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Running Year in Review 2014 - Finally!

Well, hello there.  I know it's been a while (a really long while) since I posted.  I actually wrote this post before the end of 2014 but never published it.  As the title states, this was a recap of our 2014 running season.  It's almost the end of 2015 so this recap is a little stale. I hope you would indulge me and read all about our adventures in running of a year ago!

Marathon #2 -Walt Disney World Marathon, Orlando, January 2014
I cannot believe that my second post would be after my last race for 2014!  Yes, it's been that kind of  year! I couldn't let 2014 pass without writing about what an awesome running year it was for me and my husband.  We opened 2014 with a goal of running 14 races in 2014!  We lined up the races that were must runs while others were added just to make the number!  At the end of the year, we were surprised that we actually ran 15 races in 2014!  We both ran personal bests in our time, traveled to other Florida cities and fours states!  I ran 1 marathon, 8 half marathons, 1 marathon relay, and 5Ks!  Ralph got me beat by running an extra 5K and ran 2 marathons!  The most fun half marathon we ran was at the RnR Chicago and the longest distance we traveled for a race was the RnR Las Vegas.  Locally, we had the best time at the Melbourne Music Half Marathon.  Incidentally, this is the race (the 5K) that we started our running adventures almost 3 years ago.

Melbourne Music Half Marathon, Melbourne, February
 Along the way, we accomplished smaller goals.  After the Melbourne Music Half Marathon in February, we started looking to qualify into the Half Fanatics, a running group!  It has several moons to accomplish depending on number of races run!  We set our sights on running 3 halfs in 90 days!  We qualified after running the Best Damn Race in Orlando and the Lake Minneola Half marathon in Clermont.  What do we get from being a Fanatic, you ask?  Discounts on some races but mostly being a member of a group who are just as crazy as we are to keep running half marathons!

First, let me recap our first qualifying half marathon, the Melbourne Music Half marathon.  This race was only 2 weeks after our second marathon at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.  In the past, we have run two 5Ks during this race weekend so it was a change for us to run the half this time.  The weather was muggy and foggy!
Best Damn Race Half Marathon, Orlando, March
The course went over two of our local bridges.  If you have read some of my blog posts, you would have found out that I don't particularly like running over these bridges!  I hate running over one, much less two!  It wasn't easy but I did it.  We started off of East Strawbridge, heading north on US 1, west over Eau Gallie Causeway, south on to Riverside Drive in Indialantic and over the Melbourne Causeway to the finish!  The best part of the race was the entertainment throughout the course including a grand piano atop the Eau Gallie Causeway!

The best Damn Race was a fun race and our first personal half marathon best!  We even got to ring the PR bell to share our accomplishment!  The race started by Lake Eola in Orlando.  The course was not too bad except for the first part when we ran on brick pavement.  Ralph and I did not particularly like this part.
Lake Minneola Half Marathon, Clermont, April
That said, the race was well organized and the after race party was awesome!  This was the first race we drove to the race on the morning of the event and pick up our race bibs.  We thought it would be cutting it close but we had plenty of time to pick up our bibs, sit in the car to wait until the start and even go the bathroom!  The drive home was a little bit challenging but we took it slowly and stopped by McDonald's to stretch and grab some food.

After scouring the races that were driving distances from Melbourne, we decided to run the Lake Minneola Half Marathon in April.  Since we were not familiar with the place and the distance from Melbourne, we decide to stay in Orlando for the evening.  We also went to pick up our race packets the day before so knew where to go early the next morning. As we drove to the park, we noticed rolling hills!  Hills!  There can't be any hills in central Florida!  Well, there were and we ran over them for 13.1 miles!  Not only did we run on hills, the temperature had gotten so warm by the time I reached 10 miles that I just couldn't get myself to run anymore.  This was one of my slower races but I finished and became a Half Fanatic!
Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon, MA
Rock N Roll Savannah Half Marathon, GA

With the summer months in the offing local long distance races are no longer available.  We started looking at races outside of Florida. This is when we decided to start working towards our goal of running half marathons in all 50 states in the next 10 years! So we decided on the races we would like to run this year.  We chose the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon in Newton, MA, Rock n Roll Chicago, IL, Rock n Roll Cleveland, OH, and Rock n Roll Savannah, GA.  Two months before we were to run Rock n Roll Cleveland, OH, they cancelled the race for low participation so we transferred it to Rock n Roll Las Vegas, NV!  Ralph and I thoroughly enjoyed our trips to these states and had the best time running! Heartbreak Hill did not get this name for nothing.  I thought the Clermont Hills were crazy, running uphill at mile 12 when you have no more energy left is downright brutal!

