Thursday, February 20, 2014

Last minute freak outs!

Anyone else having last minute freak outs? I can't be the only one trying not to have a meltdown the night before my 6:30 am flight!

The worst part is, I'm not worried about the race AT ALL. Maybe I should be, since my longest training run was only 10 miles and I only did 2 back to back run days, but I'm really not. I know I can do both distances, I've done them each once before. I'm slightly concerned about recovery, but not nearly as much as I expected to be. 

No, my freak outs are about other things. Things like:

Will the weather hold up long enough for my flight to get out? And will I spend all weekend hanging out in the rain?
Will Mother Nature rear her ugly head in other ways? (I don't think PMS is helping the freak outs much)
Will I be able to get my bag through bag check with all 6 bottles of smartwater weighing it down, or will I be chugging one in line for security?

The list goes on and on, but I have to let it go and attempt to sleep. Hopefully by the time my 4:30 alarm goes off, I'll be in a better mental spot (hopefully I fall asleep sometime before my 4:30 alarm goes off!). 

For tonight, I leave with two questions. 
1. Anyone staying at Sports have extra heart stickers/tattoos? I didn't have time to go look for any and would love to be recognizable for other #pinkheartsphm chicas.

2. Any good suggestions for a good non-park place to explore alone on Monday? My besties that I'm traveling with will be at MK all day, but I'm staying back to catch and early evening flight. I'm looking for something new to explore or see while I wait for my trip on the ME. 

Also, if you see me in corral H for the half (not sure where that is for 10k), come say hi! Flat Minnie (10k) and flat Belle (1/2) don't do it justice, but this is what I'll be wearing!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are you ready?

Officially down to just over 48 hours before I'm getting on a plane and heading to Disney, and my brain is definitely in overload mode. You know you've started going crazy when this is what your Target haul looks like:

Water bottles, pre race breakfast, toiletries, ziplocks for gross clothes, sunscreen...

 Also picked up this gem with a gift card

Seriously, I love me some Ariel. She can do no wrong in my mind.

Anyways, back to packing. My running besties coming with me are already calling my mom, since I'm prepared with food, meds and anything else I can think of. Hopefully I'll be able to get it all in one checked bag and one carry on, because it's time to go!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Taper Time?

Ok, if I've learned nothing over the past year, it's that training is a must. Let me tell you, I am a HORRIBLE trainer when it comes to being prepared for these big races. I didn't train at ALL for the Army Ten Miler in October and I paid for it greatly but reinjuring myself and putting myself out of running commission for much longer than I probably should have. I let this injury overtake me mentally and didn't start training for GSC until the new year. Yeah, shoving 4 months of training into 7 weeks isn't really enjoyable either, but it's a much better option than not training at all!

I'm not going to lie, I'm thrilled that it's taper time. Some people hate taper, because they don't like to limit their running. Me though, I'm looking forward to getting my life back. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to get down there and rock the GSC like I know that I can and will, but I'm also glad that I will be able to rededicate the hours I've put into running into something else. I'm sure that my professors would appreciate me putting those hours into my text books, and future Erika would prefer that they be put into wedding plans. And I know that Kevin is undoubtly looking forward to having a conversation that doesn't revolve around how sore I am, how my runs yet, or what my running costumes look like this year. 

Oy, I am SORE. I took my 5M fairly easy yesterday, because I knew I needed to get in a strong 10 today. But yeah, I've never run 15 miles in one weekend before. And I've never done it while fighting off cold cooties- usually the second I get the sniffles my training disappears and I curl up into a ball of useless misery. Not this year though, not 2 weeks out from completing the biggest races of my life. Not two weeks before I prove to myself and everyone around me that I am a runner and an athlete. I mean, don't all runners and athletes look like this?

I don't feel like an athlete right now. I'm bundled up on the couch with my compression socks in front of a fire that my love has so graciously built for me. And I know that tomorrow I will probably feel even worse. But by Tuesday, I'll have that same itch that everyone else gets during taper and I'll be dying to lace up. Just hoping that my muscles agree with me!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spectators: Won't Someone Cheer for Me?

It's February, and we all know what that means, right?


I can't really being to express my excitement/anxiety/joy that this is only a few weeks away, but I'm thrilled to start the month off by participating in the Virtual Disney Princess Half Marathon Blog Hop! I'm hoping that my post on spectating will be helpful to those of you who may have loved ones coming to cheer you on in your own 3.1/6.2/13.1/19.3 mile journey.

