Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Thoughts.

I don't really know how to put my thoughts and my feelings into words. I spent yesterday wondering "why" over and over again.

Why runners?
Why Boston?
Why the marathon?
Why the finish line?

I started running just over four years ago. I was obese and felt terrible. I had just started having seizures (though undiagnosed at that point and I had no idea what was wrong with me) and did not want to get any less healthy than I already was. Running wasn't about anything but the exercise and weight loss. It was calories in and calories out. I didn't even run outside for a long time.. it was all about running on the treadmill at the little fitness center at my apartment complex.

Then my mom suggested that we run the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon. I signed up with NO idea how much it was going to change my life. On September 26, 2009, I ran my first half marathon. After that, I was hooked. Three and a half years later and I've run numerous 5ks, a few 10ks, 16 half marathons, and 4 full marathons... and a number of other random distances, a mud run, and some race "challenges"- like the Tour de Pain and the Goofy Challenge.

Through running, I have come to find myself and become a stronger and more full person. Because of running, I've developed a stronger relationship with my mom. Through running, I've made connections with new and wonderful people. To be a runner is to belong to a wonderful community.

Yesterday was the first time in several years that I wasn't able to "watch" Boston. I had to work, but was still very excited about it- sneaking on my phone every so often to check on how the elite runners had done.

Right after I had taken my break, I was standing by the elevator talking to my friend, Kristen, when I got a notification on my phone. Someone had commented on my Facebook status (about Boston and it being a great day), saying that today was not a good day in Boston. I immediately read about what happened on Twitter and CNN. My heart broke.

I've never run Boston. I dream of qualifying and running, but it seems far off. I do relate to that final push before the end.. seeing the finish line, sprinting toward it.

To think of someone (some group, etc.) placing bombs in that area is horrible. It hits me in a place so close to my heart. The finish line of a marathon is one of the most jubilant and wonderful places that I have been. To think that this has happened to a community that I am a part of hurts. A lot. Runners and their spectators are the most wonderful, caring people.

Reports that some exhausted and drained runners ran to hospitals to donate blood show exactly the type of people that runners are.

I also love spectators. I don't think I could have completed my first marathon without knowing that my best friend was there at different mile markers waiting for me and that my mom was trying to find me throughout the different Disney parks. In Chicago last October, I ran with a Goofy Challenge shirt. Thousands of people yelled "Go Goofy" throughout the route. Those people who make signs and go stand and cheer for runners in CRAZY temperatures and weather are some of the best people out there. I have never spectated a race. It is one of the most selfless and giving things that people do.

I just wanted to share some marathon and spectator photos from my own running experiences.

I won't quit running because of this. I'll probably run more, train harder, and dream bigger. My heart is just a little broken right now. 

I will show up in Chicago this October fitter and stronger than ever. Nobody can take away what running has given me. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Still not registered for any races...

It is such a weird feeling to not be registered for any races. It has literally been years since I have not known what my next race will be. At this point, I'm really focused on school and getting my entire body fit... and I really wanted to make this year about getting triathlon ready. It's just weird.. almost like an empty feeling. I'm sure I'll come up with some races to do this year. Katherine and I talked about running Chicago in the fall.. which I think would be REALLY fun to do again. My mom said she would come to spectate. I have also thought about running the Tower of Terror 10 miler again, because I did the first one, and if I keep it up, I can be a "perfect 20" someday, too. haha. I'll probably do WDW Marathon Weekend again next year.. but none of those races have even opened up yet. It's so crazy.

In 2012, I ran 8 half marathons, 2 full marathons, a 10 miler, a 10k, and several 5ks. It was a crazy running year. That's probably why I feel like I need a break from races. I was definitely burned out by the end of the year.

Anyways, today Kath and I went for a little run. It was at an okay pace, not super fast, but not slow, either. I feel like my endurance has improved a lot over the past few months. We talked and ran together. It was fun. I'm glad that I'm not training for something. It's nice to have a more laid back attitude about running. I kinda like it.

I can't wait until the weather gets better so I can swim!


Miles run: 57.87/1000
Miles biked: 0
Meters swum: 0

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Disney Marathon Weekend Part Two: Full Marathon Day

I had a lot of different emotions coming into the marathon. I felt untrained, unprepared, and really not ready. Frankly, part of me was dreading it. I just wasn't in the right mental space to run 26.2 miles.. then I found out that the weather was going to be insanely hot... and I looked forward to it even less, if that is possible. ...but everybody else in my group was really excited about it.

