Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Half Marathon Recovery, Savannah Style!

I would be extremely remiss if I did not write a post about the way we "recovered" from our 13.1 mile run on that early and cold morning of November 5th, 2011. Truly, there is only one way to spend the day after such a long run. We burned over 1200 calories after all. Thanks to the Lady & Sons, we were able to add them all back in!
    After basking in the morning sun in Forsyth Park, listening to the fabulous tunes of Carolina Liar, it was time to find food! Real food - beyond the bananas and bagels at the finish line! We could think of only one place we wanted to go - Paula Deen's! Could we possibly get in? Wouldn't all the other 23,000+ runners be thinking the same exact thing? Well, we had to try!!
    We hit the Starbucks for some caffeine in the form of a warm beverage and then we were set. We typed into our phones and pulled up the maps, asking only once which way to head out of the park. Forsyth Park is rather large and we were somewhere in the middle! We began our walk toward the restaurant. When we arrived I had to stop and take a picture! I couldn't believe I was there! EVERYONE has been to Paula Deen's except me!
    We went up to the hostess stand and inquired about getting in - 2:15 PM, they said. What?!? Do you mean to tell me that in a little over two hours we would be seated inside, ready to eat? Woo-hoo!!! We were thrilled! Maybe we were the only runners in town with this great idea!
    So Amanda, Gina & I headed down to the riverfront to kill some time. We figured we would not have time to walk back to the park, catch a shuttle to the car, drive to the hotel, clean-up and then drive back to the restaurant, park and get in! What was a few more hours in our smelly race clothes? No one would notice...
    On the river, there was an outdoor market set up where we shopped and talked. We wandered all down the river and then back up the other side. Suddenly, it was time to head back to the restaurant. We were positively famished at this point. We let them know we had arrived and then wandered all around the store attached to the restaurant. So many cute things! We got our picture with "Paula."

Finally, it was time to be seated. As we walked past the buffet, the drooling began! I hadn't seen this much homemade Southern cookin' possibly ever!

And then they brought the bread - bread is such a lowly word for the decadence they placed in front of us! A hoecake, which I had had before and even made before and a cheese & garlic biscuit creation that I am absolutely positive is served in Heaven! Warm and wonderful, I enjoyed every bite. I would have been content if that was all there was, but alas, there was more delectable goodies to enjoy! Off to the buffet!!
Round One!
SWEET tea, of course!

    My first course consisted of fried chicken, collards, black eyed peas & rice and green beans. I ate every bit! Amanda and Gina started with salads - whatever! I needed to refuel my body! I went back for round two - more fried chicken, more collards and this time, something new, mac n' cheese. I'd have to say the best part was the collards and fried chicken! I guess I'm what you would call a true Southern gal!

    We would have been banned from the restaurant I'm sure if we did not order some of Paula's gooey butter cake for dessert. This was Amanda's favorite part! We also got some peach cobbler for good measure! To say we were stuffed is an understatement! But we were stuffed and fabulously happy!!!
    Thank you Lady & Sons for the best recovery meal EVER!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Inaugural Rock N Roll Savannah Half Marathon

Half Marathon #2 - November 5, 2011 - This time with my girlfriends!
    Running with friends has become so important to my training. I used to think I only enjoyed running alone and would only run with others occasionally. I have gotten to the point now where I really miss my running buddies if I have to run by myself! Traveling and running races with my friends just may have to become a regular thing! I convinced two of my running buddies to head up to Savannah with me for the Inaugural Rock N Roll Half Marathon. Only one ended up actually running the race with me but the three of us had a great time!
    We arrived in Savannah the Friday before the race. We got there about 4pm which was actually a little late for my nerves - especially when I saw the 1) traffic and 2) line to get across the river to the Expo!! Savannah is a tiny little Southern town not used to crowds except for St. Patty's Day! So to have 23,000+ runners, friends and family descend on it for this weekend - well, frankly, my dear, they had some issues! Thankfully, I know Savannah well and was able to navigate the streets to where we needed to be and park. We headed down to the river to take the ferry across to the expo. The line must have been a quarter of a mile long! We just kept walking and walking, hoping to find the end. Here is where problem #2 comes in to play - they had two ferrys to carry people across to the Expo. The ferrys probably held about 30 people, maybe. There were HUNDREDS in line! At about 5:30 PM (the Expo was schedule to close at 7 PM), they had the brilliant idea to open up one of the river boats to carry all of us across! Why did they not do this all day?? Once they did that, it wiped out almost the entire line and we were across in no time! I was really worried! I wanted to have plenty of time to shop!!
    Once at the Expo, everything else went extremely smooth. Bib number, shirt and bag pick-up was quick and easy. Not much good stuff in our swag bag though - for a race this big and a company that is for profit, I think they could have thrown in some samples of something!! I was expecting the Expo to be a runner's shopping paradise also because it was a Rock N Roll race. Not so much. There were a lot of people from around the South pushing their races, which was really cool. Amanda and I kept picking up the flyers saying "Ooo! Let's do this one!" or "How about this one?" I think I hooked Amanda on the whole traveling to run thing. She was very excited! The rest of the Expo was sort of a disappointment. I wanted to see more stuff and try new things. I guess I have been spoiled now by the Disney Expo and my hometown Expos for the Donna Breast Cancer Marathon and River Run!
    There were a few good food and drink vendors we got to sample. I got to see my girls from Running Skirts and stock up on some stuff. But the best find was Skin Sake. We received a sample to try and I am hooked! Apparently not widely offered in stores (I only found two in Florida) but you can order it online. And I will be ordering it! I tried the Skin Sake Athletic to prevent chaffing from my sports bra and it worked like a charm! Not one red mark on me!
    We were practically starving by the time we left the Expo - it was almost 8:00! As we were driving in, I had noticed an Italian place a few blocks off the river. I thought that we could try it for dinner. My thinking was because it was not right on the river it would be less crowded - HA! Boy, was I wrong! When we arrived at Corleone's, they told us it would be a two hour wait - OR we could wait for a table outside which was first come, first serve. So we stood around and watched people eat! Trying to figure out who was going to finish first and who we had as our competition for a table. It was crazy! I think the worst part was watching all this fabulous, fresh, homemade Italian food walk by!!
    We finally got a table in about 45 minutes and quickly ordered. I wanted to eat everything on the menu at that point! But I settled for a Ceasar salad, Penne a la Vodka and a side of meatballs...

