Sometimes…Moving Forward Means Looking Back

hamiltonOkay…you’ll have to forgive me.  I’m a bit of a Hamilfan (for those of you not “in the know”…that means I’m a fan of the musical Hamilton.  So…the start of this blog is going to be a bit of an homage to the musical.  If you know the music…you’ll get it.  If you don’t…keep reading and then go check it out.  It will change your life.

[ME]

You’re a runner.  Of course!  I’m a runner
God, I wish there was a race!
Then we could prove to everyone
That we’ve got a fast race pace…

[RUNNER]

Can I buy you a drink?

[ME]

That would be nice.

[RUNNER]

While we’re talking, let me offer you some free advice.
Train slow.

[ME]

What?

[RUNNER]

Run more.

[ME]

Ha.

[RUNNER]

Don’t let an injury set you back or make you sore.

[ME]

You can’t be serious.

[RUNNER]

Then let me reassert…

[ME]

Yes.

[RUNNER]

Always run hard and you’ll end up hurt.

*END SCENE*

~*~*~

Did I lose you?  I hope not, because what I am about to say is actually rather important.  I just sometimes have a hard time getting to the heart of the matter.

For the better part of the beginning of 2017, I was injured…again…

And…for once it had nothing to do with the amount or intensity of my runs.  Well…not exactly.  When I went home for Christmas, I continued with my training schedule…except the neighborhood where my parents live is hella hilly.  I mean, you literally can’t NOT run hills when you are there.  So, for pretty much the entire few days I was there, my runs were full of hills.  And my left hip flexor started to complain at me on the last morning I ran there.  I shrugged it of and boarded my plane back to the Louisville area.  I took my usual rest days, and went out for my morning runs, which during my warmups, I would note a slight twinging in my left leg, but nothing that was crippling.  My cadence and my pace seemed off for me though.  Some stretches and rolling and I was on the road to Columbus, Ohio for my New Years celebration at my friend, Jenn’s.

I know, I’ve pretty much gone over this before, but I am making a point…so, please…don’t tune out yet…

It was after a 14 mile run that I started to feel some pain in my left hip (the one opposite the one that suffered a labrum tear last year.  I hobbled through the rest of the day, took some Aleve with dinner that night, and felt a little better in the morning.  I managed to get through my 6 miles of speed work (I thought to do it at Jenn’s because her neighborhood is SO flat it is great for speed work), but didn’t quite hit the pace.  I missed it…just barely.  Upon returning home, I managed one more 6 mile run before it all went to hell.  My hip was not happy on that run and the following morning, a cross-training day, I found that I couldn’t even do my physical therapy exercises.  Sadly, my orthopedic doctor couldn’t see me before I jetted off to Disneyland for a 10K and half marathon race.  I survived those, although I still don’t know how I managed those times, but I think it was sheer stubbornness and the unwillingness to stop because I knew if I did, I’d never start running again.  That and my orthopedic doctor’s magic cocktail of 2 Tylenol & 2 Ibuprofen…3 times a day.  And KT Tape and ACE Bandages.

We all know what happened from there, but as the wait to see the orthopedic doctor took forever, and then the actual getting back to some semblance of running (first by not limping, then on the Alter-G, and then on roads…with very low mileage and with a super easy pace for me)…I decided I needed to go back and reflect on the one and only year where I wasn’t injured.  At all.

2013.

When I was training for my first full marathon.

I went back to my training journals.  This is why I keep a paper training log.  Because it gives me immediate access to the things I was doing that kept me uninjured and running strong, if nothing else.

I had become a member of a Distance Runner group, which, after the Boston Marathon bombings, branched off into a great group of runners who were seeking to qualify to Boston.  I hoped to do it sometime, so I joined.  These Boston Qualify Seeking Distance Runners, as I said, were fantastic people and runners, most of which I still speak to and am in touch with today.  But as we all geared up to train for our BQ attempts, it became a matter of how fast can you run your runs.  And while the pace of my weekday runs started to speed up, even on easy days, my long runs were much slower.  Like WAY slower.  I put a lot of quality speed into my speed work days (fartleks, tempo, intervals), posting pics of my Garmin with the best of them on the group.  But while they were all rocking out long runs at or near their race pace, I was running with a group that trained a little more deliberately.  I never really posted the Garmin shot on my long runs, and would often find myself wishing I could post training runs as fast as they were.  They were going to be so ready for Boston.  But, this was also my first marathon…so I didn’t expect the magic to happen that quickly.  I stuck to my plan, kept training with the more deliberate group, and got through June through October without hitches.  AND…get this…there were times I was doing a long run on Saturday and then another one on Sunday.  My legs never felt tired or like I was doing too much, because the paces I did these runs was so much slower than I would have run if I had been on my own.

