Friday, November 7, 2014

Race Report - Marshall Half Marathon

I had one goal for the 2014 Marshall Half Marathon - to get there on time. 

I'm only half kidding. Last year I grossly miscalculated how long it would take me to get to the race and find a place to park. I was almost literally running to the start line just in time for the start gun to go off. So this year, I vowed that that was not going to happen again. So I got up at o'dark thirty ( which was an hour earlier than usual because of the time change) and was in the car and on the road not much later. This craziness allowed me to arrive at the football stadium with more than an hour to spare. 

Sunday morning was the coldest morning in months, so I dressed in capris tights, warm long sleeve shirt, and leg warmers. 

While I knew I'd be fine while running, I'd be way cold if I stayed outside without moving around much. Luckily, one of the awesome perks of the Marshall race is the opportunity to park right at the start, so I was able to stay toasty warm in the car until almost start time.

The cannon went off and I was on the move. Just like in every race, thoughts of what have I gotten myself into started running through my head. It was a chorus of "this is gonna be tough; you are so not ready for this" competing with the more positive "you've got this; it's just one foot in front of the other" with a few "race day is so awesome!"'s thrown in. 

The mental games continued until mile 3 and the water stop at Harris Riverfront park. At this point, my Garmin conveniently decided to tell me its memory was full. Lovely. So I stopped to clear out the memory, deleting all the past runs that I had wrongly assumed had already been deleted and the first 3 miles of the race. My Nike+running app on my phone updated itself the week before the race and I still wasn't familiar with all the changes and how to get it to work the way I wanted it to, so I wasn't using it, and was just using the phone for some musical motivation. So with the Garmin having to start over and losing the first 3 miles, I had no way to personally track my progress and time over the whole race.   So with no way to really know what my time was, I basically just said "oh well, guess I'll just run."  I used the Garmin for intervals, but from that point on, I didn't pay much attention to how fast or slow I was or wasn't going. I just ran. 

If I felt like going fast, I did. If I felt like walking instead of running, I did. If I felt like singing along to my music, I did. It was a race run by what I felt like doing at any given point (not by what I thought I should be doing to finish in a certain time), which is a strategy I usually reserve for Disney races. And, like a Disney race, this one was fun. There was no pressure (self-imposed or otherwise). I enjoyed every step (even the painful ones after mile 10). 

Don't get me wrong, I like the challenge of trying to go faster; I enjoy the battle to beat the old time, the fight to be better, faster, stronger; there is certain kind of fun in that for me (if there weren't I wouldn't have done this 9 times). But this race was different. It was simply fun - The joy of running, of moving, of just being out there showed up.

While I doubt I'll employ this strategy with every race ( I'm thinking I'm too self- competitive to let the possibility of a faster, better, stronger, PR of a race elude me for too long), it was the right thing to do for this one. It reminded of why I like to run - because when you strip it down to the bare basics, when you take away all that makes it hard, it's just fun. And who doesn't like fun?

So how did I do? Well....

When it came right down to it, for my pre-race goal, I was just hoping for a finish - yes, there was a part of me that wanted it to be a fast finish, but mostly I just wanted to cross the line (and if I could do it in somewhere between 2:30 and 2:45, well that would be awesome). And I did - just under 2:45 (2:44:55, gun; 2:43:32, chip). 

If you want to over analyze the results (which of course, I've done) you may find that if I'd pushed and pressured myself, if I'd had a little less fun and more focus, I could've run harder and faster and maybe finished closer to last year, closer to beating that PR.  But that wasn't right for this race. Did I run the race I could have run? Nope.

I ran the race I needed to run. 

Race Stats
Marshall University Half Marathon
Sunday, November 2, 2014
Finish time - 2:44:55 (gun); 2:43:32 (chip)
Pace - 12:36mpm (gun); 12:29mpm (chip)
Place - 847 of 1,052 overall; 456 of 618 female; 75 of 105 age group

Monday, September 22, 2014

Race Report - Gritt's Fun Farm Run

When the directors of the Dirty Dog (the toughest race I'll ever love) announced that they were planning a fall trail run at Gritt's Farm, I was all "where do I sign up?" And with some coaxing and prodding, I got Marc to let me sign him up too.

