Friday, April 24, 2009

Disney Marathon Review

I just recently registered for the 2010 Disney World Marathon. This was the first marathon I had ever run, and still remains to be my favorite. This will be my 4th time running this race, and I am looking forward to it as much as I did my first time.
I realized that I have written much about the race, but I have never really completed a review. In writing this review I have tried to be objective and keep emotion out of it. You can be the judge.
  • Pre Race Organization is excellent. All of the pre race packet pick-up and expo are held in the Wide World of Sports Arena. There is plenty of parking and signs to tell you where to go. I have never had to wait in line to pick up my number, and get my packet.
    The Expo is good, full of energy. Lots of activity, music, noise, and crowds. It definitely adds to the excitement of the race. It has basically the same type of vendors that you would see with any large race, but the crowds definitely add a buzz of excitement to it.
  • Race morning organization is great. There was no confusion at the start, no stress, just line up and go. The only problem is that while the race starts at 5:50 am, you have to account for a 15-20 minute walk to the start and time to get the bus, monorail, or park your car. Disney requires that the latest bus that you can get is 4:00 am so that you can get to the start on time which is early. Even if you drive, you still have to get there, park your car and walk to the start; 4:30 is probably the latest you want to get there. So……plan on getting up early and doing a bit of waiting. Disney does provide some entertainment at stage and start areas, so it will not be too bad, but it is a long wait!
  • Pre and post race food No pre race food (not even water), so plan on bringing whatever you need before the start of the race with you. The post race food is plentiful, but basic after race fare. Muffins, granola bars, bananas etc. Soda and water, nothing special.
  • The spectators are great and line the majority of the course. There are many spectators in several different areas. All of them are very enthusiastic and are great for support. There are a few areas that do not have spectators (primarily from the Grand Floridian to the Animal Kingdom, mile 13.5-15) but the areas that do have them make up for the ones that don’t.
  • The medals. The medals are great. You are at Disney so of course they would be Mickey Mouse!!! Very cute.
  • The course is the best part of this race. Running through all of the parks is amazing. You get to see some areas you have never seen before as a tourist, and around every corner a vacation memory always comes to me. Disney always does a great job of lining the sidelines of the race with bands, DJ’s, characters, animals, singers etc. There is always something to look at or be entertained by and you rarely have to wait in line to get your picture taken with Mickey, Minney and the rest of the characters that are out to greet you. The course is flat and only has one short turnaround.
  • Crowded Course—This I have noticed more and more each year. The course is very crowded. Last year 13,000 people ran the marathon and you could feel it in certain locations. There were two or three times that I had to stop running due to traffic jams. The majority of the race is wide and open enough, but be prepared for a few bottlenecks. This is not a PR race. The course has too many people and distractions, but it is super fun.
  • The aid stations are awesome. Disney is about the best I have seen on this front. 23 aid stations all filled with more than enough volunteers. There is water/Gatorade almost every mile along with stations that have bananas, gels, and candy. There are several medical tents. You never feel that you are out too far from aid at any point in the race.

    This is by far my favorite race (even when you take into consideration the super early queue time). It is so much fun, the organization is right on, and the support is great. I would recommend it to any marathoner. Because of the crowds and many distractions I would not recommend this for anyone’s PR, but definitely for a fun non pressure race. This race is perfect for those runners who want to run for the fun of running.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Running is My Therapy

It has been a little while since I posted last. Things have been crazy here. Spring break for children, planning a "tea party" for my daughter, new business start up for me, my 14th wedding anniversary, and our childcare solution is on vacation!!

Through all of this, I find that things start slipping (such as this blog, to my dismay). I have however tried very hard to keep up my daily running. To that end, I have been able to keep my short daily runs although, I have not run farther than a 5 miler for over two weeks. I am not very concerned as I have no events scheduled until fall, but I am feeling the need to get out there and run and run and run (can we say, "run Forrest run!")

For me, I feel that hectic times like this are when getting your runs in are most important. Physical fitness aside, running can seriously help your mental fitness. For me, running becomes somewhat of a, "therapy", a time where I have some quiet time to think and get my day (and life) organized (not to mention no phones, no computer, no schoolwork, no children crying etc.)

