Sunday, March 22, 2015

Operation 2015: Like Running in the Rain (or A PR, a Dedication, and a 13.1 mile March)

Good morning readers!

Well, I'm another month closer to completing Operation 2015!!!

In case you missed them, in January I did a 16.2 mile race weekend running a 5K Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday. It was my first ever 5K (so automatic PR) and a new PR for my half.

In February , I ran all three races in the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend for a total of 22.4 miles. It was my first ever Disney event, but will not be my last.

Now, for March, I ran a half marathon yesterday.

Flat Addie
I had so much fun running in the really simple sparkly skirts that I made for Disney and they had little to no impact on my performance, so I've decided to take some of the RawThreads tees I've purchased in the past couple of months and pair them with skirts for all my races for Operation 2015. This race, I chose to be Mulan, mostly because of the "Warrior" shirt. I needed the strength of a warrior since I had been sporadically training since Disney and because I was dedicating this run to a friend who is very sick. She is a warrior.

This was another race with firsts for me, as it was the first time I had run in the rain, really. I usually don't train if the conditions aren't ideal as far as weather goes, which is probably a mistake, but this race was to start and occur in the rain.

But despite the rain, we were off before we knew it (almost literally, the gun went off with little to no warning from the race officials. It was very disconcerting, but I tried not to let it affect my game. I made it out of the start and was actually moving at a fairly good pace for me for the first few miles.

My book group ladies braved the rain to cheer me on, first at mile 4. It was still raining then, but I was determined to keep going...just being mindful of slick spots and puddles.
I'm in red behind the full gear Army guys...if they could do it, so could I, I said!
Around mile 5, the hills kicked in. No matter how many local races I run, I never am ready for the hills. Hopefully some crosstraining in the next few months will give me the strength to be able to tackle them a little more capably. To give you an idea of the hills I was contending with, once again, my phone said I had climbed 10 flights of stairs at the end of the race!

I saw my book club ladies again at mile 9. Unlike races past, I could still see people in front of and behind me, which was comforting. It helped me know I was still following the right path and that I wasn't going to be swept. As I approached mile 10, I reached familiar paths and I knew the finish line was only a 5K away. I was going to finish. For myself and for Sarah.

And there I am coming down the bridge and across the finish line. At the crest of that hill, I stopped walking and started running (I'd been walking exclusively since between  miles 10-11). I looked at Sarah's picture on my bib and I told her this was for her and I ran toward the finish and the clock that was showing 2 minutes less than my PR. "I have to make it there before it hits 3:19" I told myself. I needed that PR. 

And I did. I finished. I dedicated it to Sarah. And I ran a new PR.

Operation 2015 will bring a 10-miler in April. Hopefully with some consistent running and cross-training, it will be a great race!

Monday, March 16, 2015

How Addie Got Her Groove Back (We're Hoping)

So, following the PHM weekend, I didn't really run. My normal run days are Tues/Thurs/Sat (or Sun), and Tuesday of that following week, I was traveling and Thursday and Saturday/Sunday, I was trying to control the fires that had been started in my absence. (Figurative fires, not literal ones). And well, all of that served to be the old man from The Emporer's New Groove (with me as Kuzco).

Unfortunately, I couldn't throw my work out the window. Much as I REEEEEALLY wanted to. So the following week, Tuesday I was still working through work fires and then that Thursday, it had iced overnight and, even though school was delayed for three hours, I still had to get to school for a meeting and wound up slipping and falling on my way to school. And I landed on my knee. I could barely walk, let alone run and it caused me to defer one of my two March races. It was disappointing because even though I hadn't run, I wanted to run it. I was hoping it would give me my groove back. And get me back to running. 

But it turned out to be for the best, because I would have driven 2 hours away to run in a cold rain for 3 hours. I probably would have caught pneumonia. Not that I'm happy I banged up my knee trying to get to work in ice, but it may have been for the best. Except now I'm registered for a race a year from now, and having plans that far out in advance is very difficult right now. Especially since this time next year, I'm hoping to defend and be job searching and trying to graduate. 

So I didn't run The Color Half, I deferred the start of the Four Seasons Challenge, and I didn't run the following Tuesday as my knee was still a little sore. But then last Friday, I finally went out and hit the pavement. And while my knee felt fine, my breathing could not get under control. I could barely maintain my 3:1 run/walk intervals. So I think I've lost some speed. 

Sunday, I was going to go again. But when I woke up Sunday morning, my body just didn't want to put in the 4 miles. So I stayed home instead. And I began to worry a little bit, because I'm registered for another half this coming weekend. I talked to my online princesses and found that a lot of us are feeling the same way after running Disney, one of the women even likening to Olympic athletes who get depressed after the Olympics because they train so hard for so long for what is a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things. And I really think that might be part of it. 

Even though I'm registered for a plethora of other races, as part of Operation 2015, I began running specifically for Operation Sparkle. And now that it's over and done, part of me is over and done. I've decided to listen to my body though. I know that with school/work, I can quickly get burnt out, so getting burnt out with running is not something I want to have happen. 

Instead of looking back at the runs I've missed since Disney, I'm focusing on the runs I have ahead of me. I want to run Tuesday and Thursday in preparation for Saturday. And I've decided to have some fun with all of my races this year, and "RunDisney-bound", as I'm calling it. 

I got some RawThreads shirts in mystery packs this month and last month, and I've decided to run in them for my races this year and make little coordinating skirts to go with them. Nothing nearly as fancy as the costumes from PHM weekend, but still cute. The skirts were so easy to run in and so lightweight and fun, I figured I might as well feel fabulous as I run. 

