Friday, February 26, 2010

Two State Trivia Travel

Back from another quick trip home from Hawaii. Amazingly, I took exactly ZERO blog-worthy photos. Sorry, gang. Just believe me when I say the weather was lovely (not oven-hot like my July and September trips).

On the running front since Austin:

Thursday: 5 miles @ 10:00 pace

Saturday: 6 miles @ 9:54 pace; I didn't leave my parents' house until 9 am and it was hot out there! But, still a huge improvement over my July or September visit when I had to be done running by 7 am to have a prayer of finishing. Tweeted this after my run which pretty much sums things up:

Monday: 8.1 miles including 3 mi @ 8:54 pace; I got going by about 7:30 am hoping to get 10 miles in before heading out to brunch with my grandmother. However, I realized that today's run was the best day to try to get some speed work in, so cut the mileage a bit and picked up the pace. Pretty proud I got this done in the heat and without my inspiring ipod music.

Tuesday: 5.3 mile walk (with 1.16 mi of running mixed in) with my mom. My mom walks at least 4 miles almost every day (and mixes in intervals of running). Today was going to be a rest day but I figured I could go out with her on her walk/run. I also showed her a new add-on to her route close to our house which doesn't have any driveways (so no worries of cars backing out into her) and a little hill for a challenge. She wrote and said she is planning on adding it on every day to get 5 miles done instead of four!

Thursday: 6 miles @ 10:10 pace

Friday: 13 miles @ 10:10 pace; Last night I saw that we were due a pretty big storm today. The first 2 miles were dry, but the last 11 were wet, wet, wet! I was more concerned about thunderstorms (didn't happen) and the wind (definitely pretty windy). I mope about getting out there when it is raining, but I really love rainy runs. I practically had Golden Gate Park to myself which was a real treat (I get sidewalk rage with tourists and idiots). I was thinking to myself that non-runners probably never spend 2 hours in the pouring rain without rain gear. What a treat to get to enjoy the weather like that! When I arrived back to my apartment I literally looked like I had jumped into a pool with my clothes on. I was totally soaked and dripping everywhere. This is my last "long" run before the Napa Valley Marathon next week.

I don't feel like I've been doing nearly enough miles the last two weeks to be marathon ready, but I guess I'll have to deal with it.

Here are some photos from Austin:

Looking at the floor of the State Capitol (each circle represents an entity which had interests in Texas at one point in time -- Spain, France, Mexico, United States, Republic of Texas, and the Confederacy)
Side note: Do you see that person in the 1 o'clock position in the picture taking a photograph? There was a portrait of George W. Bush on the wall there. I saw two men have their wives take photos of them standing in front of the portrait. BOTH these men checked the photo and asked to have it taken a second time (after much self-grooming pre-shutter click). I have no political comment, but thought this was both hilarious, bizarre, & slightly frightening.

Looking up at the dome

Cool wall murals:

Seen on the ceiling of a BBQ place

Probably thousands of these freaky birds EVERYWHERE! And they have a cry which sounds like they are saying, "Why?! Why?! WHY!?" At dusk they were sitting on every elevated surface!

We stopped by Lance Armstrong's store, too. It is official. I am not a cyclist. But it was a nice place.

I also learned the fun fact that Hawaii and Texas are the only two states which at one point were its own country. So I visited both those states in a week! Oh, and my parents have had both of their children in one of those states (my sister was born in San Antonio).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Mario

Someone was a very sneaky bunny the other day. Boyfriend has a laptop which has a fairly abysmal battery life. So it is generally always plugged in when he uses it. The outlet he uses for this is behind the couch so that Mario has no access to the wire. I guess the loop of the cord was hanging too low one day and Mario went to town! Boyfriend turned on his laptop and said there were sparks flying! Thank goodness A) Mario wasn't fried when he chewed it! and B) The apartment didn't catch on fire in between the chewing and the discovery! A reminder of the importance of proper bunny-proofing!

Here is Mario, not after the incident, but I felt he looked sufficiently repentant for this story.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Austin Marathon

The Mario Recap, Marathon #12:
Great race! Great finish time! Great swag!

It's a little hard to tell with the shadows, but Mario is wearing a cowboy hat ornament I bought

The Full Recap, Marathon #12:
Austin was a very spur of the moment decision (Boyfriend and I, through 6 text messages on my lunch hour, decided we'd take short trip for the race) mainly geared to prevent me from having to do a 20 mile training run in Hawaii. Yes, I am Hawaii-bound this Friday! We all know how much I'd love to do a 20 miler in Hawaii!

