Tag Archives: Disney Marathon

I Ran a Race!

Yes, you read that title correctly. After not pinning on a bib for over 7 months (the beer mile doesn’t count) I got to race not once, but twice two weekends ago! If you’re wondering why it’s been so long since I last raced, you can catch up on my string of injuries here and here. To say 2015 was a lackluster running year would be quite the understatement. But there’s no point in dwelling on the past, and I’m oh so very excited to finally write about running again.

I’ve been running somewhat consistently since early November and things have been going really well. I’ve kept my weekly mileage relatively low (I’m talking 20 mpw) and I’ve kept up with my strength training love, Refine Method. I haven’t done any speed work or tempo miles (yet), but I’m finally starting to feel like my old runner self, and it’s great! That being said, I went down to good ‘ole Orlando for the Walt Disney World 10k and Half Marathon two weeks ago with the confidence I’d be able to finish the races, but there wouldn’t be any PRs. It’s worth noting that this is the FIRST Disney race weekend I attended without an injury! And I’ve attended SIX runDisney race weekends prior to this one starting in 2011!

Finally!

Finally!

I’ll start with the 10k, since that was the race that happened first. And it started like any other runDisney race – early! The race started at 5:30am, so this meant a 3:30am wake-up call, and 4am bus ride. Since we were staying at the Beach Club resort, we had a short(er) bus ride over to the starting area in the Epcot parking lot. We arrived at the start with plenty of time to check a bag (it was drizzling on and off so we wanted to make sure we each had a dry top to put on after the race), visit the always lovely port-o-potties, and get lined up in the A corral. Going into the race, my intention was to push the pace a little, but not truly race it. So when I lined up in the corral I didn’t think much of being pretty far back. After the usual runDisney fanfare of fireworks, we were off!

The first mile or so of the race was pretty crowded. Like I said, I started relatively far back in that first corral, so I spent a lot of time trying to find open road. Thankfully after that first mile it thinned out quite a bit, and the rest of the race was much more comfortable. My first mile was around a 7:50, which was good enough for me. The next three miles, however, we were all on empty service roads, and I dropped the pace to 7:15. I didn’t feel like I was killing myself, and each time I looked down at my watch I was floored by the pace… I really didn’t think I had that speed in me after all that time off. Remembering that I still had a half marathon to run the next day and that I really wasn’t in shape, I pulled back just a bit. The rain also started to pick up as we entered the parks, so things got slippery. I ran the last two miles between 7:20 and 7:30, and crossed the finish line (soaked) in 45:51. Turns out, that’s a slight PR! I’ve only run three other 10k’s before, and the last one being in 2013, so the PR was due for an upgrade. While I know I can go much faster when I’m in shape, I’m happy that the pace of this 10k was the same pace as my current half marathon PR from 2014. It was a huge confidence booster after such a rough 2015!

Thrilled to have finished a race. Not thrilled to be soaking wet.

Thrilled to have finished a race. Not thrilled to be soaking wet.

With a little déjà vu on Saturday, I found myself back at the start for the half marathon. My plan for this race was different – I just wanted to finish! My longest run in months up to that point had been 10 miles, and after Friday’s performance I knew an “accidental PR” wasn’t in the cards for me again… which was fine! I started a few corrals back with my pal Ellen who was doing the Dopey Challenge, and we spent the first 7 or so miles together, chatting and enjoying the characters on the course and running in the dark… we even stopped for a picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle! Since Ellen was doing the Dopey Challenge, we kept our pace around 9:30’s, which was fine by me. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7, though, we got separated. Since it was still dark and the roadway was relatively narrow, I knew I should just soldier on rather than try to find her. This is where I decided to also pick up my pace. I figured I only had 5ish miles left and kept it relatively conservative for the first half, so why not. I should also mention it was SO incredibly humid that I was just as wet by this point as I had been the day before from the rain.