Hopefully, I will hit the pavement this weekend for a nice 15 mile run, and my life will get back to it's usual more comfortable routine soon.

Times like this always make me realize how valuable my running hobby is to both my physical and mental well being.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More VIP Treatment!!

I seem to be obsessing over this VIP thing!! I have been looking around at several other marathon venues for the fall and have noticed that a good many of them offer, "VIP" options.

Unlike the Brooks MCM deal, the other VIP options are all offered at an extra cost that ranges from $50-$110. The added features range from special parking, priority port-a-potty access, admission to a VIP tent (which offers breakfast, and after race entertainent), and priority race line up (where you do not have to go down to the start line early) you are walked to the start just prior to the start of the race.

I have never purchased any VIP package for any race, and I am wondering if I had, how would my race experience be different? I joke about the Port-a-Potty's, but it is that kind of experience that band us runners together (we all have our horror stories). I think that for myself the race morning excitment/challenge of getting to the race, parking, waiting in the lines for the potty's, finally getting to the start line and mingling with the other runners is as much part of my race experience as running the race. I think that by bypassing that, you lose much of the experiences that we distance runners share and dare I say enjoy.

I have no doubt that the VIP packages offer a great experience, I am just wondering if it offers the full, "Marathon Experience".

Have any of you participated in a VIP package? If so, how was your experience?

Monday, April 13, 2009

VIP Port a Potties are for ME!!!

I am considering running the Marine Corp Marathon this October as my Boston qualifier. As I was researching the race, I came across something that may have cinched the deal for me. VIP Port a Potties at the race.

Anyone who has run a marathon (or any long race for that matter) knows the horrors of the Port-A-Potty. Long lines, no sanitizer, no toilet paper,hideous smells....need I go on? As runners, it is just something that we learn to accept, deal with or work around, but always dread!!!

It seems that at the Marine Corp Marathon, my favorite brand, "Brooks" is offering VIP potties that have, "flushing toilets, partitioned stalls, climate control, fragrance dispenser, hot and cold running water, auto shut off faucets, and vanities with mirrors" for anyone wearing Brooks footwear or Brooks MCM 2008 apparel.

Luckily I run in Brooks shoes, so It looks like I am finally going to be a VIP of something!! (even if it is port a potties).

I have not decided on the race yet, but this definitely will weigh heavily in it's favor.

My questions to other runners is, would you consider changing your running shoes or apparel to have a better bathroom experience on race day? I guess we will see on race day!!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Need for Speed!!!

I woke up this morning with very sore quads!! My little 8 minute one mile run must have made an impact on my legs. As a matter of fact, I typically do not feel this sore after my long runs.

I am actually encouraged by this because I did not feel like it was to hard to run that pace (although there was no way I was going to keep it up) but, I was really working my body hard. All I need now is to be able to keep it up for 25 more miles (I can't imagine how sore I would be then).

I need some help. Some people just start running and they are, "speedy". I am not one of those people. I started at a 12 minute pace 4 years ago and I have had to work for every second I take off my pace. I am looking for some advice on how to work on my speed. I figure that if I am going to qualify for Boston this year, I have to get busy.

I have done some research, and am disappointed with what I have found. Most of the time I do not time my miles, never my quarter and half mile marks!!! I have to chuckle when I see, " run at your marathon pace less 20 seconds"! How am I going to be able to make that happen, I can barely make sure that I set my watch at each approximate mile and not get hit by a car. I do not think my marathon time less 20 is going to happen for me.

What I need is some real advice from real people who are not elite runners with a coach in their pocket. I really do not want to talk about fartlek's and tempo runs (lingo that I am not sure an average runner would have or understand). I want to know what is a simple, realistic way for the average marathon mom to work on getting her pace faster.

I am thinking of something like, "Speed Workout for the Marathon Mom". Any advice would be appreciated.

Marathon Mama

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What is wrong with people today?