Rock N Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, NV
Rock n Roll Chicago was by far the most fun race we've run!
 The weather was not too optimal, even quite warm but the energy emanating from everyone who ran it was great!  Running through the best sights around downtown was awesome and the entertainment and race support was the best.  I'm glad that we ran along commercial streets because you don't need to find a porta potty to relieve yourself!  Burger King was welcoming to the runners!

Savannah had the most optimal weather that Ralph and I ran our fastest half marathon time so far.  Race start was about 47 degrees and finished in the 60s!  The hotel where we stayed was occupied mostly by runners and volunteers that they opened for breakfast at 4 am!  The worst part of the this race was the walk back to the river to catch the ferry to get to our car!  We had to be out of the hotel by 12 noon and drive another 5 hours to get home!  This was the longest distance that the we have driven to a race!  We were both not fans!

Our last out of state race was the Rock n Roll Las Vegas!  Oh what an experience.  My cousin's husband picked us up from the airport and headed to the convention center to pick up our bibs.  There were hundreds of runners milling around and after we picked up our bibs and shirts, we just followed the path toward the exit.  We love Power Bars so we headed to their booth and noticed that there was a line forming.  We thought it was for samples that they were handing out but it was instead to meet Meb, the 2014 Boston Marathon winner!  I lined up and waited in line for 30 minutes but it was
RockNRoll Chicago, IL
worth it to be able to shake hands and get the autograph of a champion in the sport that Ralph and I also do!  The race itself was another first for us since it was run at night to take advantage of the lights along the strip!  Because it started at sun down, the temperatures got cooler towards the end of the race.  Ralph always runs his pace but for this race, he ran my pace.  We didn't PR but finished under 3:00 but mostly because we had to hit the porta potty along the way.
We also ran on a relay team at the Donna Marathon Relay in Jacksonville.  As part of Space Coast Pinays and Space Coast Pinoys, Ralph and I ran the 3rd of 5 legs of the marathon course.  Four other local runners ran the relay with us and had a great time.  This was our first relay and didn't know what to expect.  Since we were in the third leg, we didn't have to be at the start early but had to be at our leg start on time.  The race started with great weather but while the fifth leg runners were still on course, there was lightning so the course was stopped.  We were lucky that our runners were close enough to the finish that they were able to complete the race.  The rain was pouring hard that we had to rush and get some food as we were starving and just headed home soon after.
Donna Marathon Relay, Jacksonville,

In between all the half marathons and marathons, we ran 5Ks to round up our year!

Firecracker 5K, Melbourne, July

Run for the Gecko Luau 5K, Melbourne, May

Run for Pizza 5K, Viera, August
Turtle Krawl 5K, Indialantic, September

Florida Tech Homecoming 5K, Melbourne, October

Our final race for the year was at the Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon.  Last year, we both ran our first marathon at this race!  I would like to simply forget the time it took us to finish but we finished.  I decided to run the half marathon instead this year and Ralph ran the marathon!  We are on track to earn the extra medals in the Big Bang Series.  The weather was perfect and the course support was awesome!  I started the race with the 2:45 pace group and stayed with them for the first 3-4 miles.  At some point, I found myself ahead of the them and felt great.  I thought maybe I could make it closer to 2:30.  However, I never caught up with that pace group so I knew I would finish in between. 

Space Coast Marathon and Half Marathon, Cocoa, November
2015 is going to be another year packed with races!  We open the year with the Melbourne Music Half Marathon on February 1st, and the Michelob Ultra challenge on February 22, and the Sarasota First Light Half Marathon in March.  We will also run the Excalibur 10 miler if we are up to it after the Ultra challenge weekend.  So here's the challenge, over the course of a weekend, we will run a 15K,a 5K, a Half marathon and an 8K!

