‘‘Twas the night before Dopey

”Twas the night before Dopey, and all through the parks, not a creature was stirring, not even Mickey Mouse.

The runners were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of medals, danced in their heads.

Okay, yeah, I know – no sleep at Disney!! Lol

But omg guys – we did it! We survived training and taper and now it’s Go Time!!!!

I’m so excited to go “home” today and hit the expo and meet a bajillion new friends and have a truly epic weekend full of fun and frivolity and All the Miles. Yay!!!!!

Hope everyone’s final week of running went well, and that you’ve all reviewed the event guide and know where you gotta be when. I have been studying it like it’s the Patriots playbook. 😁😂

I also have a printed map of the expo vendors, with my must haves circled. (Seriously sparkle athletic – did you actually really put out a rose gold visor? Way to guarantee I stop by!!!)

I feel…oddly calm about running this weekend. Maybe my training was spot on after all. Maybe because I’ve been through this once already I know that the marathon will hurt, but that I will finish. Or maybe it’s because I know that I don’t give up, I don’t give in, I just finish what I start.

And tomorrow – starts 48.6 miles in 4 days.

To all of you running this weekend, no matter the distance, may it be an epic voyage. And may you get all the merchandise, photo ops and gram marnier slushees your little heart desires.

See ya real soon!!

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6 weeks to Dopey – let’s talk costumes!

