Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Mario

I am going to look like such a bad bunny mom, but I had forgotten to give Mario one of his gifts from last Christmas. Yes. Christmas 2009. Gah. The reason being it came in a set of two and I had given him the first on Christmas day (seen here) and the other was tucked away in his personal storage bin. But, hey! Better late than never, right?

Mario didn't seem to mind. He dug right in.

Not the best shot, but Mario was flinging his head backwards in this photo to try to work out some of the hay.

Nom nom
He looks like a puppy chewing on a shoe in this photo :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lotso Catching Up

I am going to make a concerted effort to get back to conversational blogging. The last few months has felt like an onslaught of "Monday Marios" and race reports -- which is fine and dandy. But I miss talking about little random things and sharing daily laughs, triumphs, and defeats. I've also been horribly delinquent in keeping up with everyone else's blog and want to keep up better with everyone else.

This week marks the beginning of training for the Oakland Marathon in March. I don't have any super time goals for the course, though I'd like to set a course PR (should be fairly simple to do this since I ended a 3 marathons in 4 weeks streak in Oakland last year). I am using this training cycle to try to get back to my pre-Texas fitness level. I'm hoping to add a little more short-distance speed to my plan as well as focused hill workouts. Oakland is quite hilly the first half and Big Sur is down the pipes.

I am still struggling a little bit with my knee. I am happy to report that my knee didn't bother me at all during Texas or Goofy. But with relatively short runs the past two weeks it has started to nag a little. I have not been taping it since the races when I run so perhaps that is a factor. But I refuse to run with tape on my knee forever so I want to figure this out. I haven't been as diligent with stretching as I was pre-Texas so I am trying to get back to that.

Boyfriend and I went for a run on the Tiburon Peninsula Trail the other week. Along the way I spotted this:

We had just watched "Toy Story 3" the night before and had a good laugh about how that poor forgotten stuffed animal was going to walk home to his owner, see he was replaced, and go mentally ape crazy.

(Warning: Toy Story 3 spoiler to follow) Incidentally, while I was in Walt Disney World, I took this photo of stuffed animals for sale:

I mean really, who would want one of these? I guess stuffed villains are okay, but this villain really was a stuffed animal which is just a little creepy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LA County Holiday Half Marathon

This is a very belated race report but who says it can't be Christmas in January?

I am a sucker for the holidays. When I heard there was a holiday-themed half marathon with a super cool medal I was totally excited. I was supposed to get 12 miles in that day anyhow and figured 13.1 with a medal at the end would be much more enjoyable. I got Naomi to agree to come down to the LA area with me which made it a fun trip, too.

I had done a hard-effort 16 miler on Friday so was planning on cruising easy during the race on Sunday. I thought I might cruise in the mid to high-10:00's for pace. The race seemed pretty hilly (course profile looked like an EKG) so I wasn't sure how that would play out.

We didn't fly down to LA until Saturday afternoon so we got to the race early to pick up our bibs on Sunday morning (a big Thanks! to the race for having race morning pick-up). The one cool thing about going early Sunday morning was that there were no lines and the race merchandise was 50% off. So I snagged a cute half-zip which came in very handy during my rainy runs the rest of the month of December. Since the expo was open early and close to the start, we got to stay warm inside the building and got to use real bathrooms, too. Woot!

Start line

Within the first mile of the race I could feel that it was going to be a hot day. Le sigh.

We ran around a little race track of some sort

Fall colors in southern California. Who knew?

Hello, Sun.

A great deal of the race wound around a lake. Lots of little rolling hills but very pretty views.

I think a good portion of the race was on a paved bike path. I didn't need them, but this had the added advantage of lots of real restrooms along the way.

Okay, so some of the hills weren't that little. But it was certainly no Big Sur and this San Franciscan had no problem motoring up the hills.

More pretty lake views

Mountain views

I felt really good the entire race. My pace was faster than I had expected while still keeping it easy. My knee also cooperated (this was the 2nd week after I started seeing the chiropractor) so I was really happy about that. There were a few out-and-back portions and I was happy to see Maritza and her boyfriend out on the course (I don't think they saw me on the run but we got to meet up pre- and post-race).

I finished in 2:13 which I was pleased with for an easy-paced warm half. This race was at the end of the week when my legs clicked into maybe-we-can-really-PR-the-next-marathon mode and I could tell I was at a good place in my conditioning.

I had a fun holiday outfit (red plaid skirt, green tank, and reindeer antlers) and I got a lot of fun cheers from people. There were lots of people dressed in holiday attire including a couple dressed up as Mr. & Mrs. Claus. How the guy ran in the long sleeve/long pant outfit is beyond me.

Now onto the fun swag:

What a cute goodie bag!


