Monday, February 24, 2014

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2014

I slept in a little longer the next morning, until 3:45, since I don't like waiting around before a race and I was fairly confident I wouldn't get lost. No costume for this race, though, so I just threw on my blue running skirt and a tank top, made sure my ipod was charged, and headed out. This time I did eat a banana and mini Lara bar, as well as some coffee, before the race started. I brought a water bottle loaded up with some Purus Labs Condense pre-workout formula as well. I saved this for right before the race though, because a full serving pumps me up a LOT. My goal was keep to my marathon pace, get ahead of the 2:00 pace group so I would have time to walk later on if necessary, and HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE! The fog was heavy heading in, so I knew we were in for another humid day.

With 25,000 runners, you can always expect the start area to be crowded. The lines for the first set of portajohns was truly impressive. I must say, I'm always blown away by the raw number of portajohns Disney puts out for these races. Mega kudos to them. There's about a 15 minute walk to the start corrals, though, so I took my time, stretched out, used a portajohn near the front corrals with a much shorter line, then settled in to wait.

When my corral started, I was so ready to start. I finished the first mile pretty smoothly before slowing down to about a 9:00 pace, and kept ahead of the 2:00 pace group until mile 5 or so. At that point we were entering the Magic Kingdom, and I changed my mind about racing for time. Who can resist Minnie and Mickey!
Or the castle covered in fog!
Or Sleeping Beauty, who was just too pretty to get close to (I was pretty much dripping by this point)
I even stopped for a pic with these dudes
I was carrying my phone with me through all this, and I am so thankful I have a RAZR. It got covered in biofreeze (that pesky IT band...I carried my phone with the hand I used to rub it in so I wouldn't touch my nose), Gu/Clifshots, powerade, and spent some time in my pocket. And it still works!

By this time I was a good ten minutes off pace, but who really runs a Disney race for time? Other than the winners of course (the winner this year finished in something like 1:11...whut). I definitely slowed down during the last few miles (my mantra: just a 5K to go!) which I think probably hurt my quads more than if I had just kept a faster pace.

One of the highlights of this race? Hearing the Green Army Man around mile 10.5 yell at a lady in a Navy shirt. HA!

As I got into Epcot and circled around through the final mile, I took the time to do a little body check. This was only a half and I was treating it as a good training experience for the full I have in three (eek!) weeks. Did I drink enough? What bothered me? Was my playlist strong enough? What made my pace fall off? These are probably the pictures in Epcot where I look thoroughly absorbed while running.

I powered through that last .1 mile and through the finish line, with Minnie and Mickey still there! I almost stopped to take another photo but the volunteers seemed to think I still cared about my time and waved me forward. I finished in 2:15:25, not too shabby for a "fun" race. I think it was something like 30th place for the military division....again, those darn water breaks!

This time I did stop in the self-help medical section for more biofreeze and some tylenol before hobbling out to get more water bottles. At this point they also handed out the same mesh bags they had last year. I really appreciate getting them at this point, rather than at the expo! It greatly increased the number of bottles I was able to take without shoving them down my shirt like I usually do. Right before the finishers' photos and exit was the line for both the Glass Slipper Challenge girls and the Coast-to-Coast medallers (one year!). Huzzah!

Seriously, how pretty!

I got my picture taken, grabbed a bunch of bananas, then headed back to my car (I cleverly remembered to take a photo of my row this time). I got back to my hotel around 8:30, showered, hung up my still-dripping clothes to dry, and crashed again.

As expected, I was dehydrated a little when I woke up, but not as bad, and my legs were pretty stiff. Since my flight wasn't til later, I headed to Downtown Disney to pick up some last minute gifts, and watch Frozen on the big screen. Since Let It Go was playing CONSTANTLY all weekend, I figured I might as well figure out why it was popular. I splurged on some popcorn and a GIANT diet coke that was labelled medium, and snuck out of the theatre about five times during the movie to utilize the ladies room. I just assumed that wearing my medal let everyone know I was hydrated, not broken.

Also, note to self: when heading to Florida, at any time of year, PACK SHORTS! Jeans in Florida are just a bad idea.

The trip home was fairly uneventful, other than having to stand in line behind TWO college baseball teams to get my bag checked (Southwest and Airtran still haven't figured out this merge thing yet...). Oh, and they also ripped my rolling duffel bag, so I was at BWI until almost 1am unpacking and repacking, but at least I got a little bit of a voucher for my next flight.

To conclude, I CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR! I just love this race, and if I plan now, maybe I can get some people to commit to coming next year. If I had to pick only one race to do per year, this might be it.

Glass Slipper Challenge Complete! The Enchanted 10K

I finished the Glass Slipper Challenge! Overall, I'd have to say it was two great races, and a really crappy trip. Getting there was so frustrating, none of my friends were able to come so I was all alone, and the weather was 100% humid. But, Disney is magical, and the races turned out just as great as I expected.

