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Wine & Dine Half Marathon: Race Report!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

After six weeks of half marathon training, coupled with several weeks of intense job pressure, I was long overdue for a vacation. I hadn’t actually taken a full day off, not even a sick day, since the beginning of March! I was good and ready for some time off, and what better vacation could I imagine than to head to Walt Disney World, take in EPCOT’s Food & Wine Festival (my favorite Disney event), and run a race at night (my favorite time of day)? On Thursday, we endured a marathon voyage from Milwaukee to Denver to Tampa, and as we trudged through what seemed like airport after airport, I told myself that running 13.1 miles would seem easy in comparison. Traveling with a preschooler through three airports across three time zones on only three hours of sleep is not for the faint of heart! After a relatively lazy Friday, I felt recovered from my airport trek, and on Saturday morning, we loaded up my parents’ Buick and headed down Interstate 4 to Disney World. First stop: the Wine & Dine Half Marathon expo to pick up my race packet and browse all of the fun running merchandise. I felt like a young child at Disney World (oh wait…) as we pulled into the parking lot of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex and made a beeline for the Jostens Center. The expo seemed slightly more low key than March’s Princess Half Marathon expo: not quite as many people and no photo ops at the front door, but there was still plenty going on. After I retrieved my bib and timing chip, commemorative pin (cool), and tech shirt (meh, sort of gray and plain looking, but I appreciate that they had to make the design unisex), I wandered around for a while.

At the One More Mile booth, I found a purple “Will Run For Chocolate” techn shirt and “Slow is the New Fast” tank, as well as a 13.1 decal for my car. At Sweatybands, I grabbed a black and white polka dot hairband and a red glittery one. (I considered a black sparkly one, but ended up putting it back and later regretted it when I decided to go back and buy it, only to find they were sold out!) I picked up a flashing LED necklace too. It was a bit risky, as the necklace could prove to be SUPER annoying during a long distance run, but I couldn’t imagine doing a night race without wearing some sort of glow in the dark accessories. As a little kid, I was crazy about that stuff. Whenever we went to a theme park, and the park employees brought out the carts of glow necklaces and light up toys at dusk, I was always begging my parents for my share! I wasn’t crazy about the official Disney Wine & Dine memorabilia, so I just stuck with my pin and non-Disney-related expo purchases. I also spotted several racing-related booths: one for the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series (which I plan to dive into in 2011 with Nashville’s Country Music Half Marathon), one for Team in Training (rock on, teams!), and another for RunDisney. At RunDisney, I browsed their impressive display of race medals and fought the irrational temptation to question the RunDisney reps about Disney’s decision to move the date of the Princess Half (boo!) Even though most of the W&D swag didn’t thrill me, the finisher’s medal did kick butt: it was a heavy Spaceship Earth with three charms shaped like cheese, grapes, and the race logo hanging from the bottom. The whole thing was attached to a burgundy ribbon with a Mickey Mouse-shaped ring. I couldn’t wait to get mine! It’s possibly even more awesome than my Princess medal which, of course, I adore! I also got to check out the newly redesigned WDW Marathon Medal, which I look forward to earning in 2012.

After my first round of expo-ing, myf amily and I meandered over to Downtown Disney for lunch and souvenir shopping. We fueled up at Rainforest Café, where Timmy had a blast watching the animatronic monkeys hanging from the ceiling. I had a plain hamburger and a few fries. I didn’t want to eat a super heavy lunch, as I knew that food overload could easily translate into food unloading (barf) out on the race course. After lunch, we let Timmy ride the $2 kiddie train, which he loved, and moved on to shopping. I found some cute Disney collectible pins, a couple of Christmas ornaments, and a fun Toy Story bank for Timmy’s room. After that, my parents headed over to the All Star Sports resort, where we would spend two nights, to check us into our room, and I returned to the expo to see Jeff Galloway, my favorite running guru, give a talk on “Running your best race.” There was a nice-sized crowd gathered around the stage. I found a comfortable spot on the floor and settled in to listen and sip some water. Jeff Galloway was a nondescript looking guy: small, thin, and dressed in black running attire and a matching baseball cap. He spoke with a Southern accent and appeared very down-to-earth and approachable as he answered attendees’ questions about nutrition, hydration, pacing, and his run-walk method. I did not get the chance to meet him one-on-one, but was excited to hear his talk and thrilled that I got to see the person who taught me to “go the distance” and showed me that I, the girl who could not even run a mile in high school, could one day finish a half marathon and, eventually, a marathon. And who knows, perhaps I would even spot him out on the course, since he had his wife would be running with us! I felt giddy at the prospect of racing next to (or perhaps miles behind) a running celebrity!

After Jeff Galloway’s talk, my parents picked me up and ferried me over to our hotel room for some pre-race rest & relaxation. I had never stayed at an All Star report before and wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but was satisfied with the resort’s clean, colorful, and family-friendly atmosphere. My mother and I took Timmy to the kiddie pool for a while, and I enjoyed lounging in the cool, refreshing water while Timmy waded and splashed around me. After pool time, I headed back to the room to get myself race ready. First the clothes: my black mini dot running skirt, the new Will Run for Chocolate shirt (brand new, so technically a no-no, but I had worn this style of One More Mile shirt many times and was willing to take a small calculated risk in the name of cuteness), my polka dot Sweaty Band, and amphipod fuel belt. I attached my bib #3187 to the bottom of my amphipod, race belt style, as I’ve recently become very tired of mutilating my shirts with safety pins. Ripping a hole in my black shirt at the Madison Mini was the last straw! I completed my ensemble with the LED necklas and trusty Nike shoes. I had some reservations about the shoes, because they had been in my possession since April, and I’m pretty sure that they have 500+ miles on them, even though I haven’t actually been tracking their mileage. They had generally felt OK, though, and I wasn’t willing to chance swapping them out for brand new kicks right before the race. Hopefully the old Nikes still had at least 13.1 miles of bounce left in them! I hadn’t forgotten any raceday essentials, except for contact lens solution, so I just skipped the contacts this time. No biggie, really.

We decided to catch an early dinner at the End Zone Food Court before I boarded the shuttle to the Wide World of Sports, where the starting line was set up. I kept my meal very light, think kid’s meal sized, and tried to balance out my carbs, protein and fat out nice and evenly. Didn’t want any bonkage or GI troubles from too much of one thing or too little of another! I sipped on an ice cold Powerade. I had been unusually conscious of my water intake, as I typically am leading up to a big race, but figured that one last shot of hydration and electrolytes in the bank couldn’t hurt. as we ate, I spotted other runners coming and going, grabbing sandwiches, salads, bananas, and other pre-race nosh. I was feeling giddy-nervous-excited. In just four short hours, I’d be out there running my little heart out! After I finished eating, it was around six-fifteen and the shuttles had just started running. My family accompanied me to the bus stop outside the hotel lobby and waved goodbye as the bus carried me and a few dozen other runners to the start line. This was IT!

