Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! Santa brought me some gear!

Wow - so I am blown away at the great gear I received for Christmas!  I feel very prepared to ramp up on training.  But first, check this out:


Here are my babies seeing their Santa Claus gifts for the first time this morning.
The two best gifts I've ever received!

Ok, so onto the running/cycling gear!  First I got some super nice running pants for the cold weather and some super, super nice sunglasses for running.  I especially love the sunglasses because I am not a visor kind of girl.

I now have no excuse not to run in the cold or sun.

Next - super WOW!!  Not one, but TWO SparkleSkirts!  One I knew about (Everest), but the other was my next most wanty one, Dress Me Up Blue.


I also received 6 kinds of chocolates, so we'll have to see if these mediums will even fit!
Lastly, Oh My Heck!  TWO bike trainers!!  One is from my Mommy and one is from my friend Chris.  I'm not sure which one to keep!  I have read better reviews online about the Kinetic so I am leaning towards that one.   (Any expertise/advice is welcomed in the comments!).


Really, "NO EXCUSES not to train" is what I was given for Christmas!
I'm very excited, and very thankful that my family is supporting me with these thoughtful gifts!  I can't wait to use them!!

I hope everyone is having a sweet and happy Christmas as well!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Favorite Posts of 2013

**Full disclosure - I am shamelessly stealing this idea from my blogger friend, April.  (check out her excellent blog at http://www.runthegreatwidesomewhere.com/)**

2013 has been a big year for me.  I ran three Disney races and did my first triathlon.  I traveled all over the US teaching balloon decor and met lots of wonderful people.  I also didn't do a few things that I wish I would have started... but that just means I have a great list of TO DOs to start 2014.

Here are my favorite 5 posts of 2013 and a little bit about why they are special to me.

1) One Week From Today - I think this was the first time I really found my blogging voice.  I was honest about feeling crazy and insecure, while trying to speak like I do in real life - only with pictures to back up my weirdo train of thought.  I was a basket case before my first triathlon and I think that's pretty clear in this post.

2) 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon - Disneyland, CA - This was my favorite half marathon of the year.  I enjoyed the others, but this one was fairly stress and problem free.  I loved the whole trip to Disneyland and was excited for this first leg of my Coast-To-Coast medal.

3) So I've Signed Up For A Triathlon... I've Lost It, Right? - I did my race reports at the beginning of the year and then didn't blog again until August.  This was my first post back.  It's not funny or full of great pics (except one of me and a 40lb weight loss), but it was my return to my blog and my public commitment to getting back to training in 2013.

4) The Importance Of Recovery Time - I think this post gives a little peek into my life outside of running and how recovery time is a challenge when you have so many other things going on.  That's a problem for all of us, right?

5) SlugShaming Time - I'm deferring the WDW Full Marathon to 2015 -  This is still pretty fresh and was my stages of grief in letting go of the WDW Full for next month.  I had to be honest with myself on not just my physical readiness, but also the mental part.  This was a hard decision and I tried to share what went into making it.

I am still sorting out my plans for 2014 and will post those when they solidify.  Here's wishing you a wonderful holiday and a great start to the new year!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Just what I needed to get my sweet butt in gear!

I've been lazy.  I've been unmotivated.  Just yesterday, I looked down and had a chocolate chip cookie in one hand and a piece of pumpkin pie in the other and I was alternating bites. (Sadly, I'm not exaggerating for effect...)  But today, my friends, TODAY has brought me exactly what I needed to get back into the swing of things!

Angels are singing!  Lisa is going to get off her butt and train!
Ever since I saw this SparkleSkirt majestically named Everest, I had a bad case of wanty.  I never had the extra cash over the summer and then, just like that, it was sold out in my size.  That's MEDIUM, beotches!!  (Important side note: Y'all are not really beotches.  I'm just overly excited I can squeeze my cookie/pie eating hiney into a medium.  When I started running, I wore an XL SparkleSkirt so Medium is kinda a big deal to me!)
 
 SOLD OUT!  WHAT?  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

BEHOLD THE GLORIOUSNESS OF EVEREST!!

I belong to a FaceBook group called SparkleSkirt Princesses that is like a fan club for these skirts and they often times sell secondhand skirts for almost full value (like when people size down, etc).  Everest was never offered in my size and I even thought about buying a $100 SparkleSkirt Gift Certificate to convince someone to part with theirs.  Yes, I am that wild about this skirt.

