Run Disney Finally Caught Me

Like most children of the 90’s, I spent my days memorizing every word to every Disney movie, perfecting every Disney song, and dreaming of ways to get my parents to take me to Disneyland. Again. My wedding father/daughter dance? When You Wish Upon a Star (the actual Pinocchio version).  My sister’s college graduation trip? An adult family vacation to Disney World this last December.

20140620-130357-47037728.jpgJust a bunch of drinking age adults, spending vacation hours at Disney World

Despite the Disney obsession, I’ve never participated in a Disney race (they have 9 dispersed between Disney World and Disneyland).  The two big deterring factors have been the price (more expensive for HALF marathons than I’ve paid for either the Chicago Marathon or Boston), and the apparent lack of competitiveness.  And by that, I mean that most people either spend the race weaving between people (or walking when they give up), or waiting in 25+ minute lines to take pictures with characters along the course. I love Mickey, but not that much.

Also, up until recently, most of the Disney race themes (Tinkerbell, and Princess for example) have been female-centered (men literally are not allowed to win).  A big part of the appeal for me is beating the boys, and I also don’t deal very well with women yelling at me for bumping their fairy wings, so I just haven’t been interested to the point of actually signing up. The inaugural Avengers Half (held this fall at Disneyland) ALMOST got me, but come registration day, I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.

But then…the blog world exploded about a month ago when all of the Run Disney ambassador bloggers announced a new themed race at Disneyland: The Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend (hash tag #letthewookieewin).

I wouldn’t say I’m a complete Star Was geek.  I’ve seen all of the movies, I know the general story line, and I can quote some lines.  But, I can’t name all of the planets and their significances, nor do I know all of the names of all of the creatures.  BUT, the thought of this race thrilled me so much more than any princess or fairy race to the point that I immediately shared this news with my incredibly geeky family (my sister has an actual R2D2 robot), and everyone was on board. Even Aaron.

I learned fast that Run Disney is a sub-culture of its own.  There are different terms for things, privileged early registration, and more race options than I would ever know what to do with.  And these people DO ALL THE RACES. On both coasts.  But they don’t seem to do other non-Disney races.  So, just like we might talk about our experiences at Chicago or Grandma’s or Santa Rosa or whatever, they talk about Princess, Tink,  Tower of Terror, and Wine and Dine.

Run Disney Terminology:

Challenge: Incorporates running multiple races in the same weekend.  For example, the Goofy Challenge (part of the Walt Disney World Marathon) involves a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.  They also charge more for the challenge option than you would pay for registering for these events individually which kind of makes me scratch my head.  The Challenge is also always the 1st event to sell out (within 25 minutes for Star Wars), which also makes me scratch my head. The Star Wars Rebel Challenge (10K and Half) was $320 + fees for a 19.3 mile weekend.

Coast to Coast: A special medal you get for running  a half marathon distance or more at both parks within the same year.  This is the crowning achievement for Run Disney folks and what they all aspire to accomplish.

ChEAR Squad: For $100, you can cheer on your runners (this is actually the most expensive “Platinum” option out of several including one free one…comes with Mickey clappers, rest rooms, a comfortable place to sit, and breakfast…I actually think this might be totally worth the price).

Annual Pass Holders: Special people who get to register early.  They make me totes jealous not only for this reason, but also because they presumably get to visit Disney Parks multiple times per year.

Ass-crack of Dawn: Official race start time. On the upside, I should be done, fed, showered, and ready to go when the park opens.

“Fun Race”: How Run Disney runners explain Run Disney races to other runners.  What they mean is, don’t expect to run a PR here.

People from Florida: People who complain every time Disneyland gets a new race. Because it isn’t fair to host events where they don’t live.

Theme Costume: Requirement, otherwise, no Mickey high-fives for you (just kidding, but it seems like this isn’t entirely untrue).

Park Admission: What you DON’T get with your race entry

Welcome Party: $100 bucks gets you dessert, pictures with characters, and access to select Tomorrowland rides.

Diaper Dash: Races for babies and toddlers.  Start them young! Also known as: let’s figure out a way to make money off of babies since they aren’t old enough to run the regular races. All baby racers get a medal obviously.

As you can see, this is a lot to get used to.  I had to employ the help of  Jac, my resident Run Disney expert (who has earned her Coast to Coast!), and I’ve joined the Star Wars Half facebook group because I’m still kind of intimidated by the Disney runner people.

When registration opened up last week, we got 6 people registered at light speed before everything filled up within 2 hours (it was stressful and we even accidentally registered one sister twice, but thankfully we were issued a refund).

So, in January, Aaron, one sister and her fiance, my dad, and I are running the half, and the other sister is running the 10K at the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend.  Mom is ChEAR Squading in Platinum Style.

All sarcasm and disbelief over the prices of things (and the sheer number of people…now including myself…willing to pay those prices) aside though,  I’m excited to blend my love of running, Disney, and Star Wars into what will hopefully be a fabulously nerdy event.  We already made our hotel reservations, and I’m already trying to determine if I want to go the traditional (and easy) Princess Leia route, or if I want to do something crazy.  I told Aaron I was going to wear a shirt that says “Nice Buns” with a picture of Princess Leia’s hair, but he didn’t seem too amused.

I’m also hopeful that since this is the inaugural race, and since new Episodes are in production and in need of promotion, that the original (human) cast will be sending runners off.  A girl can dream.

20140620-130206-46926772.jpg

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend! May the Force be with you!

 

 

Advertisements

Rock n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon Race Recap

Rock n’ Roll Arizona is quickly becoming one of my favorite races because for the second year, I have run a PR race on this course! (you can read about last year’s experience HERE)

And, I am scary good at predicting my race times.

I went into this race with two goals: 1) to run a PR time, and 2) to run easily enough to not require a recovery period.

PRE-RACE:

We were in Phoenix for a few nanoseconds.  Aaron is the manager at a gym and it is January (aka New Year’s Resolution Hell).  He is also without an assistant manager or shift supervisor, so taking days off (even MLK Day) wasn’t an option.

On Saturday, we did an easy 2 mile shake-out run after the 6 hour drive.  Papago Park in Phoenix is one of my favorite places to run, especially in winter when there is less danger of rattlesnakes. You can mix trail running with pavement running, and the desert landscape is really beautiful.  And I enjoyed every second of wearing a tank top.

