I remember when I first decided to run a marathon. I’d successfully completed two half marathons (I use the term loosely), a handful of road races, and I was just starting to immerse myself in the world of running on Twitter and through blogs. I was floored by the number of marathoners I was now following, and felt like I needed to be a part of that exclusive club… despite the fact that after finishing my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again.
My training for my first marathon, Philadelphia 2011, was less than stellar. I knocked out a 14 and 16 mile long run early in the summer, but quickly lost my enthusiasm. I managed to get through one 18 miler that was a huge struggle, and that was the extent of my distance training. Not to mention the miles I logged during the week leading up to my mostly failed long runs weren’t great either. I found myself falling into the trap where I’d worry so much about the upcoming long run and needing to rest my legs, that I’d only run a few miles during the week. It wasn’t good! I was really worried when it came time to race, but I knew to start super slow and just do the best that I could. I finished in 4:37, which considering my lack of training, wasn’t too bad.
Logically I ran the Disney World Marathon only a month and a half later as part of the Goofy Challenge, and finished in just under 5 hours [I ran a half marathon the day before – another genius move]. I swore to myself that things would be different when training for Chicago 2012, but they weren’t. Again, I didn’t run more than 18 miles for a training run, and my weekly mileage was rather paltry. Naturally I ran into super tight hips around mile 18 and by mile 20 could barely pick up my leg from knee pain. After hobbling about a mile, I was able to run the last 5ish miles and finished in 4:26. I followed this marathon up with another Goofy Challenge, and ran the marathon in 4:27 (with 4 bathroom stops).
By this point, I realized it was time to stop signing up for marathons if I wasn’t going to actually train for them. I wasn’t doing myself or anyone else any favors by half-assing my way through training. I had grand plans of running Richmond 2013 and crushing my marathon PR, but some weird ankle and foot issues in the beginning of the summer knocked that out for me. I thought about maybe doing a spring marathon instead, but after the Polar Vortex winter we had, I’m glad I didn’t! So instead I spent the winter training for a half marathon PR, which I achieved (big time) this past Saturday!
Of course after Saturday’s extremely successful race, everyone has been asking me what’s next. And at first, I wasn’t really sure. After my lack-luster marathon training attempts, I started to think that maybe I’m just not a marathon runner… and that’s okay. However, I’m not okay with quitting the marathon with a PR of 4:26. I know I can do better. According to race predictor calculators, I should be able to run nearly an hour faster. While I think that may be a little overzealous, I do want to give the marathon another shot; I think I owe it to myself (and to the marathon!).
So I’ve decided I’ll be running the Philadelphia Marathon this year, on November 23rd. I’m looking forward to working on my speed and strength the rest of the spring and early summer and knocking out some speedy short races. And then from there it’ll be time buckle down and marathon train like everyone else does; high mileage, weekly long runs, and proper cross-training. I’m nervous, but also excited to see what I can do with a real training plan. I don’t have any specific time goals just yet, but I have some lose ideas of what I think I’m capable of running!
If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I didn’t complete the Goofy Challenge this year. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Just like last year, we planned to arrive early on Friday morning to give ourselves enough time to head to the Expo and relax before getting to bed early. By the time I was in bed on Friday night (well, let’s be honest, Friday evening), my feet were a little sore. I figured it was just from all the walking we had done, and went to bed. I woke up on Saturday morning and noticed my foot was a little sore, but continued to get ready. As time went on, though, I started to realize things weren’t looking good for my foot – it wasn’t just tired from the moderate walking we did the day before, but instead there was a dull pain very similar to the pain I had ignored when my foot first started bothering me. After walking back and forth to my room multiple times while asking my husband what he would do, I realized it wouldn’t be smart for me to run the 13.1 miles that morning. As tears welled up in my eyes, I told my husband to go on without me. At the time, nothing could have been worse – I hobbled back to the hotel room at 3:30am, alone, with the hopes of getting that coveted Goofy Challenge medal gone. I iced my foot, and prayed to the running Gods it would be okay for Sunday’s 26.2.
The decision not to run on Saturday was hard, but I think in the end proved to be the right one. I figured between the two races, I would much prefer completing another 26.2 to another 13.1, and knew if my foot wasn’t well on Saturday, there would be no chance for a run on Sunday. I took it easy on Saturday (with a trip to EPCOT I’ll recap in a food related post later), and stopped by the KT Tape booth at the Expo to get taped (I figured it couldn’t hurt). When I woke up on Sunday morning, my foot was still a little sore, but in much better shape than it had been the day before. I told my husband that I didn’t care how long it took us, we were going to finish and I was going to get at least one medal out of the weekend!
