Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hats off to Disney and answers to truth and lies :)

7 miles on Saturday... Done!
14 miles today... Done!

It was a great running weekend. I got all of my miles done outside and did my pace run right at the pace I needed and my long run at just the right pace. Success! :)

I have already written about how much I loved running the Walt Disney World marathon, how impressed I was with the entire weekend and how well organized it all was, and how much I definitely want to do it again in 2012. :)

But I need to give one more shout out to Disney.

The long-sleeved tech shirt we got in our race bags is a really, really nice looking shirt. It's definitely my favorite race shirt ever. When I got home I noticed that it had a small pull/tear in the front of the shirt, and I was really bummed, because like I said... it's my favorite race shirt ever.

So I called "Run Disney" to ask if there was any way to buy a replacement shirt. I got a call back within a couple of hours, and the woman I spoke to said that they would just send me a new one out right away, no charge. And sure enough, a few days later I got a package from Run Disney, with not just a new shirt but a whole new "swag bag". I was way excited to get the shirt and the bag, and if it was possible, I think I love Disney even a little bit more now. :)

There were thousands upon thousands of runners involved in the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend and I really didn't expect to be able to get a new shirt a few weeks after the fact. Thanks Disney! I am forever a fan. :)

Ok, and for those of you who played along, here are the answers to my "Getting to Know You -Truth and Lies". For those of you claiming to be just guessing, I was way surprised how close you were!

Terzah got them all right!!! :)

- I am the grand master champion at Whack a Mole
This is true! I can kick anyone's butt at Whack a Mole. My reflexes are like LIGHTNING. :)

- The thing I hate the most about my body is the horrible varicose veins I have on one leg
This is also, unfortunately, true. My third pregnancy did horrible things to the veins in my leg. They don't hurt (except to look at them) and they don't cause me any problems, so surgery to have them fixed isn't covered by insurance. MAN are they ugly.

- I used to say I was never getting married and never having kids
This is actually true. My parents went through an ugly divorce and it seemed like all of my friends' parents were divorced too. I got to a point where I thought marriages were all doomed to fail, and I didn't want to put kids through that. Then I met Josh and knew we would be forever. :) But yeah, I still get teased about saying I would never get married and never have kids.That my friends, is called IRONY. :)

- I love violent, bloody action movies
This is a LIE. I hate violent, bloody movies and I can't even watch without my fingers over my face. I can't even watch boxing (unless it's during a hockey game). :) I like action movies, but hold the violence and blood please.

- I hate cooking
Yeah, this one is true. I cook... ALL THE DANG TIME... because I have 12 kids to feed. But I hate it, and if I never cooked again, I wouldn't miss it one iota. In fact I would take having a chef over a maid or chauffeur or anything. Josh loves to cook and is excellent at it so when he is actually home, I let him do the honors.

- I am most afraid of car accidents
True. I am petrified of car accidents.

- I don't know how to swim
Lie! I can swim. :) I am no Michael Phelps, but I can get the job done.

- My favorite two foods are bread and potatoes
True! If I could never have chocolate or sweets again I would be fine, but PLEASE don't take my bread and potatoes.

- I like cold weather better than hot weather
So, so, SO, SO true. I hate the heat. I don't handle it well. I struggle to run in it. I don't feel good in it.  I used to pass out in the heat regularly. Heat and I... we just don't get a long.

- I love to ski
Lie! I live in the Rocky Mountains where even the elementary school kids go skiing regularly, and I have only been once when I was 16. I don't dislike it, I just never learned and now I don't want to hurt myself.

-I have never had my ears pierced
True! There is no real reason why, I just never did.

-I can't handle spicy food
Also true. I have the wimpiest tongue ever. And most of my kids LOVE hot sauce and put it on most of what they eat. No thanks!

Thanks to those of you who played along! And if you have any questions to ask, still feel free to leave them. :) 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rest days

Fridays are my "rest days". My training plan has me take off one day a week from running, and unless something major makes me miss a run on a different day in the  week, Friday is my day off. You know what? I HATE rest days. I know the break is good, I know rest is important, I try to tell myself how nice it will be to have a morning off, etc. etc. etc. but my body just doesn't buy it. Inevitably I end up feeling cranky and often even get a little headache on my days off from running. Weird!

I am really trying to embrace my day off today though. I have been fighting a "bug" all week. On Sunday when I finished my nine miles (which I expected to feel pretty easy) I complained to Josh that it had felt really hard. A couple of hours later I took my temperature and it was 101. Well... that explains why the running was hard! I haven't had a fever for a few days now and just have a bit of a cold (I really do feel almost better), but I am definitely tired. This morning for this first time in... EVER... I slept through my alarm. It's a good thing Shane (11 years old) is on the ball because the kids very well may have missed the bus if it wasn't for Shane waking up on time (and getting up the rest of us).

So today I am embracing my day off from running, and having a rest day as much as possible. My new Runner's World magazine came so I am looking forward to laying down in the front room and reading it while the kids play and lay around with me this afternoon. Tonight we'll have a movie night (Secretariat!) and an early bed time for all of us hopefully. Tomorrow I have a 7 mile run and then I have 14 to do on Sunday.

How about you? Do you love your rest days or hate them?

Also, anyone else get the email from ING NYC Marathon offering you a refund for the $11 you paid to be in the lottery because the chances are so miniscule that you will actually get in through the lottery this year??? I am leaving my $11 in and keeping my fingers crossed. If anything else I am one year closer to guaranteed entry if I don't make it this year (your fourth year of applying you are guaranteed if you don't get in for the three years prior).

Happy weekend everybody! Oh, and if you haven't left a question yet on my Getting to Know You post please feel free to still do so. Thanks for those that played along with my game and guessed at the truths and lies. I will post the answers in a day or two.  Now I am off to rest...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting to know you....

Calling all questions! Those of you that are "here" at the running blog because you've been reading my adoption/family blog for a long time or because you know me in real life may not have too many questions, but there are a lot of readers that are "new" from the running blog communities, so I thought it would be fun to do a "getting to know you post".

First, feel free to leave a comment with any questions you may have and I will answer them in upcoming posts really soon. Anything is fair game... running, training, racing, my weight loss, eating, kids, family life... whatever! Ask away. :)

Second, here is a little "getting to know you game". I am putting down 12 things about me. Nine are true, three are lies. I am trying not to make it too easy so hopefully those of you that do know me well won't get it right off. Leave a comment with your guesses!

- I am the grand master champion at Whack a Mole
- The thing I hate the most about my body is the horrible varicose veins I have on one leg
- I used to say I was never getting married and never having kids
- I love violent, bloody action movies
- I hate cooking
- I am most afraid of car accidents
- I don't know how to swim
- My favorite two foods are bread and potatoes
- I like cold weather better than hot weather
- I love to ski
-I have never had my ears pierced
-I can't handle spicy food

Here is a pic of me with my youngest, Noah. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The crazy look


Have you ever said something to someone that instantly produced a look on their face that said, “Clearly I did not hear your right or clearly you are sick in the head”… a look that said they would not feel more shock and surprise if you were to sprout a second head or strip naked in the middle of the grocery store? (If you haven’t had that happen, try telling people you have 12 kids. I get that kind of look more often than not). :)

I got that look the other day for a different reason though. I was sitting in the auditorium at our high school waiting for Des’s orchestra concert to start, and chatting with a couple we know fairly well. They asked about the marathons I had run recently (I had done Disney just a few days before) and asked if I had plans to run more marathons. I said, “Yes, I definitely want to run more soon. I love it.”

(Insert aforementioned look of shock, surprise and disbelief here). 

Then the guy said, “You LOVE it? You LOVE running marathons?” in a tone that would be appropriate if I had just confessed to loving to eat rocks or swim with electric eels.  They clearly thought I was nuts.

Here is the thing… when I decided to train for and run my first marathon, it was not something I planned on making a habit of. It was something I wanted to try, to accomplish, to be able to say I had “done”.  I knew I could do it, although I definitely did not expect to like it. I thought it would be a one-time thing, or at least something I would only attempt again that proverbial “someday”.

