Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend, I packed up the family for a racecation to Philadelphia. My friends Vic and Mer over at Scootadoot always have a good time when they run this race weekend. So I decided to sign up for the half this year. It did not disappoint!

We stayed at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown. I chose this location because it was the closest hotel to the start. A bit pricey, but to me it was worth it. It was just a couple minute walk before I was within the secure area. It was also only a 15 minute walk to the Convention Center for the expo.

I picked up my bib and awesome race shirt on Saturday with no problems and even walked around the expo a bit to shop. I was able to do this because my kids and husband were kept occupied at the Kids Zone! I walked around super quickly and made my way back to them only to find that I had to wait for them to finish. They were making bandanas to wear to cheer me on! It was adorable.

Kids Zone for the win. The kids wore these at the finish line cheering for me.
Also on Saturday, we ate dinner with Alex's Lemonade Stand. It was really nice to meet other runners, especially Malinda Ann of Twins Run. I am proud to announce that I raised $3260 for ALSF to help fight childhood cancer. It was an amazing experience running for Team Lemon and I am so glad I did it.

Sunday morning came quickly. I never sleep well the night before a race. I am always worried I will oversleep. I got ready and was out the door. I arrived way too early. I want to say I was there by 5:30. I had heard nightmares of security being crazy at other races, so I didn't want to take any chances. Well I got there ahead of everyone else because there was no one in line at all. That did change though, the lines got pretty crazy I heard so I am glad I was there early. I was able to use a port-a-potty with no lines and sit on a bench and relax before heading over to the ALSF tent.

I waited at the tent a bit and finally decided I should head over to my corral at 6:30. From there, it was a 20 minute walk to the orange corral! It was the second last corral. There were tons of people still in line for the port-a-potties as I made my way back. I was surprised. The race ended up starting 15 minutes late. I am not sure if that was because of security lines or if the bit they said about having to tow a car off the course was really true. In any event, it got chilly waiting around. I had a throwaway shirt and gloves but the temperature had gone down to about 45 at race start compared to 52 when I left the hotel. It was fine to run in though, really comfortable actually. Just cold to wait in.

I ended up taking off my shrug and buff after two miles because I was too warm.

View from the orange corral waiting to start.
Once the race started, the corrals moved fairly quickly. I started about 23 minutes after the first corral. I was on my way.
Start Line
The slogan for race weekend was "Run Fast, Run Far, Run Philly!" Well let's just say I did all three. I ran fast, too fast in the beginning, I ran far - 13.1 miles is no joke, and I had such a great time running Philly!

I was trying to PR for the fourth time this year so I took zero pictures throughout the race. As I mentioned, I went out too fast. The adrenaline of the race got to me and somehow my first two miles were 9:55! Eeeep, I don't run that fast ever! I am more of an 11:00 minute mile girl. I was shooting for a 10:30 this time around. It was just easy to get swept up in the excitement. My GPS was acting whacky too. I think all the tall buildings were interfering. It would turn off and pause occasionally or tell me I was running 8:45. So toward the end of the race I wasn't depending on it too much. But I really should have.

We ran by Love Park, through some neighborhoods I didn't know, by Independence Hall, along some shops where the spectators were crowding the streets - they really should have been about 5 steps back on the curb, by Drexel University, up a hill, by the zoo, up a huge hill!!!!!, along the river, and then back to the art museum for the finish. I never felt too crowded and was able to run my own pace the whole race. That hill was crazy and I shuffled my way up it, but it definitely slowed me down after. I slowed too much, which is where I should have been paying attention to my watch more. My last couple miles were 11:00.

I hit the finish line at 2:21:20. I was off my PR by 1:40. I was disappointed, but only for a fleeting moment. This was my second fastest race ever! I had raised so much money for ALSF! And I got the most amazing medal ever! I could hear jingling when I finished and I wondered what it was. Turns out it was the medals!!! They ring!

So happy to have had an awesome race for Team Lemon with my family cheering me on!

Awesome race shirt.

We also got heat sheets, which for the first time after a race, I wore the entire time back to the hotel. The chicken broth with rice really hit the spot - it was nice and hot and salty goodness. The soft pretzel was also amazing! I liked that they had bags for us to load up on all the goodies - bananas, oranges, orange and apple juice, chips and cashews. It was really a great post race experience.

