22 September, 2011

You actually have to RUN to train for a marathon!?

I bet a few of you are wondering where my training updates have disappeared to!  Well...so have I.  :)

After I got home from Disneyland from the half marathon, I somehow came down with the cold from hell and my running days were put on hold until I could walk 10 feet without coughing up a lung.  The thought of running would send me into a fit of sneezes.

 I'll save you the horror of a sick photo of me
So pretty much, my training got slightly derailed.  I was finally better two weeks after Disneyland and got this genius (aka idiotic) idea to pick up in my training where I was supposed to be and attempt a 16 mile run.  All while not having run for two full weeks prior. 

How'd the run go, you ask?  Pretty much how you expected it to after such a nice hiatus.  I started out at a slow pace and immediately decided to do the modified Galloway plan that I used for the January marathon.... run one mile, walk one minute.  All was well until about Mile 13, the furthest I've ran since the full marathon in January.  As I continued on, I felt a slight pinch in the back inner side of my knee.  Hmm... it's probably my running tights bunching up...keep on chugging.  At Mile 14, I could tell it wasn't my tights but it wasn't horrible...and it wasn't my IT Band (which is all I was worried about) so I slowed down a bit and kept on going.  When I hit Mile 15, the pain got slightly worse but again, nothing excruciating but I decided to play safe and walked/jogged the last mile (mostly walked).
Love how the pace nose dived at mile 13-ish
Are you sick of this park map yet?  Because I am...I need new trails!

I went home and jumped in a cold tub (after a quick pit stop at Starbucks to get my pumpkin coffee..mmmm) and stretched for a good amount of time.  Still had the pain every time I walked though.  As the day went on, the discomfort stayed in the side of my knee (kinda felt like the tendon) but I could also feel serious tightness in the very upper part of my calf as well as my hamstring. The cold bath did absolutely NOTHING for my left leg (where the pain was) but my right leg felt fabulous.  Even a trip to an Oktoberfest festival to drink lots of beer didn't help!

Of course Googling "inner knee pain running" will cause anyone to have a mental breakdown.  I was reading horror stories about just about anything....from just tight muscles, a popliteus muscle strain (a who?!) to a meniscus tear.  GEEZ!

I took it easy the next few days and yesterday finally made it to the gym.  Immediately sat down with the gym owner and explained what happened.  After poking and proding my knee and calf, we came to the conclusion that it was my popliteus muscle that was bothering me.  Apparently it is used to unlock the knee during walking/running.  I won't get into all the nitty gritty details here but it sounds fun, right?

Anyways, he told me to just continue to stretch and foam roll it and I should be ok.  And to take it easy if it starts to bother me but then laughed knowing I probably wouldn't.  This is coming from the guy who got me into this crazy running thing and himself runs 53 mile ultra marathons in the mountains of Vermont.  :)

While at the gym I ran half a mile on the treadmill and it felt ok.  While I was working out after, I could feel a slight discomfort but no pain.  This morning?  Don't feel a thing.  Will try running tomorrow for a bit to see how it goes!

21 September, 2011

Do I Smell a Challenge!?!

During my trip to Disneyland a few weeks ago, my friend Keith and I were discussing the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  Keith is an expert in all things Disneyland, was our tour guide for the weekend, and owner of The Disney Project. (Go check out the blog, he's got some awesome info out there!)

Keith and I had ran Wine & Dine together last year and finished at the exact same time.  We both didn't have a great race so grumbled to each other about it, and then Keith stayed with me the whole time I was puking my guts out in the medical tent.  So to say we 'bonded' during Wine & Dine might be an understatement.  

When Keith ran the Disneyland Half in 2007, it was Animal Kingdom hot, as well as his first half marathon ever.  I, proudly, shattered his California finish time when I crossed that timing mat in 2:09.  I think Keith was slightly offended that I beat him on his own turf. 

So while in Disneyland a few weeks ago after the race, probably eating the inferior Dole Whips that they serve in California (Florida ones are a million times better!), or sitting and staring at the cute tiny pink castle....a challenge was brought to the table. 

How about we make this years Wine & Dine a little more exciting by upping the ante a bit?  

Before we became running enemies!
I think Keith described the challenge best so I'll take the blurb right out of his blog post...

