Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Disney Princess Half-Marathon: Part I (Expo and the Start!)

This winter has not really been the best for me, health-wise.  I posted a while back about being sick and falling behind training, but on top of that, I got sick right after Valentine's Day and skipped a TON of classes because I was so ill right before the half.  I was a nervous wreck I wouldn't be able to even WALK the thing, let alone run it.  Despite everything, I went home a little earlier, slept a ton, and caught a  Friday late-night plane to Orlando to race.

I had paid the entrance fee, after all.  I might as well go to Disney World, one of my favorite places ever.  The whole reason I signed up for this race in the first place, to be my first half-marathon, was because 1) I wanted to be a princess 2) Since I never ran the distance before, I wouldn't be self-conscious about my time, and 3) Running through the Magic Kingdom--can it get any more awesome than that?!

So I tried to dispel my worries and went to the Expo (see above).  I still wasn't feeling well simply walking around, and the race was TOMORROW.  I was more than a tad worried, and kept praying I would at least be able to walk it and not be picked up by the 16-min-per-mile pacers, something I had NEVER worried about while training.

I got some freebies (LUNA bars!  Yogurt!) and gear, including an I DID IT! shirt.  I was dying to wear it.  I knew I had to earn it.  I could only hope that I would.

There was even an awesome running "glass slipper" on display.  I can only say, wow, Disney is so great with attention to detail....

I had to sit down because I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy.  This, in turn, made me freak out even more.  And did I mention I still had a DEEP chest cough?  Nowhere near ready to run the next day.  

Even then, as I was feeling pretty crappy, I couldn't resist posing with Gaston and my "muscled bod."

 After a 3:30 pm dinner (I kid you not, I went to bed at 5 pm...but didn't fall asleep until 7) at the All Star Movies Resort, my parents and I went to bed.  

I have never, ever been in bed that early before.  Even though I was exhausted from the previous week, I tossed and turned (and coughed).  I freaked out around ten pm when I woke up coughing.  Thank goodness I had my inhaler, and that seemed to help the coughing.

With one very early wake-up call, we boarded the buses and headed to the Epcot parking lot!  

But not without a few fiascos.  I have read OVER and OVER not to do anything differently from training on the morning before the race.  So I brought peanut butter to eat, and some crackers.  Great.  It was three am--I forced a spoonful down and had to be satisfied that that was all my body would accept, and I counted on the fact that I had eaten well the day before.

Additionally, packing for the race, I planned to wear shorts, a tutu, and a wicking tank top.

It was only about 35 degrees out at 3 am, and would be in the 40s to low 50s all day.

Tank top?  I don't think so.

Luckily, I had thrown in a shirt I had just bought and still had the tags on at the last second into my suitcase.  Relieved, I went to put it on...and the security tag was still on.  You know, those bulky, ink-filled plastic things cashiers sometimes forget to remove with their handy-dandy machine?

Need I remind you, it was three am on the day of the race.  I certainly wasn't going back to the store.

Thank goodness that Disney always has places open.  My mom ran to the hotel store and they used their machine--backwards--on my shirt, and it came off after a little finagling.  If they hadn't, I would've frozen!

Now, I had done a lot of reading about what the beginning of this race was like.  With about 19,000 runners, most of them women, things can get a little crazy.  The lines for the Port-A-Potties appeared ridiculous, but I headed toward the back and only waited two minutes.

Aaah, the little things in life.

I was still coughing, but not as much.  It helped that the weather was warmer.

Here I am, all bundled up in my throwaway hoodie (...I still really liked that hoodie, but I was ready to admit it doesn't fit me anymore).  After the LONG walk (it really was about 15-20 minutes) from the Port-A-Potties, backstage, past MORE Port-A-Potties (if they had come to life, the runners would have had absolutely no chance of escaping the Port-A-Potty army), and finally, I arrived at Corral C.

My mom sneaked in and took a pic while I waited nervously for the start.  I felt very alone and with a bunch of older runners.  There were, oddly enough, quite a few guys in my area, many running with their own princesses.  Awww. 

 Eventually, my mom left me, and I stretched a little and tried to keep warm.  After the wheelchair start (and each start had fireworks!  How cool was that?!), it was soon time to go.  I expected a crowd, and I thought running the Rock 'n' Roll 10k had prepared me for a decent crowd, but nothing like this!  Here's the crowd right before the starting line:

I started way too fast.  I did my best to keep to the side and let runners pass me, but the crowd swept me up.  I think I covered about an 11:40-12:15 mile pace at first.  Now, that's plenty normal for me while I was training, but I kept in mind that I was still sick and I wanted to go as slow as possible in the beginning, at least for the first half of the race.

I wanted to badly to finish.

I kept coughing.  I knew I could only use my inhaler twice during the race, so I wanted to wait and use it sparingly.

I was feeling bad at mile 2 and unsure if I would make it.  I decided to take a ton of walk breaks and persist with a slow jog.  

It's worth mentioning all the mile markers were storybook scenes, and very nicely designed.  I enjoyed passing them, and they made each mile more special (after mile 8, every one after that was a new distance PR!).  I also decided to keep my hoodie as long as possible (when I'm warm, I cough less).