I met up with my family very easily after the 10 minute walk out of the finishers chute. The kids wanted to see the Rocky statue so we walked all the way back to the art museum and up the steps!! I think walking up and down the steps was a bigger feat than running 13 miles.

When in Philly, you must stand in Rocky's footsteps, right?
I highly recommend the Philadelphia Marathon weekend. I loved the race, the shirt, the medal, the post race goodies, everything about it really.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ragnar Las Vegas 2015 Recap

Heeeeyyyy everyone! I know it's been forever since I posted here. Sorry about that. Life got in the way. That and I haven't been racing at all since May. Talk about a long hiatus! I have been running consistently though so I didn't give up on running altogether, just races for a while.

I did make a triumphant return to racing last weekend in Las Vegas! I ran the Ragnar Relay. Spoiler alert.....it was Ah-mazing!

Yay for free race pics!!
Let me back up to how I ended up signing up to run a race all the way out in Las Vegas. I have wanted to run Ragnar since I started running. Despite the fear of not knowing where I am going and running in the dark, it just looked like a lot of fun. I don't know enough people to get my own team together, so when someone was forming a team (thanks Tricia!) and asked my friend Shannon if she was interested, she thought of me right away because she knew I was as well. Except it was all the way out in Las Vegas. Ehhhh. You only live once, right? So I said yes, and the rest is history. Shannon got her BRF, Sara, and her friend Heidi, and Sara recruited her sister, Suzie, and BFF, Dashell. And we had Van 1 of the Red Hot Racers!

Love these ladies! And the skirts were so awesome! We could see each other coming from far away!
I didn't know any of these ladies except for Shannon, so I was worried about how that would go. There was nothing to worry about. These ladies were awesome teammates! So much fun and so supportive and now they are all my BRFs! I loved every minute of the entire weekend. I have never laughed so much in my life.

Besides all the fun, there was running thrown in there too. It was a race after all! I was runner 4 which meant I ran legs 4, 16, and 28. My mileage was 4.3, 5.3, and 6.3 miles respectively. We had an early start time of 6:00 am and had to be there an hour early AND it was an hour from our hotel. Whomp whomp. I am used to getting up early to race since I runDisney so much. But this was getting up early and then running twice more after that. The lack of sleep was a common theme to the weekend.

Thankfully we got to the start early because it was pretty clusterrific. It was at a ski resort (who knew in Vegas!?) and the temperature kept dropping as we drove up and up. It was 17 degrees at the start. Shannon totally took one for the team and ran the first leg. So anyway, we waited in a long line of vans for quite a while and no one was moving. Finally the van in front of us asked us to move a bit because they were turning around. Apparently vans were getting stuck in the snow! So we decided to do a seventeen three point turn and park right in front of the gate to drop Shannon and Heidi off. Thankfully the volunteer at the start (who was amazing and deserved a medal for dealing with directing traffic in that place) never said a word about our illegal parking spot. So we waited there warm and toasty until Heidi made it back to the van. I was disappointed to miss the start line though.

Waiting for Shannon to finish her first leg.
The rest of the race went fine. That was the only hiccup. The directions and parking and facilities at all of the exchanges were great. We had no problems. We got through the first three legs and then it was my turn.

Legs 4 and 5 were run on a trail. This trail meant that we had to sign an extra waiver so that if we got hurt or you know, died, it wasn't Ragnar's fault. It didn't give me any warm fuzzies. Apparently, these legs used to be run on the side of the road. I wish they had kept the status quo. This trail was full of little stones, big rocks, dirt, sand, rolling hills, you name it. It was awful. I had to keep my head down the whole time to plan out where I was going to place each step. I stumbled a couple times but never wiped out. Thankfully. I was so glad to be off that trail.

This was what I was running on.

So happy to be done!!
We finished our legs around 11 am and handed off to the other van. We stopped at Target on the way back to the hotel because why not? Most of us were starving so we ate lunch and showered. Oh side note, apparently this Ragnar isn't normal because it goes in a circle, so it was possible to go back to our hotel between the major exchanges. It was a really nice perk! I tried to take a nap but it didn't really happen.

We were back out to run again around 5 pm. We were lucky that we didn't have the overnight legs The sun sets around 4:30 so it was still in the dark.
We thought the weather was going to be warmer. Not so much. But yay for being twins!

