Stars & Stripes – the recap

Some people celebrate Independence Day with sparklers and hot dogs…and some of us prefer to dress up in sparkles and run races.  

I decided to run two this year and make my own 19.3 Challenge – the Stars & Stripes. Sure there was no bonus medal like at Disney, but it was still a totally awesome experience. 

It consisted of the Independence Half in Bristol, RI and the Finish at the 50 10k in Foxboro, MA. 

I’d never run Bristol before, but I totally would again. Despite it being insanely humid it was an absolute blast. 

The course is rolling hills and mostly water views and Bristol really goes all out for the 4th (events and a parade) so the town is draped in flags and bunting. Plus a lot of the route is within Colt State Park, one of my favorites places by the water and where I spent 12 hours last summer at the Anchor Down ultra. πŸ˜€

A lot of runners were all dressed up in red, white and blue and some really fun outfits. I was saving my really good one for the 10k, but still got into the spirit. 

Some highlights of my race:

  • Meeting a Facebook friend in person finally (hi Sarah!) and another member of my team runDisney fb group
  • Making it all the way up the longest hill to mile 8. It wasn’t steep but it took forever 
  • Finding the “Road Rage” sign
  • Taking a selfie with Potato Head Uncle Sam
  • Knowing that water on the back of your neck does more good than in your mouth. Lol 
  • Having the courage to walk at mile 10. (It was too humid. I couldn’t make myself slow down. So I knew I had to start the walk breaks)
  • Finding out later that despite taking those walk-breaks I was still sub 10:30 pace for those miles. 
  • Finding my fierce at the end – to rally and  run solid the last 1/3 of a mile. With one heck of a finishing kick!

Overall? I finished in just over 2:07. Not my best, not my worst. And I worked hard for that.  It’s been a long time since a half-marathon felt that hard. Sometimes, the reward is in the struggle. 

And I got a cool medal. πŸ˜€

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The Finish at the 50? That one I’ve run a few times before. 

It’s always hot. And I always wonder why I insist on running it. And then I remember…it’s all about the finish. I will never get tired of the chance to run through the inflatable helmet and out onto the field at Gillette Stadium. 

The whole day is like a giant party. They have a kids race, 5k and 10k. There’s a dj and people hang out before. Plus there are fireworks after the races, so you get a lot of spectators the last mile of the race. 

I headed over a couple hours early to meet up with some more members of my runDisney group.  Such a fun buncha people.  A couple of them were running the 5k so I got to watch them start and cheer on all the 5k runners (Trust me, no one is as enthusiastic as a spectator as another runner. Lol) before getting ready for the 10k.  

And there were a lot of 5k runners! Love seeing everyone dressed up and patriotic. 

Me? I went with Wonder Woman. Which was a huge hit with the spectators. 

Hanging out with my group before the race the question came up of goal times.  And as I had hoped to do okay but not great  (it was 80 – and heat is not my friend) I laughed that the goal was to finish. And hopefully under 1:10. 

Another responded “you know how the Disney training plans say – use this one if you want to finish in the upright position?” That’s my goal. To finish in the upright position. Yes!! 😁

We lined up, and after the national anthem (yeah, watching a flag wave in the breeze on independence eve will get ya right there…) headed off. 

I started purposely easy. And spent the next 3 miles trying to hold myself back. 

I chatted with a few other runners here and there. 

I ran through a LOT of sprinklers (you foxboro residents are so awesome!). 

And I never looked at my watch. 

Just watched the mile signs pass by. And passed the people who dropped to walk. And suddenly knew that was my goal. 

That unlike Bristol where I couldn’t go slow enough to not walk, I was going to run easy enough to not need to. Wonder Woman doesn’t walk. 

Suddenly mile 4 clicked by and I was having fun. And then we turned to see the stadium in front of us. Knowing we hadn’t hit mile 5 yet it felt like a joke…so close and yet so far. 

And at mile 5, there was an ugly hill. And I think I passed 7 people on it.  And I grinned at the cheers. Because Wonder Woman never gives up. 

 As we looped through the parking lot of tailgaters I high fived SO many kids I lost count. I couldn’t stop smiling.  

Finally, we headed to the stadium. And down the ramps to the lowest level.  Just before we entered, I spotted the first of the photographers. And picked up the pace. 

(Note:The next photos to follow – credit to Capstone. I will be buying them, but snagged these watermarked versions for the blog…)


And entering the stadium, let out a cheer 

I reached the middle, turned toward the finish line and watched for myself on the big screen (this is the first year I’ve actually seen it!!!!)

I heard my name announced as I approached the line (woohoo!) and sprinted across. 

Where I finally looked at my watch. 

A 1:01:34 finish. Sweet!!!! A fairly typical 10k time for me. Especially for this race.  And way better than I expected. 

So feeling like a total rockstar I got in the line for a photo with Pat… who high fived me. 😁 it’s always good to impress a mascot. Lol 

That. Was. So. Much. Fun!!

Overall? I definitely enjoyed myself more at the 10k than the half. But I would run both again in a heartbeat. And even both the same weekend again. πŸ˜€β€πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Hope everyone had a great 4th!! 

