A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Happy Valentine’s Day to Running

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is all about our love of running. As I’m working toward getting back to running, it’s good to remind myself WHY I haul myself out of bed on dark winter mornings. Thanks as always to Patty, Marcia and Erika for hosting our link up!

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My dear running, I love what you do for my legs and my heart and my lupus. Every time I notice my leg muscles as they walk up hills or stairs or run through mile after mile, I’m grateful for running because I know that’s where those workhorses were developed. Every morning I don’t take blood pressure medication, I’m grateful for running, which I suspect had as much to do with normalizing my blood pressure as weight loss did. The last few weeks, with my lupus flaring, I remind myself that my best lupus days are the days I run for an hour or more. It really makes a huge difference in my symptoms (once I get them settled down enough that I can get out to run!).

I love that you reward my efforts with shiny new medals, which make me smile every time I see them.
Did it!!
I love that you’ve given me an excuse for spending hours alone, which this introvert adores.

I love that you’ve given me a way to play with my son that’s fun and healthy for both of us.

These are possibly my favorite race photos ever!

These are possibly my favorite race photos ever!

I love that you’ve given me a whole new view of myself. The fact that Oliver said his mom was Supermom while I was running my marathon meant everything to me. Running, you’ve taught me that I can do anything.

I love that you’ve added days to my life and quality to those days. I know I’m a healthier, happier person because of you.

Thanks running. I’ll leave your card and chocolates on the doorstep. ๐Ÿ™‚

Why do you love running (or tennis or Crossfit or whatever your workout of choice might be)?

 

 

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Weekly Wrap-Up: A little better, day by day

I took this week a little easier, intentionally this time, and I think it is helping. I focused on rest and healthy foods and not on the workouts I was missing. Now, thankfully, my joints are settling down a bit. Rest and stress management are key in managing my lupus. This doesn’t mean there were no workouts though, promise!

Tuesday, I ran hills and remembered how much I love a hill workout: tough enough that you feel like you “worked” and you can squeeze them in even when time is tight. Awkward workout moment: I was listening to the audiobook of The Hundred Foot Journey. There was a section that described, in fairly vivid detail, the butchering of a hog. I am a country girl. I’ve seen animals slaughtered. I’ve seen how the sausage gets made. Somehow, listening to it described in my ears while I was trying to run was too much. I was literally gagging on the side of the road. Sigh. Thank goodness it was dark.

Saturday, I spent 45 minutes bouncing at a trampoline facility for my graduate student’s birthday party. Lots of steps and raised heart rate according to the Garmin (and my sore legs afterwards). TMI warning – Not the best activity for a 38 year old who has had a baby. Ugh. We’ll subtract that frantic bathroom break from my workout time.

Sunday, I got in a couple of miles of hilly walking at the zoo with my guys. All in all, it was a very active weekend.

Zoo
I also spent some time this weekend reworking my training plan for the spring, which helped me feel a little less like I was “behind” in my training for the Flying Pig marathon weekend. I find the guilt of “failing” with my training plan to be a HUGE burden of stress so this reworking has me feeling much, much better. I’ve got plenty of time to get trained for the race weekend, using a modified version of the plan I used this fall for back to back half marathons.ย  Today, my hands and elbows are the least painful they’ve been in two weeks, so I’m hopefully I get some more miles in this week to ease back on track for training.
Way too excited for this

I also got in some quality time with O, with a breakfast date and Target trip prior to Lego Batman. We are big fans of Lego Batman and O insisted on this pic at Target, even though you can’t seem him back there at all. ๐Ÿ™‚ In addition to making time for eating better (going well!) and exercising (easing back into it!), I need to make a conscious effort for quality time with O. I work a lot for my family, both in my job and in keeping our house moving, but that’s not the same as these times where the two of us just focus on each other. That’s good for both of us.

This week, I’m on call, so probably no runs, but I can 1) meditate every morning, 2) hit the Garmin’s step goal every day and 3) eat healthy foods despite my crazy schedule. This weekend, I want to run some (doesn’t matter how much) Saturday and 4 miles on Sunday so that I can be ready for a real schedule starting again soon.

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link-up! This week, I’m grateful for baby steps. What are you grateful for today?

weekly wrap up

PS – I’m also glad for this: Lin Manuel Miranda’s Galentine’s Day playlist. Definitely downloading these to get me through this week on call!