IMG_0554IMG_0556IMG_0557

After the run, we headed downtown to the Expo.  I spotted Run Eat Repeat Monica (very blonde, very pretty, and very well dressed) and Boring Runner Adam, both huge running bloggers that I would feel very awkward walking up and talking to.  The Brooks expo displays never fail to disappoint (Brooks is the apparel sponsor of Rock n’ Roll, so they get lots of floor space), and their carnival theme was slightly creepy, but creative.  We didn’t get to witness the Human Jesus Lizard in action, but I imagine it was quite miraculous.

IMG_0560

I’m not sure why they have space ships, but Journey is cool!

IMG_0562

I know a lot of people think expos and the crowds they draw are a pain, but I love them.  We stocked up on GU, Nuun, and compression socks at fabulous expo prices! (We’re trying out ProCompression socks since they were $22.50 for a pair….definitely different than my CEP ones, but I don’t know which I like better).

After the expo we rode the Light Rail (Phoenix’s transportation system) into Tempe and ate some tacos at a really cool restaurant called Canteen on Mill Street (Phoenix’s version of Austin’s 6th Street).  By the looks of it, it transforms into a nightclub when the sun goes down, so we got to enjoy our tacos in a very trendy setting.

IMG_0566IMG_0565

After relaxing for a bit back at the hotel, we headed to Scottsdale and ate dinner at a casual Italian restaurant called Oregano’s which is a very popular Phoenix chain (we carb-loaded here last year too).  Aaron ate a really awesome looking salad (the life of a gluten freer), but I stuck to pasta.  And it wouldn’t be carb-loading with a locally brewed Four Peaks Kilt lifter scotch ale.

IMG_0570

RACE DAY!

I woke up Sunday morning with something I’ve never dealt with before a race…stomach problems. Up until now I’ve been very talented at creating perfect race day conditions for myself, but I think a trip to McDonald’s on the drive into town may be the culprit.  I had serious paranoia about a terribly embarrassing accident. No runner wants to be that person.  I ate a few bites of banana hoping to settle things down.

This race runs through three different cities: Tempe, Scottsdale, and Phoenix.  We stayed in Phoenix, so we rode the light rail into Tempe (about an 8 minute ride) along with lots  of other runners! I think the one non-runner was certainly not expecting his ride to be high-jacked by a bunch of dry-fit toting people.

IMG_0571

We made it to race central with plenty of time. The porta potty lines weren’t as long (I think they had more this year), and gear check was organized and efficient. The race started about 20 minutes later this year than last year (7:50 for both the half and the full).  Aaron and I wished each other luck before heading into our respective corrals (Aaron was in Corral 1, and I was in Corral 2).  My stomach still hadn’t settled, but at this point there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  The gun went off, and after waiting a couple of minutes, my corral got the go ahead to RUN!

This year I lined up at the very front of my corral, so I didn’t have to deal with weaving in and out of runners.  This race places you in corrals based on an estimated finish time that YOU provide, so there are always plenty of people who probably should be in a slower corral.

One of the first things I noticed was the lack of crowd support.  Last year it seemed like most of the course was lined with cheering spectators, but it was pretty dead this year. I haven’t run with music since last May, but this was the first time I really wished I had something to distract me from the quietness.  I also saw very few race signs.  We talked to some ladies back at the hotel, and apparently the marathon course was more supported.

And the bands.  The whole point of Rock n Roll races are the bands along the course.  I think there were fewer this year, and at least 3 of them were on set breaks when I went through.  The ones playing were fantastic though, and the all-boy a capella group melted my little choir nerd heart.  One of the bands had a huge screen with their lyrics scrolling in case you wanted to sing a long.  And I think every race I’ve ever done has had a wildly enthusiastic group of Lululemon girls.  They all complimented my skirt as I ran by and Aaron was excited that they cheered a little louder for him since he was also decked out in Lulu gear.  Almost worth the price just to get extra course motivation!

And, super weirdness.  Some nice man cheered for me by name somewhere in Scottsdale (mile 6 or 7 maybe?) and I don’t know who it was.  My bib didn’t have my name on it, and I didn’t really know anyone else running the race, so I’m baffled.   It is entirely possible that another person named Amy was right next to me, but after checking out the race pictures of the two other Amy’s who finished around my time, I didn’t recognize either of them from the race (yes, I’m creepy enough to stalk the race pictures of other people named Amy). Regardless, it was a much appreciated cheer, even if it was meant for someone else!

I was seriously worried about my stomach which wasn’t handling the constant bouncing very well until about mile 6, and the sickness went away.  I don’t know what brought it on and I don’t know what made it stop, but I’m sure glad that I made it through without any incident.  At several points I considered stopping to use a porta potty, but I only spotted one group of them late in the race.

Even though my stomach settled at mile 6, at about this time it became quite apparent that I had forgotten to apply Body Glide.  I don’t know what it is about chaffing that is so terribly painful, but I remember encouraging myself to run faster so the stinging would stop sooner. Maybe I should use this as a tactic in future races?

Arizona’s course is flat for the most part.  There is a steady uphill that starts at about mile 7 and gets pretty steep at about mile 9.  And then the rest of the course is a nice downhill.

Slide2

Go Aaron, Go!

Go Aaron, Go!

Running uphill through Papago Park

Running uphill through Papago Park

I was pretty excited the whole race because all of my miles were sub-8 except for one (the uphill one), so I knew I was going to run a PR pretty early on.  I’m actually pretty proud of myself for being a smart and not going out too fast or attempting paces that I couldn’t sustain.  I had to force myself to slow down when I noticed my paces hitting 7:00 minute miles.  There is no way that I’m in shape to hold that speed for a half marathon without some pain for days after, and I couldn’t afford to push like that during this race when I’m already behind on marathon training.

Slide4

I crossed the finish line in 1:41:53, a 3 minute PR! I ran a 7:47 pace which is  EXACTLY one minute slower than my last long run pace, so I correctly predicted my finish time two weeks ago! I finished in the top 6% of all the half runners, and 42nd in my age group!

Spring toward the finish line!

Sprinting toward the finish line!

Look at that Garmin stopping action!