Road to Victory – Village Fair 5k race recap

β€œThe best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die.” – Pre

Saturday, was a good day to die. 

I’m not sure why I felt so insistent on running the Village Fair 5k in Walpole, MA on Saturday. I don’t run 5ks. I’m a marathoner who takes 3 miles to hit my stride. 

Maybe it’s because I just wanted to spend a morning in the company of other runners. Maybe it’s because there’s a definite charm to a small race. Or maybe it’s because I thought maybe I had a chance to finally place in my age group. 

But whatever it was, come Saturday morning I found myself on the lawn of a church in the middle of Walpole, grabbing my bib and ready to race. 

About to start my warmup I heard the DJ play “Try Everything” from Zootopia and as I sprinted across the parking lot I was singing along… I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, til I reach the end, then I’ll start again. And I smiled. 

This race, was mine to lose. And I was going to give it absolutely everything I had. πŸ˜€

So I hung by the start, watching the kid milers finish, and other runners stretch as I just shimmied to the music. That’s my favorite kind of warmup. 

And when all 80ish of us walked up to the start and no one seemed to want the front line, I took it.  Because when a race is gun-timed (not chip), every second counts. 

Then…as the air horn blew, I reached up to turn on my music (kickstart my heart to start…) and took off.  

And I mean TOOK OFF. Full out sprint that I knew I couldn’t maintain. But that I knew would level off to something I almost could. 

Because a 5k is no time for holding back. There’s no later miles to save it for. It’s truly a race. An all out, full on, sprint of a race. 

I ran hard, I let those faster than me pass, and I ran my own race.  

Of course, being passed by a guy pushing a stroller kinda hurt. And I turned and said to him “now THIS is kind of embarrassing” to which he laughed and replied “don’t worry, you’ll get me on the uphills”

And when my watch beeped mile 1, I dared a glance. And saw an 8:08 staring back at me. Hell yeah!!

I was also starting to breathe a little heavier than I should have been. (Where did this heat and sun come from?)  So while I told myself “it’s just 3 miles, it’s okay” I also saw the small hill leading into a small neighborhood loop and reigned myself in a little. 

As I saw the woman I had considered my competition stop and drink water and seem to struggle a bit I knew it was the right choice.  

I also told myself that when I came back out of the loop I’d do the same. 

And yet, when my watch beeped mile 2 a little before that water stop and it read 8:52, I knew I couldn’t chance it. Time for water could cut me out of a place-finish. 

So I pushed on, cruised the downhill and knew it was just a mile. I could do anything for a mile. 

Even climb Mount Everest. Because when we made a right turn, and I saw the hill, I was thinking “what is this? The Himalayas”? 

I knew it wasn’t a very long hill, but it was a very steep hill, that seemed to get progressively steeper towards the top.   But the woman standing there spectating, who yelled “Come on. Almost there. You got this!” Was just what I needed. Because I don’t like to walk hills. Especially in a 5k. And she was right, I did have this. 

Fortunately, after the top was downhill. A LOT of downhill.  Like almost all the way to the finish. 

Which was good, because I had maybe pushed a little too hard on that hill and spent the next two minutes dry heaving. Filled with both horror and amusement and the thought of hurling during a race. (After, sure. During, not so much.). But I got past it. 

And as the downhill continued and my legs took over, my brain went to the Steve Prefontaine quote I posted above. I was going to wring every last drop of everything out of me and leave on on that road. 

Somehow I surged. I could hear someone behind me, tho no idea how close. I just knew I was NOT going to be passed. And as people cheered and I was waved to the finish chute I gave it every last bit. And grinned when I saw the clock. 

It read 25:54. 

My second fastest 5k. 

One I hadn’t really trained for. One I ran 4 weeks after my second fastest marathon. And one that I still totally kicked asphalt at. 

As I walked over to where my hubs and my puppy sat. I gleefully told him my finish time. And that I KNEW I had to have placed. 

Because no one had passed me after about a half mile. And there was no way there were more than 2 women my age in that group. 

So we hung. And we waited. And I discovered my dog likes watermelon. And I chatted Disney with a couple other runners. And then…the results were posted. 

I walked over, waited for the crowd to part, took a deep breath, and found my name. And saw the #2 in front of it. And actually started jumping up and down. 😁😁😁😁😁

I ran back to the hubs and said “I got 2nd!!!!!!!” Finally…finally… for the first time ever, I placed my age group.  I mentioned it to another runner who high-fived me. Joy truly is contagious. 

And when they gave out the awards, and I shook the race director’s hand and accepted my medal, I was prouder of myself than perhaps ever. 

Because sure, finishing a marathon is totally badass, but finally placing in your age group after almost 10 years of running? Ranks higher. 

Like me…this medal may be little, but it is fierce. 

And I will treasure it always. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ₯ˆ

Maine Coast Marathon – splash & dash race recap

When you’re standing under an umbrella just outside the start corral, listening to the DJ play “Raindrops keep falling on my head”, all you can do is laugh. 

And when your hubby leans over and says “forget this – let’s just go drink margaritas all day”, you laugh again and reply “don’t tempt me!”

