Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday-Back at it!

Whew! For a week that is shortened due to a holiday, this sure has been a long week!  But it's Thursday.  So let's be thankful.  Ready? This week I'm thankful...

...that I ran the WDW Half Marathon.  Even though it wasn't all magical, I'm happy I did it.  Every race can't be perfect.  And the "less than stellar" experiences make us even more appreciative of the good ones, right?  I still ran 13.1 miles, felt great and had a fantastic time in Disney with my family.

...for cute puppies.
Sorry for the disappointment as I'm sure you were expecting a photo of Rocky here!  This is Titan, my nephew puppy and I'm in love.  How cute is he?

...for good things that happen to great people.  I surround myself with some pretty awesome people.  People who are training to run a half marathon to raise $ for LLS.  People who are taking chances and moving on to bigger & better things!  People who aren't afraid to dream BIG. I'm so thankful that I get to share in their accomplishments and celebrate with them!

...for spending the upcoming weekend with my best friends from college! Bring on the wine and laug

...for people who clean off the machines at the gym.  It should be common courtesy and definitely don't think it's too much to ask!

Now YOU tell me--What are you thankful for this week? Do you have any cute puppy photos to share with me? :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Walt Disney World Half Marathon Race Recap

Walt Disney World is the Most Magical Place on Earth!  However, the WDW Half Marathon was (for me) less than magical.  For this reason, I've been struggling to write this recap. It has taken me over a week to sit down and write this post because I didn't want to be whiny and negative.  Ultimately I decided to take some advice from the amazing Mrs. Miller and just being honest with my race experience.  Let me just say I did have a great time, especially running with my dad...but the race just didn't go as I had anticipated.  Be prepared for a lengthy and photo-filled post!

When I arrived in Orlando at 9pm Thursday night, I could already feel the humidity in the air and knew we would be in for a hot, sticky race weekend.  First thing Friday morning, my Goofy Dad and I headed to the Race Expo to pick up our bibs.  

After getting our bibs (and some fun new running gear at the expo), we spent a few hours at Disney's Hollywood Studios before retiring to the resort and getting ready for our 2am wake-up call.  I laid out my race day outfit before going to sleep- Moving Comfort Fiona Bra, Raw Threads Evil Queen shirt, RRS compression shorts, Asics and Sparkly Soul charcoal headband.

A very annoying 2am wake-up call startled me out of bed Saturday morning and it was time to get pumped!  Goofy and I went through our pre-race morning routines and were ready to get on the bus at 3:30am.  

It's 3am, we're ready to run 13.1 miles, and we're smiling!
I have nothing but good things to say about the race day transportation.  The buses arrived on time and the since we left early, we hit no traffic getting to the drop-off point.  We got off the bus and found ourselves in a sea of runners headed toward the corrals.  There was a ridiculous amount of congestion and we basically crawled for the ~1 mile walk to our corral.   

Our trouble came with our corral assignments.  The 23,000 runners were organized into eight corrals (A-H).  I was in Corral C, but Dad was assigned to G.  Admittedly, he should have submitted a recent race time to have his Corral switched, but since we planned to run this race just for fun we didn't bother.  I thought maybe he could sneak into my corral, but that plan fell through as soon as we saw they were checking bibs at the corral entrances.  So we headed back to Corral G.  We chatted with runners around us and learned that there were SO many first time half-marathoners!  It's not surprising that people would pick Disney as a beginner race, as it has a long cut-off time (3:30 for the half, 7:00 for the full).

Our plan for the race was to just run and have fun.  I didn't care about pace or finish time and was hoping to stop for a few pictures along the way.  The heat and humidity combined with the fact that Dad still had to run 26.2 miles on Sunday meant we were definitely taking it slow.

Disney doesn't mess around when it comes to entertainment, so right from the start they had DJ music, celebrities and fireworks.  Not to mention Donald Duck!  Just shortly after 6am, Corral G was off and running!