Everybody set individual obnoxious cell phone alarms for 3 am, so there was no question that we would wake up. I actually slept pretty well, considering that it was the night before a huge race. I was pretty worn out from the night before the half (Friday night). I think that, by the time the first obnoxious alarm went off, I had slept 6 or 7 hours, which is VERY good for the night before a race.

I woke up and realized that half of my face was still swollen from the night before. (I've been having some hives lately.. some kind of an allergic reaction or something. It happened for a little while when I was a kid, too.) I was definitely not excited about a swollen upper lip, but hoped for the best. We got dressed, went to the bus... and Kath realized that she forgot her camera. Sad face, especially since we planned to run separately. After some discussion, I decided to give Kath my camera and run with my mom. We had never run together for more than a few miles before, but we have a similar pace. I also had overheard someone running with her dad during the half and it made me feel thankful to share the experience with  my mom. (insert sappy "I miss my dad, but I'm glad that my mom is still here" music...)

So we rode the bus to EPCOT and began the long walk to the corrals. (It's such a long long walk. That's one thing that Chicago did better, in my opinion. The corral situation was much easier, but probably also easier for running bandits... hence them running out of medals.) We ended up splitting up, because Jen was a corral ahead of the rest of us (that speed demon!). We said our goodbyes, wished her good luck on her very first full marathon (!!), then my mom, Kath and I went to corral E to get ready for the race. We chatted for a while, I excitedly murmured about Joey Fatone running the Goofy Challenge (they were interviewing him). I really felt a personal connection with him... it was his first half AND his first full. That makes him crazier than me. It made me think back to my first Goofy Challenge and how I had no idea what I was getting into. With this one being my third, I was feeling a like I knew what to expect, but not super pumped about it. I knew that it was going to be really emotional, but I wasn't ready to really face that.

 Eventually, the fireworks went off and there went corral A. I started to feel a little bit more excited about the race, but not where I really wished that I could be. I was excited about the idea of running with my mom, because we hadn't done it before. My mom and I have gotten a lot closer since we both started running and have lost all of the weight that we have lost. It is really special to share running with her. (and my best friend! If Kath didn't come along to my races and train with me, I don't know WHAT I would do. It would be a lot more lonely.) I just couldn't really wrap my mind around the 26.2 miles that were looming ahead. I was nervous that the course had changed for the 20th anniversary, because I didn't really have a map in my head of exactly where we were going. I just knew that I was glad that we weren't going to do the EPCOT loop that had been done previously. It does sort of suck to run a 5k and then end up back at the start line, knowing that you still have more than 20 miles to run. haha. Anyways.. eventually, it was Corral E's turn to start and we took off. Kath stayed with my mom and me for close to a mile before she went off to run her first full marathon. My mom and I stayed at a steady pace and talked a little bit before we got to the Magic Kingdom. We planned to stop in the park for pictures (and a clean bathroom stop!), so we knew we would lose time that we would have to make up for.

One of the parts that I always dread during a Run Disney event is the giant hill in front of the Contemporary. It came at mile 4 (ish) during the half, and this time, during the full, too. As always, the hill was very challenging. It's a steep hill down, followed by a just as steep hill straight back up. My mom and I walked the up hill part... It takes much less energy to walk sometimes.. and it isn't too much of a different pace! At that point, we were passed by a coworker of my mom's, who said hello and went on his way. (I love how much of a community running is!) We ran into the Magic Kingdom and down Main Street. It is always really exhilarating to see all of the spectators lined up along Main Street, cheering for their runners. It always sort of makes me tear up. It was neat to get to run down Main Street with my mom. Last year at the half, we happened to meet up there and get a cute picture, but during this race we were together on purpose!

After we ran down Main Street, we stopped for a picture with Buzz Lightyear! Then we used the park's bathrooms, which is ALWAYS a good idea. When you can avoid the port-a-potty, you always should. (At least, that is my philosophy.) We ran through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland.. Then we ran through the castle and into Liberty Square and Frontierland. That's always a fun part for me, because I keep my eyes out for coworkers. This time, just like on Saturday, I stopped at the Market and waved to some of my fellow stockers.. then we went on our way. My mom and I had lost some time, but knew that we would make it up on the dreaded Bear Island Road. (I had been dreading Bear Island Road the most out of the whole race. I almost lost all of my motivation on Bear Island Road last year and nearly walked the entire thing!)

