28 January, 2011

Life After the Marathon....

Hey everyone!  Sorry I've been missing lately.  There's still SO much I want to write about my trip and pictures I still have to go through and edit.  Life got kicked into overdrive when I got back from Florida!

Work got pretty busy, grad school started again, and I just feel like I haven't had any time to do anything else.  Instead of taking two classes this semester, like I had planned, I decided to take 3.  The amount of reading and work required for them is insane so I'm drowning in books about international business and India.  Sound fun, right? 

As for running since I've been back?  I'm getting back into it slowly.  Haven't really done anything over 3 miles but hoping to get in 6 or 7 this weekend to test out the legs.  I HAVE to be recovered by now, right?!  I've been trying to keep up with my weight training since I slacked off big time leading up to the race so that's taking up a bit of my gym time. 

I'm hoping to have a recap of our first day in Florida up soon.  I'll probably do it in parts...the Expo, Hollywood Studios, and dinner at Mama Melrose.  :)

In the meantime...I'm also trying to catch up to everyone's blogs! :) 

20 January, 2011

Official ASI Race Photos!

Finally got the official race photos sent to me! :)  Here's just a 'few' of them!  I've been trying to upload the videos to flickr and having trouble so when I get home I'll try Youtube.  Still waiting for the photopass photos so I'll post those eventually.

And We're Off!
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Tomorrowland..
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By Stitch.
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Rapunzel and Flynn Rider..
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Exiting the castle...
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NO idea where this was taken...
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Smootches from the Country Bears..
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The gang...
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Somewhere between Miles 13 and 18 (b/c I have no gloves on & Joey is behind me)...
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Rafiki at Animal Kingdom...
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With the Mouse..
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AK somewhere...
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Running from the Yeti..
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Almost done! In Italy..
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Probably around Mile 26 somewhere...
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 Across the Line!
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Official Finish Photo!
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Pluto..
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Horace!
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The Chicken Dance!
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17 January, 2011

It's Official! I am a MARATHONER!

Wow, where do I start?  Just typing that title kind of got me choked up all over again!

I've been trying to pull together all of my memories and emotions from the race and it's been difficult.  The race was one amazing blur of excitement and I'm really hoping I don't forget any serious details.  Pictures are helping so there will definitely be a million pics in this recap!

I'll do a recap of the expo and everything pre and post-race but for now, I want to get the race jotted down.

Thursday & Friday night prior to the race were completely restless for me.  I was waking up every few hours eying the clock begging my body and brain to allow me to sleep.  Half Marathon morning I was up at 2:10am with Christina so she can run the half and I can cheer her on.  We didn't nap after the run and just went directly to Epcot after she showered and got ready.  Got back to Pop Century around 8pm and finished putting things together for the race the next morning.  Since I'm slightly OCD, I had to go over everything a few times, plus shower...so I didn't get into bed until after 10pm...slightly later than I had hoped and planned for!

The alarms started going off at 2:10am and I jumped out of bed pretty wide awake.  I luckily only woke up once during the night so I felt like I got a decent few hours sleep. Quickly got dressed and bundled up in my throw away gear and North Face and the three of us (Nicole stayed with us and was also running her first full) headed to the food court to have breakfast by 3am.  Ran into a few of the Running of the Ears clan and were able to snap a photo of the soon to be newbie marathoners:  me, Julie, and Alison!

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Officially all marathoners!


I stuck to my usual organic peanut butter & Smuckers 50% less sugar raspberry preserves (no HFCS or fake sugar!) with two slices of whole wheat bread.  Towards the end it was a struggle to finish eating though.  My stomach was already in knots from knowing what was to come but I got it all down.  Washed it down with a little Gatorade and water, grabbed a banana to go, and headed to the busses. 

Side note... did anyone else staying at Pop think that the place was EMPTY this year?!  Last year during the half, the food court was a ZOO the morning of the race.  This year on both race mornings, you could hear a pin drop.  It was very odd.  Did everyone splurge for nicer hotels this year except us?!

When we got outside, there was a bus waiting and we jumped right on.  There was some slight unorganization and I was a little shocked.  Last year they had this down to a science but apparently they forgot to tell this years volunteers?  Luckily there weren't any crazy mishaps that I heard of.  Apparently the day before for the half, though, a few busses got lost and/or stuck in traffic and a few runners barely made it to the race at all.  Glad we played it safe and made sure to be on the bus no later than 3:30am! 

It was a semi-quiet ride.  I kept taking deep breaths, Christina kept giving me words of encouragement, and then I'd just nod or mumble something, I think. :)  Made our way to the 'H' tent to meet up with the rest of the ROTE crew and try easing the nerves.

