Monday, January 28, 2008

Relief from the rain

It's been raining like crazy here for the last several days and unfortunately, it meant that I didn't get to run my scheduled 10 mi run on Sunday. I wanted to get one good long run in before my half marathon next weekend but no luck. I've done some of my short runs this week in the rain but I wasn't in the mood to be out there for two hours getting wet. On a brighter note, I definitely had fun visiting my cousin and her family for lunch and catch up followed by having dinner at my friend's house. Here's to not having to feed myself! :)

Anyway, to make up for Sunday's rest day, I decided to run 6 miles today on what was supposed to be a "Stretch & Strengthen" day. And luckily, the rain finally eased up today. I tried to run it pretty even with some effort, but not too much. It went pretty well.

My splits:

Mile 1 - 10:00
Mile 2 - 10:07
Mile 3 - 9:48
Mile 4 - 10:16
Mile 5 - 10:51 * took a quick water break
Mile 6 - 10:11

Total: 6 miles with 10:12 average pace

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Running ipod-less

Today I had a 3 mi pace run scheduled. The overall result was good but my splits were a little out of whack.

I decided to go without tunes for this one. Lately I always run with my ipod but I wanted to focus a little more on my actual running today. It worked out well - maybe a little too much, though. I started out too fast and had to slow down a bit in mile 2 to recover.

My splits:

Mile 1 - 9:05
Mile 2 - 10:24
Mile 3 - 9:55

Total: 3 miles with 9:48 pace

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I thought these things were supposed to help my running?!?

Today was supposed to be an easy 3 mile run - nothing fancy, just a plain old three mile run. But for some reason, my two running buddies - my iPod and my Garmin - decided to make it anything but easy.

First off, it took forever for my Garmin to locate satellites. Well, to be more accurate, it didn't find them at all. I waited for about five minutes or so and then just gave up and went running without it. I still had my iPod but I don't like relying on just that since I've realized it wasn't quite as well calibrated as I'd like.

So just to make sure I got in an honest 3 miles, I set my iPod for a distance of a little more than that. Thinking I was so clever, I went for the easy 5K option and off I went. I decided to check my pace once I was a little bit into my run and did a double take once I saw a 5:xx number. I quickly realized that it was giving me my pace in km/min since I used the 5K distance. Argh...

Once I got to the halfway point, I reset my iPod to used miles instead. By then, my Garmin had finally grabbed a satellite so I used that as well. Unfortunately, I forgot to reset it from my first attempt to use it that morning so my numbers were all messed up in the end.

So no mile split times for this run. I still love my gadgets - just wished they'd cooperate. :) Does anyone know if the Garmin is affected by rainy cloudy weather?

I also caught the Spirit of the Marathon movie tonight. I won't spoil it too much in case you're planning to catch the Feb 21st screening but I will say that I loved it! It was fun to follow the training for the six different marathoners - especially the elites. They're amazing! There were also some funny moments as well - I think Jerry and Lori's husband offered the most amusing quotes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Reunited with an old friend - hello gym!

I went back to my gym today for the first time in months! I wasn't so good with keeping up with yoga and cross training during marathon training season so as a result, I've been MIA from there and have just been spending my time running outdoors.

I had speedwork planned for today but with the gloomy rainy weather we've been having lately, the treadmill was my only option. So I packed my bag and after work, I went back into my old routine of visiting my gym before heading home. Since it's been so long, I was sort of dreading it but once I got there, everything changed! I forgot about the energy of the gym - all the bright lights, the rows and rows of machines, all the people sweating and working hard to meet their goals - it was kind of contagious! So I excitedly got into my workout gear and off I went to find a treadmill. Not surprisingly, they were almost all taken - except for one! phew

The Hal Higdon plan called for 10 x 400 at 5-K pace. But since I haven't built up to that level - I just did 5 x 400. I used 9 min/mi as my 5K pace although I haven't run a 5K in over two years.

It looked like this (all at 1.0 incline):
- Warmup: 400 meter at 5.3 mph, 400 meter at 5.7 mph
- 5 x [Interval: 400 meter at 6.6 mph followed by 200 meter at 3.8 mph then 200 meter at 5.0 mph]
- Cooldown: 400 meter at 5.3 mph

Total of 3.25 miles.

