Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ironman Lake Placid--Six Months to Go!

It is January, and FINALLY I have six months to go until Ironman Lake Placid.  I can not believe that I will be crossing that Ironman finish line in July.
I really had no plans to run Disney this year once I signed up for my Ironman.  I had a successful triathlon season during the summer and wanted to continue that into my Ironman training this winter.  Luckily, I have a very smart coach who is much smarter than I am and had me take the fall off from triathlon training.  I was very hesitant to her approach.  I was so scared of slowing down on the bike and in the pool.  I had no idea what marathon training would do for me as my PR's in the past were very small.

To my surprise, running half as many miles as I usually run brought a bigger PR and a desire to get my Ironman training going.  I had a VERY easy week last week and started swimming and biking more this week.  And, like I feared, I am SLOW!  My heart rate on the bike is much higher than it should be and my swim splits are nowhere near where I want them to be.  But, I am learning patience.  My coach promised me that the rest would benefit me more even if it meant starting slower than I left off.

I wish I could tell you what my training plans for the next few months will be, but I have no idea.  We use Training Peaks for my training and my plan gets posted every few weeks.  Beyond this second recovery week, I don't know what I am doing.  And while the controlling person in me hates this; the student in me says to be patient.  My coach is working well for me so I will continue to see how it goes.

And speaking of being a student, spring semester has started for me.  And, finally, finally, finally I am taking classes that are interesting.  I am taking Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology.  I am enjoying sitting in class learning about the muscle fibers that an endurance athlete has as compared to a sprinter.  One our of labs will be finding our VO2 Max, something I have been curious about for a while.

And, I am still waiting on graduate school decisions.  I have no yes's; I have no no's.  Every time I get a new email I anxiously click over, hoping it is good news and realizing it is usually junk mail.  This is the part of my life that I am losing patience.  I only applied to two schools so I am incredibly nervous that I won't get one acceptance.  I know I put out the best applications that I could have done.  I also know there are many more applicants that are competing with me.  We will soon see what the future holds for me.

What are you training for right now?  What do you do to distract yourself when you are waiting for something that you have no control over?

I am giving away an iFitness belt on this post, don't forget to enter!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Week at Disney & the RunDisney Meetup + Giveaway!

I don't usually arrive at the Disney Marathon weekend until Friday afternoon, two days before the race.  This usually means I miss all the good merchandise at the Expo and this past year the RunDisney Galloway meetup.  I am always envious as I sit at home reading Tweets and Facebook updates of people at the Expo on Thursday afternoon, so I made changes this year.  We drove to Orlando (Yes, we drove.  22 hour drive!!) on Monday and arrived Tuesday morning.  I figured this was perfect for allowing us a day at the park, a day at the expo, and plenty of rest time before Sunday.

First, arriving early was a perfect decision as it allowed me to get my last longer run in, while in Orlando.  I had to run 9 miles on the Wednesday before the race, with 4 of the miles at 7:20 pace.  I woke up at 6am to run because we were planning on going to Magic Kingdom that day.  We camp at Fort Wilderness which is a ferry ride away from Magic Kingdom.

Fort Wilderness has plenty of trails around the campground and a fitness trail that links FW to the Wilderness Lodge.  The fitness trail is 1 mile long, not long, but long enough.  Because I forgot my iPod charger, I did that run without music.  Between the lack of music and the humidity, my run sucked.  Bad.  I was struggling to get under a 7:30 pace.  My confidence started dropping for the marathon.  How was a I supposed to run 7:30's for an entire marathon if I couldn't dip below 7:30 on a simple training run in the terrible humidity?  I finished that run a sweaty mess and frustrated.  But, SO ready to start my vacation.

We headed to Magic Kingdom for a beautiful day.  We rode many rides, enjoyed the new Fantasyland, ate lunch at the Beast's Castle, and watched the fireworks.  It was the perfect start to our weekend and more than enough time for park visits on this trip.  Normally we visit the parks for 7 straight days, but I wanted to rest this week, so one day was perfect.

