Saturday, January 29, 2011

Girls on the Run

I first read about Girls on the Run (GOTR) on Caitlin's blog.  I clicked the link to the organization's site and read more about it and thought it sounded really cool.  The timing didn't work then to volunteer so I bookmarked the page to come back.  After reading more about Caitlin's experience and how passionate she was about the organization I finally decided I really wanted to volunteer with them, so I made time in my schedule so that I could.  I put in a background check and application and attended a GOTR information session at the council here in Orlando.  The director, Lori, was super friendly and said she would find a spot for me at a local school!  


For those that don't know "Girls on the Run is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running.  Our curricula addresses all aspects of girls' development - their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual well-being." (GOTRI website)  The program is for elementary and middle school girls and ends with a group 5K.  


Today I went to a Coach Training session to learn more details about the program and sign some paperwork.  I am going to be an assistant coach at an elementary school so I will be at one (of the two) practices every week.  While there I got to meet some of the other coaches in the Orlando area.  We watched a video in which Molly Barker, the founder of GOTR, shared her story and why she started the organization.  We then went over how the program works, what is involved, and how the lessons are organized.  Lori, the director, was nice enough to get us a delicious lunch from Jason's Deli.  I enjoyed a chef salad and half a chocolate chip cookie.  


During the break I saw my first ever Operation Beautiful note and it was great one so I had to take a picture!  I was going to bring it up to the group when Lori mentioned the project herself.  She learned about it from the GOTR conference that was in Arizona last week, where Caitlin spoke.  I explained that that was how I discovered Girls on the Run.  It kind of all came full circle!  


After studying our materials we headed outside where we got to teach and participate in a lesson.  It was lots of fun!  We got a feel of the topics that are discussed and the entertaining workouts and prizes the girls get each practice.  All of the other coaches there were super nice and friendly.  We all had a great time!  
New bumper sticker for my car!
I seriously cannot wait to meet the girls and start the program!  Everything about this organization -the program, research, lessons, people, activities, values- is amazing and I love that I get the opportunity to be a part of it!  


There are lots of volunteer options for Girls on the Run from a SoleMate to a Coach.  If you are interested you should definitely check out the website and see if your city has a GOTR council!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Planning for Another Half Marathon

Yes, I have committed to completing my second half marathon! Plans have been made and registration fees paid.  I mentioned last time that I wanted to do another half marathon.  So I will be running the IronGirl Half Marathon at Clearwater Beach, FL in early April.  I have approximately nine weeks to train.  
I am currently finishing up my last week of recovery from my first half and then training for this race starts!  I already have a good base so this time I am going to work on speed.  I am no speed demon, but I know I can run a bit faster, because, even though my legs were a bit sore, at the end of the last race I felt like I could have given a little more.  I am still finalizing my training plan, but this time I decided to make my own by looking at a few different race plans including Marathoning for Mortals and Runner's World Smart Coach.  I took into account what I did and didn't like in my Disney Half training and tried to find the best balance of training and rest days.  
My weeks are going to include an easy run, tempo/speed run, and long run.  I also want to keep cross training which includes lots of different things but I want to make sure to get in some strength training and yoga in there.  I think those two activities in particular will be beneficial during my training.  


So, as I am putting the final touches on my plan, I am curious: how you come up with your training plan?  What kind of runs are important for you to get in throughout the week?  If you cross train, what kind of activities do you like?  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

After Crossing the Finish Line of the WDW Half Marathon

So I ran the race, (here is the running race recap) and had just crossed the finish line.  As I slowed down tears began to fill my eyes as I realized I had just finished a half marathon!  I continued walking and was handed my medal (it is the first one I have received for completing a race) and a mylar sheet.  I was still in awe of what I had just accomplished, but waited in a short line to get my picture taken with my medal.  I then walked through the refreshment tent, picking up some mini Clif Builder's bars, water, Powerade, a muffin, and an orange.  


I had to make my way through a maze of people to get back to the designated tent we had planned to meet.  Mom and Andy were there waiting and as they both were saying congratulations I hugged my mom and began to cry.  She told me how proud she was of me and what an accomplishment it was.  The tears were happy and felt appropriate considering how far I have come.  Two years ago I was 273 pounds and today I am down 80 pounds and so much happier than I ever could have imagined back then. 