Afterward, I did some strength training to make up for skipping it on Tuesday. Mostly arms, though. It's been awhile since I've done any weights so it felt good to get back into that again.

On a random note, going to the gym does allow me to wear my warm weather workout clothes (tanks, shorts) which means I can delay my laundry even more! :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Two Weeks 'til the Half!

Well I think one week of complete and total rest is enough recovery time, right? :) It's time to get my booty back in gear as I have my first half of the year coming up in two weeks on Superbowl Sunday. It's supposedly a fast one so I'd like to have a decent showing. My goal is to finish around 2:10.

I'm planning to loosely follow the last two weeks of Hal Higdon's half marathon training plan to get back to racing mode.

So based on that, I ran 5 miles this morning which went pretty well. It's also nice to have my Garmin so I know I'm getting accurate numbers as I've now discovered that my Nike plus is about 3% off. For every mile my Nike plus records, my Garmin records 0.97. Ah well.

My splits:

Mile 1 - 9:37
Mile 2 - 9:57
Mile 3 - 10:09
Mile 4 - 10:13
Mile 5 - 9:42

Total: 49:42 minutes
Avg: 9:56 min/mi pace

And I have to mention the whole Katie Holmes "MarathonGate" stuff floating around - it's absolutely riveting! I actually was excited when Katie completed the NYC marathon - I was proud of her for getting all gross and beat down like the rest of us. But now there are all these tidbits out there that seem to indicate that maybe she didn't really run the whole thing.

The scoop can be found on Tri-Greek Dreams and a bunch of stuff is on

Here are some of the highlights of the suspicious stuff:
- No photos of Katie at all on Brightroom, the official marathon photo site
- Her pacer/trainer that ran alongside her was wearing a NYC marathon bib from 2003
- She had almost the exact same split times with another one of her pacers/trainers (to the second! for every single one of the splits!)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Race Report: 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon

So let me begin by saying Disney is a FUN marathon - it's only my third, but I would venture to say that it has to be the most fun out of all of them, but maybe I'm wrong. It's definitely not one for setting a PR though. One of the pace leaders commented that the usual average finish time for a marathon is four and a half hours but for Disney it's five and a half hours. I'm not surprised at all. First, there are tons of water stops (which I loved) plus all the characters came out to cheer us on and almost all of them had lines of runners waiting to take their pics with them.

I arrived in Disney late Wednesday night. My family had already arrived that morning so they were all settled in our hotel, the Polynesian resort, which by the way is an AWESOME hotel. Really beautiful grounds. But to be honest, I've really enjoyed all the Disney hotels, even the "value" resorts like the All Stars ones.


I headed to the expo Friday morning at Disney's Wide World of Sports and dragged my whole family with me. Looking back, I probably should have just taken the shuttle bus and gone there alone because it was a pretty massive event.

I had no line to pick up my race packet which was nice. I had submitted my 2:08 half marathon time which placed me in Corral C (I think it went up to H). Then it was off to the expo and as usual, you had to go all the way to the opposite side of the entrance to get your goody bag and race shirt. If I had more time, I would have gladly shopped around the expo but I had to move relatively quickly. As soon as I entered the expo, I immediately lost the boys in the group (my dad, brother-in-law, and nephew). My mom and sister made me some cheer cards (awwwwww) while I picked up my race shirt (which was pretty cute)! I next lost my sister but my mom made sure to stay by my side. She helped me pick out some cute marathon apparel (I bought a track jacket and running T plus a little marathon Mickey stuffed animal for my nephew). After we had a quick tasting of Disney's "magic wine", we headed out of there to meet up with the rest of my family who had already reunited at the family mini-van at that point.

Saturday was a low key day for me. My brother and I headed to the gym at the Grand Floridian in the morning. Since I had been sick and out of commission for the week leading up to the race, I wanted to get a quick run in just to get the legs moving again. Afterward, we had a character breakfast at our hotel where we hung out with Mickey, Pluto, Lilo, and Stitch. We then headed toward Magic Kingdom. I rode a couple of rides with the family but then went back to the hotel to get some rest. I also checked into my own separate room at that point which luckily happened to be right next to our other two rooms! My family met up again for an early dinner followed by church and then headed back to the hotel.

