Oh, Hi There

I have been a terrible blogger.  It looks like it’s been since last spring that I posted here.  I thought I’d catch you up on what’s been going on.

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Pretty much this.  Summer was super hot and humid, and there were several times I didn’t run because of heat advisories.  I’m  a glutton for punishment, but I have my limits.

But now its fall.  Actually, it’s 86 degrees outside while I type this, so “fall” is subjective.  I’ve spent the last 10 or so weeks theoretically base building for fall training, but thanks to some family medical drama (not me), the bulk of that didn’t happen.  I did get pretty decent miles in the last couple of weeks, though.

And training starts this week.  Things have calmed down a bit, so I’m hoping things continue to go well.  I’ve picked a pretty aggressive training program, and I’m a little nervous.

My fall/winter schedule looks like this:

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Looking forward to some time in Vegas!

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Year 3 of Space Coast. I’ll earn the Milky Way challenge medal.

 

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The Mississippi Gulf Coast half is a new race in coastal Mississippi.  13.1 miles or pure flatness along the Gulf in December.  Hopefully it will be cooler than 80 degrees by then.

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Another half in December.  That seems like a lot of racing, but they are all just long training runs leading up to my goal race:

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The Louisiana Half Marathon in January.  I ran the quarter marathon last year.  The organizers also put on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Half and the Battleship 12K, so I know its a quality race.

I am, as always, shooting to beat 3 hours.  With the weather still so warm and humid, it’s a little tough to really see where I am pace-wise, and I feel like I’m not in as good shape as I was last fall.  But I’m just going to put in the work and see where it gets me.

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Disney Star Wars Dark Side Half 2016 Part 2

See Part 1 Here.

The Half Marathon started a half hour earlier than the 10K, so the alarm went off at 2:30. Ugh. Rough, but after yesterday it felt normal. We got dressed and met friends in lobby at 3:15. But first a selfie.

The bus line wasn’t nearly as bad as it was for Wine & Dine, and we got on second bus to start village. We didn’t check any bags, and I ate my bagel while we waited in the runner’s area. We didn’t see the photo ops pre-race. I used the port o potties and then we headed to our corrals about 30 minutes before gun time. It’s a good piece to the corrals and the slow walking aggravated my back a bit, but once we spread out a bit it was OK. I’d been worried about the weather all week (of course), but it wasn’t as hot as I was afraid it would be and humidity was practically nonexistent. Far from perfect running conditions, but the best you could ask for in Florida.

I jumped into the port o let line one last time and made it into the corral with just a couple of minutes to spare. Having had to wait around for hours at all of our other D races, we timed this morning just about perfectly. I took my pre-race Gu and, being all the way up in corral H, we were waiting on the gun and fireworks for our corral in no time!

Mark had run a lot of the first four miles of the course on Saturday, so he could warn me were the choke points were and places the road might be bad. A high school band was playing Star Wars music in the first mile. This was the first time I’ve ever run through the World Showcase, and it was beautiful running through with the countries and torches all lit up. After that we turned and went on the familiar Yacht/Beach Club/Boardwalk path to HS. Although it was tight through here, people were still able to run and everyone was keeping a pretty good place, I guess because we were in a higher corral than we have been before.

We went into Hollywood Studios and saw Storm Troopers and Kylo Renn on the stage with music and movie screens,. It was pretty neat. Then down Sunset towards Tower of Terror and out the back entrance. Cosplayers were standing in the Fantasia theater for lots of photo ops. From there it was the portion we were dreading – the three miles down World Drive and Osceola Parkway to Animal Kingdom. As we walked slowly up the badly slanting on ramp onto Osceola, the sun started to come up, but the weather was still pretty nice. There were no photo ops, but there were a couple of screens playing Star Wars movie clips and a DJ. I think Disney could add some entertainment here. Even another band would be great.

We walked the overpasses, but they still worked my back. About mile 7 I started hitting a wall bad. I felt slow and my legs felt really tired. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep the 3/1 intervals. We hit mile 8 just as we turned into Animal Kingdom and I looked at my Garmin: 14:38! My fasted mile of the race. No wonder I was hurting! We spent about a mile working through Animal Kingdom, and as we exited the entrance there were more cosplayers. I couldn’t help but stop for a picture with all the storm troopers. My first Disney race photo!

