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Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Wish List Wednesday!!!

I have decided to institute a theme on Wednesdays for my blog. I think it will be enjoyable and it will help me have some consistency and some with fun at the same time. Wednesdays will from now on be “Wish List Wednesdays”.  I think its important to have huge dreams and then to look at financially and time feasible ways to achieve them or something like them. So, what exactly will this be? It will NOT only be my pining over race gear  and race experiences that I dont have any money for and probably never will (although that will be a part of it for sure). It will instead offer 2 topics weekly, one on a running and one on fitness and then discuss how each fits on my wish list in 4 parts:

1. Set Up– Explaining what the topic is and why I chose it

2. The ideal wish that I have- It IS a wish list right? So I will explain what my absolute ideal scenario, item, thing, or whatever is and why I feel that way. I will probably also discuss why it may never happen

3. The reality– A discussion of what I will do instead.

4. The Possibility– Something that I may be able to accomplish in the future, that bridges the gap betwen the nitty gritty and the pie in the sky.

So….. On that note…..

This weeks running wish is….

I wish I could run this DREAM MARATHON….

Set upNot Quite an Empire State of Mind

I cant tell you how many runners I have had this conversation with. Under perfect circumstances, with cost, qualifying and time not an issue what marathon/race would you chose? The most common answer I get from people on this one is either Boston/New York. These are top of the line marathons, the pinnacle of what the sport offers too many. They are also both ridiculously expensive and very difficult to qualify for. Most people think that I would chose New York, given that I grew up in Long Island. I would be lying if I said I didnt want to try New York at some point. I cant imaginge how awesome that one would be.  However this is not number one on my list. Its close, but something beats it.

New York would be wow, but not #1 to me

THE IDEAL WISHGet me to the Greek… race

Athens is the ideal to me, and here is why. It is the original, the whole freaking legend of the marathon begins here and this attempts to recreate that particular course. To a history dork like me, that is beyond cool. I can really get into that. In fact, I can totally imagine myself  on the course mentally daydreaming about all all aspects of that original run. Hell, check out my avatar here or on twitter and its an image of Phidippides. The famous Greek runner who completed the original run according to legend. In addition to everything else, Athens would also be a chance to go back to Greece, enjoy a wonderful culture and landscape.

It wont ever happen. Its an open race and everything, but flying to Greece and paying for race and accommodations would be incalculably expensive. This one is in the clouds for me only.

Where it all started..

THE REALITY- The Space Coast Marathon

http://www.spacecoastmarathon.com/

This is a good next full for me. Its early in the season in November with an opportunity for more races down the line. The course is apparently the classic Florida fast and flat, it has great reviews, and its extremely convenient for me (at the end of I4 is acceptable driving distance). If I register when I plan on registering, will be 80$, a not unreasonable price for what apparently is a really interesting race. I love space and space themed stuff (they have space themed aid stations, just awesomeness).  I cant tell you why, although I think it was my love of Star Wars as a kid that did it. Plus, I very much enjoyed my previous trip to NASA and thought the land out there was beautiful. This one is doable, and I look forward to getting a new PR at this race.

Space is still the place

THE POSSIBILITY- Marine Corps Marathon in DC

 http://www.marinemarathon.com/

A little lower down on my marathon bucket list beneath Boston, New York, and possibly London is this race. I have heard it rated as one of the best races in the country, and when I look at the course and who runs it I can see why. I love history and this course reeks of it. I loved my week in DC and I cant imagine how transcendent a marathon through the nations capital would feel. It also comes quite highly recommended through runners scuttlebut. In fact as I was completing my first race at Disney, a fellow spectator was telling my mother  that this would be a great race for me to do. Around 30,000 people run this race, which is just massive to me and apparently it fills up quickly. However here is why this one may be possible down the road for me:

1. I have lots of family in the Washington DC/VA area who could support me, and transport me to and from race. I also could make a weekend out of visiting friends and family beforehand.

2. For a bigger race, the fees are expensive but not outrageous. Last year it cost 96$ total to register, compared to 180$ for Disney this year, and the whopping 225$ for New York, and a minimum of 130$ for Boston.  96$ sounds like a bargain to me.

Some day down the road, Ill get to this one.