Doing weekly countdowns keeps me so very aware of how many (or few?) days are left until Dopey. And we’re at 42. Eek!!!
It’s time to really get my costumes together. While I know what I’m planning – there’s still some organizing and cricuting still to do. 🙂 And I’m definitely doing some reminiscing about the ones I’ve worn over the years. Below…I’ll discuss my favorites!
But first…training update. While my mileage is definitely down from last year, having been through it once already totally helps my confidence.  I know I can finish.  And having the loooooong runs begin totally makes it feel like go time.
I did run my last race of the year on thanksgiving.  My third time at the Attleboro YMCA Gobble Wobble.  Some of you may remember the last two years of Turkey Vision Quest…well this year was NOT that.  LOL  I had no time or placement goal, I had no expectations and I had no idea what my legs had.  It was C O L D and I felt both totally silly and badass running a 5k in feels like -1.
When the race started I took off with the group, fell into pace, warmed up and just went for it.  That said – when I saw the clock at the end I had to grin.  Because it was over 2 minutes faster than I expected!  And within 40 seconds of the PR I set last year.  So while sure, part of me was disappointed I missed 3rd place in my age group by 30 seconds (drat!) I know there is NO WAY I could have shaved that off what I ran.  So i’m happily walking away from that with 4th AG.  And 99th overall, which is pretty cool.  😀
I followed that up two days later with a Saturday 16-miler.  I found that window of time that would be prime running – and it was Saturday afternoon.  A time I NEVER run.  But it was single digits again friday and rain expected Sunday – so when you find 45 degrees and sun you take it.
I told myself the run was a no-pressure, time on my feet kinda long run (just Dopey marathon practice) and yet, my legs had other ideas.  I should NOT have been running 9:40’s…for 10 whole miles.  I did finally get my legs to slow some after that…but still super awesome long run pace for me.  I ran by a lot of christmas decor and even a tree farm.  I saw two ponies and some chickens.  And I just enjoyed what might be the last chance to run in capris in 2018.  It was an awesome run and a confidence boost for sure.
Of course, since my mind loves to wander during runs….I was trying to remember what I still need to do (or buy) for my costumes.
Picking out four is both easy, and hard. There are SO many to choose from! And while I try to not repeat myself, I am bringing back characters this year – although with new costumes.
One is my girl Snow White. She wasn’t meant to be a costume last year. But it was SO cold for marathon weekend, that what I had originally planned just wasn’t gonna work and I had enough cold gear with me to “Disney bound” her. So this year, she’s gonna get the royal treatment. She’ll be my marathon outfit.
She’ll join that ‘hall of fame’ of the four other outfits i’ve worn running the Disney marathon.  And I think she’s a great choice for fifth.
I definitely have a favorite from each year – and its usually my m marathon one.  I think its because I save the good one for the big race (whether i’m running Goofy or Dopey). I also have a favorite picture that goes with each one.
So here they are…my favorites so far!
2014 –  Minnie Mouse / Goofy
It was my first year and I wasn’t as good at costumes yet.  I chose Minnie as my first (for the half) and Goofy for the marathon, as that was my challenge of choice that year.  I made custom shirts for my brother (who was running Dopey) and I that read – I’m Goofy but my brother’s Dopey…it runs in the family (and the reverse for him.) Those shirts got a lot of love…and will always have a special place in my heart.img_0382
2016 – Ariel / Tigger
My second Goofy, I branched out a little and joined team sparkle.  I kept Ariel simple so I could run well (purple shirt and visor, green sparkle skirt) and Tigger, my bouncy trouncy flouncy pouncy buddy, was FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN!img_1356
This is also the infamous “I kicked a squirrel” photo…(see my 2016 weekend recap blog.  LOL)
2017 Joy / Merida
This year my family ran the 5k together as the emotions from Inside Out.  I was Joy (obviously – lol) and it was fun to do a group costume. I had planned Mike Wazowski for the 1/2, which got cancelled and almost chose to run in that for the marathon…but I knew I had to stick with my original plan – Merida.  And i’m SO glad I did.  I had a blast posing for the photographers…and got what will always be one of my most epic race photos.img_2091
2018 Mike Wazowksi / Dopey colors / Snow bounding / Figment
My first Dopey…and boy was it cold!  I had planned to run the 5k as Mike with my hubs as Sully, but when its in the 30’s, you adapt.  I was fortunate enough to have a green fleece Mike colored, but still, my awesome shirt has yet to have its moment.  So him, we will bring back in January – hoping third time is the charm for this guy.
This was also another year of the costume shirt.  I designed Dopey challenge shirts and a challenge shirt for my nephew (who runs the 5k/10k) and we wore those (with a billion layers under them) for the 10k.  I ran the whole race also in a pair of sparkle purple and green minnie mouse ears.  So awesome!
For the half – I had a minnie mouse costume packed…but it wasn’t going to be nearly warm enough for a thank top, and i didn’t have any black long sleeves. So a quick plan B and Snow was ready to go.  Like I said, this was not one of my best costumes and the OG princess deserves a chance to shine.
Figment….this goes right up there with Merida as my favorite Disney costume ever.  My awesome sister in law gave me the idea (she’s a MAJOR Figment Fan) and I totally ran with it.  It was fun to craft and fun to run it – the crowds loved it.  And this picture…makes me smile.img_2933-1
So my fellow Dopeys, Goofys and other marathon weekend runners…what’s your favorite costume ever?

Sprinkler Season

Runners don’t just have four seasons…

Each “calendar season” can be split into even smaller ones.

Like fall has “leaf season” and “fleece season” and “Halloween decoration season”. And spring has “delayed Christmas decoration removal season” and “tulip season”. Sometimes they occur simultaneously.

Summer has one that I both love and hate – sprinkler season. And we are full on into it.

I’m at a point where I have about 4 loops that I alternate in the mornings. And I try to remember which days the sprinklers go off on each one. But I don’t always get it right.

Like last week I picked the wrong day to run my own street. It’s a perfect 1 mile loop, and sidewalks, so when all my neon shirts are dirty, or if I just don’t feel like dealing with cars, I run that.

But apparently Thursday is “every sprinkler on the loop goes off on a staggered schedule” day. And I was getting so annoyed that I had to keep going into the road around them. Remind me to not run that again this week. Lol

Then there was today. It was hot. And humid. And just SLIMY out. I was about halfway through mile three and cutting through a neighborhood when I saw a man adjusting his sprinklers. He aimed one at the sidewalk and I smiled. I ran through it, arms raised in victory with an oooh yeah! Which of course totally cracked him up. I turned and grinned a thanks.

