Saturday, March 27, 2010

Guana River 50K

This morning’s race was one of the most truly fun races I’ve ever done.  It was out on the Guana River trails about 45 min out of town right next to the beach.

For me, there was no normal pre-race anxiety.  It was very low-key with very few runners.  The race (both the 50K and the 25K relays) had been capped at 125 runners.  It didn’t look like there was that many there this morning.  Also, no timing mats and no chips.  Just a big clock at the Start/Finish line.  It was a little cold pre-race ... 56 degrees with a light breeze and clear skies.

The loop through the trails is 8 miles long.  Those of us running the relay would run 2 loops.  Those running the 50K, 4 loops.  Although Monica and I were a relay team, we were allowed to run it together.  That was nice.  Most relay teams did that - ran it concurrently.  Some of the really fast runners ran it as a real relay - consecutively. 
Map of the trails.
The man in charge of the race this morning had the appearance of an old grizzled mountain man.  He explained the trails making up the loop we would take, and where he had placed flags to show which way to go as the trail branched in different directions.  He pointed to painted trails on a wooden map as he said, “Now at this part the trail branches.  If you take the left branch you will go straight into the ocean.  You can see that from where the trail branches.  I didn’t flag it because I figured that as primates this would be an instinctual thing for you NOT to run off into the water.  Stay to the right.”
Getting pre-race directions from RD - Bill.

Dawn was just starting to break as we made our way to the starting line.  The big start?  Mountain man looked at us and said, “OK. Go on!”

And we were off!
Race start
I haven’t run on trails in well over a year.  Immediately, I remembered what I don’t like about FL trails.  They are very soft and sandy and laced with Cypress and Live Oak roots.  I had to remember to run slower and look at the ground just a few inches beyond my feet.  Anytime I would look farther ahead than that, I would trip or turn an ankle.  This seemed to be a common problem among many runners this morning.  We saw several as the day went on covered in dirt from having fallen.
Falling is one of the perils of trail running!
Needless to say, I tripped many many times out there on the first 8 mile loop around.  I never did fall, though!  As we finished up the first loop, people were there to cheer us in.  We stopped there for a restroom break, and to re-fuel.  One of the picnic tables was covered with candies, gels, electrolyte capsules, bread with peanut butter, pretzels, etc.  And, there was plenty of water and gatorade.  After a refreshing, we were back out on the trails for loop 2.

The Sun was fully up now, and visibility was much better.  Because of that, or maybe because I had just gotten used to looking down while running, I had much less tripping and ankle turning on the second time around.  And, the distance was OK.  The breeze stayed with us and the temp stayed down.  It was only 68 degrees when we came in.  

More cheers as we finished our second loop, and a nice race shirt!  Yes, we got the shirt on completion of the race.  I really like that practice!  ALL races should do that.

And, then there was food!  Much food.  BBQ, baked beans, cole slaw, bread, tea, soft drinks, water.  A very large feast. 

All in all, it was a very nice morning run.  I will probably run this one again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

2010 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

On Friday, March 5, Tj and I met up at Panera’s in Jax at 6:45 AM to grab some coffee then head down to Disney.  Our plan was to avoid as much Orlando traffic as possible and get to the Expo when it opened at 10.  We made great time, and arrived at the Expo at about 9:40.

It was sunny in Orlando, but COLD and windy.  And, there was a HUGE line already waiting to get into the Expo.  After getting inside, we went to pick up our race packets and shirts.  There were 5 Corrals (A - E).  This year, I was put into Corral C based on my last year’s time.  That was fine with me.  I hadn’t run much since the Donna, and wasn’t sure if I could match my half PR from December to justify a move into Corral B.  Tj was assigned to Corral B.  Next, we went to shirt pick-up.  The shirts were huge and blue!!!  First of all, Princess shirts NEED to be pink!  Secondly, last year the shirts were all too small; so, we had all ordered up a size this year.  Then Disney went up a size from that.  I didn’t want to go through the shirt exchange hassle since I wasn’t planning to race in the shirt anyway.  So, I kept the gigantic shirt to use later as a top layering piece. 

With the required stuff out of the way, we went shopping at the Expo!  We got some wonderful Rider after-run sandals and a few other things.  At the official Disney store we found a couple of really nice tech shirts (pink, of course) to wear for the race.  And, a Disney Princess half Marathon wineglass to add to my collection. 

Then it was time for me to go to the Orlando airport to pick up my friend, Renee.  Renee is one of my best friends from HS; and, a runner.  Last May, I had talked her into running this half marathon with me.  Renee is fast; but, had never run anything longer than a 10K.  So, she started training and building up mileage over the Summer.  In November, she hired a Personal Trainer to plan out long runs for her.  Even though she doubted her ability to finish the half, Renee was ready.  On her longest training run, she had completed 12 miles in 1:45.

