Well, during all this quarantine time, I have finally gotten around to writing about the final race that I ran before everything shut down. It was the first leg of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running, which had been saved from extinction and re-branded with a new company overseeing it. The City Run 10K and the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K would both be moved to virtual races during the pandemic.
Covid-19 really messed up this year’s race plans.
If you read my blog on the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon, you know that I was working my way back from another hip issue (it’s always my hips). I had physical therapy the day before, but was cleared to run this however I wanted to…but carefully. I knew my friend, Melissa, was signed up to run with one (no husband or baby in tow)…so I asked if she wanted someone to run with that morning. I would go at her pace…and hopefully help to motivate her all the way to the finish line. I love when I get to run with my friends, and maybe even help them reach their goals.
Cathy and I woke up early that morning to eat breakfast and dress warmly (it was C-O-L-D) for the run. I, once again, decided to deck out in my BibRave gear (this time the 1/4 zip top…because again…COLD) and found some fun leggings to wear that morning that were also warm. I have a few with lining in it…so…I went with one of those.
We headed out and went to pick up Melissa to drive into Louisville, find a parking spot, and get to the start line. We managed to do all of that without too much hassle. I was wearing my MRTT/SRTT jacket before the race and a member of the group came up and said she’d just walk with us as she was a part of the group too and was trying to get to where the picture was being taken. We told her we would probably not get to the photo op in time…so instead we just took a photo together. She went to go find her friends and Melissa and I got called over by our friends, Chris and Christy. YAY!
Christy asked how fast I intended to run this course, and I told her that I was racing with Melissa that morning. We hopped into a corral…shed our extra clothing…listened to the national anthem…and waited to be sent off. And when we were…I fell right in step with Melissa.
She was on a mission that first mile. We blazed up East Market, but the bitter air really hit us when we rounded the corner onto S Brook Street. It was here my neighbor, friend, and sometimes training buddy, Kristi Roach, saw me in the crowd and said HI. I had a short conversation with her and turned around to find Melissa behind me, having a hard time breathing as the sudden rush of cold air to her lungs kicked off some asthma. YIKES! We eased it back to see if she could get her lungs to respond and get acclimated. We still managed a decent first mile…even with the slow down to wave and thank Course Marshal Stephanie heading into the first mile marker.
We hit it, and we took a short walk break to let her catch her breath and get those lungs expanding. It wasn’t a long walk, and when she was ready, we picked it back up and started in on our second mile. I could already tell the walk break did her good, because she was looking so much stronger and better afterwards. I let her know that, and apparently a homeless man on the side of the road told her I was lying. Dude! Whatever!! Honestly, she pushed back and came back and was doing awesome. I spotted the water stop just ahead of Mile 2 and asked if she wanted water. She nodded and I ran up ahead to snag a cup for each of us and passed it off to her. We took a short water stop walk, and when we were done, we were back on.
We hit the second mile and now we were into the home stretch. One more mile to go. This was a new course for this race, so I had no idea where we were going…I was just following everyone else. As we always do, we took our final walk break at the mile marker just to attempt to get lungs working in Louisville’s polluted city air. When Melissa was ready…we were back on.
Unfortunately, it was here that a course marshal said, “That’s it…walk it in.” Melissa said, “Nope…just on a walk break!” And the course marshal said, “OH…I’m an interval runner too.” MEH! How about not making any comments on whether people are running or walking, and simply just encouraging them to get to that finish line.
We made the turn onto the final stretch. Here I heard music behind me and turned to see Melissa Joyce!! So I went and said “HI” and told her she looked great. I rejoined my running best friend, Melissa, and we hit that final stretch hard. We hit Mile 3 and she glanced at her watch and got a little upset that she didn’t hit a goal she had set, but she put it behind her and we took it into the finish line together. I think she beat me by a second.
We made our way through the finisher’s area, getting our medal and our free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, which we gave to Cathy for breakfast. They were out of coffee, so we didn’t get that for ourselves…but we tried.
I did get to meet up with Stephanie and another BibRave Pro who was visiting (and not racing) and got to chat for a little while. But it was still cold, and Melissa needed to get home to her family…so we eventually made our way back to the car, which we parked at Slugger Field. We took some photos together before calling it a day and taking her home.
This was a fun and flat course, so I know a lot of people got PRs. Hopefully, racing will restart at some point and maybe next year, both Melissa and I can hit our own PRs. We’ll just need the weather and our bodies to cooperate a little more. But, I couldn’t have imagined running this race any differently, even if it ended up being my last in-person event before the shutdown. Being with my friend and seeing her from start to finish was the perfect way to do this race. Sometimes, we run for ourselves. Sometimes we run for others. Sometimes we run with others. I was proud and happy to have been able to run with one with Melissa.
So, my official results of the Chick-Fil-A 5K Fitness Classic are that I finished in I finished in 39:51. I was 2868/3846 finishers overall. I was the 1458/2196 female finishers. And I was 238/338 in my age division. I can’t wait to take on this flat and fast course again next year.
Back in 2014…I ran the Publix GEORGIA Marathon. I had been coming back from an injury (no shock there)…but I finished it strong and felt good. In 2019, it was re-branded as the Atlanta Marathon/Half Marathon/5K (which makes sense as it is held in Atlanta). Also, it got a new course. So, it was going to look different from the time I ran the full thing, right?
But…I think they somehow made it hillier.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Please note…it’s been almost 3 months since I ran this…because as we all know…life got pretty crazy shortly after this…so I might not have much to say in regards to the course or the race, other than it was cold AF, hilly AF, and my hip still hurt like a mother.
But we were doing this thing.
Woke up early. Cathy had to get up with the alarm this time as she had signed up for the 5K. Hey, if there is bling involved and she can guarantee that she’ll be at the finish line to see me finish…those 5K races that run with the longer runs are her sort of thing. She was pretty certain we’d be finishing close together given that the 5K started about an hour after the marathon and half went off, so it would be close. I also told her, though, not to fret anything since I definitely wasn’t 100%.
So, we got dressed, fueled, and she cut up some garbage bags for us to huddle in to attempt to keep warm on the walk over to the start line. Except she cut her bag wrong so the holes were not in the right spot. Meaning, she cut a hole in her stomach area…so she looked more like a Care Bear and had a definite draft. We couldn’t do anything about it, and as I am definitely more cold natured than her…I got the properly cut trash bag and she got the one that she hadn’t unfolded properly before taking scissors to it. Please note…she learned a valuable lesson.
We headed out of the hotel room and took the elevator down to the lobby. And we struck out toward Centennial Park, where the race would start and finish. Temperatures were in the low 30s. It was windy (although NOTHING near what it was the day before when the Olympic Marathon Trials ran). And I was noshing on a banana as we made our way to the start area. Because of how cold it was, we sort of just gave ourselves enough time to get down there with only a little bit of time to spare, but enough that we weren’t stressed out and making a mad dash through the streets to get to the start corrals.
Had my leg/hip felt 100%…I had given some thought to hanging with the 1:40 pace group, which was being paced by Meb Keflezighi. That would have been a dream. But since I had to go to physical therapy and back off my training runs…it wasn’t completely out of the question, but it was a definite pipe dream. I lined up further back, keeping my trash bag on for as long as I could prior to the start.
Here was the really cool thing about the USA Olympic Marathon Trials happening the day before – MOST of the Olympic Team came down to watch the start of the race – despite it being early and cold. The only one who didn’t put in an appearance was Galen Rupp (not surprised – I acknowledge his skill as a marathoner, but I just don’t like him). The rest of them came down. AND…Alaphine Tuliamuk (the women’s first place finisher), stayed down there for the ENTIRETY of the start line from the marathon/half start to the last 5K runner to cross. And she was not only speaking to the runners, but taking selfies and the like with them. Because she’s amazing.
After the National Anthem was sung, I did shed the garbage bag, wearing my BibRave t-shirt (with arm warmers because…it was cold, duh) for the first time at an event. This one wasn’t a BibRave event…but I’m doing my part to represent. I gave my hip a little bit of a warmup with some dynamic moves in the tight confines of the corral…and then…we were off.
I waived to Cathy as I ran by, my hip doing okay for this part. Even being sent up a hill almost immediately. That was good, because that wouldn’t last long. And while the hip would eventually succumb to all the uphills and the cold…any movement I could manage without it bothering me…I was grateful for.
Also, on an interesting note…the FAQs for this race said that hydration packs were not allowed. I saw a lot of people running with them, but I opted to obey the rules and ran with my hydration belt instead. I hadn’t done that in a LONG time during a race, but as I had to use it for a bit of training while waiting on new bladders for my vest to come in the mail, I wasn’t completely out of practice yet.
This race weaves through Atlanta completely now…whereas before, when it was the Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon, it went out to Decatur and would come back into Atlanta. Not anymore. Now it’s completely inside the city. With this new course, I think I was glad it wasn’t this way when I ran it in 2014…because I think the hills are worse. With the leg/hip issue happening, I legit had no power on any of the uphills. You better believe I lived for those downhills though.
At one point, as the sun was coming out, I went to tuck my pink knit gloves into the back of my hydration belt…but I lost them. It made me sad, as those were the best gloves (and pink still represents my mom – a breast cancer survivor). But, they are throw-away gloves for a reason, I guess. At another point, I spotted someone I know from Instagram, running just up ahead. I wished I had the go-power to get up to her and run with her or at least say “HI.” But…meh…not happening. She finished up three minutes ahead of me…because she’s awesome. So…HI KRISTIN STOKES!
I will say, I think the hill around Mile 12 was the one that did me in. I felt like I was crawling up it. My hip was done with the entire experience, so I basically crawled it in to the finish. No finish line sprint. Nothing. Just a jog.
But, Cathy had managed to finish her 5K just ahead of Meb…which meant she had about 10 minutes before I came in. She found a spot to watch the finish line…and when I crossed I was so happy to be done. Maybe not Kauai Marathon happy…but it might have been close.
