Disney, Etiquette and Being Respectful…

royalmickeyThis past weekend, I participated in the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World. For those who have not become completely indoctrinated by runDisney (One of Us! One of Us!), the Glass Slipper Challenge is a 10k on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday as part of Princess Weekend. Only a small subset of Princesses participate in both races, but for those of us who do- we get an extra, pretty medal!

Today’s entry though isn’t about the race itself. It’s about racing etiquette- specifically at Disney races, though some points may apply to any race.

Every year, there are numerous posts about running etiquette. These are geared for those who either walk, run slower or participate in the Galloway method (run-walk-run). For those who think the Galloway method is only for beginner runners, you can run-walk-run your way to a sub 9 and sub 8 minute mile. I am sure even faster can be managed, but not by me.

If you have managed to never read these etiquette posts, they typically contain the following information: walk to the far left, Walk to the far right, walk as far away from the race tangent as possible, don’t walk more than two abreast, signal before walking and other pieces of advice.

While I agree that you shouldn’t walk in large groups of people on narrow areas, I know not all those walking side by side know each other. I have often run next to someone without knowing their name or favorite color, though I often know how well they can blow a snot rocket. I also believe that you should look behind you before you transition, but that is because being run over HURTS!

This post isn’t about etiquette for these runners though. Disney races are magical. They afford the opportunity to run through the parks, backstage areas and if you are a marathoner: the oh so fragrant water treatment area. The race is lined with opportunities for character interaction. The course is relatively flat so it is possible to run it fast. This past weekend, Kim Smith ran the Princess Half in 1 hour and 11 minutes. And while a much less impressive time, my PR for the marathon is currently at WDW. tiggerbounceIt is also possible to spend an hour or more taking pictures and playing with characters. Disney does have a course limit so it is typically the faster runners that get to play with the characters.

The problem with turning the race into a giant character meet and greet is that the runners in corrals C, D, E, F and G corrals will suddenly find themselves behind the runners in M, N, O and P corrals. This especially happens around Magic Kingdom. Most of the longest waits are en route to the Kingdom (Heroes, Villains) or near the castle (Royal Mickey). Immediately after the Prince and Princess of the 15 minute, the course narrows severely for over a mile. I heard some grumbling and frustrated grunting as faster runners found themselves unable to make up ground. After the race, I heard horror tales of runners telling their new companions that they shouldn’t be running, to move over, runner coming through, etc. Many new runners choose Disney Princess as their first race experience. I cannot imagine spending all the time to train, travelling to Disney and having some mean princess tell me that I didn’t belong there and push me aside. Running is a beautiful sport. I would hate to think someone came to Disney full of running dreams and left the sport with a broken heart.

We all paid the registration fees because….it is DISNEY, the most magical place on earth. Every runner I passed (or passed me) deserved to be there. They trained, they traveled, they had visions of their perfect race day. If you don’t want to run near slower runners, there is a simple solution: DON’T TAKE PICTURES!!!no-camera-allowed

But I want to take pictures… It’s part of my race experience. I am doing this for fun… That’s why the characters are there… I only stopped for Cruella or Hercules or Mickey or….

If you choose to detour from your 9 minute pace and end up with folks running a 15 minute pace…. That is YOUR fault. If this means you have to spend 30 seconds or even 2 miles at a slower pace then do it- with a fabulous smile on your face. Remember, you chose to “drop” out of the race and have no right to ruin someone else’s race with your selfishness. Someone’s 14 minute pace may seem slow to you (it was once my pace), but your 12, 10 or 8 minute pace is slow to others. Remember, Kim Smith, whose feet don’t ever seem to touch the ground in the course photos, ran the race in 1:11. Of course, she didn’t get to banter with the villains or play with Woody. 12783424123_64eea184ab_z

Everyone is entitled to enjoy the race and if you fall out of your corral placement due to choices, then accept and respect those now beside you. Then accept you will end up running, walking, spending time with slower runners. There will be breaks in the course that will provide you opportunities to move faster, but you may soon hit another wall of a folks still running slower than you were when the photo safari started. Learn to accept it. Every runner you pass is right where they should be. You are the one out of place.

And while you’re there, put the poisoned apple aside, smile and have fun. Some of your new running partners are amazing people with tremendous stories. Chat with the first time racers, ask questions and have a great time. It IS Disney after all. Magic truly is every where, all you have to do is believe.




Down with the Sickness

As someone who rarely gets sick, it always amazes me when I do. I felt off after eating lunch yesterday but truly believed it was due having a late breakfast. I figured I had simply overdone it. I felt a little warm and a coworker mentioned I didn’t look great. Still, I have the immune system of a super being so nothing to worry about- really…

On my drive to pick up my son, I felt so warm that I rolled the windows down to let in fresh air. The 2992721179_61d5024c30_z“fresh” air right now is a balmy 25 degrees. It didn’t even dawn on me that this could be a sign… I kept driving. In the parking lot of his school, I suddenly realized I needed to pull over, open the door and repeatedly vomit all over their nice, clean road. I don’t throw up often so it really was a surprise when I suddenly needed to stop-the-car this second.

