Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'm Going to Boston!

It happened! Today I felt like my life changed! For months, I have been networking and reaching out to charities, like many hoping that I would receive an acceptance letter welcoming me to the team. I reached out to charities that resonated with me. Cancer treatment centers, youth activities, and educational programs were all at the top of the list. Sadly, I was not selected for the teams I applied for. This meant that others had their dreams come true! And for that I was glad. My good friend Adam was selected to run for a charity and I was incredibly happy and proud! I must say, the efforts and help that my running family have exhibited to get me to Boston is nothing short of extraordinary!

This morning I woke up to an email from The Boston Bruins (GO HOCKEY) Foundation! This was surprising. Their coordinator informed me they had one bib available for a lucky runner and wanted to know if I was interested in running the Boston Marathon as a member of their fundraising team!

I instantly started to shake. I literally had just given up on the chance that I would be running and was SO excited for Adam and Katie to run! I was pumped up and ready to support ALL of my friends that would be storming Boston in just a few short weeks, then this happens! I was shocked. I was humbled. I CRIED! One simply does not run The Boston Marathon! For many, it is years and years of intense training to achieve the coveted Boston Qualifying time! It is a journey for many runners! It's hollowed sacred ground in the running community! When I touched the finish line in Boston during my trip during the 2013 BAA 10K, I got chills! Boston is serious business and should be respected! Charity runners are hard working individuals. We put massive efforts out to raise funds for worthy organizations so we can help make a difference and change the world. This isn't taken lightly, and I am so blessed to have this rare opportunity! Thank you to the Boston Bruins Foundation for having me!

The Boston Bruins Foundation is a non-profit foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for children, while assisting charitable organizations! What this means is that the $7,500.00 I must raise (and gladly) will go toward helping and enriching the lives of children! EVERYONE WINS!

I am excited and ready! I love Boston! I can't wait to be in the midst of amazing athletes! I can't wait to reunite with friends! I can't wait to run to the finish line! 26.2 Brew by Samuel Adams is waiting!

I need your help! Please find it in your heart to help me raise funds for this very worthy cause! And please spread the word! We can do this together! You can click here to be directed to my fundraising page! I have also added a new page to my blog that will remain until we reach our goal! I say OUR goal because we are in this together! Let's get ready to rock Boston! You Ready?

Monday, January 27, 2014

The SF Marathon - Worth The Hurt - Am I Crazy?

Ok. I've clearly lost my mind. There can't be anything left up there. If you were watching today on Twitter, then you saw quite the conversation between Brian from Pavement Runner, and Chris from Let me recap some of what happened. Chris and I are running Surf City USA this weekend in Huntington Beach, we are also hosting a Tweet Up on Saturday at Noon at the Nuun Hydration booth so make sure you stop by. Brian jumps in and some how we discuss various assortments of hair pieces one could wear during a marathon...mohawk or mullet. Brian was thinking he would rock a mohawk for The San Francisco Marathon this year. I agreed to that, I mean I did wear a bright orange one with mouse ears during the Disneyland Half in 2012, right? And then Brian says the following...

At this point, I knew I was in trouble! For those of you that may be unfamiliar, let me give you some background, then most of this MAY make sense haha.

The San Francisco Marathon is still to-date my favorite marathon course! Down the shore, out and back across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Golden Gate Park, through awesome neighborhoods in the city, and back toward the Ferry Building. Lots of beautiful and interesting things to see and experience along this eclectic route. Now, what the 52.4 Worth the Hurt Challenge is...

You start at Midnight (yes, Midnight), and run the full marathon course in reverse. You come back to the Ferry Building and check in with the Worth the Hurt tent, and then...yes you guessed it, you run the damn thing in the normal direction with the rest of the marathon field. So basically, you run two marathons back to back totaling 52.4 miles over the course of approx. 8 hours. The 1,000 participants who are bonkers enough to conqour this feat will also fundraise upwards to $1,000.00 for a charity. So that makes this even sweeter! You know how I feel about charity! Writing this gave me butterflies and now I feel anxious.

So here are my thoughts. I think I am going to do it. I love a challenge and this gives me something to seriously train for. I've had ultra distance on the brain for several months now, so now I have a goal I can see achieving. Plus, I have Brian and Chris to help motivate me and encourage me along the way. Although I am sure I won't see much of them because they both belong to the Royal Order of Marathon Gazelles, I know having them behind me (or in front of me) to support me in my training and performance would make it worth the hurt for sure. So, I guess that's it Pavey and Chris, sign me up! Let's do it!

