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And the next day...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

After I left work yesterday, I headed straight for the gym to change and then take a short run. It had rained yesterday afternoon, so the temperature went from 95 degrees to about 78, so I ran around the lake in the park next to the gym. This made me very happy, because I really hate running inside, but I hate running in temps higher than about 81 even more. I'm trying to increase my tolerance to running in heat, but I'd rather run in 18 degree weather than 81 degree weather. Strange, but true! Anyway, I seem to have misplaced my little Nike+ attachment, so I was using my GymBoss to figure out the amount of time I ran. I ran for about 18 minutes and 1.3 miles. And of course, I say "ran" but what I mean is "I ran and walked in 30 second intervals" and I walked the last couple of minutes or so. I see no point in potentially injuring myself at this point.

At any rate, I've decided to treat coming back from months of near-inertia like I'm coming back from an injury. In a way, it's true. My motivation was deeply wounded. And despite my "injury" being mental instead of physical, there's a significant risk of developing an actual overuse injury if I try to rush into things. For instance, my calves are extremely tight right now because I've been neglecting the stretching exercises my PT gave me when I had tendinitis. Run too much on legs like that and I'm going to end up right back in physical therapy. Now, I love my PT, but no thanks. I'd rather spend a few weeks working back up to being used to running before starting in on actual training. And I need to get back to my stretching, strength and balance levels before I get too far into this.

After the short run, I went back into the gym and did a couple of sets of each of my ST exercises and then played with intervals on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I do the same intervals on the elliptical that I do running. I like to think of it as practice. After 15 minutes of intervals, I did 5 minutes of "let's see how far I can get my heart rate slowed back down in 5 minutes." I had to slow down to 60 strides per minute, but I got down to 125 bpm. For me post-exercise, that's pretty good. Then I went home and had a nice, healthy dinner. I felt so good and pleased with myself on the way out of the gym that I took a silly self-portrait.

A bit blurry, but honestly, I think I'm cute as a button all sweaty and messy like that. I had to take it with my phone, because I left my camera at my parents' house on July 4th. I feel like I left my pinky toe at Mom and Dad's house.

It feels really good to be doing something good for myself. Today is not a gym day for me. I have to run errands after work and do a little long-distance vacation planning with a friend. However, I do plan to do some stretching. Then it's back to the gym tomorrow! (Probably for an indoor run. High of 99 degrees. WHUT?)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FOXXYROXXYD 7/22/2011 2:12PM

    Rock on Baby! Look at us both racking up the fitness minutes again! Huzzah!

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LAURIE5658 7/19/2011 4:01PM

    Embrace the foam roller. It will love you for it!!!

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LIVE2RUN4LIFE 7/19/2011 3:33PM

    Welcome back! And get out that foam roller (and use it on those calves!)

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This is harder

Monday, July 18, 2011

The decision to join SparkPeople back in January 2010 was easy. I wanted to lose weight. SP provided a method and had the success stories to back it up. Decision made! A little over a year later, I'd lost 40 pounds and I was getting ready for my first half marathon. I'd made a habit of eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. I remember shortly before my trip to WDW (and the half), my mom said, "Just make sure you don't put it back on after your trip. I did that when I lost all the weight before my ski trip back in 1977 and I've never gotten back down." Pff! As if that would happen to me- strong, dedicated Amazon that I am! I'm not going to quit running after the half and I'm not losing weight just for the trip. This is just part of my plan for the rest of my life.

Fast forward 4.5 months after my trip. I have not run regularly since March. My plan to run a 5K each month and work on improving my score was thwarted by a need to do some home repairs in June. Since I usually went to the gym for ST after running, I stopped lifting weights regularly in about mid-April. I've enjoyed a spring and early summer full of tasty food, good beer and some lovely wines. I ate pretty much whatever I wanted. I stopped tracking food altogether. I gained 13 pounds.

13 pounds. That's one pound for every mile I ran in the half marathon. My new clothes are getting tight. I don't have the energy I used to have. I worry about the scale and its upward direction. I'm not happy about any of this. I haven't been happy about it for months and I knew I had to do something. I got messages from Spark friends back in May and June that I knew I had to respond to, because they hit me right in the "I need to get back on track" spot.

But I didn't. And why? Because starting over is harder. Admitting that you are not the success you once were is harder. Writing the words, "I'm obese again," is infinitely harder.

It's harder. So what? It doesn't make it less true.

