On January 1, 2012, I downloaded the Nike+ app to my iPhone and laced up a pair of shoes. On January 7, 2012, I set a goal of finishing the 2013 Princess Half Marathon. And, I did it - but I walked the whole thing. I logged over 800 miles of walking in the ensuing 13 months. On February 24, 2013, when I crossed the finish line and got that medal, as much as I was proud of my accomplishment. I still felt like I was less than those who had run it. I bought a coveted 13.1 magnet for my car. I felt like I was an impostor - that I didn't really deserve that magnet. And, while I agree with the sentiment to the right, it still didn't fell like I was "really" a runner.
When Disney announced the 2014 Tinker Bell and Princess Marathon special Coast to Coast Challenge recently, they also updated some of their pacing requirements. In order to not be put in the last corral, it seems like you need to submit a proof of time (I'm still a little confused by the whole thing). I got a little panicked. I'm "just" a walker, I'll never be able to go any faster. I'll be in the last corral. I'll get swept. Why should I even bother? Then, I had a thought - what if I started running? Hmmmm...let's see, the odds are stacked against me:
I'm 52. I still have 20 pounds to lose, my knees and ankles hurt all the time. Oh, what the hell - let's try some intervals!
A month or so ago, I set my Garmin 10 watch to 30 seconds of running, 3:30 of walking and went off on a walk. I was embarrassed to run on my street, so I missed the first few intervals. I waited till I safely was on the trail in the park to try the whole interval thing. And, I didn't die! As the weeks went by, I kept at it, without a real plan, sort of hit or miss. Then, at the gym the other day, I tried it on the treadmill - in public! I did a minute of running followed by 2 minutes of walking - and again lived to tell about it!
Sunday morning, as I headed to my first 5k since making this change, I was scared to death. I saw a lot of "real" runners. I was an impostor My 13.1 magnet was a fake. Theirs were real. Then, the air gun sounded and the race started and I ran my minute. And, walked for 2. And, continued on. There were a few running intervals where I quit a few quit early. All in all, however, I did it. I kept it up. And, while I am still waiting for the official results - I KNOW I shaved a number of minutes off my 5K time. Best of all? I left there feeling like I belonged. I'm not fast. I still walk. But, when someone saw me wearing my race tee shirt later that day and asked if I was a runner, I actually felt like I could answer yes.
May 12, 2013 - the day I became a runner.
What was I thinking? Why did I register for a race at 8 a.m. on Mother's Day? A race that was 25 miles from home!? All in all, I'm glad I did - here's my recap of the Premier Racing Institute I LOVE "MOTHERS" DAY 5K at John Chestnut Park in Palm Harbor, FL.
Having never been to this park before, I left my house at <yawn> 6:50. Not a lot of traffic at that time on a Sunday morning, so I made good time. I wasn't 100% sure of where the park was, but then as I got closer, I noticed a bunch of cars with 13.1 stickers on the backs of them. Hmmmmmm...maybe I should follow them?
At this point, I was starting to feel really intimidated. Yeah, I have a 13.1 sticker on the back of my car, but I walked the Princess Half Marathon. I'm not a runner? What was I doing? Was it too late to back out?
Got into the park and followed the other cars. The park is a beautiful spot, on Lake Tarpon in northern Pinellas County. Lots of tall pines giving tons of shade. I parked and sort of followed the others. It was 7:25, so I assumed I had plenty of time before the 8:00 start.
One of the first people to see me said "Love your Sparkleskirt!" Thanks Leah for such a great product! Left my water and snacks in the car, planning to go back to get them before the race.
Got to the pavilion where bibs and chips were being handed out. The lines were huge and not well marked. Stood in line for 5-7 minutes, only to find out I was in the chip line, not the bib line. Couldn't get my chip if I didn't know my bib number! Ugh! Finally got both, plus my tee shirt. The registration said there were "gender specific Asics tech shirts" if you registered by a certain date. I registered on time, but there's no way the tee shirt I got is a women's tee. It's a nice shirt, but huge on me. I hit the restroom (real potties, not portapotties!) and it was already time to go. No food in my belly! Yikes!