No money. No meals at Victoria & Albert’s. No complete sets of Vinylmation. Just pride. Pride, and the winner getting to Captain Morgan the loser in front of Spaceship Earth. So if all goes well, boys and girls, you will be seeing an image similar to the one below come early October!

And... just because I'm at work and don't have access to Photoshop... I will begrudgingly post the photo he posted.  Just remember that come race day....the roles will be reversed!!!

BRING IT, KEITH!!!!  I will see you AND your challenge at 10pm on October 1st.  You best bring your A-Game! :)

20 September, 2011

Race Recap: Disneyland Half Marathon

The long overdue Disneyland Half Marathon recap!

The night before, a group of us ate at Naples to carb-load...or it was just our excuse to stuff our face with pasta and Neopolitan pizza.  Heading back to the hotel, I realized that I didn't even consider what I was going to eat for breakfast on race morning.  Usually I have a pb&j but didn't have any of the ingredients in Cali.  A quick stop at our hotel's convenience store and I walked out with a banana and some brown sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts (the ONLY Pop-Tarts I'll eat...love them!).  Healthy, right?  :)

While getting ready for bed, I swore bombs were going off outside and then realized it was the fireworks!  So much for getting to bed early, right?  I quickly went onto our balcony and enjoyed the little that we could see.  If only that stupid tree wasn't in the way!

Disneyland fireworks from the HoJo

Race morning came way too early (3:00am alarm) and Daniel and I slowly started getting ready.  I was trying to meet up with the Running of the Ears gang that was staying at our hotel but I think we missed them by just a few minutes.  We did meet up with Patrick though and the three of us groggily headed to the starting area while I ate my fabulously yummy sugary breakfast.

Heading to the starting area

The weather couldn't have been better.  It was slightly cool in the early morning hours and didn't really warm up too much throughout the race.  I actually wouldn't have minded if it were about 5 degrees cooler at the start but I think that the temps stayed perfect throughout the whole race!  Really can't complain at all.  

When we got to the runners area, I realized that it was set up differently than the runDisney races in Florida and that there wasn't really an 'H' tent....which meant that everyone that agreed to meet there was going to be lost.  :)  We did finally find Running of the Ears people though so hung out with them until it was time to head to the starting corrals.  The porta-potty situation was fabulous and there were definitely enough for all of the runners.  Although, I'll spare you the details, but I easily found the most vile one of the bunch...ugh.

Way too early but ready to run!
We look happy for being so sleepy

The early corrals (A-B-C) were pretty straight forward.  There were volunteers checking bibs and making sure that everyone was where they were supposed to be.  Daniel and I were in B, Patrick was in A so we said our good lucks and jumped in B.  Unfortunately, I heard from a lot of people that the later corrals were a complete mess.  People that were in E were standing in D, etc.  Not really cool if you ask me.  Please move to the corral you're assigned to.

After a few announcements, it was time for the National Anthem.  I started hearing all the Garmin's being set and was getting excited!  And then, before I knew it, the race started!  Sadly though?  NO fireworks for the start of the race! :(  They did have fireworks during the National Anthem but none during each corral wave.  Oh well.  5 minutes after Corral A headed out, it was our turn.  Daniel and I had agreed (I SWEAR we agreed to this) that we would run together until someone decides to push forward or drop back.  Well... *ahem*... the SECOND we hit the start line Daniel sprinted forward like the Road Runner and jetted out of my sight.  Really Daniel!?!??! :)  I seriously laughed out loud and turned on my iPod and started chugging along.

And the rockets red glare....
Waving to the Mouse as we run by

** I apologize for the blurry photos.  Not sure if the camera was on the wrong settings, or if I just didn't pause long enough while running to take a decent photo but most of these just didn't come out right! :( ** 

For awhile before the race, I contemplated if I wanted to try to PR during Disneyland.  I mean...I had NEVER been there before but most of the race was in the streets of Anaheim so I wouldn't be missing much by running as fast as I could.  I could semi-take my time through the parks and see what happens.  At the expo I saw the Cliff pace teams had pace bracelets so I quickly grabbed a 2:15 bracelet (2:15:12 was my previous PR) and hoped for the best.  I made sure to check it as I started running to see roughly what pace I needed to keep. 