Anyway, I tracked everything I've eaten so far today and figured out what I'll have for dinner. I made some new goals. And now I'm going for a run. A short one, but still a run. I'm counting this as Day One version 2.0. I've had enough of the old one.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FOXXYROXXYD 7/22/2011 2:10PM

    Dang Girl - get outta my head! Honestly this is MY story - except I did reach my goal of running a 5K each month - Jan-May and then.... nothing. We can do this. We are Freakin' Awesome - let's do it together.... READY?

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POOHLA711 7/19/2011 7:53AM

    First of all-- I'm SO glad you're back! emoticon

Second-- I have started over more times than I could possibly count and it's ok. Because one of these times, it's going to stick and it's going to be forever.
13 pounds is NOT 40! You have not lost all of your progress. Just a temporary set back.
I hope you know that you can count on me for whatever you need to help get your mojo back.
Welcome back, girl! Let's do this! emoticon

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DRPOOH63 7/18/2011 8:46PM

    Welcome back - you have been on my mind lately wondering what had happened to you. Glad to see you back. 13 lbs is tough but it is not 40.

One day at a time.

Also, I love running mate on Facebook and he does monthly virtual 5k - which is great because the price is right but I know it gives me a reason to run each month.


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TINYFRIEND615 7/18/2011 8:40PM

    It is hard. I have come back to spark many times. Good luck! You can do it.

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CECE0330 7/18/2011 5:55PM

    Yeah....I'm on like Version 15.2 and it *finally* seems to be working! emoticon

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SKYWATCHERRS 7/18/2011 5:36PM

    "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it." -Margaret Thatcher

Just don't give up. Never, ever, EVER give up. Invest in yourself.

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    Welcome Back to Day 1 Version 2.0 I am right with you on the ST

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I feel good. I think my hips do lie.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

So, my right hip flexor and psoas are back to being horribly tight and sore. It was doing this a lot back in January and February in the weeks leading up to the half marathon. It "miraculously" went away right before the half and I'm pretty sure I know why. My miracle cure was really just stretching and strengthening my hamstrings and abductors. I also picked up a tip from a cross-country runner at my gym who told me that her coach makes the team do crossover leg swings before running. I started doing that and noticed a difference.

So now that I'm making myself get serious about running again, I need to start paying attention to everything I did to get ready for the half marathon. I spent the last month slacking off like a big ol'... well, slacker. I don't want to get injured again, so it's eyes on the prize time again.

But you know what? Even though my hips are sore, I feel good. I don't care what any joint in my body says. I had a good, fast-for-me run last night followed by some great ST. I finally signed up for my golf league. I stayed within my nutrition guidelines (tiny bit too much sodium, 2 grams too little fiber, but okay). Today, I look cute and I'm going out to a charity happy hour after work.

This weekend, a friend of mine from out East is playing in the women's senior national hockey finals, which just happened to be in the Detroit area this year. So not only do I get to see my friend for the first time in over a year, I get to see a bunch of women playing hockey and kicking butt! Woo! If they don't progress into the quarter finals, I'm going to suggest a little roller derby field trip because the Detroit Derby Girls are playing the Chicago Outfit on Saturday night.

And of course, I'm going out for a run this weekend. I may be running somewhere near the rink and about 40 miles from home, but I'm not missing my run or the hockey.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ADKONKLE 4/7/2011 9:48AM

    Got a foam roller yet? Its a good thing hurts like hell then the good stuff happens.

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LITERARY_CHICK 4/6/2011 11:43AM

    You amaze me! Your dedication is a continual inspiration.

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DRPOOH63 3/30/2011 5:43PM

    What are crossover leg swings? Love your dedication. You are inspiring.

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FUNFROG79 3/30/2011 4:09PM

    Hope it feels better soon, and I'm glad you are enjoying running! emoticon

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Ugh, Monday. And to combat this, a late 5K report.

Monday, March 28, 2011

So, today I woke up later than I would have liked to and got stuck in traffic, leading me to be much later to work than usual. Bleah. And as soon as I got to work, I started feeling light-headed and nauseated. Double bleah. I'm not terribly concerned about it, because I suspect it's related to TTOTM. And in any case, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. I'd love nothing more than to go back home and crawl back into bed. But bed is 38 miles away and sitting at my desk feeling a little dizzy is better than driving in my car feeling dizzy. I'm already feeling somewhat better and I'm sure I'll be fine by the time I leave work. I do suspect that this is going to be a nasty month, though. I'm feeling this sort of undirected, general irritability that I think could flare up unexpectedly. Right now, I feel cranky. Cross me and I could feel face-punchy. Mentally, at least. I'm really more of a "if looks could kill..." person. I also feel tired and fat and I have a total lack of interest in doing anything healthy. Oh, and I'm dealing with some kind of cold/congestion thing.

