Sometimes the race isn’t about who crosses that finish line first. Sometimes the race is surviving. Thriving. Proving that there is life after breast cancer.
If you ever want to feel uplifted by the strength of the human spirit…do one of these events.
I ran the Race for the Cure back in 2011, when I was new-ish to running. My mom and dad were visiting and they got to see me run across that finish line. It was the first time they ever got to see me run. And my mom said to me, “Baby, you don’t run…you fly.” I ran that year to honor my my friend’s mom. Back then, it was an officially timed event. This year…there was a clock, but unless you were a survivor…your bib strictly gave the year…2019.
In case you are new to the blog, my mom, Dottie, was diagnosed with breast cancer back in January. She’s been through chemo and radiation, and will be finishing up this round of chemo in late January. Her journey hasn’t been easy. She’s had good days, bad days, good months, bad months, bad side effects, people who cut her out of their lives as the treatments took their toll on her. But through the entire process, she’s been positive, kept a good attitude, and just done everything in her power to look on the bright side…even when there wasn’t a lot of good happening.
So, when I saw that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was happening on a weekend where I could slide it into my training schedule, I decided to put together a team who could run not just for my mom, but to honor those they know who have battled through breast cancer, and maybe those at the race who are survivors or still in the midst of their battle.
Guys…I have amazing people in my life, because I had a lot of people sign up to run for my team: The Brady Bunch.
This is also where I give a big shout-out to Kelly, because she picked up packets for everyone at Oxmoor while she was there. That saved me a trip and made it SO easy on race day. So…get yourself a friend like Kelly. Or meet Kelly. Because she’s the best.
Normally before a race, I would get my vegan sushi combo that has been working for me this training cycle…but…I also had a 22 mile run on Sunday, which I figured would be the better option for that. And, since we were meeting up with my roomie’s sister, Amanda, to go to the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park (TRADITION), we went out to our favorite Indian restaurant in Louisville – Shalimar. I got the usual (since my run was short and not long) of Broccoli Masala. Extra spicy. My favorite. Then it was off to get hot apple cider at Highland Coffee and head to Iroquois Park, where we had kettle corn while waiting for our time to head into the path with all the pumpkins.
This did make for a late night, and I went to bed the moment we got home because I had to get up early enough to stretch and figure out what I was going to wear. A front moved through with the rain overnight, so we suddenly were plunged into the 30s in the morning. My original plan to wear shorts was tossed out the window. But, our theme for our team was wear something pink (of course), green (my mom’s favorite color), and/or something with polka dots (since my mom’s name is Dottie). And I happened to have a pair of green leggings with polka dots on them. I had bought some pink compression sleeves that had polka dots on them. I had a pink short sleeve shirt. Green arm warmers. And pink gloves. I even had a Bondi Band with polka dots on it. I was covered. So, I got dressed and made sure I had my anklet on and my hair pulled up in proper pigtails (with pink and green hair extensions, naturally). I ate a quick breakfast of gluten free cereal (short race) and my roomie (also running, so no cheer squad and finish line photo for me) and I headed out the door to get to Cardinal Stadium.
Remember…it was cold outside. So, Cathy and I basically hung out in the car for as long as we could (we got their earlier than expected). My runner’s metabolism kicked in, because suddenly I was starving and I had over an hour until race time. I knew I should have brought backup. We got out of the car and donned some trash bags to insulate. Then, we meandered our way toward the team meet-up spot…Gate 4…which just happened to be near the start/finish and the stage. We were there for about 10 minutes, and then, one-by-one, my team started to arrive. Kelly and Elizabeth arrived, toting the bags with bibs and shirts. Then Tiffany and Kaleigh arrived as well. Dennis was the last one to arrive (we had more people registered, but other commitments and/or sickness took some out at the last minute). We wrangled everyone together for a group picture, then Dennis went to go warm up and the rest of us watched some of the Parade of Hope (Survivor’s Parade). The national anthem was sung, and all runners and walkers lined up to await the 9 am start of the race. As I was standing near the front, a woman (definitely a survivor) looked over at me and said, “Are you a runner? Are you running this?” I said, “Yes ma’am.” And she said, “Run for me.”
We had a fun countdown from 10 seconds to go…and then we were all off. I was only under orders to not run all out on this race, so I decided to run comfortably hard, aiming for around a 23 minutes. I felt strong, despite not being able to feel my feet/toes due to the cold air. I passed a few people as we headed down the corridor and made the turn onto S. Floyd Street. That put me up front as the first female and I was feeling pretty good. We rounded onto Central Avenue and up, up, up the hill we went. I usually get slowed down by hills, but my legs wanted to go. I powered up it, and rode that downhill on the other side (downhill, after all, is my favorite speed), making the turn onto S 3rd Street.
I ran through the water top, minding the bump of the casing over the cords. Then through the tunnel I went. I popped out, somehow missing that first mile indicator on my watch. I made the turn to run down and around Eastern, looping back and then heading down to make a loop of a small section of the U of L campus. Then, I was heading back toward the finish line (same as the start). Back down S Third Street I went. Still felt amazing and strong. And I was lifted even more as I hit Mile 2 and got shout-outs and waves from teammates Kelly and Elizabeth. Then Tiffany. Then my friend Jamie gave me a shout-out. I headed down the hill to go under the overpass and I could see Cathy coming down on the other side. She must have seen me too, because as I am running through, she literally stops to poke her head through and shout at me, “FIRST FEMALE.”