PS #2 – Know what helps with rest? Watching the Great British Bakeoff Masterclass episodes, which I adore but which also put me to sleep. Something about Paul and Mary explaining cakes has me yawning within minutes. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Trying out a 3-day “cleanse” from Cooking Light

You guys know I’m not into the kind of cleanses or detoxes where I drink shakes or completely avoid certain foods or only eat cabbage soup or anything like that, but I did try a “detox” recently: the 3 day detox from the December 2016 edition of Cooking Light (recipes here). It isn’t so much of a detox (thanks liver & kidneys for doing that every day!) as it is a diet reset to get healthy foods back in focus. After the holidays, the marathon and 4 days on a cruise ship, this was just what we needed!

– I loved that the planning was taken out of our hands. I didn’t have to think about what groceries to buy when we were still in that post-vacation, get back to work fugue state or planning a meal calendar. It was already done for us, which made it much easier to get back on track during the chaos of laundry, unpacking and peeling off our 5 year old who’d missed us more than he let on.

– Because the planning was done, we weren’t really making any choices which meant we weren’t making bad choices. Definite win!

– The focus was really just on nutritionally “good” foods, nothing exotic or woo-woo. Nothing was eliminated or avoided. We just ate lots of veggies and lean proteins, with some healthy whole grains and fruits thrown in.

Great use of leftovers! One of my favorite things about this was how thoughtfully it was designed so that you used the leftovers in the subsequent days. Any time my prep work does double duty for future meals, it’s a win! I’m not great at this level of planning in my usual cooking, but this exercise has got me thinking more proactively about that in my meal planning now. In this menu, leftover pork was used in salad on a later day and leftover sweet potatoes in a hash. Simple but smart!

Great salad with leftovers
Three days was the ideal length of time: Long enough to get us on the right track, not so long that we chafed at the restrictions or had trouble fitting in our schedule.

ย – The recipes were delicious! I’ve kept the lunch quinoa toss in my rotation (and am planning it for next week!) and gained a new appreciation for how much a little lemon can jazz up dinner. Darrell still talks about how great the roasted sweet potatoes were, which is a simple thing but one we’d stopped doing for some reason.ย  He also really liked the spaghetti squash-shrimp recipe, even though he’s generally very anti-spaghetti squash. One note is that I usually doubled the amount of the protein, so that Darrell didn’t complain about the amount of food.

Tuna quinoa toss

I think I’m going to adopt this approach as a routine part of our post-vacation planning from now on, to have a path to get us back to normal healthy eating and keep the vacation indulgences from creeping into every day. There are a few other menus like this on Cooking Light, so I’ll have several options to choose from.

Have you tried any similar “cleanse menus”? Love it or hate it? How long could you follow something like this?

 

Check out a couple of similar menus from Cooking Light here:

http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/3-day-cleanse/get-healthy
http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/meal-plan-for-weight-loss#

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Still on the lupus learning curve . . .

For the most part, I forget about the lupus. Nowadays, I’m used to the constant ache and the fatigue. They’re just my baseline. Frankly, I suspect that’s the baseline of lots of overworked moms. And non-moms. I tend to forget the lessons I’ve learned about what tips things over into “noticeable” territory with lupus. Last week, I got reminded. I told you on Friday that I’d had a lot of food successes over the week with my work trip and that’s true. I made reasonable choices for the most part and came home feeling tired but successful.

Healthy travel food choices

Did I meet all of my goals? Nope – I didn’t get any runs in because I was just too tired and decided not to push it in this “warm up” week of my spring training. The social and professional networking at these meetings just drains me and I recognized that if I did too much, I’d set myself back more than those two runs were worth.

However, I apparently forgot about the wisdom of not overdoing things when I got home. I got home and immediately turned around to a day in which I had a 6:30 am meeting, work all day, lovely break for a facial in the afternoon (yay!) and then work all evening until I rushed out to grab dinner with Darrell for his birthday and then pick up O at parents night out. Oliver and I packed in a mad dash so we could leave early in the morning Saturday for Darrell’s birthday gift: a weekend to himself. Oliver and I left the house at 7 am Saturday morning and didn’t come back until 3 pm Sunday. I never actually unpacked from the work trip – just reloaded the bag with his stuff on top of mine. We had lots of great mother-son bonding time, including some pool time together, games, decorating a Valentine’s day box, food at our favorite places and movies cuddled in the hotel room bed. He wanted to sleep in the bed with me, which meant I got kicked and poked all night long (SPIDER MONKEY!). However, he seems like he’s in a much better place after that so it was worth the bad sleep (mostly). I need to make a conscious effort to have some one-on-one time when I get home from these work trips. Among other things, learning what he thinks is funny was incredibly enlightening. And entertaining.