The next day was Expo day.  Sadly, I didn't enjoy the Expo like I normally do.  We got to the Expo by 11am and it was CROWDED.  I get overwhelmed in big crowds and the experience was just not too enjoyable for me.  I didn't find any race merchandise but I did find the Ink n Burn booth where I bought a pair of the Women's Performance Denim shorts.  I have had my eye on these since the Runner's World weekend where another blogger was wearing them.  They are so cute and while I don't plan on running in them (you absolutely can, but I love my Brooks shorts), I am excited to wear them as everyday shorts.  We left the Expo as soon as we could and spent the rest of the day at the pool.  It was 80 degrees every afternoon, the warmest I have experienced in the past 6 Disney Marathon weekends.

Friday morning, was definitely an amazing experience and one I was so excited for.  I managed to RSVP in time for the RunDisney Marathon Weekend Meetup.  We were asked to arrive at Hollywood Studios by 6:30am.  I found my way over there and found the Disney characters lined up for pictures.  We checked in where we received RunDisney Tshirts and they took our bags so that we could go on a group run together.  I got my picture with Mickey and chatted with a few other runners as we waited for the 7am start.

Right at 7, the run started.  They divided us into two groups.  I joined the 9:30 pace group and the other one was a run/walk group.

My group was joined by Adriano Bastos, a seven time Disney Marathon champion, Desi Davila, and Joan Benoit Samuelson.  To say I was starstruck was an understatement.  I started running right around Desi and Joan, but they were taking it a little bit slower and I wanted to keep my legs loose so found my way to the front of the group where Adriano was running.  Adriano is from Brazil and doesn't speak English, yet he was incredibly friendly and acting silly.

We stopped halfway through to get our picture with Buzz Lightyear and Woody and then continued on.  To my surprise we actually ran roughly an 8:15 pace for the run and finished the 2.5 mile run pretty quickly.

We ended at the Lights, Motors, Action! arena where they had a food truck with breakfast sandwiches and orange juice.  We grabbed breakfast and sat in the bleachers while we waited for the other group to arrive and the presentation to begin.

The presentation included Joey Fatone, Bart Yasso, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Desi Davila, Bill Rogers, Jeff Galloway, Dick Beardsley, Drew Carey, Eddie Mason, and some New Balance representatives.

This was the second time meeting Joan Benoit and the second time that I pretty much was speechless.

Joey Fatone, wow, amazing, can't believe he was there.


I love Bart.  He remembered me from the Runner's World weekend.

AMAZING woman.

Eddie Mason talking about improving your core.

Adriano Bastos, incredibly good looking and an INCREDIBLE runner.

Drew Carey was hilarious and such a positive role model for weight loss and running.  He gave a vacation to any of his employees that committed to run the half marathon.  Only one of them made it to the starting line but he was right there with her.

Brooks runner + Disney = Robin is in Heaven!

It isn't very often that you get to brag about your half marathon PR with two running legends.  Bart was incredibly impressed with my 1:35 on his Runner's World course and Dick Beardsley was quite surprised since Bart was boasting of its hills.

The presentation was funny, informative, and absolutely amazing to experience.  I laughed the whole time and you couldn't take the smile off my face.  The day ended with pictures and a goody bag including a park pass which I sadly didn't have time to take advantage of.

I had to leave the meetup quickly because I had the Kid's Races to get to, but that will be in another post as I give race recaps from both my girls' race and the half marathon from a spectator's point of view.  :)

My goody bag had a few things that I would love to give to one of you.  The giveaway will include: an IFitness belt, New Balance Sure Lace laces, H2O SPA Softening Foot Rub and face OASIS Mist.

To enter please leave a comment on this post telling me about who would be at your dream group run.  You can get a bonus entry by Tweeting about my giveaway, please leave a link back to your tweet in a separate comment.

Rules:  This contest is open to readers in the United States and you must be 18 years old to enter.  I will leave the contest open until Monday, January 28th at midnight and will announce the winner soon after.    The winner will have one week to contact me after I announce their name before another winner will be chosen.  (I will reply to the winner's comment so if you comment with an email address you will get an email from me as well as the announcement on my blog.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Disney Marathon 2013 Race Report--New PR!!!

