“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.” - Walt Disney

Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back...and Forward

It's been a crazy year for me - filled with ups, downs, and plateaus in my quest to turn myself into what I term a "real runner."  The funny thing is that my non-running friends consider me a "real runner" - I just don't consider myself one...but that's a discussion for another post.

As the year draws to a close, I'm looking forward to what the next year has to offer, and reminiscing about the challenges and accomplishments of the last one:
  • Failing to finish the 2010 WDW Half Marathon in January and feeling miserable for months afterward.
  • Half-heartedly training for the Lady of the Lake Relays in March and just barely finishing my leg of the relay without dying.
  • Deciding in June that I was definitely going to run the 2011 WDW Half Marathon and telling myself: No excuses, no holding back!
  • Realizing mid-summer that I was nowhere near "race-ready" and had some serious training to do to get myself in the shape I needed to be in for January 2011.
  • Starting The Blog in August and beginning to share the trials & tribulations of my training with people outside my immediate family.
  • Running the Purple Stride 5K in September
  • Running the short leg (4.8 mi) of the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay in October
  • Running the Arbor Day 10K & Turkey Trot in November
  • Running the Reindeer Run 5K in December
All in all, I covered a total of 234.8 miles in 4 months!  And it's definitely a good sign that the accomplishments outweighed the challenges this year.  So, what can I look forward to for the upcoming year?:
And just think, those are only my running goals for 2011 - there's so much more going on - I can't wait to start tackling this and many other lists!!!

Hope everyone has a safe and happy new year, and I look forward to continuing the blog through 2011 and hopefully beyond!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sick of Being Sick!

As I lie here in bed, having barely moved for the last 48 hours, all I can think of is that I'm sick of being sick.  I feel like I've been run over by a steamroller, and had my head split open with a jackhammer, all at once.  And to top it off, I missed two training runs this week (6 missed miles) - which is really what has me the most upset!  I'm hoping that with one more full day of bed rest and continuing my strict regimin of DayQuil, NyQuil, orange juice, and chicken soup, I'll be back in decent shape by the end of the weekend. 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Canine Christmas Canter

Well, Christmas has officially come and gone.  Bad news - it's over, and that stinks.  Good news - I got my scheduled mileage in over the holiday weekend, plus a couple of unanticipated extra miles!  On Friday morning Dad and I woke up early and ran at T.H.P. (I did 8 and he did 10, though he did his last 2 miles with me at "my" pace).
Then, on Saturday afternoon, Dad's running group organized an impromptu "Fruitcake Run" at Herman Park (because you've got to be slightly nutty to run on Christmas Day, right?).  Because I didn't want to slow down the group, I chose to hang back with my mom, brother, and my brother's dog, Ellie.  Ellie and I ran a couple sprints while mom & Rob walked.  After the group returned from a 2 mile run, we all went our separate ways.  On the way home, I was feeling a little guilty for not having run with the group, so I borrowed my dad's running belt and leash, and grabbed Ellie and we did a couple laps around our neighborhood park - definitely a new experience to run with a dog, but we had fun!  Since I had only planned on running on Friday, getting those couple of miles in on Saturday (even though they were slow, easy, miles) really pleased me.

 Friday's run:
  • 8 miles; 1:48:00 min; 13:30 min//mi avg
Saturday's run (not including the untimed sprints):
  • 1.5 miles; 0:21:02 min; 14:01 min/mi avg

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blood, Sweat, and ... No Tears!

I swapped tomorrow's run for today since tomorrow's going to be so busy.  As I was having trouble working myself up to anywhere near my normal running pace for the second day in a row, I was flummoxed!  Surely my poor diet over the last week couldn't have had that much of an affect, right?  After all, it's never seemed to matter this much before...  Then it hit me - I'd given blood on Monday night.  DUH!  Although blood volume can be replaced within several hours to 48 hours after donation, red blood cells take longer to be replenished.  So I'm guessing that the blood donation, along with the poor diet the last week or so made for an especially bad combination this time around.  I'm really hoping that by resting tomorrow, I'll be in better shape for Friday's long run - I'll just have to see I guess!

Today's stats:
  • 3 mi; 0:52:18 min; 17:29 min/mi avg.