Oh! And, another shout out to the amazing Sparkleskirts! I didn't have time to head back to my car to store my race tee - so I rolled it up and put it in one of the thigh pockets on my Rock'n Roll Sparkletech! It fit just fine and I never felt it during the race. Keys went in the other thigh, iPhone and driver's license in the waistband pocket. And, my Bondi Band kept my hair and (more importantly) sweat out of my eyes.
The race course was well marked. One downfall was that there were still some cars on the track. The race was being held in a county park, and I guess they couldn't close the roads completely. It was a little unnerving to see cars alongside runners, but I made it through. While it was still pretty humid, the trees helped keep the course cool. There was one water station at the halfway point. They were slow filling cups. I got about 2 ounces of water. I would have liked more. Thankfully, at the finish line there were tons of ice cold water bottles waiting.
All in all, it was a good race. In retrospect, I should have picked up my bib the night before, but the packet pickup location closed before I got there. The race registration mentioned a breakfast, but I didn't stick around for it. It's Mother's Day after all, and I wanted to head home. I will definitely follow Premier Racing Institute and check out future races. John Chestnut Park is a beautiful location, if a little out of my way. There's a Father's Day 5K on June 15. Guess I'll be setting my alarm...
This weekend found me running in one of the most relaxing and fun races I've done and running in one of the most daunting.
I started my Saturday off by donning white and heading to the Color Me Rad race. I was meeting up with a fellow posse member and we were there to just have fun. No PR's or fastest miles for this race, it was simply to have a great time! And it was awesome. For 3 miles we jogged along the parkway hopping in front of volunteers who were lobbing colored powder at us. The goal was to go from clean to colorful and we definitely succeeded.
After the race I took a shuttle to the mall to meet up with my husband who promptly covered the seats of his car with towels and took me home for a (much needed) shower. Then it was back to the mall for lunch at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill. I shouldn't have bothered with the shower because there were ton's of people eating lunch and shopping covered in colors!
Mountain Goat course 2013
Sunday brought with it an entirely different kind of race. for me this is my big challenge race for the year (so far... who knows what else I might sign up for). The Mountain Goat. 10 miles that cover some of the biggest hills in Syracuse. You literally run from one side of the city proper to the other, through neighborhoods and parks and up some seriously intimidating climbs. I've now done 2 half marathons, but both were relatively flat, so even though I knew I could do the distance, I had no idea if I could tackle the hills (and survive).
The elevations on the run are pretty daunting. Every couple miles you climb about 200 feet. Then you're headed back down, but as soon as you are used to being on the flat you are climbing again. It was both exciting and exhausting and I'm glad I signed up.
The question is, how did I do? Both Fred Joslyn (my half marathon coach) and Eric Orton (author of The Cool Impossible) talk about having a plan for big races and visualizing how the race will go for you. Then you actually have to stick to the plan. My plan was pretty simple. Run when I felt good, walk when I needed to recover. In my head I imagined that I'd be running the flat and the downhill portions of the race and then walking the uphill sections. That's pretty much how my race went. I held a nice pace on the flat (about 10:30pace), hiked my way up the hills at around a 14min pace and then sped down the hills. Before the race a friend asked what I thought my final pace would be and I said that by the end I would average out with a 12 minute pace. My final time was 2:01:38 with a pace of 12:10. In other words, I had a plan, I knew how I wanted it to go and I succeeded. I was tired and in pain by the end (stupid, shiny ankle), but I was really proud that I finished.