We pulled up to the complex around seven. The start was three hours away, but festivities were already ramping up quickly. At least a couple of thousand runners and suppoerts were gathered on a large grassy knoll next to the start corrals, and a DJ was playing music and keeing everyone’s energy level up. I picked up some water from a volunteer, dropped off my extra belongings at the gear check truck, and walked several slow laps around the area, people watching and taking in all the good cheer. I saw tons of glow in the dar gear and runners in costume: a few chefs, many Disney princess and Tinkerbells, two bride and groom (one newly married and one about-to-be married) couples, and two girls dressed as bunches of grapes. I saw several chapers of Team in Training from all over the country, which made me very excited. I’m all about TnT’s mission and am even considering the idea of doing a race with them in the future. (Yes – I’ll admit that the fundraising aspect is the main fear holding me back. But I really appreciate the work that TnT does and admire anyone who takes on the challenge!) Eventually I settled down on a patch of grass near the stage, where the DJ was entertaining the crowd with a mix of music and dancing, videos promoting the Food & Wine Festival’s tasty offerings and other RunDisney events, and games. One particularly memorable moment was when he got a very masculine law student rocking out to “I’m a Barbie Girl.” His faithful girlfriend was videotaping, and the DJ naughtily asked her if she knew how to use YouTube. This energetic DJ even got ME dancing along to the Electric Slide, Thriller, and YMCA, which is saying a LOT, given that I generally fall strictly into the “I don’t dance” camp. Honestly, I would have been perfectly fine not having dancing at my wedding, had my husband not insisted on it! But there I was, at Disney, dancign up a storm as I warmed up for my big race! It’s odd, when I’m at a running event, I let go of most of my inhibitions and feel my confidence surge in ways that it usually doesn’t. It’s like I have a running alter ego, part superhero, part Barbie girl, part party animal, part endurance athlete. For lack of a more creative name, let’s just call her Super Running Chick. As I waited for the big show, Super Running Chick, the energetic, outgoing wearer of short running skirts, witty shirts, and loud accessories, was out in full force!

At eight thirty, the second relay runners started boarding shuttles to the relay transition area outside Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the race officials reviewed some last-minute instructions and offered us words of encouragement. I took a last-minute bathroom break, and used porta-potty #3187. The fact that, by some random chance, the porta-potty number matched my bib number had to be a sign that I’d be GI trouble-free during the race – I hoped! Before long, the crowd migrated over to the corrals. I was placed in Corral B, definitely not the front of the pack, but not quite the nosebleed section either. Unlike the Princess Half, we would not have wave starts, so I was grateful that I’d (at least sort of) be able to see and hear the opening announcements and fireworks. I was thankful that, unlike the Princess Half (again), we didn’t have to walk far to get to the corrals, nor did we have to stand around waiting in the cold for over an hour! At about five minutes to ten, a female vocalist sang the National Anthem, and the men around me let out loud cheers at the “land of the free” line. At 9:58, the wheelchair athletes got their send-off, and we began our final countdown. One and a half minutes, one minute, thirty seconds, ten seconds, and then a generous burst of fireworks to send us on our way! As I passed over the starting mats, I waved cheerfully to Minnie and Mickey and set my mind to settling into my run-walk intervals and establishing a comfortable pace. Good as I felt in the moment, there was no telling how that would change ten or eleven miles later!

It barely seemed like two seconds had passed when a DJ greeted us at the one mile marker. I had completed it in about ten minutes, a bit on the brisk side. As I reeled in my pace a little, a man in black passed by me on the right side. Guess who??? I was practically rubbing elbows with Jeff Galloway and his wife! It surprised me how much he blended in with the rest of the pack, but I guess it’s not like he ran with a glowing neon “I’m a running celebrity!!” sign! In the first two miles of the race, there were plenty of distractions along the course: a group of performers on stilts, a band, what looked like a float from the Main Street Electrical Parade, and clusters of Team in Training cheerleaders. I hit the 5K mat at 32:39, and then we were venturing into the first of three theme parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We paraded in through the front gate, passed the Island Mercantile souvenir shop, and did a loop around the Tree of Life, which oddly enough, I don’t even remember seeing. I don’t recall if it was lit up (and I just didn’t notice it) or hidden under complete darkness. It was somewhat spooky being in Animal Kingdom after dark. It usually closes before sunset, so I’ve never even seen it at nighttime before! We flew on by Africa and into Asia, past Expedition Everest and into Dinoland USA. Early in our trek through Animal Kingdom, a race photographer caught me completely off-guard. I mean, I wasn’t doing something totally gross like spitting, picking my nose, or fixing a wedgie (yeah…like I’d do that stuff in public!!), but I am pretty sure I had the world’s dumbest look on my face! After the first shocking flashbulb, I went on high alert (at least while in the theme parks themselves) so I could look alive for those race photos! Every time I spotted someone squatting at the roadside with a big camera, I tried to smile and wave. It felt kind of like playing a video game or something…look for the hidden photographers and strike a pose before they pull the trigger!

Just before the five mile mark, the half marathon and relay runners split up so the first relay runners could finish and let the second relay runners take over. While the first relay runners were resting up and getting their medals, I still had over eight miles to go. EEK! There was a tiny part of me that wanted to hop into the relay lane and just be done with it, but not really. By mile five I was feeling a little tired, but still had plenty of juice left! Up to this point, there had been plenty of on-course entertainment keeping things interesting (a good thing since, for the first time in my life, I was racing iPod free and, yes, it was a deliberate choice and not due to an unfortunate gear failure). However, after mile five, I wasn’t feeling as engaged. I’m not sure if it was because there was less entertainment or because there were several miles between Animal Kingdom and our next stop, Hollywood Studios (always MGM Studios in my heart!) or because I was just starting to feel fatigue set in. Between the five and six mile markers, a DJ was announcing football scores and apologizing profusely to Florida Gator Fans (since they were apparently losing pretty badly at that point). For a little while after his booth, I could hear the music and festivities back at the Animal Kingdom, but then things seemed really really quiet for a while. I had originally thought that there was just a short stretch between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, but in reality it was more in the 4-5 mile range. The distance felt a bit desolate, boring in parts, and was peppered generously with hills (overpasses). I was glad that my frequent hill training had at least prepared me for the overpasses! Along the way I got a few compliments on my “Will Run For Chocolate” shirt. I don’t often get compliments on my clothing, since I’m generally not one to put a lot of resources or effort into fashion…unless it involves running gear, of course! My day-to-day wardrobe consists mainly of “boring” stuff from Kohl’s, Target, and Old Navy. YAWN.

I passed the 10K mat at 1:06:09, and then at the (approximate, estimated by me) halfway point, how could I NOT sing to myself “Whoa, we’re halfway there, whoa-oa living on a prayer!” I was moving along pretty well, and Super Running Chick was still hanging tough. We doubled back along the road we took into Animal Kingdom, and I spotted the SAG wagon on the other side of the road. NOT coming for me or anyone near me, but clearing the course around mile 3.something. Contrary to my mental picture of Disney’s SAG wagon…you know, something cool like a flying carpet, Dumbo, pirate ship, or parking tram, it was just a garden-variety back of the pack wagon. At least I didn’t expect to be riding it. Around mile eight, I spotted Jeff Galloway again, a surprise since I had assumed he left me in the dust right after the first mile. I actually played tag with him a bit. After keeping up with him for a minute or two, he pulled out ahead and I couldn’t quite keep up. Well, I didn’t quite manage to “chick” Jeff Galloway…maybe next time? Sometime during that mile we ran over a random timing mat which seemed completely out of place. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what it was for, since it obviously was not 5k, 10k, 15k, or the halfway point. It really bothered me! (Later I figured out that it may have been a 5K mat for the second relay runners.) We also passed some musicians playing this really cool flamenco-style music.