I honestly don't remember much of the course, so I have to revert to photos to jog my memory.  First mile or so was outside the parks.  Then we headed into California Adventure but it was such a construction zone zoo that I honestly can't really remember much of it.  I remember the Tron people in uniform.  Due to the construction, I zipped through the park pretty quickly.  There weren't any characters that I saw that I NEEDED to take photos with so I did the fly-by photo and continued on my merry way.

Character fly by

When we hit Disneyland, I was excited!  When I got to Main Street I looked up towards the castle and it was pretty darn cool.  However...I just wasn't overly excited and blown away! :(  When I run down Main Street at Disney World in Florida, I seriously have to choke back tears every single time.  At Disneyland though?  I was totally OK.  It definitely put a smile on my face and it was pretty awesome but that's about it.  Maybe it was because there weren't any spectators cheering and adding to the excitement, who knows.  I also think it's because Disneyland doesn't hold any memories for me.  I grew up at Disney World and Disneyland was just too different.  Still cool though!

The cute little pink castle :)

After realizing that I wouldn't have a huge emotional attachment to this race, I definitely decided to push for a PR.  I tried to stop for a photo in front of the castle but there was a line so I kept on going.  When I turned the corner, I saw Darth Vader and a few Storm Troopers.  There was a huge line for Darth so instead I ran over to one of the solo Storm Troopers and snapped a photo of us.  That was it for character photos for me!

I look scared...

There weren't a ton of characters out on the Disney part of the course, which surprised me.  There were a ton of parade floats but no real people on them!  It was slightly odd.  No pictures of them b/c I thought they were slightly boring!

Running backstage of the parks is always cool.  There were a ton of props and ride vehicles getting repaired.  Didn't really snap any photos though.  And before I knew it?  We were off Disney property and in the streets of Anaheim! I knew this would be dullest part of the course but it wasn't too bad!  They did a great job of having a billion cheerleading/dancing squads, marching bands, Mexican dancers, hula dancers, etc all along the course.  Spectators were out in full force with signs and cowbells which helped a lot!  I will say Disney World races don't have enough spectator areas!

Watching the sun rise over Anaheim
Hawaiian dancers

As each mile ticked by, I noticed that I was slowly building my buffer for my PR.  I was easily running 10-20 seconds faster each mile compared to where I needed to be to get a 2:15 PR.   I might actually have this!!

Another cool part of the course was when we got to run through Angels Stadium.  Wasn't as cool as Yankee Stadium but...I'll take it!  When I got there, there weren't too many runners crowding the warning track but I've seen other peoples photos where it's wall to wall runners...yikes!  Oh...and thank you to the stadium employee/volunteer that was smoking a cigarette at the entrance to the ramp to get onto the field... seriously?!?

After leaving the stadium, I tried to kick it into high gear.  High gear, in my mind, was apparently just maintaining the same pace as I had been running earlier.  :)  Just focused on finishing and looking for familiar landmarks.  When I saw Tower of Terror come into view, I breathed a sigh of relief!  I tried looking for my friend Keith when I got closer to the finish line chute but couldn't find him.  Luckily he saw me and got some nice photos.  I'll have to bug him to see if I can get copies.

ALMOST there!

The second I crossed the finish line, I stopped my Garmin and looked down....2:09!!!  I looked up smiling and immediately saw Daniel, who was waiting for me.  He finished 3 minutes earlier and also PR'd (I think?!).  I had done it!  Killed my previous PR by almost 7 whole minutes!!  To say I was giddy was an understatement!  I quickly got my medal and then Daniel pointed me over to the Coast-to-Coast area where they cut off my bracelet and handed me my 2nd medal.

I was also handed a Chilly Towel at some point, which was amazing.  The two of us then made our way through the food area, grabbed a water and banana, and then headed over to bag check.  The volunteers were AWESOME and cheered every single time a runner walked in to get their bags.  It was cute!

Back at the reunion area, Keith and Patrick immediately found us.  Patrick had a great race as well and after hanging around for a few minutes, we decided we would rather be sitting in the pool at the hotel.  We made our way back (after grabbing a HUGE iced coffee at La Brea Bakery at Downtown Disney first) and then quickly changed and jumped in the pool for at least 15-20 minutes.  Felt fabulous but don't think it was cold enough to be considered an ice bath.  I was definitely a little sore the next day!

