Eight is Great

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Well it’s been almost two years since my last post and we just completed a half over the weekend so I want to detail it while the memories are fresh. Since my last post my husband was selected for Marine Corps Recruiting duty and our family moved to central Florida. This means my husband works about 14 hours a day and I’m what we call in the military world “a married single parent.” I’m adding this because we haven’t had the chance to race as much as we would like to. In 2011 we made a goal to run a half marathon in all 50 states. Between September 2011 and May 2014 we completed seven half marathons and a tough mudder. It took us till January 9, 2016 to run our eighth half marathon.

Back in the spring hubby and I attempted to register for the Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon. We logged on 15 minutes before the sale started and we couldn’t get in, the server jammed and the race was sold out in record time. The Wine and Dine is still on my list for a future race, but I think it will have to wait till his retirement as it usually falls near the Marine Corps Birthday. After all, how can it get better than Disney, running, and wine?? A few months later we were successfully able to register for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I started my 12 week Hal Higdon plan in October and made most of the runs. This fall/winter in Florida has been one of the hottest on record, we were averaging 85 degrees for most of December, which isn’t exactly ideal running weather. The training was rough but I made it. Due to hubby’s work schedule I think he ran about 5 times before the race. My in-laws flew in around New Year’s to take care of our girls and on last Friday we heading east to Orlando.

The trip there was uneventful and we made it to the expo with plenty of time to spare. It’s amazing the time and effort that go into organizing a race. The aid stations were already in place as we were driving through Disney property. We picked up our shirts, bibs, and commemorative wine glass and pin at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and headed to the Shades of Green resort with a gorgeous sunset as the backdrop. Due to the 0530 start we decided to have dinner at Manginos on the Shades property. We weren’t fans, the caesar salad had way too much dressing and the chicken alfredo needed more garlic. The wine and beer were decent and helped us get to sleep in preparation of our early departure the next morning. Wait, did the desk clerk just say the buses arrive at 03?

I had my typical breakfast of a bagel and hubby ate a clif bar which later he found out wasn’t enough. I had a gorgeous Snow White tutu made for me by Race Junkie, Snow White is my favorite princess and there’s just something fun about running in a fluffy tutu. After breakfast we boarded a nice, clean, and comfortable charter bus and headed for Epcot. Due to recent nationwide events all runners had to pass through a bag check and metal detectors complete with sniffing dogs, I’m not sure what they were sniffing for, but whatever.  We made it to the corrals with minutes to spare before a Marine sang the national anthem. We were able to submit proof of time which got us into corral B. If you’ve read my blog about our first half at Disneyland on the west coast you’ll remember this is a big deal. Disney attracts a lot of beginner runners, which I think is awesome but there are some of us out there that don’t want to dodge the groups of walkers. Hubby and I have an agreement that we start together but if one of us is feeling good it’s ok to run their race. We prayed and then the fireworks announced it was time for Group B to get started.

We started running on the connecting roads and hit Magic Kingdom around mile 6.  The first 6 miles I passed a blind runner for the first time ever, I was so impressed and inspired. Elvis ran by with a full on black jumpsuit and sang a bit which caused the blind man to smile. I was also running next to Indiana Jones, who was carrying a golden skull and wearing the full getup, yes even pants and they weren’t moisture wicking either. Indy fell back before we hit the Magic Kingdom. We started on Main street near the big Christmas tree, I know I’m still trying to figure out when exactly they do take their decorations down. Main Street was lined with people cheering and we ran through with the castle lit up in front of us. Tomorrowland was eerily quiet, we passed through fantasyland and let me tell you I am a huge Disney fan but they had this group of characters by the carousel I couldn’t place.  From there it was through the castle and off to Frontierland. After leaving Magic Kingdom we ran by the golf courses and started our journey back to Epcot. Around mile 10 something happened that boosted my spirits.