Needless to say, I ordered too much food and had to get a doggie bag! It was sooo good though and I will be back the next time I am in Savannah!
    We finally got to our hotel around 10PM, cleaned up and headed to bed. We were excited and ready for the morning! I was actually able to sleep some and before we knew it, we were up and getting ready for race day! Gina had decided not to race so she dropped Amanda and I off as close to the Riverfront as she could. We headed for the starting area and finished getting ready for the race. We still needed to pin on our bibs and put on out "D-tag" timing chip. Did I mention it was freezing? Well, in the 40s - which is freezing for this Florida girl! Yet I was still dressed in a strappy tank and running skirt, plus the addition of arm warmers. So thankful for these! Running Skirts has these great arm warmers that roll-out over your fingers so you can keep your hands warm if needed - Brilliant!
     We checked our bags into our appropriate school buses - yes, I said school buses. Hey, it worked! And then headed to the starting line. I was in corral 10, Amanda was in 11. There were some 20-30 corrals along Bay Street! They let us out in a wave start, one corral at a time. It was an easy, flawless, relatively uncrowded start. The route took us through ALL parts of Savannah, including what Amanda dubbed "the other side of the tracks." Something we learned about the Rock N Roll series of races is that they take you through all parts of the city, not just the tourist spots.
    It was really amazing how the people of Savannah came out to cheer us on. Even in the cold and at such an early hour, there were people everywhere! Standing in their yards, on their porches or leaning out of their doorways. There was hardly a place where there were not people smiling and cheering us on or just offering a friendly good morning like we were out for a run on our own, not with 22,999 others!
    I wanted to beat my Wine & Dine Half time. I wanted to get to 2:15. As I neared the timing clock at mile 12, I noticed it was under 2:15 and I know I had started at least a few minutes after the clocks had! I ran 9:1 intervals mostly and felt great the whole way. I was distracted by the sights and the people during the entire race and the first 8-9 miles just flew by! At about mile 11, I worried about Amanda, who was ahead of me, but had faith she was doing well. Her furthest distance was 11 miles and this was her first half marathon!
    I made it to the finish line with an official time of 2:13:34, beating my goal time and so happy!

    There was tons of food and drinks after, a beautiful medal and space blankets! But truly the best part was meeting up with my girlfriends to celebrate and hang out in Forsyth Park listening to the After-Party concert put on by Carolina Liar - my new favorite band!
    What a great race! And of course, since we did the Inaugural we will definitely be back next year!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon - My First Ever! (Part 2)

I knew I would need walk breaks as I ran. It was how I was trained and I needed to stick to it. I just couldn't stand the thought of 3:1 intervals though! See? Stubborn! So I decided to walk when I felt I needed too and always at water stops. The nutritionist I listened to at the Expo, Tara Gidus, said to take Powerade at most stops. She's the nutritionist for the Orlando Magic, she must know what she's talking about! So I took Powerade and water at almost every stop. At about Mile 1, I saw the trucks go by with all of our bags. That was kinda funny! The first three miles are all highway to the Animal Kingdom. As we neared the park and turned in to the parking lot, the songs I had programmed for Animal Kingdom (Hakuna Matata, The Bare Necessities, etc.), began. It was exciting that, so far, the playlist was working! As we headed in thru the main entrance of Animal Kingdom, I ran past Jeff Galloway and his wife - they were walking. Once thru the turnstiles, we were greeted by a path lit up with animal tusks! I then rounded the corner to see the Tree of Life all lit up in the dark night sky. Animal Kingdom closes at dusk, so this was quite a sight to behold!
Blurry picture but you get the idea!

Tree of Life at Night
All throughout the park, cast members were posted clapping and cheering us on. My most favorite part of Animal Kingdom was rounding the bend and seeing Everest all lit up. It was absolutely breathtaking!

The first character stop for pictures was also in Animal Kingdom, but way in the back in DinoLand, USA. It was Pluto! I had to stop!