I have liked racing since my first race, but I definitely thought any races in my future would be shorter distance road races. In fact, I remember finishing my first half marathon and feeling quite sure that there was no way I would ever be able to turn around after running 13.1 miles and run the same distance over again without a shower, nap and meal or two first.

A runner friend of mine told me last summer that I should do a marathon. I laughed. He said he knew I could. I protested. I mentioned it to Jenny and she said, “Of course we could”. I mentioned it to Josh and he said, “Of course you could”. I thought to myself, “Fine. I will.”

At first my goal was just to finish. Then I wanted to finish “respectfully”. Then I wanted to be under five hours. Then I read that Oprah had finished a marathon in 4:29 and I decided I wanted to do better than Oprah (I don’t claim to always be mature about these things). People told me I should just focus on fun and finishing for my first marathon. I tried to explain that I am not wired that way and that I had to care about the time.  I didn’t want to just do it. I wanted to do it well. I know I am not super-fast and I wasn’t unrealistic, but I knew I could run a race that I could be proud of if I put the work in.

I enjoyed the marathon training more than I expected. I read about it being a huge commitment and burden on time, energy, etc. and I didn’t feel that way. I didn’t feel run down or worn out. I felt great! I liked having a plan to follow. I enjoyed the long runs. I liked the sense of accomplishment and the challenges set out before me week to week.  

In the days leading up to my first marathon, I was acutely aware of how hard it would be. Everything I read talked about hitting the wall and how horrible the last six miles of the 26.2 are. I read race reports full of suffering and struggle. 

When my first marathon was done I was pleasantly surprised how much I had enjoyed it. It was not easy for sure, but I would not say that I suffered or struggled. I never had to walk. I never hit the wall. I never wanted to quit. I was proud of my time. I felt great afterwards.  I was exhausted for sure, but nothing hurt, and I loved the feeling that I had pushed myself so far and accomplished something so difficult. I loved the realization that my body could do it, and that I was strong. Before I had taken off my Brooks and gotten back to the hotel room I was talking about “the next one”.  

And when I did “the next one” just a few weeks later, I enjoyed it even more. I wasn’t as nervous. I had a plan. I knew in general what to expect (although I know every marathon is its own journey and know that I very well may suffer and struggle in future ‘thons).  I was more excited than nervous and I was more confident in my abilities. I still wanted to do well. I felt even better afterwards than I had after the first. And again, right away, I was thinking about when I could do it again.

The truth is, I do love running marathons. I love the challenge of 26.2 miles. I love the atmosphere of race day. I love the comraderie between marathoners. I love the feeling of crossing that finish line and having done something so few people ever will. I love the training, the planning, the preparation, the challenge, the anticipation and the adrenaline. I love the marathon.  It’s my favorite distance to race. I want to do it again and again. I want to better my time, I want to finish more races, and I want more medals for my wall. (Come on...it may sound a little shallow... but the bling is fun!!)

I am glad I didn’t let myself believe I couldn’t do it. I am glad I didn’t listen to the voices that said a 33 year old mom of 12 who hadn't even been running for two years wouldn't find the time to train and probably wouldn't finish. I am glad I ignored the thoughts that I was too "average" to try something like that, and that it was too scary or would be too hard. I am glad I didn't let myself make excuses.  I am glad I took the challenge that first time. Much like when I first started running, I took a chance at trying something new and difficult, put in a lot of work, and found something I love to do. 

So go ahead… give me the “the look”. Call me crazy. I can take it (and truth be told I am sort of used to it). But it’s true. I love running marathons. And as long as my body feels good and I can get my training done without taking away from the most important things in my life, I am going to keep running marathons. 

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?"-- Robert Schuller

Alias!

Shana and Colleen got it! My treadmill show right now is "Alias". I am almost through Season 4 and am sad there is only one season left. If you haven't watched this show it is really awesome. Jennifer Garner rocks. It is great for a treadmill distraction too because there is great music, lots of action and lots of girls kicking butt. :) Josh didn't think anyone would get it from the pictures in my post, but I knew that any Alias fans out there would recognize Sloane's face!!

Chuck is our favorite current show right now (seriously, my whole family LOVES Chuck), but it is still on the air and one of my clues was that it was a show that was no longer on. Sorry A!!

I have never watched LOST. We tried to watch it a few times when it was still on the air and having missed the first season or two "I" was completely lost.

And 24 is another one of our absolute favorites and we have most of the seasons on DVD. I may have to tune into some Jack Bauer when I run out of Alias to watch.

Thanks for guessing! :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Me on the 'mill

After a request, here are a couple of pics of me on the new treadmill. Josh came down and snapped these while I did my four mile tempo run this morning (and can I say, tempo runs are my favorite right now).

Take note of:
- my VERY red face. I can run a marathon and not get tomato face, but anything over a mile inside and I look like a lobster. I look like this instantly if it is above 60 degrees outside when I run too. And I have never had even an inkling of tan in my life. Ever.

- the wild hair. Since I got it cut in late December it doesn't quite all make it into a pony tail and headbands only "sort of" control the crazies.

- my redneck solution for watching TV while I run on the new 'mill. My old treadmill had a book stand on it that my laptop slipped right into. It was super convenient for watching DVDs while I ran (although I did have to use ear phones). The new treadmill doesn't have anything to hold the laptop (and it is REALLY tall). I asked Josh to come up with a solution, temporary or permanent, that would let me watch the laptop on my long treadmill runs and he was zero help. In a moment of self-proclaimed brilliance, I trudged through the snow out to the garage and dragged in the ladder. Ta da! It is the perfect height, and I can even plug the laptop into the treadmill and here my shows right over the treadmill sound system. PRETTY COOL. Josh came in and looked at the ladder and said, "You know that has like, paint and bird poop on it right?" and I said, "Yeah, but isn't it the perfect temporary solution? Aren't I brilliant?" and he laughed and said, "YOU, who can't stand dirt or mess is ok with a dirty ladder in the play room?" So I shot him a look and told him to get to building a shelf. Until then, the dirty ladder stays.

- Anyone out there able to tell what show I am watching? Take a guess and I will let you know who gets it right (if anyone!)  Three clues... best show ever, no longer on TV, not reality TV. Anyone recognize it???





Oh, and for those that asked, the treadmill I bought (on accident) :) is the Nordicktrack T9 CI. It is a model that is a couple of years old, but the features and great, the price was right and so far we have no complaints.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How I accidentally bought a treadmill

Ok, as promised, here is the tale of how I "accidentally" purchased a treadmill. My friends (and Josh's) are having great fun teasing me about it, so I might as well just throw it out there.

So, our (former) treadmill is old and has been run into the ground. For the last few months it has gotten more and more jerky and less reliable. It got bad enough that Josh wouldn't run on it at all, and I found myself all tense on it, afraid it was going to throw me off. If I set the speed at 6.8 it would jump from 5.4 to 7.9 and all over the place really randomly. It used to do it for just the first quarter mile and then it would settle in, but it was doing it throughout the whole run the last few weeks.

We knew we needed a new treadmill. With our weather (icy icy roads) and Josh's schedule some days the treadmill is the only way I can get my runs in, even though I would much much prefer to be outside. I was hoping that the old one would make it until we got our tax return, but it became apparent that it wasn't going to

Two weeks ago after a terrible run on the old treadmill I came upstairs all frustrated and decided to look and see if anywhere was selling treadmills with financing available. We couldn't afford to buy one right now, but if we could finance just for a couple of months we could pay it off with our tax return.

I had gotten an email from Ragnar offering 10% off any Nordictrack treadmill, so I started there. Nordicktrack was offering free shipping (which took off $125) and some excellent sale prices for their "it's January and the whole world is resolving to get into shape this month" sale, especially on the models that aren't new this year. I looked on Sears and some other sites but nowhere had as good of a deal as I could find on Nordictrack.com, especially with the free shipping and the extra 10% off with the Ragnar code.

Nordictrack offered the Bill Me Later option (no payments no interest for six months) which sounded perfect. I wasn't sure if we would be approved or if there would be a catch though since I had never used anything like that. The only way to find out was to put the treadmill in my online "shopping cart" and move forward as if I was ordering.