We didn't arrive into Austin until 9 pm Saturday night. The Austin airport was a ghost town when we landed. All the eateries were closed up for the night. As we were walking through the empty terminal, Boyfriend asks me, "What do you think of the music?" I replied, "I feel like I'm walking in Frontier Land at Walt Disney World." Seriously, that stuff they were piping through the airport sounded like it was straight out of Disney's idea of a Western!

We made it to the hotel with no problem and I knew I had to eat even though it was past 10 pm by the time we got settled in our hotel. We were staying close to the University of Texas so luckily there were tons of clog-your-arteries places to choose from. I usually like to eat a simple marinara sauce pasta dish before races but wasn't sure if that would be possible to find so late at night. So I decided the next best thing (and readily available) was McDonald's.

Cropped Boyfriend out, but he wanted a photo with the statue in front of the McDonald's. Yep, we're in Texas!

Two of my previous half marathon PR's (not the most recent, though) were pulled off after a lovely McDonald's feast the night before so I knew it was agreeable. I ordered two cheeseburgers, fries, and an apple pie for a quick dinner. I laid out my race stuff and probably nodded off a little after 12 am. It was hard to fall asleep because we had Olympic coverage in the hotel room! Yep, I don't get the Olympics in my apartment. Long, sad story. Don't ask.

We left the hotel around 6 am to head to the start (1 mile walk away from the hotel). The start area was awesome because Boyfriend could hang out with me until the bitter end -- or start -- as it were. It wasn't too chilly but not comfortable weather to be standing around in a skirt and sleeveless shirt (about 39 degrees, I think) I got to wear my real, warm jacket since I handed it off to Boyfriend before the gun went off! So much nicer than the garbage bag I wore at Disney.

There were a few guys dressed up as cupid for Valentine's Day

We met briefly with Sam of Operation Jack. Please check out his site! He's running 60 marathons this year to raise funds to help fight autism. I thought 15 marathons this year would be hard, but he's doing 60! and he's been doing them fast!

The Austin course has a lot of rolling hills:

I had broken up the course into three bits in my mind. Miles 1-6 (was going to see Boyfriend once on the course at around the 6th mile), miles 8-18 (generally going uphill) and miles 18-26.2 (generally going downhill). I thought I'd average maybe a 10:35-10:40 pace for the race.

Mile 1: 10:35, 10:38
Mile 2: 10:39, 10:09
Mile 3: 9:59, 10:17
Mile 4: 10:10, 10:29
Mile 5: 9:36, 9:43
Mile 6: 9:55, 9:44
Mile 7: 10:06, 9:59

I found myself running much faster than I had anticipated, but I felt really good! Boyfriend had even commented that I'd be feeling good when I saw him because it was the end of that first downhill segment. I was feeling great about my pace until about mile 5.5 when I felt like my legs had just powered down (insert that powering down machine sound). I actually didn't feel so grand and told Boyfriend when I saw him, "I'm doing 10:10's now, but will probably be slowing down on the uphills soon." Translation: I went out too fast and will have to walk my butt up the hills later.

But that feeling was relatively short-lived and I continued to average about a 10:10 pace as the race continued. The course itself was nothing too special -- some small business area in the beginning, running along a freeway, residential areas, the University of Texas, and then the State Capitol at the end. They had a fair number of bands out which was nice. The guy at mile 8 was playing "Take it Easy" (in a slow, soothing sort of way) which I thought was the absolute worse song to be singing on the sidelines of a marathon.

The marathoners run with the half marathoners for about the first 10 miles of the race. I have stated before and will state again that I dislike this arrangement. The mind frame and energy levels are just so different for the two distances. The roads were pretty crowded and since I was going faster than I thought I would I was passing people constantly. I kept having to veer to the side to get around people which was adding distance to my day. I was really looking forward to the point in the race when the half marathoners turned off the course so that things could settle and clear up a bit.

From miles 8-18 I kept counting them down every two miles (I eat a shot blok every two miles). I kept telling myself just get to mile 18 and the course will feel easier. There were maybe two really steep, short uphills. The rest of them were fairly gradual, but they just kept coming! In a way it was a nice course with rolling hills because after most uphill segments there was a nice little downhill to reward you.

Mile 8: 10:14, 10:10
Mile 9: 10:29, 10:31
Mile 10: 9:58, 10:22
Mile 11: 10:04, 10:18
Mile 12: 10:19, 9:57
Mile 13: 10:03, 9:49
Mile 14: 10:13, 9:56
Mile 15: 10:18, 10:15
Mile 16: 10:21, 10:00
Mile 17: 10:06, 9:51
Mile 18: 10:27, 10:04

I was pretty shocked at how strong I was running. The 10:10ish average pace felt comfortable. I wasn't pushing but I also wasn't holding back. My body kept taking the hills in stride -- I never had the urge to take a break and walk any of the uphills. Guess there is something to living and training in San Francisco!