Now this whole time leading up to the race, I had kinda forgot that some of the ROTE crew had all talked online and agreed to run together, including me!  A few of us just wanted anything under 4:59:59 and all wanted to take some walking breaks, mainly at the water stops.  Joey and Linda came up to me and asked if I still wanted to do it and I was thrilled.  I really think my brain was just trying to prepare for a solo run just in case.  Such a huge relief that I didn't have to run this solo!


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Run like a soldier!


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Heather, Karen, and I

Also got a chance to meet up with the fabulous Karen and Heather for a quick hello and photo op at the ROTE gathering!  Karen and I had cheered on friends during the half together the day prior but I was glad I finally got to meet Heather for the first time.  They're both members of ROTE and I've been following both their blogs for awhile...and all three of us were newbies to 26.2!  Congrats again ladies on becoming marathoners too! :)


After a quick group picture with the ROTE crew and lots of hugs and well wishes, we all started heading towards the porta-potties and corrals.  Even though I had just gone, I realized I needed another quick nature break.  Problem was, it was chaos.  Figuring I'd use the porta-potties by the corrals, we slowly made our way down the road.  It seriously seemed like a death march and I heard a few people joke about it.  There were SO many people trying to get to the corrals that it was slower than a snails pace!

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The herd of cattle heading to the corrals

When it finally opened up, I realized I really had to 'go'.  Joey and Linda headed over to grab a spot for us while Andi was awesome enough to hang with me so we didn't get too split up.  Problem though? The line for the porta-potties was HUGE and it was already 5:08, race started at 5:35.  I reallllly didn't think we'd make it on time and I had seen a few girls join the guys along the tree line so uhh... I figured I might as well, right?  With some smart thinking though, Andi and I convinced a lady to borrow her mylar blanket to use as a 'modesty blanket'.  The lady seriously thought we were crazy but she agreed. 

When we got to the 'D' Corral, Joey and Linda were right there waiting for us so we took a quick group photo (which is horribly blurry!! sad!) and made our way more towards the middle, sat down, and started to stretch and relax.  Before we knew it the national anthem was being sung and the crowd started picking up the excitement.


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Stupid blurry group shot! :( My pace team!
And then? The official start! Fireworks! :)
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Let the race begin!
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Inching towards the start line
We had all agreed to walk during every water stop, but since the water stops were pretty spaced out in the beginning of the course, Joey suggested we walk about every mile or so in the beginning.  We also knew we had to keep an average pace of 11:20 to hit our sub-5 hour goal, which we were confident we could do.

As we inched closer to the start line, I made sure my Garmin was ready to go and we all simultaneously started the watches as we crossed over the timing mat.  My marathon had officially begun! :)

The first few miles were pretty uneventful.  Down Epcot Center Dr, around back through one of the parking lots. Tossed my throw away sweater somewhere around Mile 2.  A little before Mile 3, we made our way into Epcot.  It was pretty cool running under Spaceship Earth while the park was closed.  A few cast members were out cheering and we kept on chugging along towards Mexico.  Cut backstage after a few more countries and out past Test Track.

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The highway loop around to World Drive at Mile 6 was pretty cool.  Seeing all the runners ahead as well as behind (or above) you was crazy!







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The rest of the trek to the Magic Kingdom was pretty uneventful.  I totally didn't even realize that we were running past the Richard Petty Driving Experience until we were pretty much on top of the race cars and drivers!  The section of classic cars was pretty cool as well, kind of took my mind off the race for a few seconds so I can see what cars were out there.



As we got closer to the Transportation and Ticket Center, I was happy to try finding Christina.  Since I kept my phone on me, we had texted a few times and I knew she was right at the Mile 9 marker waiting for me to run by.  Spotted her almost right away and quickly ran over to say hi.  Definitely awesome to see a familiar face in the crowd and gave that little extra oomph!

I think this might have been where I spotted Charlene, who Tricia and I met at the Jeff Galloway event during Wine & Dine and convinced to join ROTE. :)   It was either right before or right after MK.  I felt like a slight stalker but I wasn't 100% sure if it was her so I kept staring and finally realized I should just look at her bib to double check.  Sure enough it was!  She was running her first Goofy and looked good, even though she said she was exhausted.  We stayed together for a little bit and then lost each other after awhile.  

As we neared the MK, my excitement started growing as we passed the 'famous' landmarks of the Contemporary and Space Mountain!  We definitely picked up the pace a little bit and ended up running our fastest mile yet.

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About to head into the Magic Kingdom, Mile 10

Turning into the Magic Kingdom and heading down Main Street was, just like last year, unbelievable!  I could hear the crowd screaming before we were officially on Main Street and when I looked up towards the castle, it took my breath away...again!  I was trying to stay at a semi slow pace to soak it all in but it was hard to do.  Crowds were holding their hands out for high fives and there was such electricity in the air!  I made sure to snap some pics but still look around and watch the castle get bigger as we got closer.