The East Coast Transplants

So overall, the race was a fun time.  I'm a little sad that it didn't hold the special warm and fuzzy Disney feeling in my heart though like the Florida races.  To me it felt like another regular race with just a tiny bit of Disney thrown in.  The volunteers and spectators on the course were amazing though, and nothing beats the fabulous Disney medals! 

Will I be doing this race again?  I'm sure I will at some point, but not for a few more years.  Maybe I'll do this race again when runDisney decides to offer another medal for runners that run every single one of their endurance races in a calendar year...*hint hint*  :)

16 September, 2011

runDisney Disneyland Meet-Up with Jeff Galloway

After a tiny hiatus from the blog while I got over a nasty cold, I'm finally back to fill everyone in on my Disneyland trip!

Like I had mentioned earlier, I was lucky enough to be selected for runDisney's Meet-Up with Jeff Galloway!  I was really excited (who wouldn't be?) because he's a wealth of information, and by far one of the nicest people I've ever met in the running business.

We were sent a confirmation email by runDisney asking us to meet at the Disneyland Hotel no later than 10:15am.  After grabbing a quick breakfast over there, Patrick and I headed to the meet-up point.  We ran into the other 4 Running of the Ears members that were also selected and caught up with each other since many of us hadn't seen each other since the January races or Wine & Dine the previous October.

Right at 10:30 we were checked in and lead into the auditorium where the expo was being held.  Jeff was hanging around with a few other runDisney employees and speakers while we took our seats at the front of the auditorium.  There were definitely a few excited whispers about not only Jeff being there but also about the 'mysterious' runDisney goody bags that were waiting to be passed out.

First, just want to apologize now if I wrote down anyone's titles incorrectly.  I forgot my notebook and was trying to type this all on my Blackberry...not too fun! 

After getting settled in, Bob Hitchcock, the runDisney PR Manager, welcomed us and gave us a rundown of the schedule for the morning.  Courtney Ware, head of marketing for runDisney, then took the stage and also welcomed us to the meet-up.  She talked about how this was runDisney's 1st Anniversary and they've definitely come a long way!  One of the interesting announcements she made was that there will now be an official runDisney position on the Disney Mom's Panel this year and suggested that if any of us were interested to definitely think about applying.  The rules for the Mom's Panel do not mention that you actually need to be a mom so of course I've already sent in my application!

Courtney then took a few questions and revealed that the Expedition Everest Challenge will be back this upcoming year, most likely with a May race date.  Something else I didn't even realize... 2013 is the 20th anniversary of the WDW Marathon so they're already thinking of ways to make the race special.  Does that mean I have to run the full marathon AGAIN?! :) I thought Goofy 2012 was going to be it for a few years...guess not.  I'm a sucker for fancy new bling...*sigh*

We were then introduced to Rachel Booth, the winner of the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2010.  This woman is FAST! :)  I believe she finished the half last year in 1:14.  She also won this year's race in an impressive 1:18.  Rachel explained her history as a military wife, mother, runner, as well as how she qualified for the Olympic trials this year.  When asked about the course, she said it was flat and fun.  Everyone joked that she didn't have time to stop for any photos along the course but she said she made sure to go back into the parks and take photos after the race was completed!  Be sure to keep an eye out for her when the trials come along!

Rachel Booth, winner of the last 2 Disneyland Halfs!

Finally, the man we've all been waiting for finally took the stage.  As Jeff started out speaking to us, he gave a brief recap of his running career and current running stats.  He's been running for the past 52 years, currently runs 6 days a week, and runs a marathon a month with his wife.  To say we were impressed would be an understatement!

When talking about his Run-Walk-Run method, he joked that you "don't have to run until you puke" and inserting walk breaks will help you enjoy running so much more.  He also threw a few stats at us, such as people that use his run-walk-run method usually run 13 minutes faster during a marathon compared to people that flat out run.  Runners can enjoy the endorphins that everyone talks about during your walk portions instead of just after the race is complete.  Made sense to me.