The People's Marathon

Now…

my nutrition wish…..

I wish I had a taste for coffee….

Set up- My loathing for this beverage

I hate coffee. I absolutely hate it. I cant drink so much as a sip of it. I have attempted to do so in all forms and failed (in gross fashion) every single time. I dislike almost everything that is remotely coffee flavored. I wish I loved it though. Coffee is a great source of caffeine in the morning and often at some point before/after a run. Its cheap at most places, often free at work, and readily available.  Its way healthier then what I substitute for it. Simply, it would help me out in a multitude of ways if I liked coffee. But I dont. I loathe it.

Just disgusting

The Ideal- Fresh goodness in the morning

That every morning I could get up, have a cup of coffee and be on my way. Get to work after my 40 mile  soul sucking commute part 1, have another cup and that would be enough for the day. On race days, I could perk myself up before races (at an appropriate time of course) with a cup. On my 5 am workouts,  I could start the day with a delicious cup of coffee goodness brewed from fresh beans from I dont know … wherever.  That I would not need to do what I will describe in the next paragraph.

The Reality-  Big Gulp Monster

I need caffeine and a good chunk of it, because of my soul sucking commute (80 miles to and from work daily), intense training in the mornings, and long evenings. My hatred of coffee means I need to find it somewhere else. This has made me a total Diet soda/energy drink junkie. I roll through Big Gulps like you wouldnt believe. I once bought 12 bottles at one time of those 1.5 Pepsi Max/Diet Mountain Dew bottles for 99 Cents each to the bewilderment of the cashier. I guzzle down zero calorie can after zero calorie can at my parents house. Its hopeless. I mean it.  I have tried multiple times to cut back but I always end up back on that delicious carbonated train. Its  likewise bad with energy drinks. There are days and workouts where I need these to function or complete  workouts (well, maybe I just think I do..not sure). In fact I have nicknamed my exhaustive Friday morning runs “Energy Drink Fridays”. You name the energy drink and I have probably consumed it at some point.

You would be surprised how fast I can blast a few of these

None of this stuff is good for you. I avoid articles on the harmful effects of all kinds of soda and energy drinks. I avoid them because I dont even want to know how bad it is. I dont want to know the science behind it, even though I should. However in my current situation, I have very little choice. I guess it doesnt help,  that I have developed a real taste for a lot of these beverages as well.

The Possibility- But its.. well.. green

My commute situation may be changing soon which will offer the opportunity to alleviate some of this, but I think I will have to, simply have to, learn to like a better, healthier, energy providing beverage source.  True, I could take vitamins and supplements but they are out because of total expense. I think I am going to have to force myself to like green tea. I have heard from people that this works well for energy and keeps everything low calorie as long as you watch what you buy. It also apparently has tons of health benefits, that I have read often about it. I have never tried it, but by just looking at I can tell its going to be a struggle to like it. Not to mention how my sister and I used to ridicule Joe Torre towards the end of his term as a Yankees manager for sitting and doing nothing, all while sipping his damn green tea. Oh well, better learn to like it now. Or I could just try coffee again? Yuck

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=146#healthbenefits

Can I get used to this stuff?

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Rock Star Running?

http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/tourpass

I came across this link from a few different blogs, social media sites, and friend suggestions. I had a few different reactions given what I am trying to establish here on this blog.

Firstly, I would be lying if I didnt say I wish I had the 300$ needed to purchase this series pass for a bunch of endurance races. Of course, I would also have to wish that I lived closed to any RnR races that I would get with this pass. All the locations they run seem really interesting and the mere thought of running a whole bunch of races, setting a training schedule around them, and traveling to all of these locations lights that marathon urge fire right up in me. But it’s a dream so I have to let it go.

The reality is, Im kind of iffy about the whole Rock and Roll Marathon series. I dont know what to make of it from an observer standpoint. To be honest, I have never run one. They ran a half down in St. Pete but at 75$, it was just too big of a cost to do me, and it was only a week before my 65$ marathon. Almost every serious runner I know was excited to sign up for it and a local running group I am familiar with had made it there monthly race. They all seemed to enjoy it but that mostly may be because they ran it really well, lots of PR’s all around.