Here's what began my time lapse.  Now, I knew going into this race that I was going to take a ton of pictures (why wear a tutu, after all, if you're not going to be in photos with it?!).  So, I stopped at the first character stop--Jack Sparrow and a giant pirate ship.

I waited about ten-fifteen minutes in line, and the photo's still dark because the sun is still not up (My corral start? Approximately 5:57 am). 

 I also read that this race is all highway. If you are reading this, thinking about doing the Disney Princess Half or the Regular Half, it is!  Still, I entertained myself looking at other people's costumes, and I'm such a huge Disney geek that I loved running behind the scenes, or  "backstage," in Disney lingo.

I loved that I have driven this same route a zillion times in my life.

 This next photo stop was COMPLETELY worth the wait.  All the princes?  The "smolder" of Flynn Rider?  I was so there.  Did I really have to keep running after this?
Well, yes, I did.  I wasn't even halfway finished.  But here is one of my favorite, unexpected parts of the race:
That would be running through the Magic Kingdom toll booths.  Really.  I run through TWO theme parks and pass a ton of awesome characters, and one of my favorite parts was a toll booth?  

Well, yeah.  The operators (I assume?) were out there, directing people and cheering people on.  As I passed the speed bump, I thought, I am not a car, and that thought kept me amused for a very long time.  Hey, it was only six am, okay?  I am easily amused.

Unexpected moments during a race can be good (tollbooths!)...or bad (I certainly didn't expect to be sick).  Have you had any unexpected moments in your life lately?
 Non-running related, I ran into my boyfriend the other day in one of the strangest places in an academic building on campus.  Unexpected, but it totally made my day!

I'm on spring break right now!  Woohoo!  If you could take a vacation RIGHT NOW, where would you go?
Well, I'm currently in a beautiful place, so I think I'll stay right here.  =D

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Okay With It

Janae over at Hungry Runner Girl recently posted about perfectionism.

It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. On February 26th, I'll be running the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon.

And you know what? Nearly everything has strayed from my plans.

-I barely trained for my 10k (but I finished with flying colors).

-I was really sick from mid-December to mid-January and I jumped into my half-marathon training plan with some two-mile runs and a six-mile long run the first week.


-I got sick AGAIN and it looks like my longest run before the race will be 8 miles.

Only 8 miles.

(Did I ever think I would say "only" 8 miles? 8 miles was an impossible distance once upon a time.)

I realized, training or not, I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Life gets in the way of plans sometimes. I've learned to accept this lately, but sometimes it's hard to take a scary plunge when I've been looking forward to this for so long.

So, I'm leaving for the trip just about a week from now.

I'm okay with whatever happens.

I will finish, even if I'm walking across that finish line.

And I'm okay with it.

I know this race will be tons of fun and a great photo opportunity. After, I'm looking forward to cross-training (conquering my fear of spinning once and for all?!) and running shorter, speedier distances. It'll be nice to run for the sake of running again.

Would you rather train with a purpose (a race, or for charity, or an event) or just for your own benefit?
I love planning, so I like training with a purpose. I think I'll appreciate cross-training a lot more now, though, especially because in college I can really take advantage of a great gym.

What makes you decide to venture out when you have other responsibilities? Friends? Family? A midnight run...or a midnight run to get ice cream?
Tonight I decided, heck, it's open mic night and my boyfriend is playing a set. I'm going to go. I'm glad I did-I had a great time and it was nice to hang out with friends. I've worked hard lately and I deserved it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Diligence, Dancing, and Dorkiness

Friday night, I went out for sushi and to a cozy venue for a singer-songwriter performance with Max. It was a lovely evening, but I was exhausted and turned in early. Is this what tons of running and homework does to me? I guess so!

On Saturday, I took a break from homework to go see The Vow with some girlfriends. Cheesy, as I expected, but with a satisfying ending. I liked it.

I hurried home to get ready for the Yule Ball...after a week of being fairly responsible and diligent, I was ready to dance!

(Me and Max before heading out...did I mention it was flurrying?! Freezing out!)

(Mel and me at the dance...we had a dancing pre-party and we were SO READY, including to our latest obsession, "We Found Love in a Hopeless Place")

We all crashed in our room with some...unexpected guests...until the wee hours of the morning, telling stories and being goofy. The master storyteller had an omnipotence not pictured here, hehe.

(How many people can you fit in a room meant for two people? One, two...)

(Three, four...)

And two more on my bed!

I confess to skipping my 9-mile long run in favor of homework and laziness. I didn't get much sleep. I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I need sleep and to keep my grades up, and I'l stick to my long run this weekend.

The next day, Mel and I were being goofy with packages from home. Our parents had shipped us dresses for the dance, and WHAT ELSE are you supposed to do with these except make a robot?

(The expert robot-designer, hard at work.)

(The finished product! I barely look human, right? ;) )

Happy Monday!

On Mondays I look forward to pancakes from the dining hall. =D It's also my favorite day of classes, so I really don't mind Mondays. What's your favorite day of the week?

