Sunday, January 19, 2014

Walt Disney World Marathon

Warning: What you are about to experience within this post is a significant amount of photos just of me...I know, it's scary... (In all honesty, I do feel a little weird posting 50+ pictures just of me, but it was the best way to show the course, as I didn't take any photos myself on race day). My apologies.

I did it! 26.2 magical miles in Walt Disney World!

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

A real quick recap on my last couple of weeks of training (I was going to do a separate post, but I probably won't ever get around to doing it, and I want to post about the race!):

I did manage to get my two, 20 mile training runs in. Both were COLD and snowy. But I did them (had to wear a million layers and spikes on my shoes for both - but it just made running in shorts and t-shirt that much better on race day). During the last 2 weeks of tapering, I also ran a 12 miler at Marshall Mesa in Boulder while visiting my family. I love the Marshall Mesa area - it's hilly enough to feel like a trail run, but flat enough to actually run the whole time, and you've got gorgeous views of the Flatirons! Lots of fun!

The very last week before race day I developed a cold, which I was really bummed about. It wasn't horrible, but I had a lot of congestion and a sore throat. Luckily, once we got to Florida I seemed to feel better. I think the warm weather and humidity helped.

I did also manage to reach my fundraising goal for the Alzheimer's Association ALZ Stars. My goal was $1,026.20, and I raised $1,140.00! So very happy about that and I really enjoyed running this marathon in honor of my grandma! It felt good to make a difference while also achieving a personal goal!

P.S. It is not too late to make a donation for the cause:

Now for Race Weekend:

We arrived in Florida late Friday night. My parents and brother came for the first 4 days of our trip, so we rode with them to the hotel, checked-in, and headed to bed. On Saturday, they went into the Disney Parks, while Scott and I took it easy. We slept in a little, then went for a short 2 mile run. I wanted to get a feel for running in the humidity, as well as try out my race outfit one more time and make sure everything felt okay.

After our run we headed to the race Expo and packet pick-up at the Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. This was by-far the largest expo I had ever been to. It was so hard not to buy everything. I did buy a few small things and a ridiculously priced jacket (I had to splurge on something!).

With my bib at the Expo!
My fancy jacket!
Race shirt & bib

After the expo we went to Walmart and picked up some snacks and breakfast for the rest of the week, and then grabbed dinner on the way back to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon was just spent relaxing until trying to get some sleep around 7:30pm (we had to wake up at 2:00am to catch the bus a little after 3:00am).

Pretty soon it was race morning! Surprisingly, I managed to get a decent amount of sleep, so woke up feeling pretty good! I had already laid out all of my race day gear, so getting ready was a breeze, and before I knew it we were on the bus heading to Epcot!

Race day outfit & gear all ready to go!

Race Day:

We had a couple hours to wait before the race started, but it actually didn't seem to take all that long. Before I knew it, the gun and fireworks went off for the first wave of runners! What surprised me was how long they spaced out each wave, and that they set off new fireworks at the start of every wave (that was pretty cool - I didn't realize they would do that!). Finally my wave was ready to start!

All professional photo's are by MarathonFoto
I started off pretty easy. I was a little cold, so I wanted to warm-up (in all honesty though, race day weather was PERFECT. Mostly 60's, maybe 70's by the end. It did get chilly waiting around in the dark, but it was bearable). The fact that they spaced out the waves by several minutes was nice because you really could run right from the beginning. However, also because of how spaced out the waves were, I didn't cross the start line for almost 15 minutes, which made interpreting the clocks at each mile a little difficult (and I was only in wave F, there were at least 10 more waves behind me).

The first couple miles went by pretty quickly. Even though it was just roads and no parks until Magic Kingdom around Mile 4, they had tons of entertainment along the course - every 1/4 mile or so there was something. Bands, characters, etc.

Not the best picture, but leg muscles look pretty beastly!
As we got into Magic Kingdom, we ran through the parking lots and roads for awhile, until around mile 5 when we were finally in the main part of the park. It was still dark at this point, so hitting Main Street USA was pretty cool because it was really well lit up and there were TONS of cheering fans. It was definitely one of the best parts! After main street, we went right through Tomorrowland, and then wound back towards Cinderella's Castle and through it. Overall, I would definitely say Magic Kingdom was probably my favorite park to run through. It was the first really exciting part of the race and it was still early enough in to really enjoy it and take it all in.