I imagine the races are well run, well organized, and that Rock n Roll element of bands playing all the time probably brings a degree of fun to the race that you may not get at most races. Still, Im wary. If they decided to push a full into St. Pete it will be the most local marathon to where I live and near impossible to turn down, but it all seems a bit corporatized to me. This makes my stomach turn a bit.  Part of the marathon/half marathon intrigue to me is that the race is local. The idea that the feature of the race is the amazing city  and its unique locations and features. The purpose of the RnR’s seems to take away from that focus and place it onto what they have to sell. For example, I saw an ad in a runners magazine for  a RnR marathon in Madrid. I cant imagine how amazing it would be to run through a stunning city like that, why do I need a big time show to go with it? Its freaking Madrid, appreciate that.

I get that races costs gobs of money to set up, organize, run,  award, etc. Im not immune to that at all. Thats probably why a corporate type enterprise like this was developed, big profit based on a unique model. Runners want to run races, and give a city a big company that promises them a spectacle that they wont have to organize and they will both probably jump at the chance. They are far more likely to work with an organization whose primary focus is these types of events  than with a charity or a company who has focuses elsewhere. In fact, I recall reading about a dispute St. Pete green lighting the RnR marathon very easily but not doing so easily for the other big endurance races in the same city. Ones that have been run there consistently in the pass.

Ill use a restaurant analogy to sum up. You can always find a Fridays, Chilis, Applebees, or Ruby Tuesdays anywhere in the country. Pay them a decent sum and you will get a pretty good plate of food (yes I know its unhealthy but just follow me here). The beauty of these places – if you enjoy them- is the similarity. You know what you get when you are going to walk through the door. That beauty to me is all their most ugly part. Wouldn’t you rather go pay that same sum to some place local? Some place that comes from the community? Wouldnt the food at that place be at least a little bit tastier? Rock n Roll Marathons are chains to me. They are fairly comparatively  priced (although still out of my league), you will get pretty much what they offer consistently, no matter where you go. But thats all. I would rather pay my sum to a more local race and sample their running tour through the city/area. More flavor that way

A Tale of Two Marathons: Disney Vs Five Points of Life (Part 2)

How did I end up running this race? – The only one that works

The day after Disney was a teacher work day for me at school. I intended to bask and celebrate my success but my legs felt delightfully sore (poor postrace routine, and the 2 hr drive from Orlando after the race had seen to that). I was only able to venture out and walk around a few times and I was thrilled to receive the plaudits and praise from colleagues. I was also more than happy to show everyone my brand new finsihers medal. It felt good to be appreciated, and I enjoyed it.  But like I said, my legs were realy sore and didnt want to do much moving. So I spent most of this day lounging in front of my laptop. I was loving every second of my performance yesterday and the attention today made the mental marathon high feel even better. I wanted that feeling more. I wanted to do another race. I wanted to do another marathon.

I set to it right way. I simply had to find another race before summer hit and then there would be nothing around here to run. This one was going to be more tricky. No corporate sponsorship this time, I was going to have to do this one all on my one. Self financing severely limited my race options. It meant that it was going to have to be close enough to be within day off driving distance (I could not afford a hotel), it meant that it was going to have to be cheap to register (dont have much expendable income), and  it meant that it was going to have to have either same day packet pickup or mailed packets.  As I clicked away at the race calendar, my frustration grew enormously. There were a ton of races out there, but almost none of them worked for me.

Miami- Too costly, too far away, and being less than a month away, a rush to get ready- NO WAY

Jacksonville- Too costly, too far away, which sucked because runners love this course and it probably had just enough training time. Jacksonville offered no same day packet pickup as I recall, because I honestly considered trying to make a 4 hour drive at 3 am in the morning to get to this race.- NOPE

Melbourne- Right on the border of too costly at this point, too far away, and no same day packet picket- NOT HAPPENING

Tallahassee- I calculated in my head how long the drive to Tally had been minus the traffic the other time I went, but it was too much. I also believe that they discouraged  or didnt allow same day pickup. A shame because the race was on the border of what I was willing to pay, but at less than a month from Disney, probably too close anyway.- WRONG, TRY AGAIN

