Tag Archives: Half Marathon

Running United: Half Marathon Recap

I had an entire post about the Boston Marathon tragedy written, but just couldn’t bring myself to publish it. There aren’t any words or profound revelations I can write here that haven’t been said by so many already (and more eloquently, I might add) to truly express how I feel. Simply put,  as a runner I feel like my friends were attacked, and as a human being I’m horrified… and I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

The running community really is something special; there seems to be an unwritten understanding between runners. We’re able to be competitive with one another, while simultaneously lamenting in each other’s pain, and celebrating each other’s success. I know a lot of other runners feel the same way, but that little nod, wave, or half smile you get from another runner while you’re deep into your own run is so much more than a simple acknowledgement. For a brief moment, it’s a shared connection with a complete stranger. I think I love these encounters because I am usually running by myself.

So when I toed the line for the RU Unite Half Marathon this past Sunday, the race’s name had even more meaning. This race was my goal race for the Spring, and based on my training and racing throughout the winter, it seemed like I would have little problem setting a new PR. The last two weeks of training were lackluster due to super tight calves one week, and an pinched nerve in my neck the second, that was still around on race day. So of course, I started to doubt myself and my ability to run as fast as I had hoped. But I knew that I needed to try as hard as I could, while also being smart about the race. I go into races a lot with “plans,” but rarely wind up sticking to them. I swore to myself this time would be different.

Pre Race!

Pre Race!

Race day started like they all do – peanut butter & jelly, and some Nuun. The race is only about 10 minutes away, so I’m lucky that I don’t have to get up super early for the 8am start (but let’s be honest, 5:30am IS early). It was chilly, but thankfully I had a spectator with me so I was able to wear a fleece and sweatpants until I got into the corral. There is only one corral and it’s self-seeded, so I tried to position myself more towards the front than I have in past years, and wound up in front of the 8 minute pacers. My ultimate goal was to run a sub-8 average, but I did want to start out more conservatively. Remember when I said I had “plans”? Well, you can imagine those went out the window once the race started. Before we took off, there was a moment of silence for Boston and our troops, and they played “Sweet Caroline.” Of course I teared up and vowed to remind myself of that moment when the pain started to set in later in the race. Next thing I knew, it was go time.

I started out conservatively with my first mile at 8:05, while trying not to weave and expend any extra energy (though cut-offs make it inevitable). As with most longer runs, the first few miles flew by and when I checked my watch at mile 3, I realized I had definitely dipped under the 8 minute pace earlier than I had wanted. I felt good enough, though, so I decided just to go with it. The next 7 miles were a combination of me running too fast, then slowing down too much, and having waves of feeling awesome with waves of feeling like death. I’ve run this race every year since it started (in 2010) and it was actually my very first half marathon… so I have a special place in my heart for the course. So you would think I’d know how to best pace myself.

Homestretch Pain Face!

Homestretch Pain Face!

By the time I got to mile 10, I wanted the race to just be over. The thought of another 5k made me cringe. But I powered through the park I’ve spent so many summer mornings doing marathon long runs, and over to the final stretch. I actually saw Oiselle Teammate Jess right around mile 11, and she was the push I needed for those final 2 miles… with the most hills. Mile 11 was my slowest (well over 8 minutes), but by the time I got to 12 I tried to dig as deep as I could – especially once on College Avenue. Of course the home stretch felt like it went on forever, but once I crested the hill and saw the finish line I knew it was only a matter of seconds to get there. I couldn’t spot a clock near the finish, so I crossed and stopped my watch – 1:43:01 (which turns out was my official time, too)!

My time works out to be a 7:52 average, which I’m very happy with. After running my PR 10k race at the end of March, I plugged in my results to the McMillan calculator, which projected a 1:43:22… so I did a little better than expected! This wound up being a 4 minute and 42 second PR… and quick math made me realize that in the last three years since I started running half marathons (I’ve run a total of 6), I’ve managed to shave off 20 minutes from my first half marathon! The next big thing I need to tackle is my marathon time… hopefully I can get a good training cycle in this summer and rock out a killer PR in the fall.