I'm nervous and excited all at the same time. Time to get a training plan together with my coach, nutrition plans, and go for it! May not be the fastest one out there, but I am no quitter! Turn down for what let's go!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Recap

What a weekend this was for sure! After coming back from Dopey weekend, I was feeling very good physically and mentally. I made it back to So Cal, got back into the groove of life, and was ready to take on another 19.3 miles with the Tinker Bell 10K and the Tinker Bell half marathon! I actually had a roller coaster of a weekend! So I won't waste to much time with that an intro, let's dive right in!

Thursday I made my way to the expo at the Disneyland Hotel! I figured Thursday would be a great day to go! Especially in the evening, hopefully the crowds would be gone! I was right! But let me step back! I received a text from the lovely Vicki, who blogs over at Scoot-A-Doot and she totally surprised me and told me she was in town for the a participant! I was over the moon! I absolutely adore this girl!

Vicki went with me to pick up my bibs and handle some business over at runner relations. We laughed the entire time! She really is awesome! Vicki took off to catch some Z's, so I went to the expo to poke my head around and see what was happening! I picked up my tee-shirts and ran into running pal Tracy who was volunteering! After that, I made my way over to Sparkle Athletic to grab some sparkle for the half marathon. Real Men Sparkle after all! I knew that my girl Kelly would hook me up and make sure I sparkled right! I secured my gunmetal sparkle visor!

@AccordingToKelly from Sparkle Athletic is just AWESOME
I ran into some other awesome people at the expo! Then I made my way to the runDisney merchandise area! I will say this...the expo was run 100 times better than Disneyland Half's expo last year! I was thrilled! Very efficient. Very well organized. Hats off to the coordinators! I headed home and wouldn't return to the resort until the 10K on Saturday Morning.

Yes that is an A. runDisney made a boo-boo! 
Saturday morning I arrived to Anaheim ready to take on the 10K! I was a bit chilly but that's to be expected for 5:30 in the morning in January, right? I mean it isn't snowing or anything but we were in So Cal. I met up with fellow gazelle Joe who was in town to spectate the 10K and run the half marathon! I love hanging out with this guy! He's crazy fast...and well...just crazy! He's AWESOME! We decided to run the half marathon together!

Hey, it's Joe!
Throughout the morning, I received tweets from other great runners who were participating in the race that wanted to make sure that we could connect and say hello! Before I knew it, we were off and running! The first people I ran into are a couple of my favorites, Tracy and Dawnley the mother daughter duo that represent Team Run#3rd! I always LOVE seeing these two! Always so warm and always smiling!

Love Tracy and Dawnley
I continued my run through Disneyland and even encountered another online friend, Fiona! I have been chatting with her for some time, and she always makes me laugh so it was awesome to get to bump into her and meet her in real life. She was also spectating the 10K and was gearing up to earn her wings on Sunday.

The rest of the race was pretty great! I love the route that runDisney chose when they designed this race. A majority of the race was actually on Disney property which was pretty awesome. There were probably two miles total that were on the streets of Anaheim. Overall, this was an awesome race! Now there is a huge catch here for me. After coming off of Dopey the prior week, at the finish I immediately felt my energy levels deplete! I really did my best not to over do it on the 10K, but I guess my body had other thoughts. Immediately post race I didn't stop to say hello or see ya tomorrow to anyone. Sorry you guys. I made a direct line to my car and drove home. I finished up some chores around the house, climbed into bed and vowed never to leave it again. I was literally physically drained. I am now calling this the Post Dopey Hangover. I am absolutely sure it was a combo of running the Dopey Challenge, flying, working, then jumping right into Tink weekend without any real break! I always say listen to your body, and my body basically told me to stay in bed and don't ever leave...well until Sunday morning.

Sunday morning was half marathon day. At this point, I was still feeling the effects of the Dopey Hangover, but I didn't think about it much! I was more excited to be able to run with Joe! I've never had the opportunity to run with Joe let alone hang out with him much (mainly due to our paths just crossing at different speeds) so this was going to be a treat. I arrive to the corral and find Joe in his #TeamSparkle skirt, visor that matched mine, and his St. Jude Hero singlet...oh and fairy wings. I knew at that moment that this race was gonna be a blast! His energy was through the roof!!!

