Thursday, January 31, 2013

TTT: Everything Is Coming Together


The Best Wakeup Email Ever
Checking our email (or voicemail, text messages, etc.) is probably one of the things we all do as we're still waking up.  Am I right?  Put on the pot of coffee, grab a banana, sit down at the table/desk, and pop open our email and facebook...  "I wonder what happened while I was asleep."

If you remember my 2013 Race Schedule, the next big race is the Hyannis Marathon in Hyannis, MA.  Unfortunately I had been the typical procrastinator and registration was already filled up by the time I got around to forking over the money.  I tried emailing the race coordinator, but there was no two ways about it; the race was full.  At that point, I did what all good athletes do, went with my backup race, the Colchester Half Marathon.  This put my marathon attempt on hold until May - BOOOOO!!!! - but there wasn't anything I could do.  Until...

Monday night, the race coordinator emailed me...

we have opened five available marathon spots - first come first serve.  
Cheers

Simple.  Sweet.  I read the email Tuesday morning while in my typical groggy state before work and let me tell you!...  I have never signed up for a race so fast!  This puts me right back on schedule.  I've got 3 weeks of marathon speed work and then I can dive into my triathlon and ultra training.  It's nice to be back on track. 


A New Toy!
I woke up rather early this morning.  "Why is that?" you might wonder.  It's not because I enjoy missing sleep.  No.  I enjoy my sleep!  Even when we have a high wind advisory and everyone on facebook is talking about how they couldn't get a wink of sleep, I sleep like a baby!!  But I woke up to an alarm this morning (a dreaded event any time it occurs) in order to purchase a new toy.


My new bicycle trainer, the CycleOps Fluid2.  This will replace my Blackburn Trackstand Mag 3 trainer which I outgrew almost as soon as I bought it.  Hopefully this will help me A) stay motivated to do more cycling this winter/spring, B) provide a much higher ceiling for me to reach for and get stronger as a cyclist, and C) allow me to train at earlier and later hours of the day without fear of bothering the neighbors.


Make Use of What You Are Given
Speaking of motivation, it is currently 9:30am here in CT and it's officially 50 degrees.  It's January 31st!  The low pressure system coming through is raising temps for a few days and yesterday I decided to make full use of the opportunity.


Granted, it was rather foggy from the heat, the snow on the ground, and the rain, but I got in 12.8 wet and soggy miles. 


What a great decision to go with the white compression sleeves!  Duh!!!  But either way, I got the miles in at just under my marathon goal pace (goal pace is 8:00, my run pace was 7:42).  After learning my lesson at my first marathon, this time I am planning to stick to my goal pace for at LEAST the first 15 miles. 

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Questions
1.  Do you plan backup races?  Have you ever snuck into a race after registration has filled?
I don't typically arrange back up races, but I have quite the list of races to fall back on if I need to find a new one.

2.  What trainer do you use?  Do you like the trainer or the road better?
I much prefer riding on the road, but I require 60 degree temps before I head out.  

3.  Have you been hit by oddly warm January temps?  If so, have you made use of them?  If not, what type of weather are you dealing with today?
I got in 12.8 miles yesterday and I'll test out the new trainer today, leaving a short run for tomorrow and my speed work group for Saturday morning.

4.  Finally, who are you rooting for on Sunday?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mental Toughness

This weekend I ran a 5k.  For an Ironman triathlete, you would normally think a 5k should be nothing, but we're usually highly trained for endurance, not speed.  And in this case, as you can see HERE, this race also tested me on an aspect I had not trained for yet; Hills!

As I mentioned, the first two miles or so were fine.  Once I hit the main hill, I was tested.

I've had battles of mental toughness, or as I like to call them mind vs. body, before and know that I need to work on my own mental toughness in order to win those battles.  They usually go like this...

Mind: Keep going, keep going!  You can slow down if you need to, but do not walk.
Body: Walk?  That sounds like a great idea.
Mind: No!
(* I stop and walk *)
Mind: Get moving!  Stop walking!
(* I go back to running somehow unsure of how my body took over for a second there *)

It may sound trivial, but I do feel a separation of my mind and body in that I'm constantly fighting the bodily urge to slow down, walk, or rest.  I'm sure psych majors will scoff at this next comment, but I feel like it's close to having some sort of split personality.  I know it is an issue of mental toughness - being able to mentally work your way through physically demanding situations - but it feels like my body, in the form of more instinctual thoughts and reflexes, is gaining power over the thoughts I've attempted to ingrain in my head or that the latter is simply losing influence.

Have you ever felt that?

I admit, it's difficult to explain and quite odd to experience.  

Given all that, I was happy to have encountered this battle during the 5k yesterday.  Why?  Not because it's enjoyable in itself, but because I usually have to be well into a much longer race before I get to that point.  I was happy to have the test at a cheaper and shorter race.

Therefore, while I was on that hill feeling the split in my mind and body, I reminded myself that this is an opportune test.  
"If you can't overcome this battle at a 5k on a 500 foot hill, then how can you expect to beat it in the marathon of an Ironman?  How could you expect to be able to compete as an elite?  What chance do you have of really realizing your actual potential?"  
I had won!  Using some mental games (mental trickery) and determination, I beat my body and made it to the finish without walking.  I couldn't have been happier.  Sure, I could have run faster, but the bigger win was strengthening my mental toughness and adding another experience to the list of those I can pull from during future races.

The funny part is, I won that battle in part because of a feeling of sadness; that I truly do have a lot more to learn than I let myself think.  I don't have an immense, innate talent and I've shown that.  Plenty of seasoned triathletes can beat me.  Therefore, if I do want to get better and strive to be an elite athlete, it's going to have to be through pure determination with a lot more work on mental toughness. 

The race was a humbling and yet very uplifting experience.  Every once in awhile, you have to pull yourself out of the imaginary world you create and remind yourself that you still have plenty of work ahead. 