Instead…you wait til the 2 minute warning, give him a quick kiss, and join the runners dressed in trash bags and ponchos, feet already wet and itching to get going. 

Then, as you near the start and hear “laughter in the rain” followed by “I love a rainy night” you throw your hands in the air, clap and whoop. 

It’s time to dance.

I had a lot of fun on Sunday. Sure, it was hands down the WORST conditions I’ve ever run a marathon in – it was a nor’eastah after all – but it was a beautiful scenic course full of friendly runners and awesome volunteers. 

Having no idea how the weather would affect me, I decided to toss my time goal out the window and just have fun. I never looked at my watch, just ran how I felt. 

I started slow, and easy.  I didn’t care what any of the other runners were doing.  I wanted to cruise and relax and see if I could just feel good for most of the race.  I ended up chatting with another runner for what turned out to be nearly 3 miles before she chose to slow down for a bit.  She was a fellow disney runner and super nice.  I never got her name, but I hope she had a great race.  Maybe i’ll run into her in January.

After my new friend fell back, I surged.  It felt right.  Not too fast, but just, comfortable.

And when the two younger girls I passed at mile 5, who I had chatted with at mile 1 (one running her first marathon) hollered out “hey mermaid girl – what’s your time goal” I replied “4:25 to 4:45 – come catch me”  πŸ™‚

A couple minutes later, I spotted friends who were on the course to cheer me on.  YAY!  Thanks Cara & Susan for standing in the rain just to see me come by – you rock.

Well, it was all fun and games until we hit the ocean.  And the wind and the rain were a reality check.  My brain doesn’t usually question me this early in a race.  It was all “your hotel is at mile 9.  Its warm and dry in there.  Why are we doing this again?”

Yet, after passing through downtown Kennebunkport and along my hotel where the hubby waited, I stopped just long enough to give him a kiss.  “How are you he asked, wet and cold?” I replied “oh, I’m soaked, but I’m fortunately not freezing”  With a “see ya in three hours” I rejoined the group.


And it continued on pretty much the same way.  Any time the course dipped down along the water, scenic yet horrific, and when we headed back inland where the trees blocked some of the wind, it felt way better.

Now, some of you may be aware, but there was an issue on the course near mile 12.  An unfortunate detour.  Having just experienced one of these three weeks at at the Blackstone 1/2, I have to say how EXTREMELY glad I am they had it straightened out by the time I came by.  And I feel awful for the fast runners, going for BQ times and PRs that were negatively affected. 

As we came up that hill I could see the mile 12 marker in front of me the other side of the ‘side street’ and feel my watch vibrate the mile, so I was baffled at the runners coming from the side.  Thinking “am I only at 11?” when the volunteers started yelling “go straight, go straight” and it hit me for the second race in a row there was a ‘communication breakdown’.  

Right around here it started getting hillier.  I had watched the course video, so I knew there was a beast at mile 15.  But that once I was over that, the rest was reasonable.  

I didn’t expect the short steep bugger at mile 14.  Fortunately it coincided with when I needed a gel.  Which I had to walk to get out of my pocket and attempt to open.  (side note – trying to get a soaking wet glove on and off in a cold rain is NOT easy).  So it wasn’t that I needed to walk that hill…it was just timing.  LOL

And it might have been when I turned the corner by 15, saw the hill and said out loud “Holy Cow”, I was actually able to shimmy right up it. (I am not an interval girl – I simply believe in a well-placed ‘reset’ walk of a minute or so when needed.)

There were actually quite a few hills…

By mile 16 I had fallen into a ‘make it to the next gel’ pattern.  Trying to not think about how far I had left, and how long it would take if I just gave in and walked to the end. Instead breaking it down into reasonable 4-mile segments.  

But things were starting to get cold and my legs were getting stiff and my feet were just, oh I didn’t even want to know.

And when we headed to the out-and-back piece by mile 20 and saw ‘the lagoon’ I may have frozen for a second.   I’m sure at the time they planned the route, they had no idea that it was going to be bad weather, or that the road would flood.  Leaving runners one of two options “shimmy up and along a stone wall, or go through the 4-5 inch deep puddle’.  There was no lawn to get around it on. It was being stuck between a rock and a wet place.  

And…we had to cross it twice.

The first time through, I tried to find the ‘shallower’ parts. But on the way back, having just crossed the mile 20 marker and not even caring, I just splashed right through that sucker.  It was COLD.  lol

I think it was somewhere around here that I met the ‘buffet brigade’ – two hula girls, a pirate and a shark.  My mermaid skirt had finally found some like-minded runners.   And when the hula girls ended up a bit ahead of the pirate and shark, as I passed I told them “They’re just behind you.  Your pirate stopped for rum.”  (see – no matter how harsh the conditions, I still run happy)

At mile 23, I knew I could finish.  I just had to pull it out from somewhere inside.  Until I crested the hill and was met with…the storm.