This is what friends do.
It was just before I made the turn back onto Central that I caught up to the man ahead of me. He told me “good job.” I kicked it past him and started up that stupid hill. I did push the hill, mostly because I tend to get passed on hills and I really didn’t want to be passed again. The people who were doing the walk were cheering and screaming at me as I crested it and headed down the hill to make the turn back onto S. Floyd St. More cheers of encouragement as I headed down the road and turned back toward where the start/finish line was.
My watch beeped the third mile as I was heading in, way too soon before I would hit that finish line…but I just ran it in. There was no timing mat or anything…but here was this race…this amazing race…that I signed up for to honor my mom…and I crossed the finish line as the 3rd overall (there were 2 other guys ahead of me) and first female. I have no finish line photos, because my race photographer (aka: Cathy – the roomie) was in the actual race itself. I was announced as the first female and was complimented on my hair. A woman came over and asked me if I had run the entire race. I nodded and I told her I had done it to honor my mom and she pulled me in for a tight hug. I needed it.
I grabbed a bottle of water and went to the other side of the finish line to cheer in everyone, including the first survivor to cross the finish line. The survivors got medals, and it was just so amazing and moving to see them all come in. I cheered in strangers, team members, and just enjoyed this part of the race. And, even though I had one of my strongest races, one of my best 5Ks in years…this wasn’t one giving out age group awards or placement awards. And none of it mattered to me at that moment. My mom was the reason I was there, knowing all that she had gone through over the span of the year, and was still currently fighting through…and that finish line moment was for her. Knowing I raced the best I could that day to honor her battle was award enough. Third overall…first female…strong day that morning.
So, the reason I have the asterisk by my time is not just because the race measured short on my watch…but because it was honestly not timed, and truly…the real finishes that we should celebrate are those who crossed that finish line having gone through or are currently going through treatments. I hope to return to this one again next year.
To those of you who were on my team, whether you were able to run that morning or not…THANK YOU!! Your show of support meant the world to me and I am honored to have such amazing people in my life.
Remember how I said I was in taper? I was apparently confused. Out of my mind. Wrong. Because my coach had one more long, long run up his sleeve. And I didn’t know about it until I was leaving the Kentucky Center of the Arts. I had gone to see Dear Evan Hansen. I was in a pretty dress and heels. I had a message come through from my coach telling me my schedule was posted and that I could choose how to run the 5K I was participating in on Saturday, but to not go 100%…because we (as in me…he wasn’t doing it with me, HA) had one more long, long run to tackle.
I flipped to my calendar and it was staring me down. One final 20-22 miler.
Here. We. Go.
Monday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
Thank goodness for easy, recovery days. With as stacked as last week was with three 13.1 runs…I was happy to have the chance to rest up a little. Especially since I had a late night with the Broadway show. I slept in as much as I could…then got up to go out for an easy run. The temperatures had dropped into the high 50s. It was supposedly raining. It wasn’t. It was a nice run that morning. No pushing pace. I ran faster than I had been in the past…probably because I had no humidity weighing me down. It was a good morning for a good run. Even if I wore a hat because of rain and it didn’t rain. I ended up with just over 5 miles. No personal training…which was a blessing with the week I had leading into this one.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
On an even more perfect morning temperature-wise, I went out in sleeves and some gloves (if temps are in the 40s or below…gloves always because Raynauds is real friends) and shorts and just let my legs do the talking. I reminded myself not to push any sort of pace. Just to go with the flow…stay in control of my breath. And let this run be the miles I needed that day. I ended up with 7.5 when I stopped. Then, I got to add strides on to the end. Six of them. And I felt fast and strong and I was fast and strong. And that’s the bonus of the cooler weather. When you suffer and die and cry throughout summer as you sweat it out…you fly in the fall. Hoping this trend continues because there comes a point where it gets too cold for me to function. And right now…we’re right in my happy place. Ended with 8 miles for the day. Also tacked on my additional hip strengthening exercises to the stretches I do every day.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TRACK WORKOUT – 1-2 MILE WU; 7 X 800M W/ EQUAL RECOVERY; 1-2 MILE CD – AFTER 1-2 MILE WU, DO SOME DYNAMIC DRILLS TO LOOSEN UP FURTHER. THIS IS A REPEAT OF A PIOR WORKOUT. WE ARE SHOOTING FOR AROUND 3:30 FOR THE *ON* TIME (~7 MIN PACE) AND THEN RECOVERY CAN BE LIGHT BUT NEEDS TO BE JOGGING, NOT WALKING.
