Tag Archives: running

2015 Hershey 10K Race Weekend Recap

20 Apr

Hershey 10K 2015Standing at the starting line in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 11th, all I could think was this seemed like a much better idea in January when I signed up for it. But there I was, at 7:30 AM in somewhat chilly weather with my Disney sister, Catherine, waiting for the Hershey 10K to begin.

Actually, I’m getting ahead of myself in this story, let’s start with the drive to get there on Friday. I live roughly 5 hours from Hershey Park where the race was taking place, a drive that would consist of nearly 300 miles on the Toll Road through the winding mountains, and decided to use my Easter holiday at work so I could make the trip earlier in the day. I planned to arrive around 2:30 PM, which meant I would need to leave around 9:00 AM, which meant that my family had already left for work and school when I came downstairs around 8:00 AM. but much to my surprise, my little sister had left this very sweet note for me to find taped to the kitchen cabinet.

good luck letter from my sister

I have driven through the Pennsylvania mountains only once before when Catherine and I met up with a third Disney sister, Lisa, while she was attending Penn State a couple of years ago. From the trip, I already knew mountain driving terrified me as I live in the relatively flat mid-west. Now, to add to my anxiety about this long drive, as soon as I cross the state border I enter into a torrential downpour that does not let up until I am 10 minutes from my destination, Catherine’s boyfriend’s (Matt) parent’s house. It was raining so hard, I could hardly see five feet in front of my car while twisting and turning around these mountains and because that just wasn’t scary enough, there was this section that according to the signs is a terrible fog area. I felt like I was driving blind. I could see nothing to my left or right, nothing in front of or behind me. I have never held so tightly to the steering wheel before.

At this point, I would say my stress level is a 7 but it quickly rose to a 9 when I had to drive INTO the side of the mountains. Typically I’m not a claustrophobic person, but driving in those tunnels (and there were 6 total) my heart was pounding so hard in my ears I could hardly hear anything else. Deep breathing and pep talks got me in and out safely. Reflecting back what I find interesting is that I have driven through mountain tunnels before as the passenger and I’ve never had a problem with them so I wonder why being the driver in a tunnel makes me so nervous.

Just when I was beginning to think I was never going to get to Matt’s house and that I would be driving around lost in the Pennsylvania mountains forever, I heard the most beautiful words coming from my GPS “arriving at destination on right.” In that moment I could have cried I was so grateful to be done driving and to see Catherine waiting for me in the driveway!

Excitedly she tells me she has a surprise! Much to my amusement and Matt’s dismay, we found ourselves at a Disney outlet store, because where else would two Disney sisters go for entertainment?! We had a blast looking at all of the Disney merchandise, and as you can probably tell, we did not leave empty-handed! She walked away with some cute pjs while I bought an adorable Duffy pillow-pet that was 50% off – I couldn’t believe it! Mickey Ear hats

Duffy the Disney Bear 21927_10152834430631693_7832908977077473312_n

After the Disney store, we drove around a bit looking for the Amish farm that sold milk and cheese, then it was dinner and back to Matt’s for some much-needed shut-eye. At dinner we determined that because the race started at 7:30 AM, we wanted to be at Hershey Park around 6:30 AM since Matt and Catherine had pick-up or packets already. We allowed for 45 minutes to get there from Matt’s house, which meant leaving at 5:45 AM. To make sure we didn’t sleep through the race, I set a first alarm for 4:45 AM and Catherine set a second alarm for 5:00 AM. And when that terrible sound pierced through my dream and startled me awake, I really wasn’t excited to be a runner, all I wanted in that moment was to be a sleeper. But I pulled it together, checked the weather like the non-newbie runner that I am and decided on pants and a jacket for the morning’s race.

Amazingly, Catherine and I stuck to our time schedule very well and only had a tiny bit of excitement in our journey to Hershey Park when my GPS apparently got a bit confused and started sending us in circles. But not to worry, we found our way and made it to the starting line with plenty of time to spare. And before we knew it, it was race time!

All 3,000 runners packed into the starting corral. It was exciting for me to see that some of the other runners were wearing race shirts from runDisney races I had also done in the past! I felt connected to these people, like we shared a bond of not only racing, but of Disney as well. Silly what your mind thinks about at different moments.

And just like that, we’re off! Now for those of you who may not be familiar with different race distances, a 10K is 6.2 miles – half the distance of a half marathon, which I completed in November. So with my music blaring in my ears, Catherine and 2,998 of my running buddies at my side and chilly mountain air in my lungs, I felt ready to tackle the course. However….there was one thing I forgot to plan for in my not-so-decent training for this race (hey, we had multiple blizzards this winter, made running outside a bit challenging!), ALL THE HILLS NEARLY DEFEATED ME!

I mentioned it once, where I live is really pretty flat in the grand scheme of things, sure we have some hills, but they are NOTHING compared to running on the side of a MOUNTAIN!