So that's how we ended up standing amongst a crowd of other runners in the midst of the pumpkin pickin', playin' in corn kernels, slidin' down slides surrounded by hay, corn maze fun that is Gritt's Fun Farm on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

With little fanfare, the race was started and we took off. Marc, even though he hasn't run a race in a few years, is a faster runner than I am, especially on trails (I'm more of a fast walk trail hiker than a trail runner, even during a race), so it wasn't long before he had left me behind.  I was able to keep him in sight for most of the first downhill, but at one point I looked down to watch  my footing and when I looked up he was gone.  So I soldiered on on my own (figuratively speaking, as there were other runners all around), running slow, walking around the big puddles, and then climbing the first big hill.

And then we entered the maze...

The maze section - practically perfect
With the pre-race warning of "go slow in the maze or you will get lost",  I decided I'd be walking through the maze, so as not to miss any of the orange markers showing the way.  Not too far into the maze, I start seeing runners coming back towards me. I didn't know if they were lost or if the maze was an out & back.  I keep going, following the orange, chatting with another runner, when I look up, and there's Marc, in one of the groups of runners coming back through. "We're lost" he says. I thought about having him come with me, but in case he was actually on the right track, I didn't want him to back track. (and after he says he thought about having me come with him, but didn't want to cause me to cut the course short). So we ended up waving and each going our separate ways.  After many twists and turns, and a few "are we lost?" moments, my little group made our way out of the maze.

After the maze, I ran a bit and walked a bit and just letting the distance roll by as it would; I wasn't in a hurry, even though it was a race; I was just out to enjoy the day.  I found myself running alongside the same gentleman that I ran through the cemetery with at the Biggest Loser half, so I chatted with him for a bit, reminiscing about the horribleness of that hill.  I lost him at the water stop, so spent most of the rest of the race on my own - a few people a ways ahead of me, and some behind, but none really close by.

I had just passed the 4 mile mark when I heard sirens. Never a good thing to hear at a race, but since I hadn't seen Marc since we passed in the maze and had no idea where he was or how he was doing, I had a moment of worry.  With a quick prayer for him and whoever the injured party might be, I kept going, with  maybe a little bit of a quicker pace, just in case.

It wasn't long before I came upon a crowd of runners standing around and saw some medics heading down the trail.  I'll admit I had a moment of panic when I saw the runner on the ground, mistaking the runner's orange shirt for a red one, like Marc was wearing. But I soon realized that her shirt was orange and she was female, so therefore she was not Marc, and I relaxed a bit. With another little prayer for her, I continued on, because the last thing paramedics needed was one more person hanging around watching while they did their thing. Several others in the group left at about the same time I did, so I heard a bit about what had (or may have) happened (but in the interest of the runner's privacy (and because I don't really know), I'll not share).

I made my way up another tough up hill, back out onto the road, and made the final turn for the finish line, and realized my shoe was coming untied. We had parked the car right along the finish line approach, and when I saw its gate open, I knew Marc had finished safely. He met me with a smile, and said I was looking good. I handed him my water bottle, stopped to tie my shoe, and the headed off to the finish line.

Woo hoo! Another race finished! There was a bit of a crowd at the finish, so in the confusion, i didn't see the finish clock or remember to stop my garmin, so I didn't know what my time was.  I didn't realize my Garmin was still running until I got back to the car (after picking up my bag of treats, getting a drink of water, and standing around for a minute or so), so I don't have my own unofficial race time to share.  The Garmin also showed the race as being longer than 5 miles; it showed 5.6, including the wandering around after the finish and the walk back to the car.

So I'm guessing the actual distance it thinks I covered on the course was about 5.5 miles. Was the course long or were the satellite gods messing with me? A good time on a great course (whatever its distance), with a few added challenges thrown in for fun all add up to another race to put on my annual race calendar.