Main Street USA - Mile 5
Cinderella Castle - Mile 6

After leaving Magic Kingdom, we headed south towards the Grand Floridian Hotel just past mile 7. This is where my parents were planning their first spectator stop. It worked out really well because there was just a handful of people there, so I easily found them (vs. if they had tried to watch from Magic Kingdom - would've been impossible to find them). It was a nice boost to see them, and I quickly said hello, grabbed my sunglasses from them (despite it still being somewhat dark out), and then headed on.

After the Grand Floridian, we had another mile or so, and then we ran onto the Disney Speedway which was pretty neat. They had tons of cool cars to run by (Scott could name them off...the only one I knew was Herbie!). It was finally starting to get light at this part in the day which was nice.

Disney Speedway - Mile 9

Miles 9-12 were okay. We were running between the Speedway and Animal Kingdom, so there wasn't a whole lot of excitement, but there were still characters and  music which was nice. Finally, we hit Animal Kingdom which marked the Half Marathon point. It felt nice to know I was over half-way there! We briefly ran through Animal Kingdom, which was fun, but not as exciting as Magic Kingdom. They had employee's cheering, but no spectators.

Not entirely sure where this one was taken :)
After Animal Kingdom, we headed east towards the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This was probably my least favorite part. For a whole mile, you could see the faster runners looping back, so it was almost depressing to know they were within a few yards of me, and yet also 3-4 miles away from me. Once I got into the Sports complex it was better. We ran between football fields, baseball fields, and onto the track, before running into and around the bases of the baseball stadium. They had the TV screens up with live coverage of the runners, which was cool. Shortly after the stadium, I saw my parents again at their second spectator viewpoint. I was about 19 miles in at this point, so I dropped off my handheld water bottle to them so I didn't have to worry about it anymore.

Baseball stadium - Mile 19
I continued on the loop, this time in the better position - 3 miles ahead of all the people I was passing, and started to make my way back north towards Hollywood Studio's. We entered into the back part of Hollywood Studios (where they had chocolate at the mile 23 aid station!!!), and exited the front of the park. By this time, the park was open to guests, so there was more cheering and excitement than Animal Kingdom had.

Hollywood Studios - Mile 23
As we exited Hollywood Studio's, we made our way onto the river trail that connects Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk and eventually Epcot. We ran along the Boardwalk past the Beach Club Resort (that I stayed at once as a kid), and finally into Epcot! We entered Epcot through a back gate at the "England" portion of the World Showcase. We then ran around all of the various countries, and into Future World, where I saw my parents one more time just before the Mile 26 mark. I didn't stop to chat this time, as I was really ready to be done! I continued on towards Spaceship Earth (aka the giant Golf Ball), was a little disappointed we didn't go under it, but kept on anyways, through a back gate, and towards the finish line, where I finished in 4:26:45!

Epcot World Showcase (Germany and Mexico) - almost to 26 Miles
Spaceship Earth at mile 26!
Finish Line! 26.2 Miles in the books!
In general, I felt like this went really well for my first marathon. I felt good the entire time and never felt like I hit the "wall". I think this was because I fueled A LOT! I stopped at almost every aid station (I think all but the first and the last actually), and drank half a cup of poweraid and half a cup of water. I also started taking my Honey Stinger chews at Mile 8, and ate them fairly consistently thru the half-marathon point. Then at Miles 15 and 19, I grabbed a Clif Bar vanilla gel (which may be my new favorite gel flavor) and took the whole thing, then also had a banana somewhere in there, and the piece of chocolate at mile 23. So I fueled a lot, but I'm glad I did. I'm sure I lost a little time when I had to walk in order to drink and eat the banana, but I think it was worth it. I felt strong the entire race, and was even able to pick up my pace for the last 4 miles (my very last mile was even a sub-8 minute pace!).


Summary of what I did and didn't like about this race:

  1. I loved how much entertainment was on the course! It was awesome! 
  2. TONS of water and power-aid stations
  3. Tons of spectators
  4. Because Disney owns all the roads, they were completely blocked off with no traffic, which was really nice.
  1. Early start time. Getting up at 2:00am is pretty rough.
  2. I felt like the Dopey and Goofy challenges "belittled" the Marathon. I kept having to say I "ONLY" did the Marathon.
  3. My stupid Garmin was off and it kept telling me I hit mile markers way before I actually did. I stopped looking at after mile 18 or so because it was depressing (it actually clocked the race at 27.1 miles). I know this doesn't relate to Disney per say, but it was my main annoyance for the day.

