Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Track Tuesdays 2

track tuesday!

I'm pairing up with Denise at Run DMT to bring you a weekly thread where you can brag, show off, cry or celebrate your weekly  (or whenever it is) speed workout. Whether it's Monday, Tuesday, or never, you can link up (at the bottom) and tell us all about your session.

After my sub-par long run on Sunday, I really wanted to kick off this week with a bang. I was scheduled for a 40-minute tempo run. I alternate track workouts and tempo runs every other week, and I haven't really followed through on my straight tempo runs lately, so I wanted this one to a) be the good start to the week and b) make up for my failure in getting good tempo runs done lately.

 I was scheduled to get to the gym Tuesday morning - alarm set for 5:40 and everything. But, as I laid wide awake at 3:30 am, until nearly 5, I knew there was no way it was happening, so I sucked it up and went after work instead. With 40 minutes scheduled, I figured I could get in a solid 4 miles, but should hit above that to ensure that my pace was at least 30 seconds faster than my steady pace. I got to work the first mile and was ecstatic at my first lap. I'll leave it there - miles 1 and 2 were awesome, and I used the first lap of miles 3 and 4 as a walk lap, but booked it to the end of those. Splits (non-Garmin version since it's dead and charging for tomorrow's 7 miles):

Mile 1: 8:44
Mile 2: 8:39
Mile 3: 9:09
Mile 4: 9:12

 Total: 4.5 miles / 40:34 for a pace of an even 9:00/mile. Stellar. This was the start to the week I was hoping for and am hoping to boost myself through the rest of the week and help me forget about the mostly lackluster week I had last week. Onward!

Do you do regular speedwork as part of a training plan? Did you this week? Link it up! If you post on Twitter, don't forget to use #TrackTuesday too!

And feel free to add the button to your site and entry, too!

Race Report: MDJ Gobble Jog 10K

Marietta, GA | 11.22.12

Heather and I found this race well over a month ago, hoping to find some sort of race that wasn't the Atlanta Half to do on Thanksgiving morning before we gorged filled ourselves with holiday deliciousness. We managed to find this one and signed up... and then kind of forgot about it (I mean, with her first half before then, who wouldn't forget it?)

Sunset into Atlanta on Wednesday.
I got to leave work about an hour early on Wednesday afternoon, perfect so I could race home, grab the dog and our bags for the weekend, and haul butt down to  Atlanta. Heather's place is on the northeast side of town, Marietta's on the northwest side of town, so it made the traffic adventure fun. Traffic wasn't terrible until I got into Atlanta proper, and then sat. Still. For a long time. Finally made my way to Marietta to packet pickup, which was held at a church just off the square. Packet pick-up itself was super easy: walk in, find your corresponding last name letter, get your shirt, and your bib, and walk out. Easy peasy. The way out of the church, however, was unbelievably horrendous - not a fun situation. But whatever. 

Afterward, I headed back to Heather's, waited on her (fell asleep, really), loaded the car and then we headed to our crash pad for Thursday and Friday - back in the direction of Marietta (I should have just stayed there!), at Radha's. Radha is another sorority sister from the Georgia Tech chapter - yay for sisters! We crashed somewhere around midnight (way too late) and very begrudgingly got up at 6:40 to get out the door, grab breakfast (gas station mini donuts, FTW) and get to Marietta Square. Another sister of ours, Brandi (the one I ran ATL with) was already at the Square and ready to roll. Seriously, the entire car ride to Marietta we were almost questioning what on earth we were doing getting up this early on Thanksgiving instead of sleeping... once we parked and found our way to the Square, found Brandi, and settled into the groove of things, I think it sank in.
Heather, me and Brandi before the race.

Gobble Jog features a 10K (which starts first), a 1K, a 5K and a Tot Trot. The route for the 5K is a loop around the north end of the Square, and through some neighborhoods in the area - an absolutely gorgeous run! Two good hills, but nothing uber terrible. Brandi had mentioned that the course was fast, and that on nearly 5K she'd done on the route, she'd PRed or come close to it. I tried not to push that fact too much, but was curious to see what I could do.

Last year, Gobble Jog featured almost 9,400 runners - can you believe that? Insanely large Turkey Trot if you ask me! This year they were hoping to hit 10,000 and had contests for the largest teams that would sign up (a church won with 192 registrants). The Square was busy, but certainly not as chaotic as you'd imagine with limited parking (we had no problem) and that many people. I was impressed with the seemingly controlled and super calm atmosphere all around. As the 10K starts first (two laps of the 5K route), they asked runners who had strollers/dogs to be in the very back, walkers ahead of them, run/walkers ahead of them, and supreme-o runners at the front. While some people decided to place themselves, I appreciated the effort that a) the race organizers did to try and make this happen and b) that most runners complied! Amazing! 

