Can I get a do-over?

Anyone who lost a week of training to the flu, raise your hand! 🖐🏻🖐🏻🖐🏻

Ungh…I thought I was safe. I dodged the ‘Dopey Flu’ that had plagued Disney and gotten so many of my fellow runners sick.   But one week of crazy immune-system lowering work stress followed by an encounter with a flu/bronchitis sufferer and BAM….  down for the count. 😷

The thing about being wicked sick is that not only can you not work out, but you don’t even care that you can’t work out.

I quarantined myself in the guest room and the far end of the couch, I went through a box of tissues and a half a jar of hand gel, and I traded in marathon training for netflix marathon training.  LOL

It hit on a Tuesday….I did not emerge from the pit of misery until sometime on Saturday.  The moment I stepped out into sunlight I felt like a butterfly emerging from her cocoon.  🦋 It was glorious.

The fog had lifted enough that I was eager to try a short run.  Which was perfect as the hubs was due for one too.  And omg, it was 50 degrees out.  So, impossible to resist.

Just an easy little 5k, alongside my best friend and new favorite training partner, was just what I needed. And shout out to the hubs – he’s a natural.  So i’m glad that running the Disney 5k was enough fun that he’s decided to keep running.  It will be nice having company on some short runs.

Sunday I was feeling WAY more human and decided to run again.  Goal was 6 miles, and running at least 4.5 of it.  I started out slow, hit a groove and just enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine i’d been missing.

And then that runner, coming from the other direction, turned behind me down a cul de sac and I had to go faster to make sure she didn’t catch me.  LOL  And that felt amazing…for about two miles, when I realized it may not have been my smartest idea. Its okay, I slowed down and finished all 6 running.

I just learned one does not simply race a 10k while recovering from the flu.  What one DOES do however, is race hunt.  Not that I needed to find a race, more that its fun to look.  Its race window shopping!   Until you know, you find one that you just have to have.

I’m seriously considering adding the Providence half to my calendar. Its 3 weeks before Vermont City, which is perfect timing for a time trail (like I did last year with the Blackstone half), its a course I know well.  And, it has a 5k that the hubs could run as something to do while waiting for me to finish.  All good reasons.

I would love a do-over on this past week, but that isn’t happening.  Instead i’m going to be grateful that January is technically off-season.

And for now, I gotta kick the rest of this flu before I can kick asphalt.

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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.

Hello August…

The worst part of fall marathon training is that most of it occurs in the summer.

I don’t like the heat. I mean, you probably wouldn’t know because i’ve been doing my share of mid-day runs along the river…outside…in the heat and sun. But it usually involves stopping at ALL the water fountains during the second half.

And sure, I did do three races in July…but none of them were quite as good as earlier in the year when the weather cooler.

My poor garmin is getting dusty because I refuse to have digital proof of how awful my paces have been. I mean i’ve actually been eying this training shirt. LOL

But i’m 54 days out from the Adirondack Marathon, which means its time to really get serious. To decide if I have a PR goal, or merely a course-PR goal.

You see, that sucker is HILLY.

And while the first half is crazier hills than the second, the last time I ran this my goal was to beast the hills. And I did, and then the wheels came off by mile 17 and the ‘rolling hills’ in the later miles felt harder than the spikes.

So I plan to spend August ramping up both the strength training (adding a 3rd day a week), the hill training (wherever I can) and, as usual, distance (August’s schedule includes a 16, an 18 and a 20 miler). Dusting off the garmin so I actually know how fast (slow?) I’m going. And hoping that August is mild (yeah, I know….likely not happening).

I’m also going to up my hydration game (my running buddy h2o is about to get in some more miles) and maybe go back on the music (my single-ear sports bud isn’t getting its exercise either). Might be a good month to run to Zac Brown and Jimmy Buffet. oooh – virgin pina coladas in the h20 pouch? LOL

So, if you need me this month…i’ll be out running hills, feeling tropical and thinking fall.

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”  🙂

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.  🙂 

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. 

Get me to the coast!

And pack me an umbrella….  its gonna be soggy.

Yes folks, my weather jinx on races continues.   The most positive thing I can think of right now is, well at least I won’t get heatstroke!  Because this?  Is comical! IMG_4399

Sure, its only Wednesday.  It can change.  And 40’s no problem. Rain? Eh, been there done that.  Wind?  Sure. But all together?  Its hilarious.  Does that really say 40mph wind gusts?

That should make for some impressive waves….just hoping none of them come crashing up over the sea wall.  Who know the race needed a “Warning: You May Get Wet” sign.

So sure….  this makes me rethink my outfit.  Because, really, isn’t that what taper is for?  You’ve done the work, you’ve got way more time on your hands and so your focus turns to clothing.  And race goals.  I’ve got three scenarios now.