Look at that Garmin stopping action!

After collecting my medal (confusing since they were handing out medals for both the half and the “mini” marathon in the same place…I didn’t want to get the wrong one!), I met Aaron a little ways down the finisher chute.  Turns out he’d had a great race and had similarly hit a PR time.  He finished in 1:29:11 (6:49 average pace!) in the top 1.6% of all runners! He was pretty happy with his performance, although he wished he’d run just 12 seconds faster so he could dip into the 1:28’s.

IMG_0575IMG_0577

All races have giant horses don't they?

Giant horse!

Another great aspect of Rock n Roll races is the post race concert.  After watching Marathon Legend Frank Shorter (1972 Olympic Gold Medalist and frenemy of Steve Prefontaine) present the awards to a group that included I think 3 people from New Mexico (GO NM PEEPS!), Andy Grammar took the stage.

Frank Shorter on the right

Frank Shorter on the right

IMG_0586

He’s pretty “up and coming,” but I’ve heard at least 2 of his songs on the radio, and he was really adorable and interactive.  Unlike the mean man from the B-52’s who performed last year.

It takes a brave man to jump into an audience of smelly women

It takes a brave man to jump into an audience of smelly women

Meanwhile I was feeling pretty sick for a couple of hours post race, but my muscles never tightened, and overall I felt far better energy-wise than I usually do after a half marathon.

We were even able to walk to Four Peaks, home of one of my favorite beers, the Kilt lifter for some post PR celebration!

IMG_0589

A couple of months ago I had wanted to run this in 1:35.  I obviously came nowhere near that, or even near the 1:40 window.  I think if I didn’t have Boston training to worry about, I could have pushed it hard enough to at least get into the 1:40’s if not down to 1:40, but I’m glad that I kept my paces in check instead of getting swept up in excitement.  Because of that, I only needed 1 day of recovery while Aaron is still dealing with tight muscles and Achilles issues.

DETAILS:

Finish time: 1:41:53

Average pace: 7:47

Placement: 747/13344 overall, 177th female, 42nd female in my age group

Pre-Race Fuel: Luna Bar, about 3 bites of banana, 2 Clif Bloks

Race Fuel: 1 GU at mile 7.7

Issues: stomach yuckiness, chaffing, slight calf tightness and ankle stiffness on the right side

The Race: Fast course, great volunteers, well organized, ample water stations and fueling options pre/during/post race, plenty of bells and whistles, BUT minimal crowd enthusiasm.

Overall Impression: Happy with my performance.  It wasn’t the PR of my dreams, but I don’t think I could have gone any faster and bounced back as easily.

Mapping Out the 2013 Race Schedule

One of the most overwhelming parts of reading running blogs is the exposure to the endless race possibilities.

A year and a half ago, I had no clue that more than 5-10 marathons even existed let alone what they were called.  I didn’t know that there was a Chicago Marathon, and while I think I knew that there was a Boston Marathon, I didn’t know that it was any sort of a big deal (now we’re all on a first name basis).

But with all this exposure comes tremendous race envy.  *Almost* every recap I read drives me to look at my bank account to analyze if next year’s race fits into our budget.  I mean, all of the sudden I want to go to places like Duluth and Cincinnati for fun? What is going on here? (keep in mind that I say this out of love if you live in those places.  Albuquerque isn’t a dream boat city either).

But we can’t leave town every weekend to run races, so choices must be made.

This will be the 2nd time that I attempt to map out our race schedule for the entire year.  Realistically, we can afford one, maybe two, major “destination” race per year (last year it was Chicago, this year it is Boston), so everything else has to be regional (Arizona, Las Vegas, Colorado, or West Texas).  And timing plays a big part.  We need to have plenty of rest in between races to recover physically and financially.  And as a glass half full type person, I’m always under the impression that at any given time I will injure myself and never be able to run again, so I want to run the “must-do’s” first whenever possible.  Running Chicago as my first marathon was no accident.  I wanted my first time to be with a marathon that I really loved.

This year I’ve had a few other considerations while planning our race schedule:

1) Boston.  Everything else this spring has to revolve around it include filing taxes.

2) Aaron has expressed that he’s getting burned out with our constant road racing, so I want to incorporate more “non-traditional” races in the mix.

3) Training for a triathlon.  I’m going to need a few months off of running just to focus on swimming and bike riding because this IS happening in 2013.

As of right now, I’m only officially registered for 2 races (Arizona and Boston), but here’s what we’re thinking for 2013:

JANUARY: Rock n Roll Arizona Half.

MARCH: Bataan Memorial Death March 14.2 miler (Las Cruces, NM about 3 hours south of Albuquerque): This race has a full marathon and a “half” option that is actually misleading since it is more than half a marathon.  This is New Mexico’s “big deal” marathon and it is really geared toward veterans and active duty service members.  Many members of the military will run it in full uniform with a loaded backpack.  Lots of uphill, REALLY warm temperatures, lots of loose sand, and likely some rattlesnakes nearby. This is actually considered one of the hardest courses in the country. My dad is planning on running the full marathon (WHAT????) and even my little sister is planning on running the half.  I don’t even know my family anymore.

SOURCE Photo by David Young

APRIL: Boston Marathon. Considered the most prestigious road race in the world.  Still somewhat in denial that I’ll be running it.

MAY: Run for the Zoo Half (Albuquerque):  This falls just a few weeks after Boston, so this is a BIG maybe even though it has become a yearly tradition for me.  It took me a month after the Chicago Marathon to be able to run again.  I’m hoping for a faster recovery time this go around, but I probably won’t register for this until the week of.

JUNE: Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run (Colorado Springs).  This race is full of rolling hills, but at least each uphill is matched with a downhill. The views are gorgeous apparently.

SEPTEMBER: Imogene Pass Run 17 miler (Ouray-Telluride, CO): Aaron has run this race before.  It sounds miserable yet amazing.  The website says the following: “The reality is that despite whatever emotions we may have for the mountains and their environment, they are in fact unfeeling objects and they follow the natural rules of physics which are not always benevolent toward living creatures, great or small.”  I guess they all can’t be easy.  Check out that elevation climb!

Please note the trail. And the lack of trees. 

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER: We’re going to put in for the Nike Women’s and ING New York City lotteries (if New York opens it up).  Statistically we’re not likely to get into either one.  But a girl can dream.