At first, I planned on going all out, just to see what I could do - and quickly learned at hill 1 that was just not going to work. 15 minutes in (okay, not bad) I opted to try this run-walk-run cycle in a race environment, just to see what would happen. When I got through the 5K at  just about the 30-minute mark, I knew I had a good shot of PRing (last time was 1:04:21) even if I slowed up a bit. The best part of this course, hands down, are the number of families and supporters that come out - whether because they knew someone running or because it happened to go by their front yard. There was a man with a sax playing the "Charge!" anthem, families with cowbells and little kids giving out high-fives. Awesome environment, and that can definitely make a race all the better!

You can't get  much better than this!
 Run-walk-run success! I hit the mile 6 marker about the 58-minute mark, and put it all behind me there and sprinted my best the last .2 to get to the finish - a fantastic 1:00:19 finish and a shiny new Thanksgiving PR!
I grabbed a banana and water and headed back to the finish to wait for Brandi and Heather to come in. Brandi came in at a solid 1:20 or so and Heather got herself a nearly 3-minute PR at 1:26:17, an awesome morning for her too! Happy times all around! We hung around for a bit, but were ready to get back, shower, and chill for the day to do absolutely nothing but eat! Brandi's also running her first full marathon this weekend, so we sent her off with all the luck we could muster - rock it Brandi! You got this! 
Happy morning for us all!
Overall, an awesome race - considering we really didn't want to do it when we got up that morning and questioned our sanity, it turned out to be a great run and a great way to start a calorie deficit day for the Thanksgiving feast ahead! If you're looking for a great Turkey Trot in the Atlanta area, this is one of them - check it out! (Also want to say the long sleeve shirts, though not tech material, are amazing. Super soft, super comfy, definitely a win!)

Did you race on Thanksgiving or the weekend? How'd you do? Any new turkey-induced PRs?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Surf City: Week 8

I rocked this week on a total high from that 14-miler last week. Isn't it amazing how one really great run/workout can carry you through a whole 'nother week? Yeah, I went for a ride off of that - looking forward to tackling more!

Monday: Rest
Monday started the slowest 3-day work week ever - students don't have classes but our offices are open. So we all kind of hang out, get caught up on email and life and other mindless things that we just let fall by the wayside during a regular work week when our students are around. Caught up on life, mmhmmm.

Tuesday: 9 x 400s
3.75 mi / 33:48 / 9:00 pace

Headed to the gym after work - after sitting at my desk all day (see Monday - it's slow this wek!), I needed to get up and move, so I was really excited to make it a good, all-out speed sesh. I was also really happy when I realized how empty the gym was because all the students are gone (!), which meant (mostly) having room to go all out as I pleased all over the track. After my 9x400s two weeks ago, I knew I could push it more than I had then, so I wanted to see just how much I could do and pushed myself pretty hard. Check it!
All my 400s are at 2:01 and less, when two weeks ago, the fastest was 2:03. I'm happy with the progress, and happier with how good I felt afterward!

Also, be sure you're joining me and Run DMT for Track Tuesdays (or whichever day of the week you prefer)! Check it out here!

Wednesday: 3-4 miles
3.29 mi / 32:09 / 9:46 pace
I really wanted to get up and get to the gym this morning before work - I think that right after a speedwork session on Tuesday night plus the fast that it was the Friday of the work week made for a really lazy morning. I almost regret it because the sunrise (from what I could see through my window) was absolutely stunning. You live, you learn.


Instead, I headed out on a lunchtime run - something I've never really done before, but have contemplated, especially as winter comes around, it'll make it easier to get a few miles in. I though it'd also be a good idea given that I'd be sitting at my desk all day (still catching up on life), and it would break up the day (and then kick off a 4-day weekend!). Woot! So I headed to the campus track and field complex, 1/2 mile from my office, did 2 miles, and then ran the 1/2 mile back - all in a good lunch break. Glad I got out there, for sure, even though the first half felt super sluggish, the second half was a lot better and felt a little more 'with it'.

Thursday: MDJ 10th Annual Gobble Jog 10K
I wanted to find some kind of race to do in Atlanta on Thanksgiving, and gosh knows there's plenty of them, from several 5Ks to the Atlanta Half to this guy, apparently a moderately big deal of a race that gets some good crowds. Heather and I signed up for this one last month, and I was excited to see how I could get down to work - I haven't done a 10K race since Peachtree, but have had a number of 10K-distanced PR runs, so I hoped I could make those count here. Well, obviously, if you read above, you can see... I did! Race report coming shortly - still catching up from this weekend!

Brandi, me and Heather at Gobble Jog!

Friday: Rest
Busy busy week, followed by an awesome 10K and a day of delicious fattyness.The best part was that it (sort of) continued into Friday, with our host making an amaaaazing breakfast (homemade biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage!)... we eventually headed back to Heather's around 1 and headed out for Black Friday stuff and got to our first stop at 2. Glorious, being that all the crazies were back in bed at this point. Shopped for longer than anticipated, got a few good deals & passed out on the couches at midnight or so. Fabulous Black Friday!

