Running Disney 2

Last weekend my mom and I headed to Disney World for the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend. This half marathon is the reason I started running. This year we did the 5k and 10k too, because if running 1 race is great then running 3 must be really, really great. And it was 🙂 Here are some more random pictures and thoughts from the weekend:

Sometimes shirts made for children are way better than ones made for adults. This was a good purchase :-)

Sometimes shirts made for children are way better than ones made for adults. This was a good purchase 🙂

Present for me! Yay/ouch!

Present for me! Yay/ouch!

All ready for the half

All ready for the half

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Race check bag. Normally I don’t check a bag at races, but for this one it’s worth it. The wait after the race can be really long

Pre-race wait. It did eventually get light during the half. For the 10k, the sun didn't come up until about 30min after I finished.

Pre-race wait. It did eventually get light during the half. For the 10k, the sun didn’t come up until about 30min after I finished.

Weather at the start line

Weather at the start line

Weather in Madison at the start time

Weather in Madison at that time

Weather in Sterling at that time

Weather in Sterling at that time

The weather really took a toll on us over the three races. Training outside in the Wisconsin (Or Massachusetts) winter does not prepare you well for Florida. This wasn’t the hottest Disney race we’ve run, but it was humid and foggy. This half was my second slowest ever…by a lot. I went into it planning to take it easy – I haven’t been feeling great lately and there was no way I was going to go very fast even if I tried. The 10k was my slowest ever. Somehow despite the fact that I purposefully ran slower than usual and had planned it that way, I am still really stressed about my times. Which is ridiculous.

The 5k was not our slowest ever, which was a little disappointing. During that we stop and take pictures and generally just goof around. It took us 45min to get from the one-mile marker to the two-mile marker. And somehow we still managed to finish faster than last year. I had been hoping to  take even longer this year, because it’s always good to have a goal.

So pretty! The fourth medal is for doing both the 10k and the half (Disney likes creating "challenges" by combining events)

So pretty! The fourth medal is for doing both the 10k and the half (Disney likes creating “challenges” by combining events)

We also got a lot of shirts (these are blurry, sorry):

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In addition to running, we also visited all four Disney World parks, Downtown Disney, ESPN WWOS, and a number of the Disney resorts. Some people rest between races…we are not those people. That may also have contributed to our relatively slow running. Totally worth it.

Post half breakfast for two! This picture does not do this sticky bun justice. It was amazing. Also it was about the size of my face.

Post half breakfast for two! This picture does not do this sticky bun justice. It was amazing. Also it was about the size of my face.

Lunch aka bacon cheeseburger macaroni and cheese. Because something called that just has to be tried.

Lunch aka bacon cheeseburger macaroni and cheese. Because something called that just has to be tried.

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Cake! Obviously, the way to recover from all that running was to eat about 4x more calories than we burned in all of the races combined.

Wine in plastic cups. I am continually amazed at just how much drinking you could do at Disney World.

Wine in plastic cups. I am continually amazed at just how much drinking you could do at Disney World.

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Animal Kingdom. I always take terrible pictures of animals, but this one is surprisingly not terrible.

Animal Kingdom. I always take terrible pictures of animals, but this one is surprisingly not terrible.

Overall the trip was a wonderful success. Lots of running, lots of eating, and lots of laughing 🙂

Running Disney

We’re down at Disney World to do some running! Yesterday we did a 5k, this morning we did a 10k, and tomorrow we’ll run the half marathon. Tons of fun…except the having to wake up at 2am part.

Random pictures from the weekend so far:

Expo on Thursday

Expo on Thursday

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Race gear for the 10k

Took time to browse the running store here at Disney. By some miracle, we didn't actually buy anything!

Took time to browse the running store here at Disney. By some miracle, we didn’t actually buy anything!

It's made of legos. I feel like I should forget about getting a PhD and get a job where someone pays me to build sweet things with legos instead.

It’s made of legos. I feel like I should forget about getting a PhD and get a job where someone pays me to build sweet things with legos instead.

photo 3

We discovered I could easily fit into a child-size princess dress. And no, I didn’t buy it.

I am looking forward to the half tomorrow – planning to take it easy and have fun 🙂

Madison Marathon Recap: Part 1

On November 10, 2013, I ran my first marathon.

Writing that sentence is pretty cool. It has taken me a few weeks to process the whole experience. But now I am ready to share it with you. This post will be the first of three detailing race weekend and more.

The Days Leading Up to The Race

The week before the race was uneventful, the normal mix of work and life. The only thing unusual was that I was running less, which made me pretty restless.

Friday

The Friday before the race, my family arrived in Madison. My parents and I met at Perkins for lunch, because they don’t exist in MA and my dad really wanted pancakes. After enjoying some delicious food, I headed to the airport to pick up Scott (the now-ex-boyfriend).

