Friday, November 15, 2013

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Not long after I finished my first half marathon, my sister decided to take up running as a hobby too. I was so excited to have another person who runs at my pace to share encouragement and training plans with. The problem was that she lived in Hawaii and I live in Alabama! We both continued training and running and vowed that one day we WOULD run a half marathon together. That dream came true just 2 weeks ago :)

Jaki and Rob moved to Mississippi this summer, and finally we were close enough to be able to schedule long runs together. Our Dad offered to pay our entry to a race, and we quickly signed up for the Disney Wine and Dine Half before he changed his mind. My sweet husband then offered to pay for our accommodations for the trip leaving us with just the cost of gas, food, and Disney park admission to come up with. I was kind of feeling like a sponsored runner!! Suddenly the race was on the calendar and coming up fast. 

On race weekend, my best friend Larisa came and picked me up for our 8 hour drive to Orlando. Jaki, Rob, and my sweet nieces met us at my house and we hit the road. We made it to Orlando in time to pick up our race packets and look around the expo. 

On of my "must visit" booths was the KT Tape table. I got my knees taped up even though they hadn't been bothering me much lately. My philosophy was "better safe than sorry!!" This proved to be a smart move on my part.

On Saturday we got up and took my niece Caydence out for a big birthday breakfast. I still can't believe she is already 6! We ate a huge buffet breakfast, and then I didn't eat much until a few hours before the race started. After breakfast we ventured out to Downtown Disney to do a little shopping. We decided not to do too much as we would be up late that night. 

Around 3:30, I decided to take a nap. I knew it was going to be a long night, and I wanted to make sure I'd last through all the fun. I laid out my running gear and my glow necklaces and bracelets and climbed into bed. 

Before I knew it, Larisa was waking me up! I snacked on a slice of pizza and we headed out the door to venture down to the shuttle to the starting line. Larisa dropped us off, and then she was able to go into Epcot for the after party. Yes, she was Wine and Dining while we were running! Lucky girl...

Jaki and I were on one of the first shuttles to unload at the start. Luckily for us, we were able to take a photo with Minnie Mouse without waiting too long. If we had gotten there 10 minutes later, the lines would have been too long to wait in.

After our photo shoot, we strolled on over to the "runners only" area. There were what seemed like hundreds of port-a-potties lining the fence. We took advantage of the emptiness and used them...twice!! LOL

I also took some time to stretch and relax before we had to move to our corral. The weather felt fantastic and I couldn't have asked for better running conditions. The announcers kept warning us to stay hydrated as it was really humid...but they must have never visited Mobile! It wasn't humid at all to me. Haha!

I managed to catch up with Ryan and Sarah Jett before the start. They are both teachers who work with me. Ryan is the one who encouraged me to choose this race. This was actually his first half marathon, and he rocked it!!

Look at those crowds now!! This photo was taken about an hour after the previous photo of the near empty field. Jaki and I decided to visit the potties again. This time we had to wait quite a while. We definately drank too much water as we were waiting around. 

Eventually it was time to head to our corral. We crammed in with thousands of our closest friends and sang along to some catchy tunes. Suddenly, the first corral was off and we could hear the fireworks going off. We were happy to see that each corral was sent off with a bang! Here is a shot of our start:

We didn't have a plan for this race. We didn't have a goal time in mind, no time to beat. We wanted to be able to stop and take pictures whenever we wanted. Remember what I said about drinking too much water? Well, we stopped at mile one for a potty break. At least there weren't any lines that early on!

The first few miles dragged by along Disney interstate and overpasses. We were relieved to finally see we were entering the Animal Kingdom. We needed a change of scenery! 

The Animal Kingdom was decked out for Christmas already! I enjoyed seeng the decorations as we ran through. Our site seeing surely led to those 17 minute miles we averaged. Ha!

And then the character stops began!! We ran most of the first 6 miles, only stopping for pictures and water. My knees were holding up well, though at one point they did feel like there was some weird pressure sensation. I honestly believe that this is where the KT Tape saved the day. The pressure subsided, and my knees felt fantastic for the rest of the run.

Around mile 8 my left calf suddenly felt as if it were being squeezed in a vice. I had to stop and stretch it so that I could keep running. It was so tight and sore that I was almost limping. Jaki's lower back was causing her a lot of trouble too around this point and we decided to walk for a quarter mile to see if that helped. We also stopped for more photos! This hilarious army guy promised us that he was "diligently searching for the people who stole our sleeves!" 

We trudged on, stopping occasionally to stretch and walk a little bit. We were getting a little tired by this point. We weren't used to being up this late!

Darby and Tyler were super jealous to see this photo! They love Star Wars :)

We stopped to visit Buzz and Woody...

And Lilo and Stitch!

