Friday, January 15, 2016

Disney World Marathon 2016

Disney World Marathon 2016

            This fall my running training totally fell apart, but that was okay, sometimes other things in life are more important than running. I headed to Disney World with my only expectation being to have fun and it came through for me in spades.
            I have to admit that by the time I crossed the start line, I was sure I would never run Disney again. It is expensive and the logistics are mind boggling, but once we got moving, it truly was a rolling party. From the very start, I stopped in nearly every character line I saw, (skipping only those that were long and for a common character like Goofy.) Needless to say, this made for a very long time on the course, but it was so fun I didn't care. My second 5 miles took over an hour and 20 minutes, LOL. It was worth it though. Through the whole race I was texting my daughter about what line I was in and she was amazed at the characters, (she works in costuming at Disney World so she is hard to impress! )
Still dark

            I stopped worrying about run/walk intervals and just went to running from character to character, walking water and snack stops, and occasionally walking with people to chat with.
        We entered the Magic Kingdom with cheers and lots of spectators! The next 5 miles were my slowest as I stopped at the many character spots.

I told Alice I felt bad because we all smell so bad, LOL. The camera lady said, "No comment."

I was hoping for Sebastian, but he walked off set just as I got to the front of the line :-( 


Is there something behind me?
Out the back door and into the behind the scenes area with parade floats.
Hades' line had just closed so this was the best I could do
Comparing our gnarly hands

Not sure if Shan Yu was confused or trying to scare me, LOL

This was a major score, Barbosa never does meet and greets, only parades. When I walked up I said, "Pirates! The only people that smell worse than runners :-D " Barbosa said, "That would be you, Jackie!"
Some characters had really elaborate back drops

Our only character stop in Animal Kingdom

Brother Bear characters. My daughter didn't think these costumes existed anymore!

   It got tough about half way through, not quite a wall, but my lack of training kicked in. 

Stopped for these guys because I needed a break :-) Disney did an amazing job of making the lines go fast so it wasn't much of a break.

These guys were awesome! There was one with green face paint that was doing a full drill sergeant routine on the people that were walking up a small hill. Some were even dropping to give him 10 push ups!

I almost missed this one because there was no line. The runners were getting tired of stopping I guess.

Hollywood Studios! Getting close to the end!

I choked up a little.

No clue, but she waved her wand to make the pain go away. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to help
Epcot at last!!!
Last character


     I finally looked up my results two days later, LOL. I finished with a 5:55:49. This, hysterically, put me in the top half of my field for my age group and gender and nearly so in the over all! So, if you want to feel REALLY good about your finish time, run Disney, hahahahahaha. Granted, it is nearly impossible to actually run because of all the people walking. I heard some discussion about some huge snafu where many people with confirmed marathon finishes got stuck in way back corrals so I wasn't the only one with this issue. 
      After a shower and nap, we headed to Magic Kindgom to ride some rides, stuff ourselves stupid at the Liberty Tree Tavern (one of my favorites,) and visited Mickey.
Mickey and I played cards and had a great time
This was my first time seeing the fully animated, talking Mikey. He is pretty cool and gives loads of hugs :-)
Trying to take my lecture seriously
Hehe, Vader selfie

         Monday we spent the morning at Hollywood Studios and stopped into the Star Wars Launch Bay where both my daughter and son in law have been working long hours. It is awesome when Lord Vader recognizes your daughter as one of his personal servants!
Awwww, Wookie hugs

     I'm thinking I'll run Goofy next year :-)

Monday, October 5, 2015

London Marathon

The following is the race report I wrote immediately after the London Marathon. It was one of the worst weekends in my life thanks to an incident that foretold the end of my 27 year marriage. When running a marathon, you get boiled down to crude bodily functions and raw emotions, unchecked and bouncing around your brain like a rubber ball shot out of a cannon into a small room. Reading back over this a year and a half later, I realize it isn't one of my better examples of prose, but it is real, it is heartfelt, and it is me; imperfect, over-exuberant, emotional, and wearing my heart on my sleeve.