He then took a few questions from the group and some of the questions were interesting.  When asked about getting motivated to go out for a run, he mentioned a few things.  First, coffee/caffeine helps to jump start everything.  Then, he also mentioned that you need to 'trick' your body into getting ready for a run.  Just tell yourself you're going to put on comfy clothes...but make sure those clothes are running clothes.  Then say you're going to have a bite to eat...but make sure that the food is conducive to running.  Slowly get ready in this manner and soon enough, you'll be ready and motivated to get out the door.  He also discussed how taking stock of your life helps put things in perspective.  Think about the runners out there that have overcome life threatening challenges that still manage to hit the pavement.

After some serious topics, Jeff made sure to throw in a few light hearted words of wisdom.  When asked how to complete negative splits, his simple answer?  "Simply go out more slowly!"  He also answered questions about overcoming nerves before a race, dealing with the huge crowds, etc.

I finally found my voice after trying to jot everything he said down and asked about his suggestions for nutrition during a half or full marathon.  Jeff proceeded to explain that little blood is allocated to your gut while you run long distances so things you eat need to be pretty simple.  For liquid, he suggests 2-4oz every 2 miles.  For nutrition, 30-40 calories every 2 miles is also recommended, since the brain needs sugar.  He wasn't a huge fan of electrolyte drinks and said that he gets his sugar from gummybears, hard candy, sugar cubes, etc.

One of the last questions asked was how Jeff felt about barefoot running and this made him chuckle a little bit.  After all the years he's been in the running industry, he realizes that barefoot running is just a fad and will fade away and then reappear again in about 10 years.  Nothing is better than getting fitted for the proper sneakers at a real running store!

Like I've mentioned in previous posts, I think it's great that runDisney chose Jeff Galloway as their spokesman.  He actually cares about what people have to say and listens intently to every word.  His advice is always helpful and straightforward, and there's usually some humor thrown in there as well.  

Unfortunately by now, our time for the meet had ran out.  Bob handed out our goody bags (which contained an awesome runDisney shirt that you see Rachel wearing in the photo and a Disneyland Half Marathon pin) and then allowed us to head over to the runDisney portion of the expo merchandise to get a head start on our purchases before the chaos arrived.  It was SO nice being able to browse everything without having others shove you out of the way and I was able to buy my regular race wine glass, a Coast-to-Coast tech tee, and a pair of runDisney shorts.  The 20% off for annual pass holders wasn't too shabby either!

Also, Runner Mickey was available for photos with the group so we quickly went out into the hallway to meet Mickey and get our photos taken.  We also managed to get a photo of Jeff with the Running of the Ears gang.  We'll make him an honorary member.  :)

The Running of the Ears gang...and Jeff!

After all was said and done, and all the photos were taken, another runDisney employee led us the back way to the packet pickup area so we didn't have to wait at the end of the line to get in.  It was already a zoo in there but it was nice not to have to wait any longer than needed!

Everything was well organized and everyone part of runDisney did a great job making sure that we had everything we needed.  There were definitely rumors of them making this a regular thing and hopefully involving more people in subsequent race weekends!  Crossing my fingers! Definitely had a great time at the meet-up and I look forward to seeing what other events runDisney has planned.

Woah...just realized I rambled on and on and on and.... :)    

11 September, 2011

Voices of Liberty - Golden Dream

Still going through my photos from the Disneyland trip and starting to write recaps but just wanted to post this today. Would love to see Voices of Liberty sing this in person, especially on a day like today.

** There are better versions of this song on youtube but I love Tiffany's voice (the woman in yellow) so decided to go with this one. **

02 September, 2011

Woah! It's so TINY!!

I think I might have said that 50 times yesterday!  I'm talking about Disneyland, people!  Get your mind out of the gutter!

So far, I'm loving Disneyland.  Everything seems so familiar yet SO different at the same time.  I turn a corner expecting to see something, and I stumble upon something totally different.  I love how everything is so close together and walking distance but not a fan about how close the 'real world' is to everything.  Walking back to our hotel kinda ruins the 'magic'. 