Ohhh Joe...
Before we knew it, our crew was underway on our 13.1 mile trek through the Disneyland Resort and the city of Anaheim! This was a fun experience because we literally stopped for every single character stop. And I mean every single one. We decided this race was just going to be about fun, laughing, encouraging other folks while we waited in line (Joe is a pro at that), and taking all the random selfies!

The gang is all here!
Fast forward to mile 6 which is where we leave the resort and head onto the streets of Anaheim, the crew had to stop for a photo with the awesome folks from F3 - Further, Faster, Forever (of which I am a member) for our awesome photo!

At this point, extreme fatigue had set it. I realized I was basically done for the weekend! I dialed ALL the way down and ended up walking a majority of the rest of the way. I mean, I ran when I could but that Post Dopey Hangover came in full effect. I was literally mentally and physically exhausted. I had officially done too much. I recognized this, realized what was going on, and mitigated to avoid serious illness. I got some nutrition into my system and hydrated like a mad man. I didn't feel faint or like I was going to puke or anything, but I knew that my race weekend was done. That was okay with me. It's not like I didn't just run 48.6 miles the week before. This is another important lesson in listening to your body. I felt fine when I walked, but running caused some interesting sensations in my abdominal region...cramps but not really. So I took it easy. I knew the finish wasn't too far so I focused on enjoying the walk and celebrating that I just ran Dopey and I just added on another 19.3 miles! I was proud! I ran the last .1 into the finishers chute, got my selfie with the boss mouse and crossed the finish line! I had earned my second pair of wings AND my coast-to-coast. That was pretty awesome!

Tink and Coast to Coast
Although, I felt like crud at the finish, I met some familiar faces and made another bee line to my car. I was officially ready for a bath, some water, and a much deserved rest! Overall, I had a great weekend of running. It was an awesome challenge to go back-to-back but luckily Tink Half moves to Mother's Day weekend in 2015 so that temptation goes away...although I am hearing rumblings that another race may take it's place? Who knows...that's what I am hearing in the streets. Anyway, runDisney rocked it! I had a blast! Next up, Surf City USA in Huntington Beach! See you there! But before I go... look at all the blinnnng!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Product Preview & Review - INKnBURN Retro Surf Tech Tee

It's a new year, which means the awesome folks over at INKnBURN have been working around the clock to turn out some new fresh designs I know that all of us will enjoy and love! A few of these items have already started hitting the streets, such as the ladies pull-overs which have received some enhancements to their design! But as an ambassador, I get this question all the time...what about the guys!? What's new for us!? Well, lucky for the guys, I've seen a few of the new designs (sorry can't share yet) but I promise you there is wide range of variety and the designs are seriously outstanding! Very unique and you will not be able to get these new designs anywhere else! Often imitated never duplicated! One of the designs that made its retail debut at the Walt Disney World Marathon expo was a shirt I was excited for the minute I saw the sneak peek! I knew I had to have it! Especially being a Southern California boy...there was absolutely no way this could not make it into my closet and INKnBURN collection. Allow me to introduce you to the Retro Surf Tech Tee for guys and gals! (thunderous ovation please)

With it's vivid colors and energy, the retro surf tech tee is something any runner needs if they have love for the ocean, surfing, or the lifestyle. Heck, it's just a good looking tee! You'll notice there are some icons on the tech tee that really bring out its unique character. The colors in the ocean have a very specific pattern in the design, when you move it almost is like the water is moving with you...which is the purpose of surfing in the first place. Be one with the water! The palm trees are great! You see them on all parts of the shirt and they are very detailed! Each palm branch has a personality of its very own so look closely. The INB logo is incorporated as the sun on both the from and the back! It is large on the back which I don't mind...I mean it makes me easy to spot if I happen to be pacing folks! The beautiful multi-colored wave that sweeps around the shirt is both calming and bold at the same time. The shirt really tells an amazing story! The colors are all very complementary of one another! I feel both strong and calm at the same time in this shirt! One of my new favorites for sure!

Rear view of the tee

I paired this with the denim shorts and the current tech tube! The current design is in my opinion the soul mate to the retro surf tee! They look incredible together! One doesn't outshine the other! They are both strong on their own, but together they are amazing! If you are running Surf City USA in just a couple weeks, you need this. Period.