After the musicians, I felt my spirits started to sink. I felt like I should see the studios “any minute,” but the dark road stretched out frustratingly ahead of us with no obvious end in sight. (Lesson learned, I probably would have benefitted from studying the course map a little more closely, at least to keep my expectations in line with reality!) I reasoned that we still had TWO more theme parks, plus the Boardwalk resort area, to hit, so the road could logically only go on for so long…right? It was somewhere between the 9 and 10 mile markers when I FINALLY spotted Tower of Terror overshadowing the course. FINALLY. As we entered Hollywood Studios through a side entrace, we passed a chef who was cooking something, maybe chicken (?), that smelled incredibly delicious, vaguely Asian. I fought the urge to dive into the pan and gobble it all up in five seconds flat. I was starting to feel SUPER hungry, and the Shot Blocks I had brought along weren’t quite cutting it. We ran through the Tower of Terror line, and I felt slightly disappointed that there weren’t spooky characters there to greet us…somehow I felt like Disney could have done more with ToT. Unless I was just so focused on pushing through the fatigue that I missed it? We continued on down Sunset Boulevard towards Toy Story Mania (FUN ride!) and then towards the backlot areas. I was starting to seriously drag and had to start extending some of my walk breaks to keep myself going. And then, as we ran through the backlots, I felt a menacing POP in my left foot followed by a shot of searing pain. I just about flipped. 10.5 miles down and WTF was this?! An injury? A DNF? No, no, no, this could NOT happen. I really wanted to finish, even if I had to crawl…or hop to get there. The SAG wagon was still miles behind me, I had TONS of time. I had, up to that point, been in range for a possible PR (albeit not by more than maybe 2-3 minutes), but I knew in that moment that I’d have to let that dream go. It was more essential to slow down, assess what was going on, seek medical help (if needed), and do what I had to do to take care of my body. Grrrrrr.

I slowed to a gentle shuffle and tested out my foot, putting weight on it, moving it around, and deciding if I needed to seek out a medic. It was NOT feeling so good, and I realized that I was starting to feel dull pain in the soles of my feet, something I have NEVER experienced during ANY run, no matter how long. (Except in the couple of long runs right before I retired my first pair of running shoes. Hmmmm. Um yeah. Oops. Looks like a trip to Fleet Feet is in order when I get back to Wisconsins.) As I walked along on my sore feet, my left foot screamed at me and I felt completely pathetic. I just wanted to blubber and cry openly while I shuffled along feeling sorry for myself. I know, I know, totally lame, there are worse things that can happen, but with the excitement/drama of the race, my emotions were completely running amok. I spotted Jeff Galloway running past me again, and it would be the last time I’d see him tonight. (He and his wife finished about three minutes ahead of me, and their chip times were just one second apart. How cute is that?) It dawned on me that, since I had now been out on the course, it was now Sunday. This would be the first time ever that I – and probably most of the other 2+ hour racers – had ever done a race that spanned over two dates! At this point, not even Super Running Chick has the mojo to complete a sub-2 hour half marathon. Maybe one day, if she ever gets the urge to take up serious speed training. Maybe not. Eh.

I’d be lying if I said those last 2-2.5 miles weren’t painful. My left foot slowly did start to loosen up after my slowdown, but the soles of my feet were K I L L I N G me and I was just about out of steam. My Super Runner Chick alter ego all but abandoned me, and I was left feeling dejected and like a bit of a poser in my bright, aerodynamic running gear. Thankfully, some much-needed Disney magic was around the corner to give me that last little push to finish up the race (even if it was more slowly than planned). We ran across the front of the Lights Camera Action stunt show stadium and got to view and wave to ourselves on the jumbotron. And then, an even more awesome surprise, a preview of the Osborne Family Christmas Lights! They were already strung up and lit, not yet dancing, but still looking pretty freaking awesome. Christmas music played over the loudspeakers, and it was just such a cheerful, uplifting little gift in the middle of a difficult few miles. At the 11 mile marker, the race clock was out, so I couldn’t quite quantify how much my nasty foot POP had set me back. It didn’t really matter at this point, as I had shifted from thinking “Maybe I’ll PR” to “Oh let’s just finish the thing in one piece!” As we turned out of the Streets of America and the Christmas lights faded into the distance, I distracted my aching heart by reciting lines from my favorite movie, Juno, to myself. Soon, we were running along the Boardwalk, near several Disney resorts. There hadn’t been many spectators in the last few miles, but now clusters of Disney guests and race supporters lined the course to cheer us on. Their presence helped TONS and TONS. There is nothing like good spectator support when you’re running along thinking to yourself “Goodgriefthissuckswhycantthisstupidracebe
overalreadybecausemyfeethurtandIwantto
hurlandthencrawlintoacornerandsleepfor
fortyeighthoursstraight.” Raw pain and exhaustion, both physical and emotional, made the last 1.5 miles of this race the toughest I’ve dealt with. EVER. It passed by in a strange, almost hallucinogenic, fog. The crowds blurred together into a colorful mass of people, and I remember spotting a pirate ship with fog rolling out of it and wondering if I was seeing things. (I think it was a decoration by a hotel swimming po0l, actually.) Out of the blue, a “400 yards to go!” sign caught my eye. Four football fields. My tank was bouncing on empty, but I knew I could muster up just enough strength for four football fields. I tried to relax my face into a smile, knowing full well that those sneaky race photographers would be right around the corner. (I hope they weren’t anywhere near me between miles 11 and 13 though…my hideous facial expressions might have broken their cameras!!)

And there it was, like an oasis rising up out of the desert, the finish! I can’t remember whether there was music or announcements, but just remember forcefully pushing myself forward towards the crowds and noise just so my foot could hit that timing mat. I raised my hands above my head for a picture, and then, once I knew I was safely across the finish line, collapsed gratefully into a slow walk towards the finisher’s chute. I was bathed in sweat, as if I had gone for a (very salty) swim, and knew I had just overcome of my biggest physical challenges to date. A couple of minutes later, I accepted a finisher’s medal from a smiling volunteer. The next ten minutes were a flurry of activity: getting a finisher’s photo taken, downing a bottle of water and gobbling up some post-race snacks, retrieving my checked bag after waiting in a long, aggravatingly disorganized line. Finally, after all that, I sat down on a wall in the Canada pavilion, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to just BE.

I want to say that finishing the race left me with a feeling of elation and an insatiable urge to celebrate. I think that any 13.1 completed is cause for celebration (because it is!) But, even with the Spaceship Earth medal around my neck, I felt shaky, disraught, and pained. I had managed to dig up a smile for the finisher’s photo, but now I just wanted to curl up in a dark corner and cry until I had no tears left. I can’t even tell you where that overwhelmingly melancholy feeling even came from! I wasn’t at all ashamed of my time, which I had estimated at 2:26 (and ended up being 2:25:37). My brush with possible injury appeared to be a fluke, as that spot on my left foot was now completely pain free without any medical intervention. I had conquered half #4 and was poised to tackle #5. This event, although not flawless, didn’t leave me with any major lingering disappointments. So I’m not sure why the major rush of emotions which, quite honestly, seemed like the polar opposite of the runner’s high. (The runner’s low?) Perhaps all of the stresses of recent weeks had ganged up and hunted me down on the race course, to catch up with me and haunt me from mile 10 onwards. And it was time to let it all out and let it go. As I processed the onslaught of negativity, I had fleeting doubts about doing a full marathon in 2012. It’s the first time since its inception that I’ve really questioned this dream, and it threw me off balance. If a half had been this painful, would I really be able to handle a full marathon? The reasonable side of me finally brought myself out of my funk and decided to head back to the bus stop for a ride to the hotel. Perhaps I was just overtired and would feel better after a shower and solid night of sleep.

