real” goal of 3:45 or so…..no matter that he struggled a bit in the final miles…..he did it – my hubby has run a whole marathon – in one morning. He’s got the medal and the t-shirt to prove it.

We did get back in time for Steve to shower in our room….whew!  And he actually looked a lot better then. 🙂  For an hour or so  we all hung around outside at the resort – enjoying the sunshine and asking Steve questions about the race. The funny signs, the course route, the candy stop that he passed by cause chocolate didn’t seem like a good idea…..the kegs of beer they ran past in Epcot!   (We also learned during this that Rob had no recollection of any of the sights along the 1/2….he and Stacia are WELL suited to one another!)  We also kept saying “Congrats” to the runners who would walk by – still in running clothes, sporting medals.  The ones with Goofy medals on would clank past us – leaving us shaking our heads….running a 1/2 and then a full in two days??!  Wow.

But as we watched them walk by – we started to make plans for Disney Marathon weekend 2013!!  Steve’s actually considering the Goofy….???  And he tried to talk Rob into it…..We didn’t actually firm anything up – but we all talked about the possibilities and the best options for all of us – and for keeping an eye on the kids!

We finished off the day with a big meal at IHOP and then a bit of shopping at a local outlet mall. When we made our way back to the cars (me still hobbling)….Stacia and Rob were going to drive over to see Stacia’s best friend from high school.  I could not stop hugging her goodbye….and actually sobbed when we finally got in the car to go.

That weekend was amazing…..such fun to be with Stacia and Rob….to spend time with the kids and watch them with their aunt and uncle…..to manage to accomplish what we set out to do so many months prior. One of the best ways to start the new year…..running together as family and being there for each other…..I’m thinking we were right to start planning for next year already!

 

Disney Half Marathon – Part II

The biggest fear I had about running a 1/2 marathon was not being able to finish. Yet once we got to Disney and started picking up race packets and such – I never really gave it another thought. I was getting that darn medal for finishing.

Truth be told, my biggest fear (as usual) was speed. My sister, who is a very good runner, kept telling me pre-race that she was expecting me to run the last mile in 10:30.  Ack. I wasn’t sure she realized just how slow I can be….so I tried to psych myself up to getting some strength to keep up a better pace than usual.

One of the first things I need to learn better about races is how to get sleep the night before. I tossed and turned from 10pm till 3am (wake up call). I’m not sure I got quite 3 hours of sleep in there….and I could feel it at one point on the course. Early mornings are not actually much of a problem for me – particularly as I was so excited and eager to get my medal to get the race started. In fact I think we (Rob, Stacia, and I) were all excited – Rob especially after we found the Disney food court open at our resort and fully stocked with coffee. Steve took pictures of us all and admitted later being a little envious. (Of course he needed to get more sleep as the marathon was still 24 hours away.)

The number of people waiting for buses to the race start was a bit overwhelming to me. While I’m sure the whole resort was not there for marathon weekend, it certainly was clear just how popular the Disney races are. The number of Goofy bibs we saw was also surprising and we liked joking with a few of the people wearing them.

The Goofy is when you pay and purposefully sign up to run the 1/2 marathon on Saturday and then the full marathon on Sunday. You get a medal for completing each race – and then an additional Goofy medal – for basically mastering the insanity of running 39.3 miles across two mornings. After the race on Sunday, you could always tell the Goofy runners as they would be wearing two medals (Mickey and Goofy) and would be clanking their way along.  Three medals, three t-shirts, one weekend – I’m pretty sure I would have renamed it after a different Disney character:  Dopey!

The hardest part of the Disney race is getting from the buses to the start corral – as it seems as if you walk around all four parks to get there.  The start/finish is essentially a section of the Epcot parking lot (and yes, Stacia, they are in the same location! – see Disney Part I). Any non-runners can come with you – but once you go to check your bags, it’s runners only. I suppose a few brave souls could stick around – especially if they have a VERY fast runner to cheer for. But there seemed to be few of those around.

