10k’s are hard…but worth it!

There is such a major difference between running and racing. Like, I run marathons…but I race 5k’s and 10k’s.

Honestly? It’s almost easier running marathons. lol I just start easy and try to stay there. 🙂

5k’s aren’t so bad. It’s just going as fast as you possibly can for 3.1 miles. But 10k’s? They require a little strategy. Because I can’t just go as fast as I possibly can for 6.2 miles. I run outta steam around mile 4.5 if I try that.

This weekend I ran my second 10k within a month – the Narragansett Summer Running Festival 10k.

It’s a great little race that’s part of a whole weekend – 5k & 10k Saturday, 13.1 on Sunday and beer, music & food after all of them. The shorter races are on a college campus – so no traffic and some pretty scenery.

When I ran the BAA 10k at the end of June I went in with no expectations. I wasn’t trying to get a PR and so it was a delightful surprise when I did. But that actually put the pressure on for this weekend. What could I accomplish if I tried?

The weather was gorgeous at 6am. But the race? It didn’t start until 8:30. And it got a little warmer and sunnier. But I was dressed for the heat…and prepared. <<
d as I waited to start and watched the 5k finishers come through looking hot and tired, I started to psych myself out.

I decided I would just seed myself with the 9 minute milers, go out fast with them and then just see what happens.

The 10k was a double loop of the 5k course. Which I actually liked, because it meant I could strategize in the second half – knowing where the water stop was, where the sprinklers were, and when I could push or hold back.

We took off, and I almost felt like an elite just sliding into a pack, staying with this group of women and letting them set the pace. It felt fast, but not "struggle fast" and when my watch beeped mile 1 I dared a glance. 9:10. Perfect!!

We cruised along and I let them go, dropping back a little because I know my habit of speeding up too much in my second mile would hurt me later and I wanted to try not to. Plus, it was nice having a little more room to run.

Mile 2 came as a 9:02. Okay, a little faster but not hideously so.

Mile 3 was the pretty mile, but also the hilly and narrower mile. I got boxed in a couple times, but chose to not try to get around. Instead I used it as a chance to cruise for a few seconds and catch my breath. Mile 3 was slower than the first 2, a 9:19. But still where I needed to be for a PR.

We hit the split for the second half and cruised down a great hill. Than back onto the gravel and grass section. Which I am apparently faster on. I think it's because I focus more on my feet and the ground. Because mile 4? Back to a 9:08.

Here, with 2 miles left I started "runner math". Trying to calculate the pace I needed to PR and if I could slow down. Because I was hitting a wall. I started being more aware of the tangents and trying to run efficiently.

As I neared the next water stop, I made a choice to risk the few seconds to take water. I was afraid if I didn't, I might pay for it the final mile. It's like, spend that time now, or spend it later. Plus I was SO hot! Tho I reminded myself, it was way hotter on July 3rd and I managed to survive that 5k. This, was nowhere hear as bad.

I made eye contact with a volunteer, grabbed the water and walking, went drink, some over the head, drink, more over the head, and back to running. 🙂

I think those seconds were well spent, as I still managed a 9:15 mile 5.

Mile 6 was a game of, you can go easy if you need to, but also, if you can push, you can get an even better PR. lol I came across the footbridge over the pond, angled across the winding path and passed a few people.

Then a few more as I got to the final hill, which really wasn't that long or that steep. But when you've been running hard for almost 6 miles, it amplified it.

I saw the mile 6 sign and started to both smile, and dry heave. Lol It happens in races when I really push. (I have pics from the Disney half this year that are hilariously hideous!) And I spent the next .1 yelling at myself to "slow the hell down". I got it under control, saw the turn to the finish and sped up.

I went into that finish chute in a full on sprint. Heard the announcer call out my name and saw the hubs standing next to the finish line grinning.

I crossed, with arms open wide, as if I was breaking the tape. Because I had, broken my record. To me that's winning. I beat myself. 😁 By a full 40 seconds. My new best 10k? A 57:42.

I think this one might stand for a bit. (Or at least longer than the 3 weeks the last one did. Lol)

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BAA 10k – Unicorns and Legends

Sunday I ran the BAA 10k, the second leg of the Distance Medley. And it was…magical.

The weather was almost ideal. 60’s and overcast. More humid than I like, but well, we can’t have everything. 🙂

The hubs (acting as “coach” for the day) and I snagged a photo

We met up with my friend Cara pre-race and got our shirts, scoped out the distance medley participant “VIP tent” (thanks Infiniti for the portable charger with the unicorn on it!) and had fun checking out some of the costumes people chose to run in. (Lotta unicorns – lotta blue & yellow)

Then it was time to race.

