Monday, January 31, 2011

Someone Else's Words

Do you ever hear a song and feel like the songwriter somehow managed to get inside your head and your heart and take the thoughts and feelings you have at one time felt about something or someone specific and somehow put it all into the words that you could never find to describe it all?

Yeah.  Me, too.

From Christina Perri's Jar of Hearts...

"And who do you think you are?
Running 'round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You're gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don't come back for me
Who do you think you are?"

Or maybe it's that I had the words but was never bold enough to say them?

"You lost the love I loved the most..."

Not me.  Or yes, me.

But it didn't take me long to realize it was your issue... not mine.

I want fire - not ice.

These days, I feel worse about the next heart going into the jar than my own.  I guess that says something.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reflecting on 2010

I realize we're close to a month into the new year, but hey - I've been busy.

I've been thinking a lot about 2010, especially my running.  It was definitely a good year.

I started off my year taking it pretty easy with training since I was coming off of a marathon PR in October and then a course marathon PR in December.  I ran a half marathon in both February and March, and then I ran two more half marathons in April (and a 10K where I ran a PR).

The second half in April was Country Music - I ran as the 2:15 pacer and had a blast helping other people reach their goal.

I traveled to Michigan in May to run my first 25K with some fun blog friends!  Then I ran my favorite hilly, hot and humid race and the RC Cola and Moon Pike 10-Miler.  I rounded out my summer by running the San Francisco Marathon (that I ran on virtually no training because of a stupid boy who threw my world off balance for a bit) and then the Howl at the Moon 5K where I won an age group aware.

I ran a new half PR at the Women's Half in September and then another new half PR at The Middle Half in October.  I'm getting so close to my goal of 1:50!

October was a busy month because I also ran a new 15K PR at the Shelby Bottoms Boogie and then a 5K PR at the Run for Mercy 5K.

In November I got the opportunity to jump in on a Ragnar Relay team from Chattanooga to Nashville, and then I ran a new PR at the Team Nashville 10-Miler.  Next up was marathon 1 of 3 at the Flying Monkey Marathon in Nashville.  I rounded out the month with a 5-mile PR at the Boulevard Bolt.

December brought me marathon 2 of 3 where I ran my second fastest marathon time ever.

I somehow managed to PR in every single distance except the marathon, and I couldn't be happier.

I know Disney wasn't in 2010, but in a lot of ways I consider it part of that year.  It was marathon 3 of 3, qualifying me for the Marathon Maniacs when I finished the Goofy Challenge.

So yeah... suffice it to say, it was a pretty incredible year.  I've been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in 2011.  The things I know for sure?  Well... that's all for another post.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Run Post-Disney

I told myself before I even ran Disney that I was taking 2 weeks off after the race.

It turns out that I took 2 1/2 weeks.  I think giving my body a for real break was definitely the smart thing to do.

Granted, I've been doing some simple strength stuff and p90x Abs Ripper here and there.  I've also been playing my Just Dance Wii game, which is a bit of a cardio workout.

Nonetheless, I didn't know what to expect for my first run back.  I had hoped I'd feel light and refreshed and like running had never been easier... instead I felt kind of sluggish and heavy.  I know it just takes some time to bounce back, but I was really hoping for my unrealistic expectations to be met, ha.

I just ran about 3 miles, deciding that there's no sense overdoing it.  I know I'll do a long run this weekend and before I know it I'll be back to normal.

But I've got to tell you... as much as I think true rest is important to recover, it really does stink that it can be a bit hard to get going again after the break.

The first run is the hardest - glad to have that one behind me now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pet Peeves about Races

We all have them.

There were a few things that I was displeased with when I did the Disney World Goofy Challenge.  They made us walk half a mile to the start.  There was nothing much to eat at the end of the race.  The fireworks were unimpressive.

But the thing that bugged me the most?  The shirt situation.

Don't get me wrong - they were super awesome.

But the shirts only came in men's sizes.  And I had a small... and they're all like dresses.  ALL THREE.

Attention race directors everywhere: If I'm going to pay that much money for your race (and your race is one of the largest in the country), you need to have men's shirts for men and women's shirts for women.

Yay Disney for having cute long sleeve tech shirts.  Boo Disney that I will never run in mine (or even wear it with jeans) because it's not a women's shirt.

