A Little More Each Day

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

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 paralleledΒ  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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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:
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. πŸ™‚

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.















Walt Disney World Marathon!

It’s taken me a while to wrap my mind around the marathon experience and what I want to say about it, other than a step by step recap. We’ll start with the step by step (two parts, because it ended up huge!) but I can’t promise I won’t have more to say later. This is the kind of thing that sticks in your mind for a while, I suspect.

Like I said last week, this race felt like a huge win in terms of mental effort and my training. I ran the pace I expected (had been training around 15 minute miles for long runs, ran 14:40 in the marathon) and kept up my mental effort the whole race. My goals, prior to race morning were simple: Finish the marathon. I didn’t have any other goals in terms of time, intervals, etc. I’d told Darrell about my expected finish time, so he’d know when to be at the finish line, but also told him that it could very well be longer.

On race morning, I woke up before the alarm but pleased that I had gotten a very good night of sleep before that. I got out of the room quickly and quietly, without forgetting anything (win #1 of the morning!) other than my rain poncho. It wasn’t raining but that poncho would have been nice for wind protection. I rode the monorail from the Polynesian to Epcot, which was running as early as 3 am. The only downside to the monorail is that you’re dropped off quite a ways from the check in area. Otherwise, it’s great not to wait and stress about a bus – definitely quick and easy. We got dropped off at the entrance to Epcot and walked quite a bit to the bag check, which helped warm things up and settle my nerves a bit. I didn’t have any gear with me, thanks to having Darrell at the finish, so I headed back around to Race Retreat for breakfast and to stay warm for the hour or so before the race. Time seemed to fly by and before we knew it was time to start!
Race retreat characters

I’ve talked about Race Retreat before (here) and will say that again, I felt like it was worth it for my needs at the time. Staying warm, sitting and getting my brain right and of course, character photos. πŸ™‚Β  It wasn’t long before we were heading out to the corrals. Thanks to lovely random runner who gave me her spare poncho to block the wind while we were in the port-a-potty line!

Just FYI for anyone new to Disney races – I had over 6,000 steps by the time I got to my corral, with all of the walking from the monorail to the race retreat tent to the corrals. Be prepared for LOTS of extra walking before the race.

My first clue that this was going to be a particularly emotional day for me came with Mickey’s kick-off for the first group of runners. He referenced all of the athletes out there to run and I had a “Holy cow, I’m an athlete” moment. Tears in the corral are normal for your first marathon, right?
We're off!When they started the corral, I had this moment of certainty that “I’ve got this.” It was amazing and absolute and got me started in the best possible mood.

I was in corral I, based on my half marathon time and based on far faster paces than I’d been running in marathon training. I was worried that I would head out too fast with all of those faster people, but am so proud of myself for sticking to my plan to run my own race. Yes, those first few miles were faster than they should have been, but I stuck to my intervals rather than running more than I’d trained for.
Magic Kingdom

It was so reassuring to be running essentially the same path that I’d taken in the Princess Half Marathon in my first half marathon years ago. Places of prior success can be so powerful mentally. When I ran through the Magic Kingdom gates,I was reminded of Princess and how great I felt at the end of that race. I was also reminded of the upcoming Magic Kingdom and how great it felt to run through that park. I was thrilled to see that the Christmas decorations were still up when we got to Main Street. Christmas in the Magic Kingdom is definitely one of my happy places!
Christmas decorations still up on Main Street

One nice thing about this race overall is that I never felt as crowded as it was at the Princess Half Marathon. That was particularly appreciated on Main Street – it made it easier to step aside and get the obligatory castle selfie. Castle selfieLike Princess, we ran through Main Street and turned off to Tomorrowland. I was tempted to stop at Buzz Lightyear for old times’ sake, but I wasn’t in the mood for character stops. I was just enjoying the experience of running through the park. I was glad that the crowd was moving smoothly and that we were able to run through the castle too:

Through the castle

I can’t explain why it is so much fun to run through the Magic Kingdom, but I found myself skipping walk intervals through this section and running with a goofy grin the whole time. Definitely the right way to start a marathon!!