Still, just something I ate… Drank some water, picked up my son and we headed to our respective piano lessons. I got to play When the Saints Go Marching In and decline on performing at the school’s recital. No one needs to see a 40 year old club her way through simple songs. The feeling of warmth came back over me and I ran out of the room and thankfully was able to push my way into the bathroom. It would not have been pretty if it had been in use. From first bout of “I feel off” to full stomach clenching was less than a minute. Folks who get sick often- how do you do this?!?!?

Still, am good… Went home and had some dinner. Eating food after two gut wrenching bouts of cooking tossing is the best plan of action, right? Nope. Bananas and oatmeal come up very quickly… Even water was upsetting my completely empty (or so I thought for another hour) stomach.My husband told me to cancel my run even though I said I would be fine.

jeffshirtHe is the best man ever. In addition to catering to me last night (ice chips, wet wash clothes, water) he let me watch bad television and then slept on the floor so he didn’t disturb me but could hear me if I needed anything. What sort of person is so selfless that they do that sort of thing?

There was another visit to the trash can after I dared sip a teaspoon of water… And then a very fitful night. Needless to say, it has been a less than stellar twenty four hours…

And I blame this and the wretched head cold from last week on running.. or the lack of running.

In the past fourteen months of nearly continuous running, I have built up an amazing immune system. Though I am certain there have been days where I have felt under the weather, I have been amazingly healthy. When my family gets sick, I typically do not worry about avoiding them. The same with co-workers or random folks. I don’t intentionally seek out sick people or lick bathroom doorknobs, but I also am not overly concerned about showering in hand sanitizer every time I see a person.

The immunity running appears to give me only seems to work if I am actually running. On January 1, I injured my calf. At first, I didn’t think much of it. Though I scaled back slightly after my injury, I managed to put in 77 miles between the 1st and 12th and also some time on the miserable elliptical. After the 12th, it became clear my calf was more injured than thought so my mileage decreased again… From the 13th to the 26th, I only managed 25 miles and some more time on the elliptical.

During this time, I also caught an enormous head cold that had me whimpering like a baby and then last night I either caught a stomach bug or food poisoning. Since my stomach is still angry twenty four hours later (it is keeping food down but under great protest and only in the smallest of quantities), I am leaning towards a stomach. I don’t get stomach bugs!

Tomorrow, I hope to hit a spin class or return to the elliptical. These aren’t the same as running. I burn more, push my body further and am more acclimated to running; however, the two recent bouts of normal people sickness has made me want to push myself all that much more. I miss my super immunity and while the literature isn’t conclusive, it does tend to support my current belief that running is good for your health.



How to keep a skirt from riding up…

Quick and Dirty Answer:

    1. Put on Running Skirt with Shorts
    2. Lift up Skirt and rub Mission Anti-Chafe, Body Glide or similar stick around where the short stops. Sparkle Skirts actually has an inch edge along the bottom to make it easy. Apply extra along the inner thigh portion.
    3. Pull the shorts all the way up- (Yes- pretend you are Jessica Simpson in Dukes of Hazzard) and then run the stick along the short seam from the edge of where the short was to the top of your thigh.

In my experience, this not only kept the shirt from riding up but if it had ridden up, I wouldn’t chafe anyway!


Long Winded Explanation…

castle1I love running in skirts, far more than skirts love my legs. In recent years, the threads for capris and running tights have become more and more threadbare. While I know the former CEO of Lululemon would like to blame the see-through fabric on my touching thighs… I have seen the pattern on the skinny women’s behinds who are running in front of me- so much so that whenever I buy new running pants, I stick my ass out in front of the dressing room mirror to see how see through it is. Lululemon and Nike have both failed in recent years….

So I started trying out different skirts. The differential between waist, hips and thighs (each one is disproportionately larger than the last one) removes many skirts as an option. On top of having large thighs, I have long legs… Basically, my worst feature is also my biggest. Of course these legs also managed to power me through 1200 miles last year so I can’t complain too much. It is simply is what it is.

Of all the skirts I’ve tried, Sparkle Skirts fit the best. They fit well in my waist and the 747955-1026-0024sfabric stretches over my hips and thighs. By their size chart, I am between a small and a medium. By my thigh chart, I am between a medium and a large. I buy the medium to fit my waist.

In the past, I have experienced the skirt riding up and chaffing me on longer runs that had any sort of an incline. It’s always my left thigh too. During the Minnie 10k, it rode up slightly and I started to panic that I didn’t bring enough non-sparkle skirts to handle the half and the full marathon.