Ah – bag check. So we knew it would be cold at 4 in the morning. And any clothing you want to wear pre-race and then shed gets picked up and donated by Disney. Last year Steve ran the 1/2 and he just bought some sweats at Wal-Mart. This year Stacia happened upon sweats for her and I at Target – on sale for $2 each.  Hello!  Great deal.  Problem though?  They were COMFY!  So we debated the whole “these are awesome sweats that we want to keep” vs “it’s wiser to stay warm before the race”.  Comfort won out – long term comfort that is.  We checked our bag of cell phone, extra snacks, and comfy sweatshirts (we hadn’t needed the pants).  Yes, this could be seen as silly. And yes it could be seen as … well silly. Although frankly the cold wasn’t as bad as it could have been. (I’m typing this days later mind you.)

Next up – port-a-potty line. I only mention this because I never have used a port-a-potty before. Never. And while everyone complained about them – the lines were incredibly long. So awful but necessary. I was stunned that there was no light inside. Nor were there any hidden Mickeys inside – come on Disney! But I have now used a port-a-potty. Or in other words – I’ve learned to hold my breath above water.

Moving on…you do move on. A giant cattle call to the start corrals. We were at least moving and keeping generally warm. And my anxiety would shoot up (and thus bloodflow and warmth) every time Rob would say, “The papers say you have to be in the corral by 5am. We’re not going to get there in 5 more minutes….they’re not going to let us run!”  I’m not sure if he was seriously worried – but the crowds behind us seemed to suggest that Disney was not about to enforce that ….I hoped.

I’m not sure what time I had predicted on my entry form – but I thought it was 2:50 – which got me placed in corral E. Stacia and Rob were assigned D – you can move back but not up. So we said goodbye to Rob at the split and Stacia came to start in E along with me.

On a related side note, I didn’t realize till after the race that Stacia probably could have run the 1/2 in about 2:15.  I guess I had never really thought about her pace and her potential time. I just kept telling her I was slow and kept worrying about that. As she is my sister, Stacia might point out that makes me selfish….I like to think it’s just that I was worried about the abstract not the specific. Either way – I will always be grateful that she ran her first 1/2 with me. She totally could rock a new PR in the 1/2 easily….her willingness to not meet some time goal means so much to me. I truly don’t know that I would have made it in under 3 hours if it weren’t for her.

Waiting is the worse….but eventually the corrals started moving forward…..we cheered on the wheelchair start (man they are fast!), the elites, and corrals A-D. (We cheered on Rob – I’m so sure he heard us.) By the time Stacia and I got near the start line, I was pumped. We had spent much of our time talking to this nice lady whose husband was up in corral B. But once the gun and the fireworks sounded, it was all about Stacia and I….and avoiding all the people around us.

People will tell you that Disney is challenging because of the number of people running. Thousands of people. It’s hard at points to get yourself to pace just because there are so many bodies in one place….and some of the paths get a little narrow. (Like running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom – so cool but 1/2 the road is roped off and it gets tight in terms of elbow room.)  Steve had said that last year he felt like it took 2 miles to get himself up to pace.

Amazingly – we didn’t seem to have that much difficulty getting into our pace early on. In fact, the first 5K was my best 5K time ever. Something like 34 mins.  We were doing 11:15 miles or so for the first several miles. And I felt good. I was high-fiving all the cheerleaders (tons of people on the sidelines – including high school bands and cheerleaders) and thanking people. And I didn’t lose Stacia. (Although yes, I might not have always paid attention to when there were slow people in front of her….my apologies again!)

Overall – the good feeling lasted about 6 miles or so. I remember hitting 5 miles in about an hour – which was good for me. And was a goal I had. But somewhere around 7 or 8 miles, I started feeling off my pace – largely cause my Nike+ app was off from all the official race mile markers. Now – I love my Nike+ app – but I have no idea how it got so off during the race. I had worn Steve’s Garmin when I did my longest run in training (11 miles) in order to calibrate it. And at that time it was only off by about .32 miles.  Not bad at all.  So I am a little confused.  But the difference in mileage (which was about .7 miles!) started to throw me off in my calculations and my feeling good.