Because the race starts so early it means I have to wake up super early, which causes problems for my oh-so-temperamental GI system. I have a pretty decent routine on days when I have to wake up at a normal time (typically anytime after 6am), but when I have to wake up super early, I run into issues, despite being diligent with my pill taking in the days leading up to the race. Since I didn’t get to empty the tank before the race (just like last year), I knew we’d be stopping along the way… I just didn’t know it would be 3 times! Because I didn’t know how my foot was going to be feeling, I wasn’t worried about the stops and it slowing us down; I assumed the race would be more of a hobble than anything else.
As the race started, the first few miles were interesting – some steps were pain-free, while others were a little worrisome. After about 5 miles and an energy pumping run through Magic Kingdom, my foot pain was no longer a concern, and I took my first bathroom break. Unlike last year, the race took us to MK early, but instead of taking us on a long trek to Animal Kingdom, we ran to the Speedway and around the track there, where I took another bathroom break. Once we were out of the Speedway and en route to Animal Kingdom, we were already halfway, which we crossed in about 2:18. At this point I was feeling pretty good, despite the rising temperature and nearly 100% humidity. I’m SO glad I decided to wear a hat!
After the halfway point I decided to break up the remaining miles based on what I knew was left – 4 miles to Animal Kingdom, 3 miles to and in ESPN Wide World of Sports (and hitting mile 20!), 3 miles to Hollywood Studios, and then just 3 within HS and EPCOT to the finish. I knew that I wanted to save a little energy for those last few miles in the parks, because they really are electrifying and fun to speed through! As we made our way into Animal Kingdom, I realized that at that point, I was feeling the best I had ever felt during a marathon… even with all the drama from the day before. With just about 8 miles to go, I knew I’d be able to finish and started to slowly pick up the pace.
By this point the sun was beating down on us, and I was soaked. I’m talking to the point where my shorts were dripping on the back of my legs – so delicious. We made sure to stop at every single station, oftentimes taking Powerade and water, so I knew I was at least hydrated and the cold sponges they handed out around mile 18 were glorious. I took my third and final bathroom break before leaving ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, and enjoyed a lap around their track and all their fields. By this point it was the home stretch, so I started to pick it up, realizing I could *almost* PR if I kept going. By this point we realized that if I hadn’t taken THREE bathroom breaks (!!) I would have definitely PRed, which helped hammer home that I made the right decision the day before. I ran into Krissy at this point and we chatted for a bit before I continued on my way. She was in such great spirits and having a great time just running and stopping to take pictures with the characters – her attitude was infectious and helped me get through those last miles! I soaked up the miles in Hollywood Studios, down past the Beach Club, Yacht Club, and Boardwalk Hotels, and finally into EPCOT. I skipped the last two water stations and powered through, crossing in 4:27:06 with the announcers reading off my name!
Of course as soon as I finished my quads started to scream, but I had no foot pain at all… go figure! I was able to spend the rest of the day in Magic Kingdom and enjoy dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant. The rest of the week included zero running (but LOTS of walking!), and I’m really looking forward to getting back to it this week. I’m in the process of figuring out what fall marathon I want to run since I went with the refund for the 2012 NYCM, and I’m focusing on some Spring half marathons in the meantime. So tell me…
Any fall marathon suggestions for me? What are you currently training for?
This coming weekend, I’ll be running my fourth marathon, and my fifth half marathon as part of Disney’s Goofy Challenge! If you remember, I ran this race last year; it was fun, but definitely harder than I had anticipated so I wasn’t sure if I’d be giving it a shot again. After minimal persuasion, I signed up. And just like last year, I’m hoping that my fall marathon training will help carry me through the weekend’s races (don’t worry, I’ve been running A LOT since then, but October marathon training is hopefully a solid base). Since this is my third trip to Disney to run, and my 4th trip there in the last 4 years (all in January!), I’m really excited for the familiarity as well as the new changes that I’ll experience both during the races as well as at Disney in general.