Race Stats:
Gritt's Fun Farm Run
Sunday, September 21, 2014, 2:00pm
5 miles

Finish time: 5.6 miles, 1:30:08  (garmin); 5 miles, 1:27:08 (official)
Place: 26 of 45 age group; 116 of 178 overall

Finish time: 1:10:08 (official)
Place: 8 of 12 age group; 63 of 178 overall

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Race Report - Biggest Loser Half Marathon

Not sure if this is actually a race report or a guide on how not to run a half marathon.

I went into Saturday's race totally and completely unprepared to do a half marathon. I hadn't run more than 3-4 miles in the same run since the Dirty Dog in May; hadn't run over 10 since since the Princess in February. I wasn't ready; I knew I wasn't ready; but I did it anyway.

I almost didn't. Back when I was still in the "debating whether or not to register" stage, they released the course map.  Said course map was terrifying - big ol' gigantic monster hill in the middle.  I realize that I live in the Mountain State (it's hard to find a course around here longer than a 5k or 10k that doesn't include a hill or two), but really, they had to choose that hill, of all hills?  "That hill" being the Spring Hill Cemetery hill.  I've lived here my entire life and never been up there; but I'd heard stories, seen pictures of runners attempting to conquer just part of it... My mental picture wasn't pretty. But with thoughts of "it can't be worse than White Hollow on the Dirty Dog can it?"* running through my head, I hit the submit registration button.

And registration is about where my preparation for the race stopped. For various reasons and excuses (some legitimate, most not) I skimped on my training.  Let me just say, if you're thinking about doing a half - don't do that.  Training is important.  Your body - your muscles, your joints, even your brain - it needs it.  Even if you've done one before; even if you've done seven, you need to train.

However, if you're going to run a race you're not really prepared for, a Biggest Loser Race is the one to do. While the pre-race banter betweeen the 2 guys on the stage can be a little over the top and annoying at times, it does have its motivational moments. Like when they remind you that it's not about winning; it's about being there; it's about trying; it's about starting; it's about finishing. The race atmosphere is definitely one of "you can do this!"

So with that thought, and my race day mantra of "Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up”* running through my head, I hit the course with my garmin set for 1:1 run/walk intervals and a new peppy playlist on the ipod.

Miles 1 through 4 were mostly flat and went really well.  At mile 4, we hit the dreaded hill.  Up, up, up and up some more.
Quotes from the hill:
  • Runner 1: "this is ridiculous; i'm from Minnesota we don't have hills like this." 
  • Runner 2: "Forget Boston; this should be Heartbreak Hill"
  • Runner 3: "is this a trick? seriously? it goes higher?"
  • Runner 4: "you gotta be kidding me?"
  • Runner 5:  "What is this an 8 or 9 percent grade?"
For about 3 miles, we wandered up and up and through the cemetery. Call me morbid, but I love old cemeteries (this one's on the National Register of Historic places, so it's been there a while).  Looking at names and dates on headstones is fascinating for me; who were these people? what was their story? who did they leave behind? Looking around at all the stones and monuments took my mind off the scary hill; made it not so daunting. Despite the comments above (and my pre-race fears), I didn't have that much trouble with the hill. Granted I walked most of it; but the environment was distracting enough that I wasn't really thinking about the climb.

Elevation profile

No, my problems on the course started after I was off the hill and back on the flats.  At about mile 9, my legs decided they were done. They hurt - my hips, my thighs, my ankles, all were really unhappy with me (slightly baffled at why, with the rest of my legs so sore, my knees didn't join the party, but they were fine throughout.)  Running hurt; the transition between running and walking hurt; but walking itself wasn't quite as bad. So, I threw the run/walk out the window and just walked. Not wanting finish at a walk, I started running again when the banners and finish arch came in sight.

And ran across the that line. I did it.  Again.  Another half marathon done (#8). I showed up; I started; I finished...

Race Stats:
Biggest Loser Half Marathon
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Finish Time: 3:02:55 (garmin);  3:02:34 (official)
Pace: 13:55mpm
Place: 26 of 37 age group; 184 of 248, overall

*For the record, White Hollow is worse
*race day mantra quote by Dean Karnazes

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Race Report - Dirty Dog 15k

Dirty Dog 15k Trail Run
Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ah, the Dirty Dog. The toughest race I've ever done. And probably, no not probably, definitely one of my favorites.  I run races not because I think I can win them, but because there's a small part of me that doubts my ability and thinks I can't. So, I run races to prove to myself that I can.