Saturday: 15  miles
Unplanned rest day - I stayed at Heather's one more night and joined in for a UGA/GT watch party on the couch... Go Dawgs! Game over, went back to Heather's, and finally came home around 6:30, unpacked from the weekend and promptly did nothing else but watch the last games of Rivalry Week. I was okay with the rest day - wasn't feeling super hot, I think from some pretty significant dehydration over the course of the weekend. Probably for the better!

Sunday: Cross-train
9.01 mi / 1:34:18 / 10:27 pace
At least it was a gogeous day!
Being that Saturday turned into the rest day, I hoped to get in my 15 miles today instead of cross training. Last week I was nervous about the distance (14 miles), because it would be my longest run to date. This week I was nervous because I wanted to be sure I did as well as last week, plus that extra mile. Nothing like a little self-competitiveness to get you through a run, huh?

I got out to the course I had planned in my head, which was a huge 5 mile loop I do near my house. I figured I could run it at least twice and make up 4 miles elsewhere around my area. Around mile 4 I decided I didn't want to do the loop twice, and instead made my way towards another loop that I do instead. This was fine, until I remembered that part of my plan in doing the loops was that I could stop at the house for water and chomps at each 5 mile interval. I figured I'd get on without it and just see how it went. Mile 7 is where I really started to feel crappy and was home again at mile 8.3 - I took one loop around my apartment complex just to round out the 9 miles. Whew. Crappy.

Lessons learned on today's long run:
  •  Don't change your pre-planned course mid-run unless you have to.
  • If you do have to, pray that you have Gus/chomps/carbs in your hands to compensate.
  • Appreciate the good runs even more! 
  • Learn from the bad runs (I am, trust me)
  • Acknowledge that bad runs will happen. I feel like marathon training has been going really well so far, so perhaps it was high time for a crappy one to bring me back down and remember that it's going to be work.
Total Week Miles: 22.25 miles
Total Cross Train: 0

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, or what's your tradition?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Thankful

This year I participated (and actually kept up with!) the #30daysofthanks - mostly via Facebook, because I usually forgot to do it on Twitter, but regardless... I've kept up with it so far. I wanted to share some of my favorites (via  a really awesome Paint-made infographic, ha!), but also talk more about some of the things I really am thankful for.  Some of these will come up via my Facebook over the next week before November is over, but they deserve a blog post all their own, too.

30 Days of Thanks 
the abridged version!

Mom, dad, Coke Bear and I. June 2012.
Family - My family's all over the place - parents and paternal grandparents are all in southern California, little sister is in New York. This year has been hard with losing my grandmother very unexpectedly and though not as severe, we lost both family dogs to boot. Seeing my family at the beginning of this month for my cousin's wedding was so great, as it was a happy reunion (as was the cruise in June, but this felt more real). I'm so thankful for my parents' constant support in all that I do, ridiculous or not, but that I know they always have my back and will encourage me every step of the way. My little sister means the world to me and I know she's kickin' tail all over NYC and I'm so proud of her in all she does. I can't wait to go visit again (I should make that happen), but love even the few days I get with her at home at Christmas. Family's everything, point made.

My Health - Throughout undergrad and continuing into grad school and into Texas, I fought with some pretty nasty sicknesses (colds turn into bronchial infections overnight thanks to sickness-induced asthma) and allergies in Texas would always kick it up a notch. I haven't been crazy sick since moving here and I'm super grateful! I think my new level of activeness helps that too. I'm thankful that my body has been working with me over the last several months as I've transitioned into training and running a crazy amount and that my knee(s) don't hate me.

Running - Running has done a few things for me, and I wish I could do a post all for its own, as it deserves that much. Running is stress relief. It's an escape from a bad day. It's a reminder that I can do whatever I set my mind to. It's a reminder that I'm healthy and alive. It's the way to allow my competitive self to keep competitive when I'm not in a team sport. It's introduced me and re-connected me to so many amazing people, both in real life and online in a variety of communities. I'm thankful it's given me something to aim for each and every day, to keep bettering myself in all I attempt to do.

Omega Phi Alpha - My sorority has given me so much, and more than I realized even when I was an active sister. Moving around as much as I have, OPA has always connected me with sisters in a new area, given me ways to get involved, but also to ensure that I feel like I belong somewhere. Attending our convention this summer rejuvenated that love, passion and commitment that I made nearly 9 years ago to my sorority and I feel so happy and honored to be serving in a national position to be able to do that. I owe a lot to this organization, and aim to give back whenever and however I am able for as long as possible!

Friendships - After moving around enough, I've had enough friendships come and go that I've held on to a handful that have mattered. I'm lucky to have a couple from undergrad, a number from graduate school and a few scattered ones in-between there. I'm thankful for technology that has allowed us to stay better in touch, as admittedly, we all can get lazy in keeping in touch. Guilty as charged, I'm not one to point fingers. But regardless, I'm thankful to those that have stayed so close in my life, who are constant reminders of how much we've grown, grown up and grown together in friendships, love and life. Thankful to those that have stuck around, supported me in my efforts and have encouraged me all along the way.