Hallelujah!  I just saved $40 by not buying someone else's used skirt.
WHICH I TOTALLY WOULD HAVE DONE GLADLY.
Let me tell you why SparkleSkirts are so awesome.  First of all, they are super-cute.  It's a scientific fact that you run faster if you look super-cute.  I read that in Runner's World, I think.  Second, the undershorts do not ride up, which is a huge deal.  They are way comfy and don't get up in your business.  And third, and my favorite part, the undershorts have these huge, deep pockets where you can carry just about anything without the worry about it falling out.  Oh, plus a zipper pocket at the waistband.  Seriously well thought-out sportswear that is practical AND as aforementioned, SUPER-CUTE.

Now, I must wash away my sadness over deferring the WDW Full and find the perfect race for my new beautiful SparkleSkirt.  I'm so excited!

And now I can start obsessing about the matching headband!
*Just so y'all know - I do not work for SparkleSkirts or get any kickbacks for gushing to high Heaven about them.  I am just a chubby little runner who wants to look good while trying to stay in shape.  I really do recommend them and feel absolutely adorable when I wear mine.







Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In a holding pattern

With Thanksgiving tomorrow and my schedule so full, I haven't been running (or doing anything more strenuous than waddling to the fridge).  I feel like I have been pigging out - eating cookies, cake, candies, you name it - but  haven't gained a single pound since coming back from Disney.  And not sure if I shared this in my Disney recap, but I LOST 4 LBS while at WDW for the Wine & Dine week.  I felt like we did nothing but eat, so I was shocked when I came home expecting a 5 lb gain.

Oink Oink!  It's the holidays!
I am spending Thanksgiving alone.  My kids are with their dad.  My mom is in Florida for the week and the friends I was going to eat with had to cancel since one of them is in the hospital and not doing very well.  I am also missing my half-sister's wedding because my car's engine light came on and I can't get it looked at until the day I'm supposed to leave on that 1200 mile round-trip drive. It's kinda a rough Thanksgiving, however I still have a million reasons to be thankful.

Top two reasons I am thankful EVERY day.
I'm debating between joining a club (maybe two, but that might be overkill) to get through the off-season.  The first is the Winter session of Raleigh Galloway.  I goes from December through May and I would have set group runs every Saturday.  It's $85 to join.  I joined the regular May through November session of RG and went ONE TIME.  I don't know why this would be different.  My problem is that I'm not very social and in many ways, these slower Galloway groups are kinda cliquey (as weird as that sounds).  So, I spent most of last year running alone in a group.  When no one cares if you show up, it's kinda hard to remain accountable to those people.


No real photo, because I feel bad enough for calling those people cliquey when it is probably my own shyness that is stopping me from being one of them.  I did have a wonderfully snarky group photo and comment though.  BUT I AM TAKING THE HIGH ROAD TODAY INSTEAD!!
The other group I am considering joining is the Inside Out Sports Triathlon Club (ISOTC). Full membership is $80 and it includes group rides, runs, and swims all throughout the week.  I just feel like these are REAL triathletes and I will get left in the dust/be a burden on a group.

Aren't there any other out of shape fatties in this group?
I have some time to figure out my next step and while I do need to get on the ball, I'm going to take my time to decide what I can put my heart into. I think that will yield the best results.

For now, I am going to enjoy being thankful for the things I do have.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

SlugShaming Time - I'm deferring the WDW Full Marathon to 2015

If you thought you smelled tires burning, that was just me over here doing some deep thinking.  I've been reflecting on my Wine & Dine experience (the good and the bad) and contemplating the WDW Full which is 53 days from today.  After much internal debate, I've decided to defer my registration for the full to 2015.  I honestly can't get full marathon ready from where I am in 53 days and I do not want my first full marathon to be that stressful.  This decision hurts.  I feel like I am giving up instead of making a well-reasoned decision.  I think I probably *could* do it, if a gun were held to my head... but do I want my first full marathon to be that dire?  I still aspire to be a middle-of-the-pack, smiling runner and this would NOT be that experience at all.