Even though I was feeling downtrodden and my feet were hurting too much for walking around EPCOT, even in comfy flip flops, I did stop by the Greece pavilion for a free taste of spanakopita on the way out. Each runner had received coupons for a free “sip and taste,” and although I felt too queasy to claim my “sip” it seemed almost sinful to let a free taste of gourmet-quality food go to waste. I did kind of getting a kick at yelling SPANAKOPITA to the kitchen staff, to which they all responded OPA! And it did taste amazing! I’m not sorry I did the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, and actually very glad I did. I do see some opportunities for improvement in race planning and organization but think, as usual, Disney did a fabulous job of putting together a kick-butt running event. Running a race at night was an exciting change of pace, and I definitely hope to be back for more next year. Although next year, maybe it wouldn’t hurt me to catch an afternoon nap before the race…

After a soothing shower and several hours’ worth of sweet, refreshing sleep, downtrodden Christina was gone and Super Running Chick was back! I’m still not completely sure where the tears came from during the race, but it was a relief to wake up and put all the distress behind me. I finished the race, and I was ready to take on the world! I woke up at eight-fifteen, put on my race shirt and finisher’s medal, and geared up for a day of celebration at EPCOT with my family. And a celebration it was! I felt like a rock star, and I got lots of congratulations from cast members, other runners, and even Minnie Mouse. Well, Minnie couldn’t talk to say congrats, but did give me a big thumbs up and applause! Timmy got to meet lots of Disney characters, and for the first time, really got into talking to them and giving them big hugs! (In earlier visits, he had just sort of ignored them.) He got the biggest kick out of meeting Goofy. While we waited in line to meet Goofy, he could hardly contain his excitement!! As we walked all over EPCOT, my feet and ankles were a bit sore, but nothing that a little Biofreeze couldn’t solve. Not a peep out of my left foot after my scare. I had a chance to enjoy a “sip” of strawberry margarita, even though I had to pay for it, and sampled a bunch of other food offerings. The bison chili in the United States was my fave, although there were plenty of amazing runners-up, like the ribs in France and lava cake in Ireland. After Illuminations wrapped up at nine-twenty in the evening, I was flat out exhausted, but was sad to see my Disney weekend end. Until next time…at least I know there will definitely be a next time!

And to answer the usual “what’s next” question, I’m running my last half of 2010 on October 30, the Haunted Hustle half marathon in Middleton, Wisconsin. I’m not really planning on any specific time goal, just to go and have a good time. And with this race, I should be able to join the ranks of the Half Fanatics. (With five halfs in one year, I know I definitely qualify as slightly half marathon crazy!!) And then, on October 31, I’ll start contemplating my 2011 plans, as I’m still not completely set on what I want to do, other than start my marathon training. Stay tuned!


  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JETERSGAL729 2/18/2011 5:51AM

    Love your race report!! I feel like I was with you! Sorry for your pain and emotional meltdown - part of which scares the crap out of me since that was not your first half and just might be MY first half this year if I chicken out at the Country Music Half this coming April!! We'll see.

Way to go!! :)

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ROOT4HOME 10/19/2010 9:15AM

    I just LOVED your blog!! Congrat's on finishing strong!! As I read your blog I kept thinking...I've felt/thought like this too on my runs! So great to know I'm not alone...from the feeling of being a "Super Running Chick" to the “Goodgriefthissuckswhycantthis
s
tupidracebeoveralreadybec
au
semyfeethurtandIwanttohu
rla
ndthencrawlintoacornera
ndsl
eepforfortyeighthoursstraight.” emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SP_COACH_NANCY 10/12/2010 9:42AM

  Christina,

THANKS so much for sharing this blog. The reason, is every race does not always meet our expectations, BUT when we look back at all that we go through,, its races like these that want us to keep taming that beast to see if any changes can be made.

You did what many people never dare do and that was to live a dream....it may not have turned out like you had expected, but you learned a lot from it AND you found the strength to pull through.

Many HUGS!
Nancy

Comment edited on: 10/12/2010 9:49:40 AM

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MRSBRAUCHT 10/8/2010 10:36AM

    Great blog, really gets me motivated and excited for the Disney Full marathon!

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MARYMARY611 10/7/2010 2:50PM

    Congrats on finishing a race even with an injury. That can be so difficult since racing is 90% mental, when you have an unexpected injury happen, it can really throw you off your game. So congrats!

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RENLA6991 10/7/2010 10:31AM

    I always love reading your Disney race reports. They make me feel like I'm right there with you. Sorry it wasn't a dream run for you. The late evening race, pain & fear of not finishing would've wreaked havoc on my emotions too. Congratulations on finishing & on your brush with fame!

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SEEAMANDARUN 10/7/2010 10:21AM

    Nicely done! I'm glad your foot is ok. That would have completely freaked me out. Sounds like you had a fabulous time!

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MSPLACEDAGAIN 10/7/2010 9:01AM

    Just awesome! I really LOVE this race report. My dd is talking about running a half and this is soooo inspiring!

Eden emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ESBELL 10/7/2010 8:37AM

    emoticon All that traveling to reach your race was exhausting, that may have contributed to the emotions you were feeling. Be proud of finishing! One day I hope to run as fast as you do!

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FUNFROG79 10/7/2010 8:17AM

    Thanks for a great race blog! It makes me so excited for the Princess in Feb! Hope you foot is better! Are you going to post a up close picture of your shiny new medal? emoticon

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LIGHTNINGRUNNER 10/7/2010 6:10AM

    Great race blog - I am sorry it was a painful end to your race - but you did do great. Perhaps all the emotions came from letting down after the race and stressful work too.

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 10/6/2010 10:39PM

    Wow!! What a blog!! So glad you powered through and completed it! I'm think the emotion was a reaction to the pain and worry over your foot, even if it was somewhat delayed. Glad you and your son had a blast on your weekend and the foot felt better so you were able to enjoy it! 5 halfs in one year definately qualifies you for the fanatics club!! Way to go!! Can't wait to see what is next!!

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LAURIE5658 10/6/2010 10:36PM

    RB, your HM's are just like pots of chili in that no two are the same! After reading your RR my first thought was that you did not know just how stressed you were from work and training. It is my firm belief that you were finally able to decompress and that is exactly what was
happening immediately after the race. And I mean right AFTER the race. Wouldn't you agree?

As far as your foot goes, who knows. Since it has not bothered since I wouldn't lose any sleep over it...just file it in the back of your mind. I also believe that you simply had an off night even though you did awesome IMHO. Only you will know when you are ready to tackle the full marathon training and race.

Once again, you wrote a very detailed RR and I always look forward to reading yours because you let the reader become fully engaged in your race experience.

RAWK!!!

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FIRENUT34 10/6/2010 9:42PM

    I think they managed to find every overpass and on ramp on this course. Way to go on the nice time. Walking around EPCOT afterwards I believed helped with any soreness afterwards.

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Wine & Dine Half Marathon: Week 6/6 Recap

Monday, October 04, 2010

Only one more blog entry to go before I write and publish my race report. I actually had this recap written up, but SP ATE it before it published and Grrrrrrrrrrr. That's why I usually compose my blog entries in Microsoft Word (or something) and THEN transfer then to the SP blog entry window. But this time, I was foolish and got too lazy to open Word. Shame on me.