So, all in all, a great start to the week! emoticon

Well, I'm not fond of dwelling on the negative. Instead, I'll post about something I meant to write about a couple of weeks ago. Before my half marathon, I decided that my running plan for this year would be to improve my 5K time. I don't have any immediate plans for another half this year (at least two next year, though). I may change my mind when the Detroit Free Press Marathon gets closer, though. I want to do either the marathon relay or the half for that race. And despite my reaction to the few hilly overpasses of the Princess, I'm seriously pondering the Crim, a 10 miler through Flint, MI. Every time I mention it to people, the first thing they say is, "It's hilly." Considering the race is at the end of August and people mention hills before heat, I'd say that's a big deal.

Anyway, 5Ks. I plan to do at least one every month for the 12 months following Princess and my goal is to improve my time. Even before my ankle and knees started to fail me, it seemed like every 5K time I had last year was slower than the last. That's not the way it's supposed to work. So I decided that this year I'd focus on that. My first 5K of the year was the Corktown 5K before the Detroit St. Patrick's Day Parade. It was to be the day after my 40th birthday party. When my guests questioned the wisdom of running a race the day after a party, I said, "We'll run away from our hangovers." Actually, I didn't feel terribly hung over that morning. Just a little dehydrated, which I took care of pretty quickly.

Corktown is Detroit's oldest neighborhood, although the city itself is about twice as old. It's where the Irish immigrants bunched together during the 1840s and where Irish and Irish-for-a-day folks bunch together the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day, ostensibly for the parade, but primarily to drink and wear silly clothes. The 5K route would take us along Michigan Avenue, from the park in front of Michigan Central Station, Detroit's most famous abandoned building, to Campus Martius and back. Of my friends, Kristin was the only one I could talk into joining me for the 5K and it was to be her very first race. She runs longer distances, but hadn't been in a race yet for whatever reason. Kristin wore the race tee and bundled up, whereas I... I looked like St. Patrick drank too much green beer and threw up all over me! emoticon I wore my light green Lotta Breeze capri running skirt, which clashed horribly with all of the other stuff I wore: green long sleeved tee with shamrocks on it; mint green stretchy gloves; knee high white socks with orange and green polka dots and shamrocks on the cuffs; several layers of green beads; a gray and green shamrock Bondi band that I bought specifically for that race way back in December; and the capper- feather-trimmed shamrock deelie-boppers! Basically, if it was on a St. Pat's merch end cap at JoAnn's, I was probably wearing it. Personally, I have no pictures of myself in this outfit, but I know there were cameras pointing my way later in the day so I keep expecting them to surface.

Because of the parade and our lack of familiarity with the precise location of the start/end, we parked about 3/4 of a mile away. Since we had forgotten about daylight savings time until about an hour and a half before race time and parked 20 minutes before the start, that was a bit harrowing. Still, I paused for a port-a-john about halfway to the start. Every opportunity! emoticon We got to the start eight minutes before the race was due to start and joined the milling crowd in the park.

Thus began comparisons to the race immediately prior, the Princess Half. Princess started at 5:45. Corktown started at noon. I was at the start nearly two hours prior to the Princess. Corktown, I got there with less than 10 minutes to spare. The Princess started in the parking lot of a theme park whose names stands for Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Corktown started in front of an abandoned train station that has decayed so cinematically that it is a bona fide movie star. The Princess's over 16 thousand participants started in at least six well-organized, carefully managed corrals. The 5343 Corktown participants heard the airhorn and took off as best they could, colliding, passing, and shuffling their way across the line. The Princess ran on Disney World's impeccably paved roads through well-groomed landscaping to the accompaniment of carefully planned entertainment. Corktown ran on aged brick, pot-holed asphalt and reinforced concrete past the parade crowds already gathered- and already five sheets to the wind- and through a cacophony of sounds that ranged from CCR to Stevie Wonder to Flogging Molly to live bag pipes. Princess finished hot and sunny. Corktown finished cold, gray and with a bit of snow.