Hershey 10K 2015 course map

Catherine and I started off together, but eventually the hills and the chilly air got the better of me, and so I told her to go ahead, I’d catch up. I ran when I could and walked when I needed to, but I never once stopped moving. I knew that I needed to keep a 14 minute/mile pace or I would get detoured around the park and wouldn’t be able to run through – I wasn’t about to let that happen. About 2 miles in I settled on a rhythm – jog a little, walk a little, just keep breathing, jog a little, walk a little, just keep breathing. I had found “my people” – runners who shared my pace, runners who fought with every step to be runners, runners who didn’t “look like runners” but were, runners who kept me moving forward.

By the time we came to the first of two water stations, we had already gone under an over pass, up a small hill and crested a large hill to get up onto the main road. My energy levels and my spirits were beginning to drop. but then I heard someone cheering my name, telling me specifically great job, you’re almost halfway there. At the time I couldn’t figure out how they knew who I was – I was 5 hours from home, I didn’t know these people, it wasn’t until after the race it dawned on me, my race bib had my name printed under my number! Those volunteers with the cups of Gatorade and water will never know how much they encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Up another hill, around a corner and through a shopping plaza. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever see mile 4. Just as I was losing hope I spotted a fellow runner who had finished cheering us on! From her Minnie Mouse ears and Sparkle skirt I wondered if she was also a fellow runDisney fan! As I went past her I heard her say one more turn and you’ll be in the park! One more turn, just one more and I would get my first glance of Hershey Park. I pushed a little harder and by golly if there wasn’t ANOTHER hill once I passed through the back park gates! Ugh! But the coasters – holy cow!!

With only 2 miles left on the course I was doing good until, you guessed it…MORE FREAKING HILLS and would you believe it, the beginning of a terrible Charlie Horse! But, at least the race photographers got some great photos of me in action! So glad I bought these!

With only a quarter-mile and two turns between me and the finish line, there was Minnie Mouse ears and Sparkle skirt again! How did you do that?! Didn’t I just see you about a mile and a half ago?! Once again she cheered “Mariah, two turns and you’re there! You’ve got this!” I was so tired and emotional I almost burst into tears! With pain shooting through my leg and the finish line in sight, I dug a little deeper and gave it my all as I completed my race with an official time of 1 hour 29 minutes and 34 seconds! It was great having Catherine, her boyfriend Matt and his dad there cheering me on at the end! This is what complete exhaustion and accomplishment look like!

And so, yet another race is in the books – this one however I have dubbed a one and done kind of race. I’m not meant to be a mountain race kinda girl and that’s okay! Finally it was time for some much earned breakfast (Catherine and I had split an English muffin before leaving for the race, but it was long gone by now!) I had the pleasure of enjoying the most delicious sourdough french bread at this cute little diner while we waited for Hershey Park to official open for the day.

Since I had a long drive home ahead of me that evening I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time exploring Hershey Park, but I did have a chance to go on the Hershey Chocolate World Factory Tour ride, Skyrush, Lightning Racer, and Wild Mouse. All day long I had been wearing my Fitbit Charge HR so it was fun for me to see what my heart rate was when we go off each ride!

And before I left on my long journey home, Catherine and I took a couple of celebratory photos with our shiny new medals!

11150357_10152836640316693_5981983061079275194_n IMG_8760
On the road again by 2:45 PM, this time in beautiful, sunny weather. Still hate mountain driving and tunnels, but way less stressful when you can actually see the winding roads you’re driving on. One insensitive to get home quickly was the large chocolate chip cookie that was in the snack pack bag racers received at the finish line. When I finally got home at 7:30 and went to take a big bite, much to my disappointment I discovered it to be a RAISIN COOKIE masquerading as a delicious Hershey Chocolate Chip cookie. What a let down! But cookie mix up aside, the weekend was a blast on so many levels! I got to add racing in a new state to the list, hung out with one of my wonderful Disney sisters, explored a theme park I’ve never been to before and once again proved to myself that while running may not come as easy to me as it does to others, with a little determination, training and a supportive running community, there’s nothing that will stop me from crossing the finish line of any race I commit to!   

Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon and the health nightmare that followed…

5 Dec

It is no secret that for months now I have been preparing for my very first half marathon – the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon to be exact. I have logged the miles, improved my time and pace, practiced hydration and fueling along the course and read every advice blog and article I could get my hands on about what to do get ready for your first half. I felt ready. I had a game plan and as long as I stuck to it, I would be golden…however, best laid plans have a way of changing as I would ultimately find out. This post is the comprehensive account of my experience, from the best of times to the worst of times….

Let’s start at the beginning shall we….I left for vacation at Walt Disney World on Thursday, November 6th. The plan was simple, enjoy catching up with my Disney sister/runDisney addict, Monique, that evening at Downtown Disney until Scott got off work and would meet me at the resort, while also waiting to hear that another Disney sister, Catherine, had safely landed in Orlando and was in route to Disney. For the most part, this night was perfect, although the bus did seem to take forever, but maybe I was just anxious to be back at the most magical place on earth and see the people I had been missing terribly!

