Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Dumbo Double Dare 2015

Next up on my fall running adventure schedule was the Dumbo Double Dare - two days of running totaling 19.3 miles at the Disneyland resort in California. I had been looking forward to this for a long time because the Dumbo medal is super cute AND it would give me a chance to see my Disney running friends. I have been very lucky to have made such a great group of friends over my years of running. It started out with my local running group and has gradually expanded to include runners from around the country. For all the stories in the news about the dangers of social media and how it's cutting people off from "real life" interaction, for me personally the opposite has been true. I've made at least a dozen great friends via the Internet who I have been lucky enough to run with from Coast to Coast.

The first race on the weekend schedule was the villain themed 10K. My running group had custom running shirts made this past summer that were black with red and yellow flames and a flaming Mickey Mouse skull. This is NOT my typical look but it seemed to go well with the race theme. I decided to throw it together with my ruffled Vixen skirt from Skirt Sports. We looked pretty awesome, I have to say, and got a ton of compliments from the other runners on the shirts.

I was a tiny bit worried about this run because I hadn't run at all since the marathon-to-nowhere and despite having run 100s of miles at Disney races by now I'm still never sure how my legs will feel after two days of being a tourist in a theme park. My other minor worry was running at a 2:1 interval instead of my normal :60/:30 since I hadn't done that in awhile. Luckily, the legs and the interval felt great and I had an awesome time with my friend Julie posing for photos all over the parks.

Posing near the tiny castle

Trying to become the new ruler of England:

With Queen's magic mirror.

After the run, in true Disney fashion, I spent the day running all over Disneyland and California Adventure going on rides, eating snacks and having celebratory drinks. (Exactly what one should NOT do when having to get up at 3:30 AM to run a half-marathon!)

Sunday dawned bright and early and I picked up some more friends to run with in the parks and on the streets of Anaheim. I can not express enough how much fun it is to go on a run with a bunch of people when your only goal is to see the sights, enjoy the course, and get to the finish line.

Eventually, close to the end of the run, I saw a pile of discarded costume parts and when I realized the pile contained a bedazzled hat with attached Dumbo ears and I just could not resist the impulse to trash-pick the abandoned item to wear across the finish line. We laughed our heads off in the last half mile about the ears and the reaction of my germophobic friend to the whole transaction. They do not call this the Dumbo Double Dare for nothing!

One of my team's favorite things to do at Walt Disney World marathon weekend is to ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster in the middle of the marathon. There's no chance to do a similar thing out in California so we decided that the next best thing would be to go directly to California Adventure and ride the Grizzly Rapids ride while wearing our race outfits and medals. OMG. There should be a flume ride included after EVERY summer run. It was so incredibly fun. I tried to take video during the ride with my cellphone inside a baggie and it looks like some kind of Blair Witch Project type movie. So funny and such a great memory.

I was in California for just over 4 days and I picked up four new shiny medals and tons of memories on the trip. It was worth all the time stuck in an airplane, for sure.

Next up: Bird In Hand race weekend in Lancaster, PA. This is a 5K/Half-Marathon combo and will feature hot air balloons and an entirely different cast of running sidekicks!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Marathon to Nowhere 2015

On Saturday my running group was scheduled to do a 26 mile training run. This is part of the Galloway method of training and while I understand where the plan is coming from, I'm pretty well convinced that this level of preparation is overkill. Last year I did the 26.2 mile training run because I thought it would be fun to prove to myself that I was tough enough to run a marathon with no other incentive than that I could do it. Sure, it was on the training plan, but I knew deep down I could quit early and be in perfectly good shape to run my scheduled race. This year, it was coming up on the schedule again and while I remained skeptical, most of the others wanted to do the run.

On our long runs earlier in the summer we'd often talk about the 26 mile run. We plotted the best route, we discussed registering for virtual races so we'd get a medal on the big day, we thought about all of the reasons NOT to do it. It loomed large for all of us. As marathon Saturday approached, our group of five had dwindled to three runners: one had family plans in another state and couldn't make the run, one had a bad 23 mile outing and was timid about pushing all the way to 26. Personally, I was seriously considering skipping it. I have a habit of developing hypochondria before marathons. My typical M.O. is to imagine that I have a stress fracture about a week or so before a big event. This time though, I was fretting over a twinge or two I felt in my hip. Could this be the return of the problem I had two summers ago? I have too much on the line for that to happen! As I dug into the recesses of my closet looking for my super deluxe CW-X compression shorts, I seriously considered bagging the run for fear that it would jeopardize my trip to Disneyland for the Dumbo Double Dare one week later. As much as I thought about quitting, on Friday night I filled my hydration belt, gathered up my snacks and went to bed early.

Saturday morning was about as perfect a day as one could hope for when running a marathon in August. It was 54 degrees and chilly when I left my house, so chilly I actually wondered if I should change into something warmer (I didn't!) My hip ailment had disappeared and I chose my cute Skirt Sports skirt over my ugly but functional compression shorts. As I drove to the meeting spot, I started to get excited. Not quite race level excited but I was feeling confident and ready.

I'm lucky to live near a fantastic rails to trails system so we were going to spend the whole day running along the Perkiomen Trail and the Perkiomen Creek. It's a beautiful, green and shady trail and it's a wonderful place to run. Before I knew it, we were 8 miles into the run, refueling at a water fountain and appreciating the gorgeous morning. Things were still looking great at mile 15 when we passed a local convenience store and stopped for a quick hit of air conditioning and snacks. Everyone was in good spirits and as the day heated up we decided to work on keeping our spirits high and agreed that if things got rough we'd stick together. Slow the pace when we had to, take breaks when we had to, just get it done. Time on feet not time on clock. We chatted about books and vacations and sending kids off to college but mostly we talked about how much we were going to enjoy a chocolate milkshake when it was over. (One great thing about parking for your run across the trail from a diner is instant gratification when it's over!)

So what have I learned by running the Marathon to Nowhere? While running that far is never exactly FUN, it is satisfying in the way that only a long, long run can be. For me, who already has a lot of marathons under my belt, I think there is minimal benefit as part of the training plan but for those who are less experienced going the full distance gives them a boost and more time to experiment with nutrition plans. It's no secret that I think running a marathon can change your life and running a marathon when it's not a race builds upon that foundation. Pushing that far when there is nothing at stake takes a level of determination that I wasn't completely convinced that I possessed. I've done it twice now and I still think it's crazy but it won't surprise me if I wind up doing it again next summer. I was wearing a shirt during this run that says "I love running... just not while I'm doing it" and while that can be true for me on a homework run, on the long runs, when I'm out there for hours, I do love every second of it.

Next up: DISNEYLAND!!!!!