Thank you to everyone for the encouragement on Twitter and Daily Mile these past few months.  Thank you for your patience as I made it through my last month of school and applying to grad schools.  All the applications are out and my life is hopefully going to be back to normal.  

And with that, I did the Disney Marathon on Sunday.  As a lot of you know, I love the Disney Marathon weekend and this past weekend was probably one of my best.  I will have multiple posts up about the weekend, but I figured I would start off with my race report since that is what I always want to read first.

Sunday morning I woke up at 1am, an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off.  I could not sleep.  I wasn't really nervous but more so anxious.  The days leading up to the race were restless as I attended other events so I was exhausted.  My feet were tired from all the walking and I wasn't in the mood to do a marathon.  

I am a superstitious person and believe that if one thing goes wrong, then everything is going to go wrong.  And last week, nothing was going my way so things weren't looking so good.  I forgot my iPod cord at home so there was no charging my iPod or adding a new playlist.  (This led to Christmas music during the marathon, ugh.)  The weather forecast was way warmer than I had hoped.  (My race strategy was altered because of this which you will read about later.)  My Garmin was frozen when I woke up and draining the battery.  I spent 10 minutes getting it reset so that I could get to the starting line with enough power for the race.  And to top it off, as I was about to get on the bus, I realized I didn't have my number.  I sprinted back to my tent to get my number and missed my bus.  I was a nervous wreck after this as nothing right was happening.  I was tempted to go back to bed because I didn't think this would be my day.  (How wrong was I?!)

I made it to the staging area at around 3:45am.  I had quite a wait for the 5:30 start so I headed to the bathroom and then sat as close as I could to the entrance to the walk to the corals.  They let us start walking to the start line at 4:15 so I hurried down and sat again.  The A coral wasn't too crowded.  I hopped the fence and went to the bathroom in the grass one last time and then sat with a few ladies to chat and try and calm my negative thoughts.  

With 10 minutes to go I took off my throw away sweatshirt and got ready to run.  I was wearing just a sports bra with shorts and was comfortable standing there.  Not a good sign for a cool race.  I lined up next to the 3:15 pace group with plans of letting them pass me and running my own race.

The race started with amazing fireworks as always and the first mile was a lot of weaving and trying to get on pace.  The worst part of running Disney is also one of the best parts.  It is DARK at the start. This is great to keep us cool, but difficult for following your Garmin.  I took to running strong, consistent and letting the 3:15 pace group slowly drift away.  I figured this would allow me to be around the correct pace of somewhere in the 7:30's which is what I was hoping for, at least until it got hot.

Miles 1-5: 7:39, 7:22, 7:28, 7:16, 7:15

I had no goal time in mind when going into this race.  I knew what I was capable of but I also knew that was on a perfect day.  Today was going to be hot so my strategy was to take it hard until the sun came up and hope that I didn't go too hard.  I saw my husband and kids at around mile 4 which gave me a small boost.

I was not a fan of the course changes this year.  The new course meant arriving in Magic Kingdom at mile 4.5  I didn't like this as I am used to being further into the race and getting the Main Street boost of energy.  How could you not run fast when you see this:

(this was not taken during the marathon but on the Wednesday before during our visit to Magic Kingdom)

Exiting Magic Kingdom was sad as I knew I had a lot of miles ahead of me.  Luckily, I knew Eric and the kids were outside Polynesian so I had one more set of smiles before the hard part started.

Just after the Polynesian we made it to the Racetrack which was right around mile 8.  This was yet another new part of the race that I was NOT a fan of.  You went down a steep tunnel and then had to go up a steep incline to get onto the track.  It wasn't terrible, but I wasn't a fan.  And the racetrack was LONG!  Yes, I knew it was going to be a mile long, but it was boring.  Running around a circle staring at cars.  Maybe if they would have had more characters besides Lightning McQueen and Mater it may have been better, but I didn't like this change.  This was right around my first hour into the race and my stomach started hurting so I took a salt stick.  I will review these later on my blog, but I think I finally found the cure to my nutrition problems at hot races.  Within 5 minutes my stomach felt fine and I continued to keep pace.