My favorite part of the course was in Hollywood Studios. Check out these Christmas lights!! Jaki and I took our time and walked pretty slowly so we could enjoy every magical moment.

Before long we were in the home stretch. I even managed to eat a gel! I normally have a strange gag reflex for power gels, but on course the were offering Clif chocolate gel. I grabbed one because I felt like I needed the calories. I was really feeling the pain in my left calf, and by this point my right ankle was aching too. I think I was over compensating my stride to relieve pressure on my calf. Honestly by this point I was ready to be done!! And that's when we saw this...

We were finally done! We did it!! We found Larisa and were so grateful that we had someone there to drive us away. We didn't stay for the after party. Neither one of us wanted to be on our feet any longer. Larisa was a great race supporter! She drove us around Orlando at 3 a.m. so that we could find something to eat. We owe her big time for that!!

I now have my first Run Disney medal to add to my collection. It is definately one of my favorites :)

Sunday morning I woke up to a very tender left calf. It felt like someone had used it for a punching bag all night. I iced it, but it was painful to the touch. I decided to miss out on the Magic Kingdom, but Jaki and Rob took the girls on their first Disney experience. I just couldn't see myself walking around for hours when I could barely stand on my left leg. I lived in my Swiftwick compression socks for the next 3 days! Those things worked like a charm. By Wednesday my calf was feeling good again. 

Larisa and I decided to hang out by the pool instead. It was too cold for us to get in the water, but we enjoyed meeting new friends who kept us well entertained.  It was a great way to end the weekend!! 

Overall, I truly enjoyed the Wine and Dine experience. The characters on course really added to the fun atmosphere, and I liked running at night! I would consider doing this race again, and maybe I'll even make it to the Food and Wine Festival afterwards next time!! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Senior Bowl 10K

November 2nd was one week out for my Disney half marathon. I really needed to get in at least a 6 mile run in order to make sure I was ready. Lucky for me, there was a 10K that morning!! I was really excited about this run because I'd never ran this race before. I was looking forward to a nice, flat course through downtown Mobile. I rode downtown with some friends, and was grateful that I knew tons of people participating in this run. Like I've said before, I'm a social runner!! I was a little sad that Ali wouldn't be able to run. His knee is still bothering him, and he has had to take some time off. 

I spent about an hour before the race (while the serious runners were warming up) chatting with other runner friends and former students who were there to run the 5K and fun run. 

I ran into my coworker, Ryan, before the start. We were both training for the Disney half :)  I also ran into my friend Mindy from Road Runner Girl at the start. We actually ran together for the first few miles. It was nice catching up with her!! 

The miles seemed to fly on by. I had forgotten just how pretty parts of downtown Mobile really are! I wish I had taken the time to stop and take some pictures of the massive, old oak trees. Running under them was fabulous. I started out with a little trouble finding my groove, but by mile 3 I was feeling great!! I didn't have to stop and walk a single time, and I also never stopped for water. This was huge for me! The weather was perfect. The cool temperatures made this a fantastic run, and I was also quite surprised that I had absolutely no knee pain :) I'm so thankful that I'm able to run pain free once again. 

As soon as I finished the 10K, it was time for the one mile charity run. Darby and Tyler were participating with the running club from Allentown. Darby was originally supposed to walk the course due to his broken arm, but he ended up running with some of his buddies from the running club! Tyler was planning of flying through the mile, and he positioned himself right up front at the starting line. Both boys finished well ahead of me. Tyler was actually right up in the top 10 :)

I walked the one mile fun run with these awesome ladies. Jessica and Christina both teach 5th grade with me. They both brought their kids with them too. It was nice getting to spend some time with them outside of work. 

The after party was a little disappointing. I was starving...but they were out of food by the time I finished the fun run. We ended up leaving shortly after and going to get some brunch. 

Overall, it was an absolutely fabulous morning. It was just what I needed to boost my confidence for my upcoming half marathon. This is a race that I plan on running again next year. Now I've got a time to beat!! 

Three 5K's in 24 Hours??

This is the time of year where there are an abundance of road races and charity runs. A couple weeks ago, the stars aligned just right and there was an opportunity for me to complete 3 different 5K races in 24 hours. Of course I decided to give it a go!! After all, I was half marathon training right? 

Friday night, Ali and I dropped the kids off at my parents house and we headed to the University of South Alabama to run in the Trick or Trot 5K. This was our version of a "date night". Haha!! The course wound around the campus from the Mitchell Center to the Swamp Loop and back. As this race was so close to Halloween, many people dressed in costumes! It was so much fun to see how creative runners can be to modify costumes that they can run in. 