Overall, I think I could have finished stronger and shaken off the app issue…..until around mile 10. I took a funny step…and bam – my right foot did something funky. I could still run and walk but there was pain all over the top of my foot. The last three miles were bad…lots of walking (but my sister kept telling me it was okay). However Stacia made me run the last mile and anytime I tried to walk (3x) – she’d grab my hand and start pulling me. Rather than  start a sister fight in the middle of Epcot – I picked up the pace.  Thanks Stacia – I needed that.

Overall – good start to the race….moderately okay middle of the race…..and just unhappy with the last few miles. Stupid foot. But given that I already have plans to do better at DIsney next year….you could say that it clearly was a great experience.

Things I’ll never forget:

  • Running through Cinderella’s castle
  • Stacia grabbing me to drag me along those last bits of Epcot.  (Man her hands were cold, but she is an awesome sister.)
  • Crossing the finish together with our hands up
  • Getting that medal (I almost took my foot over to the medical tent – but I opted for the medal instead – good call)
  • Not happy about the water stops – only cause the road was SOAKED by the time we got there….so afraid I’d slip and fall….which, if you ask my sister, was quite likely. Thankfully it never happened.
  • Stacia’s surprise that it was mile 8 as she had missed the mile 7 sign.
  • Wanting to jump over the cones and not actually run all the way down to the Christmas tree in Epcot…..but I didn’t.
  • Getting that medal and crying – although briefly.
  • Discussing Powerade flavors. I swear that lemon-lime tastes like piss. Stacia says that since I’ve never actually tasted piss, I can’t say that.  Younger sisters….
  • But seriously – why do they only serve lemon-lime at the races?
  • Hitting about mile 10 and realizing that I will indeed finish despite the pain.
  • Seeing some of the elite runners run past us – nearing the finish as we were starting.  We cheered loudly for them.
  • Looking down from the overpass near the end and seeing that I was clearly not in last place.
  • Finishing.  Side by side with my sister. And thinking that next year, we’ll be coming in faster.  Together.
Next up – Part III – thoughts and observations on Steve’s Disney Marathon and the post-even wrap up.

 

Disney Half Marathon – Part I

I have run a 1/2 marathon. I have run a 1/2 marathon and I finished it.  All in the same day – heck the same morning!

And now I can sport the new magnet on the back of my car.  (Thanks sis!)  Steve has one on his car – but that one says, “26.2”.

Whenever I run, even in the midst of races, I’m often thinking about writing and how to best describe what is going on around me. So I have had a zillion thoughts about the Disney 1/2 since this weekend. But I realize that you all probably don’t want me to share my every thought with you. (A long time ago I met a person who described in great detail every single tenth of a mile of that first marathon….I will spare you such details and boredom.)

And to be honest, while I will never forget it – parts of this weekend are rather blurry.  So I’ll just start with a bunch of categories of “stuff” to share:

Math – running by the numbers

  • I discovered that my brain can not process simple math problems while running. When we hit mile marker 8, my sister said “Wow!  We’re at 8 – I never saw 7! We’re so close.” My response? “What plus 8 is 13?”  And I had no idea the answer. Yet I’ve probably asked this question of my kids during homework at least 13 times. I’m going to chalk up my inability to add to that extra .1 mile.
  • Speaking of adding – I’m quite afraid to get our Discover card bill for the weekend. Food prices at Disney are …..well, it’s called Disney World, not Discount World.
  • 13.1 miles apparently meant that I burned approximately 1800 calories – according to my Nike+ on my iPod. If you look at my eating habits since then – I apparently can’t distinguish between 1800 and 18000.  But oh my scale can add….
  • Speaking of Nike+, it’s math was all off too. By the time I crossed the finish, the iPod was telling me that I had run 14.65 miles. Zoinks!!  I know I don’t always run the tangents, but clearly it was way off. So off that it was interfering with my ability to accurately gauge my pace and my distance. Time to save up for a Garmin, I suppose.