We are still debating which states we want to run in 2015.  When we make a decision, I will sure to share them with you.


Race 1, #14in2014: WDW Marathon Race Recap

Starting line!
I closed my 2013 running year with a marathon and has opened the 2014 running year with another marathon.  Yes, hubby and I just finished our second marathon at the Walt Disney World Marathon.  You may read about our first one six weeks ago at the Space Coast Marathon here.

The weekend started with us hitting the expo to pick up our bibs and race gear.  It was held at the Wide World of Sports.  We made it there with 45 minutes to spare!  The expo was full of vendors for fitness and running merchandise most of which we have seen before.  Since we didn't need anything else, we left soon after getting our race bib and decided to eat an early dinner.

Our pre marathon dinner was a Thanksgiving sandwich...turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and stuffing!  We asked for a high carb sandwich and I say this one fits the bill!  We got to our hotel room around 7 pm.  Since this is our second marathon and fourth long distance run, we were quite efficient with our pre race preps.With a 3 am wake up to get on the bus by 4 am, we methodically laid out our race gear.  Learning from my experience at Space Coast, I put KT Tape on both feet and both knees this time.  I also put band aid on my left pinky toe!  Ralph and I were in bed by 10 pm.  Sleep, however, was elusive for another 2 hours!  I counted to a hundred 3 times.  When that didn't work I started salivating thinking of what I want for lunch after the race.  It was going back and forth between dimsum and crispy pata, marinated bangus and sinigang!  Eventually, I heard the alarm go off at 3 am and got ready.

My race gear!
The line was already long when we got to the bus loop.  As always, runners come in costumes and some always give us a good laugh!  Traffic was already heavy at 4 in the morning!  We got to the start zone, checked our gear bag, went potty and walked to our corral.  We were in corral N this time, two up from the last corral P.  By the time we got there, runners in corral B were already on their way.  This was at 5:30 am!  It wasn't until 6:35 am that ours was finally on our way.

The weather at race time was in the upper 50s and forecast to stay in the low 70s with low humidity.  It was perfect running weather.  However, when we got to mile 1, Ralph says, "it's only mile 1"? I smelled trouble.  We kept our normal 1:1 of run:walk interval at what we thought was a comfortable pace of 14 min/mile.  We both did not wear compression pants to avoid stopping for potty breaks.  However, as soon as we got to Mile 2, I already needed to go and so did a few other runners.  It must be nerves because between miles 1 and 3, a lot of runners were already lined up at every porta potty and those who couldn't wait, line up by the bushes.  This time, I couldn't wait for the porta potty and when you gotta go, you gotta go. So I shamelessly went behind a giant post while the monorail rolled above.  This pit stop would keep me from going again until Mile 17!
At Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom, between mile 5 and 6
The run from the start at EPCOT to Magic Kingdom to the Speedway, and through Animal Kingdom was uneventful.  Well, except for a short stop to put band aid on the toe next to my left pinky toe around Mile 5!  Trouble started around mile 17 when we were on our way into Wide World of Sports!  I had to use the potty again! There were no more posts around and no bushes tall enough to hide from view.  Just ahead I spotted a lone porta potty that had no one in line!  I slowly walked towards it when, zoom, two runners ran past me and made it there first!! Needless to say, I lost time waiting for my turn.  When I got out, I sensed some apprehension in the air among runners.  We found out the balloon ladies were closing in. Balloon ladies run at a 16 min/mi pace. Run behind the balloon ladies and you run the risk of getting picked up and brought to the finish line in a bus!  We picked up our pace and thought we were way ahead until we got inside Hollywood Studios around mile 22.