I paused in the Magic Kingdom for a real bathroom: Frontierland, no waiting! Then we were out the back, past the train, and on the street again. While I didn’t stop for characters in the Magic Kingdom, I did enjoy seeing my old friend Buzz and seeing Swami Donald out in the park. At the Hall of Presidents, Sam Eagle (Muppets) was poking his head of the top to yell at us which was a lovely little touch!
Sam Eagle

There were also parade floats out to see and on the back roads, old ride cars like the 20,000 leagues under the sea boats and the skyway cars. I felt really bad for the poor “grooms” out by the wedding pavilion on those back roads. No one was stopping for a pic with them. 😦

More to come tomorrow with the post-Magic Kingdom miles!

Did anybody else notice Sam up in the Hall of Presidents? Such a fun touch. I got as much enjoyment out of seeing the characters as I would have taken pics with them along the way. Who would your must-stop character be?

PS: Clearly this isn’t winter running gear and advice so be sure to go check out the rest of the Tuesdays on the Run link up for more info on surviving winter runs. My one word of advice: LAYERS. Thanks as always to Patty, Erika and Marcia for hosting!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Marathoner!!

What a week! First off, I had EXACTLY the marathon race I trained for and it was a fantastic time:
Did it!!I’ll post a full recap when we get back from the cruise, but for now, let me say there were happy tears and a great mental race. Also, lots of awkward hobbling in the aftermath which is entertaining my husband a lot. πŸ™‚ Truly, knowing you all were cheering for me was SO powerful and part of those happy tears. Thanks so much for supporting me through this!

Brief fly through of the rest of the week: Coming up to the race, my focus was on sleep (sort of successful), drinking well, eating well (pretty good! Remembered that French fries aren’t ideal carb loading) and running enough to keep moving. I didn’t worry about mileage targets but tried to shake things out.Β 

Weekly WorkoutsΒ 

Monday – Walking and stretching (and the movie Moana – which we loved! Downloaded the soundtrack for race day!)

Tuesday – Easy run with pickups (but oh so cold!)

Wednesday – Even colder easy run, which made me REALLY grateful that I wasn’t running 26.2 in January in Nebraska. Brrr!!

Thursday – No running because of unexpected overnight snow, but snow shoveling Thursday morning was workout enough.Β 

Friday – Early morning wake up for our flights, with airport walking, expo walking and walking from the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian for dinner. Darrell was amazed at how much walking there was at the Expo – he was over 10,000 steps between the airport and the expo and we did the bare minimum at the expo with no shopping!

Saturday – Lots of rest and reading (and an early bedtime!). As you’ve all heard, the half marathon got cancelled because of the storm (and there was thunder, so it sounds like they made the right call). Loads of people got out to run anyway and we had a great view of lots of costumed runners from our room in the Polynesian. I love the dedication!

Half marathoners

Sunday – Race day! I promise a full recap will come next week, after the cruise. For now, I’ll just say that as soon as Mickey counted down 3, 2, 1 and our fireworks went off, a little voice inΒ  my brain said “I’ve got this” and I carried that with me for 26.2 miles. Well, 26.92, because I’m bad at running tangents apparently. It was a great experience, even if my feet feel broken today. πŸ™‚

We're off!

We celebrated after the race with an early dinner at Sanaa, which I highly recommend for the mango margarita and bread service alone (although the butter chicken was also divine!).

Sanaa to celebrate
Now, we’re off for some grown up vacationing on the cruise. Oliver is having a fantastic time with Nana and I’m riding that post-marathon high, so hopefully I’ll be able to relax and enjoy these next few days away from responsibility. πŸ™‚

I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to run this marathon and for the rest that’s in my future. Thanks so much to all of you for your support through this journey!

Thanks as always to Holly and Tricia for hosting our link-up! I can’t wait to hear all about Holly’s race and her shiny new PR! Congrats Holly!

weekly wrap up

If you were one of the half marathoners with a cancelled race, would you have run it anyway? I think I might have it were my first and there were others out doing the make up run or if it was part of one of the challenges. If I was just here for the half marathon and had done HMs before, I might have taken the chance to have the day off in the parks, I confess. πŸ™‚



2016 goal: Do I really want to train for a marathon?

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic was a check in on 2016 goals, which I already wrote about a bit earlier this month here. Instead, today seems like a good to talk about a goal I’ve been tossing around in my head lately – do I want to run the Walt Disney World marathon in January 2017? Early registration opened today, with general registration next week so it’s time to decide.