I walked through and got my medal and some snacks before meeting up with Cathy. We went to go take some pictures with the Olympic rings before heading back to the hotel to clean up, shower, pack, and head down to snag lunch at Walburgers before hopping on the MARTA to head to the airport for our flight home. Walburgers had a bit of delay on opening due to a problem with with the water or electricity or something. We hung out with some ladies and made friends with them. When they did open, we were taken upstairs and seated, and then just after we placed our order, our friends Tammy and Dean showed up and joined us. YAY! It was nice to sit and catch up with them (Tammy had also done the 5K and Dean did the half ). Also, Walburgers is great with the gluten-free options. I had my first ever Impossible Burger on the gluten free bun…with gluten free Sweet Potato Tots. It was…awesome.
Eventually we did have to head out to the airport. We hugged Tammy and Dean (this was when that was still allowed, which now seems weird) and made our way to the MARTA to head home.
So, my official results of the 2020 Publix Atlanta Half Marathon are that I finished in I finished in 1:50:02. Not bad on a gimpy leg, right? I know for a fact that I would have been able to deliver better had my training and my hip been 100%. But you do what you can when you can , right? I was 1346/5809 finishers overall. I was the 531/3189 female finishers. And I was 99/486 in my age division. Considering an unusual night before the race happened…with a late dinner…and lots of time standing the day before, topped with hip/leg issues…I’ll take the hell out of this result. Couldn’t be prouder of myself for sticking it out and getting to that finish line.
Just goes to show you…if you set your mind to something…you can do hard things.
Sorry that this is over two months overdue in posting. My lack of motivation to sit at my computer at home…after working at home for 8 hours…is more than lacking these days. But I’m very behind on these blogs…so I need to start cracking on them. Since then, the Olympics in Tokyo are postponed until 2021. What crazy times we are living in. I hope everyone is staying safe.
Back in April 2019, when USATF announced that the Olympic Marathon Trials were going to be held in Atlanta, Ga., I knew…RIGHT THEN…that I wanted to go and spectate. I wanted to be on the course where it all happened. Six people – 3 men and 3 women – would cross a finish line and achieve the dream of becoming an Olympian.
I had to go.
So, my roommate and I went ahead and booked a hotel room at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in downtown Atlanta. Then we bought some non-stop flights to and from Atlanta from Louisville. And then, because, why the hell not?…we each signed up for a race on the day following the Olympic Marathon Trials (Cathy did the Atlanta 5K and I did the Atlanta Half Marathon), since we’d be there.
And somewhere between when all that happened…my left hip started giving me problems again. I took most of February off from running or any real distance, and definitely not workouts. I went back to my orthopedic doctor for X-rays…where I was told there was nothing structural happening. I went back to physical therapy, where my physical therapist worked to help get me back on the road, even though it seemed where the pain was changed each day. And she even could work with my coach as he is also a physical therapist (same company, different location)…and together they eased me back out onto the road, with only a few days with setbacks.
To say I felt 100% when I started packing for my quick trip to Atlanta at the end of March is a huge understatement. I was questioning whether to drop to the 5K or just not do it at all. Since I was able to run, perhaps not fast or strong, I decided that I could fake my way through a race. It would be rough and hard and probably would suck a lot more than usual, but I could do it. So, after our friend Melissa dropped us off at the airport on a Friday morning, we boarded our flight to Atlanta and touched down without any delays or problems. WINNING!
After a quick MARTA ride to get to our hotel, we checked in, dropped off stuff in our room, and took a moment to admire the fact that we could see Centennial Park from our window. How awesome!!
Then, we gathered our stuff and took a nice stroll past the park and the Olympic Marathon Trials finish line, to hit up the expo to pick up our own race stuff and see what kind of merchandise was around.
The answer…not much. At least not at this point. I managed to snag a Marathon Trials t-shirt for myself and my friend Natalie. And I got a couple of pins to commemorate the event. But there was little else left. Guess it got decimated on Thursday or earlier in the day on Friday.
Oh well. The expo was much smaller than I anticipated. For real. And we breezed through it faster than the time we budgeted for it. So, after we were done there, we hiked back to the hotel to drop off stuff, take a breather, and then figure out what we wanted to do next. We ended up hiking around the Dragon*Con hotels just to kill time. We snagged some water (we hit up CVS so many times for water on this trip) and a snack. And then we had to figure out what we wanted to do for dinner. The easiest option was the food court…but I needed to figure out where and what would be safe for me. And one of our top options would have meant eating dinner around 3:30 or 4 pm, which was WAY too early for me.
Lots of google and Find Me Gluten Free searching guided me toward a place called BÊP Vietnamese Cuisine. Cathy opted to go find something with meat and gluten in it for herself (since when we are eating out and on vacation, she can do this!), and ended up at Beni’s Cubano and opted for the Milagro Sandwich with Maduros (Sweet Plantains). So, while she was hitting them up, I went up to get Curry Tofu Rice Bowl from BÊP…except they were all out of tofu as they had to cater a large party earlier. BOO! So, I ended up doing the Vegetarian Phở with the Gluten Free Vegetarian Spring Rolls. It wasn’t my first choice…but, hey…it wasn’t a bad option to end up with. And, honestly, I just wanted the spring rolls, so that made me happy enough (but 2 spring rolls don’t make a meal).
We ate in the food court before heading back to the room for the rest of the night, enjoying some Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network while we wound down and prepared for the following morning, which would involve having to find a good spot in which to view the trials. And, man, did we have some options to think about.
We woke up the following morning with a mission. Kara Goucher was leading a 3 mile shakeout run around Centennial Park. I wasn’t running. This was a rest day, and regardless, I was really hoping to give my hip an extra day off before the half marathon on Sunday morning. Cathy safely tucked my 2015 Boston Marathon bib into her bag and we headed down toward the park. We ended up making an entire lap before converging on the crowd by the Olympic rings. And there, in the middle of it all, was Kara Goucher. Kara Goucher was one of the first female runners that I took notice of. Her book was one of the first ones I ever read (and applied a lot of it to shorter distances as I was not running marathons yet). It was chaotic in that throng of people, but I somehow managed to get up to her, tell her something about Minnesota girls (I was born in Minnesota, remember?) and got my bib signed! YAY! It wasn’t the way I envisioned talking to her or meeting her…but it happened, guys!! We also made one last stop in at the expo…and glad we did because we both ended up getting some hoodies that had Atlanta to Tokyo on it (at that point, obviously, the Olympics were still happening in summer 2020). The smallest size I could find was a large, but I figured I could just wear it around the apartment.
After that, we headed back to the hotel to grab a big breakfast (as this would be what would hold us through to after the marathon trials AND…a live Ali on the Run Podcast that I got free tickets to attend). It was going to be a long day…but thankfully, we had snacks.
The breakfast at the hotel was mostly buffet. And for someone like me with food allergies…that just doesn’t work well. BUT, our waiter was kind enough to put in an order for me with the kitchen so everything would be safe for me to eat. I got an egg white vegetable omelette with a bowl of fruit. Cathy was able to go pick and choose what she wanted and was excited that there was a mini chicken and waffles option out there (it might have been on the kids table, but she loved it). We ate. We drank a lot of coffee. We went back up to the room to prepare ourselves for all the intense wind, cold weather, and the fun of spectating the Olympic Marathon Trials.
I. COULD. NOT. WAIT.
Originally, we had planned on going right to a spot where we could see the athlete 6 times on the looped course. But after we got down there, we decided that we really, really wanted to see the start of both the men’s and the women’s race. Then we could go up to about Mile 8 and see the men twice and the women once, and then hopefully get back to the finish line area to see who would make the team from a decent enough s
It felt like the right plan for us. So…we scouted out a spot for the start of the race. It was VERY windy! In case you hadn’t heard. I felt bad for the athletes because when you’re in a metro downtown like that, there is no wind breaks. There are only wind tunnels. And that wind will hit you in all directions! We were right near where the athletes would be walking out. Shalane Flanagan passed us. She, obviously, wasn’t competing, but there was no mistaking her in that Bowerman Track Club gear.
And…I got to hug and wish good luck to Ashley Paulson, who I know from Instagram. She ended up coming in 44th in the women’s race. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! Anyway, that was super fun. Cathy gave the woman standing next to me her ear warmer because she had tried three times to find somewhere she could buy a hat and couldn’t find one anywhere. One good deed…
The winds were whipping around 20+mph. And it was COLD!! Man, was it cold. But the sun was out…and the athletes were lining up at the start line. The men would go off first. Then the women. And who was sending each group off? Meb Keflezighi!
He counted down the men’s race…and they were off. As the group ran past, we cheered really loud and started pointing out the people we recognized. It was exciting. What a rush. And 20 minutes later…with one almost false start…Meb sent the women off. Now that…THAT was insane. It was just flood of women, running down the road. I spotted a few people I recognized. I screamed really loud. And we even saw the ones at the back who were starting, but dropping out due to injury, pregnancy, or whatever. It was inspiring, regardless.
From there, we hopped over to a spot on the rail near the 8 mile mark. This was at one of the turns on the course, so we would definitely get the chance to see everyone as they went past. We would be here for a while, able to see the men twice and the women once, if we wanted to try to get to the finish line area.
We took this opportunity to snag a snack. I brought oranges. LOL! Hey, I’m like Dustin in Stranger Things…so I always bring snacks with me everywhere. I had no idea how long it would be before we’d get to eat. We polished off our oranges (I brought Sumo’s…only the best for this occasion) and were settled in, wincing against the wind, and making friends with the people around us…as you do.
The guy who was on my left was spectating his daughter, who qualified at CIM with a squeaker time, just hitting it with maybe a second to spare. The pride and excitement in his voice was just…awesome. And then…we saw the pace car come down the hill and toward the turn. Behind it…the wave of men. And, there were two people out front that I didn’t recognize. But then in the chase pack (just steps behind them) were all the big names and the like. And I tried to shout out to as many as I could.
There were smaller waves behind them…and then it quieted down as we all awaited the arrival of the women. And that was a wave that was just as amazing as the start. And the crowd. Wow…it was loud. And you could just feel this electricity as the women continued to make the turn and head back up the hill into Mile 8. It was insane and I loved being a part of the noise and seeing these woman lay it all out there on the challenging course. Seriously…inspiring. Not that I’ll ever get the chance to run the Olympic Trials…but man…I felt like I was part of something big…just by being there.