Part of doing the back-to-back long runs was that I had signed up for the inaugural Dopey Challenge at Disney World…and I figured that was good practice.  Part of it was just loving to be able to run with people.  My friends were slaughtering their long runs…and I was just sort of cruising through them.  Weekend after weekend.

And I was never injured.

What has occurred to me as I reflected on my best year of running and racing was…

Most runners, including myself, train too hard, too often.

We all get wrapped up in those numbers, how they might look on social media, to our peers, to people who *gasp* run faster than us already.  No quality runner that I know judges their fellow runners by their training and race paces.  But, to runners, those numbers are our Bible.  And, we’re all guilty of the comparison game.  I know I am.  We love showing off our good runs, but what about the average…or not so good ones?  Why was I so frustrated and embarrassed with my slow runs on those long run days?

Little did I know, I was training smart and training properly.  Low-intensity training allows an athlete to gain fitness without overstressing the body.  Doing too much high-intensity training can cause your body to not be able to absorb all the stress being applied to it and turn it into fitness.  If you fatigue your body too much, too often, you run the risk of compromising your performance, your workouts, and possibly leading to injury.  The entire point of the long run is not to bust it out at race pace, but to get your endurance up, get you used to being on your feet for a long amount of time.

In fact, most of my long runs going into the Chicago Marathon were done at a slow pace.  There were a few weeks where certain miles were to be done at marathon pace…and I managed to rock those out.  And come the beginning of October…I lined up at the start line of the Chicago Marathon…ran strong…ran far…

AND QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON.

My first marathon.  My first BQ.  And I did it because I didn’t race all of my runs.  Speed work and quality runs are important, yes…but make them something you do once a week…and run those other runs at a much more deliberate and easy pace.  You shouldn’t be embarrassed to train slow.  In fact, I do believe it was training like this that got me to that start line safely, uninjured, and feeling strong and prepared.

Yes, high-intensity training is very important to training as well, but a relatively little amount goes a long way.  Here is one case where more is definitely not better.  There is no need to unnecessarily tax your body when you should be taking it easy.  I know…it sounds counterintuitive, especially in running when the entire goal is to reach the finish line in the fastest time you can, but…honestly…proper training means getting through the slow, the fast, the easy and the hard.  But you have to hit on every spectrum to become a better, more efficient, and…uninjured runner.

I have been sidelined every year since 2013’s Chicago Marathon.  I also attempted to run way more marathons in a year than was good for my body…but that’s another story.  That being said, after this last round with my hip flexor in January…I’m making a more conscious effort to train smarter.  Some of it is fear.  Not fear that someone will judge my training pace as being too little.  But fear of ending up with a worse injury…something that isn’t as easy to work around or get through.

I was lucky.  This time around, my hip labrum wasn’t the issue, although I fretted for a month that it was.  You have to keep your body moving forward, but turn down that intensity.  Seriously, you’ll reap serious benefits and rewards simply by slowing down.

Trust me…I’m the poster child for this, apparently!

And those training paces that you used to brag about on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other social media…forget about it.  Those numbers shouldn’t be bragging rights or your sense of worth in the running community.  The running community is awesome because it embraces everyone, all shapes, sizes and paces.  These times, distances, paces…these are your records of your progress.  You shouldn’t feel like you need to post only your best, fastest times for those who follow you on social media, or make excuses for runs that you deem as too slow.  Nope…these numbers are much more valuable and important than that.  It’s fine if you want to share your stats…I’m not condoning that.  Lord knows, I’ve done my share in the past.  But…do NOT base your self-worth as a runner on these numbers.  Don’t run hard every time you run.  Don’t try to overdo what you are capable of doing.  And NEVER PR a training run.  Save that for race day.  If you PR a training run, you’re not training right!

In the end…running to much, running too hard…is running your body into the ground.  And, I, for one, am tired of injury after injury.

