Monday, January 04, 2010
When I started training for the Disney World marathon 7 months ago, it seemed like forever until it would finally get here, and now it's approaching at lightning speed!
The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind, so I'm glad to be getting back into a routine. I sang at the Candlelight Processional again this year at Epcot on Christmas Day and the day afterward. We hung out in the park with our church family both nights after we sang, so I was pretty whipped by Sunday morning.
Then the following Tuesday, we hit Universal Studios to use up some free tickets I won from a drawing at the Miracle Miles 15K. The lines were RIDICULOUS due to all the folks who were in town vacationing and going to the two bowl games. We still had a blast, even with the crowds.
As if that weren't enough, I also had some Disney comp tickets I had to use up, so we went BACK OUT AGAIN the next day. This was our girls' day out: me, my two daughters, and my two granddaughters - watch out! Our aim was to go to Magic Kingdom, but we decided to leave later in the morning - probably not a good idea since the park was FULL when we got there around noon. The parking lot attendant said parking would probably open back up in a couple hours, so we headed to Downtown Disney for some lunch, then walked around for a bit.
After calling the hotline a couple of times during the next 2-1/2 hours, we decided to hit Hollywood Studios instead. Because of the inconvenience, Disney comped our parking, so that was a plus. We also had to wait in line for the more popular rides because all the Fast Passes had been given out for the day by the time we got there. That was ok though. We enjoyed each other's company and didn't feel like we missed out on anything since we go to the parks frequently enough. We got to see the Osbourne Family Spectacle of Lights too, which I personally think is VERY COOL! Everywhere you looked there were thousands of lights flashing in a choreographed dance with the music. Even though it was officially after Christmas, I didn't mind hearing TSO's Carol of the Bells, not one bit! Another bonus: we also got a coupon for 50% off our dinner at a Disney restaurant, which is a BIG DEAL if you've ever eaten at a Disney theme park. I got to treat all the girls to dinner, and we even splurged on some chocolate mousse for dessert!
I had a nice, mellow New Year's Eve and Day. My neighbors were all having parties, but I was comfortable just hanging out at home and having some sparkling cider with my daughter while we watched on our TV as the ball dropped in Times Square. I actually did some laundry and cleaning on New Year's Day, feeling good about being able to stay home and get some stuff done instead of running around so much. I also made my traditional black-eyed peas and rice with cornbread, this year with some turkey sausage for flavor - yummy!
I completed my last long run on Saturday, 6.5 miles, in 40 degree weather. It was also my first run of 2010 - woohoo! The run felt great, with no plantar fasciitis pain whatsoever - another woohoo! The first half mile felt freezing, but once we warmed up, it actually felt comfortable. I was definitely grateful I went to Kohl's the night before and found not one but TWO nice moisture-wicking running jackets on sale. I wore my long-sleeved wicking top underneath, along with my capris, a headband to cover my ears, and my fingerless gloves. My hands finally warmed up toward the latter part of the run, so I'm thinking I might do full-finger for the race.
I did cross-training on the elliptical trainer at the gym today - no strength training at all this week to conserve glycogen stores. A year ago, I would have said you were insane if you thought I'd get up and run at 5 a.m. on Tuesday/Thursday in 20-something wind chill, but that was then and THIS IS NOW. I know I am MOST DEFINITELY a hard-core runner, because I'm actually looking forward to freezing my tail off. I know it will give me a good feel for what it will be like on race day, and I'll have an opportunity to experiment with clothing. I'll also be sharing the experience with the gals I've been training with for seven months, so we can encourage each other to keep our minds off the cold.
I've got a checklist of a few items I need to get before race day, but it's a small list and I feel I'm prepared for the most part. My goal is to get plenty of rest this week, fuel with nutritious food, and hydrate well. Watch out Disney...here I come!
Monday, December 21, 2009
I had two important runs this past week: Magic MIle and a 24-miler. Little did I know that else was waiting in store for me.
I was actually looking forward to the Magic Mile. The Galloway program that I'm using to train for my marathon uses this training tool to gauge with a good degree of accuracy how fast your marathon race pace could ideally be. With my marathon only 3 weeks away, I was excited to see where I stood so I'd have a confident plan for pacing during the race. My weekly runs and speedwork all indicate that I'm getting faster, so I was sure I'd show a good degree of improvement over my last time in August.