When I first started considering the marathon, I told myself I’d see how my training went this spring before I decided on the marathon. Last fall with the training I was doing for the Des Moines Half Marathon, I developed some knee pain toward the end that cut some runs short. I turned out to have a good race without knee trouble, but definitely wanted to see if that reared its head again with this spring’s training before I decided on the marathon. So far, I haven’t had any injury or knee pain and I’ve got enough long runs under my belt this cycle to feel comfortable saying my body is handling this training well. Importantly, I’ve taken this training easy in terms of mileage and have rarely run 6 days a week like I did last fall.

I would use the Hal Higdon Marathon Novice 1 plan for training, picking up at the “half marathon” in that plan after the back to back half marathons of the I-35 challenge. I used Hal Higdon for my first 10K and my first half marathon. I like the straightforward building up of mileage, focusing on that gradual progression of miles. The maximum mileage would be 40 miles a week, just above the peak of 35 miles I did with half marathon training last fall. Can I safely do that mileage? I think I can if I’m smart about following the plan and keeping the runs easy. My goal in a marathon is just to finish, so I’m not going to worry about paces.

I’ve been thinking about this for months and reading lots of “are you ready for the marathon” articles like this one and this one and you know what? I think I am.

  • I’m not injured (and am in fact fairly injury free in my running life overall – KNOCK ON WOOD!)
  • While my life is never stress free, I at least shouldn’t have another huge grant to write between now and the marathon and my work schedule between now and then is actually pretty friendly for training. This is as low stress as I’m ever going to get, so now is as good as any time.
  • Is my lifestyle conducive to this? I’m actually more worried about training for the back to back half marathons, which will have me away from my family both Saturday and Sunday for a couple of hours at a time than I am the one long run of marathon training weekends. Of course, I’ll also be more tired than I’ve been with any other training cycle but Darrell is on board with this, even knowing that it’ll make me less effective on the parenting/wife-ing front for the fall. His agreement may be because he’s bribed with a cruise after the marathon and a chance to do Harry Potter worlds at Universal on the Saturday pre-marathon while I’m resting and getting ready.
  • I’ve been running for almost four years now and have 7 half marathons under my belt, so I’m comfortable running long distances, fueling, following a training plan and listening to my body. I know the marathon will stretch me beyond what I’ve done before, but I’m coming from a good base.
  • Most importantly, I think I can do this and I want to do it. That “want” is going to be really hard when I haul myself out of my house for a 20 mile run in December in Nebraska.

I’m in.

What have I done?!


Time will tell if this is a good idea or not. πŸ™‚ This definitely informs a lot of my running goals for the rest of the year. I’ll need to focus on maintaining my fitness and building a good base of strength training during the off-time between the Papillion Half Marathon next month and the start of training in the later summer. I’ll need to be conservative in my runs for the I-35 challenge so that I build my endurance and my strength for those back to back half marathons, which will give me a good base for the marathon, without pushing too hard and injuring myself. Importantly, because that back-to-back half marathon race weekend falls in the middle of the marathon training, I have to be extremely careful about not pushing the pace during those races and derailing the marathon training still to come after that.

You know how I know this was the right decision? I pulled the trigger on registering a little over an hour ago and I don’t have that “What have I done?!” sense of panic yet. I’ve got this.

Thanks as always to Erika, Patty and Marcia for hosting Tuesdays on the Run!

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How did you decide when to tackle the marathon? Any advice for me?


TotR: Running Dreams and considering the step up to the marathon

This week’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is Running Dreams and I confess, I’ve been having some literal and figurative running dreams after seeing all of the photos of the Walt Disney World marathon this Sunday. My husband laughs at me because back in summer 2013, when I first decided to take the plunge and register for the Princess Half Marathon in February 2014, I told him that I thought I could handle a half marathon, but if I ever suggested a full marathon, he needed to get me to a doctor because I was clearly ill.

  • Β In January 2014, I watched the marathon weekend photos with excitement and anxiety because I was about to take the plunge for my first half marathon in just a month.
  • Β In January 2015, I watched the marathon weekend photos with 2 half marathons under my belt and a looming Rebel Challenge that I had little doubt I’d finish without trouble and thought “maybe I’ll do the marathon for my 40th birthday.” My husband reminded me that he was supposed to take me to the hospital when I started talking like this!
  • In January 2016, I watched the marathon weekend photos with 6.5 half marathons under my belt and started looking at marathon training plans to see what marathon training REALLY looked like. Maybe instead of waiting until I’m 40 for the marathon, I should do it now and do Goofy or Dopey when I’m 40. 