My plan was to see if we would be approved, make sure there wasn't any fine print I didn't like,  find out what the total cost would be and then if it all looked good, call Josh and see what he thought.

I got to the "how do you want to pay for this order" part on the checkout screen and chose the Bill Me Later.  Bill Me Later popped up and I read all the details and for this situation it seemed like a good option for us. It asked for my name, birth date and last four digits of my social security #. I clicked "next", expecting more questions (annual income? phone number?), a notification of how much we were approved for, a confirm/review your order screen or SOMETHING, but what did I get??

"Thank you for your order. Your treadmill should arrive in 5-7 business days."

oops.

Seriously! You can't even buy a book on Amazon without a "Please review and confirm your order". But for a treadmill? Not necessary!

So I called Josh and said, "Ummm, honey? I just accidentally bought a treadmill". (insert laughing and mocking on his part here). Obviously I could have called and canceled it, but Josh agreed it was something we both really wanted and that we'd pay it off in just a month or two. It did come just a few days later and Josh got it all set up. We have both been running on it for over a week and it is SO nice to have a reliable treadmill to run on. SUCH a difference. It rocks. :)

But of course Josh has had fun telling his friends about how his wife "accidentally" bought a treadmill. Funny funny funny. It doesn't really matter how I try to explain either... I get "uh huh....surrrrrrrrrrre.... Riiiiiiiiight. It was an ACCIDENT... of COURSE it was..." 

So, whatever. I accidentally bought a treadmill.

 I really do honestly much, much, much prefer to run outside and I don't let darkness, rain, cold, wild animals or much else stop me from getting out to run, but this time of year when the roads are just coated in thick ice more often than not it is impossible (or at least not smart) to run outdoors a lot of days. And I have to say that I do really like the treadmill for my interval runs, as we don't live very close to a track and it is covered in snow at least half of the year anyhow. So I have a love-hate relationship with the treadmill. I would much rather be outside so I hate being stuck on it, but when it is the only way I have to get a run in, I am super grateful for it and I love it.

Training for my next marathon (April 16), this new treadmill ensures that I will be able to get my long runs in no matter what Mother Nature throws at me over the next couple of months, although I am sure hoping to get the longest training runs done OUTSIDE.

How about you other runners? Do you run on a treadmill?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Strength and Intervals

I have added a couple of "tools" to my weekly workouts. For one, I have added some strength training twice a week. It is nothing major... some lunges, squats, planks, pushups, etc. I have 10 exercises I am doing just to try and keep my body strong all the way around and well balanced. I keep reading and hearing how important it is for runners to do some strength training and that it helps avoid injuries, so I am giving it a go. :)

I also decided that for this marathon I wanted to add in some speed work to my training. Last time I followed my Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 training plan to the LETTER, but I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about pace. I just got the miles done. This time I want to improve on my times from my marathons in December and January, so I am paying attention to pace. I am still using Hal's Intermediate 1 training schedule, and then I used the awesome McMillan running calculator to determine the paces I should be running for my long runs, temp runs, intervals, recovery runs, etc. Hopefully doing this will help me get faster. :)

Today I did my first run with intervals. I ran a mile to warm up, then did 800M (half mile) repeats at a 7:30 pace, with a quarter mile jog in between repeats. I did five intervals and then a half mile to cool off, running five miles total. IT KICKED MY BUTT in a really good way. It was awesome.The five miles seemed to go by really fast too (even on the treadmill), I think because I was focusing on small pieces of the run at a time.

Tomorrow I have a six-mile run at marathon goal pace and then Sunday I have a "long" run of 9 miles. Nine sounds super easy after all the double-digit runs lately. :)

More soon, including an entertaining tale of how I accidentally bought a treadmill (and am not sorry in the least bit). :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to my running blog! I decided to keep my family blog dedicated to the kids, family life, adoption, etc. and to make this blog just to talk about running. It will be nice for me to have a place to just keep track of my running "stuff", and the people that are interested can follow along and those that aren't don't have to. :)

I copied all of the running related posts from the other blog and posted them below, and I also added two posts with pictures and video clips from the Disney Marathon.

More soon!

Disney Marathon video clips

Here are two quick video clips from the Disney Marathon.

This first one is me coming out of Cinderella's Castle. I come around the corner at the top on the inside at about 14 seconds into the video clip. I had no idea there was a camera or I would have smiled or something! :)
And here is the finish line clip. I come from the top, left hand side of the screen just as the video clip starts, then cut into the middle, cross the finish line and wave my arms like a nut. :)

Disney Marathon pics

Starting line! Over 17,000 runners. I was in Corral C
After running through Cinderella's Castle!
Somewhere near Animal Park
Not sure where this was!
We ran right past the Expedition Everest Roller Coaster at Animal Park. Love that ride!
I think this was leaving Animal Park but I could be wrong!

Near the end, either at Hollywood Studios or Epcot
Just crossed finish line! Woo hoo!!


January 12, 2011 - Disney Marathon Recap

I am home safe and sound, and so happy to be back with Josh and the kids. They all did great here at home, as I knew they would. Josh is the greatest. :)
The Walt Disney World Marathon was a blast. Seriously... it was SO much fun. Disney does everything so well, and this was no exception. There were so many little details and extras that just made the whole experience amazing. This is a race I would LOVE to do again (and again, and again). :)
I won't bore you with too long of a detailed race report again, but here are some highlights of the trip, the race, etc.
- My stats!! I finished #3,499th out of 13,522 total Finishers (all runners who finished), top 25% (That means that they had about 4,000 runners NOT finish or not show up, as they said they had over 17,500 runners registered for the full marathon) I can tell Amanda I beat a lot of boys! :)

