Saturday, January 25, 2014

Spartan Race giveaway winner!

It's winter in Michigan, which means I've already shoveled (while it's still snowing!!!!) and dreamed about a warm sunny place no fewer than 28 times. I really wish I could use the free Spartan Race entry and head to sunny Florida, but the entry was offered for one of my runners.

I held a super serious selection method...I took the names of the commenters, wrote them on pieces of paper, then tossed them all in my favorite coffee mug, closed my eyes and picked one.

The winner is.....Stephanie Superty!!!! Email me at trinity90578 at yahoo dot com and I'll give you the code.

For everyone else, I have a code for 15% off your entry. Email me and I'll share it with you.

Happy running!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spartan race giveaway

I received an email from Dan with the Tampa, Florida Spartan race, offering a free entry to one of my readers. The Spartan series is known among athletes as the hardest of the obstacle course races.

From their website: "Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. Our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal.

Our events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone! At Spartan Race
, we do this everyday and it shapes everything we do.

Having experienced many different racing events, we wanted to make adventure racing more accessible to everyone, but do not be fooled by the word ‘accessible’, as our events have a challenge for everyone’s needs.
Spartan Race now introduces a level for everyone beginning with the entry level Spartan Sprint, intermediate level Super Spartan, the advanced Spartan Beast, and the ‘99.9% need not apply’ extreme level Death Race.

Whatever your level, Spartan Race will test your strength, stamina, and sense of humor."

The Tampa race is February 15, which sounds like a great time to get out of Michigan's winter!!! If you can't make it to Tampa, the entry is good to any of the races in 2014 throughout the country. See the map below for locations and distances. Unfortunately no Michigan locations - the closest are Indiana or Chicago.

How do you win the free entry? It's easy - leave a comment which race you'd pick and why you want to do it. I'll put the entries in a cup and pick one on January 25th when I wake up. Good luck and good racing!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Disney race poster :)

Even though Bill didn't come to Disney with me, he still had a poster for me upon finishing. Roger the Reindeer helped... :D The bottom left corner is a race photographer while Hello Kitty races the clock in sunny Florida - isn't it obvious?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Disney Sunday

I know there will come a day when I can no longer run marathons. That day probably should have been Disney Sunday, but I had "Bible dipped" the night before, where you open the Bible and the first verse you read is what God wants to tell you. Silly, I know, but I found a verse I hadn't read before - Psalm 55:11: "Cast your burdens upon the Lord and he will sustain you." I didn't need anything else.

My left leg and hip were in a ton of pain Sunday morning. I had a big knot in my quad that I was able to roll smaller, but not eliminate altogether, my hip was tight, and I was limping pretty badly. Walking from bed to the bathroom was bad enough - how was I going to get to the start line, much less the finish line?

I had to try though.

The start was the same set-up it had been on Saturday. The archway was different though. The course started the same, Jack Sparrow was there again, etc.
I knew the maximum time was 16:00 per mile from the time the last person started. Starting in corral J meant I had over 7 hours to finish, so my goal was slow slow slow. My strategy was jog 0.4 miles then walk 0.1. It worked. Every time I passed a medical station, I stopped. Unlike many races, the Disney medical tents actually had supplies runners would want - ice, water, Powerade, sunblock, Clif bars, Gu, ibuprofen and my new favorite product - Biofreeze!!!!! I took a squirt every time I passed it and slathered it on my thighs and hips, later on my knees. Why have I never known about this product before??? It was so wonderfully effective I stopped taking ibuprofen after mile 4.
I stopped a lot more for photos in the full, even stopping with characters I don't particularly love, just because I could. The ones I really wanted to see were Ariel and Eeyore, but I never saw either :(

Richard Simmons!!! 
After leaving the Magic Kingdom, we headed to the speedway, where we took a lap around the track. I was definitely hugging the innermost lane - didn't want to add a single step by taking a wide circle! Something funny was how many people had brought out their classic cars and watched the race. Who needs a car show when the "parade" will come to you??? :)
There was a man I had seen on Saturday as well. He ran the entire course with a sousaphone. Not only was he carrying it, he often played it!! Wow! His wife was dressed up as well, although I'm not entirely sure who she was?