This is how the last few days have gone:

DENIAL
The race isn't really in less than 2 months!  I have PLENTY of time!  I can ramp up to 26.2 miles before then!  I can lose 20lbs and be faster by the first of the year!  Disney is magic, so this will be so easy!  26 miles, 26 schmiles.  It's not THAT far.


ANGER
Why didn't I train better for this?  Why did I take so much time off after the triathlon? Why am I so lazy?  Why did I eat pumpkin pie for breakfast 5 days in a row?  Why am I sitting on the couch in my fat pants writing this blog while shoving Milano Candy Cane Cookies into my craw instead of doing ANYTHING more useful?






BARGAINING
Dear God, if I promise to run 8 miles every week day and 20 miles every Saturday and Sunday, and stop being jealous I don't have blogging running friends like the DisBroads, and stop eating pie for breakfast, and be nicer to my mother when she asks about my love life, and help little old ladies with their bags of groceries at the Piggly Wiggly, and donate my old running shoes to African villages, can I please, please, PLEASE be ready for a full marathon in 53 days?  I will totally start all that right after my nap!  I swear! AMEN.


DEPRESSION
I suck.  I might as well give up running all together.  And forget the Half Ironman in June.  I might as well eat pie every day through the holidays and ask for drawstring sweatpants for Christmas since nothing else will fit by then.  What's the point of showering if I'm not working out?  I might as well take that nap and rest up for another afternoon of broken dreams.









ACCEPTANCE
Well, the reality is that I have a very busy two months ahead and adding hard-core marathon training would make it about 1000% more stressful.  If I want to be a happy, middle-of-the-packer, I have to work on it consistently and with a long term plan.  I don't want to hate running by making it a punishment.  Disney will always be there and a 2015 race date will give me time to prepare mentally, physically, and hell - even financially.  This is better for me and will yield better results in the long run.  And pie in moderation is still ok.

So, yeah.  I'm still a little bummed, but I do feel like it's the right decision.  Since I made this decision today instead of two days ago, I missed the cut off for it to cost $35 to defer and it's now bumped up to $70.  Still worth it.  It hurts a bit to give it up, but if I listed all the things I have to do between now and the end of January (including a trip to Japan - WOWSERS!), I think you wouldn't be so disappointed in me.  I hope.  Can we talk through this over some pie?

I had plans to start up with training on Monday and that day I woke up with a two-day migraine.  I wonder if the pressure of the training schedule was causing it.  Today I feel better and I think I will look at lightening my training schedule to be therapeutic exercise while I make it through this craziness.  I just know I need to refocus, and hopefully taking this looming threat (which is NOT how a Disney race should feel, ever!) away will help me relax and enjoy the journey.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wine & Dine Half Marathon - Week at Walt Disney World

Wow - what a week!  It kicked off with the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, but it was SO eventful and fun that I thought I would do a whole separate post for it. 

First of all, I love Disney World.  I've been over 50 times since it opened and I never get tired of it.  This was my first ever trip without the kids - it was just me and my friend, Chris.  (He's kinda like my boyfriend, but he lives in California so it's complicated.  That story is for another kind of blog!)  This trip was A+ from start to finish!  Here's the breakdown complete with seizure inducing graphics!

 
Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby
Chris flew into Raleigh and we drove down to Orlando.  I love a 10 hour road trip!!  Due to some flight mishaps, we didn't end up getting on the road until about 12noon.

We arrived at the lovely Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House at around 10pm.  We stayed in a nice savanna view room.  I've never stayed there and it was pretty luxe.  We got the special MagicBands that were our room key, dining plan, and credit card.  So easy to use!  I definitely like these opposed to the key cards.

Then... I crashed hard and slept and slept.

I woke up to giraffes outside my window!

RACE DAY!!  We got up early Saturday morning and went to the race expo (more about that in my race report).  After that, we headed to Downtown Disney and ate yummy, yummy sushi at Splitsville.  We needed some low impact activities to fill the day, so we watched the movie Thor: A Dark World at the theater.  It was GREAT!!  I officially have a crush on Loki.

We had reservations for lunch at Whispering Canyons at The Wilderness Lodge.  I had heard this place was a hoot due to rowdy/hilarious wait staff.  This was not our experience.  The food was just ok and while the service was polite and prompt, it was not funny or entertaining.  Not sure if we got a dud or if they mainly have fun with larger families, but other than asking for ketchup and getting 20 bottles brought to me, it did not live up to the hype. 