The 24th mile was well and truly the most intense mile for me.  It was icy needles of rain.  It was wind blowing me both sideways and backwards.  And the sea was crashing on the rocks – gloriously and violently. It was mesmerizing and deafening and through here was near impossible for running.  I know it was my slowest mile as I would run a bit, walk a bit.  But I just had to keep moving.  

And maybe that’s why when I saw the water station with the m&ms and then the mile 25 marker, I smiled.  I had this.  And as I passed another runner I leaned over and whispered “Just keep swimming”

And the rain seemed to let up.  And the wind seemed to stop.  And there was so many lovely little downhills that I just cruised along.  
When I came along the mile 26 sign I turned to the girl next to me and said “this sign is a thing of beauty”.

And around the corner I could see the finish chute.  I tore off the poncho that had lived in my closet for 3 years, always carried to races just in case but never needed until this day, and dropped it by the side of the road.
Because darn it – I wanted at least ONE good photo.

I called out to the three kids right outside the fence “I need a high-five, who’s got me” and slapped hands with all three.

I went up into the finish chute and glanced at the clock. For the first time all race.  And seriously had to do a double take. No. Way.

I had my medal hung around my neck by a member of the Maine National Guard (awwww!) and a foil blanket wrapped around me by a volunteer while another handed me my water bottle (reusable race-logo water bottle – such a nice touch).

I was in a daze.  I’m not sure if its because at that point I was exhausted and slap-happy, or if it was because, despite tossing any hope of a sub 4:30 marathon out the window, I had come THAT close.

I ran a 4:30:56.  

My second fastest finish ever.  My fastest marathon in a poncho.  My fastest marathon in a nor’easter.  (See, we runners can find PRs almost anywhere. LOL)

I am extremely proud of myself for never giving up.  For keeping a positive attitude for 26.2 miles. For actually having fun and finding the humor.  And for running like a beast.  
Does part of me still wish I could somehow have shaved 57 seconds off my finish time? Sure.  But I know I did my absolute best out there.  And that is what matters.

Thanks Maine Coast for a great race that I will definitely come back and run again.  Hopefully in better conditions.  πŸ™‚ 

Plus I absolutely love my sparkly mermaid medal. 

Ps…a quick shout out to those products that got me through.  

Running Buddy – my buddy pouch is priceless and the buddy clips work like magic to keep my bib secure. Proud to be a Running Buddy Ambassador!

Sparkle Athletic – love my mermaid skirt (and everything else they make)

Huma – my new favorite gels

Bodyglide & smartwool socks – 4 1/2 hours of wet feet, no blisters.  Sweet!

Brooks launch 4 – shamrock shoes. Truly lucky. Plus my friend could see me from a long ways off. 

Race Recap – Blackstone Valley Half-Marathon

Sunday, under slightly cool temps and gorgeous clear blue skies…magic happened.  I ran a 2:00:12 half-marathon.  Unfortunately it was on a 13.47 mile course.  I’ll explain later…

After having the Walt Disney World half cancelled and opting out of the freezing cold Ocean’s Run half I was itching to get out there on a course and see what I could do.

What’s funny is that neither of those were races I was planning to actually ‘race’.  But rather just run for fun.   And i’m not entirely sure when I decided that I was going to full on race Blackstone.  But once I did I went into serious preparation mode.

The few days before were all about hydration and nutrition.  Outfit and playlist. Course review and mental preparation.  Coming up with anything I could to give me that extra boost out there.

I almost never run with music.  Except for #turkeyvisionquest I hadn’t run outside to music in a couple of years.  I’m more of a ‘sounds of nature’ runner.  But again, I knew how using music in November had led to a PR, so I was going to see if it made a difference here.  I created a PEP (performance enhancing playlist) of all my favorite metal and rock songs, and threw in a few new ones from favorite artists (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Airbourne) which turned out to be perfect.

Also… my bib # turned out to be 201. And I got this crazy idea, maybe I could run my number. (I sort of did…)

Sunday morning was literally race perfect.  It was about 46 at the start, blue sky, slight breeze.  The race started/finished right by Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.   Tons of parking right by the start (in fact the hubs was able to sit in the back of our hatchback watching runners fly to the finish) and access to the visitor center and really nice bathrooms were a bonus.

After a beautiful and oddly moving national anthem (maybe it was the way the flag was waving in the wind with the sun shining on it got me…) we were off.  Kickoff playlist song?  Rock & Roll (Zeppelin).  πŸ™‚

The course headed south, looped around and headed back past the start.  And this is where it got interesting.   I was tucked in with a crowd and had Robert Plant in my ears and when the group turned, I went with them.  I think I knew in the back of my head it wasn’t right.  But I didn’t question it.  Because racing is pack mentality.  One goes – all go.

Until the race director chased us down to tell us we’d been sent the wrong way and turned us around  (Is this were we tell the course volunteer “you had ONE job”? LOL).  For me?  This ended up with an extra .37 miles that I spent the rest of the race trying to make up for. Turns out the lead runner?  He’d tacked on an extra 3/4 of a mile with the ‘detour’.   And the funniest piece of all this?  The song Plant was singing? Communication Breakdown.

But I was in a very good-natured group.  We joked about “well, I’ve always worried about getting lost on a course.  Now that it’s happened, I don’t have to worry about it”  And “There goes my age group win.”