My beloved husband reminded me that I was nuts, but has resigned himself to sending me to Disney World in 2017 for marathon weekend.

I don’t know that I’ll take the step up to the full marathon. It’s a scary prospect – not so much the marathon itself, because I know RunDisney does a fantastic job and it will be as fun and well supported as 26.2 miles could possibly be. Rather, I’m nervous about the idea of all of the training that is required to get ready to safely cover those 26.2 miles on race day. Spending lots of Saturday mornings running for hours on end on my local paths sounds a lot less fun than running from park to park in Orlando. I must confess, though, that my dreams SundayΒ  night were full of planning thoughts and logistics of getting to the Expo, fueling, what to do to celebrate afterwards and the nerves of the starting line. Last night, I had dreams of running mile 24 and realizing I was about to be a marathoner. It’s funny that I didn’t dream of the finish line because my brain can’t quite wrap itself around FINISHING a marathon, but I can definitely envision what the starting line of something so EPIC for little old me would feel like.

The question is, how do you know when you’re ready? Aside from injuries due to falling, I’m a pretty sturdy runner without much trouble with overuse injuries. The caveat to that, of course, is my dear friend lupus that triggered some knee pain with a couple of long runs (although not really race day) this fall.

I should also be reasonably well prepared to run a marathon with a good spring training cycle, plus training for the back to back half marathons of the I-35 in early fall. Surely the Saturday-Sunday long runs I’ll be tackling starting in August will be a good start to a marathon training plan, right? Conveniently enough, looking at the Hal Higdon Novice 1 marathon plan , there’s a half marathon suggested at week 8 of that plan. If I picked up the plan with week 9 in October after the I-35 challenge (with a week off to recover from back to back half marathons), I would have exactly the number of weeks remaining in his plan as there are for training in my schedule between the I-35 challenge and the Walt Disney World marathon. I’d need one week off for call at work, but that would be okay because his plan has ten weeks between the suggested half marathon and the full marathon race. There are 12 weeks between my half marathons and the full. It seems meant to be, schedule-wise.

I would only be training to safely complete the distance. There would be no time goal. A) It’s Disney and B) this may be the only time I ever do this, so I am going to soak up every minute. I would absolutely be riding Expedition Everest in the middle of the race and I would absolutely take a zillion pictures. I would want to finish upright and with a smile as my only goal. The Higdon plan could get me there.

I still remember how good it felt to cross the finish of my first half marathon in WDW - who wouldn't want to repeat that with a marathon finish?

I still remember how good it felt to cross the finish of my first half marathon in WDW – who wouldn’t want to repeat that with a marathon finish?

I’m not getting any younger. It isn’t like 26.2 miles is going to be easier on 40 year old legs than it is on 38 year old legs. Who knows how my lupus will evolve – I may not be in the position to consider this kind of running in the future (hopefully not but you never know!). Walt Disney World was a fantastic place for my first half marathon and Disney has always been a huge reason I run, so it makes perfect sense to take on the marathon for the first time in my happy place. If anyone can make running 26.2 miles FUN, it’s Disney. We’re DVC members and I have lots of frequent flier miles, so it would even be a reasonably cheap trip as I wouldn’t be spending much time in the park. Training for a January race in Florida evens works out well seasonally, as the worst of our winter usually hits in January and I’d be in taper and recovery mode then, rather than trying to ramp up training for a spring race like I am now. Not that November and December are balmy here by any means typically, but they aren’t as consistently cold and icy as January and February are.

I’m tempted, very tempted. All of the running in the Hanson-esque plan I did in the fall for the Des Moines half marathon did a lot for my confidence in my body and my ability to mentally stick with tough runs, as did getting through that race in Lincoln.

For now, my official plan is to see how my legs hold up through spring training. I’m not planning on running fast this year, but maybe the plan will be to run far. Really far.

How did you decide to make the step up to the next distance? Going from 4 miles to 10K to half marathon didn’t seem like a big jump at any point, but 13.1 to 26.2 is a whole new ball game, I know.
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Thanks as always to Patty (and congrats on your first marathon!!), Marcia and Erika for hosting the link up as always. Looking forward to reading about everyone else’s running dreams!