Wednesday was a bad day. Not that anything tragic or life changing happened. But I had a double digit run on the schedule, so I had to go to bed SUPER early on Tuesday. Then, I had to wake up every super earlier than usual on Wednesday morning. I wasn’t loving it. Not at all. I also wasn’t loving the 800s that were scheduled. I will gladly and happily force myself to do speed work when asked, but I LOATHE 800s. The instant I got up, I went and made my Maurten 160 Drink Mix up and began to drink it while I was getting dressed, putting in contacts, all the things. I got my hydration bag ready to go and I headed out for my speed work. And then…my stomach decided to be on the fritz all morning. I just think it doesn’t like having things fed to it at 3 am before pushing a fast pace. At all. So, had to stop a couple of times for that, but felt better and rounded it out. I also feel that EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME I have speed work, the road I cross on the stretch that I run for it (no track…because this area is the worst) has the most traffic of any other day, no matter the hour. UGH! But, you know, maybe it wasn’t perfect, but I hit my paces, recovered properly and wrapped it up with stretching. I also had personal training with Corey that afternoon. He, thankfully, kept it basic…challenging, but nothing too intense. And for that, I appreciate him. Also…Annie Mays didn’t have soft pretzels…so lunch was a no-go. Had to improvise. It just wasn’t my day.
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: NO WATCH ALLOWED! FOCUS ON THE GOAL OF THE RUN = RECOVERY! GO AS FAR OR SHORT AS YOU NEED, AS FAST OR SLOW AS YOU NEED, WALK OR RUN AS YOU NEED.
I love a good recovery run. We were back in the 50s this morning, so I kept the short sleeves and shorts, but ditched the gloves before I even went out the door. My goal, once again, was just to let my body do what it needed to that morning. I know that I have a pretty stacked weekend, and one rest day (which will involve the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park), I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize how my body would feel going into those. I figured 3-5 miles would be perfect. I felt good out there. My turnover felt amazing. My breath stayed controlled. And I finished up with 5 miles. Went inside and did my second day of additional hip strengtheners with my stretches. Had to walk a bit farther to the office due to Harvest Homecoming happening downtown. And spent a good chunk of my morning standing in line for Masonic Donuts (which I can’t eat, but my office loves them…except for this year…or something). But, it was a good way to head into the weekend.
Full rest day! YAY!! I slept over 8 hours. Got up to shower. Did two rounds of my stretches and my foam rolling, just because I was unsure of when/if I would be able to get to it that night with the Pumpkin Walk happening. I went into work…favorite t-shirt day…ready to sit and stand at my desk to get work done, go pick up Amanda (roomie’s sister), go to get Indian food for dinner, then head (weather permitting) to Iroquois Park to do the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. It was a bit chilly, but the worst of the rain happened while we were under the canopy of the trees. It was a good way to wrap up the evening. I went right to bed when I got home.
Saturday: RACE FOR THE CURE 5K – YOU CAN APPROACH THIS HOWEVER YOU WOULD LIKE OTHER THAN PROBABLY NOT A FULL OUT EFFORT
Let me preface this by saying that this didn’t feel like an all-out effort. Not one bit. In fact, for the first two miles of the race, I couldn’t feel my feet because I was so cold. Most of this will be covered in my official blog on the race itself, but I felt good this morning. I had a fantastic group of people running on my team for my mom, Dottie Brady, showing their support and honoring her and others in her family. I love all of them for showing up and running for this cause. So, I ended up averaging a 7:07 mile for the 3.03 (the course was either short or the GPS cut out when we went through the tunnel twice) miles, finishing third overall and first female. I had a sweet woman come over when I finished and just gave me a hug and I loved her for that. I needed it. It was an emotional race and I felt so supported by my friends and team. And for that…I am thankful. So, it may appear I went all-out, but honestly, I had more in the tank. But tomorrow’s run will be a good judgement on how I ran this one. I felt amazing the entire time…and the cheers and shouts from not just my team members, but also the people along the course and in the race was uplifting. What an amazing race!
Sunday: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY.
To be honest…I expected today to suck. I really did. After the 5K, a day full of grocery shopping, grabbing “magic sushi” during Harvest Homecoming (traffic and parking nightmare, friends), and a chilly Louisville City FC soccer match…I didn’t have high hopes for this run. I set an alarm for 5:15 am. Got up, put in contacts, ate breakfast, stretched, hydrated, got dressed, drank my Maurten 320 Drink Mix, and got ready to head out as it was getting light out. It was 36° outside, so I put on bright yellow capris and a long sleeve shirt with gloves. And I realize I would have been cold for a few miles, but I probably would have been fine in short sleeves and shorts with the gloves. Eventually. I wasn’t pushing pace at all, and I was doing what I could to make it so that when I did my Thanksgiving course at the end of the run, I could head straight home. The cooler weather was nice, but I did feel overdressed after a time. I rolled up my sleeves halfway through the run. I did practice my fueling…and I definitely have that dialed in for race day. YAY! And I felt strong, even on the super hilly back half of this run. I finished it up, feeling confident about the race four weeks from yesterday. Honestly, I’m as ready as I’m going to be. Now it’s just a matter of taking care of myself through taper. I’ve been a bit sluggish the rest of today…but aside from that, feeling good. Happy that taper has officially (for real this time) started! YAY!
Bonus Sunday inspiration was Kipchoge’s world record 1:59:40 marathon finish on Saturday…and Sunday was also the 6th Anniversary (to the day) of me running my first marathon and getting my BQ. I hope it serves for further inspiration and motivation as the weeks wrap up and I head into my 16th marathon.