In terms of the race, the marathon course is different this year, including a trip to the speedway and ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. I’m looking forward to this for one very big reason – it breaks up the course! The old route spent so much time on service roads, which is not fun at mile 16 of a marathon… especially when it’s really your 29th mile of the weekend. Those service roads were what I like to refer to as “the dark times” of the race last year – I really struggled due to a lack of proper nutrition before the race… So I’m going to be sure not to have a repeat. Of course I’m also looking forward to the mile 20 party (since it’s the 20th anniversary of the race), the medals, and seeing all the ridiculous costumes and characters along the way! I’ll also be keeping my eyes peeled for Joey Fatone and Sean Astin (Rudy!), because you better believe I’ll start singing or chanting, depending on who I find!
For the parks, I’m super pumped to check out the additions to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. Since I’m an 8 year old at heart, Magic Kingdom is my absolute favorite. I was able to score a reservation at the new Be Our Guest restaurant to celebrate finishing Goofy, so expect a review on that once I get back! Aside from the update to Fantasyland, I’m just excited to visit all the parks and go on every ride – multiple times. Plus, I’m a huge fan of Disney dining, and have a few new restaurants I’ll be checking out as well as dining in Mexico because it’s my hands-down favorite. Disney food has never disappointed (me), so it’ll be fun approaching it as a vegetarian for the first time.
And, maybe most importantly, this will be my first race (well, first two) representing the Oiselle Team! I wound up sitting out the Hangover 5k due to foot pain and not wanting to risk the upcoming races and vacation, and based on the fact that it feels almost 100%, I’m happy with the decision. I have my racing singlet, Rogas, Lori shorts, arm warmers, and sweet temporary tattoo all ready to go for two days of racing… and lots of other Oiselle shirts packed for my days at the parks. Here’s to hoping I don’t stink up my singlet too much on day one (I’m only half kidding…)!
In addition to running for Oiselle, I’m really looking forward to hopefully meet up with a lot of people I’ve connected with online. I already have plans for a character breakfast with Krissy, and I can’t wait! We started chatting via Twitter after last year’s Disney Marathon, and I’m really excited to finally meet her. So for anyone that’s heading to Disney for this weekend’s races – let me know – I’d love to meet up!
I know that running races “for fun” and taking it easy isn’t for everyone (believe me, I have trouble with it sometimes too), but this is the one time a year I really take the time to enjoy running. I mean, what a benefit to being obsessed with running – a Disney vacation (or vice versa)! I already have my sights set on the Disneyland half in September since I’ve never been to Disneyland, so 2013 may be the year of Run Disney events. I can’t wait to share the race and dining experiences with you when I get back. But in the meantime, tell me:
Have you ever been to Disney (land or world)? What’s your favorite ride? Favorite park? Do you ever run races “for fun”?
Thanks again for all the congratulations on the Chicago Marathon – it was so much fun and is definitely a race I hope to do again in the future!
You may remember that after registering for the Chicago Marathon, I also put my name into the New York City Marathon lottery, figuring I wouldn’t get accepted. Well, of course with that mentality I made the cut, and was all ready to run NYC on November 4th. As I was going through the motions of my “training” for Chicago, I started to question whether or not I could really run NYC a mere 4 weeks later. For me, it was more than just if I could physically do it – a big part of it was mental, too.
I realized that NYC had a deferral option, which a lot of races do not offer. After looking into it more, I knew I could run Chicago, assess how I felt, and still have some cushion time to decide whether or not I’d toe the line (well, bridge) on November 4th. By the time training had finished for Chicago, I knew there was a very small chance I was going to be running New York; I was just mentally tired and wanted to have my weekends back. I wanted to be able to go for a run because I wanted to – not because I had to. So, I went and ran Chicago, had an amazing time, and was surprisingly not very sore considering my lack of efficient training. All signs were pointing to me being able to successfully complete the marathon. But for the first time in a long time, I sat down and thought to myself: “is this really the best idea right now?”
After a few days of contemplation and seriously battling the all too familiar runner’s high, I decided to defer my entry to the NYC 2012 Marathon to next year. The real nail in the coffin so to speak was my start time – 11:30am! That means I’d be hanging out for a solid 4.5 hours before starting to run… for likely another 4.5 hours. Thinking about that just made me tired, and I realized it just wouldn’t make sense for me mentally and physically to put myself through another 26.2 just 4 weeks later, with less than solid training behind me.
