Square Life Round World

I'm navigating through this round world while living a square life, and it fits exactly as it should.

Rock and Roll Nashville–The Verdict

Peeps, this post kind of kills me a little.  If you will recall, a few weeks ago I posted about the decision I was trying to make regarding whether to do Rock and Roll Nashville or not.  I got lots of great feedback, and y’all were so encouraging to me.  I confess I did leave a pretty critical piece of information out of that post, the most important piece, in fact.  So, here goes.  I’m injured.  I have been diagnosed with Insertional Achilles Tendonitis.

It's just not in the cards for me this year.

It’s just not in the cards for me this year.

This thing has been nagging me since last September.  I have babied the heck out of it.  I’ve rested plenty, even taking off completely since January.  Truth is, I have been very fearful that it wasn’t gone, even with that much rest.  I think deep down inside I knew there was still an issue that would show it’s ugly head as soon as my feet hit the pavement again, and that it did.

Now, I don’t really mind pushing through the pain.  I know as runners, a few aches and pains along the way are going to happen.  I also know that we have to be smart and listen to what our bodies are telling us.  The pain got to a point that I would call excrutiating after a 4-miler.  I knew I had to see a professional.

The good news is that after 6 weeks of physical therapy I’ve been cleared to resume my normal intensity again.  The bad news is normal intensity does not equate to normal mileage.  In fact, my therapist told me to not even think in terms of miles for a while, think time instead.  How much time?  Um, 20 minutes.  So, yeah, a half at the moment is out.   

There are so many things I hate about this.  First of all, I have never missed a half that I was registered for, except for St. Jude, which was cancelled.  Second, I really wanted to do the race.  I know it was going to be fun!  Just a few weeks ago, an announcement was made about a bonus medal St. Jude Heroes would get for raising at least $100 for Nashville and Memphis this year. 

This would have been some nice bonus bling!

This would have been some nice bonus bling!

No bonus bling for me!  Also, within the hour of my diagnosis I got an email announcing the line-up for the post-race concert.  I can tell you, that didn’t help at all!  Finally, not being able to run, not knowing when I’ll be able to distance train again, not knowing how to plan for the future, and not knowing how long it will take me to get back to where I was just plain sucks!  I’m not going to lie.  I’m cranky about it.   

So, there ya have it!  You can bet I’ll be finding alternate forms of working out so I don’t lose fitness while I’m rehabing.  I’m not going to take this lying down, or even sitting down.  I’ve been doing T25 for cross training, although I have to stick to the low impact modified moves so as not to put more stress on my Achilles.  My next big event is in June so I’m keeping my eye on that one.

Good luck to all my runner friends this weekend!  It looks like y’all have a nice day ahead of you.  I really wish I could join you!

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My Quest For Half Fanatics Part Three–Herb Parsons Trail Half Marathon

In case you missed it, parts 1 and 2 were about the Memphis Greenline Half and the runDisney Wine and Dine Half, respectively.  Part 3 was supposed to be about the Memphis St. Jude Half but Mother Nature intervened with an ice storm that caused the race to be cancelled.

Just to review, the basic Half Fanatic requirement is 3 half marathons in 90 days.  Since the first of 3 was on October 13, I’d have until around January 13, to get the third.  With this in mind, I spent the week after the cancelled race scouring the interwebs for anything within driving distance that would help me reach my goal.  I came up empty and resigned myself to just having to try again later.

Then fate intervened, or something like that.  Right before the new year, one of my local friends posted in a Facebook running group we both are members of that she was doing this local trail half on Sunday, January 5, so she could “moon up” this year in Half Fanatics (you can achieve higher levels of membership by completing more half marathons in a year, among other things).  I was elated!  I was going to get to be a Half Fanatic after all!  I completely ignored the part about it being a trail run.  I don’t have trail shoes.  I’m not trail trained.  I’m not sure I’ve ever even set foot on anything that can be considered a bona fide trail for longer than maybe a quarter of a mile.  I had no idea what I was in for.  I also completely ignored the weather, until after I had registered.  Pretty much as soon as I got the email confirmation of my registration, it was only then that I thought to check the forecast.  Freezing rain and snow.  Here we go again!