I have no idea what my week will look like, save for a half marathon on Saturday of this coming week. I anticipate that I’ll be told to take this one easy and not push the pace. And that’s fine by me. I’d like to just cruise a half marathon because I’m tired. I’ve had some pretty crazy weeks these past two weeks, and I’m ready to start seeing some downtime.
Who else is happy to hit taper time? Anyone else running Urban Bourbon next Saturday?
Ah, Disney. My dear, sweet, Disney. I wanted to hate you for not deferring my Dopey Challenge entry after I was told by my doctor, I physically could not run. I was angry…because that was a lot of money to be out…despite having doctors notes and all. I wanted to swear you off for life.
But I couldn’t.
Especially since I had to cancel my trip in January due to the injury and I opted, instead, to sign up for your latest challenge…Lumiere’s Challenge…which is a 2-race challenge (not the 4 races you do in January)…a 10K on Sunday and a half marathon on Sunday. I had the date marked on my calendar to sign up…and was so busy at work that I totally missed it…by a day. I figured it would be okay…but it wasn’t. The races were sold out.
I was sad, but then I recalled I wanted to do some more running for charity. So, I chose a cause near and dear to my heart…Alliance For A Healthier Generation. I blogged on this during my fundraising effort…and I totally raised a little bit more than the $1000 required for the charity.
THANK YOU to anyone who donated.
So, this was the weekend it all went down. And it has been a bit of a struggle getting here. Not physically…well…not here to Disney World. Physically, my foot ligament has been twinging every now and again, and sometimes is just painful. Also, just under a week before leaving for Disney, my sinuses suddenly decided that they wanted to just get all cloggy. I wasn’t sneezing or coughing, but I was definitely congested and lost my voice. This also meant my training runs were a mess of stops and breathing issues. Which didn’t make me feel confident heading into this weekend. While some of it has cleared up, I’m not 100%, but I was definitely ready for some running for sure.
Two days…two races…19.3 miles.
Let’s do this thing…
Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Race: Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 5, 2016
It is my long-term goal for the coming year to set a PR in a distance race. Short or long. With my return to running from injury, I’m having a hard time, mentally, dealing with the pitfalls of this hip labrum tear and the other aches and pains that have cropped up. So, after getting back with my running coach, we’re setting a few goals to aim for.
This was not one of the races I was using to hit a new PR. In fact, I was a little under 4 minutes from doing so. But I didn’t care…because this race was so freakin’ fun!
This is the first year that the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend included a 10K distance as well. I love doing inaugural races. I really do. And then I love returning to them. Disney puts on fantastic races, as I have mentioned before. And I do love these challenge race weekends that are popping up…EVERYWHERE now. But Disney…Disney has always done it best.
I actually got to Disney World on Thursday, giving me time to hit up the expo and have an entire day of exploring the parks before needing to worry about running. It also gave me time to recover well and be ready to run. We all know that race mornings come very, very, very, early at Disney World. And while Wine & Dine is usually a night race…this year they changed it to morning. So…I set three alarms on my phone…the first 2 for me and the final one for my entourage (aka: Jenn & Cathy).
I always do Disney races in costume, and I had originally intended to break out Vanellope Von Schweetz again (I was Vanellope when I did Wine & Dine in 2014), but my hip labrum injury had me not running for close to a year. Despite keeping a clean and healthy diet, I’ve put on some weight. So, the costume wasn’t flattering on me…at all. So…in the span of 2 days, my roomie and I managed to piece together an Officer Judy Hopps costume (from Zootopia). And that took a little while for me to get on (as it involved hair extensions and accessories), but I managed to get it on and get out the door in time to catch the shuttle over to the start.
I was supposed to meet up with my friend (and fellow #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Stephanie) at the shuttle bus from our resort (she was also staying at Port Orleans Riverside), but it turns out she turned off her alarm and slept through the start of the race. But, I did manage to meet up with another #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Melissa, at the start line. She and her husband were running the 10K as Disgust and Fear from Inside Out. Their costumes were totally cute! So, it was nice to converse with them before we were heading into the race. Melissa is a Run Disney pro…for real! And her costumes are AMAZING. So when she complimented me on my Hopps costume, that meant a lot to me.
We took some photos and then headed toward the start line. She and her husband were in a different corral, so I went to get into mine. It was pretty crowded in Corral A, but I found a spot to sit (even with my pinned on bunny tail) and let myself relax a little before being moved to the start line. I wasn’t there for too long before the group began to move. We passed by the other corrals and I heard a few people calling out to Corral A and wishing us luck. Love that.
Once at the start line, there were some announcements made and the National Anthem was sung. And the wheel chair racers were sent on their way. At this point, I was drawing a deep breath as the corral moved forward and we waited a couple of minutes before our fireworks and start time. And soon, Remy from Ratatouille was sending us off for the start of our run. I was hoping for the best. Continuous running was a mere impossibility leading into this race due to some sinus issues. I still had the lingering effects, so I just hoped I could get through it.
I was less than enthusiastic about the first three (and then some) miles of the 10K race. As with most Disney races, a majority of your time is spent out on the highway. They sort of curb your boredom with character stations and areas with jumbo television screens and fast, fun music. Still, by the first mile, I was already not loving my costume. The long hair extensions were hot…and annoying. I honestly don’t know how women with long hair can run with it down. I was so DONE with it. It just kept getting in my way. I can’t count the number of times I flung a extra-long pigtail back behind my shoulder.