But you know what? I loved this race. I love my city. I love how crazy everyone gets on parade day. I love that despite the cold weather and bad parking and the unsavory reputation Detroit has, 5343 people ran or walked a 5K that day. And most of all, I loved the way I ran this race. I ran as long as I felt comfortable doing so at the start, then bid Kristin goodbye as she ran straight through and I commenced my intervals (a mix of :30/:30 and 1:00/:30). I drank the water I brought from home as the wind dried out my mouth. I listened to my "Irish" playlist as I ran and ended with a raucous, punk-ish rendition of "Whiskey in the Jar." I crossed the finish line with a time of 40:57, which was about a minute faster than my previous fastest time. My average pace was 13:13, which for me was truly not bad at all!

I feel like this is an excellent starting point for my year. I'm not saying that I expect to improve my time with every race, but it shows me what I can do and the path to take. I have not yet started really training to improve my time. That's going to take some commitment to strength, flexibility and building my cardio endurance up again. The last several months have been about adding miles and finishing upright. This year is about shaving off seconds or even minutes. I'm really proud of Kristin, too. For her first race, my wee runner friend finished in 32:41 with an average pace of 10:33.

And then after the race, we discovered that I had parked fortuitously close to the bar where a band we're friends with was playing after the parade. There was lots of Guinness, Jameson's and dancing, which is where those cameras I mentioned earlier come in! I had a great time. I suspect that the real testament to my fitness that day came in the form of wild, fast dancing to my favorite surf rock hornpipe. The drummer knows it's my favorite and called me out before they played it. I couldn't back down. At some point during nearly four straight minutes of, dancing, I turned to Kristin and said, "I think I'm going to die!" But I didn't. And that, my friends, is an achievement on par with running a 41 minute 5K! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LITERARY_CHICK 3/29/2011 12:01PM

    I call those the fat and ugly throw me off a cliff blues. Some months are worse than others but remember if you do end up killing someone, hide the body well. emoticon

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RAINEMARIE214 3/28/2011 9:58PM

    That race and the festivities afterwards sound so fun!!!

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FOXXYROXXYD 3/28/2011 8:25PM

I have been running a 5K each month since January and it is the best decision I have ever made! The first two races found me with new PR's, the March race didn't but it was a much better time than I ran the same course last year for my very first 5K. I am scheduled through May - gotta find some for the summer in California!
My plan is to work on speed the first half of the year and distance the last half.
Keep me posted on how you are doing!!
Keep Running!

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LMLOPEZ 3/28/2011 3:08PM

    How fun!!! Hope your spirits picked up just writing about the fun of the 5K. What a great plan to do 12 and improve the time.

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FUNFROG79 3/28/2011 2:23PM

    Mondays stink, especially with TOM is lurking! 5K sounded so fun!

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KARVY09 3/28/2011 2:05PM

    Sorry about the Monday... it'll get better.

Looks like a great start to 5K season! 13-minute miles are not a bad starting point, girl. You got plenty of time to train for the half (October, right?) and improve your speed by then. I'm excited to watch you improve over the course of the spring!

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POOHLA711 3/28/2011 2:03PM

    I hope you feel better today! TOM is the pits!

Sidebar: Do the Crim!! I'm doing it! *peer pressure* emoticon

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At long last, Princess (now with even more pictures)

Monday, March 21, 2011

So, at long last I'm ready to make a real return to SparkPeople after weeks of going a bit nuts. Part of that is finally, finally, finally posting my race report for the Princess Half-Marathon. Now, you're going to have to bear with me because it happened three weeks ago, and was a bit of a blur even then, but I think I can piece it together.

I got to WDW at about 1:00 on Friday and checked into the Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Villas. The first order of business was to figure out where the heck my parents were. They were driving from my aunt's house in Lakeland and were a bit stymied by the fact that they took a shortcut. It was actually really close and convenient to AKL, but since it was so close, they hadn't seen any signs showing that they were heading the right way. And then they interpreted me saying "short term parking, near the lobby" to mean, "turn into the first driveway to parking that you see." Anyway, we finally connected and, after a couple of tries, we managed to find our room and get all of the bags up to the room. My parents were on a month-long trip and had just stopped for groceries, so getting their stuff up to the room took some doing. Somehow, I got sucked into helping them unpack. We ended up with very little time to get to the Expo and explore a little before we had to go to Epcot for dinner.

