“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

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lessons Learned from Today's 5K

I learned a few new lessons about myself this morning:
  1. I can stand the heat cold.
  2. I never feel guilty about going for a run.
  3. I look ridiculous in a running beanie.

1.  I can stand the heat cold.  Holy Crap it was cold out there this morning - 29 at race start!  I was really not looking forward to running in weather that cold, and had been waffling about running the race all week.  I finally sucked it up and went.  I didn't freeze, and I ended up running my second best 5K time yet!

2. I never feel guilty about going for a run.  Note the comment in #1 about waffling all week.  I kept thinking "Who would it hurt if I just ate the registration fee, skipped the race, and ran 3.1 miles inside on the treadmill?"  The answer I kept coming back to was ME, that's who!  I also figured it wouldn't be a good way to start the year if I skipped a race called a Resolution Run!!!  I always feel guilty if I purposefully skip a run, but never do if I just get out there and do it.

3. I look ridiculous in a running beanie.  I won a raffle at the Reindeer Run 5K in December where the prize included a running beanie with a hole for a ponytail - very cool!  Normally I don't like running in hats - I prefer a visor - but it was so cold, I jumped at the opportunity to try out this new gear/accessory.  It worked well, and was very comfortable, but made me look ridiculous.  I'll keep it in reserve for the times like today's race when it's definitely a case of function over form!

Today's stats:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

As a girl who would be barefoot at all times if she could, and whose non-running shoe of choice is a flip-flop, you can see why I'm not a fan of biting cold like the kind that blew in today.  Temps in the 20's and wind gusts up to 30 mph - no way in the world was I running outside in that kind of weather!  So it was back on the treadmill for me...

Today's stats:
  • 0.5 mi warm-up walk
  • 2 mi run; 0:26:29 min; 13:15 min/mi
  • 30 min resistance band strength training

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Bling! ...Next Race?

The race that started this whole blogging experience is over, and I have some new bling.  So...do I stop now?  Of course not!  But what's next?  When's the next big race?  Where is it?  What's the training schedule?  Drumroll, please...
 Dallas Rock'n'Roll Relay
Yup, it's going to be my inaugural Rock'n'Roll Series race - and they offer a relay!  I don't want to do another half right away, so I convinced my brother, Rob, to join me in running the relay the last weekend in March.  I'll take the first leg (7.1 miles) and Rob will take the second (6.0 miles).  Here are my thoughts for a 10 week training schedule using Hal Higdon's 15K training plan:

So how'd the first running day of training go?  It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon/evening here in "Big D" - temps in the mid 50's, sunny, and slightly breezy.  Since I was only doing 2 miles, I got to do them outside before it got dark - something I haven't had a chance to do on a weekday in months!

Today's stats:
  • 2.1 mi;  0:26:23;  12:34 min/mi avg

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yoga for Runners

I did my first yoga workout EVER tonight, and I liked it!  A friend recommended the DVD Yoga for Runners to me last year - I bought it in October and haven't touched it since it arrived.  My New Year's Resolution this year is to do more of the "Stretch & Strengthen" that is on my training schedule for every race.  So, for the next training cycle, it's going to be my "go to" activity on strength training days (we'll see how much of it actually gets done).  I really like the fact that it's specifically targeted for runners, and especially towards yoga newbies, so  here's hoping I'll get a little more flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries while running!

Today's stats:
  • 45 minutes of Yoga for Runners

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    2011 DisneyWorld Half Marathon Race Report - Part 1: Pre-Race

    ***Sorry, I got a little wordy.  If you only want to read the actual race report, skip to Part Two: My Race***

    Travel, Arriving & Packet Pick-Up/Expo:
    I left Dallas at 6:30 am, and landed in Orlando at 11am Friday morning.  I met up with my Mom shortly thereafter, we hopped on a Magical Express bus, and arrived at the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort (POFQ) at approximately 12:30 on Friday afternoon.  Our room wasn't ready yet, so we stored our luggage and headed over to Disney's Wide World of Sports to go to packet pick-up and Expo.  We arrived at WWoS quickly, and easily picked up both my Half Marathon
    packet and dad's Goofy Challenge packet, as well as our Race Retreat packets for the Half.  We continued browsing around the Expo until Dad (who was on a later flight) showed up (a particular favorite booth of ours was the Clif Bar booth where they were giving out samples & had the pace bracelets)!  When Dad arrived, he announced that he had realized on the plane that
    he had forgotten to pack both pairs of his running shorts, gels, and a couple other racing "necessities," so we went on a scavenger hunt through the many, many, booths trying to check everything off his unexpected shopping list.  Fortunately, the Expo is comprehensive enough that we found everything relatively easily, and he didn't have to go without!