Ocala- This one perked me up again. Seriously,  Ocala perked me up. Close enough to drive (even twice if I needed to), race fees were around 80$ at the time which is too much, but I was getting desperate.  The proximity meant I didnt have to worry about same day, but the date just didnt work. It was only two weeks away. – GRRRRRRR

FT Lauderdale- Too far away, too costly, etc, etc. etc.- NO

Boy Scout Ranch- Too far away, too obscure- NO

Only one worked. One had reasonable race fees if I signed up today at 65$. Besides Ocala, one was within driving distance away at an 1:30  of mostly highway driving from my house. One had same day packet pickup at 6, for a race at 7. It also perfectly fit my training schedule at 6 weeks away. That would give me a week to rest from Disney, 4 solid weeks of training, and a week to taper. As my only real choice ,  I started to put it together in my brain. I could simply get up at 4 and eat in the car, and be there at 6 without a problem. It was totally doable. I started to get excited and after I read a few decent reviews, I got my wallet out. Gainesville it was. Freaking Gainesville. I wanted to do another race that much

Just like that I was signed up for the Gainesville race known as the Five Points of Life Marathon. Most people not from Florida only know Gainesville as the home of the University of Florida, and although it seems to be a nice place there isnt much there beyond that. Its just plain. Gainesville also had another thing worth discussing,  that most races in the area didnt have. Hills. Im not going to act like its Denver or these hills were anything like you might find in races up north, but very few races in Florida have them. So that was notable as well.

I didnt immediately tell people about sining up for the race. Non-runners either dont care about #2 or think you are insane for doing it again. They dont get it. Runners might think that a newbie endurance runner is trying to tackle too much too soon. I didnt want to hear their lectures, even if they had a good point. To me, runners run. Its just that simple. There always plenty of reasons not put on your sneakers and run, there are a million reasons more when you are talking about running races ; but real runners run. They train and they run races, they feel that desire to compete with the clock and test themselves. Thats me. I wanted to do another one. This one fit, my body would be ready. Gainesville it was.

5POL

Pre Race Weekend Home/GainesvilleA Zenith of Boredom

I had a originally planned on taking the Friday off before  the race that Sunday. That would prevent me from too much driving too close to the race, or so my pop logic went.  However, I had to attend a function in Tallahassee  on Thursday  that was really important to me. Thus I had to take Thursday off and do a long road trip with my mom. In retrospect,  Im happy I had to go to work on Friday because by 8 pm Friday I had reached a zenith of boredom. Friday nights arent normally extravagant experiences for me, I normally take it pretty easy on those evenings. For some reason this one got particularly boring really early. I was glycoloading, clearing out the DVR, and laying around the couch with my one of my cats sleeping on me. This is how I spent most of Friday evening and a good portion of Saturday as well. Lounging and eating carbs. Ironically,  how most unhealthy Americans spend a large chunk of time. On Saturday afternoon I did skip out for a bit to read the new Runners World, which had lots of interesting articles, including a particularly good one on disordered eating.

On that note, I went home and made my pre-race night before dinner. Quite a step down from the fancy, schmancy, super foodie looking Italian place  I ate before Dsiney. Yessir, this dinner consisted of 3/4ths of a box of Barilla penne, smothered in tomato sauce from Publix, and a copious amount of French bread purchased from Target.  Total cost of meal was probably less than $8. Now thats budgeting, or laziness, or  well..both. Im not really a good cook, and you really have to keep it simple the day before a race, so I went really really easy. I allowed myself a dessert of fresh pineapple slices and raisins my mom had given me. Disney’s meal may have been far superior but this one did the trick and I enjoyed it. I knew it would do the job for the following morning, and once I had had enough food for the evening.  I put the finishing touches on my race day car backpack and crashed out by like 10:30, managing to set the alarm clock to the ridiculous 3:47.

I have to admit that there is a really “runners snob” type part of me that loves the insane hours I get up for races and even summer long runs. Its sick and probably wrong, but I savor the fact that Im up chasing the day and putting work in before most people are close to being awake. Thats usually what charges me up on these days. Today was no different, I was alert and fired up to race. I didnt even need the large Diet Mountain Dew I had purchased for the ride. It flew by, and before I knew it I was parking. Best of all my legs didnt feel tight as all.