Friday Favorites: (Early!) Thanksgiving edition

I know it isn’t Thanksgiving quite yet, but it will be in less than a week! With vacation and a holiday, this month has flown by. I definitely have a Thanksgiving theme to this week’s round up, with some of my favorite vacation pictures sprinkled in. It’s hard to believe I was in Disney World just a week ago!

We were THOSE parents with the inappropriately young kid on Tower of Terror.

We were THOSE parents with the inappropriately young kid on Tower of Terror.

That pic is one of my favorites from this vacation, weirdly. O LOVED Tower of Terror on Tuesday night and begged to ride it again. When we took him the next morning, he started shrieking and begging to get off pretty much as soon as the doors closed. He cried the WHOLE time and people gave us the evil eye for having him on the ride so young. We tried to defend ourselves a bit at the end or I did at least – as you can see, Darrell found the whole thing to be funny.

There have been a lot of “surviving Thanksgiving” posts on the web this week. Check out this list of 10 ways to beat holiday overeating, 17 no-diet tricks to keep off holiday weight and Runner’s World’s How to avoid packing on pounds. Of these, my favorite tip and the one I’ll definitely use is the three bite rule – Three bites of the indulgent things is probably enough, so I’ll definitely be keeping the portion of those things small and setting a time limit on myself before I can go back for more.

Eskimo kisses with Daisy - she's such a flirt :)

Eskimo kisses with Daisy – she’s such a flirt πŸ™‚

One of my indulgences is definitely the homemade macaroni and cheese I make for Darrell every year. Macaroni and cheese isn’t a regular item on my family’s holiday table, but it was for Darrell’s family so I make sure to have it for him every year. Alton Brown’s recipe is absolutely the best (here) and totally worth the calories!

Cinderella is Oliver's absolute favorite princess. :)

Cinderella is Oliver’s absolute favorite princess. πŸ™‚

Because I’m someone who likes to think of what I CAN have rather than what I shouldn’t, I appreciated this article from Runner’s World on some of the healthy things I SHOULD eat at Thanksgiving. Turkey is really my favorite part of Thanksgiving, so I was happy to see it on the list.

Lastly, for a laugh as we get ready for the kick off of holiday shopping season AFTER Thanksgiving (I for one refuse to go shopping ON Thanksgiving), check out this article about the 2015 Goop Gift Guide. It’s amazing what people will spend money on.

Wish me luck and safe travels tonight! I have to drive from Omaha to Lincoln to give a lecture tonight and we’re supposed to get our first snow of the year during my travel time. You’d think people in the Midwest would be better at snow, but people always freak out a bit driving in the first snow storm of the year.

Anybody have big plans this weekend?



Jingle Jungle 5K Race Recap

As part of Wine & Dine race weekend, I participated in my first RunDisney 5K – the Jingle Jungle 5K. As Oliver likes to point out, that means I did 3 races that Saturday (he wants to be sure I remember to include his race too!). While I wasn’t particularly keen on waking up early to race the same day I’d be staying up late to run, I’d heard such good things about the Jingle Jungle 5K I was willing to make that sacrifice. Truthfully, as a parent, it’s not like I’d really be sleeping in that day anyway, right?

Unlike the half marathon later that night, I had no trouble with travel to the race site on Saturday morning. Buses were quick to arrive to the Polynesian and we had no trouble getting to the Animal Kingdom for the race start. I didn’t bring a bag to check and the line for the character meet and greet (Minnie and Mickey, if I’m remembering correctly) was LONG so I just went to hang out in my corral until the race start. I enjoyed the costumes and the fact that there were actually families out to run the race. Seeing families getting active together always gives me the warm fuzzies. πŸ™‚

Loved this couple's Up costume!

Loved this couple’s Up costume!

I also got to see my first snow of the season! It’s odd for us not to have gotten snow in Nebraska by this time of year, but we hadn’t so this fake Disney snow was the first I saw this winter.

We ran across lots of fake Disney snow on this vacation and Oliver always LOVED it. It's a shame he missed this pile!

We ran across lots of fake Disney snow on this vacation and Oliver always LOVED it. It’s a shame he missed this pile!

