Friday, January 18, 2013

I ran a marathon and then sat on my couch a lot.

I've been doing a whole lot of reading about how long one should recover from a marathon.  And by "a whole lot of reading" I mean that I've done some Google searches because it sounded better than doing the things I actually need to do like finish cleaning my apartment, do my dishes, or generally function as a productive adult.  And what I've learned is that it's a complete crap shoot.  Some people take a day off for every mile, which would mean 26 days of no hard running.  Some people run two days after the marathon.  I'm going the route of sitting on my couch and eating as though I just ran the marathon.


I considered trying exercise today, but the thought was short lived.  I have kind of let my apartment fall into ruin lately, so I spent several hours this morning working on that.  It isn't completely done (still haven't taken down my Christmas tree...) but it's a vast improvement.  And I learned the following things today while cleaning:
  1. I never need to purchase another tank top, pair of running shoes, bottle of shower gel, or sugar scrub ever again.  Seriously.  I know The Body Shop does great deals, but this is out of hand.  I have four unopened tubs of sugar scrub sitting in my bathroom right now.  Not proud.
  2. I shouldn't be allowed anywhere near Old Navy's sweater section.
  3. I desperately need hangers and a Swiffer.
  4. The Magic Eraser is a gift from God.
And that's it.  These are my contributions to the world today.  You're welcome.



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Thursday, January 17, 2013

I RAN A MARATHON (the long awaited part three)

Walt Disney World Marathon Recap Part Three: The Race!

Please forgive the fact that it took me a day and a half to get to part three - I had work and then I had to drop Jamie off at the airport because he's leaving for six days, which means obviously I had to spend lots of time crying and emotionally eating.  


But now that I have blogged about the training (kind of) and the expo (in detail), it's time to actually talk about the marathon itself.

This marathon had an early start - the first wave started at 5:30 am.  The race instructions stated that you needed to be in your corral by 5:00 am or you would not be allowed to run.  Since I wanted to have a little something to eat before I left my apartment, and I wanted a good parking spot once I got to Epcot, I knew I needed to leave crazy early.  I ended up setting my alarm for 2 am, which was revolting.  But it gets worse - I was really anxious and had trouble sleeping, and for some reason, I was wide awake at 1:20 am.  So I got an extra early start!

Because there was so much time before I got up and when I was actually going to start running (my wave was set to start at 6:10 am), I knew my typical routine of getting out of bed, taking one Clif Shot gel with some water, getting dressed and getting out the door was not going to work.  So a good four hours before the race even started, I was breaking one of the big rules - I was trying something new on race day.  I made myself an egg and an English muffin and hoped for the best.

I went through several wardrobe options before I finally settled on a suitable marathon outfit.  I had actually gone to Lululemon the day before the marathon (read: Jamie, the nicest boyfriend ever, had taken me because I was having a fit about needing a new marathon outfit) and ended up not actually wearing the outfit that I had bought (Jamie and I aren't talking about it), but of course I was all decked out in Lululemon because I have an obsession.  I ended up wearing these crops, which had gotten me through my 22-miler, because I was hoping that they would give my still-slightly-unhappy right knee some extra support.  I also wore this top because it's cute, it's not super hot, it protects my skin from the evil chafing seams of my Camelbak, and unlike many of my running tops right now, it doesn't make me feel like a stuffed sausage.


I had my iPod shuffle packed with some new songs, a new Bondi Band on that said "26.2" right on my forehead, my Camelbak with a bunch of Walt Disney World "I'm Celebrating!" buttons on it, and my running sunglasses.  I was ready to go.  I packed extra Clif Shot gels and Shot Blox and headed over to Epcot.

I was feeling super anxious as I drove to the race, but once I got there, I started getting more and more excited.  I got a pretty good parking spot at Epcot, and I was able to see Jamie, who was working in the parking lot for the event.  He gave me a good luck hug and told me how proud he was of me - he's a keeper.  I also got to meet up with a friend of mine from the Jungle Cruise who has run the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge a few years in a row now.  She is a complete rockstar and even though she was sore from the half marathon the day before (no kidding!!) she made it through the full marathon no problem.  PLUS I had one of my awesome Weight Watchers members from Colorado come to run the marathon too!  I was so crazy proud of her I could hardly believe it.  Being around those positive influences, and being around the energy of everyone at the corrals made the time go by pretty quickly, and before long, I was taking my Clif Shot and getting ready to start.  The fireworks for our wave went off and then it was time to go!