After picking up Renee, we returned to the Expo.  Renee had been assigned to Corral E!!!  That was the Walker’s Corral!  She could not change her corral because she did not have an official race time to submit.  So, she devised a plan to start as close to the front of her corral as possible, and just keep moving forward. 

We left the Expo and checked into our Hotel - the Disney AllStar Movies - Love Bug area.  We got to the room, and noted an immediate problem ... NO COFFEE MAKER!!!  Renee was not having that!  This is a woman who needs her pre-run coffee!  Back to the Front Desk to request coffee before the race.  We had to leave the hotel via shuttle before 4AM on race morning.  That’s when shuttle service to the race would be stopped.  How would we score any pre-race coffee?  The Front Desk was clueless and no help in the coffee situation.

Disney's AllStar Movies Resort - Love Bug Area

Moving on, we met up with Tj and her friend, Rosemary, for dinner at Fulton’s Crab House.  Excellent company, meal and wine!

Tj, Renee, Me, and Rosemary at Fulton's Crab House

We slept in on Saturday.  Then, decided to go back to the Expo for a little while.  The Expo was a zoo!!!  It was incredibly crowded.  I picked up a 13.1 magnet for Renee’s car.  I didn’t tell her about it, of course.  I didn’t want to jinx her!

We arrived at Downtown Disney around 2PM, and did some more shopping for friends and family.  The only thing we needed to accomplish on Saturday was meeting up with several other running Princesses for dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s at 5PM.  We had to eat this early due to the un-Godly hour we would have to get up on Sunday morning for the race.

We arrived at WP a little before 5, and met up with Jenna, Joanne, Brenda, Patti and her husband.  Soon after, Tj and Rosemary arrived.  Libby joined us for a little while once we were inside.  We all had a nice dinner and conversation; then headed off to our hotels for bed.

Me, Jenna, Joanne, Libby, Patti, Brenda, Tj, and Rosemary at Wolfgang Puck's

After a sleepless night, the alarm went off at 2AM.  Insane hour to be getting up!  But, get up we did.  At 2:30, Renee headed over to the Food Court of the hotel to heat up coffee from the night before.  Amazingly, there was fresh coffee available in the Food Court!  YAY!  The only problem now was the temperature.  It was 41 degrees out with a wind chill of 37.  Too cold.

I had a throw-away zip-up hoodie that I put on over my regular running clothes.  Renee devised running pants out of black garbage bags.  Hilarious!

We got on the shuttle bus at 3:20 and headed over to the race.  It was sooooo cold outside.  We had to go through bag check by 5, then on to our corrals.  We HAD to be lined up in corrals by 5:30.  We all stood around freezing together until the start of the race.  FINALLY, the National Anthem was sung.  Corral A started at 6AM with fireworks exploding.  Then, we were all held in place until 6:07 when Corral B was allowed to start.  More fireworks, and Corral C (mine) moved to the Start Line.  At 6:14, we were sent off with fireworks.  Ditto for Corrals D (at 6:21) and E (at 6:28).  Tj was not feeling well that morning and dropped back to run with Rosemary who had been assigned to Corral D.

Fireworks at the START!!!
What a difference 2 weeks makes!!!  Two weeks ago, I had been running the 26.2 with Donna and had felt so bad that I was ready to quit running altogether.  But, this morning, I felt good.  Cold, but good.  Before I even realized it, I was crossing the 5K timing mats.  As I did, I noticed Renee crossing the 5K mats also.  She was flying!!!

At mile 4, I felt warm enough to toss my hoodie.  The sun was just coming up.   The air temp had not really warmed up, and my feet were still cold and numb.  Somewhere between miles 4 and 5, was Captain Jack Sparrow - a Johnny Depp look-alike!  I HAD to stop and get my picture taken with him!  :)

Then, into the Magic Kingdom!  It was great running up Main Street towards Cinderella’s Castle!  After that, we turned right and ran into Tomorrow Land - made a loop through there and headed back into Fantasy Land.  We passed the Carousel, ran into the Castle, and out the front side.  This is one of many places where things got tight and narrow running-wise.

We ran into Adventure Land, then past Splash Mountain, and out of the Park.  After that, it was all highway back to Epcot.  By now, the sun was up and strong.  Fortunately, the air was still cool because there was no shade.  By mile 8, several Princesses were wearing out.  I was still feeling good and happy to be running!