DECEMBER: Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half (Full?).  It is pretty pricey/cheesey, but Las Vegas is close, and I think running the strip at night would be pretty awesome. And Las Vegas at Christmas time is actually really pretty.  Plus, the race falls right around our wedding anniversary, and I’m not opposed to renewing our vows along the course at the “Run-Thru Wedding Ceremony!”

SOURCE Photo by Steve Marcus

Other Possibilities:

Duke City Half (Albuquerque, October): This was my first half marathon.  Not the most amazing course, but it will be good to do if (when) I don’t selected for NWM or NYC. Plus, you can’t beat a local race where you can go home and nap in your own bed right after.

Tucson Marathon (December): A downhill marathon!  I don’t really want to get into the marathon habit, but if I decide after Boston that I MUST RUN MORE MARATHONS, I think a downhill one will be a nice option.

Rock n Roll Denver Half (September):  This is a back up if Imogene fills up before we register (last year it only took a few hours).

I plan on spending the summer in the pool or on a bike, so I don’t want any big races during those months.  Otherwise, everything is pretty open and subject to change.

Anyone else doing any of these races?  Any other good recommendations in the Colorado, Arizona, or west Texas areas?

I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend!

Lesson Learned: I’m a Hibernator

Operation Fast Half is coming to a close here soon (the race is in a week and a half), and if I could sum up my lessons learned during this training cycle into one phrase it would be: people don’t change. Or maybe more accurately: after 28 years of life, you should probably know yourself a little bit better.  Maybe: You can take the girl off the couch, but you can’t take the cou…I guess that one doesn’t really work.

A couple of months ago I made some cock-eyed statement about trying to hit 1:35 for this upcoming half marathon.  I ran this same race last year, coming in at just under 1:45 (1:44:53), still  my best half time yet, but I thought I could train myself down 10 minutes to a race pace I’ve only hit a couple of times during 5-K’s because:

1) I’m faster overall thanks to some intense marathon training,

2) I’m a “real” runner now who takes training more seriously than Christmas cheer,

3) I have blog friends to keep me accountable for my workouts,

4) I’ve tasted goal crushing victory and I don’t ever want to eat anything else again,

5) I didn’t train very well last year.  My last/farthest long run was 8 miles, so anything more productive than that should surly produce extraordinary results.

Slide2

I’m going to beat you! 

What I didn’t account for is that:

1) I AM faster, but it takes a bit of time to get a LOT faster (i.e. a superstar transformation usually doesn’t occur within 10 weeks),

2) Um, was I high? (No, I wasn’t, I promise).  Christmas cheer will always trump running. Always.

3) Y’all are pretty easy to ignore if I turn off my computer,

4) Cookies are pretty tasty, oh yes they are.

5) People don’t change.  Little runners who would rather hibernate than train all winter will probably always be this way.

I was doing great all November.  Speed workouts were going amazingly, and long runs were flying by.  I was eating really well, and I was motivated.

And then I transformed back into Amy circa winter 2011, going around saying, “but, it’s Christmas”  as an excuse to not get a run in, or to pick up fudge square #3.

I’ve still been running and maintaining, but I don’t think I’ve been getting the type of quality mileage required of a significant improvement.

And then all of the sudden we’re having a really cold winter.  Albuquerque can get cold, and we usually have one miserably frigid day, but we’ve had multiple days in a row where the morning temp is under 20 degrees which seems out of the ordinary.  I’m not willing to head outside for an 11 mile run on  Saturday morning if it feels like -3 outside. I know most of you deal with this all winter every year, but I am not acclimated to cold like that.

So, I’ve been running on the treadmill more. It gets the job done, but I don’t think it really translates as well into the real world.  And I definitely cut runs shorter on the treadmill than I would outside because my wall is boring to look at.

We opted out of using a formal plan for this reason.  We knew we’d be busy and cold, and that we’d spend a lot of time rearranging workouts, but I guess we thought we’d be more disciplined (Um, WHY did we think this?  PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE).

And I’ve been eating non-stop since Christmas Day (slowly getting the cookie habit back under control).  I’m probably going to run this half about 5 pounds heavier than I did last year, which translates into extra effort and likely extra added time.  (Update: Tracie posted a chart on how many minutes extra pounds add to your race time.  If’ that’s not enough to make you depressed over holiday gain, I don’t know what is).

IMG_5648My sister made us our own special batch of gluten-free cookies for Christmas morning.  Guess who ate 95% of those…

So, there you have it. I’ve been training, but not very well, and certainly not enough to shave 10 minutes off my PR time.

In retrospect, I don’t think it was a realistic goal for me to increase speed that much knowing that I’d be distracted. I think we did better on our training this year than last, so improvement was made, and  I’m faster, stronger and more race savvy thanks to a year long effort toward improvement and I can appreciate that accomplishment.

I know that I don’t slack off all the time, and I think I have a better understanding of when I thrive and when I’m better at simply maintaining.  I’ve realized that I can seriously push myself during one training cycle per year (by seriously push myself, I mean stick completely to a plan, give each workout 100%, and have running be a top priority, while consistently remembering my goal and evaluating my progress toward reaching it), and that training cycle can’t fall during the holidays.

I won’t hit 1:35 next Sunday, and I’ve already moved past it.

What is kind of worrying me is that I should have been base-building for Boston.  The day after the half, I am jumping in head first into a more intense 12 week marathon program.  I’m taking my weekly mileage from about 15-25 miles all the way up to about 55 pretty fast, which isn’t really what I wanted to happen.  And if I only want to seriously push myself for one training cycle per year, then I want this one to be it, so slacking off for the first couple of weeks isn’t an option.

So, I’ve decided to:

1) Still go for that PR next weekend.  I can always predict my race time based on my last long run pace (without fail, I can run a full minute faster per mile).  I ran 12.35 comfortable miles on Sunday at an average pace of 8:47.  Based on this, I should come in at 1:42 which will constitute a PR.  I think I even have a decent shot at 1:40 if I suffer a bit. If I can’t be faster than I was 10 weeks ago, I can at least be faster than I was last year.

