Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm a Nut in a Rut

It's been a long 2 1/2 weeks. A REALLY long 2 1/2 weeks.

Side note: For anyone considering working full time, getting a PhD, and planning a wedding at the same time, without help- don't. From personal experience, you WILL want to pull your hair out and punch the people closest to you about 65 days out from your wedding. Prayers and sleep will be your only saving grace.

I'm not exactly sure what's caused the rut that I'm finding myself in right now, but I have plenty of guesses. Not having an upcoming race has definitely left me unmotivated to run, which is only compounded by the continued miserable weather we've seen this month. Classes this semester have kicked back into full gear, and I have no other choice but to use some of my free time to do schoolwork. I'm in a job that I've started to dread going to every day, which makes the day feel so much longer and more exhausting than it probably is. And I'm planning a wedding, y'all. Anyone who has done that knows how much work it is. I had no idea how incredibly time consuming and all emotion consuming it would be, and I'm honestly counting down the days to being done with it.

Motivation comes in strange packages, but I think I've finally found something that's going to get me back out there. Anyone familiar with the female torture device called "spanks?" I've been able to avoid them for a long time, but I caved and picked up a pair before my wedding dress fitting a couple of weeks ago, mostly because I knew my diet had been less than stellar (thank you to all of the contributing factors described above). I wore them for my fitting, and to be humbly honest, they worked their magic and that dress looked incredible. But underneath that dress, I couldn't breath well, my insides felt like they wanted to pop out of the spanks at any point, and I was begging to get them off as soon as they were done fitting me for alterations.

Step right up, Motivation. You've now earned a place back in my life!

There is no way I'm going to be able to wear those things for 12 hours on the day of my wedding. So I rejoined Weight Watchers this week, since it worked so well for me the first time I used it several years ago. And this afternoon, I'll be lacing up my shoes again and hitting the gym for a much needed run before I head back into the abyss that is RSVPs, hair trials, and table numbers, coupled with statistic analysis homework. That 35 minute run on the horizon has never looked so appealing!

Is anyone else feeling in a rut? What's your motivation to keep running/moving as life takes over after PHM?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Disney's Princess Half Marathon Race Recap- Surviving the GSC!

Oh, PHM. I love it. I do. Every year, I love this weekend even more. It's like the drug that I can't get enough of, and keep spending all of my money to come back for more.

This year started like every other year- an unwelcome 2:45am wake up call for the second day in a row. I had laid out flat Erika/flat Belle again the night before, so I was prepared to jump up and go. I did forget to charge my Garmin, and frantically threw it on the charger in the hopes that I could get enough juice to get me through the race. Lesson learned- this was the first race that I had my Garmin for, and you need to charge it after a 10K if you have hopes of getting through the 1/2. Mine just barely held on to cross the finish line, and I was legitimately praying every time I looked at it for it to just hold on another hour, then another 50 minutes... you get the point.

We caught a bus around 3:40 after scarfing down a pre-race breakfast of some water and half a bagel with peanut butter for the second day that weekend. The line wasn't bad at all, I'm pretty sure we were on a bus within 5 minutes. Side note- PHM really does bring people together. I was in line right behind my high school gym teacher, who didn't recognize me for a second, but was still super funny. I'm glad she didn't remember me, though after I introduced herself she probably had that moment of "this girl couldn't finish the mile, how the hell is she doing GSC?" Yes ma'am, I had the same thought myself, you were not alone.

Once we made it to Epcot, through bag check, and 3 bathroom stops, we headed toward the corrals. It wasn't long before we saw a couple of construction porta-potties at the beginning of the walk and jumped off the road to use them before we got to the long lines at the start line. We managed to snag a group shot before we headed off, and also saw a number of the Disbroads follow our lead and jump off to use our construction potties as well. Yes, I did feel a little star struck, and no, I didn't say hi. Yell at me later, but I let my shyness get in the way and kept it moving toward the corrals.

Princess Erika, Meg, Amy and Jenni, ready to run!

After a 5th and final bathroom stop, we were ready to get into our corrals and get moving! Unfortauntely, each of us was in different corrals, but we all wanted to run our own races, so it did work out for the best. Jenni started up in A, Meg in E, I was in H, and poor Amy was back in O (proof of time people- submit it!). I really didn't have a strong goal for this race, other than to beat my time from last years and get a new PR. I didn't care if it was only by a couple of seconds, as long as I could say I PRed the race. I was prepared for it to be miserable again with the humidity, and even brought along an extra washcloth from the hotel room to keep in the pocket of my Sparkle Skirt so I could wipe my head and keep the sweat from my glasses. The first corrals got going and soon H was up and ready to go!