Mickey and Minnie moved up to the starting line to get us on our way.

It was a little odd to encounter so much Christmas theming when we were soaking in sweat!

It was a little odd to encounter so much Christmas theming when we were soaking in sweat!

I had plans to take this race at a really easy pace and was liberally sprinkling in walk breaks in deference to both the heat and the fact that I was running again later in the evening. The first mile was a big loop around the Animal Kingdom parking lot without any character stops, so I ended up finishing faster than I’d planned (around 12 minutes).

Not the most exciting scenery for the beginning of the race.

Not the most exciting scenery for the beginning of the race.

In the second mile, things got a lot more interesting (as reflected by my 33 minute time!) with improved scenery as we entered Animal Kingdom, and lots of fun character stops.









After mile 2, we exited the park into more backstage areas and while there were more character stops (Christmas Pluto and Donald and Santa Goofy) I was ready to be done. This was partially because I was melting and partially because I wanted to get back to the Polynesian in time for Oliver’s race.


Love the Santa gator :)

Love the Santa gator πŸ™‚

Lots of people dragging at the end! It was miserable weather!

Lots of people dragging at the end! It was miserable weather!

As I finished the race, I was really tempted to just walk it in because this was by far my slowest 5K but as I came near another woman running into the finish, I decided to stick with her and run as much and as fast as she did the finish. I thanked her at the end for keeping me from giving up!

Cute medallion!

Cute medallion!

All in all, this was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed running through the Animal Kingdom (especially since that part of the Wine & Dine course was cut later in the evening!) and the Christmas theming was really cute. I also enjoyed all of the other runners, who had a really laid back, out-for-a-good-time vibe about the whole thing. I would definitely do this race again if we were in the area!

Bonus: Super cute shirt that I got to wear to the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party later in the week!

Bonus: Super cute shirt that I got to wear to the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party later in the week!

Thanks as always to Marcia, Patty and Erika for hosting Tuesdays on the Run! This week’s topic is Playlists and I’ll definitely be checking those posts out to update my running lists to keep me entertained through the winter.

ToTR logo

Have you run any Christmas themed 5Ks? I confess, I had enough fun with this one that I’ll be looking for one here in Omaha even though I’ve met my 100 miles of races goal for the year already!



Weekly Wrap-Up: Vacation Week

We actually spent all of last week at Disney World for vacation, so my workouts for the week looked a lot like this:


Loads and loads of park walking, plus some interludes of climbing and playing with O on the playgrounds:

A little time on the playground where no one is telling you to stand in line or sit still and follow instructions is good for your mood when you're four. It's good for mom's upper body strength when you drag her along!

A little time on the playground where no one is telling you to stand in line or sit still and follow instructions is good for your mood when you’re four. It’s good for mom’s upper body strength when you drag her along!

Given that, this won’t be much of a wrap up in terms of workouts. Hopefully Tricia and Holly won’t mind me joining the link up anyway!

weekly wrap up

The vacation week was good overall. I tried to do a good deed every day, mostly helping other parents struggling in the park. I had a good laugh with one mom as I helped her maneuver her tray full of lunch garbage into the garbage can while her children (definitely old enough to be helping according to her) looked on. I’m grateful that I got to build so many memories with my family like this one:

The character interactions we had were so fun!

The character interactions we had were so fun!

I’m also truthfully a little grateful that I’m back home and back to normal life. Vacation is lovely, but I’m craving getting back into a healthy routine before the holidays hit. NSV wise I had some wins on vacation, especially with not finishing things that weren’t great (here’s looking at you hot quinoa breakfast cereal) but I did finish lots of things that were good (it’s own NSV – yay for not restricting!) so getting back to healthy eating is a very good idea right now. I actually spent the plane ride home meal planning for this week and went shopping yesterday so I could start us all off on the right foot.

Yesterday, I checked off one of my goals for the month by doing a workout class at my gym – yoga. I confess I was a little distracted by the older gentlemen behind me who kept up a running narration of “God help me” and “Are you kidding me?” throughout the whole class. I’m guessing he’d been dragged there against his will.

I’m hoping to hit up another class of some type next weekend. Otherwise, this week I’m going to do a couple of strength workouts, run a little and see what kind of mood I’m in to keep moving on the other days. I’m going to join in with the Thankful Journey 5K (check it out here) because I like the idea of dedicating a run to gratitude this week, between a vacation and holiday chaos.