Run, Run, Rudolph! Race Report

Saturday morning was the Lifetime Fitness Reindeer Run 5K.  It was a "fun run" - so no timing chips, just a clock at the finish line.  We had some friends in town for the weekend, two of whom are runners, so they registered, and since there was going to be a costume contest also, I managed to talk them into running in a group costume with me!  After much consideration, and more-than-a-few email conversations, we figured out a costume that included Christmas ribbon and jingle bells finagled into a faux-reindeer-team-harness (as if we were hitched together), reindeer antlers, and even a red rudolph nose for the lead runner!

We got lots of attention, laughs, and comments from spectators, other runners, and even the police officers monitoring the course!  We were obviously a crowd favorite, which was proven later during the costume contest judging.  We won the group costume division, and were each given a running skull cap and fleece blanket (both of which had the race logo on them)!  As if that wasn't great enough, because the race benefited the Toys for Tots campaign, anyone who donated a toy was entered in a raffle - and my name was one of the ones drawn!  I won a goody bag from a local women's running store that included a set of matching items: a no-slip-grip headband/sweatband, a wristlet for holding keys, and a running skull cap with a hole in the back for a ponytail!  Cool beans!

Another high point in the morning was meeting up with some friends of mine from work who are also runners.  They brought the whole family, and Jessica WON the women's division of the 5K, and their oldest daughter (who's 5) ran in the Kid's K.  Jessica won a gift certificate for a pair of Mizuno's from Sun & Ski Sports and Anna got a super-cute medal (that I'm secretly really jealous of) and an ornament with the race logo on it.

After the race, prize ceremony, and costume judging, we went our separate ways.  However, I still had to log some more miles that morning, so Carrie and Elizabeth were kind enough to join me on continuing my run along one of the trails nearby.  We got in another 4.5 before I was ready to call it quits (so much for the plan to try to get in 9, but 7.5 certainly wasn't terrible -especially with the good paces we were keeping).  All-in-all, a very good day!  And, now the pre-half-marathon taper has officially started!

Saturday's stats:
  • 5K Race: 3.16 mi; 0:39:42 min; 12:34 min/mi avg
  • Other: 4.5 mi; 0:58:19 min; 12:58 min/mi avg

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Junkie

Yup, I admit it.  I love everything about Christmas: the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes - especially the tastes.  Not only am I a Christmas junkie, I'm a Christmas junk food junkie.  Up until the last couple of days, I was doing pretty well - a few indulgences here and there, but I was trying very hard to be mindful of what I was putting in my body.   All that started to slip this weekend, and then went completely out the window the past couple of days at work...and I felt it today during my "run."  I was sluggish, tired, and hurting.  A three mile training run turned into a three mile stroll on the treadmill.  It was a HUGE wake-up call that with just over two-and-a-half weeks until the race that I can't afford to routinely put crap into my body, because that's what I'll get out of it - crap.  So, to continue the metaphor, with the exception of the "big" meals coming up over the holidays, it's back to the "high-octane" food fuels for me!

Today's stats:
  • 3 mi; 0:53:06 min; 17:42 min/mi

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Conflicts

Preparation for our annual Christmas party this weekend has put a kink in the training this week.  I got in a (slow) 3-mile treadmill run on Tuesday night, but was a no-go last night.  Too much to do, and not enough time in which to do it! 

Long run scheduled tomorrow - we're running the Reindeer Run 5K first thing in the morning and then tacking on some pretty serious mileage around the nature trail afterwards (supposed to do 12 miles total, but I'm just hoping to get in 9 altogether - actual mileage will depend on timing & pre-party prep needs).  We're running the race as a group, in costume, so I'll post pics at some point!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Can Go the Distance!

Not a great start to the morning for me.  Just half a mile into today's long run I was thinking there was no way I could do another 10.5 miles, and was ready to throw in the towel.  As I was using a walk interval to contemplate how skipping this training run would affect my preparation for January, I realized that the song "Go The Distance" from Disney's Hercules, had started playing on my iPod, and these words were coming through my earphones, loud and strong:
I am on my way.
I can go the distance.
I don't care how far,
Somehow I'll be strong.
I know ev'ry mile,
Will be worth my while...
I would go most anywhere
to find where I belong.
It was like I had my own personal soundtrack telling me to keep going and that it would be worth it!  So I pushed on, determined to get those 11 miles finished.  And I did it!  Wuhoo!