Most of the course was pretty boring. Here was the recycle transfer station. Wait? I thought this was the happiest place on Earth? Not a garbage facility???
We headed into the Animal Kingdom and there were several animals there to meet us. One of the handlers asked if I wanted a photo with this bird. "Goodness, no," I said, "I'm afraid of birds!"
I started an inner dialogue at this point. I had been banking 2 minutes per mile, which meant I could theoretically walk the entire rest of the race at a 17-minute pace and still not get swept. I had read a blog from a girl who was swept in 2013 and I cried and promised myself that wouldn't happen to me. The first 12 miles I kept asserting to myself "I'm not getting swept!"

I stopped for a photo with this guy because NO ONE was waiting to see him and I felt bad for him haha I'm not even sure of his name - someone from The Jungle Book. There was a ride open in the Animal Kingdom and an employee kept trying to entice us and said we'd go first in line. Had it been anything other than a roller coaster I would have stopped, but last time I rode a roller coaster, I got off feeling awful - sore knees, achy neck and back. I didn't want to add that to marathon pain!
Outside of the Animal Kingdom I saw a pace team that was walking. Huh? My kind of pace team! Erika said they were the 6-hour group and their pattern was run 2 minutes, walk 2 minutes. I could handle that, at least for a little bit, so I fell in with them and stayed with them for 12 miles. Erika was so wonderful at providing distraction! She knew the course and kept telling us what to expect, which side the medical tent would be on, etc.

It was hot and sunny, but I was NOT complaining!!! Not with the miserable weather we've had in Michigan. I made sure to hydrate and use more GUs than I might normally, but I stayed with Erika.

After the Wide World of Sports, I saw the sweeper buses and I talked to them. "You're not getting me today!" I told every bus! They were a solid five miles behind me at that point.
We headed into the Hollywood Studios and ran past the costume area. I wanted to take a few pictures so I stopped for that, then a restaurant worker was offering cups of cold water with straws, so I slowed for that and Erika and company went on without me. We were at mile 24 by that point and I had no doubt of my finishing. I slowed even more, I enjoyed the scenery.
Epcot was the final park and it was crowded with visitors. We saw Belle and she's my favorite princess because she's smart and reads and wants more than to be Gaston's trophy wife, so I stopped for a photo. What was really nice was that runners got to jump ahead of all the tourists waiting in line. At one point I realized We're in Epcot!!!!!! which is the last part of the course. Almost there!!!

At mile 26.0 the gospel choir was still singing and I took off. #15!!!!! My second slowest ever, but that's ok. I never intended to run for time. Finishing was what mattered! I have never cried more at a race!
I hobbled away from the finish line and a volunteer at the medical station opened her arms and gave me a huge hug. "I couldn't walk this morning," I said, yet I managed to get across the finish line!!! I picked up my Goofy medal and a box of food and got in line for the bus. I didn't sit down because I know it's so difficult to get up! 
At the airport
By the time I got home Sunday night, I had been awake for 22 hours, run a marathon and dealt with the airport and a flight home. Is it any wonder I got sick a few days later? I was RUN DOWN and a cold was pretty much guaranteed since all my white blood cells were in my thighs trying to repair the damage. I'm definitely glad I did this one, but I don't think I'll do it again because it was really expensive and the course wasn't that great. The parts in the parks were awesome, but that was maybe only 3 miles of the full. Good experience, nice vacation, but in cost-benefit analysis, there are other races that score much higher :)

The characters I saw on Sunday were:
Pirates of the Caribbean
Peter Pan and Wendy
farm animals
Sleeping Beauty and the prince
2 cartoon guys that I didn't recognize
Nightmare before Christmas guy and girl
3 Villains (Maleficent, evil queen from Snow White and some man)
Buzz Lightyear
Mickey and Minney
Native Americans
gospel choir
Donald Duck
2 dogs and Pluto
old train
Wreck it Ralph
the White Rabbit (he was running away as runners chased him)
Green Army guy
the orangutan from the Jungle Book
4 reindeer
the Alligator from Peter Pan