2) Go harder than I typically would for a goal race taper.  For half marathons, we typically taper for 2 weeks, but I’ll probably reduce it to about 4 days.  My priority needs to shift to marathon training.  I need all the preparation I can get to run a strong PR marathon.

I really hate giving up on something that I said I would do (though it kind of seems to be a theme recently), but I should have known myself better.

I have a general hatred toward the fitness models used in these.  What is up with this lady’s hair?

Any lessons you’ve learned about yourself during your training?  

Hope you are having a great (loooong) week!

The Bucket List That Didn’t Get Crossed Off

Way back last December, inspired by other bloggers, I decided to nix the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and instead create a 2012 bucket list of experiences I wanted to have before the year was up.

If you don’t follow through with resolutions, you have failed. Failure is sad. If you don’t follow through with bucket list items, nothing happens.

Nothing especially happens when you don’t get very many of your BL items in the “DONE” category like me.

I did do some things.  Just not as many as I would have wanted.

I’ve decided to keep this sucker running.  I’m working on my 2013 list with 25 new items to be revealed tomorrow.  The rollover from 2012 will stay on there with the hopes that I’ll eventually cross those items off the list.  And as the years progress, I’m sure I’ll establish a pretty decent list of “gotta do before I die which hopefully won’t happen for 100 years” items.

My actual level of BL completion is below, listed item by sad un-crossed off item.

Items categorized as UNSUCCESSFUL didn’t happen or even come close to happening.  Items listed as ATTEMPTED were at least approached with cheerful effort.  SUCCESSFUL items (the few and far between) were ones that I was able to cross off the list.

How Amy Fared on the 2012 Bucket List

1) Get Passport stamp #4: UNSUCCESSFUL.  Though the possibility is MUCH higher in 2013 thanks to some college graduating sisters and their graduation present vacations.  I’m hoping we get invited (hint, hint, Daddy).

2) Pay off credit card debt: UNSUCCESSFUL: I don’t want to talk about this.  At all.  However, still thankful that my credit card debt load is tiny compared to the average American.

3) Ride in a hot air balloon: UNSUCCESSFUL. Shit’s expensive. And I’m kind of scared to go with the cheapest company because I don’t want to die.

4) Run a full marathon: SUCCESSFUL!!! Definitely a lifetime bucket list item.  AND I think I get bonus points for the BQ.  That was also a HUGE bucket list item that I didn’t bother adding to the 2012 list because I didn’t think it would happen for many many years.

Slide3

5) Run a race every month: ATTEMPTED.  I ran 10 road races and 1 virtual race, so I missed it by 1. I think doing the smaller ones helped me get better at racing, plus I snagged some age group awards, but the more longer races I do, the less excited I am about paying $10 per mile in a 5-k with no medal and a sad cotton t-shirt.  Sorry.

IMG_3121

6) Compete in a triathlon: UNSUCCESSFUL.  But I think I’m more prepared mentally to take on this challenge in 2013.

7) Learn to swim: ATTEMPTED.  I think I’m closer than I was this time last year.

8) Read my way through Newsweek’s Top 100 Books of all time:  UNSUCCESSFUL. I knew this would take more than 1 year.  I’ve read some books that I hadn’t heard of that I ended up  loving. But I’ve also been stuck on the 180 pager The Souls of Black Folk since August. I read 7 books this year (on the list anyway…I think there were 2 that I’ve picked up that weren’t on the list) which is better than the 1 I read in 2011.

9) Go on a White Water Rafting weekend expedition: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I’m starting to rethink this one.  I was pretty bored after a couple of hours of kayaking down the river in September. Could I really spend 4 days cold and wet with sore shoulders followed by sleeping on the ground for 4 nights?

10) Start dressing my age:  ATTEMPTED. I think some progress has been made. I tried to avoid stores where the majority of salespeople are in high school and I haven’t worn flip flops since it got cold out. I did however walk around Chicago dressed like this, so whateves. Although, maybe wearing black stretchy pants IS dressing my age. Sigh.

IMG_5155 - Copy

11) Visit a new state: SUCCESSFULGot to experience Illinois in all of it’s finest! And by finest, I mean Chicago.

12) Send a birthday card in the mail to people on their birthdays. SUCCESSFUL. I did this at least twice.

13) Learn how to use my camera and take awe-inspiring photos: ATTEMPTED. I started looking up tutorials on Pinterest.  I’m still not Ansel Adams, but I least I know how to change shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, even if I have no idea what any of them mean. I did get a bokeh photo in of the Christmas tree!

IMG_5574

14) Relearn French: UNSUCCESSFUL. Although I’m listening to the French Cafe station on Pandora right now, so maybe I’m picking up a little bit? However, one of the potential graduation trips might require that I learn, at the very least, how to say, “I’ll take another glass of wine!” in order to get around (“plus de vin, s’il vous plaît!”).

15) Go horseback riding on the beach: SUCCESSFUL. It was fun.

IMG_4590 - Copy

16) Write a novel: ATTEMPTED: I totally started one! I am 5 pages in.  At least I have the idea and the characters and the general plot line.  Now that the gingerbread house is done, I’ll have more time to devote.

17) Buy a new car: SUCCESSFULAnd I’m in love.  Aside from the fact that I spend twice as much money on gas. 

18) Do a massive house cleaning and reorganization: ATTEMPTED: I think this will happen pretty soon into the new year.  I’ve cleaned out a few closets and drawers.

19) Take the GRE: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I do want a masters degree, but at this point, I don’t know if it would be incredibly helpful or financially responsible.  And I still kinda don’t know what I’m doing with my life.

20) Go to a live music festival. UNSUCCESSFUL. I think this will require choosing one and planning a year in advance.  But with all of these potential vacations and Boston which is quickly shaping up to be as expensive as an all-inclusive week in the Caribbean, I don’t know if this is the perfect year for it.

21) Choose an NFL Team to cheer for: SUCCESSFUL. Though, now I’m questioning my decision.  How can a team go from winning the Super Bowl to scoring once in two weeks???

22) Win something (anything) in a radio contest: UNSUCCESSFUL.  I seriously tried though.  I even put in for a pair of Uggs last week.  I hate Uggs.

23) Invest in a piece of artwork: UNSUCCESSFUL.  Though I have decided that I want an abstract painting with warm colors.  So now I can be on the lookout!