I finished 971st out of all 6,267 Female finishers, top 15%. I am pretty proud of that one!
And I finished 192nd out of 1,086 n my division, Female finishers 30-34 years old, top 17%. Woo hoo! I am pretty proud. :)
- The trip to Florida was a bit crazy. On the way down I took a shuttle bus to Salt Lake and I had a really really eccentric driver (he was chewing tobacco the whole way and had a full manicure. Yeah....) Then I had to hang out in the airport for five hours. Then I got on the plane and was seated next to a four year old who was traveling alone. He reaked of cigarrettes and his mother put him on the plane with nothing in his little backpack but four blowpops and a small bag of potato chips. Then the stewardesses ingored him the entire flight. Seriously??? I fed him my banana, my apple and half a sandwhich, bought him a movie and tried to entertain him. So much for resting!  Then it was a 45 minute bus ride to the hotel (Disney's Caribbean Beach) and I was finally with my Dad and Pam at about 11:45pm on Friday night.
- On Saturday I got up early and went for a short two-mile run around a boardwalk at the hotel. It was LOVELY. It was so great to be running outside in shorts and sunshine. Then we went to the expo to pick up my number, goody bag, shirt, etc.  The expo was very well organzied (much less chaotic than Vegas). Then we had lunch, relaxed in the afternoon and went out to eat at Downtown Disney for dinner (we ate at Wolfgang Puck's). I stuck to plain old pasta, red sauce and bread. It was a lovely day, and one of the highlights of the trip was getting so much time with my Dad and Pam.
- Race morning started EARLY. I had to be up by 2am Florida time (which is midnight Wyoming time!) and be out the door by 2:45am. I caught a bus to the starting area, and then got to hang out in the "retreat tent" which thankfully was heated. It also had it's own bathrooms, a padded stretching area, food and drink, private bag check, and Disney characters to take pictures with. It was very nice! It was about a 20 minute walk to the starting line. I was in Corral C and got in there just about 10 minutes before the start. It was COLD (even for this Wyoming girl) so I was glad to not have to stand around for too long. The starting line had inspirational people talking, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald, the National Anthem, and fireworks. Very fun!
- The first few miles were tough because it was very congested and it was impossible to run at the pace I wanted to. I planned on starting slow and easy, but this was MUCH slower and easier than I wanted. There were so many runners though (and it was dark) that there was just no picking up the pace until things started to spread out at bit (around mile 5). I was trying not to get frustrated that I was moving so much slower than I wanted.
- It was FUN. The whole course was amazing. I can't imagine a more fun course or atmosphere. There was fireworks, bands, Disney characters, music, and all sorts of entertainment. Running through the parks was just super cool. It was emotional for me at times running past rides we took the kids on when we were there on the Make A Wish trips, and also seeing their favorite characters and hearing the music to their favorite movies and rides. I have a lot of good memories from being at Disney World with my family. It was also cool getting to see parts of the park you normally don't. We ran through a lot of service and staff entrances which was neat.
- We started in the parking lot at Epcot, ran into Epcot and back out, into Magic Kingdom (through  Cinderella's castle!) and back out, into Animal Park and back out, into Hollywood Studios and out and then back into Epcot for the finish line. It was as cool as it sounds. Even on the stretches when we were inbetween parks there was entertainment, fun signs to read to keep your mind busy and lots of fun.
- There was every Disney character you could imagine! Lots of people stopped to take pics along the way, but I just kept running. My favorite to see were Buzz, Woody and Bullseye, Princess Tiana (Belane's favorite),  Mickey (of course) and Captain Jack Sparrow. :) On the way out of Magic Kingdom they had a huge pirate ship set up with the music from Pirates of the Caribbean blasting, and Captain Jack and a bunch of other pirates hanging out to take pictures. It was a fun moment and as I ran by I yelled "Jack!" He looked up and gave me a wave and a shout out, "Hey Love!"which was really cool.
- Dad and Pam saw me at the start line, at mile 4 (coming out of Epcot), twice in the Magic Kingdom, and then at the finish line. It was awesome to see them! They were the best spectators ever and such troopers getting up so early and waiting in such COLD weather.
- I felt great and everything went perfectly except my stomach gave me a bit of grief. The race started at 5:30am Florida time,which is 3:30am Wyoming time. Sorry if it is TMI, but lets just say that things weren't "moving" that early. I ended up having to stop at mile 6, 9 and 16 to use portapotties and then my stomach finally settled and was fine. The three stops cost me 10 minutes in time.
- My legs, feet, breathing and everything else felt great. I didn't get the side aches like I did last time and my legs were a lot less crampy and sore. I felt really strong the whole way and was able to pick up the pace continually through the second half of the race, which felt great. I finished the final stretch to the finish line at a 6:06 min/mile pace, and I love being able to finish strong.
- I went past a blind runner and his guide and it was VERY inspirational and emotional. I told the runner that I had a son who was vision impaired and that he was very inspiring and he thanked me. I definitely had tears in that moment.
- A man from Brazil ran with me for about a mile and was very fun! He had limited English and a thick accent but he was SO enjoying himself that he made a fun companion for awhile. :)
- There were lots of costumes! Lots of Tinker Bells, lots of Micky and Minnies, Lots of Goofy's, a really cool Aladin, several Peter Pan's and Alice in Wonderland's and lots of princesses, and lots of other fun stuff. The craziest I saw was the mostly naked Gladiator... yeah, he had on a tiny little Speedo and a helmet and was running with a big sword.There were runners from every state and I believe 18 different countries.
- I ran without my IPOD and never missed it. I really enjoyed hearing the other runners talking and not missing anything.
- The aid stations were plentiful and I can't say enough about the volunteers and Disney park staff. The support was OVER the top and so much fun. The crowds were awesome too.We were treated like superstars before, during and after the race. (Seriously, we got so much attention wearing the medal after the race. I have never been told "congratulations" so many times in my life!)
- I finished in 4:20:18, which I am very happy with. I ran the first half in 2:12:21 and the second half in 2:07:57 (negative splits, yes!)With the 10 minutes lost at the potty breaks and the forced slower pace over the first five miles, I did the best I could with the conditions I had. I felt great, I enjoyed it very very much, I ran the entire 26.2 miles without walking, I got faster as the race went on,  and I finished really strong. I finished with no aches or pains and only very minimal stiffness and soreness. I feel better this time than I did after Vegas, and I did not feel badly after Vegas at all. (I did three easy miles this morning and they felt great).
- When I was done I got my bag out of the tent, put on a hoodie, changed my shoes, grabbed a plate of fruit and went out to meet Dad and Pam. I took pictures with a couple of Disney characters and then we got on one of the marathon buses and went back to the hotel for showers and rest.
-  That afternoon we went to Disney Hollywood Studios, which is my favorite park and was the only one Pam hadn't been to. We rode a few rides (even got Pam on Tower of Terror!!), watched a couple of shows and had a really nice night. We enjoyed a dinner at a really nice Irish restaurant in Downtown Disney (where I was almost falling asleep at the table) and then went back to the hotel to SLEEP. :)
- On Monday we had a nice easy morning, got packed up, and then went over to Downtown Disney again for lunch. We left Disney for the airport around 3:30pm and I got on my flight at 5:40pm uneventfully. Dad and Pam's flight left a little later than mine. I got into Salt Lake City around 9pm and Josh and Noah picked me up. We were finally home sweet home around 1am on Tuesday morning.
- Again, it was an incredible experience. I loved being at Disney World, I loved running the marathon, I loved getting so much time to spend with my Dad and Pam, I felt great, and I enjoyed all of it. Thank you again to my "Santa", and to Dad and Pam, and to Josh for making this wonderful weekend possible.
- For those who have asked about what is next, I signed up to run the Salt Lake City Marathon in April. :) It is over three months away still so I have plenty of time to recover and get ready again, it is two months before Ragnar which is good timing, and it is plenty of time away from the two fall marathons I am considering. I figure since I love doing these races, it only makes sense to take advantage of the ones that are close to home and don't require traveling. And, this race is just a week before my two-year "running anniversary", which is a fun way to celebrate.  Mostly I just really like having a race to train for. I enjoy the  training, the racing, and all that goes with it, and I've been able to train without impacting my time with my kids or family. My body feels great and I enjoy the challenge. The SLC marathon will be much smaller and will have much less fanfare than the other two, but that is ok and I will enjoy the smaller field and the calmer atmosphere. :)
Ok, pictures! They had professional photographers taking TONS of pictures and video during the race. When I get those I will share. :) These are all from Pam, who did a great job. I told her she was hired as my racing photographer! There are a lot of pictures of me which I am not used to posting...
Here is my Dad and I on our way to the expo. I haven't gotten a good picture of us together in a long time so this is great to have (and there are a few others that Pam took as well!)
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Pam and I! :) I didn't have any pictures of just the two of us either, so I love having these.
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At the expo getting goody bag and super cool race shirt.
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Leaving the room at 2:50am, on my way to catch the marathon bus to Epcot.
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A picture that Pam took at the starting area (I am not in it, I don't think...) :)
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Sunrise at Disney! Isn't the yellow color pretty?
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Dad and Pam, bundled up and waiting for me in the Magic Kingdom. They are the greatest!
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This is me coming into the finish line. I love that neither foot is on the ground in this pic. :)
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Almost, almost done! The final stretch into the finish line was just beyond this. I should get actual finish line photos from the race photographers in the next few days. Can't wait to see them!
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My Dad and I at the end!
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Gotta love Pluto! I got some other character pics too.
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This was later that day at Hollywood Studios. In that room behind me  is where Solomon's Make A Wish came true in March 2009 and he got to meet Buzz and hang out with him for awhile. SUCH special memories.
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Saying good bye at the airport. :(
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Thanks to everybody who sent "good luck" messages before the race and "congrats" messages after. They were so much fun to get and the love and support means A LOT. More soon!

January 9, 2011 - Yay Mickey!