I did email the race people and politely voiced my concern, and I actually got an email back today.  No word on my whole men's vs. women's thing, but they did tell me that they had an XS marathon shirt they could send me.  It's not all three, but at least it's something.  Granted, the XS men's will still be too big, but maybe it won't look as sloppy if I wear it with jeans to go run errands.

On another similar note, I registered for the Country Music Half way back in October.  There was nothing descriptive about the shirts, so I requested a small.  The other day they announced their doing Brooks shirts again, which is awesome... but they're all men's sizes.  I sent a little email their way and was able to get my shirt order changed to an XS, but again no word on my concern about why they won't order women's shirts.  There are 35,000 people at that race... I don't think it'd hurt to place a mass order for half of the shirts to be women's fit.

I'm sure it's all about saving them money so that they have a larger profit, but I'm starting to get pretty annoyed.  The Chicago Marathon did it right... I got a women's small, and it's one of my favorite shirts.  Same thing for San Francisco.  I'm hoping these other races will start to catch on soon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Contest for My Readers - Get Involved to End Sex Trafficking

I very rarely write on here about my job... or my faith and beliefs and especially politics... mostly because that's not what I created this blog to do. I also have never liked asking people for stuff, but I have an unique opportunity at work to earn some bonus vacation days for taking a little time to share about what I do and ask for others to support the non-profit where I work.

But if I'm going to earn something, it's only fair I offer you something, too. Hang with me folks, but I'm heading to tell you how you could win a $50 gift card to any store/restaurant of your choice (that I'm able to buy either in person or online and mail to you)...

Did you know that the U.S. now ranks 5th in the world for sex trafficking with more than 350,000 cases reported last year and thousands more going unreported? It's not just a third world country issue. I know that I always thought that before. The truth is that it's happening here in Nashville and in every other part of the country. More than likely, it's happening in YOUR city, too.

I am on staff at Mercy Ministries, a non-profit here in Nashville. Since 1983, Mercy Ministries’ free-of-charge, voluntary Christian residential program has served a diverse population of young women from various socio-economic backgrounds, ages 13-28, who face a combination of life-controlling issues such as eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, depression and unplanned pregnancy. Mercy also serves young women who have been physically and sexually abused, including victims of sex trafficking.

Mercy Ministries is on the cutting edge of helping those girls who are most desperate for transformation. For several years now, Mercy Ministries has helped victims of sex trafficking in our residential homes. Over the last couple of years, we have seen an increase in calls from girls who are coming out of sex trafficking and thus felt a tug in our hearts to get more involved with fighting this horrific issue. 

Mercy wants to be a voice that brings light to the disturbing fact that sex trafficking is happening in the U.S. – right in our own backyard. Studies show that rescue falls short without a comprehensive residential program where victims can be cared for in a safe environment. This puts Mercy Ministries in the unique position of being one of the few programs of its kind.

At Mercy, we provide a six-month residential counseling program to young women who want to change – completely free of charge. Our program is voluntary and includes biblically-based counseling, life skills classes, and a structured environment in which these young women can experience God's unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.

I love going to work every day knowing I'm a part of changing the lives of these young ladies in a positive way. I want to give you an opportunity to join me in making a difference, help me earn some vacation time and possibly win a cool prize for yourself!

I would like to ask you to consider supporting Mercy on a monthly basis. Because the Christian message is central to our program, Mercy never takes government funding, and because the majority of the girls who come to us cannot pay, we take them in free of charge. We want them to know that we genuinely care and that they can trust us because we are not making money off of their problems. Therefore, we have to raise all the support for our programs through private funding.

In addition to successful program results, Mercy Ministries was recently certified by the Evangelical Center for Financial Accountability (ECFA). In 2010, Charity Navigator, America's premier charity evaluator, awarded Mercy Ministries a 4-star rating for the third year in a row, the highest rating you can earn.

We currently have four homes operational with 130 beds available. However, there are over 500 young women in the process of applying to the program. We have an urgent situation at hand, and this is a time when Mercy needs more people to come alongside and support the work that we do.

That is why I am asking you to become a monthly partner with Mercy Ministries. You can do so by going online at or by responding to this post to me with a pledge to give by check each month. You can call me at work at 615.831.6987 and ask for Melanie and I can set it up for you on your credit or debit card if you don't want to set it up online.