Waiting for Tricia at the exchange.
I think my leg started around 8 pm. I had 5.3 miles to run on the side of the highway. I was really scared going into this leg. But thankfully, the shoulder was quite wide so traffic wasn't a problem. And I wore a headlamp as well as a lamp that I carried on my hand so I could see ok. I was happy to be done though!

Night running is fun! Ha.
We finished our second legs around 11 pm. We handed off the slap bracelet and happily went back to the hotel. We all showered and were able to sleep for about 4 hours before getting up to run again. It was about a 40 minute drive to the exchange. We started running again just before night-time hours ended, so about 6:30 am.

These legs were near Lake Mead and the view was just gorgeous. We stopped at the scenic overlook and took some fun pics.

According to the Ragnar app, my last leg was supposed to be downhill. Had I remembered what the leg map looked like on the web site, I would have realized that no, it was actually uphill. But I had no recollection and depended on the app to be correct. So when I started running my 6.3 mile leg and realized I was going up a mountain and there was no down in sight, I was frustrated! That was some hard work, let me tell you! It eventually went down a bit after three miles, but then it was right back up and then down and up some more after that. It was a rough final leg. I was so glad to be done when I hit that exchange!

Ragnar app on top, my Garmin on the bottom. Reversed!
Oh hey. I am running up a mountain.

This is exactly how I felt. It was more of a shuffle.

Gorgeous views though.
Many of the legs were no van support, so the van couldn't stop at all. The last couple of legs we were able to so we stopped as much as we could to offer water or a spritz. The weather had gotten quite warm. Oh, I totally forgot to mention that the weather was cold in Vegas! It only warmed up to about 45 degrees, which was fine to run in but was super cold to wait around to run in. Brrrrrr.

We finished our legs around 12:30 pm!!! We were done and just had to wait for the other van to finish. We headed over to Red Rock Hotel to meet them at the finish and get our medals. Tricia, our team captain, handed them all out. It was a special moment. I am so glad she volunteered to be team captain and asked Shannon to be on her team and that Shannon asked me. It was an experience I will never forget. It really was way more fun than I ever thought it could be. I highly recommend Ragnar!
I'm a Ragnarian!

Red Hot Racers!
Van 1


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Team Lemon

Hi. I know. It's been a while. I'm sorry. I've been on a race hiatus. I am happy to report that does not equate to a running hiatus. I have been running consistently, just low mileage which I am happy with right now. My next race isn't until November.

Speaking of November....I am so excited to share that I will be running the Philadelphia Half Marathon for Team Lemon and Alex's Lemonade Stand on November 22nd!

Unfortunately, I know of too many children who have suffered and ultimately died of cancer. I wanted to make a difference and thought what better way than to raise money for Team Lemon.

Alexandra "Alex" Scott, a young cancer patient, was only 4 years old when she decided to hold a lemonade stand to raise money for "her hospital," so doctors could help other kids like they'd helped her. Alex held her first stand in 2000 and continued to hold lemonade stands each year, inspiring support from her community and across the nation. Although sadly Alex passed away at the age of 8, she knew she had reached the ambitious goal of raising $1 million for childhood cancer research.
I am carrying on Alex's inspiring legacy by raising money to fight childhood cancer. Will you make a donation? As Alex's life showed, our small contributions can make a big impact. Thank you!

Please visit my donation page here if you would like to contribute.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

2015 Buffalo Half Marathon Recap

This past weekend I ran the Buffalo Half. I am from Buffalo and all of my family still lives there. This race has been on my list to do for a couple years but it seems I always had Memorial Day weekend plans and couldn't fit it in. Until this year!
City Hall was right near the start line.
Packet pickup on Saturday was easy. My husband dropped me off at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and I went upstairs and got my bib and shirt with no issues.

The next day I arrived early for the race. I didn't want a repeat of the Syracuse Half where I got stuck in traffic and couldn't find a parking spot. So my husband dropped me off at 6 for a 7 am start. I am happy to report we had zero issues with traffic. 

It was nice to have the Convention Center near the start line. I was able to use a real bathroom and sit in a comfy chair while I waited. I went over to the start line about 30 minutes before race start. Thankfully, I turned my Garmin on early. It took 10 minutes to acquire satellites due to tall buildings and such.
Ready to run! The person taking my pic asked if it was my first half - um no! 16th!
My strategy for this race was to push myself and try to PR. Ever since I read Run Like a Mother, I have been following Sarah's strategy of leaving it all on the course. She pushes herself so she has nothing left at the finish. My past two races I have tried to do this and have gotten a personal best both times. 