Thankful Journey 5K 2015 AJourneyToThin.com Button_thumbIt’s a little crazy to think that we just got back from vacation and will be out of school and work again next week for Thanksgiving! Thank goodness this one is going to be a very busy one at work so I can at least get something done. We’re also scheduled to get our first snow this week, which is weirdly late for us but I confess I’m looking forward to it. The native Southerner in me always gets a little awed by the first snow. πŸ™‚ At least until it snarls traffic!

I hope everyone has a great week!


Our first Disney Kid’s Races!

Part of the excitement of the Wine & Dine race weekend in Florida this weekend was our first chance to participate in the RunDisney kid’s races. Oliver definitely likes races and has done several in Omaha, so he was especially excited to participate in a race where he got a Mickey medal and even had the chance to see one of Mickey’s friends at the finish line.

Packet pick up for the kids races occurs at the Expo, just like the adult pick up. However, for the kids, you get everything in one stop which is nice. His bib and shirt were together in a bag (as opposed to getting your bib and then going to another building for your shirt for the adult races). I had to have a signed waiver and ID proving I was his parent, but thankfully I didn’t have to actually bring him.

It is a cute shirt - and for once his race shirt actually fits him!

It is a cute shirt – and for once his race shirt actually fits him!

The race was Saturday morning at the ESPN center, on the New Balance track. It started at 10 am, with instructions to be on the bus by 8:30 in order to get there on time. Thankfully, I finished up the 5K at Animal Kingdom and was able to get back to the Polynesian in time to ride to ESPN with Darrell and Oliver. There isn’t direct transportation from the 5K to the kids races, so keep that in mind if you have family doing both! The bus was very crowded as there are loads of kids participating in these races.

The kids dashes (100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters) were all on the New Balance track, with the 1 mile run starting out at a different field and finishing on the track. I did like the track better than the Epcot parking lot, where the Princess kids races took place, but it was a little brutal because there was zero shade and it was a hot, humid day.

We arrived, with O’s bib pinned on and the parent tag in Darrell’s pocket (although no one ever asked us for it) and were pleased to see that they had an obstacle course set up to distract the kids while they were waiting to run. Bless O’s heart, he was not good at the obstacle course, but at least he didn’t hurt himself.

The video we have of this is TO DIE FOR.

The video we have of this is TO DIE FOR. He plowed through EVERY ONE.

Soon enough, it was time to head to our loading area, as marked by a big banner on the field. There were several waves of each distance, so it didn’t get too crowded (although that didn’t prevent some shoving anyway).

I'm proud to say he smoked that girl even though she shoved past him at first.

I’m proud to say he smoked that girl even though she shoved past him at first.

As usual, O took off like a shot and I had to sprint to catch him. He did a lot of weaving – thank goodness it wasn’t crowded! By about 150 meters, he stopped to walk and that was the point where he finally looked around for me. We walked for a second, but then he caught sight of the finish line and Santa Goofy waiting. He was off and running again and still gloats that he beat me to the finish line.

He was focused on the finish he didn't stop for a high five!

He was focused on the finish he didn’t stop for a high five!

He got his first real medal, which he adores, but even more, he liked getting the banana and cup of water at the finish because he was a “real runner, Mama.” He was tickled that they gave him an extra cup of water to pour over his head to cool off!

It's funny the things that make kids happy and pouring water on his head topped the list that day. :)

It’s funny the things that make kids happy and pouring water on his head topped the list that day. πŸ™‚

All in all, it was a fun little interlude in our morning, even if the weather was miserable. O loved being part of the whole race weekend experience and has already worn his race shirt three times in the 5 days since the race. I do a lot of laundry. πŸ™‚ He’s also got plans to bring his medal to show at school for his next show and tell.

He was doubly excited that his kids race medal is bigger than my 5K medal

He was doubly excited that his kids race medal is bigger than my 5K medal

I’d definitely recommend the kid’s races if your whole family is coming to your next Disney race. I love seeing kids get into the game of being active so early in life! If only we could keep that “exercise is fun” mentality longer in life!

Did you ever run races as a kid? Have any of you ever had a kid specifically train to run? O mostly runs up and down the block periodically, so we stick to short races but I saw some bitty kids doing the mile and 5K!