Heading towards the castle!


With my construction belt ;)

After snapping a few more pics, onto Tomorrowland and a quick pit stop at the restrooms.  Pretty sure we scared the crap out of the cleaning lady that was in there!  She was NOT expecting us to run in at all haha!  Fantasyland was next and I kept running to get pics with characters while the rest of the gang kept on chugging along.  I would then quickly try to catch up, which I realized might wear me out a little bit but luckily it didn't do too much damage!

Quick stop to meet Rapunzel


Back side of the castle


About to head out of the Magic Kingdom


At the base of Cinderella's Castle, we all quickly got a group shot from the professional photog and then kept on our way!  And of course, the line for Jack Sparrow and the pirates was INSANE!  So sadly no pic again for me.   :( 

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Out onto Floridian Way, there were some fun characters cheering us on.  I also knew Christina was around mile 12 or 13 right past the Polynesian so I texted her telling her I was getting close.

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Brer Fox & Brer Bear around Mile 13


The remainder of the course until we got to Animal Kingdom had such a hodge podge of characters and entertainment that it was kinda funny.  Guess it was to keep our minds off the crazy weird smell coming from the waste management plant?  :) I know a LOT of people talk about how boring this stretch of the course is.  It was definitely uneventful but I think the 4 of us were able to keep each other occupied with stories and mindless chatter.  Before I knew it we were almost at Animal Kingdom!  I believe there might have been bananas handed out around here too. 

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Yay, Zorro!!

A little before heading into Animal Kingdom, there were a few Cast Members hanging out with some of the 'tamer' animals in the park.  So cute!  They definitely put a smile on my face and I had to snap a pic!

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It was exactly 9am when we were running through the park so there were barely any guests around.  The four of us definitely considered jumping on Expedition Everest for a quick spin but we only had a few minute leeway on our pacing to get sub-5.  Definitely next year though!  I'm jealous of our friend Jeff's photos!

Park #3, Animal Kingdom...around mile 17


The course from AK to Hollywood Studios was the same as Wine & Dine and I knew it could get slightly boring.  I was still feeling great though and in high spirits so we all just kept chugging along.  Around Mile 18 though, we lost Joey.  He was doing Goofy and just said he was feeling the effects of the half the day before and didn't want to hold us back.  From here on out it was myself and the other ladies of the group, Andi and Linda.

Oh! Before I forget...Seeing the ROTE cheering squads scattered through the course was just amazing!  I honestly don't remember who was where but the Main Street crew was great and I definitely remember Colleen and gang during the bridge by McDonald's!! These guys were AWESOME!  They were SO enthusiastic and had such encouraging words! 

The out and back loop by Mile 21 wasn't as bad as during Wine & Dine.  I think it was because it was light out and runners passing each other could cheer each other on.  We kept an eye out for Joey and luckily got to see him just as we were turning down towards World Drive to head towards Hollywood Studios.

I started getting worried around here because this is where I usually hit my wall during training.  Did a quick mental check and honestly?  I was still ok, I was amazed.  Definitely tired but I didn't feel as drained as I did during training.  I think Linda or Andi even commented that they were amazed that we were all still talking and smiling.  There were definitely some people around us hurting and I was secretly happy I wasn't one of them.

And then?  Sweet Caroline started playing.  I'm a Yankee fan... we're not supposed to like Sweet Caroline.  I usually don't.... but...spirits sky rocketed for us, as well as at least 20 or 30 people around us and we all started singing at the top of our lungs.  For at least three or four rounds of the chorus!  Singing and dancing during Mile 22 of a marathon?  Unheard of!

Heading backstage at Hollywood Studios, we ran into a ton of entertainment.  I was happy to find out that the costume tunnel was MUCH cooler than it was for Wine & Dine.  I was getting bad flashbacks of over heating around then! :)

Somewhere around Mile 23 backstage it hit me.  I only had 3 more miles until I will have successfully completed a marathon.  The wave of emotion that came over me was rough!  I teared up big time and was seriously having trouble breathing.  I was really going to do this!!  I had to calm myself down and take a few deep breaths just to get oxygen in my lungs.  Figured it wouldn't be beneficial to pass out on the course after thinking I would finish!

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The Public Works guys!


Still smiling at Mile 23!!!
Still smiling at Mile 23!!