So, to my speedy friends who I could keep up with or even outrun at times, my apologies…because I am stepping my long runs down this training season.  My long runs will be quality, long slow distances.  As they should be.  Some might have miles at race pace…but for the most part, I’m returning to how I trained for Chicago the first time around…as I gear up to run Chicago again this October.

This is NOT easy for me to do.  My legs know one speed…fast…especially when I’m on my own.  So, I do hope to find some people to hold me back and keep me accountable this summer as I work through my training and get to that start line, once again feeling confident and prepared.

Like I said…sometimes moving forward means looking back.

Maybe there really is magic in those easy, deliberate paced runs.

I ask you to consider this the next time you put that Garmin on and head out the door for an “easy” run.

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“Always enjoy yourself.  Don’t be upset if you don’t win, you’ve won by simply not giving up.” – Unknown

Comeback Kid…Again! Week #5 & Week #6

Life has been crazy, crazy, crazy busy this past week, which is why this post is almost a week late.  Because most of the exciting stuff was covered in the previous blog, I will sum up this past week and what all went on in my transformation from injured runner to…the Comeback Kid…

On Monday, my physical therapy session was cancelled with Daniel.  Which kind of sucked as I had wanted to talk about the ankle pain I was having.  But he was running a fever, and I really am a huge germophobe.

So, he wasn’t coming in and I didn’t have to show up, since my therapist was out of the office. Instead, I went to work and sent him an e-mail regarding the situation.  He messaged me back on Wednesday and said that he would look at my ankle on Thursday when I came in for my physical therapy session.

That meant a lot of waiting…and a lot of NOT running.  Again.  Because…honestly…the last thing I wanted to do was aggravate something else and be sidelined more.  It seems like a never-ending battle.  Anyway…I’m not very good at being patient or waiting.

That being said, when I finally did go in on Thursday, the first thing he did was ask about my ankle and have me take off my shoe so he could look at it, manipulate it, and basically bang the crap out of it to see if it was anything to be concerned about.  When that meant I sat there going…no…nope…that doesn’t hurt…that’s weird…hahaha….nope…it’s fine…

Yeah…I think he was wondering if it was all in my head.  It’s not.  It wasn’t then, and it still isn’t now.  But, as he told me, it’s not a stress fracture, because I wouldn’t be able to walk…so it was just some natural aches that come with starting to run again after NOT running for so long.  He then had me warm up on a bike and do some dynamic lunges and moves before taking me outside into the cold air in my shorts and all and having me run around the building.

Why was I running around the building?  So he could watch my form and see if I was babying my hip by putting more pressure on the other leg (that is the sort of shit that brought me my first (and only) stress fracture in my leg…and the last thing I want is to end up in Bootsie again!)…but he said that my form looked great from every angle he viewed me from.  Only thing was my high cadence, but that’s normal for me.

So…he cleared me to do the Anthem 5K that Saturday (as I was up to 3.5 to 4 miles of running every other day), as long as the hip continued to feel good.  So, we made one more appointment for a week and a half out…and I was done.

I wrote up a blog on the Anthem “5K”…that you can read if you missed out on that exciting adventure.  The best part of that day was that I got to hang out with Melissa and Paul before the race…saw Tammy at the start of the race…and ran comfortably at a 7:29 average for the race.  Without pain.  At all.  And without feeling like I was pushing myself harder than I should.  Which says a lot about me maintaining my fitness level even without running in the equation. So YAY!  But, I wasn’t supposed to race that one.  I was supposed to run it…so…that wasn’t exactly fun to tell my PT over e-mail.  He helped a little by putting things into perspective…about thinking long term.  So…my mindset is starting to fall that way.  I have goals I want to achieve…and being Gimpy McGimpster is not part of those plans.

Ever meet someone by chance and wonder how it was that you’d never met before and why you haven’t been friends for life? That’s Melissa and me!

Into the next week I went.  The cold weather gave way to some mild mornings in the 50s.  They were rainy…and windy…but I was in my shorts and loving it.  I was doing short 4 mile outings and reminding myself to ease it back.  This worked better on the windier of mornings (like 40 mph gusts will mess with you regardless!)…hey…I’m a work in progress.  I’ll get the hang of it.  By the weekend, the bitter cold weather returned.  I was NOT happy.  It seems like we get gorgeous weather during the week…but on the weekends, it is determined to freeze us out.  I wasn’t running as far as…anyone at the training run.  I was doing 5 miles as a natural progression to the Rodes 10K this coming Saturday.  So…I was definitely the ambassador, and training run attendee doing their own thing.