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Questions
1.  How is your mental toughness?
Mine certainly comes and goes, but every experience with that battle helps strengthen both my mental toughness and the confidence I have about future battles.

2.  Do you work on mental toughness in your training?
Last year I used Crossfit style workouts which push myself to that same mental limit in order to practice my mental toughness.  I'm looking forward to adding those back into the mix.

3.  How do you address difficult mental/physical situations in a race?  Do you have a set method?
I've adapted certain mental tricks that seem to trick my "body" like telling myself "just go to the end of the street" and then once there I change it and say "just to that light" and so on.  I also very much enjoy crowds both as spectators and competitors; both seem to help take me out of my own body and strengthen my mental game.  


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Survived Bikram

...but I left a lot of my liquid self in that room for sure!


I've done yoga for awhile both at home and at the gym, but a friend from the gym bought a Groupon for Bikram Yoga and needed someone to go with her.  So after some schedule checks and chatting, three of us headed over Saturday for our very first Bikram yoga class.


This is what I was told about Bikram before the class:

  • Bikram is a form of yoga in a 90-110 degree room.
  • You are going to sweat.  A LOT!
  • Bring a towel.
  • Bring water and drink plenty of water beforehand.  
  • You will feel cleansed afterwards.  

Here's my experience.

The class theme:  "Ok, this is different."

We walked in and immediately felt the temperature change in the front lobby.  We were greeted by the teacher, Brandon, and after filling out the general consent forms and such, he explained to us what to expect.  In short, he told us that it's an amazing experience and that the main goal of the class is to stay in the room the entire 90 minutes.  If I remember correctly, the room was 105 degrees with 37% humidity.  You could tell from his way of explaining things that he really loved what he did and was excited to have students.

We took our stuff and went into the room.  My GOD was there a change in temperature!  We set our stuff down in the back and laid out our mats.  We were a good 15 minutes early, so we laid down and simply let our bodies adjust to the temperature.  I was surprised to find that I wasn't sweating profusely already.  My body, I thought, was adjusting rather well.

I would like to point out that when we originally entered the room, there was the typical soft yoga music playing and only one light.  When Brandon started the class, he turned all the lights on and the music off.  Immediately, I thought "Ok, this is different."  Not that being in a 105 degree room isn't different enough!

There were a good 30 people or so in the class.  Brandon took us through a set of breathing exercises first and then some stretches.  Remember how I thought my body had adjusted well to the heat?  I learned quickly that it was only while remaining still.  In the very first movement, I was already drenched.  We went through the series of 26 positions for Bikram yoga and Brandon did very well to keep us attentive to how our bodies were positioned - bring your left hip forward, arch your back, reach up, reach, reach, reach!  He did that, however, without singling anyone out; it was a general point made for the class the entire time.

The method of keeping us aware of our bodies was not what I expected.  I'm used to the soft reminding of certain things.  Brandon was loud.  It sounded like we were at a yoga auction given the speed and decibel he was speaking at.  Again... "Ok, this is different."

At one point very early in the class, I realized that my towel was quite inadequate.  I had been told not to bring a small towel.  I had presumed that meant not to bring a hand towel.  I didn't that meant "bring a thick beach towel."  During one of the moves, we had our face down on the mat and I realized I was in a puddle of sweat.  I had brought my Gatorade towel which normally serves at my transition towel.  Most other people had brought towels twice that size!  When we left after the class, my position in the room was marked by a large wet spot on the rug.  Brandon assured us that the room is well ventilated and cleaned and not to worry.

During our relaxation, Brandon handed out cool, lavender scented wash cloths to cool off with.  "Ok, this is different."  While I still went to take a cold shower afterwards, I quite enjoyed that additive to class. 

The friend who bought the Groupon LOVED the class and will certainly be back again as it helped alleviate some tension she's had in her knee.  I can't say I loved the class, but I am certainly glad I got to experience it.  The use of the heat and humidity to aid your body in being more flexible is awesome.  However, at this point, though I can't be use it's 100% free of an adversity to change, I wasn't as much a fan of Bikram.  I would try it again with a different instructor in order to see what changes and what is simply the Bikram structure, but at this point, I prefer yoga to be more meditative and not auction-esque.

Bikram survivors!  ...and my evil face?


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Questions
1.  Have you done yoga?  Have you ever done Bikram yoga (hot yoga)?
I've done "normal" yoga at some local gyms and some videos, but this was my first experience with Bikram.  During the season, I try to stick to one yoga class a week for way it helps my flexibility and range of motion.

2.  Do you like to try new things?  Would you try a new type of class, race, or food just because it's there and you can?
I admit I am a creature of habit, but I do enjoy knowing whether I like new things or not.  Bikram, maybe not so much, but the next thing might be my new obsession.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

RACE REPORT: Tradition Run

Race #3 of 2013...

The 44th annual Tradition Run

The Tradition Run is classified as an Un-Race.  As stated on the website, "It's not a fun-run because it's no fun, and it's not a race because times are not recorded."  Well, that sounds like a great time, right?!  But here's the best part...

It's FREE!

Why is it called the TRADITION run?  In 1970, a teacher thought it'd be a good idea to run up to the radio tower.  The following year he was joined by some students.  Every year since, others have joined to tackle the course.  Having just completed the run, I both A) have no freaking clue why they do it and B) know exactly why they do it.  I'll start with a picture from the drive to Hubbard Park where the race is held.



See the castle tower on the hill?  ...that tiny little tower pointed out with the red arrow?  That's Castle Craig.  That's what we're running up to.  For a little better perspective, here's the elevation map.



The rough total is a 700 ft elevation change from start to finish; 500 of that being in the last mile.  Does it make sense why they say it's not a "fun run" now?  Haha.

Registration started at 9:30am and the race began at 10:30am.  Walkers began at 10am though a number of them at random times afterwards walked off on their own.  The runners gathered about 20 after and we started promptly at 10:30am.