The goal is to run as fast as you can one mile around the track, but "not so hard that you feel like puking" (Jeff Galloway's words, not mine). My plan was to be in bed by 11 p.m. Wednesday night so I'd get about 5 hours of sleep in before the run. Five hours might not seem like a lot, but it's actually a good night's sleep before my training days since I have to get up at 4 a.m. I usually take a nap later in the day when I can.
Unfortunately things didn't happen according to my plan. Without going into detail, I had to deal with some very unsettling behavior by a member of my family. But it's not enough that it's hurtful to me, but it's also hurtful to other members of the family and that breaks my heart. Talk doesn't seem to do any good, so I'm seeking wisdom to know how to handle the situation.
Anyhow, because of that I ended up getting only an hour's worth of sleep before I had to get up and get ready to run. I mentally prepared myself to run well regardless, and when I got to the track I did about close to a mile warmup with a few accelerations towards the end so I'd be ready to run full out.
I felt more awake after the warm up, but I didn't feel physically like I was ready to shatter any records. My goal was to knock at least 10 seconds off my August time of 10:10. I didn't feel like it was unreasonable, taking into account the pace of my other recent runs. My plan was to start out a bit slower during the first couple of laps, with a goal of picking up speed through the last two. My first quarter mile split was 2:25, well under goal pace, but it didn't feel like I was pushing it too hard. Still, I decided to let off the pace just a bit on the second quarter, and when I heard the split was 2:34, I felt like I needed to pick it up. The third quarter felt tougher, and when I saw a 2:36 split, I realized I'd have to go full out to come close to my goal. I gave it everything I could on that particular day, even going to the edge of queasy, because I was bound and determined not to allow circumstances to give me an excuse to not give it my best. The last split was 2:30 for a Magic Mile time of 10:07 - a whopping 3 seconds improvement from August.
I realize that any improvement is a positive, but I was disappointed and somewhat angry. I acknowledge the fact that I didn't get enough sleep and I only had cataract surgery two days prior. But in my heart, I felt I could've done better, and I suppose I hoped that somehow a great time would make all the crap I dealt with the night before seem somehow less significant. I talked with our program director about it, and she told me that any improvement is a good thing, and I could do another Magic Mile whenever I wanted and she'd time me. That made me feel a teeny bit better. Then I did a couple of mile repeats with my pace group. vented to my friend Janice, which helped a bit more. We didn't go extremely fast with the repeats - just focused on pacing. My repeats were 12:15 and 12:17, so I can myself props for being relatively consistent.
Friday was a rest day before my 24-miler. I was a bit nervous about this run because it's the highest mileage I've ever done and also because it's the last really long run before Disney full in three weeks.
I made a Goodwill drop-off, faxed some medical claims to clean out the remaining balance in our flexible spending account, then went by the bike shop to get my Gu.
I wanted to eat a higher calorie dinner that night, but I really didn't have anything in the house to cook. When I came home to more family "stuff", I figured it would take too long to go to the store, then cook, so I decided to go ahead and order a pizza. I'd definitely get my carbs in that way, but I wasn't really crazy about the extra fat before a run. I don't normally eat high-calorie dinners except on long-run days, so it probably wasn't a good idea to experiment. By the time I finished my serving of pizza, I felt like someone put a brick in my stomach. I also ended up eating later than I planned, so going to bed at 10 p.m. came way too early. That time came and went, because there was more "stuff" that ended up keeping me up until 1 a.m. And of course I had to get up at 2 a.m. which left me with yet another one-hour night of sleep before my longest run ever - argh!!!
Another factor to add was a cold front that made its way into Central Florida. The temps were the coldest so far this season, and along with the wind chill, it was kind of tricky figuring out what to wear. I settled on a pair of capris, a long-sleeved running top, fingerless gloves and a headband that covered my ears.
I met with the rest of my pace group at 3 a.m. and after the first half mile, the cold didn't feel quite so intimidating. It's a good thing I didn't know that it would dip down into the mid-40s during the next few hours, lol.