For the half, I decided to try new. I used Mission Anti-Chaffe stick (Body Glide also works) on the part of my leg that is normally covered by the 1 inch edge of the short. I made sure there was a little bit of stick residue on either side of the edge. I then pull my shorts up to my inner thigh and basically rubbed the stick from where the skirt edge would hit to the top of my thigh. I did this along my inner thigh. It only took a minute or two and I didn’t use a ton of product but it definitely made a difference. I ran the Goofy Challenge (Half on Saturday followed by a Full on Sunday) without any slippage or chafing. I did the same thing the following week for Tinkerbell (10k followed by a half).

Even when I was swollen from dehydration the shorts didn’t slip, a first for me. It’s definitely something I will continue to do so I can have my pretty, girly skirt and wear it too!


Game Theory Test

scaleWithin every person, there are at least two people crammed into a single body. The first person- your current self- lives in the moment, can be weak on will power and often believes that the “tomorrow” self will make up for all their mistakes.

Tonight, I will watch Blacklist instead of strength training. Tomorrow self will exercise for me.

Tonight, I  will eat an extra cookie because tomorrow self will go without.

Tonight, I will stay up until 3am reading this awesome book. Tomorrow self won’t mind having to run 10 miles and have a grueling presentation on two hours of sleep.

Basically, the person I am today is self-centered and greedy and she falsely believes a miracle will happen by tomorrow. In reality, the self-centered, greedy individual I am today becomes tomorrow’s person and goals never get met. Today’s person is so concerned about immediate happiness that she forgets about yesterday’s promises.

Though my today self understands that she needs to run, she still struggles with cross training and with diet. And much of the “must run today” mentality stems from the fact that I like to run 5-6 days per week. If I took my schedule down to three days of running, as many of my friends successfully do, my lazy today person would know she could put it off….

The first year I ran, I wrote everything down and managed to lose a significant amount of weight. While not fat,  I could stand to lose between 20-30 pounds to run more efficiently. Unfortunately, I am one of the runners who doesn’t lose weight even with increasing mileage. I also am not someone who successfully diets. I have friends who have successfully dieted and lost weight. For them, the challenge is keeping it off. If I lose weight, it usually stays off. My problem is I can diet until it is A) inconvenient or B) I get hungry… basically for about 6 hours.

Now this doesn’t mean running has had no impact. My body has definitely changed over the past couple of years. My waist is smaller. During the summer, people often ask what I did to sculpt my arms and shoulders. I have shrunk from a medium to a small in most shirts. And while I know there is more strength and definition in my legs, my pant size has not changed. Evidently, running doesn’t actually cause your legs to shrink in size. It’s really not fair since this is my problem area. And with the my waist shrinking, it exasperates the issue of buying pants that fit both waist and thighs.

I have started working with a nutritionist to ensure I am fueling properly and I also joined the Pacebook Runner’s Club Biggest Loser Challenge. The contest starts Friday and goes through April 22, 2014. I do not expect to win the challenge, but I do expect to lose 18 pounds in the process.

The challenge with weight loss is getting your “today” self invested in your “tomorrow” self. Some challenges using Game Theory Principles have been successful. For instance, ABC Primetime did a special several years ago where people were photographed in bathing suits. They had a certain amount of time to lose 15 pounds OR the bikini shot would be aired on national television. A similar competition involved pictures and a jumbotron at a baseball stadium. These were more successful than programs where people pay money or get rewards. And rewards won’t work for me… The thought of gaining or losing 20 dollars is not enough to deter me from the extra cookie (notice, I am not depriving myself of the first cookie….).

So, this weekend… I am going to take a picture of me in my bathing suit. If I can’t manage to lose 18 lbs by April 22nd, then I will post it here… I am fortunate enough to be doing the initial weigh in after a mini vacation trip which will hopefully give me a little wiggle room….I don’t like pictures of myself fully clothed. I certainly don’t want one in any state of undress.

So this will be an interesting and potentially profanity laden few months. Wish me luck, my future self is going to need it.

Tinkerbell 10k

finish10kI never had the intention of running back to back Disney races on each coast, but it’s simply how it worked out… Last year at the Dumbo Double Dare challenge, my mom commented that she really liked the 10k medal. I offered to pace her for her first 10k. We considered the Wonderland 10k, but with my son now in school and with California being hot, humid and all together gross the past two labor days, I decided to secure spots through GET Travel. It was easier and less expensive than anticipated and I would recommend it if ever in a pinch again. The best bet though is to register the moment the race opens….

I recommend submitting your e-mail address at www.rundisney.com and also joining their Facebook page. Races often sell out within days and sometimes even hours!