I put off packing until the very last minute, so I knew I was bound to forget a few items. Like an extra pair of shorts, contact solution, and stuff like that. I did bring my foam roller, though, to help with recovery, and a lunch box full of bananas, gels, power bars, and protein powder.

As for my costume choice for this one, even the best laid plans can get messed up (a theme of this trip, perhaps?). I had ordered a few things, like a long sleeve shirt, for a Mulan costume, but because of the polar vortex, they didn't arrive until after I had already left. Thankfully a buddy drove me to some stores on Thursday night before I left to pick up ribbon and the shirt I needed to complete my costume. See below.

As for the travel, my flights out of BWI were delayed due to weather, and even landing was difficult. We ended up lifting off about 90 minutes late, then, once outside Tampa, had to circle almost another half hour due to weather. I then waited a half hour to pick up a rental car. On top of all that, I tried out a new pair of pink Sperry's and ended up with a nice blister on my heel that bled the rest of the weekend. Never try new shoes on race weekend!

Traffic from Tampa to Orlando was TERRIBLE, and I ended up getting to the expo site, Wide World of Sports, around 7:30, a half hour after the expo closed. At this point I was absolutely apoplectic, thinking I would miss the 10K. I practically assaulted every person I saw until someone took me to a runDisney employee who assured me that the bibs would be available for pickup directly before the race the next morning. What a relief! I wish this was info they shared more readily; I might have been a little calmer.

I woke up around 3:15am and got dressed, made some coffee, and headed out. Here's what I looked like:

I got a little lost on the way, but still arrived around 4, and headed to the information tent to pick up my bib. I brought my printed out and signed voucher, and was all ready to go.I was in corral A for the 10K, which was pretty exciting! Since this race was smaller, 15,000 I think, the whole area was a lot more informal. Outside the corrals was a big party going on with runners and spectators dancing and groups meeting up. It started promptly at 5:30, though, with the same fireworks and fanfare as the half marathon.

My original plan was to take it easy through the 10k, enjoy myself, and save some energy for the half the next day. I started out a little fast, but the extreme humidity slowed me down pretty quickly. I definitely didn't prep as I should have, and didn't eat anything before the race started, so I dehydrated a lot more than I had expected. The course looped through some roads outside of the park, then miles 3-5 were inside of the Epcot park. Perhaps because most of this area was so narrow, there weren't that many photo ops along the course, so I just kept going. I finished in 58 minutes, and placed 7th in the military category. Not too shabby. I was a little bit hoping for top 25, but being only a minute off of 5th place made me regret the water stops I took easy.

Since I finished so early, the finishing chute was mostly empty and I was able to grab several bottles of water and powerade on the way out. I unfortunately forgot where I parked my rental car, so I wandered around for a few rows before I lucked out. Since I'd only had a few hours of sleep the night before, mostly riddled with dreams that I missed the race, I headed back to the hotel, grabbed some chocolate milk, showered, and passed out hard.

The race bling was pretty awesome for a 10K though!

 I woke up around noon with a pounding headache, as I expected. I pounded some water and another powerade, and finished some pasta leftover from the night before. I then slipped on my running skirt I had brought for the next morning, since I forgot to bring any clothes other than jeans and a few tees. Not great in 85 degree weather with 100% humidity. I headed to the race expo to pick up the rest of my packet and check out the crowds.

This year the Fit for a Princess Expo was moved back to the Wide World of Sports complex, rather than one of the resorts like it was last year. After picking up my bag and three tee shirts, I wandered around a little bit and splurged on a runDisney quarter-zip fleece, which have been my go-to top for school lately. I also got some of the new mint Kayano 20s from the Lady Foot Locker booth, even though I just bought a pair of Asics on sale. One can never have enough running shoes on hand, right?!

By the time my headache came back, I was on my way back to the hotel and curled up in my bed and watched some Indiana Jones while it poured outside intermittently. So much for my pool day. I managed to find time to hit up the outlets (hello, Lululemon outlet!!) and grab some Chipotle before trying to get to sleep early. Even though my legs felt fine, I used my foam roller a little bit, and noticed my left IT band was more tender than usual. Not usually a good sign, but oh well!

What I learned from this day: HYDRATE more than you think you need, NEVER TRY ANYTHING NEW, have fun with your costume, and KEEP CALM! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hanson's marathon far

For my last marathon, I hurt my IT band and knee about halfway through my training, and ended up going almost four weeks with zero running. By the time I got back into training, I was only able to hit about 15 miles before the race, and finished in something like 5:50. You can read my full race report from that one here.

For this one, I seem to have wiped all memory of how awful it is to run 26.2 miles, and signed up for RnR USA in DC in March. I've been faithfully foam rolling, stretching, and doing ab work. My biggest concerns right now are the weather (it's still in the mid-20s!), hitting the wall at 20 miles again, and not fueling right.

I've been trying to follow the Hanson's Marathon Method. I bought the book, read it through, and it seems to make sense. I felt ready to focus just on running rather than doing any of the "run only three days a week" programs out there, even with all this terrible Baltimore weather. The basic plan can be found on the Hanson's website.