After the race I headed to a newish (and new to me) coffee shop a town over with Oiselle Teammates Jess and Kate to talk running and enjoy a latte. Of course I headed to Red Robin a few hours later for my celebratory veggie burger, a tradition I’ve kept since I started running this race back in 2010! All in all it was a pretty great day, and I’m SO thankful to be part of such a great community. It might sound cheesy, but running and its community really is something special.

I’m running another half marathon this coming weekend, the Nike Women’s Half in Washington D.C., and I’m planning to enjoy the race with Krissy. Can’t wait for the Nuun aide stations, post-race Tiffany’s necklace as a medal, and post-race delicious cupcakes and museum visiting in D.C!

So tell me…
Who raced this weekend? PR? 
Anyone racing this weekend? Anyone running Nike?

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Gearing Up

This coming weekend, I’ll be running my fourth marathon, and my fifth half marathon as part of Disney’s Goofy Challenge! If you remember, I ran this race last year; it was fun, but definitely harder than I had anticipated so I wasn’t sure if I’d be giving it a shot again. After minimal persuasion, I signed up. And just like last year, I’m hoping that my fall marathon training will help carry me through the weekend’s races (don’t worry, I’ve been running A LOT since then, but October marathon training is hopefully a solid base). Since this is my third trip to Disney to run, and my 4th trip there in the last 4 years (all in January!), I’m really excited for the familiarity as well as the new changes that I’ll experience both during the races as well as at Disney in general.

In terms of the race, the marathon course is different this year, including a trip to the speedway and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. I’m looking forward to this for one very big reason – it breaks up the course! The old route spent so much time on service roads, which is not fun at mile 16 of a marathon… especially when it’s really your 29th mile of the weekend. Those service roads were what I like to refer to as “the dark times” of the race last year – I really struggled due to a lack of proper nutrition before the race… So I’m going to be sure not to have a repeat. Of course I’m also looking forward to the mile 20 party (since it’s the 20th anniversary of the race), the medals, and seeing all the ridiculous costumes and characters along the way! I’ll also be keeping my eyes peeled for Joey Fatone and Sean Astin (Rudy!), because you better believe I’ll start singing or chanting, depending on who I find!

For the parks, I’m super pumped to check out the additions to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. Since I’m an 8 year old at heart, Magic Kingdom is my absolute favorite. I was able to score a reservation at the new Be Our Guest restaurant to celebrate finishing Goofy, so expect a review on that once I get back! Aside from the update to Fantasyland, I’m just excited to visit all the parks and go on every ride – multiple times. Plus, I’m a huge fan of Disney dining, and have a few new restaurants I’ll be checking out as well as dining in Mexico because it’s my hands-down favorite. Disney food has never disappointed (me), so it’ll be fun approaching it as a vegetarian for the first time.

And, maybe most importantly, this will be my first race (well, first two) representing the Oiselle Team! I wound up sitting out the Hangover 5k due to foot pain and not wanting to risk the upcoming races and vacation, and based on the fact that it feels almost 100%, I’m happy with the decision. I have my racing singlet, Rogas, Lori shorts, arm warmers, and sweet temporary tattoo all ready to go for two days of racing… and lots of other Oiselle shirts packed for my days at the parks. Here’s to hoping I don’t stink up my singlet too much on day one (I’m only half kidding…)!

In addition to running for Oiselle, I’m really looking forward to hopefully meet up with a lot of people I’ve connected with online. I already have plans for a character breakfast with Krissy, and I can’t wait! We started chatting via Twitter after last year’s Disney Marathon, and I’m really excited to finally meet her. So for anyone that’s heading to Disney for this weekend’s races – let me know – I’d love to meet up!

I know that running races “for fun” and taking it easy isn’t for everyone (believe me, I have trouble with it sometimes too), but this is the one time a year I really take the time to enjoy running. I mean, what a benefit to being obsessed with running – a Disney vacation (or vice versa)! I already have my sights set on the Disneyland half in September since I’ve never been to Disneyland, so 2013 may be the year of Run Disney events. I can’t wait to share the race and dining experiences with you when I get back. But in the meantime, tell me:

Have you ever been to Disney (land or world)? What’s your favorite ride? Favorite park? 
Do you ever run races “for fun”? 