As the weather forecast continued to materialize over the course of the rest of the week, here’s how things were shaping up: a balmy mid to upper 40s at the start with a cold front moving in throughout the morning, bringing rain and wind, changing over to freezing rain and snow by early afternoon.  Cool!  I’ll be way done by early afternoon, I thought.  And that’s pretty much how the weather went down.  Except I wasn’t done by early afternoon.  See, here’s what happens when 30 mile per hour winds combine with pouring rain and falling temps in the mid to lower 30s within a half hour of race start:  the trail gets muddy.  You get soaked.  No amount of layered wicking clothing can keep you anywhere close to dry in that kind of rain.  A muddy trail without being trail trained and having no trail shoes means you fall down in the mud.  A lot.  Falling in the mud means you become muddy on top of being wet.  And sore.  There were parts of the trail where I literally had to climb up hills while holding on to tree trunks.  Another runner had to pull me out of the mud at one point, otherwise I might still be lying there (I kid). 

This hill was more steep than it looks.  It's where I took my first muddy tumble.

This hill was more steep than it looks. It’s where I took my first muddy tumble.

Other parts were so slippery I had to hang on to trees, almost swinging from trunk to trunk to keep moving forward while trying to stay vertical.  Also, the trail was not marked very well, and I thought I was lost more than once or twice.

Where do I go?

Where do I go?

 

I could go on and on about how miserable it was and how long it took me to finish, but I think you probably get the idea.  It wasn’t all bad, though.  The aid stations, although there were only 3 (well, 2 but we passed one twice), were very well stocked.  Of course you would expect water and electrolyte of some sort but there was also sodas, cookies, chips, m and ms, and chocolate candy bars.  This was much welcomed because I did not anticipate taking as long as I did to finish, and I was out of fuel by the halfway mark.  The sugar and salty snacks helped tremendously!  Also, Herb Parsons is a beautiful lake area, and had it not been pouring rain, I think it would have been very peaceful and enjoyable.

Herb Parsons Lake

Herb Parsons Lake

I’m so glad I did it, though.  Not only did I reach my goal of becoming a Half Fanatic, I found an inner strength I didn’t know I had.

Some of my clothes did not make it.

Some of my clothes did not make it.

 

I finished!

I finished!

I could have quit at three points in the race, but I didn’t.  Quitting is just not an option as far as I’m concerned.  Would I do it again?  Not in those conditions.  I would do a trail again, though, even that trail.  I would incorporate trails into my regular workouts and work my way up in trail mileage, however.  I completely underestimated how much more challenging a trail can be.  I would also get some trail shoes.

What’s the most challenging race you’ve ever finished?  What did you learn?

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My Quest For Half Fanatics Part Two–runDisney Wine and Dine

In case you missed part 1, which was the Memphis Greenline Half, you can find that recap here.

I was so incredibly excited for this race for a few reasons.  First of all, Wine and Dine was my inspiration race, the reason I started running in the first place.  Some of you already know the back story but in case you don’t, here is the short version.  I was at Walt Disney World Resort in October of 2011.  I arrived the same day as that year’s Wine and Dine Half and saw all the preparations being made the afternoon of the race.  The next day I saw lots of people walking around with their medals and wished I could do that.  After I got home, I did some research and decided to make that wish a reality.  I was determined to run in the 2012 Wine and Dine Half, which was scheduled for October but later moved to November to accommodate the inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler.  I did the 10 miler instead and resigned myself to never getting to do Wine and Dine until one night in Spring of 2013 when I found myself in front of my computer registering anyway.

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon

The other main reason for my extreme excitement was where we were staying–Beach Club! 

Disney's Beach Club

Disney’s Beach Club

I had never stayed at Beach Club but I got a really, really, really good rate on it, and the fact that it’s located just steps away from the Wine and Dine after party made it a deal I could not turn down!  I had always wanted to stay at Beach Club because of its proximity to Epcot and Hollywood Studios (but mainly Epcot) so I was stoked.

Wine and Dine is a bit different from other runDisney half marathons in that it is at night, starting at 10 pm.  Since I had done Tower of Terror, which is also a night race, I was better prepared for the challenge of a night race.  So on the morning of November 9, 2013 I got up, had a sensible breakfast at the France pastry shop in Epcot, went back to the resort and chilled by the pool for a few hours. 

Relaxing By the Pool

Relaxing By the Pool

Then I took a nap and at some point I also ate a turkey sandwich for lunch that I had purchased at the France pastry shop that morning.  My parents were out enjoying Epcot so I texted them to pick up a cheese plate for me also at the France pastry shop.  That was my dinner along with some sliced apples I had picked up at the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party the night before, some crackers, and a Luna bar.  Normally I wouldn’t go into such great detail about what I ate before a race but with it being a night race lots of people ask how to eat during the day.

Ready to head out to the busses!

Ready to head out to the busses!

 

Around 7 pm I headed to the buses to go to the start line. 