My strategy also had to do with a little girl I knew who was battling cancer. I was thinking of her on race day because I knew she was nearing the end of her time on earth. I thought of how hard she fought and how much she went through and how strong she was. I figured that pushing myself as I ran was only going to result in temporary pain and I could handle it. Sadly, that little girl ended up dying later that day. 

Rather than do intervals, which is how I train, I decided to run straight through and see how it went. I did take a few walk breaks at water stops. But for the most part, I ran. As I ran, I kept looking at my watch for my pace. If I saw my pace slowing down, I ran faster - simple as that.

I actually felt really good the whole race. I attribute this to my cross training. I have been doing the 30 day shred pretty consistently for a few weeks. I felt stronger than I have felt in recent races. I should also point out that the weather was perfect. It wasn't too hot or cold and not terribly sunny. Or maybe we just were not running straight into the sun for very long. 

The course itself was not very hilly either. There was a gradual incline in the beginning. There were a couple small hills here and there but nothing major. I will say that there were a couple of out and backs that were kind of boring so I could have done without those.

Overall though, I enjoyed the course. I haven't lived in Buffalo since I graduated from high school. The course took us near my old elementary school, down by the marina where I used to walk on the rocks by the water as a kid, and past the First Niagara Center where the Sabres play. It was neat to run a race in my hometown.

So I know you are wondering, did I get that PR? I sure did. 4 minutes and 49 seconds to be exact! I crossed the finish line and didn't look at the clock, but from checking my watch during the race, I thought I was three minutes behind the race clock due to how long it took for me to cross the start line. Imagine my disappointment when I checked the race results on the way home and found my result to be 3 minutes slower than what I thought. They were reporting gun time as chip time. It still would have been a PR, but it wasn't the point. I questioned it with the race's Facebook site and saw that many others were as well. The race was quick to respond and updated my chip time to be 2:19:42!
So happy to be done and with a PR!
I was so proud of myself for working so hard and having such a big payoff. Almost 5 minutes!!! My husband and kids didn't even make it to the finish line in time. I told him if I was doing awesome, I would finish at 9:20, if it was going ok at 9:30, and if it wasn't going so well at 9:45. He figured on ok, and was still driving when I texted him with 1 mile left. I ended up finishing at my awesome time of 9:20.

The finish line was quite crowded with lots of spectators so it took me a while to get back to the convention center. Once I got there, I met my family at the post race party. There was beer for runners, which I got, but had no interest in drinking so I gave it to the husband. Both my kids were hungry at this point. They were giving out one slice of pizza to runners, so I grabbed one for my less picky eater (pepperoni had to be taken off) and I was left with nothing but the half of banana and orange from the finish line. I was rungry!!

I thought I would take a picture when I was all cleaned up.
I would highly recommend the Buffalo half marathon, it was a well-run event, the course was nice, and you can't go wrong with a buffalo medal. I will say though that I would think twice about the marathon here. I don't know if it's normally like this, but the marathon course turned to the right at mile 13. So I was looking straight at the finish with .1 mile left and the marathoners were also looking at the finish line, but they had to turn right and go for 13 more miles. I just don't think I could do that mentally.

Medal and race shirt

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Fools Race Weekend in Atlantic City

My birthday is April Fools Day. I found out that Meridith at Scootadoot shared the same birthday. She informed me of the April Fools half marathon that she runs and how much fun it is. I, of course, HAD to run this race. Not only would it be so fun to hang out with Meridith and the other chicks, but I am an April Fool so it seemed to be my destiny.

Birthday twins and April Fools!
I decided to sign up the kids for the one mile race and asked my husband if he wanted to run a race as well. There was a 7k and 11k option. He was agreeable and chose the 11k. And that was that. We were signed up as a family for a race weekend. All it would take was a 6 hour drive to Atlantic City.

As race weekend drew near I was excited to learn that not only was I going to see Meridith but I was also going to see Vic (who lives only 90 minutes away and I had yet to meet), Cam, and Jenn.