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A Long Time Coming

I ran my first half marathon two years ago at the RU Unite Half Marathon. Up to that point, I had run three 5k’s and a 4 mile race – that was it. Considering my newbie status, I finished with a respectable (for me) time of 2:02:15. From that point on, I went through a vicious cycle of injuries, keeping me from really “racing,” and touching that PR. I ran the Disney half in 2011 with shin splints in 2:03, had the second RU Unite get cut short to 9.55 miles due to flooding, and my only other half marathon up to this point was this past year’s Disney half which I ran as part of the Goofy Challenge.

So, when I signed up for my third attempt at the RU Unite Half this year, I wanted to PR. With the training cycle I had, I knew it was possible. Most of my runs had been just around the 8 minute/mile pace, and I figured that unless I broke a bone, I was likely able to get in under 2:02 – I mean, that was my FIRST half marathon time!

The race started just as they all do; me whining as I choked down half a peanut butter sandwich and worrying I didn’t spend enough time in the bathroom. Our timing was perfect this year, as we were able to get to the start, check our bag, take a trip to the port-o-potties, and wait only about 5 minutes in the corral before starting. I lined myself up just behind the 8 minute/mile pacers, and waved my husband off who planned to run closer to the 7 minute/mile pacers. The race was rather uneventful – I kept myself between 7:50 and 8:20 paces, varying depending on when I looked at my watch. The temperature was perfect, and the rain was able to hold off despite a menacing forecast.

When we hit the mile 10 marker, I realized that all I needed to do was keep a 10 minute/mile pace, and I’d finish at about 1:50, a solid 12 minute PR. Obviously I didn’t have any intention on slowing down, but a nice side cramp, similar to the one I experienced during the St. Paddys’ 10 miler decided to come out and play, forcing me to walk for a bit. This time, I listened to my body, walked for about 10-15 seconds to make sure I was comfortable, and then started running again. Thankfully the cramp didn’t return, and I was able to slowly pick up my pace over the course of the last 5k.

I crossed the finish with an official time of 1:47:43 – nearly 15 minutes faster than my previous standing PR, from the very first half marathon I ever ran. To say I was overjoyed would be an understatement. I finally feel like I’m at a good place with running, and am no longer in the constant push and pull struggle that I’ve experienced over the last year and a half.

Me & the Hubs!

Per tradition, the hubs and I met up with my parents at Red Robin for lunch, and gorged ourselves on a (veggie) burger and fries – a perfect Sunday if you ask me!

I know my blogging has been a little lackluster this month, but it’s my last week of student teaching, so I’ll be back to regular scheduled programing this week!

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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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A Running Conundrum

I find myself with yet another running conundrum. My impulsiveness and inability to not have a future goal in front of me seems to get me into this kind of trouble frequently.

At any rate, as we all know I’ve been battling some form of discomfort in my foot/ankle/shin/knee (one or a combination of them) at any given point since about October. I’ve powered through two (well one and a half) half marathons, and I think that is partially the reason why I’m still not 100%. I’m signed up to run another half marathon (Superhero Half) this Sunday. However, after a quick run on Tuesday night (hey 8:17 pace, I remember you) my shins were a little more sore than usual, and the discomfort I experienced on the top of my foot from post Disney until March peeked through ever so slightly.

So, this is where I come to you, fellow readers and runners, for advice. I have three options for Sunday’s race. First, I can run the whole 13.1 miles, and hope nothing flares up and I complete it with minimal pain. Second, I can drop down to the relay portion where I’d run 6 miles and change and have my fiancé drop down with me to do the other half. And option three, I can simply drop out completely and be an excellent spectator and cheer wildly for my fiancé multiple times on the double loop course, and try a run on my own later that day. The question remains – what would you do? What do you think I should do?

I find myself leaning towards not running. I mean, it’s just a race – and one that I signed up after the Rutgers Half that wasn’t truly a half out of annoyance. Training for my first MARATHON is going to be starting soon, and I want to make sure I am as ready for that as possible, and I want to avoid hiccups during that training. The stuborn athlete in me tells me to just do it. The wary and medically reasonable side of me tells me this isn’t even a question, your readers are going to think you are insane, and your health is important so don’t do it. So now it’s your turn to tell me what you think (be honest!). Annnnd go!

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I Almost Did It Again

Sunday’s race was a prime example of just how crazy us runners are.