Disney once again came through for me and provided some much-needed inspiration.  Funny, I have several times in the past almost deleted that song from my running playlist because it starts so slow, but stopped myself because it has such a strong finish.  Now I'm really grateful that I didn't remove it!

Today's stats:
  • 10 min. warm-up walk
  • 11 mi run; 2:25:28 time; 13:13 min/mi avg.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

3 is not 5

I won't try to justify it.  I only did 3 even though 5 were on the schedule.  Oh well.  Still on for 11 on Saturday!

Today's stats:
  • 10 min warm-up walk
  • 3 mi run; 0:40:58 min; 13:39 min/mi

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gobble, Gobble! Turkey Trot Race Report

On Thanksgiving Day most families get up early to start the hard work of preparing the many dishes for their evening feast.  Not mine!  We were up bright and early, and we were working hard, but we spent our morning joining over 15,000 runners and walkers in the 20th annual Austin Turkey Trot.

We met up with family friends and my parents around 8:15 Thursday morning.  The Kids K started at 8:45, and the 5 mile race started at 9:30.  Before the race, we waited near the start line, chatting and catching up with friends - we even got to see the honorary mascot of the race - a real, live, turkey!  Around 9:15, we all split up to go to our "corrals" - I lined up  in the 13-14 min/mile pace corral.  Then at 9:30, we were off!  There were so many people participating in the race, it took me almost 10 minutes to get to the start line!

It was supposed to be a 5 mile course, but as I crossed the finish line, I looked down and my Garmin had only logged 4.55 miles...wait, what?  Had my Garmin malfunctioned?  Had I lost satellites at some point and not realized it?  What had happened?  After checking with my dad, whose Garmin had also only registered just over 4.5 miles, we realized that the course hadn't actually been the full 5 miles!  Later, we received an email from the race organizers apologizing for the shortened course, saying that the pace car had missed a turn, and the lead runners followed, and they were then followed by the other thousands of runners...what are the chances?

This year's trot was especially fun because I knew quite a few people running it.  As we saw each other while passing or being passed, we'd exchange words of encouragement, or use a walk interval to talk for a minute.  It was definitely one of the most fun non-Disney races in which I've ever participated!
 Race Stats:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Back at it!

Well, after an awesome week with Mickey (which, unfortunately, meant over a week of not running), tonight was my first night back  it.  Between packing for Disney, being at Disney, and recovering from Disney, my planned runs for last week went completely out the window... On the other hand, it's not like I sat on my butt all week - because there's only one speed for my family while we're visiting The Mouse - and that's all-out-take-no-prisoners-full-speed!  So even if it wasn't actual running, there was plenty of activity with all the running around we were doing.  Speaking of running around WDW, it was amazing how many times  we found ourselves saying "In five weeks we'll be running through here..." or "This is where such-and-such happened last year..."  No doubt about it - we're definitely getting excited for Marathon Weekend!

Trying to make up for the week away, tonight was another late night at the office, and I would've loved to do nothing but fall into bed when I got home, but I told myself that that missing another training run was not an option.  So I quickly changed into my running gear and hopped on the treadmill just as Biggest Loser was starting, and lo and behold, it was the marathon episode - talk about motivation!  So, while the last 4 contestants ran their marathon, I did my 4 miles, and felt good getting back into the groove of things.

Today's stats:
  • 10 min warm-up walk
  • 4 mi run; 55:45 min; 13:56 min/mi

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Double-Digit Day Was Double the Fun

After having large Thanksgiving meals with friends and family on both Thursday and Friday (Turkey Trot race report coming soon), the last thing I felt like doing was getting up early and running on Saturday morning.  Still, I had made plans to meet up with an old friend from high school who bravely agreed to join me on my long training run.  So we dressed warmly (since it was an unseasonably chilly 35 degrees) and set off on the Memorial Park jogging trail around 7:15am.  This run presented a couple firsts for me, the biggest of which was that it was the first time I've ever  truly run with another person - I'm usually a solitary runner.  It was also the first time I've ever done a long run without listening to music.  Forget running alone with music - I had a blast catching up with Elizabeth, and we completed an  awesome 10-mile run together.  Afterward, we finished up with a breakfast that included yummy food and lots of hot coffee...a great ending to a great morning.  So, even though I was dreading this double-digit day, doing it with a friend made it double the fun!