Anyway...

This time I opened it up so I wouldn’t end up with another eaten blog entry.

Like I mentioned in my previous training recap, I got the worst of my taper madness out of the way last week, but there were still lingering traces of nerves. Mainly about two things: the weather and forgetting some vital piece of race day gear. This week, I was frantically busy wrapping things up at work and getting ready for my trip, so my mind was usually too busy to fret over race-related worries. And the horrible blisters from those dressy shoes were healing over and not bothering me anymore…definitely a HUGE relief! How lame would it have been to register a DNF (or a crappy time) on race day, only to blame it on a stinking pair of HEELS?! Here’s the scoop on my last week of training…

Monday 9/27: Today I had an insanely busy day at work. Why is it that, as soon as people remember that I’m about to leave on vacation, everyone wants a piece of me? My phone was ringing off the hook, and emails popped into my Inbox at an alarming rate. It took every bit of energy I had to keep up, and I barely had any time to grab lunch. Once I got done with work and took a deep breath, it was SUCH a relief to head to the gym for an intense workout. I started with a half hour bike ride, which was very comfortable and therapeutic, and followed up with a few miles on the treadmill. None of it felt particularly challenging, but it was mainly (I think) because I had so much nervous energy to burn off. I felt the gym feeling like I could have done a LOT more, but knew when to say when and headed back home to catch some shut-eye.

Tuesday 9/28: Tonight was my last gym workout, since Timmy and I would be spending Wednesday evening in Milwaukee and flying out to Tampa on Thursday. Last night, I didn’t think my body would notice any ill effects from my lengthier-than-planned “brick” workout, but tonight everything about my running just felt seriously off-kilter. It was the worst training run I’ve had in a while. My pacing was uneven, I couldn’t muster up any speed, and my form just felt sloppy and heavy. It was NOT pretty. My only consolation was that I got to watch The Cutting Edge in the Cardio Cinema during my workout. Tooooooooooe pick! Taper madness crept back in to haunt me too. I was feeling (unnecessarily?) anxious that I hadn’t run outdoors in almost two weeks. Would I forget how? Would my performance, once again, suffer from shortage of outdoor training? At least I would have the chance to do one last training run in Florida before raceday. Once I was done at the gym, I shuffled back home to get my packing done.

Wednesday 9/29: After a busy day at work (during which I felt like I couldn’t possibly get every loose end tied up before I left…blech…), Timmy and I hopped in the car to head to Milwaukee. Since we had to get up insanely early for our flight, it seemed more sensible to stay in a hotel over there rather than hoof it on over there at something like two o’ clock on Thursday morning. It was an uneventful drive, and once we got into the hotel, Timmy realized that something was “different” and we were on our way to DISNEY WORLD! He’s “only” been talking about it for weeks! Now he KNEW it was coming, he was LITERALLY bouncing off the walls. Yes, at ten o’ clock at night, he was jumping up and down on the bed chanting “I wear underwear, underwear, underwear!” over and over. If only I had taken a video, I could have embarrassed him at his wedding or something…haha, kidding of course! It took a while to settle him down and send him off to sleepy land, and I wasn’t far behind him.

Thursday 9/30: As is often the case on vacation or race day, I naturally woke up one minute before my alarm clock (the first of three alarms) sounded. Now…why is it that on work days, I barely get up in time, and often snooze the alarm two or more times?! It was ridiculously early, but I managed to get us dressed and over to the airport for our marathon day of travels. You see, I originally had booked an awesome nonstop itinerary from Milwaukee to Tampa: great flight times and prices. But then Stupid Evil Airline decided fairly last minute to cancel the flight and route us through Denver on a six AM flight with a THREE HOUR layover before our flight to Tampa. Can we say UGH?! I would have changed the tickets for sure but it was just too late by that point to get anything decent. So Timmy and I had to gear up for a VERY tiring day. It felt like a marathon, and Timmy was SUCH a trooper through the whole thing. I was incredibly proud of his good behavior. I was so relieved to finally arrive in Tampa (after essentially twelve hours in airports or airplanes) that I nearly kissed the ground! We finished up the day with dinner at Cracker Barrel and a well-deserved evening of resting and loafing around my parents’ house.

Friday 10/1: We wouldn’t be leaving for Disney World until Saturday morning, and had a leisurely day in Tampa, which mainly involved shopping and lounging. I did begin the day early with a 2.16 mile triple loop around my parents’ neighborhood. I was grateful for the chance to run outdoors, FINALLY! I could finally put my fears of “forgetting” how to run outdoors to rest. As I started down the street, it really DID feel like I was flying, compared to how running on the ‘mill felt. I had to be careful to keep my pace in check so I didn’t burn out after half a mile. It wasn’t overly hot since it was only seven o’ clock in the morning, but I could definitely feel the humidity. It was a big chance from what I was used to, and I just hoped that this quick run would be enough to prepare me for Saturday night’s weather. I finished the run at just under a 10:00/mile average pace and felt pretty good and ready for the big day! As for the rest of the day, shopping, lounging, eating, and packing. Time for another half marathon adventure!

So that’s that, another half marathon training program in the books! I feel like this six week run started off nice and strong, but has really been a little hit or miss in the last two weeks or so, mainly due to circumstances beyond my control. I went into race day feeling excited, but my enthusiasm was definitely mixed with a healthy dose of race day nerves. I tried to remind myself that my time didn’t matter, as long as I had a good time and soaked up all the wonderful Disney magic. One of my favorite pieces of advice to give to another Disney racer is to not try to PR at Disney. There is just so much to look at and take in that it’s an experience you want to savor and not rush along. So, in spite of how uneasy I was feeling about the last couple of weeks of training, I tried to remember my advice (and I knew beyond a doubt that I was capable of traveling the 13.1 miles AND having a good time!) and look forward to what Disney was billing as the “ultimate runner’s night out.” Really, what could be better than that. Race report coming soon. Until then…

Happy Running!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JANEYINMADTOWN 10/6/2010 6:47PM

    GO CHRISTINE!

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ALLTHNGSPOSSBLE 10/5/2010 5:10PM

    Way to go and good luck.

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LIGHTNINGRUNNER 10/5/2010 4:51PM

    emoticon

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 10/5/2010 11:46AM

    Very impressed with your son's behavior!! Traveling with kids can be difficult under the best circumstances :) . Glad you made it down to FL safely and got in a good outdoor run before your race.

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LAURIE5658 10/5/2010 9:49AM

    RB, sometimes you have the strangest trips. Seriously. Now that I have experienced taper myself I can FULLy appreciate any and all taper stories. Its all starting to make sense!

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FUNFROG79 10/5/2010 2:51AM

    Congrats on a great race!! emoticon

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Wine & Dine Half Marathon: Week 5/6 Recap

Monday, October 04, 2010

So I'm actually writing up this recap two days AFTER my Wine & Dine Half Marathon, and you're probably more interested in my race report than a training blog. However, in the spirit of making my SP blog complete, you'll have to sit through this one and week six first. Race report coming soon, I promise!

