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.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Weekly review

Hope everyone had a good weekend!  It was mostly a relaxing weekend for me over here. It was definitely much needed as I felt like I was still recovering from our vacation at Disney World. Here's a recap of my workouts this week.

Monday - we walked around Epcot all day. My fitbit sadly ran out of battery on the trip so I don't have an actual count but I'm pretty sure it was at least 10 miles of walking based on the fitbit numbers from earlier in the trip. Goofy even shined my medal for me before the photo :)

Tuesday - we walked around the Magic Kingdom during the day before getting on our flight back home.

Wednesday - a half hour DDP yoga vide plus an extra 5 minutes of abs.

Thursday - ran 3.1 miles after work to use as my virtual race for the last part of the Nerd Herd virtual race trilogy, which was Hunger Games themed.  It was a beautiful evening but there was a lot of traffic and I had to keep stopping at various intersections for the traffic light to change.  But overall it was a good run though my legs still felt tired after the 10 mile race from Saturday night.

Friday - rest day for the most part. I had forgotten my knee brace on Thursday's run and I had no knee pain!  But I figured I better keep doing the PT exercises if I want that to continue to be the case.  So I did my hip and core exercises as well as a lot of stretching and foam rolling.

Saturday - rest day

Sunday - 11 mile run! It was chilly in the morning but it was beautiful and I warmed up quickly. I ran the first 6 miles with someone else in the training group but she was only doing 6 miles so I did the remaining 5 on my own. I listened to some music to help me push through and I was really happy with this run. I'll be doing a recap of the 10 mile race later this week but I finished this 11 mile run a minute or so faster than the 10 mile race! But that was a Disney race and it's not necessarily meant for a good time.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Five - Fueling

I had a short work week since I just got back from vacation on Tuesday night.  But I'm still excited for the weekend! I feel like I need to catch up on my rest and need a vacation from vacation.  Plus, back to a long run for my Richmond half marathon training. In the meantime, it's time for a Friday Five link up with Courtney, Cynthia and Mar

 This week's theme is favorite ways to fuel and I have to admit that this is timely for me. I haven't experimented with runner specific fuel much and I think I might need to start doing that so I look forward to reading everyone's entries. Definitely check out the link up if you're looking for recommendations on fuel sources!  Here's what's been working for me so far.

1.  Nuun - I first got Nuun as a sample from the blogger brunch I went to during the Nike Women's Half Marathon weekend. The samples helped so I bought a variety pack off of Amazon and have used it on all my long runs since then.  I love that they're tablets you just pop in your water so easily transportable.  I take a tube with me on all my vacations where I have a run planned and I take one to races. I love that they're so low on calories as well but have plenty of electrolytes.

2.  Raisins - I carry mini packs of raisins with me on long runs and that's what I've been using for fuel instead of gels or chews.  I have to admit that I've been a little intimidated by exploring those types of runner's fuels.  And the raisins have worked pretty well since they have carbs, sugars, potassium and magnesium.  Someone even suggested salting them for sodium but I haven't tried that yet.  And the mini boxes fit perfectly in my flip belt.  I love that they're natural and relatively cheap.

3. Post run breakfast sandwich - my favorite indulgence after a long run is a fried egg and cheese sandwich.  So simple and yet so delicious! It has plenty of carbs and a decent amount of protein to help with post-run recovery.  Plus the flavor of the yummy cheese.  It's easy enough to make at home but also generally available if I'm having breakfast/brunch out.

4.  PB2 - I've written about PB2 before but it earns a mention here again.  My usual pre-run breakfast is 2 slices of toast with PB2 peanut butter or a bowl of oatmeal with a couple table spoons of PB2 added. PB2 is basically powdered peanut butter that comes in two options, regular or chocolate. It's just peanuts, sugar and salt.  The chocolate flavor has the additional ingredient of cocoa powder.  You mix 2 tablespoons of the PB2 with 1 tablespoon of water and it's ready to use.  Two tablespoons of PB2 has only 45 calories and 0 grams of saturated fat.  And it still tastes delicious!  I found it to taste a bit less sweet than traditional peanut butter, which I like.  Here's a photo of one of my PB2 breakfasts.