The rest of the course?  Clearly marked and absolutely beautiful.  Just enough change in elevation to keep it interesting, but not overly challenging.  The only ‘beast’ came around mile 5.  One of those hills where you turn, see it, let out a quick curse word and shimmy to the top.  Only to turn and see it keeps going.  Ugh.   But that hill was followed by a long spectacular downhill with mountain views.   And was great for me for just coasting and resetting for the second half.  And also let me knock off two of my ‘standard race goals’ – high-fiving a kid and barking at a dog.

There isn’t a ton of crowd support out there – tho the water stops were filled with enthusiastic volunteers – but a few people stood on corners or in their yards.   And the sections on the bike path and some cyclists pulled over watching us.

I saw a couple of funny signs “if trump can run you can too”  And a set early on of “just 5 miles to go’ and “she can’t do math” with an arrow pointing to the first sign.  But my favorite sign?  The town sign of Central Falls aka Chocolateville.  Seriously – you can’t go wrong if you’re running through Chocolateville.  LOL

But like I mentioned earlier, I feel like I spent a lot of the race trying to make up for the detour.  I ran that course with determination and strategy.  I cut ALL the tangents and tried to limit any extra steps.   I also watched my pace.  And when I hit the 10k mark in 57 minutes flat (what?? How???) I mentally calculated that I could still pull off my hopes of a sub 2:05 clock time.

Because I was fairly sure that I couldn’t hold this pace forever.  I fully expected that i’d slow down. Because I hadn’t run this fast for this long in…oh I don’t even know.   But then I let it go…and I stopped looking at my watch.  And I let my music and my legs lead me.

And when my watch beeped 13 I looked down…and pushed just a little. And watched myself hit my fastest 13.1 time in nearly two years (since June 2015).  A 2:00:12.

And with my favorite speedwork song playing I gave it everything I had and ran on to that finish.  Saw the hubs right before it and gave him a smile,  a wave and a thumbs up.

And then crossed that line in 2:03:22.  Which still, is my fastest half in two years.  And a darn good Disney POT (LOL). (Side note – that last half mile was an 8:32 pace. Wow!)

Got my shiny medal (seriously – the back of this thing is mirror surface) and a water, and tried to not throw up. (Guess I really was racing all out.  lol  Its not the speed – its the sudden stop that does it.)

I’m feeling really proud of myself for doing so well.  And i’m also feeling this new confidence going into the Maine Coast Marathon.  This half was just what I needed.  

Am I disappointed about this being an ‘extended cut’?  Sure…but its okay.  There’s always another race.  And this was still a great one that I will definitely run again.  Only next time, pack be damned, I am NOT making that right turn.

 

 

The cold never bothered me anyway…tales from the Disney Marathon

Cold? No problem. Rain? No Problem. Lightning? No thank you!

This year’s Disney marathon weekend was definitely one for the books. There were highs and lows and a new challenge formed. But thousands of people proved this weekend that you can’t keep a good runner down. And the power of positivity will always win. πŸ˜€

My plan this year was to up the stakes and go ‘almost Dopey’, running the 5k, the half-marathon and the marathon.  My brother that I always run Disney with was running his fourth Dopey. Mother nature had other ideas. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I flew in on Wednesday and after lunch at Disney Springs (D-Luxe burger has the BEST FRIES EVER), we hit the expo.  Or at least most of it.  Because for some reason, the line to get into the main building where all the exhibitors was was long than the ones for Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Frozen combined.  Eek!

Fortunately everything I needed (bibs, shirts, Dooney purse, sparkle visor) was in the other buildings.  Yay!

After the expo we settled into the hotel and headed over to the Wilderness Resort for some frontier style family fun – the Hoop De Doo Revue.  Its become kind of a family tradition to eat here marathon weekend.  The show is corny and hilarious.  And the food is amazing.  Even for celiacs… the chef made me salmon and veggies and for dessert, brownies covered in strawberries & whipped cream.  Oh yeah, and the sangria is good too.  Plus! I got to play the washboard!

Thursday morning was the 5k, which i ran with my brother, sis-in-law and nephews.  It was the younger one’s first 5k and the older one’s second and they both did SO good.  We had a blast running through epcot in the dark, lit by torches and crossed the finish line all holding hands.    There is always moments as a runner that warm your heart and stay with you.  Crossing that finish line hand in hand with family will always be one of them.

Friday was my morning to sleep in with the boys while my brother & sis-in-law tackled the 10k. We did spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom where I got to meet Merida (love her!) and tell her I was running dressed as her Sunday. πŸ˜€

Saturday should have been the half-marathon.  However, as often happens in Florida, fireworks of another kind were on the schedule.  I have to give props to Disney for how they handled it.  As this was the 20th anniversary of the half-marathon, it was a big race for them and they had a lot of special things planned.  When the first threat of storms came along they monitored the weather and updated us regularly through social media.  And when they realized that the danger wasn’t going away, they made the difficult decision to cancel the race.