    The Night Before The Half:
    After getting back to POFQ, we picked up our luggage and headed to our room - in a great spot on the 1st floor of building #1, close to the river - cool!  Wanting a better pasta selection than those offered at the POFQ food court, we headed over to Port Orleans Riverside (POR) for dinner.  Dad and I both got a make-your-own-pasta dish and Mom took advantage of the awesome salad station.  Once back at the room, it was time to start the pre-race preparation process.  This starts with me trying on every possible combination of race clothing to find the "perfect" outfit for the next morning - taking into account temps, wind, sun, pace, etc.  I finally settled on a longsleeved black tech shirt and my black compression
    tights. I laid out the clothes and my costume "accessories" (Minnie apron, Minnie ears, red hair ribbon, & white gloves); I filled out the emergency contact info on the back of my bib and added it to my fuel belt, put a gel and a couple tylenol in the pocket of my water bottle, and threaded the D-tag through my left shoe.  Finally, I laid out my visor and sunglasses, and after plugging in my Garmin, cell phone, ipod, and my Flip video camera, I felt confident I was well-organized for tomorrow.  We set a couple alarms for the next morning and got in bed.  I'm not sure exactly what time we finally got to sleep, but I imagine it was somewhere around 9:30pm.

    Race Day - Pre-race:
    2:15am Saturday - ugh, whose bright idea was it to do this anyway?  Oh, that's right, mine.  Well here goes nothing!  Sports Shield on, HRM on, clothes on, shoes on, costume on, fuel belt on, accessories and electronics on.  Check, check, check.  Out the door and on a bus by 3:15 am, right on schedule!  Since this was our first year to do the Race Retreat (RR), we wanted to have plenty of time to enjoy the amenities.  As the bus was pulling into the Epcot parking
    lot, Mom realized she'd left her cell phone back in the hotel - so she stayed on the bus to go back and get it, and dad and I got off and went into the runner's village.  We found the RR tent, and - wow, talk about a change from sitting freezing on the cold asphalt!  It was downright opulent in there compared to outside!  After a quick trip to the "private" port-o-potties (which we agreed were practically worth the price of RR admission in themselves), we grabbed bagels, peanut butter, and bananas (the runner's breakfast
    of champions) and settled in at a table to relax and enjoy our surroundings.  Heeding the announcer's urgings to make your way towards the start line, we checked the bag (consolidated into one) and made another bathroom stop before going back outside to start the 20 minute trek to the corrals.

    One of the ASI photographers grabbed us to take a quick pre-race picture just as we were stepping through the fence. Dad was slated in Corral B, and I was in E (the lowest/fastest Corral I've ever been in for this race), so after yet another port-o-potty stop (pre-race nerves, plus lots of
    liquids), we went our separate ways and lined up in our corrals.  I joined the other runners stretching and chatting and waited for the race to start.  Music was blaring from speakers, big-screen TV's were everywhere, and the race M.C. was making announcements and getting the crowd energized - you could feel the excitement building with every passing minute.  They interviewed Al Roker, Meredith Vieira,
    and Natalie Morales from The Today Show, who were all running.  Then for the moments that had the whole crowd tearing up - they explained the story behind the Disney Half Marathon Heroes Race happening simultaneously in Baghdad, Iraq - a husband and wife team who had run together last year but couldn't this year because he was deployed in Iraq.

    Finally, with the singing of the National Anthem, and an incredible burst of fireworks, the first wave of runners were off!  At this point, considering how nervous I was in the days leading up to the race, I was amazingly calm...