 Then it was out of the park and back on to Osceola Parkway for the journey to Hollywood Studios. My iPod continued to belt out tunes. For the highway run, I had a variety of tunes that were inspiring ("I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan) and fun ("Fabulous" from High School Musical). I hit Mile 7, the farthest race distance for me since June. This is where I also started to take photos of each Mile Marker sign. One thru six somehow just were not as important as 7 - 13!!

We headed up the biggest "hill" on the course to the encouragement of our very own drill sergeant from Toy Story. He said I was doing great multi-tasking as I ran and took his picture!
Then it was time to head in to Hollywood Studios. We ran up World Drive to the cast member entrance. The very same entrance I used to use when I worked at then Disney-MGM Studios way back in 1992. And miracle of ALL miracles, perfectly timed on my playlist, the Twilight Zone theme played in my years as I entered in the shadow of the Tower of Terror! I couldn't believe just how perfect it was! I yelled out an exuberant "YES!"

This was also Mile 9. My furthest race distance EVER was 9.3 miles in the Gate River Run. I was about to pass that! As I passed by the Tower, I headed to the Rockin' Rollercoaster with Aerosmith joining the party as "Dude Looks Like a Lady" played. I was grinning from ear to ear. We ran down Sunset Blvd. turning left onto Hollywood Blvd. and past the big Mickey hat. Next character stop, Buzz Lightyear!

I was now also past Mile 10 at this point. At about 10 1/2 my legs started to yell at me. I ignored them. I guess that was my "wall." We ran thru the back of the park and onto the Backlot where we ran thru the Costuming Tunnel. I had read that last year it was horribly hot in this spot. In perfect Disney form, they had fixed that this year by having fans on. Perfectly pleasant! I passed Mile 11 somewhere around here and had officially crossed into the point of longest distance EVER!! Then it was onto the set of Lights! Motor! Action! where I made sure to ham it up for the video camera!
The best picture of the night was also taken during my run thru Hollywood Studios. It was also the character stop with the longest line! I love this one!!!
I tried to look mean too, but couldn't stop giggling!
The race course then took me out of the park near the entrance. I ran right past my old store, Mickey's of Hollywood. I should have stopped for another picture but chose to keep running. I did get a little emotional at this point remembering my old life. We rounded the bend to the lagoon that separates Hollywood Studios from Epcot and onto the walkway that winds thru the Beach & Yacht Club hotels. Mile 12 was a tight walkway but I still managed to stop and take a quick pic! I was in amazement at this point. I was really doing this! I had run 12 miles and was almost finished!!!

"Go the Distance" from Hercules came on my iPod and it was hard not to tear up. The song fits me so well. As I got closer to Epcot, the "Entrance Melody" (yes, I actually have that on a CD - I am a total Disney nerd!) started to play. It seemed a little early but I also knew I was close. At that point I think I stopped really paying attention to the songs in my ears. I was so overcome with the fact that I was almost finished with my first Half Marathon! I was tired and my legs felt heavy and sore but I ran the entire last mile point one to that finish line. Cast members were EVERYWHERE at this point with funny, encouraging and crazy signs. The cheering crowds were amazing! I hit Mile 13...
Yes, a cornucopia of food, wine and celebrating was one tenth of a mile from me!!
As I ran towards the finish line, Disney was playing the theme from Rocky. Could there be any better song for what I had just accomplished? Nope. I don't think so!
Never been happier!!!

Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon - My First Ever! (Part 1)

Finally time to get ready for my first ever half marathon. I felt a little nervous, but mainly just excited to get out there and do it! I got dressed in my new Running Skirts outfit, packed my race bag with WAY too much stuff (but I like to be prepared!) and headed to my car. I had to drive to the finish line and park at Epcot then board a bus to the start line at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports. All of the buses were different. This was mine:
Dream Coach? You got that right! I was living my dream and soooo excited! While on the bus, they played a video explaining different points of our evening and offering tips. Most of the things they mentioned I already knew from reading Disney's very thorough race materials or from blogs that I had read. It was still a good last minute reminder and one more way to keep me pumped!
The buses dropped us all off at a large field. There were so many people already! I immediately got in line for the first of what would be many pictures for the night, but I was going to document it all!
The field was alive with activity! I walked around to try to find a friend from my Galloway training group and to get myself oriented as to where everything was: bag check, photo ops, corrals, water and the all important porta-potties! Not much luck finding Brittany, so I hopped in the line to get my picture with Chef Mickey.
While in line, I saw a group of the Disney running bloggers I follow walk by - that was pretty cool! I was too chicken to call out to these people I had never met before (have to work on that) but it was really fun to see @DisRunner, @DisneyProject and @InIronsPL! I also was able to find Brittany. I tried calling out to her, but the DJ and music were so loud she couldn't hear me! Luckily, she stayed in that same spot and after my pic with Mick (I wasn't about to leave my spot in line!), I was able to meet up with her. 