When I tell you it was humid, it was HUMID. Not as bad as last year, mostly because it was overcast, but damn, that fog was brutal. I ran through most of the first mile and then slowed down to start my intervals. I'd recently bumped down from a 3:1 to a 2:1 and found that I was able to maintain my intervals much longer than I was on the 3:1. Coming off of an injury this fall, it helped to slow down too and was probably the only reason I didn't reinjure myself when shoving all of my training for this race into 7 weeks. 

I started noticing around mile 3 that my splits were much better than I was expecting, and started calculating a finish time in my head. I'm not sure yet if this was a good or bad thing, but I realized that I had the opportunity to make this a sub-2:30 half (last year was 2:39), and that motivation sent me into overdrive. I knew as long as I stayed in sub 11:30 miles, I had the chance. It would be close, but doable. I had a new goal, and it felt AWESOME. 

I am not a picture taker, and I generally zone out for good portions of the course, so I can't tell you exactly what was going on before Magic Kingdom. I did manage to see my bestie Greg at TTC, waiting with a "Chafe now, Wine later" sign with all of our names on it. I gave him the quickest cheek kiss of life and probably screamed "THANK YOU!" at him as I kept running, but it was worth it to see someone cheering for me out on the course. The sun was coming up by the time I hit Magic Kingdom, and the one picture I did want to get this year was in front of the castle. But with my new sub 2:30 goal in mind, there was no way in HELL that I was stopping in the lines for an official one. Thank goodness for the kind cast member who knew how to catch and was paying attention as I threw my camera at him and begged for a quick shot on Main Street. It's one of my favorites from the race and was worth the precious seconds that I gave up. 

 From that point on, it was just one foot in front of the other. I loved hearing "Let it Go" at the halfway point and shed a few tears knowing that I was completing a new goal this weekend. The spectators along that portion of the course were great, and helped me keep focus. And then I hit mile 9, and the nausea kicked in hardcore. I'm not sure if it's because of the humidity, because I don't have that problem in training at home, but both years I've gotten horribly nauseous around mile 9-10. Last year I thought it was because of the powerade, but I limited that this year and was still sick, so who knows. I spent most of mile 9-12 just praying that I wouldn't vomit on the side of the road and end up getting picked up by the sweepers. I saw my splits start to get worse, and doubt crept into my head, but I did my best to push it back and keep moving.

By the time I hit Epcot, it was better, even though my intervals were completely off. My Garmin beeped to tell me that I hit the 13.1 mark, but I wasn't out of Epcot yet and knew that the weaving I had to do early in the race was catching up to me and was going to impede my goal time. I hit the home stretch though, through my hands in the air, and did my best to sprint across that finish line with pride. I had completed a 19.3 mile journey that I didn't even know I wanted as badly as I did. It wasn't perfect, and it wasn't always pretty, but the journey was mine and that was enough for me.

I got my medals, took my finisher picture, and hobbled toward the reunion area to look for a bench to crash on. I pulled out my phone to find a text from Meg saying that she and Jenni were back at the hotel showering and one from Kevin, who was getting my splits via text back at home. His simple "Good pacing babe. Keep it up and finish strong! Proud of you!" was my undoing, and all the stress of the day piled on to let out one ugly cry in the middle of the Epcot parking lot. After getting myself together, I found the elusive champagne tent I've always missed and took one last victory shot before heading back for a much needed shower.

Can I be honest? Despite the fact that Disney's official timekeeper tells me I didn't manage a sub 2:30 half, in my head, I did it. Garmin agrees with me too, and if Garmin says so, it must be true right?

Garmin Spits:
Mile 1: 11:22
Mile 2: 11:24
Mile 3: 11:21
Mile 4: 11:18
Mile 5: 11:18
Mile 6: 11:10
Mile 7: 11:04
Mile 8: 11:33
Mile 9: 11:18
Mile 10: 11:11
Mile 11: 11:35
Mile 12: 11:53
Mile 13: 11:39
Mile 14 (.32): 3:38
Garmin 1/2 time: 2:29:19!!!!!!
Garmin official time: 2:31:44
runDisney official time: 2:31:54

We celebrate on Sunday the way that we alway do- lunch and margs at San Angel Inn, followed by tequila shots, and a beer ( or in my case, a glass of Reisling) in Germany. We walked- a LOT- all over Epcot, and by 7:30 I was overtired, barely moving, and slightly nauseous again. Greg had met us back at Epcot after his own spectator power nap, and he was gracious enough to drive me back to he hotel while the rest of the girls finished off the night in Epcot with some apparently amazing French pastry ice cream sandwich.

I've come to the realization that I have a serious love-hate relationship with 13.1 miles. I love running this race at Disney, because it makes each mile go by that much faster and reminds me that my dreams can come true. Never in a million years did I think I could run 19.3 miles in 2 days and survive to tell the tale without injury. But I did, and lived to tell the tale. I still love PHM, and will most likely be back for one more next year before I have to give it a small break. But it was always have a place in my heart as my first and second (and so far only) half marathon!