For me, each and every time I stand at the start line, no matter how many times I've been there before, I'm faced with a challenge.  The 5k is a time challenge - how fast can I do this?; the half marathon is a distance challenge - can I really go 13.1 miles?; the Dirty Dog is just a challenge - can I do this at all?

Dirty Dog Elevation Profile
The trails, the hills (the steep ups and the steep downs), and for this year, the mud, all added up to one heck of a challenge. I knew it when I got to the start line- this was going to take all that I had. So I gave it all that I had.  I met the challenge; I beat the challenge; The Dirty Dog did not defeat me again this year. I started and I finished.  I proved to myself, yet again, that I can do it.

Thoughts from various points of the race:
  • Climbing Pigeon Roost - this isn't as hard as I remember it being.
  • Heading down to Dunlop Hollow - I need new trail shoes - this is killing my toes
  • On a rocky part of the descent - fellow runner says "we don't want to break any bones... well at least I don't"; no, breaking bones is definitely not high on my list of priorities for the day
  • Heading up White Hollow - remind me again why I think this is fun?
  • Still heading up White Hollow - this would be so much easier if I could breathe or if I was a mountain goat
  • Almost to the top of White Hollow - I can't do this anymore; I can't go another step.
  • And upon turning around and looking back down at what I had just climbed - I don't have a choice; I can't stay here, going back down would be harder than going up was, so forward is the only way to go.
  • On Middle Ridge Road - this mud is annoying - my feet are either sticking in it or sliding on it.
  • On Middle Ridge - I hear people, are they behind me or in front of me? Am I last?
  • At the turn onto Johnson Hollow - the forest sign is spelled wrong; i'm pretty sure it's  "Johnson Hollow" and not "Johnon Hollow".
  • Going down Johnson ("Johnon"?) Hollow - oh my feet.... oh my knees....  ouch ouch ouch. this really hurts.
  • Still going down Johnson Hollow - Hey you're going the wrong way (to the 2 people who were going back up)
  • Almost at the bottom - I hear music!  I did it!
  • Coming out of the woods - I see the finish line!  i really did it!
  • Heading towards the finish - There's my mom!  I really really did it!!
  • Crossing the finish - I did it! I did it! I did it!  my feet really hurt, but i did it!

Race Stats:
Dirty Dog 15k Trail Run
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Finish Time: 2:34:04 (garmin); 2:34:09 (official)
Place: 252 of 277 overall; 29 of 32 age group

Race Reports - Komen 5k & Dog Jog 5k

Getting a little behind with my race reports.  Not a whole lot to say about the 5ks I ran this month, but here's a quick recap:

Saturday, May 3, 2014
Komen Race for the Cure 5k

Despite my good intentions to run more this spring than I did last spring, I didn't get out there quite as much as I hoped I would. When the half that I was going to run in April got cancelled, I lost my motivation (I do much better when I have something specific to train for). But I declared May to be the beginning of my summer of "better, faster, stronger," and resolved to get out and run, run, run. I knew I wasn't really in any shape to run the Komen 5k fast (for "fast" read "faster than I ran any 5ks in 2013"), but I was going to give it a try. It didn't happen, but that's ok; I didn't expect it to. I set my watch for 2:1 run:walk intervals, and just went out to see what would happen. The interval was just right, I could run at a decently fast pace for me (low 10s, high 9s) and know I had a rest break coming fairly soon. I kept my focus on myself, and didn't worry about what everybody else was doing, not caring who passed me or who I passed; I just did my thing and crossed the finish line.

Race Stats:
Komen 5k
Saturday, May 3, 2014
Finish Time: 34:07 (garmin); 33:48  (official)
Pace: 10:56mpm (garmin); 10:53 (official)

Saturday, May 10, 2014
Dog Jog 5k

Still not sure what happened with this one. It did not go anywhere near what I planned. It was hot, it was humid, the course was crowded, I wasn't ready; all factors that led to a slightly disappointing finish time.