I have to admit I was discouraged with my running for most of this race. With all of my long training runs I made an 8 minute mile with no struggle but on race day it was a fight to get an 8 minute pace. When hashing this out later in the day with hubs he told me I was most likely chopping my steps because it was dark. This made so much sense, I am so clumsy and because of this I never run in the dark. Around mile 10 a super fit guy runs up beside me and says something, I took out my headphones and he repeated himself.  I was starting to loose steam and he says to me, “you can’t quit now, you’re the most consistent runner I’ve ever seen and I’ve run over 22 marathons.” He continued telling me that I was more consistent than the pacers he’s run with. He told me he was following me the whole race and he didn’t even look at his watch because I was so consistent with the pace. Well hearing all of these words of affirmation, (that’s my love language by the way) built me up enough to really push the last 3.1 miles. His name is Mike and he stayed next to me and we chatted the rest of the race. His motivation caused me to run mile 13 at a 7:35 pace, my fastest mile of the race. He was trying to talk me into running a full marathon, insisting halfs are almost easy for me. Easy for him to say, did i mention I wanted to die on mile 13 at that pace?  Mike and I finished at 1:45:27. Out of the 8 half marathons this was my 4th best time. Hubby finished at 1:53:01, it was also his 4th best time. His time blew me away with his lack of training. I’m super proud of him. This was also our largest half marathon to date with 21,497 runners. Now onto the crazy part…

We saw a champagne stand so of course I had to have a glass and hubby had a beer. We saw a lady with a Marine Corps Marathon jacket and chatted with her group for a few minutes before heading toward the busses to go back to the hotel. We caught our bus with some other runners and started the slow trek back to our hotel. All I wanted was a shower, food, and a nap. Our bus stopped at the Disney Transportation Center and tells us to get out. A few people said he was supposed to take us all the way to the resort but he insisted we all get out. My legs were starting to hurt and I had a headache coming on at this point. So we waited for a bus and none came, I called the resort and they weren’t much help. Another guest at our resort found an alternative shuttle that agreed to take us to Shades of Green. When pulling out of the transportation center we could almost see the driveway for our hotel but for some crazy reason security made our driver go in the opposite direction. Traffic is a nightmare since roads are closed for the race and we end up in something I’ll compare to Interstate 95. Well my crazy ass husband tells the driver to open the door in the middle of the road and let us out. He gets out and starts running. Did i mention my throbbing head and legs? He is trying to catch another bus that is apparently heading to our hotel, this bus looked to be a quarter mile away from me. My head and legs hurt so bad I could barely run and another lady and her daughter followed us out of the shuttle. So now we’re attempting to run on a sloped and grassy median and I’m over the whole thing  and cursing my husband for being crazy. I didn’t know this but hubby saw the struggle and starting praying  and then God sent Miss Sue. This really nice Mercedes pulls up beside me and asks if I want a ride. Don’t tell my mom but I took it! Miss Sue who spends part of the year in Long Island and the rest in Celebration stopped and picked us up out of the goodness of her heart. I mean seriously people she picked up four stinky, sweaty, grassy half marathon runners in her nice Mercedes and drove us back to Shades of Green. Miss Sue, wherever you are, you don’t know what a blessing you were to the four of us runners. I was so sick at this point I almost threw up in that beautiful Mercedes. We made it to the room, I ate some dried fruit and felt much better.  We then showered, ate leftover pizza and slept for three hours. Thank God we booked that hotel for two nights.  After our nap we stopped at the Starbucks in the lobby and then headed over to Universal Studios. We rode three of our favorite rides: The Mummy, Gringotts, and Men in Black, picked up a Lard Lads donut for breakfast the next day and then ate dinner at the NBC sports bar and grill. The food at NBC was fantastic, thats one of my favorite things about Orlando-the food. We are foodies and unfortunately all our new hometown has is chain restaurants so we enjoy getting over to Orlando for the variety of  good restaurants. And that my friends is the story of half marathon number 8. Disney is such a special place and if you ever have the opportunity to run Disney I highly recommend it.

Race Stats

Run 50: Eight-Florida

Race: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Date: Saturday January 9, 2016

Runners: 21,497

Finish Time: 1:45:27

Percentages:

Age: 23 out of 1843

1.2%

Gender (Female) 133 out of 12,303

1%

Overall: 575 out of 21,497

2.6%

 

