There is a good possibility that I will be back to running on the streets in as little as three (3) weeks. Yep. That is how confident my physical therapist is with my progression. That being said, he really put me through the wringer this past week.
My appointments were later in the week…Wednesday and Friday. Due to his schedule this time. Next time…it’s all me. I have a Sting concert to attend and all…
But I digress.
That being said, it gave me the whole first part of the week to work on the marches and all the lunges he assigned me to work on at home. And here I thought I was totally done with homework. Let me tell you…my quads were burning. I tend to do my PT stuff twice a day. So, that was a whole heap of lunges.
This is, legit, one of the lunge moves I am to do to help strengthen the hip and get that hip flexor firing properly. He also added a new resistance band move for the left hip as well…in addition to the other stuff I was doing. OH…and the lunge matrix. Five lunges with each leg in basically every direction possible. It is beyond hellish.
Told you…lunge hell. If I don’t have the best looking ass at the end of this I will be highly disappointed.
On Friday…it got a little more real. After going through the stretches, exercises, and adding some fun new plyometric lunges and leaps with the BOSU to help with not only the push-off but also landing. It’s a great exercise, and I luckily own a BOSU ball, so I can do this one at home. Outside. I’m in a 2nd floor apartment after all. HA!
So, then my PT had a little heart-to-heart with me. For real. He said I was coming along great…and my pain was minimal these days. So…he wanted to know how I would feel if he told me to go outside and run 3 miles. Just go. Right then. And run.
So, he asked me why I felt that way…and I told him that I was nervous about it hurting again, or doing further damage. And that I don’t want to take any more steps back. He said that I was ready to get on the Alter-G treadmill…and he wanted me to pick a pace I felt comfortable with and see if I could run for about 25 minutes on it.
He had to kick someone off of it, but he got me all zipped in and I got started…
So…this wasn’t a fix. Not at all. In fact…I still had some twinging in my left hip flexor while doing this…and I was running with a slight limp. He pointed that out immediately. So, he told me to attempt to even it out as I was going, and I could keep going for the 10-25 minutes as long as the twinge didn’t escalate. It didn’t. So I managed 2.83 miles at a 8:34 pace for 25 minutes. It wasn’t perfect…but look at that smile! I WAS FINALLY RUNNING! It had been a full month since that had even happened.
This week, I think I’ll be doing a lot of work on the Alter-G. He had me at 80% of my body weight on Friday…and I think he’ll move me to 90% this week or next…and then…I’m on the road…IF all things go well.
That being said, I showed up for the training run for the Norton Sports Health Training Program for the Kentucky Derby Marathon/miniMarathon…and I was able to do some of the jumping jacks and other dynamic warm-ups that I had to phone-in before. So, I do think the process is working. It’s just slow. But I’ll take any improvement at this rate. I took a short walk, went and got my taxes done, and then met back up with my fellow Ambassadors at Big Four Burgers + Fries for a social. It was the best way to spend my Saturday for sure.
Looking forward to moving forward some more this week. But now…I’m off to officially cook my first Gordon Ramsay meal…Mushrooms on Toast for dinner!! Yes…his class…his recipe…me cooking it. Wish me luck. I’ll need it…it involves bacon. Not for me. For my roommate. Mine is minus the bacon. Chef Ramsay has his hands full with this gluten-free vegetarian!!
You know…there are so many times that I give up on myself. Those little moments of weakness when, despite doing everything I am supposed to, I get frustrated and impatient with progress…or the lack thereof.
And I break down…I melt down…I just…fall apart.
This past weekend was extremely hard. I was the very back of the pack on the training run…on my slow walk from Swags to Iroquois Park…and as the half marathon group lapped me…I turned around and walked back. I tried to stay positive, even doing an Instagram Story and keeping it lighthearted. But the fact of the matter was, for months, since signing up for the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon…it has all I’ve been looking forward to doing. And I wasn’t even going to do it for time. But, when I went in to see my physical therapist on the Tuesday leading into race weekend, I inquired as to whether I could just go and walk the 13.1 miles. And my amazing, and very patient therapist looked at me like…
Like…come on! It was a logical question, yes? Right? Yeah…I probably deserved the, “Really?! You crazy!” look that he gave me. But, I figured I’d ask.
On Tuesday, he gave me a resistance band to add to the hip stretch that he had me doing for 6 minutes a day. I did it religiously. Like…this stretch was my church, for real. So I have this red band that loops around my ankles and I side-step normally, with toes out, and with toes in…2 times each set…and…in addition…I have this fun leg movement that I have to do to sort of activate the hip flexor. It’s not easy. I have to do this toe tap/leg-lift thing 20 times 2 times a day. My leg gets tired. But…I do this. Because I want to get better. And, I’m pretty freakin’ obsessive about my PT stuff. Always have been.
On Thursday, I went back. And my physical therapist started me off with a simple walk. He said that I was still limping, but at this point, he wasn’t sure how much of that was just habit. SO…we were going to focus on getting rid of that limp. AND…in addition, he stepped it up with me. First he had me step up onto the stairs, using my bad hip to pull up, not the opposite foot to push off. This was hard…but it did prove that the hip was still pretty tender when asked to control the entire movement of my body. He had me step up and down. Then we moved onto lunges with the stair. Up the step. And down the step. A little sore, but I managed it. And then…he decided to see how my body could handle marching. He got out a metronome…yes…that metronome is back…and set it for 140 bpm. He had me march in place, which, I did…and it didn’t hurt. Which shocked me. So, he moved the experiment a step further and had me march to the beat. And I managed that too, without any pain.
And my physical therapist said that he was shocked that didn’t bother me…and that meant I was further along than he even expected. YAY! After that, he gave my injured hip a bit of a massage, and realized that the tender points were definitely more on the flexor and not as much the TFL like he originally thought.
So, I continue to be a mystery. I went out for my walk with the other KDF Marathon/miniMarathon peeps on Saturday. And…like I said…I walked. I kept a smile though and was given a lot of encouragement from people who passed me either heading out or returning. Sometimes it’s not easy to wear that smile but I do it. It’s usually when I get home that I fall apart a little…
That is a pretty accurate reenactment. No joke.
Anyway…I am, as always, very thankful for everyone who continues to lift me up, support me, and believe in me. Because, when I’m ready to give up…that helps me to keep going. It helps me get off the sofa and stretch, or march, or go outside in the 28 degree weather simply to do lunges on stairs.
Instead of doing the Mercedes-Benz Half Marathon, as planned, I brought the chocolate milk to the training run, and spent some time with these amazing people, who are helping our dear Melissa, through her own injury recovery…because I am a part of a group of amazing people…and this is just a handful of them! And this is what we do. We lift up and support others…ambassadors or not.
Anyway…I’ve been working on that not limping thing. And if I manage to get that corrected, my physical therapist said that he’ll put me on the Alter-G treadmill so that I can do some running. Crossing my fingers. Because news like that makes me SO happy!
Yeah…I never thought I’d be this happy to be able to get on a treadmill!
But the Alter-G Treadmill is magic. It is. And I hope that I can start doing some actual training with the help of the magic of the Anti-Gravity treadmill! My next PT session is Wednesday…so we’ll see what he thinks. But I have to say, someone at my office said to me as I was walking down the hall, “You’re walking really good today!”
Well…it finally happened. As most of you who read my blog know…just after the New Year…heading into the Disneyland Light Side Rebel Challenge…my left hip…the *OTHER* hip from my hip labrum tear that basically took me out of commission for a year, began acting up. I repeat…this is THE OTHER hip. I did the smart thing for the most part. The instant it started to bother me, I didn’t run. In fact, I didn’t even continue the dynamic warmups and plyometrics I have been doing for an entire year for the right hip. I wasn’t going to mess around. It was the week leading into my trip to California, so I called my orthopedic doctor.
And he was booked. So, I was told he would call me before I left on my trip. I called 2 times in that week…and never got my call back. When I was on my way to Los Angeles, I called from the Phoenix airport and they pulled him out of an appointment to talk to me.
He said from what I was describing, it sounded like a hip flexor strain. He said to take a cocktail of Ibuprofen and Tylenol. Two pills of each…three times a day as needed. This began immediately…
So the two days leading up to the first race (the Light Side 10K)…I was starting to feel a little less sore and slightly better about the situation. My previous physical therapist sent me a wrap I could do with two ACE Bandages as well to help the hip flexor while I raced as well…to at least get me through. The 10K went okay. I actually felt good through the entire thing…but as the day went on and I walked around Disneyland, walking turned to limping and my over-the-counter drug cocktail was not helping me at all. When you wake up on the morning of a half marathon with a limp…you freak out. Or at least I do.
The positive side is…I finished…and I didn’t totally crash and burn. In fact, my finish times for both races were respectable. Although, I wasn’t running these for time due to the hip. It just came down to the fact that once I got going, I was afraid to stop. Stopping might mean I wouldn’t start again. I was *VERY* sore for the rest of the day after the half marathon. I limped pretty much through the rest of my Disneyland adventure. But, I didn’t complain. I just went and enjoyed myself.
The following Monday, I called my orthopedic doctor’s office to get an appointment. And…the earliest one they had was 3 weeks out. February 1. I took it. And for three weeks, I went to spin class (spinning doesn’t anger the hip) and worked on a few machines unless they bothered me. But I had to stop going to Body Pump. Too many squats and lunges and the last thing I wanted to do was do something to further damage/injure myself.
February 1 rolled around…and into the doctor’s office I went. I knew X-Rays were happening, but I wasn’t sure if there was going to be more after that. I was prepared to hear the word, “MRI” from my doctor, but after examining the X-Rays and noting that there were no fractures, and the ball/socket and hip labrum looked good in that hip…(to which here was much rejoicing)…
Seriously…when he said the labrum looked good, I started crying out of relief. That was what I had it built up in my head to be. And, while I understand that X-Rays are not perfect…and it could be this and just not showing up…I needed to hear those words. I was diagnosed with a hip flexor strain and given a prescription anti-inflammatory and told to go to physical therapy…again. I was sent back to the place I went to for my other hip, but my therapist had left to go back to school. So, I was put with the guy who took her spot, and he is also a running coach…so that’s awesome yes? At least he’ll understand that runner mentality. That started on Friday.