Date: January 12, 2014
Distance: 26.2 Miles
Bib Number: 2561
Gun Time: 4:40:35
Chip Time: 4:26:45
Average Pace: 10:11 minutes per mile
Overall Rank: 3,659 of 19,198
Gender Rank: 1,153 of 9,697
Division Rank (Females 25-29): 219 of 1,655
5 Mile Split: 51:00
10 Mile Split: 1:44:23
Half Marathon Split: 2:16:03
20 Mile Split: 3:27:55 (pretty proud of myself for doing the last 6.2 in under an hour!)
Garmin Splits (these are slightly off since my garmin clocked the race at 27.09 miles total):
Miles 1-10: 9:59, 9:56, 10:03, 10:04, 10:01, 9:40, 9:36, 10:15, 10:13, 9:57
Miles 11-20: 9:45, 9:52, 9:39, 9:53, 9:47, 10:23, 10:58, 9:52, 9:55, 9:30
Miles 21-26.2: 10:07, 9:40, 9:28, 9:38, 9:17, 8:24, 8:09 (check out those last 2!!!)

Course Map

Finishers Certificate!

Another random thought:

As much fun as it was to do Disney as my first marathon, I think it might've been better as a second or third. There's so much you can do during the marathon (such as stop and take pictures with characters), but since it was my first, I wanted to see how fast I could do it in. If I ever do Disney again, I want to be able to take my time (although that is also why something like Dopey could be good - you could do the shorter races for fun and the longer races to actually "race".

Post-Race Disney:


Not going to lie, I was REALLY sore on Monday and Tuesday. It made walking around the parks pretty difficult. But I still had a fun time, and I'm sure the walking was probably good for my recovery anyways. I'm really glad we stayed the whole week after because I felt like I had enough time to see everything without totally killing myself. Here's some pics from the remainder of our trip:

Magic Kingdom (Sunday & Friday)
Universal Studios/Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Monday)
Hollywood Studios (Tuesday)
Animal Kingdom (Wednesday)
Epcot (Thursday)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 Recap / 2014 Goals

I was hoping to get this done prior to the start of 2014, but time got ahead of me! Alas, here is my stereotypical end of the year post...

If I had to summarize 2013, I would definitely call it a year of "firsts." For starters, it was my first full year of running. I ran my first 10K (plus a few more), my first half marathon (plus a few more), my first trail race (plus a few more), my first mountain race (I put Imogene Pass Run into it's own "Mountain Race" category, as opposed to trails because of the sheer "up and down" to it!). I committed to run my first marathon. I guess you could say that 2013 was the first year I really started to consider myself a "runner."

I also learned a lot this year about myself. That I am capable of doing more than I ever imagined. I almost didn't sign up for Imogene Pass Run, afraid it would be too hard. How incredibly glad I am that I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up for it! It is solely because of Imogene that I have a lot of, what some might say as, "crazy" goals for 2014. But also because of Imogene, I know I can do them. Yes, I'm still going to have to train, and yes, it's still going to be a lot of hard work, but it'll be worth it!

Here's a quick recap of 2013 -

2013 RACES:
  • Fruita Sweetheart 10K - 2/9/13 (1st official 10K)
  • Canyonlands Half Marathon - 3/16/13 (1st Half Marathon)
  • Redline Westminster 5K- 4/6/13 (1st Place Female)
  • Black Canyon Ascent 6 Mile Run - 5/18/13
  • Sage Burner 25K Trail Race - 5/27/13
  • Pacer at Grand Mesa 100 Ultra Marathon (~14.5 Miles) - 7/27-7/28
  • Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon - 8/10/13 (PR-1:56:35)
  • Imogene Pass Run (17.1 Miles, 5500' elevation gain) - 9/7/13
  • Grand Mesa Trail Half Marathon - 9/14/13 (3rd Place Overall)
  • Broomfield Days 5K - 9/21/13 (2nd Place F 20-29)
  • Black Canyon North Rim 20K - 10/13/13 (1st Place F 20-29)
  • Ridgway Rhythm Run 10K - 10/19/13
  • SJMR Turkey Trot 4.2 Mile Fun Run - 11/28/13
  • Moab Winter Sun 10K - 12/7/13 (PR-51:25)

Total Mileage including cross training: 1722
Total Running Mileage: 1513
Longest Run: 20.25 Miles
Running miles by month:
  • JAN - 87
  • FEB - 101
  • MARCH - 146
  • APRIL - 145
  • MAY - 151
  • JUNE - 130
  • JULY - 125
  • AUG - 104
  • SEPT - 99
  • OCT - 131
  • NOV - 140
  • DEC - 154

Overall it was a great year. I did get a little burned out in late August & September, as reflected in my monthly mileage, but with my marathon training plan starting out slow post-Imogene, I think it worked out well by allowing me to have a some shorter training weeks. This is just something to keep in mind when planning out 2014. There are so many awesome races out there, I want to do them all, but I know I need to include a few easier months into my plan for next year.