Friday, November 7th, consisted of getting to the race expo early to pick up my packet and scope out the merchandise! I’d had my heart set on buying the runDisney New Balance Cinderella shoes, however, I decided that I’d probably never wear them for fear they would get dirty, so when a maroon warm-up jacket in my size happened to catch my eye, it was fate – we sure did belong together. At least that’s what I told myself the entire time I was waiting in the super long check-out line (you would have thought I was waiting to ride Toy Story Mania or something by the wait time!) I also purchased one of those Mickey head car magnets that says 13.1 – but let’s face it, that thing will never see my car, it’s currently living on my dry erase board. As for the expo itself, I wasn’t overly impressed, although I was mighty glad they had printers because I discovered moments after getting to ESPN that I had left my race waver in my resort room. The entire time I’m at the expo, Catherine and I are playing phone tag, we never did meet up. 😦

 

After the expo, I went to visit Scott at work at Animal Kingdom, stayed there for a few hours and then went to Hollywood Studios where we enjoyed the first night of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights after he got off work.

Saturday, November 8th – Race Day. Game plan was to take it nice and easy – so we slept in, hung out at the hotel until late morning and finally made our way to Hollywood Studios. Disclaimer – there is no such thing as an “easy” Disney Day for me, while we mostly only watched the shows and rode the Great Movie Ride, by the time we made it back to the resort at 4:30 PM, we had already walked 6.5 miles. Don’t ask me how, I’m still trying to figure that one out. I knew I needed to start getting ready for the race around 6 – 6:30 PM and that Monique would be coming over around that time as well, so I took advantage of the downtime and took a nap! What I have failed to tell you about yet is the massive rainstorm scheduled to hit at the start of the race…. Bless Monique’s heart for running to the store to buy us ponchos in a pouch – we could carry them until we needed them at least. I was also extremely thankful to the kind stranger on the bus to the starting line who shared his box of zip-lock plastic bags with us. According to him “the fastest way to make friends with runners is to have a box of plastic bags for cell phones and the fastest way to make friends with strangers in the airport is to have an extension cord.” He had a great attitude, I think we would have been good friends!

weather map rain

 

Our costumes this time around were a mash-up of Disney Princess meets The Hunger Games. Check out our pictures!

While Monique and I were getting ready, Scott was creating this! I love him so much!

race spectator poster

And here’s Catherine and runner Peter Pan! Monique and I were FINALLY able to meet up with her, and her sister Alison at the starting line “party”. We were so cool we danced sitting down! (It’s a joke, seemed funnier late at night – just don’t ask!)

 

And the rain came down before the race ever started… standing in corral I, I pulled out my poncho. We were about 40 minutes to the start and I was FREAKING OUT! Luckily, there were some very great people around me who offered advice and suggestions and all around encouragement. I love the runDisney family, doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or Olympic Gold medalist, we support and cheer everyone equally. My group took off around 10:20 PM and then it was 3.5 hours of running in the pouring rain.

Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2014 course map

I ended up doing the majority of the race blind because by the time I had reached the 3 mile marker I had wiped my glasses off no less than 200 times – in that moment I took off my glasses and fully relied on my other senses to carry me through. Well and the other runners. Luckily at this point I had found a group of people who were just my speed and I was bound and determined to stick with them. I trusted them – if the group veered left or right and then back to the center on a straightaway, that began to mean large puddle on the opposite side of the road. By miles 6 and 7 I was hurting bad. I had blisters, large ones and as luck would have it a few had broken open. But I was only to the half way point – I had to keep going. I was thankful for the rain – no one could actually tell I was crying.

Mile 8 and we were getting ready to enter Hollywood Studios and I was running low on belief in myself and the will to press forward. And that’s when I picked my “running buddy” for the remainder of the course – the blob (remember I can’t see anything clear farther than the length of my own arm!) in the bright green shirt with the long dark hair. You didn’t know you were chosen obviously, because I was always behind you, but when you ran, so did I, and when you walked I thanked the Heavens above. We were playing a game, you and I, and it was called “Catch me if you can, but don’t you dare fall even farther behind”.

I had convinced myself it wasn’t far to the The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (oh you know, just another short 2 miles!!!!) and once I was there, I couldn’t even enjoy them, not really. I tried to take a few photos, made difficult because I was out of energy, shaking and it was STILL pouring. On the bright side, bright green blob must have been enjoying the lights because we walked this whole time.

 

By the time we left Hollywood Studios, we were saying hello and goodbye to mile marker 11 – we were heading to Epcot and the finish line energy was palpable. Bright green blob was feeling it too, we moved a bit quicker where we could, but the path narrowed and got pretty slippery. I think now is a great time to publicly thank all the volunteers and spectators along the route – you have no idea how much your cheers of encouragement meant to me. When I needed a pick me up, someone was always there with a “you’ve got this!”, “keep going you’re almost there!”, or a “yeah runners! we’re proud of you!”