Of course…for starters…it was all about initial assessment. He asked me about the problem I was having…and had me run through a bunch of different drills just to assess where I was having difficulty. This is always interesting. I swear…I confuse the hell out of every single one of my therapists. I do nothing normal. He initially thought it was a stress fracture, but immediately ruled that out. After a lot of moving me around, bending me, and twisting me…and a lot of confused looks…and even having to go and consult the Human Anatomy Atlas…(NO JOKE!)…I was pretty much feeling like…
But after a little reading and looking over hip issues and why when he turned my leg outward I was in pain…he narrowed it down to the hip flexor being an issue, but it was being caused by my tensor fasciae latae (TFL). It’s a helper muscle. It activates hip flexors and glutes and all that stuff…but mine, it seems, doesn’t want to help. I guess it’s on strike. Who knows. Either way…it makes me walk with a limp and not be able to do anything high impact. Sometimes…walking up stairs hurts…so…there is that. I have a stretch I now get to do for 6 minutes a day. Next week…we’ll add some strengthening exercises and eventually…he’ll get me on the Alter-G treadmill (which I have used before)…progressing from all runs on that to some outside and some on the Alter-G…to easing back into just being outside.
Needless to say…I’m optimistic…but a bit…concerned. I can’t do anything normally and the last time I puzzled my physical therapist, I was being treated for the wrong thing. So…yeah…part of me is ready to get this show on the road, and the other part is just…not loving this at all. I don’t have time to muck around and test this and that. I simply just do not want to go through that again.
That being said, I’m making the most of all this and doing my best to stay positive. Which means, I have a meltdown at least 3 times a week. Mostly on Friday night and on Saturday. As a #KDFMarathon Ambassador, I have been turning up to the training runs and just walking for a little while. I don’t do the mileage…I just walk until I feel like I’ve done enough. This past week I was on my own…and my mind was left to focus on the hip and I cried a few times. My fellow ambassadors have been so uplifting though and have kept me laughing. In fact, my biggest joy this past Saturday happened during the initial warmup before we all took off to run/walk. Dynamic stretches that included jumping jacks were going on. As I am not allowed to jump, I simply waved my hands up and down.
Paul, one of the ambassadors, said, “For all of you beginners out there, follow Karen for a lower-impact version of these exercises.” I laughed so hard at that. The hugs, the blankets, the words of encouragement, when they check on me…I am so lucky to be a part of this group…even if they are all doing jumping jacks and I’m simply flapping my arms like a flightless bird.
So…yeah…this sucks. It does. And I’m mad. And disappointed. And afraid of making other people mad and disappointed. There are times that I don’t feel like I’m worth of wearing that KDF Marathon Ambassador shirt…but then…I have people around me who remind me…that I really am one of them. And my struggle…is their struggle too.
…if you see me on the street…walking by myself…talking to myself…maybe even trying not to cry…have pity…(sort of quoting Hamilton there, HA!)…I’m just working through all this stuff again.
Hugs are always welcome. Keep me smiling friends…I’m going through this all over again…
♪♫…But no, I’m not leaving, even though I’m bleeding Even though this nightmare makes me wish I was dreaming Even though I hate it, I’m gonna take it Until I win ‘Cause I’m a comeback, I’m a comeback kid Don’t know why bad things happened, but they did I don’t think I deserve the hurt I get, but I’m made for it It’s not the end, no, it’s not the end I’m a comeback kid Down for a minute, I’ll get up again Looks like I’m breaking, but it’s just a bend; it’s not over yet ‘Cause in the end I’m a comeback, I’m a comeback kid…♫♪
Oh yes…you know what?? It was only a matter of time before Disney lured me back to the other coast. So often, for convenience, you see my Run Disney posts from Disney World. Let’s face it…Florida is a lot easier to get to than California. But…I have a goal. An achievable goal. And that is to run ALL the Disney Races. So, you know, eventually I had to return to Disneyland. I hadn’t been here in over 3 years (I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2013).
It was good to be back. The whole thing, however, was unraveling from the very start. Let me start at the beginning…
After getting back from my trip to Birmingham to visit my family over Christmas, I realized my OTHER…note that I say…OTHER hip was starting to twinge at me. I had to run a lot of hills in my parents’ neighborhood…there is no avoiding them…so I chalked it up to that and went about my training…with very little slowing me down. Over the New Year, I did my last training run of 14 miles ahead of my taper for the Star Wars Light Side Half while in Columbus, Ohio. It was after this run that the hip really started to get angry at me. In fact, that day, I was hobbling around and this started to concern me. I felt better the next morning though, a Monday, and went out for my speed work. I did that fine, just slightly missing my assigned pace. Drove back to Indiana, did grocery shopping, and felt okay. Got up on Tuesday and went for a run. The hip twinged a few times, but I slowed down and got it done. I felt fine afterwards. And then…on Wednesday, I got up to do my run and stretches ahead of my spin class and…I couldn’t get through my one legged squats without cringing. I went out and started my dynamic warmups and had to stop. I sat outside and cried. The left hip was not happy. I went to spin…and it did fine there…but running wasn’t happening. It was rough from there on out.
I contacted my former physical therapist, and asked her opionion on what the issue might be. She gave me a few stretches to do…and Cathy researched, figuring it had to be my hip flexor and not the labrum as the pain was presenting itself differently. I wasn’t so sure, but went with it, adding some hip flexor stretches to my routine, in lieu of the dynamic stretches and plyometrics. I went to spin 2 more times…but other than that, I rested this hip.
I even put in a call to my orthopedic doctor, but he was booked solid through after I was already leaving for this race series. I was told he would call and go over things I could do. When I didn’t hear from him Friday or Monday, my panic mode kicked in. I called Tuesday, leaving a message that I was leaving on Thursday morning. No word.
But this craziness doesn’t stop there. Wednesday night rolls around and the third on this trip, my friend and Cathy’s sister, Amanda, comes over. You see, we paid for her to come on this adventure with us. She always wanted to see California, and figured this would be a fun way to do it. Girl’s trip…WOOHOO!! She was pretty excited leading up to it…and we stayed up a bit that night discussing what we would be doing, while I prepped breakfast for the morning before the early airport journey. Then, we crashed out.
Apparently, around 1 am, Cathy said her sister knocked on her door and said that she was sick. Cathy got up and got her some of my tea…it’s SO good on the stomach…and that didn’t help her stomach issues. At about 3:30 am, Cathy heard me watching my Instagram story…and knocked on my door. She asked if I had anything that could help Amanda out. All I had were Rolaids, so we tried that.
No go. When I got up with my alarm at 5 am to stretch and then get breakfast ready, it was apparent that Amanda was not coming with us. So…Cathy and I made breakfast, and Amanda called her husband to take her home. He said this was probably brought on by anxiety…which is weird, because Amanda has traveled further than California with us before with no issues. I’ve never seen her as a nervous traveler. So…who knows.
Cathy and I packed up our stuff and her mom picked us up to go to the airport. We checked in and walked the terminals until it was time to line up for boarding. We got settled on our flight out of Louisville to Phoenix, Arizona. Cathy, thankfully, slept for about 3 of those hours. When we landed, I called my orthopedic doctor’s office and talked to the receptionist. I explained that I was told he would call before I left, and here I was, on my way to a race weekend with 2 distances on tap, a sore hip, and no answers. She actually went and got him out of a room to talk to me. After listening to the symptoms, he said it sounded like a hip flexor strain and that a cocktail of Tylenol and Ibuprofen would help with that. I thanked him and said that, more than likely, I’d be making an appointment with him after this weekend. But now I at least had a plan.
The flight from Phoenix to Burbank, California was short and sweet. We disembarked in the rain and chilly weather. It was warmer in Louisville than it was in Los Angeles that day. Go figure. We got our rental car and headed out to grab lunch at In-N-Out Burger (their fries are gluten free…so my lunch was fries. Healthy, I know!). And then, it was onto the hotel to check in and then…yep…head over to Downtown Disney and enter into the Disneyland Hotel for the expo. This did involve going through security to get into Downtown Disney, and then a downhill descent into a parking garage to get my race bib. I was in the first corral and one of the lower numbers, so it was pretty easy-going. With that, we walked back up and into the hotel proper to duck into the Exhibition Hall and to take in the rest of the expo…as well as pick up my t-shirts. I was determined not to spend a fortune at the expo, so Cathy kept me away from the Garmin table. HA! But, as it was, I was already needing to spend over $100 on compression shorts, a recommendation from my former physical therapist after seeing my post about the hip flexor strain on Facebook. So…that happened. I went to get in line for the official merchandise, but was told it was over a 2 hour wait. I had other things to do, so I texted my friend, Melissa, who was coming in for the races the following day to see if she could pick them up if the line wasn’t crazy. She agreed to do just that. So, with my new compression shorts and a couple of new (and needed) BondiBands for my running costumes, we left the expo and went to return things to the hotel room. The rest of that night is a blur. I don’t even think we ate dinner. I stretched, iced, foam rolled and went to bed.
Friday was all about Los Angeles…and we hit it hard! We woke up early and prepared a
breakfast from the stuff I had on hand. We had brought some of Annie May’s Sweet Cafe’s sandwich buns with us…so I loaded them up with some peanut butter I brought and placed some sliced banana on top. It was SO good. And it was just the right way to start off the day. We hauled down to the car, grabbed some coffee at a local place called Coffee Code, then we were making our way down to the California Science Center. We alotted plenty of time to get through morning traffic and it paid off, but we still arrived about 30 minutes before the place actually opened. That was okay, though, because what we were not aware of at the time was that the California Science Center was right next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which, for you runners out there, you will know as the place where Joan Benoit Samuelson crossed the finish line to win the very first Olympic Women’s Marathon! I was all about standing around and taking pictures (and doing videos) of this place. And that was a good way to kill some time. After a little stroll here and there, we entered the California Science Center and got ready to go see the Space Shuttle Endeavour. I think Cathy was determined to be the first there…and while we were the first on the escalator, we were definitely not first over to the shuttle…but they weren’t too busy at the time. We pretty much skipped much of the exhibit to jump right to the good part…the space shuttle. Although, we did pause to touch one of the wheels in the exhibit, because when you have the opportunity to touch something that has been in space, you touch it!! Space shuttles look fake to me, when I see them in person. It’s bizarre. That being said, Endeavour is beautiful…and the lengths that had to be taken to get her to California is still a fantastic story. We stayed and shopped and then went to seek out more of the center, taking a wrong turn, then turning around and discovering that in addition to the space shuttle, they had an Apollo, Mercury, and Gemini capsule as well. Three more points of interest…and we went and took in each and every one of them.