For those of you who have run races before, you know that spectators can seriously make or break a race sometimes. The more people out there yelling and cheering for you, the better. Who doesn't want to hear someone screaming their name as they run past looking like a hot mess?
From what I hear, the best runDisney races for spectators are in Disneyland, but WDW can get some pretty awesome people on the course too.  There is absolutely nothing like running down Main Street, U.S.A and seeing hoards of people there cheering as you gaze up at Cinderella's Castle and realize the goal that you're accomplishing- it's seriously one of the best feelings in the world.

For the 5K and 10K, spectator options are limited to only the start and finish lines. While disappointing, that's the reality of the way the course is set up and there isn't must we can do about it.

For the half marathon, there are a number of places along the course that your loved ones and friends can see you and cheer you on, many of which are listed on the PHM page of the runDisney website under the Spectators tab. The most popular are definitely in Magic Kingdom and at the finish line at Epcot, but there are plenty of other options if you don't want to be limited or you have smaller children that may be overwhelmed by some of the crowds. Your best options are:

1. The start line: Spectators can line up just past the start line in order to see their runners begin the race. You will definitely find some people along the first 1/2 mile of the race or so, but most people find it near impossible to get from the start line to MK in enough time to see their runner there, and choose to go to MK instead.

2. Mile 4, Ticket and Transportation Center: TTC is a GREAT place to catch your runners! If you want to catch them here, just take the monorail from Epcot to TTC and get off- the runners run by right at the bottom of the ramp. Many people will be taking the second monorail over to MK, so it's not too hard to jockey your way to the front to catch your runner.

3. Mile 5.3, Main Street, USA, Magic Kingdom: This is definitely the most popular spot for spectators to congregate. MK will open up to spectators at 5:30 am, and can be reached by monorail from TTC or Epcot. Spectators generally line the left side of Main Street and the right side is left open for the runners to pass through. There is a ton of energy here, and it's a great place to get caught up in the hype!

4. Mile 7ish, Near the Polynesian Resort: One of the less popular, but super easy to get to spots to spectate is near the Polynesian. It's a part of the course where there are fewer things to see and crowds to keep you moving, so seeing a familiar face here is great motivation to runners. It's just a short 10 minute walk from the TTC through the Polynesian resort. There is a fairly well marked path (and if you get confused, ask someone or follow those who look like they are headed in that direction). 

5. Mile 12-13.1, Epcot Parking lot: There are two spots at Epcot where spectators can catch a glimpse of their runners. The first is right around mile 12, which is where runners enter the park for their last loop (for those of you who have heard about the fabled Peggy Sue, I'm pretty sure this is where I remember seeing her last year and she seriously is the best!). Spectators can also head over towards the finish line on the other side of the parking lot and see their runners as they exit the park and sprint towards the finish line!

Phew, that's a lot to take in, I know. I've done PHM weekend twice now, once as a 5K runner/PHM spectator and once as a PHM runner, so here's a couple of personal pieces of advice.

If you're trying to catch a runner at the finish line of the 5K or 10K, don't blink or you might miss them. There are a lot of runners coming through at once, and it's easy to miss people if you aren't paying attention. I ran the 2012 5K with my mom, but finished about 10-15 minutes ahead of her. I thought I had plenty of time to get through the finishers chute to find my dad and see Mom cross, but literally in the 5 seconds he took to congratulate and hug me, Mom passed us and we had no idea. She wasn't very happy that we missed her either!

I was a spectator the next morning for my friends as they ran their first half, and followed the advice someone I had meet on the bus the day before as to the best spectator spots. I took one of the last runner busses to Epcot, leaving the hotel around 3:45-4 am, and got in line for the monorail as soon as I got there. I was early for sure, but I was on the first monorail out of Epcot and was able to snag a spot at the TTC along the rope, which left me the perfect spot to see my Princess runners. As soon as both of them passed through I walked through the Poly to catch them at mile 7, where I also had prime viewing thanks to no crowds. As soon as they both passed through there, I quickly hightailed it back to TTC and took the monorail back to Epcot and made it to the finish line just a few minutes before my very quick friend Jenni crossed the finish line and was able to see Meg cross a couple minutes later.

This plan worked perfectly for me as a fit single girl with no kids to drag along, but may be harder with kids or parents that can't move around great. Talk to your spectators and figure out what will work best for them AND you, so you can have all the support that you're looking for and they can be there to cheer you on! And don't forget to tell them to bring race signs, they are fun to look at for all runners and a good distraction when all you can think about is that post-race ice bath!

Don't forget to check out all of the other helpful hints and posts in this years Virtual Disney Princess Half Marathon Blog Hop!

Virtual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Blog Hop Directory