My fellow, freezing #KDFMarathon Ambassadors: Melissa, Me, Dawn, and Jack

I’ve been doing a lot of cross-training on gym machines and at spin class.  I know…I need to swim more…but swimming is just not fun for me.  Or relaxing.  So…I am working on that.  But, despite the cold temps this week, I’ve gone out on a 5 mile run yesterday morning and felt good.  I dialed back the speed and focused a lot more on form.  My roommate pointed out that my feet were really pounding the pavement when I’m running these days.  Soft feet.  That’s what I’m working on now.  Another good reason to NOT wear headphones while running.  You can tune into your body and that is so important.  The run felt good and I finished it feeling tired (hey, I started at 3:30 am), but proud of myself.

Today was my final PT session with Daniel.  Yep…officially released!  OFF THE CHAIN!  I couldn’t be happier.  My session today started with a warm-up on the bike before he had me doing my lunge matrix and then running through all the dynamic warm-up stuff he’s assigned to me in the past.  And then….he had me doing these giant plyometric jumps before taking off at a run.  All that went well…so he had me fill out final paperwork and I was discharged with the understanding that should anything flare back up…I am to call and they’ll fit me in.

And that, my friends, is a good, happy thing!

So…this weekend I am treating the Rodes 10K as a training run…and NOT…I repeat NOT running it hard.  I have enlisted my running partner, Matthew, to help keep my pace back.  We’ll just have a nice 6 mile conversation.  The goal is to finish without any pain.  I am really looking forward to this.

Going forward, I get to add some speed and hill work back into my training each week, but nothing monumental.  Just some basic strides and a few small climbs.  So, that’s progress.  I also get to increase my long run by one mile each week leading into my races in April…so that’s also a good thing.  I’m feeling good.  I’m happy.  I’m making my (hopefully final) comeback!

And there it is, friends.  Stick with me.  I’m sure there is more to this adventure!

Comeback Kid…Again! Week #4

It has been one month since I started seeing my physical therapist, Daniel, twice a week.  And…yes…there has been major progress since that initial meeting.

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I mean…I started off not being able to walk without a limp…run more than 1 step…and pretty much being unable to do a one-legged squat or pretty much anything involving any sort of stress on my left leg.  Gimpy yet again.

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But over the weeks, Daniel has entrusted me to more and more dynamic movements to get this hip flexor back into working order.  And…for the most part it has been paying off.  For one thing, I can jump and hop without anything more than a twinge…and even then, that’s a rare thing.

I have been churning it out on the Alter-G treadmill.  The first time he had me on there, he had me at 80% of my body weight.  When I went back to see him on Tuesday morning this past week, he put me back on the Alter-G for another 25 minute session.  He said to start at 90% of my body weight and if that feels okay…boost it to 95% of my body weight.  I started off slow, getting my stride, focusing on form…and after the first 15 minutes, I took it from 90% up to 95% as he said.  The pain didn’t climb…it only twinged a few times at me.  And I was bored at the slower pace, so I boosted that…so that could have had something to do with it.

Sorry…treadmills bore me!  Even really cool anti-gravity treadmills.  So, I tend to go faster just to get it done.

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After I polished off that run, Daniel said that he felt comfortable giving me the go-ahead to run outside.  OUTSIDE!!!  OUT-FREAKIN-SIDE!

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The angels sang and the birds chirped and life was good.  I was pretty excited.  Daniel cleared me to run OUTSIDE every-other-day for no more than 3 miles.  Thursday would be my first attempt.  The thing was…after my run on Tuesday, I was pretty sore on Wednesday.  I wasn’t exactly sure if I could get the run done on Thursday.  I also started to feel crappy.  Thank you seasonal allergies…in February.  We had a stretch of weather in the 70s and all the trees started to bud…pollen…pollen everywhere.  UGH.  I was miserable.  So, I got some Benadryl…and curled up in my bed at 8 pm…not looking forward to Thursday morning at all.

But when it came around, I actually only hurt a little bit.  Nothing big.  And I was able to get through all my dynamic warmups without a problem.  So…I went for it.  I did my 25-ish minutes of running…stopping when I got to 3 miles.  It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fast.  There was a lot of me thinking about my stride.  I could tell I wanted to baby the left hip and would do an occasional limp-run.  And at the end of the run, while I felt good, my right ankle was a little sore, which did mean I was compensating.  That was frustrating.  But…the run went…better than I expected!