At the "Fit for a Princess Expo" I discovered that I had the waivers for my parents' ChEar Squad packages, but I couldn't find mine for the Half! Luckily, they had computers and printers set aside for that. I got my bib and my goodie bag (Although I don't know if a trial size Luna bar and a bunch of ads for other races counts as a "goodie bag." Oh, well. I like the bag, itself.) Then I proceeded to spend nearly $100 in about ten minutes in the official merchandise area. I got a long sleeve tee, a finisher's tee, a shotglass, mouse ears, a magnet, and a Bondi band. I re-thought the finisher's tee I got the moment I stepped away from the cash register. Oh, well. I really didn't see much of the Expo, but I did stop and get a "13.1 Believe" charm for my charm bracelet. It's the first non-Disney charm on my bracelet, actually. I have one charm for each of my 14 trips to WDW. I told my mom that I wanted her to hold on to my bracelet during the race and rub that charm like it was some kind of prayer bead!

We didn't do much on Saturday. I didn't want to do a lot of walking, but I wanted to do something. We ended up going to Animal Kingdom for a while because my mom really loves the gorillas. We did the Pangani Forest Trail for that, and I danced with the African drummer/singer/dancer groups. That was a lot of fun! The only other thing we did was take in the Flights of Wonder bird show. Then we headed to Downtown Disney for the SparkPeople Disney Princess team meet. It was great getting to meet some of my Spark Friends! After the meet, my parents and I went to church and it took us at least two hours to get back to our hotel after Mass. Vineland Avenue is completely insane and I never want to drive on it again. At least not on a Saturday night. In any case, it was about 9:00 before we got back to the hotel and I still had to get all of my stuff ready for the next morning. I think I got to bed at about 10:00. I slept surprisingly well!

I woke up at 2:15 AM on race day and hopped into the shower. I dressed, made a snap decision to leave my long pants and my arm warmers in the room and just slid on the pink fleece pullover I had bought specifically to wear and toss. It was an Old Navy Black Friday special and at $5 I wasn't going to regret tossing that. Had a nice, normal breakfast of a waffle PBJ, a banana and a bottle of water, then made sure my parents had my extras: Gu, Honey Stingers, water bottle, spare socks. I wasn't sure I'd need the extras and wasn't even sure I'd see my parents, but I wanted to make sure they had them, just in case. On the way out, I told my dad to wish me luck. "You don't need luck," he said with a smile. He was right. Who needs luck when you've got training and faith in yourself?

I'm not sure what time I got on the shuttle, but we didn't run into a lot of traffic on the way there. It was just a cold, dark walk to the assembly area with bag check and what would soon be the Family Reunion area.

I didn't have a bag to check and it was a while before the 4:30 SP meet, so I wandered aimlessly for a bit. At 4:30, I headed to the line of Port-a-johns and spotted LAURIE5658. We were joined shortly after that by RAINEMARIE214.

Pretty soon, it was time to start heading to the corrals through the bag check tent. I remember telling Laurie and Raine that I'd "see them on the other side," but I never saw either of them again. (That sounds way more ominous than I intended. They weren't, like, kidnapped by aliens or devoured by wolves or something. I just didn't see them to reconnect.) I used the "honeybucket"- as the LPGA ladies call them- and went to my corral to stretch and nervously wait for the start. On the way in, a volunteer had to check my corral assignment. Mine was under my fleece so I lifted up my shirt to show her. She joked that that was "a different event." I doubt anyone in NOLA is ever going to swap "Show us your bibs" for the other, more unseemly phrase. I ditched my fleece pullover while I was waiting. I just didn't want to have to think about it. It was both nerve-wracking and exciting to stand in my corral and watch as the other corrals were sent on their way. I love that there was a celebration and fireworks for every corral!

I tried to be as sensible as possible. I was using :30/:30 intervals for the half, with the knowledge that my intervals might become :30/1:00 as the miles dragged on. I started my Nike+ half marathon run and my Gym Boss, but I think I set them before crossing the starting line. It took quite a while to cross the start. And then it was just a sea of runners and walkers. I could see spectators on the left side of the road, but it was dark and I was on the right, trying to avoid becoming a speed bump during my walking intervals. In the dark and the cold, honestly, the first two miles could have been any where. My ankle and knee were kind of achy and I was worried about that quite a bit. If I couldn't even go less than two miles without pain, how was I going to get through the rest of the half? Then I realized that the pain was 90% caused by being nervous and tense, so I made myself relax somehow. I was running at WDW, for Pete's sake! What could be wrong with that? There were pirates shortly after the mile 2 marker, and a huge mob of ladies waiting to get their picture taken with Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew. I took a picture as I waddled by and called it good. Same thing for the crowd of handsome young fellas, featuring Prince Eric, Flynn Ryder, Tarzan and Alladin. I was much more interested in the big ol' Magic Kingdom gate. I was taking a picture of it and spotted a pair of women taking pictures of each other. I offered to take one of both of them and they returned the favor for me!