Of course, I was a nervous wreck about the race anyway, so I'm not sure how much fun I was in the first place.  We went back to the AKL and I tried to take a nap.  I would just drift off and then wake back up, so while I didn't really sleep, I rested.  At 6pm, I got up and got ready for the race.  So that the next few days' descriptions will make sense, I should explain that this is a night race and I usually go to bed at 10pm.  I was literally in a walking coma by the end of 13.1 miles at 2am.


 
I made it til the 8pm parade and then promptly passed out.
If you didn't read the race report, here's the Cliff Notes: OUCH/CRY/YAWN/WHIMPER.

Now then, Sunday was the most refreshingly boring day I've ever had at Magic Kingdom.  We went to every short-line, sitting-down attraction at the park.  Yes, this means Hall Of Presidents and Carousel Of Progress.  I didn't even nap at either of those, but boy-oh-boy, I wanted to.  For dinner, we had reservations at Cinderella's Royal Table.  I had never been there and it was pretty good.  I had the steak and it hit the spot for a "day after" meal.

My FAVORITE thing in all of Walt Disney World is the Electrical Light Parade.  I love it so much that the theme song is my ringtone.  Serious love, right?  So, I HAD TO stay up for that.  It was going on at 8pm and 10pm and I was lucky to make it until 8pm.  We skipped the fireworks and headed back to the AKL.  I iced my knees and was out cold before 9pm.

 
Martini flight at Le Cellier - so good!
Up and ready to go by 8:30am and onto Epcot.  I can not underscore enough my loathing of Epcot.  I think the attractions are boring and while the World Showcase is nice, I've never done much more than walk around it.  This was the last day of the Food & Wine Festival, so we did some extra eating and drinking.  We had lunch at Coral Reef (I had the lobster pasta, which was pretty yum) and we went souvenir shopping at the United Kingdom pavilion for Doctor Who merchandise.  Our dinner was at Le Cellier and I do not have good enough human words to describe the food.  We had the filet in truffle butter mushroom sauce and it tasted like God's love. 

I was still pretty wiped out and my legs were sore so we made it back to the AKL before the night show started.  Drooly mouthed snoring ensued by 10pm.


mmMMMMmm - Monkey brains drink
I starting feeling more like myself on Tuesday - finally!  We headed to Hollywood Studios, which is my second favorite park after MK.  We rode the Tower Of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Rock-N-Roll Rollercoaster all before noon.  I got sushi at Starring Rolls for lunch and it was pretty standard.  We did some of the slower attractions there that I never took time to ride with the kids and of course I made time for the Beauty & The Beast show, which I love, love, love.  Gaston always steals that show.

We were scheduled for the 5:15pm Spirit Of Aloha luau/dinner show at the Polynesian, so we left the park before dark, intending to make it back some other day to see the Osbourne Festival Of Lights. (We never did see them because HS closed at 4pm on the only day we could have made it over.  A good reason to come back next year!)

The luau has gotten some pretty bad reviews, but I really liked it.  Yeah, it was a little cheesy but it was still fun.  The food was chicken, ribs, and pulled pork.  It was just ok - nothing to write home about.  I didn't eat much because I was drinking a super yummy rum drink that came in a monkey/coconut. 

After the luau, we went to Magic Kingdom to check out this interactive card game that some people behind us in line told us about.  It's called Sorcerers Of The Magic Kingdom (SOTMK for future reference) and you get a free pack of cards each day which you use to activate special portals around MK.  It's basically a scavenger hunt/spell casting game and it was really fun!  We watched the fireworks and left at 10pm before the second Electrical Light Parade began.  I was tired, but making it a little later each day!


 
Breakfast with Stitch!! 
Ohana is my favorite character breakfast and we made last minute reservations to go there before
heading to <groan> Epcot.  Although, I did have high hopes for the day since we were going to attempt to "Drink Around The World".   This basically means you drink something alcoholic at every country!!

But first (mad Chenbot love for Big Brother fans!), we had to go to MK to get a new pack of cards and play a little SOTMK.  (You get a new pack of cards every day!)