This Guy - Definitely not last and far from least, this is Doug, the amazing, wonderful, far away (sad face) boyfriend. He's currently in California (yepppp) while I'm 3 time zones ahead out here in Georgia. I'm thankful for this guy - for having the patience and heart to let me wander around, get jobs where I've been able, and though it's been far from easy, for putting up with me for so long! Secret, y'all: we've been together since high school. True story! I'm thankful for the weekends we get together, for the times he's come to visit, for the random adventures we've found ourselves on, our trips to baseball games and Disneyland at Christmas (my favorite), and for all he brings to my life. Not easy, not always fun, but long distance has taught us a lot and we've made it amazingly far, all things considered. I love him immensely and can't imagine having come this far without him. Grateful for you, love.

What are you thankful for? Anything out of the typical friends, health, and love?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Track Tuesdays 1

Hey everyone!

Super excited that I've got a new weekly blog project and thread to keep up with. I've tried the Dear  Mondays and the Wordless Wednesdays.... and they just don't stick after awhile. This one, however, holds me accountable in my training plan, doing the work, and putting it out there for all to see. Friends, I introduce you to
track tuesdays!
(or Wednesdays, or Thursdays... mine just happen to fall on Tuesdays)

I'm pairing up with Denise at Run DMT and Ricole Runs to bring you a weekly thread where you can brag, show off, cry or celebrate your weekly  (or whenever it is) speed workout. Whether it's Monday, Tuesday, or never, you can link up (at the bottom) and tell us all about your session.

Today's session for me was a 9 x 400 doozy (yes, even though it was the same two weeks ago, it's still a doozy). After a long day at work (and by 'long' I mean no students are around, so I sit at my desk and do things. Sometimes), I was actually really excited to get up and moving and even more pleasantly surprised when I realized how empty the gym was - woohoo Thanksgiving Break! There were maybe five people on the track the whole time I was there, which made for a great session to zone out and pretend like I was there all by myself.

After my speed sesh from two weeks ago, and doing a little math, I had the notion that I could push myself even a little more today. And push I did! I started with a 400m warmup, then worked into my 9 x 400m repeats with 200m inbetween, and a 400m cool down. Perfection. After the first 3, I made it the goal to keep them all under 2 minutes - mission (almost) accomplished, save for one! Damn good.

Week 8 speed work - check. On to the rest! (I've also noticed that particularly after going to the gym at night, all I want is fast food on the way home. Serious. Anyone else? No, just me? Darn...)

Do you do regular speedwork as part of a training plan? Did you this week? Link it up!

And feel free to add the button to your site and entry, too!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Surf City: Week 7

As mentioned last week, from here on out my sole focus is preparing for my first full marathon, Surf City Marathon on February 3, 2013. It's unbelievable that it's only 11 weeks away now, considering I signed up for this in May! All previous posts (Wine & Dine training) were still aimed at creating a strong foundation for training for Surf City, but I chose to focus on little pieces at a time (namely, Wine & Dine since that's when I started my plan the first week in August. With that.. here we go!

Monday: Rest
I flew home from the amazingness that was Wine & Dine weekend on Monday morning. I got to Atlanta around 10:30, was in Athens by 12:30, got home, showered, and was at work by 1:30 until about 6. It made for a really long, thereby justifying (yet again) how glad I am that rest days are on Mondays!
Missed this fur-baby of mine!

Tuesday: 30 minute tempo
2.07 mi / 23:03 / 11:08 pace

I had originally planned to get up Tuesday morning and take a breeze around the neighborhood for this run. I instead woke up at 7:45 am, in a sudden panic, as when I unlocked my phone, I realized I had passed out Monday night ... in the middle of setting my alarm. Oops? Hauled butt to get ready for work and opted for a late dusk, post-work run instead. I took the pup along, just to get her out and moving, thus the slower pace than normal. Happy to have gotten the miles in, even if not at the rate I wanted and not nearly as far as I'd have liked, but after being away from the fur-baby for two weekends in a row, I needed some more time with her!

Wednesday: 7 miles pace
Wednesday turned into a super long day too - again, couldn't manage to get myself up and out of bed in time to get to the gym. Waking up to rain sure doesn't help either! I dragged myself to work, still slightly recuperating from this weekend, and hoped to get to the gym after my students' program that night (wishful thinking, right?). My students collaborated with another organization on campus to host (my office's Associate Director!) Donovan Nichols, a speaker for the Pay it Forward foundation. Much like the movie, the foundation works to encourage, motivate and inspire people all around the world to pay it forward, one act of kindness at a time. It's an incredible presentation, as he tells some really moving, compelling stories that make you laugh and cry right along with the 70 other people in the room with you. It was an incredible program and I'm really glad that was the way my day ended... not at the gym afterwards.
Donovan Nichols speaks to nearly 70 UGA students on Wednesday night!