After about the first mile is when I started to feel it. My right heel started to get that nagging pain from a flareup of plantar fasciitis I've been dealing with for about a month now. It happened as a result of being fitted for a new make/model of running shoes and continuing to run in them until I suffered severe calf strains. I took the shoes back and was re-fitted with my original shoe - the new model had JUST come in at the time I took them back. By then the damage was starting to snowball and I woke up in the morning with a painful right heel.
The foam roller and the Stick dealt with the calf strain issues. They're gone now, but the plantar fasciitis is an annoying flareup that seems to pop up unexpectedly in my runs. When it started to bug me at the beginning of my long run, I knew I was in for an interesting morning.
I kept with my pace group for about the first 7-8 miles, then started to slip a bit further back. The heel pain was there on and off, but nothing sharp or severe, so I didn't feel like I should turn back. I'm sure the lack of sleep didn't help either. so I resolved to take it slow and just complete the mileage the best I could for the circumstances.
I kept drifting further back, and a couple of the pace group leaders took turns to wait or run back to me to make sure I was ok. There was never a time I felt I couldn't complete the run, just knew it was going to take me longer than the others. At one point, the leader that was with me told me she was going to run ahead to give the other leader directions for the next part of the route so they'd know where they were going. I knew we were headed towards one of the parks that we normally hit for a water stop. I also thought she'd be back or I'd be close enough to see where they'd made a turn.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen as planned either. I ended up at a major road that went either left or right, and no one recognizable was in sight. Of course the day I decide not to bring my cell phone with me on a long run was the day I needed it. I turned right because some of the landmarks were familiar from previous runs. After about a mile down the road, I asked another runner where the park was and found out I was going in the wrong direction. So I turned back around and headed back the way I came. About a mile later, one of the pace group leaders from another group pulled up beside me and I told him about my navigational error. He offered to drive me to the park, but I politely refused. I was bound and determined to get in ALL of my mileage, no matter what. He told me he'd drive ahead and turn down the street I was supposed to turn on toward the park. I followed him and soon met up with the other pace group leader.
By that time, the rest of the group was coming back from the route she'd given them, and since I'd already put in close to two miles, we ran an additional mile while waiting for them to come back. We finally met up with them and they quickly pulled out ahead of me once again. By this time I didn't care how far ahead they were. I knew the route back to the school where we started, and I knew I was headed into the final stretch. Kay ran with me the rest of the way, and it was nice to have a bit of company for awhile.
We finally got back to the school, about 20 minutes after the others. I felt a bit embarrassed that I was so slow, yet glad to have completed the 24 miles. I felt so strongly that I HAD to complete this run, not only to be consistent with my training, but also as a way of proving to myself that I was not going to allow challenging circumstances to give me an excuse to quit.
I took it easy the rest of Saturday and Sunday, except for going to church. My legs felt a bit sore Saturday, but felt good by Sunday. The foot feels pretty good too. I iced it after the long run, then did stretching exercises throughout the day Saturday and a little on Sunday. I'm already thinking toward Tuesday's run and I'm excited that I'm heading into taper for the next couple of weeks before the marathon.
Training for this marathon is showing me just how much I'm willing to push through any difficulties that come my way and reach the goals set before me. This has truly been a faith assignment and, in spite of difficulties, I see how much I've grown physically, emotionally and spiritually. I'm also getting a bit better at dealing with unexpected challenges that come my way. It doesn't mean that I still don't get upset by them, but I don't allow them to derail me. My training keeps me focused on the positive changes that are taking place in my life, and I know that this marathon is only the beginning.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I don't feel like I've taken this many rest days in over a year! And while I don't want to, I feel like my body needs it, plus it is THAT time of the year when there's a lot going on in everyone's lives, including mine.