By mile 10 I realized that if I kept my pace, I would likely be able to squeeze in just under 2 hours. This became my new goal. I kept trucking, had a nice little conversation with a random guy who asked me how I was doing as I ran past him, and after what felt like an eternity (remember, I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in over 8 months at this point) we were in Epcot making our final loops and turns to the finish. I crossed the line in 1:59:38, achieving my mid-race goal of sub-2 hours. I was thrilled to have my race weekend over, and I was ready to cheer for the marathon the next day!

Perks of staying at a hotel on the race course... perfect spot to spectate!

Perks of staying at a hotel on the race course… perfect spot to spectate!

This race weekend was just what I needed to remind myself that even though 2015 was a sucky year for my running, not all was lost. I just need to continue to be smart as I add on mileage, and focus more on the training than the racing. Naturally with this positive turn of events in my running comes the frigid temperatures of winter in the northeast that we’ve been missing… but good thing I have lots of layers! So here’s to putting in the work this winter in hopes of finally getting myself back to racing shape for the summer and fall!

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On Marathoning

I remember when I first decided to run a marathon. I’d successfully completed two half marathons (I use the term loosely), a handful of road races, and I was just starting to immerse myself in the world of running on Twitter and through blogs. I was floored by the number of marathoners I was now following, and felt like I needed to be a part of that exclusive club… despite the fact that after finishing my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again.

My training for my first marathon, Philadelphia 2011, was less than stellar. I knocked out a 14 and 16 mile long run early in the summer, but quickly lost my enthusiasm. I managed to get through one 18 miler that was a huge struggle, and that was the extent of my distance training. Not to mention the miles I logged during the week leading up to my mostly failed long runs weren’t great either. I found myself falling into the trap where I’d worry so much about the upcoming long run and needing to rest my legs, that I’d only run a few miles during the week. It wasn’t good! I was really worried when it came time to race, but I knew to start super slow and just do the best that I could. I finished in 4:37, which considering my lack of training, wasn’t too bad.

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Thumbs up for my first marathon!

Logically I ran the Disney World Marathon only a month and a half later as part of the Goofy Challenge, and finished in just under 5 hours [I ran a half marathon the day before – another genius move]. I swore to myself that things would be different when training for Chicago 2012, but they weren’t. Again, I didn’t run more than 18 miles for a training run, and my weekly mileage was rather paltry. Naturally I ran into super tight hips around mile 18 and by mile 20 could barely pick up my leg from knee pain. After hobbling about a mile, I was able to run the last 5ish miles and finished in 4:26. I followed this marathon up with another Goofy Challenge, and ran the marathon in 4:27 (with 4 bathroom stops).

Hope I can actually "own it" this time!

Hope I can actually “own it” this time!

By this point, I realized it was time to stop signing up for marathons if I wasn’t going to actually train for them. I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favors by half-assing my way through training. I had grand plans of running Richmond 2013 and crushing my marathon PR, but some weird ankle and foot issues in the beginning of the summer knocked that out for me. I thought about maybe doing a spring marathon instead, but after the Polar Vortex winter we had, I’m glad I didn’t! So instead I spent the winter training for a half marathon PR, which I achieved (big time) this past Saturday!

Of course after Saturday’s extremely successful race, everyone has been asking me what’s next. And at first, I wasn’t really sure. After my lack-luster marathon training attempts, I started to think that maybe I’m just not a marathon runner… and that’s okay. However, I’m not okay with quitting the marathon with a PR of 4:26. I know I can do better. According to race predictor calculators, I should be able to run nearly an hour faster. While I think that may be a little overzealous, I do want to give the marathon another shot; I think I owe it to myself (and to the marathon!).

Hurray for marathons!

Hurray for marathons!

So I’ve decided I’ll be running the Philadelphia Marathon this year, on November 23rd. I’m looking forward to working on my speed and strength the rest of the spring and early summer and knocking out some speedy short races. And then from there it’ll be time buckle down and marathon train like everyone else does; high mileage, weekly long runs, and proper cross-training. I’m nervous, but also excited to see what I can do with a real training plan. I don’t have any specific time goals just yet, but I have some lose ideas of what I think I’m capable of running!

Tell me…
Do you have fall marathon plans? 

