Guys, coming back from vacation is hard. I mean, you have a routine, you get off your routine (like…by a lot), and then you try to fall back into your routine…yeah…it’s not easy. Not at all.
That being said, we had some cooler mornings this week. I enjoyed two runs in the low 50s this week, which felt glorious. I mean…I was still comfortable in a tank top and shorts and I didn’t feel like I was being weighed down by heat and humidity. What a difference from the Caribbean and Florida, eh?
But the weather had some fluctuations in it. And the other mornings I ran, we were up 20 degrees in the 70s. No rhyme or reason to when these occurred…but of course it heated up just in time for my 4th and FINAL 20+ miler this weekend.
Now that I’m back on schedule…how about we dive into this week? I had an extra rest day, which made for 5 days of running…and I could actually tell a difference. Interesting.
Monday: REST/RECOVERY DAY! TRAVEL DAY!
What can I say? I had an early-ish flight out of Orlando to get back to Louisville. And while I could have squeezed in a run around the resort, I didn’t have to get up early to do so. My coach gave me the day off. So, I also didn’t have to try to fit it in when I got back, allowing me to be relaxed on the flight, enjoy lunch out with my friend Melissa (who was kind enough to pick us up at the airport) and get home, unpacked, and get some groceries, because…we literally had NO food in the house. After running some laundry and doing the stretches I couldn’t do while on vacation (French Quarter had a hard wood floor) due to the way the rooms (on the ship and on the resort were) and also the amount of time I had to squeeze in runs every day…that just didn’t happen. My body thanked me…especially when I got to foam rolling. I went to bed around my normal time. Trying to get back on my routine.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
This was basically the same run I had on the last day in Orlando. The one where I felt like I was flying, but really I wasn’t. HA! Well, it went so much better. This was one of my 50 degree mornings. Seriously…even with it being my first run back from my 8 day trip, my legs and body responded well. Even the strides went better than they had in Florida. LOVE! I was happy with the end result…definitely felt like I was getting my legs back under me. In addition, I did my extra hip strengtheners that I hadn’t been able to do while on vacation. They felt good to get back to, for sure! 8 miles total for the 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.
Aside from some stomach issues that morning, this workout didn’t go too bad. I only missed the interval speed on one of them (the 5th) but it was close and I rallied to hit the last 2 with some time to spare. So, I mean, I wasn’t mad at it at all. This morning was in the 50s again. So, that made the 800s feel good. I used the rest time to lightly jog, because that recovery is important to being ready for that next push. And with 7 of them on tap, I wanted to be ready. I ended with 11 miles for the day, with almost perfect 800s right in the middle. I’ll take it. Made sure I was properly fueled ahead of this, using the Maurten 160 Drink Mix. It just works for me.
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.
Ahhh…recovery run. The temperature was back up into the 70s this morning. So, basically 20 degrees warmer than the previous day. Glad it happened on a recovery run day instead of speed work. Dodged that bullet. I just let my legs go however they wanted, while making sure I kept it in recovery mode. With my long run still looming over the weekend, I didn’t want to overdo anything. I relaxed, kept my heart rate down, and rounded out the weekday runs with just over 5 miles. I also did my second day of my additional hip strengtheners because it was the last day I had to work them in. I try to do them twice a week. Was surprised I managed this week.
Friday: REST/RECOVERY DAY!
Second (which is weird for me) rest day of the week. What did I do? Slept in. Seriously. I even went to bed early the night before. YAY!! Took a shower. Stretched. Ate breakfast. Had coffee. Went to work. Went out for (MAGIC) sushi for dinner. Stretched more. Foam rolled. Went to bed at 8 pm. I had an early morning ahead of me and I wanted a full 8 hours of sleep.
Saturday: LONG RUN: 18-22 MILE LONG RUN – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT!! AND PRACTICE RADE DAY FUELING STRATEGY.
I was really happy to hear from my friend, Ron, on Friday asking what my run schedule was. I have two weekend runs, but Saturday was my beast. 22 miles. My last 20 miler in this series (and my 4th one…the most I have ever done in a training cycle). Ron was good for 10 miles with me (possibly more), so I made arrangements to meet with him at 7:30 at the Greenway to run. I got out at 6:15 am to hit the streets and get in 8 miles ahead of those miles with Ron. It was warm (71 degrees) and humid that morning, but while the sun was down, it wasn’t too bad. But the moment that sun rose above the clouds, it got hot. Fast. Ron and I stuck it out, with the last couple of miles being hard. But, while he was done, I still had about 4 to go. And, the route home didn’t have much in the line of shade. I did practice my race day fueling, knowing exactly how I am going to space out my Maurten 320 Drink Mix and my Maurten 100 Gels. I have it down and I feel like, as long as it isn’t hot (and it might be) in November…I finally got fueling and hydrating down. I actually finished off the water in my hydration pack today (which had 2 Nuun tablets in it). It was a hard run due to heat, but I remain confident and feel strong…and feel that Monumental is shaping up in a good way.
Sunday: 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.
Being back on a schedule was a glorious thing. Because, despite having a soccer match on Saturday night (that kept me out later than normal)…I was up and ready to chase my sunrise. I love having recovery runs on Sunday because I can wake up and head out just as it’s getting light out and the sky is turning gorgeous colors. I make it up to the park just as the sun is climbing over the lake and it’s…my favorite thing to take in on Sunday. It was nice not to have a distance run or a run where paces needed to be hit because I really enjoy these runs. I ran comfortably. Didn’t push it on the hills. And got in 5 easy, recovery miles. Perfect way to wrap up the week.
I do believe that my unofficial, official, untraditional taper now goes into effect. My coach doesn’t taper the usual way…in fact, while mileage might be down a little, usually it’s the intensity that he takes down a notch. So…we shall see where we go from here. Race day keeps creeping closer. But this week was much easier with an extra day off and sliding back into my usual schedule.
Yep. I am well aware that this post is REALLY late this week. But…let me tell you…I was on a glorious, fun vacation. And I was off the grid for much of it because I was hanging on a cruise ship. Gotta love it.
Now, let me remind you, that when I planned a birthday trip…I was to have already run my marathon. I had planned on running the Erie Marathon, but it sold out before I could register for it. I wasn’t expecting that, so it made me give up on my dream of a Boston 2020 experience and turn my focus on Boston 2021. BUT…this now meant that instead of recovering on my cruise/vacation…I was now in the peak of my training.
My coach was very flexible with my schedule and kindly gave me a “down” week while I was away. But this did include two back-to-back 13 milers…which I moved from the weekend to the middle of the week (while on a cruise ship instead of at a Disney resort) , but this was how it would work in my schedule the best while I was away. I kept them back-to-back because I felt that was an important component to the training…just shifted WHEN they happened.
Was it ideal to have to train while on my birthday cruise/vacation? NOPE. Was it fun? NOPE. But…it is what it is right now…and I worked it in. It wasn’t perfect. It was far from it. Disney exhaustion is a real thing friends, and it definitely hit me hard. But…I managed to keep my training on track. I wish I didn’t HAVE to fit it in…but we made it work the best we could.
Let’s set sail…
Monday: REST/RECOVERY DAY! EMBARKATION DAY FOR DISNEY DREAM CRUISE!
I arrived in Orlando on Sunday morning and spent most of the morning running around Disney Springs and getting settled in to the All-Star Music resort for one night. No running around the parks. Nothing big on Sunday…just get a meal at Sanaa (THE BEST) and get some sleep to make the drive to Port Canaveral in the morning. I set an alarm and got up ahead of it, managing to work in my morning PT stretches that day. Then we made the drive to port and got signed up for the Castaway Cay 5K (which was now running on my birthday), and boarded the Disney Dream. The rest of the time was spent exploring the ship, grabbing lunch (they made me a gluten free tomato sandwich…which took some time to get to me…and they sent me 2…because I guess they thought I would starve)…settling into our room…going through the safety drill…catching a show…getting dinner (and meeting THE BEST tablemates ever)…dealing with Cathy getting sea sick…there wasn’t time for a run. And it was nice to have an extra day off and to feel like I could get used to the ship and get my trip off to a leisurely and un-stressful start start.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
Welcome to the wonderful world of training while on a cruise. This was NOT easy whatsoever. While eating breakfast, the ship pulled into Nassau in the Bahamas. YAY!! I had heard how touristy this stop was, so Cathy and I decided that we’d leave the ship, hit up the Hard Rock, hit the Starbucks (I was buying a mug for a friend), then head back to the ship. This was what we did and I was happy with this decision. The streets were crowded, and I could only imagine how the beach would be. While everyone was off the ship, I figured I’d go onto the track on Deck 4 and run my workout there. The problem was, part of the deck was blocked off due to some maintenance happening. AND…my GPS wasn’t working. At all. So I would physically have to count my laps. I wasn’t feeling it. So, we took the stairs up to Deck 11 and entered the fitness center. Here, I hopped on one of the treadmills and did an easy run (because I can’t run fast on a treadmill), putting in a full 8 miles at this pace, skipping the strides and vowing to add them onto one of my runs when I got back on land. Done. Cathy walked on the treadmill next to me and would replenish my water as needed, which was awesome. It was a great way to spend the afternoon before showering, changing (it was Halloween costume night!), and heading out to do some Trick or Treating and catching dinner with two of our table mates (the other 2 parties were at Palo that night). It was so much fun, and I wasn’t stressing the workout at all. That being said, I knew the rest of the runs on the ship would be on that treadmill.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.
This was supposed to be our day at Castaway Cay…but that got shifted to Thursday. Instead, this was our Day At Sea. It would also be Pirate Night. That’s fun, right? I got up early to get to the fitness center on the ship just after it opened at 6 am. I had 13 miles to log (really 13.1, because I can’t just run 13 miles), and was going to break it up (since treadmills go for an hour at a time) by doing 5 miles, 5 miles, and then a “fast” 3 miles right at the end. I had my bottle of Maurten with me and would fuel after each interval, with water in between. I learned, very quickly, that running on a treadmill on a cruise ship is HARD. You get a full-body workout because the treadmill belt is moving, but the ship is swaying too…so at times I felt like I was running up a hill, and at times down a hill. It took some getting used to. But I powered through with 10 miles at an easy
pace, and then 3.1 miles at a faster (maybe not super fast, but faster) pace. It was fast for me on a treadmill. Afterwards, when I finished up, one of the personal trainers on the ship came over and asked me if I was training for a marathon. He then asked which one and how many I had run. He just said he had noticed me running. WOOHOO!! So, while this wasn’t what I had in mind (and this probably would have been better on land)…I just made the most of what I had been dealt. Then, Cathy surprised me with a Stem to Stern wine tasting later that day. We did A LOT of walking around the ship that day too. And, of course, dressed up like pirates, went to dinner at the fancy Palo restaurant (where I had a gluten free souffle for dessert!!), and then had fireworks on deck. AMAZING.
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.
It was my birthday. YAY! I love my birthday. But this morning, I was up at 5:30 to get dressed and head up to the fitness center. It was still closed when I got up to the 11th deck, but opened up a few minutes later. I needed to start at 6 am sharp to get in 10 miles of running prior to the Castaway Cay 5K I would be running on Disney’s private island. I started right on time, with my Maurten bottle to fuel me through the 10 easy pace miles on the treadmill. I did another round of 5, then started over with the last 5 miles. Cathy met me up there as I finished up and we took the steps down to Deck 2 to group together with everyone doing the 5K. I was using the 5K as my “fast finish,” not sure how fast it would be in the hot sun on the island AFTER a 13 mile run the day before and 10 miles ahead of the 5K itself. We were walked off the ship and then to the start line of the 5K. Cathy was doing the 5K as well, but we weren’t running it together. We were sent off as the clock started and I passed quite a few people to start with, pulling into the lead female position (This, BTW, means nothing as this is a fun run and no official timing is given and people are encouraged to cut the course, LOL). But I made a goal in my head to stay in that position. It was definitely hot out there, especially when we weren’t in the loop (which had a bit of shade). The runway portion was probably the hottest, and I knew my first mile was pretty quick, but my second mile I faded a bit. I pressed on, pushing a bit more and picked it back up to finish “strong” that day. I was happy with it. First female. Birthday run. Done. Cathy came in and we decided to change into our bathing suits, do some shopping, grab an alcoholic beverage (a Conch Cooler) and lay on the beach for a bit. We took some pictures, went to eat lunch (the ship had a vegan and gluten free veggie burger, fries, and veggies sent to the island for me), then headed back to the ship. NO ONE was on there. We showered, changed, took pictures, and then went to a Mixology Class which was SO fun. Later on, birthday dinner with the entire table back together. And double dessert for me. LOVED it. The chef also created dishes for me the entire night to fit my dietary needs and make it super fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday…and the runs were a nice bonus!
Friday: REST DAY! DISEMBARKATION DAY & MICKEYS NOT SO SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY AT MAGIC KINGDOM!
I must say, it was nice to not have to try to fit in a run before leaving the ship on Friday morning. We got our luggage packed up, went down to breakfast, which we ate with our entire table again, and then got in the line to get off the ship and go through customs. After that, it was a waiting game for our room at Port Orleans French Quarter to be ready. We grabbed a light lunch at Toasted. We hit the grocery store for water. We walked around the resort until the text came through and we could get into our room. Once that happened, we changed into our costumes for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (we were Joy & Bing Bong from Inside Out), went to Magic Kingdom, got candy, went to eat at Skippers (we split an appetizer & entree), went on rides, got TONS more candy, walked around…and left at midnight. My legs were tired and my feet were SO sore. I think I got to bed just before 1 am and had to get up for a run on Saturday, now very glad I moved my back-to-back 13 milers to earlier in the week.