When we made it to the bridge at The Boardwalk, there were two cyclists waiting off to the side – I thought for sure I was about to get swept (not be allowed to finish for all of you non-runners out there), but they let our little group pass on by. Still my heart had lodged itself in my throat and somehow my stomach had found a new home at my knees. And when I finally entered Epcot something inside me broke loose – all the fear, all the pain, all the excitement, and the knowledge it was almost over was so overwhelming I cried. I high-fived strangers. I smiled when I wanted to grimace. I put one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward toward my goal. I have a quote by an unknown author that has been hanging in my room for the last few weeks of my training and I thought of it just then – “On the last mile when your legs are tired and your lungs are burning, GET ANGRY. GET ANGRY for being tired, then RUN FASTER.”  At that point I couldn’t feel my legs, my fingers, my nose – I didn’t know if the ground was still solid below me or not, but I knew I was half a dozen turns away from the finish line.

And then, like a beacon in a dark night, there it was – lit up and welcoming. I sprinted with every ounce of energy I had left in me, afraid that if I didn’t, in that moment I would collapse and never make it across. I know there were hundreds of people screaming, but I heard nothing but my beating heart, saw nothing but the finish line clock – I would finish under my time goal at 3 hours and 27 minutes and just before 2 AM.

And then that medal was around my neck and all I could think was “you did it and you are still standing!”

Wine and Dine 2014 finisher

Although it was still raining, I pulled out my cell phone and let everyone know I had made it – I had finished. Then I was focused on finding Monique and Catherine and leaving. I was so sore and cold and miserable I didn’t even want to stay for the party. Catherine finished before I did and had already left. Monique was waiting for me at the entrance to Epcot – sadly she had been swept at mile 8. Like so many others, Monique and I did the broken-runner shuffle to where the buses were waiting to take us all to our resorts for showers and warm beds. When Monique and I got back to the room, we discovered Scott had set out towels and bananas for us! He’s so thoughtful!

I don’t know how long I slept the next day – it was a very restless sleep. Everything on me ached – my feet from the blisters, my back from hunching over in the wind and rain, my head with a splitting migraine for not wearing my glasses for so long – I felt like I was falling apart, but I had earned that medal and I was going to show it off in the parks! I moved very slowly the remainder of my vacation, but I didn’t let that dampen my spirits or stop me from enjoying myself – all day Scott asked me if I wanted a wheelchair. I refused – there was no way I was going to ride around all day with my hard-earned medal. Monday night we did Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Tuesday I had a meeting to go to and had to shove my injured feet into high heels, and Wednesday I flew home.

I was still in a lot of pain and by Friday afternoon at work (November 14th), my feet were red, swollen and extremely painful to walk/stand on. After a trip to the local urgent care center, I was diagnosed with Cellulitis in both feet from the broken blisters I got during the race. I was given a 10 day, take twice a day prescription for Bactrim, told to drink plenty of fluids and keep my feet elevated above my heart for the next few days – and if the swelling didn’t go down or the pain stop, head to the Emergency Room.

So for the next two days I could be found with my feet up, watching Hallmark movies, drinking lots of fluids and taking my medicine once in the morning and once at night. It seemed to work – the redness started to fade, the swelling went down, I rediscovered my ankles! By the time Monday rolled around I was feeling better and seemed to be on the mend. By Thursday, however, my energy levels had dropped. I wasn’t sleeping even though I had started going to bed by 6:45 PM – and when I did manage to catch a few hours, I had terrible nightmares. And on top of it all, I had a migraine like you wouldn’t believe – and nothing soothed it.

Monday, November  24th – After a night of being unable to get comfortable and having less than two hours of sleep, my alarm went off at 5:30 AM for work. When I turned on the light, I noticed I had the beginnings of a red, itchy rash running down both arms – and since I work at a hospital and knew they’d probably send me home for fear it was something contagious, I took two Benadryl, called out sick and tried to go back to bed.

Tired of tossing and turning by 8:30 AM, I got up and made my way downstairs. At 9:00 AM I took my last dose of the Bactrim and fell asleep watching a movie. I woke at 11:00 AM in terrible pain – the Benadryl had worn off, thank goodness it was time for another. While I was sleeping, the rash had spread quickly to my chest, back and legs. It was harder to breathe (not like an asthma attack where you feel like you are trying to breathe air through a clogged straw, more like trying to expand your lungs while a sumo wrestler is standing on them – it took a lot of energy to inhale and exhale shallowly).

It was about this time my dad text me to see how I was feeling. I told him about the difficulty breathing and the red itchy rash spreading. And he responded with what I already knew was coming – “call Papa and see if he can bring you into the ER. Also tell me the name of that medicine you’ve been taking for your feet.”

I relayed the information and made the call. Then I sent my dad this photo:

Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis Disease

And then his instructions changed – “Call the ambulance. Tell them you are having a severe allergic reaction to a medication.” But I already knew this – I don’t remember much from my first go-round with Stevens Johnson Syndrome, but this was how it started and this I remember quite well.

