Enell Ambassador Race Recap: The Hershey Half Marathon

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In mid-October I had the pleasure of running the Hershey Half Marathon in Hershey, PA while representing Enell Sports Bras. 
My last half marathon was back in June, and a complete disaster (I’ve got the scars to prove it) so I was very nervous about this upcoming race. My training has been on and off over the last couple of months, but on Monday I set out for a three mile run and ended up clocking five at a decent training pace, so I was feeling a little more confident. And then I got a cold, and spent most of the week before the race sipping tea and slurping chicken soup from my couch. Not the best pre race week I could have hoped for. On top of that, while browsing through the race FAQs I noticed that the course limit was three hours. WHAT?! Why did I think it was three and a half, and why was I freaking out? I could finish a half marathon under three hours, I’ve done it plenty of times. But I got nervous and convinced myself I would get swept from the course.
Saturday morning I woke up and made some French toast for breakfast while watching the live coverage of the Baltimore Running Festival. For the last two years I’ve done the half marathon, and it is my current half marathon PR of 2:39:12, so it felt weird watching it from home, but it pumped me up for my race the next day. After breakfast Tim and I headed up to Hershey. Its only about an hour and a half drive, not bad at all.
When we arrived in Hershey we headed over to packet pick up at the stadium which was fast and easy. I grabbed a couple GUs and some body glide from a vendor there since I forgot to pack the GUs I just bought and my body glide was running low.
I was excited to see that the race shirt was a super cute long sleeve shirt, but when I tired it on it was HUGE on me, which never happens. I guess Weight Watchers has been working for me. I didn’t see anywhere to do a shirt exchange, so I figured I’d rather have a shirt that is too big rather than too small, because I can still wear it around the house.
After packet pick up we stopped at Red Robin for lunch and then headed to our hotel. We stayed at a Red Roof Inn that was only about four miles from the race start, at a third of the price of the Hershey Park Hotels.
Once we were checked in the hotel, I excitedly opened up my race packet to scope out my goodies. This race has great swag! In the packet was the long sleeve tech shirt, a Hershey’s chocolate bar, a cute 13.1 decal with a Hershey’s Kiss for the point, some coupons to use at Hershey’s Chocolate World for discounts on merchandise and cookies, and TWO tickets to Hershey Park in the Dark. That’s a lot of swag for $75 half marathon. Disney should take notes.


After I got done swooning over my swag bag I laid out all of my clothes for the race and got everything ready for the morning. I knew I wouldn’t want to do it at night when I was tired. Once I was all prepped for the race Tim and I headed back to Hershey Park.


Since we were there for the race, parking was free (another great perk) and we snagged a super close parking spot to Hershey’s Chocolate World. It was ridiculously crowded, but we had to do the Chocolate World Tour!


After the tour, we got a free fun size Hershey’s bar and then browsed the merchandise. The lines for checkout were so long, so I decided to pass on buying anything, but we did head over to the bakery and use the buy six cookies, get six free coupon, because, cookies are carbs!
We headed into the park after that, but it was crowded and we waited over an hour to ride Laff Track. We also hit up a couple other small rides and wandered around the park for a little while longer, but I was tired and it was getting late and we still hadn’t eaten dinner. 


 We decided to order a pizza from Domino’s and pick it up on the way back to our hotel. When we got back to the hotel, I basically fell asleep eating pizza, so it was a good thing my gear was ready for the morning!
5:45am came fast and I woke up and got ready for the race. I strapped the girls into my Enell, coated myself in body glide and KT tape and I was ready to roll. We left the hotel around 6:30 and Tim dropped me off at the race start about 10 minutes later. It was a chilly morning, so standing around for almost an hour was not much fun, but I’ve stood in much colder for much longer (NYC marathon village for five hours in 30 degree weather with brutal winds will likely always be the worst pre race wait ever).
I was getting increasingly nervous and doubting myself. I had butterflies in my stomach. I cannot remember the last time that happened before a race, but after the Zooma Annapolis mishap, I was so nervous. 
I crossed the start line just after 7:30 and I was off on my Hershey adventure. The butterflies quickly subsided and I settled into a nice 12:30 pace for the first five miles. I had heard this was a hilly course, but I was prepared, because I am used to the hills of the Ma and Pa trail where I do most of my training. The hills were no joke, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle and my Enell kept the ladies in place during those down-hills. In the first five miles, much of the course was through parking lots surrounding Hershey Park and around mile 3 we entered Hershey and ran for a mile until exiting around mile 4. Running through a theme park is always fun, but it always ends way too quickly!
Directly after exiting the park I recall a huge uphill that most people were walking up, but we all powered through. We ran around the roads to Hershey and around mile 5.5 I started to see people walking on the sidelines with medals around their necks. I was thinking to myself, there is no way these people are already done what the hell?! And then I realized they were part of the relay. As I passed the exchange point for the relay I was so distracted by looking at runners getting their medals that I stepped in a small hole and rolled my left ankle. Ouch! Luckily I didn’t fall down, but I had a twinge in my knee/ankle every so often that was really jarring for the rest of the race. 
Not long after the half way point, we headed over to Hershey’s school campus and students were out cheering for us all over the place. We weaved through the roads of the campus and there was also a DJ playing music. We spent a couple miles in this area before heading back towards downtown. My pace was starting to slow a bit, but I knew I was likely going to finish below the three hour mark at this point so I decided to allow myself to stop for a couple pictures.


I attempted to take a photo with the Hershey park sign but I failed miserably.
I also managed a not so great shot of the Hershey towers.

Just after this we rounded the corner for the chocolate stop at mile 11.5. They were handing out fun sized Hershey bars! Chocolate on course is my favorite, but I was running low on water and there wasn’t another water stop for another half mile so I only ate half and threw the rest away.
After mile 12, we headed back to the parking lots of Hershey for what felt like forever. Running through empty parking lots is the worst, you feel like you might as well be in the middle of the desert and that you’re never going to finish the race. My watch was a bit off from the mile markers so I was resentful when I hit mile 13 on my watch and I still wasn’t inside the stadium where the finish line was!
I finally rounded the corner into the stadium and took off running as fast as I could to the finish line and my awesome Reese’s finisher medal! I finished in 2:55:00! Certainly no where near my fastest half, but also no where near my slowest (or that dreaded Zooma race).
After the medals, there were volunteers handing out food. Hershey did an excellent job with this as well, a re-usable lunch bag filled with a giant cookie, another mini Hershey bar, a lollipop, a banana and a granola bar. I grabbed my bag and a bottle of water and went to find Tim. Tim snapped a couple of pictures of me in the stadium and then we headed home!

This race is definitely one I’d love to come back and run again. Thank you Enell for the awesome opportunity!

Produce and Disney and Races Oh My!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Happy July everyone! I’ve really been terrible with blogging, I know. But the summer is here and I’m winding down my fifth grad school class, so hopefully there will be plenty more time for blogging. My fall semester is up in the air right now while I figure out if there will be any funding from work to pay for it or if I’ll be taking care of it myself. I’m really hoping things get sorted out before it is too late to register for classes because I’d had to have to skip a semester and lose my groove.

I have a few busy months coming up with some travel for work (to no where fun) and my best friend getting married just three months from today! We are working hard at planning her bridal shower and bachelorette party and once again I’m in weight loss mode.

I totally fell off the wagon after the Marine Corps Marathon last fall. I had been doing SO well, I was down to my lowest weight in five years, but then I ran a marathon and I get lazy after that. It also didn’t help that I also met Tim that weekend, and well, I guess I just eat when I’m happy. Dammit. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been going back to prepping my meals every Monday. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner all ready and packed to go for the week, which has really been helping me stay on point with my eating. It also helps that I joined a local CSA so I’ve been getting a whole bag of tasty, fresh, local produce every week! Since I started meal prepping again I’m already down 7 pounds in just three weeks, so there is hope! I can do this.