Saturday: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT
When I woke up on Saturday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was do speed work. My legs were feeling heavy, the late night and time on my feet this entire trip, but more specifically…the night prior at Magic Kingdom. It was hot and humid outside. But…I knew this needed to happen and I needed to do it now before another long day of wandering around a Disney Park (Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT!). So…I headed out. Mona Fartleks were going to happen on the running path of the Port Orleans resorts…whether I wanted it to or not. Once again, these work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down. I could tell from the start it was going to be a struggle. My warm up was MEH. My intervals felt like a slog. And there were plenty of obstacles along the way (people with luggage, people going to the buses, dogs, carts, strollers, people on the way to breakfast and not paying attention, and any number of all of them all at once). But I did sweat it out and get it done. I knew it was going to be bad. But I also had promised to tack on some strides, so I did that too…and those felt awful and slow and just sucky. I went back to the room, feeling really defeated, but had my spirits lifted with gluten free beignets and coffee. I showered, ate, put on sunscreen, headed to the bus to go to EPCOT…where we walked the rest of the day, once again returning LATE at night with tired legs and very sore feet. I knew I had one more day of runs ahead of me on this trip…
Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
Same run as I did on the ship…this time with the strides right at the end. I was hoping this run would go better than the previous one. Ultimately, this would work out to be the same distance as the Mona Fartlek workouts…just without pushing pace. I set out, and surprisingly felt good. I ran the same loops through the Port Orleans Resorts as the previous day. It was much earlier, as I was wearing my reflective gear, simply because it was still very dark out. I had an 9:15 am breakfast in Animal Kingdom, which meant in order to have time to do my run, I’d have to get up early and get it done so I could shower, change, put on sunscreen and…drive to the park. I was happy with how I felt on this. It was still warm and humid, but it’s Orlando, Florida. Of course it is. I said HI to a few people who were out smoking or sitting with their dogs on the trail. Got a lot of compliments on my Nox Gear vest (use code: CELIAC at checkout for 35% off). And I finished it up and was actually sad and disappointed with my overall pace. I felt like I was flying and it was so easy today…but the reality was sobering and frustrating. I did my strides, which felt so hard to push through and do…then went to prepare for the day. This was Animal Kingdom, some resort hopping (with Dole Whip), and then a dinner of Gluten Free Churros and Truffle Poutine. Cathy and I split those, went and rose Flights of Passage at Pandora, and then called it a night. We realized we hadn’t had a single vegetable all day…so we made a point to stop by the food court at the resort and pick up some celery and carrots to split…just to feel a bit better about life. I was thankful that my travel day the following morning was an additional rest day, which made things a little less hectic and crazy…and allowed for pre-airport gluten free beignets. HA!
So…all in all…it was a fun week, but it was hard on the training. I love traveling and taking trips, but with an actual goal this coming race, I had to prioritize my training when I had originally hoped that I wouldn’t even have to pack running clothes if I didn’t want to (let’s face it…I probably would have). It was a struggle. Mentally, the early mornings on vacation were rough, especially with my schedule and my diet being thrown off by late dinners, late nights, and more food than I thought was possible being put in front of me. But, you know…you just make it work. Even my coach said I was doing good fitting the training in while on a cruise and a stay at Disney World (since there was no races this time around) and to just let the bad runs go. Make like Elsa…Let it go! HA!
So, it will be nice to fall back into a “normal” schedule and see how I go as the summer days creep back in and warm us all back up…
Well, originally, this week was going to be a down week. Extra recovery. Because I raced pretty hard last Sunday. BUT…I reminded my coach that I was leaving the following week for a cruise and a Disney World venture…so, he shifted weeks and had this one be a bit of recovery, but keeping one day of speed work and shifting my third (and maybe last? Maybe not?) 20 miler to this weekend. Whew.
I won’t lie, my legs felt pretty flat for most of this week. And the heat and humidity returned…which also sucked. I know hot training days equal cool, fast, amazing fall marathons. But it’s still tough and I’m not always the best at adjusting expectations.
This week…I adjusted expectations because speed work morning was close to 80 degrees long before the sun came up. So, it was a challenging, and it really didn’t go to plan at all (save for the first mile, but more on that later)…but for the first time, I didn’t beat myself up over it. I let it be what it was that day. And I moved on.
So…let’s hit up this week, shall we?
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.
It was the morning after the Downtown Doubler and I was relieved he set this as an easy, recovery run. Short and sweet too. Whew. I hardly slept Sunday night leading into Monday morning. My left hamstring was still tight from the race, despite having stretched and foam rolled. Mostly, I was tired. So my heart rate stayed VERY low and my pace was just where I felt it needed to be. I had my watch covered and never once even looked at what I was running. In the end, I managed 4 miles, my usual recovery run right now, and called it a day. I did go ahead and do my additional hip strengthening exercises with my morning stretches. Because I had a hard race, my personal training session was cancelled for the additional time to recover. And I did do that extra foam rolling to help with that hamstring. Guess what? It worked.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
I had gone to bed early and managed some better sleep. Oh, and the hamstring definitely felt better. Much better. But my legs still felt flat on this run. I took it easy, but it felt harder than it should have been. And I actually checked my pace at the end of the run, and it was a pace that shouldn’t have felt that hard. I wasn’t running great at the moment. It happens, right? Heavy legs don’t last forever, right? I pushed the strides, but they didn’t feel as fast as I could usually run either. I let it be what it was for the day. Did my morning stretches and tossed in the extra hip strengtheners as well.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: TEMPO RUN – 1 MILE WU; 3X2 MILES AT TEMPO (7:20-7:50) W/ 0.5 MILES RECOVERY; 1 MILE CD
Like I said…it was 80 degrees before the sun came up. The humidity was not fun either. In fact, it made the real feel close to 85 degrees. Isn’t it September? I don’t want winter, by any means, but some cooler mornings (not cold, cool) would be nice. I went through my warmup and it felt…hard. UGH. Not a good start. But I told myself that I was going to just push hard and use the recovery to…well…recover. I managed to hit the actual tempo pace ONCE in the entire workout. The FIRST mile. That was a 7:32…from there…it went off the rails. 7:52, 7:52, 7:58, 8:02, 7:57. Recovery got slower each time too with one of them in the 9s. It wasn’t a good morning for speed work…but I did put in the effort and that meant I was actually okay with it. I met with Corey that afternoon for a killer core workout. I say that because my abs were actually sore through Saturday. How’s that for some personal training growth?
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
I kept the going to bed early thing going because I had some early wakeup calls. When the runs get longer, the bedtimes get earlier because the wakeup times get earlier. The air was thick and humid again, but the legs were actually starting to get some pep in their step. So, while it still wasn’t where I wanted the easy run to be, feeling-wise, it felt better. And my strides, still slower than I know I can push them, didn’t feel as daunting today. I fit in my stretches and foam rolling right after work, because I was cooking up a special dinner to have with friends before we left on vacation. They were bringing their adorable baby over and I was making Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts for everyone. It was a fun night and…a late one for me…but worth every moment.
Friday: REST DAY!
Because of the later night, I slept in as long as I could before needing to get up, shower, and do my stretching. It was a crazy-busy day at work, but it was also Favorite T-Shirt Day. My co-worker, Kayla, gifted me with a Murderino t-shirt and I had to wear it ASAP! It’s my new favorite. For those of you who listen to the My Favorite Murder podcast…you know. I had a hair appointment that night, and Lauren not only cut my hair back up…and then French braided it. From there, a late night dinner of my “magic sushi” at Dragon King’s Daughter. It had to happen. I had that 20 miler staring me down on Saturday morning. I went home, stretched, foam rolled, and immediately called it a night. I had an early morning, because I was starting before the sun came up.
Saturday: LONG RUN: 17-20 MILES – GOAL 19 MILES – EASY PACE – DON’T PUSH IT! AND PRACTICE RACE-DAY FUELING STRATEGY
I got up 2 hours and 15 minutes before I’d have to leave for my long run. I took my vitamins, drank 20 ounces of water, ate my overnight oats, stretched, did 50 pushups (I do this daily), fueled again with my Maurten 320, put on sunscreen, filled my hydration pack with 40 ounces of water with my Nuun tablets in them, and prepared to hit the road. I left at 6:40 am and ran the first 5 miles of my 20 miler on my own. I met up with Ron to run the Greenway (if you haven’t run it…DO IT). He did just over 11 miles with me. And they were great. We talked the entire time, had some shade in spots, and then…were blocked by a train. Just like after the Downtown Doubler. REALLY!? We did manage to run the flood wall and get across the tracks before the train started up again and we ran back to his car. Here we parted ways and I did the final four miles back to the apartment. From there, I showered, ate breakfast, went to run some errands, picked up some pho and spring rolls for my friend Natalie, visited with her while she gave me (my favorite) homemade birthday present. Who else LOVES homemade gifts? Then we finished up our errands, came home to eat dinner, PACK…because we hadn’t packed yet…and then watched Inside Out. I was a lot for just one day…but I think we are mostly ready for our trip.
Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: 3-4 MILES EASY/RECOVERY RUN. SLOW!!
No real time for an early bedtime. Not with everything that needed to happen. But I got up with enough time to fit in my 4 miles, a shower, and breakfast. Stretching and foam rolling would have to wait for the time being. We had an early flight to catch.
And now…vacation mode. This was supposed to be a trip where training didn’t have to happen (because I’d be in recovery from the Erie Marathon). I am a firm believer that all things happen for a reason. So, while I do have to train on this trip…and have two back-to-back mid-distance runs…at least I’ll relax and enjoy my time away. Deep breaths.
Me at Magic Kingdom on my last night at Disney World with all my race medals from the Disney Princess Fairy Tale Challenge weekend.
It had been over a year since my last trip to Disney World. It felt like so much longer. And a few things were changing this time around. After the bathroom incident during the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, we actually decided to move our “Disney home” from Port Orleans Riverside to…The Art of Animation Resort. It is a “step down” from the resort level of Port Orleans, which, this princess was fussing over, but it wasn’t bad. And, honestly, I’m only in the room to sleep. But still…I sort of did miss the extra space, especially when I was trying to foam roll at night AND watch Food Network at the same time (priorities).
The trip to Orlando meant an early morning to catch the first non-stop flight out of Louisville. This just happened to be on a very wet, rainy, cold morning. Hauling luggage out to the car was not fun, but we got everything loaded in and hit the road. We parked the car (we couldn’t find someone to give us a ride, so we had to pay to leave the car there while we were away) and went in to check our bags (one of the perks of flying Southwest is the free checked bags) and get through security. It didn’t take long to get through that at all, and nothing flagged for the first time in the history of ever. Not even the laptop. I don’t know why I bring my laptop with me. I have good intentions of using it…and then I rarely do. What I didn’t realize was, bringing it this time would be a blessing. More on that later.
Cathy & Me killing time at Louisville Airport before our flight
The flight was uneventful, and we landed in beautiful Orlando to temps in the 70s. LOVE! Our first stop was a nearby Whole Foods. We were going to grab snacks for the resort, and ended up grabbing lunch there as well. I found a Summer Veggie Roll that had a Gluten Free Peanut Sauce with it…so I was quite happy with that selection. I grabbed a tub of watermelon and a Sumo orange as well (which I saved for later). And, of course, water…because I needed to stay hydrated. Cathy snagged a small cup of the Lobster Chowder (she has missed that selection in Louisville), some small cornbread muffins, and a small helping of fried rice and Vietnamese-style chicken.
My Whole Foods lunch
After we ate, we decided that since we still had no word of our room at the resort being ready, we would use the bathroom at the Whole Foods and change into our sundresses and lather up with the sunscreen so we could head over to the parks. We had Animal Kingdom on the schedule. This turned out to be more of a hassle than it was worth, honestly. Cathy had to make multiple trips out to the car to get things out of suitcases and we were taking turns running into the bathroom to change and then slather on the sunscreen. It took way longer than it should have.
BUT…we finally considered ourselves ready for the parks and hopped back into the car and drove to the resort to drop off luggage. We made sure we had our necessary items and headed to the bus stop to get over to Animal Kingdom.
Me at Animal Kingdom
I was so happy to be back at Disney…and the weather was truly stunning!! Our first stop is our favorite place to get Iced Coffee. There was definitely more of a line there than we were used to…especially on a Wednesday, but we waited, placed our order, wasn’t sure which one was mocha and which was vanilla…but we got that sorted ourselves. We drank them as we killed time ducking into shops and the like…before we hit up our FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safari. I love doing the safari, and our guide was awesome (they are, but she was really fantastic) and the animals…they were really active and on the move. It was probably the most animals and the most activity from the animals I have seen on any trip on the Safari. As we exited, we branched off to the Gorilla walk. I wasn’t happy when we had to walk through the birds. I. Do. Not. Like. Birds.
Me & Cathy with Scrooge McDuck!
We went to grab a quick snack to tide us over to our later dinner reservation…Cathy’s traditional fries. I ate my Sumo orange. And then, as we wandered around, we came across Scrooge McDuck. His line handler, Caitlyn, was amazing. She was so much fun to talk to while we were standing in line. And this was my first time meeting any of the Duck Tales characters. Scrooge was a lot of fun, and Cathy kept trying to get him to go out for an alcoholic drink, but he was strict about his tea. And then we hopped on over to meet Launchpad McQuack next. I told him that I was really good at crashing too. HA! It was fun and we had some great photo ops!