After drying my tears I knew I needed to keep walking so my legs would feel OK later.  I had noticed that some people had ice packs wrapped around various joints and looked around to see where I could get some.  My knees definitely needed ice.  We found the medical tent and I got all wrapped up.  We then made our way to the car.  I needed to stretch my legs before I went and sat in the car for the 35 minute ride home, so I did.  
I wasn't really hungry, but knew I needed to eat something.  I had some water and a few sips of Powerade, and I decided to drink some chocolate milk.  I think it was just what I needed; it was ice cold and tasty!  I also nibbled on a honey granola bar.


Getting out of the car at home was a bit of challenge.  I unwrapped the ice and carefully crawled out; I could now feel the ache in my legs from the 13.1 miles.  I hobbled into the house and ran the water for a cold bath.  My legs needed the cool bath, even though I wasn't super excited about getting in.  I shivered as I sat in the tub with a thick towel wrapped around my shoulders.  I tried to relax my legs and allow the cool water to help my sore muscles.  I stayed in there about 15 minutes.  After a shower I dressed in some comfy clothes and pulled on my compression socks.  I also made sure to use the foam roller on my legs because I knew it would help with my recovery.  After eating some pizza I was pretty tired and laid down on the couch.  Daisy, one of our cats, joined me for a little cat nap. 


The next day started just as early as the day before.  I went to spectate my mom's first marathon.  Check out her blog to get the full recap; she did an awesome job!  


My legs were definitely sore Sunday, but by Monday I was feeling much better.  My training plan has scheduled three weeks of post race recovery so I can slowly get back into running.  My first run since the half was a little strange, but I have made sure to take the runs easy.  My three mile run this weekend actually ended up being pretty good.  


So what is next?  It is after all a new year and some new goals are needed!  After two more weeks of my post race recovery I plan to work on making my run/walk ratio different.  I want to be able to run longer before taking a walk break.  I am pretty sure I can do this, considering the distance I can run now.  Instead of focusing on distance I will be working more on speed and running continuously.  I am also quite anxious to run another half.  I know that I can do better than what I did last weekend.  I am looking at a few different races and trying to decide which one will be best fore me considering the location, price, and time.  In addition to running I also want to focus more on strength training. 


I am curious - what are your fitness goals for the new year?  Taking on any 30-day challenges?  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

WDW 2011 Half Marathon- My First Half Marathon Race Recap

About four months ago I decided that I wanted to complete my first half marathon and I did it!!  I completed the Walt Disney World Half Marathon early Saturday morning.
But lets go to the beginning of the day.  It was an early one with a 3 AM wake-up call.  I got to bed later than I wanted to the night before, but slept well and pretty much hopped out of bed when the alarm went off.  All of my gear was laid out so all I had to do was slip my clothes on.  After several attempts trying to put in my left eye contact, I finally did it, and went downstairs to eat breakfast.  I had raspberry Chobani yogurt with crushed Kashi Island Vanilla; it was quite tasty.  I looked over my checklist to make sure I had everything and my mom, step-dad (Andy), and I got into the car.  
My mom had run the half last year so we knew we needed to make sure to have enough time to get through traffic for me to reach my corral by 5 AM.  This year there were 27,000 half marathon race participants, so traffic was a little crazy.  As we were in the car I sipped on a glass of water and munched on some Chex cereal and M&M's.  I also got my sneakers, Garmin, and knee braces on.  Once we pulled into our parking spot I double checked that I had everything I needed and headed to the race area.  


It was a bit cool that morning so I brought an extra shirt, pants, and trash bag to wear just in case.  There were lots of people there and after a quick bathroom break I said goodbye to Mom and Andy and made the half mile trek to the start corrals.  As it was 4:45 in the morning, it was pretty dark and since there were so many people it was a slow, crowded walk to the corrals.  When I finally made it I found Corral E and a spot to sit.  I ate a mini chocolate chip Clif bar and drank a glass of water.  I ended up not using the pants or trash bag I brought so I dropped them on the side of the road.  Disney does a great thing where all clothing that is left after the race is donated to charities, so I didn't feel guilty about dropping it.   