Disney PHM Enchanted 10K Race Recap

Well, I've been home from Disney for almost a week now and still feel like I'm processing last weekends events and how I feel about everything. I came home and immediately jumped into a massive statistics take home midterm, a large Black History Month event at work, and a 5 hour assembly party to get my wedding invites done yesterday, and these recaps were pretty low on my list of to-dos. Thank goodness for Monday snow days that allow me to catch up on what's clearly important- reliving an amazing weekend through stories and pictures!

My PHM weekend started Friday morning with an early morning flight out of BWI without all of my running friends that were following half an hour later out of DCA. I was sad to not be traveling with the girls that have made this weekend important to me, but was grateful to find a ton of other Princesses on my flight to chat with. Before I knew it, we were in Orlando and I was meeting my girls for our ME trip to All Star Sports!

We dropped our bags and headed towards Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo at ESPN WWoS. I can't even begin to express how glad I was that it had moved back to ESPN this year, as the memories of this years Expo are so much more positive than the last 2 years (2012 I ran through it 30 minutes before closing, and there are no words to describe the horror of 2013 at Coronado Springs). I held the spending spree together pretty well (which Kevin appreciated) and left with only an official GSC wine glass and a RawThreads Little Mermaid tank, both of which I absolutely love. We spent the rest of the day at Hollywood Studios where I got to ride my favorite- Rockin' Roller Coaster- and hold all the bags while my friends braved ToT.

After a quick dinner back at the hotel and an early bedtime, it was time to get up and get the 10K started! Can I just reiterate everyone else's thoughts? 2:45 am comes REALLY early, but I honestly don't even notice it once I get up and moving? I had laid everything out the night before, so flat Erika was ready to go as soon as that alarm went off. We headed off to the bus around 3:30 am and made it to  the staging area with plenty of time and before most other people, so we had a chance to snag this beautiful pre-race pic:

Seriously, I love these girls. Wouldn't runDisney without them!

We also managed to find the GSC wall, which was noticably missing from the expo yesterday. It was nice to find my name and know that I was a part of something new and special.

The race itself? I have mixed feelings. I understand that WDW has limited park space to run through, and because of this, I full accept the fact that I am going to spend a large chunk of these races on the highways. HOWEVER, I thought that the entertainment on the first 3 miles of the course was sorely lacking, with the exception of Elsa and the snow in the first mile (that part was AMAZING and literally made my jaw drop). I tried to snag a picture of the mile 2 marker, because it was my girl Ariel, but I wasn't willing to slow down enough to take a good picture.

 I will say, once we got into Epcot, I was a much happier camper. Running through the World Showcase before the sun came up was great and a fun experience. I absolutely loved running the Boardwalk, as it was a part of WDW that I had never experienced before. I thought it was so sweet that people were up early and out along the boardwalk with signs, cheering us all along before 7 am! My only complaint, which isn't fair to Disney because they don't control it, was that the humidity was BRUTAL. Seriously, I had to take my glasses off at every walk interval to wipe them off and clear the sweat/fog just so I could see during my next run interval. I remember the humidity being brutal last year at PHM, but I don't remember having to do that before. Before the race I was much more concerned with wearing the ears for 6 miles, but that turned out to be the least of my worries!

I had planned to take the 10K slow and save myself for the half, because I REALLY wanted to PR the half this year. I did slow down significantly from my training pace, but it didn't feel like it! I really think it was because of crowding and humidity than what I was consciously doing with my body. It certainly wasn't my best 10K time, but I'm ok with it for this time.

Garmin Splits:
Mile 1: 11:59
Mile 2: 12:07
Mile 3: 11:28
Mile 4: 11:22
Mile 5: 11:25
Mile 6: 11:08
Mile 7 (.36): 3:29
Total: 1:12:56
Official Time: 1:13:15

Negative splits! I just noticed that I had negative splits- I totally didn't care when I finished this race, I was just glad it was over and I could shower and stretch like crazy to keep myself loose for Sunday. I grabbed my medal, my GSC wrist band so I could be legit for Sunday, and all the food and water they were willing to give me, and headed off to find 2/3 of the rest of my posse that had started before me. We hung out by the bag check tent waiting for Amy, who didn't submit proof of time and was stuck back in Corral E, and I enjoyed the break to sit and relax for a while. That is, until I stood up to leave and found this:

 No more obvious proof that your behind is MASSIVE than a nice sweat spot left on the pavement after a quick 6 mile run. Thanks humidity for that reminder!

Overall, I enjoyed the Enchanted 10K. I'm finding that I really like the 10K distance, more than the 5K for sure, and love that it requires less training time than the 1/2 does for me. I may have to find more of these in my local area to improve my time!

What were your thoughts on the 10K? Did anyone else struggle with the humidity and eyewear as much as I did?