Even though I had just run Goofy and the Minnie 10k, I couldn’t mentally come out here to just do the 10k so I registered for the 10k and the half. The lure of the pink medal that I thought was a dumb marketing stunt was suddenly quite appealing!

Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t able to run the 10k. She is wise enough to know her limits and not do something to jeopardize her health. Instead of pacing my mom- which I will still do one day- I paced my friend Kate for her first 10k! This was the first time I paced someone for their first race and I should have taken better care of her, but since she didn’t drop dead and doesn’t know any better (until she reads this) it’s all good. We simply didn’t talk enough before race about our plans.

startline10kKate gave selfie lessons to people at the bus stop and in the corral. Kate is the queen of selfies, even with a standard camera that doesn’t let you see yourself.

She was extremely calm before the race, though I now know she was nervous because she had never done more than a 5k. We were in the last corral and I know there is additional pressure to be swept, especially if you’re not comfortable with the distance. The last corral had no speakers and we have no idea what they said most of the time.


We didn’t talk too much about pace before the race. I told her I would go whatever speed she wanted. She hadn’t been running much lately so didn’t have a goal in mind. She decided to try 2×1 intervals- which was my first pacing mistake.

Sidebar: I typically run using the Galloway method and when I am doing it, I will follow it pretty strictly. I don’t use it for 5ks and sometimes will change up any distance up to and including a half. I have been known to walk on the mile, the two mile or simply run straight through. Those are race day decisions to try something new or to challenge myself…

Anyway, the run/walk method requires you to leave your ego at the door. Too often people want to run as far as they can or choose the largest run increment that they think their body can handle. I’ve played around with it for a couple of years and as a general rule (there are exceptions) it should be based on your speed. A 2/1 interval is typically for an 11 minute mile. The exact chart can be found easily on the internet. Many newer runners would fare better with a 1/1 or even a 30 second/1 minute interval. It’s not that they can only run for a minute, but by running for shorter periods, they will run more consistently and ultimately faster. Just my experience though….

And using the run/walk method doesn’t mean you’re slow. There are people who qualify for Boston using this method.

Anyway, we started at 2/1 and Kate was doing fantastic. The air was dry though and with the fires burning near her house, neither of us was breathing perfectly. She seemed to be enjoying herself, even if she wouldn’t stop for photos with the haunted  mansion corpses. The long was line and while I know I can force myself to catch back up to meet pacing requirements, new runners don’t have that luxury. I figured they’d be there for the half (they weren’t, but Rapunzel- whom Kate really wanted- was) so I’d catch up with them then.

The overall pace was good, but shortly after the half Kate started to slow. After a couple of rounds of needing extra breaks or slowing too much, I converted the timer to 1 and 1. Kate stopped cursing my watch and overall seemed much happier. Our time also improved slightly. Having a long interval makes no sense if walking would be faster. Again- listen to your body and check the ego at the door. Kate didn’t complain about the switch in interval and I think it made the race more enjoyable.

While races can be painful, they truly are meant to be an enjoyable experience.

After we switched the intervals and passed the 4 mile mark (a record for Kate) she started to show more of the excitement that happens when you push your body to new achievements. It’s an addicting but deeply satisfying feeling to know you can do something that at one time seemed impossible.

My husband and son were planning to cheer us on so I turned on my Garmin’s live track and also checked in via text. sign10kWhen we got to Katella, we looked for them and finally I saw them holding the BEST SIGN EVER! It wasn’t the most artistic sign, but the message was perfect… And one I have yet to see on a course. We laughed, Kate took pictures and I got to kiss my boy before we headed to the home stretch. Kate did amazing at the end, pushing through the final walk break to charge for the last 200 meters.

Once Kate received her medal, she was hooked. She started talking about how she wanted to do another race. There is such a high when you cross the finish line and receive a medal and I am so thrilled I got to share it with a friend!

And Disney really does good 10ks. I prefer the 10k at Disneyland and half/full at Disneyworld. The close proximity of Disneyland and California Adventure allows you to cover both parks for a 10k race, without having to spend a ton of time on neighborhood streets. At WDW, you can only cover one park and it’s never Magic Kingdom.

After the race, I gave my mom my medal as I really ran it for her. There will come a time when we are able to share a 10k together… and I will make sure we run slower, drink water and stretch…. Perhaps one day, I will get to run with both my mom and my son… together or separately. I’d love to run with my husband, but I think he’d run out on me if I made him do it. Still, his constant support helps make every race and every training run possible.

It was a fun race and it was a great excuse to see friends and family! Thank you Disney for once again adding a little bit of magic to my life.


With a little pixie dust…

tinkWith a little bit of pixie dust, a great deal of determination and some decent training, dreams of race bling really do come true. In the past 10 days, I have completed five Disney races at both parks. Basically, I have done every non 5k race they’ve offered…

Unlike yesterday’s race, where I ran with a friend, today I was pretty much alone. Normally, I chat with other runners but after overdoing it at the parks and my boy getting  sick last night, I wasn’t very awake when I headed to the park before 4am.