We waited around for the men to make their second loop and, by the time they came back around, there were more familiar faces at the front of the pack. Mainly…Galen Rupp. No shocker there. And, apparently, that’s where he would stay. But…it would be those remaining two spots that would be the surprises for us spectators.
Not wanting to miss any of the final finishes…because, honestly, I wanted to be at that finish line when the runners who would be representing the country crossed, we left to head back to the finish line area. The general public could only get so close, but luckily we found a spot of the rail, next to a man who was cheering for his daughter (this was a theme, LOL), named Val Curtis. So, he was tracking her and I was trying to catch bits of conversation about where some of the favorites out on the course were.
And you could tell when the finish was getting close because people who were able to get into the grassy parts of the park near the finish started climbing into the trees. No joke. Cathy even said, “Looks like the spectators are in full bloom.” It made me laugh. A lot. Security, however, did make them all eventually get down, but that was just a testament to how big of a deal this was to the people in Atlanta to spectate.
I will never forget that feeling when I saw the lead vehicle come down over the hill and veer off as Galen Rupp came surging past. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Galen Rupp fan. I don’t like him. But he was going to go represent the United States at the Olympics, turning in an amazing time on what was a VERY challenging course. The second and third place for the men came in over a minute behind Galen. It felt like a HUGE gap of time, honestly. But that battle for second and third was SPECTACULAR!! No lie. It came down to just one second that put Jacob Riley in second and Abdi Abdirahman in third. Our alternate for the men…Leonard Korir…just seconds behind Abdi. What a finish!!
We saw more men come streaming in. A few were bloodied, which left us really confused until I started listening to podcasts after the fact and finding out that people fell down on the course, were almost trampled, and the like. How scary is that. To rally and get back up and finish…that’s gutsy. I respect the hell out of it. I saw Jared Ward finish, but he was way out of contention for a spot. He was definitely a favorite going in.
Eventually, the volunteers began to route the men down a different path to finish, which could only mean one thing…the women were coming! I had no idea who was leading at this point. I was up on my tiptoes, leaning on the rail, just waiting to see the first woman blaze by. It felt like forever, but then…graceful, swift, and steady…the first woman flew past. It was Aliphine Tuliamuk…which wasn’t out of the conversation to make the team, but she was leading the way. I was here for it! Just behind her was Molly Seidel, who qualified using a half marathon time and this was her first marathon. This also meant that she started behind the A standard qualifiers. And there she was…carrying that flag all the way to the finish line. And just over a minute behind her…our third woman came in…Sally Kipyego, who I had just heard an interview with on Lindsey Hein’s podcast, “I’ll Have Another.” Both Aliphine and Sally had recently become citizens of the United States and here they were now…heading to the Olympics to represent the country. Amazing.
Des Linden came in fourth, now officially becoming the alternate and missing out on the Olympic Team by 30 seconds. Stephanie Bruce wasn’t too far behind, coming in 6th.
We stayed at the finish line, because now we felt like we needed to see Val Curtis come in. We were basically adopted members of the Curtis cheer team. In the process, I saw Jordan Hasay come by, finishing 26th, and considering she came in with the fastest time…that was a shock. Ashley Paulson finish 44th overall for the women! That was super exciting. She’s just so genuine and amazing.
I noted some names that weren’t coming in…Sarah Hall, Molly Huddle, Emily Sisson.
It was weird.
We were getting updates from Val’s father as to where she was on the course, so we knew exactly when to start cheering. I held a sign for her while he waved a flag and shouted as she blazed past to her finish line. Cathy snapped photos. It was pretty exciting to be part of that. I felt like I knew Val…even though I had just heard of her that day.
After a long day of spectating, we were heading to the Generation UCAN live podcast with Ali Feller and Carrie Tollefson and Meb Keflezighi. We figured we would grab dinner afterwards…which in hindsight wasn’t our best plan…but we had a podcast to get to. I am so glad we did. A surprise to me was when Dathan Ritzenhein went up and talked for a brief moment. If you know me, you know how he is one of my favorite male runners. Hip issues caused him to drop out of the trials, but he listened to his body and did what he needed to do.
After he spoke, he left and I grabbed my 2015 Boston Marathon bib and went to see if I could catch him for an autograph. He very graciously signed it for me…and I was able to tell him a little bit about my devastating race that morning…due to hip issues. He listened and said that he hopes my next time running Boston (2021 with any luck), would be a much better experience.
The live podcast was a lot of fun, and very emotional. We laughed. We cried. We had a good time. I wanted to meet Ali after the show, but there was a rush of people, and we had to go find some food, as both Cathy and I were racing the following morning. The problem is…so many things in big cities close early…and we really didn’t have many options. We ended up ordering in room service at the hotel, and they took very good care of me with my food allergies. So, we were definitely eating dinner at 8 pm, watching Guy’s Grocery Games, and trying not to fret too much over the hour and the fact that we had to be up early to get ready to get to our own start lines. I ended up with a delicious quinoa dish.
As for me…my leg wasn’t feeling 100% despite weeks of physical therapy…but I was going to see what I could do on these Atlanta hills. But that’s another blog.
Disclaimer: I received a Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
It’s hard to change when something feels off on your body. Do you run through it? Do you take time off? As some of you know, I had something flair up in my hip/leg/quad/hamstring back in January. After a mile or so, it normally settled down and I could run confidently without feeling I was making something worse. That is…until one day I knew something was defintely wrong, when I felt I was fighting for every step and I was limping later in the afternoon after a 10 mile run.
Talk about good timing for my Body Helix Thigh Compression Sleeve to arrive. I had a few options to choose from to test out, but I already wear my compression socks and sleeves (so I didn’t want calf sleeves). I don’t have knee issues, so I skipped the knee option. And I had no reason to get anything for my arms (so that elbow sleeve wasn’t necessary). That left the thigh sleeve. And I had never seen a thigh sleeve option before. And with my hamstrings and quads giving me some issues…it was the logical choice.
A few days later, it arrived and I couldn’t wait to test it out.
Body Helix was founded by world-ranked tennis player, Fred Robinson, and physician, Thomas E. Parker, MD. The compression wraps were developed based on both the science of movement and the research on injury management. Each sleeve is made with a material that would stretch, rebound, and stay in place. And, of course, that would be comfortable and effective to wear during exercise.
Body Helix’s tagline is “Move Through It.” Well, thanks to the thigh compression sleeve they sent me…I was able to do just that.
The package arrived and not only included my compression sleeve (which I got in a stunning plum color), but it also had a card with a note from the CEO and Chairman on one side…and WASHING INSTRUCTIONS on the other side. FINALLY! Compression that comes with instructions on how to wash it! BONUS! (For the record, it goes in the washing machine and dryer…how awesome is that?). It also had a page of all their compression options included.
And after getting cleared to run by my physical therapist, I went out for my first run in over three weeks after the leg pain wasn’t something that I felt would be okay for me to run through. And guess what? It felt great. The sleeve easily slid up and over my leg, settling perfectly on my thigh. It was a fantastic fit too. Not too tight…but not going to slide down my leg either. Which was my biggest concern going into this. Nothing would suck more than heading out to run and having your compression just continue to slide down and making me have to stop and pull it back up. It stayed put. It stayed tight. It gave me support and I was able to run, and not hobble or limp, through my runs. And, it fits under your running shorts/tights without looking, feeling, or actually being bulky. Long runs, short runs, and even some speed work…my Body Helix Compression Sleeve worked like a charm. It arrived at just the right time. Now I don’t know what I would have done without it. And going forward, I know I’ll be using it as I work on rehabbing this leg and getting back to being 100%.
Disclaimer: I received a Handful Y-Back Bra to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
One thing any woman will tell you is that finding that perfect sports bra that is a perfect mix of style, fit, and work with whatever your activity and activity level is might be one of the most difficult things to do. At least, for me it has been a challenge to find a sports bra that won’t leave me chafed around the middle.
The first thing that drew me to Handful was the support they give to Breast Cancer Warriors and Survivors. My mom battled breast cancer last year and came out on the other side as a beautiful survivor. Handful gives 12.5% of revenue from their Battle Cry Pink bras year round to YSC® (Young Survival Coalition) in recognition of the 1 in 8 women (12.5%) who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. And, for any woman who loses a breast to cancer, Handful provides FREE pad sets that can be stacked and used as prosthetics in any of their pocketed bras.
And if that isn’t amazing enough…Handful prides itself on the Fashion, Function, Feel, Fun, and Fight in their products. This is what they call their High Five and it is the foundation of their company and products.
When my Handful Bra arrived in the mail on a Thursday and I couldn’t wait to open it up and check it out. It would have to wait for the test runs that weekend, as Friday’s are always my rest day.
SOFT! The bra fabric is SUPER soft. I couldn’t wait to try it on because it just felt so amazing so I knew it was going to feel good wearing it.
COLOR! I got my Handful Y-Back Bra in the color Eclipse. It’s the stunning dark blue. But here’s the thing, fun and fashion are two of the High Fives that the company swears by…and every single style of their bras come in stunning colors and/or designs.
POCKETS & PADS! Handful Bras are all equipped with removable pads (to give you more or less of what you need where/when/if you need it). Those little sleeves you slide the pads in and out of also double as stash pockets for a key, card, chapstick, fuel, or whatever! HOW AMAZING!
So, I had to wait a day before trying out the bra, but that entire weekend I was going to put it to the test. I had a 10 mile run on Saturday, and a 16 mile run on Sunday. This would be a good way to put this bra to the test.
COMFORT! This bra, as I mentioned before is SOFT!! It’s so comfortable to wear. I wore it with the provided pads on Saturday, and without on Sunday. Made no difference. I felt very supported and never felt like the fabric was rubbing me raw anywhere or that I was bubbling out of it in the back or the front. It’s also quick-drying with a soft, moisture wicking COOLMAX lining. Comfortable doesn’t even begin to describe it. I could live in this bra.