 5.  Pizza - Ok, well I know this isn't really a healthy food many of the times, but I do have a love of pizza.  And it's worked out well for me as a dinner the night before a long run.  Plenty of carbs, some protein and lots of deliciousness!  I try to make sure that it's not a too greasy version as I don't want too much fat the night before a long run and I limit my serving size.  I also eat it with a side of cooked veggies.  And if you can make it at home, even better.

I'd love to hear about any fueling secrets that you have as well!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend ahead of you :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tower of Terror 10 Miler - Expo

Well, I'm back from Disney World.  Mike and I both had a great vacation down there but we're adjusting back to normal life.  And of course, I'm continuing to prepare for my upcoming half marathon in November. But in the meantime, I can re-live some of the weekend through a recap of the Tower of Terror 10 miler. It was my first RunDisney event and longest race to date, so I have a lot of thoughts.  I'll probably split the recap up into a couple posts. This first post will be my thoughts on the expo.

Not only was this my first RunDisney race, it was also my first race that had an expo associated with it.  I chose to go to the expo the day before the race, almost as soon as it opened.  The expo was held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and we took a bus there since we didn't have a car while in Florida.  We ended up waiting about 20 minutes for a bus and then there was a really long walk from where the bus dropped us off to the first stop.

We walked into the first building and there were computers set up for people who needed to print their waivers.  I had thankfully already printed mine out so we were able to skip this area.  We walked into the main area and there were booths set up clearly labeled with bib numbers so it was easy to see where to go.  For some reason, all the lower bib areas had lines but not the higher (i.e. slower) numbers so I was able to pick my bib up quickly after showing my driver's license and the waiver.  They also provided a clear plastic bag which could be used for bag check during the race.

The photo's blurry but you can see the lack of line at the first couple booths and the longer lines at the further booths.

This building also had some props set up for taking photos and a speaker area.  The talks hadn't started yet and we weren't planning on staying long so we didn't sit for any of the speaker sessions.
Line for a photo op with the Tower of Terror elevator

 Me with my bib in front of a Tower of Terror elevator - you can see that my bib has an orange sticker with my corral letter.  It was automatically adjusted to put me in one corral earlier based on my proof of time from a local 10k earlier this year.  A lot of people were upset about corral assignments before the race but it seems like RunDisney fixed them automatically.

Set up for a speaker session

Next, we walked over to another building not too far away.  This was the area where all the bustle was.  I wasn't sure why the race shirt wasn't given to us with the bib but Mike pointed out that it may have been because they want to make sure you go to the other building to see all the goods for sale.  I was definitely planning on buying stuff so they didn't need to worry about me.

Here's a shot of the expo from the floor above.  You can see it was quite busy.  And of course the area to pick up your shirt was in the back.  There wasn't much of a line so I was able to pick up the shirt quickly.  Then I turned around and went straight to the area where the official race merchandise was for sale. I knew I wanted a vinylmation as well as the vinylmation size medal.  I wasn't sure whether I wanted to "I did it" shirt or the jacket but I decided on the jacket.

We then waited in line to pay for the merchandise and I seriously think this was the longest line I waited in the entire time in Disney World.  It took about 30 minutes start to finish.  But everyone was upbeat and the time went by quickly.

Waiting patiently (sort of) in line

After that, we walked around and checked out the other booths.  There was a lot of really cool stuff and products I'd seen online that I appreciated being able to check out in person.  But I had decided to mostly concentrate on race specific goods so the only other thing I bought was a shirt that was on sale. The shirt says "Enjoy the Journey one Milestone at a Time." I couldn't resist given the name of my blog!

And that's it!  We then headed out on the long walk back to the bus.  It thankfully arrived right as we got to the stop so no wait on the way back.  Overall, I enjoyed my first expo but there were a lot of crowds and a lot of waiting. I have to admit that I was happy to get out of there. Next up... my race experience.