Since I didn’t update my times for placement, I started in corral B. This year, this was the BOY corral. Every man that had a predicted time of 2:30 or better (Lots and Lots and Lots of them) were with us. I am guessing that the corral was close to 50% boys, many of them chatting about their 1:30 half marathon times. As they talked, many of us slid farther and farther away. jack A few wanted a PR and I didn’t want to be trampled as they decided to chase down Corral A. My legs were tight and while I have wanted to get closer to 2:00- today was NOT that day. With my possible stress fracture (am going to request an MRI for my own peace of mind- even if it doesn’t change the treatment), I have been babying that leg and my other leg, hips and thighs have a few choice words for me that would make Jack Sparrow blush….

The race started painfully. We went straight for a decent hill on the road. My legs were tight and cold and I was definitely wondering how long it would take to loosen up. I knew that I just needed to reach the parks where I could stretch while posing. The first character stop was the Incredibles, followed by Monsters University. While waiting for my picture, I spoke to a woman who completed 52 half marathons last year. No,  I am not planning to embark on a similar challenge. This year she said she was going to have 52 bottles of wine…. I won’t be taking that challenge either.

As we left California Adventure, there were a group of cast members singing a pirate type song based on Rum. I wish I had the forethought to video tape the song but instead I pushed forward to Disneyland. Tink, Hook, Smee and all their pirate pals were there. Peter Pan and Wendy were just past the castle with the Lost Boys riding the carousel. Then, there was VADER with Storm Troopers. vaderThe line wrapped three times but I didn’t care. I had watched the 2:30 pacer pass me on previous stops (the 2:15 pacer was the front of my corral) and the 2:45 with Wendy and Pan. The 3:00 pacer passed me while I waited for Vader, but… Totally Worth It (though I hope they got a better picture than I did.. and I have to work on my running poses).

A sharp contrast to Vader were the Princesses! Cindrella, then Rapunzel and Flint and finally Merida. Merida took less than 5 minutes which certainly beats the hour we waited last year at the park- though I didn’t get to fire off any arrows during the race. My final stop was with Captain Jack Sparrow. Since he is the first character at WDW races, this is the first time I saw him in daylight. He’ll do…

Normally, I try to push my way back to my standard pace, but I didn’t try here. I chatted with folks. If everyone was walking, I would walk. If there was an opening, I’d slowly push forward but there was no urgency. I saw others of my pace try to push, but I didn’t have anyone to catch and I made the choice to take pictures. It also gave me an excuse to baby my leg a little bit more…

Shortly after my rendezvous with Jack, we left the parks and ventured into Anaheim. I’ve done previous Disneyland halves and always found Anaheim to be less than entertaining. It’s basically suburb streets for many, many miles. It just didn’t lead you through the historic or scenic areas that many races provide. This year’s race was much more…. gritty.

The Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Department definitely did not approve the course for Tinkerbell. We passed the Church of the Underdog, lots of offices or buildings with bars or large barred gates and it just…. didn’t feel like a fun place to live or work. Since it was mostly neighborhoods, there wasn’t entertainment on the streets. It was just a grind. After running Trenton (a city I always thought was a dump) and finding lots of beautiful areas that caught my attention, I was really surprised by our route.

Still, we pushed through the miles. I chatted with folks who seemed to be struggling and some who had amazing costumes. I slowly gave away much of my nutrition when I heard people discussing swollen hands or feeling off. Many people forget the need for nutrition. I still had some and was running slow enough to not need as much as I had. I overheard a group of women trying to decide if they needed to visit the port-a-potty for an extended stay… It was a much different vibe than normal, but it was great.

Finally, the hotels reappeared and I knew I was almost done. My legs felt really good as I completed. This race wasn’t about time. It was about taking it easy and just moving forward. It was about watching different runners, listening to some of their experiences. It was the opportunity to spend some time with friends and family, even if half of them got sick over the past few days. And it was about planning for the future (had to do something to make my mind off the city streets)…

It… like all races… was Incredible!incredibles

Tomorrow is Today

Back in the 1980′s or possibly even the late 70s, there was a commercial that seems to have made a fairly lasting impression on me. I tried to find the commercial to ensure my memory was accurate, but alas my search engine skills failed me. Anyway, this was a commercial for Devry or one of its competitors. It showed unhappy people in dead end jobs dreaming of a better future. Each one of those people said “Tomorrow” to their dream until the voiceover told them tomorrow would never come unless they made tomorrow today.