After my snack I stood up, turned on my Garmin, and listened to the announcers speaking.  Al Roker, Natalie Morales, and Meredith Viera from the Today Show were running the race so they spoke to the crowd briefly.  Then the announcers spoke with some soldiers in Baghdad who were also running the race there.  One of their wives was running here in Orlando and they got to speak to each other.  They were going to use their Garmin virtual partner feature to run together.  It was a heartwarming conversation that made me a bit teary eyed.
ASI Photo via @DisneySports 
The National Anthem was sung and before I knew it the first wave was off and so were the fireworks!  This was really happening I was going to run my first half marathon.  I looked down at my Garmin and noticed my heart rate was up a bit.  I got kind of anxious and had a bit of a mini freak out.  My eyes filled with tears of fear, excitement, anxiety, and nerves.  I had to take a minute to breathe and told myself I could do this.  I wiped away the tears and as the huge crowd of people began to move, I followed after.  There were eight waves of runners and for each group there was a mini-countdown and fireworks.  My corral got closer and soon we were off and running.  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald were all at the start in their track suits to send us off!   


There was a lot of adrenaline pumping through my veins.  I tried my best to not weave around people and to keep a comfortable pace.  After mile one I had warmed up and tossed my long t-shirt to the side.  The road was packed with runners as I kept with my run four minutes walk one minute pace.  I must have had too much water before the race because I needed to go to the bathroom as soon as the race started.  Every porta-potty stop had really long lines though, so I kept running along and hoped to find one with a short line.  
The race started in the dark and it was pretty dark for the first few miles of the race.  When I checked my watch I saw that I was keeping a pretty fast time and tried to slow down a bit so that I would have enough for the second half of the race.  I reached mile four after going up and down a small hill and I spotted my fans, Mom and Andy.  They had a sign and were cheering me on.  It was really nice to see them.  


Soon we passed the ticket booths for Magic Kingdom and I decided I needed to stop at the bathroom, because I knew I would be more comfortable, especially since I was going to drink more liquids for the rest of the race.  There was a line, but it was the shorter than the earlier stops.  I made sure to stretch my legs while waiting.  As fast as the line would allow I got in and out and hit the road again.  


During mile four the top right of my ankle began to hurt.  I had never had a pain there before.   I broke my leg a few years ago and had to have some screws put into that ankle, so I think maybe something was up with that, but it did not feel too good.  I tried to focus on the entertainment and my music instead of my ankle.  Also my ITB strap and knee braces began to slip down, which was uncomfortable.  I made quick stops at the medical stations to rub some Biofreeze on my knees.  The cooling sensation the gel provided felt good and helped me to continue.


Throughout the race there is lots of entertainment including bands, music, dancers, cheerleaders, balloons, Disney characters, and the spectators.  The water/Powerade stops were consistently placed around the course which was appreciated.  I carried my G2/water mix with me, but I probably would have been fine without it.  I ate three to five Honey Stingers about every three miles throughout the race.  The extra fuel and energy definitely helped me throughout the race.  I had a runny nose, which sometimes happens when I run in cool weather and with no tissues I had to use my shirt a few times.  The race was packed the whole time I ran.  With around 27,000 runners there was not a ton of space between people, especially when the road narrowed. 


Running in Magic Kingdom was one of the highlights of the run.  We got to run down Main Street, around Tomorrowland, and through Cinderella's castle.  The only drawback to this part of the race is when the road gets small, which lead to tight running conditions and traffic slowed to a walk.  The mile markers came faster than I expected throughout the race though which was a good sign I think.


Next we passed the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts.  At this point my legs were starting to ache and I was hoping for something to lift my spirits and there were Mom and Andy cheering me on around mile 8.5.  They said I was "doing great" and that "I could do it."  It was great to see them again.  Unfortunately, that was the last viewing point until the finish line.  I was doing OK, my pace had slowed a little with stopping for water, knee strap adjustments, and the Biofreeze stops, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  At mile 10 there was a highway on ramp that we had to run up that was not fun.  One of the toy soldiers from Toy Story was encouraging runners up the ramp.  The hill part wasn't that bad, but the whole slant of the road was not good for the legs.  I tried to run on the grass (which was more level) when I could.  