Positive: the puppies and dogs that were there were cute. Adoptable, but I didn't bring any home (some day we'll get another, but not yet)

Race Stats:
Dog Jog 5k
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Finish Time: 36:30 (garmin); 36:34 (official)
Place: overall 73 of 2ll; 41 of 149 women; 10 of 41 in age group

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Missing Bree

Used to be, on those "throw a Disney movie into the DVD player and deep clean the house"days (as opposed to the more frequent "quick run of the vacuum or swiffer days") I would get the carpets dog hair free, and the hardwoods clean and shiny with no water spots. And, I would say to myself, I wish they'd stay clean for more than 5 to 10 minutes.

But then, Bree would come back downstairs. She'd scratch an itch or give a shake, and boom, hair was back. She'd be thirsty and drink half her bowl of water, dripping the other half in a path between the bowl and her bed. Sigh.  

Today was the first deep clean day since we lost her. And I got my wish. It's been a few hours and the floors are still clean - no new dog hair, no water spots. And I'm saying to myself, "I wish Bree were here to mess up the floors..."  Sigh. ( and maybe a tear or two)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Race Report - Disney Princess Half Marathon (runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge Race 2)

As you've probably noticed, unless you've been hiding under a rock for months, this winter has been a bit on the cold and snowy side. Which can sometimes make running a little difficult. I actually like running when it's cold and in the snow, but even I have to draw the line when it's below 20 degrees and icy. And running in cold weather doesn't exactly prepare you for running in heat and humidity.

So, after the 10k and it's icky, sticky humidness on Saturday, I wasn't really looking forward to Sunday and the half marathon. Running in humidity, even in Disney, is not very fun. (You'd think, with the way summers are here in WV, I'd be used to it, but no. At least not in February.)

Sunday, February 23 - The Disney Princess Half Marathon
Sunday morning called for an even earlier wake-up than Saturday (2:00am) to catch the bus to the race at 3. This time all three of our alarms went off and we were up and dressed and off to the races.

Belle being chased by giant toys
Once again, we were all going to run our own races and start in separate corrals; I was in G, Becca in J, and Jen in M. Since we had so long to wait before the actual race start, we decided to hang around a bit together before heading to the corrals. Chit chat and pre-race camaraderie with your besties goes a long way in soothing jitters and nervousness.

But eventually it was time and with wishes of good luck and good running we headed off to our separate corrals to await the start.

After some entertainment from the runDisney folks and a tear-inducing "happy birthday" surprise message to one runner from her husband stationed in Afghanistan, it was time for the race to start. Fairy Godmother was there to start off the first couple corrals, but I guess she had some other more pressing engagement (Cinderella had to get ready for her ball I guess) because she left and wasn't there for the Corral G send off.

I didn't set my garmin for run/walk intervals and, as I did in the 10k, was just going to take walk breaks whenever I thought I  needed them. Last year, the course was really crowded and it was hard to follow the structured breaks, so this year, I was just going to go with the flow, so to speak.
I started out nice and slow, and I think I ran most of the first mile before I decided to walk. After that I would pick out a point down the course that would mark my transition point, a light post here, a sign there, an aid station, a tree, etc. Somewhere around mile 3, I joined in with the 2:45 pace group, who were doing a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk interval. They were doing a nice steady,easy pace that I knew I wouldn't have any problem keeping up with, so I decided to run with them. I stayed with them through the entrance to the Magic Kingdom and down Main Street and the first glimpse of the castle.