I don't remember exactly what mile it happened at (guessing maybe about 14 or so), but something amazing happened this race! I caught up to, and passed the 4:30 pace group! I have never passed ANY pace group that started with 4:xx before! I wasn't going much faster than them but slowly but surely caught up. For a little bit I got stuck up in their cluster which was sort of frustrating. I had to ask a guy to please excuse me as I pushed my way through to clear them. Victory!

I've decided that miles 16-18 are the hardest miles mentally for me in a marathon. You've come a long way and still have a long way to go. Around this time I sort of started thinking about how I had three more marathons in March coming up and what was I thinking?!

I hit mile 18 and rejoiced for a second that the course should now start feeling a little easier. I also reminded myself that while we had net downhill coming up, it was still rolling and uphill segments were definitely still present from miles 18-26.2.

At around mile 20 I realized that I was within striking distance of my San Francisco Marathon time. If I could beat that, I'd have run my second best time at Austin. I kicked my effort up one notch, though I wouldn't say I was truly pushing the pace at all.

Mile 19: 10:51, 9:42
Mile 20: 10:17, 9:50
Mile 21: 10:02, 9:53
Mile 22: 9:50, 10:15

I carried my small hand-held 10 oz bottle during the race. It is the size I generally like to use when I'm not trying to run a PR. Not big and heavy and I stop to refill it as necessary. The weather warmed up quite a bit as the race went on. There was not one cloud in the sky. I'm thinking the temps went up to about the high-50's, low-60's by the latter parts of the race. Not bad weather by any means, but warmer than I prefer for running. I was stopping to drink water at the water stops to supplement the water in my hand held.

At one water stop where I stopped to both drink some water and refill my hand held, the 4:30 pace group passed me. Boo. What a let down after passing them! I'm not sure what a 4:30 pace is exactly, but I had a sneaky suspicion they were going too fast. Their group had really thinned out since the last time I had seen them. I knew I was still making good time, regardless, since I had crossed the starting line much further back from them. But it made me realize I was losing time by stopping at the water stops. And of course I wanted to say I passed a 4:xx group for once in my life!

At mile 23 I decided I wouldn't stop at any more water stops the rest of the race. I had enough in my hand held to get me through. I re-passed the 4:30 pace group again at some point (Victory!) though again, I don't remember exactly when.

Mile 23: 10:06, 10:21
Mile 24: 9:32, 9:54

The crowd support at Austin, while thin and spread out, was totally awesome! What a great community that came out to cheer! After running a race like NYC it is really easy to scoff at the crowd support at other marathons, but I feel that the cheering at this race (considering we were running a huge loop through residential areas) was a huge plus of this race.

At one point we passed a man in a wheelchair who was out cheering. He was probably in his 30's and I heard him yelling things like, "You're doing it! You look awesome!" I know that there is a wheelchair division at events like this, but it really touched me that he would come out to cheer for us runners. If I were in a wheelchair I think watching a road race would make me feel a little bitter and sad. I thought it was so admirable that he would come to cheer. They say you have to run because you can and that sort of put it in perspective for me.

I started cranking the juice the last 2 miles. I was pretty sure I'd beat my San Francisco time and once you know you've got something like that coming, there is this feeling of, "I have to beat it by as much as I possibly can." At mile 25 I changed the display on my garmin to show the time. I usually have the distance in nice, huge numbers showing. But in a race those numbers generally don't match up, and I didn't want to see "26.2" displayed when the finish line still wasn't in sight.

I checked the time at mile 25 and added 12 more minutes to that to get my estimated finish time. To be honest, I don't remember what number I came up with. I just remember thinking, "I'm going to make it." In retrospect I must have been comparing the number to my San Francisco time because I was safely under that. I thought the number I came up with was 4:25 because I told myself that if I really started to push, I could probably run a sub 4:25. Because you know, 4:24:59 just sounds so much nicer than 4:25:01 (slight sarcasm here). So I really started to push the pace. I think my problem lay in the fact that in my I-just-ran-25-miles delirium I didn't look at the seconds column of my time, just the minutes.

The race approached the Capitol from the back, we ran around the left side of the building

This is the view of the Capitol from the front, we came running down this road

This is the view going down the road from the Capitol. Right before I took this, a group of college-aged guys came running by -- one of them was wearing the marathon finisher's shirt (day after the marathon) -- I suddenly felt very stupid walking around with mine on!