As you can tell above, the first mile was relatively flat.  Once the gun went off, I was out in the lead for the typical 20 seconds or so, and then passed.  It was the four of us up the first small hill, but on the straight away, the front two started putting distance between us.  Around 1.5 miles, I locked onto the back of the third place runner.  I didn't want to put in the energy to pass him and die on the hill, so I stayed calm and held tight to him.  With 200m or so before the main hill, he slowed a bit and I took full advantage.  I never trust myself to be able to out sprint other competitors, so with a bit of an advantage, I decided to pull ahead and try to put some distance between us.  With some luck, I could shake the runner psychologically; if he thinks I'm strong on hills, he may give up trying to hold on.

Did it work?  
I don't know.  I'm not a mind reader.  
All I know is that I put a good 100m between us pretty fast, 
he never surged back up, 
and three or four other runners finished before he got to the top. 

As I started up the hill, I did my best to stay comfortable.  "Don't over exert yourself early" I kept thinking.  I certainly didn't manage to feel comfortable through that hill, but slowly and steadily I made my way up by being fooled into thinking each new ridge was a flat reprieve.  Nope!  Just up, up, and more UP.  


I've never seen the movie, but I feel there's a striking analogy in there somewhere.

I didn't dare look back to see if anyone was behind me closing in, but I also never had anyone pass me.  I kept my position from the start of the hill right to the finish.  Near the top, you make a left turn and get a slight downhill reprieve and then face one last very steep but thankfully short hill before turning to see the castle and run to the finish.  

As soon as I finished, I looked around for the water.  The site said they'd have water at the top for runners.  Apparently they forgot or looked over that point.  After climbing 700 ft. of elevation in a 10 degree wind chill, my lungs and throat were rough.  Once a friend finished, she had the bright idea to eat the snow.  Not exactly the most sanitary, but it worked.  After a few fist fulls of snow, I was good and we made our way back down for the full 10k.  

They may have missed the boat on the water at the top, but they made up at least a portion of that folly with cake at the post-race refreshments!  Yes, I'm a child.  And yes, I'm even more of one after a race.  

Cake = me happy. 

The race itself was free, so you couldn't expect a medal.  They did, however, provide a certificate and a patch.  I was quite impressed! 

How exactly do they propose I hang this with my other medals?

So...  Why do they do it?  That hill is a never ending challenge and just completing it no matter the time is an accomplishment.  But you certainly have to fight the desire to give in!  

Three races down.  Twenty-three to go.

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Questions
1. What's your preference: flat, rolling hills, major hills?
At this point, a mix of flat and rolling hills are my favorite.  

2.  What makes you happy after finishing a race?  
Anything with a lot of calories is usually good - cake, ice cream, twinkies (may they rest in peace), pizza, etc.

3.  Is there a certain race or distance where you find you have a battle between mind and body?
The battle emerged first at longer distance races, but today was a first at the 5k distance. 


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pearl Izumi's Project Emotion Shoes

Stop the press!  
Call the mayor!  
And for goodness sake, order in some FOOD
and hook up the coffee maker.  
This is gonna' be a Looooooooong night!

Wait...  I don't even drink coffee!

Make that chocolate milk!

Long story short:
I'm officially worried about my future in running.  Pearl Izumi is replacing their entire line of road, trail, and triathlon shoes and it is not an exaggeration to say that I'm in a panic. 

Here's the more drawn out story.

It took me a good amount of time to find a pair of shoes that have worked well for me.  In 2010, I became a runner by completing my first half marathon.  My New Balance running shoes at the time caused three toenails to fall off; out they go!  From there I got my first pair of "real" running shoes, a pair of Asics GT-2150.  Well, those caused what I'm sure was the beginnings of Plantars, so out they went!  In came the Adidas Swift Cushion.  The following week I ran the NERelay and felt GREAT!  I had found a pair of shoes that worked for me.  Yay! I made it through my first 70.3 and 26.2 in those shoes!

Then the inevitable happened.  By the time I needed a new pair, Adidas had stopped making the Swift Cushion.  Ahhh!!!  So off to the running shoe store I went.  I came home with the New Balance M880.  Only two days in, I decided to cut that relationship short and took them back; they felt so stiff.  In what is undeniably one of the most book and/or movie like moments of my life, the attendant at the store brought out the Pearl Izumi Streak II shoes at the very last moment as a complete roll of the dice, slipped them on, and...

...the heavens sang!!

I had never felt a more comfortable shoe in my life!!  It has been love ever since.  And I loved them so much, I even bought the triathlon version, the ISO Transition



These shoes have been through a LOT!  And I've become a rather die hard fan of the entire Pearl Izumi line since.  I've used them to race Sprint triathlons, Olympic Tris, Rev3 Quassy Half, Beach 2 Battleship full iron-distance, two half marathons, a full marathon, and who knows how many training miles!  And I have plenty of races in the coming months that will see the likes of my Pearls!

But as everything must eventually come to an end...

Out with the OLD, in with the NEW!

Pearl Izumi has a new line of shoes coming out in February to replace their current lines.  As you can read HERE, the line is called E:Motion and will have four running road models, three trail models, and two triathlon models.  Here is the Pearl Izumi overview video.

video


While I doubt I would make use of the trail shoes, I am interested here mainly with the running and triathlon models.  Here's a quick list of what I loved about the Streak IIs and ISO Transitions so far.

  • Comfort from the first touch.  I've never felt a more comfortable shoe right out of the box.
  • Wide toe box.  I have wider feet that simply don't fit a majority of running shoes.
  • Breathable.  I've worn them in 90 degree blazing sun, down pours, and below freezing temperatures and have never had an issue.
  • Holes in the bottom.  I'm sure there's a fancy term, but the holes in the bottom of the shoe help drain out water soaked up from puddles, rain, aid stations, or even sweat.  They stay light!
  • Thin sole.  Both shoes have a front and back of 9mm and 19mm (website now says it's 18mm), respectively.  While I would like a slightly smaller heel-to-toe drop, I do enjoy the feel for the ground that the shoe offers.  Most other shoes keep you from feeling the small rocks because the front is some 20mm thick.
  • Flexible.  These shoes can be bent backwards right out of the box and have allowed my feet to feel free while running.  The previous shoes listed above were very stiff for "structure" that I do not like.