So now that I’m out for NYC, what does that mean? Well, I’m still doing the Goofy Challenge in Disney the second week in January – that’s right, 13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 on Sunday! From now until then I’ll be running some shorter local races, and enjoying cross training. Of course I need to ramp up training again within the next two weeks or so to make sure I can tackle the 39.3, but that race is done more for “fun” so I’m not concerned with time, just mileage. I’m thinking about maybe running a marathon in the Spring/early Summer, but have no definite plans yet. I’m going to just enjoy running, and if I feel like I’m ready for another marathon in the future, I’ll address it then – no more of this signing up for races months and months and months in advance!
And before I forget, here’s a video of me finishing Chicago – I’m in the blue shirt with the 4:25 pace bib on my back doing what I thought at the time was “blowing by people in the final meters,” but was really a light jog, ha! Thanks to the hubs for rushing over to the stands to catch me!
When my husband and I ran the Disney half marathon last year, we became aware of the Goofy Challenge, and it’s popularity. We thought that maybe 2012 would be our year to complete it, since we were planning to run a marathon in late 2011. What is the Goofy Challenge, you may ask? Well, the Marathon weekend consists of a 5k on Friday (run mostly by families and young children), a half marathon Saturday, and a full marathon Sunday. The Goofy Challenge requires you to run the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday – you must fully complete both in order to receive the coveted Goofy Challenge medal.
Without really thinking about the strain the race would put on our bodies, coupled with an actual trip to Disney World where we planned on visiting each of the parks, we eagerly signed up for the event over the summer. We all know how our training cycles went for the marathon, so we felt less than prepared for the event. Secretly we hoped that the training and completion of the Philly Marathon a mere month and a half prior was still around, and would somehow propel us to the finish line.
Race Day 1 (Half Marathon) started just as it did last year, at about 2:45a. We awoke quietly (my sister was staying with us and we didn’t want to wake her), ate what little food we had with us (Larabar, half a bagel, and some fruit), and were on the bus to the start at Epcot by 3:20a. We arrived to the finish area, and began our trek to the start, about a 20 minute walk away. While it was by no means cold, it was chilly. Thankfully we brought mylar blankets from a previous race in an attempt to stay somewhat warm. Once we got to our corral (I was placed in C and my husband dropped back from A to run with me), we took a seat to save our legs.
The race itself was uneventful, since we had run it before. The only minor event was when I got shoved in the tunnel right by the Contemporary Resort by a middle-aged man. Usually runners are a decent bunch, especially in the happiest place on earth, but this guy was not. Both my husband and I yelled out to him and he just shrugged his shoulders and kept going. He’s lucky I didn’t face-plant. We were constantly checking our pace and having to tell one another to slow down – we wanted to run Saturday’s race as controlled as possible in hopes of saving some of our legs for Sunday. I did wind up having to take a bathroom break at around mile 8, which was the first time I’ve ever had to stop during a race. You can thank a well-timed Crohns flare-up for that fun. Thankfully I was quick, and we were back off for the final leg, finishing in 2:15. It certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, but we were confident we ran slowly enough to finish on Sunday without any major issues.
Since our trip wasn’t very long, we went to Animal Kingdom AND Magic Kingdom after the race on Saturday. While most people were probably relaxing and soaking their feet, we were using and abusing ours. I definitely paid for it on Sunday.
Race Day 2 (Marathon) started just like the day before. This time, though, I was exhausted and really wanted to just stay in bed. I definitely didn’t eat enough before the race – I think it might have been me being tired, not paying attention, and thinking that I wasn’t going to exert myself in the race, so I didn’t need it. I don’t care if you’re sprinting, jogging, or even walking 26.2 miles, you need proper fuel. I learned this around mile 18.
The first half was uneventful as the course went through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, where we had been the day before. I did have to stop for a bathroom break around mile 3, and I had a feeling that wouldn’t be my only stop. By the time we were halfway, the sun was out and it was STRONG. Most of the second half of the race was spent running directly into the sun. Since I’m not someone that runs with a hat/visor or sunglasses in races unless it’s 100+ degrees in the summer, I ran most of the second half squinty-eyed. This is where things went downhill.
From about mile 14 to 21 I wanted to quit. It was mostly on back roads and boring – plus the temperature was creeping up. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely didn’t eat enough, and that played a major role. I gained a little momentum when we were in Animal Kingdom thanks to all the shade, but as soon as we were back out on the service roads, it was back to Negative Nancy. If my husband hadn’t been next to me making me take a Gu here and there and telling me we were doing great, I probably would have cried. I was just so exhausted and my feet were starting to really hurt. At about mile 19 I felt a huge pop on my right foot, and realized the gigantic blister that had been forming since Saturday morning burst. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. There was a moment of panic where I thought I’d have to stop and wouldn’t be able to run on it, but after a few minutes the pain seemed to go away, and I was able to run normally again.