I did it! I finished marathon #2 in Walt Disney World today. It was WONDERFUL! I finished with a time of 4:20:18, which is 4 minutes and 28 seconds slower than the marathon in Vegas. However, I lost 10 minutes online at the portapotties during the race and the course was very crowded and congested at times, so I am very happy with my time.
It was such a blast... the characters, the crowds, the other runners, the entertainment, the atmosphere... all of it! It was an incredible experience.  I didn't bring my IPOD and I didn't miss it for a minute.
Dad and Pam were just amazing. They got up before 3am, left the room at 3:15am and were out in the cold all mornig (and it was REALLY cold...perfect for me once we got running, rough on the spectators for the first couple of hours). They saw me at the start, at mile 4, at mile 10 just before I ran through Cinderella's castle and then at the finish line. Pam got some great pictures and Dad even gave me a high five at one point. It was awesome.
I actually feel better than I ever did last time. No blisters, less stiff... I feel great!
26.2 miles is not an easy thing to accomplish, but I really did enjoy the journey and am so grateful for the opportunity. There are definitely more marathons in my future. :)
More details and pics coming once I am home. Can't wait to be back with Josh and the kids. The Happiest Place on Earth just isn't the same without my family. More soon!

January 4, 2011 - Watch out Mickey!

Walt Disney World Marathon, here I come!
Marathon number two is now less than five days away. I am really, really excited. I did my last "long run" of eight miles outside on Sunday morning, when the temperature was somewhere around -5 F. I felt pretty hard core! It was cold, but it was SO much better than the treadmill. :)
I was able to stick to the training over the holidays AND even better, I was able to not gain a pound. In fact, I actually lost five pounds during December and have leveled off the past few weeks at 141-142 lbs which is the lowest I have been this side of high school for sure. And knock on wood, everything feels great... no aches, pains or injuries.
I ran 151.2 miles in December. I wish I had kept track for the whole year, but I didn't start keeping track of my monthly miles until June. From June-December 2010 I ran 1081.2 miles. Pretty awesome! I know that I ran at least 650 more miles in the first five months of the year, I just don't know exactly how much more. I decided my goal for 2011 is to run at least 1800 miles.
For now, I am focused on marathon #2. SO excited!!! I am a lot less nervous than last time too. Last time I knew I could do it, but this time I really KNOW I can do it. I know what my body is capable of. Also, all of the little decisions that I was making myself crazy with last time (what to eat before, what to wear, IPOD or no IPOD, what pace to shoot for, and on and on and on) I am not stressing this time. My plan worked super last time, so I am going to go with it again with only minor tweaking. I realize that this will be a different race and who knows if everything will go as well this time, but I am prepared mentally and physically and am ready to go! :)
Ok, well, the part about leaving Noah I am not 100% emotinoally ready for, but I know he will be better than fine with Daddy and his brothers and sisters and I know it will be MUCH easier for him to stay home. I am also really going to miss having Josh with me. I hate being away from him any time, and he was such a HUGE support to me when I ran the Vegas marathon last month. I will miss him for sure.
That said, Josh is going to be gone on 2-3 day trips on five out of the next eight weekends once I get back (for coaching), so this little mom-only getaway probably couldn't come at a better time.
My goals for this trip and this marathon are:
- To have fun! I love Disney. I love Disney World and Disneyland and Disney movies and all of it. :) I have said since I very first started running that if I ever did a marathon (which I really doubted until about six months ago) that I wanted to do the Disney World one. This is really a dream come true, and I am going to enjoy it. I am leaning towards running without the IPOD this time and just enjoying everything along the way. I am also going to do my best to not stress about the kids at home or feel bad about going, because I know they are in great hands with their Dad and that they will have a good weekend.
- To soak up the special time with my Dad and Pam. I don't get to see them near enough, and I never get to see them on my own, so this is going to be pretty wonderful.
- To run the whole race again.
- To be faster than Vegas, even if just by a little bit. I finished my marathon last month in 4:15:50. I haven't had time to train to be faster, although I do think I can pace myself a little better and finish at least a little bit faster. I am hoping anyway! No matter what I will give it my all.
- To enjoy it! (Yup, worth saying twice). I do love running and I love racing and the whole atmosphere. I will be grateful the entire weekend for this opportunity.
I will bring the laptop and post about how it went as soon as I can. You'll probably hear from me again before I leave too. :)

December 17, 2010 - Thank you Santa!!!

Santa brought my gift early this year.
  Thanks to the unbelievable kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness of a "stranger", the never-ending love, generosity and support from my parents, and the overwhelming, perfect  love and support from my husband, I am getting to run in the Walt Disney World Marathon in  just over three weeks!!
I still can't even believe it is really happening, and I have been really teary-eyed about it the last couple of days. I couldn't even blog about it, because I just had to let it all sink in for a couple of days.
Here is what happened...
An incredibly kind and thoughtful person that reads this blog but has never met us in person contacted Josh on Tuesday and told him that she knew that running the Disney Marathon was a dream of mine, and that her and her husband had Disney Vacation Club points that they wanted to give to us so that I could stay for free at Disney over the marathon long weekend, so I could run in the race.
When Josh and I were deciding on a marathon to do together I really, really, REALLY wanted to do the Disney one, but it was just too expensive for the travel, airfare, etc. I have loved all things Disney for as long as I can remember and when I first started thinking about running a marathon I said lots of times, "If I ever run a marathon, I want it to be Disney!" ButVegas was closer to home, cheaper travel and accomodations,  and just seemed more realistic (and also seemed like it would be a great race, which it was).
Josh forwarded me the email that he had gotten and basically said that he didn't know if we could make it work, but that something incredible and generous was being offered and that he would feel awful if he didn't let me know about it. He came home for lunch and we talked about it. My first thoughts were that as much as I wanted to, there was no way. We couldn't afford another plane ticket, it is hard for me to leave for any period of time, Josh had to stay because he would be coaching track by then, etc. etc. etc.
I asked Josh what he thought and he said, "There is really just one phone call you need to make. Call Pam."
So I forwarded the email on to my Dad and Pam, and let them know that I had no expectations and knew it probably wasn't practical, and that I knew I could do it another year, but that Josh thought it was too generous of an offer to just turn down without looking into it.
Just like my Dad and Pam, within a couple of hours, they were on the phone saying, "Let's go!"
I talked to Josh one more time to make sure he was truly ok with it. His love and support and encouragement are so bottomless and unconditional that I really can't even put into words how much I love him.
I called Dad and Pam back and asked if they thought if it was selfish of me to go... to use someone's vacation club points, to have Dad and Pam buy me a plane ticket, to be away from the family for a long weekend... I worry a great deal about doing anything selfish and don't feel comfortable putting myself above Josh and the kids. They agreed with Josh that it was a great opportunity and thought I should do it.
So, I am leaving on Friday, January 7, running on the 9th and home on the 10th. Dad and Pam are going to meet me in Florida and be there to cheer me on again. Josh is going to stay home with the kids. I am still waffling on whether or not to take Noah... it will be a long flight (five hours both ways, plus the three hour drive), we are sharing one hotel room, there are no strollers allowed at the expo we have to go to on Saturday, and I have to get up at 2am and be out the door by 3am on Sunday morning, which with the time change is midnight for Noah and I. If we can find someone that is willing to hang out with him on Monday morning so Josh can get a few hours in at work, I am thinking leaving him home would be much, much easier on him. But if I have to bring him we will be fine. :)
I SO wish I could bring all of the kids, but even if the expense wasn't a huge obstacle, the parks are going to be insanely crowded (over 50,000 runners are competing in events at Disney World that weekend) so it wouldn't be a smart week to take our family anyway. I do really wish that Josh could be there with me, but he wouldn't be able to run (the shorter races are sold out and he isn't trained to run a marathon), he has to coach, and we didn't want to leave the kids again. I am so grateful he is so supportive and willing to let me go.
So yeah... after it was all worked out and it has "settled in" a little... I am CRAZY excited. This is one of the best gifts I have ever been given.
Seriously??? I am getting to run the Disney World marathon!!!! (And I am getting to see my Dad and Pam twice in two months!)
I am going to do a long run this weekend (20 miles) and then follow the three week taper again until the race. My body feels good and I know I am ready to do this again.
I found out that the marathon sold out this morning, so we just, just made it. I can't believe it all came together so quickly and smoothly.
I am just so touched that someone I have never met would have thought of me in this way, and by the love and support of my parents and Josh. I am so very blessed (and grateful).
Merry Christmas! :)
I promise this is the last marathon-related post for a while now! :)
Here is the video footage of the finish line. So cool!
If you click on the little four arrows pointing out on the bottom right hand corner of the little video screen below it will make the video larger and a lot easier to see.
They show it from two different angles, so wait after the first is done. We are on the left side of the screen, and you can see us coming up almost right away with me in black and Josh in orange. We come in shortly after the guy with no shirt. The little congrats they put  at the end of the clip is nice too. Pretty cool!