Looking through all the info I can gather online (which isn't much), here is the best comparison for my current running shoes

Streak IIs vs. EM Road N1
  • Weight: 7.6 oz & 7.7 oz
  • Drop: 9-10mm & 6mm (at ground contact)
ISO Transition vs. EM Tri N1
  • Weight: 7.6 oz & 8.1 oz
  • Drop: 9-10mm & 6mm (at ground contact)

I doubt half an ounce will make much of a difference in feel, however, what I have not been able to find is the heel and toe thickness.  Sure, they offer a low drop, but does that mean it's 15mm and 9mm or is it 30mm and 24mm?  There's a big difference.  If you look at the Streak II and EM Road N1 pictures, my guess would be that they've increased the padding on the new line.


I am also very curious about how this new dynamic offset in the midsole is going to work.  The idea is that Pearl has taken what they have called the "spring" that is usually in the toe box and moved it back 25mm.  I can't be sure what they're calling a spring, but they've moved it.  Now, when the midsole hits the ground, the shoe has a 4mm drop heel-to-toe, but when you transfer to toe off, you are increasing the drop to 7mm or greater.  There are a number of reviews and thoughts out there like THIS one that say they like the springy feel of the shoe.  But I'm skeptical. 

The same review as above also mentions how roomy the toe box is.  I am very happy to hear that!

As with every new line of shoes, there will be reviews throwing the shoe to both sides of the spectrum.  Here are my three main thoughts at this point in time...
  1. I am optimistic that Pearl Izumi will continue to be similar to their previous designs in order to maintain their fans.
  2. I am nervous that a completely redesigned line of shoes will remove all or some of the features of the previous line I've loved so much.
  3. I am sure that even if I don't love/like the new line, that I will find another shoe to stick with.  I simply hope it doesn't take long to find that new shoe if the need presents itself. I did find the Zoots shoes comfortable at the Disney Marathon Expo. 
Besides my own thoughts, here are the thoughts of some of the reviewers I've found already.

AKrush on the EM Road N2 - Overall, not a fan.
Cycling and Running for Women on the EM Road N2 - A fan
Jeffnboise from Beginner Triathlete on the EM Road N2 & N1 - Dislikes the N2, likes the N1
Beat City Reviews on the EM Road N2 - great feel, but stiff

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Questions
1.  What shoes do you run in?  Do you have a specific go-to running shoe?
The Pearl Izumi Streak II is my go to!  I haven't run in a different pair other than the triathlon version - ISO Transitions - since October 2011. 

2.  If you knew your favorite running shoe was going to be discontinued, would you stock up?
I am hoping to find a pair of EM Road/Tri shoes to try out before I make my decision, but I doubt I'll have the opportunity before the availability of the Streak IIs becomes extremely low.

3.  Have you seen the new Pearl Izumi E:Motion line?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

I'm not happy

Maybe I'm just the person who doesn't like change, but from everything I can see below and can find online thus far about Pearl Izumi's new line of shoes...

Not happy.

video

(*Frantically searching for PI Streak II shoes online*)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

TTT: Motivation is the Name of the Game

What motivates you?!

The New Hoyt Generation

I would hope that you've all heard of Team Hoyt, Rick and Dicky Hoyt.  If not, please go youtube Team Hoyt and let Rick and Dick put you to tears over their story.

For those of us who know these two - or some of you who have even been lucky enough to meet them - there are a new pair in town; brothers Carter & Cayden.

video


I'm sure it won't be long until we see their faces at some of the major triathlon, road, or whatever else they get in to races.


I rearranged my room!

I know, you're so excited!!  Haha.  But along with the renovation of space, I finally picked up a few pieces of foam board which have helped to finally display the posters that friends have made to cheer me on at races.


On the left are signs that friends of mine made for my first Half Iron, the 2011 Ironman 70.3 Providence.  Yes, there are some inside jokes to these!


"You can be the BIG SPOON tonight."
"Why aren't you naked?"
"You're so Pretty"


On the right are signs that friends made for my first Iron, 2012 Beach 2 Battleship. And they're what I look at while I get the miles in on my trainer.


"Go 179!  It's lightish red."
"Kurt puts the HOT in HOT PINK."

Nothing like a little motivation, a reminder of how much fun racing has been, and a reminder how much support I have while grinding it out. 


Back-to-Back 70.3s??

In drafting my 2013 race schedule, I originally had hoped to put back-to-back 70.3s together in September with FIRMman and Pumpkinman.  To my dismay, I had gotten the dates mixed up and they turned out to be on the same day.  Oh-well.  I went on my merry way and have been fine with it. 

Then today, a post on my triathlon club FB page has highlighted another opportunity.  I am prepped to sign up for the HITS North County 70.3 which is on June 29th.  What I hadn't realized was that a local CT event company has a half on June 30th; Might Mossman Half.

I haven't even checked the details to see if it's feesible to finish North County, pack up, get back to CT, and pick up my packet for Mighty Mossman.  But I can't help but consider the possibility.

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Questions
1.  Do you know who Team Hoyt are?

2.  Do you display race posters and cheering signs on your wall?
I have race posters from Ironman 70.3 Vegas on my wall and finally have 5 of 7 cheering posters up.  Two more foam boards to acquire from work and I'll be set!

3.  What do you think?  Should I do back-to-back half irons?
Is this officially crazy?!

4.  What motivates you?




Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In keeping with the pattern...