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I rested the rest of the day and prepared to see my PT on Friday morning.  The first thing he did was ask how I was.  I told him I was sore and what I gathered from my run.  He had me walk the length of the room and said that my limp was gone when I walked…which is BIG!!  I’ve been limping around since January 1st.  WOOHOO!  So, he had me run through some of my lunges and stair work.  And then he hand me on the BOSU for some dynamic stuff.  And I got a light massage on the hip flexor to see if that helped any with the soreness.  And it did.  I went into the weekend feeling better.

And then the weather changed again.  From 70s down to the 30s.  No joke.  I was freezing at the Norton Sports Health Training Program run.  Most people were running 7 or 14 miles.  I was doing 3.  Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one in shorts.  In fact, my fellow ambassador, Reggie, won for the most under-dressed that day.  Poor guy!!  Special shout-out to my warm friend, Jack, who helped keep me warm as my body pretty much locked up and didn’t want to move during the warm-ups.  I was TOTALLY okay with that!  I HATE being cold.  HATE.  The cold does bad things to my body.

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So, after the really weird warm-up session, I shed my long pants to reveal my compression shorts (the ones I bought at Disneyland) and went out with the group, managing 1.5 miles one way (with hills, which I was supposed to be avoiding, but I swear, we ran downtown last time we started at the U of L Row House.  UGH.  So, while everyone else went on…I had to turn around.  Which sucked…but I was definitely following instructions.  The last mile was pretty much straight into the howling wind the entire time.  When I hit 3 miles, I was right where I started. and I got into the car to warm-up.

And once again, my right ankle was being cranky with me.  And it stayed that way the rest of the weekend.   I vowed that I was NOT going to run again until I saw Daniel…which should have been today, but my appointment was canceled as he was running a fever and staying home.  I see him Thursday morning and will discuss it with him then.

My allergies are clearing up, finally…so that’s good.  And I’m feeling better.  But…mentally this continues to be a tough pill to swallow.  I still have a few meltdowns throughout the week…even when I do get to run.

I start to fret over all the small things, every pain, every twinge…and I focus on what COULD happen.  So…to help me stay focused, I made a purchase over at Momentum Jewelry…this wrap:

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EVERYTHING you want is on the other side of fear.

THAT…pretty much sums up what I need to focus on these days.  It’s like my physical therapist said…there is this area where I won’t be doing enough for my recovery…and then there is doing too much…and there is all this middle-ground.  And I’m right on this line…and I just need to push a little more.  And that’s what we’re doing.

Eventually.

Once I get this stride, limp-run, Bambi-leg thing fixed.

And that’s is my first month working toward a comeback.  MAJOR progress…I’ll take it!

KDF Marathon/miniMarathon THROWBACK Discount Code (TODAY ONLY)

It’s THURSDAY!!

Traditionally in the interwebs, this makes it Throwback Thursday…or #TBT, if you will.  And that’s kinda fun to participate in.  Dig through those archives for some sort of fun photo of you and post it…then poke fun at your hair, your outfit, your bad decisions!

BUT…with that being said…I have the BEST decision you will EVER make on a #TBT for realz!  (Did I really just say that?)

You see, the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon/miniMarathon is providing their very own THROWBACK today…and TODAY ONLY!  So, if it is not FEBRUARY 23, 2017, this code will not work for you.  So…act fast because just like the past…this offer will also fade away!

soexcited

If you REGISTER TODAY for any distance (the full marathon, the half marathon, or even sign up as a relay team) you will get THROWBACK pricing..back to August’s rates.  That’s a full $20 OFF your registration TODAY.  But this is ONLY today!

Plus…when you register today, you will also receive a THROWBACK KDF T-SHIRT!  How cool is that.  It’s so simple…just use the code below:

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Yes…that is me, the blonde, at the start line of a little local race in my hometown of Corning, NY!  Seriously, I didn’t run as a kid – this was the one race I did every year.  How’s that for a throwback.  Look at all those white shoes!  HA!

Anyway…this code for KDF is only good TODAY – February 23, 2017.  So do NOT miss out!!

The Code is: THROWBACK

And, please, pick me – Karen Brady – as your Race Ambassador Referral!