The relief lasted all of 10 seconds. But it did help. 🙂 Because I was about 20 seconds faster the next mile.

I guess it’s all about the timing – and love them or hate them…we gotta deal with them. At least for now. But – school bus season will be back soon enough to replace it.

Be Present

Two simple little words that made a huge difference on Sunday.

Sunday was my last long run before the Vermont City marathon – a planned 22 miles. And I headed out early feeling calm and ready.

But, sometimes things don’t go quite as we plan and we end up needing a mantra to get us through. And sometimes that mantra finds us.

All was well until mile 10 when I stopped to pull my gel out of my pocket. And seeing a group of cyclists headed towards me ( knowing it could get dangerous if a car joined the mix on this narrow road), I opted to eat my gel there and wait for them to pass.

As soon as I started running again, everything felt tired and heavy. And the mind games started – you know…question everything.

I told myself it would get better. I told myself, just make it to 11 and see how you feel.

But I am an overthinker. In both life and running. I’m always planning ahead and then stressing over things that are like 2 months (or 5 miles) out.

I tried to calm myself with my usual “clear your head” “let it go” “just stop” kinda stuff. And I got to 11, then 13. And then, the my mind bounced around again.

I was thinking ahead to the next gel, and how far can I make it before I have to walk. And just generally worrying myself.

Then two words popped into my head. Be Present.

Just pay attention to where you are. Be in the mile you’re in. The rest will happen as it happens.

Stop and smell the lilacs. Bark back at the dogs. Watch the birds fly by.

Just be…

And I got to mile 16. And reminded myself again. And then to 18. At 18 I decided I was going to walk 1/4 mile so I could eat my chews. But after 1/10 of a mile I realized I didn’t need to walk and started running again.

To mile 19.25. Where again I was going to walk a 1/4 mile, but was fine with 1/10.

And I hit mile 20 feeling good. And ran all of mile 21, to actually a little past it. I took one last walk break of about .15. And then ran strong to finish at 22.02.

Looking at my watch I smiled. Because I realized that I if I can do this again in Burlington, I could walk the last four miles and still finish under 5 hours. Something even a month ago I wasn’t sure I could do.

I’m ready to taper. I’m feeling really good about the work I’ve put in. And I know, when I tow the start line in 11 days, I just need to remember to Be Present. 🙂

Love the run you’re in

Sometimes, the run you get is exactly the run you need.

Even if you maybe kinda had the mother of all meltdowns before heading out the door.  LOL  Does anyone else do that?  Get SO worked up before going for a long run?  I mean, its not like my self-worth is based on how fast or how far I go on a Sunday.  And yet, sometimes it feels like it is. So I get buried under this imaginary pressure.

Especially as its now 25 days to Vermont City.  And this training cycle has been less than ideal.  Stuff going on every other weekend, challenging weather and well, this darn hamstring thing that just will not go away.   Although in retrospect, its continually improving.  It just doesn’t always seem like it.

So yeah, facing the idea of 20 miles in the rain Sunday morning in addition to all that other stuff….I kinda freaked.  (Sorry babe!) And then went all suck it up buttercup and went.  And was greatly rewarded.

The goal was to start slow, and stay slow and see just how much of it I could do.  The 18 miles two weeks before, was a lot less running than i’d have liked.  So I had to tell myself, it doesn’t matter how slow this run is…if it helps you run them all.

I didn’t look at my watch…I felt it beep the miles, but I refused to be ruled by a number.  I saw a hawk sitting by a pond.  I saw a gorgeous fox run across the road.  I got a text of encouragement from the hubs (Thanks babe!).  I spent a lot of time telling myself to Get Out Of My Head and just run.  It got damp and it rained and my fingers became useless.  I found an aquatic creature out ‘swimming’ too.