Standing in the Corral I heard the announcer say it was a fast course and a good day for a PR, or a course PR. And I remember thinking “well, since it’s my first time on this course it’s definitely a course PR”.

This race is “Disney crowded” and I knew when I started that I’d spend some time jockeying for position and getting around people. My strava later labeled a chunk of the first mile on Comm Ave as “frogger”. Which cracked me up because it’s spot on.

I knew I wanted to hit a good pace early, one that I could fall into and stay at. I also knew that I was not going to look at my watch at all during the race, because I didn’t want to know. If I was slow, fine. If I was fast, sweet. And whatever it was and the end, was what it would be.

I don’t remember too much of what I saw on course, because there were a lot of construction areas and I was more concerned with watching the road in front of me.

But I do remember a few things:

  • The golden retrievers in the blue & yellow necklaces – awwww
  • Hearing the volunteer before mile 2 announce the lead male had come by the other way (well past mile 4 for him. Wow)
  • Seeing Cara on an out and back and waving.
  • Seeing the Boston Strong painted on the underside of the overpass and raising my arm to it. 💙💛
  • The car at mile 5 wth the 88.7 sticker. And thinking wow, that’s an odd distance to run. Oh wait…radio station. Lol
  • The cairn terrier shortly after. This was special. I was struggling at this point, and thinking about trying to slow down when I saw him. Head raised I sent a silent thank you to my angel Gus, and surged on.

I made it to mile 6 and started looking around more. The dogs, the people, the “go Kelly’s”. And I felt stronger. I made the turn to the finish and held my pace, just for a minute, before sprinting all out to cross.

Check out those “sprint arms” lol

I stopped my watch….saw the 58:22 and grinned. Mouthed “F-ck Yeah” and thought of how far I’ve come back this year.

I walked past Dave McGillivray and smiled. I got my medal, and then heard that Desi Linden was now high-fiving runners at the finish line.

And my first thought was “dammit, if I’d just been a minute slower”.

It wasn’t until later, when I got home and looked up my PR records, that I realized I’d not only gotten a course PR, but a real one.

I beat the 58:28 I set at my very first 10k in 2009. Finally, I can stop saying that my 1st remains my fastest. And also, it eased the sting of missing Desi. Cuz PR’s trump all. 😁

Plus I did still get to see her. After the race we were looking for a place for a good photo and wandered by the stage in time to hear Des and Meb speak. They are both so nice, and humble and amazing champions. And I was lucky enough to snag a photo of Des.

After the race we headed over to the Public Garden to meet other friends. And took some photos with the ducks.

I took a moment to pose my medal with one…the whole time thinking of my friend Lori. And the time we did the same with our blue & yellow Boston Strong scarves we were gifted in 2014. Some things just become forever a part of us. 💙💛🦄

And…I’ll leave you with this. There is nothing like a post race high, to lead you to climb aboard a duck. (If only there’d been a unicorn statue!)

Something’s gotta give

When life gets in the way, something has to give…

My marathon fell smack dab in the middle of my two busiest weeks of work in I don’t remember how long. Which means taper and racing and recovery all fell at oh, a really bad time.

Trying to fit life into your life isn’t always easy. And sometimes, something has to give. In my case…it was my blog.

For two weeks I’ve just been too exhausted to be creative. So my apologies to all of you.

I mean on one hand, it was nice that taper week coincided with 10 hour work days because I didn’t stress over not being able to get in runs. Lol But it also led to less relaxing than I wanted.

And last week, due to post-marathon brain and continued work crazies, I just didn’t have the brain power to write my race recap from Vermont City. I’ve tried to start it a few times…but it’s just not coming together.

This week, I’m finally getting my groove back and the creative juices are flowing once more.

I will try to get my recap done. But if I don’t – I’ll just say this…

The Vermont City marathon was freaking awesome. It was the most fun I’ve had in a non-Disney marathon. And I would run it again in a heartbeat. Amazing crowd support, gorgeous views and just a great upbeat vibe. I ran to all with a smile on my face and a spring in my step – even during the hard final miles.

I’m resetting now. Work is calming down. And I’m back relaxing, running, training and blogging.

Hope you’re all also finding how to fit life into your life. And that whatever has had to give, comes back to you as well.

Providence 13.1 – the recap

Gotta say…there is nothing like running a course you haven’t done in a few years to make you realize how far you’ve come as a runner.

The first time I tackled the Providence 1/2 marathon was May 2, 2010.   It was my very first half-marathon and i’d only been racing for two years.  I trained hard and felt prepared going in, but there are just enough challenging spots that I still remember exactly where I struggled (Pittman St).  I finished the race in 2:06:33 and felt like i’d won.