Lilo and Stitch were drawing a crowd just inside the gate. I assume they were near the entry to the Polynesian resort. There were some race car drivers posing for pictures near the Richard Petty Driving Experience, but I was more interested in my first packet of Gu! I did stop for a blissfully happy picture in front of the 5 mile marker.

From there, it was a slightly disorienting trip through the backstage area. I quipped to a cast member, "I may be the only runner who's been here before." More than once, too. Besides the Keys to the Kingdom tour, I've been in that particular backstage area to bypass the Christmas parade while it was filming and exiting the park for some reason (after fireworks, perhaps?). Anyway, it was a trip looking across from me and realizing that in mere moments I'd be running up Main Street!

And I was definitely running. My intervals went out the window when I was in the Magic Kingdom. I ran up Main Street, cheering the crowd as much as they were cheering us, high-fiving cast members, whooping it up. At one point, I took a brief video of that stretch of the run. It's a happy, crazy, motion-sickness inducing clip that I'm not likely to share because I'm totally dorking out during it. And just when you think "There's the Castle! We're closing in on the Castle!" they route you into Tomorrowland! Heh! However, Tomorrowland is the spot on the route where you can use an actual flush toilet and wash your hands, so it's a welcome detour. However, the brief look I had in the mirror made me shudder a bit. I was soaking wet and gross. But onward we go! Florence + the Machine came on my iPod, so I'm afraid I may have embarassed myself singing my way through Fantasyland.

The crowds entering Cinderella Castle weren't nearly as large as I've seen in other people's pictures, so I think the crowd had dispersed somewhat by the time I got there.

There was a big bottleneck once you walked through the other side, though. Everyone was taking pictures with the front of the Castle and it tied up the ramps a bit. But that actually worked out in my favor, because I could pause to look out over the crowd. "I see my mom!!" I shouted. I saw my dad, too, but my mom was who I zoomed in on. I wove through the crowd to hug them. They totally didn't even see me until I was standing right in front of them! It was kind of hilarious. There they were, looking up at the Castle, clearly trying to spot me in the crowd of runners and they didn't see me until two seconds before I pounced on them! It resulted in one of my favorite pictures of the whole race.

Dad had to power on his camera so he could take my picture and I jogged in place to make it look like an action shot. I don't know what the hold up was, but I made the rest of the crowd laugh by saying, "Just take the picture, Dad!" I told them I loved them both and got ready to take off again. Dad asked if I needed my second water bottle, but I assured him that I was good and ran away into Liberty Sqaure and then Frontierland. I snapped pictures of Tiana and Prince Naveen and Jessie and Bullseye as I ran past, and then I was backstage behind Frontierland. That was when my resolve to skip taking pictures with characters flew by the wayside. I have this weird affinity for Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. For one thing, nobody ever seems to know who they are. For another, Clarabelle is totally glamorous and spends every parade she's in looking like she should be rocking out at some juke joint by the river. I greeted them by name, which seemed to catch them off guard, and posed for a picture.

A lot of other people seemed to also get caught up in the spirit of all the character greetings backstage. I watched one group of five women posing with Peter Pan. People were posing with Jiminy Cricket and Genie and any other character they could sidle up to. At that point, I realized that I felt good and strong and I was pretty certain that I'd be able to finish, so I was going to have as much fun as possible and if there wasn't a line, I'd stop for character photos. Until race day, I'd been saying that I would have blinders on. "Oh, there's Snow White. That's nice. *runrunrun* There's Stitch. Aloha! *runrunrun* Jack Sparrow. Cool. *runrunrun*" But I knew I would stop dead in my tracks as soon as I saw Mickey and Minnie. Based on pictures I'd seen, I thought they would be dressed as Prince and Princess and that was the one picture I wanted to get. I took several pictures of photo ops, Belle and Gaston, the Beast being mobbed by Princesses, firemen not being mobbed by anyone because they were safely perched on their fire truck, a passing shot of Cinderella's glass coach. As we ran past the Palm and Magnolia golf courses, I spotted Goofy in his golfing togs. Being a golfer and somewhat goofy, myself, I had to stop for a picture.