I now really appreciate medals which have high quality ribbons like this.

And the most awesome thing: A tech shirt in a gender specific cut that fits!! And if you only knew the lengths the race staff went to in order for me to have this puppy, you'd be impressed. Chic Runner is a saint!

I had lots of fun at the race and highly recommend it. I'm a warm weather weenie, but I'd bet lots of people would appreciate a warmer race in December. I guess that is one of those "Lucky you live California" things (okay, so the saying is really, "Lucky you live Hawaii," but bear with me, here).

If they change the medal design to some other fun holiday-themed bauble next year, I may be pursuaded to run this one again.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Mario

The following photos were taken on Thanksgiving and I just remembered them the other day. I was so jazzed to get two more bunny yawn photos so shortly after capturing this one. I mean, years and years of no bunny yawns caught on camera, and I nab three in a month!

Yawwwwn. Thankgiving makes me sleepy.

Good thing I have this snazzy Williams-Sonoma holiday catalog to warm my butt.

Time to get serious and Bunny Loaf down.

Yawwwwn. Should have laid off that yarn turkey.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Walt Disney World Goofy's Race & a Half Challenge

I've got dibs on this Goofy one. He's got ears like mine.

You know that saying, "It seemed like a good idea at the time?" Well, that is what this year's Goofy was for me. When I was scheduling the Texas Marathon in as a PR effort race I figured I'd cross the bridge of running Goofy one week later when I got to it. Let me just say that bridge was long and high but I had such a blast crossing over.

In case you aren't familiar, the Goofy Challenge breaks down like this: Do the half marathon on Saturday and you get a Donald Duck medal. Complete the full on Sunday and you get a Mickey medal. If you do them both, you also get a Goofy medal.

Saturday, Walt Disney World Half Marathon

I taped my knee at Texas and since that went so well decided to do it again for Goofy. I can't say for sure if it helped (when I did test tapes pre-Texas my knee still bothered me, but during Texas no pain at all -- I think it was the taper that helped more than anything). K-Tape was at the expo so I got fun colors to wear during Goofy.

Pink for the half!

Half Marathon Start

I felt SO awesome the first mile of the race. I hadn't run since Texas and my legs felt so happy to get back to running again. Then at about mile 2 they remembered what we had done the week before and I guess they got a little grumpy. My legs were a little tired during the race and way more sore than normal for just an easy half afterwards.

Waiting in line to take a photo with Piglet and Eeyore.

While waiting in line to take a photo with Peter Pan, I grabbed this shot of runners heading towards the castle.

With the insanely early start times (5:35 am for the half), it is dark almost the entire race. I dislike this since it makes it hard to take fun photos with the castle. I have to say the half marathon is not the greatest race. The majority of it is run in the dark, on roads in between the parks. Disney does a decent job of bringing out some entertainment, but it is nothing like the full. I got photos at thirteen different character stops during the race.

Finish time: 2:21 (I had no idea until right now, but this was shockingly a course PR by almost 5 minutes)

Sunday, Marathon # 26, Walt Disney World Marathon:

I hadn't planned to do this pre-race, but somewhere around mile 1, I decided to think about each of the 26 marathons I had run to get where I was on this day. Whenever I didn't have anything else to think about, every mile I let my thoughts wander to its corresponding marathon. I thought about the glories, the struggles, the amazing traveling I've done; I thought about the special people who came to run with me or cheer me on; I thought about the 5 minute friends -- those random strangers I struck conversations up with pre-race or on the run; I thought about the beautiful courses, the tough courses; I marveled at what memories from each race stuck out in my mind.

Green for Goofy day!

The whole gang there to see us off

Let's do this!

Mile 1: Disney 2005 *default PR 5:16

Somewhere in the early mile there was a bunch of people cheering from atop an overpass playing "Who Let the Dogs Out." Six years ago during Disney 2005, they were at this same overpass playing this same song as I ran underneath.

I thought about how I had been doing the exact same thing at the exact same place 6 years ago. It was overwhelming.

Mile 2: New York City 2005 *PR 4:54
Mile 3: Safaricom 2006
Mile 4: Rome 2007
Mile 5: Disney 2008
Mile 6: Napa 2008 *PR 4:35
Mile 7: Big Sur 2009
Mile 8: San Francisco 2009 *PR 4:27

When the sun rose, I thought about the countless additional sunrises I have been and will be privy to in my lifetime because I run. One of the many things which makes me thankful I am a runner.

Mile 9: CIM 2009 *PR 4:14

I shot this since they also had this saying up during Disney 2005 (and they haven't done it every year since).