Bonding time

Between the bad sleep and the fact that I somehow lost track of taking any of my lupus meds through this crazy Friday-Saturday-Sunday, I was in bad shape by Sunday night. Last week’s plan of four runs including back-to-back runs on the weekend? Ha. I did get in one run on Saturday, which felt good, but that was it. Oh, and that healthy eating on my work trip? Let’s not even talk about what happened over the weekend . . .

Now, I pick myself up, dust myself off and start again. It’s just the beginning on my training plan – screwing up the “warm up” week isn’t catastrophic so there’s no need to dwell on that. I refilled my pill box because I need those meds. I got some sleep. And some more sleep. I got back on my meditation pillow Monday morning. I ate whole, healthy foods all day yesterday. I ran hills today.

I am taking it one day at a time. I can’t beat myself up for last week. I just learn from it and move on. Also, lupus still sucks.

How was your week? What’s your favorite back-on-track workout? I really loved the hills this morning – you can squeeze in a hill workout even when time is short and feel like you got some quality work done before your day starts!

 

Thanks as always to Tricia and Holly for hosting our link up! Check out everyone else’s week (which were hopefully more successful than mine!)

weekly wrap up

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Friday Five: Five wins for a crazy week!

This week has been sort of nuts, with travel for work, behavior problems for O at school (those two are related unfortunately) and a new chronic illness diagnosis is a family member causing some stress. All of these things will be fine, but these have also all set me up for lots of binging in the past. Even without binges, I’ve had lots of times over the last year where I would make bad choices in weeks like this, give up and say “I’ll start again next week.” This week, that didn’t happen!

    • No french fries on my work trip! Poor french fries – they’ve come to embody the poor choices I’ve made in the last year, even though they are by NO means the only bad food choice I’ve made. However, they do seem to be the marker of “giving up on the healthy diet” for me. Thus, my biggest goal in eating during my travel was NO FRENCH FRIES and I succeeded. Woo hoo!
    • I tried new healthy foods – and liked them! I had a fantastic savory oatmeal – which I’ll now be working into my breakfast rotation. I also got a fabulous salad in a jar from a vending machine in the Chicago Airport last night from Farmer’s Fridge (link FYI – no perks for me). It was delicious and fresh, very unlike my prior airport salad experiences.

Salad from a vending machine?

    • I drank one night – more than I should have – but didn’t give up on any of my other healthy choices. Win! I’m not the only introvert who uses alcohol to navigate professional networking, right?
    • I resisted baked goods – lots of baked goods. Why are there always so many baked goods at conferences? Instead, I got healthy breakfasts each day. And lots of coffee.

Conference breakfast wins

  • I’m handling my mom guilt over Oliver’s behaviors and the link to my travel (ugh) not with brownies, but with plans for lots of one on one time with my little man this weekend. Huge win since I do in fact have a pan of brownies at home.

What are your wins this week? Would you ever buy a jar of salad from an airport vending machine?

Thanks to Meranda, Lacey and Rachel for hosting Friday Five!

Friday Five 2.0

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Tuesdays on the Run: Rating January

For Tuesdays on the Run this week, we’re rating our month. I love this idea in general, but am a little tickled by it in terms of this particular month as I’ve had weeks at a time when I didn’t run.

Wins in January:

  • Kept running through the last bit of my taper, just like the plan outlined!
  • Marathon!! (Duh!)

Supermom!

Castaway Cay challenge

  • Cut off my running break to start moving again and start training for the Flying Pig Three Way Challenge

Demerits in January (flashback to high school drill team days!):

  • Took recovery a little too far and didn’t work out at all for two-plus weeks

I didn’t intend to stop exercising all together for those two weeks post-vacation. It turns out that I have a hard time making myself exercise if I’m not training. Oops. However, it means I got lots of rest and recovery after the marathon so that’s a good thing, right?

All in all, I can’t give the month that included my first marathon anything less than an A. However, next month I’m stepping it up in mileage and speed work and will have a much steeper grading curve for myself.