I had strawberries coming out my ears for a few weeks!

I didn’t know garlic looked like this.

Work lunch is healthier with meal prep Monday’s!

I also need to find a new gym. I dropped my YMCA membership back in April because it was just too expensive, and also a 15-20 minute drive which did not motivate me to actually go. In April I decided that just meant I’d run outside more, but that doesn’t really work out in these nasty hot, humid summer months. I get to work too early to be able to get in a run in the light hours of the morning and its too hot and humid in the afternoon, so I need a gym for the summer. There is a Planet Fitness and a Retro Fitness near where I live so I might check one of those out.

In more fun news, Tim and I are planning a trip to Disney World for late October! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to spend a week in Disney without the worries of a 3am wake up call for a race!

Ready to go back!

Speaking of races in Disney, I’m officially going to be running my fourth Glass Slipper Challenge in February! This was my first half marathon in 2014, so I feel like I need to continue the tradition! This year I will be running with the presenting sponsor, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Every year before the race they show videos of the kids that this race is supporting, and this year I decided that I want to help out too! If you’d like to donate please visit my page and support more than 170 children’s hospitals all across the country!

All the glass slippers!

And speaking of races in general, I don’t have any coming up soon! Not until September, so I have the entire summer to get ready! My schedule looks a little something like this for the fall:

September 4 – Charles Street 12 – Baltimore, MD

September 18 – Rock ‘n Roll Philly Half Marathon – Philadelphia, PA (this is a MAYBE because of all the wedding happenings in September/October)

October 16 – Hershey Half Marathon – Hershey, PA (As an Enell Ambassador!!!)

November 6 – Across the Bay 10k – Annapolis, MD

That’s all I have for now. I hope everyone has a happy and healthy Fourth of July weekend!

Zooma Annapolis 2016 Half Marathon Race Recap

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So its been a few weeks since I completed the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon which was my first official race as an Enell Ambassador. I am so grateful to Enell for providing me entry to this race along with an awesome Enell Sports Bra and shirt. If it was not for Enell, this entire race would have had me even more upset than I was.

I waited a couple weeks to write this review because I was way too angry after this race to recap it right away, and while I want to focus on the good things, there are a few negatives that I just cannot bring myself to brush aside even after sitting on it for two weeks. With that said, lets get underway with the recap!

I love when a half marathon is on a Saturday morning because I have the rest of the weekend to recover, so I was excited about Zooma Annapolis being on a Saturday. Friday after work I headed over to the Loews Annapolis Hotel for packet pick up. We had to pay $5.00 for parking which I thought was super lame for the entire 10 minutes I spent inside the hotel, but it is what it is I suppose. I went inside to the expo, which wasn’t much of an expo at all and picked up my packet which include a t-shirt, my bib, a keychain that said “RUN” on it and a couple of samples of protein shake mix and whatnot. I was a little perplexed because during registration they asked for not only your shirt size, but also sock size, so I guess I assumed there would be socks in the packet. I can’t remember if I read that anywhere or if I just assumed, but either way, there were no socks.

Since it was supposed to be super humid and gross on Saturday, Zooma sent out an e-mail letting everyone know that they could switch from the Half Marathon to the 10k and remind everyone to take it nice and easy and not strive for a PR because the weather would be so horrible. I didn’t have any interest in switching but I was asked again at the expo if I was sure I wanted to do the half marathon. The course had a time limit of 3.5 hours and I completed nearly the exact same course back in November in 2:53 so I figured I’d just dial it back a bit and aim for a finish time between 3:00-3:15. Besides, the medal they advertised on their website for the 5k and 10k wasn’t nearly as cute as the one for the half marathon.

Since Tim lives in Annapolis I made plans to stay with him for the weekend and after the expo headed to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for dinner and then headed to Tim’s place. We grilled chicken sausage and veggies and had a quiet evening with an early bedtime.

Mmm Dinner.

I woke up around 5:30 and got up and dressed, and coated my entire body in body glide because it was going to be that kind of day. Tim woke up and threw on some clothes while I munched on a plain bagel and downed some water then drove me over to the Navy-Marine Corps Stadium where the start line was and dropped me off. It was about 6:30 now, a half hour away from race start time. I hit the port-a-potty and wandered over to the starting chute. It was super humid and I felt sweaty just standing there but I knew with a slow and steady pace I could knock out this 13.1 without a problem. 

Ready to go!

I found it odd that for a race with a 3.5 hour time limit the anticipated pace signs only went up to 12 minutes/mile but shrugged it off and lined up in the back of the chute. I was also noticing that most of the people around me were wearing 5k and 10k bibs and heard a lot of chatter from women who had dropped out of the half marathon. I still wasn’t worried. 3.5 hours was plenty of time for me, even if I finished last, I honestly didn’t care.

The corral.

The race started promptly at 7am and we were off. For the first mile and a half we were running with the 5k and 10kers, but the 5kers quickly dropped off and headed back to the stadium for their finish. The crowd thinned a little, but there were a lot of women running the 10k around me and would stay with us until about mile 5 I think as we ran around downtown Annapolis. For the first five miles I was maintaining between 13:15 and 13:30 pace, then the stupid bridge killed me, but I expected it.

Downtown AnnapolisWhy do the bridges always look so much flatter in pictures?

I hit the halfway point at almost exactly 1.5 hours so I figured I’d be closer to the 3 hour mark than 3:15 for finishing and texted Tim to let him know. I also let him know how awesome I would think he was if he brought me a nice cold Coke to the finish line.
I knew the area on the other side of the bridge was going to be non-stop hills and misery, and I backed off on my pace a lot. It was REALLY humid and when the sun started to peak out of the clouds it was getting hot. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew I would finish. 


After the 10k people left us, the course was really empty. I only counted about two dozen people behind me at an out and back point, but no worries. I saw the last person on the course was about 1.5-2 miles behind me and a police car following behind her, so I knew I was just fine on time.
At an out and back section a couple ladies dressed in red white and blue behind me yelled that they loved my Enell shirt.

All smiles after getting complimented on my shirt.

Then it was time to cross that awful bridge again. When I got over the bridge a volunteer yelled to me “I LOVE ENELL TOO!” It made me proud to be repping them.

Here comes the bridge again!

You have to selfie from the top of the bridge.

Not long after I crossed the bridge, around 11.5 miles, I was 2:45 into the race, and that cop car that had been behind the last woman came up alongside of me and informed me that the course would now be opened to traffic. WHAT?! This is a 3.5 hour course, and I’m less than two miles from the finish line with 45 minutes left on the clock, how is that even possible?
One of the red white and blue women came running up from behind and asked me if I was mad too, and I said yes, and she yelled back to her friend to say I was surprised by this as well. We rounded a corner and volunteers were REMOVING THE COURSE SIGNAGE and packing things up. I shouted to one of them, I thought we had 3.5 hours! And he said, you do, you’re fine, just move to the sidewalk.
FINE? No, that’s not fine or having 3.5 hours. That’s having 2:45. In the heat and humidity. When they told us not to try to push ourselves. And now there was a car coming in my direction, so I went to hop onto the sidewalk and out of the way.


And I went down hard, just before what I assume to be the mile 12 marker, but I can’t be entirely sure because they had taken it down.
I slammed my ribs into the curb. Ripped open my left elbow and both my hands on the sidewalk. Bruised and scraped my knees. I was bleeding pretty badly, not that there were any first aid tents on the course. And even if there had been, they would have been taken away by then.

It’s hard to take a picture of your own elbow.

The red white and blue ladies stopped to help me up and shouted to the guy that told us to get on the sidewalk that I needed first aid, but I refused it, got up and we kept moving. One of them gave me a hanky to wrap around my elbow. They said they would help me clean out my wounds at the next water stop because I had a lot of grass and dirt on me. But the next water station was already packed in and we weren’t even to three hours yet.

One of the ladies that stopped to help and the cars on the course!