Thursday: 4 miles
7 mi / 1:07:20 / 9:37 pace
After listening to Jeff Galloway speak about the run-walk-run method last weekend at the expo, I thought I'd give it a shot. Since I missed my miles on Wednesday, I thought I'd move the 7-miler to Thursday, and rest Friday for the (super) long run coming up on Saturday. So after work (again, morning fail!) I headed to the gym for my 56 laps around the track. It was surprisingly busy, which was nice for people-watching, allowing one girl to be my pacer and getting it done quickly. Super happy with how my timing went - my plan for marathon training/the actual race is to do a cycle. I was aiming for a 3 (run) - 1 (walk) cycle, which turned into a 3 laps (1/8 mi each) run, 1 lap walk plan which is about on target with timing. Overall super happy with this run and excited to put a r-w-r cycle to use! 

Friday: Rest
I was going to throw in a few miles on Friday just for good measure, but decided I should probably rest up for Saturday's long run instead. Glad I stuck with that decision - carbed up in the form of chicken, macaroni and cheese, and some honey-glazed carrots, and settled in for a night of Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids - among my favorite Friday night shows. Happy start to the weekend!
Best part? Christmas presents I started ordering have been arriving! Yay!

Saturday: 14  miles
14.02 mi / 2:25:50 / 10:24 pace
I'd been nervous about this run all week long - could I do it? Should I try and coerce someone into running with me? Did I need to carry my water bottle? Where the hell would I run that would add up to 14 miles? I mapped a route, changed my mind, tried another, didn't like it. So I figured I'd just end up waking up on Saturday and see where the wind (or my legs) took me. After dawdling in bed a little while longer than I should have, I rolled out of bed for a half peanut butter sandwich and half a banana while I putzed around getting my things together for the run. How many layers? It was 38 when I woke up and headed out the door. After running for 2+ hours, surely it'd be warm enough. I settled on two layers (short sleeve tee, long sleeve tech tee on top) with gloves and capris.

I had left my armband and headphones in my locker at the gym - which is closed on game days on campus. Oops. 14 miles with no music? Let's see what I can do, eh? I figured paying attention to the 3-1 cycle on my Garmin would keep me entertained enough that I really wouldn't need to worry about tunes too much. The morning was also incredibly gorgeous, so as cheesy as it is, I really did just look around and marvel at the colors, the trees, the sheer beauty of the morning. I picked a good morning to get out and run!

Miles 1-3 were easy as I settled into a cycle and got used to the feel of it. For a little while, my lungs felt really tight and I'm praying it's not a cold slowly creeping in on me. My original intent was to turn right down my usual road at mile 3, but instead kept going straight towards a new (what turns into) back-country road. Great choice, beautiful road... with no sidewalks. So every time a car came in my direction, I'd jump off into the grass on the shoulder and pray I wouldn't land in a hole. It started to remind me of Ragnar, at least in the back country roads we'd run down. Still pretty, just a little nerve-wracking!
Very Ragnar-esque.

Really, the whole run was pretty lackluster, in the best way possible. I felt great - it wasn't until nearly mile 8 that I really need to pause and stretch for a few minutes before chugging along. I passed near my apartment complex not long after this, just after I hit 9.25 miles, and thought that I'd just finish the mileage running loops in my complex (about .60 mi around the whole thing) - I made it through two laps and realized there was no way that was happening, so I headed back out on the road through halfway through mile 12, and then finished with a loop and a half around the complex. 14. Done and done.
I got home, ate, and took Molly straight to the park before I even thought about sitting down. After we got home, I promptly laid on the couch... for the rest of the day. I'd say I'm justified in this decision. College football shenanigans (well played Ole Miss, what the hell happened to you K-State?, and go Dawgs!), a whole lot of nothing, and a lot of snacking to end this Saturday. So happy I made it through these 14 miles, they weren't nearly as bad as I could have anticipated, and this run-walk-run business is the key to a) an 'easy' long run and b) quick recovery. Feelin' good!
Personal distance record! Never mind the messy splits!

Sunday: Cross-train
13.3 mi / 54:34
Wanted to push myself really well on my cycling cross-train session today - pushed it good at every chorus in the playlist for today and am super happy with the outcome! Happy Sunday - after that... my day was just as lazy as the rest of Saturday. Happy weekend!

The long run this week taught me that I really am more capable than I think I am and that, as everyone says, if you can get through training, you can get through the race - it's all mental. I feel like I passed a pretty big milestone in getting past the idea of that I can 'only' run a half-marathon. Bring it 15 miles next week... bring it! Also super excited for my Gobble Jog 10K on Thursday - gotta earn that turkey!

What was your major breakthrough in training? How do you get goin' when the goin' gets tough? 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tips for Enjoying Your runDisney Experience

I wanted to include this in my post about my Wine and Dine experience, but I feel that it was worthy of its own post anyway. Please remember that is this is all based off my (currently) one and only runDisney race - and as amazing as it was, I'm sure there are always things you wish you could have done a little differently, right? Right.