From there…we made another long drive (seriously…how do those of you who live/work in LA survive…it takes hours to get places!) to make our lunch stop…Erin McKenna’s Bakery in LA. This is her third shop and I have, proudly, been to all 3. Love her stuff. We each got bagels for lunch with vegan cream cheese…and then a box of goodies to bring back to the hotel to have during the time we were staying. This included 2 scones, a doughnut and a cinnamon roll – all gluten free and vegan. And, yes, delicious! Our next stop was supposed to be Pressed Juicery in the same area for one of their Freezes…but the Pressed Juicery there was not a Freeze shop. So, with a little Google-fu…I found one that wasn’t too far away and we drove down there. We parked in a parking garage and went to go get our treats. I wish we had this in Louisville…it’s ice cream made simply from real juice and topped off with healthy goods. Seriously…we need this. We walked around while we ate and then went back to the car. Turns out the parking garage where we parked was for customers of a grocery store only. And we needed a receipt to get out. So, we had to go inside and buy some stuff, which worked out. I picked up some AMAZING kombucha (I am obsessed, but when you have tummy problems…it helps!), some water, and a few other goods. With receipt in hand, we were out and back on the road. This time, back to Burbank to hit up a boutique store called Pin-Up Girl Boutique. I
have friends in California who rave about it and my good friend Tawn actually sent suggestions of what she’d like to see Cathy and I try on. I was a bit more into this than Cathy was, but we tried it all on, and the sales people were lovely, and I really wanted to buy it all…but…it was only my first full day in California and I couldn’t drop $150 on a dress at that moment. I will be shopping there though! It took 2.5 hours to get from Burbank back to the hotel near Disneyland. It was late…and I had a race in the morning…so…dinner was an orange and a Glutino gluten-free toaster pastry. Not what I would usually have for dinner before a race…but it was all we had at the time and really all we had time for.
In the morning…it was time to do the…
Star Wars Light Side 10K
Race: Star Wars Light Side 10K
Place: Disneyland, Anaheim, California
Date: January 14, 2017
Compression shorts…KT Tape…and ACE Bandages.
Welcome to my morning. I got up about 30 minutes before Cathy’s alarm was to go off, just to get myself ready. This meant doing my hip stretches that I found for hip flexor issues and the others I’d been doing for awhile. I also took my Tylenol/Ibuprofen cocktail my orthopedic doctor had mentioned…both the night before and that morning. Normally, it is not recommended to medicate before a race, but, dammit, I needed to get through 2 in 2 days…I was willing to do just about anything at this rate.
Cathy got up with the alarm and we ate a light breakfast, as we had extra large bananas (Walgreens only had King Kong sized bananas when we went there for ACE Bandages) to split on race mornings…so it was a basic nosh on dry cereal with some water. I went to change into my outfit for the day. Not the normal running gear as I was costuming as Rey, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I wore my compression shorts though, and Cathy wrapped the ACE Bandages around my torso and left thigh, just as the video my former physical therapist sent to me. She secured it with the clips and put tape over those. My right foot (the one that the plantar flared up on a month or so prior) was taped and I put on the capris and the costume top I was using. My hair went into the standard pigtails and my new BondiBand I picked up at the expo went on my head. No compression for this one. The costume didn’t allow for it. But…despite the hip issues, this was the shorter of the races. I figured, while it would feel weird not to have compression sleeves on my legs, I could handle it for 1 race.
I got pinned up and we were out the door, stepping into the unseasonably cool California morning air, joining the myriad of other runners that morning at the crosswalk to step onto Disneyland property and enter into Downtown Disney. There was a security checkpoint to go through first. They searched bags if you had them and, some people, randomly, were sent through the metal detectors. I had no bags, so I was an easy pass. Cathy’s backpack is clear…and the security people LOVE that. Makes her journey through the checkpoints easier.
We strolled past a very crowded Starbucks and continued on toward the staging area. As we got to the other security checkpoint, my friend Melissa texted me and asked where I was. I told her I had just passed through Downtown Disney. She and her husband had just gotten into Downtown Disney…so they were on their way. I told her that Cathy and I would wait just past the checkpoint…and that’s what we did. We saw a LOT of BB-8 costumes…and a few Star Trek costumes too. HAHA!! Ah, the Trekkies are hillarious! Melissa arrived, dressed as Maz (also from Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and Paul (that’s her husband) was Boba Fett. We hugged and both she and I limped (her hip/knee had been a problem since her first marathon the weekend before…can you say BEAST MODE?!) over to the staging area. Of course…more pictures had to happen…last minute bathroom breaks…I had half a banana to eat…that sort of stuff. We did have to start thinking about heading to our corrals, though…so we walked together until I had to break off to head to Corral A. Melissa gave me a tight hug…told me not to even worry about my time and to just have some fun. And if she and Paul caught up to me if I had to walk it…they would join me. I love my friends. Seriously. I love them.
I got to my corral in time for some of the morning banter with our race emcees that morning. They were actually quite funny. And Disney spares no expense, for sure. I LOVED that so much of Corral A was in costume!! There were LOTS of Princess Leia’s…for obvious reasons. In fact, the first woman to finish was dressed as Princess Leia…which seems fitting, for sure. I was trying not to have a meltdown or panic attack due to my hip. I knew one of two things would happen. I would get to that start line and take a few steps and be able to go…or I would have to walk the 6.2 miles to the finish. Whichever it was, I was going to get to that finish line.
After the National Anthem was sang by a Disney cast member, the wheelchair race was sent off first. Only a few minutes later, the corral was discarding any mylar blankets or other clothing they brought to keep warm. No baked potatoes allowed across that start line…it would screw with the timing. The countdown was given…the fireworks went off…and Corral A was underway. I walked up to the start mat, then took a few tentative steps at a jog…then kept it conservative at the jog, realizing that while the hip twinged a few times, I could run. Not all out fast or anything…but I wasn’t struggling either. And so…the race was on.
That being said, my intention to stop and use the photo ops along the way…went to the wayside. Once I got moving, I was afraid that if I stopped, the pain would settle and I wouldn’t get started again. So, I just ran…and prayed a little…that my ACE Bandage would hold…that my hip wouldn’t do something awful. Let’s remember…I had a half marathon looming the next morning. The goal was to just run this and still be able to walk around at the end of it. My friend Melissa had warned me about the one and only hill (you get sent through this tunnel thing…so down a hill…then through…then back up, but the rest of the course is flat. F-L-A-T. Which is infuriating to me, as I ROCK flat courses, and if the hip had been behaving…I probably would have kicked this course’s ass. UGH! Seriously, it feels like I can’t catch a break.
That being said…I almost broke the don’t stop rule when I saw the life-size, moving around, BB-8 on the course for photo ops!! BB-8 is my FAVORITE…and I was SO tempted…but I knew stopping probably would have been worse…so I kept going, with very little pain at all. I ran the streets…through the parks…pushing on past the water stops. For a 10K, I don’t run with a fuel belt, but the cold air and my slower than usual pace meant I wasn’t really dehydrating myself. My first mile of this race was the slowest…my third…the fastest. I slowed it down between miles 4 and 5…but picked it up when I knew the last mile was ahead. I’m not talking breaking any speed records. I never got faster than a 7:38 pace (and that was mile 3)…but I wanted to finish strong. And I saw that finish line and just went for it. I could hear Cathy screaming at me from the cheer squad seats (she got in there somehow…I never know how she pulls these things off)…and powered over that finish line.
What really kept me going…the fact that I knew the medal for this race was BB-8. I
walked through the finisher’s area, getting my medal…a mylar blanket…a box of goodies and some water. And then…I made my way out to the staging area, where Cathy met me. She was going on-and-on about my time and how she was checking the tracking and going, “Well…she’s running…that’s good!” HA! They had some fun photo ops out, so while the lines were still short, we took advantage of those. Then…it was time to head back to the hotel. Our friend Tawn was coming in from Fresno that morning (she left SUPER early to get down there around 9 am)…and I was ready to shower and eat some real food. The problem was, the exit was blocked by racers. Okay…turned around…and tried to go through one of the hotels, but instead of asking someone, Cathy just kept turning corners out of the lobby, and then put us in an Emergency Exit area…where we got trapped. TRAPPED! Insert me starting to bitch about being cold and wanting a shower…and now being stuck. We finally got out, thanks to the help of some of the Disneyland employees…and after asking if we were okay or needed water, we were now on the road back to the hotel.
I showered. And then I rested a little while we awaited Tawn’s arrival. We had a reservation for a breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen. And Tawn arrived in time to change, do her makeup and for us to get to the restaurant, get pictures with Goofy, and get seated. It was the best way to kick off Day #1 of Disneyland adventures for sure.
We spent the entire day at California Adventure…and that night, my friend Alison and her family drove down to meet us at the Pizza Press for my traditional gluten-free pizza before a race. She and her family are amazing, awesome, and just all around good people. It was a blast…and I’m glad I FINALLY got to meet her in person. And her son, Evan, who we nicknamed Mr. Incredible a few years ago. He really is incredible! We sadly did have to say our goodbyes though, because Sunday’s 3:00 am wake-up for a 5:30 am race
Oh…so my official results of the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side 10K are that I finished in 50:13. Not too bad given the circumstances!! I mean…FOR REAL! I was 296/11,606 finishers overall. I was the 33/6816 female to cross the finish line. And I was 5/1216 runners in my age division. This hips issue is driving me nuts. I can’t even fathom how much better I could have done had I been able to just go for it. Seriously…these results are both amazing…and frustrating at the same time! Given the circumstances…I will take it!!
The rest of the day was fun at Disneyland…but at the end of the day, the hip was done and my limp was starting to return. We turned in after the pizza stop and I took my last round of the Tylenol/Ibuprofen cocktail and turned in for the night. The following morning…did not go as smoothly…
Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon
Race: Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon
Place: Disneyland, Anaheim, California
Date: January 15, 2017
My alarm went off at 3 am. My friend Tawn was up and in the shower. She’s a Run Disney vet and is AWESOME at the routine. Wake up early…get out the door…do race…do the parks. She’s not a runner, but she comes out to cheer and to just…be there at the finish line. So, while she was in the bathroom, I got up to take that Tylenol/Ibuprofen cocktail and to stretch. I took a few steps toward the table I had things set out on…and knew that today I was in a whole heap of trouble. I was limping. I was limping bad. I was sore…and I had a 13.1 mile race ahead of me.