Or so we thought we'd be running.  We didn't even get to the first mile marker before people were walking.  And walking three or four people abreast.  Note--this is the whiny, frustrated part of my recap.  It was a serious struggle to settle into any kind of pace due to the insane number of people around us.  And not just for the first few miles.  We were bobbing and weaving through mile 8 or 9!!! Now I understand that for many people (especially in our corral) this was their first race (maybe ever) and they were excited and only concerned with what THEY were doing.  I have absolutely nothing against walkers or run-walkers.  I also know that I'm not the fastest runner ever and I certainly wasn't winning the race.  But I would have liked to be able to run at a comfortable pace and not worry about people stopping dead in their tracks right in front of me.  Or about someone dodging sideways in front of me at the water stops.  I believe there are a few solutions to these issues and I fully intend on sending my feedback to RunDisney for future races.  First, I think there should be an entire corral devoted to walkers.  I also think Disney should provide some basic running etiquette information.  RunDisney provided training plans, sent out e-mail/twitter updates on proper hydration and nutrition in hot temperatures and even played videos with running tips on the buses to the start line.  I'm hoping in the future one of the topics covered will be proper race etiquette.  I'm talking basics here...Look behind/around you before slowing down or stopping, don't form a human roadblock for people trying to pass, etc.  Unfortunately, because of these two "small" issues, I did not have the magical race experience I was hoping for.  But enough with the complaining!  Let's get the recap going and see some pictures from my 13.1 miles through Disney World!

The race was too crazy for me to remember to catch any of my split times on my watch, but I at least have the official splits from RunDisney.  The first 5K (39:11, 12:37 pace) led us away from Epcot and past the Disney Speedway.  The lines for photos were long and we were still trying to settle into a steady pace so we didn't stop, but we passed Jack Sparrow and a pirate ship and Chip & Dale with some cars at the speedway.  Mile 4 and 5 led us into the Magic Kingdom and it was so cool to run through the entrance!

Before I knew it we were turning a corner onto Main Street USA and headed toward Cinderella's Castle.  The street was jam packed with people cheering which was awesome motivation.  

The course took a right at the end of Main Street into Tomorrowland, through part of Fantasyland and then back through Cinderella's Castle, one of the highlights of the race.  I had been really looking forward to this amazing snapshot of me running through the castle, flashing my best princess smile.  This did not happen.  If you can believe it, by the time we got to the castle entrance, it was a bit of a bottleneck and everyone was walking.  WALKING. THROUGH THE CASTLE.  I was super disappointed, but I knew there would be a photographer, so I smiled.  Dad decided to show his true emotions...

Moving on, it was over to Liberty Square and Frontierland.  We screwed up here with poor communication during a bathroom stop.  I thought Dad had taken off without me, so I left hoping to catch up.  We had no way to communicate with each other, but I realized very quickly that I would get an alert when both he & I crossed the mat at the 10K point.  So I crossed, got my alert and did not get his.  Oops.  He hadn't left without me and was still waiting back at the bathroom.  He waited for awhile until he realized I DID leave without him.  Thankfully I saw him at the 10K marker.  I would've been really upset if I screwed it up and had to finish the race separately.  So after that debacle, our 10K split was 1:25:17 (13:43 pace).

Miles 7-11 were just along World Drive back toward Epcot.  There was fantastic entertainment along the course with bands, characters, DJs and more!  Since the sun was now out and we were running on open roads, it was getting HOT.  Dad and I decided not to stop and wait for character photos and just finish the race.  I was ready for post-race pictures with the characters and Dad didn't need to be spending any excess time on his feet.  Despite the fact that we were taking 45-60 minutes longer than we normally would to run a half marathon, the race never felt long.  I felt like it flew by, especially after we left Magic Kingdom and things spread out (a little).  