There was a nastily placed little uphill segment to the capitol which slowed me down a bit, followed by a relatively screaming downhill segment. I was flying down that hill (last picture above). I don't think I've run faster in my entire life. I'd be running and think to myself I should run a little faster, and I miraculously found another gear. About 100 feet from the finish I looked at my watch and saw something like 4:24:5x and I knew I wasn't going to make it. But I kept up the push to the line.

Boyfriend took video of me running to the finish. He's done it many times before at other marathons. Whenever I watch the video I always think, "Man, I thought I was sprinting but I look like I'm running so slow!" Not this time. I was sprinting to that finish! I actually look like I'm running! Amazing!

Mile 25: 9:20, 9:12
Mile 26: 9:18, 9:44
Mile 26.4 (per Garmin) 8:00 <-- faster than my 5K PR pace and faster than any of my 400m repeat times

Official Time: 4:25:11 (10:07 pace)

I also ran a negative split marathon for the first time ever. I finished the second half 3 minutes and 19 seconds faster than the first half.

I will be honest here and say that I am a little disappointed I didn't break 4:25. That is sort of ridiculous when you think that I had estimated about a 4:40 finish. I think it is mainly because I ran so hard at the end just for that number. I also really thought I was going to make it. For some reason I remember thinking I was going to finish at about 4:25 but since I was pushing I was fairly certain I'd get there earlier (I based my calculation off of a 10:00 min/mile). I guess when I did that little number calculation at mile 25, I was either comparing the result to 4:27 or had the seconds column way off. Or maybe I just couldn't add for beans. Who knows? That's the thing I hate about missing a goal by a few seconds -- if you had just known 20 miles earlier it would have come down to that, you could have done something about it. One hundred feet from the finish? Not a lot you can do about it then.

Even though the course was sort of "Meh," I have to give the Austin Marathon two big thumbs up. Great organization, great crowd support and GREAT swag! Check it out:

The backpack is by far the nicest bag I've ever gotten from a race. They also had WOMEN'S XS shirts!! Huge props for that in my book. I can also say with 100% certainty that the medal is the nicest I have ever gotten.

You can't tell from the photo, but it has a really nice weight to it. And it is so shiny! And the red portion is sort of glassy, not your usual enamel coloring.

I'm not sure what the point of these were, but they asked you to put it on your back. I love the Valentine's love theme and the little heart for the "point" in 26.2

Overall I am very, very happy with the way I ran. I tweeted that running a second fastest marathon time on that day was almost as good as a PR and I totally mean that. I wasn't even really trying the first 20 miles and was able to pull that off. I don't feel like my body has been in marathon shape the last 1.5 months, but it keeps proving me wrong. I had a lot of gas left in the tank the last few miles and was able to finish really strong. And the hills? Hills schmills!

I recovered pretty quickly after this race (not as sore as I was after San Francisco or CIM, but a little more sore than post-Disney) and am going to start gearing back up for my three marathon March!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Mario

Something about this photo reminds me of a 1950's pin-up model.

Sorry, Mario.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Umm... Another Marathon?!

Conservatory of Flowers from Sunday's run in Golden Gate Park

Sunday: 10 miles @10:38 pace; Boyfriend joined me for the first four miles and I carried my camera and snapped some photos of Golden Gate Park.

Monday: 0.4 miles in VFF

Tuesday: 10 miles, including 3 mi @ 8:58 pace; This run marks my return to 9:00 pace running (not counting that one treadmill mile last week). I haven't done any sort of speed work since before CIM. Surprisingly, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. As I mentioned before, I'm going to try to keep doing tempo runs once a week to keep the higher gears in play.

Wednesday: Was supposed to run 8 miles before work. Hit the mega-snooze button and skipped that run.

Thursday: Thought maybe I'd run 6 miles before work to make up for Thursday's missed run. Hit the snooze button, again.

Friday: 12 miles @ 10:29; For some reason I thought that my next marathon was 2 weeks away, but I realized Thursday night it was only 1 week away! So I cut back the intended 20 miler to 12 miles. Good thing because I fought for every inch of this 12 miler. Just wasn't feeling it.

Saturday: 0.5 miles in VFF; Still not experiencing any post-run pain from the VFF's! Not planning on doing much more than 0.5 miles for a while, I think.

Sunday: 10 miles @ 10:14 pace

Tuesday: 4 miles @ 10:02 pace

Thursday: 6 miles, including 3 mi @ 8:49 pace; Finally dragged my carcass out of bed for a pre-work run. First pre-work run since before CIM in early December!! I think I went a little too hard considering I have a marathon this Sunday (and three miles at tempo is not a cut-back at this point), but it felt nice to get out there and get some faster miles in again. I'm hoping to eventually build back up to 8 miles of tempo pace but it will probably be hard to do that the next month with all the races I have coming up.

