Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Five - reasons I race/run

It's another Friday and of course that means it's time for the Friday Five link up with Courtney, Mar and Cynthia.  These ladies do such a wonderful job of organizing this link up and I really love participating every week.  It's a great way to find new bloggers and see what's on the mind of bloggers you currently follow.

This week's theme is 5 reason to race/run.  I've already talked about 5 reasons why running works for me here so today I'm going to talk about racing. I've got a ton of reasons that I like to sign up for races but here are 5 of them.

1.  To stay motivated - This doesn't apply to everyone but I am so much more motivated to get out there and get my training runs done when I have a race that I'm working toward.  I'd like to say that the love of running alone would get me out there but there are definitely days when that just isn't enough.

Photo from my first 5k years ago, but I didn't sign up for another race afterward and stopped running

2. Fun, social activity - I love that I have friends that got into running about the same time I did and that we run a similar pace. We don't live close enough to run together on training runs but races are a great excuse to get together and have some catch up time before and after the race itself.

Being silly with friends at an 80's run

3. To show myself I'm capable of more than I thought - It's hard to push yourself in training runs sometimes but races give me a way to do that.  And they give me a reason to run far.  I'm still a pretty new runner but at this time last year I would never have thought that I could run 13.1 miles. I couldn't have even imagined why I would want to.

4. To engage with a community and give to a good cause - this does not apply to all races and it is important to research any races that are claiming they give charitable donations.  But I've done several races this year where the charity was close to the community and the participation was all the more meaningful because of the chance to donate.  Ben's Run was a great example of this. Here is the blurb from their website.  "This race honors Ben’s amazing spirit, and the many other children who battle life-threatening illnesses every day.  Run or walk this race for Ben, and for the other heroic children out there.  Do it because they can’t." How can you not want to be a part of the effort after that?

I was proud to be part of this race's efforts and the $65,000 dollars they raised this year

5. Fun medals and shirts - I've got quite the collection of race shirts going from just this one year of racing! And I've also gotten a nice collection of medals started :) It's such a little thing but I always look forward to what the shirt or medal will look like and to wearing the shirt for the first time. It's nice to have a tangible reminder of participation in a specific race.

So that's my contribution to the Friday Five this week.  I'd love to hear your reasons for racing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Shoes and Medals

I hope everyone's week is going well!  The rain has really put a damper on things for me.  The grey and the damp has made me feel really lackluster and like I have no energy :( I haven't worked out at all this week yet.  But that is changing today!

I also got some new running shoes a week or so ago and am planning to use them on today's run.  They're bright and cheery and it makes me happy to look at them.  They're another pair of Saucony Guides.

Here they are with the old ones.  The ones with the green laces are the new ones and I'm planning on wearing the old ones for my long runs until after Richmond and the new ones for my short runs.  I'll switch that up at some point in December or so. I do have a question about shoe rotation though.  Do you guys rotate between different models of shoe?  I had heard it was good to rotate shoes but I don't know if it does anything to rotate between 2 sets of Saucony Guides or whether I should branch out into another model of shoe entirely.  I'm a little scared to do that since these have worked so well. 

Another thing I got a couple weeks ago is the medals from the Nerd Herd virtual race trilogy.  Have I mentioned how much I loved these races? You can see my post about the first one I did.  I love the nerdy themes (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Hunger Games this year), I love the transparency of their finances and the donations to the charity (Stupid Cancer, which provides support to cancer survivors who are young adults),  and I love the awesome bling!  There's a medal for each virtual race plus an extra for finishing all three.

The medals are really good quality and well designed.  The Star Wars one even glows in the dark.  You can get this awesome display plaque to hold the medals too.  The virtual races also helped motivate me on some training runs.

Here's to better weather on the weekend! Good luck to everyone running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend.  Mike and I will be cheering you on from around mile 18. And let me know if you have any insight into the whole shoe rotation thing :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tasty Tuesdays - French Toast

Yay, we have a kitchen again and it is definitely a relief to eat some home cooked food again after all that eating out!  I am linking this post up with Lean Lena and several other bloggers for Tasty Tuesday. It's a great resource for recipes and other food ideas.