After another bathroom break at about mile 21, I somehow caught a second wind. I don’t know if it was standing there moving from side to side in the shade that gave me the break I needed, or if it was knowing I only had about 4 miles left, but I decided to just go. After running about 10:30’s the whole race (and my two super awesome bathroom breaks), we picked it up and ran the last 4 miles ranging between 8:30 and 9:15’s. We were picking off people left and right that had passed us miles ago in what we like to refer to as our “dark moments,” and we both felt GOOD. A smaller blister popped at around mile 24, but I had no intentions of letting it slow me down. We flew through Hollywood Studios, through the Boardwalk Hotel, and the next thing we knew, we were making our final lap through the World Showcase in Epcot for the finish. We crossed the finish line hand in hand, at 4;58.
If you had told me even two years ago that I would complete a HALF marathon, I would have said no way. After I ran my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again, let alone double it. Then somehow I ran a marathon. And then a mere month and a half later I decided to run a half marathon and a marathon in the same weekend. They were far from “good” performances, but this past weekend was just about finishing, and keeping it as enjoyable as possible (both during the race and after). I wanted to be able to say I did it, and I did! Next up is just enjoying running and keeping the solid base I have going. No grand plans for big races as of yet, but I’m sure I’ll get antsy and sign up for something soon.
For those of you that remember, back in October I started my own little Happiness Project, outlining the next four months. I guess you could say it was like doing my resolutions early, and differently. I’m not a big resolution person, because it’s usually a way for me to set myself up for failure. I find myself with grandiose ideas and plans in my head, but usually too lazy to actually carry them out. Creativity seeps from my pores – I just need someone else to carry out the projects for me.
Anyway, December was the month of running. I wanted to run as much as I could, regardless of the distance in preparation for the Goofy Challenge next weekend. I realized that there was little I could do to prepare myself for running 39.3 miles in 2 days, but I figured running as frequently as possible would help give me a confidence boost. I log all my mileage over at DailyMile, and am happy to report that I ran 4 times a week every week in December as promised, except for the week of Christmas. BUT, I ran 5 times the week before – so that evens out, right? Without doing any super long runs (longest was 16 miles), I was able to log my heaviest mileage month in awhile. I’ve steadily been going up since October, and hope to keep it that way.
My plan is to keep my mileage relatively even throughout January, and then try to pick things up a bit come February for an April half marathon. My husband has his eyes set on a full marathon in early June, but I’m not looking for another marathon until next fall. Hopefully, though, I can keep my mileage respectable and run closer 4 hours instead of 4:30 next marathon. But we’ll see – I just need to keep myself injury free.
January has started, and that means it’s a new goal – going vegetarian. My husband giggled at me on New Year’s Day when I moaned that I wanted pudding, but wasn’t allowed to eat it because of the gelatin. I quickly ran to the pudding asile of the grocery store to discover that instant mousse is an acceptable treat. I plan on attempting to satiate my pudding craving with some mousse in the near future. It might seem odd for someone that loves burgers so much to try out a vegetarian lifestyle, and especially just for one month. Eating less meat is something that has been on my mind for awhile, and I figured this little project would be the perfect opportunity to give it a shot for a month. Who knows if I’ll continue it after January or not, but I will have at least given it a try.
I already have a ton of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks in my possession, and have already made so many delicious things from Oh She Glows, Post Punk Kitchen, Daily Garnish, and other veggie friendly blogs. If anyone has any other great resources for recipes (especially things to eat for lunch) that would be great! I’m looking forward to a month full of veggies, beans, and grains. To be honest, that’s most of my dishes these days anyway, but forcing myself not to cop-out and have something easier (usually involving meat) should be interesting. Since I’m the cooker of the household, I am still going to prepare any meat related dish my husband wants – I’ll just leave the meat out for myself. But, since I am in charge in the kitchen, he doesn’t eat much meat anyway. It should be an interesting month!
So I’m halfway there – I baked my way through November and ran my way through December. January will be meat free, and then February will hopefully be the month of yoga. Who knows what will be next, but I’m enjoying these little monthly goals.
