October training

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To sum up my running in the month of October, it was a month of learning. At the beginning of the month I was just starting to feel close to 100% again after the bruised metatarsal that pretty much sidelined me for four weeks in August and September.

The first weekend of October gave me a couple of learning experiences at the same time. I got to run my first night race at the Tower of Terror Ten Miler at Walt Disney World. Let’s just say I’m going to need more practice getting ready for a race that doesn’t start until 10pm. I also learned that day that running while on penicillin will not yield the results that you’re looking for. About a week before the race I lost a filling and got an infection from it, and since the tooth was broken as well, the tooth is in a hazmat container somewhere. Hasta-la-bye-bye!

The next highlight was on October 9th: my one year runniversary! My first attempt at running was 10/9/13 when I ran 1.80 miles in a blistering 25:20. Yeah, that’s not much better than a walk, but it was a start and a year later I felt a great sense of accomplishment. Coincidentally I also hit my 1,000th mile for 2014. When I made that first run my intention was to beat my daughter to the finish line of a charity 5k, nothing more. My goals are much bigger now.

The final weekend of the month brought me to the realization that hard work and a lot of miles in the Florida summer can and will pay off. I ran my third half marathon, the Lighthouse Loop Half just south of Daytona Beach. My second half was in June and I PR’d that one by 16 minutes. At the Lighthouse Loop I was hoping for another 5 minutes worth of improvement. Instead I beat my June time by 12:41, breaking both the 2-hour and 1:50 marks at the same time. There is no better way to motivate yourself than to have a goal that you hope you can achieve and then smash it with authority.

By the end of October I ran 134 miles for the month and pushed my YTD total to 1105 miles. I’m looking at a lot more training on the calendar for November and four races: Jingle Jungle 5k and Wine and Dine half at Disney, the final race in the Fall Grand Prix race series (5k), and my first full marathon on the last day of the month. I am beyond excited about finally running a marathon and have been receiving a great deal of support from a number of more experienced runners. If you’re going to be running in either the Wine and Dine Half or the Space Coast Marathon, please let me know. I’d love to meet up with as many of you as I can.

Race Recap: Lighthouse Loop Half

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This past Sunday marked my 22nd race and 3rd half marathon, all within the span of 51 weeks. Looking at it that way makes it seem like I’m really overdoing it yet I find myself wishing that I had been able to do more. Perhaps the urge to run more races comes from results like I was able to achieve by running the Lighthouse Loop Half Marathon.

Official race photo from the start

Official race photo from the start

To begin with, the weather was perfect for a race. Lower humidity with temps in the upper 50s had everyone feeling like it was going to be a good day. The race started just before sunrise under the Dunlawton Bridge in Port Orange, FL, and we went right out onto A1A headed for the tallest lighthouse in the state. Even as the race started I wasn’t completely sure what my plan was, though I had several goals but I wanted to see how I felt after the first mile or so. I ran the first two miles about halfway between the 1:50 and 1:55 pacers and figured I would join one of those groups. After about 15 minutes I decided to slowly work my way up to the back of the 1:50 group, where I stayed until the water stop just after mile 4. Almost the entire group stopped and walked while getting a beverage, but I had my hydration belt and just kept going.

Course map: Lighthouse Loop half marathon

Course map: Lighthouse Loop half marathon

As I came up on mile 6 I was able to see the lighthouse for the first time. I remember thinking that the pace was pretty easy to manage and the course was extremely flat, one of which I had expected. When we looped around the lighthouse I felt a slight breeze in my face. It was only there for maybe a half mile so the uneventful run continued on. Around mile 11 I started thinking that I should slow down a little in order to save something for the bridge. I only slowed 14 seconds on that mile, and right at mile 12 turned the corner onto Dunlawton Avenue and the bridge. I went toward the bridge knowing that in 1.1 miles a PR was waiting for me, but by how much?

The other side (going up) is steeper!

The other side (going up) is steeper!

This bridge is no joke. According to the Wikipedia entry on it, the clearance for boats underneath is 65 feet high and the bridge is a total of 750 feet long (0.15 miles). I would guess that puts the road surface about 80 feet up and back to ground level. At the pace I was running at this point I covered the up and down in less than 2 minutes. The 13th mile in my previous two half marathons was filled with mantras like “you’re not going to die” and “just start running again”. This time I was speeding up with about a half mile to go, and my fastest stretch of the race was after mile 13 – the way it’s supposed to be done!

The most even pace I've ever run.

The most even pace I’ve ever run.

I finished in 1:48:57, a PR by 12:41. I am not going to lie, that bridge gave my calves a workout like they’ve never had before. For most of us in Florida bridges are the closest thing to hills that we get to train on. But every bit of soreness was worth it. I know for sure now that the 1094 miles of training that I’ve done so far this year are paying off. With my first full marathon 5 weeks after this half, I’m excited to see how I handle the bigger race! Next up: Wine and Dine 5k and half in 2 weeks.

I really was happy. And spent!

I really was happy. And spent!

Race Recap: Tower of Terror 10-Miler

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Bling!

Bling!