Park #4, Hollywood Studios... around Mile 24
Sadly no Osbourne Lights :(

Luckily Hollywood Studios had been open for a little bit by the time we got there so the crowd was much larger than Animal Kingdom.  Running down Hollywood Blvd was pretty awesome with the crowd cheering for all the runners.  I did have to laugh a few times though as some idiots who were just NOT thrilled that the marathon was hindering them from getting to Toy Story.  Not our fault you walked on the wrong side of the road originally...*sigh* :)

Leaving Hollywood Studios, we headed towards the pathway to the Boardwalk.  The pathway was pretty crowded with spectators and it was nice added push! 

Almost at Mile 25...Yacht & Beach Club


Heading into Epcot again to do our tour of World Showcase, I got choked up all over again!  I NEED to stop doing that while I'm running!  I texted Christina somewhere around here to let her know I'll be coming by Mile 25.5 soon...which was where she was waiting.

Back in Epcot! Mile 25
One more mile!!!


Snow White in Germany


As I left World Showcase, I started looking out for Christina.  When I spotted her, I started to tear up AGAIN!  I think I ran over and said something like "I really have to go, you're going to make me cry!" so after a quick hello and smile, I kept on running.  ALMOST DONE!!!

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Such an awesome sight!!

After leaving Epcot, all I really remember was seeing the gospel choir, who wasn't singing at the moment!  Then I turned down the final chute and RAN!  The finish line was a blur but I remember putting my hands in the air as I crossed the line.  I had DID it!! :) My first marathon in the books!

The finish line!!!
Finished!!!
When I crossed the line, Linda was standing right there waiting for me.  She, Andi, and I got a little separated through World Showcase so after my huge hug from her, we turned around and watched Andi cross the line.  We were done!   Andi had just killed her PR by more than a few minutes, awesome!

I walked over to get my medal and when I saw the volunteer standing there, I totally started crying.  I had done it!  I composed myself a bit and joked a little saying something to the effect that he makes all the ladies cry.  What I found out a little bit later though was...I totally KNEW the volunteer!  It was my friend Chris that I had been talking to on twitter for awhile.  SO sad I didn't realize it was him at the moment but the next day at Epcot we took a few photos of us reenacting the moment. :)  I'll post those later.

Everything post-race was MUCH more organized than last year.  Might have something to do with the warmer temps maybe?  Who knows.  After getting my mylar and my medal I grabbed some water and a powerade, as well as an orange.  I had two bananas on the course so really didn't feel like a 3rd!  Got my official finisher photo taken and headed out towards the H tent to find Christina and the rest of the ROTE crew.

Hugs all around when we arrived and then Linda and I wanted to take some photos with the characters that were around.  As I waited for Pluto, I started drinking my HoneyMilk chocolate drink and it was awesome.  Just what I needed at that moment!  The characters at the time were Pluto, Daisy, Clarabelle, and Horace.  Horace might be my new favorite!  He had NO line (poor Horace) so I quickly jumped out of the Pluto line and said hello.  When I got up to him, the Chicken Dance started playing so...guess who I did a full verse of the chicken dance with? :)  The ASI pictures of it are really cute so I'll post those when I actually get them sent to me!

So that's it!  I'm officially a marathoner.  It's still crazy to me that I completed the race, and actually felt really good doing it.  I don't even know where to begin with all of my thank yous!

Obviously need to thank Joey, Andi, and Linda.  I've said it a million times but without them I might still be out there running.  They totally kept my mind off the race, even if it was just small chit chat, and helped keep me at an awesome pace.  I followed their lead when they Gu'd and ate.  Since I normally didn't Gu during training, I loved having them there for advice.  I asked to double check and we pretty much had a Gu every 4 miles, or 4.5.  It worked GREAT and I'm totally sticking to that plan from now on.

And love love love Christina for chasing me around property just so I can see her for all of 15 seconds each time I ran by. :) She was at all the perfect spots where we needed a little pick-me-up and a familiar face.

Of course, the rest of the ROTE crew was amazing too.  Every time we would see the red hats and shirts we knew that hugs and screams and encouragement went along with it.  I know I'll forget someone so I won't thank anyone individually but thank you, thank you, thank you! :)


Slightly tired but I did it! :)
Me and my bling!

So will I do another marathon?  I remember during training I had said NO WAY.  Training takes up SO much time and I had felt so miserable for a few of my long runs that I said there was no way I would do this again.  Cross if off my bucket list and call it a day, right?

Well... I'm already planning on doing Dopey next year (5k, half marathon, full marathon) with Patrick, Lindsay, Jackie, and Nicole...:) (as well as all the other crazy ROTErs who are doing it as well!)

Next post I'll hopefully add the ASI photos, as well as photopass photos with our medals from the remainder of the week!

And now that I've finally finished this recap...I can actually go and read everyone elses!! Congrats to all the runners and new half and full marathoners! :)