Friday: 3 miles @ 10:24 & 0.5 miles in VFF; legs definitely tired after yesterday's run. Hope they perk up for Sunday!

Bison enjoying the grand weather in Golden Gate Park

I'm headed to Austin for a long weekend and a marathon! I signed up for this one when I realized I'd have to do a 20 miler for Napa anyway about now. I'm curious to see how this goes since I only built back up to a 16 miler since Disney. I sort of feel like my fitness from CIM has carried me through Honolulu and Disney but that with every week it is slowly whittling away. Hopefully this will kick-start me back into long distance territory... I've got three marathons in March!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Mario

Both Mario and I love it when Boyfriend makes his uber delicious pasta. I am a pasta freak (I literally eat pasta at least once a day) and Mario always gets the leftover basil. Boyfriend threw some basil leaves into Mario's pen the other night. We were unsuspecting victims in this arrangement because something must have been in the basil's water.

We were hit with an unwelcome visitor when:
Basil + Messy Mario = Basil-tee!!

The Basil-tee was a little shy the first shot...

But we got it to sit still (after some petting bribes for its owner) for a proper photograph:

We've seen Cilantro-stache, Carrot Mouth, and even Strawberry Head. All of this artwork has prompted me to make a new label for these types of Mario posts (hereon to be fondly referred to as, "Mario's Culinary Makeup").

I am Basil-tee, hear me roar! Roawr!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Walt Disney World Goofy's Race & a Half Challenge (+5K)

Disclaimer: I know the temperatures in this post are not that extreme. I'm currently reading all types of reports of hardcore runners out there in 5 degree or negative temps with 3 feet of snow. However, please remember this was FLORIDA, I am living in CALIFORNIA and I grew up in HAWAII. Thanks for humoring me...

Apologies for the long delay in getting these reports up!

I spent four wonderful yet hugely tiring days roaming the parks before the 5K gun went off on Friday morning. I was literally on my feet all day long, either standing in line or walking around the parks. If I wasn't sleeping, I was never off my feet for more than 30 minutes at a time those days. The first day I was okay, but my legs and especially feet were really tired and sore the last few days. I forced myself to take it a little easier Friday after the 5K and Saturday after the half (but still went to the parks for a few hours each of those days). The last two times I did this race I didn't do any theme parks for at least two days before the races. My poor feet were so tired every night and I couldn't help but think these would be very interesting races.

Orlando was having a cold snap the entire time I was there. The other two times I did the Disney Marathon it was 80 degrees. I knew before heading to Orlando it was going to be chilly, but I wasn't prepared for just how cold it actually was! Audrey flew into Orlando a few days after me so she was nice enough to bring up some old throwaway sweatshirts for me to wear pre-race. Thank you SO SO much!! I would surely be dead from hypothermia if not for her.

Here is a picture of the pool in front of my hotel building:

The lifeguards were wearing parkas, beanies, scarves and gloves! And yes, people were swimming! CRAZY!

Friday: Disney Pixar Up & Away Family Fun Run 5K
Temperature: Cool & Crisp (while still cold, it warmed up a bit Thursday and Friday); Probably in the low to mid 40's -- perfect running weather :)
Race start time: 7:00 am
Finish time: 34:16 (unofficial)
Character photo-ops: Nada, Empty set, Zilch, FAIL

This is going to be an ultra short race report to match an ultra short race! I signed up for this race so I could have Dopey (the unofficial name for adding the 5K onto the Goofy Challenge <-- which is running both the half marathon Saturday and the marathon Sunday) bragging rights, but was also really excited to be doing another Disney race. I love how fun they are and I love taking pictures with the characters. The "Up" characters were at the start to cheer us off. I snapped this photo as I ran by:

Yay! I LOVE Dug (the dog)

The race looped around Epcot and the backlot area of Epcot. I stopped to get a picture with the Epcot golfball and a Christmas tree. But there weren't any other Disney characters on the course :( So you mean to tell me, I shelled out $40 for an un-timed 5K through the most boring Disney park? Boo, Disney!

Since I generally only run half marathons and marathons in organized races, doing a 5K felt like a whole new experience for me. I don't race 5K's and 10K's (they're so short it hurts too bad to run that fast!) and I don't participate in them for fun since it seems ridiculous to pay to run 3 or 6 miles casually. So this was a real treat! Who knew you could STOP running at 3.1 miles! It was awesome. I was barely warmed up and it was already time to stop. No, "Where's the freakin' finish?" "We're only at mile what?!" "This is really starting to hurt!" Sweet serenity.