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Almost Goofy

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I didn’t complete the Goofy Challenge this year. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Just like last year, we planned to arrive early on Friday morning to give ourselves enough time to head to the Expo and relax before getting to bed early. By the time I was in bed on Friday night (well, let’s be honest, Friday evening), my feet were a little sore. I figured it was just from all the walking we had done, and went to bed. I woke up on Saturday morning and noticed my foot was a little sore, but continued to get ready. As time went on, though, I started to realize things weren’t looking good for my foot – it wasn’t just tired from the moderate walking we did the day before, but instead there was a dull pain very similar to the pain I had ignored when my foot first started bothering me. After walking back and forth to my room multiple times while asking my husband what he would do, I realized it wouldn’t be smart for me to run the 13.1 miles that morning. As tears welled up in my eyes, I told my husband to go on without me. At the time, nothing could have been worse – I hobbled back to the hotel room at 3:30am, alone, with the hopes of getting that coveted Goofy Challenge medal gone. I iced my foot, and prayed to the running Gods it would be okay for Sunday’s 26.2.

Before the no running decision

Before the no running decision

The decision not to run on Saturday was hard, but I think in the end proved to be the right one. I figured between the two races, I would much prefer completing another 26.2 to another 13.1, and knew if my foot wasn’t well on Saturday, there would be no chance for a run on Sunday. I took it easy on Saturday (with a trip to EPCOT I’ll recap in a food related post later), and stopped by the KT Tape booth at the Expo to get taped (I figured it couldn’t hurt). When I woke up on Sunday morning, my foot was still a little sore, but in much better shape than it had been the day before. I told my husband that I didn’t care how long it took us, we were going to finish and I was going to get at least one medal out of the weekend!

All taped up!

All taped up!

Because the race starts so early it means I have to wake up super early, which causes problems for my oh-so-temperamental GI system. I have a pretty decent routine on days when I have to wake up at a normal time (typically anytime after 6am), but when I have to wake up super early, I run into issues, despite being diligent with my pill taking in the days leading up to the race. Since I didn’t get to empty the tank before the race (just like last year), I knew we’d be stopping along the way… I just didn’t know it would be 3 times! Because I didn’t know how my foot was going to be feeling, I wasn’t worried about the stops and it slowing us down; I assumed the race would be more of a hobble than anything else.

marathonstart-5-2

The start!

As the race started, the first few miles were interesting – some steps were pain-free, while others were a little worrisome. After about 5 miles and an energy pumping run through Magic Kingdom, my foot pain was no longer a concern, and I took my first bathroom break. Unlike last year, the race took us to MK early, but instead of taking us on a long trek to Animal Kingdom, we ran to the Speedway and around the track there, where I took another bathroom break. Once we were out of the Speedway and en route to Animal Kingdom, we were already halfway, which we crossed in about 2:18. At this point I was feeling pretty good, despite the rising temperature and nearly 100% humidity. I’m SO glad I decided to wear a hat!

After the halfway point I decided to break up the remaining miles based on what I knew was left – 4 miles to Animal Kingdom, 3 miles to and in ESPN Wide World of Sports (and hitting mile 20!), 3 miles to Hollywood Studios, and then just 3 within HS and EPCOT to the finish. I knew that I wanted to save a little energy for those last few miles in the parks, because they really are electrifying and fun to speed through! As we made our way into Animal Kingdom, I realized that at that point, I was feeling the best I had ever felt during a marathon… even with all the drama from the day before. With just about 8 miles to go, I knew I’d be able to finish and started to slowly pick up the pace.

Damn watermark!

Damn watermark!

By this point the sun was beating down on us, and I was soaked. I’m talking to the point where my shorts were dripping on the back of my legs – so delicious. We made sure to stop at every single station, oftentimes taking Powerade and water, so I knew I was at least hydrated and the cold sponges they handed out around mile 18 were glorious. I took my third and final bathroom break before leaving ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, and enjoyed a lap around their track and all their fields. By this point it was the home stretch, so I started to pick it up, realizing I could *almost* PR if I kept going. By this point we realized that if I hadn’t taken THREE bathroom breaks (!!) I would have definitely PRed, which helped hammer home that I made the right decision the day before. I ran into Krissy at this point and we chatted for a bit before I continued on my way. She was in such great spirits and having a great time just running and stopping to take pictures with the characters – her attitude was infectious and helped me get through those last miles! I soaked up the miles in Hollywood Studios, down past the Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk Hotels, and finally into EPCOT. I skipped the last two water stations and powered through, crossing in 4:27:06 with the announcers reading off my name!

oiselle4

Number 4 done!