Miles 6-10: 7:22, 7:31, 7:35, 7:30, 7:32

After the racetrack we started our run toward Animal Kingdom.  This is usually a low point for a lot of people, but I don't mind it.  This is where I always start to evaluate my race and how I feel.  Unfortunately it was 3 miles earlier than I was used to but I still had my quiet time to think.  I knew I was running faster than I had planned but I knew the sun was about to come up and things would get harder.  I decided I would just keep pushing hard for as long as I could and trust that my legs could handle whatever I threw at them.

We entered Animal Kingdom around the half point.  My half split was 1:39:27.  This was WAY faster than I had planned on going.  This is my second fastest half I had ever run and it was in the middle of a marathon.  But I felt good.  My quads started to burn at this point as well, but I tried to push that out of my head.  This is also when I started passing people.  It felt pretty good as I had a lot of comments from grumpy men telling me that I was breathing too heavy and needed to slow down.  I have asthma and I was trained to run that fast....Just because I am passing you doesn't mean I don't belong there.

The end of Animal Kingdom meant the beginning of the sun coming up.  As soon as I hit the highway at around mile 14.5 I could feel the heat radiating.  I still was able to keep pace and pass people who were already being affected by the heat.

Miles 11-15: 7:30, 7:29, 7:33, 7:28, 7:29

Miles 16 on were HARD!  I was getting hot and while I was in single digits I had a lot to go.  We were on our way to Disney's Wide World of Sports and we were watching the leaders heading back at around mile 21.  It was tough and I felt like I was slowing down.

Wide World of Sports was a new part of the Disney course and I was a fan but I wasn't.  I loved having new things to see especially all the baseball players, soccer players, and track athletes that were out there watching.  Running on the track felt amazing on my feet as it was bouncy and I was able to pick up my pace a bit.  Running through the baseball stadium was so neat.  The part I hated about Wide World of Sports were all the turns.  We were winding around and around.  At mile 19 of a marathon you just want to run and zone out.  But we were turning.  There was also a long stretch of boring rode that zapped your energy because we were just so hot and there was no shade.  By the time I entered the stadium, I looked like I was going to bonk.  I didn't feel like I wanted to walk but I am sure I looked like it.

Miles 16-20: 7:39, 7:32, 7:29, 7:36, 7:57

The mile 20 spectacular that was promised was just ok.  There were huge puppets in the air and Mickey on stage.  You ran under a banner and it was cool.  But again, you are at mile 20, hot, and I think most people were hoping for more.

I was finally heading back down the highway toward Hollywood Studios and I heard my coworker Chris screaming for me.  What a boost it was to see her out there.  She was running the Goofy Challenge and it was great to have one more person cheering for me.

I usually LOVE the entrance to Hollywood Studios.  I usually am full of energy as I am almost done.  Well on Sunday, I was happy to be there but I was also all business.  I knew I wasn't making it to the finish line without concentrating and not letting any negative thoughts tell me to walk.  I knew my pace was slowing but I also knew a pretty PR was in the works if I kept moving.

Miles 21-25 were not fun at all.  They hurt.  I was hot.  I was tired.  I wanted to be done.  I will spare you from seeing my pictures from this point, but I look awful.  If you are curious they are on Marathon Foto's website.  Here is the link to my pictures.

Somehow, I was still passing people as people were walking and really slowing down.  I was a little disappointed in my slow down, but I wasn't alone out there.  Coming into Epcot was a huge relief.  I knew I was a mile from the finish line and seeing what that clock would read.  (I was running each mile by mile so had no idea what my overall time was going to be.)

I made it around the countries of Epcot and headed to the exit.  I didn't even notice the mile 26 choir as I was all business for getting to that finish line.  I rounded the corner, saw the finish line, and started celebrating.  I made it!

Miles 21-26.2: 7:51, 7:57, 8:07, 7:55, 8:12, 8:12, 7:44 (for the last .73 miles, Garmin was off by 1/2 a mile.)

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 3:24:00.  I was 303rd overall out of 20,000 runners who finished.  I was 29th female out of 10,000+ and 7th in my age group.  My official average pace was 7:47, and my Garmin's was 7:37 with the added distance.

I crossed that finish line smiling and still standing.  I executed a smart race and had an almost 9 minute PR to prove it.