Neither of them were super familiar with Annapolis. I’m not either, but we managed to find our way back to the stadium on the busy city streets. We had to dodge cars in the road, wait for traffic lights, and battle bicycles on the sidewalks. It was absolutely ridiculous. If we had exceeded the 3.5 hour time limit I would understand, but we weren’t even close to it. And now I was bleeding and hurt because I had been forced onto the sidewalk before I should have been.
I’m so thankful that those women stuck close-by and were there to help me up and give me something to wipe up with. Runners are the best.
I hobbled into the finish line and the race announcer encouraged me to keep going. I lifted my bloody hanky and she said “That’s what we do, we fall down and we get back up.”
I got my half marathon medal (which I would later find out from Instagram that the 10k finishers got the same medal) and immediately squeezed my way through the barricades that made up the chute to the first aid tent and got cleaned up and bandaged and hobbled over to Tim’s jeep for a ride home and my Coke, so I’m not sure how the after party was for this event or what kind of refreshments they had or what sorts of vendors were at the ‘after party.’

Putting on a happy face for Instagram.

Showing off my bandages.


My official finish time was 3:15:23 and that was after falling down, getting hurt, battling traffic and waiting for lights. Even with those obstacles I still finished well before the course limit so there was really no reason for me to have to deal with those things on course. I finished 566 out of 580 in the half marathon, so there were still other women behind me. This is by far the SMALLEST half marathon I’ve ever completed, but just because there weren’t many of us left out on the course at 2 hours and 45 minutes (looking at the results approximately 118 women finished slower than 2:45) doesn’t mean we didn’t deserve to be safe. 

I don’t know if the race directors know what happened, but if they were aware of the roads opening early, they should have informed us ahead of time. If I was told it would be a 2:45 time limit, I would have dropped to the 10k in a heartbeat, because I know I’m not going to hit that kind of time in this kind of weather with the training runs I had leading up to this race. Yes, I run on roads with cars during training runs, but roads that I am familiar with, and roads with not as much traffic as the city streets of Annapolis have. This was not safe, and weeks later I still have the scabs/scars and messed up Nike+ watch to prove it, but luckily they’re not broken bones or worse.

My wounds 10 days post race.

Once again, I want to reiterate that I am so so grateful to Enell for providing me with this race entry and gear, but I also want other back of the pack runners to know that maybe a Zooma race isn’t the best choice. I know I will never do one again.

Guess Who’s Back! (Spoiler: It’s Me!)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So it’s been a long time, once again I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. When we last left off I had just run the Glass Slipper Challenge in Disney World and I was getting ready for another trip to Disney World. This was two and a half months ago. Things have been a bit busy around here lately and I’ve really fallen off the training bandwagon which I really need to hop back on because I have a half marathon one month from today! I’ll be repping Enell at this race… So no pressure. πŸ˜›
I could write pages and pages on what I’ve been up to the last few months, but I’ll keep it simple. And throw in pictures, because who doesn’t love pictures?
So Tim and I went to Disney World and ate and drank as much as we possibly could in 36 hours in EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, including hibachi in Japan, drinks and appetizers at Trader Sam’s and yummy O’Hana dinner at the Polynesian.

EPCOT!Hibachi!Dinosaur at Hollywood Studios!I embarrass everyone 100% of the time.Castle Selfie.Uh-Oa! Our drink is on fire!After O’Hana! 

Then we went to my college roommate, Amanda’s wedding.

We have this thing where we always need to do carbombs.

In March I ran the Charm City Run Shamrock 5k in Baltimore which is part of the B3 series (three races in Baltimore, for of course, an extra medal). It was rainy and gross so I didn’t get many pictures.

Green Enell was perfect!Shamrock ProCompression FTW!Start Line.
Also in march, I quietly entered my 30s. There was ice cream cake and fajitas and cheesecake and hibachi and presents. It was a nice quiet rainy weekend.

Chocolate on chocolate Carvel cake is my favorite!When you get a pitcher for your birthday you HAVE to make sangria!

I ran the #teamsparkle virtual 5k.

It was Easter so I wore ALL the colors.

In April I helped my friend and old college roommate Ali cross the finish line of her first 15k (and she just crushed her first Half Marathon at the NJ Marathon weekend last weekend!)

Boo rain!Yay medals!

I had to run up the Philly Art Museum steps in style.

Nerd.

I also had some minor surgery (nothing serious, just something that needed to be done) that ended up being a bit more of a pain for recovery than I was counting on.

I’m pretty sure the nurses wanted to see just how ridiculous they could make me look.

I ripped those bandages off my head and headed out to the Sole of the City 10k in Baltimore which was the second race in the B3 Challenge only 36 hours later. Which was a bad idea. Don’t run a 10k with 9 fresh stitches in your head, just don’t do it. So I ended up walking a lot… If it hadn’t been part of the B3 series, I probably would have skipped it.

Then I got food poisoning from a Panera salad. I don’t want to think about that. UGH.
While I was recovering from food poisoning a neighboring building burned down, it was terrifying.
Terrifying.

I just finished muddling my way through my second semester of grad school, got my stitches out, and now have two weeks off until the summer session begins. Hopefully I can take this time to hop back on the healthy eating bandwagon and get back to training for the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon during this break!


2016 runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge: Enchanted 10k and Princess Half Marathon Race Recap

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So I’ve been back from my runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge weekend for a couple days now, I flew back right after the race because I didn’t want to have to take Monday off of work. Why? BECAUSE I’M GOING TO DISNEY WORLD TOMORROW!
What?

Yes that’s right, I spent an entire weekend in Disney World being excited about going to Disney World the next weekend and then spent last night (when the power decided to come back on after a bad storm) simultaneously unpacking my suitcase from Disney World to pack my suitcase for Disney World.
One of my old roommates from college is getting married this weekend in Orlando and when I realized it was the weekend after the Glass Slipper Challenge, I decided I was probably going to pass up the race weekend because I couldn’t justify two trips two weekends in a row and staying the entire week in between wasn’t an option due to being a working adult with responsibilities and also going to grad school. Bummer.
But as you may know, the Princess Half Marathon was my FIRST half marathon two years ago, and I had already done the first two Glass Slipper Challenges and I really want to be a legacy in that challenge. As the weekend got closer and closer I kept checking airline ticket prices and hotels. Everything seemed to be sold out except for places like The Contemporary and The Polynesian, and that’s just not in my budget. But then, in the middle of a beast of a snow storm in late January a more affordable room opened up at Coronado Springs and plane tickets seemed to be just a little cheaper. I looked outside at the snow and misery and contemplated my Fear of Missing Out…. AND I BOOKED IT! Just two nights. I would fly in early Friday and fly back out Sunday afternoon so that I would only miss one day of work. It cost a little more than it would have if I had booked in advance, but whatever, I want to be a Perfect Glass Slipper Challenge runner.
On Thursday after work I drove down to Tim’s place (I just realized you might be confused if you’ve been following my blog and remember that I said Tim and I broke up and then a few months later I met a new guy… Tim is the new guy, he just happens to have the same name) for the night since he lives a lot closer to the airport than I do and at 4am on Friday morning he volunteered to drive me to the airport. I had a 6:15am flight, gross. The flight ended up getting in super early and I had my luggage and was on the Magical Express Bus by 8:50 and headed to Coronado Springs. Of course when I showed up at 9:15 in the morning, my room wasn’t ready yet, so I checked my bag into luggage storage and found the bus to the expo. 
The first thing I did when I got to the expo was hop in the New Balance shoe line because for the first time ever I actually signed up to try some on. I only waited about 15 minutes before I had an Ariel sneaker on my left foot and a Dumbo sneaker on my right foot. The sales guy tried to talk me into getting both because its hard to choose from sneakers from the first movie you ever saw in theaters (Little Mermaid) or the first Disney movie you ever remember seeing (Dumbo at home, on VHS), but I ended up going for just the Dumbo’s, because… Dumbo.