Remember how Running Cures All ailments?  Well, after Monday's 20-degree run that seemed to kick my cold, Mother Nature stepped up with some heavy artillery!


Now THAT's getting cold! 

Negative one degree with wind chill.  I'm usually safe to assume that the temperature in my area is closer to the wind chill than the non-wind chilled temperature given that it always seems like a wind tunnel. 

So I bundled up, headed out, and did 5.8 miles.

Brrr!!!!

I got back to the apartment with roughly 40% of the feeling in my face remaining and fully prepared to audition for Rudolph!  But on the bright side, I discovered a new use for the skiing gloves I never use and the freezing temperatures seem to be working to break up this cold.  Bam!!  I am an instant super hero!

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Questions
1.  What is the coldest temperature you've run in?  Is there a point at which it's too cold for you to run out doors?
-10 F is the coldest I've run in.  I avoid the treadmill at nearly all costs.

2.  Do you use any non-running apparel for running? 
I now use winter ski gloves for running gloves when it gets cold enough.  

3.  If you could be a super hero, which one would you be?  (Must choose a pre-existing character)
After watching The Avengers, a friend and I had a pretty deep conversation on this very topic.  I like that The Hulk can't be killed, but his power is a bit inconvenient.  Ironman is cool, but altogether not a real power beyond being clever.  Therefore, of those I know, I would have to go with Spiderman. 

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

If at first you don't succeed... Try the opposite!

If you haven't seen the race report - or at least scrolled through the vast array of pictures - for the Goofy Challenge, check out Part I HERE and Part II HERE

Part II of that report ended with getting to work about 2pm not yesterday Monday, but Monday the week before.  I walked in full of pride, showing off my medals, chatting up the weekend's story with members...  all until I started feeling my throat get sore around 5pm. 

Gosh darn it!!

I had a cold.  It makes sense.  A good portion of my team had mentioned having flu or cold-like symptoms prior to heading to Florida and a few of them were obviously sick during the weekend.  So while I ran over 40 miles, I also ran my body into the ground and let a cold take over. 

Looking ahead, I knew I had over a month until my next race.  There was no rush to get straight back to training.  I figured I'd take it easy, stay warm, and let the cold run it's course and my body fight it.  Seems logical right?  I packed up on apple juice, Aireborne, chicken noodle soup and saltines, and such.  After 4-5 days, I started feeling better.  The sore throat was lessening and I could go through the day with less and less juice and Halls cough drops (always Lemon Honey).  But over the weekend, I expected it to magically disappear.  As you can guess...

...that didn't happen!

I eventually decided "Screw it.  I'm going to train anyways."  I put the bike in the trainer and did 30 minute ride on Saturday.  I felt ok afterwards; no worse, no better.  Sunday I went further and did a 1:17 ride and again felt the same.  Monday I decided I couldn't take another day without running.  I had already gone a full 7 days run-free.  I decided on a 4 mile run, headed out, and hoped for the best.  When I got back, my sore throat was gone and to be honest, has not come back since.

WHAT?!  Did that really just happen?

The lesson I take from this is that the cold air actually helped to kill some of the virus in my throat whereas the warmer climate of my apartment wrapped all in blankets had allowed it to fester.  ...or that running cures all!  I may be biased, but I prefer the latter version of this tale.

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Questions
1.  Do you exercise when you're sick?

2.  Do you take anything specific during training to help avoid catching an illness?
I take Aireborne before most races to help boost my immune system.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

RACE REPORT: Goofy Challenge Part II - The Full

Reader be warned:

You are about to be bombarded with a LOT of pictures!
...and a rather long report.
Feel free to scroll through.
And click on the pictures to view in a larger size.

With the Half Marathon finished, the weekend was 33% complete.  I only needed to get four of my runners through the next 26.2 miles and it would be finished.  Let's get to it!


Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge Race Report Part II:
Mickey Mouse Marathon

Sunday started a little later than Saturday.  Remember how I spent a half hour listening to my stomach grumble?  Yeah, I learned my lesson.  I got up at 2:50am and made it to the convention center room by 3:15 for breakfast.  On my way there, I snapped a couple pictures.  The ALF staff had decorated our doors late Friday night and the resort looked beautiful with the night lighting.


The marathon group was much smaller and only two of my four runners were sticking with the group.  I had met up with one of the other runners the night before, but there was still one runner that I was going to meet on the course for the first time.  For the three of us with the group, breakfast went by a bit slower than the day before with the decrease in chatter, but we got our bagels, bananas, and water and were quickly on the 4am bus to Disney.


Before joining the mass crowds, we stopped off at the ALF tent where we left our post-race bags.  Check HERE for the description of the 0.75-1.0 mile walk to the start line.  I'll restrict this to a few Sunday's highlights.

There was a group of women wearing shirts that read "Eat My Pixie Dust."  Quite inventive!  And alternating with our directions to Corrals, Disney displayed their "Have a Magical Race" message.  And then once on our way to the correct corral, you pass what was a favorite photo op among the runners, a "wrong way" sign; officially the first sign from above that the next 26.2 miles might be a mistake.  




Lastly, plenty of guys opted for the woods over the long lines at the port-a-potties.  However, we did witness a few women opting for the woods.  A couple wrapped a blanket around them as they popped a squat while those pictured here formed a line and took their turn wandering off into the woods.  Figures that even in the woods, there's a line for the women's room. 




Before braving the crowds above, I had met up with Matt, my first runner, and his friend Carsten.  We made the long walk to the start line and joined Corral B.  We wormed our way up to the front quarter of the corral and found a spot to relax until the start.


We listened to the MC, Donald Duck, Mickey, and Goofy as they announced the start of the wheelchair division, Corral A, and then got up and got ready for our own start.

video
 

 Once started, I knew within the first mile that it was going to be a fun marathon.

Carsten (@ 0.5 miles):  This is crazy!  Who runs a marathon?
Carsten (@ 0.75 miles):  I feel great.  This is awesome.