This was a great run for me, as Ali ran the whole way with me!! Normally he is finishing the race as I'm half way around. He talked to me the whole way, and had me laughing at how silly he can be. He kept me motivated and gave me targets to reach along the course. It was so nice to have him run with me :)

After the race there were tons of vendors serving food. Panera Bread was serving soup, there was pizza from Little Caesars, subs from Fire House Subs, and ice cream from Old Dutch in addition to tables loaded down with fresh fruits. There were activities for children, and they even had a trick-or-treat set up! 

As this was a new race, we weren't really sure what to expect...Which is why we didn't take the kids. If they decide to have this race again next year, we will definately take the boys. It was a great family event. 

Saturday morning I got up early to drive to Daphne for the Turkey Trot 5K. Ali was positive that I wouldn't get up and make it to the race. Sooooo, of course I had to prove him wrong!! I got to the race, registered, and then sat in my truck where it was warm and toasty until race time. The course of this race was through a residential area, and was actually very nice!! 

This race made me realize how much of a social runner I am. It was strange not knowing a single person running the race!! There was an after race party at this race as well, but I didn't stick around too long. I enjoyed some Starbucks coffee, and then decided to head home for breakfast. 

The third 5k of my 24 hour challenge was the Ghost Chase 5K. This was another night time race that I was REALLY looking forward too. Ali, the boys, and I were going to all run this race dressed in costumes. The boys were super excited about this run. Just about an hour before we were supposed to leave the house, Darby decided to ride his bike down the street with some buddies. This is the outcome of that bike ride...

Yep!! That's a broken arm. He had some pretty bad road rash, and lots of bumps and bruises..but he was ok. Instead of a 5K, we ended up spending our evening in Urgent Care. Such is life with children!! 

So, I managed two out of three 5K's in 24 hours. I guess that isnt too shabby. Maybe I'll set another personal challenge soon :) 

Have you ever run multiple races in one day?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Color Run - Mobile

This morning the boys and I got up early so we could go to Mobile for The Color Run!! I was super excited for Darby and Tyler, as I knew this was something that they would enjoy. The Color Run is a perfect Saturday morning activity for families. The idea of a no time clock, no rush, and tons of colored powder was very appealing. What better way to sneak in some exercise? 

We grabbed some white shirts and headed out the door...
The boys were quite surprised by how many people there were at the start. We looked around for familiar faces, but only saw a couple people we knew. It was so hard to see faces in that sea of white shirts. Oh well! We made our own fun :) We decided to take some "before" pictures:

Darby refused to take part in the screaming picture. Haha!

We were already having fun...and the race hadn't even started yet! 
While we were waiting, there was a Zumba class going on near the stage. The music and dancing really added to the party atmosphere. This is about the time the "when are we gonna start" questions started. Oh brother...

But, before long it was time to head to the start. They started the run in waves, and we were in the second group of runners to go out.

The boys couldn't believe how relaxed the pace was in this run. They were able to slow down and enjoy running together. They didn't feel the need to "beat" anyone. This was the first race we truly ran the whole way together...laughing, talking, and connecting. It really made my day :)

Before we knew it, we were at the first color station...BLUE!! Darby came out coughing and spitting. I'm guessing he went in laughing with his mouth open. He isn't a fan of the taste of the powder. Haha!!
RED was the next color we ran through. Tyler was really loving the color!! He said he wanted to stay colored forever. He was also hoping that the color wouldn't wash out of his shirt. He liked the tie-dye effect that was starting with his mixed colors. 

Two color stations down, two more to go! Looking for the next color gave the boys something to look forward to, and the distance between them didn't seem very long at all. 

YELLOW was next! You can see Tyler just disappearing into the dust. By this point, Darby had learned to keep his mouth closed and to not breath until he got out. If you run through with your mouth open...your teeth will be colored! Haha! Look at the ground. I wonder how long it will take for it all to wear away if it doesn't rain. 

Poor Ty got hit right in the face with a stream of yellow! Check out that hair. 

PINK was the last station for us. Funny, they didn't complain about running through a "girl color". Notice the raised arms for better color coverage. Tyler is doing his "spin in circles" technique for better coverage all around. They were cracking me up!!

Look at Tyler's hair! It's reddish orange!! I'm guessing multiple shampoos for him today!! 

Look at those faces :) They were really enjoying themselves.

The finish line snuck up on us, and they were disappointed that there were no more color stations...

Until they saw the party at the finish line!! Check out the color explosion. 

After the run we decided to take some "after" pictures. 

Running causes we decided to stop at Ihop for breakfast as a treat. There were quite a few color runners there, so we fit right in! 

I didn't realize how colorful I was until we got home and I took off my top. Check it out!!! It's actually kind of pretty. For those interested, all of the color did wash out of all of our clothes. Getting it off of our skin was more challenging. Haha!

On the way home, both Darby and Tyler were asking when they could do this race again. Lets hope it comes back to Mobile again next year! We will definately be doing this one again :)