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Disney - Saturday (half)

Wow 2:15 a.m. is darn early! Yet it had to be done if I was going to have time to eat and drink sufficiently, roll my legs and catch the bus by 4 a.m. at the absolute latest. Most races I feel nauseated in the morning, but this time I was famished! I had a 400-calorie bar and a full Nalgene bottle of water (32 oz). I packed another 16-oz bottle for the ride and walk to the start. I had packed a mylar blanket from a past race, but I stepped out of my room into a sauna. It was crazy humid at 3:45!!!

I knew the race was huge, but I didn't have a feel for it until I was walking from my room to the bus in the front of the hotel. The room next to me was lit up, and the one next to that, and after that. On the main grounds, I immediately saw 30 people walking to the bus line. Yes, a line. It was less than 10 minutes though and we were on our way!

The race finished at a parking lot of Epcot and started somewhere near there. The buses dropped off their passengers, then we had to walk close to a mile to the start. There were 16 corrals and I was in J. I was early so I did some good quality stretching, then just hung out and talked to other runners. Corrals were on both sides of the median and who did I see walking down the median? Mad Dog!!!! I yelled out his name, but he didn't hear me.

For at least an hour prior to the start, there was a dj playing music, interviewing runners, etc. Then fireworks! and nothing... It took my wave almost exactly a half hour to cross the start. It was fine with me. I didn't feel particularly ready to run. My legs were still sore and I was in no hurry.
Around the 1-mile mark, we passed the first of the characters - Captain Jack Sparrow and someone else from Pirates of the Caribbean. I didn't stop for a photo with them.
This one is just funny - there is a parking price for a tractor??? Who brings a tractor to Disney World???
Each of the mile markers was a character from a movie. People were stopping to take pictures with the mile markers. I photographed each of them, but I don't need to upload all 39 :)
The sun was starting to rise as I entered the Magic Kingdom, which was definitely the best part of the course. Most of the course was on back roads and not scenic at all. The parts in the parks were great, but those were less than 1 mile of the half.

Here is the line to see Winnie the Pooh. I passed most of the characters, but when I saw Pooh, I knew that was the time to stop. I wanted to give him a hug, but the photographer with my camera took it too soon. Oops! I look like I'm about to grope Pooh or something! He gave me a kiss after lol
 It was cool and overcast, which wasn't altogether terrible weather.
We ran on an overpass and all these people are behind me. Despite my glacial pace, I had no worries whatsoever of being last, or anywhere close!
The last stretch was in Epcot, which was open to the public by that point. With 0.2 miles left, the air filled with the gospel choir's singing and I sprinted to the end!!! No I didn't! I walked the last three miles or so. When another runner encouraged me to pick it up, I said I was conserving energy for tomorrow! :) I did manage to jog across the finish, which was in a parking lot.
My time - I'm not sure exactly. Somewhere in excess of 3 hours, which is far and away my worst half ever, but whatever. I was definitely NOT running this one for time. I considered it more of a fun run - enjoy the scenery, stop and see the castle and the characters and don't stress about time. It was a good strategy, especially given the gimpiness of my hip and legs.
If anyone is counting, this is half #4 and yes, I made the tutu. I made it pink with blue undertones so I could wear it with both shirts I packed, but decided to not wear it for the full because when it got covered in sweat and dew, some of the streamers clung to the backs of my legs and felt not so pleasant.

There were medical stations right at the finish - both staffed and self-treatment. I grabbed a bag of ice from the self treatment area and immediately held it on my hip. As a Goofy runner, there was one final step, which was to pick up a wristband that confirmed I finished the half and would be eligible for the Goofy medal the next day.