  

I headed over to packet pick up and there was no wait at all to grab my bib and shirts and then I went back to the expo to roam around a bit more. I didn’t buy anything else but I was just trying to kill time until my room was ready. I headed back to my resort around 11:30, had lunch, and wandered around the resort a bit. 

  
 

Finally at 1:30 my room was ready and I had every intention of dropping my bags and then heading to Hollywood Studios for some fastpass rides… Until I decided to nap instead.

  

I napped away the entire afternoon and then put the finishing touches on my Flounder costume for the 10k the next morning. 

  

I decided to wander around the resort for a little while and explore. I was a little bummed to be there alone because it was so pretty, but I made the most of it.

   
    
 

After roaming around, I hit up the food court once again and grabbed some dinner to take back to the room to eat. I relaxed in the room the rest of the evening and was sleeping by 9.
3am comes fast, but it was REALLY great being able to turn on all the lights and the tv while you’re getting ready for a race. Usually I’m tripping around a dark room trying to get things in order while everyone else is asleep, but this time I was alone and could do what I wanted.

  

I got ready, and then jumped on a bus pretty easily and was over at EPCOT by 4:30. Plenty of time to hit up a port a potty and secure a spot in corral B. By 5:40 I was off and running in my third Enchanted 10k. I will be honest, this was the first time I was running since finishing the Dopey Challenge in January. In fact, I STILL have blisters on my feet from the Dopey Challenge… Seriously. So I had no goals, I wasn’t even doing intervals, just running when I felt like and walking when I felt like, and I also told myself I could stop for a character picture or two, because when you’re not going for a goal time and you’re at a Disney race, you better get some good pictures out of it right?

  

When I saw Meeko on the course, I doubled back and got in line. And lost SEVEN minutes. 

  

It was worth it though. However, I decided no more long lines, that was madness, and I didn’t want to end up going over the 16 minute per mile pace because I was waiting in too many lines.
When we entered EPCOT I took a few selfies and then I saw Lumiere. Dammit! The line was so long. I wanted a picture, but I didn’t want to wait another seven minutes. If Chip had been there too, I would have waited, but for Lumiere, I decided to selfie-bomb someone else.

   
 

I finished the rest of the race without anymore stops and ended up finishing in 1:28:15. If you take off the seven minutes I waited for a picture with Meeko, I actually ended up finishing this race around the same amount of time I did the last two Enchanted 10ks. Not too bad. Though still no where near my 10k PR.

  

After the race I got on the bus back to the resort, showered, had some breakfast and headed over to the Magic Kingdom. This would be my only time to get to a park and take a picture with a medal, so I had to go. I was at the Magic Kingdom before 9:30 and had a selfie shoot with the Castle and some guys dangling from a crane.

   
   

Then I rode Splash Mountain… All by myself.

   
 

I was starting to get a headache, so I decided to head back to my room and I ended up sleeping and watching Netflix all day long, whoops.
Amanda, my friend who is getting married this weekend, came over to the resort in the evening and we had a couple drinks and dinner since I couldn’t make it to her bachelorette party.

  

I was back in my room with my Ursula costume laid out by 10 and I slept as best as I could the night before a half marathon.

  

3am came, and once again I got up, got dressed and hopped on a bus. I made my long walk back to the corrals and my stomach started to bother me, so I had to make a stop at the port a potty. I was worried this was a bad sign for the race, but luckily my pre-race pit stop did the trick.

   
 

I made my way to corral F (F!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Training for races and getting new PRs is starting to pay off! I was in H both the first and second year) and before I knew it, I was on my way. I took a few pictures, but more or less this race was uneventful for me. I was really only there this year to keep my Glass Slipper Streak going. And I must say, it was SOOOO much less crowded throughout the entire race starting in coral F. Hopefully I can hit a new PR this year and have even better placement next year!

   
    

   

 I finished the race just before 9 and immediately headed for the bus, I only had two hours to shower, pack and get checked out. My Magical Express bus wasn’t picking me up until 1, so after I got cleaned up and packed up, I had lunch and worked on homework.

  

It was really weird going home right after a race, but I knew I still had another weekend of Disney fun to look forward to. The weekend went by really quickly and the weather was PERFECT the entire time. 

  

And I am now a three time Glass Slipper Challenge finisher!

  

And I’m totally bringing my medals back this weekend so Tim can take my picture in front of the Castle with them πŸ™‚

  

2016 ENELL Race Ambassador

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

So I have some exciting news to share! I’ve been selected to be a 2016 ENELL Race Ambassador! I love ENELL Sports Bras so I’m excited for the opportunity to represent them at a few races this year. You can check out the bios of all the 2016 Ambassadors here.

  

Before I found ENELL I was constantly doubling and tripling up on pull over sports bras and that still wasn’t enough. I had horrible chaffing and then would have to struggle to get the bras off which after a hard workout is NO FUN. ENELL provides the support I need during training and races and they clasp up the front so they come off easy when I’m done. I also haven’t had any major chaffing issues in the bra region (the pants are a different story) since I started wearing ENELL. Even after getting rained on during the Marine Corps Marathon, I was chafe free up top!

  
Getting Rained On Mid-Marathon

As an ENELL Ambassador I’ll be able to keep you in the loop on new Limited Edition Colors (I’m loving my Dazzling Blue limited edition bra right now,) discounts, and maybe I’ll even get to have a giveaway! Speaking of discounts, ENELL Lite Bras are currently 20% off on the website, no promo code necessary. I haven’t tried out an ENELL Lite yet, but for less intense activities it looks like something I could use!
For my first race as an ENELL Ambassador I will be running the 2016 Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon. It’s been a really long time since I’ve actually trained for a half marathon. I’ve mostly been running them as part of training for marathons or at Disney which just isn’t really a place I try to race because its too frustrating. The race is June 4, so it seems like plenty of time, but in reality its only 18 weeks away! I decided to consult the ASICS running app, and it seems to believe that if I follow their training plan three days a week, I can run a 2:25:59 half marathon. That would be freaking AWESOME. The training plan starts this week and I really want to do it and do it well! I’m excited to get going!
I have a few other races on my way to Annapolis though, I’m currently signed up for the following:
20-21 February – runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge (10k & Half Marathon) – Orlando, FL

13 March – Under Armour KELLY St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K – Baltimore, MD

2 April – Hot Chocolate 15k – Philadelphia, PA

16 April – Sole of the City 10k – Baltimore, MD
After Zooma, my schedule looks like this:
12 June – Escape the Cape Sprint Triathlon – Cape May, NJ (though I’m debating sitting this one out until my bike skills improve)

3 September – Charles Street 12 Miler – Baltimore, MD

18 September – Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon – Philadelphia, PA
My race schedule is looking a little light this year so far, but I’m sure I’ll add things as they pop up. I’m looking to add at least two more races this year as an ENELL Ambassador but I am trying to keep it local for the rest of the year after the Princess Half (but also contemplating throwing my name in the hat for the Chicago Marathon). Any suggestions for races in the NJ-PA-MD area? 

The 2016 runDisney Dopey Challenge

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So its been almost a month since the Dopey Challenge, and I’ve finally come back to say, I DID IT! Yep, I completed the 48.6 mile journey through Walt Disney World, something I never thought I would so especially after a horrible experience at last year’s Goofy Challenge. I didn’t have any big goals for these races, I really just wanted to complete each race within the “required” pace limit of 16 minutes per mile, so my goals were quite simple:
5k < 49:36

10k < 1:39:12

13.1 < 3:29:36

26.2 < 6:59:12
My normal race times are all well under these times, so I knew I mostly had it in the bag, I mean I ran a 5:51:09 marathon in October right? Just because I’ve BARELY RUN AT ALL SINCE THEN, I still felt confident. Last year it took me 3:19:53 to complete the half and 7:10:46 to finish the full. I was so disappointed that I finished over the “required” pace, I felt like I didn’t even deserve the medals. Long port-a-potty lines and an upset stomach combined with an over crowded course, rain, humidity and blisters from hell all contributed to my WORST RACE EVER. This year I was determined to get all my races done this year under the time limits.