Lest you think that this was nothing but character photo ops for me, I was doing pretty well during the race at this point. I had another packet of Gu, skipped the Powerbar gels, and got water from every water station. I typically took a couple of sips and then dumped the rest on my back. And after the first splashing, I remembered to rotate my fanny pack around first so I wouldn't dump water on my camera and Gym Boss! Oops! They were both fine, though. My cough drops on the other hand... I got some BioFreeze on my knees and that felt pretty nice, but I suspect that I didn't really need it at that point. I felt tired and hot, but really pretty good. I had some pretzels from one group of volunteers and the Team in Training people gave me a Twizzler after I cheered for them and their runners. And I thanked as many volunteers as I could. I was walking more than I'd planned, but wasn't terribly worried. My goal was finishing. If that meant walking more, that's what I'd do. The only people I cared about passing were the people on bikes who'd tell me I had to drop out. I never saw them. I did see some bicycle medics with radios assisting participants at various places.

Then I was waylaid by pirates, which I swear was the reason I finished with the time I did. I just had to take a picture with that rascally Captain Jack!

And then came the big clover leaf at mile 10. I try to avoid running on banked surfaces, because of my knee problems. I walked it. And walked it. And walked it some more. That doggone loop just kept going! AUGH! Toward the end, I had to start running again. I just felt so slow trudging through the turn. And what was my reward for running again? Overpass! It was time to scale a tiny hill that felt like a mountain at that point. But if you looked over the side, you could see other people heading into the clover leaf and know that as bad as it was, you only had to do it that one time.

There was another small downhill grade with a sharp corner turning into Epcot, and then the same degree of a climb once you were through the turn. Even though it was just a small hill, it made me tired to look at it as I approached. I snapped a couple of pictures as we passed Spaceship Earth. I passed by Club Cool, the Coca-Cola pavilion, and told the cast member, "I wanna go to Club Cool!' Dear lord, I was hot, hot, hot. And my feet were tired. And even though I'd had my last Gu packet as I went over the overpass, I was running out of steam in a bad way. And I hadn't seen a 13 mile marker yet. I wanted to finish the half marathon running, so I decided to walk through Epcot. I turned a corner and saw the gospel choir and it was like they were singing me home. Just after that, I saw what I most wanted to see at that moment, the 13 mile marker! I started jogging, intending to finish running.

Then I saw the finish line. I did what I've done since my very first 5K- I kicked it up to run as fast as I could. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of black. I turned my head as I sprinted past Mickey and Minnie. Ooops! Oh, well, no turning back now! I crossed the finish line, breathing hard, but not sobbing like I expected. In fact, the closest I came to tears was in the first half of the race. My joy was expressed by totally dorking out

(The double thumbs up is my signature move to ensure that my pictures look as cheesy and dorky- but happy- as possible.)

and by whooping it up!

At that point, all I cared about was getting my medal and finding anyone I knew. I got my- very heavy- medal moments after crossing the line and a bottle of water right after that. I posed for my official race photo, but skipped the photo booth.

I gathered a banana, some Luna bars, some blue drank... erm, mountain berry PowerAde, and a muffin. For lack of enough hands to carry everything, I stuck the muffin in my cleavage, where I promptly forgot about it for a good 20 minutes. As I left the racer area for the family reunion area, I spotted my parents waiting just outside the exit. I hugged the dickens out of them and found out that the reason I wasn't crying as I crossed the finish line is that my mother was hogging all the tears in Orange County! Dad says they had a great view from their seats (thank you, Gold ChEar Squad package!) and took lots of pictures of me crossing the finish line. I hope to get those pictures this weekend because my parents don't have high speed internet at their house. As soon as I finished greeting them, I demanded my chocolate milk. They goggled as I drained two-thirds of the pint in one long swig. I had the other pint as we waited for the bus. Since my mom uses a scooter to get around, we had to call for a special van to return to the hotel. Oh, but first, I followed my dad on some kind of crazy, wild goose chase because, being on the van in the morning instead of the bus, they missed the announcement that return transpo would be in a different location than the shuttles that brought us there. So we walked over to the other parking lot and kept walking until I came to my senses and told him we were going the wrong way. While we were waiting, I did something I've never done before- sit in a wheelchair. There were a couple sitting near the resort shuttles and I was just so tired. I was mostly fine until I stopped running. As soon as I was no longer running or walking fast, it was like all the fluid in my body rushed into my feet. They were swollen and tired and I was beyond grateful that I'd put my Merrell flip flops in my dad's bag. However, because my feet were swollen, the toe piece rubbed the skin right off my second toe. Grr.