On Saturday, the greater tri-state area experienced monsoon-like weather, with extremely high winds, rain pouring down all day in buckets, and the occasional thunderstorm. By the time the rain stopped (in the wee-hours of Sunday morning), the wind was still around, and there was A LOT of flooding. Anyone familiar with the general New Brunswick area knows that almost all of the parks, especially Johnson Park, flood almost every time it rains.

So, when we were on our way to the Unite Half Marathon on Sunday morning that starts over on Rutger’s Busch campus, it was no surprise that we saw flooding in the parks. We also, however, saw quite a few paths and roads that had dried up. Once we arrived at the start, and were waiting for a port-o-potty while listening to announcements, we heard what at first I thought was a joke – due to flooding, the 13.1 mile race was pushed back to be only 10 miles. I definitely heard groans throughout the crowd. I giggled to myself that we were all disappointed to not be running an extra 3.1 miles!

For me, I wasn’t too disappointed; because of all my injuries, I didn’t think it would have mattered for me either way if I ran those extra 3.1 miles as I knew this race wasn’t going to be a PR. However, I did feel badly for everyone there going for a PR, or for anyone that was running their first half marathon. While I understand it’s impossible to control the weather, I don’t understand why there wasn’t a plan B. Like I mentioned, everyone that is familiar with the New Brunswick area knows the parks, specifically Johnson Park, flood A LOT when it rains. I was baffled that they couldn’t have had us do an extra lap here or there, or re-route the course a bit to make up the difference in miles. So instead of heading to the park after 8 miles, we continued across a narrow (3 person-wide) footbridge to make our way to the finish line.

There isn’t much to say about the race – it kind of just happened! It was super windy though, which at points was pushing me to the left and right, and I felt like I was battling through a brick wall. Aside from the heavy winds, it was a great day for a race. The morning started a bit cloudy, and then the sun came out (I think I actually got a little color!). I started off right behind the 9 minute/mile pacers, but quickly put myself in front of them, and stuck with it. I didn’t have any expectations going into the race, but after knowing it was only 10 miles, I felt like I could push it a little. Here I was thinking the race was 10 miles, and it turns out it was only 9.65! That actually annoyed me; not that they cut it short in the first place (I was over that), but that they said it was 10 miles, but was really 9.65. That extra .35 makes a difference – I thought I ran 10 miles on Sunday! My overall pace for the 9.65 miles was 8:54 min/mile, having me finish at 1:23:49.

Looking at that timing, even if I had slowed down a bit, I probably would have PR’d. Crazy to think! The fiancé also ran, finishing in 1:11:53, average pace of 7:28. Considering his own injuries, I couldn’t be prouder!

Since I didn’t run the 13.1 that was planned today, I think the fiancé and I are going to sign up for the Superhero Half on May 15th in Morristown, NJ. Maybe I’ll PR there! And even if I don’t, at least I’ll get to run the full 13.1 miles.

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A Wedded Weekend

On Saturday, my fiancé and I set out to conquer more to-dos on our wedding list. With my mom in toe, we headed up to a florist near our venue to discuss flowers. This is the second florist we’ve met with, and we’re meeting with one more before making a final decision. It’s really hard, because I’m not super picky when it comes to flowers; I don’t have a favorite flower, for example, and I’m really clueless about them too. So, I’m really looking for someone that can use their creativity and the little bit of input I have to make something gorgeous. All I know is that I want bright beautiful green and yellow in my bouquet, with more muted colors for my girls since they’ll be in green. As for centerpieces, I just want something low, and bright. Maybe like this…

After meeting with the florist, we headed to the hotel where we’ll be booking a block of rooms for ourselves and our guests. By booking with that hotel, we also get a deal on transportation for all of our guests to and from the venue, which was extremely important to us. We’re also in the process of finalizing our invitations… Things are starting to come together!

On Sunday, we spent the morning trying to clean up our townhouse, since I have my bridesmaids coming next Saturday for their dress fitting! After that we headed out for a run. We still have it on our heads that we’ll be “running” the half marathon April 17th, and I think my fiancé finally realized that it’s something we’ll be doing together, slowly. On Thursday after my 4-miler, I noticed that when I accidentally hit my shin, I felt pain. Pain very similar to my shin splints in December. Low and behold, I’m definitely on the road to get shin splints again. This time, though, I’m not ignoring it and I’m icing, compressing, rolling, and not increasing my mileage like crazy. I was supposed to run 6 miles Sunday, but kept it at 4 just to be safe. I’ll try and tackle 6 on Tuesday, followed by 2 on Thursday. I can’t seem to catch a break with these injuries!