 It was time to check my bag and head towards the starting corrals. The bag check was quick and painless. They were loading all of our bags into big pods that they would then transport to the finish line. It was all pretty cool the way they had it planned out! I kept my "food supply plus" bag out so I could have what I needed right before the race and then dispose of anything extra. I had these great pockets in my new Running Skirt which I immediately filled with my Sports Beans and lip gloss. The rest could wait. 
Needless to say, I did not have any Ziplocs with me...I will remember that for my next one! :-)
Brittany and I sat and rested for awhile chatting about our lives. She asked about my playlist so I pulled out my iPod, only to discover the battery showing red! What?!? How could that be? I had just had it plugged in to my computer earlier as I was making last minute adjustments to my playlist. I was so distraught! I needed this music! I made sure it was off and clipped it on, praying that when I needed it, somehow, someway, it would work! We headed to the starting area and got in line for one last potty stop. We went straight to the corral after that. It was almost time to start. Brittany was in Corral D but was able to walk right in to Corral B with me. We were packed in there like sardines but very giddy & excited sardines! Corral A went off at 10:00 PM. We were next in Corral B at 10:05 PM. We even got fireworks to start us off!! So amazing! I love Disney!!

It took quite a while to actually cross the start line. Brittany and I ran together chatting for awhile. She decided to stick with her intervals from Galloway and took a walk break. Me? Being the competitive, stubborn girl that I am, I kept running. Nothing fast, just a good easy pace. She caught up each time and we kept up with each other until about the first mile and a half water stop. I lost her after that. Which really, was good for me. This was my race, my night - And I wanted to experience it all on my own! I turned on my iPod and ran. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Day before the Night

Prepping for a night race is totally different than prepping for a morning one. I'm definitely calling this one an all out experiment, since I wasn't totally sure what I was doing. I've read blogs and articles, listened to a nutritionist, and even consulted Jeff Galloway. But what my body (and brain) do on race day is only now coming to light.

I'd say one of the hardest things is waiting. I was so excited I could hardly stand it! I had never run this far before. I knew I was ready so I just wanted to get out there and prove it! Especially in the morning when the weather in Orlando was perfect for running! A cold front came in so it was sunny but cool with barely, if any, humidity.

But I waited. And waited. And waited.

So I went to breakfast at Perkins and ordered a nice real breakfast! Scrambled eggs with cheese, hash browns, a biscuit and 2 slices of bacon. I figured two slices won't kill me, right? And of course, coffee!
 I entertained myself for a little while driving around my old haunts. I grew up in Orlando - even though that was almost 20 years ago! Geesh, I'm old! It was fun to go see my old house and my high school, which now sits in the shadow of Hogwarts Castle. Somehow that just fits. Then off to the Disney Village Marketplace. It was walking distance from my hotel so I parked the car and enjoyed the lovely weather. I visited all my favorite spots and walked all around. My legs were a little tired and I needed a snack so I got a pretzel (carbs + salt) and a Powerade. Perfect!

  I came back to the hotel and lounged by the pool to rest for a bit. My room is right off the pool. I could not have asked for a better location! It will make sneaking out to soak my legs tonight that much easier!! After relaxing by the pool for a bit, I got cleaned up to head out to my early dinner. I was settled on Italian for sure and thinking I would probably have pizza. I always have pizza the night before my morning races - why should this be any different. It was only 5pm. I still had five hours before race time.
I arrived at Portobello's at Downtown Disney and sat at the bar. This was my first visit to the restaurant. It was lovely inside. Family style seating and lots of warm wood. The bar was beautiful and the bartenders were very friendly. I ordered a Diet Coke & water - I needed caffeine to perk me up. I decided on the Margherita pizza and it was the perfect choice! It was about ten inches across with a thin, brick oven baked crust. The sauce was light, the mozzarella melted all over and strips of fresh basil were scattered across the top. Before my meal, they also brought out warm rolls with a whole roasted garlic bulb! The look on my face must've clearly communicated that I was unsure what to do with this little gem! The bartender proceeded to tell me that I should pop out one of the cloves and spread it on the bread like butter. Ok. It was different but of course wonderful! I'll be safe from vampires tonight!!
After my lovely pre-race meal, I went back to the hotel to REALLY get ready. Time to pack my bag for before and after and get dressed. I bought a new outfit from Heather at the Running Skirts booth at the Expo! I was really excited to wear it! They say you shouldn't run in an outfit you haven't trained in but it's not like I was putting on a snow suit! So it's off to the race!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ready to Run Disney

One week out and I am really getting excited! The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon is next Saturday! I feel ready to tackle this new longer distance. My Galloway training group, the Lost Soles, ran 10 miles last weekend and although I was tired immediately after, I felt great the next day. One of my running buddies said I would have no problem doing the Half after that - it was only one more 5k! Um, ok.
When I decided to run this race, I had one goal - complete a half marathon. I was thinking of training for a full marathon as well but scared of the LONG distance. And here I am, training for a full marathon and running three halves this Fall! Crazy? Obsessed? Yes, but also incredibly happy and excited!!
I'm one who has to run with music. I have many playlists based on mileage, training, races - it's all about inspiration for me - getting me thru to the end. I keep the music low enough to chat but there isn't always someone to talk with and what if I get dropped? Or if I suddenly need to fly? I need my music! So, of course, I have to have a playlist for Disney. I thought, can I really create one with nothing but Disney songs? I started researching. I love Google! And that's when I found Run, Karla, Run! She had a Disney playlist - and it was old school too! Yea!
So I took her list and then started to build on to that with my own. We Disney people have our own special songs and memories from the parks. I mean, I've been going there since I was 6 months old! I practically spent every weekend playing in the parks in high school. (Dad worked for Disney!)  I worked at Hollywood Studios in college, so I had to include songs from Aladdin! Everyday for the three o'clock parade, Prince Ali would play as the spitting camel float rolled by my store, Mickey's of Hollywood.
Of course there are a few songs from Cinderella, and I have a few songs from Lion King for when I run through Animal Kingdom. I included the song that plays in the entrance of EPCOT for when I get close to the finish. My one non-Disney song is an Aerosmith number that will hopefully play right about the time I'm running by the Rockin' Rollercoaster! Yea, I am actually trying to time the music to my pace so certain songs play at certain parts. Lots of math involved! It will be pretty cool if it works!
I know one thing for sure, this will be the funnest race I've run so far! I signed up months ago. I had no plans to meet or run with anyone. Now, one week away, I have so many people I can't wait to see, run in to or even meet for the first time! The fun of finding and following other Disney running geeks like me on Twitter! And even some of us from the Galloway group will be there, including my pace group leader! (Come see us at the 26.2 with Donna booth at the Expo!) I'm running my own race but I'm going to have lots of friends around!
Gotta go finish organizing my playlist!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