I spent the rest of the evening laying out all of my stuff for the next "morning". I set two alarms for 2:30AM as I was paranoid about oversleeping. I probably finally went to sleep around 10:30PM! Oh well, I knew sleep would be limited.



I woke up on time (a little earlier than the alarms, actually), got all my stuff ready and then brought all my luggage to my parents room since I definitely would not be back there before checkout which was at 11AM.

The race began at Epcot. I had read somewhere that we should be at the staging area by 4AM. If you're staying at a Disney resort, you have two options. Most of them have shuttle busses that will take you directly to the start. If you're at one of the Magic Kingdom resorts (Polynesian, Contemporary, or Grand Floridian), you have to take the monorail to the Transportation & Ticket Center (TTC) where you then have to switch to the monorail that directly takes you to Epcot. But if you're at the Polynesian (like me), you have one more option which is just to take the direct walkway path to TTC (it was about a 5 minute walk for me, if that) and then board the monorail to Epcot directly. Definitely the quickest option in my opinion. So if you're interested in running Disney, stay at the Polynesian!

I thought there were be more runners at the TTC but there were only three of us then so they put us up in the front of the monorail with the driver - very exciting! :) We all chit chatted a bit on the way there. It was all our first time running Disney where one was running the Goofy challenge (half marathon on Saturday, full marathon on Sunday) and the other was running her first marathon ever.

Once we arrived at Epcot, you finally saw all the crowds. There was this thick stream of runners coming from the shuttle bus drop off location. We all met in the staging area first which was located in one of Epcot's parking lots so we had plenty of room there. (That was a nice change since my last two were more urban settings - Chicago and SF.) They even had a big concert stage set up with a live band performing for us at 4AM in the morning. (You could even hear them outside my hotel!) I then got in line for the port-o-potty where I started talking to a couple of other runners, one of them also a Goofy runner (they were definitely the "rockstars" in my opinion! heehee). She had recently run both the Chicago and Nike marathons that I did so we chatted a little bit about those.

By 5AM, they started routing the runners to the start location. First you entered the tents (only runners allowed at this point) to check your bags and then continue on to the other side. There were more ports on the other side with equally long lines. Then I just followed the pack of the other runners to the start. I knew the race start would be far judging by the course map and I was right. It felt like a walk of doom just because it was still dark and pretty quiet with little conversations here and there.

After a pretty long walk, we finally separated into the two start corrals. The first four miles of the course are split into two paths: Blue group (Corrals A, B, C) and then the Red group (Corrals D-H). I didn't mind being at the back of my corral. I did a quick warm up jog and then stretched a little. We were still there for awhile so everyone was just sitting or laying on the ground. Still dark and still pretty quiet. I was sort of amused by the whole situation.

Things picked up a little with the arrival of the 5:00 Clif Bar pace leader. She was this really awesome woman named Marie and I immediately liked her energy. A bunch of us gathered around her to get the scoop and she explained she would run even 11:26 minute miles where her strategy was to run 5 minutes, walk one, run 5, walk ~30 seconds. She would plan all the walk breaks through the water stops as well. It sounded good to me so I planned to stick with her for as long as I could. She also announced that she sings/cheers at every mile marker with "5 hour rocks!" followed by a song which our group decided to be "M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E" (Hey, it is Disney, after all!)

Running the Race!

Anyway... we are now ready for the start. I think Mickey and his friends were there to send us off but I was all the way in the back so I didn't see much. They then had this really cool display of fireworks (still dark since it was only 6AM) followed by these flames shooting from the two start signs and then we were off! We looped around Epcot for a bit before we finally entered the park through the World Showcase (some runners around me cheered at this point). It was so pretty with all the countries lit up by lights and it was so nice to have the park to ourselves. It was fun keeping up with my pace group as well. The whole 5-1-5-30 plan may sound pretty easy, but let me tell you - the pace leader's walk pace is almost the same as my run pace. I was practically skipping to keep up.