This was supposed to be a different type of blog, but the events of the morning have changed my perspective slightly. Let me set the stage:

Most mornings I run to the gym and wait outside for my husband to meet me there then go inside and workout. This morning was pretty much the same, a little cold but uneventful. I must have run faster than usual (or he was just moving slower than usual) because I had to wait for a little while. As I was waiting, several people passed me to go into the gym and being polite, I would say good morning to them. Well, I must say that the people in my town who go to Planet Fitness did not learn the same manners that I did because only one person actually acknowledged me and said hello!! Several made an effort to look the other way, and some just made eye contact and kept walking past me.

What does that say about people as a whole when we can not even acknowledge another person standing 4 feet away from them? This matter is sad to me, people so caught up in their lives that they can not take 10 seconds out of their day to return a greeting (and I live in the, "friendly South").

Why do people act like that? Is it a carryover from our parents telling us not to talk to strangers? Do people just not care or somehow feel threatened?

As I was pondering the whys, I went into the locker room to change. That is when I think I got at least part of my answer. I looked up into the mirror and was shocked at my reflection!! I have to admit I did look a little like a crazy woman. It was windy, so my bangs were standing straight up in the air, and my eyeliner and mascara (yes, left over from last night) had run down my face from my eyes tearing. I looked like some kind of crazy raccoon in pink running clothes! (I guess my husband did not notice???)

Needless to say, after I got over the initial shock, I cleaned myself up, tamed my hair and went out to workout. OK, maybe I looked too crazy to say hello to and maybe that explains why people diverted their eyes while walking towards me. I do not know, but I will definitely take notice again (hopefully when I do not look so crazy).

On a training note, ran my first 8 minute mile today. It was on the treadmill and it was only for a mile, but it is a start.

marathon mama

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Road to Boston

I am a little bummed because I wanted to run a few more marathons or halfs before the start of summer. Unfortunately, because it gets so hot here in Florida, there are no more long races being offered within the state (or within reasonable driving distance) until the fall. I was trying to get to the Country Music Marathon at the end of the month, but I think that logistically it is not going to work out. It is hard to get four children situated for a weekend away, not to mention the expense, so I think I will have to skip it. I am still trying to work it out, but it is not likely.

Anyhow, not to dwell on the negative, because I am not focusing on training for some specific races in the next few months, I have decided to make and work towards a new goal: qualifying for Boston!!! This is not going to be an easy task, considering I have to shave an hour off my best time, but I have some time to train and focus on my speed. I am starting to research and work out a new training program. I will be chronicling my successes and failures here on this blog.

Wish me luck!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Running is Good for the Brain

I have written before about how I feel that running a marathon is just as much a mental battle as a physical one. For every runner, there comes a point where you are fighting both your body and mind to stop. This is where it becomes critical to have learned some good self distraction, or serious concentration techniques.

As a distance runner, you have to learn to become either so focused in the event that you do not feel your tired legs, knees, feet etc., or you have to find a way to distract yourself so you just do not notice. I have used both techniques, although I mostly rely on distraction. I am a big, "chatter", much to my husband's dismay, and I am very motivated by large crowds of cheering people (even if not cheering for me).

My last marathon was kind of a lonely one. There was a small field of runners, and very few areas where there was a crowd. I found myself a lone runner on the street on several occasions and having no one to chat with, I had no choice to try what I would call my best effort at , "extreme focus".

I had been separated from the pace group I was trying to run with and was trying to catch back up with them. It was very cold and pouring rain and I have to say that the urge to stop and walk was getting pretty constant and strong. I always end up making deals with myself and I decided then that I was not going to stop until I had the pace group in sight. I spent my time focused on searching for the group and trying to figure out how much farther than me they were rather than feeling my legs and knees.

In about three miles I got the group in sight and, suprisingly, wanted to catch up with them so badly that I did not even stop to walk. After I caught up with them, around mile 20 , I just settled in and focused completely on finishing the race. No more energy spent on, "chatting", high-fiving the few spectators that were there, or waving to anyone. Just focused on finishing (every mile I did keep telling myself that if I kept up my pace I would be finished in xxx minutes).

The time to finish got less, I moved faster, and the finish line came into site. I think I worked my brain as much as I my legs that day. Fortunately your brain does not get sore!