I need to get $1,000 in monthly gifts by February 28 in order to earn 3 bonus vacation days at work. It can be that 10 people commit to $100 a month, 20 people commit to $50 a month or any combination of people giving any amount that totals $1000. You should know that while you'll be signing up to give monthly, you can cancel the recurring gift at any time should you feel unable to give at any time in the future.

Everyone who signs up will be entered to win a $50 gift card to anywhere of your choice that I'm able to get a gift card from either in person or online. I figure if there's something in it for me, there should be something in it for you, too (aside from knowing you're saving lives). It doesn't matter if you sign up to give $5 a month or $1,000 a month - if you sign up and comment to me or email me or call me at work and let me know that you signed up, then you'll go into the drawing. Full disclosure - I will have to check at work to make sure you really did sign up.

You MUST make sure that I know (by email or comment or phone call) that you signed up in order to be counted.  

I might throw in something extra for anyone who signs up to give $100 or more a month.

And if anyone gives $1,000, then we'll talk and I'll send you something even more awesome than a $50 gift card as a thank you.

Every dollar that you give will be put to work immediately to help the young women we serve at Mercy. We really want to focus on doing all we can to aid the victims of sex trafficking since it is becoming more of a known problem here in the US.

I hope you will partner with me in my work that is truly changing lives!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Marathon Melanie

I did it.

I finally bought my own domain.

You should still be diverted to my site from my old domain, but my new one is if you'd like to update on your end.

I'm really excited about making the move, and I'm hoping to do some work on revamping the blog a bit sometime soon.

It's little things like this that make me smile.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Goofy Challenge Part 4

I got a solid 8 hours of sleep on Sunday night, and then we were up and ready for our last day in Disney World. As we got ready, I suggested that we stop at the McDonald's near our hotel for breakfast... mostly because I was starving and that sounded better than park food.

As we sat in there, I looked around and saw about 8 other people with a medal. Several people were wearing Goofy medals (I had mine on of course), and one man gave me a thumbs up and a grin, so I smiled and nodded back.

I know this might sound awful, but most of the other people I saw with Goofy bibs and medals over the two days were men. It made me feel even more proud to be wearing my medal and walking around and showing that as a tiny little woman I managed to do this thing, too.

We soon headed to Hollywood Studios (which I still know and refer to as MGM). I know it's hard to believe, but I really felt great. I was still a little tired, and my feet ached... but the rest of my body seemed eerily unaware that it had just run 39.3 miles in 2 days on top of walking all over Disney for 4 days. Weird.

We started our day by riding the Tower of Terror twice and the Rockin' Rollercoaster once before heading to other parts of the park. Most of this park is shows, so I don't have a ton of photos. It also rained on us for about an hour, so we spent some time looking at the animation exhibit and seeing the history of Walt Disney's ideas. I actually think it's really cool how this one man had all these ideas that they're still implementing now.

I know it's probably a little bit conceited, but I wanted to take some photos of me with all three medals. I wish I had thought to do it in front of the castle, but this sufficed.

We saw the car stunt show - totally cool.

And yes, this happened.

We saw the Beauty and the Beast show and The Little Mermaid show. I felt great, but I still took any opportunity to take a seat.

I continued to feel hungry all day, so I munched on snacks we brought and had a cookie. I also ate a huge burger and fries at dinner (and still went back to the hotel and had another little chocolate cake. I realize I was the opposite of health in my eating, but I had just run 39.3 miles and was determined to eat whatever I saw that I wanted).

We spent the last hour or two back over on the Rockin' Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror.

We rode the rollercoast twice and then ended up riding the Tower of Terror five more times. We decided that it's better at night, mostly because the ride lasts longer. I remember riding it when I was 13 and it was relatively new, and it would do the same thing every time. Now they have it where it does something different every time... and it's AWESOME. Sometimes you go up first, sometimes down. Sometime you'll have several big drops and several little drops in no particular order. There was no line that night so we just kept getting back on and felt sure the ride was longer and more fun.

This photo is of our photo they took on the last time that we rode it. My mom actually ended up buying it because she thought it was so fun.

We crashed hard and then got up Tuesday to head home (after another McDonald's breakfast stop... epitome of health, I tell ya.) I read a little bit and then slept most of the drive until Atlanta.