    **You've made it through Part 1!  If you're willing to continue reading, Part 2: My Race is up next!**

    2011 DisneyWorld Half Marathon Race Report - Part 2: My Race

    ***If you missed Part 1: Pre-Race, now's your chance to go back and read it!***

    Race Day - My Race:
    The race itself was actually fairly uneventful for me.  As we started moving from the corral towards the start line, I ditched the hoodie I'd been using to keep warm, and was officially "race ready."  Since I was in Corral E, I didn't cross the start line until 6:08am.  My training pace has been a 1:1 run/walk, which, depending on how fast I'm walking, results in a 13-13:30 pace.  I knew that I only had to keep a less than 13:45 overall pace to meet my goal of a sub-3-hour finish. Running with people all generally going the same pace was a new experience for me (I'm almost always at the back getting passed by other runners).  It felt odd that rather than spacing out quickly, we all stayed fairly clumped together for the first few miles.  Of course there was still the ever-present weaving and jockeying for position (I ended up with an extra 0.23 miles according to my Garmin that I'm attributing to weaving).

    I started out strong and logged the fastest miles of the whole race in the beginning (not unusual for me at all).  The first 5K (3.1 mi) split (0:41:35) was at a 13:25 pace.  Even though these first few miles are crowded, I find them some of the loneliest - crazy, right?  Thing is, at this point, I've usually hit the "I've only gone X (2,3,4) miles and still have X (11, 10, 9) to go - there's no way I'm going to make it" phase.  Not so this
    time around!  I was calm, confident, and feeling good - there was absolutely no way I wasn't finishing!  As we went through the Magic Kingdom parking kiosks, passed the speedway, and headed towards the Ticket & Transportation Center, I couldn't wait to start seeing the crowds I knew would be there.  As usual, the spectators at the TTC were amazing - loud, proud, and showing it!

    After leaving the TTC (and Mile Marker 4) behind, my excitement kept building because I knew my Mom would be waiting just past Mile Marker 5 in front of the Contemporary - I couldn't wait to see her!  On the side of the waterway overpass,
    there was a guy with giant Mickey hands with a sign that said "You can go the Distance."  It was like a flashback to that tough long run when the Hercules song really came through
    for me - talk about inspiration!  [On a side note- a mini-highlight of the race for me was making my way back up the underpass of the "underwater crossing" under the Seven Seas Lagoon - this was not the monster hill I remembered from previous years - I actually RAN up it and felt great - guess all those miles on the hilly trail in Austin paid off!]  As I passed her, I waved at Mom with her "Go Jenny!" sign,
    and turned the corner going to the Magic Kingdom feeling awesome!  It was at this point that I realized that I'd forgotten to eat the gel I'd planned on at Mile 4 - so I quickly gobbled it in the backstage area before entering MK.

    Main Street seemed more crowded than I'd ever seen it before - another result of being faster than ever before, I'd imagine.  I got a quick glance at the castle as we rounded the hub, then took the sharp right into Tomorrowland.  Here's where my Minnie outfit really came into play.  I felt like every cast member I encountered made a comment about the outfit or yelled "Go Minnie!"  Entering Fantasyland, I saw Alice and the Queen of Hearts in front of the Teacups, but didn't stop.  I smiled as I passed The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and made a beeline for Dumbo and the carousel.  It was almost more than I could handle to hear the herald trumpets loudly proclaiming our arrival at Cinderella's Castle - how amazing was that?  As I ran through the castle, I had to make a quick decision - was it worth losing time to stop and take a picture?  It would depend on
    the line.  As I came down the ramp, I was disappointed to see that there was quite a wait - nope, not doing it - after all, I already got that pic two years ago.  To make up for it, I stopped at the Mile Marker 6 sign just past the bridge to Liberty Square and got a quick video of me with the castle in the background from a different angle than usual.  I ran through Liberty Square and hit Frontierland, then exited the park into more backstage areas where the Pirates were out taking pics on their ship - again, no time to stop for pictures!  The 10K (6.2 mi) split (1:25:00) showed an average pace of 13:43.  Whoah - I had really slowed down and needed to keep an eye on the clock from here on out!