I took another rest day last Friday in order to prep for my 8-miler on Saturday. I had a doctor's appointment to get both of my eyes measured, even though I was only having cataract surgery on my right eye. The appointment went well, and I came home to make some buttercream icing for the sugar cookies that we baked Thursday night for the children's Hanukkah party at church. The kids had a wonderful time Friday night, learning how God gave victory to His people who chose to follow His commandments rather than assimilate, and which ultimately led to the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration. We decided to ice the cookies for the kids rather than let them do it themselves...too many sniffles, so we didn't want to spread any more germs than necessary. Another great reason: the cleanup was SO MUCH EASIER! :)
It's a good thing I did take Friday off, because Saturday morning I ran with a pace group that pretty much kept at my half-marathon pace throughout the whole run. It was definitely faster than I wanted to run for an LSD run, especially after a race, so Janice and I hung back a couple hundred yards to slip into a bit more comfortable pace, even though it wasn't optimal for recovery.
I felt good at the end of the run, but definitely felt I'd pushed it again, so I was grateful to have a scheduled rest day on Sunday. We had a special celebration lunch at church in honor of our pastor and his wife's 25th anniversary. It was a wonderful time of fellowship, and I made some Italian roasted veggies in the crockpot to make sure I had healthy options available. The one indulgence that I regretted afterwards was a piece of anniversary cake. One of the girls said everyone HAD to eat a piece (because she didn't want to take any home). I didn't really want one, but I ate it anyhow, then felt yucky afterwards because it was way too rich than what I've been used to eating. I was actually angry that I allowed anyone to force food on me...I'm really beyond that now and have been for a long time. It's not that it put me over my calorie allotment for that day or that I had to worry about gaining weight. I'm pretty much maintaining right now because I'm down to 15% bodyfat and I really don't feel I need to dip any lower. It's more that I allowed someone to influence what I ate rather than ME choosing whether to eat it or not. I didn't really enjoy it, so I received a reminder of another important lesson: I am in control of what I eat, and if I don't really want it, DON'T EAT IT.
I went for an easy run in my subdivision on Monday. The past couple of runs I've done in the neighborhood have seemed a bit more challenging, so I decided to take a look at the elevation compared to where I normally run with my pace group. Now I know why. The elevation of several of the streets in my neighborhood is much higher than even the streets where we do our hill runs, so it's not quite the "easy" run after all. That's ok though. I haven't done any lower body strength training in about a week, so I enjoyed a great workout while strengthening my legs even more.
Tuesday was surgery day. I've had a really bad cataract on my right eye for close to two years now, but put off getting it removed to to some financial challenges and also because the lens that the doctor recommended wasn't covered by my insurance. We put some extra money in our flex account to pay for it this year and with the end of the year looming, I felt like there was enough to cover most of it and finance a small portion. When the doctor checked my eye, he recommended that I actually go with the cheaper lens because I've dealt with "lazy eye" with my right eye, and he felt the result might not be as good as expected. I had to fast from midnight Monday night and my surgical appt. was at 12:45 p.m. A morning fast wasn't too bad, but when I still was waiting in pre-op at 2:45 p.m., my stomach started to grumble rather loudly. The staff was great though, and we were joking around right up until they gave me the anesthesia. It was a relatively weird state: conscious enough to vaguely know what was going on, but not really aware of the details until it was all over. I got some juice right after the surgery, so that held me over until we got home to have some yummy matzo ball soup I made the night before. I wasn't real groggy, but decided to take a nap, which turned out to be about 3 hours. I slept quite soundly, then decided to watch the season finale of SYTYCD. I was AMAZED at how vivid the colors looked and how much clearer everything looked. The reality is that I had been basically seeing with only one eye for close to 2 years, and now I was actually seeing my HD TV in high-def for real!
I had my follow up with my doctor this afternoon, and he literally said "God bless you", then told me he was AMAZED at how well I was seeing out of my right eye so soon after surgery. I went from not being able to read the eye chart with that eye to having better than 20/20 vision. He said if he knew I'd do that well, he would have rethought using a multifocal lens. My personal explanation can be attributed to the power of prayer and the fact that I have another Doctor Who can go beyond earthly doctors' expectations.
I also heard some more great news: my doc gave me the OK: I CAN RUN! He told me I could do my speedwork on Thursday, which ROCKS since we've got another Magic Mile scheduled as part of training that day with our marathon training group. More importantly, I can do my 24-mile long run on Saturday - woohoo! This will be my longest LSD run prior to Disney full in 3 weeks, and I really didn't have enough training time left to schedule it later because of the need to taper back before the race. I practically hugged my doctor when he gave me the news! His only requirement was that I wear something to keep the sweat out of my eyes so I don't accidentally rub my right eye "and mess up his work." Yep, I think I can do that, lol.