My sister and my Dad would be accompanying me on this trip, so I drove up to New Jersey after work on Tuesday evening. When I got to my parents house I found out that my Dad hurt his back and he wouldn’t be able to come on the trip, so we had a lot of frantic room and flight canceling to do. 
Since I was running all four races, I needed to be at the expo for packet pick up on Wednesday, so I booked an mid-morning flight and figured we’d have plenty of time to get to the expo in the afternoon, before it closed at 8.
And then our flight got delayed.
And delayed again.
Why? Because the plane we were supposed to be getting on… GOT SENT SOMEWHERE ELSE BY MISTAKE… What?! Seriously United? SERIOUSLY? There were a lot of runners pacing around the airport nervously awaiting their flight.
We didn’t even board the plane until after we were supposed to be landing in Orlando, I was starting to get nervous.

  

When we finally did arrive in Orlando bag pick up was a WRECK! United Airlines really needs to get their act together. I’ve never seen so many people from so many flights waiting for bags at the same carousel before.

 
 

Luckily my Aunt and her husband were able to pick us up at the airport and drop us off at our hotel, All-Star Music, so that helped to save a bit of time, but we were still cutting it close. We got checked into our room which was of course ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK of the resort, so we hustled to drop off our bags and then hustled back up to the main building to wait for a bus to the expo. We made it to the expo by 7:15, which was cutting it really close, but luckily we made it. 
The first thing I did was grab my packet, get my photo taken and then get my shirts. Luckily for Dopey everything is right there. I wanted to exchange my 5k T-shirt for a smaller size though because the unisex t-shirts run a big larger than the woman’s cut shirts so we headed over to the expo. We grabbed a pretzel to share because we were STARVING. I traded in my shirt, and then checked out official merchandise. I decided to buy a Dopey “I Did It!” shirt. I’ve never once bought a piece of official merchandise, but it was orange, and they had my size, and its 48.6 FREAKING MILES. Yea, I needed it.
Finally we were done with our expo business, with about 15 minutes to spare. Exhausting.

 

What do you mean I still have 48.6 miles to run?


 
We made our way back to the hotel and grabbed some food, and then had to get back to the room so I could unpack my outfit for the 5k and get into bed.
I set my alarm for 4am, I wasn’t really in my usual panic and wake up extra early runDisney mode for some reason. I rolled out of bed around 4:15, threw on some clothes, and I was on a bus by 4:45.

 
 

It was quick and easy to get through the security checkpoint and then I hit up a port-a-potty and made my way to Corral D to wait for the race to start. Once the race started, I took it nice and slow as I made my way through EPCOT. I stopped for a few selfies and other pictures along the way, and before I knew it, I was done in 43:27. I was under the required pace and had my first medal.

   
    
    

   

I headed back to the room for a shower and nap until my sister was ready to wake up. We had some breakfast and then made our way over to the Magic Kingdom to ride some rides.

   
    
 

After a while we decided to head over to the Polynesian and hung out on the swinging chairs for a while until it was time for Trader Sam’s to open and we were lucky enough to get in with the first seating. We got seats at the bar and both ordered a Hippo-Poto-Mai-Tai because seriously, we needed those souvenir tiki glasses.

   
   

After that, we wandered around Disney Springs for a bit and I had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and then it was time to head back to the hotel to get my 10k outfit together and crawl into bed early.
Friday morning was much like Thursday morning, just a half hour earlier. And it was raining. Yay.
There was another bus, another security checkpoint, another port-a-potty stop and then some waiting in the corrals in the rain. I didn’t take any pictures during this race because I kept my iPhone in a ziplock baggie in my water bottle pouch for safe keeping during the entire race. I took my time during the race because I didn’t want to go all out the day before the half marathon, but I also didn’t want to spend too much time in the rain. I finished in 1:25:07 and collected my second piece of bling under the time limit.

  

I headed back to the hotel for a shower and another nap until my sister was ready to go for the day. By now, she was starting to feel a little under the weather, so we decided we would take it easy. We missed all of our EPCOT fast passes, but as it turned out, our Test Track pass was canceled due to the rain in the morning, so we were allowed to use one fast pass where ever we wanted at whatever time of the day, score!
We headed over to EPCOT around 1 for our lunch reservation at the San Angel Inn and I had some delicious enchiladas for lunch. Then we made our way around the world showcase and I collected candy to take home from a few of the countries. After roaming around for a while we decided to hit up Test Track with our fast pass and then visited Spaceship Earth on our way out of the park. I noticed I was starting to get small blisters on the bottoms of my toes, and was worried it was from the wet shoes, but oh well, I’d have to deal with it. I grabbed some create your own pasta from the dining area at our hotel for dinner and turned in early once again.

   
   

Saturday morning I woke up at 3:30 again, and got ready for the half marathon. I had no problem catching a bus around 4:15 and making it to EPCOT the day before for the 10k, so I decided to do the same for the half marathon. There was a bit more traffic getting over to EPCOT but it was still no big deal. And then I got to the security checkpoint.

   
 What the hell?! It was a cluster of madness! It was so chaotic and unorganized and even though I got there at 4:30, I didn’t make it through this mess until 5:05 and still had the long shuffle back to the corrals. There was no time for a port-a-potty break, I was still trying to get to my corral when the first ones were going off. Luckily I am not fast, so there was still time before Corral J would be leaving, but it has never EVER taken me over an hour from the time I got off the bus to get to the corrals. I made a mental note to give myself an extra 15 minutes on Sunday for the marathon.
It was humid and foggy and gross, but here I was, once again running down the road, making my way to the Magic Kingdom. I was a hot sweaty mess that didn’t have time to stop at a port-a-potty before the race, so I found myself waiting in a long line for one just before mile 3.
After my potty break, I felt much better and continued on to the Ticket and Transportation Center. Before I knew it I was making my way down Main Street towards a hazed over castle, which reminded me a lot of my first half marathon, the 2014 Disney Princess Half.

   
   

Soon enough we were out of the Magic Kingdom and heading back to EPCOT. I continued to take my time, and tried not to get too fed up with the crowds. There were so many points where you couldn’t run even if you really wanted to, and I reminded myself that I had plenty of time, I wasn’t looking for a PR. I grabbed a selfie with a Green Army Man and continued on to the final stretch to EPCOT.

   
 

Once we got back to EPCOT I decided I needed a safety selfie, and then I saw my favorite! Vacation Genie! I already have a picture with him, but I still had about 20 minutes left on the required pace clock and his line wasn’t too long, so I decided to stop and wait. So worth it.

  

I ran past the Gospel Choir and then made my way to the finish line race three was done and I only had 26.2 miles to go.

  

I also found my lost BB-8 unit at the finish line. Mission accomplished.

  

I made my way back to the hotel and grabbed some breakfast to go from the food court to eat in the room after my shower. I realized the blisters on my feet were starting to look bad and I knew if I had any chance of surviving the marathon, today had to be an easy day on the feet. My sister was more than happy to spend the day in the hotel room because she was really feeling sick. We skipped all of our fast pass reservations at Animal Kingdom and didn’t leave the room until 4:45 to make our way over to the Boardwalk for 5:45 dinner reservations. I ate more pasta, and I was ready to head back to the room for the night.

  

When we left the restaurant it was POURING so we had to buy ponchos and then we didn’t want to walk far to the buses so we hopped on a boat to EPCOT. By the time we got off the boat the rain was calming down, so it wasn’t so bad walking through EPCOT to the buses, but my feet were wet again and my blisters weren’t happy. We took another tour of Spaceship Earth because there was no line and why not?!