THIS. WAS. BAD.
I might have cried as I did my hip stretches and foam rolled. Cathy got up just before the alarm that morning, and we started to just roll through race morning prep. While Tawn did her makeup and hair, I got dressed and Cathy prepped some KT Tape to put across my hip flexor. We did that…and I pulled the compression shorts on over that…then she did the ACE Bandage wrap. Over that went my running shorts and then…the BB-8 running sparkle skirt I purchased SO long ago. Seriously…my hip was being held together with tape, bandages, and a lot of prayer. I was not in a good place, physically or mentally, on half marathon morning. Not one bit. But, I finished getting ready, having to modify the bra top costume due to the low 40 degree weather in Los Angeles that morning. I was NOT expecting these temps there. Luckily, I had a bright orange shirt with me and it became the base layer. I was layered everywhere…sports bra, t-shirt, BB-8 bra top on top…KT tape, compression shorts, ACE Bandages, shorts, and a skirt on the bottom half. And every step…a challenge. I ate my cereal to put something in my stomach and filled up my water bottles on my fuel belt with my nuun and water. I grabbed one of the Godzilla-sized bananas for pre-race eats and the three of us were out the door, pretty much right on time. I was not nervous like I was before the 10K. Walking was a challenge…so I was downright freaking out. I think I cried a few times on the way to the crosswalk to get over to Disneyland property and through security. I branched off to the NO LINE group and held my cell phone up over my head as we went through the metal detectors. Tawn and Cathy got through bag check quickly and we were making our way past the overrun Starbucks on the corner. There was another one further in that was never as busy…so we did joke about that a little. We got to the staging area, and I hadn’t heard from Melissa and Paul yet…so we just moved out of the way and listened to some of the music.
At this point…I think I had an all-out meltdown. Both Tawn and Cathy were quick to give me hugs and reassurance. The thing was…I was hurting. And a half marathon is NO JOKE!! Cathy said that it was possible that this race would be just like the last one…where I take a few steps and it’s all good. I hoped she was right. I dried my eyes…got more hugs…and they sent me off to get into my corral.
Same system as before. No Melissa or Paul to hug. I wasn’t sure if they’d pass me or if I’d see them that day…but I stepped up to Corral A and got inside. And I felt, very much, like I honestly didn’t belong there that morning. The race emcees were back for more fun this morning, and they kept the mood light. I was shivering, not completely from the cold…but my nerves were creeping in. I never get nervous before a race…but I knew that I was going into this at about 50%…and it scared the shit out of me.
The National Anthem was played beautifully by a band and soon the wheelchair racers were off. My corral ditched the mylar blankets or clothing keeping them warm and we all started to move up a bit more at the start line. When the countdown happened, the fireworks went off, I walked toward that start line and took a few tentative steps at a jog.
PAIN!! It was unpleasant pain from the start, but I was in the flow of runners, so I just pressed on, without pushing too much. I thought so hard about ducking to the side and just walking…but I didn’t. I kept my pace easy…and I just did what I could. Once again, though, my plan to stop for photos went out the window. Any stopping today would be the worst thing possible…because as I learned at the Boston Marathon…it hurts SO much worse to start back up. I hit the underpass hills again…and managed to navigate those and started through some of the parks. I paid no attention to time clocks…I was focusing in on my form as best as I could. I had to pass up the BB-8 photo op again…which sucked, since I was dressed as BB-8…but it was the only decision that made sense to me. Running this didn’t make sense…but I paid a HELL of a lot for this race challenge…it was happening even if I had to slow to a walk.
But then…something fantastic happened. As we came out of the park around Mile 4…I hear and see Cathy and Tawn, just screaming at me from the side of the route. It was amazing. Tawn recorded it and you can hear Cathy talking about how my form looked good and all that. I was hurting…but it wasn’t bad at this point. I could manage…even though I was wondering when I would have to drop to the side and take it to a walk.
We exited Disneyland soon after and hit the road. As I rounded the corner, I heard someone yell, “HEY! IT’S R2-D2.” Wrong droid!!! I am in orange…BB-8 is orange. R2-D2 is blue. SHEESH!! The cheerleaders that lined this portion of the course was uplifting and it did make me move a little bit faster as I went past them. Miles 5 & 6 ended up being my fastest, and also put me at a 10K time faster than the 10K I ran the morning before. Cathy had been tracking me as she and Tawn went to get coffee and explore some of Downtown Disney and this fact impressed her for sure.
But it started to get rough soon after this. Much of the crowds disappear at this point. But, there are plenty of people running with you. But…Mile 9 going into Mile 10…was the best. The 501st is out in all their gear. You have just this long line of Star Wars characters and it is just…fantastic. I mean, I’m running through and everyone is in character. There was a phenomenal Obi-Wan Kenobi on the corner…with an accent and all…and that was SO amazing to me. It was uplifting. But after I was past them…that was when the pain really started to rear it’s ugly head. My pace slowed way down for the last three miles…but at this point, I knew I was only 30 minutes at most away from a finish line. I gritted my teeth…cried…a little. Maybe a lot. And knew my right foot was blistering, which never happens, but I was now changing my stride to accommodate my hip. UGH. I started to really focus on each step, trying to to baby the hip, but trying to to push it too much either.
I thought I had picked it up for the final mile, but that ended up being my slowest mile of the day. Go figure. I could hear that finish line, and when I saw it, determination and stubbornness took over and I ran it as hard as I dared and could manage. The announcer said, “It looks like we have a BB-8 coming in…Karen Brady!” That made me at least smile, so at least my finish picture isn’t ugly crying or something. I heard Cathy and Tawn just ahead of me as I limped past the photographers. Cathy called me over for a picture at the finish line which hobbled over for. They said that they would see me on the other side…and I went to get my finisher’s medal for the half marathon, my mylar blanket…and then my extra medal for completing the Star Wars Rebel Challenge! After that, the snack box and water were handed over and I exited the finish area to re-enter the staging area…and Tawn and Cathy were there to hug me and greet me. And I cried…again.
We didn’t hang around much after this. I was hurting and we had Disneyland to properly explore that day. We decided to head back to the hotel so I could shower, we could eat breakfast (Cathy split the last of the sandwich buns and we split the donut 3 ways) before heading out for the rest of the day. We had a big day ahead of us…and while it was hard to move…I wanted to get the most out of my time with Tawn and my time at Disneyland. We even did a thing…by getting the names of the Schulyer Sisters from the musical Hamilton on our Mickey ears and posing in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle!! We are theater NERDS! Honestly, in order to even be able to move that day, I put on a pair of leggins, and had Cathy do the ACE Bandage wrap I wore during the races, and I put my BB-8 skirt back on…because…I needed to cover the ACE wrap.
That being said, this pretty much meant I couldn’t pee all day. Luckily…I never really had to. And I managed a full day at the park…had a blast…and ate an incredible dinner that night at Cafe Orleans. Seriously…worth every painful step.
I guess some results are in order. The official race results of the Disneyland Star Wars Light Side Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:47:53. I was expecting 3 hours, so this was amazing to me. Seriously, even I can’t figure out how I pulled off that time. I was 422/12434 finishers overall. I was 57/7028 women to cross the finish line. And, I was 14/1253 in my age division. Not too bad under these very hostile circumstances. For real! It still pisses me off because this was SO FLAT…and I want to run it as hard and best as I can. Flat courses and I are BFFs. But my body has let me down again.
My orthopedic doctor was unable to see me until February 1. My hip is still…not good. All running is off…I’m walking, spinning, and just trying out other non-impact means of just keeping my endurance and fitness up until I can get some answers.
Can you believe how quickly the holidays have gotten here? It seems like just yesterday I was heading out the day after Thanksgiving for some Black Friday mayhem!! The time has just flown by!
I’m preparing to board a plane to go home to see my family. Of course, this means all the holiday airport shenanigans…I just hope it all runs smoothly and I don’t end up being stranded somewhere. I’m traveling through Chicago…so we’ll see…
Airports are hit-and-miss time of year and the weather lately, unless you live in Florida, has been rather crazy and cold. But…hey…family is important and I can’t wait to get back there and hug them and spend some time with all of them.
Speaking of which, I ran across this little gem the other day when going through pictures…
Family is, and always will be, very important to me. They are my biggest support system. And even though I am the one who flew away (aka: they all live in Birmingham and I live in Indiana)…they have always been there for me and supported me. And I honestly can’t wait to see them later tonight.
Even bigger news…I have all the gifts wrapped and I’m officially Christmas-ready. Christmas is a go, friends. I was down to the wire on the wrapping, but I did it. WOOHOO!
The gifts that are wrapped are in my checked baggage so TSA won’t have to have me unwrap anything. Even if they did, my mom is a much better gift wrapper than I am and would re-wrap them for me. Except hers. I’d have to do that.
Speaking of gifts…do I have a gift for you!!
You, my dear friends, have 2 MORE DAYS to take advantage of one of the best discount offer with the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/mini Marathon!! You have until December 24, 2016, to register for either distance (or even the relay option), and use a special discount code for $10 off the registration fee. Simply go here:
Enter the following code for your special discount:
And be sure you select me, Karen Brady, as your Race Ambassador referral!! Seriously, don’t miss this amazing offer!!
Also, take advantage of the Norton Sports Health Training Program. Head over to the Norton Sports Health Training Program page and register. If you are in the first 800 to register, you will also receive a free, long-sleeve, tech shirt. But you have to be registered for one of the race distances!
And I’m going to throw in a bonus incentive. If you register for either the marathon or the half marathon distance, and select me, Karen Brady, as your race ambassador, simply message me…or comment here…and I’ll happily send you a bonus gift of some KDFMarathon swag. I have KDFMarathon BondiBands, pasta scoops, shoelaces, chip clips, smart phone wallets, and stickers.
All this and free swag too!!
I also want to put out there that I am really, really enjoying being a KDFMarathon Race Ambassador. Seriously, I have met and become friends with amazing, inspiring people. And we have a lot of fun. I’m beyond blessed to be a part of this program. So, from my KDFMarathon Ambassador family to you…
MERRY CHRISTMAS…and here’s to a HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR!
What are you waiting for?
Go set a new goal, sign up for a new distance, pledge to get healthy and train for a race, and do it with us. Go…you have nothing to lose.