We got back to the hotel and I took a shower and changed into my bathing suit and cover-up. Dad had to go back to my aunt's house because they forgot the bag with their shoes in it (!) and Mom and I took the bus over to the main building to get some carry-out lunch from the Mara. Good food, but it was stone cold by the time we got to the pool at Kidani. And I was exhausted because we made a silly decision to walk back to Kidani from Jambo. The walk I remember being a quick five minute trip to my 2009 room was a hot, tired and never-ending slog to the other side of the building and our "relaxing poolside lunch." No matter. As soon as I was done eating, I stripped off my cover-up and took a chilly dip in the pool, followed by a nice soak in the hot tub, which was 90% occupied by Princess runners. When my Dad got back, he bought me a mai tai and later we went out for dinner at 'Ohana and watched Wishes from the beach at the Polynesian. All was right and wonderful with the world!

My parents and I were at WDW for another five days but they were mostly uneventful and I don't want to write another book (like this one) about those days, so I'll just say that I had a great vacation. I'll be running in the 5K and the half-marathon during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January and then the Disneyland half-marathon in September 2012. I've got to get my Coast-to-Coast Challenge medal! I definitely want to do the Princess again, but probably not next year.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DRPOOH63 3/23/2011 9:15PM

    I love the pic with Goofy in the golf outfit! You are really inspiring.

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CEILIE2 3/23/2011 12:56PM

You have done so well!
You must be so proud of yourself!

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XTMONT 3/22/2011 1:18PM

    You are amazing! I'm so very proud of you! Your intervals, were the 30 seconds or 30 minutes?

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FIT2SWING 3/22/2011 11:17AM

    I want to do a Disney Marathon. My sister is doing the one in August in Cali Disney. I'm not up to a half Marathon yet. But as my sister says "Its just doing a bunch of 5k's back to back."

You're pictures and stories are awesome. Just thing you're time would have been faster if you didn't stop and hug cast members and take pictures. But then again, it wouldn't be Disney without stopping and hugging cast members :-D

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FUNFROG79 3/22/2011 10:12AM

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this blog and all the pictures! This is fantastic! It was so great meeting you! I hope you are really proud of yourself b/c you did freaking fantastic! PS: LOVE your running skirt!

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KARVY09 3/22/2011 9:50AM

    Great photos and a great race report (FINALLY!). Looks like so much fun and definitely want to sign up for this race someday. YAY JEN!!!!

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POOHLA711 3/22/2011 9:10AM

    I'm so proud of you!

Thank you so much for sharing. I loved looking at all the pics and your narrative is always great to read :-) (show us your bibs LOL)

You looked so cute in your little pink skort! And your parents are just adorable.

Great job, Jenna!

And I'm so happy to see you back on Spark!

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LMLOPEZ 3/21/2011 11:35PM

    that is AWESOME!!! Looks like you had an absolute blast. You are convincing me I have to think about attending for next year. Gonna try for 8 miles next month, might as well plan...
You look fabulous and can't wait for more pix. Way to go!!
emoticon emoticon

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DRPOOH63 3/21/2011 11:02PM

    What a great story!! Congrats! You are FREAKIN AWESOME!!!

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FOXXYROXXYD 3/21/2011 10:37PM


I am so proud of you!!! I loved the blog and the pictures! I have to tell you that I have been going back and forth on ordering a running skort since you blogged about yours months ago... You look awesome!!! I'll be shopping for one tomorrow!!

So glad you had a great race and a glorious time! So good the hear all about it - and WELCOME BACK!!!!


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LIVE2RUN4LIFE 3/21/2011 6:39PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ELYMWX 3/21/2011 4:54PM


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TWOTIMESS 3/21/2011 4:34PM

    I really enjoyed reading your blog! I felt your weariness, elation and goofiness! Congratulations on finishing!

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LAURIE5658 3/21/2011 4:25PM

    Jen, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting get the drift LOL. It was so awesome to finally meet you and sorry we did not hook up after but there were jsut a few folks there. I plan on running Princess again next year with daughter in law Emily and then maybe coast to coast in 2013. We shall see. Since I ran Princess I followed along totally riveted to your RR and you did not skip a beat!

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