Cathy & Me with Launchpad McQuack!
But then we saw the most amazing addition to Animal Kingdom…KEVIN. Kevin from UP. If you haven’t seen this in person, get to Animal Kingdom NOW. Just book your flight and do it! Kevin is phenomenal. And fun. And SO animated. This encounter spurred an early purchase for Cathy’s traditional Disney plushie purchase – Kevin!
We took a stroll through Pandora and then spent a good chunk of the afternoon wandering and exploring. But our time for our traditional first day at Disney meal was growing near and we hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy some food at Sanaa. We didn’t have to wait long to be seated and we already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to eat. Our server was a trainee and he did an awesome job. We both got something to drink with our water, Cathy got the Savannah Cider and I got the lemonade that came with a wildberry foam of some sort. I don’t remember the really cool name that it had…but it was delicious.
We started with the bread service, of which I got three pieces of the gluten-free bread and Cathy got two of the regular naan. We split one of the GF ones and we were off to the races with the different sauces, Cathy being very careful when she would spoon her sauce to not contaminate anything. This is one of my favorite things at Sanaa. For our meals, I went with the Chickpea Wat and Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables, which is served with scented Basmati Rice. It’s my go-to every time I am there. Cathy stayed with her favorite offering in the entrees, the Traditional Sosatie, which is Braai Lamb with Apricots, Pap, Spinach, Cashews, and Goat Cheese. It was all very filling and delicious.
Gluten Free Bread Service at Sanaa
Chickpea Wat, Rice, and Cilantro Coconut Vegetables
After eating, we hopped on a bus to head back to Animal Kingdom to catch the bus back to the Art of Animation. We had our room number now and went there to find our bags already in there and ready for us to settle in for the night. I took a quick shower, went to foam roll and we settled in for the night. I set an alarm for me to wake up to because I had a training run to get through before we started our morning.
It’s always an adventure running around The Art of Animation!
And that’s what I did. I forgot how hard it is to run in humidity, which would be a theme for this half marathon weekend for sure. The resort had a great running path around a lake, which was perfect for me to train on. Keeping an easy pace wasn’t hard in the heat/humidity. I finished that off with some strides, returned to the resort, showered, and we went to the dining area at the resort to find something for breakfast. That was a high anxiety and high stress situation and we vowed that would be the ONLY time we did that. Cathy went to order me a gluten free and dairy free omlette, with mushrooms, jalapenos and spinach for me. And since I couldn’t have the biscuit, the chef tossed some fresh fruit onto my plate. It was perfect. We ate and then headed out to the car to head to the Wide World of Sports for…the race expo. It was on the ride over there that my Garmin flashed me a “Sensor Error.” Not sure what it meant, I started to try to figure it out. It was that the sensor…the thing that actually reads elevation and heart rate and all that stuff, was no longer working. I figured I could, hopefully, talk to the Garmin reps at the expo and maybe get it sorted.
Gluten Free Omlette with Mushrooms, Jalapenos, Spinach…and FRUIT!
After all these years, we finally figured out the key to getting official merchandise…turn up at the expo on the first day, go straight to official merch and wait in line. The wait wasn’t that bad and we made friends with the people around us. The line moved pretty swiftly once they started letting us all in…even if at one point it was like all lines went out the window and there was this huge surge toward the front of the line. But we got in and started to shop. I bought WAY MORE than I intended to, but they had Disney Princess Weekend ears that both Cathy and I snagged, plus I needed pins for each race. I fell in love with a wine glass (of course I did) and then all the cute clothes. I had a lot of things I LOVED…but ended up getting the official challenge zip-up. And then Cathy found a cute dress thing that is actually a cover-up for before/after races. Love that. So…over $260 later, I was ready to head over to get my race bibs and then hit up the actual expo.
Official Merchandise Line upon our arrival!
The bibs were easy. This was Cathy’s first time obtaining a Disney race bib. Did I mention that she was doing her first Disney 5K?! Pretty exciting. Our numbers were a good distance apart, so I left her to get hers while I went over to pick up mine. She found me there and the guy was commenting on how I was one of the fast ones…and I said I was dropping back to Cathy’s corral, and he asked her if she was offended by me saying that I was “dropping back” and Cathy said, “NO. Not at all. Because she is definitely not going at her normal speed with me.” From there, we headed over to the actual race expo to get our race shirts and then do some shopping. Which, we didn’t really do. I was upset that there was no Garmin booth there (I mean…HELLO) but remembered that Misfit was the official activity tracker of Disney races. So…I was stuck with a broken watch for my races. Joy and happiness. UGH. That really got me riled up and I didn’t want to spend any time there…but we did make the traditional stop by Bondi Band, where we found two headbands that would work for me. One for my 10K costume…and one for training (for the record…it says “The Before Breakfast Club.” HA!) It was as we were leaving the expo that our friend, Melissa, texted us to let us know that Peter Tork (if you know me, you know of my obsession with The Monkees) had died. And I legit cried right there in the expo. After a few deep breaths, we headed out to start our day at…Magic Kingdom (aka: my favorite park).
Getting my 5K Bib
We had FastPasses for Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train spread out throughout the day. But Haunted Mansion was our first stop, and the FastPass line was INSANE. But it thankfully moved quickly. This is Cathy’s favorite ride by far. We hit up Space Mountain soon after that. And then got Dole Whip (required). We shopped. We walked around. We made our way through the Mine Train queue (also INSANE) and were put in the very back of the coaster. And then…dinner. We went to Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, which our friends Melissa & Paul introduced us to a year ago during Dopey, and we fell in love with the food and the atmosphere. I already knew what I was getting and told Cathy she had to have it too. But first…an appetizer. We split the Falls Family Falafel. And then…for our entrees…the Perkins Thai Noodles (gluten-free and minus the chicken to make it vegan), which is THE BEST thing I have ever eaten on Disney property. For real. Cathy now understood because when she got this last time, she had the flu and couldn’t taste any flavors. We had leftovers, so we boxed those up and headed out, back to the resort, stored those in the fridge and decided they would be post-10K breakfast in a couple days.
Gluten Free Falls Family Falafel
Gluten Free Perkins Thai Noodles
Showers and foam rolling commenced and we turned it in, with me setting an early 2:20 am alarm for us to get up and get dressed and ready for the first race of the weekend: the Disney Princess 5K.
Cathy & Me showing off our Disney Princess 5K Medals!
Disney Princess 5K
Race: Disney Princess 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 22, 2018
The most difficult part of any Disney race weekend is those early morning wake-up calls. Today was probably the least stressful of the three, but instead of just me getting ready, Cathy had to get costumed up as well. Sadly, my original costume, Iron Man, didn’t get assembled in time (I ordered a shirt from I Am A Superhero Fitness Apparel, DO NOT EVER DO THIS…their customer service is the worst, and it wasn’t a match with the leggings, so I contacted them to send it back and get a replacement in time for the race, and never heard from them…at all…after getting the info to return everything…and never received the replacement in time), so I had to break out my Wonder Woman costume for this one. Iron Man, part of the Marvel Universe, owned by Disney, would have worked better…but it is what it is. Cathy, however, was ready to rock her Captain America outfit. And she rocked it. Trust me. She even had light-up Captain America Mickey Mouse ears that our friends, Melissa & Paul, brought back from Disneyland Paris. We finished getting ready and headed out of the room to get to the bus that would take us to the parking lot of Epcot, where the staging area is prior to the race.
Cathy in her Captain America costume for the Disney Princess 5K
We disembarked and walked through security (no bag line…WOOT) and went to see what characters we could get our photos taken with. We managed to hit up Tiana (one of my personal favorite princesses) and Merida. Then we opted to head into the corral area and get to Corral C. We had a long wait being in that corral, so we took a seat and watched the different videos running on the big screen and the earlier corrals parading over to the start line. Cathy pointed out that there were plenty of “overly optimistic” people in those earlier corrals. While the Disney 5K is officially untimed, we both made sure we had our Garmin watches primed and ready for our start. Before we knew it, it was our turn to make the march toward the start line…and it took a few waves, but we got our fireworks and we were off.
Me as Wonder Woman (not the planned Iron Man) for the Disney Princess 5K
Except I was off at my speed and Cathy immediately said, “I don’t go that fast.” HA!! So, I fell back and got moving with Cathy, who proved to be a pro at the Disney cuts through the crowds. I also don’t know how she wasn’t dying in long sleeves and long leggings, but she was holding her own. I did get ahead of her a few times, but immediately would fall back to her side. The morning was humid and warm…the low 70s with humidity in the 90s. MEH. So, honestly, how she wasn’t dying, I will never know. That being said, in that sort of humidity, she did get a bit of a side-stich so we switched to the Galloway Method (run/walk) so that she could have some recovery time. This proved to be a fantastic option, as she walks faster than she runs. Honestly. When we hit the construction workers, she even heckled them right back. Because, that’s Cathy for you.
I would give her little pep-talks, and we ducked into the World Showcase, which now meant we were tackling some hills. It was crowded, but it wasn’t phasing her. I let her choose her walk segments, where it was hard for ME to keep up with her at times. But I made her run the downhills because downhills are my favorite speed. We ducked out of the Showcase and then back in and started to make our way toward Spaceship Earth…which meant we were getting close to the finish. We do have to make this strange turn around thing before heading to the exit. We rounded the corner, and I could see our finish line. I reached back to her to take her hand and we headed toward the finish line. She kept reminding me that my go was a different speed from hers. But, we crossed the finish line! It was awesome. And our official 5K distance was a new PR for Cathy, where she clocked in at 46:26, beating her previous PR by well over a minute. We received our medals and made our way out to get official photos and then get the snack boxes and head back to the resort. We took our turns showering, changing, and snacking before we headed out to spend the rest of the day at Epcot!
We did lots of character stops that day, Pluto, Baymax, Ralph & Vanellope, Elsa, Ana. The Festival of the Arts was going on, so there were plenty of food booths happening. And Cathy decided to forgo her beloved schwarma once again and eat around the world. I already knew my big meal of the day was going to be a Beyond Meat Burger at the Liberty Inn with Celiac-safe fries. I was really looking forward to that.
Cathy & Me with Baymax
Ralph, Cathy, Me & Vanellope
Cathy & Me with Elsa
Me & Cathy with Ana
After we completed our time at Epcot, we headed to Disney Springs and hiked over to Erin McKenna’s to get some gluten-free and vegan goodies. We ended up with a box of delicious baked goodies and then headed back to the Art of Animation to clean up, get things prepped for another early morning, let me foam roll, watch Food Network, and get some rest.
Me dressed as Zootopia’s Judy Hopps for the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Race: Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 23, 2019
Once again, another race this trip where I didn’t get to wear the outfit I originally intended to wear. My original plan was to dress up like Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. I couldn’t find the material to have my friend or my mom work up an actual costume for me (everything was either the wrong type of fabric or not close to the correct color). So…I put it up for a vote on my social media as to which costume I should revisit for the 10K…Vanellope von Schweetz (Wreck it Ralph) or Judy Hopps (Zootopia). Between Instagram and Facebook…Judy Hopps won it going away.
Cathy has a new RunDisney race shirt…and her awesome sign!
This just happened to also be the race that my coach, Daniel, wanted me to really push myself on and race. No problem. Save for the 74 degree morning temperature and the 95% humidity. I knew in this costume I would die racing, but, dammit, that was what I was there to do. So, with a bunch of layers on top, a carrot recorder, a ZPD badge, and a full hair extension piece over the top of my head to make the “bunny ears”…I was as ready as I could be to race this 10K.
Once again, we headed out of the room to get to the bus and settle in for the drive over to the staging area again. We didn’t spend time getting Princess pictures ahead of time this time around. Instead, we went to scope out the spectator area for Cathy. We were stopped by some volunteers and told that it wasn’t open yet. Apparently, according to Cathy, it’s very much like rope drop at one of the parks…pure stampede and elbows thrown to get a spot. She didn’t want to end up not able to see me on the 10K start so, I went to stand in the group waiting to get into the corrals…and soon were let in. I immediately went over to the tables and got some water to attempt to get ahead on hydration. This was one of the few times I raced a 10K with a hydration belt, mostly because I needed it as Judy’s utility belt, but with the heat, I was happy to have a steady source of water if needed.
Me at the start of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was in Corral A for the rest of the challenge weekend, so I wasn’t going to be waiting around for long. I did get into the corral early and moved toward the front before carefully taking a seat (my costume involves a bunny tail…so…yeah). I wasn’t going to waste any energy standing up though. NOPE. I wanted to really give my best to the race itself. And before you knew it…I was heading out of the corral and lining up for the 10K. I was in the second wave to go off…and Cathy actually did manage to catch me as I headed out.
The first part of the 10K is pretty dull. It’s a lot of road. As I started out hard, I passed a group of runners that were staying together and heard one of them say, “I guess she’s not stopping for photo ops.” It made me laugh. Not today. Not this race. This was the one I was supposed to give my all in. At about the second mile, we get sent up a ramp, the biggest hill we face in this race, but I felt strong as I powered up it, giving a mental thanks to my friend Christine, who has been training with me and having us do more hills than I like on our runs. I wasn’t going to look at my splits, but I felt like I was moving fast and strong.