Before I get into the recipe, here are some before and after photos of our kitchen.

Good-bye to old 60's cabinets, peeling wallpaper, floral tiles and temperamental appliances

We also opened up part of a wall between the kitchen and living room

We put in a lot of thought into the first thing to cook in our new kitchen and we decided upon french toast.  Yum! I started out with this recipe from Simply Recipes and altered it a bit.

4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
Maple syrup
Zest of one orange
8 thick slices of 2 day old bread 

I used pre-sliced raisin bread from the grocery store.  It was thinly cut so I used more slices.  It was also fresh but that didn't make a difference at all.

I started out by combining the eggs, milk and cinnamon.  I also put in the zest of one orange and a tablespoon of maple syrup.

I put all the bread in a casserole dish.  I had to layer it since it didn't all fit in one layer.  I put in one layer of bread, put half of the egg mixture over top of it, put the second layer of bread on top, and then poured over the rest of the egg mixture. I spread the mixture around to make sure all the bread was well covered and let it sit for about 15 minutes so the bread could soak it up.

Next, I heated the griddle and buttered it. Once hot to medium high, I placed a batch of the bread on and cooked it for a couple minutes on one side until that side was golden brown.  Then I flipped it and cooked the other side for the same amount of time (roughly 5 minutes on each side).  All of the bread cooked in about three batches.

And since we were celebrating, we served it with some vanilla whipped cream as well as real maple syrup.

It was delicious and a fitting way to celebrate in our new kitchen.  It made enough that we had left overs for when I returned from my long run on Sunday :) 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekly Review

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was fairly relaxing, and we have our kitchen back.  So a good portion of the weekend was spent putting things back in the kitchen, getting groceries to replenish, and cooking.  It felt great to cook again and eat at home instead of eating out all the time. My workouts were pretty good this week.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - I knew it was supposed to rain Wednesday and Thursday so I went ahead and did my run the neighborhood and skipped the track workout on Wednesday.  It was getting dark so it was a short run.

Wednesday - DDP Yoga plus an extra abs video

Thursday - rest day

Friday - elliptical machine at home 

Saturday - rest day

Sunday - I was supposed to do 12 miles today and I did it but it was tough.  I met with the training group but I didn't want to keep them too long so I only did 10 miles with them.  It was tough on the return part of the run because the wind had picked up and was blowing in my face and it was cold this morning. I had to break out the long sleeved running shirt. There was also an uphill at mile 8 that really killed me.  Then I drove home and finished up the last 2 miles at home.  In retrospect, this was a silly idea.  By the time I got home, my muscles had all tightened up and I had cooled down.  Plus, I had some chafing under my arm, I guess because I had sweat in the shirt and then cooled down? Anyway, the important thing is I got it done! 13 is up on tap next week.

The good news about today's run is that it was a beautiful fall day in spite of the cold.  We were running on Beach Drive and it was beautiful.  There were a lot of people out biking, running, walking with dogs, and I even saw one woman out doing Tai Chi.

The plan for this week is to rest on Monday, yoga on Tuesday, running Wednesday, yoga on Thursday, running on Friday, rest on Saturday and 13 mile long run on Sunday!  Mike and I know a couple people running the Marine Corps Marathon so we're planning to go down and cheer from the Mall. (Oops, got my Saturday and Sunday confused.  Running on Saturday and spectating on Sunday.)  And here's a fun photo of Perry to end on.  He's been very cute and spending a lot of time on my lap earlier this week.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Five - songs on my running playlist

This has seemed like such a long week!  I guess that's what happens after a couple short weeks when you're on vacation.  I am happy to see Friday and the Friday Five link up with Mar, Courtney and Cynthia.  This week's theme is Five Favorite Fitness Tunes.

My favorite running songs change up all the time.  But here are 5 that I'm loving right now :)

1.  Brave, by Sara Bareilles - It's a bit of a slower song but it does have a beat to keep me going as well as a message that I find really inspirational and helpful in pushing through on hard runs.