The castle?  It's cute.  Don't want all of you DL die-hards to hate me but...it's just cute.  Obviously Cinderella is more of a high roller than Sleeping Beauty and got the cooler castle. :)

The rides?  I'll do a whole post on those at some point.  Pirates though is fabulous, Space Mountain is 'different' but has it's high points, Snow White kinda just abruptly ends, Buzz Lightyear wins at Disneyland, Indiana Jones...pretty damn cool too.  Haunted Mansion is closed due to the holiday overlay they're putting on it but the exterior blows ours away.  The verdict is out on the rest until I can experience them.  Oh, and Dole Whip Floats?!  Florida wins without even blinking an eye.  Why do they taste so different here?!!

Heading out to the Jeff Galloway meet in a few hours so I'll tell everyone how it went tomorrow (hopefully). 

** I do love how our hotel has free wifi...it's fantabulous!! **

01 September, 2011

Disney Food Review: Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue

** Was going to write a review for the Disney Food Blog about this but saw that AJ already has similar reviews so this wouldn't be anything new!  Still wanted to share it with you guys here though! **

** Also figured I'd give you guys some reading while I'm out in Cali!  Good luck to everyone running Disneyland, hope to see you there! **

When we were planning our trip in May and trying to figure out where to have dinner, our friend Michele mentioned that she really wanted to do Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue.  Prior to 2010, I hadn't done Hoop in DECADES!! My friend Christina conned me into going after the half marathon that year and I do have to admit it was cute.  However.... ;) 

What is Hoop-Dee-Doo?
Hoop Dee Doo Revue is an old-fashioned dinner show that includes "foot-stompin' music, nostalgic comedy and an all-you-can eat dinner at Pioneer Hall at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground...Get ready for good, ol' country fun!" according to Disney's site.  The dinner theater has been entertaining guests since 1974 and doesn't show any sign of slowing down.

The Food
The food is decent but nothing amazing. Typical down home southern cooking for 200 of your closest friends.

When you are seated, there's already salad and corn bread waiting for you at the table.  The salad is pretty basic consisting of iceberg lettuce and grape tomatoes that is so overly dressed that the dressing literally drips off the pieces of lettuce on your fork.  I'm always the annoying person at the table that asks for dressing on the side so this was a slight overload for me.  The dressing tastes like typical Italian dressing out of a restaurant bucket but I will admit, it was slightly addicting!  I definitely wanted to ask for another helping of salad but I think the food came out then.  The corn bread is good but nothing memorable.


The fried chicken might be the best thing on the menu.  Crispy, juicy, greasy...just what fried chicken should be.  I definitely had my fair share!  The ribs I wasn't a huge fan of, slightly dry.  You can see in the photo that there wasn't much BBQ sauce on them. 



Mashed potatoes were made from real potatoes and I probably ate a full bowl on my own.  The vegetables I barely ate, too overcooked and not a huge fan of cooked carrots, which was the majority of the veggies. 




As for dessert?  Strawberry shortcake was just ok.  Not sure what everyone is raving about?   I definitely forgot to take a photo of it too. :( 

All you can drink sangria and beer is a plus for most people but the beer is normal Bud or Bud light and the sangria is so sweet it's like a kids grape juice on crack.  No thanks....I'll save my beer drinking for the good stuff at the countries in Epcot and all the other sit down restaurants on property!  Just because it's 'free' doesn't mean it's good.  Oh but the coffee? REAL brewed coffee, unlike the Nescafe syrup crap that is served at all the counter service place.  Glad that all the sit down restaurants at Disney actually brew the real stuff.  :)

Service has always been good to great. We've actually had the same waitress both times and she's a riot. Service tends to slow down and disappear though towards the end of the meal when you're trying to get refills! 

The Show
As for the show?  It's corny and fun and the actors are almost always hilarious and on point.  They are all talented and know how to work the crowd.  The audience participation is definitely funny.  I love how they bring some of the audience up on stage and each time, the people up there totally play into their new role.  Some people have been here so many times that they know the whole show by heart.










So yeah, overall Hoop doesn't excite me like it does for a lot of people.  I think I've gotten my fill for awhile.  I just don't think it's worth the price.  For the same price, I can get a fabulous sit down meal at an amazing restaurant on property, instead of fried chicken and ribs!  The show and actors are definitely the best part of the whole night and I can see how people love going back year after year.