Time to get ready for tomorrow's run. My goal is to get to sleep at a reasonable hour this evening so I can get in a great warmup before my Magic Mile, then TEAR IT UP!
I'm so grateful today that I can see better, I'm continuing to live healthier, and that I get to train to run a marathon! I am truly blessed!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I'm finally beginning to feel like I'm back to pre-race strength and energy after the OUC half marathon. I actually felt pretty good after the half, though a little stiff during the day on Saturday. I took it easy though and relaxed around the house. It was a great opportunity for me to get caught up watching some of the many shows I've recorded on my DVR. :)
Sunday is a normal rest day for me. However, the weather was so nice and cool outside, I decided to take my dog Sadie for a nice, long, SLOW walk. I also used my foam roller and Stick to work on any trigger points. Fortunately I didn't really feel I developed any that needed some extra TLC.
Monday I decided to hit the gym for my normal routine: some cross-training and strength training. I worked out on the elliptical for 35 minutes and, while I finished the workout with the same intensity I started with, I definitely felt like my energy was drained. Stubborn girl that I am, I went ahead and did strength training afterward. I didn't do any strength training the week prior, and I wanted to at least get in some this week. Next week is a 24-mile long run, so I'm not planning to lift so I can save my glycogen stores. I lifted lighter than I normally do, but could definitely tell the glycogen gas tank was running near empty. I finished my workout though and got an emotional lift after talking with Jonathan and Ken who work at Planet Fitness. They were sitting at one of the tables near the front desk, and Jonathan congratulated me on my race. I told him how encouraged I was to see him volunteering at the race and how much it inspired me. Then he and Ken, the Planet Fitness manager, started asking questions about my training and told me how I inspired them! This was one of those occasions I'll treasure because it confirms the reality that I really am an athlete. Maybe I'm not the fastest endurance runner, but that's not as important to me as making progress. I continue to challenge MYSELF physically and mentally to achieve new levels of fitness, and I continue to move forward. And if I can do it, then my hope is that someone else might be inspired to challenge themselves as well.
I planned to go for an easy run with my pace group on Tuesday, but ended up running on my own later in the morning. I have a dear friend who needed me to be with her Monday night, and I didn't leave her until 1 a.m. I set my alarm before I went to bed at 2 a.m., then after pushing the snooze button several times at 4 a.m., decided running on my own was a MUCH BETTER option . It's a good thing I did. I dropped my daughter off at her homeschool co-op at church that morning, looked online real quick for a running route, and decided to head over to Tuskawilla. I parked in one of the office parking lots at the entrance of Winter Springs Blvd., then headed out for a nice easy recovery run. It took about half a mile before my legs didn't feel like they had 20-pound weights attached to each of them. I wasn't sore, just moving a lot slower than my normal easy runs. Fortunately I ran on the sidewalk and it was a nice, straight path down the boulevard with only a couple of elevation changes. The weather was humid and warmer though, so that probably affected me a tad too. I got in 3-1/4 miles, then walked a half mile to cool down and relax.
Wednesday as a NO ENERGY day for me. I felt like I was dragging all day, so I decided to take another complete rest day from exercise and took it relatively easy other than my normal daily activities. I went to bed at a reasonable time and made sure I got plenty of extra carbs in.
Today (Thursday) I'm feeling much better! I went for a 5 a.m. easy run with my pace group. I normally do track on Thursdays - not today. I learned my lesson and ran with Shaniqua and Liz. My pace is almost back to normal now...so glad I took yesterday off. My energy is also back to normal. That's encouraging because I've got an 8-mile LSD run on Saturday. I considered doing a Reindeer Run and adding mileage on to reach 8, but I decided not to tempt myself with an opportunity to run faster and just run with the pace group. Besides, our pace group leader wants me to share my "secret" of how I got rid of my weight, so it's another opportunity for me to share the Spark!
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
It's been four days since I COMPLETED MY FIRST HALF MARATHON, and I FINALLY have a block of free time to blog about the experience - woohoo!