How did your January go?

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Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting our link up!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Back in the saddle (finally!)

 

Can I say I’m back in the saddle when I’ve really only run once in the last few weeks? Sure I can – it’s Monday, so let’s aim for an optimistic note! Seriously, I took a nice LOOONNNGGG rest from the marathon and now it’s time to move again. It turns out that I sleep in and find excuses not to exercise if I’m not actively training for something. That alone makes race registrations worth it, right? Thankfully, this week starts a new training plan so I’m ready to go again.

I don’t have much to wrap up from last week, in terms of work outs but other goals are going well. I tore myself away from the news enough to run on Sunday. I cooked new foods including a keeper of a Greek chicken salad and that sushi salad I showed you a pic of earlier this week. I tracked my food all week and finished up a book on my shelf (Kitchens of the Great Midwest – interesting collection of intertwined stories). I also meditated every weekday, although weekends are still a struggle in that regard. Still, lots of wins for my goals for 2017 which is good amidst all of the chaos in our little world.

I’m traveling this week to DC for work. Work travel has been a bigger disrupter of my food and fitness plans over the last year than it has been in the past, so I’m outlining a clear set of goals for myself to help me stay on track.

– I have two workouts scheduled while I’m gone: a 3 mile easy run (Tuesday, after I arrive) and a speed workout (Thursday morning). Both can be done on the treadmill fairly readily and are thankfully short, so I have no excuse for missing them. It’s always fun to pack as much workout gear as work gear when I travel for business.

– I’ll be at a Marriott and while my meeting includes a continental breakfast, I will make the choice to get oatmeal and fruit as a healthier option from room service before I head down to the meeting. I don’t have to give in to pastries. I can take advantages of other options.

– I can still meditate in the morning and may even have the time to try out some longer meditations without my usual home duties.

Like I’ve done with travel in the past, I’m going to take advantage of real time accountability and post my food on Instagram. I used to be great about staying on track when I traveled, but for the last year have fallen into the well of french fries and pastries far too often! This will be especially important as I expect travel to be a little more chaotic than usual in and out of DC this week. Stress eating won’t fix anything.

This week marks the first week of my training plan for the Flying Pig weekend in May. I’m running the 5K and 10K at Flying Pig on Saturday, followed by the half marathon on Sunday. My primary goal is to support the amazing Meg through the hills of the first half of her marathon (as the courses overlap at the beginning). I’m going to use essentially the same training plan as I did for my back to back half marathons in the fall, with the addition of speed or hill work for one of the weekday workouts as I’ve really noticed the lack of that kind of workout in my running. I’ll definitely want to be ready for the hills that occur along that half marathon course!

Not much of a wrap up this week, but I promise next week will include actual running! I don’t even have any fun fitness or food related pics this week so I’ll leave you with this instead:

Goof

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link-up!

weekly wrap up

Have you run Flying Pig? Leave me links to your recaps or advice on the course below! Also, Skyline Chili: Love or hate? I’ve never tried it but think that’s probably going to be part of the visit.

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Word for 2017: FEED

I know this is a weird word to choose for someone with a history of obesity and disordered eating, but bear with me. I put off setting intentions for 2017 until I finished 2016’s big goal: my first marathon. The marathon was amazing experience and it really did require every ounce of the physical and mental effort I put into it, but it consumed A LOT of my personal bandwidth. This year, what I’d really like to get back to some of the things I let slide while I focused on the marathon.

    • Feed my family: I LOVE to cook, but over the last year I’ve found myself defaulting to the quick and easy or eating out far too often. There’s nothing wrong with quick and easy, but I used to balance that with joyful cooking, where I tried new things, cooked with Oliver, spent time dwelling in the smells and senses of cooking and learned new things. I want to get back to that. What does that mean? New recipes, reading the cookbooks I’ve been ignoring since I received them as gifts, involving Oliver in cooking, going to cooking classes and anything else that brings back joy to our kitchen. I’m already back in the saddle. Check out this gorgeous sushi salad:

Sushi salad

  • Feed my body: I definitely let my attention to those good nutritional habits I established when I lost weight slide during marathon training. This was partly due to mental fatigue and partly due to a “reward” mentality, although really mostly the former. Once we got back from our cruise, I started tracking diligently in Weight Watchers again. I haven’t weighed in yet (battery is out on the scale), but I’m focusing on fruits and veggies, reasonable amounts and how much BETTER I feel now that I’m eating this way. I forgot about that feeling as my diet slid over the last 6 months.
  • Feed my brain: Along with stepping away from cooking, I stopped reading last year between the marathon and being consumed with the chaos of reading about politics and world events. I’m already doing well in my goal of reading more this year, like we discussed earlier this month, and really loving the time spent with books again.
  • Feed my spirit: I’ve always had this intention to meditate because it is supposed to be good for stress (which I have!), lupus (ditto!) and mental clarity (desperately needed!). I’ve finally managed to get that started! Almost every morning, I’ve settled on my cushion in the living room before everyone else was awake to use the Breathe app and take a few minutes to center. Something has finally clicked and I’m really noticing a difference in how I “let go” of the stress in my days.
  • Feed my relationship: Darrell and I had such a great time on vacation together, even just doing “nothing.” I am so grateful to have a partner who is supportive and fun and trusting and grounded. Seriously amazing and I should honor him and us more with time and focus. I want to be sure we have date nights every month and happy hours every couple of weeks and also, that he has time to himself for things he enjoys to make up for all of the time he makes adjustments for my schedule and my job.
  • Feed my self-esteem: I’m proactively shutting off negative thoughts in a way I’ve never been able to before, especially impressive given the undeniable fact that I’ve regained a lot of weight. Every time I start a negative thought about myself, I’m finally able to interrupt it and counter it. I’m not sure if it is the meditation helping with that or the fact that I hate the act of that positive countering (awkward!) that helps me nip those thoughts in the bud, but I’ve definitely noticed a difference!

Naughty mom

While I got this particular “You stop that!” finger for daring to say Green Lantern was one of my least favorite super heroes (true), I can envision it every time I find myself getting too negative in my thoughts about myself.
Notice what’s missing? Yeah – big running goals for the year. I’ll set smaller goals along the way potentially, but I’m still a little mentally worn out from the marathon. I want to get back to speed work and get back to yoga, but I just don’t have the mental energy for a big running goal. I have a big running weekend coming up in May, but that is more about supporting a friend than it is my own personal running. Who knows – maybe when fall rolls around, I’ll be itching for a good half marathon run, but for now, focusing on these other intentions feels right.

I hope you guys all have a great weekend! Do you have a word for 2017?

 

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Castaway Cay Challenge 2017

When I decided I was crazy enough to run a marathon, it didn’t take Darrell long to come up with the idea of doing a cruise afterwards. I’m always on board for extra medals, so we got in touch with our travel agent and then tacked on registration for the Castaway Cay Challenge. For certain Disney race weekends, they offer the opportunity to run a special edition of their usual Castaway Cay 5K on the following cruise (more on my prior experiences with the usual 5K here and here) to earn the Castaway Cay Challenge medal.
Castaway Cay challenge

This set up meant there were a lot of runners on my ship. Four of the six of us at our dinner table had run during the weekend. I was proud of us for not talking exclusively about the race weekend and I’m sure Darrell was relieved by this! I also got asked by lots of cast members about race weekend and got lots of extra congratulations, even without wearing my medal around the ship. There even were special “recovery” drink options in the coffee shops and bars.

I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t quite the same as the usual 5K (not that I don’t love the usual 5K!). A few key differences:

  • As opposed to the usual 5K, registration had a cost associated and was done before you got on the ship. The Castaway Cay Challenge was one of the many stops we made at the Expo while picking up everything for the marathon. Exchanges were available on the ship if you needed to exchange your shirt size. It was nice to get to skip my usual check-in at the Guest Services desk to register for the 5K.

Castaway Cay

  • There were shirts and other goodies specific to the Castaway Cay Challenge, in addition to getting the race shirt with registration. The designs of these were much more colorful, including the ship, Mickey and the beach. I actually prefer the more subdued race shirt, but that may be because I already have shirts for the regular Castaway Cay 5K similar to the added purchase Challenge shirts, so I didn’t grab any of those.

 

  • There was also an information session on the cruise that was specific to the Challenge 5K. I confess I was doing the dessert experience at Remy, so I didn’t go to this, but one of my tablemates (who’d never run on Castaway Cay before) found this session helpful.