Oddly enough, my sister Megan’s boyfriend, Austin, was the EMT who answered the call. When he walked in the door, I think I scared him – I wasn’t doing well at that point – red, swollen and breathing hard. I watched him take a deep breath and go to work. Papa was here as well helping to keep me calm. When two other EMTs arrived from the next township (need more than one person to transport) we all loaded into the ambulance, Papa following behind, and headed for the Emergency Room at the hospital where both I and my dad work. There was nothing they could really do for me in the ambulance other than give me pure oxygen to help ease my breathing (I wasn’t wheezing, so I didn’t need a breathing treatment) and give me ice packs to put on the rash to help ease the urge to itch. They monitored my blood pressure.

My dad met me in the ER and mom was there not long after. By now it’s 12:30 PM and I am in such intense pain, the rash is still spreading and becoming a deeper red. I am exhausted. In a word, I was miserable. I felt bad for the nurse who had to put in my IV, but luckily she found a spot on the inside of my arm where there weren’t a lot of blisters, and she had this cool black light type tool that helped her to find a good vein on the first try. And then I felt bad for yet another nurse who had to put the sticky EKG pads on my already irritated skin.

Emergency Room

Finally after an IV, blood draw, two bags of saline fluid, a shot of pain reliever and 6 long hours of trying to explain to the ER doctor that this is how my first reaction of Stevens Johnson Syndrome started and that I needed to be seen by a specialist at a burn center, I was discharged and feeling a tiny bit better. My parents and I were then on our way to hospital number two so I could be seen by a burn specialist. At one point during my stay in the ER they were discussing admitting me, but that was vetoed because they didn’t feel there was anything else they could do for me there, so then the discussion switched to which hospital I’d like to be transferred to – the hospital with the burn center was not one of the choices at that time. I’m glad we decided to just drive there ourselves – I was STARVING at this point (I hadn’t eaten since 8:30 AM and we were now pushing 7:00 PM!!), so thankfully we grabbed some food on our way!

It has been 10 years and 2.5 months since my first visit to this burn center. I wasn’t scared or nervous – I knew what the treatment would be if in fact this was Stevens Johnson Syndrome and if it progressed. I just wanted to know what this was and how I could relieve the pain long enough to get a few hours of sleep. There was a nurse waiting for me when we arrived. She led us over to one of the Outpatient Rooms, had me change into my second hospital gown of the day and asked me the same set of embarrassing questions I was asked earlier. I was informed the specialist wanted to see me himself to determine what I had, but he was in a surgery and his resident was attending to a trauma in the ER and she wasn’t sure when either of them would be up.

Outpatient burn center

About 15 minutes later, the resident walks in and while looking at my chart says “hello, my name is Dr. Burn, but you can call me Nick.” The irony of his last name was not lost on my mom or I, we exchanged a suppressed giggled glance. Oddly enough, he could have been EMT Austin’s twin. Then he looked up and I had the privilege of shocking him. Here’s why – this burn center is located within a CHILDREN’S hospital, and seated before him was me – a fully grown, 26-year-old female. THIS WONT BE AWKWARD AT ALL – HE’S MY AGE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! (sarcasm) Dr. Nick checks me over, asks questions, writes some stuff down and let’s us know he’s going to go talk to his supervisor and they’d be back.

Another 10 minutes or so and Dr. Nick and the specialist return. Again I am examined from heat to toe and everywhere in between. Thank goodness the sweet nurse I met at my arrival has been there the whole time – she makes it less awkward. The diagnoses – Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN) Disease – another form of Stevens Johnson Syndrome, but on a lesser scale. Just as before – there is no treatment, no magical cure, it just has to run its course – however long that may be, no one could say for sure as everyone reacts differently. Because I did not have any blisters or open skin wounds, I was fortunate to go home and not be admitted to the burn unit this time around. I was given a medical release slip from work for 10 days as stress could cause my reaction to worsen. I was told to take Benadryl and Tylenol for the pain and if after a few days that didn’t help, I was given a script for another pain reliever. However, this was passed along with a caution – it is not known what introducing a new drug to my system during a reaction would do, it may help, it may cause things to get worse. I made up my mind right there I wasn’t going to be filling that script. My only job for the next two weeks was to drink lots of fluids to help flush the toxins from my body and to rest.

After a few days I was finally able to get some much-needed sleep. The redness faded and the spots began to go away as well. The migraine came and went. The itching and the aching pain in my muscles and joins held on longer. Slowly even the bruise from my IV began to heal.

IV bruise

Everyone thinks having two weeks at home on the couch sounds like a wonderful thing – however, once you begin to start feeling like yourself again, you start to go a little stir crazy wishing you could leave. I am looking forward to going back to work on Tuesday (December 9th) – I miss my normal routine, I miss feeling productive, I miss my work friends and I’m ready to put all of this behind me. And with two weeks off work I know there will be a mountain of projects each demanding my attention that will carry me through the end of December.

Needless to say, this was not the experience I had been dreaming about for my first half marathon. And I honestly feel like that moment was stolen from me due to the rain. At this moment in time I don’t know if I’d sign up to do another half marathon, certainly nothing longer, but then again, I’m dying to run through Magic Kingdom (it’s the only park I haven’t run through yet) and I really don’t want this to be the only half marathon experience I have to reflect back on. So with that being said, I’ve got some time to think about it, to weigh the pros and cons, and probably be convinced by my Disney sister that next time will be better – and IF I decide to run again, I’m looking at you, runDisney Princess Half Marathon 2016.