I figured the "Up" characters would be hanging out at the finish for photos but they weren't! So I had to take more photos with the blow-up house:

Saturday: Walt Disney World Half Marathon
Temperature: SNOW! SLEET! RAIN! Two clicks past cold. Low to mid-30's but wet!
Race start time: 5:40 am --> FAIL because it was still dark when running through Magic Kingdom :(
Finish time: 2:26:16
Character photo-ops: Buzz Lightyear, Alice in Wonderland Crew, Peter Pan Crew, Cinderella crew, Country Bears, Prince Naveen & Crocodile, Jack Sparrow, Golf Mickey & Donald, Chip & Dale, Daisy Duck, Pluto!

The forecast for Saturday was colder than Friday and also wet. There was a brief period of snow flurries (remember, this was FLORIDA) while waiting at the start, some sleet after that, and wet, freezing rain at the end. My race outfits weren't geared for the cold weather and I ended up buying a bunch of long sleeve shirts at the expo. Never try anything new on race day? Ha! I laugh in the face of danger. Muah Ha ha. I wore a tank with arm warmers and gloves at CIM in sub-freezing temps and was okay, but I was pushing hard that day. I was planning on lollygagging with the Disney characters and running at a comfortable pace. So tried to bundle up a little more.

Half Marathon start (Sorry, I have to learn to let the camera roll a little longer)

Waiting around at the start was pretty miserable (When I got off the bus, a Disney cast member who was directing crowd flow yelled, "Wecome to Disney Alaska!"), but once I got going it wasn't too bad. Sure I couldn't really feel my fingers, but other than that everything was okay. There were lots of characters out and I stopped to take a picture with every single one of them. In 2008, I believe the races started at 6:00 am. This year my wave was off at 5:40 am which meant that when we ran through Magic Kingdom it was still pitch black :( This made it impossible to get nice pictures of the Castle (which is pretty much my favorite part of the race).

Running up Main Street USA (you can see how dark it was when I hit the Magic Kingdom)

My goal was to run the half at a comfortable, easy pace. Not pushing but also not holding back. Somewhere around mile 10 things started to get a little tough and I was ready for the race to be over. I don't remember the half course being so dull in 2008. You don't hit the Magic Kingdom until about the halfway mark and the rest of the time you're on roads in between the parks until you hit Epcot right before the finish (which was pretty old by now since I'd already run the 5K). Since it was raining and freezing, the gospel choir which is normally at mile 13 was off drinking hot chocolate, no doubt. Bummer.

I crossed the finish line, felt pretty good for about 5 minutes, and then slowly started to freeze. I braved the elements to get a few more photos with characters, but quickly cried "Uncle!" and got on the shuttle back to the hotel.

My quads were a little sore Saturday night and I was a little worried about the full Sunday. I did a quick visit to the theme parks but forced myself to stay off my feet by watching "The Princess and the Frog" at the movie theatre. Word to the wise: Do NOT see a kids' movie at Disney World. Can you say, "Talking toddler and infants sitting on their parent's laps on BOTH sides of me!?" I was exhausted after getting up so early two days in a row (plus all that walking and running was catching up to me) and I was in bed by 7:30 pm!

Sunday: Walt Disney World Marathon
Temperature: Holy. Mother. Mid 20's wind chill factor.
Race start time: 5:40 am --> This waking up at 3:15 am is really getting old (though felt pretty easy after going to bed so early the night before)
Finish time: 4:41:26
Character photo-ops: Dumbo, Thumper & lady friend, Safari Donald & Daisy, Rafiki, Safari Minnie, Safari Mickey, Dug, Mike, Launchpad McQuack, Dopey, Pluto, Lilo & Stitch, Chip & Dale, Goofy's son

Sunday was supposed to be dry and sunny but C.O.L.D. I believe we were down in the mid to low 20's with the wind chill. Oh, and it was plenty windy out there, too!

I took this at the finish area, but it was windy the whole day. When it is 35 degrees out wind like that really cuts!

I ran holding a mylar blanket around my waist to keep my legs warm for the first 2 miles. I read that 30,000 pieces of clothing were collected at the start which amounted to 26,000 pounds! of throwaways!!

For the first time in the history of my running the Disney Marathon, I decided to carry my camera. I figured I wouldn't stop to take photos with any of the characters who had been out the day before (the vast majority of the half characters were also out for the full). I am really glad I did this because there were so many new characters to get photos with the second half of the course.

Main Street stretch when the sun is up

It was so cold out there the water was freezing on the ground at water stops (I saw one woman slip and fall). The water inside the cups was also turning slushy. Once again, I had some issues with my hands getting numb, but overall it wasn't too terrible once I was moving. However, for the first time EVER at this race, I was glad to see the sun come up.

