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Monday, April 27, 2015

Kelly St. Patrick's Day 5K 2015

I've run this race a bunch of times. My 5K personal record is here, set back in 2010. It's easy to set a PR on a course where the first mile is essentially all downhill. Because I have run this race so many times, I have a system. I park at the lot at Pier 5, right at the end of I-83 and walk up the hill to the start in front of the Washington Monument (no, the one in Balitmore). But, Charm City Run was advertising as where you should reserve parking, so I thought, ok, I'll reserve parking in advance.

Well. I reserved it a different lot, the one at Power Plant Live!. The one that is right at the finish line of the race. When I got to the end of I-83, traffic. So much traffic. I thought I'd find a different way to get to the parking lot. I still had an hour before the race started (remember, though, that it's a long walk up to the start). Bad choice. I ended up circling around, finding roads closed all around (for the race) and finally getting to the entrance of the parking garage but unable to enter because of the line of cars going into it blocking my way. I was going to miss the race if I didn't park and start walking, so I ended up parking in the next garage I passed. It was somewhere on Lombard Street, and it took parking panda, but not my reservation :( So, I double paid for parking.

I walked up to the start and arrived only about 6 or 7 minutes before the race was going to start. I couldn't get to the back because I was approaching from the starting line and the street was too crowded. I was panicking about this. After all, this is a crowded, fast first mile and I was going to get trampled. I was up at the front, where the people are that finish half marathons before I get across the starting line.

The race started, and I tried to get through the crowd to go farther back, moving in the opposite direction of the crowd. I guess this was disruptive, but I was really careful to not knock into people or whatever. Regardless, some guy said "you are going the wrong way." I replied "I should be in the back." He said, "No, you belong right here. Just run." So, I said, f-it, And headed on down. He was right, the course was all mixed up with no sense of anybody placing themselves properly at the start. People were weaving, people were walking, people were creating roadblocks, people were cursing walkers. All the usual cast of characters.

I was expecting to meet up with some friends at the race, but in the end couldn't find them. I ended up running alone, which was actually fine. I figured I'd find them at the finish. They were probably legitimately in the back of the pack.

It was a pretty fast first mile, as it always is. I seriously always amaze myself at this race. Then, the course flattens out but never really turns very uphill. I felt pretty good about it in general. I ran one minute of running and 30 seconds of walking and that worked out pretty well.

I crossed the finish line with a final time of 35:44. Not my best, not my worst, but my fastest 5K since having the baby (I have started re-categorizing my PRs as "before baby" and "after baby" since chasing my pre-baby PRs is too frustrating).

The finish was crowded. I decided that I wasn't going to find my friends and ended up just leaving without getting beer. I was still annoyed about the parking (and spent the entire race annoyed by it). In the end though, parking panda refunded my money for my parking and so I can say that I would recommend the service :)

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2015

In front of Cinderella's Castle
I can't tell you how excited I was to return to Florida for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend this year. Since I started distance running in 2006, I had previously made every year to run one of the races, with the exception of 2011, when it conflicted with my trip to Indonesia. Then, in 2013, I was pregnant and in 2014 I had an infant and missed both years :( So, this was my first trip back for the event since 2012.

I chose the half marathon, since I am just uncertain when exactly I might be feeling ready to tackle 26.2 again. Maybe never. Who knows.

Anyway, Todd, Owen and I left for Florida on Thursday, January 8. Our departure was rather confused and rushed because Southwest decided to play this little game where they called and said our flight was delayed until 5pm. Then, later, they called back and said our flight was delayed until 4pm, causing me to skip Owen's nap and run around the house yelling "We're out of here in THIRTY MINUTES, GUYS!" Then, on our way to the airport, they called and said our flight was delayed until 3:45pm. Not cool. But, we made it fine anyway, we just ended up getting into our hotel (Animal Kingdom Lodge) very late. Late enough that Owen had to sleep in his clothes since our luggage hadn't arrived yet.

Todd and Owen before Owen's race
Friday morning, we headed over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the Expo. Oh, how I've missed this expo! The first thing we had to do was pick up our packets - all three of us since Owen was running a Disney Kid's Race. We looked around, bought a couple of things (sunglasses, mostly) and got our packets.

Next, it was time for Owen's race! He and I waited in the corral, and he enjoyed a little pre-race nutrition (a granola bar). The kids in his age group were racing first, and they were racing about 10 kids at a time. But, there were maybe 200 kids waiting to race, so waiting was taking forever. It was getting so close to lunch and nap time that Owen was getting super grumpy.

Finally, after about 30-40 minutes of waiting, it was our turn. We were rushed up to the starting line, and in doing so, Owen dropped a plastic hand clapper that someone had given him. There was no time to turn back and get it, so we left it behind. Well, this was no good for Owen. He wanted it and started to cry. I tried to calm him and the race started. I put him down so that he could run, but he went boneless and would not even stand. Other kids were starting to line up at the starting line, so I picked him up and carried him down the track, dropping him down every 15 feet or so to see if he'd support him self (nope). Kids from the next heat were passing us. Then, kids from the next heat were passing us. Finally, we finished, with Owen still super-sad and boneless. We saw Mickey, crossed the finish, and got a medal, which Owen slapped away when I tried to give it to him. Naptime, Mommy!!!