It had snowed, and Atlanta is even less prepared for snow than we are here in Nashville. We drove through right at evening rush hour. Normally this would have been awful, but Atlanta was pretty much closed so no one else was out. We were starving and had a hard time finding somewhere to stop for dinner. We finally found a Steak N Shake that had its kitchen open even though it had no servers. They cooked the food but then we just had to sit down and eat it like it had been made to go.

Before long, we were back in Nashville... also covered in a good bit of snow. I got home and crashed hard, and then I was back to work on Wednesday.

My body still felt good. My feet still hurt. I almost think that all the walking around in the parks prevented me from getting too sore. I was exhausted, and catching up at work is always a little crazy. To make myself look eve crazier, I went home after work and went sledding with my sister and two cousins. My uncle got the 4-wheeler out and pulled us around behind it, too. I was worn out, but I just couldn't resist the chance to play in the snow since it happens so rarely.

Thursday and Friday were a little tough, but I spent the whole weekend at home. I slept 12-13 hours on both Friday and Saturday nights. I got caught up on laundry (though I'm painfully behind on ironing) and my emails. I started catching up on reading blogs and writing my posts. It's been a slow process to catch back up on life and get a sense of normalcy back after the holidays and two trips (and 39.3 miles).

I'm finally feeling caught up, and part of that has been that I haven't been working out. I have inflicted a two-week break on myself to ensure that I recover.

It's been a fun adventure. This trip and these races were absolutely amazing. I had so much fun getting to do this, and I would encourage anyone who is considering it to go for it.

What's next for me? Well, I have a few ideas I'll share soon. I didn't let myself think much about 2011 races before Goofy, but I'm starting to make some plans now.

Thanks for sharing this Goofy journey with me. Your kind words and encouragement have meant a lot! I thought of all of you dear readers a couple of times during the race, knowing that I'd be sharing these stories with you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Goofy Challenge Part 3: Race Report - Disney World Marathon

After seeing how well the buses ran for the half, I let myself sleep until 3:20 on Sunday. I got myself up and ready and headed out. It was much colder on Sunday, but 45 degrees isn't any worse than what I'm used to in TN. I had another space blanket from a previous race and used it to stay warm. The arm warmers I got for Christmas were also awesome for both races since it was cool in the morning and warmed up to the 60s during the race.

I met up with Alisa again at the main start area and walked over to the start corrals with her, her husband and another family member. It was kind of funny because her husband was all interested in hearing my southern accent. I forget I have that sometimes. :)

Here I am at the start line. After this picture, Alisa was like, "ooh, you're very reflective." Good to know that people can see me in this gear.

I was assigned to corral D for this race, and we totally snuck Alisa into the corral with me so that we could hang out for a while and start together. We didn't feel too guilty since the day before was kind of awful with her and Meredith being assigned to start unreasonably far back.

We chit chatted, mostly about our nerves. I knew that I'd get the race done, but I also knew I was tired and wasn't sure how it might feel.

We got to start a lot sooner this time, and I was thrilled because it was so cold and I was just ready to get the show on the road. Alisa and I ran the first 2-3 miles together but then decided to do our own things. It was so helpful though to have a friend at the start, and I'm thankful for being able to meet up with her both days. It also helped knowing all morning that she was out there somewhere doing the same thing as me. I know there were a ton of other people doing the Goofy, but there's something about knowing that someone you actually know is out there somewhere having the experience, too.

The marathon course was different than the half, which was definitely a good thing. I can't imagine if the first half was the exact same thing as what I had run 24 hours before. Before long, we were running into Epcot.

I love these little electrical parade bugs. So fun! It also brings back my memories of watching the original electric parade when I was a child.

The Epcot ball looks really neat in the dark.

As I ran through Epcot, I realized I kinda needed to pee. Since I wasn't concerned with the clock, I decided to just go on and stop. I actually ended up running into one of the regular bathrooms in the parks. Lights. Heat. Toilet paper. Flushing. It was a smart move and only took a minute.

Coming out of Epcot, I snapped a photo with these characters from Pinnochio.

The new few miles passed in kind of a blur. I knew that I was already feeling tired, and I was running about an 11:30 pace so far. Granted, I was pleased with this all things considered, but it's definitely slower than I'm used to running.