Mile 10.5 brought us to the on ramp of an overpass.  Many people were walking.  A Toy Story soldier was yelling orders to all the walking Princesses to “Keep running, Soldier!  There’s no walking here!!!”.  Too funny.  I ran up the on-ramp towards the Mile 11 Marker at the top of the bridge.  At the top of the bridge, I looked at the road where I had just been.  There were thousands of runners still coming behind me!  What a sight that was!
From there, it was mostly downhill and on into Epcot and DONE!!!

I checked my Garmin at the end, and had a distance of 13.35 miles.  I know I did some lateral running that morning.  I just didn’t realize how much.
I met up with Renee afterwards; and, we waited for Tj and Rosemary to come in.  Renee had totally rocked it with a time of 1:55:59!!!  Me?  I did OK with a time of 2:56:42.  Not a PR; but, it was a course PR for me; and, a good run.  And, a really really good weekend.

Me, Rosemary, Tj, and Renee after the race.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

26.2 with Donna 2010

After another sleepless night, the alarm got me on my feet at 3AM. It was surprisingly cold outside (40 degrees). But, I knew it was supposed to get up into the low 70’s once the sun came up so I dressed accordingly. My head still felt heavy and stuffed with this annoying head-cold. But, I knew I couldn’t take anything for it today. Just have to deal with it.

Jesse got up at 4:15 and drove me to the shuttle pick-up point. I got on the bus at 5AM, and Tj was there. Just like last year, we ended up riding the same bus over to the marathon! Both times, completely unplanned.

We arrived at the Runner’s Village at about 5:30, and checked our bags. We had 2 hours until race time and were freezing!!! I still have no idea why the last shuttle for the runners leaves at 6AM. Anyway, we tried to stay warm as more and more of our friends arrived. We all got together for a few group pictures, then I told Tj and Monica that I planned to run with the 6 hour pacer. They had wanted to run with the 5:30 pacer. They both said fine, and decided to run with the 6 hour pacer as well.

Finally, we were all being herded into our corrals and we found our Pacers, Socks and Bethany. More standing around and waiting. The Donna Marathon theme song was sung. Then, the National Anthem. Then, the cannon at last! And, we were still standing, not moving. We finally got across the Start Line at 4 minutes after the gun. The sun had started to come up by now. I noted a completely cloudless sky.

It was very crowded this year with over 10,000 runners in all events (marathon, half-marathon, and marathon relay). The beginning turn onto the bridge is very tight, and it was tough to keep up with our pacers in the crowd. As we passed the 1 mile mark, we were exactly on pace! Cool.

Then the sun came up in full force. It was still cool temperature-wise, but the sun blaring down made us all warm very quickly. Miles 1 to 2 was the uphill side of the bridge. It was getting tough. By mile 2, I was feeling exhausted! Mile 2? Really. It felt more like mile 20! I had my 1st bad feeling about the marathon at that point. But, since that was a tough uphill, I decided to wait until we had gone a bit farther. Mile 2 to 3 was mostly downhill, and I felt a little better, but still far too worn out for so early in the race. I checked my Garmin; our pace was dead on. That wasn’t the problem.

Miles 3 - 5 brought more of the same jockeying around walkers and trying to get to some open road. We crossed the timing mats at mile 5 on pace then turned onto the beach. The beach was rough. No shade, full sun, and soft sand. My earlier feelings that I was done came back strong. I told Monica and Tj I was turning at mile 6.5 and doing the half. I was, at that point, so tired that I knew I could not make the full 26.2. I wondered whether I could make 13.1. Monica wondered that out loud. Apparently, my face was really really red. She’s used to running with me and seeing me with pink cheeks from heat and exertion. This, she said, was different. The half point came up. Monica hugged me, told me to stop running and get help; and we went our separate ways.

So, I turned off for the half. I had mixed feelings. I knew I just could not run the full today. No way. On the other hand, I was really disappointed in myself for not being tough enough to go on.

The next few miles were long, hot, and rough. I was not enjoying it. At mile 9, four Kenyan elite marathoners passed by. They were amazing. Mile 9.5 brought me back up the on ramp to the bridge. At that point I passed one of the Kenyan elites! What? He was walking.... either injured or ill. That was really the saddest thing to me.

On my way uphill to mile 11, I decided that I was never going to run again. Ever. I was DONE. Then, I had to stop and figure this out. I had had two 20 mile training runs that were fine. I had run 7 half-marathons that were all a blast. But here today I was struggling, really struggling. And, I felt ... bad. Something was wrong. Yes, the full sun was unrelenting. But, something more was wrong. I decided to walk for a while. The bad feeling didn’t stop. So, I resumed running on the downhill side of the bridge. It didn’t feel much worse than walking, so why not? Finally, I passed mile 12, then 12.8, then the turn at the bottom of the bridge towards the Finish line.