We headed back down Osceola towards Wide World of Sports, and it seemed like nonstop overpasses and hills. My back started hurting really bad, and we walked both up and down. It would get better on the flats, but there wasn’t much flat.

At mile 12 we turned onto the gravel/dirt path behind Wide World of Sports for about ¾ of a mile. It seemed pretty soft and it was crowded so we walked a lot here too. Once we got into Wide World of Sports  there were tons of spectators cheering us on, then, before I knew it, there was the finish!

Mark and I pretty much walked straight through the finish village and straight to the bus line. There were more photo ops, but they were probably a half mile from the finish and we didn’t feel like it. I didn’t like how the finish area was set up at all. The bus line back to Boardwalk was long but moved very quickly.

After we got back to the hotel and a shower, it was time to celebrate! We spent the rest of the day in Hollywood Studios and Epcot.

Now I can't get away from these guys! #darksidechallenge #darksidehalf #nuunambassador #rundisney

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Monday it was time to go home, but we had time to visit a few more friends at Hollywood Studios.

All in all, I had probably the best time I’ve ever had a a Disney race. My finish time wasn’t my fastest, but I feel good knowing I made several photo stops, ran on extremely tired legs, and was forced to walk more because of the bottlenecks. Otherwise, I was actually on track for a PR! More importantly, I actually enjoyed the race for once, and ran with a smile on my face most of the time. Disney really stepped up its game, adding med tents and water stops in every mile. There could’ve been a bit more course entertainment, and the finish area needs to be thought out a little better.

I doubt we’ll be doing another Disney race for a while. They’re getting so expensive, and there are a lot of fun races out there. And we both want to PR our half. I think the course will get better when construction of Star Wars land is finished at Hollywood Studios, and we might do the half or maybe the 10K when that happens.

Results:

Chip Time: 3:32:56

Overall:15631 / 18171

Gender:8197 / 10047

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Disney Star Wars Dark Side Half 2016 Part 1

After the Tinkerbell Half last year, I swore off spring half marathons. After fall and winter races, adding those weeks is just too much training, more mentally than physically, and the weather in the south is too unpredictable. It starts getting hot and humid, and there’s lots more rain. But I’d promised Mark that if Disney ever had a Star Wars race in Florida, we would do it. And of course, they did. Mark registered (OK, I registered him) for the 10K/Half challenge, and I was kind to my body and just registered for the half.

We drove in late Wednesday and checked into Boardwalk.

 

Mark, an experienced Star Wars-er got up early Thursday to get in line for merchandise. It was scheduled to open at 10, but opened at 9, and he was able to grt everything he wanted. I took the bus and got there at 10:30, picked up my bib and a new sparkle skirt.

I'm a fool with a light saber! #starwarshalf #darksideweekend #darksidechallenge

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We drove to Animal Kingdom, then walked to Epcot for dinner. We decided that we wouldn’t try PR, just finish strong, and have fun on our vacation the days before the race.

Friday I did quick shakeout run, then went and had fun in parks, but walked way too much. I walked nearly 10.5 miles that day.

We had a terrible pasta dinner in the Magic Kingdom and went to bed around 10.

The alarm went off at 3 am Saturday for the 10K. Mark left and I went back to bed until 5. I got up and got dressed and walked downstairs to spectate.

It was pretty humid and the course looked pretty crowded, but most of the runners looked like they were having a great time.

My sign got LOTS of laughs, a couple of high fives, 4 selfies, and 3 sweaty hugs from strangers?

This one was a hit. Except why did people want to hug ME? #nuunambassador #starwars10k #darksidechallenge #rundisney

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I saw Mark and our friends also running the challenge looking strong at mile 2. I love spectating races. I went back upstairs to nap while Mark finished and took pictures.

We headed to Magic Kingdom for lunch and some rides, and wandered around Epcot until our early pizza dinner, which was delish. I did better taking it easy, but had tired legs from our first few days. We laid out clothes, I taped everything from the waist down, and 10 pm bedtime again.

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Excalibur 10-Miler 2016 Recap

If you’ve ever been to a central Florida race, chances are you’ve seen somebody dressed up as a knight promoting the Excalibur 10-miler.  When they changed from finisher crowns to awesome medals, Mark and I decided to head down to Viera, FL.