At this time my legs were really tired, the bottom of my feet were screaming for mercy and I was getting hungry.  I found out later that Ralph was hurting now, too.  His hamstrings were cramping and hips were hurting. We get into the costume building at HS and the runners were walking because the space is tight and dark. Ralph was walking behind me and I was concentrating on not tripping over another runner.  Suddenly, "You have 3 minutes to get to the next mile marker and this space is going to slow you down!" says the BALLOON LADY!!!  My heart almost jumped out of my chest!  They are shoulder to shoulder with us!  I started running (more like jogging), weaving through other runners trying to get as far ahead from the balloon ladies as I could.  All this time I thought Ralph was running behind me.  I look back and he's nowhere in sight!  I run back and I see him with a dazed look on his face.  I approached him and told him that we had to get going.  He didn't seem to be too concerned and I don't even think he heard me.  He just stared at me blankly. I grabbed his harm, pulled him, and ran!  We ran, well shuffled our feet, from mile 22.5 to 24 on tired and achy feet!  At this point the balloon ladies passed us and told us we were safe!  Whew!  What a close call!

The last two miles seemed like an eternity.  Actually getting to mile 25 seemed like an eternity!  We tried to keep our run/walk intervals but it was more like walk, walk, walk/run interval!  The adrenaline rush of trying to stay ahead of the balloon ladies was gone and we were hurting even more.  However, no matter how tired or in pain you are, seeing the finish line still gives you that one last burst of energy to run to it.  Holding hands, we painfully ran and crossed the finish line and finished our second marathon!

It took 7 hours and 24 minutes to get to the finish line, but we finished!  We are marathoners!

 Marathon bling!

 We finished!

Lessons learned:

1.  Running two marathons within 6 weeks of each other is not a good idea.
2.  Running two marathons within 6 weeks of each other without training is worse.
3.  Gender equality exists in using the bushes to do No. 1!
4.  You might as well put a band aid on all 10 toes!  If not one, its the other that will blister!
5.  When you see the balloon ladies, run!
6.  "No way will I do this again" changes to "Let's do Dopey next year" within 24 hours after you finish a marathon.
7.  Walking like you are carrying something heavy between your legs the day after a marathon is getting old.
8.  Warning:  Lemon Lime flavored Clif Shot will make you gag!
9.  Gummy bears and mini chocolate bars at mile 22.5, yeah!
10.  Volunteers!  They are the heroes on the course!

Thank you for sharing in my adventures in running.  Till the next run!


The year that was - in running!

Earlier this year, I made it a goal to run 13 races in 2013!  I am happy to report that I accomplished my goal!  I logged almost 400 miles in two running shoes.  I ate more Gu than I care to tell.  I ran distances I thought were nowhere near my ability to finish.  I also found a few favorite running gear/products. 1) Saucony Ride, a neutral shoe!  I ran my first marathon in them and I did not feel the arch pain that has plagued Runs 1-11!  2) KT Tape helped me run knee-pain-free. It has also helped with my plantar fascitis.  3)  CWX compression capris are the best out there.  It keeps everything from moving around especially the knee joints.  However, they are a pain to pull down and up and worse when you run long distances and are tired.  4) Gu gels for long runs...just because   5)  Power Beans for short runs 6) mapmyrun for tracking my mileage 7) Thorlo Socks are the best running socks for me, and 8) ProCompression socks are what I use after a race.  It works best in recovery.   Here are all my races.  I wrote race recaps in all but two, so please check them out.
  1. February 2 - Melbourne Music Marathon 5K
  2. February 24 - Disney's Princess Half Marathon 
  3. March 17 - Berry Patch 5K 
  4. March 23 - Re-Run 5K 
  5. March 30 - Downtown Melbourne 5K 
  6. April 6 - Pirate Plunder 2 miler
  7. April 27 - Melbourne Art Festival 5K 
  8. May 11 - Run for the Gecko 5K 
  9. July 4 - Firecraker 5K - 
  10. September 14 - Turtle Krawl 5K 
  11. October 5 - Disney's Tower of Terror 10 miler - 
  12. November 2 - Let's Get Moving 10K, Wickham Park 
  13. December 1 - Space Coast Marathon 
2013 Princess Half Marathon (first half marathon)