On Tuesday, I had grand plans to head to the gym after work. I packed my bag the night before and left it right by the door. All that preparing was great, especially when I walked right past the bag on my way out the door that morning. Since my husband and I work together, we take turns driving and Tuesdays are my day. After battling typical New Jersey traffic in the rain, we arrived at the gym, and I was anxious to get inside and hopefully score a treadmill. I went to reach for my gym bag… and there was nothing there. I had driven past our house in rush hour traffic for nothing.
So we turned right around, drove home, and suited up for a run in the rain. It turned out to only be a light drizzle, but I was nervous since it was already 6:45p and dark. Thankfully the weather has been unseasonably warm, so I wore a white t-shirt and as much reflective gear I could find, and squeezed in 4 miles. Rain and dark can’t keep me from running – this Goofy Challenge isn’t going to run itself in January!
While the whole wasting time driving to the gym and then driving back home kind of bummed me out, the run itself was a nice boost, as was our dinner. We’ve had about a cup of quinoa sitting in our pantry for who knows how long, so I decided to finally use it. My husband isn’t a big fan of the grain, but I figured mixing it with some of his favorite ingredients would make it better. I think it also helped that there was a jalapeno in it, making it nice and spicy while he had his foot in an ice bath.
This entire meal can be ready in the time it takes for the quinoa to cook (about 10-20 minutes), so it’s perfect for a weeknight. I also think this would be really great in a burrito. But, you can do what I did and just throw it in a bowl and go to town. It’s an odd green color, but I promise it tastes delicious.
Creamy Avocado Quinoa – Serves 2 –
Ingredients: 1 cup uncooked quinoa 1 Spanish onion, sliced 1 jalapeno, diced (more or less depending on your preferred spice level) 1 cup black beans 1 avocado 1/4 cup cilantro 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 2 Tbsp oil
Directions: 1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil with the quinoa, and let simmer for about 10-20 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and satuee the onions over medium-high heat, about five minutes. Add jalapeno and beans, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. 3. In a food processor or blender, combine avocado, garlic, and cilantro. Pulse until smooth and creamy. 4. Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet, being sure to mix fully, and allow to cook for an additional minute or two. 5. Remove from heat and add the avocado sauce, stirring to combine.
For whatever reason, running a marathon is something that has been on my to-do list for years – even before I started running. There’s something elusive about the marathon, and being a marathoner, that intrigued me enough to pick up running with that as my end goal. I always knew that training for a marathon required a lot of work, but I figured I was up for the challenge.
After running the Disney Half Marathon, even though I was injured, I knew we wanted to run a marathon later in the year. I first set our sights on the Pittsburgh Marathon in May, but soon realized I wouldn’t be healed in time, and a rush training job for our very first marathon would be a recipe for disaster. So, I decided on Philadelphia – there weren’t any pace requirements, it was a relatively cheap race ($65), and was close enough. Unfortunately I never got to the all important 20 mile long run – I only made it to 18, and it was a struggle. Needless to say I was extra nervous on race day.
After a carbo-loading dinner on Saturday, it was early to bed for our 4:30a wake-up call. My usual pre-race meal was a little more difficult for me to get down because of nerves, but we were ready to go by 5:45, and made my way to the starting corrals about a mile from our hotel. Since I was hoping to run between 4:30 and 5 hours, I was in the 7th of 8 corrals. It took my coral about 22 minutes from the official start of the race to get going, which was definitely a shorter wait than I had anticipated. It was chilly, but as soon as I started moving I was thankful for my short and t-shirt combo, with homemade arm warmers (hello tube socks) and cheap gloves.
As soon as we crossed the mat, people took off. Since the half and full start together, we were a mixed crowd which I had to remind myself of. One guy near me joked “everyone’s gotta be a hero!” and it was then that I realized I needed to make sure not to be one of those people – I had a long morning ahead of me. There wasn’t really any point during the first miles where I felt great. I usually start off feeling strong with fresh legs and then slowly get tired, but my legs didn’t feel all that great from the beginning. I wasn’t worried, though, and I kept my pace just around 10 minutes, which was a little too fast. I wanted to keep an even 10:20, but my legs just wouldn’t go that slow. They sure went that slow later!
The first half was really crowded. I didn’t even stop for water at the first two stations for fear of getting trampled. Towards the end of the first half, a woman cut right in front of me, and literally bent down to the ground to pick something up. I didn’t have enough time to move, and wound up slamming into her. All I could think was “seriously?” and was glad I didn’t hurt myself. As we were nearing the halfway mark, it was hard to hear people screaming “Alright, this is it! Just a little more!” knowing that I was only half way there. As we rounded the corner, though, I got a glimpse of some elites coming in which was awesome.