After crossing the Finish Line, I didn’t care about anything. I forgot to turn off my Garmin, and someone had to force a medal on me. I walked straight up to a man in a red shirt with “MEDIC” written on it and said, “I need help”.

I was taken quickly to the Med tent and checked out. My BP and HR were scary high. BP was 189/81, HR was 150. Being sick + the hot sun had increased my hydration needs more than I could supply. And, I was overheated. After they rehydrated me and cooled me down, I felt much better and ready to run again! Ha!
If only.

I stayed and watched Monica and Tj come in at ~6:15. They said it had been very tough, and were never running a marathon again! I’ve heard that before. I've SAID that before!

So, it was a rough day for me and not what I had planned. But, I am happy to have finished the half.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon

This morning's half marathon:

Being that I am in training for bigger and better things - specifically the 26.2 with Donna, I was not inclined to blow it out on a half marathon this morning. Many of the peeps from my running group were there and were planning on running together. After a brief discussion with my co-pace group leader, Monica, we decided to go for 13 min/miles. That is a comfortable pace that we both run on our own; although, neither of us had ever done more than 6 miles at that pace. Two other friends, Andi and Alinka, decided to join us.

The start was cold. It was 51 degrees and 96% humidity. I had decided to wear my running gloves, but that was it for cold weather gear. Monica, who is from Wisconsin (and, who was wearing a singlet, BTW), declared me a wimp. The start was also VERY crowded. The 6K race started with us, and ran with us for the 1st mile before we ran our separate ways. So we were stuck behind strollers and walkers and race shirt (long sleeve heavy cotton crew neck shirt) wearers for the first mile. Even so, we managed the 1st mile in 12:53.

It stayed cold and I could not feel my feet. I was finding it tough to run and my legs felt heavy. I just wanted to warm up, already. We saw other people we knew, chatted a bit, then went on. Miles 2 and 3 - 13:11 and 12:59.

Between miles 3 and 4, Alinka was having trouble with her left shoe and stopped to re-tie. While we stopped, I got rid of the gloves. 13:26

By this point, we were playing leap-frog with some guy who looked like he was missing his skate-board. He would get in front of us, then we would pass him, repeat, repeat, repeat. And, the times he would fall behind us, we could hear him loudly hacking up a loogie. Gross! Later, between miles 11 and 12, we would pass him and not see him again. Mile 5 - 13:15.

At mile 5.5, we all took a port-a-potty stop. 2 potties. 4 runners. 2.5 minutes. Uuugghh. Mile 6 - 15:48.

Feeling much better, we all picked up the pace a little. Miles 7 and 8 - 13:04 and 12:27.

The sun was fully up by now, clear blue sky, light breeze. The course got sunny ... and warm.
Mile 9 - 13:19.

Between miles 9 and 10, my right quads started cramping, and I was feeling fatigued. I was still a bit under the weather from an upper respiratory infection. If I had been running on my own, I might have said "screw it", and slowed way down. But, with everyone else around, I kept going forward. Mile 10 - 13:06.

At this point, all of us noticed that the race mile markers and our Garmins were no longer in sync. It seemed that the race markers were about 1/10 of a mile off - against us. The course turned onto streets with rolling hills in direct sunlight. Great. Mile 11 - 12:59.

Alinka's hip started hurting, and she dropped back, telling us all to go on. Andi requested to slow down a little. Miles 12 and 13 - 13:09 and 13:01.

What was left was 0.25 miles. It should have been 0.1, but it was off. Annoying. Monica and I went for it. Finishing the last 0.25 in 2:22 (9:28 pace).

Final time - 2:55:21 for a pace of 13:14 (for 13.25 miles) or 13:22 (for 13.1 miles).

Even with the potty stop, it was a PR by 2:30 for me!!! Just imagine if we hadn't stopped. HA!

Anyway, the whole run was a blast; and here is the best thing of all:

This race is the first race (of ANY distance) that I did not slow down at the end. In fact, I sped up!!! I am really pleased with that!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Training so far ...

This past Saturday was our longest run this season - 9 miles.

It was a hot and humid morning. Our group had 37 runners, and the run was fine. In fact, all of the runs have been fine.

So far during training, we have run across an extremely busy highway in the dark, and all survived. We have seen humidity so high that the trees were dripping. We have seen dolphin playing in the river as we crossed a bridge above them. And, we have ended up in the middle of a 5K race as our training route collided with a race course. We met them head-on with each group accusing the other of running the wrong way.

And, we have shared stories of our past runs and future goals.

So far ... the running has been good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And, so it begins again ...

A new year of Marathon training has begun.

I look at this photo from the morning of February 15, 2009 and remember.

It was early.

It was dark.

It was raining.

It was cold.