Disney's Tower of Terror 10-miler

2013 Space Coast Marathon (first full marathon)

So what's next?  Why, run 14 in 2014, of course!  Here's my race calendar so far.
  1. January 12 - WDW Marathon, Disney World
  2. January 26 - 2nd Annual Scrub Jay Duathlon, Titusville
  3. February 2 - Melbourne Music Half Marathon, Melbourne
  4. February 16 - Daytona Beach Half marathon, Daytona Beach
  5. February 23 - 26.2 with Donna Marathon Relay, Jacksonville 
  6. March 1 - Best Damn Race Half Marathon, Orlando
  7. April 26 - Melbourne Art Festival 5K
  8. July 4 - Firecracker 5K
  9. July 20 - Rock and Roll Chicago Half Marathon, Chicago, IL
  10. September 13 - Turtle Krawl 5K
  11. November 8 - Wine and Dine Half Marathon, Disney World
  12. November 30 - Space Coast Half Marathon



#13 of 13in2013! Space Coast Marathon Race Recap

The bling for the series!
Goal:  Run 13 races in 2013, check!  What better race to run to cap my running goal for the year than my first full marathon at the Space Coast Marathon!  This was not scheduled to be my first marathon.  Back in April, we registered for the WDW Marathon in January 2014.  We started training for it in July and as it turned out our training run on November 30 was a 23-mile long run. This happens to fall on the same weekend as the Space Coast Half Marathon/Marathon which we had already registered to run the half. With a momentary lapse in better judgment, my husband and I decided to run 26.2 miles instead of our scheduled 23 miler!  We figured since we were running a long run anyway, why not earn a medal doing it. Thus, the Space Coast Marathon became the first marathon that we trained for. What makes this special is that this is the only space-themed race on the planet!  This year is also the first race in a series of 5 races in 5 years called The Big Bang Series.  Run 3 of 5 races and you earn a Milky Way medal, run all 5 and earn the Intergalactic medal.  We intend to run the series and earn all 7 seven medals in the next 4 years!

It took 22 weeks of training to get us ready for the marathon.  Or as ready as we could be with the time that we had. The longest training run we did was 17 miles. This gave us a little bit of apprehension because other runners have suggested that running 20 miles would have been better because we would really know and prepare to feel the "pain" that this distance somehow gives a runner.  So, ready of not, we reached the 22nd week of training and race day was just days away.

Race shirt with our bibs
Packets were available for pick up at 10 am on the Monday before race day. I was at the store by 11 am.  I suppose I was a tad excited. I really didn't know what I was expecting to find in the race packet but it was nothing really special.  It had a white, long sleeved race shirt, a bib with our name printed on it, a clear plastic check-in bag with label, and the official race program.  I was told to take as many moon pies and protein bars laid out on a table.  I took two of each for Ralph and me.  Before leaving the store, I scanned our D-tags to make sure that it read the tag for tracking time.

We followed the marathon gurus' recommendations to start carb loading days prior to the race. This was not too difficult to accomplish since the race happens to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving!  I have never stuffed myself with so much food and not worry that I would gain weight!  I savored every bite of pie, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cakes, salad, that I pushed in my mouth.  This was followed by two more days of eating nothing but rice, spaghetti, and bread.  We were advised by race organizers that the weather on race day might be warm so we had to hydrate.  So hydrate we did.  I am not a big water fan but I had to force myself to drink as many ounces a day throughout the week.
Year 1 of the series!
The day before the race we went to the expo.  It was held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex.  We decided to check it out mainly to take pictures for my blog and maybe get some free products.  The expo was not the size of Disney races or the Melbourne Music Marathon but we thought it was just big enough.  It was packed when we got there but still managed to get a free Publix drawstring back and purchased 26.2 decals for the cars.  Of course, we expected to finish the race!  With only a handful of vendors, we were in and out of the expo within an hour.

My race gear..
The night before the race, I was very anxious.  I laid out all of my race gear.  I made sure that I had Body Glide for my recurring pinky toe blister that somehow always appears at mile 6!  I cut my toe nails and shampooed my hair to save time in the morning.  I packed my ifitness belt with Gu, some Tylenol and Beanno pills, extra plastic bag for my phone if it rains, and extra toilet paper.  I filled out one of the water bottles just for emergencies since I knew that there will be water stops throughout the course. You never know when you are parched and the next water stop may not be nearby.  I have had problems with plantar fascitis and knee pain before so I taped both feet and right knee to help protect these areas.  I should have taped both knees! I suffered for it later.  I was done by 9 pm and decided to call it a night. Since I was a bundle of restlessness, anxiety and excitement I didn't fall asleep until two hours later.