Since we’re back to running, I’ve welcomed yummy desserts back into our routine. On Sunday evening, I decided to make How Sweet Eats’ Triple Layer Cookies & Cream Crunch Bars. Ohh yes – they were absolutely amazing. Of course, they didn’t look quite like Jessica’s, but they tasted awesome! Everything she puts on her blog looks so scrumptious; I wish I could be that creative in the kitchen. And checkout the sweet plate – these awesome Maleficent (from Cinderella) plates were on sale at Target for 75 cents! So I scored four!

This week’s kitchen adventures were first squashed when, again, the avocados at ShopRite were nowhere near ripe. I’m hoping they’ll be ready sometime this week to use in other recipes, but the homemade sushi I was planning on making Sunday night was a no-go. Maybe next week. But, I’ll be making some veggie burgers and sweet potato fries, falafel, and finally the huevos rancheros I wanted to make last week. Maybe I’ll even bake something else!

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Veggie Calzones

Even though I haven’t been running (but started again this week, yay!), I’ve still been wearing myself thin in terms of everything I’ve been doing. This became apparent on Tuesday morning when I woke up to a raging headache, stuffy nose, sore throat, and the general inability to move. So, I decided it would be in the best interest of not only myself, but my co-workers, to stay home.

I’ve been in full-on wedding planning mode, trying to get as much done as I can in terms of ordering bridesmaid dresses, setting up floral appointments, invitations, and all those other little (but important!) things. This past Sunday I had my first hair and makeup trial, which was awesome. I actually had the opportunity to act as a hair and makeup model for DeVenir Beauty at a tasting event at The Mallard Yacht Club in Manahawkin. The property is absolutely gorgeous, so it was fun to see such a glamours venue. Plus, getting to show off my awesome hair and makeup and hear people say how much they liked it was really fun! Here’s a sneak peak at the back (I don’t want to completely give it all away!)…

This was at the end of the day, after I took the hair comb out

I started the day off with my last sick day creation, and added almond butter to the mix. After resting for a few extra hours, I was able to get started on the loads of homework I had. My fiancé is always adamant when I’m sick to make sure I’m doing everything I can to get better. So before he left for work he instructed me to take medicine, drink an entire glass of water he placed by  the bed, and to rest. Unlike last time, I actually listed to him, and am feeling much better.

Even though I was slated to start running again on Tuesday (2 miles), I pushed it off until later in the week. My fiancé is also going to give it a shot. This is the first time he’ll be running since our half marathon in January. I’ve made a few attempts in the weeks since then, but haven’t been completely discomfort free. I’m hoping that I will be this week, as we’re signed up for a half marathon in April. I have no intention of racing, but would like to complete it so I can get my medal! I’m trying to convince the fiancé to run it with me – it’ll be our last long distance race before we’re married, it would be fun to cross the finish line together!

Since I was home all day, I had an opportunity to make something that took a little more time than the rest of the meals that were planned for the week – veggie calzones! Since I used pre-made pie crust (or you can use premade dough) it was really just a matter of getting all the ingredients together, and then baking it. Thankfully this came out better than my buffalo chicken pizza.

Veggie Calzones
– Serves 2 –

Ingredients:
1 pre-made pie crust or pizza dough
3/4 bag of frozen veggies (any mix you’d like)
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy!)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg plus 1 Tbsp of water for the egg wash

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Roll out pie crust or dough on a floured surface, and sprinkle half of the cheese on just one half of the dough
3. Heat oil in skillet, and add onions and veggies. Saute for about 3 minutes, then add oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Continue to saute for an additional 5 minutes, until the veggies are starting to get tender
4. Add vegetable mix on top of cheese, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Carefully fold the empty side atop the filling, making sure to roll the edges together
5. In a small bowl, whisk egg and water together. Using a pastry brush (or spoon if you don’t have one) coat the dough with the egg wash.
6. Bake for 20-30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cut in half or in quarters, and enjoy!