At about Mile 3.5, we duck into the World Showcase (FINALLY) and run around about half of it. This is where it gets fun, because they really do up the park nicely with employees out their cheering, music blaring, and the atmosphere is just different from the road miles. I got a few shout-outs from the employees with “GO JUDY.” I pumped my arm in the air in response. We are directed out of the showcase and are directed toward the Boardwalk. I hate running on the Boardwalk because it can be slippery at times (they actually have an announcement about this as you approach the actual boardwalk). I traversed it safely, yet cautiously, and transitioned back to the pavement, feeling like I was picking it back up.
Runners take the roads back into Epcot, hitting the actual park this time. I got a few more Judy Hopps shout outs and was loving it. I poured a cup of water over my head at one of the water stops and learned that that was a HUGE mistake…because my long hair extensions were now sticking to my arms and driving me crazy. How people who have really long hair and keep it down when they run manage it, I will never know.
I love every race that ends in Epcot because you get to run the light-up path around Spaceship Earth. It’s beautiful when it’s still dark out. I pushed up and around, and worked my way to the park exit, where they send you past some blaring music and toward that finish line.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
I was so happy to see the finish and as I was running toward it, heard my name announced and everything. As I got closer, I could hear someone approaching from behind, and used my best Kelsie kick (she is WAY better at it than me) to stay ahead of that person and cross with my hands up in the air for victory. I stopped my watch and was SHOCKED when I saw a 48 at the front of my time. I really pushed hard in that race…and didn’t want to feel disappointed by my time…but I felt disappointed by my time and that I really probably could have pushed it a little more and much harder. But I had given my all in the end…the heat and humidity had just taken its toll.
I met up with Cathy at the runner’s reunion area, after having her shout “Hey Fluffbutt” over the wall at me after I got my medal, my snack box, my water, and my official photo taken. I actually did this twice and was glad I did, because the first one was awful. Sometimes you just know. Lines for the princesses weren’t long, so we hopped in to get photos with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Elena, and Cinderella. Cinderella said that she bet Judy Hopps could teach her mice a little more discipline. God, I love meeting Disney characters.
Post-10K race with Sleeping Beauty
Post-10K race with Elena
Post 10K race with Cinderella
We hopped on the bus to head back to the Art of Animation resort where I showered, changed, and then ate cold leftover noodles from Skippers and split one of the GF and Vegan Donuts we got from Erin McKenna’s with Cathy. And then…we were off to spend the day at Hollywood Studios, where I rode Tower of Terror twice, got on Star Tours twice (one time I was FINALLY the spy), checked out the new Toy Story Land, I had my best game ever on the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin (I came CLOSE to Cathy’s score. Usually I suck). And then, we departed Hollywood Studios to head out of the Disney World bubble and hit up Toasted, a gourmet Toasted Cheese place in Orlando. They have Celiac-safe options, vegan options, and safe Rosemary & Truffle Fries. HELLO!! This seemed to be the best pre-half marathon option for me and it was worth the drive (even though then we were informed that they now had a location very close to Disney World). Then…back to the hotel to rotate through showers, foam rolling, Food Network (you know the drill). And then…rest. The half marathon was all that was left.
Oh, but let’s not forget…my official results of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K were that I finished in 48:49. I was 97/12,274 finishers overall. I was 44/10,466 female finishers. And I was 8/1549 people in my age division. So, I mean, it was a really good finish…but I knew I could do better. I wasn’t going to let it disappoint me. I felt like I gave my all that morning.
Ready to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon as Snow White!
Disney Pincess Half Marathon
Race: Disney Princess Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 24, 2019
Final day of early morning 2:20 am wake-up alarms. When you get to the last race in the race series, you are pretty much ready for said series to be over. I was pretty excited about the half marathon because I was given no pace goals, simply to treat it as a training run. My race was the prior day…on the 10K. I love having a no stress race, especially at Disney.
My costume was much easier to get into, so getting ready was a breeze. My nieces (Kaytlynn & Baileigh), decided that I should dress up like Snow White for the half marathon. And thus, my mom created a new top (my old Snow White top was pretty much dead after the Dopey Marathon in 2014), and Snow White was running again. It was another hot and humid morning, but there was a bit of a breeze this time. And that was helpful for sure. Cathy and I headed out to catch the bus right on time, and made it to Epcot without any issues. YAY!! And I had plenty of time to meet up with people I was hoping to meet up with. BONUS!
Meeting up with Tarra before the race!
The problem was, I was the only person from my local MRTT/SRTT group that was in Corral A. The rest were in Corral F and starting later. Meaning…they weren’t going to arrive until later. Stephanie, a friend I met through Instagram, was running as well, but she was in traffic and Corral A was needing to get loaded in. My friend Janelle attempted to find me, but apparently I had already made it to the corral. She was in A…but we never did find each other. BUT…all that being said, I did manage to get hugs, greetings, photos, and some catch-up talk time with a friend of mine from my Elementary/Middle/High School days…who was on my softball team and everything – Tarra. So that was amazing. She and her husband were running the half and we had hoped we would be able to catch up with each other prior to the race. It was the only meet-up that happened for me.
We eventually parted ways and I knew I needed to start making that spectacularly long hike from the staging area to the corrals. It’s a great warm-up and…I didn’t need to sprint it like I did for the marathon during Dopey 2018. Corral A is a bit of a bear to get to though…all the way up and a bit of off-roading. But I got there, got inside, moved up to where I wanted to be, and took a seat. I had a bit of time before things kicked off and I didn’t want to be standing the entire time.
Cathy’s view of Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom
But, soon they were preparing to send the wheelchair racers off. And then…the waves for Corral A. I was in the 2nd wave to take off. The fireworks went off and we were on our way, taking on the dark highway of Disney World, making our way toward Magic Kingdom. It’s a lot of road, a lot of screens and character stops, and a lot of just knowing what awaits you on Main Street inside Magic Kingdom. I didn’t make characters tops, although the lines are never long for me. I wanted to really treat this as a true training run, my only caveat being that I would walk every water stop. I wanted to stay on top of my hydration as the race went on because I hadn’t been running in heat and humidity. It was 20 and below back in Indiana. Around Mile 3-ish, I think, I saw the monorail wing by. I actually wondered if Cathy was on that one, as she skipped the race start to hopefully catch me on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. She has attempted to do this twice before, and I have always beat her to the castle. She said that is the one downside to cheering on a “fast” runner.
Cathy found a prime viewing spot inside Magic Kingdom
I ticked off those highway miles and made it to Magic Kingdom. This is, by far, the best part of this race. You duck inside and make the turn onto Main Street. The crowd is amazing. This is the best part of any Disney race that sends you through Magic Kingdom. And, wouldn’t you know it, in the screaming and waving crowd, there was Cathy! She had a sign, a cowbell, and was filming me as I made my way up Main Street. I gave a wave as I went by and then made the turn to go into Tomorrowland. From there, runners cruise through Fantastyland, then through the castle, before exiting through Liberty Square and out through Frontierland. It’s the best part of the race. I always look forward to the dash through the castle itself and the photographers stationed on the winding path down towards Liberty Square. It’s amazing. But then the cheers and lights fade and you find yourself back out on the roads, making your way back toward Epcot.
There is a lot of highway on this course, but Disney does it’s best with characters and DJs and music. And every mile marker has a different character and a theme song on it, so it is something to look forward to. After Magic Kingdom, you’re halfway through the race.
Me crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
The best part, for me, after that is the Green Army Guy, the ones from Toy Story, that is stationed on a hill around Mile 10. You often here him shouting at the runners to get up the hill and other motivation. As I was nearing him, he shouted, “I want to hear you make some noise.” And none of the runners around me did anything. But I’m a good group exercise veteran and I went, “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” And he ran with it. I got a whole call-out just for me. “That’s right Snow White! That’s right, Snow. You’re going to find your finish line. You’re not going to be Grumpy or Sleepy. You won’t feel Dopey. You’ll feel Happy when you cross that finish line. Go get it, Snow! Don’t be Bashful.” It was amazing!!
At Mile 11, I spotted the infamous Balloon Ladies on the opposite side of the course. There were a lot of people darting back and forth over the road as there were port-o-potties on our side of the course. I noticed, later, that these runners were just at Mile 1 at this point. And I was 2 miles away from being done. Crazy!
Just after crossing the finish line at the Disney Princess Half Marathon
At Mile 12, we were directed back into Epcot to make the dash through to get to Spaceship Earth. I love this part of the race. Right as I was coming up toward it, one of the volunteers closed one side and directed me and another woman the opposite way. They do this to help with the flow of traffic. The woman I was running with was like, “Why did they do that?” So I tried to explain while running with her. We made another turn and she said, “We have to be close to being done.” I told her we were going to round a corner, run past a gospel choir, then make another turn and she should see the finish line. And then I said, “Go get it!”
My favorite part of any half at Disney World is that gospel choir before the finish line. It is just such a mood lifter. You just feel good. I mad the turn and started down the path toward the finish line. And I crossed it, feeling really relieved to be done. Another hot Florida race complete. I spotted Cathy up in the stands and waved as I walked to go get my medal. As I made my way through the line, I had to veer off to pick up the challenge medal as well. They take a picture of you with your bib at the expo…so they have volunteers who check every challenge participant before letting them through to get the challenge medal. I snagged a snack box from the guy on the very end who said “We have the best bananas over here.” HA! And then I went to get my official photo done.
Heather & I post-race!
Afterwards, I exited through bag check and found Cathy. She said that lines weren’t too bad for characters, so we decided to get in line for some. On the way, I spotted Heather Shultz, and had to go say HI to her. She ended up coming to stand in line for some princess shots with us. It was nice to get to talk to someone I cheer on through social media so much. We had gotten in line to meet Pocahontas, but right when we got up there, they switched her out for Merida. Oh well. We took the photo op anyway. We also got photos with Mulan and with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) before we decided to hop on a bus back to the resort so I could get cleaned up and we could head out to Port Orleans French Quarter to get some celebratory Gluten Free Beignets (they took over an hour and that’s another long and rambling story that I won’t get into here, but I was PISSED).
Me with Merida
Me & Cathy with Mulan
Me with Aurora
Anyway, my official time for the Disney Princess Half Marathon was that I finished in 1:45:24. Not bad for walking those water stops (and I walked EVERY one). I was 176/20,088 finishers overall. I was 89/17,099 female finishers. And I was 14/2665 people in my age division. Not half bad for a training run, eh?! I was quite happy with it.
So, another Disney race weekend and challenge in the books. I hadn’t done the Disney Princess Half Marathon since 2013, so it was nice to return to it. And, with the water stop walks I made myself take, I almost tied my time from 2013 (it was 1:45:06). So…yeah. I love coming to Disney to run and while Disney Princess seems to be one of the more popular races of the ones offered, I was so happy that I came back to it. Next time, I hopefully won’t wait 6 years to come back.
As some of you know, I have been training, very specifically, very diligently, and quite intensely for my Spring marathon! I chose one out of the area, but close enough to drive. Honestly, this is one of the most vigorous training plans I have been through when working toward the marathon distance. As I may have mentioned (it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, I can’t remember), I hired a new coach. He was my physical therapist back in 2017 when my hip flexor paralyzed itself, and he got me quickly back on the road. After not reaching any running goals last year, I really needed to reassess my training, and after talking to him, hired him on to train me. And my life has never been the same.
I have had some of the highest mileage weeks I have had in 6 years. I’m not saying that to brag, because I am aware that one extra mile could be the tipping point to injury. But, as I said, Daniel used to be my physical therapist and he knows my weaknesses better than I do. He also knows that in order to speed me up and work on endurance, it means a mix of easy/slow runs and hard speed sessions. We all know how I feel about speed work, but he hasn’t made me cuss him out or cry yet…so his method is working.
I will say, I’m exhausted by the end of the week and look forward to my rest day to prepare for the long runs (yep…runs) of the weekend. Sometimes they are easy runs, sometimes one of them involves some speed. But there is always a reason for where and why he wants me to do runs a certain way. And I’m working hard to hit suggested paces, without going over the edge to injury. It can be a fine line, especially when you’ve dealt with injuries over the years. Last year, I made it out without a single one, and I hope to continue that trend this year.
All that being said, I am getting a slight down week this week as I am headed to Disney World (you know this if you follow me on Instagram) for the Disney Princess Race Weekend. I am participating in the 5K (running it with my roommate at her pace), the 10K (which is what Daniel wants me to race), and the half marathon (training run). I’m super stoked. My last trip to Disney was in January 2018, and it was a hot mess express of a dumpster fire.
So…packing has commenced and I finally got around to trying on my costumes yet. Does my coach realize that I dress up in costumes? Probably not. LOL! But its Disney…if you don’t do SOMETHING Disney related (doesn’t have to be full-on costume), you have no soul.
So…my 5K costume had to change. My roommate is running as Captain America, so I thought I’d go as Iron Man (Tony Stark FOREVER!).
Sadly, the outfit I ordered to do this costume, didn’t match. And the company I ordered the top from hasn’t done much to get me the new top in time for this race. So…I thought about trying to put together a Captain Marvel costume (not enough time), or do something else Avengers…but I just couldn’t cobble together what I needed in the short span of time remaining. So that means, I stick to super hero, but cross the streams into the DC universe and run as…Wonder Woman (DUH!)!