4 am came all too soon!  Our friends were picking us up at 5 am so we hurriedly got ready.  We each had one toasted cinnamon raisin bagel for breakfast.  This usually tides us over for the first 3 miles.  We got to Cocoa Village and the half marathoners were already being called to the starting line.  Their race was set to blast off at 6:00 and the marathon at 6:30.  Half marathoners head south on the course while marathoners head north for the first half and head south to the half marathon course for the second half.  After the half marathoners left, marathoners slowly headed to the starting line.

We took the requisite photo shots while we all still looked fresh and happy!  A few minutes later, someone took the mic and sang the National Anthem, then the tv roared the thunderous sound of shuttles blasting off to space and we were off. Ralph and I had decided to walk or jog slowly for the first mile.  So choosing a pacer to run with was really not useful for us so we just kept to the back of the pack.  We wanted to bank some leg power for later in the race.  We had 26.2 miles to the go after all.  We started behind a 6 hour pacer, fell behind to the 6:15 pacer, and after a potty break, fell behind the 6:30 pacer.  In the end, got passed by the 7 hour pacer after, you guessed it, another potty break!  Darn compression shorts/tights!

Ralph, Lorna and I at Mile 24!
The first half of the race came and went without much incident except for a trip to the medic tent for my pinky toe blister and two potty breaks!  The second half was a different story.  Between miles 14 and 23 I had different body parts start to hurt.  My untaped left knee started to make it's presence felt followed by my quads screaming from tightness.  A few miles later, my biceps started to cramp!  Who gets cramps in the arms? I had to run like I was hitting a boxing bag to stretch the muscles! Somewhere between this distance, we had caught up with a friend. With my knees hurting and her calves cramping we decided to do a slow walk/fast walk interval instead of a run/walk interval! We figured this would keep us moving forward.  After a while, we just dug deep and kept with our 1/1 run/walk interval. My legs were too tired at this point.  In fact, it had been tired since we passed the half way mark! Mile markers were coming by slower and slower it seemed.  The relay from the brain to the muscles to run when the beeper goes off was also slowing down.  My legs were heavy that I really had to force them to move!  When we got to   mile 23, we all knew that only we had but a 5K to go and we could hear the music from the finish line.  It seemed that we got a second wind.  We kept putting one foot in front of the other.

Rounding the bend to the finish.
The final .2 mi is said to be the longest distance in a marathon!  This time, it wasn't. At mile 26, a friend met us and told us the end is just around the corner!  We could hear the announcer as a runner crosses the finish.  We took another turn and we were met by friends cheering us on to the finish!  They were taking our pictures and were making a lot of noise.  We ran the final few yards with the most fan fare of any race I've ever done!  It was so heartwarming to have a lot of friendly faces at the finish.  Ralph and I held hands as we crossed the finish line!  What an exhilarating moment it was!  Our prize, a beautiful medal with a miniature Space Shuttle Columbia on it and a beach towel!  The after race party was long done when we finished.  They were still serving pancakes and eggs to the finishers but that was about it.  They ran out of sausages and oranges but there were still bananas available.  There were also still beer and soda.

I will forever remember my first marathon.  I read that only 0.5% of the US population has run and finished a marathon.  I am proud that my husband and I are now a part of the "club".  This would have been my one and done marathon, if only I didn't already sign up for the WDW Marathon in January 2014.  At least, I have one marathon to look back on and learn from so I know that I will finish it as well.

We are marathoners!

Lessons learned along the way:

  • Train, train, train!
  • A 17-mile training run is enough to get you to the finish.
  • Whatever you don't put KT tape on will hurt after 15 miles.
  • You need upper arm strength to take your compression tights off and put them back on.  And this strength weakens after mile 8.
  • If you don't hold on to anything you can hold on to inside the portalet you will fall! 
  • Men have the bushes - enough said!
  • Your pinky toe may start to blister at mile 6.
  • You will walk funny the day after the race.
  • There is no shame in finishing 7 minutes over the race limit.  The medal earned by the first place finisher came from the same cut as yours.
  • Running for 7 hours is too long! 
  • Because 26.2 miles is way, too long!
  • "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed" - Theodore Roosevelt
  • Just run!