Saturday's stats:
  • 10.0 miles; 2:11:10; 13:07min/mi avg

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tailgating = Trouble

BBQ chicken, brisket & sausage, potato salad, coleslaw, deviled eggs, homemade rolls, baked beans, pound cake, cookies, and ice cream all made up the spread at my office's annual pre-Thanksgiving tailgate party today.  It was an amazing feast - and I ate entirely too much of it to be comfortable.  So, I started my treadmill run this evening feeling pretty yucky.  I still ran parts of the scheduled 3 miles, but ended up walking more than I'm happy with...  But what's the most important part?  I still did it.  I sucked it up, and made myself do it.  3 miles.  And am so glad that I did.  I felt much better afterward, and it made me that much more pumped for the 5-mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning!!!

Today's stats:
  • 3 mile run/walk; 0:46:03; 15:21 min/mi

Sunday, November 21, 2010

9 Down, 4.1 To Go!

Nine miles is just over 2/3 of the half marathon distance - and I ran 9 yesterday and felt awesome afterward, so I'm feeling very confident about finishing well in January.  6 of those miles were on the hilly gravel trail (again), and I followed up with the last 3 miles inside on the treadmill.  But I had great average times (for me) on both segments - so I'm happy. Combine that with a winning football game, and seeing the new Harry Potter movie, and that made for an incredible day!!!

  • 0.52 mi warm-up walk
  • 6 mi trail run; 1:18:40; 13:07 min/mi avg
  • 3 mi treadmill run; 0:39:14; 13:05 min/mi avg

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shorts and Socks and Tops, Oh My!

Somehow the dirty laundry pile has multiplied exponentially this week - especially the dirty running clothes!  When I was changing this evening, there were no clean shorts or capris to be found...  So I went for a pair of running tights I recently purchased, but hadn't worn yet.  I was worried that I would be too warm running in them inside on the treadmill, but the good news is that I figured out that when you get hot in running tights, you can just stop, pull up the ankles, and turn them into capris!

Today's stats:
  • 0.52 mi warm-up walk
  • 3.0 mi treadmill run; 40:36 min; 13:32 min/mi

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Split Decision

There was no way I was doing 8 miles on the hilly gravel trail this weekend, so I split the long run into two shorter runs: I did 4 miles outside on the trail, then immediately followed up with 4 miles on the treadmill.

Saturday's stats:
  • 0.57 mi warm-up
  • 4.0 mi trail; 0:52:28 min; 13:07 min/mi
  • 4.0 mi treadmill; 0:54:52 min; 13:43 min/mi

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fair Trade?

Probably not.  Because of a schedule conflict, I needed to do my run Monday night rather than the normal Tuesday night.  Then, because of a massive amount of gardening this weekend, every muscle in my body hurt yesterday.  So I wimped out and walked the 4 miles on the treadmill last night rather than running them.  I'll have to make up for it and run a little harder and a little faster Thursday night.

Last night's stats:
  • 4 mi walk; 1:08:30 min; 17:08 min/mi

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Arbor Day 10K: Race Report

Arbor Day 10K this morning.  Race started at 8:30 am.  It was 37 degrees, and there was frost on the ground.  It almost felt like being back at WDW in January...at least it wasn't snowing/sleeting (fortunately it was sunny and only slightly breezy)!

I had already picked up my packet at Whole Foods earlier in the week, and ran this one by myself, so I got there about 8, and prepped myself in the warm car, then quickly walked to the start.  There were real restrooms by the amphitheatre, so I made a quick bathroom stop and was good to go.

Between the cold and the kids (including one who almost tripped me by cutting me off right as I crossed the chip reader), I had a slow start.  I was so bumfuzzled, I actually forgot to start my Garmin until over 0.1 miles in!  Oh well...

The race was a Fun Walk/5K/10K, and very family-friendly, so the road and trail were fairly congested through the first mile or so until people naturally spread out based on pace.  Then, after the 5K turnaround, it was just me and a few other slowpokes...  Around mile 2.5, we started seeing the fast 10K-ers who had already turned around and were headed towards the finish - definitely made me want to kick it up a notch!
I finished all by myself, with no one in front or behind me as far as I could see (although there were plenty of bends and turns, so I couldn't see more than a couple tenths of a mile ahead of me for approximately the last two miles or so).  But there were tons of volunteers on the course who were really upbeat and excited, despite the cold!  Plus it was a great course - I really enjoyed running through the Oak Pointe Nature Preserve - we'll have to add that to our library of trails, especially once we get into the truly long runs.