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_vrsuyjxRM&feature=player_embedded

December 9, 2010 - Race photos


December 9, 2010 - Marathon recap Part 4

This is part four (final one I promise!) of my recap of the marathon and our weekend in Vegas. You can find Part One here, Part Two here and Part Three here or just scroll down a bunch. :)
We got back to the hotel room and I stretched, got in an ice bath and then into a much welcomed shower. My only real battle scars were the two small blisters. The whole time I was in the tub and shower, the phones were dinging and pinging with texts from friends and family. Josh was a great secretary and kept coming in and telling me who was saying what. Noah was super happy to roll around on the giant bed and be free from the stroller. I smooched him a lot and thanked him for coming with us and being so wonderful the whole weekend (my Dad and Pam said that he literally was not a second of trouble the whole time we were gone and running).
Josh got on the computer and found our official times and stats. My official time was 4:15:50 and I averaged a 9:40 pace over the whole race. My first mile was at a 9:15 and my last full mile was at a 9:17 pace. My final .2 sprint ended at a 6:33 pace.  My slowest mile (not counting the one with the potty stop) was a 10:16 (mile 23). My stats were:
Overall: 2122 out of 5154 (better than top half out of all of the marathoners!) 
Division: 146 out of 419 (top 34%  of women, 30-34 years old)
Gender: 627 out of 2141 (top 29% of all women who ran)
There are always things you look back on and think you could have done better, but I really do think that for this race I paced myself just about right. I probably could have pushed the pace a bit harder the second half, but now I know for next time. I finished strong, but I did not finish feeling like I had saved too much energy. I was definitely exhausted, and if my gas tank wasn't on fumes, the red "gas running way low" light was definitely on.
We decided to order some room service for lunch so Noah could have some down time and we could rest before going out to dinner later. We both ordered burgers with blue cheese and onions and shared fries and onion rings. SO good! :)
Right after I got out of the shower, Jenny called and it was awesome to talk to her for a little bit.  I've done the bulk of my training with her and almost all of my races with her, so it just felt like she was missing the whole time.
After we ate, we laid around on the bed with Noah and it was just really nice. Josh got emotional when he was telling me how proud and amazed he was. He said that this was one of those "moments" in our relationship and our life together that was just really special. Can I say how much I love that man?  Nope... can't. But it's a whole super crazy big amount. I tell him all the time I wouldn't be the me that I am without his love and support.
My Dad and Pam went out to lunch and then came back to our room and hung out with us for part of the afternoon and we talked to the kids on the phone. I was in a pretty blissful state of mind I have to say! I told Josh at one point that I wanted to just jump up and down and yell "I did it! I did it! I did it!"
We got changed into nice clothes and went out to dinner at Tao, an Asian restaurant at the Venetian (and heck yeah I wore my medal!) The food at Tao was DELICIOUS and it was so great to eat whatever the heck I wanted without being careful. I even got some fun little powdered donuts with dipping sauces for dessert.
We walked around the Venetian for awhile (which is beautiful and has a lot of fun shops). My legs were really sore and stiff whenever I got up from sitting for awhile, but once I got moving they felt pretty dang good.
During the weekend (including our trip back the Luxor from the Venetian) we had several Ethiopian cab drivers. It was really fun to say something to them in Amharic and watch their response. I had no idea there were so many Ethiopians in Vegas. It was really fun to get to chat with a few on this short trip.
After getting back to the hotel, visiting with my Dad and Pam a bit more and getting Noah all ready for the night, we were tucked in and sound asleep by 10:30pm.
The trip home was pretty uneventful. We got up the next morning, ate breakfast, showered, packed up the room and were on our way to the airport by 9:30. Dad and Pam had to leave by 8:30 so they came over and said good-bye right before then. The weekend and our time with them went by WAY too fast and I sure hope it isn't another year before I see them again.
Cab ride, airport, lunch, flight, and long drive home all went smoothly. Noah was literally perfect the whole way. He was so much fun the entire weekend and I am SO glad we brought him. I even commented at one point that having him there made it that much more perfect (and Josh said having him there made me that much more relaxed because he knows I would have been worrying if Noah wasn't with us). Thanks again to Dad and Pam for making that all possible!
We got home where all of the kids were waiting with a baby sitter, and it was so great to see them all. They all had a great weekend and there is nothing better than being all at home together, especially after a weekend apart. The kids were really proud of me and took turns wearing our medals. I hope I set an example for them that if you work hard and don't give up, you can achieve anything. And that a healthy and active lifestyle is very rewarding. And that their mom is tough. :)
I took Monday and Tuesday off, and then went back to running on Wednesday. I did three miles Wednesday and four miles today. I can say that the stiffness and soreness is officially gone.
 My plan is to take it easy for a few weeks, running low miles at easy speeds six days a week. Training for Ragnar starts on January 30 (Ragnar is June 18-19). I have a half marathon on July 9 here in the valley, and I will definitely, definitely, definitely be doing another marathon or two. I will for sure do one in the fall, and possibly one in April or May too if I can make it work with our schedule. I am hooked! I love the training, I love the sport, I love the challenge and I love the sense of accomplishment of doing something that less than 1% of all Americans will ever do. And of course, I'd love to do it faster. :)
I have to say that I think Rock N Roll did an awesome job with this Vegas race. The expo went smoothly and was really fun. The morning of the race everything was well-organized and well-run. The wave start worked perfectly. The course was very nice and mostly flat, and was a really fun atmosphere. The aid support along the course was plentiful. The bands were fun. The weather (and this time of year in Vegas) is ideal. The finish line area was nice and there was plenty of supplies for everyone. The Brett Michaels concert was awesome. The results were online right away. They got lots of pictures and even video of us during the race. I really couldn't have been happier. I think that the only negative I can come up with is that the swag bag was pretty wimpy and that they didn't have gender specific race shirts, but other than that, I have no complaints at all and would love to do this race again. It was an amazing experience all the way around.
After just one marathon I am obviously not an expert, but here are some things that this beginner  learned.
- The training works! I followed my training plan exactly (Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 plan), and I was so, so ready on marathon day. I ran the miles I was supposed to, I tapered when I was supposed to, and my body was ready to run on race day.
- Eat carefully for a full week before! It seriously seems to me that it was a race-day miracle that I only had to make one pit stop during the race, but I know it was because I was so overly careful about what I put in my mouth for that week before the race. I know some people have less sensitive constitutions, but I also know that there are lots of runners who struggle with GI issues. I ate lots of carbs (bread, pasta, potato, some fruits, etc.) and minimal fiber, ruffage, etc. those last couple of days. I also cut out dairy, as I read somewhere that some people are mildly lactose intolerant and don't really notice any effects on a normal day, but when you are trying to run really far, your body doesn't want any irritants. So I cut out dairy too for those last few days and cut it back drastically starting a week before (even my beloved chocolate milk).  It was SO worth it!
- Practice fueling on your long runs and stick with it during the race. I know a lot of people don't practice or under fuel on training runs and/or don't fuel well during races. I didn't drink enough or gel enough during my half marathon and I really really struggled for a few miles. I was dizzy, nauseous, crampy and miserable for awhile. I never felt that way during the marathon, and I think a lot of that was fueling well. For me, it was a gel every four miles and consistently drinking small sips of HEED and water.
- Sleep is good! I didn't get much sleep the night before the race (with my 3am wake up call) but I went to bed early and slept later than usual for the week before the race so my body was as well rested as possible.
- Listen to your body, and the foam roller is your friend. :) I started having some knee/ITB pain about six weeks ago. I took my runs nice and easy, and used a foam roller three times a day. I also stretched well twice a day. The pain went away and I went into race day injury free.
- The marathon is almost as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.
- My body is TOUGH. I have felt for a long time that I was wimpy. I was the girl that passed out all the dang time growing up. I even passed out once when I was a teenager, standing in the sun at Disney World. I hit my head on the ground and lost my short term memory for a few hours. Then I was in a horse accident that crunched me up pretty good and the doctors didn't think having babies was a good idea. I had three, and then they told me my body probably couldn't handle any more.  So I have always felt sort of wimpy when it comes to physical stuff.  But my body has done me proud! I trained for over four months and ran hundreds of miles. I raced for 26.2 miles. I ran for 4 hours, 15 minutes and 50 seconds. I finished strong and my body was in good shape afterwards. I am not wimpy. I am tough. :)
- Not to be TOO corny here, but I couldn't help but think that a marathon is a lot like life. It sure as heck isn't easy, but it isn't supposed to be. And when things get tough, you have to just dig in and  keep moving forward.
And drum roll please.... I was able to raise over $5,000 for my parents' Rollstone Foundation, and over $500 for AAI's Holiday Project. THANK YOU to everyone who donated and helped these awesome causes.
Ok, I dare say I have covered everything. Thanks again to everyone who gave me support and encouragement. All of the comments, emails and posts have meant so much.
I will post the official pics and video clips when I get them. They are super fun. :)