Scenario 1.  Bought the tank oh, two months ago.  And the skirt to go with it.  Because, the race logo is a mermaid.  Plus May can be warm.  So channeling my inner Ariel.  Also, race goal with this outfit?  Potential PR.IMG_4401

Scenario 2.  Last week – watching the weather get colder.  Okay, 40’s can be fast.  Just gotta swap the tank for a tee shirt (boo!) and add some arm warmers.  Cuz we hafta sparkle.  Still, this is a FAST outfit.  And if the wind isn’t terrible, we can so break 4:30, if not PR.IMG_4402

Scenario 3.  Based on the weather posted above as of this morning?  Lets not melt…  I do have a purple jacket (I ran my 2nd marathon – also a drizzly cold mess – in it) but its oddly vanished.  If i can find it – i’ll swap it for the pink.  Because purple is always faster. Also, we may need to go hat over visor.  Dang.  IMG_4403

This one needs some work….  because I have a hunch its gonna be the one.

Come hell or high-water (which is a possibility. LOL) tho,  i am wearing the mermaid skirt.  Just might end up with pants under it.

But, no matter what…I WILL have fun.  And I WILL run my best. And I WILL have some good stories to tell.  Because one of the water stops is labeled “Sheep Farm” – how can that NOT be adorable.  And there are m&m’s at mile 25.  (woohoo!).

Maine Coast Marathon?  I’m coming for ya…give me your worst.  I got this!

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).  🙂

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.

 

 

Happy Marathoniversary

Yep, this weekend marked 5 years since my first marathon.  April 16, 2012.

And considering how that one went – Boston, 88 degrees, and beastly – I could have have given them up entirely.  Instead, stubborn warrior girl that I am, I wanted a rematch. With both the marathon and that course.   Boston ended up my 1st, 3rd and 5th.

Number 12 is approaching… in 3 1/2 weeks.   And they still haven’t gotten any easier.  But i’ve gotten better at training and embracing the suck.  🙂

So Sunday, in honor of Boston the following day, as part of training for the Maine Coast Marathon and as a celebration of my marathoniversay – I had a 20-miler planned for Sunday.

And…much like that day in Boston, the weather has drastically different ideas.

I headed out the door fairly early, but it was already 60 degrees.  By mile 9 it was sunny mid-60’s and climbing and I desperately needed water, a lighter shirt and my hair up. So, route altered and home for a ‘water stop / wardrobe change’.

By mile 10 the bargains started…  make it to ten and walk 1/4 mile.  And I did a couple of ‘mile repeats’ with a 1/4 mile walk break.  And desperately looked for shade. At the half-mile marker (2:20) I realized that 20 miles was so not going to happen.  And myself I would keep moving until I hit 3 1/2 hours (the time 20 usually takes me) and I would run at least a few steps of every mile.  (which got progressively harder).

I know I sound like a wimp…but after a cold winter and usually running in 40-50 degrees, high 70’s – 80’s was way more than my body was ready for.   I was dehydrated and overheated and had no interest in collapsing on the side of the road. And it did hit me that OMG, I had this same problem 5 years ago today.

At mile 14, about a mile from my house and more cold water I kind of worried I wasn’t going to make it without water. But no problem – I had my ‘water fund’ in my pocket and a golf course up ahead.

Because golf courses have vending machines right?  Wrong.  Not this one.  Of course, its easter and hot sweaty red-faced me walked into a clubhouse full of people in nice dresses and an easter bunny looking for a drink.   No sign of machines, so I wander into the pro shop where I was informed they don’t sell drinks (maybe I could try the grille room).

And it hit me… I was having a “pretty woman” moment.  Disheveled looking street person wandering into a nice place trying to buy something and not getting help “I have money and no one will help me!”

I did at least find a ladies room with paper towels and cold water from the sink and made do.  Runners are resourceful.    And a mile later at home I chugged water, and endurolytes and ice (one cube in the sports bra, one tucked in the back of my sparkle visor) and filled my running buddy h20 and headed out for the death march of the final two miles.

My friends think i’m a happy runner.  And I totally am. But I have never been so miserable on a run as I was at mile 17.5 walking ever slower up the street, practically crying, and muttering “I want to stop.  I am miserable.  I do not want to move another step.” followed by “Suck it up buttercup.  We don’t quit when it hurts.  We quit when we’re done”  And there has never been a sweeter sound than the beep of my garmin at mile 18.  (which was still .1 from my front door. ugh.  lol)

I was a hot mess.  Quite literally.  And I am sending a request to the weather gods to PLEASE not let Maine Coast be this hot!

But at least on the course there will be water stops, and I won’t be something the nice townsfolk will share stories about for days

Omg…did you see that girl? Was she crazy?

No…she’s just a runner.