24) Finish a Tough Mudder: UNSUCCESSFUL, mostly because it didn’t happen in Albuquerque like we thought it was going to, however it is scheduled for my birthday in 2013.  I’m rethinking this one because thanks to blog land and some detailed recaps, I’m not sure that I would have the best time.  I mean, cool that you are tough enough to do it, but it sounds mostly miserable. And I could think of better ways to spend a birthday.

25) Figure out what in the world I’m doing with my life and take steps to get there: UNSUCCESSFUL: but 2013 WILL be my year.  I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and I still feel like I’m just in a holding area until my life really starts.  Considering I’m about 1/3 of the way through life already (if I’m lucky), I want to at least feel like I’m on the right path.

So, over the course of the year, I successfully completed 7 out of 25 bucket list items.  Here’s hoping that more items get conquered in 2013!

Are you creating a bucket list for 2013? 

(Half) Marathon Reflection…Tuesday

I know there are days of silence going on right now.  I’m not really sure when the official one is (I’ve seen several), but I know I couldn’t bring myself to post for the last several days.  I am heartbroken over the events of last week.  I came home for lunch on Friday and I sat in front of CNN and cried, and I still can’t make it through a news story without getting a terrible feeling deep in my gut.  I don’t think anyone, myself included, will recover from this emotionally for a very long time.  My thoughts and prayers are, and have been, with the people of Newtown.

The family of one of the little girls just moved to Connecticut from an Albuquerque suburb recently and they were members at the gym that Aaron manages.  Emilie Parker used to go to the gym day care pretty often and a few of Aaron’s employees knew her pretty well.  According to the news, her favorite book was Charlotte’s Web, and she used to greet her kindergarten teacher here in New Mexico last year with a “salutations, teacher” every morning.

*************************************************

This weekend I was looking at my calender, and I realized that, even though I’m doing two separate training cycles, I am 4 months out from Boston meaning I am officially in the marathon training time frame.  So soon?  Truthfully, right now the thought of 17 mile runs is slightly overwhelming. I was so excited to start training for my first marathon back in June, and even though I’ve forgotten the pain of the actual race (MARATHONS ARE FUN!), I remember vividly the lost weekends, miserable 800’s, and chaffing/bleeding/blistering.  Even now that I’m getting back into the 10-12 mile runs, I’m starting to get a slight feeling of dread as I lace up my shoes.

And this weekend’s 10 miler wasn’t my most inspired long run.  Turns out, if you spend the winter running on a nice flat treadmill in a climate controlled guest bedroom and then attempt to run up a mountain, your body rebels in grand fashion. On Saturday, we kept hoping that if we waiting a bit longer to head out, the temperature would rise.  It kind of did (36 degrees is warmer than 27 degrees)…  As much as I run, I haven’t invested in any long running pants, so I wore shorts and compression socks. Meanwhile I saw people walking dogs who looked prepared for a walk in Antarctica. I was ok, but I think that my legs took an extra long time to warm up, and they had that weird tingling and redness that comes from sweating and simultaneously freezing.

The uphill miles were SLOW and I didn’t quite get the exhilarating feeling of flying during the downhill miles either.  Our past few (flat coursed) long runs have been fast, and I’ve been able to get 7 miles in during the first hour.  On Saturday I barely got 6 in during the first hour.  Luckily, it wasn’t completely miserable, but it did serve as a good wake up call that I haven’t been keeping to my weekly goals and and apparently I’ve forgotten about those lessons learned the hard way during marathon training.

So, as a reminder to myself of what I said I would do at the beginning of the cycle, here’s what needs work for the next 5 weeks leading up to Operation Fast Half.

1) Train in harder conditions than you want to:  Neither RnRAZ or Boston are flat.  So why am I training on a flat surface? Hitting pace goals is nice, but that won’t help power me through Heartbreak Hill.

2) Weight lifting/muscle burning exercises: my muscles are tiring faster than they should.  And my shoulders keep tensing.  During marathon training I discovered that rows helped prevent shoulder tightness.  Yet I haven’t been doing them.

3) Yoga, stretching, and general injury prevention: My calves are tight every day.  Running on tight muscles without taking care of them is a sure way to get injured.  I also have been neglecting the foam roller.  I will say though, I don’t see myself icing any time soon.  Ice is cold.

4) Cross-training: This isn’t nearly as essential during half training because the mileage really isn’t enough to completely burn me out or really injure me from over-training, but I still want to be doing more spinning and swimming for overall fitness. I haven’t in a couple of weeks.

5) Core exercises: I haven’t been doing my daily core exercises.  Instead of feeling like a cohesive unit barreling through space while running, I feel like I’m flopping around like an octopus.  My body parts aren’t working together.  And my lower back has been aching more recently.

I’m less than 5 weeks out from what is supposed to be a strong fast half that will help me transition into “Don’t Be the Slowest Person at Boston” marathon training, and I need to start taking this seriously.

I think I started falling into the mindset that, hey, it’s the holidays, I can be lazy.  But I can’t.  (Sidenote: this new enthusiasm may be slightly prompted by the creation of my 10 year high school reunion facebook group.  I’ve never been very keen on actually going to my high school reunion, but I suddenly feel pressure to have some noteworthy accomplishments.  Like, maybe I haven’t climbed the corporate ladder or moved out of state after talking loudly about how much I hated New Mexico for the first 18 years of my life and the last 5 years after college, but I can run a fast marathon, gosh darn it!).

And really, I should be taking advantage of the fact that my long runs are only 10 miles and weekly mileage is between 20-35 miles because too soon I’ll be back to thinking 10 miles is any easy day (just kidding…I’ve NEVER thought that!).

On the Christmas front, I am now way behind on my gingerbread house.  I need it to be done by Saturday, but I have so much left to do.  I  may have to pull some all nighters here this week….

Hope everything on your Christmas to-do list is getting done! Only one more week to fit in as much Christmas as you can!

(Half) Marathon Reflection Monday/Tuesday

Last time I left off, I admitted that running doesn’t seem to be a big priority in my life right now.

I can’t say that conditions have improved drastically since Friday.