The most amazing thing about the full marathon is that I felt SO good. Maybe they were just frozen solid, but my legs felt great. Every time I run the Disney Marathon I'm screaming in my head, "I LOVE this race!" It is just so much fun to see all the runners lining up to take photos with the characters and I feel like a kid again. I felt tons better the day of the full than I did during the half marathon.

Cinderella's Castle

Towards mile 20 realized I could probably run a sub 4:40 race if I pushed a little (which would have been WAY faster than my anticipated finish time). But I realized I was going to be really close and I figured if I ran by a character I really wanted a photograph with, I'd hate to have to decide if the time was more important or the photo. So I continued to keep up a comfortable pace instead of pushing for time. I knew I was on track to set a course PR and was amazed about that.

Right before the finish I spied Goofy giving high-fives to the left so veered on over to get mine before crossing the finish. You can't tell much from the video but it's me running by Goofy for my high-five, and yelling, "Hey, Goofy!" right before smacking his white glove:

I went to get my Mickey & Goofy medal and yet again braved the elements to get pictures with the characters in the finish area.

Lots of bling to hand out.

This was my third running of the Disney Marathon which makes the Disney Marathon not only my most-run marathon, but my most run race, period! I have to say it is a totally different animal when experienced in the freezing cold vs. the sweltering heat. The first time I ran the race in 2005 I trained in 30 degree temps in New York, then flew down to Orlando and DIED in the heat and sunshine. Even in 2008, coming from San Francisco it was pretty warm. For some reason when you're not busy wiping little melty puddles of yourself off the pavement everything looks so different!

DJ at the finish area

The reason people love this race... The BLING:

Goofy medal (Goofy Challenge), Mickey medal (Marathon), Donald medal (Half Marathon), Up medal (5K)

Disney History Breakdown:
Disney 2005 (my first marathon): 5:16
Disney 2008 (Goofy Challenge): 4:55
Disney 2010 (Goofy Challenge+ 5K Fri + carried my camera & stopped for photos): 4:41

I ran the Goofy Challenge portion of the weekend about 24 minutes faster than I did in 2008, too, even with the 5K and all that park walking the week before.

I know that my time this year was better than usual due to the weather difference (I think 24 minutes over the half and full is a good fudge factor for the 50 degree difference) but I am still rather tickled how I keep adding extra races before the marathon and keep getting faster. I hardly did any running the three weeks before Disney 2010 yet ran better than when I did dedicated training (back-to-back long runs) in 2008. I guess you never know what is going to work. Or alternatively you can say, I guess we all know how badly warm weather affects me!

Perhaps the most surprising thing of all was how little I was sore after the races. After Goofy 2008 I was crippled. I could barely walk around at a very slow clip when I went to the airport the day after. I was sore the night of the marathon this year but spent the afternoon/evening walking around the parks. By Monday morning I was not experiencing half of the post-marathon soreness I usually have. I spent Monday in the parks as well which may have helped me keep things loose. By Tuesday I was pain free. I have another theory that the cold temps were like a continual ice bath :)

Those "highs" if they ever happened at all were for 5 min, in direct sunshine, on black asphalt @ 2:30 pm... VERY misleading!

The End

These aren't my videos (they belong to this guy), but I found them on youtube and they capture the days so well. This guy did an awesome job and the video quality is really, really good (I almost took my crappy videos down). More than sitting here and recapping the races, watching these makes me itch to go back and run these races again:

I am in for Goofy 2011!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers -- The Runs

After Christmas, we went back to the store Boyfriend got the shoes at to make sure I had the right size and model. It was a weekday and while I was there (~1.5 hours) about 4 more people came in asking for VFF shoes. At least two other people were runners and the general attitude of everyone was, "Damn these things are hideous but I've heard so many interesting things about them."

I decided to wear my Injinji socks (socks with individual toes) when wearing my VFF shoes. It just feels more comfortable to me. I sadly have to admit the socks make the whole get-up even more ridonkulous.

First run (surface: track)
I read you should ease into VFF running and am SO glad I listened! Our maiden voyage was just 0.3 mi (about one lap around the local track). The next day my ankles and calves hurt like I had run 16 miles. My ankles hurt almost as if I had sprained them -- lateral movements would cause them to feel sore. But, it was a good hurt vs. the bad hurt after a sprain.