2.  Hooked on a Feeling, by Blue Swede - I got this one off the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.  I loved the movie and I loved how the soundtrack was integrated into it.  This is a fun little song that gives me a bit of a giggle when it plays.

3.  Am I Wrong, by Nico and Vince - This is another song that feels really inspirational to me.  I love the lyrics about finding your own way, trying to find something real, doubting yourself but coming to the realization that you've found the right path for you.  Or maybe I'm reading too much into the song:)

4.  Bad Girls - by M.I.A. - This one has a great beat and always makes me feel like moving when it comes on.  Plus, don't most of us have times when we want to feel a little bit like a bad girl (or boy)?

5.  I'm the One that's Cool, by The Guild - This one speaks to nerdy, high school me that was never into sports or athletics.  I'm still nerdy but I'm much more comfortable in my skin now :) It's still fun to listen to this one while running and think back to how that's something that 18 year old me could never have imagined doing for fun.

I'm always looking for suggestions to add to my play list!  I'd love to hear about your favorites.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tower of Terror 10 miler - Part 2

Ok, this is my last Tower of Terror 10 Miler post :) But I figured a couple medium length posts was probably better than one giant post.  So let's get right into it.

1.  Course - The course wasn't my favorite part of this race.  The gathering place for the start is in the parking lot of Hollywood Studios.  You then run on the highway from there to the Animal Kingdom.  There is a ramp onto the highway that is banked so that you're running on an uneven surface and one leg is significantly higher than the other.  This was pretty uncomfortable but I had been warned about it in advance.  The good part of being on the highway is that people had room to spread out.  So while it was crowded and you had to do some weaving, you could run at your own pace for the most part.

Once you get to the Animal Kingdom, you turn around and go right back down the highway. You do not enter the park sadly. You go back down the highway to the ESPN Wide World of Sports. We entered the sports complex somewhere after mile 5.  There is a trail section here that I had been warned about in advance of the race but I didn't find it to be too bad.  It felt like a dirt trail and it wasn't too long.  It was dimly lit in places but never so dark that I felt like I couldn't see or like I needed a flashlight. The only downside is that it was a narrow trail and there was a lot of congestion in this section.  I tried to run it when I could but finally gave up and just walked along with everyone else around me.

Then we were in the stadium but for some reason this part is a bit of a blur to me.  I know we ran around a track and then we ran around in the baseball stadium and then we ran out of the sports complex and back on to the highway.  There was another banked ramp going down and I have to say that I walked most of it because I just didn't feel comfortable running on such an uneven surface with one foot so much higher than the other.

We entered into Hollywood Studios somewhere after mile 8 and ran around various back stage and on stage areas of the park until we finished at mile 10 in view of the Tower of Terror.  Overall, the course was mostly flat except for the highway ramp sections.  And the problem there wasn't the elevation change but the way the ramps were banked.

There was also a long walk from the corral to the starting line and a long walk after the finish line.  You could not stop during this line, you were herded on and on and on.  You received your medal, some water, a banana, a box of food (really yummy) but had to keep walking.  At that point, it felt like we were walking forever in a slowly shuffling mass until we got to a point where people went left for the bag check or park exit and right for the after party.  In hindsight, the long walk was probably good for my muscles as I was barely sore the next day but it was pretty miserable in the moment.

2. Entertainment - I was listening to a podcast earlier this week which said they thought the entertainment was lacking on the course.  I was shocked because I thought it was amazing how much entertainment they had managed to squeeze onto the 10 miles!  I guess it truly depends on your perspective.  And this was the first Disney race I had done so I didn't have much to compare it to.

There were a ton of characters, all villains to go along with the theme, on the course.  I remember the hag from Snow White, Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, Dr. Facilier, the Hyenas from the Lion King, Stitch, the Big Bad Wolf and Lotso.  I'm sure there are some I'm missing.  There were also characters from the Boo to You Halloween parade such as the grave diggers and the ballroom dancers.  And Hades was on an overpass as we ran back to Hollywood Studios taunting runners as they passed by.  He was hilarious. The lines were really long for most of them so the only one I actually got a photo with was Lotso.  But I did stop by the side of the road to take photos of some of the others.