After Epcot, we then made our way to Magic Kingdom. Around mile 5, I realized I really needed to make a bathroom break. I was so bummed - usually, I plan my pre-race water and potty routines pretty well but I guess I didn't do so well this time. I really didn't want to leave my pace group but after mile 6, I passed a row of port-o-potty's and I knew I couldn't wait any longer. Unfortunately, there were still lines so I really got off pace. I thought if I skipped the walk breaks I would be able to catch up but I never saw them again. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. It did work out well, though, as my 5 mile split showed I was averaging an 11:10 min/mi pace.

Another thing I should comment on is the sticky FL weather. It could have been worse, but the humidity is still pretty rough compared to where I normally run with the nice cool climates of northern California. I knew this was going to be another tough race for me to run. By this point in the race, I noticed everyone's shirts sticking to them. Especially those just wearing plain cotton T's. I still can't understand why people wear those for a marathon!

But I digress - along the way to Magic Kingdom, we came to this big parking lot where we diverged into two paths - to the left, you could listen to country tunes and to the right was 80's pop. Obviously, I chose the 80's! I was excited to get to Magic Kingdom because I knew my family was there waiting to cheer me on. That was actually another reason I pushed myself to stay on pace. I knew exactly where my family was waiting so I gave them these half hour windows of time when I expected to run through these areas so I didn't want to make them wait too long.

Family cheer area #1 was Main St at Magic Kingdom which was just past the mile 10 marker - my mom, my dad, and my brother were waiting for me there. It's always fun to enter the parks since there's usually some size of a crowd waiting to cheer you on - sometimes friends & family, sometimes just Disney cast members, either way it's always nice. I quickly scanned the crowd and luckily I spotted my mom, then my brother and my dad. It was so funny because my mom had her video camera on and my dad had the digital camera and I could literally see my dad going, "Where is she? Where is she?" so basically I started waving wildly and paused in front of them to say Hi! And then off I went:

The fun continued as we then got to run through Cinderella's castle. It was cute because on the balcony above the entrance was Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother and trumpeters announcing our arrival. Luckily, I had seen some race photos from previous years so I knew photographers were waiting for us on the other side:

We then left Magic Kingdom and I got ready for Family Cheer area #2. First we passed the Grand Floridian and then after that was the Polynesian, aka our hotel. Since it was so convenient, my sister, her hubby, and their 7 month old son would be waiting for me there. Nice thing was that almost all the spectators were on the hotel side of the road so I didn't have to worry about scanning both sides of the course. Finally, I heard my sister yell out my name and I saw she had her whole crew with her. This was somewhere between miles 12 and 13 and since I could definitely use a walking break at this point, I stopped to give my nephew (who was comfortably chilling in his stroller) a kiss on the cheek. My sister snapped a pic of me and off I went again.

Then there was a long stretch to Animal Kingdom. I was happy to see that Disney had characters everywhere on the course even between the parks. During this part, I think some of the characters included Pocahontas with John Smith, Tarzan (this dude was *seriously* mystic-tanned) with Jane, Captain Hook, and more that I just can't remember. I didn't take any pics with any of them as I didn't want to tote my camera along with all my other stuff. Plus with all the water stops and medical tents (not to mention the heat and humidity!), I didn't need any other distractions to slow me down even more.

We finally approached Animal Kingdom at mile 16 where we were greeted by Rafiki and fun "tribal" music. The funny thing is that Animal Kingdom is actually my least favorite out of all the parks but yet I think I had the most fun here. I was stil taking walking breaks about 1-2 times per mile but I pretty much ran the two miles straight through this park as the music and the crowds really pushed me along.

Then we had another four miles until we got to Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) and all the other fun stuff. I really was fading at this point because now the sun was coming out and the course was pretty much out in the open with not much shade. By this point, I had also discovered Biofreeze was my new best friend. It sort of looked like green dippity doo gel and I guess is used as a pain reliever but I just liked it because it helped me keep cool. I pretty much stopped at every medical tent to slop more of that stuff on. :)

By now, the heat was really getting to me and it was hard for me to keep running so I alternated between running and walking. I thought I would just take it easy until mile 22 when we would enter Hollywood Studios but even then it was hard to keep going. It's a shame because at this point a lot of people were now at the parks and were cheering us on along with all the friends and family. There were huge groups of people cheering us on as we exited Hollywood Studios and then made our way to the Boardwalk. Some of them were so supportive and I realy wanted to keep running but I just felt weak.