And, I was injured. I had been having IT Band trouble and had a lateral meniscus tear on my left knee. I had stopped running 4 weeks prior to the marathon in an effort to heal. I had worn a lidocaine patch on my knee the night before the marathon, and was wearing a brace that morning.

I had every reason in the World not to get on that bus that morning. But, I did it anyway.

Remembering that bus ride gives me chills. I had no idea how far I would be able to go before my knee gave out completely. I knew that if I crossed the Start line, I had to cross the Finish line. Under my own power. I would NOT take a ride in.

It turns out that 15 miles was my limit of pain tolerance. After that, it was excruciating. But, I finished on my own. I watched others go past me as they took a ride in over the bridge. They jumped out of the golf cart, ran in the last few feet, finishing before me. They received a time and a medal. But, they know they didn't run a marathon.

I did.

And, this year I am starting training again as a Pace Group leader. And, this year I am taking the time to enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Running/Injury/Recovery/Running again

Repeat repeat repeat ...

I am hoping to break this cycle somehow. The most recent injury I am recovering from is not really a running injury, per se. OK, I got injured while running but not FROM running. Simply, I fell down while attempting to outrun a sudden thunderstorm.

This resulted in a fractured wrist, a busted knee, and some minor abrasions. Which all resulted in 2 more weeks of not running or cross-training. *Insert big dramatic sigh*

But, I am back running again. Slower (if that is possible) and more carefully than before. I need to have all of these injuries become a thing of the past. I just don't have the patience for it anymore.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

This past weekend I was in DC for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler.

This is the first 10 mile race I have ever run. And, I was going to race this one coming off of an injury. In the days leading up to the race, I was very nervous. It has a strict cutoff time and I really considering backing out and running the 5K instead.

The Metro on the way to the Expo on Saturday, April 4, was unbelievably crowded. I was concerned with getting to the race start on Sunday.

I arrived at the race site very early and before dawn. it was 48 degrees and I was freezing! I only had on a short sleeve top and a race skirt. As I waited, I became increasingly colder. When we finally lined up in our designated corrals, I was shaking from cold. Then, I started to wonder just how much energy I had already expended through shivering. That concerned me greatly; so, I ate a Swedish fish to replenish.

FINALLY, the race started just as the sun came up. I was so nervous about not being able to finish that I ran the 1st mile a minute and a half faster than I had intended to. I reasoned that I had just bought some extra time if I needed it, and made myself slow down a little.

The crowd was huge, and the course was tight. Fortunately, there were no strollers in this race; and, I did not come across any walkers until mile 3. Every time the course looped back on itself I saw thousands of runners both ahead of and behind me. As I passed the mile 5 timing mats and checkpoint, I noted that my time was fine for finishing under the limit.

I had one moment of panic when I came up to the mile 7 marker. My time had really slowed down! A quick check of my Garmin showed that the mile 7 marker was really at mile 7.2. I was afraid mile 8 might land at mile 8.2, so I sped up a little. But, mile 8 was where it should be. As I passed that, I realized I was going to finish with time to spare, and I calmed down and slowed down a little.

Crossing that finish line was great!!! I really believed that I would not do it. But, I did. And, I even ran the entire race at a pace of 1:10 min/mile faster than I ran a 15K this time last year.

AND, I had no pain at all the entire race.

My friend Ken ran this, too. He was up in the first (fast) corral and had an excellent time.

This race was a good one all around.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Running Again!!!

Finally! After sitting it out for soooo long due to injury, I am back running again.

Last night I ran 3 miles without pain. My intention was to run them easy, but, it ended up being pretty much at my race pace. It felt so good to be out there again!

I did notice that fatigue came on quicker than it used to. I do need to build up my endurance again. And, I am happy to do just that.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Disney's Princess 1/2 Marathon Weekend

This weekend at Disney was the most fun ever! It was the inaugural Princess 1/2 marathon weekend. Proceeds from the race itself benefited the "Make a Wish" Foundation.

This was also a "first" event for me in many ways. I was traveling to this race alone. My family would not be going with me. Also, I was supposed to walk, not run the race as I am still recovering from an injury I had BEFORE the marathon 3 weeks ago. There were other firsts, too that happened along the way.

The Fit for a Princess Expo began on Friday, March 6. This was for packet pick-up and shopping as there were vendors from all over. It was a blast! I ended up buying a tiara to run in and a few new shirts. I also picked up my Snow White running skirt which I had pre-ordered from Wearing brand new clothes at a race is something I never do; but, for this race, I did. Both the tech top and the skirt were new.