  

I was starting to feel like I was getting a sore throat, so I grabbed some cough drops to carry with me during the marathon and then laid out my outfit for the marathon when we got back to the room. I was in bed by 9 and sleeping by 9:15.
It was here! Marathon day! 3:30am I sprung out of bed, coated my feet in bodyglide and band aids and prayed. I was on a bus by 4am and headed to EPCOT. 
When I got there I was pleasantly surprised to see that they reorganized the security checkpoint and things were flowing much smoothly. As soon as I got through, I started my walk back to the corrals and decided to use a port-a-potty when I got there. I didn’t want a repeat of last year when I had to stop within the first mile of the race, and then again and again and again.
I made it to my corral just as the fireworks for the first corral were going off and just after 6am I was off and running. It was crowded and relatively uneventful. I was taking my time, but also didn’t want to waste any time by stopping for pictures in the first half. I just kept on trucking, running when I could, walking when it was too crowded to do anything else, and just making my way through the course. Just after leaving the Magic Kingdom, so not far after the 10k mark, I felt the Band-Aid slip off my toe on my left foot. The pain was horrible, but I just kept going until it basically went numb with pain. This was going to be a long day.
There were tons and tons of photo stops on the long stretch to the Animal Kingdom with lots of villains you don’t normally see out. I wanted to stop, but I was so worried about getting a stomach ache in the second half like I did last year, so I wanted as much wiggle room in the second half as possible, I couldn’t let myself stop.
When we made it to the Animal Kingdom I took a quick selfie with the Tree of Life and then contemplated riding Expedition Everest, but I knew it would be a bad choice, so I kept moving along.

  

Outside Animal Kingdom I saw the best sign ever.

  

And then we looped around the boring parking lot where I felt the Band-Aid slip off my toe on my right foot. More horrible pain, just keep running until it goes numb! Halfway there and my blisters were not happy, but I kept moving towards Wide World of Sports.
Once again Wide World of Sports seemed to take forever to get through, but at least this time I didn’t have to stop for any extended bathroom breaks. When I finally made it out, I was glad to see there were still people entering the complex, the year before the roads were clear and the sweepers had already been through. I knew I had plenty of time when I saw that the balloon ladies were still not in WWoS, I was going to be okay, unless something really bad happened, I was not going to get swept and I was well on track for making it in under 7 hours. 

  

When I got to Hollywood Studios I was so excited for chocolate! I ate three pieces of Dove Chocolate because I was starving. Then we ran through the stupid tunnel with flashing lights that I hate. Seriously runDisney, WHY YOU TRYING TO MAKE PEOPLE HAVE SEIZURES AT MILE 23 OF A MARATHON?
After emerging from the tunnel of doom, I saw Boo! I’ve never seen Boo out on the course so I just had to stop, she hardly had a line and I knew I had plenty of time.

  

I continued on through Hollywood Studios and then out to the path to the Boardwalk. By now I was just ready to be done, and so was my Nike+ watch because it turned off just before entering the World Showcase of EPCOT. The final stretch!
There were tons of characters out and no lines at all, but I was so ready to be done I didn’t stop for any pictures, I just kept pushing forward. My feet were burning, but I was a thousand times less miserable than the year before, and for that I was grateful.
And then I saw the Gospel Choir and the 26 mile marker. I couldn’t believe that I was about to finish my FOURTH full marathon, and as part of the Dopey Challenge no less. I was so excited and I knew based on the time on my Garmin Vivofit that I was doing it well under 7 hours.
6:44:05 actually. Yes, this time is way off my October marathon PR and even my NYC Marathon time, but I wasn’t trying to be fast. I was just trying to finish under the required time.
I crossed the finish line, collected my medals and found my sister. I texted my Mom and Tim and even though my feet hurt like hell, I was so happy and felt so so so much better than the year before. I FREAKING DID IT.

  

My sister looked like hell. She was sick. We hobbled back to the hotel and she made an appointment for Urgent Care while I bought myself a cookie and a coke.
We slowly made our way back to the room and I got my shoes off and took note of the damage. My feet were COVERED in blisters in places I’ve never got them before (they’re actually still healing a month later). I laid on the floor with my feet up on the bed, and my sister literally stepped over my body to get to the door to leave for Urgent Care, we were quite the hot mess.
I eventually crawled (seriously) to the bathroom to take a shower and had to wear my flip flops in the shower because it hurt to badly to stand barefoot. I got myself cleaned up, threw on my PJs and crawled into bed to enjoy my cookie. I tried to take a nap but the adrenaline was still running through me and before I knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner reservations at O’Hana. My sister got back from Urgent Care with anti-biotics and soft food and decided she would have to sit dinner out. Luckily I was also meeting up with my friend Amanda and her fiancΓ© Josh who live in Orlando, so my celebration dinner wouldn’t have to be a solo one.

  

I got dressed in my I Did It shirt and threw on my Dopey Medal and Amanda and Josh picked me up and we headed to dinner which was delicious. We even got to watch Wishes while we were eating dessert, it was a great ending to the day.

   
    
   

The next morning my feet still hurt, but I got ready and made my way to the food court for breakfast and brought my sister pancakes. She wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to make my way to Hollywood Studios alone while she rested. I wandered around for a bit and then found my BB-8 cup!

  

I rode the boat over to EPCOT and had a photo shoot with my medals and some guacamole in Mexico.

  

I wandered around the World Showcase until it was time to head back to Hollywood Studios for my Star Tours and Toy Story Mania fast passes. I’ve never done Disney rides alone before, but it wasn’t too bad.

   
 

After Toy Story Mania I made my way over to the Magic Kingdom (yes that’s right, I did three parks in one day on Dopey blisters) to meet my sister and Aunt for dinner at Be Our Guest, but first I needed bling pictures in front of the castle.

   
 

Dinner was tasty and of course we had to try the grey stuff.

   
    
 I closed out the night with selfies with the Beast.

  

And Wishes selfies.

  

It was time to head back to the hotel and pack up for our morning flight!
I know this was a dreadfully long post, but thanks for sticking with me! I’ve got some exciting news to share next week so I didn’t want to break this up into multiple posts.
I’m not sure if I’ll be back for Marathon Weekend next year, and if I am, I’m thinking it will be ‘only’ for the marathon, we’ll see. If I’m not back next year, I definitely have my sights on 2018 for the 25th Marathon and 5 year Dopey anniversary medals.
I’ll close this post by saying… What a world of difference a year makes…

  

2015 In Review

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Before I get to far into 2016 and head off to Walt Disney World AGAIN, I just wanted to do a quick recap of my 2015 adventures in life.

January:

I started the year with the Goofy Challenge, completing my 9th half marathon and 2nd marathon, which was easily the hardest race of my life.

  
February:

I returned to Walt Disney World for my second Glass Slipper Challenge and ran my 10th half marathon in 365 days.

  
March:

I turned 29 and launched myself into the last year of my twenties which would hold a lot of life changes for me. I also ran half marathon number 11 at the New York City Half Marathon.

  
April:

I ran a 5k, an 8k, and a 10k this month and had a rough month in general.
  
May:

I earned my Pink Coast to Coast medal when I ran the Pixie Dust Challenge in Disneyland, completing my 12th half marathon and I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I also broke up with my boyfriend and ran the Broad Street 10 Miler.
  
June:

I threw myself a pity party, hung out with my dog a lot, didn’t log a single run all month for the first time since 2013 and found myself a new place to live.
  
July:

I got back into running with a 5k in Baltimore, placed first in my division in my triathlon that didn’t get completed swim, ran another 5k while eating ice cream and packed up my apartment.
  
August:

I moved into my own place for the first time since 2012 and got my butt in gear for Marine Corps Marathon training.
  
September:

I ran the Charles Street 12 in Baltimore, I Beat the Blerch, got upset over a canceled 5k swim and continued on my marathon training.
  