Ok, so it might be a bit of a bi-polar 26.2 miles, but don't we all experience that to various degrees? 


The first 7.5 to 8 miles of the course were the same as the Half Marathon.  But there certainly were some highlights from Sunday. The first being making jokes with Matt and Carsten!  These were two awesome guys to run with!


The second highlight was realizing that Disney actually lit up the speed bumps on the course.  No seriously!  See how the speed bumps look purple in the below picture?  There was an announcement "speed bumps ahead" as you approached the Magic Kingdom gate, volunteers were standing their pointing to the speed bumps, and there were purple lights shining on them to make them pop out.  In reality, I think this was Florida's best attempt at a hill.


Right around the switch from the Epcot to Magic Kingdom parking lot, as we came around the race track, I had an epiphany or emotional moment.  It hit me that that I was in Disney World running the Goofy Challenge with runners that I had coached for the last four months.  Not that that wasn't cool enough, but I was getting paid to do this and could continue to get paid to do this crazy stuff.  I don't know what made it hit me right then, but I took a moment to take that all in while watching the runners all around me and I came to one simple conclusion:

I F*#^ing LOVE my life!!

Then we hit the Magic Kingdom.


 I stopped for the first bathroom break at mile 8 and then very soon after entered the Walt Disney World SPEEDWAY, which I will admit did add in a rather quick but steep hill.  DOWN, UP, U-Turn, and out onto the track!


And it wasn't just running around the track (which is pretty big in itself), but there were cars lining 50% of the track; everything from very nice muscle cars, to the vehicles from the movie CARS, to Herbie the Love Bug, and more!



Up to this point (now just beyond mile 9),  there had been a few characters, many the same as the day before, and they were packed withe people lining up for shots as expected.  However, as we exited the SPEEDWAY and made our way onto service roads, the runners apparently A) were more concerned about making it to the next mile, B) didn't care for the available characters, or C) were already oblivious to anything beyond the road ahead of them.

So I got some pics with characters!  However, I'll admit that I don't know who the bears are, why there is a winter wonderland in 90 degree January heat without real snow to jump into, and am still curious if the crazy dressed people are characters or just crazy people cheering us on from their camper.  Thoughts?

 
 
 

Oh, gosh!  And in-between the above pictures - between the winter wonderland and Pocahontas to be specific - we passed the Disney World waste management center.  ...or was it the water treatment center?  Who knows!  Either way, it SMELLED!  Why they put us on that service road, I can't be sure, but despite that flaw, to their credit, they put a lot of little signs along the road that either A) informed us of how much good the treatment plant does for Disney World and the surrounding environment or B) made a joke.  In reality, I think it was just a ploy to try and distract us from the smell and not feel as jipped by that quarter mile of nasty air quality.  

Soon after the treatment plant, we passed the ten mile mark and made our way back onto actual roads.  We caught up with a guy sporting an Ironman 70.3 Miami jersey and after having JUST heard that Carsten was thinking of doing the race, we struck up a conversation.  Great guy!  You really could race reports from just about any race in the US from the crowds at the Disney World races. 


I then learned that the costumes the characters wear in the park are the reason for their cheery nature.  I think they are lined with some of that Pixie Dust!  I say that because we ran past a group of ladies with mules - or donkeys, jackasses, or whatever they were technically - and I joked with them... "Is this where I pick up the ride to the finish line?"  The response was a very simple "...No."  ....ok.  With that I just turned around and kept running.  It was worth a laugh, but certainly the oddest interaction of the weekend. 


And now mile 12 and the Animal Kingdom!!  


By my own mistake, I had presumed that being Disney World, they would make a display of the Tree of Life while in the Animal Kingdom.  Wrong!  If it wasn't for a person running by me on my right at the right moment causing my attention to turn in that direction, I would have completely missed the tree!  Thank you random runner!!


And with that, Matt, Carsten, and I approached the 13 mile marker and I let them head off on their own.  My legs had felt great and to be honest, I would have loved to finish the next 13 miles with them, but I had other runners to catch up with.  I got a good amount of fluids at the aid station just beyond the mile marker and hung out for awhile cheering the other runners on while I waited for my next runner.  

Our coordinator had already started texting me updates on all of the runners, letting me know when they passed the timing mats and clocked in online.  From their updates, I knew I was waiting for Laura.  This was the one runner in our group I had never met, so I did my best to watch EVERY runner as they came through.  I really didn't want to miss her.

And then came the Liver Life Challenge jersey!!

Me:  Hey!  Let me guess... Laura?
Runner:  Um, nope.  I'm Danielle.
Me:  Oh, ok.  Are you from the Cleveland or Virtual team?
Runner:  I'm from the Boston team.

(*Officially confused!*)

Come to find out, Danielle was from the Run for Research team out of Boston and had run the Boston Marathon with that group.  Her and a number of other runners from that team had come down for the Disney Marathon Weekend, but they weren't running this race as an ALF official team.  I texted my coordinator asking "Did you know Boston had a team here?" to which she was quite confused herself.  Oh-well.  Run, have fun, and make friends!  I ran with Danielle for the next three miles.

As we ran, we passed a Dead End...


...a whole series of great quotes!...

Kind of fun?  It's a F*#^ing BLAST!
 ...some acrobats, and Dark Wing Duck!

 
At mile 16, I stopped and let Danielle head off for the last 10.2 miles.  She was doing awesome!


On my way back to the previous aid station at 15.5, I took some pics of the absolutely best high fives of the whole weekend!  Look at this picture and tell me you wouldn't be super-charged with energy after seeing this little girl on your course.

Kids are the absolute best cheer sections!

Once back to the aid station, I refilled my fluids and held up waiting for...  Laura?  But while I waited, I realized that I would most likely be getting a sunburn before the day was done; the sun was feeling quite hot while standing in one place.  Little did I know they had suntan lotion at the medical stations!  Next year I'll know better.