Of course as soon as I finished my quads started to scream, but I had no foot pain at all… go figure! I was able to spend the rest of the day in Magic Kingdom and enjoy dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant. The rest of the week included zero running (but LOTS of walking!), and I’m really looking forward to getting back to it this week. I’m in the process of figuring out what fall marathon I want to run since I went with the refund for the 2012 NYCM, and I’m focusing on some Spring half marathons in the meantime. So tell me…

Any fall marathon suggestions for me?
What are you currently training for? 

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What’s Next?

Thanks again for all the congratulations on the Chicago Marathon – it was so much fun and is definitely a race I hope to do again in the future!

You may remember that after registering for the Chicago Marathon, I also put my name into the New York City Marathon lottery, figuring I wouldn’t get accepted. Well, of course with that mentality I made the cut, and was all ready to run NYC on November 4th. As I was going through the motions of my “training” for Chicago, I started to question whether or not I could really run NYC a mere 4 weeks later. For me, it was more than just if I could physically do it – a big part of it was mental, too.

I realized that NYC had a deferral option, which a lot of races do not offer. After looking into it more, I knew I could run Chicago, assess how I felt, and still have some cushion time to decide whether or not I’d toe the line (well, bridge) on November 4th. By the time training had finished for Chicago, I knew there was a very small chance I was going to be running New York; I was just mentally tired and wanted to have my weekends back. I wanted to be able to go for a run because I wanted to – not because I had to. So, I went and ran Chicago, had an amazing time, and was surprisingly not very sore considering my lack of efficient training. All signs were pointing to me being able to successfully complete the marathon. But for the first time in a long time, I sat down and thought to myself: “is this really the best idea right now?”

After a few days of contemplation and seriously battling the all too familiar runner’s high, I decided to defer my entry to the NYC 2012 Marathon to next year. The real nail in the coffin so to speak was my start time – 11:30am! That means I’d be hanging out for a solid 4.5 hours before starting to run… for likely another 4.5 hours. Thinking about that just made me tired, and I realized it just wouldn’t make sense for me mentally and physically to put myself through another 26.2 just 4 weeks later, with less than solid training behind me.

So now that I’m out for NYC, what does that mean? Well, I’m still doing the Goofy Challenge in Disney the second week in January – that’s right, 13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 on Sunday! From now until then I’ll be running some shorter local races, and enjoying cross training. Of course I need to ramp up training again within the next two weeks or so to make sure I can tackle the 39.3, but that race is done more for “fun” so I’m not concerned with time, just mileage. I’m thinking about maybe running a marathon in the Spring/early Summer, but have no definite plans yet. I’m going to just enjoy running, and if I feel like I’m ready for another marathon in the future, I’ll address it then – no more of this signing up for races months and months and months in advance!

And before I forget, here’s a video of me finishing Chicago – I’m in the blue shirt with the 4:25 pace bib on my back doing what I thought at the time was “blowing by people in the final meters,” but was really a light jog, ha! Thanks to the hubs for rushing over to the stands to catch me!

What are your fall/winter racing plans?

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Disney’s Goofy Challenge!

When my husband and I ran the Disney half marathon last year, we became aware of the Goofy Challenge, and it’s popularity. We thought that maybe 2012 would be our year to complete it, since we were planning to run a marathon in late 2011. What is the Goofy Challenge, you may ask? Well, the Marathon weekend consists of a 5k on Friday (run mostly by families and young children), a half marathon Saturday, and a full marathon Sunday. The Goofy Challenge requires you to run the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday – you must fully complete both in order to receive the coveted Goofy Challenge medal.