Our first half marathon

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Welcome to my blog chronicling our running adventures. If you’re just joining you can go back to my first post to find all about how I got into running. My husband is my best friend and every day I thank God for bringing us together. He agreed to do the first half marathon with me even though I was much slower than him and I also happened to be a VERY whiny runner at the time. After I worked up to that 5 mile training goal I set I decided to sign us up for the Disneyland half marathon. We were living in San Diego and were set to PCS to Camp Pendleton, CA so it was going to be an easy race to get to. The ease of travel and my love of Disney were the reasons I chose this race to be my first half marathon. I went online to register and lo and behold it was SOLD OUT!! I couldn’t believe it, I was so disappointed. The Kern curse strikes again! Then I found out if you raise money for a charity you can sign up with them to run the race. We looked through the charities and decided to choose Special Olympics in honor of our little buddy Landon King who has Down Syndrome. The King family is also a military family who we were close with during our time in San Diego. My husband and I each had to agree to raise a minimum of $800 to run the race with TEAM Southern California Special Olympics.  I am a personal trainer and did several bootcamp fundraisers for part of the money and our generous family and friends made donations and we also made a personal donation. So we met our fundraising goal and we’re all set and ready to run. Then the Kern curse hits us again, things didn’t work out for us to live in Camp Pendleton so instead of moving 30 miles away from our home in Point Loma we had orders to Quantico, Virginia and we had to report by the end of August and the race was the beginning of September. What do we do? So many people made donations for us to run. It was something I was looking forward to for the past year as well. We decided to do something completely spontaneous and buy plane tickets to fly from DC to LAX so we could do this race. This was completely unlike us, we never plan last minute getaways and the money we spent definitely makes our first half the most expensive to date. I follow a 12 week training plan for half marathons. With the movers coming and not having a house in Quantico I only made it to a long run of 7 miles during my training. I also went about a month with not running at all, my daughters were way too big for a jogging stroller and way too grouchy to try and take on any runs and the bikes were in a storage container somewhere. I couldn’t really blame them, we went from the paradise known as San Diego to 90+ degree temps in Virginia with humidity over 90% most of the time. Needless to say this is NOT how to prepare for your first half marathon!

On Saturday September 3, 2011 we got on a plane in DC and flew to LAX. We arrived at the airport and took a cab over to the rental car place. My husband travels way more than I do so he took care of making a rental car reservation in advance. I’m writing this blog in May 2014 so I have forgotten the exact time but we had an expo to get to at the Disneyland hotel. For those not familiar with large races, the host of the race will have an expo the day before the race where you pick up your packet that has your race bib, medical release waiver, t shirt and other goodies. If you miss the expo you miss running the race. We arrived at the rental place anxious to go so we didn’t miss the expo. Even though the hubs had a reservation it took us over two hours to get a car that could probably fit in the trunk of my SUV. On the way to the expo we stopped at Rallys for lunch, that’s the west coast version of Checkers. I don’t like fast food much but I do love me some Checkers/Rallys! We chowed down on some burgers, fries, and coke zeros and headed to the expo with less than 30 minutes till closing. The expo had some awesome Run Disney merchandise but me being the superstitious person I am couldn’t buy it. I barely made it through seven miles If I bought some 13.1 stuff that would be bad juju for my race. Hubs is way more confident than me and he happened to run 13.1 miles with his former boss so he picked up a long sleeve race tshirt with Mickey on it. We walked around the expo a bit, I picked up my first sparkly glam headband and then we headed to the Marriott across the street. Random thought while writing this, Disney California and Disney Florida are so different! We ate dinner at a Mimi’s Cafe and called it a night.

Thank God we were on east coast time because 0400 came early! We got dressed and headed over to the race. I think I ate a bagel? Races use corrals to group runners based on the time they finish. Corral A had the fastest runners and each corral following had a slower projected finish time. I was in Corral E based on the time goal I set. Hubs had a better corral but being the sweet guy he is, he moved back to E with me. If you want to run fast at a Disney race don’t go in Corral E. We spent the first three miles running around mostly women WALKING four-five abreast. That’s bad running etiquette, btw. And since we spent about 45 minutes waiting for corral E to get to the start line we had to make a potty stop at the first rest room on the right in the Magic Kingdom, I have to throw that in there because it added two minutes to our time. It was a dream come true to run through Disneyland and California Adventure. No strollers, no tourists, just us runners and random characters along the way. We even got to go backstage at Disneyland!! We later passed by a marriage proposal at the castle, one of us may have yelled “don’t do it!” The remainder of the race was through Anaheim. I was so excited just to get to mile eight, hey it was a new record for me! We later got to run the warning track at the Angels stadium. After mile 10 I was really dragging, I can’t seem to recall if we had any gu or shot blocks. Mile 12 felt like it would never end but eventually we grabbed hands and crossed the finish line together with Mickey and Minnie cheering us on. Crossing the finish line of this race, was one of the top five moments of my life. It was such a feeling of accomplishment and to share it with my best friend at one of my favorite places was just truly magical. The best thing about your first race is as long as you finish you set a PR. We finished with a time of 2:13:36. We went into this race with a goal of not to walk and we were able to run the whole time. My first mission after the Gatorade of course was to find one of those awesome mickey mouse running stickers with a 13.1 in the center. The t-shirts and wine glasses were pretty cool too. We went in search of the merchandise and didn’t see it anywhere. We asked an employee and were told official race merchandise was only sold at the expo. I was crushed, to go through all we did and not have the sticker to brag about it. I may have pouted like a toddler for a bit but after all we were at Disneyland so we needed to shower and head to the park before our return flight to DC.