London Marathon race report

Pre-race: I’M FREEZING TO DEATH! Tea, yes, hot tea is good! Must drink hot tea

Mile 1 Really? Seriously? I forgot my Garmin for LONDON!!! Okay, no biggie, they have kilometer markers, I’ll walk one minute at each kilometer marker.

Mile 2  Crap, what did the clock say when I crossed. Was it 10 minutes, 8 minutes?

Mile 3 Hot tea was BAD, now I’m going to have to find a pit stop. All the porta-potties have really long lines. Okay, I can wait for shorter lines.

Mile 4 First 5K done, whoo-hoo, handing out bracelets is fun!

Mile 5 Okay, tossing bracelets to the crowd is a bad idea, they all ended up in the bushes :-p

Mile 6  Oooo, running low on bracelets, better slow down on handing them out.

Mile 7  Wow, some of these kids are really out to lunch. I can press it right into their open high-5 hand and they look at me like I’m from outer space and let it fall. 

Mile 8  Those kilometer markers are really tiny. How many have I missed?

Mile 9 Sports drink would be really nice. Shame they are handing out crap with artificial sweeteners. Like, who is worried about calories in a marathon? 

Mile 10  Okay, I’ve passed the 5:00 or 4:30 pacers for all the start groups. That’s good, very good. I hope I don’t see those 4:30 guys again. Doubt I’ll ever see the 4:15 guys. That would be awesome though. I’ll have to shoot for that next time.

Mile 11  I really have to pee now! Don’t want to stop in the second half, it will mess up my negative split! Yes, a place to hide and pee in tall weeds. There certainly are enough men watering the weeds. Great, now I can’t pee. Come on, you can do it,    AAAAhhhhhhhhhhhh

Mile 12 Wow, the Tower Bridge! “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down,………..” OOooooooohhhhhh, there is the big bullet thing. Hmmm, how do I get pictures that include the bridge. Click, click, click, click…..

Mile 13 Okay, charged and ready to roll! Nearly out of bracelets, but the kids have lost interest in being spectators and aren’t even looking at runners anymore. I need eye contact if they are going to grasp it.

Mile 14  The tough miles. Past the half way point, but not yet to the final stretch. Focus, Wendy, focus!

Mile 15 There are some spectacularly funny costumes around here. How do they run in those get-ups?

Mile 16  Family drama is starting to creep into my mind. Must….fight….the …..drama! 

Mile 17 Cool, a bag pipe band, hey, I’m really going fast. I may PR if I can keep this up, 

Mile 18  Drama, drama, drama, drama, I can’t control the demons any more. Focus, Wendy, one step at a time. Run to the next kilometer marker. Run Run Run, push push push, right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot.

Mile 19 Dang, where are those stupid kilometer markers. Ah, there is one, but I’m on a down hill. Okay, keep running, it buys you a walk break on the next incline. Yea, right, flat my butt. 

Mile 20  Good grief, I’ve never been stepped on, tripped over, kicked, or body checked so many times in my life.

Mile 21  Wow, still on track for a PR, WHOOOOOTTTT!!!! Focus, Wendy, Focus.

Mile 22   Hmmm, big walls, really big walls. Was that the Tower or London?

Mile 23  Yes, that was definitely the Tower of London. I probably should be paying attention to a few things.
Mile 24  Something big ahead, little voice in the back of my head saying, “Notice this, it is important, brain is starving, need glycogen, can’t function, what IS that?”  

Mile 25  BIG BEN!! Knew it was something important, LOL. 

Mile 26  Wow, crazy thick crowds. They are pressing into the course, packing the runners tight. Cheering, whistles, horns, so many people!.

Mile 26.2  Crazy noise, packed runners,elbow to elbow, a din of yelling, announcers, “The good news is it will feel better soon, the bad news is it won’t be until Thursday…."laughter of the crowd.”