Then they made sure that all runners were aware via email, social media, the event guide, messages to all hotel room phones, and anything else they could think of.

They also gave options to those registered for just the half, including the choice to run the full marathon Sunday as space permitted.  1,500 people took that opportunity.  And from what i’ve heard, a good portion of them finished.  Other choices were transfers to other races, a refund, or park tickets.  Plus every runner still got their medal.

And this is where those amazing half-marathon runners made lemonade out of lemons.  They decided to run anyways.

After the storms rolled through (and boy did they – crazy forks of lightning striking about when I would have been at mile 9 – EEK) those runners all got together and did their own half.  Running through hotels and the parks to earn their half medal, or in the case of challengers, their Goofy & Dopey medals.  Cast member set up water and aid stations as best they could.  Other vacationers donated snacks.  Everyone really came together.

And this is why I love running Disney – its truly an amazing group of people.

Did i run 13.1 Saturday?  No.  I had already walked about 20 in the parks the past two days and my brother & I decided that we’d rather save our legs and have a really great marathon. And I think we made the right choice. Also, we got to go into Epcot early which let us meet Joy & Sadness. And I got to tell Joy I had run dressed as her the day before. πŸ˜€

And here’s where mother nature threw us another curve ball.   After those storms came through, the temperatures dropped.  Like to Boston temps…  we were going to go to see Wishes Saturday night.  But as we sat at dinner shivering we decided having an early night in a warm room was a way better choice.

And Sunday morning, at the race start…was a wind chill of 30 degrees. Say what?

Those who know me know I like running in the cold.  However I usually have more clothes with me than a skirt, tank top, sparkle arm sleeves and a thin toss hoodie (when I left home they said high 40’s for the start.  oops).  Needless to say we caught the latest bus possible to the start to minimize waiting time.  But even still… it was COLD and windy. 

Our first mile was the thawing out our hands and legs mile.  I ran with my hood up and my hands tucked in my sleeve as best I could.  It was crowded and slow going, but eventually room opened up and we warmed up and it got better.

We trudged along chatting and laughing and soon were at mile 5 – the Magic Kingdom.  Main Street gives the Wellesley girls of the Boston marathon a run for their money.  Its lined with adoring and loudly cheering fans, plus the castle is right there, all covered in lights, a beacon showing you the way home.  Its….magical.

And when we came up on the castle from behind to run through, there stood Elsa on the balcony.  Poor Elsa probably caught a lot of grief…I simply yelled out “The cold never bothered me anyway”.  Before getting through the castle and mugging the photographer for an “I’m freezing” pic.  LOL

The course has long stretches between parks, but there are character stops everywhere and fans along most of the route.  So there’s always something to see.  There are also things i’ve now seen in each of my three Disney marathons.  Because it isn’t mile 7 unless i’ve heard “Don’t Stop Believing”

Around mile 8 my brother tossed his hoodie (he’d had both a hoodie & sweats for the start) in a pile with some others, but i kept mine.  Mine had been given to me by a friend when she & I walked a half-marathon together the year I broke my hip.  And I wanted to leave it somewhere that meant something.

Mile 12 is the entrance to Animal Kingdom.  Every year volunteers stand out there with animals from the conservation station wearing race bibs.  Its one of my favorite things on course.  So I had to stop…and pet a sheep.  πŸ™‚

We made it through Animal Kingdom, crossed the half-marathon point and cruised along. My brother was doing great – and I could tell that he was going to have his best race ever.  And around mile 14 coming through the parking lot of Animal Kingdom, just past the marching band (love that!) I saw the spot to leave my hoodie.  We were in the unicorn lot.  And there, at the base of the next unicorn, I carefully placed the ‘tribute to the unicorn gods’ with a smile and a “Thanks Amy”.

The next ‘destination’ was the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex…aka the labyrinth of doom.  Seriously – I don’t know if its the way it winds or simply because its at those critical miles of a marathon, but everyone I know considers it sheer torture.  I took a picture of my brother on the “highway to hell”  LOL

By now we were taking a couple minute walk break at every mile sign, which gave us a chance to hit the water stop and take in fuel as needed.  A great strategy, which always helped break up the miles.

We ran around the track and we ran the warning track of the baseball field and then on the way back out we stopped to fish stones from the warning track out of our shoes (and I almost couldn’t tie my shoes – my fingers were so numb.), we were offered beer and assorted candy and I found a pats fan in a jersey in full game-day attire (love that guy – Go Pats!).

By mile 22 my brother was at the “get all the biofreeze” stage of the race.  So we hit the water stops and the med tents and while our paces then slowed, our spirits didn’t.  My brother looked better than i’ve ever seen him at this point.

And a shoutout to a guy I chatted with for a bit that mile.  A runner and race director from Utah named John who was running 411 (412th?) marathon – and like 280 something consecutive month.  Such a nice guy and really amazing.  He’d been wearing a marathon maniacs shirt and I came up behind him with a “you maniac” which got us talking.  Thanks for the chat!

As we made the turn to head towards Hollywood Studios, I had one of those awesome karma moments… they played Don’t Stop Believing followed immediately by Sweet Caroline. I sang along (well, sorta) to both and thought of my Sole Sister Karen – who loves both.  That was your mile woman!