October:

October was freaking awesome. I took a trip to Texas to visit a good friend and saw New Found Glory and ran a “10 mile” race while I was there. I PR’d in my 13th half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival by more than 9 minutes totally by accident, I met a new boy and then PR’d at the Marine Corps Marathon by more than 26 minutes, reaching my goal to PR and also breaking 6 hours.
  
November:

I caught some kind of plague on a work trip to Alabama and spent the entire month of November sick, but that didn’t stop me from attending Wine and Dine which turned my 14th half marathon into a quarter marathon (I was kind of grateful for the lightening because I was sick) and then ran my actual 14th half marathon in Annapolis later in the month… While still being sick.
  
December:

I ran a couple of holiday 5ks and celebrated the season, I also completed my first semester of grad school.

  
It was quite an eventful year and I earned twenty-seven medals. A lot of things have changed over the last year, and I’m so excited to see what 2016 has to offer! My first goal: Tackle the Dopey Challenge this weekend!

A 2015 Update

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

This has been a crazy year, and I’m so sorry for not checking in more often, next year I’m going to make more of an effort on this blog because it helps to keep me in check with my fitness goals.  2015 started out as a really rough year for me, the first nine months I was convinced this was shaping up to be the worst year ever.  It started out rough right off the bat with my WORST racing experience ever – the Walt Disney World Marathon in January.  It was then followed by a series of really crummy races, a hard break up, moving and adjusting to living on my own again and going back to school to pursue a Masters in Business Management.  I was not having a good time.

  
That is NOT the face of someone having a good time, seriously my skirt is even backwards.

But then October rolled around and everything changed.  I ran three races that month.  The Texas 10 Miler Series Race in Fort Worth Texas and while this race ended up being short (8.9 miles) I still set a personal best time (and totally would have come in under 2 hours for the full 10 miles) so I went into my next race with confidence – The Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon.  Though I didn’t expect to get a PR, I was sure I could run a solid race and do better than my 3 hours the year before.  But I SMASHED my PR by more than 9 minutes and felt fantastic.  The next week I went into the Marines Corps Marathon feeling great and smashed my marathon PR by more than 26 minutes and reached my 2015 goal of running a marathon under 6 hours.

  
A much better finish line face.

In October I also met a new guy, and he’s been fantastic.  He’s very supportive of my ridiculous racing habits, even though he has no desire to participate himself, and has even waited around at a couple finish lines for me without complaint or protest.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about him in the future πŸ™‚

Oh and guess what, I got A’s in both my classes this semester in grad school! Woohoo!  Right now I’m enjoying a little time off from school, but spring semester starts up the day after I return from Florida and the Dopey Challenge.

So yea, 2015 was a year of big changes and while it started off really hard, I’m really happy with where I am right now, and I’m looking forward to what 2016 has in store for me, even if it is the year I turn the big 3-0. ::gulp::

I’ll be back next week with some exciting news for 2016 and a recap of my 2015 in races, since I was so bad about keeping up with recaps this year, so keep an eye out for that post!

And if you celebrate, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

  

My 2015 Christmas Tree πŸ™‚

Marine Corps Marathon 2015 – Race Recap

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I couldn’t believe it, Marine Corps Marathon was finally here after months of anticipation from March when I signed up with Runner’s World Challenge!  I woke up Saturday morning to head down to my friend Patty’s house in Alexandria where I would be staying for the weekend.  We discussed our plan of attack for the weekend over lunch and decided it would be best that I head into DC solo and let Patty get her afternoon nap in (she’s four months pregnant) since she wouldn’t be getting one on Sunday due to spectating.  After a crash course on the DC Metro map I was off!
 
DC is easy enough to navigate and honestly, I just followed the hoards of people dressed in old race shirts and running sneakers from the Metro to the Convention Center. 
  
Entering the expo.

I probably spent more time traveling to/from the expo than I actually spent AT the expo.  I was able to head right over to the Runner’s World booth to pick up my packet and VIP wrist bands for my spectators instead of waiting in the general packet pick up line and that was awesome.  Then I headed over to the official merchandise area, but it was the afternoon of the last day of the expo so they pretty much only had things left in sizes extra small and small on the women’s side.  That was okay though, nothing really jumped out at me that I had to have anyways.
 
 
Expo!

I wandered around the expo for a little bit, spun a wheel at the Dunkin Donuts booth and won a travel coffee mug.  Then I decided I would track down the Nuun booth and replenish my supply before heading out.  I was wearing my t-shirt from the Nuunbassador virtual race, and so the guy who sold me my Watermelon and Cherry Limeade Nuun asked if I was indeed an Nuunbassador, when I said yes, he said that’s awesome, you’re getting the last MCM Nuun bottle today!  That was nice, because I was pretty sure they would all be gone by the time I got there!  After that I decided to head back to the Metro and take selfies with my bottle like a weirdo.
  
Nuunbassador Metro Selfies
 
When I got back to Patty’s house, nap time had just ended so we got ready for dinner and headed back out again.  After dinner we relaxed with some Rutgers football and then I started to lay out all of my things for the morning.  Around 10 I set my alarm for 4am and hit the hay.
 
Before I knew it my alarm was going off, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had slept rather well.  I got up, got ready, walked the dog and before I knew it I was ready to head out the door! 
   
My best 4:42am “let’s do this!” Face.

 

 Biblife

My goal was to leave by 5am and I was in my car at 4:58am so I was right on schedule, which never happens for me ha!  When I turned on the car, NSYNC was on the radio and I knew it was going to be a good day.  When I arrived at the metro, parking was easy and I was on the first train of the morning headed to the Pentagon.  I chatted with some runners on the train, and continued to chat with one on the way to the start village.  She had done Runner’s World Challenge at the WDW Marathon.  We talked about how running marathons really isn’t that fun when you think about it, and she just kept saying how she was dreading the 14th StreetBridge, hooray, something to look forward to!
 
We waited in line for about 15-20 minutes to get through security into the start village and it was really odd that they were allowing spectators and all their bags to go through.  It seemed like if they had a separate entrance for them, or didn’t allow them to go in at all that things would have been a lot quicker for the runners.  It wasn’t even crowded yet, and before 6am and the lines were already taking some time.  I wasn’t worried though because I knew I had plenty of time.  It was a little chilly though and starting to drizzle again so I just wanted to get to the Runner’s World tent!
 
I got to the Runner’s World tent just after 6am and it was nice and warm and dry and there were bagels and coffee! I was set for the next hour or so just hanging out.  They also had a private bag check for us, so I dropped off my very first checked bag at a race ever, since I knew they would transport it to the after-race reception for easy pick up.  Also, it was going to be a rainy day so I wanted to pack a change of clothes in case I needed them after the race.  After dropping my bag, I hit up the private port-a-potties and decided that the extra money I spent on the Runner’s World Challenge was well worth it.  I turned off my phone to save my battery since I knew I wouldn’t have any spectators until the second half, wrapped it up in a ziplock  bag and stowed it away and headed out into the rain to the start line.
  
Breakfast of champions.
 
I lined up between the 5:30 and 5:45pace groups.  I knew that was a bit ambitious, but not too far off my goal. I was wearing my 5:45 pace band and wanted to keep at that pace or faster for the first half, that was my goal. There seemed to be spectators lining up at the start which was odd.  I made it just in time to see the giant American flag parachute in and the Osprey’s fly over and before I knew it we were inching towards the start line. I don’t have any photos since my phone was packed away but it was awesome! Somehow our side ended up getting to the start line before the 5:30 pace group, so I was a big further up than I would have liked and knew I would end up getting sucked up into their group at some point.
 
And just like that I was off on another 26.2 mile journey, surrounded by thousands of runners who I would spend the next three miles going uphill with.  I knew we were going uphill, a lot of people were complaining about going uphill, a lot of spectators were holding signs about running uphill, but for the second week in a row, the damn hills didn’t phase me.  I didn’t realize just how uphill we were going until I looked at my elevation chart later in the day on Nike+.
 