We had the car at the Poly so by the time we made it back from MK on the monorail, it was lunchtime.  I got sushi from the counter service cooler that was made at the Poly's onsite sushi bar.  Chris ate nothing because he was still full from breakfast. (This will later be important when we start drinking...)  We heard about this Phineas and Ferb scavenger hunt game from those same SOTMK people that you play at the World Showcase, so we signed up to do that as we did our drinking.  It was totally fun, but I won't spoil it for anyone wanting to play in the future.  It's not just for kids, though!!

We started in Mexico, where I had a lime & pomegranate mojito on the recommendation of the cast member taking our order, and Chris had a margarita on the rocks.  Mine tasted like cough medicine.  I drank half and tossed the rest.  Chris finished his and got a jalapeno margarita that tasted divine.


This is the only photo I have from Epcot because
I HATE EPCOT.
Next, was Norway where all they had besides beer was potato-based liquor shots called Aquavit.  It tasted like a spicy potato with licorice... weird.  I drank half my shot and gave the rest to Chris.

Onto China, where I had a delicious cantaloupe and vodka drink, I think called a Cantaloopy.  It was serious yummy.  I stopped keeping track of Chris' drinking at this point.  I wasn't very buzzed but he was starting to be!  After China was Germany, where I had an Apple Cider.  I drank most of it and Chris finished the rest.  Sensing a pattern yet?

Italy only had wine, which I do not drink, so I skipped that country.  In America, I had a tea/vodka/frozen lemonade drink that was only slightly gross.  I drank about 80% of that and tossed the rest.  The sun was going down and it was unseasonably cold that night.  I think the fact that I was freezing kept me sober because I was starting to not have so much fun just as Chris was really starting to enjoy his night.  You know how being around drunk people is not so fun when you are sober as a judge.  Yeah, THAT.

I didn't drink in Morocco or Japan, and I actually ate some sushi in Japan.  (Chris had miso soup which didn't exact absorb any of the alcohol in his system) and we headed to France.  I had a Grand Marnier orange slushie that was quite tasty.  I didn't drink in the UK and we finished with a Torontopolitan in Canada.  It was quite disappointing to not even get a buzz from all of that.  It happened over about 4 hours, plus I ate lunch and dinner.  Dear Chris was pretty drunk though.  He didn't skip any countries and in some countries, he had two drinks.  I herded him out of Epcot and back to the hotel by 9pm.

 
Chris woke up early and went to get breakfast while I slept in.  We still made it to Animal Kingdom
by opening time.  We did all the must-see attractions by 1pm and went over to MK to play SOTMK.  As we walked in, we noticed that the park was closing at 7pm for the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party that required a separate ticket.  Chris immediately decided we needed to go to this event and bought tickets.  I was super excited because this was something else I had never done at WDW and it had wonderful reviews from other Disney fans. 

It really lived up to expectations!!  The park was practically empty and we walked onto Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain as many times as we wanted.  There were great character photo ops everywhere, free cocoa and cookies, plus a special fireworks display.  And BEST OF ALL, the Christmas Parade was outstanding!!  It was my favorite thing about the whole trip.  Definitely worth the added ticket price.

video


We were supposed to get up and drive home first thing Friday, but we decided to stop by MK one more time to get another pack of SOTMK cards and play a few more rounds.  We also did some more souvenir shopping and left by 12noon.  It was hard to leave, but it must be done I guess.  The trip back went quickly and I was home by a little after 10pm.

In all, it was such a fun trip.  I missed my kids tremendously, but it was nice to have a little "me" time.  I definitely can't wait to show them the new things I learned during this trip!

I highly recommend the Wine & Dine Half Marathon if you are a runner (or just thinking about being one) and Chris loved the Food & Wine Festival.  The MVMCP was out of this world, as was the food at Le Cellier.  I can't wait to go back to WDW again!!

Race Report - Wine & Dine Half Marathon 2013

Gather around, kids!  It's time for my Wine & Dine Half Marathon recap.
Or as I like to call it, a riveting ABC Afterschool Special:

Tune in at 3pm Monday for:
Night Terrors - A chubby, unmotivated lady in her forties learns a painful lesson about not training
for a half marathon gone horribly wrong well past her bedtime.  (PG-13 for language and mild violence)
But, we'll start with the expo.  Wow, what a difference having it at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex.  The last time I did a Disney race (The Princess), the expo was at the Coronado Resort and it was a crowded MESS.  This expo was very nice - easy to park (we didn't stay at a host resort), easy in, easy shopping, lots of room.  Loved it.  We went first thing on Saturday morning and while it was full of people, it never felt too crowded and there was plenty of merchandise left. 