Also…wearing three layers on your top half in humid Florida…not my best idea. HA!! Yep…three (3) layers. My sports bra, my t-shirt (which was originally long sleeve, but I thought better of it), and my other sports bra that I made into Judy Hopps vest. Yep…it got hot pretty fast for me. But, you know, you just keep trekking. I mean, it was 68 degrees with 88% humidity (it is Florida, after all) at the start of the race. I knew the layers were going to be hot when I threw this costume together at the last minute.
Regardless…I felt a little better about life (even if all the race photos are unflattering and tell a different story), once we entered Epcot for the last part of the race. At about 3.5 miles, we take to the park, starting around the World Showcase, cutting down across the boardwalk (and I love the people staying at those resorts along the boardwalk who come out and cheer that early in the morning!), and then cutting back into the World Showcase to round out the run by running past the big Epcot ball. From there, it’s down a stretch into the parking lot and across the finish line. I could tell I was slowing down once I hit Epcot. The hills inside the World Showcase aren’t bad…but my legs had been going on a full day of parks and I was tired. Seriously. I was tired…and a little grumpy. That 2:30 am wakeup call came too early and I was doing my best to not fall asleep in the corral at the start of the race. So, finishing was a relief. I didn’t even care about my time. And after crossing, I saw Cathy and Jenn waiting up in the bleachers, waiving the sign that was made the night before…and cheering.
None of us were really firing on all cylinders. But I do love having my peeps at the end of a race. I walked through the finisher’s chute, getting my 10K medal (this thing was HUGE and HEAVY) and continuing down for the water, snack box, banana, and then the official photos near the end. Cathy and Jenn were going to meet me outside of bag claim…so I went through after that and there they were, heading my way.
I gave them sweaty hugs and Cathy helped me change out of my race shoes (I raced in my Altras for the first time!) and into my recovery flip flops. My feet thanked me for that. I had wanted to take some photos with the Disney characters in the finish area, but the lines were super long. I told them we could head back to the resort as long as I got to get pictures after the half marathon. I think they were all relieved. We got on the bus after a few pictures and headed back to Port Orleans – Riverside, where I showered, ate some real food, and got ready to spend the rest of the day out in Hollywood Studios. Yep…at Disney, I don’t rest these legs. I get on rides, chase down characters, and have a blast. It’s Disney. And even though lacking mega caffeine and oomph, I had a brilliant time. Spent the day on my feet, and ended with a traditional (gluten free) pasta dinner at Mama Melrose’s. I even got to indulge in more carby goodness with the gluten free dinner rolls. I only ate one. And I ate only about 2/3 or my huge pasta dish. I was full. And tired. It was back to the resort after that. I climbed into bed, setting three alarms for the following morning…when I would run the half marathon!
Oh…so my official results of the Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K are that I finished in 48:19. Not too bad given the circumstances!! I was 164/9260 finishers overall. I was the 42/6556 female to cross the finish line. And I was 6/1102 runners in my age division. Considering I am still not 100% physically (damn ligament in my foot) and was dealing with the last of a sinus…thing…I’ll take it. It was a fantastic race and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Race: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 6, 2016
What a difference an extra hour of sleep makes!!
Seriously, THANK YOU TIME CHANGE!! It was a lot easier to get up at 2:30 am when we had to fall back on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ll take that extra hour. I could tell we all needed it regardless.
Especially Jenn. Jenn was not feeling the early morning love all day on Saturday as we trudged around Hollywood Studios. I kept offering coffee and/or caffeine in the form of soda, but I think she was determined to just be tired and (a little cranky) ride it out on her own. NOT ME!! I downed a Iced Soy Caramel Apple Latte from Joffrey’s just after riding Tower of Terror on Saturday and that was the kick I needed, honestly, to help with the rest of the day. I don’t play around. If I’m tired…I get my caffeine. Lessons learned along the way. Definitely helped make the day easier to navigate through. And it was another long day…this time at Hollywood Studios…still undergoing renovations.
We did take in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show, which meant we were sitting for awhile. So, I think she liked that part. Be that as it may, she was not loving much of life all day Sunday, and after hearing, “I’m so tired I could cry” more than once, I told her that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if she stayed at the resort on half marathon morning and slept. In fact, I’d prefer it so that we could avoid another adventure like Saturday.
She ignored all three alarms, and slept through my hurried dash back into the room after forgetting my sunglasses (sunrise was now earlier…I didn’t have time for the sunscreen I didn’t put on thinking it would be like the day before and still be dark when I finished). The one other race weekend she came to Disney with us, I was doing Wine & Dine in 2014…and it was still a night race. Note to self: Jenn doesn’t handle Disney wake-up race times well. LOL!! Hey…those schedules on Disney weekends are brutal…I admit it. But I’m sort of used to the early mornings, and the on-the-go days, to the semi-late. And I’m pretty much a Disney race veteran. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone for sure. I think Saturday was the breaking point for Jenn. And that’s fine. The extra sleep and down time meant that she was ready to go at Epcot that afternoon. So, YAY! And that was a long day, as we had the after party that night as well. So, this was probably the best option for her…so I’m glad she did what was best for her.