And then I finally met Laura!

Laura was running with a friend of hers, Greg.    They were both doing awesome!  I spent the next 4 miles with the two of them as we made our way through the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Once inside ESPN, we passed mile 17 and found our first station with sponges!  I didn't take any - surprisingly I managed the heat very well the entire weekend - but plenty of people were happy to grab a sponge.  ...or five.


We passed band # too many to count and made our way to a mini track workout...


I had stopped just before the track for my second bathroom break, so I got a quarter of a track workout while I caught back up to Laura and Greg.  The three of us made our way around the track, through some winding sidewalks, hit another aid station with plenty of more amazing volunteers, passed band # too many to count +1, and then made our way onto the practice field for the Atlanta Braves.



 

I have to ask...  And I know this may show how little I know about baseball...  but if the Atlanta Braves are based in Atlanta, Georgia, why do they have a practice field in Orlando, FL??  Why isn't it for the Marlins or Rays?  (Yes, I had to look up what the Florida baseball teams were.  Sue me!

Either way, we made our way around the park and hit another aid station before we made our way out to the mile 20 marker.  Before we got to the marker, I let Laura and Greg go.  They were hot for sure, but managing the heat very well.  I knew I had plenty of time to go, so I headed a half mile back to the aid station, refilled, and waited for the next runner.

To make a long story short, I spent about an hour and twenty minutes at the mile 19 aid station.  I got plenty of fluids, made my way around to take pictures of the great signs...

"Just keep swimming running." 
"Sweat is liquid Awesome."  Truth!



But I will warn you that there is one thing you do NOT do at a race of any kind.  You do not use the words "Almost there" unless the runners literally are ALMOST THERE

No harm done either way, but as an example, the MC in the baseball park was saying "You guys are twenty miles in!" while everyone was cocking their head thinking "didn't we JUST pass the 19 mile mark before coming into the park?"  I heard a lot of "that stupid liar!" outside the park while I waited around.  Rookie mistake!  ...I hope.
And then I hear someone yelling my name.  "Oh good, a runner."  Nope, it's someone else.  "Who the heck knows me here?!"  As she came closer, it hit me that it was Lisa!  She's a member of my triathlon club and friend from back in CT.  It was crazy to have found her in the mass of 20,000 runners!  

While I waited, I saw both Craig and David from the Cleveland team.  Craig was tired, but pushing right through.  David admitted he was having a rough go, but to his credit, he had run the half the day before as well.  He was running with a couple people he had hooked up with at mile 4.  He was hydrating as he came through and seemed to be in great company, so I wished him well and stationed myself in the shade just after mile 19's aid station to wait for the next runner.

Next up was Abby and John from Cleveland.  They were both feeling the heat and miles, but they had a plan on how to finish and were following it very well.  They were doing their own version of fartleks - running to a certain point and then walking to another.  One major worry I had for the marathon runners was the heat, but while everyone was feeling very warm, they were smart about hydrating!!  Kudos to all of you guys!  You certainly made my job easy.

I ran with Abby and John through the 20th mile marker.  Given that it was the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney Marathon, they made quite a deal out of this mile marker.



 
 

After the 20th mile marker, John, Abby, and I alternated running and walking with every light post along the road.  Along the road, we passed some spectators with squirt guns, and a giant video screen where two people were announcing the places we were all from.  "Yell out where you're from" they kept telling us.  It was amazing how far this race reached. 


And then as we rounded the corner, we caught up with their coach, Heather.


Heather was awesome!  She took it from there (roughly mile 20.5) and I headed back to find the next runner.  On the way, I found some more great signs.

"But really.  Hurry up!  Football starts at 1:00"
"You smell Great."
"Chuck Norris counted to infinite twice, but never ran a marathon."


Then I caught up with Jeannine.  This lady is a very experienced runner and has her habits and patterns that have worked for her.  At each aid station, she refilled her fuel belt bottles, and was hydrating very well, but even she will admit that she was feeling the heat! 

I ran with Jeannine from 20.5 to 22.  We got to see one of the awesome Florida police cars and the Tower of Terror sign before heading up the off ramp.  And one of the cops just before mile 22 was pleading with runners to get PLENTY of water.  He was telling us it was 90 degrees!  Holy COW!!



 

At mile 22, I let Jeannine head off on her own and headed back to find the last two runners, Walter and Tina.  From what Jeannine had told me, she saw Tina at the ballpark which meant she couldn't be more than 0.5 miles back.  I was feeling great, so I turned around and took off at probably a 7:00 pace.  I'm sure the runners were thinking "What the heck is this kid doing?!," but it felt great.  I made it all the way back to mile 21 and hadn't yet seen my runner, Tina, or anyone else with the orange shirt on.

And then fate stepped in!

I stopped at the turn just after mile 21 to take a short break.  I was sweating and there was some shade next to a bus.  I took a 30 second break and then saw a couple of guys with lanyards ride up on bikes.  I hadn't thought about it before, but there were multiple buses parked at that turn and it all of a sudden hit me that these guys might be cutting off the course.  That they were!  Thankfully, they gave me the heads up so I could be on the other side of the line when they cut it off.  Once cut off, I texted our coordinator and decided to head back up to find Jeannine.

Again, running about a 7:00 pace, I made it back up to mile 22.  I made my way through the aid station crowd and took off again into the park.  Hollywood Studios this time.



Rounding a corner, I got another text.  Everyone was walking at this point, so I pulled off to the side and stopped in order to read the text; the likelihood of reading a text and not running into someone was LOW.  "Tina is at mile 23."  WHAT?!  She made the cut off?  Awesome!  I headed off again to go find her.  I made it to mile 23 before I found her.  I must have not seen her when I ran back before!  Sneaky runners!


Tina was very happy to see me.  And she had a surprise for me.

"When would it be a good time to tell you that I never ran more than 13 miles in training?"