I would be lying if I didn’t say the second half was a struggle. The real struggle didn’t start until we were in Manayunk. First, it was just me wanting things to be over, but then my legs got in on the party too. I saw some college friends right before and after mile 20, which helped push me a bit more, but then the legs just didn’t want to go. It really was a 20 mile race, followed by 6.2 miles of struggle. These miles were anywhere from about a 10:30 to 12:30 pace, give or take. I had been walking through the water stations from when I started taking water/Gatorade, but this time each stop had a little bit longer of a walk, as my knees were starting to hurt. Miles 22 to 23 were combinations of running and walking (very brief), until finally at mile 23 it was time to suck it up and run the last 3.2. The course was pretty bare of spectators, so I had no shame in walking. In all honesty if there were more people watching, I probably wouldn’t have stopped running at all.
Either way, I pushed it to the end and somehow got myself to a low 9 pace for the last half mile or so. Having people cheer my name was awesome – and I have every intention on wearing a shirt with my name on it for every long race I run that doesn’t have named bibs moving forward. I came in at just 5 hours, (having started about 23 minutes after the first wave), for an official time of 4:37:34! I had hoped to come in under 4:45, with my ultimate happy goal of 4:30, so I was right in the middle.
The reward was a hot shower followed by Chipotle, and lounging on the couch all night and the next day (with a few errands). It’s now been 3 days, and I think I’m ready to get my Turkey Trot on Thursday. Considering I could barely walk right after the race, I am so amazed at the human body.
The training for this race was far from perfect, and it was my very first one. I’m hoping that next go around I can get closer to 4:15 with adequate training and no injuries! Unfortunately, that go-around isn’t going to be my next marathon, which happens to be the Disney Marathon in December. Why, you may ask? Because I am insane, and I’m doing the Goofy Challenge (half marathon Saturday, marathon Sunday). That race is just going to be about having fun, accomplishing 39.3 miles in 2 days, and scoring 3 medals and hopefully a lot of pictures with characters!
It feels so great to finally be able to call myself a marathoner. I have so much more respect for people that do marathons (or ultras) than I did even before I ran the race. It sounds mush, and I’m far from it, but its an honor to be in that group (even if I just squeezed in).
For as long as I can remember, running always intrigued me. Somehow, though, I wound up a swimmer throughout high school and college. Being a part of a sport that allowed me to work individually while also contributing to a team was just what I needed as someone who is internally extremely competitive. While I could have continued swimming in a Master’s program, and haven’t yet ruled that out, I decided to take up running after college. I’ve been running now for about a year and a half, and just completed my second half marathon.
The idea of running a half and/or full marathon seemed to be more of a dream than a reality. When I started running, my focus was just to run a 5k. My first race wound up being a 4 miler, and even though I struggled, I was hooked. Running is a funny sport, at least for me, in that I feel like I always need to be one-uping myself. This means increasing the milage I race. I ran my first half marathon in April, and it was awesome. I had stumbled upon the Disney Marathon before I had even started running, and it was always a goal of mine in the back of my mind.
When my fiancé and I planned a trip to Disney with a group of friends for the very same weekend of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I just knew we had to sign up. It wasn’t really possible for us to run a full marathon yet, so we opted for the half. Training started out well, and as we all know, I had some serious injuries that put me on the back burner. First it was my ankles and Achilles, and then it moved on to my shins. Come race day, though, those pains were gone. Instead, I was left with serious pain on the top of my left foot, and in my left knee. These pains I think were just due to overcompensation for all of the other injuries my left leg was sustaining. I’m still having some trouble walking pain-free because of my foot, but hopefully the next three weeks off will help!
The half marathon race was on Saturday, so we headed down on Wednesday to enjoy a few days in the park beforehand. In retrospect, if I ran the race again, I’d prefer to head down later, and only spend one day in the parks, as I think all the walking contributed to the pain I felt during the race. However, being that I had so many injuries during the race cycle, I planned to just run this race to finish. Of course my competitive side tried it’s hardest to keep me going as fast as I could, but the second half of the race was just a little too painful, and my logical and rational side took over (good thing).