Now, Cathy and I were up at the ass-crack of dawn and out the door to the shuttle to take us to the ESPN Wide World of Sports where the race was to start. For the half marathon, I was running as the Disney Princess that my niece, Kaytlynn, requested this time around…Ariel. Yep…I was The Little Mermaid. Simple costume (and much cooler too, although this race morning was a bit cooler (64 degrees) and windy…but the humidity was higher…pretty much at 100%. UGH. That being said, I had a throw-away shirt on over my purple sports bra and it helped keep me warm up until I shed it for the #KDFMarathon Ambassador photo before the start of the race. Anyway, the big shuttle left the resort pick-up spot just as we were getting to the front of the line…so, when the next bus showed up, it was WAY smaller. I said, “And they sent us the short bus!” It made everyone laugh. That being said, we boarded, settled, and let the bus carry us to the start of Sunday’s adventure.
The plan was for all of the #KDFMarathon Race Ambassadors (Stephanie, Richie, Melissa and me) to meet up at Bag Check before the race. This time, all four (4) of us made it. And we all looked amazing in our cute outfits. We got our pictures (which meant I ditched the shirt and then just never got it back) together and chatted a bit about the 10K, upcoming races, and just other stuff…that general stuff. Richie and I were in Corral A together so, after we all broke to get to our corrals, he and I stuck together and made our way into ours. I stood with him until the wheel chair racers kicked off. Then I gave him a hug and said I was going to move up and attempt to meet the goal that my coach had set for me for this race.
That goal…run it in 1:45:00.
As I had run (not raced) the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon two weeks prior to this (that race blog is incoming, life has been a busy, frantic, hectic mess) in less than this time (but barely), I figured this was an acceptable goal and one that I could accomplish.
But it wasn’t a walk in the (Disney) park either.
Once again, we had the fanfare of fireworks for Corral A to start off to. We also had Olympian Jenny Simpson running with the first corral. She was using this as an easy training run, you know…only running 6:15 min miles and all. She came in second, overall, btw…after a back and forth to the finish with the eventual winner. Her husband, Jason Simpson, won the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and set a new course record. So, that’s kind of cool to run in the footsteps of Simpson running greatness.
It was also in this first mile that I noticed a familiar running stride ahead of me. I pushed a little to catch up and was able to say “HI” to another Louisville runner, Lynn Riedling. That was about all I got to say before she pulled ahead and then was gone in the darkness. Probably about halfway through the first mile we heard the fireworks go off to send off Corral B…and one of the guys just ahead of me goes, “Run faster…they’re coming for us!”
Once again, this Disney race was mostly highway miles. But they did make a point to have character stops and some scenic stops along the way. There were also the music and television monitor stations throughout the course, to sort of shake up the monotony. The first three miles of this race…I felt like I ran well. I was comfortable in the moist air, as my layers today consisted of a purple sports bra and a green sparkle skirt. MUCH better in the Orlando humidity.
My first noticeable pace slow-down came between Mile 4 and Mile 5. Surprisingly, or maybe not, this was while I was inside Animal Kingdom (THANK GOD, they let us run completely through a park, because when the course maps were first released, it looked like we were running to the middle of nowhere and coming back). The course did narrow in some areas, and I do get distracted by the photo stops that are set up with characters. But I pressed on through to the 10K mark, my pace picking back up. I told myself that I would take in nutrition at the 10K line, and I did, downing a Hammer Gel (giving these a try…despite the rule to never try something new on race day). This and my Nuun I was hauling in one of my bottles on my fuel belt both had caffeine, which I hoped would wake me up when I was feeling tired and ready to stop.
It worked its magic. I managed to pick the pace up a little again for Mile 7 through Mile 11. These were all on the highway, and despite being Florida, we actually had a few hills to navigate over. Two of them came in a row. My favorite one though had to be the first hill we hit. Disney stationed a character out there…one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story. He was calling out to runners to push hard up the hill. If anyone slowed down they would have to do pushups. He noticed one runner just ahead of me.
“You…you in the blue shorts…get over here. Give me one pushup.” To my surprise, the runner did just that. And then the army man said, “Now…run fast and make up the 3 seconds you just wasted.”
I LOVE DISNEY!
Mile 12 had us entering the Epcot area. Like most of the races at this point, we just sort of duck into Epcot. It isn’t like the 10K where we get to run around the World Showcase and see it all. At this point, I spotted one of those inflatable T-Rex Costumes and the wearer was holding a sign that said, “Free Hugs.” LOVE IT. I was in my last mile…and really cutting it close on time. I hated that I felt like I ran this race better and was still coming in so close to what I did Urban Bourbon in without even trying. Returning from injury is frustrating at times…but you just end up being thankful for the gift of running that day in the end. I did the weird jog around the Food & Wine Festival centerpiece and headed up past the Epcot ball. And with that said, I made the turn and heard the gospel choir that is always at Mile 13 (or 26 if it’s the full marathon) at the Disney races. This is always uplifting…and I picked up my pace. I rounded a corner…got nailed by all the Disney photographers taking pictures of the runners coming toward the finish…and just pushed with every ounce of strength I had left in my hip and (sore) foot…and crossed that finish line…before it hit 1:45:00.