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I Ran Disney

For as long as I can remember, running always intrigued me. Somehow, though, I wound up a swimmer throughout high school and college. Being a part of a sport that allowed me to work individually while also contributing to a team was just what I needed as someone who is internally extremely competitive. While I could have continued swimming in a Master’s program, and haven’t yet ruled that out, I decided to take up running after college. I’ve been running now for about a year and a half, and just completed my second half marathon.

The idea of running a half and/or full marathon seemed to be more of a dream than a reality. When I started running, my focus was just to run a 5k. My first race wound up being a 4 miler, and even though I struggled, I was hooked. Running is a funny sport, at least for me, in that I feel like I always need to be one-uping myself. This means increasing the milage I race. I ran my first half marathon in April, and it was awesome. I had stumbled upon the Disney Marathon before I had even started running, and it was always a goal of mine in the back of my mind.

When my fiancé and I planned a trip to Disney with a group of friends for the very same weekend of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I just knew we had to sign up. It wasn’t really possible for us to run a full marathon yet, so we opted for the half. Training started out well, and as we all know, I had some serious injuries that put me on the back burner. First it was my ankles and Achilles, and then it moved on to my shins. Come race day, though, those pains were gone. Instead, I was left with serious pain on the top of my left foot, and in my left knee. These pains I think were just due to overcompensation for all of the other injuries my left leg was sustaining. I’m still having some trouble walking pain-free because of my foot, but hopefully the next three weeks off will help!

The half marathon race was on Saturday, so we headed down on Wednesday to enjoy a few days in the park beforehand. In retrospect, if I ran the race again, I’d prefer to head down later, and only spend one day in the parks, as I think all the walking contributed to the pain I felt during the race. However, being that I had so many injuries during the race cycle, I planned to just run this race to finish. Of course my competitive side tried it’s hardest to keep me going as fast as I could, but the second half of the race was just a little too painful, and my logical and rational side took over (good thing).

Wrapping up all my injuries

The race started early – at 5:30a. My fiancé was in corral A, while I was in corral B. The race had 27,000 registrants, with just over 23,000 that actually crossed the finish line. We had a wakeup call of 2:45a, and we were out the door by about 3:15a to catch the bus to the start line from our resort. Once we got there, we wandered around a bit, had a few Gu Chomps and a last few swigs of water, while also taking a bathroom break. From there, we shed our clothes, checked our bag, and headed to a big group of people, waiting to be allowed to make their way to the start.

Once we got to the corrals, fiancé and I said our goodbyes, and I anxiously stood in corral B. Before the race, they announced that a group over in Iraq would also be joining us, as one of the soldiers who ran the race last year was deployed, but his wife was there in Orlando to run with us. Of course, pulling on my heart strings, I had to wipe the tears away as they were able to get a satellite connection and they gave their pre-race good lucks. After that, there was a brief hello from Al Roker (who I saw when I passed by!) and other members of the Today show, that were also running. My fiancé’s corral started just after the wheelchair start with fireworks and all. About 10 minutes later, it was my turn!

I started slow, realizing the potential for pain was high, and I wanted to try and hold it off for as long as possible. Because of my lackluster training and the fact that my feet were sore just from galavanting through the parks, I kept a steady pace just under 9 minute mile almost the whole way. By about mile 6, though, the pain started. First it was my foot, then it was my knee. I managed to keep shuffling along, with the pace of each mile going up and down, sometimes still under 9 sometimes well over. Even though I was in pain, the miles still flew by. The second half of the race had some serious hills. The worst was somewhere between mile 10 and 12, where it was not only up hill, but also on an on/off ramp loop. With knee and foot pain, not being on a level surface was torture. As I saw people running by with knee straps, I was envious, thinking how nice it would feel to have some serious pressure on my left knee. Aerobically I was doing just fine, and could have pushed myself a bit more, but knew that wasn’t possible with the pain. So, I tried my best to distract myself with the surroundings, reading the different signs, checking out the spectators, and just overall enjoying the experience.