“Tomorrow” is my favorite saying for when I will strength train, do yoga, stretch, swim, get on the elliptical or any other form of exercise that doesn’t involve pounding the pavement. I have been mostly injury free over the past year of pounding, which is impressive since I am so incredibly clumsy.

On the first day of the year, I did something to injure my calf. I believe I simply stepped incorrectly while transitioning from run to walk on the wonderful hills of Ridley Creek Park. Though the calf hurt when I walked or took the stairs, it actually felt fine when I ran. I did both easy runs and speed work after the injury and before I ventured off to run with mouse.

And my legs were fine during the race! After the race, my calf hurt. Bad! Still, it got me through a 10k, a half and a full. While it hurt after mile 21 of the full, my feet hurt more. I must remember to always bring a foot roller or golf ball when doing multi-day races. Monday, after the race I worked from home to do stim and ice, stim and ice. I also decided that Tomorrow started today!

I…… stretched. I also did some strength training with my body weight.

And I did it on another day. I decided that strength training, stretching and core work needed to be added to my routine because I am about to ask my body to do more and more.

Tuesday, I got out of my CRV though and put my full body weight on my foot! OHMYTHISFREAKINGHURTSSOBADITHINKIAMGOINGTOTHROWUP! Needless to say, I made an appointment with my orthopedist and then I also went to urgent care for x-rays after work. I babied the hell out of my calf for the next two days.

I did the elliptical for my two run days to help it heal and saw the orthopedist. My calf was feeling much better, though not perfect. He did notice a little curvature at the back of one of my bones that could be a stress fracture. He said I could get an MRI to see if it was truly a stress fracture but since the treatment would be the same whether it was merely a sore leg or a fracture, it was up to me… I passed on the MRI. He said he could see I was going to still run, but I should add some cross training for a couple of weeks- especially if it hurt after my race this weekend.

He said I should (in theory) be good to do back to back marathons (Saturday/Sunday) in March but to listen to my body as to how I should take the course. Yes, got it. I will cross train, drop my mileage a bit and will start stretching, strengthening, doing my recovery religiously. I have come much too far to have something silly sideline me. Plus, I know if I stop running for a few days that I will be that “Tomorrow” commercial. I have been there too many times.

  • June, 2008: Started running in May- realized I needed orthotics. Returned to running in May 2009.
  • September, 2009: Tore a tendon in my foot. Surgery was February, 2010. I was cleared to start running in late June. I resumed running May, 2011.
  • October, 2011: Got sick for a weekend, needed steroids to clear out my asthma. Resumed running May, 2012.
  • September 2012: Stopped running due to work. Started again around Thanksgiving when I hired Coach Mark to ensure I could finish WDW.

I am absolutely terrified that if I take time off from running that days will turn to weeks and weeks will turn to months. There is nothing more frustrating than rebuilding a base so I refuse to reach that stage again. So every day, there is some stretch, strength and recovery. When I can’t run, I cross train. The amounts for each may be small, but it is a start. I want to see my orthopedist in two weeks and have him give me the all clear….

Especially after he sent me home in a BOOT!

He just wants me to wear it when not running to increase the healing time for my foot… But boots simply do not match any of my wardrobes.

What a Difference a Year Makes…


11934901753_ea7d7c070e_zLast year, I completed my very first Marathon in Orlando in 86 degree weather. I was undertrained, injured my IT band and was absolutely miserable for the vast majority of my race. The medal and feeling of accomplishment, especially after so many missed marathons was amazing. It was this race that made me decide to keep pushing forward with running, to not take breaks and to just keep moving forward.

When people asked me about the marathon, I would relay my impressions of the long stretch of stink near the Water Treatment plant, the road after Animal Kingdom park that seemed to never end and the horrors of the 8 mile trek through the cruel ESPN sports center. I remembered the boardwalk as this narrow, crowded piece of land that kept me from running, even if I wanted to….

Imagine my surprise this race when I realized the water treatment plant only smells bad for a few minutes, the never ending road isn’t that long and ESPN sports center is probably only two miles. Oh and the teeny, tiny boardwalk… not so tiny. My entire memory of the course was completely clouded by my miserable, undertrained steps…

This isn’t to say this race was a barrel of joy, but it was much better. The weather was in the low 60s, though when the same came out it felt much hotter. Disneyworld should really import some shade! Despite having run the two previous days, I decided that I was going to dig deep and run a sub 5.

I started out on pace too! The first mile felt rough. My injured calf decided to tell me off and I missed my first split by 10 seconds. I was worried, but then quickly found a groove and dropped time off each mile. I charged up the few hills that Disney has and my legs were strong…

At the half, I was two minutes ahead of pace. I used two new enduracool products (will review separately) to try to regulate my temperature. I also was managing my nutrition better than usual. Starting at mile 5, I had an S-cap, Perpetuum Solid, Chomp or Hammer Gel every 2 miles. At mile 9, I took an aspirin and then dropped mile 17′s aspirin on the ground. I took bananas at the two offered stops and had a couple of bites. It felt wasteful but needed. Unfortunately, my nutrition became sketchy after the second banana. I think I missed a refuel and then around mile 24, I tried another hammer peanut butter gel. Two quick tastes and my stomach started to cramp. Bleah! Still, my nutrition was solid for much longer than usual and using the different products seems to work well.