There was also creepy atmospheric stuff.  For example, there was a giant spider on an overpass into Animal Kingdom and spiderwebs projected onto the wall.

There were animal noises as we ran into the Animal Kingdom area.  There was a giant inflatable eye ball and spooky music in a lake that we ran by twice while on the highway. The trail area had smoke and giant bugs in the trees. The baseball field at the ESPN area had lasers and empty baseball uniforms on the field as if the lasers had taken out the players.  You could also see yourself on the giant screen as you ran by and that was cool.

Hollywood studios was fun because you were actually in the park.  There was lots of crowd support in this area from volunteers and spectators.  There was a tunnel you ran through with smoke and music.  There was also an area where you were running through a portion of the backlot tour and could see the costuming area.  So as you can tell, I thought the entertainment was great for a 10 mile race! Even the mile markers were fun and themed with villains.

I will put in a reminder to make sure you know how your camera/phone works in the dark if you want to take photos.  As you can see, I didn't do so well with mine.  It took me some time to figure out how to get the flash to go on.

3.  After Party - as I mentioned, I didn't stay at the party after finishing the race.  But Mike was there for a couple hours so he's going to take over here to talk about the party :)

Mike here! (Hi!)

I got to the after party right around when it started at 10. The main attraction was the DJ set up at the giant Wizard hat. There were about 6 attractions open (Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, Muppet Vison 3D, the Tower of Terror, the Rockin' Roller Coaster, and some Jack Sparrow based show). Additionally there were meet and greets for a number of the Disney villains (I remember The Evil Queen (from Snow White), The Queen of Hearts, Malificent, Gaston, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett). There were also a couple of shops and food places open. A lot of the park was cut off by the running route, so it was a bit of walk getting around.

It was really quiet when I got there. I was able to walk on to Toy Story and Star Tours and I could sit anywhere I wanted for Muppets. I stayed away from the Tower of Terror/Rockin Roller Coaster area as that was where the finish line was. As the evening progressed things got filled up with runners but it was never too crowded.

As a race observer, it was a little difficult because progress was texted to me at 5k and 10k. After I got the 10k notification, I made my way to a quiet area near where the runners were entering the park. I liked this better than observing at the DJ because I was able to yell a specific cheer to Chaitali as she passed by (which she appreciated). The downside was that with the convoluted way around the studio I got the text that she had finished just as I got there, so I missed her finishing. There were also issues with sorting out where the runners were coming out. There was a family waiting area and a changing area, but the runners were apparently released no where near either of those places. Chaitali wasn't in the best f shape when she finished so she called me to come get her. 

Overall it was an interesting little party, but a little confusing from the race watching aspect.

So that's it for our experience of this race.  Overall, we both had a good time.  Afterward, I decided that I probably wouldn't do this race again just because I wanted to experience other Run Disney races.  I was definitely impressed enough that I would choose to do another race at Disney World and we're thinking of going down next November for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  But it seems like they won't be having this race next year anyway, perhaps because of the rumors that there will be some major changes at Hollywood Studios.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tower of Terror 10 miler - Part 1

So, here is my review of the Tower of Terror 10 miler.  This was my first RunDisney event, my first racecation, and my longest race to date.  Before this, I had done a 10k, an 8k and a bunch of 5k races.  So lots of firsts here for me and therefore this will end up being kind of a long post, broken into 2 parts. I also have a separate post from last week about the expo.

For those of you not familiar with this race, it is generally the first weekend of October and it is a night time 10 mile race.  It's Halloween themed so it has spooky elements and the characters are villains to go along with the theme.  The price of the race includes an after party at Disney's Hollywood Studio but any non-runners have to buy a ticket if they want to attend the after party or even see runner friends finish.