Once everyone had arrived and gotten settled in, we headed to the race expo. My dad decided that this did not sound fun, and stayed behind.

The expo was open both Friday and Saturday, but I wanted to get my bib so that I could spend Saturday relaxing. We also figured that Friday evening would be less crowded, and we were right. Upon arriving at Monona Terrace, our first order of business was getting my race bib. It took about 3 minutes, as there were no lines, making this my fastest packet pick-up ever.

My bib thinks I am 21 years old. Ha.

My bib thinks I am 21 years old. Ha.

Next we picked up my race shirt. I was excited that it was a long sleeve tech shirt. Despite having a ton of running clothes, I somehow only own one of these and it is bright orange…I don’t look good in orange. So I was glad to add a new, differently colored one to my wardrobe.

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In Wisconsin, the beer logo must be at least as big as the race name...

In Wisconsin, the beer logo must be at least as big as the race name.

We spent the next 20min looking around at the vendors. My eye was drawn to the booth selling headbands, which are always bright and fun. I had to remind myself, that not only do I already have some running headbands, but I actually don’t like wearing them.

Some money was spent at the official race merchandise booth (thanks mom). Normally I avoid official stuff, as it is often expensive and not very cute. Madison Marathon upped their game this year and had a lot more stuff for sale than in the past! I ended up with two shirts and a visor. My mom ended up with the same visor…we have a lot of matching things.

I've never had a shirt with a map on it!

I’ve never had a shirt with a map on it!

There was a bright pink version, but I am trying to branch out.

There was a bright pink version, but I am trying to branch out.

After the expo, we went out for dinner and then it was off to bed.  I stayed up later than I should have working on a jigsaw puzzle, but it was fun. Unfortunately, I slept terribly that night, which made me nervous because I do not function well without sleep. I blame it on the oft-repeated notion that it’s really how well you sleep two nights before the race that is most important.

Saturday

Saturday morning was spent planning for Sunday. My family would be spectating along the course and we figured out how they would get around and where they would be. We also spent time thinking about what I would wear and have with me during the race and what they would carry in case I needed something. I am intense about planning, it makes me feel less anxious!

Around 11am, we headed to an early lunch at the Great Dane.  They have a big menu and lots of basic options, so I wouldn’t have to worry about eating anything crazy the day before the race.

Once we had ordered our meals, my mom brought out a large bag stuffed with cards. Apparently in the time leading up to the race she, with the help of some very good friends, collected cards from people in my life wishing me luck on the race. As I read each card, I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, caring, and humor that they held.

:-)

Amazing

I am so, so lucky to have such an amazing group of people in my life and these cards meant more to me than I could ever express in a blog post.  Instead I will share a few examples (I would love to show everyone’s because they are all wonderful, but that would make this an epically long post):

Can't forget my roots

Can’t forget my roots

"My grandma wins the prize for largest card. Also for the most frequent use of quotation marks."

My grandma wins the prize for largest card. Also for most frequent use of quotation marks.

A lovely cartoon from Maia in which I successfully cross the finish line…before collapsing.

A lovely cartoon from Maia in which I successfully cross the finish line…before collapsing.

Beautiful card's from my advisor's daughters. They have already far surpassed my own artistic talents.

Beautiful cards from my advisor’s daughters. They have already far surpassed my own artistic talents.

Dude. Annie embroidered this card. We stared at this one in awe for a while.

Dude. Annie embroidered this card. We stared at this one in awe for a while.

This is not a card…it is the sweetest sweatshirt ever.

This is not a card…it is the sweetest sweatshirt ever.

After lunch, my parents headed to the Badger football game and Scott and I headed to Target. I needed some throwaway clothes to wear while waiting for the race to start and knew that Target sells cheap athletic pants for small boys that fit me perfectly. Totally worth the weird looks I get for buying children’s clothing.

Then we headed to the movies! It was nice to put my feet up as we enjoyed Ender’s Game. I also enjoyed the soft pretzel that I, in a rare moment of brilliance, ordered to go at lunch. It was delicious and not greasy like the ones the theater sells. Not that I am opposed to greasy, buttery pretzels, but it just didn’t seem like a great idea the day before my attempt to run farther than ever before.

After the movie, we made the slow and scary journey back to my house through the sea of Badger fans – seriously, living near an 80,000 person stadium that doesn’t have its own parking is insane!

We spent the evening relaxing in front of the TV (well, watching TV on my tiny laptop) and enjoying a basic meal of turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. This is one of my default dinners, so I knew it was unlikely to cause any serious stomach issues the next day.