Week five was a bit of a strange week because I had some long days at work and a family wedding over the weekend throwing a huge wrench into my training schedule. I ended up putting myself into an early taper to accommodate everything that I had going on. My cutback wasn't such a bad thing, since I've been working my body extremely hard lately. It was grateful for the extra rest, I think. I was unusually busy at work, since my employer was hosting a customer conference (for 5000+ guests) and employees were expected to attend seminars, meet and greet with clients, and assist with hosting duties in addition to the normal workload. Tiring as it was, the conference kept me at least semi-distracted from TAPER MADNESS!

Monday 9/20: During the day I volunteered with the catering department at work, which translated to scrubbing coffee pots, delivering soda to break rooms, and washing fruit. It was kind of a relaxing change of pace from the mentally intense work I typically do. In the evening, I took on a twenty mile bike ride, my longest ever! It was a bit tedious, but I took it at a slow and steady pace and finished in about 90 minutes.

Tuesday 9/21: So at my company, we are incredibly spoiled with an everyday casual dress code. I KNOW that we are spoiled. But for our conference, we had to dress in business attire, including nice shoes, and boy did my feet PAY for that! They weren't even NEW shoes, but because my feet have become completely unadapted to dress shoes, I ended up wtih some nasty painful blisters. UGH. How lame is it to say that eight hours in heels is WORSE on my feet than a ten mile training run!? That's crazy talk...right? Maybe next year I'll just have to train for wearing dress shoes like I train for a race, haha. But tonight I still managed a comfortable 15k training run on the treadmill, even though my heels were pretty mad at me. And since 90+ minutes on the 'mill can be dreadfully boring, I managed to drum up some semi-interesting TV to watch while I was at it.

Wednesday 9/22-Sunday 9/26: Usually when people talk about taper madness, it literally involves the last week to two weeks before the race, but this is the week that it peaked for me, and I expect that the final few days will be smooth sailing...well, uh, maybe. We'll see, I guess. Wow, the mental roller coaster that is a cutback/taper week! If you've been through taper madness before, you probably know exactly where I'm headed with this. Early in the week, I felt fine since I was working out and fairly busy (distracted) at work. By Thursday, the unpleasant lazy feeling started to settle in, and my mind started wandering to the most random, strange worries surrounding race day. These wild hypothetical nightmare scenarios just kept popping into my head and driving me NUTS! What if I forgot to bring my running shoes to Florida...what would I run in? And then when October 2 started appearing on the Weather Channel's ten day forecast, I kept wondering...what if the weather's bad? What if I spent six months looking forward to this race only to have it canceled last minute? Or what if my car broke down en route to Milwaukee airport, and then what if I somehow by some freak chance miss my flight? I was starting to drive myself up the wall, big time, and I just longed for a child-free half hour to squeeze in a quick SANITY run! Week six is supposed to be my real taper, but I have a feeling I may do a little extra since this week was such a drastic cutback, and also since I have to push through a few last very stressful work days before my vacation starts. (Because I plan to avoid work email like the plague after Wednesday 5:00 pm...) So, the work-related pressures may end up with stress-induced exercising, my healthier answer to stress-induced overeating.

So...yeah, I kind of got taper madness out of the way a bit in advance, and that cleared the way for some pure vacation excitement in the days leading up to the race. Nothing quite like an upcoming trip to Disney World to lift the spirits!

Happy Running!

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FUNFROG79 10/5/2010 2:49AM

    Great training blog! emoticon

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 10/4/2010 11:15PM

    Hope those blisters healed and got out of the way before the race! Can't wait to read the race report!

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Wine & Dine Half Marathon: Week 4/6 Recap

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wow, so I know that I am SUPER late posting this update, but it has been seriously one of the craziest weeks on record...and just now I finally have a solid little block of quiet time to sit down and throw together all of my updates! My big race is now just a little over ONE WEEK away. I just love the feeling of "Yay, this time next week I'm going to be in FLORIDA!" I mean, I did live there for over twenty years of my life, so it's not like it's anything NEW for me. But the fact that I can go there and not do anything "everyday" like go to work or take Timmy to preschool or run errands makes it MORE than all right with me!

The big day is now eight days out and I’m soooooooooo ready. I’m not feeling a ton of race day nerves yet, although it’s still pretty early on. (For me they usually peak about a week before the race.) Travel plans are all in place, and my family and I will be staying at the All Star Sports resort. Yes, my parents live down the road, but we all agreed that it would be convenient/fun to be on Disney property for a couple of nights. Driving back to Tampa at 1:00 am after running a half…um…no thanks! I’m already starting to anxiously think about the “what’s next” questions that you always ask yourself after completing your big event. True, I do have the Haunted Hustle (half #5, OMG!) on October 30, but after that, well, just picture a big ol’ tumbleweed blowing across my race schedule. I got nuttin’. I have PLENTY of ideas, but I’m just having trouble making any kind of firm commitments right now. The only definite is the Madison Mini Marathon next August, and that wouldn’t even be a sure bet if it weren’t local, but otherwise, I am totally floundering here! I definitely want to do at least a couple of events before August, I mean DUH, with the way my mind/motivation works, I just don’t want to be without a race for ten long months. (Honestly three or four over the winter season is bad enough!) I’m trying to decide between sticking to running (mainly halfs) or throwing a sprint triathlon into the mix. I know that if I pick the tri, I’ll have to cut back on running a bit (because I DON’T have the luxury of training several hours a day), and that could limit my running options somewhat. And then in fall, I’ll shift gears back to running (from whatever I do over spring/summer) to prepare for the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon, which I am FULLY committed to and would sign up for today if I could. So stay tuned…the next few months could be pretty crazy as you deal with “I’m a runner who can’t figure out what to do with herself” Christina and all of her drama! Anyway, enough blabbering for now! Here’s the scoop on this week’s Wine & Dine training…

Monday 9/13: I worked on upper body strength training while watching TV. Nothing earth-shattering, but I do it because I like being able to run without feeling like my arms are flapping everywhere…

Tuesday 9/14: Tonight I did a late night treadmill run while watching Food Network, of course, and thankfully they were cooking with some very unappealing ingredients, so I wasn’t drooling all over the ‘mill like I usually do. I played some speed games by alternating fast two minute intervals (in the 8:30-9:00/mile range) with easier ones (around 10:00/mile). Definitely kept things a lot more interesting! I tracked my split times on paper, as I usually do when I’m on the ‘mill, and ended up with 10:45 / 10:21 / 10:11 / 10:02 / 9:56. Maybe I do need to invest in a new Garmin one of these days. I keep flip flopping on it, but it would be cool to track my split times all the time just to see how things are going.

Wednesday 9/15: Lately I’ve been slowing down on my cycling, mainly to accommodate all of the running that half training (er…um…running three halfs in 2 ½ months) requires. Early in my MMM training, I was cycling 3x a week fairly often, but now I’m decidedly at two rides a week. Probably once I get into winter, I’ll ramp it back up again because I really do enjoy it. Tonight, I had a very solid nine mile ride, speed averaging around 15 mph. I did some core strength training, my “favorite” (as in not), today too.

Thursday 9/16: Tonight I ended up on the ‘mill again. A few weeks ago, I felt like I was on a rabid anti-treadmill kick, but that’s died down a bit lately. The ‘mill does serve its purpose: the obvious convenience factor, the fact that I don’t have to run outdoors when it’s pitch black out (which kind of gives me the heebies, even though I live in a VERY safe neighborhood), and its oh-so-handy built in television (or prime location in the Cardio Cinema if I’m in the mood). Tonight Gold’s was featuring Star Trek 2, and because it is one of my husband’s FAVORITE movies of ALL TIME, I felt like I OWED it to him to watch it, even though I’m in no way, shape, or form a Star Trek fan. (Star Wars, though, is a whole ‘nother story!) So, there I was, the only exerciser in the Cardio Cinema, taking in the drama of Admiral Kirk’s mid-life crisis on the BIG SCREEN. Admit it, you’re jealous. You’re just soaking up all the blissful nerdiness, aren’t you? Oh yeah, I should probably mention that I ran 5.79 miles at an average pace of 10:21/mile, no prob!