So now, I'm just looking forward to this weekend (and weather watching like hawk, hoping the rain forecast for Friday and Saturday changes). And hopefully, it will give me my groove back. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Operation Sparkle Recap: The Princess Half Marathon!

Sunday morning had come and once again 3 am came way too early, despite the fact that we'd gone to bed reasonably early. Once again, laying out our clothes the night before helped out immensely. We headed out to wait for a bus, which was a first, because the buses had usually been there waiting. But on this day, the buses had started running earlier and we had decided that a little extra sleep would be better than waiting at the start line. But it wasn't bad to wait for the bus because it was finally warm-ish!!

We got to Epcot and we didn't really wait around like we had in mornings past. I started to make my way to the corrals, which were in a different location than they had been for the 5K and 10K (about a mile or so walk), and Mom made her way to the monorail (I'm going to do a whole separate blog on the spectating).

I sat on the ground for a while, in an effort to save my legs, heard the Paris announcement that I figured was coming sooner or later based on the leaked promo pics they shot a few months back, and before I knew it, the race was starting for the upper corrals and my corral was moving up, up, up, until it was my turn!

 I was making pretty good time from the start to mile 1 to mile 2 and the sun was slowly rising. We cheered the wheelchair runner and the woman who won as they passed us by on the other side of the road, and then I could see first magical site of the day.
Don't under estimate the magic of a Disney race or the emotion that comes upon seeing this sign. It's one thing to drive through it on your way to a magical day in the Magic Kingdom, but I can now tell you from experience, it's another experience entirely to run through it, surrounded by your fellow princesses with the Monorail driving by and honking "hello" at you. It made all the costs incurred worth it.

I continued on my way and soon I was greeted with more familiar sites, like the Contemporary and a pretty famous mountain.

 We didn't go through the front gates of Magic Kingdom, so while I knew I was tantalizingly close to being in the Magic Kingdom, I wasn't quite sure where I was. And then we were kind of funneled through a barricade and then there it was...MAIN STREET USA.

The emotion was overwhelming. And it was compounded by the sheer number of people there cheering you on. I've run a couple halfs now, and there are parts of the course where I am all alone with nothing but my thoughts, hoping I've followed the right chalk line on the road and I'm not lost. Disney was a COMPLETELY different experience. There was never a place where I was alone and there was rarely a part of the course where there wasn't someone clapping and cheering and telling me and my fellow princesses that we could keep going. That we had this. I found Mom up near the castle, where, with the help of my friend Hannah, we'd worked out she would be, and I waved "hi!" as I made the turn into Tomorrowland.

 I made my first stop of the race in Tomorrowland because these were the first real bathrooms since I'd left my hotel that morning. The line was a little long, but it was worth it to not use a Port-o-Potty. I wound around past the Teacups and the Carousel and the rather new Princess Fairytale Hall. And around the back of the castle was Anna, Elsa and Kristoff...AGAIN! Man those guys are EVERYWHERE!! And then it was time to do the thing that I had wanted to do since I first signed up for this race...RUN. THROUGH. THE. CASTLE.

 And more importantly, ALL MY PICTURES OF ME DOING IT CAME OUT. Oh my gosh, running through the castle was everything I'd built it up to be in my head and more. I saw Mom again, which was great, and then it was off through Frontierland and out the back, which was a pretty cool experience, because Parade floats behind the scenes!

 I made it out of the Magic Kingdom, told it I'd see it real soon, because we were heading there that day, and then began my run by the Grand Floridian and Golf Courses. I made my second to last picture stop because there was a very short line, and who can say no to Mary...

And then it was just a matter of mind over matter. I was pretty proud of myself this half. Even though it wasn't a PR for me, it was the furthest I've ever gotten without having to just walk the entire time. I made it to mile 10 or 11 before I had to just start walking. And that was nice.

 Between mile 10 and 11, I saw one of my favorite race signs ever and stopped really quick for a picture and then it was back to it. I was texting Mom at this point, who had made it back to Epcot, and she was encouraging me to keep one foot in front of the other because I was going to finish.

And soon I was back in Epcot and there was Spaceship Earth! I was going to finish. And before I knew it, I was passing the fabled Gospel Choir at the finish, and there was the sign for mile 13, and it was time for the longest 0.1 mile of the whole half.

I pushed through the pain in my feet to do what I always have to do during halfs: As soon as I can see the finish, I start running again. I always have to finish running. And this was no exception. I searched for mom in the crowd, didn't find her (because she wasn't there, she was past the finish line) and then lifted my arms high, because I had done it! I had finished 22.4 miles in 3 days.

 Then it was back on the bus for a shower and a rest, and off to the Magic Kingdom!

 We dealt with some return trip drama (my flight had been cancelled and I had to stay an extra day), but we didn't let it diminish the fun! Disney was very accomodating about the whole thing. And I got to meet Gaston, Belle, Anna and Elsa, got to ride Mine Train, and then we scoped a spot for the nighttime festivities.

 The Electrical Parade, Celebrate the Magic and Wishes didn't disappoint as always.

 We then went to Be Our Guest for dessert, which was a reservation I had been lucky enough to score and was very excited for, since it's the only way to meet the Beast in Disney World now. I tried the Grey was delicious, and I didn't even have to ask the dishes their opinion.

 And thus ended our half marathon day. We headed back to the resort to go to bed...and not wake up at 3 am!!!

to be continued...