One thing that others have talked about in regard to other races are the fans, cheering you on even though they don't know you. I have to say that there are some of the best fans on the Mountain Goat course! It was hot Sunday morning and even though I was running alone (my friends are much speedier then I am!) and I didn't have a cheering squad with me (the kiddo had a recital- it obviously took precedent), I never really felt like I was without fans. From the start there were people with their sprinklers hooked up for us to run through, there were families handing out Freeze-Pops and kids passing out flowers and yelling "You're doing great! Have a flower for your hair!". At one point- right before the toughest hill in the race, and at Mile 6, I was feeling really tired, but I got just the right pick me up at the exact right time. Standing at the bottom of the hill was a family from my school- hearing them yell "Go Ms. T!!" was exactly what I needed to push up that hill!
The fans are definitely the unsung heroes during races. If I could thank all of them individually I would, but this will have to suffice. Thank you to everyone who has been a spectator at a race. We see you, we hear you and we appreciate all you do to keep us moving!
All in all this was an awesome racing weekend and I can't wait to tackle
As a registered Disney Sports Enthusiast, I've had the opportunity to volunteer at two runDisney events this year - the marathon in January and at the Expedition Everest Challenge on Saturday. For the marathon, my assignment was to be a "screaming fan at mile 22.3". At Expedition Everest, I was assigned to the bag check tent. I wasn't excited about bag check, but it ended up being a ton of fun!
Our shift (my 14 year old daughter was with me) was from 6 pm to 2 am. We got to Animal Kingdom at 6 and handed over our confirmation letters. We were given tee shirts (pretty blue color, much nicer than the grey ones the runners got!) and a quart sized zip lock baggie. We also got a red wristband. I wasn't sure what the wristband was for, but I got one anyhow! We were then told to fill the bag with 5 food items of our choice. There were Slim Jims, Chex Mix, Oreos, Goldfish and Nature Valley granola bars.
Next, we proceeded to the bag check tent, where our team leader, Bob, went over the instructions. There I found out that the wristband was for entry into the Expedition Everest after party, which ran to 3 a.m. And, I also found out that bag check closed at 1 a.m.! Woot! We were going to Animal Kingdom after dark!
For those who have never done a Disney race, this is how bag check works. They give you a big clear plastic drawstring bag at packet pickup. Inside is a sticker with a number that matches your bib number. You put your items in the bag, then hand it over to the bag check people. You claim it later by bib number.
Some of the volunteers were seasoned vets. One lady has been volunteering since the very first Walt Disney World Marathon in 1993! There were signs all over saying that the bags would be checked by bomb sniffing dogs, but the veteran volunteers told me they'd never seen a dog there before. That changed on Saturday night.
The first runners started showing up at 730 or so. It was a lot of fun to meet them and see their outfits. Some looked very confused, and it was nice to be able to help them. One guy handed me his bag and said "I'm supposed to memorize this number?" I pointed out to him that it was the same as his bib number. He looked first shocked, then relieved to know it wasn't some random number he'd have to remember.
Inside the tent, we had rows of tables with labels for the numbers. Bags 10100 went on the first table, 101-200 on the next and so on. After we stopped taking bags, Bob had us count them. We checked in over 1700 bags!
There were some great costumes and some "meh" ones. The runners were super appreciative of the volunteers and thanked us repeatedly. After the race started, we shut down the drop-off side of the tent and opened the pickup side. We got into a groove at pick up. One volunteer with good eyes and a loud voice would call out bib numbers before the runner even got to the tent. Then, we take turns running to get the bag. It went really smoothly and everyone got their bag back in one piece.
Sadly, because of the recent events at the Boston Marathon, security was higher than before. While there were multiple signs posted that said that bags would be checked by bomb sniffing dogs, one of the veteran volunteers said she had never seen a dog. That wasn't true Saturday. The dogs came through at least a half dozen times. While it was sobering (to say the least) to see them, it was also fascinating to watch them in action.
At about 12:15, we were down to about 100 bags left. Bob dismissed the volunteers who had already worked at the expo earlier that day (these people are hard core!). Then, at about 12:30, he dismissed the people who planned to go to the after party. We were free to go play!