NO CHAFING! The biggest issue I have with MOST of the sports bras that I have purchased is that they chafe me right around the middle where that band hits just below the breasts. That didn’t happen at all with this bra. I have worn it on numerous runs, both short and long. I have worn it to physical therapy. I have even worn it to work because…it’s JUST that comfortable. And nothing rubbed me wrong. Not a single mark was left on my body. Not around the middle. Not under the arms. Not down the back. Not on the shoulders. It was a perfect fit. AND…if you aren’t sure how to pick your size, the Handful site has a chart, but for the most part, your T-shirt size is your Handful Bra size. They aren’t wrong. It fit me perfectly!
FLATTERING! The Handful Y-Back Bra comes with what they call the “Anti-Uniboob Design. Seriously, the little ruching at the front a simple touch that makes a world of difference and simply…defines your shape. It also keeps things tight if you lean forward, where most sports bras will gap. What’s not to love about that?
There is no doubt that Handful has become my favorite bra in my lineup. In fact, I’m tossing my old ones and ordering a variety of these so that I exclusively wear them. That’s how impressed I am with it. And, of course, in honor of my mom…I’ll definitely be getting quite a few in Battle Cry Pink!
See what other BibRave Pro’s are saying about the Handful Bra!
A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be featured on The Bluegrass BAMR Podcast! I had a blast talking to Stephanie and sharing part of my story (I feel like I could have gone on for at least another hour…but I also like to talk). Anyway…please go give it a listen. And be sure you share, like, subscribe and leave a review for the podcast itself.
You can check it out below…or search on your favorite podcast platform!
And thanks again, Stephanie!
“Life as a Celiathlete” with Karen Brady Karen Brady, aka The Celiathlete, was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at the age of 30. After some trial and error, and help from a Registered Dietitian, Karen was able to find the nutritional solutions to help fuel her greatest passion: running. Not only has Karen learned to live […]
Life has been…chaotic and busy, to say the least, these last few weeks. The holidays always throw my routine out of whack, but it just seems like it’s taking me a little longer to bounce back into my day-to-day life.
But…a few things have changed heading into the new year.
First of all, I hired a new running coach. Yep. After my former coach and I decided it was best to go our separate ways in July last year, I pulled out old training plans and did my best to get myself into shape to hit a BQ at the Chicago Marathon. The training was hard, but I did my best to get myself prepared within the weeks I had left to get myself to that start line. We all know, if you read my race review, that my Chicago Marathon went all kinds of hella wrong. I was really down on myself and disappointed with my performance, because I was told, by so many people, that there was no way (even with the new qualifying times released JUST before the Chicago marathon) that there was no way I wouldn’t qualify. Guess what…I didn’t. I tried two out of my three marathons…and it didn’t happen. I didn’t let on much, but it bothered me and I felt like I was just going backwards and not forwards, and doing it on my own wasn’t getting me the results I really wanted. SO…I remembered that a former physical therapist of mine was a running coach…so I got in touch with him…and filled out some paperwork, had a one-on-one with him on the phone…and I started officially training with him on December 31st. Even more frightening, January 6th marked 16 weeks out from my spring marathon.
Just kidding. I’m not panicking.
Something else has changed in the workout realm. I hired a personal trainer. Yep. I sure did. And you know what? I really trust him to help me get my body back in shape and ready to race to get my Boston Qualifying time. It’s a process, but I trust him. I met Corey in 2017, and he opened up his own personal training businesses a while back. I never thought about getting a personal trainer until last summer, but with my fall marathon looming, I didn’t want to start anything too rigorous so close. So, I started with him on…you guessed it…December 31st and meet with him twice a week. He plans my workout around the training my running coach sets up and so far it’s all been jiving really well. I love how Corey explains to me why we are working certain muscles and how it will benefit me when I am running. I am trusting him and the process of getting me back in racing shape.
And…I’m currently 39 days away from my first official race of 2019. And I can’t wait. Except I do have to get a few things figured out when it comes to what I’ll be wearing. Stay tuned.
I hope your 2019 is off to a good start. What have you changed, started or hoping to do this year? Tell me in the comments!
You know…I have failed as a blogger in doing product reviews…food…or otherwise…as of late. And I apologize for that. And, sadly, it has taken a product I was pretty stoked about literally falling apart after only SIX wearings to bring me back around to writing these. But now the feature is back…so I’ll keep at it with other products.
For awhile now, my running friends and coach have been urging me to purchase a Nox Gear Tracer 360 Visibility Vest because, as we all know, about 90% of my runs are done outside…in the dark. While I always wear reflective gear, they hyped up the light and visibility that this vest gives any runner in the dark.
When it went on sale around Christmas time…I bit the bullet. I needed it, at the time, for a costume I was working on for Disney (which I ended up scrapping due to how cold the weather was going to be), and justified the purchase with the amount of use I’d get out of it as a runner in the dark.
When it arrived, I immediately opened the box and pulled it out to at least try it on. I was surprised how light weight it was, but it was a good fit on me. I would be testing it out for the first time the following morning on a run and I couldn’t wait. My biggest concern was that the tubes that came down to the hips would bounce up and bother me. I hoped I was wrong.
That morning, I got dressed to go for my run before the sun was even dreaming up coming up. I slipped the Nox Gear Tracer 360 on and clipped it around my body. Perfect fit. It wasn’t too tight. I turned it on, letting it flash various fun colors and I turned on my Instagram and did an Instagram Story about it. I was super stoked. But I still had to try it on a run.
Guess what. All of my fears were put to rest on that run. The tubing didn’t bother me at all. My hands never snagged on it and nothing bounced or chafed or bothered me. I was ready to drink the Kool-Aid. Every morning I wore it out…I would just rave about it on my Instagram afterwards. But…the holidays rolled around and I was visiting family in Alabama…where I run when it’s light out. After that…I came down with a cold and took time off from my training. I was tapering anyway. And then…the Dopey Challenge. I had trashed my plan to dress as Tron (which was one of the reasons I bought the Nox Gear Tracer 360), due to freezing temperatures and the costume not really having time to be refined to where I was happy with it. The vest stayed behind to await my return. Unfortunately, Disney flu came home with me and 2 weeks later…I’m finally ready to go out for more walking than running…but something. Finally.
That was this morning. And that was when it all went wrong.
Today was my sixth (6th) time wearing the Nox Gear Tracer 360 Visibility Vest. I went and counted in my Instagram. Don’t judge me.
Six wears…and on my final 2 minute run interval this morning…the vest suddenly falls down my shoulders. I thought, perhaps, the clip at the middle came undone and paused my Garmin to fix it.
WRONG! The reflective strap that wraps around the middle had completely come apart. Not even on a seam. It was like it just tore down the center…with nothing that could have caused that to happen. I was NOT happy. Believe me, these vests are not cheap. And when you pay $70 for a reflective vest…you kind of hope for a better quality product. I mean, I spent less on my simple yellow reflective vest with blinkie light clip-ons and that’s lasted me for 4 years. This survived only six runs. Six short (not even long) runs.
To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I’m actually a little angry. I was so excited and hyped over this piece of running gear and it was like this big let-down in a big way. I actually had to hold the tubing together in front for the rest of my run so I could still be visible, but finish off my run this morning.
I have every intention of contacting Nox Gear regarding this. I am willing to exchange it for a new one, believing that, perhaps, this was just a bad batch or whatever. I love the concept behind this vest, but I need it to last because 4 out of 5 of my runs every week are done in the dark. The kind of visibility that this gave me was impressive. The vest being so light weight was a bonus. I’m picky about things I wear when I run, and this was something I expected to hate…but didn’t.
And I don’t hate it now…I just hate that it was so poorly constructed. As of right now, I can’t honestly recommend this product. It all hinges on how Nox Gear handles this when I contact them regarding my dissatisfaction with their product.
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” — The Emperor, Mulan.
I can do hard things.
That became my mantra during the last run of The Dopey Challenge this past weekend. To be honest, I think the whole experience was a comedy of errors, but it led to four amazing and different finish lines.
Four races. Four days. Four different distances, each race getting longer. And the hardest part to grasp as that you aren’t even halfway through the entire mileage by the third race.
I did the Dopey Challenge during its Inaugural year, in 2014. I felt invincible back then and went into it with little training and no plan. And it was amazing and inspiring and fun. I missed out in 2016 when I thought I would give it another go due to lingering hip injuries. That was a lot of money to lose out on…trust me. MEH!
I never even thought of running in it again (okay…I perhaps thought about it every year it did run…but never pulled the trigger, really gun-shy about what this body could actually manage anymore), but then, last year, I became great friends with Melissa and Paul…and with a little peer pressure…I found myself registered for the 5th Anniversary of the Dopey Challenge (and also the 25th Anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon).
With two setback with the opposite hip that has the labrum tear this past year (in January and July, I believe)…I was really starting to lose hope that Dopey or even marathon running would happen again. I had to defer Chicago due to lingering hip issues back in September, which broke my heart and did nothing to boost my confidence. It was through my last round of physical therapy and adopting a run/walk method on long runs that I managed to get through Dopey training (I think to the surprise of everyone, including my coach, bless her) in one piece.
Because after the holidays, I had a 3 day stint at work…where people returned to the office sick. And despite my best efforts…I caught the crud. I started feeling bad on Friday night. Saturday I went to bed before 8 pm after cancelling my last training run and basically living on the couch. Same story on Sunday. Sunday was also New Years Eve…and I couldn’t even ring in the new year. I was in bed before 8 pm again. I woke up feeling a little better on Monday, but not wanting to risk anything, I called in sick to work and stayed home to finish packing before being taken to the airport by our dear friend and neighbor, Laura.
So…here I was…heading into a 4-race series….with a lingering cold, a damaged immune system…and into a Florida cold snap. No joke. The weather turned at the start of the year. It went from being lows of 50s and highs of mid-70s…to below freezing temps. Considering my costumes I was going to run in consisted mainly of tank tops…some modifications had to be made.