I saw Cathy up in the stands cheering and gave a wave as I made my way down the finisher’s chute. Here I received my medal for the half marathon, then proceeded on to get water, my snack box, and eventually go through the tent to get my medal for completing the 10K and the Half Marathon. This was “Lumiere’s Challenge”. As I was about to grab my water bottle, I hear my name being called over the fence. It was Cathy, sticking her camera over to get a photo. She said, “Want to know your time?” I said I did. And she said…”You did 1:44:30…BOOM!” She even texted it to my coach for me. HAHA! The volunteers at the table found this entire conversation amusing being as it was done over a covered fence. I got to the Challenge Medal tent, had them look up my name, and they sent me through to receive the medal. Afterwards, I exited through Bag Check and met up with Cathy on the other side. Sweaty hugs were given, and my race shoes (today I was in my Brooks), were changed out for the flip flops again. I was lingering a little, hoping to catch Richie again as he came through, but Cathy noticed that the lines of the characters were super short, and didn’t want me to miss the opportunity to get photos with them, since I passed it up due to lines on Saturday. I was able to get photos (rather quickly) with Lumiere and with Remy (from Ratatouille). And after that…I went back to see if I could catch Richie, but he had already finished and left for Port Orleans French Quarter. I had just missed him.
We arrived back at Port Orleans Riverside and trekked back to the manor house we were staying in. Jenn was up, and she was rested. So this was good. I went to shower, change, and eat some real food before we got our stuff together and headed out to Epcot for the day. We finished up around 4-ish with everything and decided to go back to the resort for a little while to unwind before returning to check in and then enjoy the After Party. This also meant that everyone else was kicked out of Epcot and we got to stay and eat at all the countries, drink at all the countries, and ride any of the rides that were open. This was, in fact, how we got on the new Soarin’. We had fast passed the Frozen Ever After ride.
I did manage to meet up with Stephanie and Richie while walking the showcase that night. I didn’t ever find Melissa. Ironically, my friend Michelle, for the second time in a row, managed to find me in the huge crowd of people at the After Party. We took a picture to commemorate her awesome GPS honing skills. HAHA!
I was able to enjoy a few stops at the After Party as well. I started my night off with Dole Whip…then went on to Brazil where I devoured two large rolls of Pão de Queijo, and then finished off the night with a Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffle.
It was close to 1 am when we got back to our room at the resort. And we had to get up early (but not race morning early) for a character breakfast the next morning. BUT…that involved gluten-free Mickey waffles…so I was okay with this.
Oh…and I guess I should give you the official race results. The official race results of the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:44:30. So, yay…I managed to hit my coach’s goal time with 30 seconds to spare. Whew. I was 208/12651 finishers overall. I was 56/8749 women to cross the finish line. And, I was 11/1513 in my age division. Not too bad.
Now…if I can get this whole endurance with speed (and no pains or issues breathing) thing down, I might be well on my way to a way better race year next year. But this was Half Marathon #23…and the final one for the year. No better way to finish it up than at Disney!
I will say…I still miss running this race at night. But it wasn’t a bad way to start a Sunday off either.
OH…and before I forget…a big THANK YOU to all of you who donated funds to the charity I was raising money for by doing this race. Alliance For A Healthier Generation is a fantastic charity doing great things for the future of our country and the children that are to be our future. I went slightly over my fundraising goal, never a bad thing…and I have many of you to thank for that. So…THANK YOU…from the bottom of my heart!
I have made it through a very tiring, very busy, very hectic week. But, I got a lot accomplished and even made it out for a pre-wedding 5K for two of my favorite peeps from my running group this morning. Their wedding was this afternoon…so I hope all in attendance had a fantastic time!!
But I’ll get to that some more in a moment.
This week, I’ve learned a lot about…patience. I’m Irish. Patience is not a virtue that I really have. Not much, anyway. But if there is one thing this hip labrum tear recovery period has taught me it’s that…I have to be patient. With myself. With my body. With my running. With vast changes in weather this week, my hip has been screaming at me. Everything is day-to-day…which is frustrating, but, it’s how it has to be. That being said, getting out this week in the various weather conditions and with a variety of people for various things has been…good for my soul.
So, with that in mind, here are some things that I found good for my soul this week…
1. Laura & Mike’s Wedding 5K
When I first started running consistently with the Blue Mile group (which has sort of stayed together despite the store no longer being there…although no more Monday fun runs), I got to know both Laura and Mike rather well. They are both fantastically bright, fun, and amazing people. And a perfect match for each other. When they (finally) got engaged, it was something to be celebrated. And then, today, Laura & Mike invited everyone out for a special running of the Breakfast Club, for a pre-wedding 5K and then breakfast. They surprised us all with finisher’s medals that commemorate the event and their special day. Runners are the best people. I wish both of my dear friends (both of whom I have had the honor of running with for short and long distances) much luck and love in their future! CHEERS!!