I had known the race was small but I had know I idea it was this small. They were still setting up as I was getting there and the cops were just arriving for race control. It wasnt yet 6 , but I went over to talk to the 2 people running the race tent and they helpfully gave me my shirt ( a nice blue short sleeve one, which depicts the 5 ways you can donate to this charity) , my race bib, and my bag. The bag was full of almost next to nothing, which I had anticipated in a “you get what you paid for” type sense. Still all things considered I had zero complaints, it was still an hour to race time and I was good to go with my car parked probably all of 50 feet from the tent and probably about 500 from the finish line. Thats insanely convenient, and indicated a race smaller than any of the ones I had ever run before. Small race sometimes means big convenience.

The RaceToo much, too soon

I had trained hills both on the treadmill and on the actual ground, but I was still worried about running an endurance race with lots of terrain. I just had little experience doing so. The game plan was to go out slow and run “negative splits” the back half. Granted,  I had only learned what negative splits were a week ago, but it sounded like a good plan. The number of racers were impossibly small and after the race started seemed to shrink like a cheap concert t-shirt after the first time you wash it.  Everything got spread out fast, and it wasnt lost on me early in the race that this course was impossibly boring. Nothing against Gainesville, but like I said earlier it isnt that exciting. U of F is a lovely campus, and running through a sports stadium is always fun, but other than that it was pretty vanilla. This is not to say it was not well maintained or organized. The course was marked fairly well, and their were copious volunteers for first aid, water, and gatorade at nearly every mile. It may have been small but it tried pretty hard. None of it mattered to me at the time because I was running pretty well.

Close to the start of the race

I ran a great half. I mean a great half at 1:43. One minute short of a personal best. It was also a half that shot my gameplan straight to hell. It was totally unsustainable, and I faded hugely in the back stretch. I didnt bonk, I super bonked. I didnt hit the wall, I car wrecked into it. And not at mile twenty either, at mile 15. For a while the race just became about finishing, which is always admirable. As I struggled due to my stupidity, the isolation really started to play out. For long stretches of the race there was only 1 other person in sight. Cops would helpfully wish us luck after they stopped busy intersections full of angry drivers to let a couple of intrepid souls pass. Volunteers numbering in the twenties got to hand out one small cup of water and cheer on one particular runner at a time. The personal attention did help make up for how I felt. It also helped make up for the obnoxious wind pushing into us the back half of the course.  Conditions were brutal on this not so simple course. A personal best pretty much vanished from my thinking.

Towards the end of the race,  I was running for the most part by myself. Completely assured that everyone was ahead of me (not so much as it turned out), and just hoping to finish. Random people out and about were not sure whether I was in a race or out for a Sunday jog, something I found highly amusing . I scraped over the line at 3 hrs and 44 minutes.

Post Race at Gainesville – Just not that much there

I was of course not thrilled with the time I ran,  but the more I went through the post race the better it felt. Ironically, that was how my body responded too. All the stages of soreness that I had gone through following Disney were there , but it was all severely lessened. I felt ok;  I walked around, stretched, made delirious conversation, and sampled the ultra tiny post race.

There was not much to sample. Basically, the Publix Table had Bagels and bananas of which I took handfuls . A couple of other places had water and gatorade, but that was it.  I laid down in my car, and relaxed, determined to wait a while before I made the drive back home. I examined the medal, it was no Mickey but it was cherishable as well. A gator in the center of a bronze colored square, surrounded by the different ways to donate. I left it on the whole post race and ride home.  45 minutes later, and not interested in the results that much,  I was happily on my way back to Wesley Chapel and then on to Tampa to visit my brother and my nieces.

SummaryBetter as I drive away

The drive home was key for me here. As I thought about this race more and more, the more pleased I got with my time.  The more reasonable I got with myself. 3 hrs and 44 minutes was a respectable time for any 2nd time marathoner.  Besides which it had been unseasonably warm that day. It had been unseasonably humid as well. The course had been hilly and not easy. And that wind was ridiculous on the back stretch. The time was solid, and I believe running hills (especially hills in an endurance race) made me a better runner.

Later in the day, I would find out that my time would place me in 25th place out of 168 marathoners and 3rd in my age group for 14 marathoners. I would also read several stories from fellow runners in the days following about their immense struggles with the conditions out there. Yeah, my race time was solid and I am really proud of it.