And…one more time…without the words…a THROWBACK in honor of today’s THROWBACK code!

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See you at the start line!!

#KDFMarathon #KDFMarathonAmbassador #TBT #throwbackthursday #discount #discountcode

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Announcement: Norton Sports Health Training Program & Another KDF Ambassador Discount You Won’t Want To Miss Out On!

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.

Why should you 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.

But that’s not all!!  If you are one of the first 800 people to register for the Norton Sports Health Training Program, and are also registered to participate in either the Kentucky Derby Marathon or mini Marathon, you will also receive this fantastic tech pull-over!

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But…that’s not all!!

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!

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CODE: AMBASSADORGIFT

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!

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#KDFMarathon #KDFMarathonAmbassador #discountcode #discount #comerunwithus #cometrainwithus #louisvilleky #race #running #runner

Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY (October 22, 2016)

Me crossing the finish line of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon - Louisville, KY

Me crossing the finish line of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

Race: Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: October 22, 2016

Time: 1:44:47

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.

Kat and I the morning of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. Next time she's in town, we are so racing together!

Kat and I the morning of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon. Next time she’s in town, we are so racing together!

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.

My KDF Marathon Ambassador team!! We all ran really good races that day!

My KDF Marathon Ambassador team!! We all ran really good races that day!

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.

Me and Matt (and Creepy Cathy, HAHA) before the start of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon (photo courtesy of Dawn Johnson)

Me and Matt (and Creepy Cathy, HAHA) before the start of the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon (photo courtesy of Dawn Johnson)

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!!

Matthew and I just after finishing the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon - Louisville, KY

Matthew and I just after finishing the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon – Louisville, KY

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!

Ron Steve and Me in the After Party area after the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

Ron Steve and Me in the After Party area after the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon

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.

Me being serenaded by the lead singer of The Louisville Crashers...HAHA!

Me being serenaded by the lead singer of The Louisville Crashers…HAHA!

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).

Lumiere’s Challenge – Orlando, FL (November 5-6, 2016)

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…

 

Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K - Orlando, FL

Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K – Orlando, FL

Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 10K

Race: Disney Wine & Dine 10K

Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Date: November 5, 2016

Time: 48:19

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).

Officer Judy Hopps - Costume #1 for the Disney Wine & Dine Race Challenge

Officer Judy Hopps – Costume #1 for the Disney Wine & Dine Race Challenge

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.

#KDFMarathon Ambassadors collide...Melissa as Disgust (Inside Out) and me as Officer Judy Hopps (Zootopia) at the start of the Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K

#KDFMarathon Ambassadors collide…Melissa as Disgust (Inside Out) and me as Officer Judy Hopps (Zootopia) at the start of the Disney Wine & Dine Inaugural 10K

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.

Mama Melrose's did away with their flatbreads (gluten free and otherwise) it seems, so I went with pasta.  This was gluten-free penne with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and onion.  Perfect pre-half marathon eats, even if it wasn't my standard pizza.

Mama Melrose’s did away with their flatbreads (gluten free and otherwise) it seems, so I went with pasta. This was gluten-free penne with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and onion. Perfect pre-half marathon eats, even if it wasn’t my standard pizza.

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.

 

Me after finishing the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and completing the Lumiere's Challenge - Disney World - Orlando, FL

Me after finishing the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and completing the Lumiere’s Challenge – Disney World – Orlando, FL

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Race: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Date: November 6, 2016

Time: 1:44:30

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.

Me, Richie, Stephanie, and Melissa...representing the #KDFMarathon Race Ambassadors at Disney!!

Me, Richie, Stephanie, and Melissa…representing the #KDFMarathon Race Ambassadors at Disney!!

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.

I completed the Lumiere's Challenge for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend...I was NOT missing my chance to take a photo with Lumiere at the end.

I completed the Lumiere’s Challenge for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend…I was NOT missing my chance to take a photo with Lumiere at the end.

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.

Goal…achieved.

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.

Michelle just FOUND ME (for the second time in a row) in all the chaos at Epcot.  She's awesome!!

Michelle just FOUND ME (for the second time in a row) in all the chaos at Epcot. She’s awesome!!

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.

Disney Food & Wine Festival After Party Eats!!  All gluten free.  All super delicious.

Disney Food & Wine Festival After Party Eats!! All gluten free. All super delicious.

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!