I called our cheerleader at Mile 11 to give her a heads up we were coming into Epcot.  We ran through the bus stop area, into a "Cast Member only" entrance and right by Spaceship Earth.  It was a quick little run around Epcot (excluding World Showcase) and back out to the finish line.  As expected, there were a lot of people cheering at the finish.  It was awesome!  With about 200 yards to go, we saw (and heard) my aunt!  I really appreciate her coming out because spectating is not an easy task! Thanks, Auntie M! :)

Think I'll still be doing this in 30 years too?

Dad and I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:56:20 (13:27 pace).  Although that time didn't even include any photo stops, I'm not disappointed with it.  I clearly had some frustrations, but I still felt fantastic and ran a great race.  With my dad.  In Disney World.  All amazing things.

Donald bling!

We grabbed our post-race snacks and took pictures with Scrooge McDuck before heading back to the resort.  Then it was off to Epcot for the day, where we got many more character photos!

On Sunday morning my aunt and I cheered on Dad as he completed the WDW Marathon (his 8th marathon) and his third Goofy Challenge!  This time he snuck into Corral C and said it was so much less congested than the previous day.  We had a blast cheering and "high-fouring" runners with our giant Mickey hands.  Dad ran an amazing race and got his own high-four from the Mick himself at the finish!  Congrats, Dad! 

While it wasn't the magical race as I was hoping for, I'm so glad I ran the WDW Half.  And I will definitely be back for more RunDisney events!  Perhaps I'll be joining Dad for the marathon in 2014?  And getting Goofy in a few years?!  Stay tuned! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fit Food Friday: Salmon

Happy Friday!  I'm actually busy soaking up the beautiful weather in Florida and getting ready to #RunDisney tomorrow, but don't worry...I prescheduled a Fit Food Friday for you.  Today we're talking about salmon!  This fatty fish is not only a great source of protein, but it is packed with heart healthy omega-3 fats and other vitamins and minerals.  So we know it's a generally healthy food for us to eat, but how can it improve performance and recovery?

As I mentioned, salmon is a great source of protein, containing about 22 grams in a 3oz portion.  We know that protein helps rebuild and repair muscle tissue that is broken down during exercise, thus making salmon a great post-workout food for runners and athletes.  Emerging research also shows that the small protein molecules (peptides) found in salmon support cartilage and promote joint health.  Great news for those of us out there pounding the pavement!

Probably the most well-known health benefits of salmon is it's high omega-3 content.  One serving of salmon can contain up to 2 grams of omega-3 fat in the forms of both EPA and DHA.  These healthy fats work to decrease inflammation and boost the immune system to ward off disease.  Less inflammation and healthy immunes systems equal faster recovery times and less sickness!  Omega-3 intake is also linked to lower rates of depression and improved mood and cognition.  But most of us already get those benefits from our "runner's high", right?!

Salmon is also a "fit food" because it is an excellent food source of Vitamin D, containing almost 300% of the Daily Value.  As I mentioned when discussing chocolate milk, runners are often lacking in our Vitamin D intake which is so essential to bone health and immunity. 

So how can you incorporate more salmon into your diet?  While a salmon filet dinner (balanced with vegetables and a carbohydrate of course) sounds both delicious and nutritious, there's no need to hit the fish market a few times a week.  You can get all the health benefits to boost your fitness by using canned salmon!  It's a quick and easy addition to sandwiches, salads or pasta dishes.  An added bonus to canned versions is that many of them contain small edible bones, which boosts the calcium content of the fish as well!  Try adding salmon to your meal mix just a few times a week!  Side note: Choose wild salmon over farmed for lower contamination risks for mercury and pesticides/pollutants.

Wishing you all a magical day from WDW! Stay tuned next week for another "Fit Food Friday"!

Thankful Thursday: The One Where I'm Going to Disney!

Happy Thursday, everyone!  I'm in a fantastic mood today because it is WDW Marathon Weekend time!  I couldn't be more excited for a 4-day weekend spent running and hanging out with Mickey & his pals!  Oh, and my Dad and Aunt too.  So since I'm already feeling great, let's get started with this week's edition of Thankful Thursday!