The after-party was really fun, with a live band, award presentations, and a tree planting ceremony.  There were also tons of  post-race goodies provided by the sponsors, including: beer, coffee, fruit, muffins, Muscle Milk, Wheaties, tea, Cliff Bars, etc...  Good thing the Muscle Milk booth was also giving out bags, otherwise there's no way any of us would've been able to carry all that stuff!

All in all, a really good run!  Race stats:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Scene Straight from Hitchcock

I experienced my own personal version of "The Birds" during my run today.  The large amount of rain we've had lately brought all sorts of bugs, worms, etc. to the surface.  This, of course, attracted hundreds of birds to the open areas of the electric transmission line easement the trail runs through.  As I ran past and disturbed them, they all took to the air and, voila!- flashback to the movie.  Now I'm no Tippi Hedren, but for a few moments this evening, I could certainly identify with her character, because it was definitely freaky being surrounded by all those birds!  I'm just glad I made it through bird-poop-free!

Today's stats:
  • 10 min warm-up walk
  • 3 mi run; 0:37:38 min; 12:33 min/mi

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It's the last week of Daylight Savings Time here in Texas, which means tonight was one of two last opportunities for an outdoor after-work run (no after-dark running for us), and I was stuck inside on the treadmill because it's raining.  Granted, yes, it could've been a chilly, wet, outdoor run, but we're nowhere near that hardcore!

Today's Stats:
  • 10 min warm-up walk
  • 3.0 mi; 0:40:02 min; 13:21 min/mi avg

Sunday, October 31, 2010

True Trail Running Kicks My Butt!

On Saturday morning, I ran my 6 miles on a hilly, gravel trail, and quickly realized how spoiled I am by the relatively flat, paved trail on which I'm used to running.  Between sinking into the gravel with every footfall, and dealing with the constant elevation changes, I was wiped by the second loop of the 2.1 mile trail, and I still had a 3rd left to go!  So I ended up walking a pretty significant part of that third loop, which slowed down my average pace, as did deciding to count my 10-minute warm-up walk towards my overall mileage total (which I normally don't do)...  Well, even though that trail kicked my butt, the change of pace was probably a good thing, and it definitely mixed things up a bit!

Saturday's stats:
  • 10 min warm-up walk
  • 5.8 mi run; 1:23:40; 14:26 min/mi

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I Put Myself First!

Yes, I have a ton of stuff going on right now, most of which I usually put before my own needs.  Not so today!  Knowing I had a 4 mile run scheduled on Thursday, I planned my week out so I could leave the office at a reasonable hour to go home and run this evening.  Others on my team claimed various personal conflicts throughout the week as reasons why they needed to leave "early."  So, as I departed the office today with others still working, I felt slightly guilty, but reminded myself that my personal life is just as important as theirs, and I had put in my time when they were gone.  My training is a constant right now - there's no slipping up for me, for fear of relapse and going into January unprepared again.  So I did it - I left.  I got my run in (plus many other errands I'd been postponing all week), and I feel great!

Today's stats:
  • 10 min warm-up walk
  • 4 mi run; 0:55:43 min; 13:56 min/mi

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sick or Not Sick? That is the Question...

My throat and head hurt, my nose is runny, and I'm dragging a**.  I saw my brother, who had a really bad cold, this weekend, so I'm scared I'm getting what he had.  As a pre-emptive strike, I'm practically O.D.-ing on Vitamin C and Zinc, and I'm chugging airborne and popping throat lozenges like there's no tomorrow...I have entirely too much going on to get sick right now!  We did 5 miles on Saturday after the game, which I was pleased with (even for a treadmill time!).  I did run on the treadmill tonight, but took it a little easier just so I don't wear myself down, especially since I'm still working late and have to be on top of my game.
Today's stats:
  • 10min warm-up walk
  • 3mi run; 0:43:40min; 14:33min/mi

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Working Late = Treadmill

And that stinks, but that's why we have one: for the times when running outside just isn't an option.  I have a huge project going at work, which of course, equates to a huge deadline in a couple weeks.  So that means staying a couple hours late every day, with non-game-day-Saturdays at the office a definite possibility...  So, on weeknights when I get home late and it's too dark to run outside, it's over to the treadmill for me.