Before long, the sun was rising and we were at the Magic Kingdom. I needed to go to the bathroom again, so I made a porta-potty stop. It took a little longer, but I felt refreshed and had a little burst of energy after stopping for a few minutes.

I loved that this dj had the giant Mickey gloves. All of the entertainment along the course really was awesome, just like yesterday. Once again, I never even pulled out my iPod.

As we came into the Magic Kingdom for real, I pulled over to snap this photo of Space Mountain. When I turned to stop running, I came face-to-face with a man I know from Nashville who was also doing the Goofy. What are the odds?!

Don and I started chatting and running together. I took another photo in front of the castle.

I also got a fun photo with the train!

Don and I ran together from about miles 10-13, and I told him how it's the first time that I've ever reached mile 10 feeling like it was mile 20. My feet were definitely feeling tired, and I felt like I could take a nap on the sidewalk. Don had done the Goofy once before, so we chatted some about that time compared to this one as well as how the half had gone the day before.

When we came up on Mickey and Minnie, I decided to wait in line for a photo and he went on. It helped having someone I knew around for a few miles.

One of the awesome things about this race is that you really can get all the photos you want. I had to stand in line each time I wanted a photo with a character, but it always moved very quickly. When you don't give a flip about your finish line, you don't care if a photo stop adds an extra minute or two. Plus, they have employees that you hand your camera to and they take the picture for you. AWESOME.

The miles between the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom started wearing on me. I was tired. I knew I'd finish, but I knew that it probably wouldn't be under 5:30 like I was secretly hoping. I went into it with no real time goal and knowing this would likely be my slowest ever - I just wanted to have fun and take lots of pictures - but I still had my little secret goal. By mile 15, I didn't care if it took 6 hours.

The interesting thing is that I managed to keep running almost the whole race. I walked the water stops like I always do and I stopped for photos, but other than that I was still running... just very slowly. I think I started seeing 12 and 13 minute miles.

I also started stopping for photos that I didn't really care about because I just wanted a good excuse to stop without making myself feel guilty. Case in point? This photo with bears.

I also stopped for this photo since there were some extra characters from who was in it the day before. I did skip any stops that were exactly the same as the day before. Why stop for a photo I already have?

Before long, we made it into Animal Kingdom. I have to say that even though you don't run through the parks for that long, it really helped break up the race to go through all four.

Here's another photo with bears that I didn't really feel like I needed to have but that allowed me a short stop.

I do think this photo turned out cute, even if I am a little washed out by the lighting.

I also like this shot of the Everest ride. It had just opened when I ran by, and I was really tempted to hop off course and ride it and then hop back on and keep running. There were some employees near the entrance that I assumed were there to keep us from trying that otherwise I might have!

I like the next couple of shots I got in the Animal Kingdom.

After the Animal Kingdom, I started having to really talk to myself a lot. I was feeling tired, and I kept telling myself that when I'd get to certain places I could start walking. I'd say I needed to make it to 16. Then I'd get there and tell myself to make it to the next water stop. Then I'd get there and tell myself to get to 17. I really wanted to keep running as much as possible for as long as possible.

Honestly? I knew that the sooner I got done then the sooner I could go play at the Magic Kingdom. I didn't want to miss out on any opportunities to ride more rides! At the same time, it was definitely all mental to keep myself moving as quickly as possible (which was still slow.) I started seeing 14 minute miles, but this was in part because of the photo stops.

Stops like this one. The guy in line before me actually laid down in the grave. SO funny.

At mile 20, I reached that point where I was starting to wonder how the rest of the race was going to go. I knew that even if I walked the last 6 miles I'd finish, but I really was ready to be done. Somewhere along here that was a little out and back section and I saw Don again. He swing over and we exchanged a high five. Sometimes little things like that give you a burst of energy.

I continued to keep running as much as possible, but my water stop walk breaks got a little longer and sometimes I'd walk a bit after making a photo stop. My body actually felt good, but my feet were so tired of having my weight on them. They ached as I ran, but I found they actually burned if I walked... so it was better to keep running even if it was slow.