I’d go on to run it again in 2011 (even faster) and 2012 (with my aunt, as her first marathon) before taking a few years off the race.  When I came back to the course in 2015, it was for the marathon, and a PR! I ran the marathon again in 2016, and then took last year off of Providence.

This year, when I signed up for the half it was going to be as a time trial for the Vermont City Marathon.  But fate and a sort of injury had other ideas.  So when I toed the line Sunday, I had a main goal of just enjoying the race.   To not run easy, but not run hard. And to just see what I had.  I was FAIRLY sure I could hit sub 2:15 no problem, hoped I could go sub 2:10 and dream goal – to try to match 2010.

The weather was great – high 50’s, light breeze.  A little humid, but the rain held off, so no complaints.  And when I found a spot in the corral and chatted with some other runners (who I think i’ve now convinced to run Boston next year. LOL) I felt comfortable and worry-free.  The race would be what it was.  The time at the end didn’t really matter.  It would be neither my best, nor my worst so why care.

We took off and I noticed the 2:15 pacer in front of me (I don’t think he seeded himself quite right) and had to remind myself, its mile 1, don’t try to pass him, just don’t lose him.  And over the course of that mile I crept up to and past him.  Phew….

I fell into a comfortable stride.  I barked back at the little blonde terrier barking at the runners from a corner.  I high-fived a couple adorable kids.  And I listened to the conversations around me.  And I tried to not look at my watch.

When we finally made it to Blackstone Boulevard, and hit mile 4 I peeked at my watch and smiled.  It was sub-10 and it felt good. I admired the stunning homes along the route, I waved to spectators and after we turned the corner and past my favorite bakery I thought of my friends. I had joked with one that I hoped it wouldn’t be open when I went past. Knowing i’d stopped for a sangria during the Disney marathon she replied Don’t You Dare.  LOL No worries Amanda…I was in a groove.  And almost tripped over Mrs Potato Head’s eyes (a couple other runners had dressed in costume and one lost an accessory).

For the next couple miles I had some great conversations with other runners (about gatorade flavors and rear ends and how this one woman had just finished Boston a couple weeks ago and was totally taking it easy today (she and I passed each other a few times).  I ran FUN.  I reminded myself to not push my pace.

I legit said “Why are you running?  Because races are fun.  And if you aren’t having fun, you’re not doing it right”

I passed the spectator blaring the Rocky theme song, I smiled and waved at more children.  And at mile 9, looked at my watch again.  Still sub 10-pace.  Woohoo! That would be the last time I looked at my watch.

The next four miles I remembered as the toughest terrain wise.  A steep downhill, a long downhill and a couple of longer uphills.  The downhill scared me more.  My wonky hamstring had been doing okay this race (tho I noticed after my downhill miles were the slower ones) but going back down Gano Street had me nervous.

I wide-stepped the wicked steep downhill, cruised along the water and remembered that this stretch had been the ‘graveyard’ stretch for me my first year.  I was tired at mile 10 and just hanging in there.  This year, I was still running happy and free.

I hit the turn away from the water and began the long winding climb.  As I tucked in and shimmied up I passed a few people and smiled.  I think that was the point where I realized how much stronger i’d gotten over the years.  Hills don’t scare me.  I climb like a mountain goat and never get passed going up one.

So when I finally reached my arch-nemesis Pittman Street, I kinda smiled.  And not just because the November Project cheer station was such a great boost.  But because this year, no fear.  I chugged up the hill to the top steady and strong.

Left onto Gano, and down the hill…as I neared the mile 11 marker, I heard noise and looked over to realize the marathon winner was coming by. WOW.   The runners I was with started to attempt math to figure out pace.  We realized at that point, 24 miles in, he’d been running about 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Ummm….whoa.  That guy was on pace for a 2:30 marathon, with no one even close behind him.  SO impressive.

I ran through India Point Park and looked at the water, smiled and ran on to the mile 12 marker. And thought to myself, home stretch, we got this.

I didn’t try to go faster, well expect for when I saw that final photographer and went full stride for a good pic (LOL), I just ended up doing so.  I remembered how hard that final mile had felt in 2010.  And even in 2015 when I ran the marathon.  And thought about how easy it felt in comparison this year.  (It would turn out to be my fastest mile of the race – a 9:16.)

When I saw the mile 26 marker and knew there was only .2 left I just focused on finishing.  Turned the corner to the finish chute and scanned the crowd a bit (knowing the hubs was probably there somewhere) and then just stared at the finish line.

Opened my stride and went for it.  I flew across the finish with my arms raised.  Stopped my watch, but didn’t look, got my medal and a water and then walked a few feet.

Now…I looked down, read the 2:06:50 and started to shake. And started to cry.  I couldn’t believe it.  My training wasn’t what I wanted.  My hamstring wasn’t what I wanted. I haven’t run that fast that far in a freaking YEAR.  And yet somehow, the legs remembered.