But the end was near because we were now approaching Epcot again! Only 1.2 miles left but it seemed sooooo much longer than that. I was so frustrated with myself because I just couldn't keep running even though I was so close to the finish. I think I may have been about half a mile from the end when I passed this Disney employee who I think was in charge of keeping the park-goers out of our way. But more importantly, she was yelling to all the runners all this motivating stuff, things like "You've come so far, you've worked so hard, you can do it, you're almost there..." and I really needed to hear it. I heard some runners behind me tell her thanks and echo my sentiments.

Finally we were exiting Epcot toward the parking lot and Hallelujah! Waiting for us at the mile 26 marker was this amazing gospel choir and let me tell you, I could have practically joined them! I was so thrilled to know that I only had 0.2 miles left!

I gathered up all the energy I had left and quickly picked up my pace. I soon saw the finish line and I sprinted! Somehow I happened to catch a "Go Audrey!" sign in my peripheral vision and managed to wave to my brother before racing toward the finish line. I almost started crying at this point out of happiness. And like a cheeseball, I couldn't help but raise my arms in victory as I finally crossed the finish line - five and a half hours later. :)

After handing in my chip, I got my awesome Mickey medal which was a little bit snazzier this year since it's the 15th anniversary of the marathon.

After grabbing some drinks and snacks, I took my pic and then headed to the family reunion area. I was stretching when my mom finally found me. She was so cute because she gave me the biggest hug. :) Yes, I may be 32 but it's still fun to make your mom proud. Hee, hee. After waiting in a super long line to take my pic with Mickey and Minnie, we finally headed back to the hotel for some much needed rest. But not before I take my victory pose!

The weird thing is that as soon as we got back to the Polynesian, it started raining like crazy! They had been forecasting rain all week but luckily, it didn't occur while I was running.

After resting for a bit, my family and I later made it out to the parks that evening where I proudly wore my medal along with my new WDW marathon track jacket plus my Minnie ears headband. (I love Disney - where else could you get away with this?)

I flew out Monday and it was fun to see so many people at the airport wearing their marathon shirts (myself included). Some were wearing their medal as well but mine was packed safely in my carry-on. The medal is awesome but it's also heavy. The thing is HUGE!

Anyway, it was such a fun race experience. I'm almost positive that I'll return. But next time, I want to be one of the "cool" kids - so I'd love to take on the Goofy challenge. Maybe 2010? Geesh, that's so weird that I'm even planning something for 2010 - sounds so futuristic! Hee!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Race announcement! Disney-mania continues...

After having such a great time at the WDW Marathon, I went ahead and registered for the Disneyland Half Marathon last night. I really wanted to try out some fun new half marathons this year and Disneyland was definitely on the list. It will be held on Labor Day weekend. I hear you get this cute princess castle medal and because I did the WDW Marathon, I would get an additional "special" medal as well!

Also... if you're curious what we got to experience during the marathon, here's a fun video clip with the highlights!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Official Disney Results

C'mon - doesn't this make you want to run Disney?

Well, my little race alert thing didn't work as well as I had hoped. The 5 mile alert went out fine... and then that was it. In fact, I was already back at the hotel resting when I received the notification text on my cell that I had crossed the 10 mile mark. Doesn't matter, though, 'cause I got the official results right here!

Chip Time: 5:25:46

It's not awesome or anywhere near my sub 5:00 hour marathon goal BUT all things considered, I'm pretty happy with my finish time. And I did manage to shave off 8 minutes from my Nike marathon time which I ran less than three months ago.

And if you're really curious...