I changed my mind about staying with the group all the way to the finish when I saw the Buzz Lightyear photo op. Last year, I did a "fly by" pic of Buzz, but this year, when I saw Buzz, I made the decision that since I had the time, I was going to stop for some of the character pics. I thought, it's Disney; I can run for a good finish time at some other race in some other place. So I got in line for my pic with Buzz. I made it all the way to the third or fourth person from him when his handler announced he would be taking a three to five minute break. I didn't need a good finish time, but I didn't want to be standing around for 5 minutes either, so once again, I missed out on Buzz. :-(

"There's a snake in my boot" - Woody
But I did stop for the next few characters (the White Rabbit; Tiana and the alligator; Woody; Princess Aurora & Prince Philip; Mary Poppins, Bert, and the Penguin; Lilo; the Genie; the heroes; Pirates)
"you ain't never had a friend like me" - Genie

Standing in line for the pictures was a welcome break from running/walking in the heat. It also gave me an opportunity to stop and stretch, which resulted in no tight hips after the race. Score!

Somewhere around mile 7 or 8, I was starting to drag and feel tired, so I downed my aptly named "Gu" (cherry-lime roctane with caffeine, if anybody cares) with some powerade from an aid station. The extra energy it gave helped me through the last few miles.

Flynn Rider, Aladdin, Hercules, Prince Eric
(to the lady in the line for Tiana who told me I was wrong when
I said we'd pass the heroes again - "I told you so")

The oddly angled hills and overpass approaches were just as difficult this year as they were last year, but I powered through. The Green Army Man on one of the hills was particulary funny in his motivation - "when did this become the Princess walk-a-thon? Move ladies! Pick it up and run!" "If you're not in line for a picture with me, you'd better be running."

At the top of the overpass, I made way to the edge so I could look down at the crowd of runners on the course below. I tried to see if I could find Becca or Jen in the crowd, but either I missed them or they were still farther back on the course.  I waved anyway, just in case. And then it was in to Epcot for the approach to the finish line.
Another Princess Half was almost over. Mile 13 and the finish line came all too soon. (While I was hot and tired, and ready for the run to be done, I wasn't quite ready for the experience to end.)

But all things must end at some point, and the finish line was calling my name (maybe literally, although I didn't hear it.)

I did it. I finished the Princess Half. I finished the Glass Slipper Challenge. I was sweaty, hot, and tired, but I got my medals. And more importantly than that, I got the sense of achievement that comes from working hard, overcoming obstacles, and finishing something that I started. I'm still amazed, even after doing it 7 times now, that I am capable of running a half marathon. It just blows my mind every time I cross that finish line...

Race Stats:
Disney Princess Half Marathon
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Official Finish Time: 3:33:31 (16:13mpm) (Overall Place: 16,756 of  20,750; Gender Place: 15,495 of 19,294; Age Group Place: 2,477 of 3,051)
Actual Run Time: 2:56 (13:20mpm) (watch was stopped while waiting in photo lines)

Becca and Jen were rock stars out there.  Becca finished in 3:39:25 and beat her time from last year.
Jen overcame some major struggles and finished in 3:43:52, also beating her time from last year and setting a new half marathon PR.  So proud of these girls!!

Princess Half and Glass Slipper medal

All 3 medals from the weekend:
Enchanted 10k, Princess Half, and Glass Slipper Challenge

Friday, February 28, 2014

Race Report - the Enchanted 10k (runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge Race 1)

This time last week I was already in bed, asleep. I'm usually a bit of night-owl on the weekends, so why was I sleeping at only 9:30pm on a Friday night? Because last weekend was a big weekend with a big race; make that 2 big races. I was in Disney World, with two of my best friends, to run the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge (the Enchanted 10k and the Disney Princess Half Marathon). And since Disney races start ridiculously early, I needed to get at least a little bit of sleep. Hence, the early bedtime.

Saturday, February 22 - The Enchanted 10k

Dopey ready to run!
Since we needed to catch the bus to get the corrals and start line at 3:30 on Saturday morning, we decided that we needed to get up at 2:30 so we could get dressed, and ready in plenty of time. All three of us set the alarms on our phones, so it was a little odd that when 2:30 came around, mine was the only one that went off. I woke them up and we all got ready and headed to the bus.

Since we are all at different places in our training and speed, we decided we would each run our own race. I submitted a race time that placed me in Corral B for the 10k (Becca was in D, Jen in E), so when we got to the race area, we headed off to our separate corrals. Granted it wasn't as much fun as all being together, but the corrals are always a party. Dancing, fun costumes, a bunch of other crazy runners up before the crack of dawn... Before I knew it, they released my corral to head to the start line. And then it seemed like forever before we actually got to start. But the fireworks went off, and I was on the course and running.