I'm thankful...

...that I'm leaving in just a few hours to fly to the Most Magical Place on Earth.  If you'd like to track me as I run the Donald Duck Half Marathon on Saturday, follow this link

And on that note, I'm thankful that this bad boy will be mine in just a few days. 

...that nephew baby is almost here!  I told him to try to stay put until I'm back from Disney...but he's coming any day now and I can't wait to meet him!

...for awesome runner friends who are motivating and inspiring.  On Monday night, I joined Steph, Kristin and Kim for a hill workout with the Astoria running club, Hellgate Road Runners.  This was of course intimidating, but everyone was super friendly and ridiculously encouraging.  I'll definitely be joining the ladies for more run club workouts and can't wait to see the BIG things we're all going to accomplish this year!

...that my roomate is willing to watch my psycho dog while I'm away.  For a low-maintenance dog, he's a lot of work and I really appreciate her putting up with the drooling and farting for a few days so I can enjoy the Florida sun!  Thanks, Goof!

Okay, that's all for me.  I guess I have to put in a few hours of work before hopping a plane for my date with the Donald!  :) But don't forget to tell me, what are you feeling thankful for this week?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It"

Back in July, I wrote a post admitting my family's obsession with Disney and announcing my entry into the WDW Half Marathon.  I've been to Disney many times in my life, both as a child and an adult.  If you've never been, GO.  Yes, it can be expensive.  Yes, it may seem silly for an adult to want to be surrounded by cartoon characters and princesses.  But whether you're a Disney fanatic or not, you can relate to and will be inspired by Disney's main message.  It's all about following your dreams.  Walt Disney famously said "If you can dream it, you can do it."  And I don't think that only applies in the world of pixie dust and magic carpets.  I'm all about dreaming big and seeing what you're capable of.  There's nothing more rewarding than setting seemingly impossible goals for yourself only to crush them. 

Tomorrow I'm heading to the Most Magical Place on Earth to follow my dream of Running Disney!  While I've been a lifelong Disney fan, this will be my first Disney race and I absolutely can't wait.  Less than a year ago, I took on the challenge of my first half-marathon and on Saturday I'll be finishing my third.  I'm so ready to take on those 13.1 magical miles.

On Sunday, I'll continue experiencing the magic by cheering on my crazy Dad as he completes the 39.3 miles of the Goofy Challenge, another dream of mine.  He has put in the hard work and definitely has the courage to pursue his dreams in running and continues to be an inspiration to me.  Don't forget to follow us on race day via runner tracking or through my twitter feed.  And of course, stay tuned for my race recap! :)

 Life is short, set big goals for yourself and then work as hard as you can to achieve them.  And don't forget to have fun along the way!

Tell me your big dreams! Have you #RunDisney? Dreaming of a future magical race?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Race Recap: NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K

This past Saturday I kicked off the 2013 running season with the Joe Kleinerman 10K race in Central Park.  Despite the chilly 32 degree windy weather, I was excited to run my first race of the year with a few thousand of my fellow runners.  Best of all, my cousin Steph and some of her TNT members were doing the race and I was able to cheer them on as well!  Steph is training for the NYC Half with Team in Training and this was her PDR and her first 10K race ever!

Steph & I pre-race
Shortly after arriving in Central Park, I parted ways with Steph so she could meet up with her TNT group and I could do a quick warmup.  As we got settled into the corrals, listening to Mary Wittenberg talk about Joe Kleinerman and all of the people behind-the-scenes that help make NYRR events happen, it felt cold and windy and I couldn't wait to get moving! 