I took the first couple miles VERY slowly.  I was trying to avoid going out too fast, and I was trying to gauge how my right knee was going to hold up.  Honestly, I was afraid I was not going to be able to finish the race, and I have to admit that I was terrified of that possibility.  I really wanted to finish, even if my time was terrible, because I had worked so hard and told everyone for so long that I was running the marathon and I didn't want to give up now.  

I had trained for the marathon using a 2:1 interval, where I ran for two minutes and then walked for one minute.  I had used that interval for the 17, 20, and 22 miler runs, so I knew I could do it.  But when I tried to do that in mile two of the marathon, my knee pain flared up.  I dropped down to a 1:1 interval of running for one minute and walking for one minute, and the pain let up.  I realized at that point that if I wanted to finish the marathon, I was going to have to throw my pace out the window and just try to keep my knee happy.  I was hoping that if I went slow and easy for the first half of the marathon, I might be able to pick it up to the 2:1 interval for the second half.  I realize now that this was adorably ignorant, but it was still absolutely the right idea to cut the intervals and throw my time goal out the window.


The first four miles of the course were along Epcot Center Drive and World Drive, which means that they were on boring streets.  I don't remember if there were any characters along that stretch because I was mostly focused on my knee and keeping my pace down.  But soon we were getting to the Magic Kingdom!


I loved getting to the Magic Kingdom for two reasons - one was that it was fun to be in the park, especially Magic Kingdom, because I knew I was going to get to run through Cinderella's Castle.  The second reason is because I saw one of my fellow Cast Members just as I was turning towards the Magic Kingdom.  I yelled out her name and she seemed so genuinely excited to see me that I got a little bit of a push to keep going.  Running through the Magic Kingdom was way too fun.  I know I work there and I've been there a million times, but I have never gotten to run through Cinderella's Castle!  I even stopped and had a Cast Member take a picture of me in front of the castle :)


The section right after the Magic Kingdom was not so delightful.  Miles 7 and 8 were on a boring stretch of back road, and the sun was getting very hot and very bright.  Since we had started in the dark, I had completely forgotten to grab my sunglasses out of my car, so the sun was bugging me quite a bit.  If it had been a half marathon, I think I would have been in better spirits, but all I could think was that I still had 18 more miles to go.  I was trying to keep my thinking positive, but it was getting hard.  Around mile 9, we ran through the Walt Disney World Speedway - easily one of my least favorite parts of the race.  It was completely exposed to the sun and BORING.  I thought it would be a really fun stretch, but the "entertainment" along that part of the route was a bunch of random people with their classic cars.  The cars were cool, but the people with the cars were not.  Many of them were just sitting in lawn chairs staring at us.  No cheering, no smiling, no waving... nothing.  I don't mean to be high maintenance, but I'm running 26.2 miles here - could you at least stand up?

After the speedway, we had another stretch of regular street and then we got to Animal Kingdom at mile 12.  I was really excited to get to Animal Kingdom because I knew we were making progress!  I also loved running through Animal Kingdom during the Jingle Jungle 5K and the Wine & Dine Half, so I knew it would be entertaining, and it absolutely was.  I stopped and took a picture with Terk from Tarzan because there was no line and I thought why the heck not.  I look far too excited in the picture, but perhaps I had just had some Shot Blox and the caffeine was getting to me.


After Animal Kingdom was a tough stretch of parkway.  Several miles of tedious running, and it was VERY exposed to the sun.  We were past the halfway mark, but I didn't realize how hard it would be for me mentally to get over the fact that at the halfway mark, I still had a half marathon left.  That sounds so stupid, but it boggled my mind.  I got caught up in the numbers, and by mile 16, much earlier than I had expected, I hit a wall.


I was struggling and crashing hard.  The sun was getting to me, the heat was getting to me, and the fact that I still had 10 miles to go was completely overwhelming.  In desperation, I texted my mom and Jamie.  Both of them sent words of encouragement that helped for a little while, but I was still suffering.  One of my friends who was also running the marathon, Michael, texted me at that moment - he had finished already, but wanted to send me some motivation.  I texted back that I was crashing and he, too, sent me words of encouragement.  I was very grateful to have people sending me kind words, but it just wasn't enough.