 

  • The course was a little bit different than the typical 5K course on the island. After a long walk out to the airstrip, we ran down the wide, paved airstrip before turning onto a narrow paved path that paralleledย  Serenity Bay, the adult beach. Because we ran out and back along this section of the path, it got very crowded. Unless you were at the very front of the pack, you would have had to shuffle around a lot of people to find space to run. We were in the “jungle,” without any real beach views, but we did get lovely glimpses of the boat and the sunrise every once in a while.Sunrise
  • The course continued back out to the airstrip (where there was a water stop, with little bottles of water) before heading around the loop for the observation tower and then out for the finish line. I love that they had Swiss Family Robinson characters at the observation tower. ๐Ÿ™‚ It livened up the otherwise dull loop to talk to them. They were discussing between themselves exactly what a “selfie” might be when I passed.

 

  • Speaking of characters, they said the course had an “adventure” theme, so other than Beach Goofy at the start:
    GoofyThe other characters were dressed in adventure gear, including a pirate-ish Minnie and Mickey and Chip and Dale in their Rescue Ranger best:
    Rescue rangers
    How did my run go? Oy. This was the most physically painful run of my life. I mostly walked this 5K, because every step I ran hurt everything from the waist down. Even though this was an untimed 5K, for some reason I was adamant that I would meet the 16 minute mile cut off and not walk the entire thing. Thus, I kept an eye on the Garmin lap time for each mile. When the time drifted up to 15:30 for the projected mile time, I’d run again until it dropped, then go back to walking. Unconventional intervals, to be sure, but it got me through and each mile was slightly faster than the last. I even ran all of the last 0.1 to a grateful finish. ๐Ÿ™‚

Castaway Cay finish

I was quick to grab my medal and my usual runDisney goodies (banana, Powerade and box) before heading back to the ship. We were all required to check back in to the ship after the race before officially getting back off the ship for the port day. There were a TON of non-runner people waiting for all of us to get back on the boat so they could out to start their beach day. Sorry guys!

All in all, it was fun to get the extra medal and I loved doing the 5K earlier in the day (cooler, plus more time on the beach later!). However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to cruise post-race just for the Castaway Challenge again. It wasn’t that much better than the normal race on the island (which is free and comes with the same cute Castaway Cay 5K medallion). Cruising post-race for the rest and relaxation . . . that’s another thing all together. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Tuesdays on the Run link-up today is about how much you’re willing to pay for a race. Somehow I thought this little 5K, which I paid a small fortune for when you consider the cost of the cruise, fit the bill. Be sure to check out Erika, Patty and Marcia for the rest of the link up!

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Walt Disney World Marathon (Part 2)

And now . . . for the rest of the marathon story (part 1 yesterday!)

I was worried that my motivation would flag when I got through the Magic Kingdom, because that section is definitely the highlight and is at the very beginning of the race (miles 5-7 ish) but I carried on with my intervals without much flagging. I had mentally divided things up into chunks: Magic Kingdom (yay!), Animal Kingdom (to Everest or not to Everest?), ESPN Wide World of Sports (survive the suck) and EPCOT (finished!!). That grouping really helped me to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of miles I think.

Before I knew it, we were nearing Animal Kingdom. There’s an unfortunate and smelly section where you pass the sewage treatment plant that is no fun, but otherwise I really enjoyed the Animal Kingdom section. Ultimately, I decided not to stop for Everest because I didn’t want to lose the good momentum I had. I was very aware that I was running the first half faster than I’d intended and wanted to keep moving before I crashed.

Expedition Everest

Again, this was a section I’d run before, back in the Jingle Jungle 5K (so fun!!) so I had great memories to keep me grinning through the miles. This is also where I hit the halfway point and sent my mom and Darrell a selfie to show how well I was faring so far:
Halfway
This spot was strategically chosen because I was pretty sure Oliver wouldn’t recognize this as Disney World if my mom showed him. She did and he told her that his mom was SuperMom. Cue tears again. That kid is so much of the reason I run.

When we left Animal Kingdom, I knew the real work was starting. Thankfully, on the way out of the Animal Kingdom there was a huge group of spectators cheering us on (Thanks Patty!) and that gave me a huge boost. I was officially beyond half marathon territory now and had the dreaded ESPN Wide World of Sports ahead of me. I have nothing against WWoS, but have read so many race recaps of how awful that section was and how many people had their races fall apart there that I was dreading it.