It seems like it has been forever since I last ran at Disney. My last Disney race was the Princess Half nearly 8 months ago, so yeah, it’s been a while. The excitement kept building over the past week, but when Saturday morning came I was ready to race. Of course the start time for the race was 10pm. Getting through the day was probably tougher than running the race. I’d never run a night race before – How do I eat during the day? Should I nap? Should I sit down all day? Should I do my usual weekend routine (minus the long run)? I still don’t have answers to these questions. If you have suggestions please let me know because I get to do it all again in 5 weeks for Wine and Dine!

TOT10 Race Bib

TOT10 Race Bib

Corral area

Corral area

As anyone who has experienced a Disney race knows, surprises are everywhere. My first surprise came before packet pickup, when I learned that I had achieved one of my long-term goals in my first race that needed a qualifying time. I was assigned to corral A for a Disney race! Runners can submit a prior race time and are assigned to corrals based on that time, with the fastest times receiving corral A and then B, C, etc. through however many corrals they are using for the race. Those with no qualifying time go to the last corral, in this case, corral J. Disney uses a staggered start with anywhere from two to five minutes between corrals. Anyway, my time from the Storm The Campus Ten Miler in March got me into A and I was ecstatic!

Hollywood Tower Hotel Registry

Hollywood Tower Hotel Registry

Start Line

Start Line

Before heading to the parking area at Wide World of Sports I had taken a ride on the Tower of Terror before the park closed just to ramp up the excitement that much more. Once I got to the pre-race area I got to sign in to the Hollywood Tower Hotel on one of the huge posters that were set up. There was also a DJ playing the tunes and teaching some dance steps.

Around 9:00 the call was made for everyone to head to the corrals and by 9:30 we started walking toward the start line. There were some announcements, a brief hello from Jeff Galloway, and a short talk about Autism Speaks, the charity that was benefiting from this race.

At 10:00 sharp the fireworks went off and we were off and running. The course took us away from Hollywood Studios and over to Animal Kingdom. Once we passed the toll plaza at AK (mile 2) we made a U-turn and headed over to Wide World of Sports, entering the complex at about mile 5. We ran around the track and the baseball field, then headed out of WWOS (mile 7) and back to Hollywood Studios, reaching the toll plaza there with about a mile and a half to go. Running through the theme parks is definitely my favorite part of Disney runs and I love seeing all of the spectators cheering for every runner, not just the ones that they know.

Struggling, but getting it done

Struggling, but getting it done

My personal race started off a little too quick for what I wanted to run, but I would have tried to slow it even more if I had known the physical difference that my body would feel between a morning race and a night race. It’s a whole different game at night. My stomach wasn’t handling Gatorade, water, or a gel very well and my legs were tired long before they should have been. By the beginning of the 8th mile I had to stop and walk for a bit, and again in the 9th mile. By that point I knew that reaching my goal time or even a PR was not going to happen. Arguing with myself about it really didn’t help any but seemed like the thing to do at the time. I finished in 1:24:27, about 5 minutes slower than my goal time and over a minute behind my 10-miler time from March. Though tough to take, I’m treating it as a learning experience as well as a chance to increase my motivation. Bigger races still await!

Finished and sporting the bling

Finished and sporting the bling

After the race we received the chill towels, water, Powerade, snacks, and the Bling! We were then free to ride some rides and roam around the park. I believe that a great time was had by all. Thank you to Run Disney for putting on another great event, and a very special thank you to the hundreds of volunteers that made it possible to get 9,400 runners through the entire process.

Remembering September

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Once again this past month was divided into two parts as far as training is concerned. The first 10 days were pretty much training-free as I continued to nurse an injured foot. Overall, the run I took in shoes that I hadn’t yet gotten used to cost me about two-thirds of my training over a four week period. It has me a little concerned because I am still trying to get back to where I was in my training program and my first full marathon is just 60 days away.

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X-Rays were negative, so it could have been worse!

The month of September did bring a couple of races, the Miracle Miles 15k and the Wildcat 5k. Just a couple of days before the 15k I made the decision that I would make the effort to run it and stop if necessary. There was no need to stop as I set an injury-free PR (in the rain) by 4:43. A week later I set a 5k PR of 22:46 and my foot still felt great.

My ability to train is what suffered the most with this foot injury. I lost 6 long runs and a total of 96 miles between the end of August and the beginning of September. It should have been more miles missed but I managed to sneak a couple of runs in when I felt good and was going nuts from too much time away. I finished the month of September with 85 miles in 16 days. I also spent some time on my spin bike and purchased a new aluminum 21-speed road bike for cross-training and maybe triathlon training someday. September also brought my total miles YTD to 971.

A look ahead: Only two races await me in October. The first is @RunDisney’s Tower of Terror Ten Miler on 10/4. I just found out that I will be achieving one of my long-term goals with this race. I’ll be starting from the “A” corral in a Disney race where corrals are assigned based on a previously raced time. I am quite excited about this! My other October race will be the Lighthouse Loop Half Marathon in Ponce Inlet, FL on 10/26. This should be a great race with 12 of the 13 miles being less than 1/10 of a mile from the ocean. I’m shooting for a 10-minute PR over my last half. The Lighthouse Loop will also be the third of four races in the Fall Grand Prix racing series that I am participating in.

Lighthouse Loop

Lighthouse Loop Half Marathon