Walkway to the Fit for a Princess Expo

I was staying on Disney property at the Caribbean Beach Resort. This resort had bus service to the Expo and to the race on Sunday. I wanted things as low stress as possible. I did not want to fight traffic into Epcot on race day. On the bus rides to the Expo, and at the Expo itself, I met many women from all over. We discussed running - mostly talking about group running and how much we enjoyed it. And, about how nervous we had been when we first joined a running club. This feeling seemed to be universal. Some women with very fast times didn't feel they were "good enough" to join a running club! It was comforting to discover that we all, as women runners, had many of the same concerns.

The Caribbean Beach Resort

The 1/2 Marathon - Sunday Morning

Time change this morning! Uggh. That meant getting up early, REALLY early. The buses to the race were running from 4 - 5 AM. I set every alarm I could to get up at 2AM (which was really 1AM by my body). So after a restless night, I was up, dressed, and on the 1st bus at 4AM.

My friend, TJ and I had signed up for the "Race Retreat" package which promised us a temperature controlled tent to wait in, a breakfast buffet, private bathrooms, and a changing area. The Race Retreat lived up to its promises and more! We were greeted by Snow White and Prince Charming, and had photos taken with them. Then Goofy showed up dressed as a royal jester, of course.

TJ and I before the run in the Race Retreat

The buffet was nice, and since it was soooo early, I opted for a cup of coffee. I never drink coffee before a race - another first.

At 4:30AM, Prince Charles (no, not THE prince Charles) started a stretching/light aerobic session. TJ and I skipped it, and had a bagel instead.

Inside the Race Retreat - before the run

At 6AM, Prince Charles told us we all had to leave the Race Retreat and head to the start line. Another big first for me, I did not bring my iPod. I have always worn it while running. But, lately I have not even been turning it on.

We made our way over to the Start line and to our assigned corrals. It was cold out at 55 degrees with 87% humidity. But, I know Orlando, and I knew that once the sun got up, it would warm up very quickly. A few women from Northern states were saying how glad they were they were wearing their running tights. I was thinking they would not be so happy about that in about an hour.

The race started and we slowly moved towards the Start Line. There were 8000 women running the half marathon this morning. I was in the middle corral, and it took me a full 5 min after the start to reach the timing mats. I had already decided to run for as long as I could. I am a slow runner; but, I am a really slow walker and I was afraid I would not make the 16 min/mile minimum speed if I walked the whole thing.

So, the running today was good. Really good. Disney had many diversions planned to entertain us all along the way. There were quiz questions on the route, and many characters to be photographed with. We ran from Epcot into the Magic Kingdom and through Cinderella's Castle. It was soooo much fun!!!

Once the sun came up, the temperature soared up into the 80s. I stayed well hydrated. I was on pace between 13:30 -13:45 for the first 9 miles, and was looking at a finish in under 3 hours. I was not in any pain, and could have kept going ... if it weren't for being so well hydrated and having to make a Port-a-potty stop. There were huge lines at all the potties, so it took awhile.

After that, when I started running again I had a cramp in my right quad (the inner most one). This was really strange. I have NEVER had quad trouble even when I take the downside of bridges too fast. I slowed down to walk it out; but, my quad was not having it. So I had to fully stop and stretch and massage it. It loosened up a bit, and I could walk on it. So mile 9-10 was around 20 min (yikes!). I did some run/walking for the next mile.

Mile 11 started up a hill - an interstate overpass, actually. I came up on a young woman (early 20s) who was crying and talking to herself saying, "Come on. You have to keep going". I stopped and walked next to her and asked if she was OK. All she could say was, "the hill .. I can't". So I told her she could, and I would walk it with her. So I stayed with her up the hill and down the other side until mile 12. By then, I didn't care about time anymore. I knew I would finish, so no big deal.

At mile 12, the course flattened out again, and we were back in Epcot! Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line. As soon as I did, I was ushered to a recovery area where a Disney medical person removed my knee brace, and wrapped an ice pack around my knee. That was very nice.

After I exited the area and received my medal, I went back to the Race Retreat for an after race brunch. There was plenty to eat and drink, and a nice place to rest for a bit.

What about all the "firsts" on a race day? For the most part, they worked out fine. No iPod was great. I was able to hear and talk to many runners on the way. I think my iPod running days are over.

New clothes on race day? Running in a tiara was no problem. It will be a standard for me for all races from now on. The shirt was also fine. The skirt was a little loose, and slipped down as I ran. So, no, I won't wear new clothing for a race again. Being at a race without my family? I missed them. I hope they will come next year.

MY thoughts on the run, itself --- I am not a fast runner. I probably never will be. Sure, I'd like to improve my time. Possibly I could have done that today.

But, I realized something else today. For me, it's really not about the finish line. It's about the road there. And, this weekend the road was excellent!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Consulting the I Ching

Yes, I did. I have become so torn over the half marathon this weekend.