Not what I wanted…but it will work. It will do. And besides, I am Wonder Woman, so might as well stick to my nickname.
For the 10K…I was having a hard time settling on a costume. Believe it or not, I was originally going for Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.
That being said, it’s really hard to find running clothes that are that golden yellow and not a fluorescent yellow. I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics to maybe get fabric for my friend Melissa to sew a costume for me, but there wasn’t anything there that would work. I was sad, but not giving up on this costume. It WILL happen, because she’s perfect for me to run as. So, I had to make a choice between two costumes that I have run in before…Officer Judy Hopps (Zootopia) or Vanellope von Schweets (Wreck it Ralph). I put it up for a vote on both Facebook and Instagram and the winner…
Pretty excited to bust out this costume again. Hoping that I get the “ears” just right like last time.
The one race that I knew for certain which character I was dressing up as was the half marathon. My nieces, Kaytlynn and Baileigh, chose for me to run as one of the most classic princesses from the Disney films.
My mom made my top for this costume, as the one I wore when I ran Dopey in 2014, was shredded. I mean, the sleeves are made out of ribbons. My mom did a PHENOMENAL job and I can’t wait to share the actual costume with you guys! I tried it on today as we started packing for the trip and I really just want my mom to make all my running costumes from now on. She did my Vanellope top I wore in Dopey 2018, and it was perfection. This one…also perfection. Excited to reprise my role as Snow White for 13.1 magical miles.
I’m going to be trying some new stuff out in the upcoming weeks, but I needed to get through Disney before I make fresh purchases. I’m thinking of switching to the hydration vest versus the belt I’ve worn since 2012. My friend Christine let me borrow hers and I loved it. So…that will be a big purchase, but one I can’t wait to try. Also…my new fuel. It’s pricey, but it seems to work! I’m using old fuel I still had kicking around for now. It’s fine, because I like it as well. As long as it doesn’t make me sick or hurt my stomach, or as long as I don’t have to chew it…I’m happy to use it.
So, seven challenging weeks of training down. Ten more to go. And now, here come the weeks where I also throw in some races (either as training runs, or to race) and I’m pretty stoked to get that going. Stay tuned, as I hope to keep you informed of more of my training highlights and shortcomings (because I’m human and I’m not going to nail everything). But that will have to wait until I get back from Disney.
But I can’t here. Not yet. Because…things haven’t been said on other platforms by other people that I can’t go into here…but once it’s out there…I’ve got blogs to write and things to fill all of you in on.
I’ve been on the road a lot recently. And I leveled up somewhere in there with a birthday too.
I’m very behind on this blog…and I realize this. I’m seriously going to make more of a push to be active and write about more than just my races. Because I’m not just passionate about running…but also food and travel and…just having fun. With friends.
Here’s a little run-down of things coming down the pike…
I went to Hawaii. Again.
I went to Disneyland. Again.
I went to Chicago. Again.
I got shadowbanned by Instagram. That’s a first. No again necessary. That being said…no one is seeing my posts right now and since I’ve built my account up since 2011…having it currently be unavailable to people who are not my friends is beyond frustrating. My visibility is nill and IG has done nothing to fix it…because I’m not one of their precious influencers. MEH. And how did this happen? I got hacked. On a Sunday morning. While headed to a run.
So…if you aren’t following me on Instagram…come and give me a follow and check out my posts (like them, please!) and my Instagram Stories (I’m hilarious. Sometimes. HA!)
Thanks, lovelies. I also hope to start going back to some product (food and running related…YAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!)…and I’m going to get serious about recipes and also progress with…just where I am…both in fitness and in life. Because…sometimes life is hard and things just get out of control. And it’s good to have a support team.
Thanks for sticking with me.
Blogs are coming. Daily. I am going to make this a priority again.
Anyone else out there have a problem with patience? Especially when it comes to being patient with yourself?
STORY. OF. MY. LIFE.
And…its my impatience (I totally blame being a go-getter New Yorker) that often leads me to setbacks that don’t move me forward and only end up dragging me down and feeling defeated.
I’m trying to break the mold this time around. And…trust me…this isn’t easy. Not at all. As I mentioned before, I recently participated in The Dopey Challenge at Disney World. Over 4 days, I ran 4 races…each of which got longer in length (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon), and I actually did really well on the races, given that I was bouncing into the parks every day and not resting up the legs. Honestly…I’m so super proud of my performance. This being the 2nd time I’ve participated in The Dopey Challenge and having improved on all the times of the races I actually raced (10K, Half, Full), I felt amazing (mentally) but tired and sore (physically) following the actual events. I went into the weekend with a sinus cold and came out of it with the Disney flu. I took a lot of days to recover…from sickness and the races. I knew, following Dopey, that I would need to let my body recover well. I still probably would have gone back to it sooner had my body not been drained from sickness. This past week, I decided to give easing back into it a try.
And I started on Wednesday with an hour long spin class…that totally kicked my ass. I was done within the first 20 minutes…my power, energy and speed all really dropping down. Our spin bikes light up to tell what zone you are in and I didn’t even care that I was in the white and blue instead of yellow and red like the rest of the class. I had to listen to my body. And while I valued the movement, I wasn’t going to push myself to try to hit a level my body wasn’t ready to reach yet.
Call that growth, because I do believe the me of the past would have felt the need to press on and keep up with the rest of the class. But I’ve also had a recurring stream of injuries to deal with the past 3 years. After building up and failing over and over again…you do actually gain wisdom. There is no shame in listening to your body and backing off intensity as you see fit. I put this body through a lot physically both with the races and then trying to fight off illness…it’s no wonder my body isn’t feeling as strong as it used to be.
Have I lost some fitness…you better believe I have. Some mornings, it is a struggle to just simply get through my PT exercises. And for as much as I have stressed their importance to me coming back stronger, the past 3 weeks have seen little to none of the stretches and exercises I was prescribed. And I didn’t feel guilty about it. My body needed the sleep and the time on the couch more than it needed the movement.
But, like any active person, my body does crave movement. I like moving my body. I just needed to give myself the time to get to where it could handle some. Nothing big. No long miles or hard runs. No pushing the limits on the spin bike. Just gentle movement.
This past weekend, with the weather warming up and the snow and ice melting away, I took advantage with my first run since Dopey. And, while I was out there for 30 minutes, believe it or not…only 8 minutes of it was actually spent running. I took my time to warm up with 5 minutes of walking…then did 4 x 2 minutes running/3 minutes walking…then a 5 minute cool down. And it felt hard…and amazing all at once. And that was how I needed to take it. I’m not ashamed that I only ran 8 minutes. I’m damn proud of those 8 minutes and what my body managed to do in that time. I took Sunday off completely and didn’t feel bad about it.
Today, it was close to 60 degrees this morning. So, I decided I would pull on a pair of SHORTS and take advantage by doing a short run. I decided to just run…easy…and deliberately…keeping the heart rate down…but do it without the walk breaks. It was the struggle bus. My body is still recovering, but I managed to do 20 minutes and keep the heart rate in Zones 1 and 2. I count that as a win. I went to spin afterwards, and that’s when my body let me know it was too much for the day. The first half of class I felt strong and almost normal, but my energy levels crashed soon after that…so I turned down the resistance, sat down when I needed, and just let my body do what it needed.
I’m not mad. I’m recovering. And I will still take complete rest days and lift lighter weights when strength training…and keep the intensity down. The me of the past would have taken this as failure…but I feel so empowered that I can trust my body, my mind, and myself to practice patience and self-love and trust that I will grow from this. Constant forward progression. Tired of taking steps back. It’s all a matter of changing the mindset. And I still struggle…but I know, in the end, this will make me a better, faster, stronger athlete.
AND…as another form of self-care and self-love, let me also emphasize that just because I am not working out doesn’t mean I’m not fueling my body. My body went through a lot and proper nutrition is key. I am not just eating fruit and low calorie foods just because I’m not working out. WRONG. I have actually changed a lot of what I eat to give me more nutrients and better sources of vitamins and fuel to help this body maintain fitness and strength through all of it. Starving your body only starves yourself of further potential and forward progress.
Patience is not an easy thing to practice. It’s something that can gnaw at you and really make you question yourself. Learning how to be patient with my body and myself has been one of the hardest things I have set out to do…and while it’s still a constant work in progress…I can see where my mindset has changed so that I am kinder to myself and…more willing to give myself the time I need to get to where I feel I want to be.
If there is one thing I might have taken for granted or just not done properly in the past…it’s taken recovery time. No runner likes time off. I have yet to meet one who actually does proper recovery after hard efforts or distance races.
I actually did this time.
Some of it might have been forced. After all…thanks to the petri dish of germs that is Disney (especially on Marathon Weekend), I came down with the Disney Flu. Yay. And no, this doesn’t come with fun Mickey Ears and character experiences. It comes with a big dose of Theraflu and sleep.
I mean…it has been non-stop since I returned from the freezer that was Orlando over Marathon weekend. Coughing. The coughing is the killer. I am finally able to breathe again. Thank you for calming down sinuses. Remember…a co-worker gave me a sinus-only cold before I even left for Dopey. Run all the races. Go to all the parks. Is it any wonder I ended up like this?
Has my recovery been a bit forced? Perhaps. But here’s the thing…
I set a goal this year. A goal of having an injury-free 2018. So when my running coach tells me to rest…dammit…I’m resting. When my mileage is lower than I like it to be…well…so be it. Trust the process, right? I have a few other big goals I’m hoping to reach in the next year or two…so I have to learn to believe in myself…and the method that will help me get there more efficiently than…past attempts.
I admit to, in the past, rushing back into activities. I bounce back quickly. I do. But I also break down too. We all do. We just don’t always like to admit to it.
Here’s the thing…we might feel good…but we put our bodies through a lot and push it to the limit, not just in races…but in training too. Maybe moreso in training…and we’re LESS likely to take recovery/rest days during training. I don’t care what distance you raced…if you raced…RECOVER!! Like…actually recover!! Would I have taken time off if I hadn’t caught the Disney Crud? Yep. I actually would have. Like I said, I have big goals this year and to achieve them, I need to respect my body and learn a little patience.
I mean…granted, I hurt for about 3 days following the Dopey Challenge…but I also pushed through most of the 48.6 (and more) miles that I covered over the course of the weekend. And that’s just running. I still had parks to visit in between. Because, as much as I’d love to lay low…I pay for those Disney tickets and they aren’t cheap. By God, I was going to get my money’s worth. Park hopping…princess hunting…fast passing rides…all of it. I was doing it. And…I did it. All.
But it doesn’t have to be The Dopey Challenge to make taking down time a priority. Any race…any distance…anywhere where you push yourself more or further…do yourself a favor. Take some time off. Depending on the race distance…it could be a week…it could be two…it could be more. Don’t think you HAVE to get to the gym the day after a half marathon or hop on a spin bike or even go for a “recovery run.” Let’s face it…whether you back of the speed or not…a 6 mile run is generally a 6 mile run…”recovery” or not. I listened to a podcast recently from a running coach who said that there was absolutely no such thing as a recovery run. You’re still putting in an effort and working the same muscles that your regular runs do. And most people don’t actually run these that much slower. Your entire body needs to heal up to get stronger…don’t rush the process. You might feel good immediately after the event…but you’ve still put that body through a lot. You might feel good a week after…and you still might need more down time, depending on the distance that you ran.
Remember…there is no such thing as over-training…just under recovery.
RECOVERY…is super important. I have been fortunate enough that my recovery time has fallen when it’s gotten stupid cold outside, with the addition of some ice and snow on the ground. Bonus. I’m always cold…so I hate running in the cold. And I especially hate winter weather running.
In addition, let me be the first to remind you that you should NEVER stop eating properly or regularly despite recovery time. Your body needs all those nutrition benefits, especially as you recover from a hard effort. With the Disney Flu…I have still maintained my regular food times. I mean, I do live on a schedule. What I have done is simply change what I have been eating. Mostly because I can’t taste flavors right now…and just eating food for texture isn’t working for me. So, soup and chili have been my go-tos. But I am making sure I am hitting all my nutrition needs every day. And yes…I’m eating well and I’m definitely eating enough calories each day. Eat well, eat enough, eat healthy. So many people focus on weight and get really crazy with their nutrition. When you’re training, you need to eat. And you need to eat well. When you’re recovering…you also need to eat…and yes…you need to eat well. Now is not the time to cut down on your nutrition. I promise…you aren’t going to get fat.
As I stated, for the past two weeks…all I’ve really wanted it soup. That being said…I love that soup has so many different varieties out there because it keeps it interesting. I’ve been serving mine up with different gluten-free crackers. And sometimes I add avocado or something to bulk it up. I mean…who doesn’t love tomato soup with a grilled (vegan) cheese sandwich? I know my body needs certain things to stay in good shape even when I’m not working out as much. NEVER skimp on nutrition when you are training or recovering.
So…I’m on the mend. I took time off from work to sleep and recovery both before I left for Disney (initial sinus bleh) and then basically all the rest of the week after I got back from Disney. Sleep and rest and proper nutrition have definitely helped me bounce back from not just the races…but the sickness too. My muscles don’t ache anymore (also…thank you Roll Recovery!) because I’ve let them heal and get stronger. I’ve been using my new Roll Recovery R8 and R3…as well as my foam roller. And stretching. Never underestimate the power of stretching. I even went to 2 of my spin classes this past week. I took it easy. I didn’t push as hard as I normally would. And I still felt like it kicked my ass. I’m not mad. I’m taking my time.