Final Thoughts

Close to 10,000 people ran Disney, the Five Points of Life Marathon featured only 168 intrepid marathoners. Disney may have been an all galazy experience, but 5POL was not without its strong points. I cant even begin to imagine what Disney would have set me back had my parents not paid for it. Gainesville was a great experience that didnt necessarily break my bank. Although lonely for long stretch of times, it is a good cheap race that just needs more people to fill in the course. There is little chance I will ever get a chance to run Disney again for obvious reasons. However, as long as I live in Florida, I will always have to keep Gainesville in mind because of its rather minute marathon cost

A Tale of Two Marathons: Disney vs Five Points of Life (Part 1)

As a brand new endurance runner,  I have been fortunate to complete 2 full marathons this season. First, the uber-sized, mega spectacular , borderline luxurious Disney Marathon in early January. Followed by the smaller than most 5ks, tiny but it tries hard, borderline nonexistent 5 Points of Life Marathon in Gainesville. Both were vastly different experiences in every major way possible. Both were extremely worthwhile and entertaining experiences, but for VASTLY different reasons.

Let me start with Disney. Now I know what any reader may be thinking. This is a blog about running cheap, and my first post was all about how running competitively was too expensive. So he is wrting about what? One of the most expensive marathons in the US? Follow me here for a second. Lets just I ended up running this race for free because of umm… “Personal Corporate Sponsorship”. Yeah, thats what Ill call it.

How did I end up running this race?  

Back last year in mid spring I made the decision to try a marathon sometime next year. I figured I needed lots of time to train to become more comfortable with my long runs, and wanted a nice cool Florida day to race. I started targeting runs for the following February in Ocala and Gainesville. These races were cheap, they were close enough to drive, and they fit my distant training schedule perfectly. I mentally selected either of them and decided to wait a little bit for signing up. When I expressed my desire to try a marathon to my sister a few months later, she was aghast that I would chose to run such a boring race.

“Do you really want to look at Ocala for twenty six miles?”  She asked me rhetorically.

Point well taken, I did not.  However,  from an expense standpoint I had little other choice. Tracy was undeterred she suggested Disney and convinced herself that my parents would love it. They would make a whole weekend out of it and totally would get behind it. I was not convinced. Still she persisted, and later that very same day she had my mom firmly sold on the whole idea. Why would my mother  do it? Lots of reasons I guess. She was into me challenging this distance, she has always been super supportive of my interests (even the weird ones), and maybe it was an excuse for her to just go out and enjoy the Disney. It dint hurt that my parents had a connection at a hotel called the Swan and Dolphin either. Bottom line was that I was now officially stoked, pumped, thrilled ( ok better adjectives are escaping me right now) ; I was getting to run Disney! I knew very little about the Disney marathon other than it went thorugh the 4 parks and was ultra expensive, but it simply had to be cool. I mean its Disney. I have always said about Disney that it may be costly , but you generally get what you pay for. I imagined it would be highly organized and completely over the top. I was beyond  thankful and appreciative to my parents for giving me what may be a once in a lifetime race.

Pre- Race Weekend  for Disney MarathonGetting ready at the S &D

My family left for Disney on Saturday morning so i could get to the expo to check in , turn in the waiver, and get my race number. Everything about the operation screamed massive. For starters the check in was in an entirely different building from the expo where I picked up my “goodie bag” (alright but not spectacular) and my tech shirt (loved it, still love wearing it or just leaving it by my closet and looking at it) . I thought it was classic Disney that after picking up my stuff they deposited me into a locale with lots of over priced Disney goodies for sale. It is very similar to how all of the rides in their parks deposit you conveniently into gift shops on the way out. The expo itself was fun for a first timer like me. Lots of free samples, and giveaways and items that were cool to look at and look at and look at and look at some more, and maybe wish I could buy. I would have spent more time thre but we needed to check into our hotel at the Swan and Dolphin.