I remembered Shalane saying at some point during the marathon it felt like she wasn’t even wearing shorts, and I knew EXACTLY what she meant.  LOL

When I hit mile 14 somehow miraculously still running, I aimed for 15.  When I hit 15 I tried for 16…  At 17, and still running (albeit likely slower) it started to become a mission.  And at mile 18, still running, I started to smile.  Cuz now it was game on and there was NO way I wasn’t finishing these miles running.

When my watched beeped the magical sound of mile 20 complete….I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  Instead I texted my running friend (who was out running her long run in a matching outfit (twinsies, yay!)) and said “I ran the whole f@$%ng 20”.  I then slowly and gingerly ambled into the house (I finished .05 from my door – convenient!) and said “Guess what I just did!”

At that moment, it was the Best Run Ever.

I was tired.  I was sore.  And I was so incredibly happy.  Its not where I used to be…but it doesn’t matter. Because it was exactly what I needed that day.

A side note… today is also 5 years from the day I broke my hip in a running “accident”. Two weeks after my 3rd marathon (Boston 2013).  Spending four months on crutches and rebuilding almost from scratch for my 4th (Disney – January 2014) was a challenge.  Yet now here I am training for my 14th.  Its all about perspective.  Belief you can overcome anything…and that you can’t keep a good runner down.

Flexibility…

One of the most important things you need as a runner, and often in life, is flexibility.

Like say for example when your DVR decides to not record the mid-season finale of the walking dead.

Sure – it’s okay to pitch a minor fit. But then you take a moment and a deep breath and go “so what now”

In this case it will be buying it on iTunes to watch either on the train or the treadmill and instead – using this time to blog. It will all get done, just in a different order.

Such is life as a runner.

You can plan your exact workouts for the week or weeks ahead. But if you chisel them in stone, they become more of an obligation than a joy.

Too many times of telling friends and loved ones “sorry – I can’t. I have to run” instead of other fun events can make you resent your choice to train. And can strain relationships.

Instead, writing your schedule in pencil and knowing what you can skip or move can not only make getting them in less stressful, it will enable that all important balance.

Because running is what you do, not all of who you are. You are also a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a partner-In-crime, etc. And you can’t put those aside. You can shuffle them. But you can’t ignore them.

This past week for me was about flexibility in my running schedule. Between the holiday and guests and other obligations I was off-schedule. Yet I still got in around 30 miles. It involved moving Wednesday’s long run to Tuesday and sneaking in a shorter run Friday before the guests awoke. But by doing so, it kept everyone happy and gave me enough miles to deal with the stress the holiday season and 2 pounds of stuffing bring. 🙂

Sunday again was flexibility in the long run. To run my 14 miles? Or to meet jog club? Both!!

I was up early enough that I could get in 11+ miles on my own (at goal race pace – yay!) followed by a nice easy 3 with the girls to finish it off.

So by being flexible – I got the best of both worlds. 🙂

As its December, and life tries to get in the way, remember…did you use the chisel or the pencil? Because that next race will be what it is. And missing out on all the fun and festivities December brings isn’t worth shaving a fraction of a second off your miles.

Happy Monday. Happy December. And happy running!!

Sole sisters…

I am truly blessed to have some amazing women runners as friends.

My sole sisters – the ones who encourage me to be a better person and a better runner.

What makes them amazing is not their speed, nor their endurance, but their hearts, their dedication and their unending spirit.

This week is more about them, than me.

Sure – I had a great week. I’m getting back on schedule after Cape Cod. I got in an 8 mile gorgeously Fall river run on Wednesday. And hit some great paces on Friday – negative splits and an 8:16 mile 5 (Woohoo!).

But the best part of my week was the weekend with my sole sisters.

Saturday was the Edaville Rail Run. Last year, this was my first real race back from “The Injury”. It’s a 5 mile trail run through cranberry bogs and it’s so darn scenic. Last year I surprised myself and finished faster than I’d hoped. This year, it was Karen’s turn to surprise herself.