It was crowded, and I mean, really crowded.  I was keeping all the way right, in the shoulder of the road, and people were barreling past on my right still, and being super rude, pushing and shoving people.  I wasn’t really sure why the hell this kept happening repeatedly well into mile 10, its not like I lined up with the 4 hour pace group, I was back with the 5:30 pace group.  Later I would find out it was because there were massive massive delays at the security entrance to runners village and a LOT of people started the race late. 
 
I can’t really remember much about the landmarks or what I was surrounded by, I just remember feeling really freaking great!  I wasn’t tired or winded at all.  I was chatting with other runners around me from time to time.  There were spectators everywhere.  I kept playing leap frog with a couple different groups.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time.  There were people with flags all over the place, it was just a really good time.  The rain picked up quite a bit in the early miles, but I’d say by mile 5 it was all but done.  Every time I hit a mile marker, I looked down at my 5:45 pace band and I was so on point with it.  I was running a RIDICULOUSLY consistent pace.
 
Since I can’t remember what was around me while I was running, besides lots of happy people, we’ll go ahead and recap what I ate, because, well, that’s what I was paying attention to.  I was taking a cup of water at about every other water station and nursing my bottle of Watermelon Nuun in between. Around mile six I took my first Salted Carmel Gu and downed it with some water.  At mile 9 there were ORANGES! Yes! I had two slices and then almost busted my ass on an orange peel in the road.
  
I don’t usually look this happy during races!
 
I kept on trucking and eventually we were hitting Haines Point.  I remember this part quite well because that’s where the blue mile was with the pictures of the Marines who lost their lives for our country.  I tried to read the name of each one as I passed the signs.  Shortly after this was the Cliff Shot Gel station.  I still had a Gu left, but decided to take a Cliff Shot Gel and save my Gu for later.  I had a mocha gel and it was delicious, like a cup of coffee!
 
And then BAM! I hit the half way mark! 2:51:20 was my 13.1 mile split, so much better than I ever thought possible.  I had been pacing so consistently and felt so great, while I knew I would likely lose some time in the second half, I was pretty positive I was going to come in under 6 hours which was my best case scenario goal.  At the half way point, I was even shocked that it just might be possible to hit a goal I hadn’t even set and break 5:45.
 
Since I was past the halfway mark, it was time to turn on my phone! I was pleasantly surprised to see I had received a couple good luck texts from friends so I responded to them and then sent Patty a text to let her know I was past the halfway mark.  Apparently I was moving faster than either of us had expected and she hadn’t met up with my other friend Karen yet, so she wasn’t sure if they’d catch me coming off Haines Point.  They didn’t, and that was okay.
 
The next few miles were kind of a blur, but I remember seeing a band play and running loops around the national mall.  I saw Patty and Karen around mile 17 by the Washington Monument and Patty had a fun-sized Snickers bar waiting for me… So I picked up the pace.
 
As I passed them and grabbed the Snickers I shouted NINE MILES TO GO! And shoved that candy in my face.  Patty then texted to let me know they would see me again between miles 19 and 20 just before the damn 14th Street Bridge.  I kept on running, kept on with my solid pace and at some point they were handing out Sports Beans!  I love Sports Bean! So I ate them. Yum. 
  
Haha my face.
 
Not long after the Sports Beans I saw Patty and Karen again and Patty handed me a red starburst and yelled SEE YOU AT THE FINISH!
 
It was now time for me to BEAT THE DAMN BRIDGE.  I’m not really sure what the rules are here.  Do you just have to make it TO the bridge before 1:15 or do you have to be OVER the bridge by 1:15.  Not quite sure.  I just know this is the worst bridge ever. All of a sudden I flashed back to a year ago at the Army Ten Miler.  Somehow I had blocked this bridge out of my memory but it was all flooding back now.  THIS BRIDGE SUCKS.  It goes up and down and up and down and there’s no shade (so of course this was just about the only time during the whole race that the sun decided to come out in full force) there are no spectators, there are no water stops, just two miles of bridgy hell. 
  
Yep, that bridge.
 
I had been KILLING this race.  My goal was to make it to the half on the 5:45 pace, and here i was hitting up mile 21 STILL ON THE PACE.  Seriously I was stoked, but I let the bridge get to me.  I was surrounded by people who were doing nothing but walking.  Everyone looked miserable.  I let the bridge break me.  I fell off my intervals for the first time that day.  It was too miserable, I had to bust out my headphones.  I’d need some music to get me over this thing.
 
I believe I exited the bridge just before 1, and a nice lady handed me a bite sized Snickers.
 
By the time I hit mile 23 I was a minute behind the 5:45 pace band. DAMNIT BRIDGE!  My mental game was shot.  We were entering Crystal City and surrounded by cheering spectators, I probably should have taken my headphones off and let the cheers of the crowd carry me, but i was grumpy and I was walking a lot more than I wanted.  I was starting to hurt and I was beating myself up over that, which is ridiculous.  You’re almost to mile 24 OF COURSE EVERYTHING HURTS JESSICA!  I was running as much as I could, but on no specific intervals.  I also had a bag of Swedish Fish in Crystal City.  They were good.
  
This wasn’t actually in Crystal City, but what I imagine my face to have looked like the whole time there.
 
Then a Marine handed me a cup with two chocolate glazed munchkins in it.  I ate one and chucked the other.  I think that was the last thing I ate.
 
Before I knew it I hit the 40k mat at 5:31:29.  I had fallen off the 5:45pace, but I had almost a half hour to go less than a mile and a half if I wanted to break 6 hours, I knew I had it and was so excited.  I put away my headphones.  My thighs were starting to tighten up, but I knew mile 26 was just ahead and my friends would be there.  I ran to my friends and then I walked until I hit the hill.  Once I hit the hill I ran with everything I had left in me to the finish line.  I was high fiving Marines left and right as they yelled that the finish line was just up the hill.  It was amazing.
 
As I approached the finish line, for the first time ever I heard the announcer say my name!  I looked down at my watch and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, I didn’t just break 6 hours, I CRUSHED it.  
  
A look of disbelief?
 
I threw my hands up in the air and crossed that finish line.
  
 Victory!

5:51:09, 26 minutes and 28 seconds faster than New York City. And like an hour and 20 minutes faster than WDW, but I feel like I can’t even count that. 
 
I got my medal.
  
My freakin’ AWESOME medal!
 
I got my jacket.
 
I got my food box.
 
I walked behind a puppy in a wagon because somehow spectators were all over the runner’s finishing chute and it was impossible to move.
  
Puppy wagon!
 
I finally found my friends, and we headed to the Hyatt for the Runners’ World after party.  I was feeling pretty good, and Patty was noting how much better I was walking than most of the other people with medals around their necks.
 
When we got to the Hyatt, I found my bag, and then someone asked me if I’d like to hang out in the recovery room for a bit.  I responded with, no thanks, where’s the food?  Are you sure you don’t want to stay a bit in here?  Nope, food please.  So you’re leaving the recovery area? Would you like your treat?…. Is it food?  Its a cookie.  Yes, I’ll take a treat then.
 
We ate food, and then plotted our escape from DC back to VA and I finally got a shower about 3 hours later, packed up my things and headed back to Maryland.
 
Overall it was an awesome day, and I’m so very happy with my time.  I blew my half marathon and full marathon PRs out of the water in a weeks time, how awesome is that?
 
And check out my totally awesome splits (until the damn bridge).
  
 
After the race I decided that I would not be running in the New York City Marathon this year.  After two weekends in a row of major PRs I don’t want to blow it.  I also don’t even want to think about sitting on Staten Island for six hours in the cold before the race.  AND I have to go on travel for work Monday, so its just not worth it.  I’m taking a well deserve weekend off from racing and I will be back at it on November 7th at Wine and Dine!