Second run (surface: dirt/sand trail)
The next week we ran 0.4 mi and I woke up the next day feeling like I had run 20 miles! This second run I had adopted a really strange running form where I kicked out my toes way in front of me before my foot landed. Boyfriend said I looked like an ostrich. I guess that really didn't agree with any of my calf muscles because they were sore for days. Luckily since running with regular shoes uses totally different muscles, I was able to continue running. But, I hobbled around painfully while down in San Diego.

After this second run I almost swore off the VFF shoes. I worried that the muscle pain would interfere with my "normal" running. But I decided to give it one more go, especially since I had such a funky gait that second time.

Third run (surface: concrete)
So the third time we attempted another 0.4 mi run. I concentrated on a more natural stride. I am happy to report there was NO pain the next day! I was unsure if running in them just once a week would be sufficient to be able to develop and maintain muscles for no post-run pain.

So my first impression of these shoes are that they definitely force you to land on your forefoot. I get instant, bone-jarring feedback when I strike with my heel. I tend to run slower in the VFF's than regular shoes but I'm not sure if that is just my own tentativeness.

It is amazing to me how your feet/legs absorb the impact more effectively when you land on your forefeet. There is NO way I could run in my usual heel strike gait in these shoes.

Right now I view the VFF's as cross-training. They are a way to use muscles I have obviously not been using when wearing running shoes. I can also try to get a feel for a more forefoot strike stride. I do not foresee myself running in them much farther than a mile or so in the future. I don't see myself converting to minimalist shoe runner. But I do hope to try to run in them at least once a week for a quick spin.

My current running shoe set-up is stability shoes with custom orthotics. This past year I got a pair of neutral shoes to run in (which I also use my orthotics in) to see if I could step down the support a little bit. My hope would be to see if I can adopt a more forefoot strike while wearing running shoes and to see if that could translate into ditching the orthotics one day. My chronic shin splints have been fairly cooperative this year but obviously I can hope to improve them further.

Cliff, I do have a video clip of my ostrich-gait (very exaggerated forefoot landing which may have been caused by trying to step more lightly on the rocks of the trail) and I may post it once I get a shot of the more normal-gait I had the third run).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers -- The Backstory

A few months ago, I read the book, Born to Run. There was much talk about this book all over the running community. I slowly watched all sorts of people get into minimal shoe running or barefoot running after reading the book. Honestly, I was a little scared to read the book because of this trend. I already get enough strange looks for running in skirts... I didn't want to think about the looks I'd get running in skirts and funky or no shoes.

But I did read the book and it is great! I highly recommend it to every runner. For me, the book wasn't even about running barefoot. The information behind the science of humans evolving as runners was fascinating!

There was a part of the book which talked about how humans evolved as runners to hunt food. We aren't very fast but we have amazing endurance. So long as humans kept the animals moving (who cannot effectively keep cool while on the move) they would eventually tire the animals out and succeed. The Bushmen of the Kalahari desert were featured and I was tickled when the average pace for these hunts was reported at about 10:30 min/miles. Dude! Even I can do that!! The average time for success in a persistence hunt was 2-5 hours which was pointed out as being the range for a marathon (more goosebumps here)!

The book did touch on barefoot running and how modern day running shoes changes the mechanics of our strides. Supposedly all the cushioning in running shoes encourages a heel strike which exerts more force on the body. When unshod, people tend to land more on their forefoot which absorbs the shock of impact better.

This video explains it better than I ever could:

I don't remember how Boyfriend got wind of Vibram Five Fingers (which mimic barefoot running while protecting your feet). I never mentioned I wanted to try them (and didn't want to). So it was a total shock when I got a pair from him for Christmas (he also bought himself a pair, to my dismay).

Bottom line is, I think these things are pretty darn ugly. But, now that I have a pair there isn't anything else to do but go for a run in them! Next up will be my experiences thus far running in the "Toe Shoes."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Mario

On my last trip back home to Hawaii, I spent the night at my friend's because she lives conveniently close to the Honolulu Marathon shuttle bus pick-up. We've been friends since intermediate school (and were college roomies) and that conveniently close location was actually the last house in which I lived with her. It was sort of strange lying there that night thinking about how much had happened since the last time I took a snooze at that location over 8 years ago!

My parents dropped me off at her place at around 9 pm so we only had about 2 hours to chit-chat before I headed off to sleep. She had recently stumbled upon some old photographs she had taken when she visited me in New York City in 2005. I was totally smitten by photographs she had of Mario. I thought it was absolutely wonderful that someone had photographs of him I had never seen before! It was even more fun because she had photographs of Mario and I together which is a pretty rare thing since I'm usually the one taking the pictures.

Here is one shot of Mario enjoying some peanut butter. It was taken 1 year and 1 day after I adopted him:

If you click on the photo, that is actually his tongue under the spatula!