T minus 30 days….

6 Oct

At this exact time in 30 (short) long days, I will have been in Florida for just about 5 hours! Now, if you’ve been following my blog for sometime now, you’ll know my love of all things Disney, and more recently, my love of all things runDisney and racing. And this trip is extra special, I will be participating in my very first half marathon – Wine and Dine 2014! Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be preparing to run 13.1 miles FOR FUN.

Like all of my previous runDisney races, I’ll be running with my Disney sister, Monique – who got me hooked on this expensive, but thrilling, hobby….

 

This time, we even convinced another Disney sister, Catherine, and her sister, Alison, to join us! I can’t wait for our Disney CP roomie reunion!

Catherine and I on "It's a Small World" - we were celebrating her birthday!

Catherine and I on “It’s a Small World” – we were celebrating her birthday!

I have been training for this race since April, and some days I’ve discovered are harder than others, physically and mentally. I’ve learned a lot about myself – running it turns out helps me process life and problems and issues and just lets me clear my head. Yes, I listen to music as I’m running/walking/crawling (okay, I’m joking, but some days it feels like that’s what I’ll have to do to get back home!), but honestly, 9 times out of 10 I don’t even know what song is playing. I’m much too busy watching for loose stones and rocks and pot holes and cars – I’m a county road runner, we don’t have sidewalks. And I’m an asthmatic, which means a good portion of my brain is focused on breathing and picturing my “happy place” – sandy white beach, soft waves at sunset, when I feel my lungs start to tighten. I’ve taught myself to visualize wide open spaces, my lungs filling with fresh air – it calms me down (when you can’t breathe, it’s VERY stressful) and helps me refocus at the task at hand – placing one foot in front of the other.

When I began my training, a 5K was difficult. The last long distance run I had done was the 2013 Tower of Terror 10 miler in October. Now, I live in the northern part of the U.S. and winters here are harsh, especially this past one, so needless to say, I was back in terrible shape. I was frustrated. I KNEW my body was capable of running a distance of 10 miles, but I could barely go three. I told myself it didn’t matter if I was the last one to cross the finish line, or if I had to crawl across it, one way or another, I was going to prove to myself and every naysayer I’d ever met, that I could do it. I decided then to set a goal – I was going to run my first 13.1 training run on my 26th birthday (September 14th) – I had 5 months of hard work ahead of me.

My mom began walking with me – my little sister encouraged me to keep going – my Disney sisters and I checked in on each other’s progress, but best of all, I downloaded RunKeeper and set it to post to my social media as a way to keep myself accountable. I wanted needed my friends and family to keep me on track, if I didn’t train for a few days, there was someone there to remind me I was slacking, or to encourage me when I felt I’d hit a wall, or experienced runner friends to offer tips and tricks that may help.

All of that hard work was put to the test the morning of my birthday – a Sunday. I had never been more nervous for a run, but the weather was the perfect temp, the sky was clear and not one dog barked or chased me during my run. And guess what, I DID IT! I went farther than I needed to in under the time I was aiming for. I was OVER THE MOON. I had done it. I finished. I survived. I exceeded my own expectations and I loved how comfortable I felt in my own skin for the first time in a very long time. I was proud of what my body had just accomplished.

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Yesterday, I had planned to do another 13.1 training run. It didn’t go according to plan. For one thing, I think we’ve seen the last of our warm days, and the cooler air set in quickly. When I left for my run, it was a balmy 38 degrees Fahrenheit. I was comfortably dressed in a running tank top, over shirt, wind jacket, Under Armor pants and a running skirt. I was even rocking my brand new running shoes – they were a birthday gift from my parents!

running shoes_september 2014

The cooler temps and the strong wind took its toll on my lungs and my knee. I couldn’t finish all 13 miles, I had to stop at 11. I felt defeated. my lungs were on fire, my knee wanted to buckle under me (I’ve had four knee surgeries, any slight change in air pressure causes pain.) and I had some nice blisters forming on my feet. I returned home after 2 hours and 45 minutes. While I am glad I listened to my body when it demanded I stop (there’s no way I’m risking an injury this close to the race), I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to finish – enter my FANTASTIC support system. Someone pointed out I STILL have a month, and that’s I’m miles ahead of many people who will show up in November, another friend pointed out that my pacing was right on track from my birthday training run – had I been able to keep going, I would have finished at roughly the same time, and a third friend pointed out the weather conditions will be just a little more favorable for racing (warm air for my crumby lungs!!) and last but not least, I was reminded of how far I’ve come in such a short time, and that as long as I have fun, why worry!

So I had one bad run, but really, it was a success – I went 11 miles. It was 47 degrees when I returned home. My muscles have relaxed and I’m not in pain. Still worried about those blisters, though.

I am ready for Wine and Dine. I am ready to wear that medal with pride. I am ready to runDisney.

