Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Blog

Now that my magical marathon adventure has come to an end, so has this blog. I enjoyed writing this one so much, I have decided to continue the journey with a new blog that will my baking creations, running adventures and my personal trials and tribulations.

I invite you to check it out. Here's the link: Treats, Treks and Triumph

Monday, January 10, 2011

26.2 Magical Miles... COMPLETE!!!

That's right... I did it! I completed the 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon. It was an amazing weekend... one I will never forget.

The weekend got off to a rocky start. Nerves were getting the best of me. I arrived at Disney on Friday doubting I would finish the race. My best friend and running mate tried keeping my mind of the dreaded 26.2 miles, even though she was probably worried even more than me. We kicked off our Disney adventure with a trip to the Health & Fitness Expo to pick up our race numbers and goody bags, activate our timing chips, check out some of the merchandise and, of course, take a photo.

We finished our Friday evening with a trip to Celebration, the town Disney built. It was kind of Truman Show like. So perfect and pristine. We had a nice pasta dinner at a local Italian restaurant in their downtown area, walked through the Sanrio store (hooray for Hello Kitty) and wrapped things up with some ice cream from Kilwin's.

Saturday was another relaxing day. We walked around Downtown Disney and went to a movie. It was a horrible movie, which was probably a good thing because it kept our mind off the race. Then we had another pasta dinner and went to bed... at 6pm. Sleep did not come easy Saturday night. We found ourselves looking at the clock only to see that thirty minutes had passed. So we gave up, watched some crappy TV and read our books until we finally felt drowsy enough to get some rest.

1:30am Sunday... time to get up. Yes, that's right. We were up at 1:30am. On a bus at 3am. And at Epcot for the start of the race by 3:30am. It was a lot of hurry up and wait. At around 4:30am we were corralled in a waiting area. Then at 5am we were lead on a 15-20 minute walk to the starting line. This is where the nerves hit hard. I was in my starting corral waiting for the race to begin when I had a mini panic attack. I actually cried and started wondering why I decided to do this. But I had to suck it up. It was almost time to run. I will say the start to the race was amazing. Since there were so many runners, the starts were broken into eight waves. And every wave got their very own countdown and firework show.

Race day was chilly, but I didn't want to wear a lot of layers. So I was pretty cold when the race began. I actually don't think I felt my toes for the first few miles, but I just kept running... and running... and running. I tried not to think about the distance or anything really. I just enjoyed the music on my ipod and the entertainment. Disney had a band, a parade float, characters, performers or something every half mile. You really didn't have time to think about your distance, pain or anything because you were just enjoying the views. We started with a run through Epcot and half the world showcase. I remember coming up on Epcot amazed at all the people waiting outside the park gates to cheer us on. But that was nothing like the next park. Magic Kingdom was pretty cool to run through. You start by running down Main Street, which was packed on both sides with spectators screaming for you. Then you head through Tommorowland and Fantasyland before running under Cinderella's Castle. There were photographers taking photos. I can't wait to see how those turn out. Then it was off to the half way point and the next park... Animal Kingdom. Disney had a few animals along the way if you wanted to stop and pet them or take photos. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and running towards my goal.  After Animal Kingdom and miles of highway, I hit Hollywood Studios. That was around mile 24 and instead of a water stop, there were people handing out chocolate. Surprisingly, I resisted the temptation and moved ahead. I was too close to my goal and didn't know how my stomach would react. The final mile was a trip around the World Showcase at Epcot. That was my favorite part of the race and where my extra burst of energy kicked in. Despite the sore and tight legs and the fact I had already been running for more than four and a half hours, I dug deep and just ran. I passed so many people that last mile. Then I saw it the Mile 26 sign. I got so excited. And as an added bonus, my theme song (Firework by Katy Perry) started playing on my ipod. It was storybook. Yes, I know how cheesy that sounds, but it was. Six months of training and almost five hours of running, I crossed the finish line. It was an unbelievable feeling that was made even more special when I looked to my left and saw my friend April shouting my name. I began to cry, but I think I was just too dehydrated for any tears to come. Then I was blessed when two more friends, Stephanie and Chris, came to congratulate me. It was really nice to see some friendly faces at the finish line.

All and all, as much as I hate to say it, running the marathon was an exciting and rewarding experience. You learn a lot about yourself through the training and race process. Running is more of a mental game than anything else. It requires strength, determination, perseverance and belief that you can do it. And while I may have doubted myself along the way, now I know I can and have accomplished it. With that said, many have asked if I will be running another marathon anytime soon. The answer is NO. While my race experience was in no way bad, nor did I have any true injuries during the six months. I do not think I want to put myself through all of it again. It just takes up too much of your time and puts too much stress on your body. My goal was to finish a marathon and do it in under 5 hours. I accomplished both on Sunday. I finished the marathon in 4:45:34 and couldn't be happier with my achievement. So I have no problem letting this be my one and only 26.2 mile adventure.