That's when I got a great reminder of how awesome fellow runners can be.  A man running close by started asking if I was okay... I believe I had just finished an interval and muttered to myself "Oh dear God, I'm going to die" so I can understand why he was concerned.  I learned that it was his third Walt Disney World marathon, and he told me to remember that we were in single digits now - we were reaching the 17 mile mark, which meant only 9 more miles.  We were done with having double digit miles left.  Another man suggested that I get something in my stomach, so I took a few extra Shot Blox and drank some more water.

At mile 17, we entered the Wide World of Sports complex where the expo was held.  I hadn't realized that we would be spending 3 miles there, but it was a nice break from the parkway.  My favorite part of that stretch was when we were running on the stadium where the Atlanta Braves train.  It reminded me of doing the Colorado Rockies Home Run for the Homeless and running in Coors Field.  More of my fellow runners were supportive during this stretch - I talked with several women who encouraged and motivated me to keep going.  At the end of the Wide World of Sports complex, we had the "mile 20 spectacular" - since it was the 20th anniversary of the marathon, one of the big things happening was a celebration at mile 20.  Maybe it was the fact that I was hot, tired, and bitter, but I have to admit that I wasn't super impressed with the mile 20 spectacular.  I did get a picture with a crazy big Mike Wazowski, though!


I have to admit that this is where things get a little hazy.  I was mostly just trying to keep going.  I had dropped even the 1:1 interval and was now running for 30 seconds and then walking for 30 seconds.  Sometimes I was walking much more.  My legs were fighting me and I was very overheated.  I did drink water, but was getting scared that I was drinking too much water.  There was one point at which I got a little disoriented and thought I was going to faint.  I remember getting to Hollywood Studios at around mile 22ish.  There was a water station right when we entered where they were handing out mini chocolate bars as well.  I grabbed some and ate two immediately - they tasted fantastic and for about two minutes, they were the best decision ever.  Then after about 20 more minutes, they were the worst decision ever.  I had not experimented with anything other than Shot Blox during my runs, and I should not have started at mile 23.  Luckily, it didn't turn into a huge issue, but it made me very glad that I had also passed on the bananas being handed out earlier.

After Hollywood Studios, we ran along the Boardwalk and by the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.  This was a stretch that I definitely remembered from Wine & Dine, and while I knew we were getting close, I was still struggling.  Lucky for me, I have amazing people in my life.  As I finished the stretch on the Boardwalk and came up towards Epcot, a familiar face was on the horizon - my friend Michael who had texted me much earlier with encouragement was there.  He jumped in and walked with me for a minute with his arm around my shoulder, just talking to me.  I still can't believe that he had waited for me after he'd already finished the marathon himself, but he made all the difference in the world for me.  And just after he'd left, I came around the corner, got into the World Showcase in Epcot and saw Jamie.  He later told me that he'd gotten choked up seeing me come around that corner because he was so proud of me.  I was so excited to see him and to be in Epcot because I knew I had almost made it!  I wanted to get back to 1:1 intervals, but I knew my legs wouldn't let me, so I stuck to the 30 seconds of running and 30 seconds of walking all through World Showcase and towards the finish line.  One awesome surprise came just before the finish line - a whole gospel choir was singing for us!  That was easily one of the best things ever.


This point was just about mile 26, which meant that I was SO CLOSE TO THE FINISH LINE!  I made a couple turns and then I could see the finish line!  I wanted desperately to sprint towards it, but I knew I wouldn't make it, so I just tried to keep trucking.  I saw Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse near the end and I won't even lie - I started crying.  I ran across the finish line, threw my hands in the air, and then tried to just keep hobbling forward.  I got my medal and cried again.  It hadn't really sunk in that I had just successfully run the marathon - I mostly just felt tired and hot.  I really wanted to lay down.  I found Emily, my Weight Watchers buddy, who had ice strapped to her knees.  Smart lady, that one.  Then I found Jamie, who was incredibly nice and hugged me even though I was sweaty and disgusting, and let me cry onto his shoulder because I was an emotional wreck about having just finished this crazy ordeal.  He walked Emily and I to my car so that I could give her a ride back to her hotel, and then I drove home to meet him.  And because he's the best boyfriend ever, he came over to my apartment with chocolate milk and donuts.


After icing a little, I let Jamie be a real functional person and I passed out completely for about an hour and a half.  Then I ate more donuts, chips, and a massive burrito and passed out again.