Let me tell you, AK at night is a whole different animal! There were a limited number of rides open - Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest. The Expedition Everest roller coaster is amazing in the dark. We rode it FIVE times! By 2 a.m., we were able to walk onto it with no wait. There was also a disc jockey and various characters out dancing. Let me tell you, that Baloo has some moves!
All in all, it was an exhausting, fun night! We left Animal Kingdom at about 2:45 a.m., after riding Everest 5x, Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl. We were the only riders on Dinosaur at 2:30 a.m.
Things I learned:
After the fun and excitement of the Princess Half Marathon 2013, I set a new goal for myself. I put a plan into motion to do the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland in January 2014 and the Princess Half at Walt Disney World in February, thereby earning my Disney Coast to Coast medal. Plus, I'd be visiting Disneyland, a place I have aspired to see! I want to walk the streets that Walt walked!
Imagine my excitement this week when RunDisney announced that they are offering a special Coast to Coast medal next year for the two races! Wow! Way to cement my determination RunDisney! That pink Coast to Coast medal will be MINE! Plus, they're also adding new challenges - an Enchanted 10K during the Princess Weekend that leads to a special Glass Slipper Challenge. Click on the photo below for more information!
The countdown is now on for TWO castles ~ Sleeping Beauty Castle in California on January 19 and Cinderella Castle in Florida on February 23! Who's with me!? Who's going to get that pink Coast to Coast medal!? Registration opens on June 11. Go here to get a registration reminder email!
The Cool Impossible
By: Eric Orton
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Book Provided By: NAL Hardcover
The truth is: Athleticism is awareness. That simple phrase is at the core of The Cool Impossible. Athleticism requires awareness of form and technique, awareness of our effort level, and, most important, awareness of what we think (and don’t think). And with that awareness comes the possibility of endless potential and improvement, progress and mastery—and, ultimately, achievement that you never before would have thought possible. With a program focused on proper running form, strength development, and cardiovascular training, Orton will help first-step beginners, prime-time competitors, and enduring veterans reach the cool impossible”—the belief that any achievement, athletic or otherwise, is within our reach.
Inside you’ll find:
* Foot strength exercises to catapult performance, combat injuries, and transform technique
* A total-body strength program aimed at creating an athletic running body
* Step-by-step run-form coaching for performance enhancement and lifelong healthy running
* A run-training program providing the building blocks for endurance, strength, and speed
* No-nonsense nutrition strategies for performance, health, and the ultimate running body
* Visualization and mind-training tactics to run and live the Cool Impossible
*And much more…
Natural running is about so much more than barefoot running. It’s about the joy of running that we were all naturally born with and can reawaken. Like a favorite running companion, The Cool Impossible will be there with you, stride for stride and mile for mile, helping you go farther than you ever could have on your own. (goodreads.com)
Words. Seriously. So many words. In some ways this was an easy book to review, in others it was very, very difficult. Why? Because I was all in from the first page. Frankly, I was all in before I even opened it up. Back in January I reviewed Born to Run by Chris McDougall and I was hooked. I had already started to look into minimalist running and was starting to transition over to Vibrams, so that book reinforced what I was already thinking. I was also already working on Good Form Running, which I'm now imparting to the No Boundries runners at Fleet Feet as a coach in their 5k program. This book takes it one step further. The author, Eric Orton, is the man who coached McDougall to his first Copper Canyon Ultra-Marathon and in this book he imparts his wisdom and techniques for getting you, the reader, the same type of results.
Let me go ahead and get this out of the way at the start. Part of what makes me buy into this program is that it make sense to me. I was already getting there on my own. Orton takes what I was thinking and gives me the means to do it. He's saying exactly what I need to hear. The other part of it is where Orton is when he says it. The man is based out of Jackson Hole, WY. If you know me, or even if you only kind of follow this blog and my other book blogs, then you know already. I love Jackson and the Tetons and Yellowstone. I may be born and bred Upstate NY (and still live there), but my heart has always been in Wyoming. (check here for my post on Running in WY)The first time I went there was when I was 6 months old and ever since it's just felt like home. There's a magic there. So when I opened the book and realized that this wasn't just going to be a simple "do this, do that" endeavor I got excited, and then homesick. In many ways it felt like Orton was describing my Cool Impossible, but we'll get to that later.