We made it to the first day of packet pickup with a half hour to spare before it was closing for the day. I was happy that we didn't have to go early in the morning before the races. The 11k was first. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott which was just down the street from Resorts where the start/finish line was. So my husband made his way over to the race and we stayed and had breakfast before walking over to wait at the finish line. It was really fun cheering for my husband since he is usually the one spectating. He enjoyed himself and did awesome.

My hubs almost to the finish of the 11k.
The kids race was 2 hours after he finished so we had time to go back to the hotel for the kids to wind down a little and for my husband to shower. Again, this was a perk of staying so close to the start. We headed back and my son was excited but my daughter was nervous. There were lots of characters around, which she doesn't like, and she was nervous they were going to be on the course and at the finish. Thankfully they weren't and we talked her into running.

I let my son run by himself. I was nervous about this at first. But I put him in a bright shirt so I could spot him and we picked a place to meet if I didn't get to him right away. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. He ran so fast! He finished in 7:15 which was 10th place overall. He is only 8. I was such a proud Mama. I was able to get him right at the finish with no problems at all.

My super speedy son!
We went back to our spot to wait for my daughter. She came running to the finish at 13:05. She is only 5 so I was super proud of her for running the whole way. We were worried she would want to be carried. It was a great Saturday for our racing family.

So proud of my little girl!
Finally Sunday came and it was my turn. I headed down early to see the Scootadoot chicks. They were entering the costume contest. Let me tell you, they had the best costumes I have ever seen at a race. They were the Rockford Peaches from the movie A League of their Own. Such amazing costumes and they rightfully won the group contest.

Seriously, such amazing costumes and ladies!
I was so excited to spend time with them before the race. They are great gals. Since Vic was a bit injured and wasn't sure how she would hold up, she decided to take it easy and run with me (she is super fast normally!). We ran together for the first 5 miles. I was hoping to PR again. I had PRed previously at the Cuse Half on a really hilly course. This was flat as a pancake so I thought it would be doable again.

It was nice to chat with Vic and get to know her a bit more. She is so nice and kept checking on me to make sure I was ok and encouraging me. She even told me about some of the sights on the boardwalk. By the way, running on the boardwalk was really cool. It is a lot less forgiving on the knees than pavement. When we turned off the boardwalk, I groaned. But thankfully it was out and back.

Around mile 5, I started tiring. I definitely did not feel as strong as I did at the Cuse half. I was tired from a long business trip I had the day before this trip. And I didn't get running or cross training in consequently. So I started falling behing and told Vic, who was feeling good, to go ahead.

I kept a good pace for me for those first 5 miles so I had a good cushion for the second half of the race. I need to work on negative splits. I kept up a decent pace for the rest of the race. It was good enough to PR by a full minute exactly!

PR, baby! Love the medal too.
I found Vic at the finish and found that she did awesome. She was nice enough to snap pictures of me and my family.
Loved running with Vic!
We hung out waiting for the costume contest to be announced and found Meridith and Jenn, who had finished her first half. It was so awesome sharing this birthday race with Meridith!
The kids were getting restless and we had to hit the road so unfortunately, I missed out on seeing Cam.

Overall, I really enjoyed the race. Running by the ocean and on the boardwalk was really cool and a nice change of scenery for me. The race was well run for the most part. My only complaint was runner tracking wasn't working. The 11k runner tracking was pointless as there was no split time given. And I didn't even receive the text my husband started until a half hour later. My husband only received the 5k split text and that was late too. There was a 7 mile mat so he should have gotten that. He is still waiting for the text that I finished. I just ended up texting when I was close and so did he so we knew to look for each other.

The best part was the theme of the race for me being an April Fool and of course, getting to spend time with my friends. Thanks to Mer for recommending the race to me!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why I Can't #runalltheraces

Yesterday was Avengers half marathon weekend registration day. I did not register. But I will say I came thisclose. My friends and I talked about it a while ago and I decided it just wouldn't be feasible. I had told the kids that I wouldn't go back to Disneyland without them. The flight to California is expensive. And I was already going to Marathon weekend in January.

But along came registration day. Suzanne had already registered through charity. I knew Patty was registering. And then Tania registered too. So many friends going. It would be so fun to hang out. Another coast to coast. Avengers theme is cool. Surely this race will sell out quickly and it won't matter. Right?!

But no. The Infinity Gauntlet Challenge still had a few spots left this morning. And the half marathon has not even sold out! More than 24 hours later. Crazy! Unheard of for runDisney as of late.