This shirt should be released in a couple weeks! Production is moving along at a great pace, so you can be sure to have your hands on this beauty real soon! Also be sure to keep an eye out for new designs on the way for men and women! Like the INKnBURN Facebook page...that is where they announce new designs and street dates for release. I have to say, I was real happy this was available for purchase at the expo...I felt so special! Especially since I got SO many compliments on the tee!

Don't forget! If you want to try INKnBURN and you're a new customer! Create an account on their website (it takes two minutes) and when you check out, use discount code 'LinzieToldMe' and you will save 15% on the items in your shopping cart. As an added bonus on your next visit you'll have 10 dollars in loyalty points to spend! Trust me, once you give these high quality, made in the USA garments a whirl, you will not ever go back! There is no problem with looking great while you run. I wouldn't have it any other way! I am thankful for INKnBURN and their amazing team who bring these creations to life! More great art on its way! Stay tuned!

The Approach for Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend

Well, this seemed like a good idea at the time! It is here and underway! The 2014 runDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend! This will be my second year earning my wings! And my second year going coast-to-coast back-to-back with marathon weekend. As you all are aware by now, I just finished the inaugural Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World, which consisted of running 48.6 miles over the course of four days. After a few days of rest and no running, I actually feel pretty good and ready for the challenge of taking on about 19.3 miles.

So here's the scoop! On saturday, I will run the Tinker Bell 10K. The main driver for choosing to run this race was because it was inaugural, and I always enjoy running first year races! I plan on just enjoying the run at a comfortable pace! I don't plan on running for a large PR at all on Saturday. My goal is to go out there, run, and get warmed up for the half marathon! So really, this is just for fun!

Now let's talk about the half marathon! I am excited because I didn't come down with a cold after marathon weekend like last year! I know EnergyBits had something to do with it. In fact, I feel healthier. Anyway, I plan on wearing this course out! I plan on a smart consistent start as not to burn out to fast, and dial it up in the second half! Absolutely hoping for a negative split. Not going to promise a sub-2 or anything, but my goal is run and pace myself to a very consistent half marathon. Running with Faith last week and having that be the best marathon I've run consistency wise really has me ready to focus on the prize. Especially, when I will begin work with my coach Holly very soon!

So basically, I plan on just rocking out this weekend and enjoying myself. Using Galloway intervals, and hydrating with Skratch! So this should be a blast!

Follow the journey! Tomorrow, I'll recap the 10K for all of you! See you on the road!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Product Review - The Mizuno Wave Rider 17

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Mizuno and their running shoes! I had the opportunity to run in my very first pair of Mizuno shoes last summer with the debut of the Wave Sayonara! To date, that is still one of my favorite shoes! Light, fast, comfortable, and vivid colors! Take a trip back in time and see my review of that shoe here. Today, I want to talk to you about one of the newest additions to the Mizuno shoe arsenal of tools! The NEW Wave Rider 17!

This shoe was released in early December 2013, the 17th generation of this bad boy and let me tell you, it is not a disappointment. I received my box and opened it to find that I received the Olympian Blue and Cyber Yellow option for the shoe! My initial reaction was "WOW she's a beauty!" I couldn't wait to get these bad boys on my feet. I laced them up and slid my foot inside, and what happened next was magical! I experienced that same connection with these shoes, that I did with the Wave Sayonaras. The shoe literally felt like it had melded and became part of my foot. The comfort was absolutely incredible. This may have been due to the upgraded sock liner in the shoe!

The Wave Rider 17 is available for men and women and is classified as a high mileage neutral trainer shoe. I agree. What that means is you can comfortably use this shoe for racing or training. I have done both and have had absolutely no complains. It's adaptable and versatile! The mens shoe weighs in at only 9.2 ounces! The Wave Rider 17 has a TON of Mizuno exclusive technology built into the shoe, which gives this shoe it's unique design, feel, and experience. Such technology includes the Mizuno Wave, which is meant to disperse impact and forces it away from your foot, and is intended to be lightweight, compact, and responsive. One of my favorite components of the shoe is the incorporation of the Smooth Ride technology which creates a smooth transition from heel to toe.