I usually run with run/walk intervals, but I decided for the race that I didn't want the structure. I just wanted to run and walk when i felt I needed to. I planned to take my time and enjoy the race. I had a plan/goal to finish in under 1:30, but wasn't going to be all concerned about time. If I did it, awesome; if not, that was ok too.

The first 3 miles went by fairly quickly. After the 3 mile point, the course entered Epcot and went through the World Showcase and the different countries. Very cool. I felt very tourist-y looking up and around at all the sites (all while still running). This was also where the Disney character photo-ops started. I hadn't really planned on stopping for pictures, but decided to go for it, especially when i saw Jiminy Cricket. I had the time, it was one of the fun perks of a Disney race, so I was doing it.
With Jiminy Cricket
I stopped for Jiminy, Marie (from Aristocats), Goofy, and Donald Duck. So fun. I'm so glad I decided to not worry about my finish time and get the pictures. (I did pause  my garmin while I was waiting in line so I would have some kind of an indicator of what my time would've been if I hadn't stopped.)

I was spending a lot of time standing in line (a nice welcome rest :-) ), so I kept an eye out for Becca and Jen, thinking they might catch up to me. But I guess the corrals were spaced far enough apart that they couldn't, because I never saw them.

Before I knew it, I was at mile 6 and on the way to the finish line. The fun was coming to an end a lot faster than I wanted it to. I finished happy and with a big smile, just like I wanted to.

There were some spots where the running was pretty rough. It was warm and incredibly humid. I was soaked in sweat (literally dripping)  and could've really used a powerade or some kind of electrolyte drink (could only find water at the aid stations). There was one point near the end where I felt my heart rate getting a little too high, but I slowed my pace way down until it felt more normal and was fine. But all ended up well, and I had an awesome time on an awesome course.

10k Finisher's Medal - love the Bling!
Race Stats:
Disney's Enchanted 10k
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Official Finish Time: 1:38:52 (15:47mpm) (Overall Place: 6775 of 8967; Gender Place: 5923 of 7928; Age Group Place: 1012 of 1333)
Actual time running: 1:24 (13:19mpm)

 Jen finished in 1:36:38; Becca in 1:37:28. They joked that they like running races in Disney because it's probably their only opportunity to finish faster than me. (but if they continue running and training and working hard, that could very easily change)

Race Report for the Princess Half coming soon!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Race Report - Winter Series 10k

Just realized that I haven't written  my race report for the Winter Series 10k. Probably because I didn't run it as a race. It was just another run.

Well, ok, so maybe it wasn't "just another run." No I wasn't running it as a race, but it was a kind of important piece in the puzzle that is my training right now. At the end of February (just 2 weeks!!!!) I'm once again heading to Disney World to run the Princess Half. But I'm not just doing the Half. This year, runDisney has a new race on Princess Weekend and a Challenge to go with it.

The Glass Slipper Challenge consists of 2 races over 2 days - the Enchanted 10k on Saturday (the new race) and the Princess Half on Sunday. 2 races, 3 medals, (1 for each race + 1 for the challenge) and a chance to run through Disney - I'm in! (and my best running buddies - they're in too :-) )

Since I've run a 10k (more than once) and I've run half marathon (also more than once), I didn't think I'd have any trouble with the individual distances. The potential issue in my brain came from the fact that I hadn't run those distances on back to back days. 19.3 miles in 2 days is kind of a lot for me. That's an above average weekly mileage for me these days.

So I declared the first 3 weekends in February as back-to-back run weekends to get myself ready.  It just so happened that the Winter Series 10k took place during the first of those weekends. That Saturday was a beautiful day, so I took the opportunity to get the longer of the 2 runs done then. (I knew that if I waited until Sunday, I wouldn't want to run the extra miles before or after the race, since it was supposed to be rainy and cold).  So I ran my 10 miles on Saturday (first double digit run since November).