That being said…if you thought I was a germophobe before…you should see me now…
Remember, friends…living your best life is all about balance. Find time to rest…recovery…find balance…eat well…play…laugh…and yes…return to that activity you love…once your body is stronger from the respect and rest you allowed it.
I took 2 weeks off…and I still feel I fatigue easily. I’m easing back into with with longer walks and short run segments. And I still feel like I’m a badass. I’m a very smart…totally recovered…less injury-prone badass!!
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” — The Emperor, Mulan.
All the Dopey Challenge Medals at Magic Kingdom!
I can do hard things.
That became my mantra during the last run of The Dopey Challenge this past weekend. To be honest, I think the whole experience was a comedy of errors, but it led to four amazing and different finish lines.
Four races. Four days. Four different distances, each race getting longer. And the hardest part to grasp as that you aren’t even halfway through the entire mileage by the third race.
I did the Dopey Challenge during its Inaugural year, in 2014. I felt invincible back then and went into it with little training and no plan. And it was amazing and inspiring and fun. I missed out in 2016 when I thought I would give it another go due to lingering hip injuries. That was a lot of money to lose out on…trust me. MEH!
I never even thought of running in it again (okay…I perhaps thought about it every year it did run…but never pulled the trigger, really gun-shy about what this body could actually manage anymore), but then, last year, I became great friends with Melissa and Paul…and with a little peer pressure…I found myself registered for the 5th Anniversary of the Dopey Challenge (and also the 25th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon).
With two setback with the opposite hip that has the labrum tear this past year (in January and July, I believe)…I was really starting to lose hope that Dopey or even marathon running would happen again. I had to defer Chicago due to lingering hip issues back in September, which broke my heart and did nothing to boost my confidence. It was through my last round of physical therapy and adopting a run/walk method on long runs that I managed to get through Dopey training (I think to the surprise of everyone, including my coach, bless her) in one piece.
Because after the holidays, I had a 3 day stint at work…where people returned to the office sick. And despite my best efforts…I caught the crud. I started feeling bad on Friday night. Saturday I went to bed before 8 pm after cancelling my last training run and basically living on the couch. Same story on Sunday. Sunday was also New Years Eve…and I couldn’t even ring in the new year. I was in bed before 8 pm again. I woke up feeling a little better on Monday, but not wanting to risk anything, I called in sick to work and stayed home to finish packing before being taken to the airport by our dear friend and neighbor, Laura.
So…here I was…heading into a 4-race series….with a lingering cold, a damaged immune system…and into a Florida cold snap. No joke. The weather turned at the start of the year. It went from being lows of 50s and highs of mid-70s…to below freezing temps. Considering my costumes I was going to run in consisted mainly of tank tops…some modifications had to be made.
I arrived in Orlando late on Tuesday night. My rommie and I had a hotel room off-property that night, just giving us an extra day to not rush through the runDisney expo, packet pick-up, and all that craziness. We went to our favorite Orlando eat spot…Toasted…where I could get a Gluten Free and Vegan grilled cheese sandwich with a side Gluten Free Truffle Fries. I got The Inferno…which is their house-made vegan cheese (this stuff melts AMAZING), tomato, jalapeno, and sriracha. SO good. I figured the spice might help the whole sinus situation I had going on. This is where the madness began. Upon returning to the hotel, I realized that my pajamas never made it into my luggage…so I was now sleeping in my plane clothes. Whatever. We decided that the following morning, we’d hit up Target and Publix for pajamas, snacks, water, and other necessary items.
When we woke up that morning, it was pouring down rain in Orlando. We bundled up in hoodies and went out to the stores. We even picked up a few requested items for our friends, Melissa and Paul, who had spent the New Year at Disney. We got all of that together and headed to Disney Springs to park and head to Erin McKenna’s, the gluten-free bakery there, where we picked up a Scone (which we split right then), a Thin Mint Cookie (and one for Melissa for her birthday), a Cinnamon Roll, a couple of Donuts, and a slice of her Lemon Tea Cake. Then, we headed over to Pop Century to pick up Melissa and Paul so we could all head to the expo together and do the whole packet pick-up, expo, shopping thing together.
It was a mess. We ended up standing in the rain for a good chunk of it. Cathy had ducked into CVS before we headed to Disney property for ponchos and only found child sizes. Mine was super tiny (but had Disney princesses on it) and hers ripped as she unfolded it. So…staying dry wasn’t happening. All of this wasn’t helping the whole cold/sinus issue I was still dealing with at this point either. We got into the building and followed the line down to the area where you show your ID, turn in your waiver, and get your bib. If you’re doing the challenge (and the 3 of us were), you get your photo taken so they can confirm that it was, in fact, you, who finished. After that, we were ready to get our official merch on and then hit the expo. Cathy had gone on ahead to get in the Official Merchandise line…and it was a line. Over a 2 hour wait…mostly outside…mostly uncovered. Melissa and Paul had pre-purchased items, which normally, you would just go ahead and get without having to stand in said line…because you did, after all, pre-purchase them. No such luck. We decided it wasn’t worth it and headed into the other part of the expo where the vendors were.
Me and two of my favorite partners in crime…Paul & Melissa!! Outside the expo. Cold. Wet. Disappointed.
I felt that the vendor area was much smaller and had fewer products/companies that I recognized. I didn’t see Nuun or Newton there, which I had been hoping for. I need to get more Nuun tablets, and my roommate forgot to bring my new pair of Newtons home from work with her on Tuesday, so I had one pair of shoes for all four races. My intent had been to purchase new shoes at the expo. I could wear them in the shorter races and feel confident that I would be fine. No luck. I did end up getting the Roll Recovery R8 and R3 rollers for a huge discounted price at the expo. And I am totally in love with these products. Cathy went in search of BondiBand and got me needed bands for two of my costumes…and a bonus one she said I had to have. She was right. HA! And after that…we gave up and headed back to Pop Century. The weather was cold, but we had some Fast Passes at Animal Kingdom with Melissa and Paul (it was Melissa’s birthday so we were totally making a day of it…and so far it wasn’t going right), so we parked at their resort, hopped the Animal Kingdom bus and went on the Kilimajaro Safari, the new Flights of Passage in the Avartar part of the park (OMG…THIS RIDE!), and went out for a birthday celebration meal at Melissa’s favorite spot, Tiffins.
Tiffins Meal & Dessert: Autumn Vegetable Harvest and Neapolitan Macaroon
I ordered the Autumn Vegetable Harvest, which was a Roasted Red Kuri Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin Custard, Black Rice, Baby Spinach, Pumpkin Seed Pistou, and Cranberry. It tasted like Thanksgiving. It was SO good. And of course, dessert happened. Both Melissa and I got the Neapolitan Macaroon off the kids menu, FTW! After dinner, we took the bus back to Pop Century, told Melissa and Paul we would see them bright and early for the 5K the following morning and headed to Port Orleans Riverside to claim our room. It was late when we arrived and we had a 3 am wake up call facing us down. So, we hauled our luggage up in two trips and got ready for bed. Cathy noted that the bathroom door was latching strange, but nothing too bad. Loved the royal room…and this time we had a gorgeous view of the courtyard. Lights out. We were down for the day.
Stephanie, Me, Genie, Melissa & Paul during the Walt Disney World 5K
Walt Disney World 5K
Race: Walt Disney World 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 4, 2018
“The belonging you seek is not behind you…it is ahead.” — Maz Kanata, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Disney doesn’t officially time their 5Ks. Did you know that? It’s true. And with everything happening in 4 days if you’re doing Dopey…this is probably a good thing. I had an alarm set for 3 am to change into my costume for the 5K, modified due to cold temperatures (it was below freezing that morning and my original costume was Tron…I ended up bringing BB-8, with a fleece top and a base layer to go under the actual bra top). I got up, used the bathroom, and started to change. Cathy went into the bathroom after me, and as I am pulling on my orange CEP Compression sleeves, I hear her messing with the door knob. She says, “I can’t get the door to open.” WHAT?! So, I let her jiggle and mess with it while I layered up. When she still wasn’t out of there and I had tried from my side and she had tried from hers…I called the front desk and explained that we were doing the 5K that morning and that my roommate was trapped in the bathroom in our room. She had me try to get the latch to release with a credit card…and that didn’t work. So she said she would send someone up.
Meanwhile, she has me scoot her clothes under the door to her so she can change while we wait on help. I am texting Melissa and Paul and trying not to panic and laugh at the same time. Steve, the manager on duty, knocks on the door. He comes in and tries the door knob. Nope. Stuck. So he leaves to go get a screwdriver. He returns…and still has no luck. He tells me that I need to get to the start line…so I’m putting on my throwaway clothes (remember…it’s freezing here) and he said he was going to get another tool and try again. In the process of doing that, he also calls 911 to get the fire department out and calls their engineering department, and whoever got there first, he promised, would get Cathy out. I tossed on my BB-8 winter hat and told Cathy that I hoped to see her at the finish line. I had to pin my bib on myself (in all my years of running, she has always done that for me. I’m spoiled), and I headed out the door. I texted Melissa and Paul as I headed toward the bus line for the 5K shuttle to the start. I got to talking to the people in line about the saga that morning, and they were all, “What room are you in? I want to know how this turns out!” HAHA!
Bathroom door wreckage after the fire department used an ax to free Cathy!
Just as I was getting on a bus, Cathy texts to say that she’s free and that the fire department had to come and use an ax to free her from her bathroom prison. She was given a voucher for a taxi to take her to the start line so we hoped we would all meet there. I arrived just as Melissa and Paul were getting there too. With no bag to check, I could skip security and wandered into the staging area where I stood at a sign and waited for Melissa and Paul. They arrived. And Cathy arrived. And our friend Stephanie arrived. And two friends of Paul and Melissa also arrived, Chris and Christy (I might have misspelled her name). We were all going to chill on the 5K…take it easy…and save our legs for later races. I rarely get to hang with a group on runs, so this was exciting for me. I lined up in Corral D with my friends (my bib was for Corral A) and we made our way through the new wave start, ditching our warm layers as we move ahead. Soon…it was our turn and we were off.
The 5K was pretty crowded, but we had no time goals. The plan was to just make our way through the course, stopping for pictures if we wanted, and just having a blast. As we were heading into, or just past Mile 1…a person in front of me moved and I didn’t see the traffic cone in the path. Down I went. Hard. On my hands and my right knee. Melissa made an attempt to grab me and Stephanie helped me up. Everyone was making sure I was okay. I shook it off. The knee stung, but nothing bad. I was probably too numb from the 28 degree (not including wind chill) morning that day to even notice. We carried on through Epcot, stopping to take some photos with Spaceship Earth in the background, with Genie from Aladdin, and then made our way to the finish line.
Gluten Free Beignets from Port Orleans French Quarter…..YAAAAAAAS!!
5K…done. I had such a blast. I even danced across the finish line. It was only after the sit on the bus back that my knee really started to throb. I looked down and noticed blood on my black pants. Plot twist. Also…thanks to the bathroom door needing to be broken into with an ax…Cathy was told that after the race, we needed to pack up our things and have Bell Services get our stuff and move us to a new room. Melissa and Paul were kind enough to take the shuttle to our resort to help with that…and we got it done and ready and out the door. We all went over to Port Orleans French Quarter for the Gluten Free Beignets and coffee. They needed to go get warm and were going to try to hit up the expo after showers and Cathy and I were heading to Epcot for the day. Our first Fast Pass was for Spaceship Earth…but it broke down as we were standing in line. Of course it did. So…we wandered around Epcot and did the rest of our stuff until it was time to head to dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel. They didn’t have gluten free chips for the salsa, but brought me some tortillas so I could have some and Cathy didn’t dip…she used her spoon to put things on the chips. I got the Enchiladas de Vegetales, which came with a vegan version of their rice and refried black beans. It was corn tortillas filled with vegetables, and smothered in salsa verde. It was really good…but I don’t think I’ll do Mexican before a race in the future.
Enchiladas de Vegetales, refried beans, vegan rice, extra tortillas and salsa from La Hacienda de San Angel
Cathy and I returned to Port Orleans Riverside…and I had to go to the concierge because we never got a text with a new room. Turns out, they replaced the door and we weren’t moving. I was limping at this point, mind you, because my knee was killing me. As we were making the walk to the room, I said, “I hope they moved our stuff back in then.” They hadn’t. This meant another call to Bell Services and needing to wait an extra 30 minutes before even being ready to lay out race gear for the 10K, get ready for bed, and turn in for the night. It was a mess. But things showed up…we did the best we could to do a few things quickly, and called it a night. Another 3 am alarm was set.
Me with Dopey after the Walt Disney World 10K
Walt Disney World 10K
Race: Walt Disney World 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 5, 2018
“You can’t focus on what’s going wrong. There is always a way to turn things around.” — Joy, Inside Out
This was the race I had it in my head to actually race this weekend. Until I got sick. And until I banged up my knee the day before. It was hard to walk, I wasn’t exactly sure how running was going to go. But the 3 am wake up came and no one got trapped in the bathroom. We were off to a good start.