After Magic Kingdom, we ran back toward the Transportation and Ticket Center, where the next part of the course was to run on the Speedway. I had never even seen the Speedway, so I knew that it was going to be a surprise for me. This part was one of the new portions of the course that they had changed this year, for the 20th anniversary of the race. It actually ended up being pretty neat. There was a crazy downhill/uphill to get onto the speedway, which was ROUGH, but there were a lot of old cars sitting out. It reminded me of going to the Muddy River Run with my uncle when I was a kid. We also stopped for a picture with Mater from Cars. Otherwise, it was a little crazy how slanted the road was, some parts were a little more hilly than others. It was a good change, though. I'd definitely do that again rather than the "to EPCOT and back to the start line" beginning that we had done in the past.

After the Speedway was Bear Island Road. I told my mom that I had really struggled there last year and she had too. I was glad that it came earlier in the course this time, because I felt like I still had some energy to power through the road. At first, it was okay and we ran at a pretty good pace, cutting some legitimate time that we had lost during the Magic Kingdom. We chatted and stayed together. Eventually, we got to the sanitation plant, which was pretty terrible. It smelled worst than it had in years past and I literally had to run on the side of the road gagging. I was pretty sure that I was going to throw up... Somehow, I didn't and was able to keep going. (Then I made the mistake of waiting in the LONGEST bathroom line of all time and we lost ALL of the time that we had just made up. Plus some.)

Animal Kingdom was good. It's always really short though. I wish that there was another mile in the park, because it goes by so quickly. (Next year, I'm thinking about hopping on Expedition Everest during the marathon. That would be a hell of a story to tell!) When we got to the parking lot after Animal Kingdom (mile 14ish), I sped up a little bit, then slowed down. I really wanted to stay with my mom and help her stay motivated. She was doing her best, but really struggling with the heat. She was having some pain in her jaw that was bothering her and was drained. She told me to go ahead a couple times and joked about getting on the next bus, but ended up feeling a little better and we kept going. When we got to mile 16, we were running on one side of the street and lots of people ahead of us (at mile 21!) were running back on the opposite side of the street. All of a sudden, Kath came bounding across the grassy median to give hugs and say hello. I was very excited to see that she seemed to be feeling so awesome at that point.

My mom and I ended up splitting up right before mile 17. She had decided to walk for a while and I really wanted to just get moving. It was right before ESPN, which is pretty significant, because it was the part I was looking forward to the second least (only after Bear Island Road!). I knew that it was going to be a part that I was going to be in my head a LOT. The last time that I ran out there was during the Tower of Terror 10 miler, which was a really significant race for me personally and really signified a pretty big shift in my life. I expected to be hit with memories and I really was. There is something about running that can really get to me. I almost never run with music, so I am always stuck in my head thinking about things, memories, ideas, when I'm out there. All of the feelings that I had been feeling for the past several months hit me right then... like I expected. It was an extremely emotional three miles through the Wide World of Sports.. and I needed it. My life has been through so many changes in the past year that were awesome and awful. I thought about every moment during those three miles.

After the Wide World of Sports, I still had an okay pace. I pushed it up the last overpass toward Hollywood Studios, knowing that I was close and trying not to think about or be concerned for my mom. Running through Hollywood Studios was almost like a relief for me. I knew that I was almost there and I felt VERY strong and very confident. From that was the Boardwalk, then World Showcase at EPCOT... (I do love watching people buy beer and snacks during the final stretch of the  marathon.) Before I knew it, I had crossed the finish line! I was hot and emotional. I felt like my body had just been through one of the most difficult things it had ever been through... and that was accurate. It was the most emotional race of my life, topped by it being the day after a half.. and the heat was insane.

I turned on my phone as I walked toward the snack station and got a text from my mom saying that she had been picked up by the bus and was waiting for me. I almost lost it right then. Somehow, I walked to the Goofy Tent, got my medal, and then started crying. When I met up with my mom, I started sobbing. It was the most out of control I have been in a long time. I didn't even know how to put words to what I was feeling in that moment. It was nuts. Eventually, I calmed down and we got on the bus back to the hotel, showered, and got ready for the parks for the evening.

I felt more calm as time went on. I expected for it to be emotional, but all of it with the heat and with feeling sad that I left my mom and she didn't get to finish just combined for a really awful few moments.

...but I'll probably be back for more next year.

Miles run: 53.75/1000
Miles biked: 0
Meters swum: 0

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!!! (part 1. half marathon.)

I can't say that I was very excited about this weekend this year.. for a few reasons. This was my third Disney Marathon Weekend and my third Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. I was nervous about it, because I knew that they had changed the marathon course and it would be a little bit different than I was used to. The weather forecast was terrible. (low to mid 80s. not okay for January.) Awful awful awful. Then, there were a few personal things that were hindering my excitement.