Running through Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom

Despite the pain, once we got back to Epcot, I knew it was go time. We took a loop past Spaceship Earth and to the Christmas Tree (they left the decorations up), and back out to the parking lot where I asked my tired and sore legs to push it one last time. Somehow, despite my lack of training and injuries, I managed to finish in 2:03:45, a mere minute and a half slower than my first half last April. I couldn’t be happier! I can only imagine what my race would have been like if those pains weren’t there, and even more so if I had been able to train properly. I’m really looking forward to April’s race, as I will hopefully have a successful training cycle. I’m definitely hoping to break 2 hours, maybe even 1:55!

After I crossed the finish line I got my Donald Duck medal, grabbed some water, was handed a mylar blanket, and tried to hobble around to keep my legs from tightening up. I called my fiancé, who had finished in a blazing 1:33:05! We reconnected and had our picture snapped before catching a bus back to Port Orleans, where our friends were anxiously awaiting our return. We didn’t skip a beat, hopped in the shower, guzzled some more water, and headed to Epcot for the day. After a full day in the park, we had a celebratory dinner at San Angel Inn in Mexico – yum!

Fiancé and I with our Donald medals!

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to cheer on some of the full marathoners as we headed to Animal Kingdom to start our day. We first passed them while on the bus, and I tried my best to send mental cheers. From there, I was happy to see them both in and outside the park, so we all stopped to cheer them on, and my fiancé took some pictures. The craziest part, was that there were people running the full marathon that were shouting out congratulations to us for finishing the half (we were wearing our medals)! I love how friendly and congratulatory/cheerful runners are. I really couldn’t believe there were people only at about mile 18 of their full marathon saying “congrats!” and “great job!” to us – they were the ones deserving the cheering! For the rest of the trip, we were constantly passing people with their full marathon Mickey medals, and others with their Goofy challenge medals (meaning they ran both the half AND full). It was then that both my fiancé and I realized we can, and will, run a full marathon. The hardest part will be finding a race to run. Since we’re getting married in September, it might be hard to train for something only a few weeks after the wedding and honeymoon. But, we’ll see! If anyone has any recommendations for decent marathons for first timers in the general Northeast (I’d say maybe no more than a 3 hour drive from Central NJ), I’d love to hear it!

So for now, I’m going to let my little legs (that are growing, thanks to the milage!) rest for a few weeks, and then get back at it – slow and steady of course. But I can now say I finally ran Disney. Maybe in a year or two I’ll run the full marathon… maybe even go Goofy!

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2010

Yup, I’m doing it too.

So, how was my 2010, you may ask? Not too shabby! In terms of food related things, I won my first cookbook giveaway, had a bunch of giveaways of my own, and got to try a whole bunch of new recipes, and even created a few myself!

Aside from food, I also took a trip to Disney World in January of 2010, where I got engaged inside Cinderella’s Castle! We started planning our wedding right away, picked our venue, and were able to bring both of our families there for brunch.

I started running more seriously, and even completed my first half marathon (oh yeah, and my second is only 6 days away!).

In the Spring, I decided it was time to go back to school, and started my first semester as a graduate student in May 2010. I’ve got two semesters down and three semesters to go. I promise I’ll even eventually divulge what it is I’m back in school for – but that’s neither here nor there!

Needless to say my 2010 has been quite busy. There have been lots of ups and downs, but I probably wouldn’t have changed much, if anything. Sure, there are things in my life that could have been made easier, but in the grand scheme of things, a little running injury here, failed baking attempt there, lack of time due to school and work, etc. really isn’t so bad.

So what’s on the radar for 2011? Definitely more cooking, baking, and eating – that’s for sure! There will also be  lots of running, so that way maybe in the Spring/Summer of 2011, I’ll maybe just maybe be ready for a full marathon. The first half of the year is also going to be heavily dedicated to all things wedding related, since I’m getting married in September! We’ve got the big things out of the way (like venue, photography, DJ, etc.) but need to tie up the lose ends for other things (flowers, transportation, hotel, etc.). And of course, there will be more work, and more school.

I’m not one to make resolutions just because I find myself less likely to complete specific concrete tasks, instead of general ideas and notions. This means trying my best to cook new and exciting things at least twice a week, while still rotating in old favorites. It means doing my very best to keep my running mileage high, while staying injury free – something I’ve had a very hard time with the second half of 2010. It also means making sure I just enjoy life – friends, family, and all those things I love to do, while balancing it out with those grown up important things that are typically on the less exciting side of life.

I’m looking forward to 2011!

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