October 31, 2014

It's Halloweeeeeeen, time for some runDisney costume fun!

Thanks Mar, Cynthia and Courtney for another fun topic this week for the Friday Five Linkup. It is no surprise that we love to dress up for races at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Since the topic of the week is Halloween, we are sharing our top 5 costumes for runDisney races in no particular order!

1.  The Jingle Jungle 5k during Wine and Dine last year was one of our favorite short distance races.  It is a holiday themed race, and we enjoyed dressing up as Mickey elves!

2.  We dressed up as Tweedle Mom and Tweedle daughter during the Disneyland half marathon in 2013.  This was part of the Dumbo Challenge and we had a blast making and wearing these costumes.

3.  Piglet and Tigger were the costume choices for the Walt Disney World 5k race last January.  This was the only race where I have worn a tutu for the entire race and I would probably only put up with one for a short distance like a 5k. 

4.  Our first Wine and Dine race, in 2012, we dressed up as Minnie and had shirts printed with "Run 13.1 now, Wine later!"

5.  Last of all, our outfits for Princess Half Marathon in 2012.  Dressed as the Rabbit and Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, we enjoyed wearing costumes since ladies seem to go all out for this race with tutus, tiaras and such.  We are not the princessy type, so we choose Disney characters instead. The back of Christine's shirt had a sign, "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date with my medal!

Putting a little pizazz into your race by dressing in costume can add a nice element of fun.  We usually are not trying for spectacular times at the Disney events, but even when we are trying to do well, our costumes are usually runner friendly. Continuing with the Halloween theme, here are a couple Disney Halloween costumes that I sewed for Christine when she was young! Time for a little embarrassment and yes, there will be payback!

Alice in Wonderland

Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty
How are you celebrating Halloween?  Are you dressing up?

October 30, 2014

Taper Time!

It's hard to believe that after several months of marathon training, I've arrived at the taper phase.  While some people loathe this part of the training, I love it!  I'm very familiar with the tapering concept since this was always part of my swimming training prior to any big meet.  After weekends of high mileage runs, I enjoy having the extra time...for sleeping, other hobbies, or being lazy.  With a big race on the horizon, I'm dedicated to making this a successful taper cycle. 

I'm trying really hard not to obsess over time goals for Richmond Marathon, but that's hard.  I ran both of my 20 mile runs at the exact same overall pace (9:31) which is more than 90 seconds faster than my last 20 mile training runs (prior to Marine Corps Marathon and Dopey Challenge).  I know I'm well-positioned for a PR and I'm hopeful that I might be able to reach my if-everything-goes-perfectly time goal.  Regardless, I know that I have trained hard and am ready for the miles.  I am conscious of the fact that a gazillion things can go wrong on race day so there are always wild cards to manage during the race.

Over the last few weeks, I've been feeling really run down.  I had sort of forgotten how the peak training weeks can leave you feeling fatigued and exhausted.  I've been working on getting to bed no later than 10:00 and taking naps on the weekend, if I can fit them in.  I generally don't sleep all that great right before a race so you better believe I will be focusing on getting quality sleep over the next 2+ weeks.

I'm so glad that Halloween is this weekend so the candy will be gone and I can start ridding my diet of a million fun-sized candy bars.  The office candy jar happens to be on my desk (yea, I realize it's not the best idea) and I will have that emptied until after race day so the temptations are minimal.  Other than avoiding superfluous candy (read: sugar and calories), I'll be focusing on eating quality lean proteins, produce, and whole grains.  My diet is normally pretty healthy so my challenge will be cutting out the extras - alcohol, diet soda, and sweets.  I have a pumpkin pasta bake that I'll be making on Sunday night and it will make great leftovers for the coming week.

And other than sleeping and eating well, I'll be trying to stay busy in the evenings and weekends when I normally would be spending time doing longer, more intense workouts.  I just bought a copy of the Spirit of the Marathon which is my go to motivational movie.  Thanksgiving is around the corner and I always love planning the menu.  And then there's that pesky issue of my house...it really could use a good deep cleaning.  But I mean I could risk injury with cleaning right?  Yea, I probably shouldn't mess with that until later...

Any tips for tapering?

October 29, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon - the highs and lows.