I went into this race coming off a not-so-spectacular performance in New Orleans and a nearly 2 week running layoff after the voodoo doctor mistook my horrendous IT for a meniscus tear.  I really had no expectations for this race.  I knew I’d get a PR unless I laid down for a nap at mile 6, since my  last official 10-miler, the WDW Tower of Terror — a moment of silence please for this great race — resulted in near heat-exhaustion.  I did however go in with an A goal of 2:30.

We drove down on Saturday and stayed in Melbourne.  We found some good pizza and the Viera High School where the race would start.  The alarm went off really early Sunday.  We had to check out, drive the 30 minutes to the high school, and pick up our bibs.  Of course they ran out of shirts in Mark’s size and have to mail his.

I’d packed several options for race outfits because I wasn’t sure what the weather might do.  I settled on some CW-X shorts and a tank top, since the call was for rain.

Turns out it didn’t rain at all, but it was in the 70’s with 98% humidity.  Ugh.

We made our way to the start.  When you register, you pick a color, and that’s your knight.  The two knights dual at the start, then you run for glory.

photos courtesy of Running Zone

A little after 7, we took off.  There was a total of around 2500 people, with about half doing the relay.  The course felt pretty cozy for most of the race, running in one road lane or on sidewalks.  Mark had a hard effort run on his schedule for Star Wars Dark Side, so he took off around mile 2, at about where we passed the Washington Nationals spring training stadium.  Several Nationals were waiting pretty impatiently to turn left into the facility.  Sorry boys.

It was humid, but I felt pretty good. I took salt tabs with each Gu, and kept drinking my Nuun along with the course water every couple of miles.  My IT was tight but was holding up pretty well.  I did get passed by this girl:

Yes, 10 miles in flip flops.

5K split: 43:42

The course description mentioned a dirt road for a couple of miles.  Well, apparently in central Florida dirt road is code for loosely packed wet sand.

It was like running on the beach, and my IT really didn’t like it.  I resorted to running 1 or 1:30 and walking 1 for the length of it, and I had to stop  and stretch at the end.

5 mile split: 1:13:08

We turned off the sand and back onto roads and sidewalks alongside some really really nice houses.

Textbook form right there.

10K split: 1:32:44

Miles 8 & 9 started getting tough.  I started to feel those weeks off, and I was still trying to take it easy on my IT.  Mile 9 had a really frustrating out and back where you could only see people endlessly running even though the end was close.  I went back to running 1/walking 1 and tried to hang on until the end.  I chatted with other runners and even saw Mark pass me on the out and back.  Soon we headed around the school, through the tunnel, and finished on the track through a blow up castle.

I stopped my watch and saw 2:30:04!  My A goal!  Even better, later I looked at my chip time, and my official time was 2:29:57!  I beat my A goal!! On a tough course and rough weather.  Not my fastest 10 miles ever, but solid, and a good spot for the Star Wars Half in a few weeks.

They offered a great after party, and because it was a small race, there weren’t horrendous lines for photo ops, so we took advantage.

Then headed over to Disney World to kick the party up a notch.

Overall this was a good race, well organized and well supported, but I don’t know that we’ll travel back to do it again.  Doing away with the dirt road portion would make this a great fast race.

Results
Official Time: 2:29:57
Overall: 1331 / 1617
AG: 126 / 160
Gender: 781 / 1015

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I feel like I’ve been down this road before – Rock n’ Roll New Orleans 2016 recap

This past weekend I headed over 2 1/2 hours west for my ninth (!!!) half marathon and the race that really started it all, the Rock n’ Roll New Orleans half.  We pulled into town and went straight to the expo, which was a madhouse.  I still managed to convince Mark to sign up for the race for 2017 because it was discounted and you got a cute shirt.

Expo time! #nuunambassador #rocknrollnola2016

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The race didn’t start until 7:30 this year, and I snagged us a hotel just a couple of blocks from the start line, so we didn’t have to get out of bed too early.

I wore my Half Fanatic tank for the first time ever because the weather was finally cool enough.

It's almost time! #rocknrollnola2016 #nuunambassador #sparkleskirts

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We headed down to the start line about 7:15, unfortunately missing the Half Fanatics group photo.