The finish line amenities included a chocolate kids clif bar and some water. Owen was all about the water, but wanted nothing to do with any photos. We got him into his stroller, and I gave him the Clif bar, which he devoured. Then, we headed back to the hotel. He fell asleep on the stroller ride to the bus, and stayed asleep on the bus. It was only when we got back to the resort and put him back into the stroller that he woke up. And that was his nap for the day (not good).

Later, Todd's parents and nephew came by and we spent some time at the playground at the resort. They went home and we had dinner, and my sister and niece came by. They were staying with us to watch Owen during the race, so that both Todd and I could run.

We were up at 3am or so. Owen didn't sleep well, so I'd been up off and on all night. Todd woke up with a terrible cold and decided that he wasn't going to be well enough to run the race. He ended up coming along to spectate for me, though. I was waiting for the bus in the lobby of the hotel when I read an email from my aunt and uncle about my grandmother who was not doing so well. They were calling hospice, so things weren't so wonderful for me as I was heading to the starting line.
He is proudly wearing his medal

We made it to the runners village after sitting in front of quite possibly the most irritating two women in the universe on the bus. I found Jeff Galloway's tent, and Todd had some coffee and I had some water, and we sat down and talked to other Galloway runners while we waited. Jeff also had his own set of portable toilets to use, so I went ahead and used one of those, too. Yay, Jeff! We missed meeting Jeff, though, by a few minutes. It's ok, I've met him before.

Soon, it was time to leave Todd. I headed down to the starting line and Todd headed to the monorail to wait for me. The walk to the starting line was LONGER than I remember. Granted, I haven't walked from the runners village to the starting line since 2010, but it just never seemed like it was quite THAT long. Finally, I made it down there, and then FINALLY I found my corral. It took FOREVER. By the time I was in my corral, the race had started, but I was in corral K - the 11th one. So, MORE waiting.

What I like is that they were shooting off fireworks and making a big deal out of every single corral start. How awesome is that? By the time my corral started, though, Todd had been waiting at mile marker 4 already for... um, maybe an hour? LOL.

As my corral was getting ready to start, I threw away the pants I'd been wearing. They were Starter pants that I'd purchased for the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007, and I'd either brought them to or worn them for a TON  of races. Todd even wore them (they were mens pants) when he ran the 2010 Disney marathon with me. They were purchased to be thrown away at a starting line, and finally, 8 years later, they were being thrown away. So sad :(

The course was crowded. The last time I ran the half marathon, the course was crowded but there were fewer waves. The additional waves didn't help much. The course was packed the entire 13.1 miles. I was enjoying the entertainment on the course and the general awesomeness that is a Disney race, and I was also in awe of the amount of people doing the Dopey Challenge. This is the first marathon weekend for me since the Dopey Challenge came about, after all.

I felt great at the first mile marker, and then I checked runkeeper. Oh, I was doing a 14 minute mile. No wonder I felt great. But... I couldn't go faster. There just was not a way to go faster without weaving and I didn't feel like expending my energy weaving through a crowd. I wanted to enjoy the race and I didn't feel like the conditions were right for trying to go really fast. That was the mistake I made in Indianapolis.

not actually sure where this is
on the course...
So, I settled in. We headed on down the course. I saw Todd at mile marker 4 and briefly talked to him. I told him that I am slow. In the Magic Kingdom, it was awesome as always, but I decided to stop and get a picture in front of the castle, a photo op that I'd always avoided during races because of the lines. But, the lines for all of the characters up to that point had been LOOOONG. The castle lines were better, so I thought, why not. And, that is how I ended up blowing any chance of getting decent time.

I looked for Todd in front of the castle and finally found him, but I actually had to double back a bit to find him, wasting more time. So, eh, whatever.

There isn't a ton to report on the race, honestly. It was so wonderful to be back at Disney. I was heckled by a guy wearing a Patriots jersey because I was wearing a "Fleet Feet Baltimore" shirt and the Ravens were playing the Patriots that night. The crowds on the course never thinned. I took vaseline from a medical tent at mile 10, the first time I've done that. I was wiping my hands off for the rest of the race. Mile marker 12 was the Frozen mile marker, with Elsa blasting her music LOUDLY.

Epcot... almost done
The gospel choir that I love to death was still at the home stretch at the finish line. I love them so much, you have no idea. I saw Todd near the finish and then crossed the finish line, collected my medal and ate some awesome applesauce (omg... awesome sauce!).

Final time... 3:05:59, my worst half marathon time ever and the first time I've finished a half marathon in over 3 hours. Eh.

We headed back to the hotel and found my sister, niece and Owen, and they took Owen out for a while so Todd and I could shower and rest. I love my sister. Later, my mom joined us and we ate dinner at Boma.

The rest of the weekend was Disney all the way. I was so grateful to not be running the full marathon. We did get to see it in Animal Kingdom on Sunday morning. I cheered them on, but I was happy to not be one of them. We had a great time all around, heading home on Monday.

Now I just have to think... what about next year? Registration for Marathon Weekend 2016 opens April 28.

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