Beautiful early morning view at race time!
 Runners getting ready to start.

 Filipino Strong!  Representing the Philippines all running the marathon!

Still smiling and looking fresh at Mile 1

Rocket garden!



#12 of 13 in 2013 Race Recap: Promise 10K

I was looking forward to running this race not only because it was my first 10K but also because it was my 12th race for the year!!!  With Ralph out of town and none of my friends running it with me, I had to brave it and ran it solo.   Reluctantly, I got up when the alarm came on at 6 am this morning.  After a quick blueberry bagel and green tea breakfast, I got ready.  I arrived at the venue with only 10 minutes before the start time of 7:30.  Immediately I could tell that this was going to be a small race.  There were probably less than a hundred runners.  It also appeared that there were more people wearing the 5K bib than the 10K.  We started the run with a prayer instead of the singing of the national anthem.  This is a first for a race I've run this year.  We then lined up behind the start sign. There was no starting mat unlike all the other races I've run.  Again, a first for me.

My goal was to finish but not finish last.  The problem with these small races is that all the other runners are so much faster than I am.  I knew I'd be close to the end of the pack.  To top it all, this was my first run in two weeks!  I knew I would be pretty slow! I set my interval timer to 1/1 and decided I will have to run faster on the run portion and walk faster on the walk portion.  I noticed a younger runner with an interval timer and she had it set at a loud beep so I knew she was going for a 1/1 interval as well.  In the first two miles, I was behind her by 10 yards or so.  I decided that if I didn't pass her soon, she might finish before me and I will end up being the last runner!  I scrapped the 1/1 interval and just kept running until I passed her.  After mile 3, I never looked back.  I could hear the timer go fainter and fainter.  I cheered inside because I knew I wouldn't be last!   I was the fourth from the last!! After I crossed the finish line, I limped towards the refreshments because I had developed blisters in my left pinky toe.   Having had a slice of banana and oranges, I headed back to the car and headed home.  I didn't check my time until a few minutes after I arrived home.  Well, what do you know?  I placed second in my age group!  Oh yes, I was second of two runners with about 30 minutes difference in finish time !!!!  I told you it was a small race!  I went back to the park and claimed my medal!  I was so excited to have earned this medal.  I may never earn another place medal so I will forever treasure this one!
My first ever place medal!  Placed 2nd in my age group!

This race turned out to be a memorable one.  Not only because I earned a place medal but this is also my 12th race in 2013. One race away from accomplishing an incredible personal feat.  My next and final race for the year is the Space Coast Marathon on December 1st.  I pray that I continue to be healthy between now and then to run my first marathon!



Disney's Tower of Terror 10 miler race recap

"Oh no, I forgot to eat a bagel!"  This was the refrain that kept going over and over in my head as we stepped off the bus at Hollywood Studios. We always eat a bagel before we go on our long training runs!  As soon as that realization set in, I started to feel hungry and weak!  I told Ralph I don't know if I can run if I'm hungry.  Of course Ralph wouldn't hear about it so we just moved on along to where the bag check area was.  After dropping off our bags, we headed towards the corrals.  The pre-race party was in full swing but I couldn't even get myself to enjoy the music because all I could think of was the bag of 6 fresh plain bagels that we left in the hotel room!

This was our first night race and our second long race since the Princess half marathon in February.  Aside from the thoughts of bagels hanging in my head, I was excited to run in it.  The weather wasn't too bad; it was definitely humid but not too unbearable.  It was actually a bit cooler, dare I say. We were in corral I, the second to the last corral, but it didn't faze us.  It was one corral up from the last corral in February.  We had about two hours to wait before we run so we just sat down on the ground and took in the sight. We saw runners sitting on the ground, some were taking pictures, others were sleeping, and quite a few were at the pre-race party nearby.