So if it's not a straightforward "do this, do that" what is it? Well those things are in there. Orton gives you very simple to follow directions for how to get the most out of his program and out of yourself. However, that isn't all he gives you. He laces the training program with personal stories, with connections to what he saw when he was in Mexico for the Copper Canyon race and the things he gleaned from watching the Tarahumara Indians run. He also describes, in great detail, what a week of training with him in Jackson Hole looks like and feels like. Not just the actual training, but what you see when you are there, where you'll eat, the trails you'll run and the animals you might encounter. He writes for the person who has never been there, but for me it was like getting a little mini-vacation in my mind. I miss Jackson Hole. I'm already planning for next years trip there, and based on this book I've added a few things to do, a few places to run. I've hiked Jenny Lake, but how fun would it be to run there? I've sat in the parking lot of Snow King and waited for the Barker Ewing bus to pick me up and take me white water rafting, but could I tackle the hill and run it? And Phleps Lake... If it's where I think it is, then I've fished near there, spent many hours looking for Moose, and I'm fairly certain I watched a Mama Grizzly and her cubs right near there the last few times I've been out, but I've never hiked in there (or run)- perhaps that Mama Grizzly had something to do with that. It's written to be a complete training program, and insight into the way it would work if you were, in fact, one of his students working on an in person training session. It certainly pulled me in.
As far as the actual training instructions they are spot on in terms of ease of use. I read through the entire book (as instructed by Orton) and then began to go back through to piece together what an Orton program might look like for me. Did it seem do able? Did I have the time, the money, the motivation? Some fitness books come across as very pie in the sky and are instantly demotivating. You get a feeling of "WOW! That's awesome!" followed soon after by the thoughts that say "Yeah, but you don't have 3 hours everyday" and "Where are you going to get the $$ to pay for all that equipment?". In fact I will honestly tell you that after reading Born to Run I looked into training with Orton and those are the type of thoughts that peppered my mind. Then I discovered that he had a book coming out and decided to read it first and then decide. What I found was that you still get those thoughts and have doubts, but that it's okay. Orton has a whole section on training your mind, and like in other sections, awareness is key. Those thoughts are there, and you can either bow to them or you can use them. In fact Orton seems to already know what thoughts are creeping in and designed his program to fit your life and your goals. Don't have 3 hours? Fine, how about 30 minutes (I have that!). 15 minutes in the morning to do the exercises? Perfect. After reading the entire book I know that I can do it. I might not be going to Jackson to train with the man himself, but he's given everything I need right in the book. The exercises, the techniques to fix my form, tips on fixing my (abysmal) diet, how to get stronger and faster and pain free, how to train my mind to help me succeed- it's all in here. Laid out in simple to follow steps.
When I was in college I had a professor (one of the best- Hi Prof. Oakleaf!) who looked at my writing and said "So what?" Totally threw me off my game. I had written a 90 page Management plan and she fixed up my grammar (also abysmal) and said "So what?" And it struck me that I'd been just going through the motions. I am a good writer, I'm an excellent researcher, I fancy myself pretty rocking at my job (school librarian), but I didn't have a point. Now when I'm reading a book, or writing a review at the end I try to remember "So What?" and wrap it all up with a point, or in this case a goal.
So I'm done with The Cool Impossible. So what? What now? Remember back in the beginning I said this was both an easy and a hard review to write? Here's why. The book is fantastic. If you are interested in getting faster, getting stronger, being more efficient, running pain free or learning more about minimalist running. If you are a beginner, if you are a recreational runner, if you are a super athlete, but in a rut. It you want to go on an adventure and do impossible things. Get this book when it comes out next month. You'll find something in the pages to inspire you. Maybe you aren't already halfway finished with your cup of Kool Aid like I was when I started reading, but I guarantee if you read the book with an open mind you will find something between the covers. Easy. The hard part? What does it mean for me?