My official time was 6:36:40.  I really wanted to finish in under 6 hours, but I knew that when I dropped my intervals down, I was going to slow my pace down a lot.  Am I disappointed in my time?  A little bit.  I was really beating myself up for it, but again, I have the best boyfriend of all time and he talked some sense into me.  So what if it took me longer than I expected it to?  I finished a marathon!  It was my first marathon and I finished it with no injuries, no health issues, no real problems at all.  I didn't stop at a single medical tent or a single Porta Potty (I avoid them like the plague).  I hadn't pooped my pants, I hadn't thrown up, and I was still able to walk afterwards. 

So now I am just insanely proud of myself.  As my Facebook status said immediately following the event: "I ran a marathon and did not die!"  It was a pretty awesome weekend.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I RAN A MARATHON (part two)

Walt Disney World Marathon Recap Part Two: The Expo

After several days of icing and stretching and trying to stay off my feet, I had decided that I was absolutely running the marathon, come hell or high water.  So obviously I did what anyone would do once they had come to that decision - I went to the expo and bought everything I could that said I ran a marathon so that I could brag about it for the next year and a half.


I went to the expo on Thursday, the very first day of the event, and I went right when it opened, all for one reason: Walt Disney World Marathon Dooney & Burke.  There was no way that I was running 26.2 miles and not getting a fabulous new bag out of it.  I loved the design because it was subtle, with a nice dark blue background and printed Mickey Mouse silhouettes on it.  The only things on the bag that suggested running were that one of the Mickeys is running and there's a little leather tag on it that has the logo for the 20th anniversary of the marathon.  I know these details because the small crossbody version of the bag is sitting right next to me.  No kidding, there was a special entrance just for the Dooney & Burke bags at the expo.  It was obviously my first stop.



Once I had that, I was happy and could proceed into the rest of the expo without having a heart attack.  



Everything started in the HP Field House with packet pickup.  I continue to be impressed with how smoothly things run at the runDisney expos, especially on the first day.  There were a ton of people there, but I got my waiver printed out super fast and there was barely a line to get my packet.  I appreciated the way it was set up - the packet pickup and some official runDisney merchandise was housed in the HP Field House, while the rest of the merchandise was over at the Jostens Center (all of this is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports which is massive).  I took advantage of the fact that there wasn't a crazy crowd for the runDisney merchandise at the Field House (and the fact that I get a discount on it) and bought myself some swag.  And by some swag, I mean all of the swag.




I really liked this shirt because it had a little tidbit for each mile of the marathon.  I especially like it now that I've finished the marathon and am so amused by the specific lines for some of the miles, but I'll get back to that.

After I'd purchased way too much of the official merchandise, I headed over to the Jostens Center to purchase way too much of the rest of the merchandise!


And purchase I did.  My favorite purchase was not so interesting, but felt great - I bought Biofreeze and  reusable ice packs.  I had never used Biofreeze before, but they had it in the medical tents at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and people were pouring it over themselves like it was holy water, so I thought it would be worth trying on my poor unhappy knee.  Sure enough, it was delightful.  The ice packs were because I was tired of my plastic baggies filled with ice leaking on my couch.

I also bought the shoes that are pictured above next to the marathon Mickey ears.  I was leaving the expo (Jamie doesn't believe this, so I'll say it again) - I SWEAR I WAS LEAVING THE EXPO when an announcement came over the loudspeakers that New Balance had just become the official running shoe of runDisney and in honor of that, they had released special limited edition running shoes exclusive to the expo.  The men's shoes were modeled after Mickey Mouse while the women's shoes were modeled after Minnie Mouse.  I swear I ran faster to get to that New Balance area than I did the entire marathon.  They had my size, I put them on and fell madly in love.  Did I need more running shoes?  Absolutely not.  Were they far too expensive?  Of course.  But do I love my new Minnie Mouse shoes so much it makes my head spin?  Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

The official picture of them behind the castle.  Love love love.

After I splurged on the shoes, I realized I needed to leave the expo before I ran out of money.  Now, to be perfectly honest, I did end up going back to the expo because other people wanted to go (and because I wanted to go again), and I did splurge a bit more.  I bought a few new Bondi Bands, one of which I wore for the marathon, and I also bought a couple sparkly gifts for myself... more on that later :)

(stay tuned for part three - THE ACTUAL MARATHON!)


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I RAN A MARATHON (part one)

You read that correctly - I actually ran a full marathon this weekend.


Believe me, I am probably as shocked as you are.  I cannot believe I made it through 26.2 miles.  So let's go through the journey together, shall we?!