2. Louisville City FC First Kick @ Home
Well, the winds were insane. That’s about all I can say. Nothing like seeing the guys out on the pitch kick a ball high, have it spin in place and then come right back to them. We had some crazy strong winds yesterday for the first home match for Louisville City FC. I (FINALLY) got to hang out with Natalie again, as she took up the third seat in the Season Tickets that we have kept from last year. Same row. Same seats. Same awesome view. LOVED being there again, despite the cold. LOVED hanging with Cathy & Natalie, watching the guys take on the New York City Redbulls II. And…sadly…and very disappointingly…we lost. Bad. It felt like we just didn’t have any rhythm. And we sort of looked a bit like a squad of newbie kids out there just mucking about. I hope this doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the season because Louisville City FC was SO amazing last year. Crossing our fingers that Saturday’s match is better.
3. THESE LEGGINGS!!
A gift from my very own Sole Sister, Natalie…I love these leggings. They fit me perfectly, and they perfectly suit our friendship. Thank you, Natalie…for these. I have been sporting them all day and I really don’t want to take them off!!
4. A Run in the Rain
A lot of times, I stay out of the rain and opt for a treadmill run or a later run. But this past Thursday, the 5 miler I put in during the wee hours of the morning was both cleansing and rejuvenating. I had no pace goals nor expectations. Normally I don’t want to go out in the rain, but it was the only time that day I’d have to do it, with nasty storms brewing that evening (right about the time I left work). And I’ve found I hurt a little more after a treadmill run than I do after an outdoor run. Sometimes a lot more. So, I opted to throw on some old running shoes, suit up, and take in 5 very wet miles. And I loved every moment of it. It was like I was a kid again. Splashing through puddles (one was ankle deep…thankfully I found that one (accidentally) near the end of the run), hearing my feet against the wet pavement, wondering what the drivers in the few cars that passed thought as I was lighting up the dark with my reflective gear and blinkie lights. It wasn’t a perfect run, nor a fast run, but it was the run I needed that morning. And I take every good and enjoyably run I can find these days!
5. Dinner Rolls
It’s such a simple thing…and yet, after promising Cathy (the roomie) that I would make my gluten-free dinner rolls for over a month now, today, I finally set out to do it. And, yes, despite a very busy afternoon, much of it spent away from home…they are being made and I have one very happy roommate on my hands. Sometimes…it’s the simple things that bring the most joy! Gluten-free dinner rolls…oh yeah. As Oprah says…”I love bread.” HAHA!! And when I make it myself, I know exactly what is going into it!
6. Deciding To Run for a Charity
I can’t plug this enough. When you believe in something, you do something. So, when I found the opportunity to run the Lumiere’s Challenge (Disney Wine & Dine 10K on Saturday and Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Sunday) for Disney Wine & Dine weekend not just for myself, but for a charity, I couldn’t be happier. As I said in a previous post…I have wanted to run for charity again for awhile. My injury kept me out of the running circuit for a year…so…yes…this had to happen. I am going to be running for Alliance For A Healthier Generation. And if you would like to support me with a donation, I would be forever grateful! I love being able to support a cause and do something I love at the same time!
After a year off from running due to a bad hip injury (which won’t ever heal…I’ve just been trained to work with it), there was one thing I made very clear as day after day ticked by and I started to get a little stronger, and live with a little less pain.
I wanted to run again for charity.
You might recall, back when I was training for my first marathon, Chicago 2013, I ran for the charity Action For Healthy Kids, a charity that Dean Karnazes works with, that aims to fight childhood obesity, undernourishment, and physical inactivity by helping schools become healthier places so kids can have healthier lives.
To keep true to my promise to myself to once again raise money for a cause, I found a great opportunity to do so…this November.
I have signed up to run the Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge at Disney World this November. You see, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon is one of my favorite Disney races, and despite some rather major changes to the race this year, I was still eager to return to this one (I ran it 2 years ago on a broken toe, LOL!). One of the changes made this year was that they added a 10K race the day before the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. So, on Saturday, November 5, at 5:30 a.m., I will be striking out (in costume!) to run the Disney Wine & Dine 10K course. Then, on Sunday, November 6, at 5:30 a.m. (yep…they moved it to a morning race…which is kind of MEH…but what do you do?), I will be running (in a different costume) the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon.
But the catch is…I’m raising money for a great cause this time!
I chose to run the Lumiere’s Two Course Challenge for Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a charity that also acts as a catalyst for children’s health. As an auntie to 7 (yes…7) nieces and nephews, I know, firsthand, how important it is for children to have a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and physical activity. Alliance for a Healthier Generation works with schools, companies, community organizations, healthcare professionals, and families to transform the conditions and systems that lead to healthier kids. After all, childhood obesity is a national epidemic. Nearly 1 in 3 children (ages 2-19) in the United States is overweight or obese, which puts them at risk for serious health problems. If obesity among children continues at the current rate, this generation could become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents.
Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s goal is to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity and empower children to develop lifelong, healthy habits.
As someone who has extensively studied nutrition, has my own food allergies to contend with, and is a dedicated home chef, and longtime food & fitness blogger, this charity seemed like a perfect fit for me.
My personal fundraising goal is $1000 (and hopefully beyond!). You can help by making a tax deductible donation to the Alliance. Your financial support will turn my efforts into research and programs to develop healthier opportunities during childhood.
If you can, please follow the link below and help support me in my fundraising efforts. No amount is too small or too big. And I appreciate any help I can get to achieving my fundraising goal.