I'm going to start talking about my day before the race since I was concerned about fueling properly for a night race.  We had a big brunch around 11am at Ohana.  This included fruit, eggs, waffles, bacon, sausage, cinnamon bread and pineapple bread as well as juice and coffee. It was all you can eat, which was a plus. I made sure to eat a substantial amount but not so much that I felt uncomfortable.  An added benefit was that this was a character meal with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto and Mickey. The only downside was that we had to wait a very long time to be seated even the we had reservations.

We then spent the rest of the day relaxing at the pool at our hotel (the Swan) and napping.  I tried to think of a light meal for dinner that would be enough fuel but that wouldn't lead to GI issues.  A lot of the veggie options were fatty but there was a sushi restaurant at the Swan.  So I went down as soon as it opened, around 5:30, and had a couple veggie sushi rolls. There were several other runners there as well.  This approach to meals worked out pretty well for me for a race that started at 10 pm. After eating, I went back to the room to get ready and left at 7:45 to head to the race.

Hotel room photo of my Vanellope running costume (she's from Wreck It Ralph)

Meranda from Fairytales and Fitness was also staying at the Swan and we had decided to walk over to the race together.  One of the main reasons I chose to stay at the Swan was that we could walk to Hollywood Studios and the race start. It was about a 10-15 minute walk. And I was overwhelmed as soon as we got to the start!  I knew it was a large race and that more than 11,000 people were registered based on bib numbers but I don't think I really understood what that meant! My largest race before this was probably around 2,500 people. I was thankful for Meranda's company since I would probably have stood around looking lost otherwise!

Tower of Terror in the background during our walk to the starting area of the race

There was music and a DJ and a very festive atmosphere with lots of people in fun costumes.  I later heard there were some photo ops but I didn't see them. We met up with some friends of Meranda's for a bit and then decided to get in line for the port-a-potties.  The lines were already pretty long but someone came by and told us there were other ones in the runner area where you could only go if you have bibs.  So we went over there and there was no line at all! So definitely go for those if possible. They were also really nice with plenty of tp and a hand washing station outside. Meranda and I chatted a bit, I had a granola bar, and then headed over to my corral a little bit after 9pm.  The corrals went from A (first corral) to J (last corral) and I was in H. My corral was already more than half full by the time I got there.

I chatted with a couple people in the corral for a while, which helped with my nerves.  Everyone was really nice and it was easy to find random people to talk to. Pretty soon, we started to move. The A corral was led out first, then B and so on.  There was what felt like a really long walk to the start line.  There was music and announcers at the start line and a very lively atmosphere.  Things moved quickly at this point. Each corral went off with fireworks and fan fare and corral H was off around 10:20.

So,how did I do? It took me 2 hours and 30 minutes to finish.

I was not too happy with this at first. I should have finished in 2 hours and 10 minutes based on my estimated finish from my earlier 10k race.  I did my 10 mile training run in 2 hours and 18 minutes. I did my 11 mile training run in 2 hours and 28 minutes this past weekend. But I realized I stopped to take a lot of photos on my phone so of course my time was slow.  I also had a hard time with the crowds.  There was a lot of weaving and some places where it was too crowded to do anything but walk. I was doing my usual 4 minute run and 1 minute walk intervals but this resulted in extra walking.  Lastly, I got really caught up in the excitement of the race, went out too quickly, and forgot to fuel :( I had an extra granola bar and three mini packs of raisins in my flip belt but just forgot to eat them! I had nuun in my bottle initially but then just drank water.  I didn't want to try the powerade on the course since I had never tried it before.

So this all resulted in me not feeling too good after the race ended.  The soles of my feet really hurt, probably from all the extra walking the day before, and I just wanted to leave.  So I didn't really get to experience the after party.  I did feel much better about the race the next morning. My main goal was just to finish and have a good time, which I did do for most of the race. And I learned some important lessons for my upcoming half marathon. I'm glad I did Tower of Terror first so I got to experience a large race and learn my reactions. I definitely think that will help the half marathon go smoother.

At least I felt well enough for a post-race photo with my medal

That's it for now.  The next post will be less about my experience and more about the course, the entertainment, logistics, and the after party from Mikes point of view.