I did it. I’m done. My legs feel like jello, I think I PR’d but I’m not sure by how much. Waves of tears wash over me, sobbing until I can’t catch my breath. No one notices. No one cares. If they notice they just think I’m overwhelmed by having finished a marathon. They don’t know the pain, they don’t know the fear. They don’t know what is tearing my life to pieces. They don’t care. Medal, t-shirt, water, wrap in a space blanket. Stop to ask directions, enter the sea of bodies trying to get over the race. Across the foot bridge, through the crowd, up the street to my hotel. The 10 minute walk took an hour. So tired, but I did it. More than a 5 minute PR. It was supposed to be fun, it was supposed to be a sight seeing marathon. It became a drive to finish, to put it behind me, a way to make my body hurt more than my heart. To make my pounding heart work for me instead of against me. No euphoria, only exhaustion. 

I can always find another Maniac :-)
   It has been quite a while since I wrote that. Okay, months. The brain does funny things when it is totally depleted of the sugar it runs on. My swag bag had an apple, just a normal Pink Lady apple, the kind I buy in the store every week. But when I bit into it at the end of the race, it exploded in my mouth with the most amazing flavor I had ever tasted. Nothing makes simple things burst to life, take on new meaning, and show you how the tiny, insignificant moments of every day life are the truly amazing ones. Crossing the finish line at London was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. But I also hope I will never forget how amazing it made an apple taste. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Athens Marathon 2014

The Athens Marathon

     I had the great privilege of running the Athens Marathon in November 2014 with many wonderful friends, both running and spectating. I have been overwhelmed by emotion at t he end of many marathons, but this is the only one so far where I have cried at the start. Being there was so spectacular!!!!!

Despite the thousands of people that swarmed the expo, I managed to spot one of my favorite Marathon Maniacs, Lichu Sloan. Lichu is an inspiration in so many ways!! Athens was her 170th marathon and she went on to run the Istanbul marathon the next weekend.

       The start of the race was so exciting. The swarms of people, the Olympic flame burning, and beautiful, clear sky promised a wonderful experience.

       People were hiking up and getting pictures with the Olympic flame!!!

       Every race start is nuts and this was no exception. Trying to get my bag to the transport van was one of the bigger challenges of the day! 

I ran into a fantastic number of Maniacs. It was such great fun!!!

       All along the race route people were handing olive sprigs to the runners. I took one early on and managed to finish with 2 out of my 3 olives, LOL. You can see one just below the white of the hat band. 

        When we stopped to get pictures with the statue, a Greek yelled at us, something about "no photos, MARATHON!!!" I guess he hasn't heard of Maniacs yet, LOL. 

I couldn't resist stopping for this shot. 

         I can't imagine running pushing a baby in a stroller, let alone a nearly grown child! These runners are amazing!!

       I don't think I've run a marathon yet where there weren't at least a few people in costume. Athens did not dissapoint. 

This sweet priest was so patient with me! My phone was not cooperating at all for pictures, but he just kept smiling again and again :-) 

       There is great signage alone the entire route. These aren't the usual temporary distance signs, these are permanent signs that are up all year long. 

       Athens is well known for its 13 mile uphill slog. I trained for it by doing most of my mileage on either a 4% incline on the treadmill or on a nearby hill with a nice 2% grade that matched the average for Athens. Thanks to that preparation, it wasn't bad. Not that I wasn't very happy for my walking intervals, but other than a couple of short bits, (up from an underpass, etc.) I was never forced to walk by the angel of incline. It definitely added 10-15 minutes to my finish time, but considering how much time I spent stopped for pictures, it didn't matter much. 

       Nothing beats a great camera man on the side lines! Big thanks to my parents for waiting for me in the sun to get a perfect race shot. 

       Coming into the stadium is so incredible! So much history, so much emotion, and so much cheering!

       Yes! I stopped for  a selfie right before the finish, LOL. After all the time I had spent taking pictures, another minute wasn't going to matter. 
       My good friend Elizabeth and her Husband Antonis were waiting for me at the finish too! Elizabeth assure me next year she will be IN the marathon instead of watching it. 

This will definitely remain one of my favorite medals and memories.

Walking around town that night was so cool. Nothing like the acropolis lit up on a clear night!