    I honestly don't remember much about Miles 7, 8, and 9.  I have a vague recollection of seeing the Grand Floridian and the Polynesian, as well as the Epcot-shaped hot air balloon, but I was mainly concentrating on keeping up with my run-walk intervals and watching my pace.  My 15K (9.3 mi) split (2:07:45) showed an average pace of 13:44.  As I passed the point where I had to stop for medical attention last year, I felt a huge swell of pride for how far I'd come in the last 12 months.  At Mile Marker 10, someone shouted "Only a 5K left to go, people.  We can DO this!"  I, and everyone around me, laughed, clapped, hooted, and hollered - he was right, we could do this!  I was still feeling great, but had slowed down a tiny bit.  I was also starting to feel the right side of my left foot rubbing oddly against my shoe - oh well.  I had no doubt that I could still make my sub-3-hour goal - I'd just have to stay on it.

    Not a problem, right?  And it wouldn't have been...until I saw what was waiting for me next.  Eeyore and Tigger (but most importantly, Eeyore) were on-course, taking pictures with runners!!!  This was truly hard decision time.  With the size of that line, if I stopped for a picture, I knew I would not be able to make up the lost time and wouldn't finish in under three hours.  But if I didn't stop for a picture, would I regret it?  After all, I hadn't seen Eeyore on the course in previous years...so, I said the hell with it, and got in line to wait.  And wait.  In the end, I actually got some super cute video with both Eeyore and Tigger, so it was totally worth it!
    [Side note: Dad told me later that when he saw them on the side of the road he knew I'd have to stop when I realized they were there - and how right he was!]

    So, having blown my time goal, I plugged on, determined to still finish strong, but not to push myself all that hard anymore.  I ended up taking a couple extra walking intervals, especially heading up the loooong banked cloverleaf overpass - although the green army man from Toy Story barking out "Come on civilians, get up this hill!" was an awesome twist to the standard comments you hear on-course.  Mile Marker 11 was just before the parking lot entrance to Epcot, where I could see the cars and buses lining up to get in (lots of jokes here from fellow runners about hopping in one of them and getting
    to the finish line the easy way).  Then, finally, I caught my first glance of Spaceship Earth - what an incredibly welcome sight in the early morning sun - like the light at the end of the tunnel!  The closer we got to Epcot, the more people there were on the sidelines cheering.  The Mile Marker 12 sign was actually in the Epcot parking lot, and all the excitement and anticipation was back...I was so close I could taste it!

    Mile 13 was through Epcot - wuhoo!  This is the best part of the race for me - the park is open and there are people everywhere cheering us on - what a huge advantage to being one of the slower runners!  I quickly did the out-and-back through Future World around the Epcot Christmas tree and headed towards the park exit.  The gospel choir was singing "We Are the Champions" as I passed.  I paused for a quick shot of the Mile Marker 13 sign and got ready to turn the corner toward the finish going full-speed ahead.  Just as I was rounding the corner, I heard a small group of people yelling "Jenny!  Jenny!" - I looked around, and there, just behind me, was my Mom!  I turned and did a few awkward
    half-sideways, half-backwards, jogging steps while yelling "HI!" and frantically waving, but there was no stopping this close to the end!  As I got closer, I made my way to the right side of the course where the characters were, and actually managed to high-five Goofy just before crossing the finish line - what an incredible way to end the race!!!

    There's no way to convey how incomparable the end of this race was to last year's.  I felt amazing!  What a difference a year makes - from stopping at a medical tent last year to finishing strong and feeling amazing this time around.  I practically snatched my medal from the volunteer (he wasn't quite sure how to handle laying it over my "ears") and put it on, grabbed my mylar blanket, a bottle of water, and a banana, then set off on a mission to find my parents.  I couldn't wait to share how happy I was, and to see how my dad had done!

    The best news for the day?  It turns out I beat my previous PR (Personal Record) for this race by exactly 15 minutes!  That's more than a 1 min/mile improvement!!!