I stopped for my one and only character stop of the race to get myself psyched up for the last 13.1 miles:
Haunted mansion gravediggersI didn’t consciously decide not to stop for characters during the course. I wasn’t worried about time or anything. It was just that I hadn’t seen anyone I felt the need to stop for before this. Standing in line, when I knew still had hours and miles to go, had little appeal. I would have stopped for Darkwing Duck, who I’ve heard was present in years past, and had to stop for these guys from my favorite ride. I’m REALLY glad I had them use my camera in addition to the PhotoPass camera, because the PhotoPass pic loaded in my account is not me for this particular photo.

After this, it was up and going again. I definitely lost some momentum with that stop, but it was worth it. The miles between Animal Kingdom and WWoS (14-17 ish) were boring street miles, with lots of construction. When we got to mile 17 and started to head into WWoS, several people around me cheered that we were down to single digits left. Woo hoo! Thank goodness for that boost, because WWoS was pretty boring otherwise.

I think the bad rap WWoS gets is partially because a) miles 17-20 are tough no matter how you look at it: You’ve been going for ages, you aren’t close enough to the finish to really celebrate and a lot of people physically hit the wall at this point and b) we spent THREE miles here, running around sidewalks, the track and the baseball field. That’s more time than we spend in any other park, which definitely feels disproportionate. I’m happy to say that other than getting tired of sidewalks, I did well through this section physically and mentally. I never felt “the wall” – I’d stayed regular with my water at every stop and mix of Gu, Sport Beans and waffle like I’d used in training. I skipped bananas and the other treats offered on the sidelines because I hadn’t practiced with those. I was definitely tired of Gu by mile 20, but it held me in good stead through the miles.
Mile 20 WWOS

As we came out of WWoS and I realized that I was past the dreaded mile 20 (the peak of my training) and “feeling good”, I found myself in tears again at the realization that I was actually about to finish a marathon. I say feeling good in relative terms: my feet hurt, I was tired and I was slowing, but I was still running. At that point, I determined that I was not going to walk it in once I was past sweeping. I could keep running this thing (barring the hills of course – I definitely let myself walk those!).

We left WWoS and headed into Hollywood Studios for the briefest visit, past the Tower of Terror and down Sunset Boulevard, before we hit the sidewalk to EPCOT and safety. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t too crowded at this point like it had been at Wine and Dine. There was still plenty of people running, so things moved fairly smoothly. We rounded the Boardwalk and before I knew it, we were in EPCOT and the home stretch.

Coming in to Epcot

We entered EPCOT in England and rounded the whole of the World Showcase. I swear that ball was never getting any closer. Thank you to the random woman (tears again!) who cheered us on by saying “You made it! You’re in EPCOT!” just as I was believing that Spaceship Earth was a mirage and I was never going to get there. Somewhere around here, I missed the mile 25 marker and as I knew my Garmin was very off in mileage, I had no idea how much further I had to go through this section. This last bit was definitely the toughest mentally, but I was able to convince myself that if I kept going, I’d be finished sooner. Also, I had no $$ for a margarita so there was less temptation to stop.

Once that stupid white ball finally started moving closer, it was over in the blink of an eye. There was the gospel choir and the finish line and I’m high fiving Donald and holy cow I’m a marathoner!
Screenshot (23)

Point of pride: RUNNING at the end of 26.92 miles, thank you very much. I still haven’t looked to see my official time. It’s around the 6:30-6:40 range, based on the Garmin. I really don’t care. I finished a marathon! I was hugely disappointed in that moment with how long I had to wait to get that medal. I know logistically they need to NOT be right at the finish, but I wanted mine as soon as I crossed that line. I’m not the only one, right?

I’m still processing what I think of all of this and the question I’ve gotten most, will I do it again? I might do it again. I’m sure I could do it faster – I’m currently the slowest I’ve been in my running life. I don’t feel the need to right now though. Just knowing that I can run 26.2 miles is enough. If there’s ever a temptation again, I’ll consider it at that point. Who knows – when they open the remodeled Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, I may be back. ๐Ÿ™‚

For now, I’m basking in the glory of what my body can do when asked. We really are amazing creatures. Thanks to all of you for your support through this journey. You were part of the happy tears at mile 20 (and the threatening tears right now – holy cow was I unprepared for how emotional marathons are!).

Anybody else find themselves tearing up in big races? I expected tears at the finish (which didn’t actually happen) but not all of the emotion along the way.

 

 

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