I bought a wee W&D medal for my RunDisney Vinylmation and a RunDisney Sweaty Band.  I thought about getting an "I Did It" shirt, but I wasn't entirely convinced that I would do it, so I passed.  No use in jinxing myself!  I also bought a new Sparkle Skirt.  They had tons left in my size so I got to try on a few.  I settled on Black Linen and we made our way out.  We spent the rest of the day taking it easy and you can read more about that in my WDW recap post.


This was my first night race (it started at 10pm) and I did not like the all-day anticipation and self-questioning that went on: Am I resting enough?  Should I eat more?  Should I eat less?  Why am I not falling asleep during my attempted nap?  UGH!  With early morning races, you wake up and your only thought is "TIME TO RUN!!"  This long day of pre-race activities gives me too much time to think. 

Before
After
Pre-race chilling in the field.
 We did take it easy with a trip to Downtown Disney, a movie, a reasonable lunch, and the aforementioned attempted nap.  By 6pm, I gave up on resting and started getting ready.  We were supposed to be at WWOS by 8pm.  Chris drove me over there and then drove to Epcot to start partying down at the pre-After Party.

They had us in a great big field waiting for the corrals to open.  They were selling beer and food, and there was a stage with a DJ and folks dancing.  They really did make it festive and fun.  I heard later that there were character photo ops, but I didn't see any.  I was pretty much a nervous wreck and just sat in the grass trying to zen myself out and get ready for the race.  My review of this set up is positive - there were lots of port-a-potties and lots of space.  The DJ and music were fun and you could get away from it if you didn't like the noise.  A+ for pre-race waiting.

This is for my boy who loves Doge.  Much Running!

We headed to the corrals at 9pm.  I was in Corral I, which had about 1500 people in it.  Earlier corrals had less in RunDisney's effort to thin out the pack and separate the slower walkers/interval peeps from the faster runners (I believe this to be their goal since there has been so much previous complaining on this matter).  The corrals went all the way to L, with about 2000 each in the final few corrals.  This put about 6000 people behind me.  I got into the front of the corral and chatted with some people as we waited our turn to go.  I think we ended up starting about about 10:25pm with the staggered start times. 

And, we're off!

I started with a run and pretty much had to run to avoid getting run over.  I ran for about 3 minutes before doing my first walk break.  The good thing about my corral is that there were a lot of interval runners so there was much less running over the back of someone as I saw in the Tinkerbell and the Princess.  In fact, I dare say that people were a million times more courteous in this race than other RunDisney races I've been in.  Maybe it was the later corral, or the much reduced number of runners, but yeah - nicer overall vibe.


I had set up my walk intervals for 30/30, thinking that was something I could handle without training.  Oh yeah, in case you haven't read this blog before, I didn't train.  I did a triathlon 8 weeks prior to W&D and my recovery period extended into some serious sitting-on-my-ass time.  Not good and not recommended.  My first walk break went so well that I decided to extend it to the full 3.5 hours.  So, yep - I walked basically the whole thing.  The first few miles I was doing at 14 minute mile, so I was feeling good about staying ahead of the Balloon Ladies
 

Yeah, my camera is not so good in low light, I found out.
We went from WWOS to Animal Kingdom, up Osceola Drive.  I think we hit the park at about mile 3.  On the way, we passed two photo ops - Country Bears and the fat hippos from Fantasia.  I really wanted to stop at Country Bears but at the time, I was very seriously thinking I was not going to make all 13.1 miles and the line was at least 15 people long.  I was cool with skipping the hippos, and pretty much all the photo ops in Animal Kingdom, which seemed to be Jungle Book characters.  My deal is that I will always stop for Stitch and Darth Vadar, but others are optional and depending on time and the line.
We left Animal Kingdom shortly before mile 5 and went back up Osceola Drive.  It was a pretty long haul to Hollywood Studios which I believe was at about mile 9.  A little bit about the course vs. Princess: it is hillier (by Florida standards) and by that I mean there is definitely more inclines and banked roads.  It's not terrible, but it was noticeable.  I liked the course better in many ways, but this was not one of them.