I thought of my friend who I had just asked the day before if she wanted to pace me again next year for a new marathon PR.  And I mouthed “Eff Yeah!”

I headed for the hubs, feeling SO dang proud of myself.  But I was about to be even prouder of him.

For while I was off kicking asphalt, so was he.  My amazing husband, who has only been running for about 6 months and only run two 5k’s prior (both with me), took 3rd in his age group with an amazing 25:32 finish.  Wow babe.  You rock!

Once again…Providence proved it its my BFF course.  And apparently, the hubs’ also.

A Tale of Two 5K’s

This month so far I’ve run two 5k’s which were as different as night and day…and not just literally. Lol

April 7th was the Newport Night Run, held at sunset on a gorgeous (from what I could see) ocean loop in Newport, RI.

April 14th was the B.A.A. 5k, held in the morning at Boston Common, on a great loop that goes right on, left on, and across the famed marathon finish line.

Both were different field sizes (900 versus 9,000), and totally different experiences, both both equally amazing. 🙂

For Newport, I had my favorite training partner by my side. We were decked out in full neon, reflective strips and a headlamp, as suggested by the race director.

And just before dark, we joined the glow at the start line and headed off.  There was a great starting downhill, which unfortunately my wonky leg didn’t love.  But I hung in there and tried not to think about it.  We went through a lovely narrow section lit by luminaries where we noticed a HUGE osprey nest high atop a pole.  We wove around, up and over hills, past some enormous houses and cool stone walls.  The mile marker signs were crazy lights you could see from a ways back, and checking out the cool reflective patterns on some people’s backs when my headlamp hit them was fun.

The race was crowded.  There were definitely spots it was hard to run your pace, and it was WAY hillier than I expected, but we had so much fun chatting and pointing out cool stuff to each other.  And when we finally crested the last hill and saw the downhill to the finish, we ran it out strong.  It was a little slower than i’d hoped – but considering how much my leg hated the downhill sections, how crowded it was, and how it was hard to see where you were stepping sometimes, i’ll take it.  🙂 A 31:07 finish.

But while I said i was fine with it, I sorta feel like I let the hubs down.  He’s fast for a beginner and I know we ran slower than capable off.  I had wanted him to get a sub-30 finish for his second 5k of the year (Disney was the first and we purposely ran that sucker slow), but I know he’ll nail that at his third in Providence next month.

So with the BAA 5k looming, I really wanted to nail that one.  I spent the week between resting more, stretching more and trying to stay zen.  I had a great freak out, and then, just let go, knowing it would be what it was.

Reasons I knew this would go better?  It was morning (my fave run time), a little warmer (high 40’s) and flatter. Plus this time I taped my leg.  🙂

And as we headed up into Boston to meet my friend, and the sun rose above the horizon I broke out into the Circle of Life (LOL!) because it just seemed the thing to do when your friends are also Disney runners (Hakuna Matata Cara).

The hubs didn’t run this one, but was serving as team coach & equipment manager, saving me from having to deal with what was apparently a zoo at bag check.  We met up with the princess posse and hung out, snagging some prerace photos and getting ready.

And a little before 8, headed to the corral, which was SO far back from the start it felt extremely Disney.  In fact, by the time we approached the start, we were just in time to watch the elite men finish.  COOL!  Then…it was our turn.

I went out solid with the crowd, dodging and weaving to get room to run.  I surged up Comm Ave feeling pretty good and when the mile marker hit, I chose to not look at my watch.  I was just gonna run my best and not worry about my time.  I had told my friend Cara that anywhere between 28 & 32 would make me happy, and I meant it.

When we hit the turnaround at Charlesgate I smiled, knowing I was now on the marathon course.  After running it three years in a row, I knew it well.

When we hit the underpass at Mass Ave, I had a brief moment where I remembered 2013, and how that was where my race ended at mile 25.67.  So close, and so far. But I got past myself, I high-fived a guy on the corner of Hereford as I made that infamous right, and scurried up the hill thinking “this is way easier when I haven’t already run 26 miles”.

I turned that left onto Boylston and shouted “Best Left Turn in Town” and raced towards the finish line to fly across and keep going as there was still 3/4 of a mile left.  I started watching the crowds, in case there were any familiar faces.  And cracked up at the blue t-rex alongside the public garden.

Then there was the left turn onto Charles towards the finish line, which seemed SO far away.  I didn’t want to kick until I knew I could sustain it, but when the young girl started to pull alongside I thought “oh honey no” and kicked.  Flew across the finish and to a dead stop (oh no, folks, I gotta keep going, or this won’t be pretty……this is not the place for selfies!).