Notable quotables – aka things my sister said along the way

  • My sister, Stacia, decided to not wear the compression sleeves she had purchased. After at least an hour of waiting in the cold and several miles of running,  she realized that her fingers were cold and that the lack of sleeves had been a poor decision.  Her comment?  “Well – insight is 20/20.”  And the more you think about it – the more true that statement is.
  • At one point in the race my foot started to hurt. Not plantar pain – but due to a funny step I took that still aches. I proceeded to curse a bit and then count my curses out loud. In real life I don’t curse that much but my brain was toast, my foot hurt, and I was totally out of sorts.  My sister’s comment:  “Shh… this is a FAMILY race.”
  • Later I mentioned that I hoped my foot wasn’t broken, but it would make a great blog story – about running the last 3 or so miles on a broken foot. My sister’s comment: “Your blog doesn’t need that much drama in it.”
  • A quick glance to my right at about mile 9 made me almost stop in my tracks. Two runners side by side, one female and one male. The male was wearing a running skirt and pink (and I mean PINK) compression socks. When I shot a look at my sister, she simply said, “That’s one for the blog.”
  • We took the bus to meet my husband, Steve, at the end of the marathon on Sunday. The meet up is near the finish line which is also where the bag check is and where runners for both races start the walk to the start corrals. In the light of day while looking out the bus window, Stacia came to a startling revelation. “Hey, this looks like where we started…..oh man this is where we started.  Wait, we finished in the same place we started? I had no clue. I thought they moved all the bags and the bag check.”  Have I mentioned that she’s blonde? Sometimes it shows…

The waiting game

  • Disney races start at 5:30am. Which meant a 3am alarm and catching a bus at 3:30 or so. Which then meant waiting in line for a bus, then waiting for the bus to get there,  then waiting in line for the port-a-potty. Then walking to the start corrals, and then waiting around for your corral to go.  All in the cold.
  • I’m not good at waiting. Nor am I good at dancing. Stacia filled the time in the corral with patience and dancing. Though I should point out that she has very little patience for me sometimes….especially when I’m dancing.
  • Our kids were really really patient all weekend. They had to do an awful lot of waiting….and they were really good about it all. Hence the other charges on the Discover card – at the LEGO store.
  • My brother-in-law, Rob, is a very patient fellow. (He’s married to my sis for one thing!) He finished an hour before my sister and I did…and Steve and the kids were stuck on a bus for longer than expected. So he did a lot of waiting after his race. Thanks Rob – for putting up with all of us.

Important things to keep in mind if you ever run Disney

  • Definitely make sure you carry some money in your running shorts or fuel belt. As it turned out, the $5 bill I had tucked in my fuel belt was exactly what I needed to get two coffees for me and for Rob. You can always bump into an opportunity to spent money at Disney – especially for food.
  • Don’t panic about the port-a-potties. That is, don’t assume there aren’t more ahead of you. We saw some guys run off into the woods as we walked to the corrals.  Not 50 yards later – there were another set of port-a-potties ahead. Of course, some people might prefer the woods….
  • On a related note – this was my first ever port-a-potty experience. Yes, seriously. I’d lived 41 years without using one. Let me tell you – I can go another 41 years thank you very much. You’d think that Disney could spruce up port-a-potties somehow. But apparently that’s not a frontier they are willing to tackle with their imagineers.
  • Definitely request late check out BEFORE the day you check out. Normal check out is at 11am. We were told we could request a 1pm check out that morning…which would have been helpful given Steve’s marathon. However, everyone else had requested earlier than us and we were out of luck….Thankfully Steve finished in time to shower before 11 thus he escaped having to resort to using the pool showers.
  • If you bring kids with you to the races – two things to know.  First the kids races are AWESOME!  Definitely a fun time for everyone. And well done. Second be sure that at least one of your party has the legs to keep up with the kids. Either stagger your races or bring along a non-running party to keep up with them. (Preferably someone who is capable of running along with them – or at least not hobbling.)
  • Definitely sign up for the text messaging about runners. It works so well – we’d get text updates on pace, predicted total pace, and predicted finish time. Very very helpful in getting to the finish line on time to meet your runner.
Motivation – the best signs and tee-shirts we saw
  • “May the course be with you” – Steve saw this sign during the marathon
  • “Stop reading and keep running” – a sign Stacia and I saw (and obeyed!)
  • “Who moved the finish line?” – on the back of tee-shirt
  • “Dear God, Please let there be someone behind me to read this.” – back of another tee-shirt
  • One of the volunteers told us as we walked along to the start, “They changed the water stop at mile 9 – it will be margaritas rather than water and Powerade!” (That got a big cheer!)
  • Steve and the other marathoners got to run in the back of some of the World’s Showcase “countries” in Epcot – including running right past a giant pallet of just delivered kegs.