I arrived in Orlando late on Tuesday night. My rommie and I had a hotel room off-property that night, just giving us an extra day to not rush through the runDisney expo, packet pick-up, and all that craziness. We went to our favorite Orlando eat spot…Toasted…where I could get a Gluten Free and Vegan grilled cheese sandwich with a side Gluten Free Truffle Fries. I got The Inferno…which is their house-made vegan cheese (this stuff melts AMAZING), tomato, jalapeno, and sriracha. SO good. I figured the spice might help the whole sinus situation I had going on. This is where the madness began. Upon returning to the hotel, I realized that my pajamas never made it into my luggage…so I was now sleeping in my plane clothes. Whatever. We decided that the following morning, we’d hit up Target and Publix for pajamas, snacks, water, and other necessary items.
When we woke up that morning, it was pouring down rain in Orlando. We bundled up in hoodies and went out to the stores. We even picked up a few requested items for our friends, Melissa and Paul, who had spent the New Year at Disney. We got all of that together and headed to Disney Springs to park and head to Erin McKenna’s, the gluten-free bakery there, where we picked up a Scone (which we split right then), a Thin Mint Cookie (and one for Melissa for her birthday), a Cinnamon Roll, a couple of Donuts, and a slice of her Lemon Tea Cake. Then, we headed over to Pop Century to pick up Melissa and Paul so we could all head to the expo together and do the whole packet pick-up, expo, shopping thing together.
It was a mess. We ended up standing in the rain for a good chunk of it. Cathy had ducked into CVS before we headed to Disney property for ponchos and only found child sizes. Mine was super tiny (but had Disney princesses on it) and hers ripped as she unfolded it. So…staying dry wasn’t happening. All of this wasn’t helping the whole cold/sinus issue I was still dealing with at this point either. We got into the building and followed the line down to the area where you show your ID, turn in your waiver, and get your bib. If you’re doing the challenge (and the 3 of us were), you get your photo taken so they can confirm that it was, in fact, you, who finished. After that, we were ready to get our official merch on and then hit the expo. Cathy had gone on ahead to get in the Official Merchandise line…and it was a line. Over a 2 hour wait…mostly outside…mostly uncovered. Melissa and Paul had pre-purchased items, which normally, you would just go ahead and get without having to stand in said line…because you did, after all, pre-purchase them. No such luck. We decided it wasn’t worth it and headed into the other part of the expo where the vendors were.
I felt that the vendor area was much smaller and had fewer products/companies that I recognized. I didn’t see Nuun or Newton there, which I had been hoping for. I need to get more Nuun tablets, and my roommate forgot to bring my new pair of Newtons home from work with her on Tuesday, so I had one pair of shoes for all four races. My intent had been to purchase new shoes at the expo. I could wear them in the shorter races and feel confident that I would be fine. No luck. I did end up getting the Roll Recovery R8 and R3 rollers for a huge discounted price at the expo. And I am totally in love with these products. Cathy went in search of BondiBand and got me needed bands for two of my costumes…and a bonus one she said I had to have. She was right. HA! And after that…we gave up and headed back to Pop Century. The weather was cold, but we had some Fast Passes at Animal Kingdom with Melissa and Paul (it was Melissa’s birthday so we were totally making a day of it…and so far it wasn’t going right), so we parked at their resort, hopped the Animal Kingdom bus and went on the Kilimajaro Safari, the new Flights of Passage in the Avartar part of the park (OMG…THIS RIDE!), and went out for a birthday celebration meal at Melissa’s favorite spot, Tiffins.
I ordered the Autumn Vegetable Harvest, which was a Roasted Red Kuri Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin Custard, Black Rice, Baby Spinach, Pumpkin Seed Pistou, and Cranberry. It tasted like Thanksgiving. It was SO good. And of course, dessert happened. Both Melissa and I got the Neapolitan Macaroon off the kids menu, FTW! After dinner, we took the bus back to Pop Century, told Melissa and Paul we would see them bright and early for the 5K the following morning and headed to Port Orleans Riverside to claim our room. It was late when we arrived and we had a 3 am wake up call facing us down. So, we hauled our luggage up in two trips and got ready for bed. Cathy noted that the bathroom door was latching strange, but nothing too bad. Loved the royal room…and this time we had a gorgeous view of the courtyard. Lights out. We were down for the day.
Walt Disney World 5K
Race: Walt Disney World 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 4, 2018
“The belonging you seek is not behind you…it is ahead.” — Maz Kanata, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Disney doesn’t officially time their 5Ks. Did you know that? It’s true. And with everything happening in 4 days if you’re doing Dopey…this is probably a good thing. I had an alarm set for 3 am to change into my costume for the 5K, modified due to cold temperatures (it was below freezing that morning and my original costume was Tron…I ended up bringing BB-8, with a fleece top and a base layer to go under the actual bra top). I got up, used the bathroom, and started to change. Cathy went into the bathroom after me, and as I am pulling on my orange CEP Compression sleeves, I hear her messing with the door knob. She says, “I can’t get the door to open.” WHAT?! So, I let her jiggle and mess with it while I layered up. When she still wasn’t out of there and I had tried from my side and she had tried from hers…I called the front desk and explained that we were doing the 5K that morning and that my roommate was trapped in the bathroom in our room. She had me try to get the latch to release with a credit card…and that didn’t work. So she said she would send someone up.
Meanwhile, she has me scoot her clothes under the door to her so she can change while we wait on help. I am texting Melissa and Paul and trying not to panic and laugh at the same time. Steve, the manager on duty, knocks on the door. He comes in and tries the door knob. Nope. Stuck. So he leaves to go get a screwdriver. He returns…and still has no luck. He tells me that I need to get to the start line…so I’m putting on my throwaway clothes (remember…it’s freezing here) and he said he was going to get another tool and try again. In the process of doing that, he also calls 911 to get the fire department out and calls their engineering department, and whoever got there first, he promised, would get Cathy out. I tossed on my BB-8 winter hat and told Cathy that I hoped to see her at the finish line. I had to pin my bib on myself (in all my years of running, she has always done that for me. I’m spoiled), and I headed out the door. I texted Melissa and Paul as I headed toward the bus line for the 5K shuttle to the start. I got to talking to the people in line about the saga that morning, and they were all, “What room are you in? I want to know how this turns out!” HAHA!
Just as I was getting on a bus, Cathy texts to say that she’s free and that the fire department had to come and use an ax to free her from her bathroom prison. She was given a voucher for a taxi to take her to the start line so we hoped we would all meet there. I arrived just as Melissa and Paul were getting there too. With no bag to check, I could skip security and wandered into the staging area where I stood at a sign and waited for Melissa and Paul. They arrived. And Cathy arrived. And our friend Stephanie arrived. And two friends of Paul and Melissa also arrived, Chris and Christy (I might have misspelled her name). We were all going to chill on the 5K…take it easy…and save our legs for later races. I rarely get to hang with a group on runs, so this was exciting for me. I lined up in Corral D with my friends (my bib was for Corral A) and we made our way through the new wave start, ditching our warm layers as we move ahead. Soon…it was our turn and we were off.
The 5K was pretty crowded, but we had no time goals. The plan was to just make our way through the course, stopping for pictures if we wanted, and just having a blast. As we were heading into, or just past Mile 1…a person in front of me moved and I didn’t see the traffic cone in the path. Down I went. Hard. On my hands and my right knee. Melissa made an attempt to grab me and Stephanie helped me up. Everyone was making sure I was okay. I shook it off. The knee stung, but nothing bad. I was probably too numb from the 28 degree (not including wind chill) morning that day to even notice. We carried on through Epcot, stopping to take some photos with Spaceship Earth in the background, with Genie from Aladdin, and then made our way to the finish line.
5K…done. I had such a blast. I even danced across the finish line. It was only after the sit on the bus back that my knee really started to throb. I looked down and noticed blood on my black pants. Plot twist. Also…thanks to the bathroom door needing to be broken into with an ax…Cathy was told that after the race, we needed to pack up our things and have Bell Services get our stuff and move us to a new room. Melissa and Paul were kind enough to take the shuttle to our resort to help with that…and we got it done and ready and out the door. We all went over to Port Orleans French Quarter for the Gluten Free Beignets and coffee. They needed to go get warm and were going to try to hit up the expo after showers and Cathy and I were heading to Epcot for the day. Our first Fast Pass was for Spaceship Earth…but it broke down as we were standing in line. Of course it did. So…we wandered around Epcot and did the rest of our stuff until it was time to head to dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel. They didn’t have gluten free chips for the salsa, but brought me some tortillas so I could have some and Cathy didn’t dip…she used her spoon to put things on the chips. I got the Enchiladas de Vegetales, which came with a vegan version of their rice and refried black beans. It was corn tortillas filled with vegetables, and smothered in salsa verde. It was really good…but I don’t think I’ll do Mexican before a race in the future.
Cathy and I returned to Port Orleans Riverside…and I had to go to the concierge because we never got a text with a new room. Turns out, they replaced the door and we weren’t moving. I was limping at this point, mind you, because my knee was killing me. As we were making the walk to the room, I said, “I hope they moved our stuff back in then.” They hadn’t. This meant another call to Bell Services and needing to wait an extra 30 minutes before even being ready to lay out race gear for the 10K, get ready for bed, and turn in for the night. It was a mess. But things showed up…we did the best we could to do a few things quickly, and called it a night. Another 3 am alarm was set.
Walt Disney World 10K
Race: Walt Disney World 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 5, 2018
“You can’t focus on what’s going wrong. There is always a way to turn things around.” — Joy, Inside Out
This was the race I had it in my head to actually race this weekend. Until I got sick. And until I banged up my knee the day before. It was hard to walk, I wasn’t exactly sure how running was going to go. But the 3 am wake up came and no one got trapped in the bathroom. We were off to a good start.
In fact, I layered up (again), because my I was being Joy from Inside Out, and Melissa and Paul were going to be Disgust and Fear. I love that I was costuming with friends. It was fun. But Joy’s dress was a tank top that I was going to put shorts under, originally…until the weather changed. With a morning that was 37 degrees, without the wind chill (and the wind was fierce and cold that day), I put on the black base layer I had used with my BB-8 costume, the leggings I had worn with BB-8, and worked the rest of it the best I could. It had to do under the weather circumstances. No hat…but I did pull the BondiBand over my ears to hopefully keep those warm. Cathy pinned me and we headed to the bus to get taken to the staging area at the start of the 10K.