So I haven't been sleeping much. It's been an interesting few weeks. Life has been hectic and constantly in an uproar (it seems). I know, I know - my problems are small compared to so many others. Believe me, I get that. But as you all know, no matter how small your problem may seem to others, it can be as giant as a t-rex to you.
School is back in session. I don't have my own children, but I am a teacher. So this time of year throws me into a tizzy. This year in particular has been a challenging one. Some - ok, most - may say I've been the "pet" for long enough! I have had great classes, full of wonderful children and fabulous parents. I have had one of the largest classrooms in my school for almost 10 years. I have been able to spoil my students with special treats and trips. Well, with the exception of being "allowed" to have my fantastic class come up with me to 5th grade for one more year together, everything else has come to a screeching halt. The school year is two weeks in and things are still in chaos mode around me. In the classroom, with our door shut, we try to keep the chaos monster out. I'm so thankful for my children. They are really a joy to teach. If only I could just teach them and not have to deal with all of the "other" stuff.
I haven't been keeping up with my regular workouts either. My training has been scattered at best. Thank goodness for my running buddies who keep me accountable! Training groups on Saturday mornings and Tuesday evenings are about the only thing I'm keeping regular. Running is my sanity. It keeps me straight. I need to get back in to my routine. Today marks 30 days till my first ever half marathon! The furthest I've ever run was 10 1/2 miles and that was back in February! We have an 8 mile run Saturday morning. Thank goodness!! I'm gonna need it!
All of this "trouble" has left me lying awake at night, brain swirling or waking up at 3am, brain wide awake. So I tried something new a couple of weeks ago. I packed it all up in neat little boxes and passed them off to God. I stacked them in a cool little tower right in his hands. And then I said good night. There is a quote in my little page-a-day calendar I've had for years that says "As children bring their broken toys, with tears for us to mend, I brought my broken dreams to God, because he was my friend. At last I snatched them back and cried, 'How can you be so slow?' 'My child,' He said, 'What could I do? You never did let go.'" I thought maybe if I packed them up mentally and passed them off to God, really let them go, that maybe, just maybe, I could get some sleep.
There's another quote that says "Give your troubles to God; He will be up all night anyway." So I did. And it worked! I mean, it really did! I slept! I've done this three times now, the most recent being last night. I find it quite amazing. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Or should this even be called desperate? Maybe if we all just "let go" a little more often, we'd sleep better. Live better.
So next time you're lying awake at night tossing and turning with your "troubles", pack them up in some boxes and give them to God. Stack them in a really cool tower while your at it. He's gonna be up all night anyway!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Magic Mile #1

Feeling pretty good after this morning's Magic Mile! My goal going into it was to beat my last "Magic Mile" that I had completed on my own 3 weeks back. I did it!! My MM last time was an 8:51. Today I got an 8:16! I went out WAY fast at about a 7 min/mile but definitely could not stay there! I was all over according to the readings on my watch. It was pretty bad! Apparently consistency in my running is not something I have when running at high speeds! Stop laughing! That was high speed for me!! :-)
One of my best running friends is super fast and I am the opposite - we should be known as the tortoise and the hare! But she likes to run fast shorter distances and I dream of running 26.2 miles at a lovely pace... Not all runners are alike! But I know she'll be my biggest cheerleader on February 12th when I run by her house! Can't wait for the cold blue Gatorade she'll have waiting on me! 28 weeks! 189 days - not that I'm counting!
Next week we get our official pace groups. I am much happier with my pace times for this MM. The 8:51 had me practically crawling in my long runs! (Magic Mile Calculator) Yuck! The walk breaks are hard enough to deal with now at short distances! I need a little speed! Ok, so maybe I'm more squirrel speed than tortoise...just not as fast as a rabbit!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Marathon Training

Well, if I'm ever going to run Boston, I better at least get started training!
As of July 30, 2011, I started my official marathon training with Jeff Galloway for the 26.2 with Donna Breast Cancer Marathon. The "race" is here in Jax on February 12, 2012. I say "race" because that is the last thing I will be doing!! I love to run and to run long distance - but I do not to like to run fast! Being my first full marathon, my only goal will be to finish!!
I'm excited about this training program! I am doing it on my own so there is the potential to meet many new friends and contacts. I'm also excited because I "tested" Jeff's theory on the run-walk-run method. It really works! Now granted my test was only an eight mile run but still! I decided to walk for 1-2 minutes every time my Garmin beeped out a mile. I went out too fast initially (as usual), then stayed pretty consistent, with mile 5 being my longest split. From there it got really interesting! Each mile after I shaved 20 seconds or more off! I was getting faster at the END of my long run AND I was feeling great! Sold!
Looking forward to my first official "Magic Mile" this Saturday. I did one on my own a couple weeks back so I am curious to compare.
See you on the roads!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dreaming of Boston...