I am not recovered from the marathon 3 weeks ago.

I have been advised to skip this half marathon, or walk it.

So, I consulted the I Ching. The answer, I must say, surprised me.

The Question:
Should I run the half marathon this weekend?

The Answer:

Hexagram: 46 - ShĂȘng
Upward Mobility
Beneath the Soil, the Seedling pushes upward toward the light:
To preserve his integrity, the Superior Person contents himself with
small gains that eventually lead to great accomplishment.
Supreme Success.
Have no doubts.
Seek guidance from someone you respect.
A constant move toward greater clarity will bring reward.

You are progressing, rising inch-by-inch toward certain success.
What makes this assured is your refusal to tilt headlong toward your goal, slamming into obstacles and going mad with frustration.
You have a clear map before you of the steps necessary to reach your objective.
With faithful patience and a careful conservation of personal energy and resources, you will run this long, slow distance.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why I felt Great Here

Jason is doing a contest on his blog site My Angle. The instructions are to find a picture of yourself where you felt amazing and then explain why. I believe this is an excellent idea; and really doesn't need to be a contest! But, here is my submission.

This is a photo of my family taken on Thanksgiving Day 2007.

This photo is important because at this time, we were all together and had finally made big strides towards healing and feeling like a complete family once again.

To explain, in August of 2001, my oldest son died. The unexpected tragedy and trauma scarred all of us in the family.

For me, I lost myself in work and gained weight for the first time in my life. My husband and I felt guilt over the uncontrollable and were at odds for some time. Our daughter, who was 2 years younger than her brother, lost herself in schoolwork, overachieving and losing weight.

Our middle son was 8 at the time and had idolized his older brother. He began to experience severe panic attacks whenever any of us were out of his sight. Our youngest was a only 4 at the time, and had the least immediate reaction.

It took us years to take our lives back one step at a time. I finally decided to make big strides in that regard in June of 2006. I left a job that was killing me and returned to my old lower-paying job, which I loved. I joined WW and lost 40 pounds. And, I began a running program. In this photo, I am about 2 weeks away from running my first 5K.

My daughter was home from college for a break and had learned to ease up on herself a bit. Our now oldest son, had worked very hard to overcome separation anxiety, and had made it to a point of not needing medication anymore. Our youngest son was a normal kid again. My husband and I had forgiven ourselves for things we could not begin to foresee or control, and were more solid than ever in our marriage.

This photo is so important to me because it shows an entire family that worked hard to become a family again.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Marathon

One phrase I never want to hear again as long as I live is this – “Keep going!!! You’re almost there!!!” I’ll admit I am challenged in many ways, but not when it comes to math. I know, for example, that when I pass the 16-mile mark, I have 10.2 miles left to go. And, that is in no way “almost there”.

But, to the marathon….

I was up at 3AM after not sleeping well at all. This turned out to give me plenty of time to eat a light breakfast, get ready, and get out of the house by 4:45. I was able to drive to the designated shuttle stop and catch a 5AM shuttle over to the starting area of the marathon.

The Runner’s Village was very nice. There were plenty of Port-a-potties and even port-a-sinks! There were tents with fruit, bagels, and water as well. And many bag check areas and First Aid areas. I could have just stayed there all day!

Anyway, at 6:45 they lined us up by color group and escorted us out to line up at the start. Jesse (who had decided yesterday to run the marathon) and I went back to the last group. The 6 and 7 hour pacers were there, along with many of my friends.

Weather this morning was overcast with misting rain. 62 degrees and 96% humidity. Waiting for the start

After a nice vocal rendition of our National Anthem, the cannon shot, and we were off. Well, sort of. It actually took us 4 min to get up to the Start Line. Even before we got that far, Pam already had led the Moonrunners out in front of the 6 hour pacers! She was up with the 5:30 pacer. I mentioned to her that the 6 hour pacer was far behind us. She said, “Oh, they’ll catch up”.

I turned to Jesse and said, “I can see where this is going; slow down.” Jayne was also there with us. TJ decided to stay with Pam. The 1st three miles were up and over the Intercostal bridge. This is a non-pedestrian bridge. So, I had never attempted to run it before. It is not a drawbridge, so it is quite high and steep. And, long. I ran these three miles at my ½ marathon pace of 13:30. By mile 3, I was tired. 4 weeks of not running had left me with a big loss of stamina. This was my first moment of the day wondering if I would be able to make the whole distance.

By mile 4, the rain stopped and the wind picked up. I could start to see blue sky through the breaks in the clouds. Ordinarily, I welcome any and all sunshine. Today, not so much.