We were in corral 21 of 26, so we knew we knew we’d have a little wait, but our corral didn’t get to the start line until after 8:30!  Standing around for so long really got my back to start complaining.

I mentioned my goals for this race in my last post, and I wrote a couple of words on my hand to remind me what today was about.

Reminders to myself for #rocknrollnola2016 today. #nuunambassador

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I’d been warned going in that St. Charles Avenue is pretty rough with lots of potholes, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how bad it was.  Between the rough asphalt and the potholes and unevenness, I couldn’t really get into a rhythm.  At the same time, I forgot to take a salt tab at the start, then neglected to take any after mile 2, and my gut let me know it.  I kept looking at my hand, but I felt neither strong nor like it was fun.

On the upside, I ran very well up until around mile 10.  I had one of my fastest 10 miles in a race and, although I was going to miss 3:10, I had a PR well in hand.  Until mile 10.  Just like at Space Coast, my back started to spasm but this time I had the joy of nausea to go along with it.  I resorted to walking, and not very fast.  It took me an entire hour to walk the last 5K.  I took some Tylenol at a medical tent and it didn’t touch the pain.  I honestly didn’t think I could walk the last half mile.  It was not the way I wanted my day to go.

Just like with Space Coast, I didn’t really want to wear the medal and I didn’t take any post-race photos.  I know technically I earned it, and I did my best, but I’m extremely disappointed.

In the end, most of the race was a good effort and it wasn’t my slowest half ever.  I did celebrate like I’d just run a half, though.

Finish Time: 3:30:15

Overall: 10752 / 11553 <— there were over 20,000 participants, so I don’t know what RnR is trying to pull here!
AG: 1182 / 1321
Female: 7130 / 7806

I did learn some very important lessons for next year:

  1. Get my butt in gear with core work!  Running the streets of New Orleans is like what I’d imagine a trail race to be like.  I don’t really have any trails around here, so I need to work those stabilizing muscles in other ways.
  2. Fully execute my nutrition plan.  I was great with taking fuel, but not so good about my electrolytes.  I let myself get in a pretty bad way after the race. There is no excuse for this.
  3. Wear newer, firmer shoes.  I wore my favorite Glycerins with close to 200 miles on them.  Great for most races, but the near-gravel pavement wore right through them.  My feet hurt so bad!
  4. Sleep in.  Standing and waiting an hour to start put my back in a bad place from the start.  Not necessary.  Wait and join the corral a little later.
  5. Remember to actually wear the sunscreen I brought!  I brought it.  I unpacked it.  Mark and I talked about it.  But I totally forgot to put it on, and boy did I get burnt.
  6. Trust your pacer when he tells you you’re where you want to be, even if you feel slow and are convinced you are tanking.  Eventually I did tank, but not because of the pace, and I had it completely within me to hit my goals if my back had held up.

 

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Gator Chase 5K

Taper time is here, my friends.  This Sunday I’ll be running my eighth? ninth? half marathon in New Orleans.

The weather is shaping up to be pretty warm, so I’m trying to keep my expectations in check.  My goals are: A.  3:10, B: 3:15, C: have an awesome time.  Either time goal would be a PR, but if the crowd is good and I decide I want to stop for all the beer stations, then we’ll do that too!

I had a race pace run scheduled for this past Saturday, and Mark’s long run wasn’t until Sunday, so I decided to make it a little easier on my brain and register for the Gator Chase 5K.  I could run a warm up mile to get me to my prescribed mileage, and the race was on the nice, flat Causeway, and I’ve had good luck running out there.

A 5K with a cool swag bag *and* a long sleeve good looking T? Score! #gatorchase5k #iloveswag

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It’s turning warm, but I’m sure I’ll wear this pretty good looking long sleeve T next fall.  Plus I got a free Chick Fil A sandwich card!

Go time. Getting geared up for @runrocknroll #NOLA next weekend! #gatorchase5k

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Even though it was just a 5K 10 minutes from my house, putting together my flat runner was good practice for this weekend.

Mark came to cheer me on even though he wasn’t running, and I was happy for the company.  I ran my warm up mile, and noticed it was a teeninsy bit fast, but I felt good.  Sort of promptly at 8 ish am, the starting air horn went off.