When I found out Boston was having a 10k in the summer, I knew I HAD to do it! I may not ever qualify for the actual Boston Marathon, but this summer, I at least got a taste of it! Ok, so now I really want to one day be able to run it, but the whole qualifying thing... I did find out that you can pay/raise money through a charity and get a race bib that way...

I got in to Boston on the Friday before the race. Saturday I went and scoped out the city and the race area. I've been to Boston a few times before and have no trouble getting around the city but I like to be prepared. Racing in the city was definitely something new to me! They were already setting up the area in Boston Common where everything would take place. It was so exciting to see!
Sunday, race day, I rode the "T" in from Braintree to Park Street. I was one of four female runners on the train car. As we left the Park Street station, one of the girls asked me about the race bag I was carrying, 26.2 with Donna, Breast Cancer Marathon. I told her I was training for it - it was my goal. And that is where my "friendship" with Susan started. We stuck together as we explored the race day festivities, chatting about our lives and our running. We got our race shirts, our running gear together (ipods, phones, etc.), checked our bags and made the obligatory port-a-potty stop...We were ready!
I went for my warm-up run in the Public Garden. It was so beautiful. As I ran I kept thinking, I'm running in Boston! I'm running thru the Public Garden! As I turned back toward Charles Street and the Common, I was greeted with a fantastic view of the city shrouded in mist. Wow! What a site! 

I found Susan again and we lined up in the corral somewhere between the nine and ten minute signs. It wasn't crowded when we got there, but within minutes we were packed in like sardines! They released us in waves, almost 4,000 runners lined up between the Garden & the Common on Charles Street! I kept posting on Facebook what was going on and taking pictures with my phone. I was just a little excited! :-)
We finally made it thru the start line and turned almost immediately onto Commonwealth Ave - one of my favorite spots in the city. I kept pace with Susan for awhile, then let her go. I knew from the beginning I wanted to run this on my own. Special moments like this I want to savor and enjoy. I tend to worry too much about others if I am with them, even if I just met them!
It was a beautiful race - seeing some of the best parts of Boston and adding in a little of the Marathon course for us dreamers.
I wasn't strong enough. I didn't train enough. But I ran the whole time and loved every minute of it! I took pictures as I ran - a new thing I will continue to do as I travel to races. I people watched. I relished it all!
I didn't push at the end, I just ran through the finish - grinning from ear to ear! 

I can't wait for next year!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Running on Faith

When I injured my knee three weeks before the Gate River Run, I spent a lot of time asking God for ONE thing - let me run the River Run. That was all I wanted - period. And if anyone asked what I wanted for my birthday, which was the same weekend as the Gate, I said I wanted to run. I asked my family to pray for me and I asked my "angel" Karen, to pray for me. I call her my angel because her prayers really do get answered and she's always taking care of me. I've never seen anything like it.
I'm not an outwardly religious person. I'm Catholic and we're not the preachy type. Besides Karen, I never really talk about religion or God with anyone outside of my family. I'm a C&E Catholic these days - only attending church on Christmas and Easter. But that doesn't mean I'm not a believer. I talk to God a lot, especially since I started running more. Being out in His beautiful world is quite extraordinary. I spend a lot of time thanking Him. Even if something hasn't happened yet, I thank Him. My mom taught me that a long time ago. Just believe.
So I believed. I had faith. I kept an eye & ear out for signs. I got them.
I ran with my phone because I use it to map my runs but also, on that day, race day, in case something happened and I couldn't go on. I wasn't taking any foolish chances - but I still believed I could do it. My final sign came right before the race was to begin - Karen sent me a text that she had just prayed for me. I knew then I was going to be ok, no matter what.
I ran on faith - and I ran like I've never run before. Yes, there was some pain but nothing to stop for. Once I reached the Hart Bridge I felt like I could fly! And for the first time in any race (this is my longest so far) I sprinted to the finish without any strain. I felt amazing!
Today I got the results of the MRI on my knee - totally clear. Obviously I couldn't have run if it wasn't. I told my parents that I think I pounded my knee back together running the Gate. I'm still waiting on my foot to feel better, which I strained a few days AFTER the River Run. I haven't been able to run for the last two weeks. But the doctor seems to think a little bit longer and I'll be fine. So I'm waiting (im)patiently one more week and then I'll try again.
But I have faith, it will heal soon and I will be stronger and better for it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My First Gate 2011