I was now running farther than I ever had before as my longest run had been 10.5 miles.  As I reached mile 11 I tried to stay positive even though my knees were feeling the distance.  I thought about how amazing it was that I was actually running this race.  After a few overpasses we made it into Epcot for the final mile.  There were Disney cast members there blowing horns and cheering us on as we passed a few more characters and went around the big Epcot ball.  I had started the race with pace band for three hours, but after my knee stops I knew that it would be hard to make that time.  It wasn't a big deal though, since it was my first half marathon, I truly just wanted to finish.  
After a final minute walk break I approached mile marker 13 and saw the finish shoot ahead.  On the right hand side there was a choir singing "We are the Champions" which made me both laugh and cry, because it was just too perfect for that moment in the race.  I picked up my speed and sprinted (as best I could) through the finish.  Donald and Goofy along with hundreds of spectators cheered all the runners to the end.  I crossed the line with a time of 3:14:17!  I am a half marathoner!

I also just want to say that I truly appreciate the words of encouragement and support I have received throughout my training and the race itself.  Thank you!

*More details about what happened after the race and what is next, coming soon...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Running my First Half Marathon in the Morning

Well, this is it.  The time has come.  After three and half months of training I will be racing in my very first half marathon at Disney World tomorrow morning.  Racers have to be in the starting area by 5 AM, so we have to get up dark and early to be there on time.  


Earlier this week I was feeling good about everything, but now that it is the night before, I am feeling a bit anxious and nervous.  I am trying to stay positive though.  I am pretty sure I can do this; I need to trust the training I did.  I followed the Marathoning for Mortals run/walk plan, for those who don't already know.  It is a great book, that gave me tons of information and the final push to actually run this race.  I honestly had NEVER considered running a half marathon (those are for like super athletes, right?).  I used to be the girl that hated running the mile in gym class and now I am planning to complete 13.1 miles.  It is so crazy and exciting!
I have all my gear laid out, water bottle ready, fuel packed, and gadgets charged for the morning.  My goal is to simply finish the race and have fun!  I am number 36256 and am in corral E which starts around 6 AM.  Wish me luck! 


*I can do this.  I can do this.  I am going to do this!*  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

WDW Half Marathon Training - Week Thirteen & Fourteen: Final Training Days & the Expo

Race day is in two days and so training is winding down.  Since I did my long run from the week before on Monday I just went to cross-training for Tuesday.  I played Just Dance 2 with my sister.  You can definitely break a sweat and burn some calories playing this Wii game.


Thursday I went for a run around the neighborhood.  The weather has gotten a bit warmer here, which I am not too happy about.  When it gets hotter it gets tougher to run.
Friday I went on a short bike ride through the neighborhood and finished up with some crunches and yoga poses. 
Saturday morning I finished my last long run before the race.  I ran five miles outside with my race pace of run four minutes walk one.  It was warm in some spots during the run, but overall it was an OK run.  
Monday I got up and had to go for a 40 minute run outside.   I kept a good pace and felt great after.  
Post Dance Workout
Tuesday I decided to try the Just Sweat feature on our Just Dance 2 Wii Game and boy did I break a sweat!  I danced to about eight or nine songs, including Firework by Katy Perry, A-Punk by Vampire Weekend, Call Me by Blondie, and Wake Me Up by Wham!, to name a few. It was lots of fun and the thirty minutes flew by.

Wednesday I took a short (compared to all my other runs) 30 minute run through the neighborhood following my race pace of r4/w1.


Thursday evening my mom and I headed over to the Disney Health & Fitness Expo to pick up our race packets and check out all of the vendors.  I forgot to bring my waiver, which I had printed out a few days earlier, but luckily they had computers set up to print them out so I took advantage of them.   
The Penguin
After getting our race bibs a man walked on the small stage and announced that John "The Penguin" Bingham was getting ready to speak.  We had to stick around and listen.  He is the guy that co-wrote, with his wife Jenny Hadfield, Marathoning for Mortals.  That is the book I read that motivated me to run this half marathon and where I got my training plan!  It was a short interview about his life and how he got into running.  It was pretty cool to see him in person!  


Afterwards we walked across to the actual expo.  There were lots of vendors with lots of great running/fitness related gear and products.  We grabbed our goodie bags and then went to explore.  I got a new headband, some free Luna bar samples, a new Clif Builder's Bar, and two race pace bands.  After spending about two hours walking around and checking things out we headed back home. 
The Goods
Friday I have my last run before the race.  It is the shortest one I have since before I started training; 20 minutes long with a run 3/ walk 2 pace.  I am going to run before work in the morning.    
So those were my last days of training for my first half marathon!  I will be back to tomorrow for a quick pre-race post.