My dear friend Karen is finding herself as a runner. She’s done a few 5ks and the ones this year keep resulting in PRs. And she was ready for a new distance. The 5-mile. I had the honor and pleasure of running alongside her Saturday while she reached it. Both of us in pink sparkle skirts!!

I would recommend this race to anyone and everyone. It’s held at Edaville USA in Carver, Ma – known for its holiday lights train and other kid-related events during the year. It’s small and well-run and as I said before, scenic.

You start at the top of a hill, wind past the “village” of small old fashioned houses and then wind through the woods and cranberry bogs. It’s just enough people to not feel lonely on the course, yet you never feel crowded. It’s flat except for one small hill in the middle and one at the end. And it’s fun.

Karen did amazing. The goal was not pace, but distance. To run all of the five miles. So while we took off a little faster than we meant to (happens every race. Lol), we settled in well. Past the dog I just had to woof at (one of my race traditions) and train car #5 (random? Or did that put that one there on purpose…) and out to the bogs.

I’m used to running alone. I love running alone. But there is something so fun about running with a friend. The miles fly by and the stories flow.

You point out the scenery and the cute pants on another runner and you refuse to let either of you check the pace because it doesn’t matter. You slow when you need to and you enjoy the moment.

And before you know it, you’ve wound back around and can see the finish line. And you know that you just want to finish in front of the two girls that have been in front of you for a while.

So as we neared that hill back up to the finish and declared it “time to dance” Karen yelled out to the girls “come on ladies, let’s finish strong” and I countered with “it’s not a hill, it’s a ramp to success”. And we kicked and flew past them, laughing and sprinting our way to the finish line. Side by side and arms raised in victory!

Karen’s sister & niece were right at the line to cheer us on with a sign they made her. (And i can say from experience – that is the best thing you can ever do for a runner. It is awesome.). A high-five and a hug. And it’s official – Karen just finished her first 5 miles. Now, on to the 10k, right doll? 🙂

Then Sunday…Sunday was my friend Lori’s turn to impress. Sunday she ran the Rhode Island 6-hour Ultra.

For those of you who don’t know – an ultra means anything over marathon distance. It also means you’re slightly crazy. In a good way! 🙂

Lori is also once again raising funds to help cure Rett Syndrome, and based her goal distance for this race on how much she had fundraised over two days. Her goal? 38 miles.

And I couldn’t resist going and surprising her. My sole sister Lori has been one of my biggest supporters the past few years and I wanted to return the favor.

So I headed down planning to see her last couple of loops (it’s a 2.7 mi looped course you just run as many times as you can) and by some miracle, pulled into the park just as she was reaching that section of the loop. I yelled out to her, catching her completely off guard and hopefully gave her a boost for that lap. She yelled out “I just finished 50k. Woohoo” Woohoo indeed.

I went and parked and wandered a bit with Kevin & Gus and then waited near the finish to see her come by again. Cheered as loud as I could and took some photos. And watched her keep going. Now at this point, there were only about 15 minutes or less left to the official 6 hours. But Lori wasn’t done yet. She had one lap left for her Team Rett promise.

So we watched everyone else finish – the relay teams sprinting full out and the solo runners getting in those last few steps. And watched as they took down the finish line and started the awards. And waited…because Lori was still out there and I wasn’t leaving until she finished.

And there she was, clearly exhausted but refusing to show it. She finished and I gave her a huge hug. Which someone managed to catch a photo of. (Thank you to that person!).

I am so proud of both of my sole sisters for achieving new distance goals this weekend. I am lucky to have you both to continue to inspire me.

I am also proud of all of the rest of my sole sisters (you know who you are) for getting out there and training and pushing yourself, and working through the doubts and fears, knowing it’s always worth it.

Run on my friends…I’ll see you out there!