My miles slowed at 19 but then I recovered until mile 22. At that point, the pain in my feet, calf, legs overwhelmed my will to push forward. Again, this is much better than previous races where I started to lose it at mile 16 or 18. While disappointed to not make it under 5:00, I did set a PR with 5:02:58 after running two other days in an often crowded course. And more importantly, I have more thoughts, lessons and ideas to try in April’s Garden Spot Marathon…. Each Marathon is simply practice for the next one.

The race itself was much better than the previous year. Disney added many more corrals which caused the course (at least in H) to be far less crowded than previous years. There were still areas that were one huge cluster of people. For instance, moving into the Disney Speedway was crazy. You go downhill and then uphill. I had to walk downhill because it was so packed but then as people walked even slower uphill, I was able to charge forward. By the way, I really don’t like running on a race track designed for cars. They are long, slanted and not very interesting. Maybe next year….

There were lots of character spots and had I not been trying for a PR, I would have stopped. The wait for photos was much less than last year. There were two occasions where there would have only been one person in front of me. I was tempted, but I need to start working on my mental game so I passed. Perhaps I used up all my will power refusing character spots and that’s why I didn’t have the will to dig deep at the end….

The crowds were great as always, though Epcot was much different. Last year, it was one big party. People were handing runners beer and pretzels. Runners were stopping at pubs around the world and margaritas in Mexico. None of this was waiting for me. It was calm and quiet and I didn’t understand until after I crossed the finish line. I finished the race at 11am…. The bars don’t open in Epcot until 11am. I ran too fast to drink. I can live with that.

After the race, I got a 30 minute massage in the tent with an amazing technician. I *should* have had the massage after the half… Next year. I then decided to go cheer friends who were still running. I went to London in Epcot and cheered my brains out. I either barely missed or just didn’t recognize one of our runners, but was able to see both Jane and Kathy. I nabbed Kathy twice. It’s much easier to get to Mexico from London when you don’t have to visit the rest of the showcase.

I did send a note to RunDisney recommending that they place a runner tracking bar about a quarter to half a mile before each park. It would make it easier to ensure you don’t miss friends, especially if you just ran the race yourself. We’ll see if they respond.

All in all, it was a magic race. I cannot wait to do it again.. or any marathon for that matter. I was comfortable enough doing Goofy, I signed up for Rock the Canyon in July. It’s a half on Saturday and a Full on Sunday. It won’t be as flat as Disney, but it will be shadier and hopefully cooler.


Got to Collect Them All- Donald Half

DonaldMedalTypically, a “got to collect them all challenge” would refer to race medals, but since I left Dopey and Pluto off the table when I decided to be at home for my husband’s birthday… They refer to Pictures!

Originally, I hadn’t planned to stop for character pictures during the race. My IT Band had a very bad experience at last year’s marathon with my constant stopping, standing around idly and then a quick pose before a mad dash. And while I knew I needed to take it easy since I have never done the Goofy, I still was going to enjoy the characters from afar. Unfortunately, my mad clicking fingers found a “sale” offer from Marathon Photo for the Goofy and bought a package. Oops!

I ran slowly and then would stop, stretch (seriously novel concept) and then run again. It was fun. I chatted with people in line, I got some great bouncing memories and I successfully had my Worst Time Ever! It was pretty awesome.

First stop was Captain Jack… Argh!! The line was long, but I was wearing Saucy Wench from Sparkle Skirts so I decided to go for it.  pirateslifeWe had already seen the first wheel chair racer pass us (our mile 2 is about their 10… give or take). We watched and cheered the other wheel chair racers and then the first runner dashed down the road. His stride was magnificent and there was no one close to him. He obviously did not stay and take pictures with the characters. He was quick enough though that he could have gone back to the start and done the course a second time for photo ops.

We stayed in line to watch second, third and then the first and second pack of runners pass through. We then saw, what I believe to be was the first woman. It was just awesome watching them race by. I also got the opportunity to chat with a woman from Denmark, who recommended I run the Paris Marathon some time. Ooh La La!

I stopped two more times before entering the Magic Kingdom. The first was for some racing ducks. nightmare1And the second was for Jack Skellington and Sally, who loved my skirt. I picked up a few pictures on my fun and just had a good time in line.  Nothing like sharing fashion tastes with the dead.