Sunday was a big day.  I was running the 39th Marine Corps Marathon, also known as the People's Marathon.  This was on my bucket list after Christine ran it last year as her first marathon. It is a hugely popular race and many runners try to gain entry every year.  I really wanted to be gushing with excitement as I wrote my race recap.  However, we try to give our totally honest opinions, so be prepared because this did not end up being a love affair. In fact, I plan to do some whining in this post so now may be the time to step away from the page if you don't want to read my complaints!

Waking before the alarm is nothing new for me on race day. At 2:30 I was up tweeting, went back to bed, slept off and on and then got up at 4:30.  After taking a shower and getting dressed, I ate my banana, had some Gatorade and double  triple checked my gear.  It was time to go!

With my bag ready and wearing a coat and throwaway, Tom and I made our way to the Metro for the trip to the Pentagon station.  After a very long walk to the Runner's Village, Tom and I said goodbye and I went through the security check and into the runners starting area.  I saw the UPS bag check trucks and headed in that direction to get rid of my bag.  A voice called to me and it was Sarah of Sparkly Runner. She was volunteering at bag check and I sat and chatted with her for about 30 minutes.  It was wonderful to see a familiar face and made the time go quickly!

Soon it was time to head to the start and this was my opportunity to use the VIP porta potty with the Brooks Running gang.  This was a seriously great benefit that included lighted, climate controlled toilets, a real sink with soap and water and tons of little items you might need like body glide, mints, lotion, band aids etc.  Locating a spot in the starting area should not be a big deal.  Marine Corps Marathon has an honor system, and you are supposed to line up with your expected finish time. Note that I said supposed. With this in mind, I found the spot for the 4:15-4:29 runners, with a goal of around 4:20- 4:23. Given my training, coach Sami and I thought that was conservative with how I have been running/training the last few months. The pre race festivities started and boy were they spectacular,  They had a super exciting fighter jet fly by, followed by several parachute groups, one with a huge American flag and followed by the National Anthem.   The Howitzer sounded and the first runners were off.  I crossed the start line with 8:50 on the clock.

Instead of giving a blow by blow, mile by mile recap, I am doing something a bit different.  Here are the highs and lows of my race day:

* Absolutely gorgeous race day weather.  Who could find fault with a perfect blue sky day and cool temperatures.

* The crowd support was amazing.  People cheered loud and with great enthusiasm and this helped me through some of the rough parts of the race.

* Having my family in attendance made the race very special for me.  They managed to see me 5 times, and at mile 26, Christine was in my face with the cow bell and I missed her.  That is focus and I feel really badly that I missed one last opportunity to see my special cheer squad!

Mile 19, big smile for my family (photo by Christine)

* The race course was fabulous.  Despite some early hills and a last hill to the finish, it was relatively flat and through very interesting parts of DC.  I loved passing the monuments and stately buildings and the Rock Creek area was especially nice too with the tree lined parkway that provided shade.

* The "Run to Honor" section of the course was so well done, but I must admit, it made me weak and caused a few tears.  The photos of fall servicemen was so moving, especially the ones I noticed holding their children. It also made me recall my brother in law who passed away over 33 years ago while on a training flight with the Marines. Thanks to all of them for making the ultimate sacrifice.

* The volunteers were so helpful. Marines were everywhere you turned and some additional volunteers were on the course to support the food stops. (Thanks Kathryn and Preston)

* This race runs like a well oiled machine.  The timing of the event went exactly according to plan.  This suits me, as any extra wait just cause lots and lots of anxiety!

* Having a medal presented to you by a US Marine is indescribable.  It was a wonderful moment that I will never forget.

Loved the special treatment by one of our fabulous Marines!


* You probably figured out already that I was disappointed in the corral system. When runners with a 5-6 plus hour marathon result start within minutes of the gun, there is a problem. I could not get into a groove and at mile 5, when my family saw me, they knew I was upset. My 5k pace was 10:23 which was the best I could manage while passing hundreds of runners, weaving around large groups with some already walking.  I have absolutely no problem with walkers or anyone trying to complete a marathon, but when a race has self seeding corrals, honestly is important, both for runner safety and for the benefit of everyone racing. Training for a marathon is hard work and my goal was to complete the race at or below my goal pace.  I am certain that if I had lined up with the 4 hour finishers or better, my time goal would have been met.  There was absolutely no way for me to know that I should "cheat" and stand where I really did not belong.  After a quick review of the results and some estimation, I am pretty sure I passed between 2-3,000 runners, maybe more.