Even though it was getting tough, I really still felt so happy to be out here running this race. I spent some time in these miles reflecting on how I registered for this over a year ago and had wanted to attempt it for over two years. It'd been a little dream that had been a long time coming. I actually teared up a few times, but that could have been because I was ready to get this thing done. I also kind of couldn't believe I was pulling this off. It still doesn't feel like that long ago that I was dealing with a fracture in my hip, and now here I am running 39.3 miles in two days. Blows my own mind.

Before long, we were finally heading into Hollywood Studios. I can't even remember what miles we were out, but I know it was maybe 22 or so and they had little mini Hershey bars. I took two and it was the best ting I had ever eaten. There's something so wise about chocolate during a race. There was also a random spectator handing out Twizzlers, and I totally took one and thanked her. In hindsight, it probably is ill-advised to take candy from a stranger... but whatever. Later, a spectator was giving out pretzels and it made my day.

So did taking these photos.

We left the park and had only a few miles to the end. By the time I hit 23, I knew I was going to have to walk some to get myself there. I don't even want to know how I looked. I would run 50 yards and then walk a few yards and then run 50 yards and so on. Sometimes I'd run longer. Sometimes I'd walk longer. Regardless, I made sure to check in the scenery.

The spectators who had been out along the course and in the parks had been so amazing. So had all the volunteers. I tried to smile and nod and thank them as much as I could. They really helped a ton in these final miles.

Before long, we turned back into Epcot and I knew we were getting closer to the finish line.

This is really where it started to feel the hardest. I knew the finish line was so close, but I took any and every opportunity to stop for a photo.

Granted, I like Jasmine.

And Snow White has always been one of my favorites. (And she totally called me a princess and warned me to not take any apples at the finish line.)

But did I really need or want this photo? Eh, I could have taken or left it... but it was a reason to take a little pit stop.

The finish line is right near the Epcot ball outside of the park, and I could see the ball for most of the last mile and a half or so. I knew it was so close, but it looked SO far away.

I kept pushing, and never in my marathons have I ever been so happy to see this mile marker!

I turned the corner and could see the finish line. I started grinning and couldn't believe that I was doing this. Then I saw Mickey and Minnie in their track suits just before the finish line. I remember laughing in my head and knowing that some people would get a kick out of what I was about to do. I totally stopped for a photo with them like 5 yards before the finish line. (It's fun to not care at all about your finish time.)

I crossed the line in 5:39:40. It was my slowest marathon I've run since my first which I ran in 5:12. I know I teared up a bit, but I was also a little disoriented. I got my marathon medal and kept moving. Then, all these people kept congratulating me and I kept passing them until one of them kind of grabbed my arm. Turns out, they were trying to give me my Goofy medal. :)

In case you're curious, this was my 10th marathon. It was pretty cool to run kind of a big one as my 10th!

I asked a stranger to snap a photo of me with my medals. (He tried to tell me that I could get it made by the race photographers and I said I didn't want to buy it and he said you don't have to buy it and I was asking what the point was and wondering why he didn't just tell me no if he didn't want to take it... or maybe it wasn't as dramatic as I remember. Still disoriented.)

Once again, I was very displeased with the lack of food. At the same time, I didn't really know what I wanted anyways. I got on the bus and headed back to the hotel. I was actually feeling ok... just tired.

Here are a few of the official photos that I think are fun.

I was actually fighting to stay awake on the bus ride back. By the time I was at the hotel, food didn't sound good. I got a chocolate milk to drink and hit the showers. I put on my compression socks and set my alarm to take a two hour nap.

I actually woke up feeling pretty refreshed, and my body felt surprisingly great. My feet were tired, and I knew I'd want to sit as much as I could... but it was almost scary how good I felt.

My family had gone on ahead to the Magic Kingdom, so I took the bus over and met up with them. I totally wore my Goofy medal. I figured that I just accomplished one of the toughest things I've ever done, and I was totally going to wear the medal as long as was appropriate. Lots of other people did the same, so it was fun being a part of that.

We totally took this silly photo. (We're cheesy like that.)

We also got a good family photo in front of the castle.

We spent the day riding the big rides (I think I rode Space Mountain 4 more times that day) and some of the little ones like Peter Pan and Snow White. I like all the little kid rides... reminds me of my youth.

It was fun seeing other people with their medals. I try to be humble, but I have to admit that I was really proud of myself for doing this Goofy thing... so I'd see people with marathon medals and I was proud of them, but secretly I was thinking, "I did what you did today, but I also ran a half yesterday." Haha. I also did that during the race. Goofy people had blue bibs, so any time I looked around and saw the red marathon bibs and felt tired I'd remind myself that these people around me hadn't run a half the day before. It kind of helped.