My first GATE - that's what us runners call it. I call it the most amazing day of my life - so far!
It was cold - very cold. But no wind. Thank goodness! I left a little after 6am. I am so glad I did! I got downtown quickly and barely hit any traffic. There were going to be 17,000 runners out that day. Traffic was going to be worse than any Jaguars game! I wound thru the back streets and right up to the Sports Complex parking. Nice close spot, perfect! I sat in my car to keep warm until a little after 7am. It was time to meet up with everyone.
My group of friends all met up at the Jacksonville Track Club tent. We checked our bags. We gathered our stuff, Sports Beans, Ipods - discarded clothing and went to meet the larger group for warm ups. I was feeling good. We started to warm up and then went for a quick run - I had to stop, it hurt. The "injury" to my knee was acting up. But I could keep pace with my walking. I've always been told I walk too fast! ;-)
Soon it was time to head to the starting line. I was seeded and so all alone in my corral. No horses, but lots of runners. No one I really knew though. It was warming up fast. I was overdressed. I ran in shorts and a tank top in the cloudy 49 degree Beaches run and here I was in tights and long sleeves. Oh well, lesson learned!
We started a little late but I ran. I immediately hit my pace and kept it there. My body fought me. It complained. But it didn't get bad enough to quit. I was going to have to hurt bad to stop. We hit the Main Street Bridge and all the way up I kept thinking "this is nothing, I've done this a jillion times." Self-talk got me thru it all. I talk too much too - but in this case no one was bothered by it but me! :) We ran down the bridge and into San Marco. Donna Deegan came up behind me. I love her, but she is slower than me and my brain went "Oh no, she's not going to pass you is she?" I never saw her go by.Checked our times later, and she finished about 30 seconds after me! ;-)
When we entered the neighborhoods of San Marco, St. Nicholas and then Riverside, it was truly amazing. The people were all out of their homes in their front yards - tailgating and cheering. It was incredible and I've never seen anything like it. It reminded me of those lovely little SEC towns on football Saturdays in Fall. I loved it. Tree lined streets, beautiful homes and cheering crowds. We had lots of water stops and people were even giving out oranges and other snacks. As we got closer to the Hart Bridge and the end of the race there also seemed to be an increase in beer offerings!
I knew right where I was. I had never run it before but when I hit Mile 7, I knew the bridge was next. I Run For Life came on my Ipod. I was strong. I could do this.
I came out of the neighborhood and we wound around Atlantic Blvd. and up onto the exit ramp. I couldn't see the bridge yet. Our last water stop was there. I grabbed a quick sip and kept going. By the way, I was still running. I had a few aches but again, nothing worth stopping for.
Finally, I could see the Green Monster. It was a climb to get up to the actual bridge - but the Acosta, my training bridge, was worse! Dig a Little Deeper played in my ears. I dug. Suddenly I had a smile plastered on my face. I got up to the bridge and figured I was delirious because I ran right up to the side so I could look out over my city. I didn't think I could do that either. During my training I felt very uneasy looking out over the bridges. I enjoyed this view more than anything though! On the bridge they had a cadence from the Marines - must be my military family background, but I fell right into that and loved it. It helped to get me thru. I was still smiling! When I hit the flat top of the bridge, it felt like I was flying. Unstoppable by Rascal Flatts - the Olympic version - came on in my ears, I was unstoppable! There was no pain, no fatigue. I had made it. I was a mile from the finish line. I came down the bridge and when I got to the flat land, my legs took off. I can NEVER do that in 5ks. Alison will run with me and yell - but I always feel too spent. Not today. She would have been proud!!!
The finish line was outside the stadium and surrounded by cheering friends and family. It was amazing - I had done it. I had run all the way. All I wanted in the whole world was to run today - And I got it. My prayers - and many of my friends and family's prayers - were answered - in a BIG way!!! And I am so very grateful!
Official time: 1:37:44 - pretty good for semi-injured and lack of training the final 3 weeks! :-) Can't wait to beat it next year!!
Oh, and my Half-Marathon training - starts NOW! ;-) Wine & Dine Half Marathon, here I come!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