It's not that I mind the treadmill itself - there's a TV in there, so it's not as boring as it could be.  What I mind is that I'm actually slower on the treadmill - the opposite of most people!  I'm wary of going above 5mph, which is significantly slower than my running pace on the trail.  Oh well, as long as I'm getting it done, that's what counts, right?

Today's stats:
  • 0.55mi warm-up walk
  • 2.5mi run; 0:36:03 min; 14:25min/mi 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Morning Trail Tribulations

Dear Plano Soccer Moms,
The city engineer planned a 6-ft wide multi-purpose trail for many reasons.  None of which were for you to have a place to put your camp chairs while you watch your kids play!  When you sit there, you block the throughway and create potentially dangerous situations for the actual trail users.  Nevermind the fact that it puts you at least 15 feet away from the sideline!  Now I realize that placing your chair in the grass means your shoes might get wet walking to your seat or that your high-heeled sandals may sink into the dirt...but isn't that worth showing support for your kids?  So scoot forward, and getting the heck out of our way!
Thank you,
Frustrated Plano Runner

Today's stats:
  • 0.58mi walk
  • 4.01mi run; 0:50:54 min; 12:42min/mi

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Some Days It's Just Easier...

...and today was one of those days!  I started out at a faster-than-normal-pace during my warm-up walk, then transitioned into an even, easy, pace during my run intervals.  I checked my watch and had done a mile, then two, before I knew it - and in record time!  The third mile required a little more effort, but I still finished strong, and ended up with an awesome average pace (for me)!
 Today's stats:
  • 0.58mi walk
  • 3.0mi run; 0:37:27 min; 12:29 min/mi

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


My co-workers and I were looking for a way to get out of the office at lunch, without the inevitability of spending money if we went to the mall, Target, etc.  The solution was right in front of our noses - er, feet!  We decided that, starting today, we'd bring walking shoes & clothes, and take a few spins around our office park's short walking trail after eating our brown bag lunches.  We won't be able to do it every day, but it was so enjoyable that we'll definitely do it often!

Today's stats:
  • 1.8mi walk
  • 2.0mi run; 0:26:07min; 13:03min/mi

Monday, October 11, 2010

Horse Apples!

No, it's not just something that your 90-yr-old grandfather says...they're a real thing!  Actually, they're the fruit of the Bois'd'Arc tree, a north Texas native, they look like green, lumpy/knobby grapefruit, and they practically cover the ground this time of year!  Especially on/around the trails I like to take - where they fall from the many trees lining the creek.  As I jog past, I remember the old M*A*S*H episodes where Colonel Potter yells "Horse Apples" in response to Hawkeye and B.J.'s antics, and it makes me smile...

Today I had to walk past them, and felt just as frustrated as poor Colonel Potter.  I put a kink in my own plans of moving all my runs this week up by a day in order to free up my Saturday morning.  Foiled by a low (then dead) battery on my Garmin...and since I live & die by my Garmin on my training runs, I walked a short loop (1.6 miles) and finished early.  So I'll do my normal Tuesday run tomorrow, will do Thursday's run on Wednesday and Saturday's run on Friday.  Sounds like a plan!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Race Report: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay

Let's start this report by backtracking to one day before the race.  On Friday, I had an 8am flight out of Dallas and arrived in Orlando at 1:30pm.  I had checked in at Disney's All Star Sports Resort (one of the host resorts for the race) by 2:30pm.
I ran over to the room to drop off my carry-on bag, and was very pleasantly surprised to see that they had upgraded us to one of the "premium" rooms in the "Surf's Up!" section of the resort, facing the main pool (see view below) and really close to the main building - wuhoo!  And surprise! - I opened the door and found a Minnie Mouse towel animal on the bed - too cute!
I grabbed our race waivers, and hopped on the event transportation bus over to the race expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex to pick up our race packets.
The Expo for the Wine&Dine was not nearly as crowded as the January Marathon Weekend expo is, so it was easy to pick up our bibs, race packets, and goody bags, which left me with plenty of time (and room) to explore the booths freely.  I ended up buying a new tube of Biofreeze, but no actual race-themed merchandise (plenty of cute stuff, but the prices were a little steep for me).  After a lot of browsing , but very little purchasing, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with my best friend, whose flight had arrived at 4:30pm.