This year, my mom, her friend Jennifer, and Katherine all decided to run the marathon portion. (If you remember, faithful readers.. aka my mom, grandma, Kath, and Megi.. hahaha... my mom participated in the Goofy Challenge last year and loved and hated it, but decided not to do it this year.)

Kath and I went to the expo on Thursday after I got out of class. We had to kinda rush over, because we wanted to be sure to have a little bit of time to walk around and look at stuff. We ended up with about an hour and a half to pick up our race stuff and look around the expo. It ended up being just about the right amount of time. We decided that we would have liked to have had a little bit more time, but we were okay. One really cool thing that they had at the expo was the wall of all of the runners' names like the Chicago Marathon had at their expo (I'm not sure if it was just marathoners or not, because everyone in our group was doing the full marathon.). That was really neat. I hope that I can see a wall of names at a lot of my races in the future.

I ended up buying myself some compression socks and a jacket. I really wanted some more 2xU compression socks, since they are my new favorite, but the ones that I got were Zensah, which I also use... and were a little cheaper. Can't go wrong with a good deal. This time, I got purple tie dye compression sleeves, which adds to my collection of one pink and one red pair. I need more colors so I don't look ridiculous with brightly colored compression socks with my non-matching shorts and shirts. hahaha. There is definitely something to be said about trying to look cute when going for a run! (It IS possible. I assure you!)

On Friday, my mom and Jen flew in! I picked them up to the airport, we picked up some groceries, and off to Disney it was! First, we hit up the expo (again for me! can't get enough!), then went to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney. That was fun. I had some awesome coconut shrimp, which I loved! Everyone's food looked pretty yummy, though. The next thing I knew, it was time to go check into the hotel and go to sleep.. Saturday's wake up call was going to come way too soon!

Saturday. Half Marathon.

After a few hours of restless sleep, my alarm went off... at 3 am. (that's my least favorite part of Run Disney. Good Lord.) Katherine and I got out of bed and slowly got dressed.. I had a traditional half of a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast on the bus as we headed to EPCOT. When we got there, we walked around and talked a little bit, then I went off to the corrals, while Katherine went to her usual spectator spots. The walk to the corrals was REALLY crowded this year for some reason. I don't know if it was because we walked around and talked instead of heading right for them or what. Whatever it was, it was nuts. I finally got to my corral when the fireworks were going off...  (It is also worth mentioning that they played "Bye, Bye, Bye" when Joey Fatone crossed the start line. I was such a middle school girl again during that moment. It was fantastic.)

  The half was more about fun for me. I planned to pace myself well and stop for pictures whenever I felt like it. So that's how it went. I ran at a pretty decent pace until I got to the Magic Kingdom. At that point, I stopped for a lot of pictures in the park, which was fun and definitely worth it. I was not worried about getting picked up by the bus or pushing it too hard that I would end up hurt for the full the next day. I had a ton of fun. I saw Kath at her usual spectating points, which was pretty awesome (though more crowded than usual this year!). It's always nice to see someone that you know out there cheering. Props to her for being awesome and getting up early for so many races that she isn't even running!

After I left the Magic Kingdom, I picked up the pace a little bit. By that point, I was practically halfway back to EPCOT. I didn't really have any qualms about not finishing like I have before. It's crazy how much confidence can build up over a period of time. Last year, I was super anxious about the sweeper bus. This year, I really wasn't worried at all.

I had a ton of fun running the half. I love doing these races. It was a little bit emotional for me, because it brought back a lot of memories of different things and people throughout the last year. It's really good to have that time to think, though. When I'm doing other things, I can avoid really thinking deeply the way that I do when I run.  When I'm running, there really isn't any other option than to get into my head and really think about things. That's really important.. and I'm glad that I have that time.

[the full marathon post will come this weekend!]


Miles run: 50.65/1000
Miles biked: 0
Meters swum: 0

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Starting fresh!

I need to revamp my blog a little. Freshen it.

Actually, I want to change the focus. In 2013, I want to finally hit my 1000 miles (duh), but I want to work on my overall fitness. I want to become a runner/swimmer/biker.. and I want to become triathlon ready. I want to become incredibly fit and in the best health possible so that I can. It will probably take an incredible amount of effort and work on my part.

So in 2013, my goals are:

  • run 1000 miles. Finally. Third time is a charm, right?
  • cut down my body fat percentage significantly. More muscle, less fat.
  • Get my nutrition on point.
    • this one is already getting close.
  • Become triathlon ready.
    • buy a bike! ride it a lot.
    • swim as much as possible.
  • Graduate from grad school!
  • Get a "real job".

So let's do this...?

Miles run: 7.09/1000
Miles biked: 0
Meters swum: 0