Without really thinking about the strain the race would put on our bodies, coupled with an actual trip to Disney World where we planned on visiting each of the parks, we eagerly signed up for the event over the summer. We all know how our training cycles went for the marathon, so we felt less than prepared for the event. Secretly we hoped that the training and completion of the Philly Marathon a mere month and a half prior was still around, and would somehow propel us to the finish line.

Race Day 1 (Half Marathon) started just as it did last year, at about 2:45a. We awoke quietly (my sister was staying with us and we didn’t want to wake her), ate what little food we had with us (Larabar, half a bagel, and some fruit), and were on the bus to the start at Epcot by 3:20a. We arrived to the finish area, and began our trek to the start, about a 20 minute walk away. While it was by no means cold, it was chilly. Thankfully we brought mylar blankets from a previous race in an attempt to stay somewhat warm. Once we got to our corral (I was placed in C and my husband dropped back from A to run with me), we took a seat to save our legs.

The race itself was uneventful, since we had run it before. The only minor event was when I got shoved in the tunnel right by the Contemporary Resort by a middle-aged man. Usually runners are a decent bunch, especially in the happiest place on earth, but this guy was not. Both my husband and I yelled out to him and he just shrugged his shoulders and kept going. He’s lucky I didn’t face-plant. We were constantly checking our pace and having to tell one another to slow down – we wanted to run Saturday’s race as controlled as possible in hopes of saving some of our legs for Sunday. I did wind up having to take a bathroom break at around mile 8, which was the first time I’ve ever had to stop during a race. You can thank a well-timed Crohns flare-up for that fun. Thankfully I was quick, and we were back off for the final leg, finishing in 2:15. It certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, but we were confident we ran slowly enough to finish on Sunday without any major issues.

Since our trip wasn’t very long, we went to Animal Kingdom AND Magic Kingdom after the race on Saturday. While most people were probably relaxing and soaking their feet, we were using and abusing ours. I definitely paid for it on Sunday.

Race Day 2 (Marathon) started just like the day before. This time, though, I was exhausted and really wanted to just stay in bed. I definitely didn’t eat enough before the race – I think it might have been me being tired, not paying attention, and thinking that I wasn’t going to exert myself in the race, so I didn’t need it. I don’t care if you’re sprinting, jogging, or even walking 26.2 miles, you need proper fuel. I learned this around mile 18.

The first half was uneventful as the course went through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, where we had been the day before. I did have to stop for a bathroom break around mile 3, and I had a feeling that wouldn’t be my only stop. By the time we were halfway, the sun was out and it was STRONG. Most of the second half of the race was spent running directly into the sun. Since I’m not someone that runs with a hat/visor or sunglasses in races unless it’s 100+ degrees in the summer, I ran most of the second half squinty-eyed. This is where things went downhill.

Gettin’ my squint on

From about mile 14 to 21 I wanted to quit. It was mostly on back roads and boring – plus the temperature was creeping up. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely didn’t eat enough, and that played a major role. I gained a little momentum when we were in Animal Kingdom thanks to all the shade, but as soon as we were back out on the service roads, it was back to Negative Nancy. If my husband hadn’t been next to me making me take a Gu here and there and telling me we were doing great, I probably would have cried. I was just so exhausted and my feet were starting to really hurt. At about mile 19 I felt a huge pop on my right foot, and realized the gigantic blister that had been forming since Saturday morning burst. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. There was a moment of panic where I thought I’d have to stop and wouldn’t be able to run on it, but after a few minutes the pain seemed to go away, and I was able to run normally again.

After another bathroom break at about mile 21, I somehow caught a second wind. I don’t know if it was standing there moving from side to side in the shade that gave me the break I needed, or if it was knowing I only had about 4 miles left, but I decided to just go. After running about 10:30’s the whole race (and my two super awesome bathroom breaks), we picked it up and ran the last 4 miles ranging between 8:30 and 9:15’s. We were picking off people left and right that had passed us miles ago in what we like to refer to as our “dark moments,” and we both felt GOOD. A smaller blister popped at around mile 24, but I had no intentions of letting it slow me down. We flew through Hollywood Studios, through the Boardwalk Hotel, and the next thing we knew, we were making our final lap through the World Showcase in Epcot for the finish. We crossed the finish line hand in hand, at 4;58.