I've been training for the Disney World full marathon in January, so running 13.1 miles didn't seem too daunting to me. My concern was whether I'd be close to my projected race pace based on my training run times.
I've been training with a Galloway group here in Orlando, and felt prepared for the race. What I didn't anticipate was having to run in the rain. I've trained faithfully during the past six months, yet not a single one of my scheduled runs was done in the rain. That seems unusual living in Florida, but that's just how it worked out. So when I checked out the forecast one week before race day, I started to get a bit nervous. Not only was there heavy rain expected, but it was also going to be a bit colder outside. I suppose this is where the mental preparation of marathon training kicks in, because I made a decision that "it is what it is" and I'd make it my best race regardless of the conditions.
I found out that Janice, my friend from the Galloway program, had signed up for the half the week before the race. That excited me, because we've been pace buddies throughout most of our training runs. She says I push her and she helps me to slow down when necessary. This was also her first half marathon, so it was an ideal partnership for both of us.
I kept checking the weather throughout the day on Friday and praying for a break during the race. God definitely answers prayers, because the temp on the way to the race was a comfortable 63 degrees. The humidity was high as expected (95%), but I've had plenty of experience with that on my training runs. As long as the temp was comfortable. that was one less variable to take into account.
I slept maybe 4 hours the night before and actually had a wacky dream that I arrived late to the race just as it was starting. I remember waking up and mentally negating those thoughts before dozing back off. I suppose I can chalk it up to pre-race jitters. The reality is that lack of sleep is quite normal for me before an early morning run. I'm a night owl and have a hard time winding down, and this night was no different except for the bizarre dream.
Janice lives in downtown Orlando, a little over half a mile from the start/finish line - another bonus. I ate some oatmeal in the car as I drove to her house, and arrived there around 6 a.m. We then proceeded to walk to the start line to get our muscles warmed up.
It wasn't raining before the race, so we had plenty of time to mentally prepare and connect with friends. My friend Trish was running the 5K with a couple of members from her bootcamp classes. I met Trish through my gym, Planet Fitness, and we've become good friends. She's a certified personal trainer and now has her own bootcamp business. She's another great friend who pushes me toward another goal I'm currently working toward: becoming an ACE certified personal trainer. She's quite eager for me to get certified so I can work with her teaching bootcamps and doing personal training. I found each other about five minutes before the start of the race and I received another dose of encouragement.
I admire people who write detailed race reports recounting every mile of their race. I'm not one of those people, though I do have some distinct memories to cherish.
I had three goals for this race: push myself while keeping my pace consistent overall, fuel efficiently so I wouldn't run out of energy before the end of the race, and have fun! I definitely feel I accomplished all three goals!
Janice was a huge help when it came to pacing. We decided to do 2/1 run/walk intervals based on the mileage. We also monitored our Garmins, and she kept telling me to slow down whenever I started to get a bit zealous. Our goal pace was between a 12:00-12:30 min./mile, and I gave myself a wide buffer to account for the weather conditions plus the fact that I hadn't run at that pace for that distance on any of my long runs. This was one of those times where I again had to trust in training and preparation.
I've also had some challenges in learning what works best for me as fuel for my long runs. One of the blessings of getting rid of 100+ pounds and gaining muscle mass is that I've transformed my metabolism to burn lots of calories. The negative is that I require more carbs during long runs than many of my fellow runners, so I have to experiment A LOT and can't really go with their recommendations. I've been tweaking with different types of nutrition and settled on some yummy mint chocolate GU for this race. I planned to wait until the one hour mark before I had the first one, but ended up having one at 45 minutes, 1:39 (a little later than I wanted), and 2:10 when I started to feel a little bit lightheaded. The lightheadedness cleared up after the last GU, so I've already made a mental note to space them even closer for Disney. The water stops were every 1.5 miles, so I didn't have to wear my FuelBelt. I mixed half water/half Gatorade at 3 of the stops and probably could've downed another one with the humidity. I didn't want to push the GU alongside too much Gatorade though because of concerns about how they'd affect my stomach.