* The water stops were disappointing.  While there were enough, they were always crowded and it was hard to get in to get either water or Gatorade. I am not sure if this was a course issue or a runner issue.

* I cried when I met my family after the race and it was not happy tears. When you work so hard and feel like you did everything right, it is difficult to accept a disappointing result. The frustration just leaked out of my body!

More than anything, I am so sad that I did not love the race. It was my sister's first marathon and Christine's first and they both enjoyed it immensely. While I have run a big marathon before, this was a new learning experience and I will be better equipped to handle a large race in the future.  Moving on, it is now time to focus on some other things like this, the next big race on my schedule!

October 28, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon by the numbers

First of all, thanks so much for the overwhelming support over the weekend.  The texts, tweets and Facebook messages were appreciated more than I can say. After a wonderful weekend in DC, my legs and sore body are trying to get back to normal.  Walking backwards down the stairs and struggling to get up after sitting makes me feel like a really old lady runner!

Yesterday, I finally upgraded my cell phone and my photos from the race are still in the i-cloud waiting to make it to the new phone. By the way, I have no idea what that means. Zero technology in my brain. Back to the race,  my post today will only include a couple photos and some fun statistics. I love numbers and analyzing my race splits is always something that amuses me and is helpful for future races.

Total Female Finishers  8578
Total Overall Finishers 19670
My final results:
Finish Time: 4:27.19
Clock Time: 4:36.09
Age Group, female 60-64  13 out of 121
Female Overall  2191
Overall  6835

Some statistics I don't know are:
How many gallons of water and Gatorade were served to the runners?
How many Clif gels were handed out and how many oranges were sliced and served?
What cumulative mileage was run to prepare for the race by the 19,670 finishers?  It has to be a bazillion.
And on that same topic, how many shoes were worn out training for the race?
This list could go on and on with stats about Body Glide, blisters etc.
What statistic would you most like to know about a big race?

Now it is time to go eat all the junk I avoided for several weeks prior to the race.  Hello Halloween candy from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and ice cream.  I am ready for the treats!

Do you treat yourself to lots of goodies after a big race?  What are your favorites?

October 24, 2014

Marine Corps Marathon: a different race day outfit

Choosing a running outfit that was appropriate for the Marine Corps Marathon was not a difficult task.  My red Sparkle Skirts running skirt was the first part of the outfit and adorning it with red, white and blue ribbon made it very patriotic.  You may remember that I wore this skirt for the Operation Homefront 5k in Virginia Beach in 2013.

 Wearing a shirt that had some kind of meaning was important for me.  There will be areas of the course to commemorate our fallen soldiers as well as many service men and women running the race. Honoring them with a specially designed shirt for the occasion seemed perfect. So my inspiration for this idea came from a chance meeting. This summer, a girl who I met in the corrals at a runDisney race was preparing to be deployed.  Rachel has a young family, with both a 9 month old daughter. and a 3 year old son.  Having to leave them behind while she serves our country was and is a huge sacrifice to both she, her husband, her children and extended family.  While there are many other soldiers doing the exact same thing, I became friendly with Rachel and wanted to honor her.  So here is the shirt that I designed with help from One More Mile.  I was thrilled when it arrived at my house.  It is perfect for race day.

Of course I need accessories too and those include gloves and a visor since the weather forecast looks perfect for race day, sunny and cool.

Love my new Brooks Ravenna shoes that match my outfit!

Now I just need to hurry up and get to DC for the Expo and race!  Who else will be there with me?

Disclosure: All parts of my race outfit were purchased by me.  I do love both Sparkle Skirts and One More Mile so I included links to their websites in this post. 

October 23, 2014

A visit to Brooks headquarters

If you have followed our blog for any length of time, you know that I am a huge fan of Brooks running shoes.  It is embarrassing how many pairs of Ravenna I have gone through in my short running career. When I realized that the brand new Brooks global headquarters building had just opened in Seattle, I was eager for a chance to visit.  We had a long weekend planned there to attend a wedding and this was my opportunity.  After trading a few tweets with @brooksrunning, Tom and I decided to pay a visit last Friday.  After getting a bus from our downtown Seattle hotel, we arrived at this spanking new building mid morning.  We were greeted by a friendly guard and sent up on the elevator to the 5th floor.  After speaking with a receptionist, we headed back downstairs to #trailhead, the name for the first and only Brooks store at the moment.  This place was beyond anything you could imagine. With enthusiastic staff and a fabulous layout, any runner would love to shop, stop to chat, or pick up a few supplies while out on a run.  With great planning this building location is adjacent to the Burke-Gilman Trail , a fantastic trail of 27 miles for runners and bikers.