Friday 9/17: I took a much-needed rest day! After working out so hard and focusing so intensely on my goal, it’s very easy to overlook the importance of REST. I’m sort of glad it’s explicitly built into my training plan…otherwise the nutjob perfectionist in me would be tempted to forego it.

Saturday 9/18: This afternoon, I cross trained on the Expresso bike, and did about 16ish miles at a moderate intensity. I’m really curious about how all this gym cycling is going to translate to “the real deal” next spring/summer. I always hear that running outdoors is soooo much harder than treadmill running, but that didn’t turn out to be the case for me. (Treadmill running is SUPER hard for me compared to outside!) So I definitely have to wonder how it will be for biking. I mean, it’s not like I’ve NEVER ridden a bike outdoors, but I don’t have any idea how fast I used to ride, and I never really went very far either. And I also finished up my strength training with some lower body work. (How it is that I ended up with lower body strength training sandwiched between two intense workouts, I have no clue…this should not have happened, and is a signal to me that I should plan out my ST a little better than saying “OK Christina, just get it done.” So I’m taking that as a note for my next training cycle!)

Sunday 9/19: I treated today’s long run as my last long run before the race. Next week I would normally do a 15k run, but I don’t quite know how my schedule’s going to work out since I have a lot (L O T) going on at work and a friend’s wedding over the weekend! So anyway, I initially planned on waking up early to get it done. Didn’t happen. But thankfully the weather was fairly mild today, which made running outdoors at one o’ clock a reasonable possibility. I did something a little different today: running my commute. It’s about six miles each way. Anyway, it was a pretty relaxing run for the most part, but WHOA, those hills that barely seem to exist when you’re in your car read more like Mount Everest when you’re on foot! WHOA! Definitely gave the legs one good “last chance workout.” I ended up finishing 12.2 miles in 2:06:42, an average pace of 10:23/mile. If I can keep that pace on race day, and I have NO reason to believe that I can’t (unless the FL weather gets me down or something…), I might beat my 2:17 PR. But then again, I did say that a Disney race is NOT a good place to try and PR since the course will likely be more on the crowded side and there are so many distractions and things to look at that you don’t really WANT to hurry a Disney race! (But then again my PR IS a Disney race, so go figure!)

This week, I completed 23.91 miles on foot (0.52 of that was walking), 25.32 on the bike, and 91 minutes of strength training. The ST was a BEAR this week and I didn’t want to do it. Honestly, I think I’m getting a little bored with it and need to seek out some more variety to challenge myself and stay engaged. I’m looking at some new options, like kettleball (which just intrigues me for some reason), heavier lifting (which I would ONLY do with guidance from a trainer), or maybe some Body Pump classes at the gym (if my schedule permits). We’ll see…but I am BORED with my routine! SO incredibly bored! Now it’s just time to put my head down and power through the remaining few days of work leading up to my trip to Disney World! I am LONG overdue for a vacation. I haven’t taken a proper day off, not even a sick day, since the first week of March, so it is TIME!

Next week I’ll begin my taper a little bit early to accommodate my crazy work/family schedule. And that means TAPER MADNESS! You know what I’m talking about. I’ll probably start stalking the ten day forecast…oh, pretty much right away and daydreaming about what I’ll wear and what I’ll buy at the expo and whether or not I’ll be able to get Jeff Galloway’s autograph or a photo with him. (Gosh, you’d think I was a twelve-year-old girl back in 1992 plotting a way to meet New Kids on the Block or something…sheesh!) Oh and did I mention I need to figure out what I’m going to WEAR?! I don’t think I EVER put as much thought into my attire as I do when I’m racing! For work, it’s like, oh just throw on whatever is clean and work appropriate, but for races I actually sit here and think about color schemes and styles and…oh my, all that silly girly stuff! Anyway, I’ll be back again next week to drive you crazy with taper madness randomness…

Happy running!

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CIAOBELLA13 9/25/2010 4:20PM

    Good luck on your upcoming race (and have a little Disney fun too)!

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FUNFROG79 9/24/2010 10:25PM

    Wow, you've got me all excited!! I can't wait to hear all about it! emoticon

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LAURIE5658 9/24/2010 8:28PM

    Do you think I could talk Disney into registering me for Wine & Dine even though its closed, then if I could quickly recover from my HM this Sunday, then catch a flight to Orlando next week, then secure a room at one of the host resorts, I'll be down in a flash! Think i could make that happen? Dang, thats what I figured.

You are like me in that I need to have a plan in place all of the time. I know though that as time passes, you will come up with a solid plan.

Just think, in a short time from now you will be at your Happy Place!! Oh waht a great time you will have. Take notes so you can include it all in your Wine & Dine RR!!!!

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LIGHTNINGRUNNER 9/24/2010 6:10PM

    So glad you are almost here in Florida - it has turned summer again here humidity has gone up drastically during this week and highs are into the 90s - at least we are getting rain on the West Coast.

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Wine & Dine Half Marathon Training: Week 3/6 Recap

Thursday, September 16, 2010

At the beginning of this week, my whole attitude on training was, shall we say lackluster? While my motivation wasn’t in the toilet, exactly, I wasn’t feeling it. Part of it, I think, is because the daily grind has been so insanely hectic lately that my only training time often falls at either 5:00 am or 9:30 pm. Neither one of these is exactly what I’d call the ideal workout time, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I was in desperate need of an extra shot of motivation, so was extremely grateful to receive one at the end of the week. Ironman Wisconsin was going on, and what an inspiration it was to see all of these amazing, dedicated athletes in action! While I may never become an Ironman (although who knows…never say never, right?) seeing the competitors finish reminded me that all the hard work that goes into training does bring many sweet rewards: a sense of accomplishment, improved self-esteem, a life-changing experience, and better fitness and health. Really, what’s not to like? So even on the days when I don’t feel like training, I remind myself to just keep going because there is a lot to look forward to on the other side. I’m now at the halfway point between the Madison Mini and Wine & Dine Half Marathons, and I feel my excitement level mounting with each day that passes. I’m long overdue for a vacation, and a Disney-filled weekend is just what the doctor ordered! Between now and then, though, there’s still plenty of hard work to do. Here’s the recap of what I got done this week…

Monday: Since it was Labor Day, I enjoyed a rest day. We took Timmy down to my work for a picnic, and to fly his new Toy Story kite. Sounds lame, right, and who really wants to be at work on a holiday, but my company has a very nice campus in the countryside, and it’s actually very scenic and relaxing…when I don’t have to be working! And we didn’t even go near my office! Timmy had a blast running back and forth and watching his kite fly higher and higher. We also explored the new office buildings that just opened. One of them actually has a slide going between two of the floors! And yes, we took it for a test drive.