Now, let me back up a minute.  You might remember I said I had a HM race pace workout, and that my A goal for New Orleans is 3:10, which translates into a 14:30 pace.  You may also remember if you’ve read my blog for a while, that I have 2 major running goals: 1. Break 3 hours for a half marathon, and 2. Break 40 minutes in a 5K.  Moving on.

My warm up mile was in the 13:30 range, so I did my best to slow the heck down a bit.  Let’s just say I suck at pacing when left to my own devices.  Also, it was starting to warm up, and we had about 100% humidity, up from the lovely 55% two days before.  LOVE living on the Gulf Coast!  Because I was on my own I tried very hard not to watch the pace on my watch and just run by feel.

The course started at a nature center, ran a half  mile down its driveway, and then was an out and back on the Causeway back to the finish.  We were on one lane of a very busy road (hello gas fumes) and the turn around point was on top of a bridge (so not quite flat).

From the start I was of course at the back of the pack, but the pack was filled with small children and I just hoped none of them would stop short in front of me. Once I got to the bridge it really started to heat up and I started walking a little extra.  It was ok, I didn’t have any real goals other than to push my pace a bit and stay near HM goal pace.

I turned the corner off the road and wound my way back up the drive to the finish line.  And saw this:

Yep. A 2:10 5K PR. It's a good day. #nuunambassador

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Not really 2:10, but 2 minutes over my 30 second PR last month.  And so close to 40 minutes!

So, OK, it was a *little* bit under HM goal pace.  And look at those positive splits!  But wow, I surprised myself out there!  There may have even been a few tears and a fist pump at the finish line.  I’m super excited to be seeing all of these miles that start with 12 and 13 at my shorter races these days.  It’s becoming a regular thing and I’m seeing my hard work start to pay off!  Seeing progress really helps when I get down on my slow self.

And of course, I didn’t pass up selfie opportunities at the finish.

Results:
Finish Time:
40:46 (gun)
Overall: 147/178
AG: 17/18

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Ouch!

Happy Ash Wednesday everybody.  I’m drying out from Mardi Gras over here, and the countdown to the New Orleans Rock n’ Roll half is on.

I’ve been missing quite a few runs between Mardi Gras activities and the weather, and feeling pretty undertrained for this one.  But it turns out that I ran as many miles in January as October and November, so I’m probably where I need to be, mileage-wise. I’m running my 2 double-digit mileage runs this week, then hello Taper Town.

And how do I know how many miles I’ve run?  Why, my handy dandy Garmin Forerunner 220, of course.  I love this watch.  It’s easy to use, doesn’t have a touch screen, and has alerts for run/walk intervals.  That is, I DID love that watch, until my 9 mile run a couple of weekends ago, when I decided Garmie needed to meet Mr. Sidewalk.

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I didn’t know a glass watch face would crush like that.  Amazingly, it still worked perfectly, but the big holes in the glass meant it wouldn’t for long.  And I think some of that glass is still embedded in my palm.  Thank goodness my watch took the brunt of the damage and not my body.  Or my teeth.  And I still had to go 4 miles back to the car.

Mark insisted I buy a new watch as soon as we got home, and a friend told me Amazon was having a huge Garmin sale.  I also contacted Garmin, and being the wonderful company that they are, offered to replace my 220 for a very reasonable price, and Mark was looking to upgrade, so we have 2 new running watches in the house.

I chose the new Garmin VivoActive.

Yes, my hand is still bandaged up a week later.

I’ve been wearing it as my watch all the time, because it combines a GPS watch and a step counter, replacing my VivoFit.

It’s also a smart watch, with weather and calendar apps and email and text notifications.

It does have a touch screen, but I haven’t had much problem with it even wearing gloves.  It can track walking, biking, and swimming, and also golf, which is useless to me but I’m sure some people like that.

It also has a run/walk alert, but only vibrates.  I’m so conditioned to the chime the FR220 played I’m having to really pay attention to make sure I don’t miss the vibration, and to differentiate between that vibration, the mile lap vibration, the step goal vibration, etc. I’ve also had some problems with it talking to my phone. So I’m still getting used to my new toy, but so its a success!

BTW, Garmin did not sponsor this post.  Nor is it meant to be a full review, just sharing my experience.  For a great full review, go here.

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