My legs were a little tired and sore on Sunday, so I planned to just take it easy at the race and just get the miles done. I told myself to not worry about what everybody else was doing and to just run what I needed to do to get to the finish line. If I was last, then I would just have to be last. I turned on my music and just focused on it and myself as I ran. I had to walk through parts of my run intervals and got too hot and had to take my jacket off and tie it around my waist. In the last mile I was kind of wishing I hadn't done that because the light sprinkle that had been going on throughout the race changed to an all out rain and it got pretty cold and miserable for a bit. (When the race photographer is sitting in his car taking pics, you know it's kind of nasty out.)

But though it was tough, wet, miserable, and I had to walk more than I anticipated, I finished. I didn't really have a goal, other than to finish, but there was a small part of me that wanted to, at the very least, finish faster than I did last year. And while I didn't really consciously try (I didn't pay much attention to my pace or time at all), I did it; not by much, but I did finish faster.

And I survived  my first back-to-back longish mile runs. Other than some tightness in my hips, I was feeling fine; a little tired, but not any more than I normally am after a run. So I count the weekend runs as a success. I now know/think that I won't have any major problems with the Disney races being so close together. If, for whatever reason, I don't get the other planned long weekend runs in (weather this winter has been horrible for outdoor running), I'm pretty sure I'll still be fine when Princess Weekend comes around.  :-)

Race Stats:
Winter Series 10k
Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014
Finish Time: 1:15:06 (nike+ time (forgot to turn off the garmin); 1:15:04 (official)
Pace: 11:56mpm (nike+)
Place: 297 of 327

Winter Series 2013-14 Overall results:
5k: 298 of 401 (32:56)
8k: 313 0f 386 (55:27)
10k: 297 of 327 (1:25:04)
Overall: 213 of 241 (2:43:27)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Race Report - Winter Series 8k

Seems like I always go into this race (always meaning this and the other 2 times I've run it) after either a stretch of no running because of the holidays or a couple of runs that didn't go all that well because of the holidays.  Throw in some weather issues and we could have had a recipe for disaster.

My running schedule for the week called for, because of this race on Sunday (my usual long run day), an 8-miler on Friday.  But Friday was a day of snow & ice, and some pretty cold temperatures.  I wimped out and didn't run.  I did, however, head out on Saturday, with a grand plan to run 3 miles by myself with no walk breaks, and then do 2 more miles with Marc.  My plan fizzled down to me struggling to finish just 2 miles, and I gave up, saving my energy for the race the next day.

Sunday I woke up feeling good (especially since the weather report said the rain wasn't supposed to start until evening and I wasn't going to have to run in the rain.)  I decided that I was going to get my  8 mile run in by running 3 miles either before or after the race.  Knowing myself the way I do, I figured if I waited until after I wouldn't do it. So I drove down early and used the time after I checked in (which I usually spend sitting in the car, glued to the cellphone) to run my 3 miles.  I went slow and easy and felt pretty good and ready for the race.

I lined up near the back of what we were told was the largest ever Winter Series race, set my watch for my regular run/walk interval, and got ready to run.  The gun went off and I was off with the rest of the crowd.  But instead of getting caught up with the flow, I focused on running my own race, keeping my own pace, and getting from the start to the finish in my own time, in my own way.

People passed me; I passed a few; but there was no "I can't let that woman in the pink shoes beat me" or "I have to catch up to the guy in the green hat" or "no way i'm gonna stay behind the girl in the purple".  Slow, but steady, following the beeps of the watch telling me when to run and when to walk, I moved along, from the start to the finish, running and focusing on my race.

I was hoping to finish in about 55 minutes, but wasn't sure if I was going to be able to pull that off.  But, surprisingly, I did.  Slow and steady may not have won the race but it certainly helped me to have a good run; I had a decent race and a strong steady training run all rolled in to one. Very satisfying.

Race Stats:
Winter Series 8k, 1/5/14
Finish time: 55:19 (garmin); 55:27 (official)
Pace: 11:08mpm (garmin);
Place: 313 out of 386 overall; 54 of 69 age group