For example, we did treadmill miles yesterday since the Giants game took up Aaron’s evening (we don’t want to talk about it), and I literally put it off until 9:30 (I like to be in bed by 10).  I ran 1 mile and hopped off to “grab some water (aka plop on the couch)” but Aaron ordered me back into the exercise room to finish out the last 2.

We DID however get our 9 mile long run in while we were in Phoenix.

I love Phoenix (well, Scottsdale at least).  One of the biggest reasons is because it was about 58-60 degrees out (PERFECT running weather), and everyone was bundled up like they were expecting a snow storm!

We did our run along The Green Belt which is a stretch of beautifully landscaped grass.  It was a great trail, utilized by a lot of people.  However, it was entirely concrete which is noticeably hard on the legs.  And I got a mosquito bite.

Photo by Jason Franz via blogs.phoenixnewstimes.com

I also have this weird quirk where I judge my speed improvement by how fast I can run 7 miles.  I try to get my 7 mile split in as close to under 1 hour as possible.  The last two long runs it has been between 1:0:30 and 1:0:52.  This time I was able to get down to 59:18, so I consider improvement to have been made!

Overall, this was a great long run.  I finished in 1:17:23 for about an 8:33 pace.  Most of my miles were pretty close to that 8:30.  I don’t usually start packing gels or worrying about water until I get into the 11 mile range, so 9 miles was fine without any of that, but we were pretty thirsty afterwards.

We’d forgotten our Nuun (ALSO just found out a few days ago that it is pronounced NOON.  We’ve been saying it very wrong) and the Whole Foods we went to didn’t have any, so we settled for some weird substitute.

WHAT I’VE OBSERVED THIS WEEK:

1) I ran with my compression socks for the 9 miler, and I had no calf tightness/annoyance.  I’ve been having this calf annoyance since even BEFORE the marathon two months ago but for the first time since then, I had no calf issues during or after.  I think this means I’m going to have to buy another pair.

2) I’m training faster than I ever have.  Typically I use speed work for fastness and run the rest of the runs at a really comfortable recovery pace.  But even yesterday on the treadmill I averaged about 8:03 per mile for 3 miles.  I pushed myself a bit, but it wasn’t uncomfortable.  For our fartlek (hehe) run last Friday morning, I kept a good pace in between sprints (usually I go unnecessarily slow in between).  I don’t know if this will help or not come race day since it is a different approach than I’ve ever taken, but I am a bit excited that I’m a faster overall runner if not a faster overall racer.

3) The thought of cross-training doesn’t seem to make me any more likely to get myself moving.  I’ve been wanting to incorporate more swim/spinning/yoga/weight lifting into my routine and I haven’t.

4) I need to do more upper back exercises like rows.  I did these all through marathon training and I didn’t have any of the shoulder tightness that I normally have for the race.  It’s back.

5) I kind of wish I hadn’t said I was doing this tri on Saturday.  Getting to the gym to learn to swim isn’t going to be easy this week with lots of evening commitments, I haven’t been on a spin bike in weeks, and I still don’t have a swimsuit.  I know I need to do it otherwise it’ll keep getting pushed back, but I’m not at all confident going in.  I’ve never felt more unprepared for anything in my life.

So, in sum, still not 100% into this training, but getting faster and finally (after 2 months) feeling completely recovered from the marathon!

Also, just one last push to enter the Sunglasses Shop Sunglasses giveaway! I’ve actually been wearing my North Beach shades a lot recently and I like them more everyday! I’ll announce the winner tomorrow morning!

232076187019146282_QtWIotS0_c

Joining the Ranks of “Unmotivated” Runners

FIRST: I want to give frantic spirit fingers toward Jen who is running (floating down?) her first marathon this weekend! In a year of some sort of terrible marathon curse, it looks like some crazy phenomenon called an atmospheric river is supposed to occur right above her race.  All I know is that the Today Show peeps are broadcasting from San Francisco and they look drenched.

Also, remember to enter my sunglasses giveaway! Giuseppe thinks these would look great on you!

Also, The Sunglasses Shop is running a 25% off designer brand sale right now, so if you are looking for a pair of sunglasses for yourself or for a present, this would be a great time to buy! They have all the details on the website.  When you’re buying a $250 pair of sunglasses, 25% off is a significant amount.

***************************************************

I’ve been noticing around blog land that everyone is severely unmotivated this week.

I’m afraid I’m one of those people. I haven’t felt like running.  And when I have run, I’ve felt really clumsy and awkward like I don’t know how to use my legs, and I haven’t felt fast or energized.

Thing is, this happened to me last year too.  But I thought that because I’m so much more of a “runner” now, I would stay motivated, and since I’m all about accomplishing crazy goals, that I would be completely committed to this training cycle.

But I’m not.  And Aaron really isn’t. So, we’re a lazy bunch between the two of us.  I also haven’t been to the pool since that breakthrough session last week where I kinda was able to put my head underwater for longer than a fast dip.

It has turned into a vicious cycle.  I come home, decide that fried food/cheesy food sounds better than running, gorge, get food coma, fall asleep on the couch, and wake up pretty depressed about the whole thing. We skipped THREE workouts this week.

I’ve decided that it is some biological/instinctual hibernation mode thing, and it has nothing to do with us! Right?!

AT LEAST progress is being made on the Gingerbread House Project! All the baking is done!

Also, sidenote:, the other night we were running around our neighborhood, and two cop cars turned the corner and turned off their lights like they were trying to sneak up on someone.  We were wondering if it was us?

Because we usually run at night and as far as I can tell we’re the only runners within a 3-4 block radius, I wonder if sometimes people see two people sprinting down the street and think we must be burglars.  I mean, no one in their right mind would be outside exercising, especially now that it gets pretty cold once the sun goes down.

I would not be surprised if one of these days we get tackled down in a citizens arrest attempt.

Fun.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

(Half) Marathon Reflection Monday & Other Stuff

WELCOME TO CHRISTMAS TIME!

I will be the first to admit that for me, Christmas time started right after Halloween.  I’ve been watching those high quality holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel, listening to Christmas music, and plotting ways to make this year’s holiday season the best ever.

Aaron has very politely indulged me, even giving up his Saturday nights to watch Eloise at Christmastime and not getting mad when I switch his Pandora station to Christmas music.