The end of the night was spent with me in a panic trying to figure out what to wear the next day. The weather had been weird that week and I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare. After a lot of swearing and second-guessing, I decided on shorts, a t-shirt, arm warmers, a jacket, and gloves. I would also have the throwaway pants I bought to cover my legs early in the morning. My family would carry some additional items, in case the weather changed.

Finally, it was time for bed. I was stressed because I had stayed up later than I wanted to, but overall I was feeling pretty good. Deep down I believed that, barring an emergency, I would be able to finish the race. Maybe not fast or prettily, but I would finish.

In Closing

I shall leave you with the words sent to me by my Uncle Dave, Aunt Ismini, and cousins Jack and Nikolas (apparently Dave isn’t just great at writing books, but also at writing inspiring emails):

“Noelle! Your first marathon, that’s very exciting. I’ve been to Marathon and heard all about the guy who ran the first one and all about what happened to him when he finished and…I mean, well, the Greeks invented democracy and since then things have certainly been…I mean, remember this, no matter what, even if you lose your way and go backwards for a few miles, you’ll still be faster than your mother.”

Trying to Remain Calm

This morning I went for my final pre-marathon run. Just an easy 3.5 miler to shake out my legs. It’s crazy to think that the next time I run will be in a marathon. Everything felt pretty good, well except for the fact that I am not quite adjusted to below freezing temperatures yet.

Now that the race is only a couple days away, it feels like this thing is really going to happen. My parents get into town in about an hour and tonight I’ll pick up my race bib. I don’t know where the time went, it seems like just yesterday that I was registering (okay, I registered back in March so I could pay the super discount price, but it definitely doesn’t feel like its been more than 7 months since then).

Currently I am feeling mentally calm, although my body is really restless. Going from running a lot to resting a lot has left with me with some extra energy! My goal is to stay calm for as long as possible and to keep reminding myself that I have done the preparation and there is nothing more I can do at this point. Mostly I just don’t know what to expect, which is not a feeling I like.

Any words of wisdom?

How do you stay calm before a race or other big event?

Marathon Music

I am working on my playlist for the marathon on Sunday. Crafting a good playlist takes time and thought, so I will be slowly adding to it throughout the week.

My plan for the race is actually to run the first part without music. I have recently done a few runs sans headphones and have really enjoyed it. Can’t believe I avoided going music free for so long!

But I want to have an awesome playlist ready for those tough miles when I need a boost. I have many running mixes, but am trying to include some new/different songs this time. The same songs get old after a while!

These accidentally went through the laundry yesterday. Amazingly, they still work perfectly!

These accidentally went through the laundry yesterday. Amazingly, they still work perfectly!

Some songs, however, must always be on the playlist:

What songs should I add to my list?

Rest Day Reflections #9

One week to go until the marathon! Just three more runs. I am starting to FREAK OUT. My confidence has been slowly waning. This feeling is to be expected, but I still don’t like it!

Week Stats:

Miles Run: 22
Yoga Classes: 2
Strength Training Sessions: 2
Weeks Until Marathon: 1

October Round Up:

Miles Run: 130.6
The most miles I have ever run in a month!  The last few months have gotten me pretty close to my goal of 1000mi for the year.

Almost there!

Almost there!

Sodas: 0
I made it through the whole month without having a soda. There were definitely times when I really, really wanted a cold Coke Zero – but I resisted temptation. In fact, I still haven’t had a soda even though October is over!

Things I am Grateful for This Week:

1) Corn
Not only is corn delicious, but it also has many other important uses. Like making Kraken-shaped corn mazes.

Corn maze! I think the observation deck needs to be taller...

Corn maze! I think the observation deck needs to be taller…

2) NYC Marathon
I love watching marathons. When I was younger, my mom would take me to see the Boston Marathon each year. We would cheer for a while and then drive home just in time to watch the winners cross the finish line. Today, I have had a lovely morning watching the NYC marathon.

Just Breathe

When I first started running, I got side stitches all the time. Invariably, I would end up with horrible pain under my ribcage before I hit the one-mile mark.

With time and patience, however, I started getting stitches less and less. Nowadays the only time I have this issue is if I eat too soon before running.

But in the past week or so, I have been getting stitches on every run. Even my easy, short runs have been painful. With each run, my panic grew: if I couldn’t run a slow 4mi comfortably, how would I ever run 26.2?

For days, I tried to pinpoint what the problem was. I kept track of what I was eating, made sure I was hydrated, ran slower…nothing made a difference.

On my easy run today, I made it to mile two before my side started to ache. Now, on a typical run, I listen to music. Today, it was raining really hard, so I left my electronics at home. In the end, it was running without headphones that led me to the root of the problem.