We stood in Main Street (after enjoying dinner earlier and then a cinnamon bun and coffee) and watched the fireworks show. I was totally tearing up as Tinkerbell glided down from the castle and all of the fireworks went up behind the castle. I have so many happy memories from Disney World (this was my sixth trip there), and I was really just in disbelief that I was able to accomplish this huge thing for myself in a place that I love. I also think I'm old enough now that I can see myself bringing my own kids there someday. Sappy, I know, but I had a little moment.

Plus, Disney fireworks are amazing (with the exception of the sorry little race start ones). How they time them to go off exactly with the music amazes me.

I also made sure to ride Dumbo. My sister thinks it's kind of silly, but it was my favorite when I was a kid. I actually have a really vivid memory of being on it and getting to push the button to make us go up and down. Now it's a little lever. At the end, all the Dumbos go up for a final circle or two... and I have to admit it makes me a little nervous to be that high in a plastic elephant. But I still love it.

We got a family photo with Mickey and Minnie before the park closed at 11. Yes, I was still at the Magic Kingdom at 11pm on the same day I'd gotten up at 3:20am to run a marathon... the day after running a half marathon. Go big or go home, right?

I totally got a chocolate cake at the hotel when we got back. Then I crashed.

Half marathon. Full marathon. Four theme parks. Two days. 39.3 miles. Happiest place on Earth.

It could quite possibly be one of my proudest achievements. Bigger than high school valedictorian. Bigger than summa cum laude. Bigger than Homecoming Director or Director of Social Enrichment or any other office I've held. Bigger than running three marathons in three months (which I finished up by running this one... I am a Marathon Maniac now, which is still pretty awesome!)

I know people do bigger things than this every day, but this was huge for me.

And I can't help but be a little proud of myself.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Quit the Gym

I know I just posted my race report from the Disney World Half, but I also wanted to offer this quick word:

I quit the YMCA tonight.

I could see some people thinking, "Gee, she runs 39.3 miles and decides that's it?!"

No. I just realized that I don't go enough to justify the expense. I'm going to do a speed session with Fleet Feet for the next couple of months one night a week. I also plan to run weekly with East Nasty. I never do my weekend long run at the gym anyways. And I have enough stuff at home to do some strength workouts other days.

I love the classes, especially spin and yoga... but I just wasn't ever getting myself there.

I might rejoin later, but for now? I think I can accomplish my goals without being a member.

It actually feels a little liberating to quit the gym. I kind of know the guy who was working the desk, and he totally gave me a guilt trip... but nothing like when Chandler tries to quit the gym on Friends!

The Goofy Challenge Part 2: Race Report - Disney World Half Marathon

After only 4 hours of sleep, the alarm went off at 3am. This is definitely the earliest I have ever gotten up for a run. Usually, if I see 3am it's because I stayed up that late, not because I was getting up that early.

We got ready and headed to get on a shuttle. Since we stayed at a Disney resort, all we had to do was hop on a bus and ride to Epcot. It definitely made things easy logistically. There were plenty of buses, and we never had to stress over that part. Well done, runDisney, well done.

Here we are on the bus around 4am... you can tell we still have our sleepy eyes.

We got to the race and got our bearings. It was definitely a little chilly, and we used the little space blankets from previous races (I had the foresight to pack a few) to try to stay warm. We wandered around for a bit, and we ran into a guy that we had talked to in line the day before. What are the odds!? We wished him well on his race and started walking to the start line.

It's probably a half mile walk from the main area to the race start... it felt like it took us forever to get there, and the group was moving together like cattle. I figured that since I had walked all over the parks for two days that a little extra time on my feet wasn't going to kill me, but at the same time it was less than ideal.

Before long, we made it to the start corrals. I had been assigned B, but Meredith was in H so I decided that I'd go to her corral so that we could run the race together as planned. We also found Alisa there, so it was fun to get to see her again and have someone else to chat with at the race start.