I got kicked on my butt for most of December with a terrible virus, but by the first week of January I was enjoying a ten mile run in Huntington Beach. Coming back to snow days and slush forced me to become best friends with the treadmill, and I can now say I have completed a 10 mile run indoors. It was terrible. Not even the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are entertaining for that long. I've been running outside every chance I get, which is maybe once a week, but when I do, I love it. My pace is stronger and more consistent, even in the cold. I'm really looking forward to better weather.

Some changes I have noticed from all the treadmill running aren't that great. On the treadmill my stride is a little shorter, which means I can feel the impact a lot more. I try to relax, but always end up hunched forward. Also, because I get bored, I tend to run only a mile or two before slowing down to a walk for a quarter mile. The consistent pace has helped me get a better feel for my own pace, though, even off the treadmill.

Because my schedule needs to focus on school first, and I get bored with both running and studying after shortish periods of time, I've been splitting up most of my long runs. The Thursday tempo runs of 9 miles? Those are usually split into two 4-5 mile sessions. The Sunday 16 milers? How about 8 outside, then 8 on the treadmill. I'm not sure yet how I'll do just running all the way through. Also, because of that split, my fueling is probably going to be a little off. I might have a few sips of water on the treadmill, or take a gel between the indoor and outdoor run parts, but for the most part, I haven't needed anything more.

The accumulated fatigue thing is definitely kicking in! After the first week, I never felt exhausted, but definitely felt tired, hungry, and like I wanted to dial back the pace a little bit by the second easy run on Saturday. The foam rolling is definitely key to recovery, but it's still hard to keep on top of the stretching.

I'll be training through the Glass Slipper Challenge this week, since it fits into the plan perfectly, then I'll definitely be ready for some taper! I guess I'll know soon enough if I really am ready.   

Checking In...

I know, I haven't really been writing lately. With everything that's been going on in my life, the extra pressure of "having" to write another blog post just seemed too much, so I took a break. even now, I'll just be writing every now and again for race recaps, but this is a good way to help me process everything after a race! So, what's going on lately? Here you go:

  • Law School. Yep, I survived my first semester (barely...I had the most terrible virus during finals week which resulted in some slightly disappointing grades), and now I'm on to the "fun" semester of Property, Con Law I, Writing & Oral Advocacy, Intro to Legal Research, Civ Pro II, and International Law. This semester has a lot more writing, so a lot more time trying to find the right Pandora station. 
  • Wedding Planning. It's finally happening! After only *three* years of being married, I am finally having a wedding! May 4th, San Diego, it's going to be awesome. No pressure, though, since this is literally the Sunday after my finals. Who needs to be relaxed?
  • Another marathon! This time it's Rock n Roll USA in DC on March 15th, the first day of my spring break. I've been trying out the Hanson's marathon method, after my own fashion, and trust me, the accumulated fatigue + law school doesn't seem to be a great combination. But it's definitely keeping me motivated! I also have a few other fun races on my calendar this semester. 
My races for Spring 2014 are the following: 

RunDisney Glass Slipper Challenge!
This one I've been waiting for since I signed up last summer! It's a 10k on Saturday, and the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. I went last year and did the half with Kevin (dressed as Han and Leia) but decided this year that I'll run the 10k for fun (stopping for ALL the photos!) and the half for time. Since this is coming up SOON, I'll be posting about this next!

Rock 'n' Roll USA
This is my big marathon A-race for the year! I signed up for this last year on National Running Day, and got a great deal! It's pretty close, so no major traveling plans for this one. I'm debating trying out the Westin VIP package, though, since it sounds like a great deal. Training for this has been going strong, and I'm actually feeling like breaking 4:30 is going to happen! My husband will be doing the half. Anything for this shiny new medal: 

Cherry Blossom Ten Miler: Volunteer
This one won't be a run this year, since I didn't get in the lottery and it's only a few weeks after the marathon. But I will be volunteering at the race expo, which means a guaranteed entry for 2015! Plus it's always nice to give back to races to show a little extra support.

Nike Women's Half Marathon DC
Speaking of lotteries....last year I didn't get into the NWM through the lottery, and this year I'm a student! Huzzah! This one is actually on the Sunday BEFORE finals start, as in, 7 DAYS before my wedding. Again, remember what I said above about stress being good for your skin or something.....?

And, to top it all off, I'm also considering the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon.
This is still a maybe since I don't know what I'll be doing this summer for the Army, and K wants to do the RnR San Diego again, which is the day after this one. I've heard great reviews for this race, though, and the great swag, so hopefully this happens! 

I'm also working through some options for summer triathlons, this time rocking the eagle for Team RWB! Again, I have to wait for my summer assignment, but it will hopefully involve some great local triathlons here in Maryland and Virginia. And K will be moving up here in May, so I'll have to juggle between having a great support system and indulging him as he tries out some triathlons this summer as well. 

As of right now, 27 days to go until the marathon!