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”?
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!