    Race Stats:

    **Whew - you made it through Part 2!  If you're willing to keep reading, Part 3: Post-Race Recovery, Spectating Goofy & Marathon Monday is the last installment!**

      2011 DisneyWorld Half Marathon Race Report - Part 3: Post-Race Recovery, Spectating Goofy & Marathon Monday

      ***If you missed Part 1: Pre-Race, or Part 2: My Race, now's your chance to go back and catch up!***

      I met up with Mom and Dad in front of the Race Retreat tent and headed inside for a warm breakfast and a quick pic with the Toy Story characters.  [Side note:  Since Dad finished over an hour before I did, he'd already had breakfast and taken advantage of the 10-minute massages for his legs.]  We took the opportunity to grab a couple more character pics and browse the race merchandise station, then headed for the buses back to the hotel.

      There wasn't much to recover from for me this time around - I was feeling really great and was on an incredible runner's high.  I kept telling everyone how pleased I was and how that proved how much better conditioned I was this year than in previous years!  However, when we got back to the hotel, the one thing I did have to deal with was the blister on my left foot.  I drained it, put a blister patch on, and was good to go!

      After showering and getting cleaned up, we headed over to Downtown Disney as a way to keep moving and keep our legs loose.  Once there, we shared a light lunch at Wolfgang Puck Cafe Express on the West Side.  Taking
      advantage of the lighter crowds, we relaxed at the table and discussed the plan for the next day.  Then we walked and shopped the afternoon away, although we ended up just window shopping and not actually buying anything.  While we were eating lunch, we had discussed the possibility of Dad walking to the start line the next morning, so we made a quick return trip back to POFQ to do a test walk to check the feasibility of the idea.  It seemed like it was going to work, and we knew lots of others planned to do the same thing.  After another short boat ride back to Downtown Disney, we had dinner at the
      House of Blues, where Dad partook of their special Marathon Weekend pasta menu to carb-load for the Marathon the next morning.  We headed back to the hotel for another early night, because it was going to be another early morning!

      Spectating Goofy:
      Imagine me, bundled up against the elements, wearing my Half Marathon medal and my sparkly-pink-mouse-head-antennae headband, yelling my lungs out on the side of the road.  You'd think I was nuts, right?  Wrong.  I was being the best spectator I know how to be for the Marathon on Sunday morning.  As a runner, spectator encouragement means alot to me, and helps me push through the tough spots - so I wanted to do my part for Dad and the other marathoners.

      We started Sunday a little later than the day before, this time the alarm sounded at 3:30.  Dad was out the door, on his way to walk over to the start line, by 4:15.  Mom and I grabbed a cab over to the TTC a little while later to avoid the congestion of normal marathon transportation.  The plan was that
      Mom would stake out a great spot in front of the castle at Magic Kingdom, and I would grab a spot on the road just outside the Polynesian just before Mile Marker 13.  Plan worked like a charm!   After I spotted Dad in front of the Polynesian, I walked over to the TTC and hopped on a bus to Hollywood Studios.
      After getting to see Dad again just past the exit of HS, I knew I couldn't beat him to the finish line, so I stayed where I was to cheer on other runners as they passed.  I was cheering so loud that several Disney employees remarked how impressed they were by my enthusiasm.  I yelled so much I was hoarse!  About an hour later, I got a text from Mom telling me she'd caught up with Dad, and they were headed back to the hotel, so I did the same.

      While Dad took an ice bath, Mom and I went over to the food court to grab lunch for all of us and took it back to the room.  After lunch, Dad and I walked along the river over to PO-Riverside to keep his legs from tightening up.  After a quiet afternoon spent napping and lounging by the pool, we had yet another early night.

      Dad's Goofy Challenge Stats:
      • Saturday Half Marathon: 13.1 mi; 1:59:56;  9:09 min/mi avg. pace
      • Sunday Full Marathon:    26.2 mi; 4:26:01; 10:09 min/mi avg. pace

        Marathon Monday:
        Other than Dad being interviewed by a runDisney marketing crew just inside the turnstyles, it was a pretty standard Day at the Magic Kingdom for us.  But we did manage to do a lot of things we don't normally do: Hall of Presidents, Country Bear Jamboree, Liberty Square Riverboat, and the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.  In addition, we had a very late lunch at The Crystal Palace, which was so huge it also counted as our dinner!  All in all, it was a great way to celebrate a weekend full of achievements!