The food was pretty much crap - a small box with sample foods from the sponsors and a banana. Waited a few minutes for the bus and wound up sitting next to an elderly woman from Novi, Michigan, because I can find Michiganders anywhere in the world. She and her friends invited me to go to Downtown Disney with them, but I really just wanted to relax at the pool.

I was so happy the hotel cafeteria was still serving breakfast because it's exactly what I was craving, despite being awake for 9 hours at that point. The sun came out after breakfast and I donned my compression sleeves, jeans, a long sleeve race shirt, a floppy hat and crashed under a pool umbrella for 6-7 hours.

After dinner it was time to hit my feet with a pumice stone, soak in epsom salt, roll and go to bed early, so I could do it all again the next day!

On the plane ride home, I made a list of all the characters at each race. Here is who I remember from the half - anyone remember any that I forgot?

Pirates of the Caribbean
Cinderalla, Prince Charming and 2 mice
Phineas and Ferb
The Nightmare before Christmas guy
Buzz Lightyear
Glow in the dark kites
Winnie the Pooh
Launchpad McDuck
The Red Queen
Mickey playing golf
an old train with conductors
2 reindeer
Green Army guy
Donald and Daisy
the Alligator from Peter Pan (or some other alligator? idk)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Disney - Friday

It was funny waiting at Detroit-Metro airport on Friday morning. At first I saw a family wearing runDisney shirts from a previous year, then I saw a man wearing a Boston marathon shirt and it was obvious where they were all going. Then I started looking at people's shoes and there were SO MANY runners on the flight. The man next to me was one and we chatted for the second half of the flight.

When I arrived, my room was ready so I checked in and got settled. Took the bus to the expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and it was no problem whatsoever. The Goofy and Dopey runners went to one building and the full and half runners went to the other. I picked up my number super fast and easy, and the woman explained everything that was in the bag.
Walked a few steps to pick up my shirts. All three were in a bag with safety pins, and size exchange was 20 steps away, for those who needed it.
There were a few cut-outs of Mickey, Donald and Goofy so I stopped for a quick photo. They were the same design as on the shirts. A cute little touch is their race numbers reflect the total race mileage. Yup, I'm representing the Flying Pig :) A few people asked if I'm from Cincinnati.
I bought a pint glass for my collection and a pin for my backpack. There had been tons of complaining on facebook about the lack of items and lines, but ummm which expo were they at??? There was a ton of stuff and no wait whatsoever. I kind of wanted a Goofy hoodie, but I didn't like the colors they offered. There was a nice jacket as well, but it's basically the same jacket I got at the Chocolate run with my entry fee, so I couldn't justify a $79 jacket when I have the same one, just a different logo.

I had nothing but time, so I went to the other building to see the expo there. It was definitely bigger, but all the typical vendors and I left without getting anything. Saw Chris Powell from "Extreme Makeover" who was there for the weekend with a client whose goal was to finish a half marathon.
Outside they had posters of each of the medals, so here I am with Goofy.
The shirt design was the same for every race, just different colors. On the sleeve is the logo of each of the parks that race visits. A little hard to see, but Donald is navy blue and Goofy is black. I really like the powder blue of Mickey - I don't have any race shirts that color :) They're nice - ladies' cut, with v-neck collars and the sleeves are long enough!!! I wore the Goofy shirt the entire time I was there. I never pack casual shirts when I travel to run, and just wear whatever shirt they give me :)
I'm going to complain about the back of the shirt though. The entry fees were exorbitant - $195 for the full, $340 for Goofy, $495 for Dopey and we're stuck with sponsors all over the shirt?!?! Booooo!!
I had the same bib for both races so I wanted to take a picture of it before it got all sweaty and wrinkled.

I had woken up at 5am for my flight and regardless of how tired I was, I refused to nap because I wanted to crash for the night around 8pm. After dinner I had a bath, rolled my legs and hips then laid down to watch a rerun and my eyes were flickering closed before 8. See you at 2:15 am!!!! Ugh, the only other times I've been up at that hour is because it's LATE not because it's EARLY!!!

Just for fun I started another blog of the great race shirts I see: Happy running!