I was soooo hungry the other night that I stuck pb on a spoon and dipped it into cereal. Do you have a go-to late night snack? (I try not to snack much at night, but sometimes you must.)
I really REALLY like chocolate milk. I mean, really. I think I consume enough chocolate milk for twenty people a day, late night or not.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Late Night Laundry

Wednesday I went to yoga with Mel...I could finally do the chair pose without completely dying! It was intense, but it felt good.

Then...late-night laundry!

A friend surprised me by making extra chicken nuggets in the kitchen...wooo for an unexpected snack!

I decided to treat myself to some waffles-a-la-mode this morning...for no other reason than the fact that it has been a crazy week. Very stressful. It was almost *too* sweet, though. I think I prefer my usual combo of peaches and whipped cream, instead.

After classes and some homework, I ran with L for a speedy three miles (splits were 10:23, 9:50, and my watch died, so...I'm guessing 10-10:20ish).

We went to the Relay for Life rally!

I had a giant salad and baked penne:
And then I piled peppers on my pizza, yuuum.

I've been listening to so much Glee music lately ("I Just Can't Stop Loving You" is SO SINGABLE while studying!), but I haven't watched any tv.

What's your latest tv addiction?
I miss watching Glee and White Collar, but there's simply too much going on for tv time too!

My friends have weird nicknames for each other. Mel alternates between calling me anything from puppy to pumpernickel (really). Do you have a nickname?
I've called her jellybean and sour patch kid. Sense a trend in my nicknaming? Hehe.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pastel de Nata and B19

So, this past Saturday, I ventured into town with my friend A and Mel to look for dresses. There's going to be a Yule Ball this weekend (woohoo!), and it's semi-formal, so we were on the hunt....

(Passing some cool shrubbery-people)

(We needed another goofy roomy photo. Stuffed dinosaur? Check.)

We stopped at a bakery and I treated myself to a pastel de nata, something I'd never heard of. It's a Portuguese egg cream pastry...or so I read on the menu! Delish.

(So flaky and goooooood.)

Although shopping in town (and trying on elegant dresses in thrift stores!) was tons of fun, we turned up empty for something we could *actually* wear.

Home to the rescue! My mom mailed me a package, and I got it in the mail today. I love getting mail, it's one of the coolest feelings in the world.

(Totally worth the long wait in line.)

After some cheese quesadillas and a salad with iceberg and shredded lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cheddar, refried beans, and lots of guacamole, we headed to bingo (sorry for the blurriness...cell phone camera). I had some oreo cheesecake that I devoured too quickly to photograph...oops. Custard-like, but deeelicious.

He's hard at work on B19.

(Out of our entire table, none of us won. =( Bummer.)

And if you were wondering, it's completely normal to wander by a first-floor dorm and peek inside to see what they're watching (Food Network!) Not that we did it....

Good Tuesday. Time for some more homework and SLEEP!

I had so much work today that I'm skipping my run. Do you get workout guilt?

Oreo cheesecake! Yeeeaaah! Do you have a candy/dessert combo, or unusual favorite dessert?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday Shenanigans

Saturday night, I ended up chatting with one of my friends about half-marathons, so I didn't fall asleep till past two am...but long run at 10 am the next day we did! Huge thanks to L for accompanying me on the beautiful trail even when he was exhausted. We took a few stretching breaks and did our best to ignore our rumbling stomachs. We hit six miles at 1:17...at the entrance of the dining hall. Perfect timing!

Sandwiched between L and Mel. Yes, we are THOSE people that ran straight to the dining hall instead of showering...yikes. The BF isn't pictured...but he showed up to enjoy my sweaty company, anyway. What a trooper.

After a relaxaing afternoon, we all piled into the lounge to watch the game on the projector. Go Giants! Wooo!

(Cheering the team on after stuffing ourselves with pizza and chicken wings!)

Yup, just some college students having fun. But I've gotta say...Mel is a big fan of creepy photos.

(Like this one. Girl knows how to capture my beauty, let me tell ya.)

I'm still recovering from my food coma, phew.

Did you watch the game?!

It's Monday. I'm exhausted and swimming in homework. Any concentration tips?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Go Long!

The past two Sundays, I've been going long. 7 and 8 miles, both new distances for me! (1:38 and 1:40 respectively). It was pretty eye-opening to see how much faster I run outside rather than on the treadmill.

I was so proud of my 8-miler that I took a photo:

(Yaaaaay! 8 miles!)

It was a nice, relaxing run. I love Sunday long runs. They give me time to meditate, ruminate, and, I admit, belt out some Flight of the Conchords alongside Taylor Swift. (Yep, I've got quite an eclectic mix of music.)

I've been trying more gym classes--I tried a dance class yesterday and Zumba'd it up today! On top of that, I ran a quick three miles with a friend. Half-marathon training and socializing has never been so exhausting!

My roomie, Mel, smuggled me back a s'mores bar from the cafeteria:

(These are addicting. Oooh, my.)

Anyway, I'm running five miles tomorrow with a bud! YAY for half-marathon training! Time for bed...schoolwork + social life + training is exhausting.

What's your latest food addiction?

I was talking with a friend yesterday, and while I thought about running as a love and an addiction, she thought about it like a love/hate relationship...what do you think?