So let's get started!

The entrance and reception area are very welcoming with loads of bright colors and of course shoes, lots of shoes

After chatting with Megan and her colleague at the trailhead store, soon Raffaela, the social media specialist, arrived to give us a tour of the headquarters building.  We started by learning about the building itself.  It was built with high energy efficiency and that spills over to the employees  While this building has five floors and elevators, it is rare to see an employee on the elevator.  The stairs are enclosed with glass and give you a birds eye view of the street and of course the opportunity to say hello to your fellow employees!  The windows are large and provide a great deal of natural light which saves on energy zapping light fixtures.  A special sculpture has been positioned in the lobby to show just how dedicated Brooks is to low energy consumption. This sculpture of brass flowers has the capability of revealing how well energy consumption is going at any given moment.  In a nutshell, if the flowers are in bloom, everything is going well.  Wilted flowers mean improvements are necessary!

One of the fun perks for employees is the Beastro, the lunch and snack place.  As expected, the chef makes great healthy food options and the atmosphere is even conducive for meetings,  In fact, a group of  eight was sitting around one of the tables when we visited so the only photo I took was this sign,

After rounding out the tour by seeing the rooftop deck that is used as a yoga studio during the warmer months, we headed back down to trailshead for photos and a look around the store. While this is a store and you can purchase shoes and clothing, it is really much much more.  The employees want to connect to with you as runners, not just as a potential sale that day.

lots of runner goodies

While out on a run, we all have moments when we wish we had an extra gel, some Body Glide on that spot we missed, or a tissue.  Brooks has this station set up in the store for those out running in the vicinity.  If you need anything, just check this box and you are most welcome to take what you need. I have a feeling you will get a little encouragement from the staff too, if you need to stop by for any of these items.

sunscreen, gels, bandaids, tissues, chapstick, Body Glide,gum and encouragement
And if you are in need of hydration, check this out.  How cool is the Nuun Hydration station?  There are numerous flavors to choose from and it is easy to make yourself a glass.  Perfect for hot summer days!

Thanks to Raffaela for showing us around and also to the staff at the store.  Next time I visit Seattle, I will definitely have to try running the Burke-Gilman Trail.  It sure beats the hotel treadmill!

With Raffaela and of course I am holding the Ravenna 5

October 22, 2014

It's Marine Corps Marathon week - getting ready

Last year Christine ran Marine Corps as her first marathon. After hearing many accolades and stories about the race, it seemed a perfect race for me to try this fall.  I can't wait to get to the starting line on Sunday, but in the meantime, have started to get ready. My goals for this week include lots of sleep, staying healthy and just a few short runs!

While resting up for race day, I have started to obsess over all the little details.  Packing for a race should be easy, but each time I seem to panic a bit about making sure everything is included in my bag.  Does anyone else have this problem?

Yes, I am that runner that starts the packing process way ahead of time! Since I have not added any new music to my shuffle over the last few months, it is time.  I found this iTunes card in my desk and plan to add a few new songs to my play list.

Figuring out where to dine in the DC metropolitan area should be easy.  The hotel has a nice restaurant and since it is located in Crystal City, we will have no trouble finding local places for healthy choices pre race.  Today I will try to make some reservations and hope it is not too late!

My outfit is complete thanks to these two packages arriving yesterday when we returned from our weekend in Seattle.  You can get a little idea of what I am wearing from the photo below.  It seemed the perfect race to honor our service men and women so yes, it is a red white a blue themed race outfit!

Last but not least, I am trying to get mentally in the zone for my 4th marathon.  Some night this week, I will watch "Spirit of the Marathon" for the 5th or 6th time.  It is the perfect movie to watch before a marathon.  "Spirit of the Marathon 2" is also very good!

Do you have any great tips for getting yourself ready for a marathon?  All advice is greatly appreciated!