The graphical elements are crazy on this shoe I LOVE THEM! The blue and yellow are stellar colors! I absolutely LIVE for the peeled paint effect that goes toward the back of the shoe on the side! There is even some pearlized detail on that area so as the light hits it, it shimmers and turns different colors! A really sexy touch! I also appreciate the Wave Rider 17 patch which is located toward the rear of the shoe near the ankle. Now let's talk performance.

I wanted to put these shoes through the ringer. I gave them a few test runs before I headed out to Walt Disney World to participate in the Dopey Challenge. I brought the Wave Rider 17s as my primary racing shoe, and the Wave Sayonaras as my back up in case something went wrong while I was product testing. I ran ALL 48.6 miles in this shoe! Not one blister. Not one cramp. Not one problem. The shoe literally adapts to your foot and the ground. I honestly felt like I was running on the waves. The ride was comfortable and light. I felt the area near my heel was heavy at times during the marathon, but that may have been due to poor form from dipping and dodging positions on course. After some time, this subsided. This shoe performed exceptionally well. When I took the shoe off, it held up amazingly to the stress. No rips, no tears, no faded graphics, just an amazingly well made shoe! Well Done, Mizuno!

Crossing the Walt Disney World Marathon finish line in the Wave Rider 17s
All in all, I am very satisfied with the shoe! It is a great neutral shoe that looks great, feels great, and performs beautifully. Give the shoe and good look! If not the Wave Rider, perhaps another shoe in their catalog! Mizuno is probably one of my favorite running shoe brands. I've yet to be disappointed with the quality and performance!

Thank you Mizuno for the chance to review another shoe!

Disclaimer/Legal Stuff: Mizuno provided the Wave Rider 17s in exchange for an honest review of their product. The above review is 100% honest is only influenced by my thoughts and experiences. Opinions and views expressed are that of See Sharp Run and not Mizuno USA. See Sharp Run believes in providing honest product reviews with the highest level of integrity.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sharp's Final Thoughts on the Inaugural Dopey Challenge

Well folks, it's time. Most of us are either on our way home or sitting in the airport awaiting our flights...which is exactly what I am doing. As a side note before I get started...I scored power plugs for my phone and laptop! SCORE! So many of us participated in the runDisney Walt Disney World weekend (which again is really a week). This consists of the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and Marathon. Many of us took on various challenges. I met a lot of people who did their own make-shift 'East Coast Dumbo Double Dare' by completing the 10K, followed by the half marathon. Others went Goofy, and some even went Dopey. I am officially Dopey! Horray! So what did I think and how do I feel?

Well, at this point I have VERY minimal discomfort. I kept my 5K, 10K, and half marathons very easy and utilized a consistent Galloway run/walk technique all weekend, adjusting my intervals as I needed to ensure comfort. So this made for muscles that were not overworked or strained. I survived with no injury thank goodness. I also did my best to enjoy all of the fine cuisine Walt Disney World has to offer, but did so responsibly knowing I had races in the morning. Not a whole lot of junk food this weekend.

So that brings me to what I personally thought was the hardest part of the weekend for me...the 5 early wake up calls. All from waking up early to make sure I got the newest New Balance runDisney shoes, to ensuring I made to to my start corral in enough time. I honestly think the 10K was my worst day. I was so pumped up and had ALL the adrenaline in my system during the marathon. I knocked out last night though. I am sure all runners thought it was an awesome treat to be able to sleep in past 4AM this morning haha!

This challenge is just as much of a mental challenge than it is physical. You need to be in the zone ALL weekend in order to make this a success. You have to be focused during all of your distances, you need to fuel properly, and you need to get as much rest as possible. Thank goodness for EnergyBits which gave me energy AND the vitamins I needed to keep from getting sick! I brought a whole bag with me and took two servings every day!

What didn't I like? I didn't like the early morning wake up calls at all. It was hard to know I absolutely had to be up and out the door. There is no grey area here, you don't want to miss your bus or miss your corral. I also thought the price for this challenge was steep. The medals were beautiful, the tech tees this year were much improved from last year, but is it just me or did it seem that the character stops were sparse? Had me scratching my head all weekend. I absolutely got an amazing value for all the entertainment and amazing course support that was present, but I still think this may have been a little on the steep side. Also, just as note to other not say the following phrases to someone 'Oh, you just ran the half?' or 'You just ran the marathon?' Just because someone didn't take on a challenge doesn't make their journey or their race any less important. I heard a lot of that this weekend. I am absolutely sure that no one had malicious intentions and I'm sure many of this was done in a joking manner so I don't want this to turn into a finger pointing session, but honestly, every distance should be respected. 26.2 and 13.1 is nothing to turn your nose up at. So, I say all this to say congratulate all of your fellow runners out there! No distance is too short! GO YOU as Cigna would say. Encourage one another!!!!!!!!!