By 10 pm, we started moving out and headed toward the starting line.  Along the way, we sang the national anthem and cheered as every corral ahead of us was called out.  The best part about running at Disney is that every corral that goes out gets a nice fireworks display.  However, for some reason, our corral didn't get one. We felt like the middle child!

By the time the gun went off for our corral to start, I had forgotten about the bagels and I had a surge of energy after eating an entire pack of Power Beans.  Adrenaline kicked in. As soon as we got out of the gate, we run up the ramp to Osceola Parkway.  This was our first time to run up a "hill" in a long time since most of our training runs are on flat roads.  It was definitely a challenge.  Ralph told me after the race that he started having hip pain at this time.  Thank goodness it went away after a mile. They had some fire display in the pond next to the exit and boy was that hot.  We then
Showing off our medals!
entered Animal Kingdom, made a loop  and was out again in no time. When we hit mile marker 4, Ralph and I exclaimed excitedly at how we made it that far quickly.  We were making good time but Ralph signaled that he needed to hit the port-a-potty.  This was the first time we've ever stopped to go potty in any race.  There is more to be said about using these port-a-lets in the dark but that's for another day to tell!  I found out later that he used compression shorts and it was pressing on his bladder.  After the potty break, on we went towards mile marker 5.  A friend of mine who ran this race last year had warned me that this part of the course would be dark and the course turns into gravel.  Run Disney must have gotten a lot of complaints about it last year that this year, the gravel road leading into Wild World of  Sports was adequately lit.  The only problem was the road was narrow so running was not possible without running over other runners.  It reminded me of running through Cinderella's castle in the half marathon.  It was tight and slow moving!  Ralph and I had to slow down our pace at this time.  I thought it was going to hurt my legs when we got to this portion of the course but it actually felt fine for me.  It was a welcome relief from the hardness of the asphalt!  We were in the WWOS area for about two miles.  We ran the track and the Atlanta Braves field. Throughout the run, my knees didn't hurt but my right posterior tibialis tendon was making it's discomfort known.  I stopped at the medic station around mile 8 and popped a couple pills of Tylenol .

When we got back to Hollywood Studios' New York sound lot, we felt very excited.  We knew that we were close to the finish line.  We stopped for a photo op at this time.  They say that when you run a half marathon, the final .1 is the longest distance.  Well, when you run a 10-miler, the last mile is the longest!  It seemed as though we made so many turns before we actually saw the finish line.  The volunteers were screaming, "the finish is right around the corner".  This was just mean when they knew that around the corner was about 6 more turns!!!  Unlike at the Princess Half Marathon, this time Ralph and I crossed the finish line hand in hand!  We posed for every cameraman man along the way to the finish.  We had so much fun in these last few yards because we knew we were close to the end!  We did it again - another fun run and another accomplishment for both of us!
At the expo earlier in the day!

We walked towards the volunteers who were handing out the medals and beelined towards the food and drinks tables.   The walk to the bag check area felt like a "death" march!  My feet were hurting and I could hardly walk anymore.  We finally got our bags and I decided to remove my shoes, take off my compression socks and wear my flat slippers.  Big mistake! I could hardly walk towards the bus and couldn't walk towards our hotel room. It felt better when I put my shoes back on!

I iced my knees and legs after we arrived in our hotel room and wore my full compression socks to sleep.  We didn't get to bed till 3:00 am!  Phew, what a long and tiring day!  Although I was in pain after the race, this was still a fun race to have run.  The on-course entertainment was great and the volunteers were awesome!  This being a night race definitely posed some challenges and was a learning experience. Lessons for the next time?  Make sure to take a long nap during the day, have plenty of time to eat a decent dinner and do not forget to eat a bagel on the way out the door!  Oh and don't run on a new pair of shoes and insoles!

This was my 11th race in 2013!  I have two more races to go and I will have accomplished my goal of running 13 races in 2013!  I never imagined myself to have the will to stay on course to achieve this goal, but I have, and for that I am very happy!  Thank you all for cheering me on!

Next race, Let's Get Moving 10K.  This will be my first 10k race!

Our first time to visit Wide World of Sports

Inside the expo for packet pick up.  

Our hotel building at Pop Century Resort!