As I ran, I realized that my breathing sounded really weird (something I can’t generally hear over my music). And then it dawned on me – I was breathing through my mouth! This might not sound like a big deal, and for some people mouth breathing works, but for me it is really uncomfortable.

This past week, however, I have been fighting a cold and thus unable to breathe through my stuffy nose. My breathing has been strained and shallow, which is apparently a common cause of side stitches. I didn’t even realize I was breathing through my mouth, because it was the only way I could get air in!

As soon as I realized this, I knew it was the problem. Luckily I was much less stuffy today. I immediately focused on breathing like I normally do while running: slow and steady through my nose. Within about 3 minutes, the pain was gone and I was fine for the rest of the run.

It’s amazing how such a small change can make such a big difference!

Rest Day Reflections #8

It’s now officially two weeks until the marathon. The race is creeping into my thoughts more frequently with each passing day.

I also appear to be coming down with some sort of illness – sore throat, stuffy nose, etc. Not good! When I get sick, it tends to last for a while and I don’t want to be sick while running 26.2mi. I have been making sure to get extra rest, drink lots of water, and take some vitamin C. Plus, I have been washing my hands like a maniac.

In other news, I actually had to wear long pants for one of my runs this week. I typically wear shorts until it is below 40 and we finally had some daytime temperatures in the 30s.

Week Stats:

Miles Run: 30
Yoga Classes: 3
Strength Training Sessions: 2
Weeks Until Marathon: 2
Sodas: 0 (Last night, I almost caved. But I managed to stay strong while others were drinking delicious diet cokes)

Things I am Grateful for This Week:

1) Group Halloween Costumes

I typically dislike dressing up for halloween, because I am terrible at coming up with ideas and not particularly crafty. But when it’s a group costume, I can totally get on board. Last night, some friends and I dressed up as Kiss. It was surprisingly awesome. I was uncertain that we would pull it off, but I am feeling pretty pleased.

My attempt at a mid-70s style Ace Frehley.

My attempt at a mid-70s style Ace Frehley.

"Gene Simmons" rocking the DJ booth.

“Gene Simmons” rocking the DJ booth.

All together now! (Photo by Lyn/Paul Stanley)

All together now! (Photo by Lyn/Paul Stanley)

2) Pumpkins

Pumpkins are one of my favorite things about fall. Not only can you eat them, you can also make jack-o-lanterns!

This is about the extent of my carving skills...and apparently my photography skills aren't much better

This is about the extent of my carving skills…and apparently my photography skills aren’t much better

What are you being for Halloween this year?

Any suggestions for fighting off a cold?

Rest Day Reflections # 7

Yesterday’s 20 miler marked my final really long run before the marathon. For the next few weeks, I will keep running as frequently, but fewer miles.  I am glad to start tapering, my legs need a break…but I know that before long I will be completely stir crazy.

My run yesterday was…interesting. I was in Kentucky for a wedding, so it wasn’t as easy as putting on my shoes and heading out the door. With the help of some friends, I picked out a place to run: The UK arboretum.

The arboretum isn’t huge, but it is connected to some subdivisions. So my 20 miles were spent weaving through the arboretum and the surrounding neighborhoods – over and over and over. At least the arboretum was very pretty and I got to run a lot of hills.

The hardest part of my run was the weather. When I left my hotel at 7:30am, it was chilly. By the time I got to the arboretum, it was 50 and sunny. I started out in a long sleeve shirt, because I needed to warm up a bit. After a few miles, I was warm and changed into my t-shirt (my car was stocked with all sorts of clothes).  Around mile 9, the weather changed drastically. The sun disappeared, it began raining, and over the next 11 miles the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees. But the worst part was the wind, which made it feel so much colder. The last 5 miles were a struggle, and I was so glad when my GPS finally hit 20 miles.

I ran back to my car, excited to be out of the rain and cold. Unfortunately, my fingers were numb and it took me about 5min to open my car door – who knew pushing those little buttons could be so difficult? I changed into some dry clothes and headed back to the hotel, with the heat on full blast the whole way.

Back in my hotel room, I was still chilled. I cranked up the heat in my room and proceeded to take an excessively long and hot shower. Once I was all warmed up, I made sure to hang up my running clothes – there are few things more disgusting than wet running clothes being packed into a suitcase.

The whole bathroom looked like this

The whole bathroom looked like this

There was no time to rest though, I needed to get ready for the wedding! Somehow I managed to spend the next 8 hours wearing in high heels, dancing until midnight.

Yay!

Yay!

All in all, I am happy with my 20 miler. It was much slower and not as much fun as my last one. But this run really tested my perseverance and I am proud to have stuck with it!

Week Stats:

Miles Run: 34
Weeks Until Marathon: 3
Sodas: 0