What did I love? THE MEDALS! The medals are GORGEOUS! Personally, the Goofy is my favorite! The tech shirts were absolutely much improved from last year. The designs and the material were beautiful! Very happy. The course support at the aid stations and water stops was spot on! The volunteers as usual were amazing! The expo pretty much remained well stocked all weekend. I went back and only couldn't get one thing I forgot which was my Dopey hat. I loved the virtual queue line for the New Balance shoes. I know my perspective is a little different because I was first in line on Wednesday, but I thought that was a very efficient way to queue up people wanting to get their shoes. Now for those folks that bought ALL the shoes to sell them....I won't get into that.

Wrapping it up!

I know that each of you gave it your best effort out there! I know that many people learned a lot from their performance! I know there were some challenges. But I know that we all learned something. I love coming to Walt Disney World to run! It is honestly one of my favorite things. Not only do I get to see some amazing people, and reconnect with new folks, but I always have (no joke) a magical time. It's more than theme parks for me. It's about being in the moment and letting the spirit and magic remind you that you are alive. Being able to run around the world (as I call it) is such a blessing. Some people never get a chance to leave their home state, and I get to travel all over the country to run, smile, and write about it. It is a reminder that I am blessed enough to one run on my own strength and get stronger, and two that dreams can come true. If you ever have turned the corner of Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom and seen Cinderella's castle for the first time, you know that it is such an experience. Running past it with spectators cheering for you gives me chills. I love the feeling, the spirit, the energy, and the magic that runDisney can create. If you choose to do this challenge I caution you of the early mornings, and not only encourage you...I am telling you you need to be TRAINED UP! This challenge will eat you up if you let it. 48.6 miles is a long way, and the distances get greater every day. The weather in central Florida is also quite unpredictable. We got it all! Rain, humidity, sunshine, overcast, puppies! Sunday however was such a blessing! Perfect running conditions! So, train for the distance! Make sure you get that long run in and cross-train so your whole body is strong and ready for the challenge. All in all, this was a great experience. I am on the fence if I would do it again next year as there are some other races I have my eye on, BUT I am not saying no. There is a chance I may be back for marathon weekend next year, but we will see what the year holds. I had a blast this weekend, and now Saturday and Sunday...the Tinker Bell 10K and Half Marathon await. Which means, Coast to Coast 2014 gets picked up on back-to-back race weekends! Let's see how this goes!

Thanks for joining me on this journey! There is so much more to experience, see, and run through! I hope you continue to join me on these amazing journeys! No two runs are ever the same and there is always something to learn! I have a long way to go, but I enjoy every step! Here's to the magic! See ya real soon!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Day 5 - WDW Marathon

It's really funny. I really didn't know how I was going to do today. I woke up extra early feeling pretty rested and fueled after my trip to the Pasta in the Park party (which I will recap later). I think I was just anxious. The marathon distance always intimidates me. 26.2 miles is absolutely nothing to laugh at, especially in Central Florida where the weather is unpredictable. Thankfully, I had the most amazing marathon today! Yes, it was the #CorralG anniversary today, and I love those kids very much! It will always have a place in my heart and can't be replaced! Before I get ahead of myself, let me back up just a bit.

I'll make this quick. This is the marathon distance which will round out the Dopey Challenge races. We have run 22.4 miles up to this point, so I can only imagine that most runners were beginning to if not already experiencing muscle and mental fatigue. Myself included. I hung out with Jen and Jessica in the start corral this morning. We were absolutely excited to take on the distance, but like I said nervous. We have all trained and have become better athletes since last year, so for most of us this was a test! The fireworks went off and Mickey Mouse sent us on our way!