The course was one counter-clockwise loop of the park, starting on East Drive and ending on the 72nd Street Transverse.  I tried not to let the cold get to me and kept my pace slow for the first miles, knowing those Harlem Hills were in the near future.  I had forgotten my watch and my Nike+ app GPS is always inaccurate, so I wasn't really sure what pace I was keeping during the race.  Mile 1 & 2 ended up being around 9:45 pace.  I felt super strong going into the Harlem Hills and pushed through knowing I'd be rewarded with some sweet downhills in the second half of the race.  I stopped paying attention to what my intended pace was and just really enjoyed running.  I once again found myself in awe of the beauty of Central Park and got lost in my head.  I started thinking about how thankful I am to be a runner.  I just love running races surrounded by people who appreciate and love this sport as much as I do.  It wasn't until about Mile 5 that I snapped back to reality and remembered I was "racing".  I wasn't trying to PR but started thinking it was a possibility, given how strong I was feeling.  When I hit the 6 mile mark I sprinted my little heart out and had some terrible photos taken of me in the process.  Okay, there was one decent one:

My official finish time was 59:28 (9:36 pace), but I have to admit that my time does not reflect how I felt during the race at all.  I felt strong and definitely thought I had run faster!  As I said earlier, I wasn't trying to PR, so I'm not disappointed.  I'm just happy to have 1 race down for 9+1.  Eight more to go! :)

After I finished, I grabbed my apple and jogged backwards to find Steph and her teammates.  They clearly had been keeping a good pace because it didn't take long for me to find them just before the 6-mile marker. 

I am so impressed by their performance and so inspired by their training and fundraising progress.   If you can, please visit Steph's Team in Training page to cheer her on and donateGO TEAM!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fit Food Friday: Chocolate Milk

It's Fit Food Friday again!  Today I'm highlighting one of my very favorite "foods" (well, in this case it happens to be a beverage...), chocolate milk!  Chocolate milk has really gained popularity in recent years for being an ideal recovery drink and for good reason!  Research shows that chocolate milk works as well (if not better) than some of those pricy specialized recovery drinks.  Let's breakdown the nutritional components of chocolate milk and see why it's a great option for runners or fitness fanatics:

Quite obviously, since chocolate milk is a liquid, consuming it post exercise automatically replaces fluids lost from sweat during exercise.  In addition to fluids, it provides the electrolytes sodium and potassium, which also need replacement following sweat losses.

The best benefits of a post-workout chocolate milk comes in the ideal combination of protein and carbohydrates.  The simple sugars in the milk and chocolate syrup provide rapid replenishment for glyogen-depleted muscles.  After a tough workout, proper refueling will lead to improved recovery and better performance during subsequent exercise. 

As an added benefit, chocolate milk provides vitamins and minerals like calcium and Vitamin D, which are often lacking in our diets and are essential to healthy muscles and bones.

The type of milk you choose depends on personal preference and how it fits into your nutrition "budget" in terms of calories and fat.  As always, it's important to remember that some athletes have GI issues and may not tolerate milk or dairy products well.  However, chocolate milk is definitely a fantastic option for anyone who wants to try to eat more "real" foods and less process, engineered products.  After your long run or workout, try replacing those chalky protein/recovery drinks and with a nice cold glass of chocolate milk!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year and A New Thankful Thursday!

Happy New Year!  And Happy Thankful Thursday I'm a busy gal today so this one will be quick, but let's start the year off on the right foot by getting down and getting thankful!

This week I'm thankful...

...for ringing in the New Year with good friends and great food at my favorite place, The Saint Austere!  If you live in the city and haven't been yet, GO.  Best polenta ever.

...for Kristin (and Lambeau) getting my butt out the door for a run on New Year's Day! Gotta love Astoria runners! :)
Photo credit: Kristin
...for new Asics for another year of running!

...that I'll be heading to the Happiest and Most Magical Place on Earth in exactly ONE WEEK! I'm really looking forward to running Disney and spending some time with Mickey & Friends! :)

...that in exactly TWO WEEKS I'll be getting some weekend visitors!  I can't wait to spend time with my college girls and catch up!

That's all I have for now!  What are you thankful for this week?  Getting a fresh start in the New Year?  Are you running Disney too!?!