So happy to be done!

If you had told me even two years ago that I would complete a HALF marathon, I would have said no way. After I ran my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again, let alone double it. Then somehow I ran a marathon. And then a mere month and a half later I decided to run a half marathon and a marathon in the same weekend. They were far from “good” performances, but this past weekend was just about finishing, and keeping it as enjoyable as possible (both during the race and after). I wanted to be able to say I did it, and I did! Next up is just enjoying running and keeping the solid base I have going. No grand plans for big races as of yet, but I’m sure I’ll get antsy and sign up for something soon.

Phineas and Ferb!

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Halfway Happiness

For those of you that remember, back in October I started my own little Happiness Project, outlining the next four months. I guess you could say it was like doing my resolutions early, and differently. I’m not a big resolution person, because it’s usually a way for me to set myself up for failure. I find myself with grandiose ideas and plans in my head, but usually too lazy to actually carry them out. Creativity seeps from my pores – I just need someone else to carry out the projects for me.

Anyway, December was the month of running. I wanted to run as much as I could, regardless of the distance  in preparation for the Goofy Challenge next weekend. I realized that there was little I could do to prepare myself for running 39.3 miles in 2 days, but I figured running as frequently as possible would help give me a confidence boost. I log all my mileage over at DailyMile, and am happy to report that I ran 4 times a week every week in December as promised, except for the week of Christmas. BUT, I ran 5 times the week before – so that evens out, right? Without doing any super long runs (longest was 16 miles), I was able to log my heaviest mileage month in awhile. I’ve steadily been going up since October, and hope to keep it that way.

Yes, I opened presents post sweaty run. These sweet socks will totally keep me running through the winter!

My plan is to keep my mileage relatively even throughout January, and then try to pick things up a bit come February for an April half marathon. My husband has his eyes set on a full marathon in early June, but I’m not looking for another marathon until next fall. Hopefully, though, I can keep my  mileage respectable and run closer 4 hours instead of 4:30 next marathon. But we’ll see – I just need to keep myself injury free.

January has started, and that means it’s a new goal – going vegetarian. My husband giggled at me on New Year’s Day when I moaned that I wanted pudding, but wasn’t allowed to eat it because of the gelatin. I quickly ran to the pudding asile of the grocery store to discover that instant mousse is an acceptable treat. I plan on attempting to satiate my pudding craving with some mousse in the near future. It might seem odd for someone that loves burgers so much to try out a vegetarian lifestyle, and especially just for one month. Eating less meat is something that has been on my mind for awhile, and I figured this little project would be the perfect opportunity to give it a shot for a month. Who knows if I’ll continue it after January or not, but I will have at least given it a try.

(source)

I already have a ton of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks in my possession, and have already made so many delicious things from Oh She Glows, Post Punk Kitchen, Daily Garnish, and other veggie friendly blogs. If anyone has any other great resources for recipes (especially things to eat for lunch) that would be great! I’m looking forward to a month full of veggies, beans, and grains. To be honest, that’s most of my dishes these days anyway, but forcing myself not to cop-out and have something easier (usually involving meat) should be interesting. Since I’m the cooker of the household, I am still going to prepare any meat related dish my husband wants – I’ll just leave the meat out for myself. But, since I am in charge in the kitchen, he doesn’t eat much meat anyway. It should be an interesting month!

So I’m halfway there – I baked my way through November and ran my way through December. January will be meat free, and then February will hopefully be the month of yoga. Who knows what will be next, but I’m enjoying these little monthly goals.

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I think I’ve lost my mind

Please tell me I haven’t, or if you really think I have (lost my mind).

The fiancé and I are seriously considering running the Pittsburgh Marathon May 15th (yes, this year, in 3 months and it would be my first marathon), running the Philly Marathon in November, and then going Goofy in January for the Disney Marathon .

Can I do it?!

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