Transportation Information

Transportation Information

Yes, 7 pm for a 10 pm start.  It really does take that long to get everyone there and in place.  Busses for runners only run between 7 and 8, and I wanted to be on an earlier one.  As soon as I got there I noticed 3 long lines right down the middle of the staging area.  I correctly guessed they were character lines but I could not tell who they were for.  I jumped in one and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Until finally I saw I was in line for Chef Goofy. 

Me with Chef Goofy

Me with Chef Goofy

The other lines were Chef Minnie and Chef Mickey.  Once I got my photo with Goofy it was time to meet some of my Princess Posse friends for our group photo. 

Princess Posse Friends

Princess Posse Friends

We sat around chatting for a bit, listening to the DJ, and trying to relax. 

I can't believe people were actually dancing before a half marathon.

I can’t believe people were actually dancing before a half marathon.

Before long it was time to head to the corrals.  I stopped at the potty then took my place.  Shortly thereafter, off we went!

Each corral got their own fireworks start.

Each corral got their own fireworks start.

Wine and Dine Start Line

Wine and Dine Start Line, complete with bubbles coming out of the champagne glass

We headed toward Animal Kingdom and took a quick loop around the park.  I loved the light up elephant tusks that welcomed us into the park.  I also loved seeing Everest all lit up at night.  Unfortunately I did not take any photos on the course so, sadly, I have nothing to show you.  This part was very dark and crowded so I really had to watch my step.  After leaving Animal Kingdom we headed back down Osceola Parkway toward Hollywood Studios.  This is the part that really made this race seem short to me.  It felt like we approached Hollywood Studios way earlier than I had anticipated.  So the last half of the race was filled with things to keep my mind occupied, and it flew by.

Running through the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in Hollywood Studios is the highlight for many during this race, and it did not disappoint.  You do have to run through the Studios for quite a bit before getting to them, though.  This only added to the anticipation of it for me and made it that much better when I finally got there.  Shortly after the lights, it was time to exit the Studios and head for the Boardwalk area between Studios and Epcot.  It was right at the exit of Studios that I had my biggest regret of the race.  I did not stop for a pic with Darth Vader.  The line was fairly short and I should have stopped.  I don’t know why I didn’t because it was the only pic I really wanted.

After exiting Studios, we ran along the path between Studios and Epcot and even ran right past the Beach Club.  I thought I might be tempted to stop at the hotel and just go to bed by that point, but nope!  I was still going strong.  We then ran through some backstage areas of Epcot before heading through Future World and out the front of the park towards the finish line.

At the finish line area I got my medal, food box, water, Powerade, banana, and my beer.  Wine and Dine is the only runDisney race that gives runners alcohol at the finish.  You get your choice of beer or wine.  Then it was time to head back to the entrance of Epcot for the after party, which was happening in World Showcase.  I took one look at how far away I was from the entrance, thought about how far Future World was from where I was standing, and almost wished I could just grab a bus back to my hotel.  I knew my parents were waiting for me at the after party so I just sucked it up and started walking.  I did text my mom to have my dad meet me as close to the entrance as he could so I could get my flip-flops and compression calf sleeves from him.  I don’t check a bag when my parents are there since my dad can just stash some of my things in his back pack.  This is one race that I wish I had, though.  I could have had my flip-flops and compression sleeves much sooner had I checked my bag there.

Once I got to the after party, I saw they were selling race merchandise.  I was hopeful that they were also selling the race banners from the displays at the expo. 

See the "I Did It" banners hanging in the expo?  I got one of those!

See the “I Did It” banners hanging in the expo? I got one of those!

Luckily they were, and I got the last “I Did It” banner.  I will figure out a place to hang that at some point in the future.  Dad and I met up with my mom, and I really didn’t want anything to eat.  I drank my beer and chatted with a few other runners.  Shortly thereafter I decided I would rather just go back to the room than fight the crowds for food and rides.  I always end up wishing I had stayed longer.  This was no exception but at that moment, leaving was what I wanted to do.

I really loved my Wine and Dine experience!  I do wish I had taken some photos along the course and stopped for Darth Vader.  If I ever do this race again I will check my bag so I can get to my stuff quickly.  Like always, I wish I had stayed at the party longer.  While it lacked the magic that Princess Half Marathon had, I think I like the course better.  It goes through 3 of the 4 parks so there is quite a bit to look at. 

With that, I was two-thirds of the way towards my goal of becoming a Half Fanatic.  Just to review, that’s 3 half marathons in 90 days.  The third was coming up in just four weeks, the Memphis St. Jude Half Marathon.  If you’ve been following along, you already know what happened with that race.  It was cancelled due to an ice storm.  My goal of becoming a half fanatic was all but gone.  Or was it?  Check back soon for part 3 of my quest and see if I was successful. 

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