I hunkered down since we were there so early and took a nap. Melissa and Paul somehow managed to slip past Cathy and were, very smartly, gathered near one of the heating lamps at the center of the staging area. We got up to meet them, and Stephanie, Chris and Christie were there too. We took pictures, but I refused to shed the throw-away clothes right then. Too cold. The mylar wrap was staying as well. Just after 5, I ate my banana and we headed to the corrals. We were going to take a photo of the Inside Out characters…but Coral A (my corral) already queued. I had to now go into Corral B. Who puts a corral at the start line that early? UGH. I had to say a quick goodbye. Got hugs…and went in…bobbing in and out of people in an attempt to move forward. No luck.
I shed the throw-away clothes as we neared the start line and my wave finally went off. It was cold, so thankfully I didn’t feel my knee bothering me. I ran calmly and smartly…the first mile meaning I had to bob and weave through the waves of people who went off ahead. Some of which were walking this one too. I still had hopes of racing this one and maybe coming close to beating my 10K PR. It was still hard for me to breathe (thanks sinuses), but I pressed on through. I managed a respectable time, even with all the dodging I had to do. Mile 1 clipped off and we made a hair-point turn and headed up a hill. I felt strong and was passing a lot of people…but hills and I are not friends and it did slow me down. But what a confidence booster. Somewhere in Mile 2 a guy snot rocketed on me. I turned from Joy to Disgust for just a moment. Miles 3-5 were amazing and fast. Those were the parts that were actually in Epcot and not out on the highway. I think distractions are a big help. And they always do up Epcot great with cast members out to cheer and support you. The lights were awesome. I heard one cast member shout…”Happiness is here…I mean Joy. Joy is here!” HA! Since I was racing, I opted to skip the character stops and pushed on for a strong finish, past Spaceship Earth and around the corner back into the parking lots. I stopped my watch after crossing and was shocked that I was closer to 48 minutes than my hoped for 44 minutes.
You know…running with sinus issues and a badly bruised up knee…I gladly took it.
My official results of the Walt Disney World 10K were that I finished in 47:40. I was 266/12,881 finishers overall. I was 41/7618 female finishers. And I was 12/1245 people in my age division. Not too shabby at all!
I went back to the resort to shower and change and head out to the parks that day. Cathy and I had some Fast Passes to hit up in Magic Kingdom that day. We ended up getting everything done there (including Dole Whip…despite the cold temperatures) and hopped back to Animal Kingdom, where Melissa and Paul were hanging for the day. We met up after I snagged a hummus and veggies snack from the Gluten Free cart and some iced coffee (The iced coffee and Animal Kingdom is the best…and despite the cold…I needed it in my life).
Melissa and Paul were able to get me on Everest with them so I did get to have some roller coaster fun. Which was amazing. I love coasters and rides, but Cathy isn’t the biggest fans of most of them. She’ll do some…but they usually aren’t the ones we like to do. And…at one point, we were hiking through Pandora and saw sunlight coming through the tree and it was SO picturesque. It was like a painting or straight from the movie (I guess…I never have actually seen Avatar).
We hung out until we took the bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner that night at Sanaa.
Melissa and I split the gluten free bread service and Cathy and Paul go the regular one. We enjoyed that before feasting that night on the amazing food there. I got the Chickpea Wat and the Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables with Basmati Rice. It was so good and we were so full. Afterwards, we took a bus back to a park where we could hop to our respective resorts. I got all the half marathon stuff together as far as my outfit and called it a night. I set an alarm for 1:50 am and another for 2:50 am. The resort wanted people at the buses by 3:30 the following morning to get to the start on time. We called it a night.
Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Race: Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 6, 2018
“Every dream begins somewhere. Some are born to greatness, and some find greatness on their own.” –Monsters University
And so half marathon morning dawned. I still felt like crap. My knee was tight and painful…but it was bandaged across the cut. I had taken the bandage off when I ran as Joy and had meant to do it for this costume too…but forgot. It was 2:50 am. I can focus on one thing at a time.
I got up with the alarm and went to get myself ready. Today I was running as Boo from Monsters, Inc. Melissa was costuming as Roz and Paul was going to be a CDA hazmat guy. These were the costumes I was really looking forward to wearing. Mostly because Melissa pointed out the subtle humor that she and Paul would be chasing me the entire race. LOVE!! Even better…today’s costume had short sleeves and long pants. So, I added arm warmers as it was a chilly 39 degrees that felt still below freezing. These temperatures were starting to really get on my nerves. They were also starting to catch up to Cathy. Bless her…we’re at least moving. She is sitting on cold bleachers for over an hour at the finish line.
I got dressed…grabbed some Lara Bites (I didn’t plan out pre-race food for this…I was working on feeling better and it slipped my mind) and a banana to take to the race start. I piled on my throw-away clothes to stay warm, grabbed the mylar from the day before, and headed out the door. There were plenty of people stirring this morning as we all had received the call that we needed to be on buses by 3:30 to make it to the start line. The deal is…for the Disney World Half and Full Marathons, you make a 1.5 mile hike to the starting corrals. So, they want to be sure you have ample time for that. We were texting with Melissa and Paul and they were going to head out. We got a bus…settled in for the short drive to Epcot…and arrived to file in line and get through security. No bags for me, so I walked right through. I waited for Cathy on the other side and the two of us went to claim the spot near the tent that was serving up food and hot beverages. I could smell the sausage again. We huddled in on the pavement and I took a power nap while we waited for Melissa and Paul to arrive.
When they did, I went ahead and shed the throw-away clothes so we could have a picture of us all in the costumes. The last few times it had been too cold for me to even want to take them off. So, I was determined to have a photo with them this time. We missed out when I was dressed as Joy and they were Disgust and Fear. We talked for a short moment before we decided to go find the entrance to the corrals. We went through bag check together and made the long walk, comfortably, and chatting the entire way, until my corral had to split away from theirs. We gave hugs and we separated.
I had to actually off-road here to get up to my corral. That makes me nervous because when you’re walking on grass in the dark…that’s just a recipe for a twisted ankle or whatnot. But I managed to get up to Corral A unscathed. And I managed to get into my corral too. This was the first time I actually had managed that despite my Corral A bib. WOOHOO! I worked my way through the crowd of runners until I found a spot that felt comfortable.The National Anthem was sung beautifully and Donald came out to send off the wheelchair racers. And after that, my corral moved forward. As I was easing myself through the crowd, a ribbon was passed between me and the person in front of me. Looks like I was going to be at the front of Wave 2. They sent off Wave 1 with music and fireworks and we were moved up to the starting mat…which, mind you…was actually back a ways before the starting gate with the logo that displayed the race with Donald and basically what the medal would look like.
It was really cool to be actually toeing the line for Wave 2. I watched as a card was passed over the starting mat and would light up. The woman would then signal 1 minute to start. Then 30 seconds. Then 20. And soon, Donald Duck was counting us down…and fireworks sent off my wave. I was able to settle in comfortably because it wasn’t crowded here. Having not raced the 5K at all, I was feeling good. My knee was a bit of a problem…but when I was running I felt I could at least ignore it. HA!
My plan for this race was to run most of it, but walk the water stops. That was how I had been getting through half marathons prior to this one, so I felt it was a good way to handle this one despite feeling so good at the start. That being said, I also decided that I could go through the first four miles without stopping to walk, so I made that deal with myself as well. Most of that stretch is all highway and parking lots anyway…so I felt even better about it. Heading toward Magic Kingdom, we do get to run down a hill, but it sends us right back up. I stayed on my toes and lifted my legs up to kick up the hill. It slowed me down some, but I still felt strong at the top as we headed toward Main Street and my favorite part of any race that carries us through Magic Kingdom
I love the energy down Main Street as you run it. The crowd is deep and loud and screaming and it really is such a lift. I always wish that this part was later on in the race because of the boost it gives you. I arched away and went through Tomorrowland before making my way through Cincerella’s Castle and back out onto Main Street. The crowd came alive again. Flash bulbs were going off. It was amazing. Then, we turn to head out of Magic Kingdom through Adventureland. The crowd fades off and we are back to the highways for Miles 6-11. Disney does put out characters and DJs and some screens running clips of Mickey cartoons or other cartoons to try to entertain you on this stretch…but it really just is a lot of road and little else.
At Mile 8…I started to feel a burning in the bottom of my left foot and I knew…blisters were happening. I wasn’t running in new compression socks…but I hadn’t had time to Body Glide or Vasoline my feet that morning as I was trying to make the bus in time. MEH! That realization lasted through the rest of the race as both of my feet started to feel the effects of friction between my socks and my custom orthodics. Not a happy camper at all. My pace ended up slowing down considerably because of it and now my walk breaks were a bit of a relief from the friction. I was starting to rethink my life decisions here. As we come back into Epcot at Mile 12, I was just relieved that I was almost done and I could go and doctor up my feet. YAY! I pushed through it all and managed the turn before the World Showcase to head to the finish. The gospel choir was singing “We Will Rock You” as I ran past to make the final turn to head toward the finish line.
I pushed myself as much as I could on sore feet and threw my hands up as I came through the finish line. Stopping my Garmin, I made the walk through the finish zone, Cathy waving me down for a photo before I went to collect my medal, some mylar, and the snack box. Since character lines weren’t too bad, I stopped to take pictures with Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto before we hopped on the bus to go back to the resort. I told Cathy I could feel blisters and when we got back up to the room and I took off the compression socks…sure enough. I drained them…took a shower…and got dressed to head out for the day. The plan was to hit up Hollywood Studios. Paul and Melissa would join us later. I got to ride Tower of Terror three times that day, which made me happy. It was fun to have a few ride buddies this time around.
So, my official results of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon is that I finished in 1:44:53. I was 502/20,801 finishers overall. I was 88/12,275 female finishers. And I was 18/2012 people in my division. I’ll take that for sure. I was quite happy with my performance, despite the blisters. It just seemed like nothing was going right that day.