We had some light mist and rain during the run, and it actually felt refreshing! I really didn't notice it after awhile. I wore running capris and a long-sleeved moisture-wicking shirt, along with my cap that kept the rain out of my eyes. I definitely could've run in a short-sleeved shirt or tank, but it was still cool enough to be comfortable. We ran on brick and asphalt roads which I run on during the week, and the familiarity eased my mind.
We passed Martha, another member of our Galloway pace group, between miles 4 and 5. She was stretching by some porta-potties while waiting for Jackie, another group member. What amazes me is that these girls were even here doing this race! They completed the Women's Half Marathon in St. Pete two weeks ago, THEN did a 23-mile long run last weekend! I could tell they weren't looking to push themselves, yet they showed up and did their best.
Janice and I maintained a consistent pace throughout the race. Our mantra was "short-strides, low to the ground, fast turnover". It worked! We broke our race down into thirds so we could gauge how much to hold back or push forward. I did gain a burst of energy after seeing Jonathan, one of the guys who works at Planet Fitness. He volunteered to help at the race, so when I saw him unexpectedly at mile 9, we were both surprised and excited. He gave me a high 5. Then Janice had to remind me not to speed up too much after that. :)
The volunteers and supporters were awesome throughout the course. I'm so grateful for all the people I saw and heard along the way. They could've stayed inside their warm, dry homes, yet they decided to stand in the rain with their signs and their radios, cheering for and encouraging people they didn't even know to make their dreams a reality. I smiled when I saw a series of signs I saw along the curb around mile 8: Relax Shoulders...Unclench Hands...Breathe... I don't remember everything that was on the rest of the signs, but I certainly appreciate that someone, who was undoubtedly a runner, found a great way to help us focus. Thankfully I was still doing all those things at that point, lol.
A distinct visual image I'll treasure is the sight of downtown Orlando around mile 10 as we ran down Orange Ave. The rain was gently falling and you could see a thick fog draped over the tops of the downtown office buildings. It was dreamlike and beautiful: a perfect depiction of what I experienced that day.
It's also at about mile 10 that my right heel started to hurt a little due to some plantar faciatis I've been dealing with on and off. This came as a result of the snowball effect of a severe calf strain caused by the wrong shoes. That's other whole blog entry, so I won't go into the details here. All I can say is that the foam roller is one piece of running equipment that I REFUSE to live without. The heel was more of an annoyance than real pain, so I didn't concern myself with it. On the positive side, the hamstring tightness I normally start to experience between miles 8-10 of my long runs was practically non-existent. I had a concern that it might slow me down a bit toward the end. Needless to say I was VERY happy.
The last couple of miles were actually part of the same course I ran for the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving the week prior, and I could feel the anticipation building as I recognized where we were. We decided to push the last half mile to the finish line and once we turned the corner, I gave every ounce of energy I had left. Janice pulled out ahead just 5 seconds before we crossed the finish line. I'll beat her next time, lol.
Janice's daughter and husband were waiting at the finish line. So was Carolyn. another one of our Galloway pace group members. She didn't run due to and ITB injury, but she came out to support us anyhow. We also saw Shaniqua, another Galloway girl from our group, proudly wearing her medal. We later found Jackie and Martha in time to snap a picture.
It felt amazing to celebrate this achievement alongside the same women I've been training with for the past six months. It's hard to believe that Janice and Carolyn will be running Disney half while the rest of us will be doing the full marathon in only 4-1/2 short weeks.
This half marathon proved to me that all the training, the disciple, the aches, pains, and the lessons I've learned are definitely worth it! I finished with a time of 2:44:20. While I may not be the fastest endurance runner, I ran 13.31 miles (yes, MORE than a half marathon according to my Garmin) at the fastest pace I've ever run for that distance and I stayed consistent throughout at 12:24 min./mile. That's another interesting thing that made this race special. The number 12 has always been a prominent number in my life. I don't consider it to be a "lucky" number, just one that God seems to use to let me know His hand has been there. The 12:24 pace (note that 24 is 12x2) was further confirmation of His presence.
I enjoyed my first post-race recovery run this morning and am already looking forward to doing an 8-miler this weekend. I'm also looking forward to getting my 13.1 sticker at Track Shack later this week so I can proudly display it on my car's back window.
Half marathon - DONE. Watch out Disney World - here I come!
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