So of course I spent yesterday afternoon looking at flights. It's the Diamond Celebration! But it's a $600 flight. So no. I am proud of myself for not giving in to the craziness. It's so easy to get swept up in race registration day excitement.

It seems there are many out there who somehow #runalltheraces. Believe me, I would love to. There are so many races out there I want to run. So many places I want to visit. There's all the Disney races, Big Cottonwood in Utah. There's a race in Savannah that looks gorgeous. I want to run a Rock n Roll and a Ragnar. But it's just not realistic for me.

I have a family. I enjoy my race weekends away. My husband is amazing and doesn't complain at all about me having fun while he is taking care of the kids alone. But I don't want to leave them so often. I miss them when I am gone. And they miss me. Even if I did want to go, I have a job and I only get three weeks of vacation a year. I like to use most of that to take vacations as a family. Don't get me wrong, I use a few days for girls trips. Let's say I had all the time off in the world, there's still that whole thing called money. Haha. These trips get expensive. Even if you register with a charity, there's still a flight to the race. And if it's at Disney I will want to have park time. $$$ it all adds up.

So in summary, I'm not running all the races. But I have a bucket list of races. And I am marking them off little by little. And boy, am I having fun doing that.

What about you? Do you #runalltheraces? What race should I add to my bucket list?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015 Syracuse Half Marathon Recap

The nice thing about local races as compared to Disney races is that you don't have to get up before dawn to get to the race. Last year, I left my house a mere one hour before this race started and got to the start line with plenty of time for a bathroom break beforehand. That was not the case this year.

I should have left my house earlier. I was thinking that as I was getting the kids' breakfast ready (if only they had slept in on a Sunday!!). The reason I thought I should was because there were 2,000 more runners registered this year than last. The sport of running has gotten quite popular and lots more people wanted to Run the 'Cuse so the race director opened up more spots after registration filled up quickly. 3,600 runners were registered to run.

I finally left my house at 6:55. It's about a 20 minute drive to get downtown. The race started at 8:00. I got to the start line at 8:00! I was freaking out. I sat in traffic for 45 minutes. I was about 2 miles from the parking garage where the race advertised everyone could park for free. Everyone else was also headed that way and coming from all directions into one entrance. I had told my husband to come later with the kids so he didn't have to worry about waiting long for me to finish. Boy did I wish I had not said that. I watched runners jumping out of cars along the off-ramp, making their way to the start. I wish I was one of them! Instead, I watched the clock tick closer to 8:00 and I hoped there would still be a spot in the garage when I got there.

I finally parked a couple minutes before 8:00 and went to find my friend to hand off the Gu I had brought for her. I learned that the race was pushed back 15 minutes due to the traffic. Whew!! I found my friend and started texting my husband to tell him the race was starting late and that he would probably need to find a different place to park. I took off my gloves while I was doing this because it was hard to text with my gloves that were supposedly phone friendly.

I neglected to mention the temperature at the start was 16 degrees and with the windchill it felt like 2. Yeah. It was bitter cold. And having my gloves off was not a good idea just standing around. Remember those 3,600 runners? Only 2,700 ran the race. I don't know that all of them were people who would rather not run in the frigid temps, but it had to be a good number.

So the race started at 8:15 and I was off. It was a little slippery, but thankfully the roads weren't too snow covered. The race crew had salted the course the night before. I only caught myself a couple times on black ice. I had a few oh no moments when my race flashed before my eyes but thankfully I didn't fall. 

There's a big gradual hill after the first mile that I remember being torture last year. Well this year, I am happy to report it wasn't as bad. The only problem I had was figuring out if I was going to lose my fingers to frostbite! Remember the texting I did without my gloves. I had two fingers that were numb and it was really worrying me as I ran. I could not feel the tips. I took off my glove and tried to massage them a bit. Thankfully the feeling came back and I was fine from there on out. In fact, I took my gloves off a few times because my hands were so warm. The wind was in our face on some portions of the course so I put them back on for those parts.

This course had a fair number of hills. For someone who does not train on hills (my neighborhood is flat as a pancake), I was doing well for myself. I think the DVDs I have been doing for strength training have helped. I felt really strong for the first 5 miles. Better than I have felt in other races in recent memory and those races didn't have hills. I slowed to have Gu at mile 5 and it was tough to get back in my groove again but I finally found it.