The “hill” near the Contemporary is no longer a hill. I cannot believe the change my 1-2x a week Valley Forge runs have made in both my perception of hills and my ability to dance up them. If you are not running hills- because they are horrible, evil, cruel creatures destined to break your love of running- start. Seriously, start now! In fact, I am planning on tackling my neighborhood hills when I get back. I have a feeling that the once foreboding “mountains” that envelop my community will now feel like mole hills. Or… I will curse every step and run it twice. Running hills will make you faster and it will make the most miserable parts of races a breeze.

In the park, I stopped by to visit Buzz Lightyear. I snuggled with Pooh and made a poor version of a heart with Alice’s nemesis. tiggerbounceI then got to bounce with Tigger. I passed on Woody, but then posed with Aurora. I checked my phone and realized everyone I was tracking was long past me- even though I started several corrals ahead. I sped ahead and was able to catch Jane, who was 2 minutes ahead of me. She was with friends so I tagged her and kept going. I then looked at the times and thought I might (if I stopped taking pictures) catch up with Kathy and her mom Helen between miles 9 and 10. I passed on Lilo and Stitch, the Reindeer and the long line for Goofy. Better to take a picture with Goofy once his medal hangs around my neck!

It was actually difficult to make up time. The course was crowded and many of the runners were taking extended walk breaks, struggling to keep going and moving slower than I wanted to go. I got in some great grass running along side the course and stopped most of my walk breaks. I also remember the same struggle- and may face it tomorrow. I am INCREDIBLY in awe of the folks who persevere in these races, regardless of the pain, their speed or struggles. As much as I love watching the winners of races.. I also love encouraging and seeing those reaching their first half or struggling through their 80th. There is a tremendous spirit within the running community- at all levels of speed.

After the 15k mark, I realized Kathy was two minutes ahead. I ran on and caught up with her and her mom. Though her mom was unaware, they were on track for a PR for her mom!! With the heat and humidity, any PR is a major win. I stayed with them for a bit and then the course narrowed and I went ahead. I saw them again while I was doing my second photo op… I caught up, said hello and decided to run all the way home.

It was a great race. Lots of spirit, great people from the Galloway group and a sense of peace. I am having foolish thoughts that I may try to PR on the marathon tomorrow- which is pretty crazy since I just ran two races. My legs are anything BUT fresh, but they say it is going to be cool… so who knows. My race strategy unfortunately is to simply play it by ear when I start. One day, I will work on that… Until then, I will merely add more cowbell!cows

Inaugural Minnie 10k…

minnietypo (2)Unless of course, you’re the poor person who designed the race bibs at which point it is Inaugurual. I hadn’t noticed the typo since I just pinned it to me without really looking at the bib, but once Kathy pointed it out after the race…. I am not sure if I feel bad for the person who let 10k bibs get into the hands of runners with a typo or if I offer them a dictionary. It’s difficult to know these days if it is a simple bonehead move or if it is part of our era’s inability to spell…. Those are questions for another day of course…

When I picked up my bib yesterday, there was a slight issue. I submitted a new proof of time for my races a few months back. While they updated my Half and Full, they accidentally erased any time from my 10k. This put me in the last corral. Since I had planned to run with Kathy, I went to Runner Relations, fearing the worst, and they were able to help me rather quickly. They could see the new time that had been submitted for all the other races and determined that the recording of the 10k was somehow missed. They tried to determine which corral to stick me in, but when I told them I only needed to go up one to run with a friend, they gave me a sticker and I was good to go.

The morning was hot and humid but I knew it would be a slower run. You don’t want to burn yourself out on a 10k and my calf has been bothering me. At some point, after all these races, I will need to determine why it hurts. It is actually fine with all running, but hills; however, it hurts to walk… I am not talented enough to simply run everywhere.

minnie10kWhile waiting for the race to start, I felt like a horrible slacker. The 10k had 10,000 runners participating, but 7,000 of them were doing Dopey. Everyone seemed to be a Dopey runner or a first timer. There is nothing shabby about doing your first 10k, but I was having some serious Dopey envy. The fact that my husband was stressed and we didn’t relax on his birthday (the reason I didn’t do Dopey, though he said I could) didn’t help with the Dopey Envy. Both of my running friends here are doing Dopey and they seem to be having a blast!
It took a little over 30 minutes for our corral to start- 10 minutes is too much space IMHO. Even with the new system, it was still too crowded. I have some thoughts on this that I will probe when I am not so tired.

minniemedalThe race was good though. There were several over-crowded photo ops, but none that I was dying to have. The volunteers were wonderful and everyone I saw seemed to be having a good time. I am curious to see if the Princess 10k will use the identical course. If so, I am going to become very, very familiar with Epcot over the next few months.

And I have a brand new medal to add to my Once Upon a Run hanger. And Inaugural is spelled correctly on the medal as well.