Tips for Enjoying Your runDisney Experience
And heck yes! Get yourself a Celebrating! button!
  • Don't go into a runDisney race with a time goal. I read so many folks saying this the weeks leading up to this, and I really took that to heart. It is Disney, after all. It's the most magical place on earth. I'm glad I didn't - not only because I wanted to ensure Heather made it, but that I really wanted to take it all in. If you are a Disney lover, you want to be able to really make the most of it.
  • If you're a later corral, don't try and be that guy. in the bottleneck that is Animal Kingdom, there was a guy who was yelling at folks "On your left! On your left!" like he actually thought he'd get by people. Dude, you're in the second to last corral. Start earlier if you're going to take this race that seriously.
  • Research the course. Every race runDisney hosts has a different course (some overlap in portions), but each has its unique challenges. I'm thankful for the gentleman we met going into packet pick-up who warned us of the extreme bottleneck that occurs in the Animal Kingdom because how narrow paths get. It prepped me for it, so when we got to the park I didn't freak out or worry about my pace - I knew it was coming and knew how to deal. Find folks who have done it before, read blogs, articles, reviews, and anything you can find about the course you're about to take on. 
  • Stay on site: we were on property technically, so it wasn't a big deal, but I imagine having the shuttles at your disposal makes things a little easier. Overall, it didn't affect my experience, but I'm also grateful that we got to use Selby's parking pass and therefore use the shuttle to/from the start line. 
  • Bring a camera! I hated running with so much junk in my hands, but am also so grateful I did. I knew my photo wouldn't cut it for the nighttime photos, so I brought my Nikon along for the ride too. So glad I did! Stop and take character photos, scenery, park signs. It's worth it.
  • Don't visit the parks the day of the race. I say this for Wine and Dine, given that it started at 10 pm. I can only imagine a long day at a park, then getting somewhere to change and then go run. Morning races at Disney are totally and completely different, but for W&D, I'd personally advise against it. I'm glad I saved it for the day after the race (moving helped my legs recuperate too!). 
  • Run with friends/groups/folks you know. Disney is more fun with more people as we all know. You're allowed to move back corrals (i.e. I was assigned to C but started in E), but aren't allowed to move forward (though with all those people they'd know none the wiser). 
  • For Wine & Dine specifically, do several night runs prior to this.  Wine and Dine starts at 10 pm (assuming you're in the Elites corral or even towards the front of Corral A), and for some folks, running that late at night can totally throw off their running mojo. How do you fuel for a run that late? Does your body agree? Experiment for a few weeks leading up to it so you know how to best prep come race day.
What other tips would you add? Words of advice for a runDisney first-timer?

These opinions are solely my own based on my experiences from Wine and Dine 2012. These tips/suggestions are not intended to violate any rules or terms provided for runDisney by Disney, runDisney or related entities. This post not endorsed or supported by runDisney in any fashion and are my own thoughts.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Race Report: Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon

Walt Disney World Wine & Dine Half Marathon
November 10, 2012
Orlando, Florida

I'll say it in the shortest way possible: Disney knows how to do a race. And make it fun. Which, really, was my Goal #1 for this race: have fun! It's Disney for crying out loud, so how can you not have any fun? Right, you can't. Gear up for a long post. Seriously. You've been warned.

I worked a half day Friday before heading down to Atlanta and the airport. Heather and I were meeting at the airport in Orlando, Amma was already in Florida at this point, and Selby was getting there earlier on Friday. We had plans to all meet up for dinner (plus some more folks) to carb-load at Olive Garden before parting ways for the night.

I would count this as my first legit run-cation (though Ragnar I suppose would fit that word, too), but it felt like the first trip solely to run. I was excited! I got to Orlando at 4:15, and hoped I'd see more runners coming through baggage claim than I did while I sat there for an hour, but I supposed the die-hards had already gotten there (mostly if they were accepted into the #WineDineHalfMeetup which I will make travel arrangements for next year).  Thankfully, that just meant the airport was super mellow for a Friday evening! Heather got in at 5:30, we got our rental car and made our way to Disney's All-Star Movie Resort to pick up Selby, Amma and Ryan for the dinner fun! Dinner was incredible -- I'll provide you the visuals, but in short: I was the common denominator, with a few exceptions, to the entire dinner table. Talk about pressure! Heather, Amma and Selby I knew prior, of course. Dillon was my former RA in Texas, and his wife Kendall was also an RA while I was there, and they live in Orlando now. Alicia has been an online friend for ten+ years (seriously!), and we got to meet in person for the first time ever - talk about awesome - because she lives in Orlando too and runs pretty much every runDisney event there is. Amma brought along her friend, Ryan; Alicia brought her roommate, Katherine (who I also know online), and a sorority colonist from UCF, Chelsea, met up with Heather and I for the shenanigans too. Can you say crazy? So much fun.
All of us at dinner! Ryan, Amma, Selby, Katherine, Alicia, Kendall, Dillon, me & Heather. Chelsea hadn't arrived for the crazy yet, unfortunately for her! 
After a gallavant through Target where more shenanigans ensued, we finally took Amma, Ryan, and Selby back to their hotel, checked into our hotel (technically on property but not a Disney hotel), and crashed for the evening. If Friday night was any sign as to how amazing this weekend was going to be... I was ready!