Next up in Part II……some thoughts about actually RUNNING 13.1 miles at Disney…..

I DID IT!

Yes I did….I ran and completed a 1/2 marathon.  I have so much to post – pictures, thoughts, pictures, funny stories, etc….but I have a weary marathoner who is nearly asleep and I’m about to tumble in bed next to him.

Short version of story – I met my goal: 2:50.  Steve met his “under 4 hours” goal: 3:55.  We are both proud, exhausted, and a bit achy.  Don’t have pictures uploaded yet….but will do so tomorrow…..Meanwhile – here’s what I put in a Facebook note to my friends tonight:

Yesterday I finished my first 1/2 marathon at Walt Disney World.  I say “first” cause I fully intend to run more half marathons in the future. However, I must recover first – as you can see….

1)    I can say I ran a freakin’ half marathon and finished.

2)    I can not promise that my legs will obey my brain’s messages to move forward.

3)    I can wear my medal every day – if I want to.

4)    I can not bend down and then easily get back up again.

5)    I can tell you that I am really proud of myself.

6)    I can not stop short when walking or do u-turns easily (directed at the little old “stop in front of people quickly” ladies at Publix this evening)

7)    I can drive (we made it home).

8)    I can not promise that me driving is actually a good idea.

9)    I can wiggle all my toes.

10) I can not fully move my right foot.

11) I can stand on my right foot – if I am holding on to something stable.

12) I can not figure out what happened to my foot at around mile 10.

13) I can promised I will get my foot checked out….sometime this week.

14) I can not wait for my foot to be better cause I want to sign up for Gasparilla and Iron Girl.

15) I can tell you that my sister, Stacia, is the best motivator in the world.

16) I can not tell you that I was always paying attention to her need to get around slower runners in front of her (Sorry Sta!)

17) I can tell you that my brother-in-law, Rob, rocked his 1/2 marathon.

18) I can not wait till next year cause Rob promised to come back…..marathon perhaps?

19) I can tell you I’m so proud of my husband, Steve, who ran his first marathon today – and did it under 4 hours.

20) I can not stop laughing at the joke: “26.2 miles because 26.3 miles would just be crazy!”

21) I can and will encourage each of you to set goals for yourself this year – and GO FOR THEM!

22) I can not let Steve forget that he promised if I shave 13.1 minutes off my Disney 1/2 next year – he’ll let me buy a Coach bag….see goal setting!!!

23) I can tell you that it was worth it all – every last minute of it…..most truly.

And finally – I can not thank you all enough for the encouragement and posts on Facebook.  Disney does not have wifi (what up with that?) and my cell phone is limited in capabilities and battery life. But I managed to see all the “likes” and comments and I was overwhelmed with the support my friends and family have for me.  Thanks so much y’all.

And as one sign Steve saw today said: May the course be with you!