Coming through Hollywood Studios is always fun – they hand out chocolate as you enter!  And I mugged for the camera (really – I had all race) on the turn, then grabbed smarties from a spectator.  There is a picture I won’t share of me with half a roll in my mouth.  Its funny!

And coming out to head to the boardwalk was a sea of fans and high-fives.  I had to high-five someone dressed as Judy Hopps!  Great costume.

Along the boardwalk are just tons of people cheering and handing out sugar. I snagged more smarties and a nestle bar. Which I declared “omg this is better than a medal.” Then “no, not really” which totally cracked up the couple standing there. 

And we made it to Epcot. We decided to walk to mile 25 and then run it the rest of the way in. And we did…waving at fans, smiling and watching all the while for squirrels. I didn’t want a repeat of last year. Lol

And I suddenly had a genius idea for a photo. I don’t know if it was the warrior music playing or not, but I channeled my inner Merida and pulled out an imaginary bow & arrow. And was rewarded with what is now my new fave race photo. 

Just before mile 26, my brother looked over and said “see you at the finish”. With a grin I took off. 

Just before the finish chute I spotted a man struggling. Badly. And I noticed he was wearing plaid pants that matched my ribbon. So I put my hand on his shoulder, said “come on clansman, let’s finish this” and kept going.  (He came up to me after to thank me. Said he really needed it at that moment. Awww. I’m just always happy to help another runner. We’re all in this together). 

And I sprinted full on to the finish line. Veering over to the side to high-five Pluto. 

And crossed the finish with arms held high. Gosh I love this race!!

It should be noted that this was a marathon PR for my brother, by 7 minutes. So proud of him. He really trained hard this year. And even tho we didn’t get to run the half, he still 100% deserves that Dopey medal. 

It should also be noted that I ran the entire marathon with my hair down. That’s a PR too! Lol

Speaking of Dopey…I think it’s time. I’ve been Goofy long enough, and it’s time to fully embrace the crazy. Let 2018 be the year I get Dopey. Who’s with me? 😁

 Thanks Disney for an awesome weekend. See ya real soon!

 

 

 

Chilly & hilly…Gansett Fall Half recap

Yep, we’re runners. We get up in the dark on a fall morning with a gorgeous full moon to go play in the leaves for a couple of hours. And we love it. πŸ˜€

Sunday morning I ran the Narragansett Fall Half. 

Back when I registered for this I had no idea how unprepared I’d be. I’m used to knocking out 12-14 mile runs with ease.  And it was far enough out from anchor down that I thought it would just be a fun fall race. 

Little did I know that that ultra would tweak my knee and exhaust me for days. Or that I’d be really struggling to get in long runs.  And going into this I had no expectations faster than a 2:10 finish. Because even that was faster than I’ve been training. 

But like I always say, the second I pin on a bib, my mentality changes. And despite what I said to my friend Bonnie in the start corral, apparently I did have some “killer instinct” in me that morning. 

I arrived nice and early as I always do, and was greeted by the race director, who happened to be the same one as Anchor Down, and he recognized me from it (ego boost).  We had a nice conversation about the ultra and while I know it won’t fit into next year’s training plans (I have my eye on Adirondack), it makes me kind of want to volunteer at it. We’ll see…

I was also dressed Fall-themed with as much sparkle as I could. πŸ™‚ and armed with my trusty running buddy to hold my phone (and later my arm sleeves). And my buddy clips to keep my bib secured (and my shirt hole free). πŸ™‚

The race started with a cannon blast fired by men in period costume (so cool) and with a quick good luck to my friends Jenn & Bonnie, we headed off. 

I purposely reined myself in going up the early and ginormous hill and saw my friends ahead. I knew in time I’d catch them…but enjoyed just cruising for a bit. Soaking in the gorgeous fall foliage and listening to other runners chat. 

By about mile 2 I came along Bonnie. We were both great at that point, but I’d lost Jenn. 

Spotted her a little later and trailed her until mile 4 when I caught up. It was shades of the day I met her…during another half when I’d been following her for almost two miles, and finally catching up to her, introduced myself. That day we paced each other and gabbed for a couple miles before splitting off. And we’ve been friends since. (Runners are such awesome people!!) 

I could tell today she was struggling some, and wishing her well – and with a warning to pace herself – continued on. 

The next several miles were a roller coaster of hills and scenery. 

  • The giant (20′) Santa statue at the Christmas tree farm (that reminded me of the one I see at the Edaville Rail Run)
  • The giant wooden daisy in someone’s front yard
  • The liberty tree (this one I googled after. It’s cool!)
  • And tons of really cool Halloween displays throughout town 

You wouldn’t expect Rehoboth to be so full of both scenery and history. And this half was a great way to experience it. 