We eventually woke up to an 8:20 alarm on Saturday morning - late for me, but at the crack of dawn for Heather who currently functions on Pacific Time (sorry HP). Grabbed breakfast at the hotel, and were trying to scramble to make it to the expo in time to see Jeff Galloway speak at 10 am about pacing and motivation (pacing being my long-standing issue). Breakfast took a lot longer than we thought, and getting texts from Selby saying that they were already using overflow parking at the expo freaked us out. So we high-tailed it there and got to the main expo around 9:30. Selby had warned us that the seating area was surprisingly small for this size of an expo, so we were nervous, but were pleasantly surprised when only 2 of the 25-30 chairs were occupied. Success.

First, walking up to the expo - I had never been to/near/at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but felt the energy as soon as we were there. No longer had we parked and gotten out of the car that we started talking to a guy who was on his way in and gave us tips for running W&D (he had last year). The expo was set up in two venues - one for actual packet pick-up/chip testing/photo fun and the other building was entirely the expo. I liked the system - though we had gone straight to the expo building first, so we had to get back to the packet pick-up afterward, and then back to the main expo to get our shirts (anything to get you to walk through the expo!). Packet pick up was quick and easy, so apparently Saturday morning was the time to be there!

ZOMG, Jeff Galloway!
Jeff is a great speaker - he talked a lot about his run-walk-run cycle of training/racing, and how it benefits folks. I paid particular attention because I already planned on training for the full marathon in this way and that's how I already planned to run that race. He's funny, but real, and seemingly down to earth. And best, he lives in Atlanta. Woot! I was nerdily excited to get to meet him, and happend to be wearing my runATL shirt, so we had a quick convo about Atlanta and whereabouts we live. Such a nice guy! I'm excited to check out his run-walk timer and see if I can give it a go for training.

We spent a little while longer at the expo, spent some money I shouldn't (but I did need new shoes so I can actually start cycling through some and not killing my Brooks in training), and had a load of fun, to say the least. After picking up our packets, had a mini photo shoot with the backgrounds, and headed out for lunch at Downtown Disney and a quick errand before coming back to the hotel to take a nap and watch a few crazy football games (hot dang, Alabama, what happened to you?). Alicia worked at Magic Kingdom until 5:15, and was going to bus over to Downtown Disney and then walk to our hotel. En route, her phone died, so come 6 when we still had no idea where she was, I headed out and drove into the madness to try and find her, to no avail. Thankfully, around 6:30 she was finally at our room, scrambling to eat, change, try and charge her phone, and get over to All Star, where we planned to meet with our people at 7:15. Success, on the bus and at the start line by 7:45!

Then the fun began. Because buses stopped at 8, you had to be at the start line nearly two hours before your gun time (depending on your corral). Thankfully, there was a great entertainer who was teaching us moves and getting us to stay active (and warm) for those two hours -seriously, they flew by. Bag check was to be done by 9 pm, and we were hurdled into our corrals at about 9:15 (stand in a corral for a full hour?!). Ah well.

I was originally assigned Corral C, while Amma was in B, Selby and Alicia in D, and Heather in E. Alicia, Amma, and I all went back to E to get started with Heather. We had some meet up plans with the rest of the crew (Mile 8 or Tigger, whichever came first), so we didn't sweat about the split up too much.

I had two goals for this race:
  • Have fun, as mentioned above. It's a race with friends, it's by Disney, it's AT Disney... how seriously can you take this?
  • Get Heather across the finish line. This was my dear friend's first half marathon and I was determined to make sure she did it. She was at the finish line for my first one back in January, and I needed to make sure the same happened. If worst came to worst, she told me I could drag her across the line (spoiler: that didn't happen).
Hey guys! You're doing a half marathon!
At the start, Amma and I took off, bobbing and weaving (oh lord the bobbing and weaving!), and I told HP and Alicia I'd meet them at Mile 5. Mile 1 had nearly a 12:30 time because of all the bobbing we had to do. I had to remind myself that I was in the second to last corral and a lot of the folks were using a run-walk method (while walking in the middle of the road). We hit Mile 5 seemingly quickly, and Amma wanted to keep going - I told her I had promised to meet the other two at the 5er so I stopped, took some fun photos, talked to the security guys and the Disney employee/volunteer who was single-handedly probably the most excited volunteer I'd seen - all by himself! I hung out at Mile 5 for about 18 minutes until I finally saw Heather chugging along and looking great! We weren't even 100 yards past the 5 when Alicia caught up to us too. From there on out, we maintained a 1-1 run-walk cycle. I liked it - it went along with my "have fun" mantra, but also allowed me some leeway; for example, had I been running/racing and chugging along, I wouldn't have crossed over the 10K mat singing "Livin' on a Prayer" (ooooooh we're halfway theeerrreeeee -- get it?) with five or six other women, or stopped for photos with some chararcters (only a few). And I got to keep pushing along with two really important people in my life (mush, I know).