I was in pretty good spirits. The weather was spectacular! A much appreciated change from 2013's 85 degree weather with 97% humidity! Today was cool in the mid 60s with little humidity! Conditions were amazing. The first 8 miles were the same from the day before so it wasn't like I didn't know what was coming. And then this! Faith Dority came up and tapped my shoulder and said hello! Some of you may know Faith as the newest Disney Parks Mom's Panel as our runDisney specialist! This was pretty awesome! She had a smile on her face and a dream in her heart, which was to crush the Dopey Challenge! We began chatting and said 'Hey, you're alone, I'm alone, let's run together!' And that is exactly what we did! We met at the Magic Kingdom toll plaza and the rest was history! Faith and I clicked immediately. We decided we wanted to run 4/1 run walk intervals, and we would do that until we needed to modify! We felt strong and encouraged. We were even joined by Mary Jo (@MoJoDisney) for a while! She is equally as fun and matched our energy!

Fast forward to the Magic Kingdom! We basically blew threw the place! We were on a mission. We didn't stop for too many photo stops. Mary Jo was awesome enough to take our first milestone photo! We decided to take and share photos from our major milestones such as mile markers and park icons! Selfies at that LOL. We were in front of the castle here.

Of course we have our phones in our hands LOL
I ran into my Corral G sister Jill spectating in front of the castle! I gave her a huge hug she gave me some encouraging words, and Faith and I sped out of the Magic Kingdom. We kept our steady pace as we made our way to the Walt Disney World Speedway! I was really happy they did not remove this portion of the race (it was added during the 2013 marathon). We ran around and enjoyed looking at all the classic cars and of course laughing. I don't think there was one point where we weren't smiling now that I think about it.

We flew around the speedway and made our way onto the back roads of the resort. I find this portion of the course a little boring, but Faith kept me entertained. We exchanged stories, chatted, and just enjoyed each other's company! Next stop, Animal Kingdom! Before we even entered the park, we were met by small farm animals...and the cutest thing happened. THEY HAD MARATHON RACE BIBS! I thought this was the cutest thing ever! The animals were sweet and just so precious...and they had race bibs with their names! CUTE! CUTE! CUUUUTE!

His name was Fleming LOL
Milestone photo was taken in front of Expedition Everest of course! We didn't ride because we were just in the groove of our running and wanted to keep the momentum! But of course, there's always time for a selfie. Although, I am not sure the Yeti was all that interested.

Ain't nobody got time for no Yeti
After Animal Kingdom was a highlight for sure. The halfway point, mile 13.1! Faith and I had been doing a good job of monitoring our Twitter feeds for our official split times so we could stay on point for our finish. So once we crossed the timing mat, we did this again! We were very pleased with the consistency of this race! So we continued with the 4/1 intervals onto Osceola Parkway and made our way to ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Once we reached mile 16 we were beginning to feel the fatigued so we adjusted our intervals to 2/1. This worked out worlds better for the both of us. We were both able to run strong and recover during the walk break without compromising our pace or time. We ran through ESPN Wide World of Sports and enjoyed a run and even enjoyed a banana. Then before we knew it... BAM MILE 20! Where are these miles going????

At this point, I started getting excite because mile 20 only means one thing...10K to go! So we turned off of Victory and back onto Osceola and we see, stop, and have a moment with the official training consultant for runDisney...Jeff Galloway! He was running the race and also had quite the smile on his face. This means that a photo was absolutely necessary. He even complimented me on my camoflaged style gymboss timer!

Hey Jeff!
We continued our intervals and modified based on highway inclines. We made our way to Hollywood Studios! We are feeling great, especially since we got chocolate :)! We made it happen! Let me just say, Faith is really great at motivating and helping folks finish! I wanted to slow down, and Faith encouraged me and helped me get through the discomfort! I felt WORLDS better this year, but encouragement is always great! First, Kat helped keep me focused during the 10K and half marathon, and Faith was amazing!

Hollywood Studios
We flew down the boulevard at Hollywood Studios and this is where we turned all the way up! We made our way to The Boardwalk and this made me so happy! I mean, that means I am just moments away from the front door of Epcot!

A wonderful view from Disney's Boardwalk
Faith saw her family right in front of the Beach Club Villas! This was so sweet! She gave her children and her husband hugs and kisses and they were so encouraging! I loved it! So at this point we were ready to finish this thing up! We kept our intervals strong! Jill again met me in the UK in Epcot! There is nothing like seeing a friendly face in the crowd that is there to see YOU! Warmed my heart. We continued to run around the world and made our way into Future World! We were so happy and felt the emotions growing! We did it! We made it to Spaceship Earth!