For me I found a goal. Well, I didn't just find it exactly. The goal was already there. It's been on my cover page for months. The Grand Teton 10k- it's a bucket list race. It's just a 10k but distance for me has never been a goal. It's my favorite kind of run (in the woods), in my favorite place. Could I do the marathon? Maybe. Orton talks about seeing yourself fail before you even try. That's where I am right now on anything longer then a half-marathon. I don't trust that my body could hold out for a marathon- especially a mountain one. So that goal might sit on the back burner for a while. But the 10k. I'm not sure I even need to run the actual race for it to feel like a success. I could see myself doing a 10k in Jackson. I can see myself LOVING that. So there's my Cool Impossible. Run in Jackson Hole.
So here is what you can expect from me. Starting as soon as I can get myself organized I'm going to train with Eric Orton (the book form at least). I've already enlisted my Dad to help out, and if I haven't already asked you, don't be surprised when I want you to help me stay on track. I'm probably one of the least self motivated people I know, so I'm going to need help. I'll be posting my progress over on my blog page, I'll be keeping journals and trying new things and when I'm done I hope I'll be a whole new runner, and maybe a whole new person.
Which I guess is about the best endorsement I can give a book. This book inspired me to take action. Between his technical advice and his ability to make you feel as though you are a part of the conversation, Orton has managed to write a training book that makes you want to dive right in, and it's laid out in a way that makes you feel like you can succeed. Reading it will only take you so far, so here is where the reading ends and the challenge begins. Time to go catch my Cool Impossible.
If you are interested in Pre-Ordering this book you can find it at these places!
Barnes & Nobles
So two weeks after running the Princess in lovely 70 degree weather I was back in the snow belt running in 29 degree weather with a lot of wind. I ran this race last year, so it was fun to challenge myself to do better this year, but I was missing FL and my buddies and nursing a cold, so the race was definitely a little bittersweet.
On with the recap!
As I noted, it was COLD. Typical weather for this time of year, but boy, did I miss running in shorts and a tank top. The Tipp Hill run is a very hilly 4 miles, and those hills are not very protected, so that wind was rough! I walked myself to the back of the pack near the 11 minute pace sign and got myself ready to run. One thing that irked me a little bit was how many people I had to dodge around for the first mile who were walking. I'm all for walking a race (Hell, I just walked 90% of a half marathon), but what annoys me is that people don't start with their pace group- in some cases it makes for dangerous conditions. Especially when it's slippery out. I watched two people in front of me go to dodge a group of walkers, almost crash into each other and then slip. Last year I started in the 13 minute pace group and didn't notice this issue, maybe because I wasn't passing anyone, but it definitely caught my eye this year. That was really the only downside of this race though- once I got passed the walkers and got into a groove it was great!
The best part of this run is the entertainment. All along the course there are bands, singers, dancers and fans cheering you on as you run. I had my headset on, but for the most part I wasn't listening to my playlist, I was enjoying the sights and sounds! This is also the first Syrathon race, so it was awesome to get these first 4 miles in towards that goal.
So how did I do? Well, first lets revisit last year... I ran with my cousin and it sucked. I was tired, I was out of shape and I was pretty miserable. I finished in right around 52 minutes and I was stoked. I was happy I survived. This year was still kind of cold and sucky... but the result was a ton better. This year I finished with a Net Time of 47:03, a full 5 minutes faster! I was pretty happy with that :)
Next up in terms of races?? Well- hopefully the Warrior Mountain Series run, the a Color Me Rad, followed by the Mountain Goat 10 miler (the next Syrathon Race). After that it's a slew of 5k's and the Niagara Falls Women's 1/2 Marathon... I'm in for a busy summer, but I can't wait!