Walt Disney World Marathon Recap Part One: The Training

The real journey for this whole thing started last summer when I registered for it.  I wish I could explain to you what my reasoning was, and why I thought that since I'd made it through one half marathon without dying, I thought I could make it through a full marathon.  I know I was sober when I registered and not more insane than I normally am, so intoxication and instability are not excuses.  Regardless, I signed up for the marathon back in June of 2012 and committed to following this training plan to get through it.  I chose this plan because I thought it was do-able (three training runs a week, very gradual increases in long runs) and it was created by Jeff Galloway, who suggests the run-walk method that I use.  Plus, the point of the plan is to "Finish in the Upright Position" so it wasn't like I was going for anything lofty.

Please note that this training plan started on July 3rd.  That's how long I've been training for the marathon.  I wish I'd blogged more about the actual training process, but the truth is that I fell off the bandwagon a whole lot.  As in, I think I spent more time blowing off runs than I did actually running during training.  Perhaps not the best method to train for a marathon, but running in Florida in July is evil.  Really, running in Florida almost any time is potentially evil.  Because of that, and because of other factors like illness, exhaustion, and my personal favorite of laziness, I didn't follow the program exactly.  But I got through what I thought was most important - the long runs.  I did a really sucky 15-miler, a great 17-miler, a great 20-miler, and a solid 22-miler.  My pace was absurdly slow, so I made myself a very modest time goal - I wanted to finish the marathon in less than 6 hours.  Based on my long runs, it meant that I needed to push my pace just a tiny bit in the actual marathon to succeed, and I felt like that would be no problem.

Then I got to my first taper week, and something terrible happened - I got injured.  I still don't know exactly what happened or how, but I went out for a little 6 mile run on Sunday, December 30th, and less than two miles in, the top of my left foot hurt like hell and my right knee was throbbing.  I kept going, thinking that maybe it was stiff or sore from the 22-miler and it would feel better once I hit my stride, but it never did.  I cut the run short after 5 miles, came home, and skipped the next two short runs in an attempt to rest.  My next longish run came a week after - 7 miles, and the last weekend run before the marathon.  I went out for it exactly one week before the marathon, and even though I re-laced my left shoe to try to fix the pain on the top of my foot, the foot pain flared up, the knee pain flared up, and I called it quits after two miles.  I called home crying, and my mom and dad tried to calm me down while I walked back to my apartment because I couldn't bear to try to run again.  My dad advised me to rest for a few days, ice my foot, ice my knee, take Advil, and try another run in a few days.  So I rested as best as I could, iced like crazy, and carried Advil with me everywhere.  Then I tried another run and all the same things flared up.  I called home crying (this is becoming a trend) and my dad told me I probably shouldn't run the marathon.  Needless to say, I was heartbroken.  Even if my training hadn't gone that well, I'd still spent six months training for a marathon.  I had put in the time for the long runs. The idea of not being able to run the marathon was too painful for me to think about.  So I iced some more, I rested some more, and I vowed that as long as I didn't think I was causing myself permanent damage, I was running that marathon.

(stay tuned for part two - the expo!)

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'M RUNNING A MARATHON!

I know I haven't been blogging well (errr... at all), but I had to blog tonight because I'm about to go to bed with my stomach all in knots.  I'M RUNNING A MARATHON TOMORROW MORNING!  I will start running in less than 12 hours!

I hope this captures the mixture of excitement and pure terror that is coursing through my veins.

I WILL be posting a recap as soon as I can... my first priorities are obviously food and a nap, but after that, the recap is coming!  Get ready!

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WTF?!

One of my New Year's resolutions is to actually blog.  To really blog.  To get more than 40 followers and to be a real blogger.  Mostly because I want to purchase this really awesome wall art and not have it be a lie:


And today I am stealing the great idea of this lady to express my disappointment in my blogging skills.  Today is a WTF Wednesday because I looked at my blog archive and saw that while I made 181 blog posts in the year 2011, I made a whopping 22 in 2012.  Really, Jessica?  22 blog posts?  The year I decided to run two half marathons and train for my first full marathon is the year that I managed to blog less than 30 times?  I am not proud.


But all that is over!  The year 2012 has now ended, and while I am still insanely grateful for all the gifts that it has given me, I think 2013 is going to be a pretty great year.  After all, I'm starting it by running a marathon.  Now let's be honest, that might kill me... but if it doesn't, I will have gotten the year off to a pretty amazing start.

So yes, I am hereby announcing that I am not going to suck at blogging anymore!  I might suck at running, but I'll be here blogging about it regardless.  Get ready.

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