I was cruising along and kept looking at my watch to see what my pace was. I really enjoyed one extended downhill section around mile 9. I was running at a 9:20 pace which never ever happens for me. I felt speedy!

The last couple miles were tougher only because I had just trained up to 11 miles before the race. So my pace slowed a bit. I kept doing the math to make sure I kept my pace above 12 minutes per mile because I really wanted a PR.

I crossed the finish line with a 2 minute PR!!! I had a time of 2:25:33. I was so proud of myself. I teared up at the finish. It was nothing like marathon. I was just proud that I pushed myself the whole race and it paid off so I got a little choked up. My kids and husband were just past the finish line. My friend who had just run her first half was also there, she rocked it! I was proud of her too.

2 minute PR!
An extra .1 miles due to me trying to avoid all the puddles.

The finish line is right next to the big event center downtown so we went right in for food and to warm up. My husband was able to buy bibs for him and the kids for $5 and they ate while they waited for me to finish. There was pizza, pancakes, sausage, bacon, bagels, cookies, bananas, yogurt, chocolate milk, and more. It was a great spread and lots of tables for people to sit.

All in all, it was another great race experience at the Syracuse Half. I have run this race all three years since it started.
Legacy runner
I will put a request in for better weather next year though!

Ever had your sneakers caked in salt at the end of  race?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

WDW Marathon Recap

Spolier alert - I DID IT!!!!

I'm a marathoner!!
Ok now that we've got that out of the way, let's go back to the beginning of the Walt Disney World Marathon - aka my first marathon!

The weather was actually perfect for racing, at least for me (besides the humidity). It was about 45 or 50 waiting for the race to start but got up to about 70 during the race. I had a long sleeve shrug that I planned to keep tied around my waist and a long sleeve throwaway shirt. I wore the shrug for three miles. It was overcast most of the race. The sun peeked out around mile 18 and I was thinking oh no! But that lasted only a few minutes and then the sky was very dark and again I was thinking oh no! I kept looking at the sky as the miles passed thinking, ok at least I got 18 miles in before the rain started, at least I got 19 miles in, etc. It sprinkled a bit for not very long around mile 18. But the heavy rain started at mile 24 and let me tell you, it sucked. For 2 miles it rained. The spectators and characters were under cover and it left just us runners splashing around in Epcot. I really just wanted to be done at that point, so I kicked it into high gear to get out of the rain.

Race Strategy
I decided way before race day that I was going to run by myself. My friends were there, but we all have different paces. I was pretty sure going into the race that this would be my only marathon, and I wanted to see what I could do. So I said goodbye to them at the start and was on my way. During training I ran a mile and then walked a bit. I used that for the race and it worked well. I would run a mile and then walk while I ate a chew, anywhere from 15-60 seconds. I also walked at most water stops. I didn't stop for any characters. Ahead of the race, I said if there was no line I would stop, but that was never really the case. A couple characters had a short line but I didn't want to stop at that point. Surprisingly, I did not stop to use a bathroom. I just never had to go.

Almost every mile I ate a Honey Stinger Pink Lemonade chew. Well every mile that I didn't have something else planned. I should back up, I ate a peanut butter bagel in race retreat and a honey stinger waffle just before the race started. I also carried an uncrustable in my pocket (again something I trained with). So at mile 6, I ate the uncrustable instead of the chew. And then I took a mile off and just had water. At mile 12ish, I ate the banana they were giving out on the course. At miles 14, 18, and 22 I had a Salted Caramel Gu. I started those earlier than I did in training because I was noticing that I was running out of energy at mile 16 and felt better after I had a Gu. The earlier Gu at mile 14 certainly helped. Not once did I feel like I was hitting a wall. I was tired, no doubt, and my legs were tired. But I never felt like I couldn't keep going. I credit that to my fuel. I know it seems like a lot to eat, but I wasn't out there to lose weight. I was out there to make it to the finish. One other thing, I did eat the chocolate at mile 23. That's because I love chocolate and couldn't pass it up. It wasn't a good idea. My stomach was off for a few minutes after that.