You know, one of the most rewarding things about being an Ambassador for the #KDFMarathon is that I get to encourage other people – friends, strangers, friends of strangers, etc – to sign up for this amazing race and to train with us using the official Norton Sports Health Training Program!
So…I’m here on my blog to do just that. Let’s begin with the Norton Sports Health Training Program, shall we?
The Norton Sports Health Training Program is a fantastic 14-week program that helps prepare runners and walkers for both the KDF Marathon and the KDF miniMarathon races. Registration for the program is 100% FREE!!! If you are anything like me, FREE is your favorite price. So, make a point to head over to the Norton Sports Health Training Program page on the KDF Marathon site and register.
Well, not only will you receive a training manual at the annual kick-off event on January 12, 2017 at 6 p.m. at the Kentucky Derby Museum(you can also download this online), which will highlight the training guidelines and the weekly group runs (there are two (2) per week – Tuesday Hill Repeats and Saturday Long Runs), but you will also have the opportunity, at this event, to meet and talk with members of the Norton Sports Health Team, and have any of your questions answered prior to beginning training. Attending this event will also give you the opportunity to check out the exhibits at the Kentucky Derby Museum commemorating the annual Run for the Roses.
If you have been wavering on whether to register or not…then wait no longer. I have a discount code for you that is good through December 24, 2016. Trust me, you do not want to miss out on this deal.
Go to the KDF Marathon registration page and register for either the full or half marathon distance. As you are checking out, be sure to enter this discount code and receive $10 OFF REGISTRATION!
And, as I said, this is good for $10 OFF REGISTRATION!! Be sure, when you register, you pick me, KAREN BRADY, as your Race Ambassador Referral!!
Trust me, you won’t find a better deal than this!!
Two for one! Register for the race distance of your choice…then go register for the Norton Sports Health Training Program. Trust me, I participated in the training program last year, and it is phenomenal. I was just coming back from months off due to my hip labrum tear, and this program not only laid out distances to run, but helped me get back into the act of running regularly. It is so worth participating in! And, as a bonus, I met a lot of awesome people and made some new friends. Why go it alone? Train with people who have the same goal as you. It makes a world of difference!
If you will recall, back in August, prior to running the Kauai Marathon, the top of my foot started to bother me. Turned out to be a tweaked tendon, probably from running on the treadmill. My podiatrist taped me up…and told me to enjoy my race. For quite awhile after that race, the tendon was still a problem…but it was explained to me that this sort of thing takes time to heal. Keep icing, keep taping, keep using that Biofreeze…and give it time. Running on it wasn’t going to hurt it further…so…I pressed on. As our weather yo-yo’d from hot to cold to warm to freezing to hot…my body was confused.
But…I realized a few weeks ago that the pain in the top of my foot had gone away.
The problem now…was that my foot now hurt along the arch. I deduced, all on my own, that it was my plantar flaring up. After all…I had torn this plantar back in 2012…and the weather has been…indecisive…
So, I started doing the Low Dye taping technique to it and pressing on. Most of the time, after my stretches and dynamic warm up, the foot would stop hurting. However…in the past week, it started to flare back up around Mile 2 or so on my runs. I would stop, shake it off and proceed to finish up my assigned mileage. It hurt…but it wasn’t crippling. However, now that the pain was returning after I was warmed up and already running, I decided not to play around and called my podiatrist’s office on Wednesday afternoon. They had a spot open on Thursday at 8:30 am…otherwise I couldn’t be fit in until December 15.
Needless to say…I took the opening yesterday morning. DUH!
Well, once at the office, I was going over all the information with the tech and I said, “It feels like my plantar is flaring up or something.” She agreed, but they took X-Rays anyway. When my podiatrist came in and pulled up the X-rays, he said there were no stress fractures (never even crossed my mind), but my plantar was very inflamed.
Um…yeah…just as I suspected. Do I know my body or do I know my body?!
What I wasn’t aware of, until he told me, was just how inflamed my plantar fascia was. He said that a normal plantar was about 2-4 mm. Mine…was 9.5 mm. No joke. My plantar was not just inflamed…it was angry.
That being said, he asked me if I had any races coming up. I told him nothing was on the books until January. So he said that he was going to give me a Cortisone shot. Now, mind you, my podiatrist hates to give runners Cortisone shots, as he says that it is suicide for a runner. So, I knew he wasn’t messing around. I have to say, he was impressed that I didn’t even flinch when he injected it in the bottom of my foot. He said that the shot is no joke. But, let’s face it…I’ve dealt with pain a lot worse than that.
He also wanted me to make use of The Equinus Brace.
Not going to lie. The first time they strapped these on me at the office, my thoughts immediately went to Forrest Gump.
This is why I have named these little hindrances…Forrest and Gump.
This brace supposedly positions your foot and ankle and extends above the knee to provide an optimal stretch, way better than any of those night splits for plantar fasciitis. I also had to get 2 braces…one for each leg, because if I only treated one leg, the other would become weaker. So, for an hour a day, I’m down for the count, wearing these braces and hoping they are doing their job.
That being said, I’ve been running pretty well, despite the unhappy plantar, so I hope when I get back out there in a couple days, I run even better. Last Cortisone shot I had (in my hip before the Boston Marathon), didn’t really take…so we’ll see how this goes.
Cross your fingers…now, if you’ll excuse me…my couch is waiting for me to sit on it for an hour…in these braces.
Listen to your body, friends!! You know it best. I’m glad I did!
It happened this year!! After having to miss out on my most convenient and least stressful face of the year last year…this year I was registered and ready to run. That’s right, my friends. It was time for New Albany’s very own Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast. It is held every Thanksgiving morning (for 28 years now!) and it happens…literally…right outside my door. The start and finish area is at the fairgrounds located directly across the street from my apartment complex. How’s that for an easy race morning?
As you might recall, last year I was still on the recovery list after dealing with my nemesis, my hip labrum tear, and then…my stress fracture in my leg. The hip is going to be a constant thing, but when my leg started to bother me again, my orthopedic doctor decided it would be best to take the rest of November off from running and to send me to physical therapy. I had been registered for the Fast Freddie Five Miler already…because I knew my boot would be off and I figured I’d be good to go. But, sadly, I wasn’t. And for the first time in the years I have been running…I had to miss out on the challenging race before my Thanksgiving feast. I was, however, a brief spectator last year, rushing down to the start line in just enough time to see everyone off.
It wasn’t the same.
And this year…in the true tradition of Thanksgiving…I was hungry for this one.
The Sunday prior to Thursday, I met up with my friend Jack and his friend Heather (who recognized me from the YMCA) to run the course. It was 23 degrees out that morning, but I hadn’t run the course in a long time (and I know I need to because it does have some hills to challenge me), so I really wanted to do this test run on the course. Or…a course preview…as we referred to it. I ran it at an easy pace…my Garmin saying I did it in about 39 minutes. Happy with that.
After getting home, I went to check my training calendar that my coach, Linda, throws together for me each week. Fast Freddie was listed…and she set my goal time for 38 minutes. I had run just slightly over 38 minutes when I ran this last, in 2014, so I thought this was an achievable goal time for my first year back to this event. But, later that night, she texted me and said that she changed my time goal for the race. I went to check and she changed it to 36 minutes. I texted her back and said that I had never run this course that fast (my fastest race time is 36:54 in 2013…when I was in my best racing shape), but I would try. She told me not to kill myself doing it, but she thought I was capable, being that I was just barely over 36 minutes on a 5 mile speed work run I did a few weeks before.
For the rest of the week, I fretted over that race time. I did my training runs, hit the paces, tried to run easy on the easy days (which isn’t easy for me…unless I run with other people), and just not try to obsess over it. I would do my best on race morning…and that’s all I could do.
To top it all off, though, I was hosting Thanksgiving this year. I hosted last year, but I wasn’t racing, so I decided that I needed to do as much as humanly possible the night before. This meant, I made a conscious decision to not rest my legs or feet…but to stand in the kitchen and cook up all of the side dishes I was serving. Leaving, simply, the sweet potato fries, the BBQ pulled turkey, and the apple cinnamon slow-cooker apples for the morning. It took almost 4 hours to get it all done, but I did. I even had to set an alarm on my phone to wake me up so that I could put the food that was cooling on racks into the fridge. I went back to bed, having my alarm set for to give me time to do all my stretches and PT exercises before the race…as well as chop up a lot of apples for both the slow cooker that had the turkey and the slow cooker with the apples as well. It was a hectic morning, but I managed to get everything going before Cathy taped up my right foot (still having some issues with it) and pinned me up. Time to go.
It was actually earlier than I usually head over to the fairgrounds for this race, but I was meeting up with three other #KDFMarathon Ambassadors who were running this particular race: Jack, Melissa (and her husband), and Leah (who also has Linda as a coach!). When I showed up, I found Jack and Leah standing near the stage inside…and Melissa was just parking and heading our way. We wanted to get a picture together before the race. Melissa showed up, looked at me and said, “Where are your clothes?”
So…race morning was the type of weather where I get really confused as to how to properly dress. It was around 50 degrees at the start, but there was a cold 9 mph wind. According to the Weather Channel, it felt more like 46 degrees out. That being said, I had opted for a t-shirt and a pair of short (rainbow) shorts…and my usual compression sleeves and BondiBand with pigtails and all that good stuff. Melissa and Jack were in leggings and long sleeves. Leah was in shorts and a t-shirt too (and was wearing a pie hat on her head).
We gathered outside for the photo…my peeps wearing their KDF Ambassador shirts (I like to be bright, so I didn’t wear mine…but I did hold it up!). Not going to lie…it was cold. So, after the photo, Jack and my warm friends helped walk me to the start line while keeping me warm. And it was here that I ran into my friend, Harry, who was walking the course. So…I was just finding everyone today.
I went toward the front of the race group, taking up my usual position about 3 rows back from the start. The front row is reserved for the people with the low bib numbers. My bib number was, hilariously, #420. I was so amused when I picked up my bib Wednesday night because I had joked that Linda was on drugs when she set my goal pace…and then I get #420. HA! The crazy bib number things that happen to me. Anyway, I like to be close to the start, without getting in the way of the people who actually deserve to be right up there. You know…the people who run strides ahead of the race. Those crazies in the singlets and shorty-shorts. *glances down at rainbow shorty-shorts*
Fast Freddie’s Five Mile Foot Feast starts promptly at 9 am. Fred came out to give the usual information about the start. He would tell have runners get ready and then blow the whistle. And that…is what he did. And at the whistle blow…we were off.