I want to thank everyone who supported me through this physical and emotional journey, especially my best friend Stephanie who not only talked me into running the race but also ran it with me. I also want to congratulate Stephanie and my other friends who completed the Disney marathon (Anita, Erin, Julie and Ruben). I hope you enjoyed the experience as much as I did and are now stretching and resting your tired legs.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

I'm Packing My Bags... and Heading To Disney

I can't believe it. Disney Marathon weekend is here. I have so many emotions running through me, not to mention a pesky cold. I am so nervous about Sunday. I don't know why. I have put in all the training or as my friend Stacy would tell me "the hay is in the barn, girl" (said with an adorable southern accent).

I guess I just haven't been feeling 100% lately and don't want it to affect my performance. I have trained for 6 months to make this happen. I was so excited after completing my 20 mile training run, but then most of you know what happened next. Thankfully, I am not injured or really too sick to run. I have just been a bit down lately and skipped some training runs. I just need to get my confidence and positivity back. I can and should be able to complete this race. I don't know why I keep thinking 26.2 miles sounds so damn far... now. I shouldn't be scared or nervous. I should be excited and thrilled about this journey and accomplishment.

Disney has been sending all kinds of emails this week talking about what there is to see and do during the race. It should definitely be action packed, which is good. I could definitely use the distraction. Of course, packing has been a nightmare. I have a long list of things I need to put in my suitcase and gym bag. I am definitely over-packing for this weekend, but I don't care. I am driving over to Orlando, so I can fill my car. Plus, I want to be prepared for every possible scenario.

I do want to take a moment to thank my amazing friends and family who have supported me through this experience. I had no idea I had so many wonderful people in my life that will be there for me no matter what, whenever I need them. I have had a rough few weeks and the words of encouragement and hugs have been so helpful. Some may be coming over to Disney Sunday to watch me cross the finish line, which means the world to me that they would give up their Sunday and wake up way too early to be there for me. I appreciate and love all of you. And I can't wait to get together with the 30 or so of you who said you want to celebrate with me when I get home. We are going to live it up with some food and cocktails at Datz. YUM!

Disney is allowing people to track the progress of runners in all of the races this weekend. So if you know someone running, you can register at this link: Track A Disney Runner.

It won't be easy and I can't say I will be 100% healthy, but I look forward to giving the 2011 Disney World Marathon all I have, crossing the finish line (hopefully in under 5 hours) and getting a shiny new medal.
Good luck to all my those running the Disney half and full marathons this weekend. And to Stephanie, Anita, Julie, Erin and Ruben... we can and will survive the 26.2 magical miles.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Marathon Training: Week 26

Yet another week without running. This time I have a cold. I guess when you're sad, not sleeping well and not eating your best you can make yourself sick. I am hoping I can get over this quickly so that I can be healthy for the race next weekend. Wow, next weekend. I can't believe I have trained for six months and will be running a marathon in a few days. Hopefully, my body and mind will cooperate. I really want to do a good job and feel good about the accomplishment. It is just kind of hard to focus with the sadness that has come into my life lately. At least my best friend will be with me, whatever may happen... good or bad.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 25

Training took a back seat this week. I know the race is just a couple weeks away. I did get a five mile run in, but then was hit with tragedy. My dog, Jake, passed away. He has been by my side for 14 years. I love and miss him so much. So instead of running, I am just taking some time to grieve, cry and adjust. I can't say I will be ready to run next week or at all for the next couple weeks. But honestly, the marathon just doesn't seem as important to me anymore.

Jake Polacek 

Rest in peace, sweet boy. I love and miss you immensely. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Motivation Arrives

The motivation and positivity just keep on coming. Yesterday, I received two more reminders about the upcoming 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon. First, this package arrived from Clif, one of the race sponsors.  It was a nice reminder that I need to get some gels/gummies for race day. 

Also, Disney emailed to give me my final race day instructions. Just seeing that phrase in the subject line spooked me. I can't believe the race is just three weeks away. The sad part is I really haven't had any motivation to run since completing my 20 miler. But I need to suck it up, put on my shoes and get out there. I can't lose momentum now, especially with all the motivation and well wishes coming my way lately.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 24

SUCCESS!!!! That is the word of the week. After two weeks of discomfort, pain and no running, I came back with three amazing training runs. More importantly, one of those runs was the big one - 20 miles. Yes, I completed my biggest training run to date. It was slow and took me almost 4 hours to complete, but I ran all 20 miles. No pain during and no soreness or stiffness the following day.

I am still in shock and awe of the accomplishment. This means training is essentially over. I still have to run a bit here and there, but nothing like I have been doing. Also, it reassured me that I can actually run this race. I needed that confidence boost. I was always doubtful about completing 26.2, but the injury made me doubt myself even more. Now, I know I will at least finish. I may not achieve my under 5 hour time goal. I may hit the wall and hate the last 6 miles. But again, I will run across that finish line.

Speaking of "the wall," I totally understand now why runners experience it. Once you get between miles 18-20 boredom sets in. The music on your iPod is no longer entertaining. The clarity in your head goes away and you start thinking "why am I doing this?" or "what else could I be doing right now?" The mental game then switches to coaxing yourself not to stop running. I just keep telling myself you'll get to the finish line quicker if you run instead of walk.

Thankfully after this week, I am kind of excited about the race. I am still a bit scared and nervous. I also can't believe it is just over three weeks away. But at least I can take comfort in the fact that I did everything I could to prepare, I will be there with my best friend and I have a lot of other friends and family who are supportive and know I can do this.