Share Your World – 8/28/14

28 Aug

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Blogging is unique in it lets us connect with so many people around the world and helps us get to know people we may otherwise have never met. While looking for inspiration about what to write tonight, I stumbled across Cee’s Photography and decided to answer the latest questions in her series “Share Your World.” So pull up a chair, make yourself comfy and take a moment to get to know just a little bit more about me! And if you’re feeling up to it, answer the questions so I can get to know you, too! After all, friendship is a two-way street, best traveled together!

  • Do you believe in ghosts?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call them ghosts, spirits, angels, celestial beings – absolutely.  There have been too many times in my life where I’ve heard stories of friends/family feeling the presence or hearing a voice when they were all alone. And what about times when you’ve been running late or in a weird turn of events suddenly decide to change your normal routine only to discover that had you not, you could have ended up in the middle of something terrible. On the flip side of the equation, I do believe there are evil forces at bay as well, trying to convert us to their side, because as we all know, misery loves company.

 

  • Regardless of your physical fitness, coordination or agility:  If you could play any sport professionally what would it be?  Or if you can’t picture yourself playing sports, what is your favorite sport? 

Before my four knee surgeries, I use to play soccer. I began playing at 5 years old all the way to my freshman year of high school. It took some time to discover which position I loved most, but once found, I rocked as a defending sweeper. Near the end of my soccer career, I was even starting to enjoy being the goalie – I loved seeing how far I could drop kick the ball, I felt so powerful! These days, my sport of choice is surprisingly running. I have completed four 5Ks (runDisney Princess 5K 2011, runDisney Expedition Everest 5K Challenge 2013, Color Vibe 5K 2013, Mad Hatter 5K 2013), a 10 mile race (runDisney Tower of Terror 10 miler 2013) and am training for my first half marathon in November (runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon 2014)! The only person I compete with is myself, and I love seeing the progression I’ve made and the physical challenges I’ve over come to get to this point!

 

  • Do you prefer long hair or short hair on yourself? 

This is a no brainer for anyone who knows me – the answer will always be LONG HAIR. I have (what I consider) an oddly shaped face that just can’t pull off short hair – it makes my face look almost perfectly circular and very chubby. Also, you CAN’T DO ANYTHING with short hair – I love braiding and twisting and every now and then curling my hair. In my free time I can often be found watching different hair tutorials on YouTube looking for new and adorable styles to try on my hair!

 

  • If you were on a small island, who would you want to be with, where is it and how big is it? 

How funny, I was just talking about islands with one of my very best friends just the other night. We decided that if you’re going to be on an island, it better be tropical, sunny all the time and the water surrounding it better be crystal clear. As for the person I’d want with me, that would be Scott. It would be nice to be in the same place together for more than 5 days at a time a couple times a year (long distance relationships are the worst in case you were wondering). He’s someone who not only makes me feel safe and loved and beautiful, he’s constantly making me laugh and enjoys adventures and helps me to see the world differently. As for the island itself, it would resemble something like Isle Esme from the Twilight Series – the location they used for the movie was breath-taking, (off the coast of Brazil) it featured sandy white beaches, mountains, open floor plan for the house with huge picture windows, caves, waterfalls – check it out for yourself

Wordless Wednesday – 6/4/14

4 Jun

National Running Day!
20140604-230348-83028916.jpgWould have celebrated with a nice run today, but it’s been pouring all day long…maybe I’ll celebrate belatedly tomorrow afternoon….

The Liebster Award

3 May

I began this blog a few years ago. I figured it would be a great way to record my everyday life and to practice and improve my writing talent. I had no idea it would become a close network of friends I’ve never met before. I look forward to reading everyone’s posts and get excited when someone new visits, likes or comments on one of my posts.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this week I was nominated for The Liebster Award by Greg over at Why I runDisney – thank you so, so much! I feel like I have officially been welcomed into an extended blogging community!
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Now, I don’t know much about The Liebster Award, except what I learned on Greg’s post, but basically it’s a nod to new bloggers and a way to help other’s discover their blogs as well. This award is only on the internet and given to bloggers by other bloggers. The rules are simple:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you
  • You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee
  • You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award
  • You must create 10 questions for your nominees
  • You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees

1. What is your favorite Disney theme park in the world? Why?

My favorite Disney theme park in the whole world by default is Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Not only is it the ONLY Disney theme park I’ve been to (the first time when I was 12 years old), it’s where I worked, played and lived for a year during my Disney College Program. It’s where I met some of my very best friends, now extend members of my family. It’s where I met my boyfriend, Scott. It’s where I truly found me.

2. Are there any Disney theme parks that you would like to visit that you haven’t visited yet? If so, which one(s)?

Someday I would love to visit Disneyland and California Adventure. I would also like to visit one of the international parks, I’m not picky about which one because honestly, if I had an unlimited bank account, I’d love to visit them all!!