Each minute that passed we had more leg pain. I never ran more than 7 miles and I had just run non stop for almost 2 hours and 15 minutes. Hubs and I cleaned up and then hobbled over to California Adventure. We really wanted to check out the new Little Mermaid ride as well as ride one of our favorite roller coasters, California Screamin. We ate some Mexican for lunch and limped to a few rides, we eventually got to the point where it hurt to stand, so here we are at Disneyland just hanging out on a bench. We were completely miserable so we decided to start to head out to LAX. We took the red eye back and that was the end of our first half marathon adventure. Before you decide never to run a race we were in so much pain because we did not train properly. If you train right I promise you, you won’t feel this way after your race.

I want to share an after thought. After I returned home I emailed run Disney telling them about our adventure and asking them if they had any stickers I could buy. I didn’t get a return email but a few weeks later I had official Disney mail, they mailed me a race sticker!! This is one of the many reasons I love Disney. Their employees go above and beyond in everything they do! Hubs was never a Disney guy but after that first visit we have returned many times over the years and will continue to do so because Disney is just that awesome.

Race Stats

Run 50: Our first State- California

Race: 5th Annual Disneyland Half Marathon

Date: Sunday September 4, 2011

Runners: 12,773

Finish Time: 2:13:36

Percentages:

Age-18.5%, Gender (Female) 15.8%, Overall- 23.6%

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How it all started…

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If you would have told me I would be running half marathons and loving it when I was 20, I would have laughed at you. I was never an athlete, I would even go on to say I hated exercise through my teenage years. My sweet mom tried every sport and activity you can imagine when I was a child and I never really liked any of them. I found my love of exercise as an adult.  I’m a young mom, I gave birth to both of my daughters before I could legally drink a glass of wine. I’m also a Marine wife and when you combine parenting two girls with that lifestyle, life can get a little stressful. Exercise is my sanity. I lost the baby weight after my second child fast. I was doing Taebo videos and chasing around a very active toddler. When we arrived to our first duty station my baby was old enough to go to the gym co-op. I started taking group exercise classes and then I moved upstairs to the cardio and weight room. I did my warmups on the treadmill somewhere around 3.5- 4.0 mph and I thought that was so fast, I could barely last through a five minute warm up. My husband encouraged me to try running outside, he took me to the track one day and I hated every minute. I think I made it one time around and then told him that if he expected more there was a nice comfy couch downstairs ready for him. My husband deployed to Iraq in 2007 and after running on the treadmill all winter, I decided when the spring hit to take my running outside. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the great outdoors. I even started to think, I’m never going back to the treadmill. During my husband’s deployment we found out we would be moving to San Diego, CA. I didn’t know it yet but San Diego is a runner’s paradise. You never deal with ice, snow, or humidity and you rarely see temps below 50 or above 80. The movers packed us up in the summer of 2008 and we drove cross country to our new home in Southern California.

On March 13, 2009 I ran my first 5k at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, CA. I look at the picture from that day and laugh now, I was wearing a thick baseball hat, a cotton t-shirt, and my workout shoes. I hadn’t stepped foot in a road runner yet or had a drawer full of tech tees to choose from at the time. I just showed up that afternoon ready to run. There was so much excitement at the race, from the motivating speech given by the General, the singing of the national anthem, all the energy from the runners, I loved every minute. When we finished I found out I took 9th out of 84 females in my age division! I was ecstatic, to go from the kid getting picked last in gym class to placing in the top ten for my first 5k was quite a turn around. I found my love of racing on this day.

Over our time in San Diego I did more 5k’s. I placed first a few times, even getting some free tickets to the San Diego fair with my 1st place medal! I had a training goal in mind that if I could run up to 5 miles I would sign up for the Disneyland half marathon. I am a huge Disney fan, ever since I was a girl I was mesmerized by the movies and visiting Disney World was the highlight of my childhood family vacations. On my next blog I will talk about the adventure that was our first half marathon, our famous family curse, and that special moment of completing my first half at the happiest place on earth.

Taking 1st place at the Freedom Run.

Taking 1st place at the Freedom Run.