I saw Cathy immediately, holding up my sign, gave a wave, and pushed on. After all, I was chasing down a fast time.
Fast times used to be a lot easier for me. Especially when a course has hills. You see, one problem I am finding with my hip labrum tear is that I lose power and speed on my uphills. I can’t easily burst up them like I used to. Nope. I actually struggle at times on hills. But I wasn’t going to worry about that. I didn’t have time. You pretty much get hit with a hill right away on this race. Not a big one, but it send you up and over the highway…but there is a nice downhill that awaits on the other side. I revel in those downhills. What I lack in hill climbing, I made up for on those downhills. Up ahead was the light, and we all blazed our path onto Mt. Tabor road, hitting that first mile marker. I looked to be just slightly behind on the 7:12 pace I would need to average in order to hit 36 minutes.
Mt. Tabor Road is a series of rolling ups and downs. By now, the body is warmed up and I can take these in stride, for sure. I actually handled these better than I anticipated. I was pushing that pace, hoping to, maybe, surprise myself in the end. We crossed the railroad tracks, went up another hill and then down, turning onto Grant Line Road. Mile 2…done. And I was still just a smidge under the 7:12 time.
But this third mile…this is the killer. As you head into Sam Peden Community Park, we get hammered with our first long climb. This hill isn’t steep…but it is continuous. Pretty much for the entire half a mile that you run toward that third mile mark. There is a water stop as you enter the park, but I always bypass it and keep running. My focus at this point was on pushing myself up that hill. This was not easy for me…and I could feel myself really fall back on my pace. And when this hill does level off (nope…no downhill…darn it), you’ve gotten through that third mile. I was set back now on my time, but I was going to see if I could make it up. I rounded the corner and started to make my way out of the park. There was a guy near the apartment complex at the park exit cheering on people. He saw my number and said, “What you got for me, 420?” HA!
Honestly, I used to dread Schell Lane. It is the hilliest part of the race. But, this past summer as I was training for the Kauai Marathon, I made a point to do hill runs in the mornings up Daisy Lane (opposite the way we run it in this race) and then through Schell Lane and back…just so I was getting in various climbs on the hills. They slowed me down slightly, but the downhills gave me some momentum to make up some time. The last hill is the hardest, but you get rewarded with the best downhill ever…all the way down Daisy Lane. I made the turn, and pushed my pace on that downhill hoping to catch some of my time. This is my favorite part of this race. I feel so fast and free and alive. Four miles…done.
The last mile was all that I had left…but I was starting to run out of gas in my legs. Seriously. Daisy Lane levels out pretty fast and it’s a huge shift when you’re coming down that hill to suddenly just have…flat. I proceeded as fast as I could force these legs to move, but I knew I was starting to struggle. I also knew that I was close to having a time in the 36 minute zone…so maybe…maybe I could at least get a new PR. I made it my goal to, as always, do my best to make this last mile count.
At the traffic light, I made the turn and began the last stretch of road back to the Fairgrounds. I actually do run this stretch a lot and am familiar with the rolling hills. All that being said…my legs were pretty much done. But I wasn’t having it. I was half a mile away, and I was going to press on and see what happened. As we neared the Fairgrounds, I could hear the crowds of people who were there to cheer, or were waiting on their family members. That’s the best part, coming into that finish where people line the street and send you down that finishing shoot. I made the turn to run it into the finish and could hear Cathy screaming at me to run faster. I managed, my Garmin telling me that as I crossed the finish line, I was hitting a pace around 5:42. Usually I have no finishing kick, but I could now see the clock and my 36+ minute zone was close to closing. I gave it all I had…
…and managed no new PR…and missed 36 minutes by well over a minute. But I was done. I had beat my 2014 time by well over a minute, so given that last year I wasn’t able to run at all…this was a total and complete win. I think, as I train more this coming year, I’ll find my stride again. My running has been a struggle as of late, but I’m getting it figured out, little by little.
After crossing the finish line, I went and met up with Cathy and we went to find a spot near the road to cheer on the rest of my #KDF Ambassador team!! Jack came in first…then Leah…and then Melissa and Paul. I was there for all of them. And, afterwards, we even got a picture with Santa, who was at the finish.
You never know what to expect from this race.
The awards were going to be handed out and the raffle drawings were going to be done, so we headed into Newlin Hall, where it was warm, and we all just sort of conversed as prizes were handed out.
And then…as they got to the Female 35-29 age division…I heard my friend Amber Korte get announced as third…I hadn’t even seen Amber. I wasn’t sure if she was still there, but I cheered loudly. And the second place was announced. And then…my name was called for first in my age division. I was…amazed, to be honest. In 2013, when I ran my fastest time on this course, I didn’t even place. When I ran in 2014, I was third in my age division. So, yeah, I was surprised. I went over to the table and got my Fast Freddie Mug (they were yellow this year!)…and went back to hang with my friends. Except…I had some more stuff that needed to be done for Thanksgiving dinner…so we hugged and I said goodbye and headed back home to shower and cook up the remainder of the meal before everyone started arriving.
The official results of this year’s Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast was that I finished with an official time of 37:03…only 9 seconds off my PR on this course, and a full minute and three seconds slower than my coach was hoping for. I was 112/866 finishers this year. I was the 21st female to cross the finish line. And I was 1st in my age division. I was disappointed that I didn’t manage the fast time Linda hoped I could run, but I ran really well and really hard…and I still ran better than the last time I ran this race. I’ll take any small victory at this point. Maybe, with a little practice, and some hip strengthening, I’ll hit that sub-36.
I hope all of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I am very thankful for all of you who return to my blog and read about my adventures in running and in travel and food. I leave you with this Thanksgiving-ish thought:
Whatever feeds your desire, your hunger, and your fire…chase it down this year.
It was the weekend before Halloween…and after a few long runs with my running partner, Matthew, he and I had come up with some fun ideas should he choose to run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon with me. Like…at one point we were going to dress as Batman & Robin…and then, at the halfway point, we were going to switch out so the other person was Batman and the other was Robin. When we couldn’t find Robin outfits, it changed to Superman & Wonder Woman. I had the Wonder Woman running costume…but as I said…this race was the weekend before Halloween. Superman was a bit difficult to come by. What he did end up with was a great brown cotton shirt. YES! We were SO ready for this!
My biggest concern that morning was the chilly air. My body doesn’t do well in cooler temperatures. Once it gets under the 60s…it’s iffy. When it hits the 40s, like it did that morning, my body sometimes doesn’t want to function at all. So, I had to decide if I was going to do a singlet with arm warmers…or just short sleeves. I went back and forth on it, but totally ended up going with the arm warmers and singlet. It was a decision I immediately began questioning my decision.
I headed downstairs at my apartment that morning in my outfit choice to see if I could take the cold air. I did all my physical therapy stretches, warmup moves, and plyometrics and figured…I’d probably warm up when running the half…I’d stick with it. I’d just wear warm things before the race. I also donned my KDF Marathon Ambassador shirt for the group picture prior to the race start. My foot was NOT loving the cold air though, so I knew that this race was going to be about feeling that out and seeing how it did as the miles began to wrack up! I’ve learned to really listen to my body…so I knew I’d be hyper aware of it as the morning went on. That being said, I headed back upstairs to eat some cereal and finish up pre-race prep.
My good friend, Kat, who ran the KDF Half Marathon in 2014 with me…and who I paced the Buffalo Marathon with the same spring, was in town and staying with me. Poor thing probably had to get up way earlier than she intended that morning, but she was a good sport. I wished she could have run it too…but another time, for sure! My roomie, Cathy, and I saw her off (with a vegan and gluten-free breakfast from Annie May’s…and some additional road eats) and then hopped into the car for the dash over the river to Louisville. Parking wasn’t too much of a problem. And…to keep me warm on the hike from the car to the photo op, I donned the warm poncho I got at the NYC Marathon in 2014.
I had messaged the other Ambassadors to warn them that I was running a little late, and, I was the last one to show up, but a couple of others had just gotten there as well. I shed the poncho and set up for the photo op. I love my Ambassador family and love these little photo op moments together. Seriously, I want to hang out with them for the rest of my life. After the photo, I put the poncho back on and texted my running partner, Matthew, to see if he was there yet. He was…and I told him to stay put…because I was incoming.
Just as I spotted him, my friend, Katie, spotted me. There were hugs…and photos…and some chatting. Katie and I have been trying to meet up at races for awhile now. It finally happened. YAY!! Now to find a time to have her over for a run and dinner. That also must happen. Maybe sometime during the holidays. I love hosting people for the holidays. What do you think, Katie?
Matthew was in the best outfit for running. A brown cotton shirt and shorts. He also had a white long sleeve shirt under it because, as I mentioned, it was freakin’ cold that morning. His girlfriend, Dawn, made sure she got some pictures before wishing him luck. She and Cathy went to find a good spot at the start line while he and I started to walk down the line to the corrals. The opening to get into them was a good ways down. We were back with some over 2 hour pacers, so we did our best to work our way up a bit more. We were treating this as a fun training run…but we wanted to be somewhere near our normal pace, for sure. We got as far as we could before the National Anthem…and then…the gun to send us off.
We gave a wave to Dawn & Cathy as we crossed the start line and passed them. We ran down West Main and made the turn onto 2nd Street and then onto E Muhammad Ali Blvd. The first mile clicked over and we were off to the training (races). In fact, Matthew and I just settled in and sort of just started talking. It was great. In fact, we actually paced the first 4 miles rather quickly and then, slowed it down on the hills of Cherokee Park. In doing so, we were able to take on the hills and still feel strong at the top. Of course, once we climbed to the top at Hogan’s Fountain, I told Matthew that we were hitting my favorite speed…DOWNHILL!!
The next three miles were back up in pace as we came out of Cherokee Park and made our way down Cherokee Parkway to Cherokee Road to Baxter Avenue. I got a lot…and I mean a lot of Wonder Woman shout-outs. It made me smile. I’d wave and smile and pump my fist at anyone who shouted out at me. But my favorite, I think, came around Mile 9, when a woman shouted, “IT’S WONDER WOMAN!” She turned to her companion and said, “She was always my favorite superhero.” It’s little things like that, people!!