Mile 10: Honolulu 2009

Running up Main Street, USA

My most favorite mile in marathoning (perhaps tied with mile 12 of Big Sur). Ironically this corresponded to my least favorite marathon.




Waiting in line for Jessie & Woody

Mile 11: Disney 2010
Mile 12: Austin 2010

One of the longer lines I endured for a photo-op with Donald and Goofy!

I thought they did a great job of mixing up playing Disney music and mainstream music on the course. Of course, I am a sucker for the Disney music. My favorite was when they played, "Following the Leader."

Mile 13: Napa 2010
Mile 14: LA 2010

I thought it was strange they were passing out whole bananas vs. pieces or even halves. I normally don't eat this kind of stuff on course, but figured, "Why not?"

Notice the glove in the photo above? That was supposed to be my throwaway glove. On Saturday I wore a pair which I ditched at about mile four. On marathon day it was much cooler and I wore the gloves until about mile 18.5! It was awesome running weather and by far the best Disney weather yet.

Mile 15: Oakland 2010

One of the special treats, behold the Disney Sewage Treatment Plant!

Around maybe mile 14, things started to get a little hard pace-wise. I have to say that thinking about a particular marathon each mile made things a lot easier. When you're remembering everything you went through to get through 26.2 miles, getting through one mile seems almost easy.

Mile 16: Big Sur 2010

Some animal friends outside of Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom

Mile 17: Wisconsin 2010

Hello, Minnie!

Mile 18: Bear Lake Idaho 2010

Not a great photo, but I seriously love Disney race volunteers. They get up at dark o'clock with us and are so enthusiastic.

The Mouse

Mile 19: Bear Lake Utah 2010
Mile 20: San Francisco 2010

The most interesting thing about my run this day was that my legs felt okay running, it was just that they could only move really slowly. I had endurance for days but no extra gears.

I've been slowly one-upping my Disney Marathon experience over the years. I'm here to tell you that racing a full marathon the week before Goofy is the thing that will break me. I know I had lots of stops factored into my pace, but it felt odd to be moving so slowly and to still be feeling okay running. Usually when things are in the 5+ hour range I'm doing lots of dejected walking.

Mile 21: Santa Rosa 2010 *PR 4:11

They always hand out chocolate right before Studios. Decided to munch on some this year. Sadly after I shot this photo, I dropped the second half of my chocolate bar :(

Waiting for my photo with the Incredibles

Mile 22: Akron 2010

Backstage props.

Mile 23: Portland 2010

Sully telling Mike, "Hey man, look at all these crazy people!"

Disney Hollywood Studios

Mile 24: Humboldt 2010

I love hitting the water after Studios. Almost home.

Back in Epcot. Feels like days since we were running here in the pitch black in the morning.

Mile 25: Texas 2011 *PR 4:01

The last character pit-stop I made.

The golf ball means you're almost there!

Mile 26: Disney 2011

Mile 26!

There's the finish!!

I got a high-five from Goofy and Donald before I crossed the finish in 5:16. That is the same finishing time I had in 2005 (back then I ran the entire way, though, with no photo stops). I had wanted to come in sub-5, and then I wanted to beat my 2005 time (my course PW). I missed beating the 2005 time by 33 seconds but in the end I think it is kind of cute to finish with about the same time as 2005. If I knew I was going to log a course PW, I would definitely have stopped to ride a ride in the Animal Kingdom, though!

I made 22 stops for photos along the marathon course. I also took two bathroom breaks which is pretty strange for me. It is rare enough to stop once let alone twice. I figure it was the slower pace and the every-mile-aid-stations that Disney has out. Luckily Disney has an insane number of portapotties along the way (not to mention REAL bathrooms you can use in the parks).

I just want to say that even with all the moaning and groaning we all do about the cost of Disney races, they put on a darn fine race. I am always blown away by them. In fact, if they would only offer gender-specific race shirts, I'd say they do the best job out of any race out there.


I love this race so much. The Disney stuff makes me so happy and the parks come at just the right intervals to give you a pick-me-up. Disney also does a great job of on-course entertainment (and I've already mentioned the numerous aid stations and portapotties).

The thing I love the most about this race is that I always walk away from the Disney Marathon recharged and infused with a love and appreciation for running. I feel like such a kid running this race and it never fails to put a smile on my face. It always reminds me that the reason running is still in my life is that it makes me happy. It isn't about the times you run, but the times you have while you're out there running. It gets me so pumped for whatever plans I have ahead for the year.

I am so glad I decided to run Disney as my 26th marathon and to bring things full circle for my 6 year marathoniversary. If you knew me when I was younger, you would never have thought I'd run one marathon, let alone 26 of them. I still can't believe I've fallen in love with running the way I have. And I really can't believe how your body will do such amazing things if you only bother to ask.