Stephanie, Melissa, Paul, Me (freezing), Christy, and Chris before the Walt Disney World 10K
In fact, I layered up (again), because my I was being Joy from Inside Out, and Melissa and Paul were going to be Disgust and Fear. I love that I was costuming with friends. It was fun. But Joy’s dress was a tank top that I was going to put shorts under, originally…until the weather changed. With a morning that was 37 degrees, without the wind chill (and the wind was fierce and cold that day), I put on the black base layer I had used with my BB-8 costume, the leggings I had worn with BB-8, and worked the rest of it the best I could. It had to do under the weather circumstances. No hat…but I did pull the BondiBand over my ears to hopefully keep those warm. Cathy pinned me and we headed to the bus to get taken to the staging area at the start of the 10K.
I hunkered down since we were there so early and took a nap. Melissa and Paul somehow managed to slip past Cathy and were, very smartly, gathered near one of the heating lamps at the center of the staging area. We got up to meet them, and Stephanie, Chris and Christie were there too. We took pictures, but I refused to shed the throw-away clothes right then. Too cold. The mylar wrap was staying as well. Just after 5, I ate my banana and we headed to the corrals. We were going to take a photo of the Inside Out characters…but Coral A (my corral) already queued. I had to now go into Corral B. Who puts a corral at the start line that early? UGH. I had to say a quick goodbye. Got hugs…and went in…bobbing in and out of people in an attempt to move forward. No luck.
Me after finishing the Walt Disney World 10K
I shed the throw-away clothes as we neared the start line and my wave finally went off. It was cold, so thankfully I didn’t feel my knee bothering me. I ran calmly and smartly…the first mile meaning I had to bob and weave through the waves of people who went off ahead. Some of which were walking this one too. I still had hopes of racing this one and maybe coming close to beating my 10K PR. It was still hard for me to breathe (thanks sinuses), but I pressed on through. I managed a respectable time, even with all the dodging I had to do. Mile 1 clipped off and we made a hair-point turn and headed up a hill. I felt strong and was passing a lot of people…but hills and I are not friends and it did slow me down. But what a confidence booster. Somewhere in Mile 2 a guy snot rocketed on me. I turned from Joy to Disgust for just a moment. Miles 3-5 were amazing and fast. Those were the parts that were actually in Epcot and not out on the highway. I think distractions are a big help. And they always do up Epcot great with cast members out to cheer and support you. The lights were awesome. I heard one cast member shout…”Happiness is here…I mean Joy. Joy is here!” HA! Since I was racing, I opted to skip the character stops and pushed on for a strong finish, past Spaceship Earth and around the corner back into the parking lots. I stopped my watch after crossing and was shocked that I was closer to 48 minutes than my hoped for 44 minutes.
You know…running with sinus issues and a badly bruised up knee…I gladly took it.
My official results of the Walt Disney World 10K were that I finished in 47:40. I was 266/12,881 finishers overall. I was 41/7618 female finishers. And I was 12/1245 people in my age division. Not too shabby at all!
Dole Whip from Magic Kindom and Cathy’s Rice Krispy Treat and my Hummus & Veggies and Iced Coffee at Animal Kingdom. It was so COLD and I kept eating COLD things!
I went back to the resort to shower and change and head out to the parks that day. Cathy and I had some Fast Passes to hit up in Magic Kingdom that day. We ended up getting everything done there (including Dole Whip…despite the cold temperatures) and hopped back to Animal Kingdom, where Melissa and Paul were hanging for the day. We met up after I snagged a hummus and veggies snack from the Gluten Free cart and some iced coffee (The iced coffee and Animal Kingdom is the best…and despite the cold…I needed it in my life).
Melissa and Paul were able to get me on Everest with them so I did get to have some roller coaster fun. Which was amazing. I love coasters and rides, but Cathy isn’t the biggest fans of most of them. She’ll do some…but they usually aren’t the ones we like to do. And…at one point, we were hiking through Pandora and saw sunlight coming through the tree and it was SO picturesque. It was like a painting or straight from the movie (I guess…I never have actually seen Avatar).
We hung out until we took the bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner that night at Sanaa.
Gluten Free Bread Service and the Chipckpea Wat and Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables with Basmati Rice from Sanaa!
Melissa and I split the gluten free bread service and Cathy and Paul go the regular one. We enjoyed that before feasting that night on the amazing food there. I got the Chickpea Wat and the Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables with Basmati Rice. It was so good and we were so full. Afterwards, we took a bus back to a park where we could hop to our respective resorts. I got all the half marathon stuff together as far as my outfit and called it a night. I set an alarm for 1:50 am and another for 2:50 am. The resort wanted people at the buses by 3:30 the following morning to get to the start on time. We called it a night.
Me (as Boo), Paul (as a CDA Agent), and Melissa (as Roz) from Monsters Inc., before the Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Race: Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 6, 2018
“Every dream begins somewhere. Some are born to greatness, and some find greatness on their own.” –Monsters University
And so half marathon morning dawned. I still felt like crap. My knee was tight and painful…but it was bandaged across the cut. I had taken the bandage off when I ran as Joy and had meant to do it for this costume too…but forgot. It was 2:50 am. I can focus on one thing at a time.
I got up with the alarm and went to get myself ready. Today I was running as Boo from Monsters, Inc. Melissa was costuming as Roz and Paul was going to be a CDA hazmat guy. These were the costumes I was really looking forward to wearing. Mostly because Melissa pointed out the subtle humor that she and Paul would be chasing me the entire race. LOVE!! Even better…today’s costume had short sleeves and long pants. So, I added arm warmers as it was a chilly 39 degrees that felt still below freezing. These temperatures were starting to really get on my nerves. They were also starting to catch up to Cathy. Bless her…we’re at least moving. She is sitting on cold bleachers for over an hour at the finish line.
I got dressed…grabbed some Lara Bites (I didn’t plan out pre-race food for this…I was working on feeling better and it slipped my mind) and a banana to take to the race start. I piled on my throw-away clothes to stay warm, grabbed the mylar from the day before, and headed out the door. There were plenty of people stirring this morning as we all had received the call that we needed to be on buses by 3:30 to make it to the start line. The deal is…for the Disney World Half and Full Marathons, you make a 1.5 mile hike to the starting corrals. So, they want to be sure you have ample time for that. We were texting with Melissa and Paul and they were going to head out. We got a bus…settled in for the short drive to Epcot…and arrived to file in line and get through security. No bags for me, so I walked right through. I waited for Cathy on the other side and the two of us went to claim the spot near the tent that was serving up food and hot beverages. I could smell the sausage again. We huddled in on the pavement and I took a power nap while we waited for Melissa and Paul to arrive.
Minnie Mouse and Me after the Walt Disney World Half Marathon
When they did, I went ahead and shed the throw-away clothes so we could have a picture of us all in the costumes. The last few times it had been too cold for me to even want to take them off. So, I was determined to have a photo with them this time. We missed out when I was dressed as Joy and they were Disgust and Fear. We talked for a short moment before we decided to go find the entrance to the corrals. We went through bag check together and made the long walk, comfortably, and chatting the entire way, until my corral had to split away from theirs. We gave hugs and we separated.
I had to actually off-road here to get up to my corral. That makes me nervous because when you’re walking on grass in the dark…that’s just a recipe for a twisted ankle or whatnot. But I managed to get up to Corral A unscathed. And I managed to get into my corral too. This was the first time I actually had managed that despite my Corral A bib. WOOHOO! I worked my way through the crowd of runners until I found a spot that felt comfortable.The National Anthem was sung beautifully and Donald came out to send off the wheelchair racers. And after that, my corral moved forward. As I was easing myself through the crowd, a ribbon was passed between me and the person in front of me. Looks like I was going to be at the front of Wave 2. They sent off Wave 1 with music and fireworks and we were moved up to the starting mat…which, mind you…was actually back a ways before the starting gate with the logo that displayed the race with Donald and basically what the medal would look like.
Me with Pluto after the Walt Disney World Half Marathon
It was really cool to be actually toeing the line for Wave 2. I watched as a card was passed over the starting mat and would light up. The woman would then signal 1 minute to start. Then 30 seconds. Then 20. And soon, Donald Duck was counting us down…and fireworks sent off my wave. I was able to settle in comfortably because it wasn’t crowded here. Having not raced the 5K at all, I was feeling good. My knee was a bit of a problem…but when I was running I felt I could at least ignore it. HA!
My plan for this race was to run most of it, but walk the water stops. That was how I had been getting through half marathons prior to this one, so I felt it was a good way to handle this one despite feeling so good at the start. That being said, I also decided that I could go through the first four miles without stopping to walk, so I made that deal with myself as well. Most of that stretch is all highway and parking lots anyway…so I felt even better about it. Heading toward Magic Kingdom, we do get to run down a hill, but it sends us right back up. I stayed on my toes and lifted my legs up to kick up the hill. It slowed me down some, but I still felt strong at the top as we headed toward Main Street and my favorite part of any race that carries us through Magic Kingdom
Goofy and Me after the Walt Disney World Half Marathon
I love the energy down Main Street as you run it. The crowd is deep and loud and screaming and it really is such a lift. I always wish that this part was later on in the race because of the boost it gives you. I arched away and went through Tomorrowland before making my way through Cincerella’s Castle and back out onto Main Street. The crowd came alive again. Flash bulbs were going off. It was amazing. Then, we turn to head out of Magic Kingdom through Adventureland. The crowd fades off and we are back to the highways for Miles 6-11. Disney does put out characters and DJs and some screens running clips of Mickey cartoons or other cartoons to try to entertain you on this stretch…but it really just is a lot of road and little else.
At Mile 8…I started to feel a burning in the bottom of my left foot and I knew…blisters were happening. I wasn’t running in new compression socks…but I hadn’t had time to Body Glide or Vasoline my feet that morning as I was trying to make the bus in time. MEH! That realization lasted through the rest of the race as both of my feet started to feel the effects of friction between my socks and my custom orthodics. Not a happy camper at all. My pace ended up slowing down considerably because of it and now my walk breaks were a bit of a relief from the friction. I was starting to rethink my life decisions here. As we come back into Epcot at Mile 12, I was just relieved that I was almost done and I could go and doctor up my feet. YAY! I pushed through it all and managed the turn before the World Showcase to head to the finish. The gospel choir was singing “We Will Rock You” as I ran past to make the final turn to head toward the finish line.
Me crossing the finish line of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon
I pushed myself as much as I could on sore feet and threw my hands up as I came through the finish line. Stopping my Garmin, I made the walk through the finish zone, Cathy waving me down for a photo before I went to collect my medal, some mylar, and the snack box. Since character lines weren’t too bad, I stopped to take pictures with Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto before we hopped on the bus to go back to the resort. I told Cathy I could feel blisters and when we got back up to the room and I took off the compression socks…sure enough. I drained them…took a shower…and got dressed to head out for the day. The plan was to hit up Hollywood Studios. Paul and Melissa would join us later. I got to ride Tower of Terror three times that day, which made me happy. It was fun to have a few ride buddies this time around.
So, my official results of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:44:53. I was 502/20,801 finishers overall. I was 88/12,275 female finishers. And I was 18/2012 people in my division. I’ll take that for sure. I was quite happy with my performance, despite the blisters. It just seemed like nothing was going right that day.
Gluten Free Spaghetti and Marinara Sauce from Mama Melroses
After a casual and relaxed day at Hollywood Studios, we all went to Mama Melroses for dinner for pasta to fuel up for the last race the following day. Melissa and I shared the gluten free rolls and I ordered the Gluten Free Pasta with Marinara. Unfortunately, for me, when it first came out, it was done with the meat sauce. Good thing I looked closely! YIKES! They took it away and fixed it, bringing out my new dish shortly. It was an early meal, but perfectly timed for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I was feeling tight in my hamstring of my left leg as we were heading to the buses to return to the resorts, so I used my Roll Recovery on it that night to try to loosen it. The knee…was just stiff and sore. I took some Ibuprofen that evening…and it was lights out. One more race and we weren’t even halfway through the mileage yet.
Me as Vanellope von Schweetz for the Walt Disney World Marathon
Walt Disney World Marathon
Race: Walt Disney World Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 7, 2018
“There’s no one I’d rather be than me.” – Wreck it Ralph
I was ready for it. We got back to the room early after making it an early dinner at Mama Melrose’s the previous night. That way I would have time to lay out all my costume stuff and get all my fuel ready to go so I wouldn’t have to worry about it on race morning. I was reviving Vanellope von Schweetz from Wine & Dine a few years ago. I made a few changes to the costume…having my mom create a new top and cut the tights down to go over my compression sleeves. I was excited to be bringing her back…but there was so much small things that go into this costume, I wanted to have it all set to make the morning a lot less stressful.
So when the alarm went off and I got up to get changed, I was feeling as ready as one could for the fourth race of the Dopey Challenge. I was tired…and nervous. The marathon is not a distance to take lightly. Anything can happen. But that morning…I was feeling prepared. I even Body Glided my feet and put Vasoline on them in hopes of warding off further blisters.
My left hamstring was a little tight…no surprise with three race events leading up to this one and no real time to stretch or roll my body as is part of my usual routine. But I felt ready and excited more than nervous, so there was that. I put three Hammer Gels in my fuel belt and my Nuun Performance and Water in their containers and put on my throw away clothing before my roommate and I headed out the door.
Cathy was actually not feeling well. She had started to come down with something the day before, and her voice was pretty much shot, but she’s never missed a race start or finish and, even though I thought she was going to this time, she didn’t miss this one either. Despite the cold, she bundled up with the understanding that she would see me start and then head back to the resort to nap for a few hours before coming back to the finish line. For any of you who are pondering this in the future…here’s a bit of advice…DO NOT think you can get back to your resort from the start. Buses apparently don’t start running back to the resort from the finish until the first person crosses the finish line.