I totally want to go back at drive it to see everything again when I’m not under a time constraint. πŸ˜‰

And about mile 10, I was starting to droop. Hit the water stop, walked for a bit to drink and then said literally out loud “okay. Let’s do this” and the man just behind me said “yep. Let’s go” 

And a smidge later, the course Marshall who had been cheering us on about every 5k or so stood at the top a hill yelling out “you get a downhill. And you get a downhill” and I yelled back “everybody gets a downhill” and she repeated it. πŸ™‚  what I didn’t get realize was that this was a long magical downhill that was exactly what my tired legs needed. And gave me that boost over “the wall”. 

About mile 11 the course loop came back on itself, so the last 2 miles matched the first two.  And I knew that I just had to keep moving and that the remaining rolling hills weren’t too bad. And that I’d have that great downhill coming up to mile 13. 

But at mile 12…I was toast. My hips hurt. My glutes hurt. I was hungry. I was tired. And I wanted it over.  I just told myself “You are a warrior. You do not quit. I know this is tough, but you are tougher. Just do not walk.”

And I hunched. And I slowed down (or so I thought until I saw the garmin readout – how was that a 9:37 mile) and I just kept moving. And then the turn towards the finish…and the steep “holy crud don’t let me trip I can’t control my legs so just ride the gravity” downhill towards the finish chute. 

And seeing that big inflatable arched I grinned, and high fived a pair of little girls, and kicked it home. 

And as I stopped my watch, I smiled again. Because I was faster than expected. A 2:06:55 finish.  A fairly average time for me. And one I’m quite pleased with as I know I gave it absolutely everything I had it there. πŸ˜€

Side note…the elevation chart on the race website totally lied. Because when you see this…

You don’t expect this…

And I would totally run this again next year if it fits my plan. 

It was scenic, it was fun, it had great course support, it had cool shirts,  it had cider (and beer and pie) at the end, and it was just full of awesome fun people. (I even got to meet a runner from my rundisney Facebook group! #networking lol)

But now…I’ve got just one race left for the year – a thanksgiving 5k. And then we get Goofy!  So…time for a couple weeks of off season before we get serious. I’m looking forward to it. 

Happy Tuesday my friends. And happy running!!

Anchor Down – the recap

This is the longest its ever taken me to write a race recap.  But considering this was the longest race i’ve ever done, it seems appropriate.

It wasn’t even a matter of getting my thoughts together…it was a matter of getting my brain to wake back up.  LOL   I knew going into this that staying up all night running would take its toll, i just didn’t realize how much.

I will say that the Anchor Down Ultra was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.  It was not my first ultra, and it won’t be my last, but it will always be special.

It was held August 19-20 (ten days ago) in Colt State Park in Bristol, RI.  A place I know fairly well as I live nearby and its one of our favorite places to picnic and watch the water.  But, I have never seen it like this.

The course was a 2.45 mile loop that I had 12 hours to circle as much as possible.  It was about a mile of trail and the rest paved with a short grassy uphill & matching down.

And I know people think running in circles can be mind-numbing, but having the breaks in terrain – woods to paved to grass to paved – actually broke it up nicely.

The event was incredibly well run and well organized.  The volunteers at both aid stations were amazing and completely made a difference out there.  Especially in the wee small hours of the morning. Seeing that beacon of light at the tent village was like a lighthouse leading me home.

I know I usually do recaps by miles…but right now I couldn’t sort lap 2 from lap 15. At some point they all sort of blurred together.  So instead i’m just going to share some general moments.

  • Ultra people ROCK. Unlike a marathon where people are more focused on themselves, ultra people focus on each other.  I may have spoken with every person out there during the course of 12 hours.  And they were all friendly and awesome.  Whether it was their first, or their 15th.
  • I’m very grateful to a couple of women I walked a lap with.  Hearing another runner’s story at 3am, while you’re both just keeping moving, makes the steps go by way faster. Thank you Hollie and Heidi.  You are both awesome!
  • Give a girl a Walt Disney quote and she knows she’s in the right place!
  • Give a girl some other people who are runDisney addicts and she’ll chat the miles away.
  • Watching the full moon rise is magic.
  • Watching the sun rise a few hours later over the water is beyond words.  
  • Having a volunteer yell “there’s my girl” as you approach the tiki torches of a water stop really gives you a boost. Thanks buddy!!  
  • Eating pizza at 2am while walking through the woods is surreal.  And Facebook post worthy.  LOL
  • Having a much faster friend pass you every oh, three laps, and check on you gives you something to look forward to.
  • Reflective lettering makes you a beacon in the dark for some runners.  Especially when you’re in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.
  • My headlamp survived all 12 hours (Amazing).
  • My garmin did not – it died about a mile from the finish.  So close!
  • Realizing that there is a difference between someone who runs ultras and an ultra-runner.  I run ultras…the guy who flew by me on the trail at 4am while I was trying to carefully pick my way over the roots?  He’s an ultra-runner.

I am also, as always, eternally grateful to my husband.  For setting up my tent, getting me settled in, and then coming back for me at 6:30 in the morning to drag my carcass home.  Love you babe. 

 
Thank you to everyone for all the well-wishes and congrats I received.  And a special thanks to my bestie and her guy and her friend for helping to make that a night i’ll always remember.

This is what 11.5 hours and 44.1 miles looks like. Exhausted and happy. πŸ™‚