The race started early – at 5:30a. My fiancé was in corral A, while I was in corral B. The race had 27,000 registrants, with just over 23,000 that actually crossed the finish line. We had a wakeup call of 2:45a, and we were out the door by about 3:15a to catch the bus to the start line from our resort. Once we got there, we wandered around a bit, had a few Gu Chomps and a last few swigs of water, while also taking a bathroom break. From there, we shed our clothes, checked our bag, and headed to a big group of people, waiting to be allowed to make their way to the start.
Once we got to the corrals, fiancé and I said our goodbyes, and I anxiously stood in corral B. Before the race, they announced that a group over in Iraq would also be joining us, as one of the soldiers who ran the race last year was deployed, but his wife was there in Orlando to run with us. Of course, pulling on my heart strings, I had to wipe the tears away as they were able to get a satellite connection and they gave their pre-race good lucks. After that, there was a brief hello from Al Roker (who I saw when I passed by!) and other members of the Today show, that were also running. My fiancé’s corral started just after the wheelchair start with fireworks and all. About 10 minutes later, it was my turn!
I started slow, realizing the potential for pain was high, and I wanted to try and hold it off for as long as possible. Because of my lackluster training and the fact that my feet were sore just from galavanting through the parks, I kept a steady pace just under 9 minute mile almost the whole way. By about mile 6, though, the pain started. First it was my foot, then it was my knee. I managed to keep shuffling along, with the pace of each mile going up and down, sometimes still under 9 sometimes well over. Even though I was in pain, the miles still flew by. The second half of the race had some serious hills. The worst was somewhere between mile 10 and 12, where it was not only up hill, but also on an on/off ramp loop. With knee and foot pain, not being on a level surface was torture. As I saw people running by with knee straps, I was envious, thinking how nice it would feel to have some serious pressure on my left knee. Aerobically I was doing just fine, and could have pushed myself a bit more, but knew that wasn’t possible with the pain. So, I tried my best to distract myself with the surroundings, reading the different signs, checking out the spectators, and just overall enjoying the experience.
Despite the pain, once we got back to Epcot, I knew it was go time. We took a loop past Spaceship Earth and to the Christmas Tree (they left the decorations up), and back out to the parking lot where I asked my tired and sore legs to push it one last time. Somehow, despite my lack of training and injuries, I managed to finish in 2:03:45, a mere minute and a half slower than my first half last April. I couldn’t be happier! I can only imagine what my race would have been like if those pains weren’t there, and even more so if I had been able to train properly. I’m really looking forward to April’s race, as I will hopefully have a successful training cycle. I’m definitely hoping to break 2 hours, maybe even 1:55!
After I crossed the finish line I got my Donald Duck medal, grabbed some water, was handed a mylar blanket, and tried to hobble around to keep my legs from tightening up. I called my fiancé, who had finished in a blazing 1:33:05! We reconnected and had our picture snapped before catching a bus back to Port Orleans, where our friends were anxiously awaiting our return. We didn’t skip a beat, hopped in the shower, guzzled some more water, and headed to Epcot for the day. After a full day in the park, we had a celebratory dinner at San Angel Inn in Mexico – yum!
On Sunday, we had the opportunity to cheer on some of the full marathoners as we headed to Animal Kingdom to start our day. We first passed them while on the bus, and I tried my best to send mental cheers. From there, I was happy to see them both in and outside the park, so we all stopped to cheer them on, and my fiancé took some pictures. The craziest part, was that there were people running the full marathon that were shouting out congratulations to us for finishing the half (we were wearing our medals)! I love how friendly and congratulatory/cheerful runners are. I really couldn’t believe there were people only at about mile 18 of their full marathon saying “congrats!” and “great job!” to us – they were the ones deserving the cheering! For the rest of the trip, we were constantly passing people with their full marathon Mickey medals, and others with their Goofy challenge medals (meaning they ran both the half AND full). It was then that both my fiancé and I realized we can, and will, run a full marathon. The hardest part will be finding a race to run. Since we’re getting married in September, it might be hard to train for something only a few weeks after the wedding and honeymoon. But, we’ll see! If anyone has any recommendations for decent marathons for first timers in the general Northeast (I’d say maybe no more than a 3 hour drive from Central NJ), I’d love to hear it!
So for now, I’m going to let my little legs (that are growing, thanks to the milage!) rest for a few weeks, and then get back at it – slow and steady of course. But I can now say I finally ran Disney. Maybe in a year or two I’ll run the full marathon… maybe even go Goofy!