Carrie got to the hotel about 5:45, and we put on our Halloween-themed outfits (no costumes, but we did have bobbly-pumpkin headbands, and I had a black shirt that said "Happy Halloween" in silver & orange glitter (see pic below)).  We got some CokeZero in our refillable mugs to bolster us with a little caffeine, and hopped on a bus to Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!  The entire Park was decked out in Halloween decorations - lots of pumpkins, scarecrows, hay bales, etc., super fun and very festive!
Lines for rides were practically non-existent, and we rode several things multiple times.  We watched the Happy HalloWishes fireworks and the Boo to You Parade, ate dinner at Casey's on the outdoor patio overlooking the castle, and stocked up on plenty of candy from

the trick-or-treat trails and stations.  One of the highlights of the evening (and the thing we waited in the longest line for) was getting our picture taken with all 7 dwarfs!  We left the park when the party ended at midnight and headed back to the hotel.

Saturday morning we woke up at 8am and dressed in our Texas Longhorn Mickey shirts in honor of the UT/OU game that afternoon.  We headed out at 9am for our 10:35am brunch reservation at Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
After eating a large and yummy brunch (we didn't over-stuff ourselves, but did use the very convenient excuse of the run that evening to eat plenty), we headed over to Downtown Disney, where we got in a little shopping and found quite a few items we'd like to buy when we come back in December.  Carrie got a scoop of ice cream from Ghiradelli, and after we both grabbed some food to-go from The Earl of Sandwich, we went back to the hotel to rest, relax, and watch the UT/OU game.

Keeping an eye on the clock, we watched the game and did all of our pre-race prep: filling out the emergency contact info on our bibs, getting our race gear and paraphenelia ready, and reviewing the race instructions and course maps.  We had our sandwiches about 5:30, hoping we were eating early enough to prevent running on a full stomach, but late enough to still get the energy out of the food while running (seems to have worked well).  Around 6:30, we changed into our running clothes and put on our sparkly-bobbly-ears, bibs, shoes, ipods, Garmin watches, etc..  We left the hotel room right on schedule, and were able to hop on a race bus to ESPN Wide World of Sports around 7  We were finally on our way to the race!

We arrived at the staging area about 7:20, and there were tons of people milling around!  They were staging us in a grass overflow parking lot, with a stage and speakers set up at one end and bag check trucks at the other, and a sea of port-o-potties along the back in between.  We made a quick potty stop, walked around for a while, then checked Carrie's bag.  We were worried about her getting to the exchange point, so she took my bag and hopped on another bus.  I sat on the grass (a nice change from hard asphalt while waiting for a race) and made fast friends with a small group of runners sitting nearby.  We chatted until 9:15, then I decided to make another bathroom stop before moving toward the corrals.
Because we had submitted Carrie's January half time as our anticipated finish time, I was in Corral B (leg #1) and Carrie was in Corral #3 (leg #2).  This was a first for me - I've never been in a corral that close to the front!  The news that there would not be a wave start, instead just a mass migration to the start line, slowly filtered back through the crowd.  Oh well, at least I was fairly close to the front!  At this point, I received a text from Carrie saying that their bus driver had gotten lost and they were just now arriving at the relay exchange point - crazy!  As the start time drew nearer, I chugged a 5-hr energy shot (hey, it can't hurt to have a little extra help for a night race).  Then we heard the National Anthem, and the wheelchair start.  Finally, it was our turn.  With the whole crowd counting down from 5-4-3-2-1, and a flash-bang of fireworks, the race was underway!
Right at the beginning, I was getting passed left and right by faster runners, so I felt like I had a slow start and pretty slow first mile out.  But looking back at my Garmin results, my first mile, at a 13:30 pace, was actually my second fastest of the night!  Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me because of all the passing going on.  Or maybe it was the fact that the first mile was just getting out of the Wide World of Sports Complex and starting down Osceola Parkway and included the uphill part of the large overpass over World Dr...

The second mile was another uneventful one, but also my fastest - at a 13:15 pace.
Perhaps it was the mostly downhill straightaway down Osceola Parkway, or maybe it was the 5-hr energy shot kicking in...who knows.  Disney did a great job of keeping it interesting for runners on the long stretches of dark road.  There was plenty of entertainment, including bands, D.J.'s, characters (the dancing hippos and ostriches from Fantasia) and floats from the Spectromagic parade parked in the median.