December 9, 2010 - Marathon recap Part 3

This is part three of my recap of the marathon and our weekend in Vegas. If you missed parts one or two you can scroll down to the previous posts or click here for part one or here for part two.
We were pretty close to the front of our corral #13. Josh and I lined up on the left side of the group, as we knew we were going to pass our hotel in the first half mile and we were expecting to see Dad, Pam and Noah on that side. I also had the 4:05 pace group leader in my sites. I hadn't signed up to run with the 4:05 pace group, however I wanted to hang close to them for at least a while, or at least stay in between the 4:05 pace group and the 4:15 pace group. I knew that I would lose the 4:05 group though when I needed a potty stop (or two or three), so emotionally I didn't get myself too attached to running with the group.
I knew that Josh and I would be running the same course for the first half of the race.
Music blared and they counted us down from 10 to 1. Then a big horn sounded and we were OFF! In all my reading on how to run a marathon the biggest advise and warning I heard over and over was not to go out too fast. 26.2 miles is a LONG way, and if you go out too fast, you are likely to hit "the wall" and run out of energy well before the finish. It's easy to get caught up with the crowds and music and excitement and just take off, but I knew to be careful not to.
(Here is one of the official race photos from right after the start).
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My goal was to stay inbetween a 9:10 and 9:40 pace for the first half, and to just relax and let my body do what it knows how to do. I tried to stay lose and relaxed and to enjoy it. I glanced down at my Garmin to double check my pace fairly often and we stayed pretty close to the 4:05 group. I slowed myself down regularly as I usually run at a faster pace. I wanted to stick with my plan and just hoped that it would work out and I would thank myself later in the race.
The half marathoners and marathoners were all on the same course so it was pretty crowded, but not terribly so. It was usually pretty easy to get around slower runners. I tried not to waste too much energy zig zagging around people.
In just a couple of minutes we were running past our hotel and we saw my Dad, Pam and Noah waiting, waving and cheering. It was so great to see them!! It was a huge emotional boost every time I saw them on the course. Here is a pic that Pam snapped as we went by.
Boy, I am reflective!
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and here we go....
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and here is my cute Dad with Noah
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The first quarter of the race was pretty uneventful. We ran down the first half of the strip and passed all of the famous hotels and resorts. There were lots of people out cheering us on and with the other runners there was lots of people-watching. We went past the "run through wedding ceremony" and you couldn't even count all of the runners dressed as Elvis. :) There were also three runners in huge, full body costumes of Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster and we saw all kinds of silliness. Pam got a pic of a guy running in just a Speedo. Yeah... it's Vegas!
My fueling plan for the race was to take a Hammer gel every four miles, to drink my Hammer HEED drink consistently and to supplement with water occassionally from the aid stations. I can drink from my sports bottle while running, so I kept running through the aid stations in this part of the race. I was able to do all of my gels without stopping as well.
At one point we heard cheering ahead of us, and then we realized that the marathon leaders (who had had a 15 minute head start and run at an amazing pace) were already passing us in the other direction and that was really cool. We cheered for them!
My body felt good, my emotions were happy but calm, and the weather was cool (perfect). We made a few turns, and were soon headed back down the strip towards the 12.5 mile mark, which is where we would split and I would turn off on the second part of the course and Josh would go straight towards his finish line.
I had two toes that I could feel were rubbing funny and had no idea why, but I was able to not focus on it.  (I use the same shoes and the same socks all the time. I did end up with two blisters. The only other time I ever got a blister was when I ran my 1/2 marathon race, but never on my super long runs. Who knows why!)
Around mile 9 Josh started to get faster, and I told him just to go. I knew I had a lot of running left to go and didn't want to blow it, so I watched his orange shirt get slowly ahead of me and I was ok (and I was excited he was feeling so good). I tried not to think about how many miles were left.
Around mile 10 I finally had to stop and use a porta-potty. (Sorry if this is TMI for some, but I know it is a common topic among runners so I am including it!) I was actually THRILLED that my stomach had felt so good and that I had made it 10 miles without needing to stop. I HATED to stop running and have to wait on the short line, but it moved quickly and I was back to running really quickly. I lost three minutes and a couple of seconds with the stop, but felt great when I started moving again.
Funny moment... I got a quick glance at myself in the tiny, scratched up mirror in the porta-potty. Seeing myself with the beanie, sunglasses and tank top was so unlike how I usually look when I look in the mirror that it really boosted my self-esteem. I reminded myself I was tough and that I was going to do this. :)
I got right back to running and everything felt really good. The crowds got bigger and louder as we got closer to the half-marathon finish and the marathon turn-off and I got excited to see my Dad, Pam and Noah again. I ran close to the crowds but as we got close to and then passed the Luxor, I didn't see them. I thought maybe Noah had fallen alseep or was being cranky and tried not to be disappointed.
I got to the turn off and I blew Josh a kiss and hoped he had finished strong and feeling good. As I turned the corner I had my first feelings of concern. My legs and body were tired. I had already run a long way and I wasn't even half way done. After the turn off, the number of runners on the course reduced DRASTICALLY. There were about 20,000 people running the half marathon and only 5,000 running the full marathon, so there were a lot less runners after that turn. Around the corner I could see the mile post sign for mile 13, which was almost the half way point. I could also see a big uphill (up an overpass).
But then, I also saw my Dad, Pam and Noah! They had waited around the corner where it was less crowded. I gave them a thumbs up and a big smile and kept on running. Seeing them again and having them cheer me on was a huge emotional boost. It was really exciting and encouraging.
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I kept that smile on for quite a while. I checked my pace and continued on, settling in for the second half of the race.  This part of the course was another "out and back", which I kind of liked because along with the runners going the same way I was, there were the runners headed the other way, which was fun to watch. I love watching other runners. It is always amazing to me to watch them. You see people of all ages and builds and gaits, wearing all kinds of outfits. Most of the runners were really friendly and encouraging. I even saw a few Ragnar shirts and I always gave a "Go Ragnar!" shout out when I saw one.
I got up the first overpass just fine, and felt really confident in getting up the hill without walking (which many people were), and then I enjoyed the downhill on the other side of the overpass. On this part of the course I felt pretty good. I was tired, but felt good.  I kept telling myself, "You are doing it! You are running a marathon!"
And every time I passed a guy I thought about Amanda, and how she wanted me to beat a lot of boys. I kept thinking, "I just beat another boy Amanda!" :)
Shortly after the first overpass there was a second overpass, and even more people were walking up that second big hill. I continued to run, although my pace definitely slowed on the hills. I felt really tough though running up that, and it was right about at the top of that second overpass that I told myself I could run this entire race without walking. In all of the long runs that Jenny and I did, we always walked some. We  walked to drink and gel, and sometimes we just walked for a few minutes because we were tired. Even in my half marathon this fall I stopped running and walked for just a couple of minutes because I felt awful. So to run 26.2 miles and never walk sounded unlikely before I started, but around mile 16 or so I decided I really wanted to achieve that.
We had a few turns/detours off the main route. The bands all along the course were fun, but you were moving by fast enough that you didn't hear much. I was very glad for my IPOD, and from the first mile of the race I really enjoyed having my familiar music. I didn't "hear" it the whole time, but it was nice to have it there.