Checked my watch, got my medal, hugged a friend I randomly bumped into (we’ve managed to run into each other at three or four different races now) and went to find the hubs.  Because I was ready to celebrate….  I pulled a 29:30.  YAY

Now granted, I am so far from my PR paces it sucks, but to at least be back under 30 makes me happy. And the leg continues to get better every week.

What was also cause for celebration?  My friend Cara got a PR!!!!!!!  So exciting.  I just love seeing my friends achieve greatness. 😁

So yeah, these two races were completely different experiences for me, but I loved both and would run both again.  We run different races for different reasons.  Newport was a birthday celebration for me, and quality time with the hubs.  Boston was because its the 5th anniversary of my only race DNF and a chance to earn another unicorn medal.  I had something to prove out there…and I did.

Another thing both races had in common?  Cheers!

Dopey Challenge…I did it!

There’s a feeling you get when you cross the finish line of a race.  It’s a combination of victory, exhilaration and exhaustion.   When you cross the finish line of the marathon of the Dopey Challenge, its all that amplified.  I could only describe it as “Run Drunk”  I was, in a word, HYPER.  🙂  And i’m sure the sangria didn’t help.  LOL

I don’t think i’ve ever been so happy, excited and tired in my entire life.  I felt completely badass and victorious.  And I instantly knew I need to do this again.

It was that same kind of feeling I got after riding Flight of Passage.  Such a major adrenaline rush that you want again.  And again.  I totally get why my brother is Perfectly Dopey.  You just can’t resist repeating it.

As someone who is three times Goofy (well, two and an asterisk) I have always loved running Disney.  But running Dopey is its own creature.  Its hard. But beyond rewarding. Plus its fun when my coworkers ask “oh, did you run the half or the full” and I reply “both, plus a 5k and 10k”.  The look on their faces is priceless.

I’ve spent days trying to write this blog.  Because how do you capture four days of running and parks and magic and pixie dust and amazing experiences in a few hundred words.  Lets just say the weekend as a whole was magical.  And i’m going to highlight a few of my favorite parts of each race.

5k – Thursday

Running with my husband, brother & nephew was a blast.  Even tho it was absurdly cold and I had to layer my warmest hoodie over my mike wazowski tank, I still pulled off cute.  I love this course – the world showcase light by tiki torches is so pretty.  And not only running with, but crossing the finish line with the hubs was a highlight of the weekend. I was also inspired post race to take a silly medal photo – a trend I continued all weekend (photos below).

We spent the rest of the day at Animal Kingdom.  Got to see hippos lying on the ground with their mouths wide open (LOL), rode Flight of Passage twice, hit all the rides we could (Everest was closed and Dinosaur had a 2 hour fast pass line so those were out) and had amazing drinks at Nomad Lounge.  I’m also glad we got to see Pandora at night.  To me, that was cooler than fireworks.

And while at Nomad lounge, I met some great people.  We were invited to share a table with two random strangers, who turned out to be members of the Dopey Challenge facebook group I’m in, and had a great time chatting with them.  Shortly after they left a family asked if we were leaving soon as they were looking for a table.  I invited them to sit down, as we likely were, but we were happy to share space, as we’d been invited to do.  It was a couple and their son, and noticing our medals we chatted about the races.  The mom, Julie, was in a wheelchair, and in awe of runners, as she’ll never get to.  I vowed to run a mile for her.  Which I did during the half (see that section for more….).

10k – Friday

This was me, my nephew and my brother.  My nephew’s first 10k and he did SO good.  We had coordinating shirts (Perfectly Dopey, 1st Dopey and Trevor’s Challenge) which got some love from other runners.  At one point my nephew was struggling so I told him to smile.  That when runners smile it makes the running easier because you’re happy.  At this point another runner chimed in with “and listening to runners talk about smiling helps too”.  With a fist bump, he was off.  🙂

This was my first time running a Disney 10k.  And i’d heard that its a lot of folk’s favorite course.  I could totally see why.  Not only do you get the beauty of the tiki torch lit world showcase again, but running the boardwalk is SO fun.  The lights reflecting on the water, the smells from the bakery, the spectators cheering so loud i’m sure it woke people up, all of it made for a fun run.

A shout out to my favorite volunteer at the race – after thanking her for a bottle of water she replied singing “You’re Welcome”  Disney humor…never gets old.

The rest of the day was spent at the Magic Kingdom.  I got to ride Haunted Mansion for the first time in years, but going there first cost me a chance at Space Mountain (the wait never dropped below 2 hours).  It was worth it.  The park was crazy crowded but through my brother’s skill at “Fast Pass Chess” we managed to ride some classics – Dumbo, the Tea Cups – as well as Monster’s Inc  Laugh Floor and a first and final ride on Stitch’s Great Escape.  I’d heard it was terrible, but since its closing, it was now or never.  And I love Stitch, good or bad.