Love me some Stitch!
Between AK and HS, I saw Stitch!  Yes!!  At this point, I figured 5 minutes was not going to hurt me, so I stopped and got this horrible, too bright photo.  I'll have to check the official photos to see if theirs are better (how can they be worse?)  Seeing my favorite alien gave me a boost to make it to HS, and really, I felt like if I made it to HS - I could probably finish the race.  They can't sweep in the park and I knew that it was only a short while between HS and getting on the run path to Epcot where they logistically could not get sweeper buses in there.  Plus, I hadn't seen the balloon ladies, so I was starting to feel like I was going to finish.
Thumbs up for the Dark Side!


We took a FULL TOUR of HS, and by this I mean 3 miles which included a rather fragrant trash area.  It was great though!  There was a disco tunnel and tons of photo ops.  I only stopped for Darth Vadar and did slow down to enjoy the Osbourne Festival Of Lights which were AMAZING to run through.  This was the only thing that kept me going from miles 5 though 9 - getting to HS and seeing the lights.  They did have the course arranged so that this was almost right before you left the park, so I think it was about at mile 11.  I've heard rumors that they might do away with the light display as they expand HS and I definitely hope not.  It truly is beautiful and it was a joy to run through.

This was almost as cool to run through as Cinderella's Castle.  I loved it!!
Ok, so close!  2 miles left and I was beat.  It was after 1am so I was exhausted and my left calf started charley horsing.  My knees hurt (which I only had problems with when I first started running, so I had no coping abilities) and I was starting to zone out a little bit, I think due to my medication schedule being interrupted.  I knew I was going to make it, but I was slowing down considerably.  We were on the walking path by the resorts to Epcot, so I knew they couldn't get me anymore and I was just concentrating on finishing.  There were tons of spectators out along this path, which was great!  They absolutely gave me more encouragement and energy than they will ever know!!  I thanked them as I walked by and received several high fives.  Good stuff!

The giant ball that indicates the suffering is almost over loomed closer and closer.  The crowd was packed on either side of the course from people enjoying the After Party and they were unable to pass over the run course.  I think that was a logistical issue in the party planning.  At the time, it just seemed like a lot of people were standing and watching us finish, though!  As we got closer to the finish, there were these super cool lasers going on right above our heads.  I was so, so close and fighting the pain in my legs and the fogginess that was clouding my brain function.  I made it to the finish at 3:31 and I was amazed that I was about 30 minutes faster than I was at Tink or Princess.  I stopped less for sure, but I freaking WALKED most of it and HOBBLED the last 2 miles.  WOW.  I stopped off to BioFreeze my entire lower half and then walked at least another mile to get inside Epcot to meet Chris.

I think I can only describe the next 45 minutes as surreal.  I medically think it's called being in shock.  I was hurting in a disassociated way and was fairly non-responsive to Chris who was trying to get me to eat scallops from one of the food booths (barf).  We had to walk back to the car because the trams couldn't go in front of the runners still filtering into Epcot from the finish line.  That had to have been another 1/2 mile, at least.  I just couldn't stay for the party, even though it continued for another 2 hours.  I was exhausted and I do believe I was having some medication issues because I had missed my 9:30pm nightly dosage of old lady crazy pills.  We made it back to Animal Kingdom Lodge and I did nibble on the hummus and crackers in our runner box, although I felt hella nauseous.  Speaking of nauseous, there were puking people everywhere after the finish line!  What on earth?  Is this a night race thing?  I was pretty close to joining them, but I was able to keep myself from barfing.  BARELY.

Running Mickey!
Ok, in closing - this was a great race that would have been so much more enjoyed had I trained more and not just in running, but in staying up late.  I also would have taken my pills at regular time, even though they are night pills and can make me drowsy.  The starting withdrawal symptoms by 2am was rough.  I loved the course through the 3 parks, and the other runners were great.  I ended up finishing way ahead of the Balloon Ladies, which was also awesome.  Chris is already talking about doing this again next year (he LOVED the Food & Wine Festival and the After Party), so I will be MUCH more prepared to enjoy this more then.  Any misery felt was entirely my fault because this race was probably the best one of the RunDisney races I've run.  More than Tink or the Princess, this is one I can see doing every year, just because of the fun that is build around it for non-runners and runners alike.  Great job, RunDisney!