Which brings me to 2014:

I've got two primary goals (in the context of running):

#1 - Run at least 1 race per month (funny thing - Amy and I came up with the same goal without realizing it!). One thing I want to try and do, if I can, is to mix in a few shorter distance races every couple of months so I don't get burned out again. I love pushing myself to new limits, but I know resting and recovery is important too.

#2 - Log 2000 Miles (this can include cross-training) over the course of the year. Since I made it to 1722 last year (my goal at the beginning of 2013, was just to make it to 1000 - I creamed that!), I think 2000 is definitely do-able. Especially if I allow cross-training activities to count (such as hiking, elliptical & biking).

I haven't completely decided on all my races for 2014, but here is what I'm thinking (note a * means that I have already registered for it, so I will for sure be doing it with the exception of an injury or something):

  • JANUARY - Walt Disney World Marathon* - 1/12/14
  • FEBRUARY - Black Canyon Rim Romp 8K Snowshoe Race* - 2/8/14
  • MARCH - Gemini Adventures 24 Hours of Moab 50K* - 3/22/14
  • APRIL - The Heart of Steel Human Spirit Ultra 12 Hour Run I was signed up for on 4/5 got cancelled, so I'm not sure anymore. Maybe Desert RATS Trail Running Festival in Fruita (not sure which distance yet though).
  • MAY - There are SO many great races in May, it's really tough to choose (I mean, I could find races to fill every weekend and then some during May!).  I'll probably do the Black Canyon Ascent again on 5/17 since it's local and not very expensive, and I want to FINALLY do the Bolder Boulder* on 5/26.
  • JUNE - Leadville Trail Marathon* - 6/14/14
  • JULY - Maybe the Grand Mesa 60K, but I'm also thinking I may want to tone this month down, so I can focus on training for my (fingers crossed I get in) August race. So I may decide to find something shorter.
  • AUGUST - Pikes Peak Ascent (if I can get in - it sells out very quickly)
  • SEPTEMBER - The Bear Chase Ultra in Lakewood (not to be confused with the Grand Mesa Bear Chase I did last year). If I end up liking the whole "ultra" scene, I really want to do the 50 Miler. If I don't, I would love to do Leadking Loop 25K in Marble.
  • OCTOBER - Maybe Denver Rock n' Roll Half or Full. I will also probably do the Black Canyon 20K again, since it's local and not too expensive (and I would love to get the "Triple Crown" award for doing all 3 Black Canyon Races!).
  • NOVEMBER - Rim Rock Marathon or Moab Trail Marathon
  • DECEMBER - Westminster Fa La La Half-Marathon with Amy!

So there you have it - my thoughts thus far. It does look fairly intense when I list them all out, but everything except January, March and June are still tentative. Another nice thing, is that for most of the races, if I sign up for the longer distance, but am not feeling up to it come race day, I can drop down to a shorter distance (ex. Leadville Trail Marathon, I can drop down to Leadville Heavy Half Marathon).

Honestly, even with one race per month, Colorado has SO many awesome races, it is TOUGH to choose. And once you get into longer races they're all in the range of $70-$130, which can really add up, so I really do HAVE to choose (as much as I would love to race every weekend). But hopefully, I will be running for many more years to come and can eventually make it through all of the amazing races out there (or at least most of them).

Other non-running goals for 2014 -

  1. Start my 3-year plan to read the entire Bible (a year ago, I wouldn't have thought I could do this, but, during 2013 I did a 1-year plan with daily readings (no where near close to the whole bible or anything), and was actually pretty consistent. My bible has a plan at the beginning where you check off after each chapter. It also skips between the Old and New Testament after every book - so that you're not just reading the Old Testament for 2 years straight. So I really do think it's do-able. I'm sure I'll miss days here and there, but overall, I think I can do it.
  2. Summit at least two more 14ers (Pikes Peak would count for 1 if I do the ascent, and then I REALLY want to do either Long's or Uncompahgre Peaks).
  3. Go backpacking (as in over-night backpacking!)
  4. Try to introduce more strength training into my routine (2-3 days per week)
  5. Volunteer (I'm not entirely sure for what yet. I would love to volunteer for Girls on The Run, but I don't know if it will fit into my work schedule. I am looking into it though.)

Flattop Mountain & Hallett Peak

I've been wanting to hike to the top of Hallett Peak ever since I found out it was the gorgeous mountain towering above Dream and Emera...