*Instant face palm!*

Well, I guess it doesn't matter at this point, we're less than a 5k to the finish.  Keep in mind, this is the lady who ran the 5k on Friday, the Half Marathon on Saturday, and then the Marathon on Sunday.  To her credit, she was being VERY smart and walking quite a bit.  She had also done very well for recovery the last couple days.  So at this point, I just laughed and took it as a life lesson.

We also got to meet up with one of our half marathon runners who came out to tell our legs to shut up!  Thanks Shanna!! And Tina continued to leave roses at every mile marker for the victims of the Newtown shooting.



We eventually caught up with Jeannine and walked our way to the finish.  But before we got there, we saw some more great signs...

"Someday you will fail.  Today is not that day."  
"I don't know you, but I am proud of you."
"Go Total Strangers!"


There were a lot of total stranger type signs on the course and I admit that I loved it.  People weren't out just to cheer on the one or two people they knew.  They may not have known anyone running, but they were cheering EVERYONE on.  And the crowds certainly appreciated it.

And then I realized that Disney has killer resorts with beaches!  I honestly was thinking "Is this Disney?!" through the next section of the course.

 

We entered back into the park at Epcot and got a great view of the world cultures!

 
 
Jeannine's daughter also made it out to cheer her mother on to the finish!  She looked great after yesterday's half marathon too.  Awesome job Ashley!


Finally, we had one more sign, one more mile marker, and a choir between us and the finish line!



And then it was finish time!!


I found out later that Walter had made it to the finish on his own.  Awesome!!  For a second day in a row, every runner who started made it to the finish.

2013 Disney Weekend = Success!!

Finish Time
7:36:05
17:24 pace

 Admittedly, I finished the marathon at a better pace than the half marathon.  That's not usually the case!  Go me!!  haha

After the race, we packed up the tent and headed back to the resort to relax.  But before we did that, had to tape a final word for Coach Kurt...

video

Once back at the resort, I chowed down on anything edible that was in my room and headed straight for the resort pool where I hung out with Lisa (remember her from before - finding me at mile 19) and some of her friends.


Unfortunately, the pool was pretty warm, but I quite enjoyed the time to lounge around.  It was at this point that I started to wish I had an extra day or two to stay in Disney and just relax.  But oh-well.  No rest for the wicked.

Back to the room for a final ice bath and a nap!  Unfortunately, I napped a little longer than expected and woke up to a text: "Are you coming to the dinner?"  I missed the first 40 minutes of our ALF celebratory dinner, but don't worry.  I hadn't missed the food!!  Phew!


And the last item for Sunday, but certainly not least, the medals from a weekend of 39.3+ miles!


They look quite good right now on my wall of pride!

The next day, I got to sleep in (5:00am), hopped the Disney Magic Express bus back to Orlando International Airport, took advantage of the 2+ hours I had before my flight by taking a nap, and was back to work by 2pm.  Again, no rest for the wicked (other than extra time before your flight). 




Race Stats

My pacing...

5 Mile = 8:50 pace
10 Mile = 9:00 pace
13.1 = 10:00 pace
20 Mile = 16:09 pace
Finish = 17:24 pace

By my watch, I hit the 13 mile marker at 1:50.  So the first half was roughly 2 hours and the back half was 5:36.  I guess I need to work at my negative splits.  haha

Here are some other interesting stats...

  1. There were 46 countries represented in the marathon, 39 in the half marathon, and 29 in the Goofy Challenge.
  2. Florida was the state with the most registered participants at 11,221.  New York was second with 2,181 and Texas was third with 1,726.
  3. For once there were more women running than men.  29,597 women and 22,637 men.  
  4. 95 people have run each of the past 19 Walt Disney World Marathons and were here for #20!
  5. 201,087 people have finished a Walt Disney World Marathon.  Lined up all together, the finishers would circle the globe 211.5 times!
  6. The medals have increased in weight from 1.9 oz in 1994 to 8.7 oz in 2013.
  7. 24 tons of metal has been used to make the finisher's medals given out from 1994 to 2013.


Final Thoughts on the Disney Marathon Weekend
  1. Such an early start!  If being up early is an issue for you, don't race this!  If you want to make a racecation out of a trip, this is perfect!  Get up early, run your race, be back to the room for breakfast or lunch, and spend the day at the park.
  2. Dark for much of the race if you're fast. 
  3. Range of temperatures.  It was mild hot at the start and hot hot at the finish.  Even if it started cold, it would warm up from there quite a bit.  You have to know how to layer well. 
  4. Very looooong aid stations which were awesome!  This is the only race I've ever done that had stations organized to my expectations.  Kudos Disney!
  5. Gels were limited to 1 station in the half, 2 in the full.  I would have preferred them offered more often. 
  6. Winding course; not for those looking for a fast time. 
  7. Characters, music, support are great for first time or recreational runners. 
  8. Plenty of medical tents; very well supported run.  Enough biofreeze to last you multiple life times!
  9. A mix of back/service roads and parking lots with the parks and main features.  They do their best to make use of the area they have, but you can't expect a 100% in-the-park run.  
  10. More photographers than all of your previous races combined.  They should make a game out of trying to count how many photographers you see while running.  You'll never get them all.  Even if you don't stop to pose for a photo-op, you're sure to have a photo in there that you like. 
With all that said,
I very much look forward 
to running the Goofy again in 2014!!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Questions
1. Have you ever taken so many pictures at a race?
I bet there's over 100 pictures above - and that's only a third of those I have from the marathon.

2.  What's your favorite sign that you've seen or heard of at a race?
I'll take a funny sign over a motivational one any day!  The best was the Bad Math sign from the Half Marathon.  

3.  Of all the races you've done, which was your favorite?
Disney was an adventure race both in the "Can I really do this?" question and the fact that I didn't care about my time so I was able to relax and enjoy the surroundings.  I've never had as much fun DURING a race. 


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.