The sun was out and while the air was still cold, the runners were definitely warm at this point. Matthew said he was glad he wasn’t running a marathon, because we were 10 miles in and he was struggling a bit. He took in some fuel and we moved into our final three miles. As we got into the last mile, my legs were ready to move, so I settled into a bit of a faster pace and began to make the dash back down East Main toward the finish line. I could hear a crowd and an announcer, so I knew it was close.
And then I saw Dawn and Cathy…and they were yelling and shouting. And I crossed the finish line, foot twinging, but not hurting bad, hip feeling good, and just…glad to be done. It was a good run. Matthew came across momentarily after me!
We received our medal (hey…a training run with bling…LOVE that!), and it made my race to have Chris from the KDF Ambassadors put my medal around my neck. Seriously, that meant so much to me. Then, Matthew and I went to do the photo ops. Afterwards, I spotted a good friend, Ron Steve, who had a brilliant race that day, beating his goal by 2 minutes!! THAT was very good news. I wanted him to have a good race and he certainly did!! We all moved through the chute, getting our water, snacks, bananas, and chocolate milks…and went to the after party setting. Runners got to have like 8 bourbon shots if they wanted…and got soup and pizza as well. Because of my food allergies, I didn’t partake, but Cathy did eat my slice of pizza. It was, apparently, really good pizza. Dawn and Matthew came to sit with us in the sun and I did get up to do a few leg swings to keep the hip loose.
After getting serenaded by the lead singer of The Louisville Crashers…it was time to get going. Lots to do that day…and some brunch and grocery shopping was going to start it off. I said goodbye to Ron, Matthew and Dawn, and went to accomplish the rest of the tasks that needed to be done that day, before heading to the Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular later that night with my friend Amanda!
It was quite a day.
So, my official results of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:44:47, which is a 3 minute improvement from the Indy Women’s Half Marathon. No rain…just cold. And I wasn’t even pushing it. I’ll take that! I was the 249/2508 finishers overall. I was 52/1406 women to finish this race. And in the 45-59 age division, I came in 5/154. Not bad at all. I was very happy with the way I ran this race, given some aches and pains, and the cold weather, which never helps. Yep…definitely a worthwhile training run (race).
Ah, Disney. My dear, sweet, Disney. I wanted to hate you for not deferring my Dopey Challenge entry after I was told by my doctor, I physically could not run. I was angry…because that was a lot of money to be out…despite having doctors notes and all. I wanted to swear you off for life.
But I couldn’t.
Especially since I had to cancel my trip in January due to the injury and I opted, instead, to sign up for your latest challenge…Lumiere’s Challenge…which is a 2-race challenge (not the 4 races you do in January)…a 10K on Sunday and a half marathon on Sunday. I had the date marked on my calendar to sign up…and was so busy at work that I totally missed it…by a day. I figured it would be okay…but it wasn’t. The races were sold out.
I was sad, but then I recalled I wanted to do some more running for charity. So, I chose a cause near and dear to my heart…Alliance For A Healthier Generation. I blogged on this during my fundraising effort…and I totally raised a little bit more than the $1000 required for the charity.
THANK YOU to anyone who donated.
So, this was the weekend it all went down. And it has been a bit of a struggle getting here. Not physically…well…not here to Disney World. Physically, my foot ligament has been twinging every now and again, and sometimes is just painful. Also, just under a week before leaving for Disney, my sinuses suddenly decided that they wanted to just get all cloggy. I wasn’t sneezing or coughing, but I was definitely congested and lost my voice. This also meant my training runs were a mess of stops and breathing issues. Which didn’t make me feel confident heading into this weekend. While some of it has cleared up, I’m not 100%, but I was definitely ready for some running for sure.
Two days…two races…19.3 miles.
Let’s do this thing…
Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Race: Disney Wine & Dine 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 5, 2016
It is my long-term goal for the coming year to set a PR in a distance race. Short or long. With my return to running from injury, I’m having a hard time, mentally, dealing with the pitfalls of this hip labrum tear and the other aches and pains that have cropped up. So, after getting back with my running coach, we’re setting a few goals to aim for.
This was not one of the races I was using to hit a new PR. In fact, I was a little under 4 minutes from doing so. But I didn’t care…because this race was so freakin’ fun!
This is the first year that the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend included a 10K distance as well. I love doing inaugural races. I really do. And then I love returning to them. Disney puts on fantastic races, as I have mentioned before. And I do love these challenge race weekends that are popping up…EVERYWHERE now. But Disney…Disney has always done it best.
I actually got to Disney World on Thursday, giving me time to hit up the expo and have an entire day of exploring the parks before needing to worry about running. It also gave me time to recover well and be ready to run. We all know that race mornings come very, very, very, early at Disney World. And while Wine & Dine is usually a night race…this year they changed it to morning. So…I set three alarms on my phone…the first 2 for me and the final one for my entourage (aka: Jenn & Cathy).
I always do Disney races in costume, and I had originally intended to break out Vanellope Von Schweetz again (I was Vanellope when I did Wine & Dine in 2014), but my hip labrum injury had me not running for close to a year. Despite keeping a clean and healthy diet, I’ve put on some weight. So, the costume wasn’t flattering on me…at all. So…in the span of 2 days, my roomie and I managed to piece together an Officer Judy Hopps costume (from Zootopia). And that took a little while for me to get on (as it involved hair extensions and accessories), but I managed to get it on and get out the door in time to catch the shuttle over to the start.
I was supposed to meet up with my friend (and fellow #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Stephanie) at the shuttle bus from our resort (she was also staying at Port Orleans Riverside), but it turns out she turned off her alarm and slept through the start of the race. But, I did manage to meet up with another #KDFMarathon Ambassador, Melissa, at the start line. She and her husband were running the 10K as Disgust and Fear from Inside Out. Their costumes were totally cute! So, it was nice to converse with them before we were heading into the race. Melissa is a Run Disney pro…for real! And her costumes are AMAZING. So when she complimented me on my Hopps costume, that meant a lot to me.
We took some photos and then headed toward the start line. She and her husband were in a different corral, so I went to get into mine. It was pretty crowded in Corral A, but I found a spot to sit (even with my pinned on bunny tail) and let myself relax a little before being moved to the start line. I wasn’t there for too long before the group began to move. We passed by the other corrals and I heard a few people calling out to Corral A and wishing us luck. Love that.
Once at the start line, there were some announcements made and the National Anthem was sung. And the wheel chair racers were sent on their way. At this point, I was drawing a deep breath as the corral moved forward and we waited a couple of minutes before our fireworks and start time. And soon, Remy from Ratatouille was sending us off for the start of our run. I was hoping for the best. Continuous running was a mere impossibility leading into this race due to some sinus issues. I still had the lingering effects, so I just hoped I could get through it.
I was less than enthusiastic about the first three (and then some) miles of the 10K race. As with most Disney races, a majority of your time is spent out on the highway. They sort of curb your boredom with character stations and areas with jumbo television screens and fast, fun music. Still, by the first mile, I was already not loving my costume. The long hair extensions were hot…and annoying. I honestly don’t know how women with long hair can run with it down. I was so DONE with it. It just kept getting in my way. I can’t count the number of times I flung a extra-long pigtail back behind my shoulder.
Also…wearing three layers on your top half in humid Florida…not my best idea. HA!! Yep…three (3) layers. My sports bra, my t-shirt (which was originally long sleeve, but I thought better of it), and my other sports bra that I made into Judy Hopps vest. Yep…it got hot pretty fast for me. But, you know, you just keep trekking. I mean, it was 68 degrees with 88% humidity (it is Florida, after all) at the start of the race. I knew the layers were going to be hot when I threw this costume together at the last minute.
Regardless…I felt a little better about life (even if all the race photos are unflattering and tell a different story), once we entered Epcot for the last part of the race. At about 3.5 miles, we take to the park, starting around the World Showcase, cutting down across the boardwalk (and I love the people staying at those resorts along the boardwalk who come out and cheer that early in the morning!), and then cutting back into the World Showcase to round out the run by running past the big Epcot ball. From there, it’s down a stretch into the parking lot and across the finish line. I could tell I was slowing down once I hit Epcot. The hills inside the World Showcase aren’t bad…but my legs had been going on a full day of parks and I was tired. Seriously. I was tired…and a little grumpy. That 2:30 am wakeup call came too early and I was doing my best to not fall asleep in the corral at the start of the race. So, finishing was a relief. I didn’t even care about my time. And after crossing, I saw Cathy and Jenn waiting up in the bleachers, waiving the sign that was made the night before…and cheering.
None of us were really firing on all cylinders. But I do love having my peeps at the end of a race. I walked through the finisher’s chute, getting my 10K medal (this thing was HUGE and HEAVY) and continuing down for the water, snack box, banana, and then the official photos near the end. Cathy and Jenn were going to meet me outside of bag claim…so I went through after that and there they were, heading my way.
I gave them sweaty hugs and Cathy helped me change out of my race shoes (I raced in my Altras for the first time!) and into my recovery flip flops. My feet thanked me for that. I had wanted to take some photos with the Disney characters in the finish area, but the lines were super long. I told them we could head back to the resort as long as I got to get pictures after the half marathon. I think they were all relieved. We got on the bus after a few pictures and headed back to Port Orleans – Riverside, where I showered, ate some real food, and got ready to spend the rest of the day out in Hollywood Studios. Yep…at Disney, I don’t rest these legs. I get on rides, chase down characters, and have a blast. It’s Disney. And even though lacking mega caffeine and oomph, I had a brilliant time. Spent the day on my feet, and ended with a traditional (gluten free) pasta dinner at Mama Melrose’s. I even got to indulge in more carby goodness with the gluten free dinner rolls. I only ate one. And I ate only about 2/3 or my huge pasta dish. I was full. And tired. It was back to the resort after that. I climbed into bed, setting three alarms for the following morning…when I would run the half marathon!
Oh…so my official results of the Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K are that I finished in 48:19. Not too bad given the circumstances!! I was 164/9260 finishers overall. I was the 42/6556 female to cross the finish line. And I was 6/1102 runners in my age division. Considering I am still not 100% physically (damn ligament in my foot) and was dealing with the last of a sinus…thing…I’ll take it. It was a fantastic race and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Race: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: November 6, 2016
What a difference an extra hour of sleep makes!!
Seriously, THANK YOU TIME CHANGE!! It was a lot easier to get up at 2:30 am when we had to fall back on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ll take that extra hour. I could tell we all needed it regardless.