13.1 – Saturday

Down to me and my Dopey brother now. (My nephew isn’t old enough for the half yet, but will totally run it once he is.) It was slightly warmer for the half so i was able to run in a skort and compression socks instead of pants (YAY).  And in ran this one sort of dressed as snow white, and continuing a trend from last year, with my hair down.

My brother had a goal for this one; he wanted a PR.  And we were going to get him one.

The first mile at Disney is always slow as you find space and get through the narrow sections, but we quickly settled into a good pace and were through the Magic Kingdom clocking sub-10 minute miles and out to the narrow mile 7 with no crowding issues. (aside – there was a truck stuck in the middle of an open area of deep sand here – much to the amusement of the runners.  Dude…what were you thinking?)

By mile 8, the course opens wide and there’s lots of room to run and lots of spectators to cheer you along.  SO many signs, so many high fives, so much fun. And still moving faster than we expected.  So fast in fact that we flew past Jeff Galloway who was walking along the side of the road.

I hit a mini wall at mile 9.  The second it started to hurt I thought of Julie, who would give anything to run and knew that this was her mile and i was going to push through it for her. At mile 10, we took one quick walk break, assessed our time, and knew that with just that 5k left, we were getting Jeff that PR.  We dropped our pace, flew up those annoying onramp hills and surged into Epcot on a mission. And then, the dry heaves started.  I don’t know if it was from pushing pace a little, or from this weird congestion thing i get while running, but it wasn’t pretty.

When we got close to the finish my brother looked at me as he typically does during the half and said “See you at the finish”, only for the first time in 4 years of racing, HE was the one that took off.  🙂   I didn’t fall too far behind, only finished 6 seconds back, but it took everything I had to smile while high-fiving Chip and crossing the finish.

My pics are hilarious – half are happy and smiley and half are a weird “omg i’m going to hurl” face.  And I love them all.  Because getting my brother a shiny new PR?  Priceless.

For the rest of the day we went to Hollywood Studios – rode Tower of Terror, Rock & Roller Coaster & Star Tours, met Chip & Dale (who tried to eat my nephew’s medal) and saw Muppet Vision 3D (always a classic), then on to Epcot to ride and see everything we could and grab a Orange Slushie (OMG those are SO good).  By 5pm we’d hit our limit for the day, because the final leg would soon be upon us.  And I was tired.

26.2 – Sunday

The Big day.  The final 26.2.  And my favorite costume for the weekend – Figment.

Maybe its because I made a lot of it myself.  Maybe its because everyone loves Figment.  But it was super fun and I got TONS of love and figment related jokes out on course.

I’m not gonna lie and say I woke up feeling great and ready to race.  In fact I sort of didn’t recognize my alarm for what it was and the hubs had to nudge me up.  I also woke up to a sore achilles and a desperate need for coffee.  Fortunately my brother was also stiff and sore so neither of us had great expectations for the race other than “We WILL finish”

We started out slow and stayed there.  LOL   We hit the first med tent for some bio freeze for Jeff (and several other ones along the way…) and at mile 5.5 hit a restroom near the carousel.  Waiting for my brother I snagged a quick photo.

We trudged along, never pushing, just keeping an easy pace.  At mile 7 we discovered the truck from the half had been rescued (YAY) and we kept our fingers crossed we could get through the narrows easily again (we did).   Mile 9-10 Disney had hauled out some throwback items from rides (20,000 leagues, jungle book, haunted mansion) and played Making Memories.  I started singing along and Jeff was like “what is this song”.  Awww, early epcot.  Kodak sponsored imagination stuff.  I’m not old, but i’m glad i’m old enough to remember it.

At this point our goal became to run to the half (or 14) before we started a run/walk strategy.  We made it into Animal Kingdom, where I was disappointed that I had just missed the critters from the conservation station (it was cold enough that they had the out in shifts and we were between shifts). Oh well.  We were happy to get bananas – and I carried mine for a half mile to get a new banana phone pic.  Which oddly never showed in my photo pass.  (So if any of you encounter figment on a banana phone in your pics – send it my way.)  And we made it to mile 14 and a little past, before we decided to walk through the parking lot, past the marching band, to finish the mile. And that we’d run a mile / walk a mile to the end.