And it's a good thing we had company, because it was a LONG time before we started. Our corral was one of the last ones to start, and I'm pretty sure both Meredith and Alisa were put in the wrong corral. When we started, we were surrounded by walkers... and both of them run faster than that. It was definitely annoying that we ended up having to weave in and out of so many people. I realize I could have started much closer to the front, but I had promised Meredith we'd run together and at her pace. Plus, I wanted to take it easy since I had the full the next day.

Alisa was also doing Goofy, so it was awesome to be able to chat about our thoughts and nerves for the next day.

Some other thoughts from the start? The fireworks were tiny. I expected more from Disney in terms of this. However, they had these giant flames shooting from the start banner - and these totally gave us a lot of heat as we got moving. Very helpful.

We had all agreed we needed to take it easy. With Alisa and I both doing the full the next day and Meredith having run maybe 3 miles in the past 2 months, we didn't want to be overzealous. We also agreed that we were stopping for photos with the characters unless it was ones we didn't recognize. The new characters are not on my radar.

The first one we found was Pooh and Piglet!

We also saw this really cool hot air balloon.

We had to make a porta-potty stop early on... like mile 3. This may have had something to do with the fact that we hung out at the start for like 2 hours between the time we got off the bus and when we actually started the race. This pit stop took about 10 minutes, but we weren't too concerned with time.

It wasn't long before we turned into the Magic Kingdom and ran down Main Street!

In Tomorrowland, we found Buzz Lightyear.

Then, it was Alice and the Mad Hatter by the tea cups.

As we got back to the castle, we saw the evil stepsisters, the fairy godmother and Prince Charming. I'm not sure why Cinderella wasn't out there... maybe she was on break.

Before leaving the Magic Kingdom, we also stopped for a photo with the Pirates of the Caribbean. One of them looked just like Johnny Depp!

The course definitely got a little boring at this point, but Disney did a good job of keeping it interesting. You were always coming up on a water stop, a character or music whether a band or dj. We never even turned on our iPods.

Somewhere around mile 9 or 10, we heard people talking about the sweepers. If you got behind them, you weren't going to finish in the required time. AND THEY WERE RIGHT THERE.

This is the first time in my life I have ever been that close to the back. I think it made my sister a little nervous, so we tried to pick it up a bit more. Alisa decided to go her own pace, so we all wished each other well and made plans to meet up tomorrow at the start again.

I'm not going to lie, my feet were starting to hurt. I knew this was a result of being on my feet in the parks for two days and now running a half marathon on 4 hours of sleep. I started to feel a little nervous about the next day's full marathon, but I pushed the thought out of my head.

If there's one thing I can say for sure, it's that I had fun. Even though we were out there way longer than I ever am for a half, the time flew by!

We crossed the line in 3:13:04.

I like some of the photos the race got of us, too.

We got our Donald Duck medals and hit up the food area... where we could have a banana, an orange and a teeny tiny granola bar. FAIL runDisney. FAIL. This race is expensive, and I expected a little more.

We hopped on a bus back to our hotel and grabbed some breakfast before quick showers and a 1.5 hour nap. Then we were off to the Magic Kingdom for about 7 hours. I felt tired, but I figured I was there to have fun more than anything.

When I got to the park, the security guy congratulated me and asked if I would be running again tomorrow. When I said yes, this other employee was like, "Then what are you doing here?!" I grinned and said I came to have fun and wasn't about to miss a minute of the Disney experience.

We caught the afternoon parade.

We snapped some post-race photos with our medals. (You know I wore mine all day!)

We indulged in some ice cream (the weather was sunny and warm).

We rode Space Mountain a few times, Big Thunder Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and some other of the smaller rides. It was definitely a good day.

I had bought this cute shirt at the expo that says "Race You To the Castle" and "26.2" and has the castle on it... so I figured it would be fun to get a photo in front of it, especially since I'd be running 26.2 in a few short hours.

My mom and I rode the bus back to the hotel since we thought it'd be the fastest way back. On the bus, there was this sweet family next to us of a couple and 3 small girls. Somehow we got to talking, and the dad had done the half. When I mentioned they were doing both, the mom told the girls, "See, that means that girls can do anything that boys can do!" and the dad added, "And sometimes more!" It was really cute.

We got back to the hotel and I got ready for the next day. Once again, I couldn't get myself to sleep until 11 or so. The full marathon would definitely be an experience after the past 3 days of exploring Disney and running a half marathon!