Little did we know that this would end up being the bus ride from hell to the start line!
Cathy and I were right on time leaving our room and heading to the bus. 3:30 am. There was a bit of a line, but two buses were there waiting. I climbed on the bus and moved closer to the back than front just because I knew we’d have some time when we arrived. We texted Melissa and Paul and they were about to leave to catch their bus.
Five years ago when I ran the Inaugural Dopey Challenge, my bus got stuck in traffic heading to the marathon and I just barely made it to my corral on time. This year…I was determined not to have that kind of stress.
No such luck. After clear sailing at first…soon…the bus slowed and then stopped. All around us traffic was ground to a halt. Total stop. Nothing was moving. We got a text that Melissa and Paul were at the staging area because their bus driver took some amazing back way to the start. I was having flashbacks to five years before. But then we just continued to sit…and sit…and we’d creep…and sit…and creep and sit…
I was internally freaking out. I kept checking my watch…because on Marathon morning, I have a food regimen and schedule that I stick to. At 4:45 am…I was still not moving and I was forced to eat my Lara Bites. At 5 am…still not moving…the banana had to go down. And then…at 5:10 am…I drank down my pre-workout drink full of electrolytes. We inched forward. Turns out…a bus had broken down in the bus lane and we were stuck behind it. Two cop cars breezed by. A few minutes later…we were past it and moving again.
We arrived at the bus drop-off point at about 5:20 am. If you have done any previous Run Disney races at Walt Disney World, you know for the half and full marathons, you have a 1.5 mile trek to the starting corrals. And I had 10 minutes to get there…and I still had to go through security/bag check. I didn’t have a bag, so I could walk on through. Cathy did have a bag so she had to get that checked. She gave me a quick hug, handing me a pack of hand warmers, saying Melissa and Paul were going to try to wait to make the long walk with me…and she needed some hand warmers. I hurried through, sprinting, keeping an eye out for a Dopey and Grumpy lingering on the side. I could already hear the National Anthem being sung. My mylar blanket was flapping in the wind as I dodged and dashed through the crowds of people also making their way to the start. I could hear Mickey Mouse talking as I rounded the first corner giving a count down. I was sprinting as fast as I could, but soon, the fireworks were being shot and off went Corral A.
“AND…there goes my corral!” I said, tossing my hands up in defeat. They were doing wave starts this year, so I continued to dash, hitting the grassy patches and hurrying toward the front of the pack. I had to lift my big fleece jacket I had brought as my toss-away to get to my bib and managed to duck into the corral that was the end of B or beginning of C. The announcers weren’t sure. I was shedding my fleece pants and top, already warm now from the sprint…and my heart rate was up and I was just stressed and not zen. But then the fireworks went off and we started across the start line on the chilly Florida morning.
Starting in a further back corral is not a good thing at Disney. This often makes for a lot of weaving in and out of people for at least the first mile…if not more. It was within my first mile, however, that I passed Jeff Galloway. I fan girled. As I had my watch set for 4 minutes running 30 seconds walking intervals, I’ve embraced the Galloway method as of late to keep this body uninjured during longer runs. That was a quick boost as the first 4 miles of the full marathon are definitely all highway miles. The course narrows at times and at one point, as I was making my way through crowds, I saw a guy hop off the course to claim some gloves that had been shed.
“Treasure!” Someone said to him. I heard someone else ask him if he was a scavenger and he said, “NO…it’s just cold!” And that was that. I continued to maneuver through the crowds, waiting for the course to open up more so I could settle in.
That being said, my watch was beeping at me every 4 minutes to take a short walk break. I would toss up my hand and shout, “WALKING” so no one would run me over. I had no goals for this race other than to hit the finish line. I had done as much training with some practice “Dopey” runs of 4 progressively longer runs in a row, always using the run/walk method for the longer runs. It works. Seriously. It got me this far, right? Here I was…doing the last run of the Dopey Challenge…hitting the halfway point of the mileage about 2 miles into the marathon. Whew.
The first four miles of highway are never eventful. Construction. Speed bumps. Course narrowing. And the hill leading up to the parking lot of Magic Kingdom. You come into Magic Kingdom at Mile 5…and, as always, this is my favorite part of any Disney race. Nothing boosts your motivation than all the cheering people lining Main Street inside. It was phenomenal. I always wish this part came later in the race because it does really lift you. You just want to run faster because all these people are screaming for you!
Magic Kingdom Main Street Marathon Morning
I felt so energized as I ran the stretch and made the turn into Tomorrowland. My favorite part of the race is always where I run through the castle. I made the curves through Tomorrowland and around through Fantasyland. And then…the run through the castle. It’s all shouts and screaming and flash bulbs. And I love every moment of it. I come down the path and turn into Adventureland to exit the park at Mile 6.
What I didn’t know is that Cathy was going to catch me at Mile 7 outside the Grand Floridian. After she discovered that she couldn’t get back to the resort, she hopped the monorail and realized that she wouldn’t be able to catch me inside the Magic Kingdom. But she could catch me at Mile 7. Despite having very little voice left, I heard her shouting at me as I ran past. It was awesome. I gave a wave and continued on. I was just glad I was on a running segment at that point and not a walk. HA! She left after that and managed to get to Magic Kingdom to see Melissa and Paul go through on Main Street. She’s awesome like that.
Cathy managed to be at Mile 7 as I ran by! It was AWESOME!
Miles 7-12 are pretty much highway miles. Disney does it’s job with music (each mile marker is a movie that blares the them song), characters, scenery stops, and DJs/announcers just to keep it interesting. I knew what laid ahead was Animal Kingdom and you get to spend about 2 miles inside that park. I love Animal Kingdom because the surface is small hills that really wake up your legs. I never strayed from my run/walk breaks, keeping them going throughout all the miles. To change it up could have meant disaster. There is a switchback turn around at Mile 11…and I took it and moved toward the side of the road knowing a walk break would be coming. But my foot slid off the side of the road where it dipped away and I twisted my ankle. I stumbled. Came up. Took a few precautionary steps…and then carried on. No sharp pains or discomfort…I could do this. Up ahead…Animal Kingdom.
I came into Animal Kingdom and always look forward to running past The Tree of Life. It’s amazing. It is beautiful. I love the Animal Kingdom Park. I normally fuel around this mile, but I refuse to do so inside the park because I don’t want to drop anything that might endanger the animals. I did take a slug of my Nuun Performance and carried myself through Africa, Asia, and Dinoland. The cast members in the park are amazing and just cheer and support you as you run though. You exit the park through the main entrance and settle into about 3 miles of highway miles. Lots of traffic cones line the way making my walk breaks a little difficult, but I maintained them and stuck with it. That being said, everything started to feel very hard around Mile 16. Maybe it was the long stretch of nothing…or the reality that up next was the 2 miles that feels like 20 inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center (too many turns…too many different surfaces)…but I did manage to pick it back up as I came into ESPN. That didn’t last too long. My legs just felt heavy. Mile 18…so I took one of my Hammer Nutrition gel to hopefully wake up my body. I should have done it sooner, but after coming out of Animal Kingdom…I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore. Lesson learned.
Melissa and Paul running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom. They were too fast for Cathy’s camera skills!
Here’s what I hate about ESPN. Around Mile 18.5, you have to step up and enter the track. So, softer surface which is a nice relief, but you’re now running the curve of a track. And you aren’t there for too long. You pop out at the final turn and are sent around the baseball fields. You wind your way through Mile 19 enter the ball field just before Mile 20. They announce your name here, which is a booster, but you’re tired from now running on baseball gravel/dirt and you’re just pressing through. You come out of the baseball field. After that, you duck out and are on the pathway through the parking lots and back out to the main road. There was a large puddle there at the end, so I managed to get my legs to step up on the curb and back down to avoid it and continued on. It was just before Mile 21 that the 3:45 pace group passed me. They were doing 3 min run/30 sec walk breaks. My legs just felt heavy and I started to feel a blister on one of my toes on my left foot. That sensation lasted for about a mile…then it popped because that burning feeling went away and I could run a little more comfortably again. But my pace was down. I grabbed another Hammer Nutrition gel and pounded it in hopes it could get me to the finish.
Hollywood Studios was just after Mile 23 and then you know you could walk it in and be fine. If you make it to Hollywood Studios, you’re golden. I started to take a few extra walk breaks on hills that my legs protested on. I was okay with it. I wasn’t aiming for a specific time. Just to hit that finish line. If it beeped for me to walk…I’d continue the walk. Then I’d pick it back up on the run for the next part. You come back to life inside Hollywood Studios. The rolling terrain that leads you through the park and out to the boardwalk. People are out there cheering and it’s really hard, but you keep pushing through. That’s how I felt. At Mile 25, you enter Epcot’s World Showcase. This is the longest trip around the world ever. But on your way around, you can keep your eye on Spaceship Earth and press on. You take the turn out to run toward Spaceship Earth and you feel new life in your legs. Around the corner and there is the gospel choir. I don’t remember what they were singing. I rounded the corner and came made the final turn into the straight away to the finish line. I pressed a bit more at the sight of the finish. I had kept my watch on the intervals, so I didn’t know my distance or pace. I didn’t care. I was about to finish a marathon. I threw my hands up in the air as I ran across the finish line and then immediately started to ugly cry.
I spotted Cathy in the stands and she signaled that I had killed it. She had no voice. I moved to get my medal and started to ugly cry again. And as I went to get my Dopey and Goofy medals, I was also handed commemorative Mickey Mouse ears. I cried again. I composed myself to get my medals and make the walk to get the photos taken before exiting through bag claim. As I moved through, everyone started applauding. And I cried again. And Cathy saw me and gave me a hug and I cried harder. I was an emotional mess. I had never thought, with all my setbacks and hip injuries that persisted since 2015, that I would ever finish a marathon in a sub-4 time.
Me after receiving my medal at the finish of the Walt Disney World Marathon. Pure emotion!
But I had. Rounding out a gorgeous and respectful 3:49:45. A mere 10 minutes off my BQ time. I was beyond elated. Shocked. And couldn’t stop crying. My coach texted me telling me I was an inspiration for her BQ in March. My friends messaged me over Instagram to congratulate me on the sub-4 I had been fighting for so long to achieve.
So, the final results of the Walt Disney World Marathon are that I finished in 3:49:45. I was 849/20,025 finishers overall. I was the 184/10,763 female finishers. And I was 48/1848 people in my age division. Beyond proud of myself.
Me with the Dopey, Goofy, and Marathon medals after the Walt Disney World Marathon
Afterwards, I got on the bus to head back to the resort. I was beyond sore, but managed to shuffle my way back to my room, up the stairs, and into a super hot shower. I don’t do ice baths. No shame. Not my game. I put my feet up for awhile and made myself down my protein shake. It was, honestly, the last thing I wanted to do. My stomach is always a mess after a marathon. But recovery had to begin immediately. After awhile, Cathy and I went to stroll down to Port Orleans French Quarter to get celebratory Gluten Free Beignets. I was hoping the sugar would help settle my stomach. It worked. We got some for Melissa and Paul too. I might have promised to have them at the finish line. Afterwards, we hopped on the bus to go back to the finish line. On the way there, Stephanie crossed the finish line. We ended up getting stuck on this bus for longer than anticipated, and upon arriving, making the hike to security for bag check, and then heading toward the finish line, Melissa and Paul crossed. JUST missed them.
Grapes and Gluten Free Beignets
Cathy and I waited for them outside of their bag pick up and ran to go hug them when they came out. Super proud of them. Melissa’s foot got injured in the half, so she wasn’t even sure she’d be able to make it through the full. She’s stubborn. She did. We went to get in line to have photos with Dopey, but were told the line was closed because Dopey needed to make it to a parade. So, Cathy took pictures of Melissa and Paul on their phone with Dopey in the background. We had Fast Passes at Epcot…so we let them head back to the resort with the Gluten Free Beignets that we picked up for them and went to head into the park. I managed to make it through the rest of the day before meeting up with them again at Raglan Road in Disney Springs for our celebratory dinner. Hello gluten free onion rings.
Drinks and Gluten Free eats all around at Raglan Road to celebrate completing the Dopey Challenge!
The following day, Cathy managed to get through the character breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table before trying a few rides and tapping out. Her sickness caught up with her. So, I wandered around Magic Kingdom alone for awhile until I met with Melissa and Paul at Epcot for photos with the medals. This also involved a monorail fail making it take even longer. But we eventually got it all taken care of. And after snagging Avocado Margaritas in Mexico, I called to check on Cathy and she said she’d grab some soup and meet us at Magic Kingdom. She was moving slowly, but she was out. And we wrapped up the day in Magic Kingdom with food, fireworks, and friends. And that…was what this trip and adventure was all about.
A group I’m in figured up all the finish places for those who competed in the Dopey Challenge. I was 210/7468 overall Dopey finishers. I was 29th female finisher. And I was 9th in my age division. And I’m tired. And sore.
Me, Melissa and Paul….all Dopey Challenge finishers!
And currently fighting off the Disney crud. Being sick prior to the races and coming back sick has not allowed me proper celebrations. But it’s going to happen.
This was the perfect way to spend the last day at Disney…with good friends creating good memories…after doing amazing things! Thank you, Melissa & Paul!