Mentally, its a great strategy and it lined up perfectly so that all my gels, etc were during walk miles.  It also gave us a chance to relax and have fun.  I totally raised hell during the walk miles – singing, dancing, chatting.  I run Disney because its fun, and fun I am going to have.   So even when we entered “purgatory” (i.e. Wide World of Sports Complex) I was in a good mood.  We got around the track, past the boring mile 19-20 amused by the DJ and the bad jokes they had posted on signs along the mile (Where does a mermaid sleep? A water bed.) We ran the warning track at the baseball stadium, and I heard them announce my name (woohoo!) and made it out to the parking lot, where I HAD to run over and high-five the guy in the Brady jersey (Go Pats!).  And we made our exit out to mile 21 and the final stretch.    I had friends who had started in later corrals that I thought might be headed in there as we were headed out, and I watched the ‘parade of runners’ as long as I could, but never spotted them.

Mile 22 we were facing a steep onramp hill and I was afraid I was going to have to walk it, but after a brief biofreeze stop for Jeff, I was rested enough to crush that hill past the green army men and then back downhill to the strains of Sweet Caroline (So good! So good!)

We entered Hollywood Studios and snagged some candy (omg those were the best m&ms EVER) and cruised up Sunset Boulevard, where my favorite photo from the race was taken:

Then out through the front and to the water.  This is a crazy narrow stretch to the Yacht & Beach Club and there’s not a lot of room for getting around runners, so its good that we didn’t want to. But we got through, and to the back entrance of Epcot and felt the crowd. Past the mile 25 marker (themed for the 25th anniversary) and through the world showcase.  I said to Jeff “I have $30 in my pocket, what should we get” and we decided on Sangria from Mexico.

It cost us about 10 minutes in line, but it was worth it.  I said to my brother, it is very hard for me to not care about my time during a race, but this sangria helps.

We walked past Spaceship Earth, waving to our adoring fans and sipping our drinks.  The closer we got to the finish, the slower I wanted to go.  I didn’t want it to end.  But we walked past the gospel choir and to the finish chute and ran it in.  I crossed the finish with my sangria in one hand and the other raised in victory.  (Oooh – and a photo that shows me doing this, my brother and some other folks made the post event guide – sweet!).

We got our marathon medal and a heatsheet and suddenly spotted our family!  The hubs,  my sis in law and my nephews had come to cheer us on.  LOVE!  We got the rest of our medals, some great pictures and then found our family.  I was just so freaking excited.

Best. Day. Ever.

Back at the hotel to shower I found Mickey Mouse.  And got a picture with him.

Then we went to Disney Springs for a good medal photo.  And some onion rings.

I’d say it was a once in a lifetime kind of weekend, except that I know i’m going back next year to do it again.  And I can’t wait.

Oh, those silly medal photos I mentioned? Here’s the complete set.

A quick shout out to the products that got me through this weekend:

  • Running Buddy – my buddy brites let me brother easily find us during the 5k & 10k (he started a corral behind), my bib clips kept my run shirts hole free and my buddy pouch kept my phone secure under all those layers
  • Sparkle Athletic – LOVE my sparkle skirts and visors – and my purple one pulled double-duty this weekend.  Runs are more fun when you sparkle
  • Pro Compression & Balega – kept my legs and toes warm and happy. My two fave kinds of socks (5k day i wore both!)
  • New Balance – 880 v7’s for distance and vazee pace for speed. Love these shoes
  • Huma gel – raspberry lemonade (YUM) got me through the marathon
  • Miscellanous – three toss pairs of gloves, two toss hoodies and two heatsheets returned back to rundisney.

Its been a lot of fun these past few months blogging my Road to Dopey – I hope you’ve all enjoyed it.  Time for some new topics, which I hope you’ll enjoy too.

Fab 5 weeks to Dopey! Here’s some must pack items and a TVQ Vol 2 update

Another week bites the dust…and we are now just five fabulous little weeks to Dopey!  Yay!!

I know its still a little bit early for packing – but I totally started my packing list already.  There so much to remember to bring that if I don’t write it down while i’m thinking of it, i’ll forget. Especially the little random items that aren’t on everyone’s list. 

But before we get to that…gotta talk turkey!   As in Turkey Vision Quest Vol. 2.

I hadn’t brought it up in my blog because I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, or if it was even a goal this year, but now that I have…gotta brag!

Thanksgiving morning was my new favorite tradition – the Attleboro Gobble Wobble 5k.  What I nicknamed Turkey Vision Quest last year, as I had a goal to finally get a new PR and / or place in my age group.  How that went, was the PR, but 6th place. And I was kind of disappointed.  So I went into this year with a ‘well, i’ll just do my best out there’ attitude.

Things I did differently this year? The hubs, my sole sister Karen and I hung out in the car until right before the start to stay warm and my ‘warmup’ consisted of a quick 20-foot sprint down and back.  Just to make sure nothing bounced, moved or rubbed.   I did however, line up in front with the fast folk.  Because taking off like a shot with them definitely helps get me to a faster pace early and then I just kind of hang on for as long as I can.