Here are my splits:
  • 5 mi: 0:55:49
  • 10 mi: 1:54:03
  • Half: 2:31:43
  • 20 mi: 3:59:54
And my rankings:
  • 7,321 out of 12,964 overall
  • 2,917 out of 6,204 females
  • 478 out of 999 in my division (Women: 30-34)
And thus ends my marathon madness of three marathons in three months. Disney was fun but I'm really happy not to have another marathon on my calendar anytime soon. I do have one more race, though - a half marathon in three weeks!

Anyway, stay tuned for my full Disney race report. Many fun things to discuss!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hangin' with Mickey

It's been awhile since my last update on my training for the upcoming Disney marathon. There were some good things to report... and then a whole lot of not much.

Peak Week

The peak week of training had gone pretty well. The two short runs of the week went well as I did my usual 4 mile trail run and my 4 mile hilly neighborhood loop and I was able to get complete both in my best times ever.

Then came my long run - which was strategically scheduled the day I before I flew home for the holidays. I had decided long ago that I would do 18, not 20, this time but I was still worried about running this long of a distance by myself.

As usual, I ran the LG creek trail. I decided I would walk all the water breaks which I would take every two miles (since there is an abundance of water stops during the real thing - 22 I think) with Gu's every hour or so. And guess what - it worked out really well! I didn't "cheat" with extra walking breaks - I only walked while I drank and then immediately started running again. For the last four miles though, I took water breaks every mile.

The whole thing took about 3 hours and 15 minutes which ended up being a 10:50 min/mi pace. Actually, my real pace was a bit slower than that since I now have a Forerunner 305 in my possession which has shown my Nikeplus is still a little bit off despite my attempts to calibrate it on a track. Either way, I was still really happy with how I did since my previous long run involved an hour long break on my couch!

Extreme tapering

I followed my 18 mile run with a short easy 3 mi run the next morning before my flight home to OH. My legs didn't really appreciate that.

With temps in the 20's and me just wanting to enjoy the holidays, I knew there would be no running in my week at home with the family so I didn't even bring my running shoes home with me. I thought maybe I might do some other types of cardio, but no such luck.

I flew back the Sunday before New Year's and I had all these grand plans of completing my 12 mile run on Dec. 31 since I had the day off anyway. But unfortunately, I had received the DVD set of The Office - Season Three which kept my glued to the couch until it was time to get ready to meet up with my friends for New Year's Eve.

I did manage to participate in a race on New Year's Day - a 5 mi Resolution Run in LG. There were some crazy hills on this race - very steep! I thought I could follow the race with 7 more miles on the trails but my legs did not respond well to the extreme uphill and then downhill course so I only managed three before deciding to give them a break.

And then it was back to work. I did a short 2 mile run on Thursday and then Friday I was off to Austin for a super fun wedding weekend. I had another grand plan of doing a 6 mi run on Sunday around Austin's Town Lake with my friend but again, that did not happen. (Notice a trend?) I caught a cold that weekend and on Sunday morning took a Sudafed which I think made me too spacey to participate in any kind of run.

And then the sickness

So now it's a week before I'm supposed to run 26.2 miles and I'm sick! On Monday and Tuesday, I had a full-blown cold. I stayed home from work because I was so sneezy that I decided to keep my germs to myself. But I did drink a ton of fluids and got a lot of rest so I guess that was good.

On Wednesday, I started to feel a little better. I even did a really short run in the morning - more for my mental state because I wasn't even sure about my running condition at this point. So far, so good! I then flew to Orlando fully armed with Airbornes and cold medicine stuff. Amazingly enough, I actually felt OK when I finally arrived at 10:30PM that night!

Greetings from Orlando

And now I'm reunited with my family again! My parents and my sister with her family have joined me here in Disneyworld for this little adventure. (And also because we're Disney freaks as we're here all the time) As you can tell, my family didn't waste time to hang with Mickey as we visited Magic Kingdom this morning. We're staying at the Polynesian Resort which is really nice and which means I can take the monorail to the marathon start. :)

Last night, we went to the "Spirit of Aloha" dinner at our hotel. The food was yummy and they had some great performances like this fire dance!

Today, I plan to go to the expo and my brother arrives as well.
Hopefully, I will post again soon but if not, my live tracking results will be posted here on Sunday. Race starts at 6AM EST. (And I have to be there at 4AM - yikes!)
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