Cool Tech Shirt

The S & D is a resort of the first class. I dont know how much my parents paid for it, and I dont want to know. I could look it up this second,but I really still dont want to know. Nor do I want to know how much the expensive dinner at the great Italian restaurant inside the resort was. The Il Mulino New York Tratoria was one of those places that just screams money to me. The kind of place that rich foodies might review and write snarkily about. Dinner there was fantastic, I scarfed on a delicious pasta dish called Penne Rigate, tons of bread, and a fruit styled dessert. Yep as you can see, I believe heavily in carbing up. Plus, I dont get a chance to eat in places like this often, so I had to weigh my marathon needs with my life desire to experience great food.

Race Expo

RACE DAY  AT DISNEYSeriously,  once in a lifetime…

Disney shuttles people to the staging area and from there, you walk not a short distance to the start line and wait for your corrall to start. The whole thing was ordered perfectly, and I found the seemingly nine million portalets in the waiting area beyond comprehension. I wanted to camera phone a picture and send it to everyone. Of course, my crappy phone doesnt actually have a camera and it was it 4 am in the morning, so not so much.

Each wave went off with a Disney character counting down,  motivational music playing,  and a display of fireworks. It got everyone going. Most races that I have run typically do a good job (on a smaller scale) setting up the race start. The beauty of Disney was how they managed to keep it the entire course. At no moment did you ever feel isolated in your race doom. Spectators were everywhere, marching bands were playing, and there were aid stops constantly throughout the course. In between those things, the magic of Disney sustained you. There characters were everywhere, and not just the big ones either. It seemed like every employee, every form of Disney entertainment was out there. Im not a huge Disney fan but I did have a couple of “holy crap” moments where the enormity of it caught me. Running through the Princess’ Castle and running through downtown Disney after the park had opened were two of those particular instances.

Disney Race Start

I ran the race really well too. Spent the first few miles sifting through the crowds, and settled into a nice pace that I ran pretty much until mile 22 or so. Not bad for a first timer, and I thank the Garmin (a gift, from siblings) for keeping me on my pace. I faded those last few miles but crossed the finish line with a tme of 3 hrs and 41 minutes. I was ecstatic as I was dead tired, and I was really tired.

Disney Post Race– A Golden Mickey 

Post race at Disney was a short experience for me. First came the medal, an impressive golden Mickey that impressed me a lot more than I thought it would. I wore it/held it for a long time that and was not shy about showing it off the next day at work. Next came a quick picture. In my post race fog, I thought Disney would send to me for free. Yeah right. Beyond that I grabbed what I could from the recovery line, stuffed into my pockets and met my mom. No time to bask. Time to head back to the hotel to chill and check out and be on our way. A shuttle, a snack, and a shower later and we were in the car headed back home. As we were driving happily away and my legs were going into “store as much painful lactic acid as possible” mode,  I could still see tons of people who had not come close to finishing yet. Once again the scale of the mega marathon caught me.

Marathon Medal

SummaryEndless thanks

Most distance runners can probably recall fondly their first marathon experience. This is certainly no different for me. Im happy I got to run a spectacle style race like this for my first, because who knows if I ever will get a chance to run another dream-like supercharged one again. It was also really enjoyable to run a race and not have to worry about cost. My parents spoiled me on this one, and Im grateful they did. Endlessly grateful. The next one I would get to do all on my own and would bear no resemblance to anything that I just discussed.

Running on an empty wallet

About a year ago, I decided that as part of a final push to lose weight I would attempt to get into running. It was an activity that I previously had hated. Why run, when their are so many other effective ways to get healthy? There was a lure about running to me, a challenge if you will. So I dedicated myself and I quickly found out something. The more I ran, the healthier I became, and the more I started to actually enjoy myself. I fell hardcore into the activity and made the switch from,  running for exercise into being a RUNNER. During that process I discovered something else too. Running is not cheap, its ultra expensive as a matter of fact. Sure, nobody is stopping anyone from lacing up any pair of shoes and going for a jog. However if you want to run competitively (or competitively against the clock at least ) its costly. Running strong means running with the right shoes, running on the correct nutrition, running races, running with the right accessories/gear, running in different environments, running pain and injury free, etc. All of this costs copious amounts of money (and I know I just barely scratched the surface), which can be difficult to budget on a limited income. I want to improve my running and to get better, but I need to find a way to both run strong and to run cheap. I know that many runners constantly find themselves with this problem- choosing between the dollar or the mile. So I believe  its worth exploring much further.

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