My watch was buried under a sleeve and I didn’t want to see it anyway.  So I had no idea my pace.    There was some ice on the course from the rain the day before (did I mention it was COLD?), but otherwise its a nice flat fast route with a few speedbumps so its easy to go fast.

The course is looped out and back so you can see runners going the other way,  and at mile 2ish I heard Karen yell my name.  I yelled back and grinned.   Shortly after someone else called my name – thanks and my apologies for not looking over, but I was in the zone. Then just before mile 3, when the exact same song in the exact same place as last year came on my playlist – I knew I had to be close to last year.  And figured I could definitely snag top 10 AG, maybe top 5.  But I had no idea how many women my age had been in front of me.

We turned the corner at the 3-mile mark and I kicked.  And kicked again.  And gave it every last bit I had out there.  And after I crossed, I finally looked at my watch.

A PR!  25:08.  Unfortunately the race is gun time (not net), so my official was a 2:11. (What’s 3 seconds right? Lol) When I walked over to the results tent, I didn’t get my hopes up…and when the page flipped and there I was, I almost shrieked with delight.  2nd AG!  22nd female and 77th overall.  Out of nearly 600 people.  WOW.  Just WOW.    

Must be the shoes. 

Because #purpleisalwaysfaster. And, this year, Turkey Vision Quest is complete.  A PR and an AG win.   I suppose next year the quest is to be sub-25.  #alwaysroomforimprovement

But that wasn’t my only Dopey training run of the weekend.  I got in a slower 10k run on Friday and a half-marathon distance run on Sunday.  So a sort of Dopey simulation.

And speaking of Dopey… I said I’d give you some ideas on what to pack.  Pack Everything!!

Be the Macgyver of Disney races.  Have such an assortment of random items in your travel bag it looks like you’re about to go on Let’s Make a Deal (instead of about to run Disney.)

Here’s a list of some items I bring that people don’t always think of.  Things that to me, are packing essentials.

  • Ziploc bags
    • Why?  I like to eat my pre-race meal/snack (muffin, bagel, dry cereal) in the start corral. A baggie is a great way to do it.  And toss a napkin in there too.
  • Mini Flashlight
    • Why?  Do you know how dark a portapotty is at 4am?  DARK.  And I kind of like to know what i’m getting into.  Sure, most phones have flashlights built in, but i’m kind of old fashioned about some things.  (and I worry about dropping my phone somewhere it can’t be retrieved)
  • Garbage bag
    • Why?  To sit on in the start corral or even wear to keep warm.
  • Cheap poncho
    • Why?  A) in case it rains and B), you can always use it to sit on in the corral if you don’t bring a garbage bag.   True story – I had one I carried to close to a dozen races before it finally rained at my May marathon and I ran 26.2 miles in it.
  • Sharpie
    • Why? Because they don’t sell them on property anywhere.  And its handy for marking stuff.  Or having someone sign your medal.
  • Disposable coffee cup
    • Why?  Personally I cannot run without coffee.  So i make a cup to go in the room and bring it to the start.  I don’t like to check a bag at the start, so these are great for tossing.  You could always instead bring a travel mug and check it in your race bag.
  • Old pair of socks or cheap pair of gloves
    • Why?  Hand / arm warmers.  If you aren’t using arm sleeves as part of your costume and just want something to keep your hands/arms warm before the race (or during those first couple miles), these work great.  I have a collection of the hub’s old tube socks for just this use.
  • Handwarmers
    • Why?  In case its cold.  Because yes, its Florida, but its still January and sometimes its just cold.  I have circulation issues and my fingers go numb if i’m cold.  And trying to open a gel packet when you can’t feel your fingers is a challenge.
  • Moist Towelettes
    • Why? Because portapotties don’t always have hand gel. And sometimes, your gel gets your fingers sticky.  Or you get biofreeze on your hands with no way to remove the remnants. These little packets fit neatly into whatever is hauling your gear so its easy to carry.
  • Masking tape or duck tape
    • Why?  Why not!  It can work for fashion emergencies (OMG my costume eyes fell off) or to put on something you need to label so your nephew doesn’t claim it as his (hands off the oreos buster.  LOL). You know what they say – theres’s nothing duck tape can’t do.

    Yes, I’m skipping over the essentials like gel, and your costumes and your buddy pouch (or whatever carry pack you use).  And safety pins are a plenty at the expo.  This is just a list of stuff i’ve learned over the years that I’m glad I have. 

    Anyone have anything fun i’ve missed? What’s your can’t live without that people tell you is a “genius idea”?

    And happy training fellow Dopeys. 🙂