And then...

We ran passed the choir and made our way to the finish line! We crossed the finish line around 5:02 which was amazing! We gave each other a huge hug and were over the moon! It was an incredible experience!

Faith, thank you so much for being so amazing! I had an amazing time today! The race wouldn't have been the same without you! It was an amazing experience! Our faces when we got our Dopey and Goofy medals! Just incredible!

Tomorrow, I will recap my thoughts on the Dopey Challenge as a whole! Thank you for following me and my adventures!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Day 4 - WDW Half Marathon

With two races behind us Dopey-bound runners, today was the day we added the long distances runs to the notches on our fuel belts. Waking up this morning was easier than yesterday. I think having a little down time in the room yesterday absolutely helped. Kat and I woke up and headed to Epcot to get parked and make our way to the corrals. After a brief potty stop we made our way to take the extra long walk to the start line. This is something I definitely do not like about the half or full marathon. You basically walk almost if not a mile to the start...early in the morning. It's crowded and exhausting. But we persevered. What made the walk sweeter is we ran into Pam and Christine from We Run Disney! I have bumped into them in past races, but haven't had the chance to catch up. A mile long walk seemed like the right time to do so, especially since they were both going to the same corral (G!).

Pam and Christine
After we secured our spots in the corral, it was only a brief moment before we were saluting our Nation and moving up to the start. Fireworks of course indicated the start of each corral and they were larger than each of the races before them. Which means tomorrow I expect a spectacular! Too bad for Corral F who did not get fireworks but to a slight mishap (sad trombone).

Corral G fireworks
Kat and I decided to run and walk at a 2/1 run walk interval again. We figured this would force us to regulate our pace and keep me from opening all cylinders to fast. I am very glad we did this. The race felt easy and comfortable the entire way. We took extra walk breaks as needed, but overall maintained a 12:30 average pace. We stopped for some rare character photos including Jack and Sally and Darkwing Duck and Launch Pad from The Disney Afternoon! Last year during the marathon I got my picture my DD, but Launch Pad wasn't there! I was SO EXCITED!

The participants today were great! Finally meeting some Goofy runners, seeing the worn down Dopeys, and seeing those that were braving the half marathon was awesome. Everyone was in great spirits and very encouraging on the route! I am always pleased when runners are nice to one another. After all we are all in this together (no High School Musical pun intended).

Participants on their way to The Magic Kingdom
One of my favorite things about these races is running into The Magic Kingdom, and making that turn onto Main Street USA and seeing Cinderella's Castle. It is magnificent. I always get the chills! This makes all the hard work and training worth it, and honestly, it never gets old! The spectators along the course on Main Street are also out of this world! They probably have some of the highest energy on the course.

Kat and I having fun!
We stopped for a few more photo ops and made our way out the back door of the park and headed back toward Epcot. By mile 8 we were both ready to finish the race up. We figured we could finish the race in under three hours and that is exactly what we did. We continued with our run/walk intervals to keep our muscles fresh. The last thing we wanted to do was blow my legs out the day before a marathon. Kat was a great help out there today. I wanted to just get the last 4 miles over with and she made doubly sure that I stayed on pace. She did let me dial up on the last half mile though which felt so awesome! We both crossed the finish line feeling great with huge smiles on our face. Which isn't saying much because we were laughing and smiling through the entire way! Very thankful for Miss Kat!

So, am I ready for a marathon tomorrow? Yes. I took it very easy this afternoon. I went to Magic Kingdom just to keep my legs moving a little bit, met Mickey Mouse, had lunch at Earl of Sandwich and now I plan on lounging in bed until Pasta in the Park at 7 in Epcot. I feel strong. I feel confident. Just like any marathon, I am a little nervous. But I will be using a 2/1 interval the entire time, I have plenty of fuel,  I'll be powered by bits, so I should be fine. Given that this central Florida weather is unpredictable I won't be worrying about a PR. I will be out there doing my best, remaining focused, and having a good time. I am ready, and I hope my fellow Dopeys are as well.

Rest up, hydrate, and fuel up runners! Tomorrow greatness awaits! I am so excited for the bling that is awaiting me! Run safe and run smart guys! Let's get it!