Especially Jenn. Jenn was not feeling the early morning love all day on Saturday as we trudged around Hollywood Studios. I kept offering coffee and/or caffeine in the form of soda, but I think she was determined to just be tired and (a little cranky) ride it out on her own. NOT ME!! I downed a Iced Soy Caramel Apple Latte from Joffrey’s just after riding Tower of Terror on Saturday and that was the kick I needed, honestly, to help with the rest of the day. I don’t play around. If I’m tired…I get my caffeine. Lessons learned along the way. Definitely helped make the day easier to navigate through. And it was another long day…this time at Hollywood Studios…still undergoing renovations.
We did take in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show, which meant we were sitting for awhile. So, I think she liked that part. Be that as it may, she was not loving much of life all day Sunday, and after hearing, “I’m so tired I could cry” more than once, I told her that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if she stayed at the resort on half marathon morning and slept. In fact, I’d prefer it so that we could avoid another adventure like Saturday.
She ignored all three alarms, and slept through my hurried dash back into the room after forgetting my sunglasses (sunrise was now earlier…I didn’t have time for the sunscreen I didn’t put on thinking it would be like the day before and still be dark when I finished). The one other race weekend she came to Disney with us, I was doing Wine & Dine in 2014…and it was still a night race. Note to self: Jenn doesn’t handle Disney wake-up race times well. LOL!! Hey…those schedules on Disney weekends are brutal…I admit it. But I’m sort of used to the early mornings, and the on-the-go days, to the semi-late. And I’m pretty much a Disney race veteran. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone for sure. I think Saturday was the breaking point for Jenn. And that’s fine. The extra sleep and down time meant that she was ready to go at Epcot that afternoon. So, YAY! And that was a long day, as we had the after party that night as well. So, this was probably the best option for her…so I’m glad she did what was best for her.
Now, Cathy and I were up at the ass-crack of dawn and out the door to the shuttle to take us to the ESPN Wide World of Sports where the race was to start. For the half marathon, I was running as the Disney Princess that my niece, Kaytlynn, requested this time around…Ariel. Yep…I was The Little Mermaid. Simple costume (and much cooler too, although this race morning was a bit cooler (64 degrees) and windy…but the humidity was higher…pretty much at 100%. UGH. That being said, I had a throw-away shirt on over my purple sports bra and it helped keep me warm up until I shed it for the #KDFMarathon Ambassador photo before the start of the race. Anyway, the big shuttle left the resort pick-up spot just as we were getting to the front of the line…so, when the next bus showed up, it was WAY smaller. I said, “And they sent us the short bus!” It made everyone laugh. That being said, we boarded, settled, and let the bus carry us to the start of Sunday’s adventure.
The plan was for all of the #KDFMarathon Race Ambassadors (Stephanie, Richie, Melissa and me) to meet up at Bag Check before the race. This time, all four (4) of us made it. And we all looked amazing in our cute outfits. We got our pictures (which meant I ditched the shirt and then just never got it back) together and chatted a bit about the 10K, upcoming races, and just other stuff…that general stuff. Richie and I were in Corral A together so, after we all broke to get to our corrals, he and I stuck together and made our way into ours. I stood with him until the wheel chair racers kicked off. Then I gave him a hug and said I was going to move up and attempt to meet the goal that my coach had set for me for this race.
That goal…run it in 1:45:00.
As I had run (not raced) the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon two weeks prior to this (that race blog is incoming, life has been a busy, frantic, hectic mess) in less than this time (but barely), I figured this was an acceptable goal and one that I could accomplish.
But it wasn’t a walk in the (Disney) park either.
Once again, we had the fanfare of fireworks for Corral A to start off to. We also had Olympian Jenny Simpson running with the first corral. She was using this as an easy training run, you know…only running 6:15 min miles and all. She came in second, overall, btw…after a back and forth to the finish with the eventual winner. Her husband, Jason Simpson, won the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and set a new course record. So, that’s kind of cool to run in the footsteps of Simpson running greatness.
It was also in this first mile that I noticed a familiar running stride ahead of me. I pushed a little to catch up and was able to say “HI” to another Louisville runner, Lynn Riedling. That was about all I got to say before she pulled ahead and then was gone in the darkness. Probably about halfway through the first mile we heard the fireworks go off to send off Corral B…and one of the guys just ahead of me goes, “Run faster…they’re coming for us!”
Once again, this Disney race was mostly highway miles. But they did make a point to have character stops and some scenic stops along the way. There were also the music and television monitor stations throughout the course, to sort of shake up the monotony. The first three miles of this race…I felt like I ran well. I was comfortable in the moist air, as my layers today consisted of a purple sports bra and a green sparkle skirt. MUCH better in the Orlando humidity.
My first noticeable pace slow-down came between Mile 4 and Mile 5. Surprisingly, or maybe not, this was while I was inside Animal Kingdom (THANK GOD, they let us run completely through a park, because when the course maps were first released, it looked like we were running to the middle of nowhere and coming back). The course did narrow in some areas, and I do get distracted by the photo stops that are set up with characters. But I pressed on through to the 10K mark, my pace picking back up. I told myself that I would take in nutrition at the 10K line, and I did, downing a Hammer Gel (giving these a try…despite the rule to never try something new on race day). This and my Nuun I was hauling in one of my bottles on my fuel belt both had caffeine, which I hoped would wake me up when I was feeling tired and ready to stop.
It worked its magic. I managed to pick the pace up a little again for Mile 7 through Mile 11. These were all on the highway, and despite being Florida, we actually had a few hills to navigate over. Two of them came in a row. My favorite one though had to be the first hill we hit. Disney stationed a character out there…one of the Green Army Men from Toy Story. He was calling out to runners to push hard up the hill. If anyone slowed down they would have to do pushups. He noticed one runner just ahead of me.
“You…you in the blue shorts…get over here. Give me one pushup.” To my surprise, the runner did just that. And then the army man said, “Now…run fast and make up the 3 seconds you just wasted.”
I LOVE DISNEY!
Mile 12 had us entering the Epcot area. Like most of the races at this point, we just sort of duck into Epcot. It isn’t like the 10K where we get to run around the World Showcase and see it all. At this point, I spotted one of those inflatable T-Rex Costumes and the wearer was holding a sign that said, “Free Hugs.” LOVE IT. I was in my last mile…and really cutting it close on time. I hated that I felt like I ran this race better and was still coming in so close to what I did Urban Bourbon in without even trying. Returning from injury is frustrating at times…but you just end up being thankful for the gift of running that day in the end. I did the weird jog around the Food & Wine Festival centerpiece and headed up past the Epcot ball. And with that said, I made the turn and heard the gospel choir that is always at Mile 13 (or 26 if it’s the full marathon) at the Disney races. This is always uplifting…and I picked up my pace. I rounded a corner…got nailed by all the Disney photographers taking pictures of the runners coming toward the finish…and just pushed with every ounce of strength I had left in my hip and (sore) foot…and crossed that finish line…before it hit 1:45:00.
I saw Cathy up in the stands cheering and gave a wave as I made my way down the finisher’s chute. Here I received my medal for the half marathon, then proceeded on to get water, my snack box, and eventually go through the tent to get my medal for completing the 10K and the Half Marathon. This was “Lumiere’s Challenge”. As I was about to grab my water bottle, I hear my name being called over the fence. It was Cathy, sticking her camera over to get a photo. She said, “Want to know your time?” I said I did. And she said…”You did 1:44:30…BOOM!” She even texted it to my coach for me. HAHA! The volunteers at the table found this entire conversation amusing being as it was done over a covered fence. I got to the Challenge Medal tent, had them look up my name, and they sent me through to receive the medal. Afterwards, I exited through Bag Check and met up with Cathy on the other side. Sweaty hugs were given, and my race shoes (today I was in my Brooks), were changed out for the flip flops again. I was lingering a little, hoping to catch Richie again as he came through, but Cathy noticed that the lines of the characters were super short, and didn’t want me to miss the opportunity to get photos with them, since I passed it up due to lines on Saturday. I was able to get photos (rather quickly) with Lumiere and with Remy (from Ratatouille). And after that…I went back to see if I could catch Richie, but he had already finished and left for Port Orleans French Quarter. I had just missed him.
We arrived back at Port Orleans Riverside and trekked back to the manor house we were staying in. Jenn was up, and she was rested. So this was good. I went to shower, change, and eat some real food before we got our stuff together and headed out to Epcot for the day. We finished up around 4-ish with everything and decided to go back to the resort for a little while to unwind before returning to check in and then enjoy the After Party. This also meant that everyone else was kicked out of Epcot and we got to stay and eat at all the countries, drink at all the countries, and ride any of the rides that were open. This was, in fact, how we got on the new Soarin’. We had fast passed the Frozen Ever After ride.
I did manage to meet up with Stephanie and Richie while walking the showcase that night. I didn’t ever find Melissa. Ironically, my friend Michelle, for the second time in a row, managed to find me in the huge crowd of people at the After Party. We took a picture to commemorate her awesome GPS honing skills. HAHA!
I was able to enjoy a few stops at the After Party as well. I started my night off with Dole Whip…then went on to Brazil where I devoured two large rolls of Pão de Queijo, and then finished off the night with a Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffle.
It was close to 1 am when we got back to our room at the resort. And we had to get up early (but not race morning early) for a character breakfast the next morning. BUT…that involved gluten-free Mickey waffles…so I was okay with this.
Oh…and I guess I should give you the official race results. The official race results of the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon are that I finished in 1:44:30. So, yay…I managed to hit my coach’s goal time with 30 seconds to spare. Whew. I was 208/12651 finishers overall. I was 56/8749 women to cross the finish line. And, I was 11/1513 in my age division. Not too bad.
Now…if I can get this whole endurance with speed (and no pains or issues breathing) thing down, I might be well on my way to a way better race year next year. But this was Half Marathon #23…and the final one for the year. No better way to finish it up than at Disney!
I will say…I still miss running this race at night. But it wasn’t a bad way to start a Sunday off either.
OH…and before I forget…a big THANK YOU to all of you who donated funds to the charity I was raising money for by doing this race. Alliance For A Healthier Generation is a fantastic charity doing great things for the future of our country and the children that are to be our future. I went slightly over my fundraising goal, never a bad thing…and I have many of you to thank for that. So…THANK YOU…from the bottom of my heart!