Tuesday: I was able to strength train after work, but had to go running LATE tonight (since the running requires me to get a babysitter, while strength training in front of the TV does not!) But hitting the gym gave me a chance to catch up on Chopped Champions on the treadmill TV. I have been reading a lot lately about how 90 is the “magic” number for cadence/turnover when you’re running (I think it’s similar for cycling too, actually…) and was curious about how close I was really getting to that number. Since I was confined to the treadmill, counting my steps and trying to get as close to the magic number as possible seemed like kind of an entertaining little game, so that’s what I did. (See…I guess this is technically like speedwork, isn’t it, but I disguised it more as a game to alleviate boredom…but yeah, I guess it’s still speedwork, huh? So even though I just said last week that I wasn’t doing speedwork, I guess I really just did.) I pulled some very nice negative splits: 10:46 / 10:25 / 10:18 / 10:17 / 10:14 / 10:07 (for the last 0.79 mile). Total came to 5.79 plus a short cooldown walk. It was a good thing I got done when I did, because as I cooled down Alton Brown came onto the TV and he was making Tres Leches cake. ONLY my favorite cake in the whole world! Why do I keep doing this to myself?! Maybe I need to find non-food-related programming to watch while I work out!

Wednesday: Today I felt very out of sorts, and for no particular reason. It got later and later, and I had managed to get some core strength training (my least favorite kind) done, but still had cross training on the agenda. Finally after disregarding a parade of excuses in my head, I got into my gym clothes and told myself, “Buck up, Christina. It’s only a half hour. By the time you figure out that you don’t really want to be there, you’ll be pretty much already done.” So off I went, and I hit the bike for 8.84 miles. I was dragging at the beginning, but I was right…once I was into it a bit more, it wasn’t so bad.

Thursday: I actually was able to get outside to run after dinner, a rare occasion on a weekday! In the first mile or so, I focused on enjoying the crisp evening air and flying up and down the hills near my house. Oh…oops, did I say fly? Um…yeah, well once I got through two miles or so, I really started to feel that. As I advanced to a flatter portion of my route, I wondered to myself, “Why am I huffing and puffing NOW when this part is supposed to be easier than the first part of my run? I don’t get this!” I had fallen victim to a rookie mistake: going out too fast. I was sure of it, and confirmed it when I calculated my mileage and pace: 5.66 miles in 56:02, average pace of 9:53/mile. And I know I was slowing down a lot in the last couple of miles, so my suspicion is that miles one and two were significantly faster than 9:53. Big OOPS. Even though I decided not to invest in a Garmin at this time, I suspect that I will need one (or something similar) when I start marathon training next year. I hear that pacing is much more crucial at those insanely long (like 20+ mile) distances…so I’ll need to have some way to tune that up. For now, though, I survived the run, and I’ll just restrain myself a bit more next time I feel like flying ;)

Friday: Today I didn’t do any running or cross training, but did squeeze in another strength training workout. Honestly, I’m still finding strength training to be a boring, boring drag, but I know how crucial it is to any fitness routine, but just grit my teeth and get through it. Usually while watching some kind of brain-numbing TV show.

Saturday: After sleeping in until after eight o’ clock for the first time in MONTHS (ahhh…pure bliss!), I did some errands and headed to the gym for my hour of cross training. I did 14.5 miles at an easy-moderate pace on the Expresso bike, while pondering my 2011 fitness goals and plans. Crazy how there are still 3 ½ months left in 2010 and I’m already starting to have a few of those slightly panicked “what’s next?!” thoughts. While a full marathon is fully (haha) on my radar, it’s not until January 2012, meaning that I won’t really start training for it until August/September-ish. And in the first half of 2011, I’m picturing a half or two…but what else? I’ve been flirting with the idea of doing a triathlon for months, and the main thing that’s been standing in my way is the almighty dollar…really a few hundred to a couple of thousand of them! The main obstacle is that I don’t own a bike…but my dear husband has offered to fix up his old bike from college for me. Sure, it’s NOT ideal and probably won’t “fit” me perfectly, but if it’s an entry point into the triathlon world just so I can (bad pun alert) TRI it out…well, why not?! Then, all that will leave me to buy is a bike helmet, swim goggles, and something to wear to the race. I can’t argue with that! And after watching the Ironman competitors this weekend…I want to TRI. SO. Badly. Obviously I’m not going to dive into an Ironman anytime soon (if ever), but a sprint triathlon definitely feels like a reasonable goal for say…next summer! I’ve been eyeing the Capitol View Triathlon, mid-June 2011. It has 400m open water swim, 12 mile bike, and 5K run, perfect for a newbie! Anyway…back to the point, I got my cross training done today, and wrapped up my strength training. Yeah.

Sunday: Today I was slated for an eleven mile long distance run, and planned a 5.5 mile route out to Main Street in Verona, where the Ironman competitors would be passing by on their bikes. The run out to Verona was pretty easy, although I had to cut my route a bit short because the last bit was completely blocked off by an Ironman aid station. When I arrived, the festivities were in full swing. A local church was hosting a small carnival with food tents, a “get your picture taken on a Wheaties box” booth, and some games for the kiddos. Crowds of spectators were starting to gather to cheer on their athletes. None of the Ironmen were there yet, but as I found a comfortable seat on the grass, the emcee announced that the leader was five to ten minutes away! And soon enough, we saw the lights of a police motorcycle, followed by TWO men on bikes! We all gave them a big cheer. It was a while before we saw the next cyclist, but eventually more and more of the professional triathletes flew by, and then the age groupers started to trickle in one by one. As each person passed by, the emcee announced his or her name and hometown, and we clapped and cheered and clapped some more! (And of course, as required for any race in Wisconsin, several spectators rang cowbells!) I was riveted. It was awe-inspiring to see all kinds of athletes, from the sleek professionals to “average” people like me, taking on such a tremendous challenge. It was such a privilege to just stand and watch these people take the final steps towards, what for many, would become a life-changing victory. Wow, just wow. I was reluctant to turn back and head home, but after an hour and a half, it was only getting hotter outside and I knew my family would be waiting for me. The run back was tougher, mainly because the sun was higher in the sky and it was much warmer out, but I finished up the 10.08 miles with an average pace of 10:24/mile.

I closed out my Sunday by watching the Ironman athletes cross the finish line on the live internet feed. I saw many finishers, from the men’s and women’s professional winners to the people who crossed the finish line at eleven o’ clock, in complete darkness. My hats are off to all of them! I finished my third training week with a renewed spirit, and just felt excited about completing my next two half marathons and planning out the “what comes next.” It’s kind of exciting that 2011 is (more or less) a blank slate right now. So many possibilities! This week, I ended up traveling 21.8 miles on foot and 23.34 on (Expresso) bike. Not too shabby…and I’m now officially halfway through with my Wine & Dine Half Marathon training!

Happy running!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RDARLING 9/16/2010 2:44PM

    WOW! What a fantastic recap of your week! Good luck!

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LAURIE5658 9/16/2010 1:47PM

    I can totally see you doing this and I will support you any way I can! I see that Ironman Wisconsin pretty much shewed up your Sunday too along with your long run. DITTO with me. By the time I finished my 12 miler, got home and took care of post long long run things, I was glued to the laptop "watching" IM Wisconsin and Melinda. So incredibele!

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CRZYRUNRGRL 9/16/2010 12:59PM

    You will do fantastic at Wine and Dine!


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LIGHTNINGRUNNER 9/16/2010 12:56PM

    You will do awesome and at least here on the West Coast of Florida - the humidity levels have dropped some...hopefully getting for cooler weather in October.

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