River Run Training 2011

I started running again in the Spring of 2010, racing again in October 2010. I was in love. Did a few runs on my own, then buddied up with dear friend, Alison, in December for the Festival of Lights race.
She challenged me, and said I could do it. The Gate River Run. Honestly, I thought she was crazy. But when someone gives me a challenge... It's hard for my competitive spirit not to say OK!!
Like any good student, I started researching. Soon I found out thru my new favorite place to go at the beach, 1st Place Sports, that they had a River Run training program starting January 4th - talk about a New Year's Resolution!
So I joined up. When we got back to school on January 3rd from Christmas break, the first thing I did was talk to my kids about goals. I decided to call them goals, not resolutions, because I wanted us to actually achieve them. So we all wrote down 1-3 goals. I told them mine. They already knew about my obsession with running since I made them run everyday. Now that might sound harsh, but they also had their teacher running right along with them. And when we had our Mile Run test just a few weeks prior, they all had amazing and record breaking (for themselves) times!
The program started on a cold Tuesday night in San Marco. We went for a 5k run thru the neighborhood. When I left, I felt excited at the course ahead.
Over the next few weeks, we met regularly ALL over town for Saturday morning runs and sometimes races and always downtown on the river on Tuesdays. It was a cold winter. I don't like to be cold. I sometimes wore obnoxious amounts of layers! But I was warm!! I met wonderful people and made many new friends. Many that are teachers. Guess we all need that stress release! It was a wonderful experience. I was increasing my mileage and amazing myself with ever better race times. I was a runner! I hit TEN miles February 12th out in Black Creek - I never thought I could do that! And then I did 10.5 the next week!
But then I hit a roadblock. While pulling up some of the dead plants in my garden after our cold winter, I felt something pull in the back of my knee. I was done for the day. I iced it and took Advil. I had a race the next day at my alma mater, the University of North Florida. I had to be there! It was Homecoming! And I was there. I hurt, but I was going to warm up properly and run. I got to mile marker 2 and quit. I couldn't go any further and limped back to the finish line. My first DNF. And at UNF. Not cool.
The pain was intense and for the rest of the day I could barely walk. I had no idea what it was because the pain was in such an odd location on my leg. I researched the internet but nothing. I iced and Adviled until I thought I'd turn in to both!
The next week, I didn't go to my training class on Tuesday. Everyone was running in Saturday in the Ortega River Run, a 5 mile race thru beautiful old Jacksonville neighborhoods. But I wasn't there either. I sat at home with an ice pack and graded papers...
March 1st was FCAT Writing for my kids. Stressful, tiring day. I needed my friends - and a run. I went to the meeting spot early and walked 3.5 miles and over both bridges. I met them for class and then left before the run. Saturday came along and we were out in Ortega again. I hadn't even tried to run for the last 2 weeks, praying hard that I was healing. It did feel better... We started out and soon I was alone. I was walking. Thankfully there were slower pace groups who I was able to keep up with or I'd probably still be lost in Ortega! I tried jogging just a little bit and it didn't hurt!! I tried a few times, but never very much. I had one week till my BIG DAY.
Tuesday came along and I met my group. They again left me in the dust as I walked, but this time I pushed it a little more - I ran a lot. Then I'd walk, still not wanting to risk Saturday. I did both bridges - walking them only - even though everyone else was avoiding them this week. I felt I needed the endurance push. I hurt on Wednesday - but not too bad. Just muscles that were mad at me! :)
I was encouraged - feeling strong and confident - until Friday afternoon when my legs felt tired and achy. The negative thoughts started and I kept pushing them away. I kept my normal pre-race Friday night routine. I packed my race bag - way too much stuff! I went to bed and prayed for sleep. I got it! Saturday morning I awoke excited but still a little scared and worried I wouldn't be able to run the whole distance...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Well that's just fabulous!

My first blog post that isn't all teaching - just a third of it! I've been toying with this idea for years, annoying my friends on Facebook with forever long posts about either my running, my cooking or my teaching for the last year, and of course, like any good wanna-be blogger, was inspired by Julie & Julia. So here I am.
I'm in love with three things - Running, Cooking & Teaching. Not necessarily in that order and on any given day that order may change!
I've been a "runner" since I graduated from college and began teaching - hmmm, link? But never really serious about it until I got back into the racing end of it in October 2010. I had done a few races for fun back in the late 90s. But now it is like an addiction! The Race for the Cure 2010 here in Jax was all it took. The people, the city, the fun and the adrenaline rush that I had completed a 5k race was amazing. I'm not fast - at all. I don't race, I run. I can see Alison shaking her head right now. Ok, ok, I'm getting faster. And maybe I keep trying to beat my times...
So with each race my times were getting better, but it didn't seem like I could really last longer that a 5k. I had never really run more that 5 miles and I had never run that distance at race speed. But I had been given a challenge. Alison, who is an amazing runner and super fast, said I should do the Gate River Run. I took the challenge. I completed the Gate last weekend. I finished stronger and happier than I had ever been in my life! So now I've challenged myself to the next distance - Half Marathon. I know I can do it!
Cooking - haven't had a lot of time for that with all the training I've been doing for the Gate, but I love cooking. People go out A LOT to eat but I would much rather stay in. Perfect date scenario: Cooking a meal together and enjoying it at home. I think most people I have cooked for would say I'm pretty good. I've never had any complaints. My parents would probably hire me as their personal chef if I had the time for that! My favorite thing to cook is Italian dishes but I also veer off into other cuisines occasionally. I guess Italian is easier and safer for most people. I would love to know more about Indian cooking but don't really have any guides to help in that arena other than a cookbook or two. If I could split myself into several different people, being a caterer or personal chef would be a fabulous career choice for me. I would have to own a winery too, on the side. Somewhere in Temecula, California. Oh, and the running I could do there... up and down the glorious hills, thru vineyards...
Back to reality - Teaching - Usually an absolute dream for me. I thought we, as teachers, were also pretty protected as far as job security goes. Have you seen the news lately? Well, we're not. I've been teaching for 15 years and hope to teach for at least 15 more! I would love to stay at my wonderful little school where everyone seems to know me. I would love to have the perfect classes of children like I have had for the last few years. I teach my kids for 2 years which is called "looping." I take them in for 4th grade and let them go at the end of 5th. It's an incredible experience but also a heartbreaking one. Sending "my kids" off to middle school and never really seeing them again is hard!
So those are the loves of my life - Teaching, Running & Cooking - see? New order! And now I can write about all of them in one place! And well, that's just fabulous!!