But now, my Christmas cheer is completely socially acceptable.  Thanksgiving is over, so I can prance around in Christmas happiness without fear that some Bah Humbug will squash my dreams.  However, I still haven’t put up a tree unlike everyone on Instagram/facebook.  We’re real tree people, so we always wait until December to make sure it doesn’t look dead by Christmas. I’d like to think this makes me slightly less crazy.

Meanwhile, on the running/half marathon training front, things have been going ok.

On Thursday my whole family (aside from my mom who was busy on Operation Thanksgiving Dinner duty) ran our Turkey Trot 5-K.   A few weeks ago I was thinking I was going to use this race as my attempt at a sub 21.  But I got out on that course, fell into a solid 7:00-7:15 pace, and was feeling really good.  I remember what it felt like for me the one time I did hit 21:05, and I decided I didn’t really want to get that awful sick feeling again.  So, I didn’t.  Maybe not the most competitive thing I could have done, but I’m ok with it.  I dread 5-K’s more than anything, and I don’t want to anymore.  I came in at 22:18 (7:10 average pace).  Still better than my last few 5-K times, and definitely a confidence booster than I can run 13.1 miles at a 7:15 pace in a couple of months.  Plus, I think this is my first ever 5-K that didn’t make me want to hurl.

To celebrate the amazing weather we’ve been having (still in the low 60’s during the day) we decided to get one more climb up our mountain on the La Luz Trail.  Typically the top is snow covered and dangerous by late November.  It is a little sad that our weather is so dry that we don’t have any snow on our mountain but it made for perfect hiking conditions. This hike is about 8 miles up a 3,600 elevation gain.  My dad and sister made their way up for the first time!

Yesterday’s long run was a little harder than it should have been after the climb up a mountain.  We had 8 miles on the schedule, so we headed to the most flat course we could find, and knocked them out.  I had an average pace of about 8:38, so I was going a just bit faster than last week.  And definitely minutes faster than I was running a year ago.  I felt pretty fatigued, my face got sunburn, and after we finished, my calves tightened up to a point suggesting I’d run much harder/faster than I really did.  I spent the morning doing some intense rehabbing just to get myself back to walking like a normal person.  But definitely on track with where I want to be right now.

On the non-running front, I’m pretty sure I did something very close to swimming last week! I’m working on a breathing rhythm, and after a few failed attempts (and lots of inhaled water through the nose…very yucky feeling), I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m hoping that with a few more lessons, I’ll at least be able to not look like a drowning abomination on Indoor Tri Day!

Otherwise, our Thanksgiving week was pretty normal:  I baked! (gluten free pumpkin snicker-doodles), two dinners with two families, late night Black Friday shopping, football watching (GO GIANTS!!!), and planning my annual gingerbread house (you can see last year’s HERE).

We’ll take some of that turkey, please!

Muppet Christmas Carol is a Thanksgiving tradition.

Aaron is obviously adopted

Macy’s at about 1:00 am. 

Hope everyone is having a minimally painful Monday!

P.S….there *may* be a giveaway coming later this week! (And by may, I mean I’ve already agreed to do one in exchange for free stuff, so…)

(Half) Marathon Reflection Monday

I have definitely had to change my way of thinking now that I’m back in half marathon land.

While training for a full, I was able to “take it easy” for the first few repetitions of intervals to save energy and take miles slower because there were so many more to go. But in half training, every rep has to be maxed out and warm-up miles become warm up mile.

Our Friday speed workout was hill repeats on the treadmill.   We put the incline on “10” (I’m not sure if this means 10% or 10 feet or just level 10 or what).  When Aaron said that we only had to run 20 seconds on the incline at a time, I had feelings of happiness.  Considering we were running up quarter-mile hills just a few months ago, this seemed rather lenient.

But I have only two months to reach my lofty goals, and I’m not even close to being ready. So, each 20 second hill must be pushed to the max. With each rep I increased speed to the point that I had to put every ounce of effort I had toward not get launched backward, and the exact moment the 20 seconds were up, I HAD to grab onto the nice little handle thingies or risk falling down.

It sucked obviously.  I felt sick afterwards.  But I know that I pushed it as hard as I could.  I was able to hold 10.3 mph for 20 seconds (I tried 10.4 but couldn’t keep up), and there was no way I could go faster.  It felt great to know that I put that level of effort into a workout.  I celebrated with some Costco pizza for dinner.  I feel only a bit awkward admitting that we go to Costco for dinner sometimes.

We did our 7 mile long run #2 on Saturday.  In order for me to confidentially go into this half, I will want my last long run to be at an 8:15 average at an easy pace (in other words, I shouldn’t be “racing” my long run).  Saturday’s pace was an 8:40 average and I definitely pushed it on a few of those miles. It is nice to obsess over those long run paces slightly more guilt free now that endurance isn’t as much of a factor.

I still have a lot of speed to program into these little legs, but I did do yoga (check!), strength training (check!), and cross training (check!).  I need to work on my core, but for the most part sticking to my goals.

In other related news, Aaron and I had a discussion this weekend about what our “events” are, or rather, which race distance is our strongest. I knew the moment I crossed the finish line for my first half marathon that I enjoyed 13.1 far more than 3.1.  Even though I’m more open to running marathons now that I’m not training for one (and I can walk again), the half marathon distance is my favorite.  I have no interest in running really strong 5-K’s, and for some reason I can’t ever get my act together for 10-K’s.  But I feel like I’m in my element in halves.

It was also at this point in our conversation that we decided to look up the weights of Olympic runners.  Aaron, who is a pretty trim dude, is not really thin enough to be a strong distance runner.  Ryan Hall is about the same height as Aaron, but  is about 30 pounds lighter. Let me just say I’m really ok with Aaron not weighing 30 pounds less.

******************************

I’m particurly excited this Monday morning because of this gloriously short week, even though it will be a test of our ambitions. With so much Thanksgiving Cheer (and, you know BLACK FRIDAY), will we keep to a consistent workout schedule, or lay in a happy food coma?  Will I remember to eat veggies, or will pumpkin pie be my best effort?  At least, thanks to our green shake breakfast, I’m finally back down to my pre-marathon weight.  I can see that all going out the window this weekend!

Apparently this says that I have to run a marathon to burn off  Thanksgiving. 

 

What’s your favorite distance race?

Have a wonderful Monday!