At mile 5, we turned onto the beach and headed North for the next 3 miles. By then the wind had really picked up and was coming directly out of the North. So, we were running into the wind. It was a strong wind that was ferociously attacking us with sand. This felt like needles hitting us on all exposed skin. At mile 6, the half-marathoners turned off the Beach and headed back. Jayne had fallen behind us and decided to just do the half. Many others did the same. For those of us who pressed on, those three beach miles were tough.

At mile 8, we were back up on dry land, thankfully, and made the 1st port-a-potty stop of the day. I had at this point stopped caring about time. My only goal was to finish. By now all clouds were gone, and we were running in brilliant sunlight. And, it was getting warm.

At mile 11, the outside of my left knee began to hurt. ITB? Meniscus tear? Who knows? It was hurting. The knee brace helped some, as did slowing down even more. By the time I crossed the half-marathon timing pads, I was really wishing I had opted to run the half. My knee was yelling at me by this time.

At mile 15, my knee gave out. Really. It locked up as I ran, and almost took me down. But, I was not going to give up. I tightened the brace to numb my whole knee, and did a combination of running/walking/limping for the next 11.2 miles.

I had a meltdown from miles 18 to 21 where I wanted to quit with every fiber of my being. Also, by mile 21, my hands had swollen twice their normal size and my lower back was really hurting. I was afraid of possible kidney failure, so made another Port-a-potty stop. Everything was OK, but it took a while. More time lost.

At mile 22, I was heading for the bridge. Jesse had fallen back a bit; but, I had to keep going. They were already picking up people who were behind us and driving them over the bridge. I refused to become one of those people.

I started up the bridge and was on it for the next three miles. It was rough. I ran it anyway, and passed everyone who was still on the bridge at that time.

FINALLY, I rounded the corner and made it in. A little over 7 hours. And, honestly, considering injury, time off running, and illness, I am perfectly fine with that time.

Now, I have a cool medal and bragging rights. And, a really bad sunburn. Oh, and everything hurts. Overall, I am happy I did it. The jury’s out on whether I will ever do it again.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Proust Questionnaire

This is a version of a famous questionnaire once asked of Marcel Proust, and is posted on La Moretta's blog.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I can't answer this. Many things make me happy.

2. What is your greatest fear?

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Grudge holding.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

5. Which living person do you most admire?
Donna Deegan (the 26.2 with Donna, Donna)

6. What is your greatest extravagance?
New running shoes, tech shirts, running skirts, Garmin...

I'll just call it "Running Paraphernalia".

7. What is your current state of mind?
OK ... just OK.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I don't think any of the Virtues (and there are many lists of Virtues) are overrated. Most are underrated.

9. On what occasion do you lie?
In bed? Like lying down? Seriously, I make every attempt not to. I do not want to have to keep track of everything I've said.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I don't know.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

That's a tough one. I don't think I really despise anyone. I do, however, dislike the actions of a few people I know.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

16. When and where were you happiest?
I can't say. Not that I won't; I can't. There have been many happy occasions in my life.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?
To play the violin.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Run faster.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Getting through another day. Just kidding. I really don't know.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A sea creature.

21. Where would you most like to live?
At the beach ... so close to the Ocean to be misted with sea spray.

22. What is your most treasured possession?
My wedding ring. It's just a very simple gold band, but it means so much.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

24. What is your favorite occupation?
Does this mean "pastime"? If so, I have many: reading, running, playing with my children, laughing with my friends, etc.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?
Sarcasm laced with humor.

26. What do you most value in your friends?

27. Who are your favorite writers?
Sylvia Plath, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, Pat Conroy, Louisa May Alcott, L. Frank Baum, Philip K Dick, etc.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?
How about Science Fiction? Then it would be Spock.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
This is something I have never thought about.

30. Who are your heroes in real life?
There are many. They give without thought of reciprocity.
I am continually humbled by them.

31. What are your favorite names?
Julia and Michael

32. What is it that you most dislike?
Cheating and lying.

33. What is your greatest regret?
That I said, "OK" to one trip to Atlanta.

34. How would you like to die?
In my sleep.

35. What is your motto?
I'm glad I got out before the roof fell in!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Almost there ...

Finally, in spite of myself, I am starting to look forward to the marathon this Sunday.

Everything has been lining up against my looking forward to it:
Injury (ITB, lateral meniscus tear, Achilles tendon strain)
Illness (community acquired pneumonia)
Weather (warm with rain all day)

But, today is the first day of the Expo. That is exciting in itself.

As to the rest? I have a brace for my knee and antibiotics for the pneumonia.
The weather? I can't do anything about that. At least the rain will keep it cooler on the run.

And, I have friends who will be running as well. That will help keep me sane.