From there, I didn't pay attention to splits (really, I only did at Mile 1). Alicia and I would run ahead a little while, then walk for a bit and wait for Heather. Or we'd stop in line for character photos, Heather would run ahead and then we'd catch up again. Just before Mile 8, were Goofy and Chip 'n Dale, three characters I was really excited about - and, by this point, I hadn't taken any character photos! Heather charged on ahead, and just told us to catch up with her. The major point of planned meeting-up (Mile 8) came and went - we knew Heather was ahead of us, we just hoped the rest of the bunch had started running with her too and didn't wait for us. Heather texted me just as we entered Hollywood Studios, saying she had just entered and she needed us to catch up - I knew this meant business, so we nearly sprinted through the Rockin' Rollercoaster section and found her along Main Street. She was doing so great (she had maxed out her training plan at 9 miles and we were nearly at 10) but had started to hit the wall. Back to the run-walk cycle, the three of us.

Hollywood Studios is a park that I feel is under-appreciated. Admittedly, it's not my fave, mostly because the rides are fewer, but they are awesome ones! After the back-lot tour tunnel, we come around the corner by Star Wars (we didn't stop for Darth Vader, he freaks me out), and turned the corner into Osborne's Festival of Lights, so nearly the huge main square at DHS is lit up. Stunning. My favorite was the Peace on Earth with dozens of angels looming around. Beautiful.

Just around Mile 11, you come in the front of DHS and  are greeted by their Christmas tree. Alicia and I had gone on a little bit further than Heather at this point, but stopped for a photo shoot with the tree and waited for her to catch up - we were only 2 miles from the finish and I made a mental vow to make sure I got her over that line - dragging or no dragging. The last bit of the race is tough -- the boardwalk is dimly lit up, but not super exciting, though there were two boats docked with bands playing for us! A nice surprise in a fairly dark area of the race, compared to the excitement of DHS we had just come through.

I'm going to out Heather a little bit here (sorry boo, love you!) - she's not the emotional type. That's also coming from me, Queen of Execessive, Unnecessary Tears. About the 12.5 mark or so, she started tearing up, just knowing she'd finish, that she'd make it, and she could officially call herself a half-marathoner (!). At Mile 13, she lost it, through the smoke (poor decision Disney) and lasers, as I did with her, and over the line we went. And then it was cryfest (mostly on her part). She did it! I'm so proud of this girl - she's been running not even a year, ran her first 5K last January and has been kickin' tail since. So proud of what she's done in not even a year! And already signed up for her second half before this one even happened (she'll be joining me in Surf City while I run the full).
This sufficiently depicts it for you - tears, excitement, pride, accomplishment.
We got our medals, made our way to the bag exchange since we were close to the closing time call for bags (2:15 am), grabbed all the food we can in our arms (lots of great snackage!), and promptly sat down. Poor decision, we know. We finally made our way to finding the rest of our group, continued the photo shoot, and then went to go play at Epcot! The park was open until 4 am for runners and after-party guests, so we got to cruise through Soarin' (favorite ride ever, hooray California!) and a few other fun things before we headed out for the night. Amazing, amazing evening. Disney does some great stuff.

All finishers!

I'll have another post later about our parks adventure and things I recommend for enjoying your runDisney experience, and both the positives and (very few) negatives about the weekend and my experience!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Marathon Training | Surf City Marathon

If you recall, last May, this happened:

When I registered in May, February 2013 seemed like light-years away. I mean, here I was, registering for a race that was nearly 9 months away. I'd never registered for anything so far in advance, let alone had just finished my first two half marathons and here I was registering for a full! Crazy pants, I tell ya what.

And here we are. November. I'm 80 days away from toeing the line of my first full marathon. Holy freaking cow. If you've paid attention recently, you know that this weekend, I ran my third half marathon in a span of just 5 weeks. I PRed twice in October, ran a solely fun-run this weekend, and am running my sixth and final half marathon of the year (and ever!) on December 26 in Los Angeles.

Technically, I started training six weeks ago for Surf City. Running the Allstate ATL half, and Athens and now Wine & Dine These halfs have given me an incredible base for the next 12 weeks of training. I'm excited, nervous, antsy and optimistic all at once (I hear that's normal)! But regardless, February will be here before I know it - and that means the time is near!

What does training look like for me, you wonder? You can see it here (picture link opens to Google doc):

I took part of the Hal Higdon Novice 2 marathon plan and modified it a bit to fit what I thought would work well for me - for example, I added speedwork during the week. Through these halfs, I've learned that while I hate don't love speedwork, I can definitely see it making a difference and contributing to my abilities to boost out a little bit faster each week. The beauty of this being my first full is that I have the opportunity to tweak things and re-arrange and adapt to my abilities as time goes on. As you can see, so far, so good!

My only worry thus far, is while I find myself super motivated during the week (which means getting up at 5:40 am to get to the gym by 6ish), I'm struggling with the long runs (not on a race day, as few as they've been). I'm nervous for when mileage increases exponentially and I'm stuck on trying to make it through a 17-miler...

Advice for a newbie marathoner? How do you find motivation for those super long runs? Tips, tricks, and things to know?