The third mile included the second and last (and smaller) overpass in the first leg of the relay.  This overpass is also mile 7 (approx.) of the half, and is the place we saw the first half marathon runner coming back towards us.  We all cheered him on, and then a few minutes later we let out more exhilarated whoops as the first wheelchair participant came through.  What a motivating sight!  I was starting to feel pretty drained towards the end of mile 3, and had definitely slowed down (13:54 pace for the mile) so I went ahead and took a Cliff Shot, just to make sure I'd be able to make the push through Animal Kingdom and finish strong.

At the beginning of mile four, we first caught sight of Animal Kingdom as we turned off Osceola Parkway and into the Animal Kingdom parking lot.  We ran past the bus stops and the ticket booths.  Then we ran past large, tooth-shaped objects lit blood red - adding a spooky, animalistic feel to the park entrance - very cool!  Mile 3.9 was right in front of the tree of life, but there wasn't an ASI photographer there, just a Disney cast member taking pictures with personal cameras.  The only thing I had was my phone, so I knew the nighttime picture wouldn't turn out, and thus, wouldn't be worth wasting my time.  Big bummer for me, because I have no intention of  ever running the full marathon, so this was probably my only opportunity to run through Animal Kingdom, and I didn't get a picture!  This was also my slowest mile  (14:15 pace) - there were some definite bottlenecks due to some of the narrow pathways through the park, and I think I also unintentionally slowed down to take in the scenery around me...

The last 0.8 miles of my leg of the relay led us past Anandapuhr and Expedition Everest.  The strings of overhead lights were on, and the peaks were lit up, with the Yeti's roars confirming his presence within the forbidden mountain.  There were plenty of cast members within the park, directing runners and giving shouts of encouragement as we passed.  Next it was  past Theater in the Wild, through DinoLand U.S.A., and then into the backlot and onto service roads back towards the
parking lot.  I took advantage of the fact that it had thinned out a little, and ran through several of my designated walk intervals, trying to make up some time.  The back road was where they split out the relay runners from those running the full-length half.  Relay-ers to the right, half-ers to the left!    I was pretty much on my own in the right lane - there were only two other relay runners that I could see near me.  We took a sharp right turn away from the other runners, and bang!  There we were at the exchange point, and we were done!  I crossed the relay exchange point chip reader at 1:05:26, for an overall average pace of 13:38.  Not great, and slower than I'd anticipated, but not too shabby either!

I spotted Carrie in her corral surprisingly easily, and we ran together towards the end of the chute.  She then turned left to start her leg of the relay, and I turned right to get my medal and post-race refreshments, then on to collect my checked bag.  I was able to get on a bus almost immediately, but we sat there for almost 45 minutes, waiting for the course to clear so we could cross it.  We finally made it to
Epcot, which was very crowded with runners and spectators.  I was able to weave my way through the crowds, and made it to the finish line.  I grabbed a spot on the end of a bleacher and only had to wait a short while until Carrie came through, headed towards the finish!

We had an overall time of 2:38:49.  Awesome, yay us!  It took Carrie quite a while to make her way through the mob at the finish (way more people here than at the relay exchange) and the checked bag pick-up process was a mess!  I didn't see her again until almost an hour after she crossed the finish line.  Of course we had to pose for pictures with our medals!
We hung around the Finish Line Party at Epcot, working our way around World Showcase, using the complimentary "taste" and "sip" coupons included with our race registration, but it was super crowded, and every line was ridiculously long, so we didn't get to try nearly as many items as we'd have liked.  We headed towards the Epcot entrance and snapped one last picture, in front of the iconic Spaceship Earth ball.

We left Epcot at 3am, and went back to the hotel to shower and pack.  We were able to grab about an hour-and-a-half of sleep before we had to get up to catch our Magical Express bus back to the airport at 7:30.

Taking into account the January half(s), last year's TOT 13K, and this race, I can now say I've run through all four parks (and as I said earlier I won't be doing the full marathon - ever - so that's quite an accomplishment!)  It was a really short, but really fun weekend.  We decided that we had a great time, but we won't attempt to do this particular race again until they've worked out more of the kinks and can manage the after-party crowds better.  I have a whole list of complaints, many of which I've heard/seen shared by other runners in other race reports, but I didn't want my report to "go there"...All-in-all, a Magical Weekend, though!

Garmin results: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay Leg #1