I don't like PowerAde and that's what Disney provides on the course. I knew water wouldn't be enough for me and that I needed some electrolytes so I bought a hydration belt and wore that during the race (also trained with it for 3 long runs). I had two 9 ounce bottles that I filled with Cocogo. I finished both of those and also refilled once and added a packet of Cocogo. I sweat a lot so the Cocogo was a big help. I also took at least a sip of water at every water stop.

I am as emotional and sensitive as they come. I cry really easily. I knew the emotions of race day would get me at least at the finish. What I didn't realize was that I would be overcome a few times during the race. Running down Main St, I started crying. I have run down Main St. three times before but never in a marathon. The castle was beautiful and still lit up. It was magical. I also teared up when I saw a sign around mile 24 that read "Someday you will fail, today is not that day." I realized at that point that I was doing it, I was going to finish. And of course, I cried like a baby when I saw that finish line. When I crossed it, I was really crying and a nice lady gave me a big hug and told me how proud she was of me. I was so proud of myself. I was the fat girl in elementary school who couldn't run the mile. Kids made fun of me a lot. And here I was, crossing the finish line of a marathon - something that not many people even attempt.

My total stranger friend who consoled me at the finish line.
Mileage highlights (and lowlights)
Mile 5/6 - I already talked about the castle. I loved it. And I actually ran through it! That doesn't happen much for me, I am usually shuffling because it's so crowded.

The only time I stopped for a Marathon Foto pic.

I'm running through the castle!!!

I am not sure where I am here, I think MK. Running is fun!
Mile 9 - The Speedway - I loathed this mile. You come to the speedway and the sign says steep incline. Yeah, it was steep. I felt like I was going to roll down the hill. And then you get to go right back up. It sucked. And the mile lap around the track was boring and I wanted to be done with it.

Over it. Especially that steep incline.
Mile 12 - I am not sure what mile I saw Lisa, but she was out front of Animal Kingdom cheering her heart out. I don't even know her all that well, she is a friend of Suzanne's that I have met a couple times. It was just so nice to see a familiar face. She even gave me a hug even though I was so sweaty and offered me fuel and sunblock. It was a nice pick me up.

Mile 13 - There was a sewage treatment plant or something. It was disgusting. The smell was horrid and I almost threw up. I had to breathe through my mouth while running by.

Mile 17 - This was good and bad. As you run by mile 17 toward Wide World of Sports, you realize that everyone else on the other side of the street is on mile 20.4. Whomp whomp. Hollywood Studios is right there, you can see it, but you won't be there for miles.

However, I did see Shannon on this stretch. It was completely random. I had nothing better to do, I wasn't listening to music, I was just taking in the sights. So since people were running the other direction right next to me, I decided to look for Shannon even though I had no idea where she was. And then - there she was!!! I screamed her name and we shared the sweatiest hug ever. It was so so nice to see her and gave me a burst of energy.

Mile 18 - I was busy taking a picture of the big Baymax balloon and I almost missed the tubs of ice cold drenched in water washcloths. Aahhhhh. It was amazing! Did I mention I sweat a ton? It was so nice to be able to wipe it all off with that washcloth.

Mile 19 - Running on the baseball diamond at WWOS sucked. It might have been ok if it hadn't been sprinkling, or maybe not. All I could think about was that I did not want that gravel in my shoes. I did get one stone in and I had to stop and get it out, which wasn't an easy feat.

Hoping I don't have any stones in my sneakers.

Mile 20 - Again, I had no idea where my other friends were, but since I had nothing better to do, I looked for them as I exited WWOS. Sure enough, there they were! Seeing Amy, Kristen, Suzanne, and Wendy was another big pick me up.

Mile 23ish - Hollywood Studios. I don't remember much about it. Except that I wanted to take this picture since the hat was coming down.

One last pic with Sorcerer Mickey's hat
Miles 24-26 - I already mentioned it was raining during these miles. However, it did cause me to run faster. I had negative splits during these miles. I wasn't so much running as shuffling. Haha. But I was passing a ton of people who had no gas in the tank and were walking at this point.

Persevering through the rain.

I think I might be coming toward the finish line here. I look a little choked up.

Mile 26.2 - I did it! I am a marathoner! If you dream it, you can do it!

I love this picture of me crossing the finish. Tears of joy right there, folks!


This was my first marathon and I am pretty sure it will be my only. I finished in a respectable (for me) 5:51:18. I am just so darn proud of myself for not only taking on this challenge to begin with, but for finishing it!