After a casual and relaxed day at Hollywood Studios, we all went to Mama Melroses for dinner for pasta to fuel up for the last race the following day. Melissa and I shared the gluten free rolls and I ordered the Gluten Free Pasta with Marinara. Unfortunately, for me, when it first came out, it was done with the meat sauce. Good thing I looked closely! YIKES! They took it away and fixed it, bringing out my new dish shortly. It was an early meal, but perfectly timed for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I was feeling tight in my hamstring of my left leg as we were heading to the buses to return to the resorts, so I used my Roll Recovery on it that night to try to loosen it. The knee…was just stiff and sore. I took some Ibuprofen that evening…and it was lights out. One more race and we weren’t even halfway through the mileage yet.
Walt Disney World Marathon
Race: Walt Disney World Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: January 7, 2018
“There’s no one I’d rather be than me.” – Wreck it Ralph
I was ready for it. We got back to the room early after making it an early dinner at Mama Melrose’s the previous night. That way I would have time to lay out all my costume stuff and get all my fuel ready to go so I wouldn’t have to worry about it on race morning. I was reviving Vanellope von Schweetz from Wine & Dine a few years ago. I made a few changes to the costume…having my mom create a new top and cut the tights down to go over my compression sleeves. I was excited to be bringing her back…but there was so much small things that go into this costume, I wanted to have it all set to make the morning a lot less stressful.
So when the alarm went off and I got up to get changed, I was feeling as ready as one could for the fourth race of the Dopey Challenge. I was tired…and nervous. The marathon is not a distance to take lightly. Anything can happen. But that morning…I was feeling prepared. I even Body Glided my feet and put Vasoline on them in hopes of warding off further blisters.
My left hamstring was a little tight…no surprise with three race events leading up to this one and no real time to stretch or roll my body as is part of my usual routine. But I felt ready and excited more than nervous, so there was that. I put three Hammer Gels in my fuel belt and my Nuun Performance and Water in their containers and put on my throw away clothing before my roommate and I headed out the door.
Cathy was actually not feeling well. She had started to come down with something the day before, and her voice was pretty much shot, but she’s never missed a race start or finish and, even though I thought she was going to this time, she didn’t miss this one either. Despite the cold, she bundled up with the understanding that she would see me start and then head back to the resort to nap for a few hours before coming back to the finish line. For any of you who are pondering this in the future…here’s a bit of advice…DO NOT think you can get back to your resort from the start. Buses apparently don’t start running back to the resort from the finish until the first person crosses the finish line.
Cathy and I were right on time leaving our room and heading to the bus. 3:30 am. There was a bit of a line, but two buses were there waiting. I climbed on the bus and moved closer to the back than front just because I knew we’d have some time when we arrived. We texted Melissa and Paul and they were about to leave to catch their bus.
Five years ago when I ran the Inaugural Dopey Challenge, my bus got stuck in traffic heading to the marathon and I just barely made it to my corral on time. This year…I was determined not to have that kind of stress.
No such luck. After clear sailing at first…soon…the bus slowed and then stopped. All around us traffic was ground to a halt. Total stop. Nothing was moving. We got a text that Melissa and Paul were at the staging area because their bus driver took some amazing back way to the start. I was having flashbacks to five years before. But then we just continued to sit…and sit…and we’d creep…and sit…and creep and sit…
I was internally freaking out. I kept checking my watch…because on Marathon morning, I have a food regimen and schedule that I stick to. At 4:45 am…I was still not moving and I was forced to eat my Lara Bites. At 5 am…still not moving…the banana had to go down. And then…at 5:10 am…I drank down my pre-workout drink full of electrolytes. We inched forward. Turns out…a bus had broken down in the bus lane and we were stuck behind it. Two cop cars breezed by. A few minutes later…we were past it and moving again.
We arrived at the bus drop-off point at about 5:20 am. If you have done any previous Run Disney races at Walt Disney World, you know for the half and full marathons, you have a 1.5 mile trek to the starting corrals. And I had 10 minutes to get there…and I still had to go through security/bag check. I didn’t have a bag, so I could walk on through. Cathy did have a bag so she had to get that checked. She gave me a quick hug, handing me a pack of hand warmers, saying Melissa and Paul were going to try to wait to make the long walk with me…and she needed some hand warmers. I hurried through, sprinting, keeping an eye out for a Dopey and Grumpy lingering on the side. I could already hear the National Anthem being sung. My mylar blanket was flapping in the wind as I dodged and dashed through the crowds of people also making their way to the start. I could hear Mickey Mouse talking as I rounded the first corner giving a count down. I was sprinting as fast as I could, but soon, the fireworks were being shot and off went Corral A.
“AND…there goes my corral!” I said, tossing my hands up in defeat. They were doing wave starts this year, so I continued to dash, hitting the grassy patches and hurrying toward the front of the pack. I had to lift my big fleece jacket I had brought as my toss-away to get to my bib and managed to duck into the corral that was the end of B or beginning of C. The announcers weren’t sure. I was shedding my fleece pants and top, already warm now from the sprint…and my heart rate was up and I was just stressed and not zen. But then the fireworks went off and we started across the start line on the chilly Florida morning.
Starting in a further back corral is not a good thing at Disney. This often makes for a lot of weaving in and out of people for at least the first mile…if not more. It was within my first mile, however, that I passed Jeff Galloway. I fan girled. As I had my watch set for 4 minutes running 30 seconds walking intervals, I’ve embraced the Galloway method as of late to keep this body uninjured during longer runs. That was a quick boost as the first 4 miles of the full marathon are definitely all highway miles. The course narrows at times and at one point, as I was making my way through crowds, I saw a guy hop off the course to claim some gloves that had been shed.
“Treasure!” Someone said to him. I heard someone else ask him if he was a scavenger and he said, “NO…it’s just cold!” And that was that. I continued to maneuver through the crowds, waiting for the course to open up more so I could settle in.
That being said, my watch was beeping at me every 4 minutes to take a short walk break. I would toss up my hand and shout, “WALKING” so no one would run me over. I had no goals for this race other than to hit the finish line. I had done as much training with some practice “Dopey” runs of 4 progressively longer runs in a row, always using the run/walk method for the longer runs. It works. Seriously. It got me this far, right? Here I was…doing the last run of the Dopey Challenge…hitting the halfway point of the mileage about 2 miles into the marathon. Whew.
The first four miles of highway are never eventful. Construction. Speed bumps. Course narrowing. And the hill leading up to the parking lot of Magic Kingdom. You come into Magic Kingdom at Mile 5…and, as always, this is my favorite part of any Disney race. Nothing boosts your motivation than all the cheering people lining Main Street inside. It was phenomenal. I always wish this part came later in the race because it does really lift you. You just want to run faster because all these people are screaming for you!
I felt so energized as I ran the stretch and made the turn into Tomorrowland. My favorite part of the race is always where I run through the castle. I made the curves through Tomorrowland and around through Fantasyland. And then…the run through the castle. It’s all shouts and screaming and flash bulbs. And I love every moment of it. I come down the path and turn into Adventureland to exit the park at Mile 6.
What I didn’t know is that Cathy was going to catch me at Mile 7 outside the Grand Floridian. After she discovered that she couldn’t get back to the resort, she hopped the monorail and realized that she wouldn’t be able to catch me inside the Magic Kingdom. But she could catch me at Mile 7. Despite having very little voice left, I heard her shouting at me as I ran past. It was awesome. I gave a wave and continued on. I was just glad I was on a running segment at that point and not a walk. HA! She left after that and managed to get to Magic Kingdom to see Melissa and Paul go through on Main Street. She’s awesome like that.
Miles 7-12 are pretty much highway miles. Disney does it’s job with music (each mile marker is a movie that blares the them song), characters, scenery stops, and DJs/announcers just to keep it interesting. I knew what laid ahead was Animal Kingdom and you get to spend about 2 miles inside that park. I love Animal Kingdom because the surface is small hills that really wake up your legs. I never strayed from my run/walk breaks, keeping them going throughout all the miles. To change it up could have meant disaster. There is a switchback turn around at Mile 11…and I took it and moved toward the side of the road knowing a walk break would be coming. But my foot slid off the side of the road where it dipped away and I twisted my ankle. I stumbled. Came up. Took a few precautionary steps…and then carried on. No sharp pains or discomfort…I could do this. Up ahead…Animal Kingdom.
I came into Animal Kingdom and always look forward to running past The Tree of Life. It’s amazing. It is beautiful. I love the Animal Kingdom Park. I normally fuel around this mile, but I refuse to do so inside the park because I don’t want to drop anything that might endanger the animals. I did take a slug of my Nuun Performance and carried myself through Africa, Asia, and Dinoland. The cast members in the park are amazing and just cheer and support you as you run though. You exit the park through the main entrance and settle into about 3 miles of highway miles. Lots of traffic cones line the way making my walk breaks a little difficult, but I maintained them and stuck with it. That being said, everything started to feel very hard around Mile 16. Maybe it was the long stretch of nothing…or the reality that up next was the 2 miles that feels like 20 inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Center (too many turns…too many different surfaces)…but I did manage to pick it back up as I came into ESPN. That didn’t last too long. My legs just felt heavy. Mile 18…so I took one of my Hammer Nutrition gel to hopefully wake up my body. I should have done it sooner, but after coming out of Animal Kingdom…I wasn’t even thinking about it anymore. Lesson learned.
Here’s what I hate about ESPN. Around Mile 18.5, you have to step up and enter the track. So, softer surface which is a nice relief, but you’re now running the curve of a track. And you aren’t there for too long. You pop out at the final turn and are sent around the baseball fields. You wind your way through Mile 19 enter the ball field just before Mile 20. They announce your name here, which is a booster, but you’re tired from now running on baseball gravel/dirt and you’re just pressing through. You come out of the baseball field. After that, you duck out and are on the pathway through the parking lots and back out to the main road. There was a large puddle there at the end, so I managed to get my legs to step up on the curb and back down to avoid it and continued on. It was just before Mile 21 that the 3:45 pace group passed me. They were doing 3 min run/30 sec walk breaks. My legs just felt heavy and I started to feel a blister on one of my toes on my left foot. That sensation lasted for about a mile…then it popped because that burning feeling went away and I could run a little more comfortably again. But my pace was down. I grabbed another Hammer Nutrition gel and pounded it in hopes it could get me to the finish.