3. Since all of you have run in races before, which race was your favorite?

My favorite race was the 2013 runDisney Tower of Terror 10 miler. This was my third runDisney race that I’ve run with my DCP roommate, Monique. It was also the longest distance I have ever pushed myself. I’ve never been so proud of myself before this moment. Crossing that finish line for me was so emotional, so overwhelming, so powerful. Once we crossed the finish line Monique was already talking Wine and Dine Half 2014, which we will be running in November, so my favorite race may change!

runDisney Tower of Terror 10 Miler

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4. If you could choose a theme for a runDisney race, what theme would you choose and why?

Wow, that’s a hard one!! What about a Disney-Pixar themed race?! 🙂

5. What advice would you offer someone who is a beginning runner?

It does not matter if you run the whole time or only for a minute, as long as you run at some point, YOU are a runner. I know it’s hard not to compare yourself to others (trust me on this, I struggle with it daily it seems like), but the only person you should be comparing yourself to is the you from YESTERDAY. When I began my running journey, a seasoned runner told me that I would go through an emotional journey, I would have good days and bad days, days when my lungs and legs would burn, but if I kept pushing, not only physically, but mentally as well, I would reach every running goal I set for myself. I know I’ll never be the fastest, but as long as I finish, that is a win and a major success and accomplishment in my book.

6. What races are on your bucket list?

runDisney Wine and Dine Half 2014

runDisney Princess Half

runDisney Avenger’s Half

7. If you run with music, what are your favorite songs to run with? If you don’t run with music, what is your favorite mantra?

Some of my favorite songs include:

  • Cannonball by Lea Michele
  • Just Like We Dreamed it – Disneyland Resort Paris
  • Waiting for Tomorrow by Mandisa
  • Overcomer by Mandisa
  • Live Like a Warrior by Nick Pitera
  • She’s So Gone by Lemonade Mouth
  • When Can I See You Again (from Wreck it Ralph) by Owl City
  • Not Your Cinderella by Payton Rae
  • Closer, Faster by Against The Current
  • It’s Not Just Make Believe by Kari Kimmel

8. What are your favorite Disney theme park indulgences? This could be favorite food items, favorite shows, favorite attractions, favorite places to go while on a Disney theme park vacation, etc. In other words, what are your favorite things to do at any of the Disney theme parks?

Wow, I’m not sure I can narrow that down, especially since I just returned from the Happiest Place on Earth. Can I say everything?! Okay here goes – at Animal Kingdom: Finding Nemo: The Musical, Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, and when they still had it, the Shrimp Po Boy sandwich at Restaurantosaurus.

Epcot – Spaceship Earth, Test Track, Soarin’, walking around World Showcase, especially during the International Food and Wine Festival in the fall, and watching Illuninations, the best place in my opinion is from the Mexico Pavilion.

Hollywood Studios – Rock N Roller Coaster, The Great Movie Ride, Indiana Jones Stunt Show, a new favorite is the character drawing class in the Animation Building, and Fantasmic.

Magic Kingdom – Meeting Mickey, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, People Mover, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, Festival of Fantasy parade, Wishes, and eating at be Our Guest. Also, if you are lucky enough to got to a Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, DO IT, you won’t be disappointed, I promise!

I also enjoy riding the monorail and watching Wishes from the roof of the Contemporary Resort and from the beach at the Polynesian Resort. If you are ever at Downtown Disney, eat at Earl of Sandwich, get a chocolate milkshake from Ghirardelli and if your looking for something completely different, spend a few hours at Disney Quest.

9. When training for a race (a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, or Ultra), where is your favorite place to run?

There is a state park not far from where I live that has a nice path out over the dam – down and back is just under 3 miles, it’s also a slight incline. I also enjoy running around the roads where I live – hilly country back roads, around the “block” is 3.5 miles.

10. If you could personalize the post race food given to you after a race like a half marathon or full marathon, what would your order?

As I haven’t run a half marathon yet, I’m not sure what they give you. But when I get back from my training runs I always want chocolate milk after my bottle of water.

And now to pass the baton along, I’m tagging:

1. TheDisneyDiva

2. Jessica at  PubRunAholic

3. Katie, Letty and Michelle at The Tipsy Geekette

4. Casey at Life with Roozle

5. Victoria and Kyle at The WDW Blog

6. Ti and Kellz at The 2econd Star

7. Jennifer at Dreams Really Do Come True

8. Sarah at PR and Pixie Dust

9. Adam at Things Goofy

10. Rachel at Rachel Does Disney…Again

Now for the fun part, my questions for the nominees should they choose to accept it!

1. What is your favorite quote/poem/motivational saying?

2. If you could visit any country in the world and stay for as long as you wanted, where would you go and why?

3. What was your favorite Disney movie as a kid? Is it still your favorite?

4. Tell me about a “hidden gem” in your town, something a tourist would never know to look for!

5. What are the 5 most played songs on your iPod/MP3 player/computer?

6. What are you most looking forward to this summer?

7. How many times have you been to the Disney Parks?  7.1 Share a Disney memory!

8. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

9. If you could have any role in a movie, what would it be?

10. What is the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home?

Wordless Wednesday – 3/5/14

5 Mar

Holy smokes! Glad I didn’t wait to sign up!

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