I continued with my plan to gel every four miles and to keep drinking well (I dehydrate easily and wanted to avoid that because I knew I would never finish strong or well if that happened). I realized I was running out of my HEED drink, so I started grabbing drinks at all of the aid stations. It is impossible for me to drink out of a cup while running, so I would grab the cup, say "thanks", stop and take two quick sips, and then take off running again. I don't think those aid stations cost me more than five or six seconds each. The coldness of the drinks made me feel a little side-achey, but I knew I needed the fluids so I drank them anyway. At one point I unscrewed the top of my water bottle to get my last little bit of drink out and the top fell and rolled. I wasn't stopping for anything, so I took the last swig out of the bottle and then dropped it.
Bedises the Ragnar shout-outs and saying thank you to the volunteers who handed me drinks, I didn't talk to anyone. I was really, really concentrating on everything. I know some people "zone out" when they run or like to be distracted, but I don't (at least not when I am racing). I was constantly concentrating on my pace, my form, my breathing, my legs, and everything else. I didn't want to zone out or be distracted. I wanted to concentrate. So I did!
I did think about Jenny quite a bit. I thought that her and Alana (and my Dad, Pam and Josh) were getting texts sent to their phones every time I passed a check point so that they knew how I was doing. I stomped on those timer pads when I went by and thought how cool it was that they knew how I was doing. It made me smile to think they were following along (and I wanted them to be proud of me). Little did I know that the system didn't work and they didn't get a single update! Poor Josh was worried and wondering how I was doing, and all they could do was sit and wait for me to appear near the finish line.
My pace slowed down around mile 19, but not terribly so (down about 20 seconds a mile). It was hard at that point to think that I still had to run over 7 miles (and for over an hour!) but I was happy at that point to still be feeling pretty good. My legs were TIRED and a bit crampy, and of course my whole body was tired, but I never felt like I couldn't keep running, I never felt sick, I never felt out of breath, I never felt like crying... I still felt pretty dang strong, which felt awesome.
And I kept on running. There were people walking everywhere now, and even though I had slowed down a bit, I was passing people like crazy. I got more and more excited as we got closer to the finish. My stomach felt great, and I knew that if I was able to just keep going as I was, that I was going to beat my goal of finishing in under 4:29. (Truth be told I really wanted to finish under 4:20, and I started to realize that that was highly likely too).
I never did recatch the 4:05 pace group after I stopped at mile 9 to use the portapotty, but I had not yet seen (or been passed by) the 4:15 pace group, so that made me feel good too. (As it turns out, I looked up the time of the 4:05 pace group and the leader finished in 4:14 and change, so I really was just behind them).
The weather stayed PERFECT. It got warmer, but I was never hot. Every once and a while we would get a nice light breeze which was heavenly. It was "sunny" but a bit overcast a lot so the sun wasn't super strong on us.  The weather could not have been better as far as I am concerned.
Mile 23 was a hard stretch for me. It sounds SO close to being done in the big picture of 26.2 miles, and yet in reality you have over three miles to run, which is still a long way, especially when you are so tired. I kept thinking that if I just kept moving, I would keep ticking off the miles. I also had the quote in my head (sorry, I don't know who it is from!) "The marathon is tough, but I am toughter."
At this point in the race there were tons of people struggling. There were people walking, people sitting down on the road, people on the side of the road throwing up, people rubbing cramps, and people crying. I felt bad for them, and at the same time glad it wasn't me (and I kept hoping I wouldn't end up that way).
When I hit mile 24 I felt pretty good, and when I hit mile 25 I felt amazing! I picked my speed back up. I knew I had another 1.2 miles in me, and I knew that I wasn't going to hit "the wall" or crash even though I was exhausted.
I could see that the runners were turning a corner ahead and then going up and over a final overpass. It seemed really cruel to have to climb one last big hill, but I knew that on the other side of it was Mandalay Bay and the finish line. I knew I was going to see Josh, Dad, Pam and Noah and that I was going to cross that finish line and be a marathoner. And I knew my time was going to be pretty dang good too!
I ran up that last hill really strong without slowing much and then down the other side. I had to run through a dark "tunnel" of sorts, and when I came out the other side I saw Josh, Dad, Pam and Noah! I wanted to tell them "I haven't walked at all! I only had to stop to use the bathroom once! My stomach feels awesome! I am almost done! I haven't stopped running in over four hours!" but I just smiled and waved and kept running. (Pam thought she video taped this part but the camera didn't work right. Bummer!)
Josh jumped in and fell in next to me, which was super cool. He kept telling me how good I looked, how great I was doing and how proud of me he was. We had less than half a mile, and I started to pick up the pace even more. Josh pointed out a girl in green up ahead and told me I had plenty of time to catch her and pass her. I wanted to tell him I planned on passing her and a whole bunch of people ahead of her, but I just smiled and ran. It was priceless to have Josh there by my side, experiencing those last marathon moments with me.
I  kept increasing my pace and passing people. We turned one final corner and then we were on the final stretch. I pulled out my earphones. Josh was yelling, "You got it babe! Go babe!" and there were lots of people cheering in the crowds. I saw that the race clock said 4:30 and I knew I was just over 15 minutes behind that race clock (because of us starting 15 minutes after the official start), and I was really excited about my time.  I ran as fast as I could across the finish line and threw my arms up into the air. I was given my medal and then Josh kissed me.
Josh kept telling me how amazing I was and how great I did. I kept thinking (and saying) "4:15!" And then I told Josh, "The wall is a myth! I never hit the wall. I never walked.  I ran the entire marathon!" I felt like I was on the top of the world.
I asked Josh how he had done and he had finished in 2:00:32. He rocks!!!
We walked through the post-race "runner secure area", and Josh got me a bottle of sports drink and a half of a banana. I was worried that eating would make me nauseous but it didn't at all. My legs were tight and sore as soon as I stopped running, but I kept on walking. The walking felt good and I stretched a little, and I was really surprised how un-bad I felt! I expected to feel terrible and I just didn't. I was exhausted, but good.
Josh grabbed me a mylar blanket (I have always wanted one!) and then I got a "finisher" picture taken. With that medal and blanket I felt like a million bucks. After the guy took my picture Josh asked if we could do another one, and he jumped in and they got a picture of us kissing. :)
 We wandered out of the secure area and picked up our gear bags. I asked Josh if he had his cell phone and he did, so I made him text Jenny right away to tell her how I did (after he told me that the update texts had never come). Josh exchanged my race shirt for a smaller size for me, and then we went  to the family reunion area, which is where Brett Michaels was rocking out on stage! It was really cool, but I knew right away that Noah was going to hate how loud it was (it was vibrating in my chest bone!) so I just wanted to find Dad, Pam and Noah and get away from the concert.
It was so great to hug my Dad and then Pam. I am so, so glad they were there to share this with me. As I expected, Noah was not thrilled with the volume of the concert (although they said he had been an angel up until then), so we started walking back to our hotel. We chatted (and yup, I was already talking about "the next one") and walked and it was such a great feeling.
Here is Josh and my Dad after Josh finished his half. :)
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Pam waiting and posing. :)
 
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Me... all done! A marathoner!
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 Brett Michaels concert!
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I will have one more post coming with details from the rest of our weekend and some final thoughts about the experience, my "review" the Rock N Roll Vegas race, what I learned, what worked for me, etc.  And I ordered digital copies of some of my official race photos (including a video clip of the last stretch into the finish line!) and I will post those when I get them (hopefully soon).
Thanks to all of you who have commented with such kind words. :)