Hollywood Studios was just after Mile 23 and then you know you could walk it in and be fine. If you make it to Hollywood Studios, you’re golden. I started to take a few extra walk breaks on hills that my legs protested on. I was okay with it. I wasn’t aiming for a specific time. Just to hit that finish line. If it beeped for me to walk…I’d continue the walk. Then I’d pick it back up on the run for the next part. You come back to life inside Hollywood Studios. The rolling terrain that leads you through the park and out to the boardwalk. People are out there cheering and it’s really hard, but you keep pushing through. That’s how I felt. At Mile 25, you enter Epcot’s World Showcase. This is the longest trip around the world ever. But on your way around, you can keep your eye on Spaceship Earth and press on. You take the turn out to run toward Spaceship Earth and you feel new life in your legs. Around the corner and there is the gospel choir. I don’t remember what they were singing. I rounded the corner and came made the final turn into the straight away to the finish line. I pressed a bit more at the sight of the finish. I had kept my watch on the intervals, so I didn’t know my distance or pace. I didn’t care. I was about to finish a marathon. I threw my hands up in the air as I ran across the finish line and then immediately started to ugly cry.
I spotted Cathy in the stands and she signaled that I had killed it. She had no voice. I moved to get my medal and started to ugly cry again. And as I went to get my Dopey and Goofy medals, I was also handed commemorative Mickey Mouse ears. I cried again. I composed myself to get my medals and make the walk to get the photos taken before exiting through bag claim. As I moved through, everyone started applauding. And I cried again. And Cathy saw me and gave me a hug and I cried harder. I was an emotional mess. I had never thought, with all my setbacks and hip injuries that persisted since 2015, that I would ever finish a marathon in a sub-4 time.
But I had. Rounding out a gorgeous and respectful 3:49:45. A mere 10 minutes off my BQ time. I was beyond elated. Shocked. And couldn’t stop crying. My coach texted me telling me I was an inspiration for her BQ in March. My friends messaged me over Instagram to congratulate me on the sub-4 I had been fighting for so long to achieve.
So, the final results of the Walt Disney World Marathon are that I finished in 3:49:45. I was 849/20,025 finishers overall. I was the 184/10,763 female finishers. And I was 48/1848 people in my age division. Beyond proud of myself.
Afterwards, I got on the bus to head back to the resort. I was beyond sore, but managed to shuffle my way back to my room, up the stairs, and into a super hot shower. I don’t do ice baths. No shame. Not my game. I put my feet up for awhile and made myself down my protein shake. It was, honestly, the last thing I wanted to do. My stomach is always a mess after a marathon. But recovery had to begin immediately. After awhile, Cathy and I went to stroll down to Port Orleans French Quarter to get celebratory Gluten Free Beignets. I was hoping the sugar would help settle my stomach. It worked. We got some for Melissa and Paul too. I might have promised to have them at the finish line. Afterwards, we hopped on the bus to go back to the finish line. On the way there, Stephanie crossed the finish line. We ended up getting stuck on this bus for longer than anticipated, and upon arriving, making the hike to security for bag check, and then heading toward the finish line, Melissa and Paul crossed. JUST missed them.
Cathy and I waited for them outside of their bag pick up and ran to go hug them when they came out. Super proud of them. Melissa’s foot got injured in the half, so she wasn’t even sure she’d be able to make it through the full. She’s stubborn. She did. We went to get in line to have photos with Dopey, but were told the line was closed because Dopey needed to make it to a parade. So, Cathy took pictures of Melissa and Paul on their phone with Dopey in the background. We had Fast Passes at Epcot…so we let them head back to the resort with the Gluten Free Beignets that we picked up for them and went to head into the park. I managed to make it through the rest of the day before meeting up with them again at Raglan Road in Disney Springs for our celebratory dinner. Hello gluten free onion rings.
The following day, Cathy managed to get through the character breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table before trying a few rides and tapping out. Her sickness caught up with her. So, I wandered around Magic Kingdom alone for awhile until I met with Melissa and Paul at Epcot for photos with the medals. This also involved a monorail fail making it take even longer. But we eventually got it all taken care of. And after snagging Avocado Margaritas in Mexico, I called to check on Cathy and she said she’d grab some soup and meet us at Magic Kingdom. She was moving slowly, but she was out. And we wrapped up the day in Magic Kingdom with food, fireworks, and friends. And that…was what this trip and adventure was all about.
A group I’m in figured up all the finish places for those who competed in the Dopey Challenge. I was 210/7468 overall Dopey finishers. I was 29th female finisher. And I was 9th in my age division. And I’m tired. And sore.
And currently fighting off the Disney crud. Being sick prior to the races and coming back sick has not allowed me proper celebrations. But it’s going to happen.
Okay, my friends…let’s talk for a minute about GOALS…
No…not those kind of goals (but, please note that is my professional team there…Louisville City FC…heading to the USL Playoff Quarterfinals tonight against Bethlehem Steel).
Let’s talk about the importance of having GOALS in your life.
We all know that I’m a “run for fun” kind of girl. This doesn’t mean that I don’t set expectations for myself…but I make it a GOAL to not let it take the fun out of the actual run itself. Too many times I get wrapped up in people’s expectations of me and end up raising my own expectations and I normally end up performing substandard and getting upset with how everything came undone in the end.
Let’s face it…I don’t talk about GOALS very often. And here’s the reason why…people can be hurtful. GOALS are dreams and sometimes people aren’t very supportive of specific goals that you might set yourself. Not even necessarily in running, but in life in general. So, I admit…unless I really trust you…I normally don’t talk much about GOALS that I’m making for myself.
In the past year, however, I have watched many of my GOALS fall to the wayside. I overreach…I cast doubt on myself and abilities…or whatever reasons…too often this year I’ve taken a backseat to myself and the expectations I have for me. And that’s not right.
They say that GOALS ARE DREAMS WITH DEADLINES. I have a Bachelors Degree in Journalism…so I know a thing or two about deadlines. But when it comes to dreams…when it comes to these GOALS…don’t forget to give yourself TIME. Why rush? The great thing about dreams is they motivate, inspire, and keep you striving to push further and harder in order to achieve whatever it is that you have set out to accomplish.
How do you achieve GOALS without burning out? Well, there is actually a system that was created to help you set and work towards your GOAL and help you outline your way of reaching them in the near or distant future. Hey…that timeline is all you, my friend. This process….is called:
Yep…S.M.A.R.T. GOALS! Isn’t that clever? I love it. And what this process does is it makes you really identify your GOAL and set out an action plan to help you discover whether this goal is achievable and valuable to you. Let’s take a look at each component, shall we?
S: SPECIFIC – Ask yourself: WHAT do I want to accomplish & WHY do I want to accomplish this? What are the REQUIREMENTS? What are the CONSTRAINTS?
M: MEASURABLE – Ask yourself: HOW will I measure my PROGRESS? HOW will I know when the GOAL is ACCOMPLISHED?
A: ATTAINABLE – Ask yourself: HOW can the GOAL be ACCOMPLISHED? WHAT are the LOGICAL STEPS I can take?
R: RELEVANT – Ask yourself: Is this a WORTHWHILE GOAL? Is this the right TIME? Do I have the necessary RESOURCES to ACCOMPLISH this GOAL? Does this GOAL line up with my SHORT-TERM and LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES?
T: TIME BASED – Ask yourself: HOW LONG will it take me to ACCOMPLISH this GOAL? What is the DATE I have SET to meet this GOAL? WHEN and HOW OFTEN am I going to work on meeting and completing this GOAL?
So, let’s look at this from my perspective. Back in 2015…I was all set to go and run the Boston Marathon. I qualified for it at my first marathon and trained hard to get there. February 2015 hits and I’m suddenly finding myself unable to run without deep pain in my hip. Months of physical therapy and not really being able to pinpoint the problem…an MRI comes back with the diagnosis: Torn Hip Labrum. I was devastated. With only DAYS before I left for Boston to run, my doctor said I could attempt the marathon as I wouldn’t cause any further damage. I was given a Cortisone shot and sent on my way…to what turned out to be one of the worst (both in experience…not the race itself…but my body hurting so bad and time (over 5 hours). This marathon broke me mentally and physically. And, since recovering, I managed to run/walk the Kauai Marathon…but have been fighting injuries and mental blocks ever since. My GOAL….might be: I WILL QUALIFY TO RUN THE BOSTON MARATHON AGAIN. From there, using the S.M.A.R.T. method, I could lay out my plan of action and work on what races I might consider running to get me the necessary qualifying time (with bonus minutes as it seems to get harder and harder each year to HIT that qualifying time).
OR…it could be that I want to take a year to focus on shorter distances…master and PR in the 5K, 10K and Half Marathon before returning to marathon running. And then, I would use that S.M.A.R.T. process to breakdown the how’s, the why’s and the when’s for this particular GOAL. I actually have a few expectations in my head lined up for the coming year. My hip continues to get stronger since it went all loopy again back in August. MEH. Really getting tired of that. I think I started a big rant on why I’m no longer in physical therapy for this in another blog that is sitting unpublished because I just didn’t have time to go back to it. And once that inspiration is gone…it’s gone.
The point is…be brave in what you actively pursue. Your dreams should be big. They should scare you a little. They should seem unattainable…but still within reach.
Realize that there will be setbacks. I’ve seen my fair share of them. Work through them. Don’t give up hope and don’t give up heart. If nothing else…set your GOAL to match my every day one…and just have some FUN! You might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish when you let go of the things that weigh you down or don’t allow you to see the big picture anymore. My favorite and best races and runs are the ones I have done by feel and for fun. Some have been new PRs and some have been me cruising near the back with good friends and just having a ball. If it’s no longer fun…it’s no longer worth doing. Don’t be so rigid in your practice that you lose that spice for life. Never let that sparkle dull.
And that’s all I have, my friends. Never let anyone tell you your GOALS aren’t big enough or worthy of the effort you put into them. Big or small…GOALS are worth pursuing. Some may be attained quickly, and some may take months or years. Just never give up. If it means something to you…keep that fight. Oh…and be S.M.A.R.T. out there!! Hope to give you some high fives along the way!