Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Orleans!

This past weekend was spent in New Orleans for my bachelorette party. I had an incredible time, and I felt so lucky to have so many great friends come down! My friends live all over the east coast, so it was a huge treat seeing so many of them in the same place! We hung out by the hotel pool, did some sight seeing, ate great food, and did some celebrating.

I have to admit that one of my big goals this weekend wast to drink outside. This may sound nuts as it's such a simple thing, but the chilly Boston weather had me looking forward to warmer temperatures down south. Plus, you could get a to-go cup at one bar and bring it to another! Such a novelty! Some of the most fun we had was chatting with people on the street. It was like Bourbon Street was one big bar!

I won't go into too many details, but I have to say one of the coolest things we did was go to the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel. They've put a bar in the middle of an old carousel, and the seats slowly rotate around the bar. I thought it was a fun concept, though some of the girls got a big dizzy.

The shower is in a few weeks, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again! Did I mention how lucky I am? I really can't wait!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

60 Days...

Happy Tuesday!

Why yes I do have a super cool Scrabble calendar.

You know what day it is? Just TWO months until my wedding day! Pretty nuts!

Definitely crunch time. Happily, last week I did pretty well about going to the gym.

Tuesday- Elliptical
Wednesday- Yoga
Thursday- Body Pump
Saturday- Cardio Circuit
Sunday- Body Pump

I'll admit, my early in the week workouts weren't too intense, but nonetheless, I got my butt moving 5 days last week. I'll take it!

Today it was back to a group training session. I warmed up with a mile on the treadmill, then we did 25 lunges with weights on each leg, then lunge pulses for 30 seconds on each side, chest presses, sit-ups with a military press at the top, push-ups, rows in the plank position, planks, and deadlifts with a row. Then we did it all again and ran another mile. Phew!

There seem like a million other little wedding details (first dance song, table linens, place cards, seating chart) and a couple bigger things (officiant and honeymoon, only one of which we actually need to get married) we have to figure out, but the home stretch is near.

Starting to get a bit stressed thinking about it, so I think it's time for a relaxing shower. Good night!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cereal and Serial Races

I am currently obsessed with Peanut Butter Cheerios. I got super excited when I spotted this box at the supermarket last Sunday. The box is already gone. I forgot how much I love cereal! This reminded me of a less sugary peanut butter Captain Crunch. I can't wait to get another box.

Last night, I got home just in time to throw on my yoga clothes, eat a quick snack (aka finishing off the Cheerios) and head over to the gym. I'd hoped to get some cardio in before Slow Flow Yoga, but I just didn't have the time. Oh well.

The class certainly delivered on the slow part. We really focused on each pose, and the instructor took her time in explaining what we should be doing and feeling. We worked a ton on our hips, which was perfect as Disney wasn't too long ago. She kept using the word "brighten" as in "here, you should really feel your inner thigh brighten." In cardio, I believe that's what they call "feeling the burn", though brighten totally sounds better. I was disappointed we didn't do more flow during the class. I realized, last night, that I really like the flow part of yoga. Who knew?

After yoga, I didn't feel like I got much of a workout, so I was tempted to hit the treadmill, but I felt so relaxed from yoga, that I just went home. I decided to squeeze in a bit of cardio before Body Pump this morning. I managed to get in about 10 minutes of intervals before class. Not much, but better than nothing!

Remember that time I complained about not being registered for any races? Well funny thing is today, I got an email announcing the Boston Athletic Association's Distance Medley, where you register for their Spring 5K, Summer 10K, and Fall Half Marathon. Registering for 3 races at once? Yes, please!

B.A.A. Half 2010
I think B.A.A. puts on a great event! They're pricey, but they run right through the heart of Boston, and they have a great energy. I've done the Half 4 times, only missing it last year when it was the same day as the Chicago Marathon. I'm also a huge fan of the 5K, which takes place the day before the Boston Marathon. I did this the first two years, missing it in 2011 due to a wedding. The 10K started last year, and my parents were in town and cheered me on along Comm Ave!
Start of the B.A.A. 5K in 2010

Registration has yet to open, but I am hoping to get a spot! Can't wait to have a few goals on the horizon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I had a realization today. I'm not currently registered for any races! That's just crazy talk!

From January to March, there really aren't many races in the New England area. With the bitter cold we've had the last few days, I don't argue this. Still, I am officially not in training for a thing. Very weird.

When I got an email from Schwaggle ('s version of Groupon) saying that the Black Cat 10 Miler registration was on sale for only $17, I was very excited! I did the race last year and really enjoyed it. It's a scenic course, and 10 miles is an obtainable, yet long, distance to aim for this time of year. Of course, once I visited the site, I saw this.

Tragic! But now I know to just jump on the deal right away! On the other hand, last night I went to the gym and got on the elliptical. I can't tell you the last time I used a non-treadmill cardio machine at the gym! I did 40 minutes of intervals while watching Cupcake Wars and Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy, then did some push-ups and ab work. Tonight, I'm planning on going to a yoga class. If I get to bed early enough tonight, I will hit up the pre-work Body Pump class. I haven't been to Body Pump in 2012, and I'm just itching to get back into it!

When I got home last night, I was pleasantly surprised to find Rob had used a few Christmas presents I had received to set the table.

You may wonder what that is in the center of the table. (Rob did) It's a gurgling cod. I think it's fun, and apparently it's a classic Boston/New England thing. I love how it looks with the new placemats, and apparently it "gugles" when you pour water out of it. Hence the name. Doubting how "classic New England" it is if Rob, a local, doesn't know what it is..

Anyway, a nice dose of yoga is calling my name! Still a little tight from the Goofy, so it should be interesting!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goofy Challenge: Part 3

After running the half, we went back to the hotel to shower and eat, and then we hit up Disney Hollywood Studios. This was my favorite park when I was young (well when I was 14, as that's the first time we actually made it to Disney World). The park will always be MGM to me!

It was fun to revisit old favorites like Muppets 3-D and the Great Movie Ride, and it was cool to see the revamped Star Tours (even if it made me nauseous). I loved checking out the attractions I'd never gone to before, like the Rock n' Roller Coaster. The highlight of the day was definitely Toy Story's Midway Mania. One of the longest waits we experienced, but totally worth it! Toy Story is one of my favorite movies, and getting to play a game while on the ride was awesome!

Yay Boston!
Erin and I wore our Donald medals around the park, and tons of people congratulated us or asked questions. We met other runners and talked about the race. This was a very cool experience. Different than what happens when I wear my medals around my apartment. Not that I do that....

Around 4:30 we took the ferry over to the Disney Boardwalk so we could grab an early dinner. I think we made it back to the hotel and were in bed before 9. It was awesome! Definitely the best night's sleep I've ever had before a marathon. I think knowing EXACTLY what to expect for the race start helped quiet nerves, and the running on 4 hours sleep all day didn't hurt either.

Ready, Set, Go!
Marathon morning, we basically did all the same things we did the morning of the half. Erin was smart and suggested we use our heat blankets from the half to keep us warm at the start of the marathon. This was a genius idea as I wasn't freezing during our walk and wait to the start. There were fewer people for the full marathon, so we made it to our corral before the big send off. Disney certainly knows how to put on a show! There were fireworks everywhere! It wasn't long before Mickey, Donald, and Goofy sent us on our way.

Buzz in Tomorrowland
The course was a little different for the full. We went through Epcot for a bit before heading out to the highway. This made the marathon course more interesting and helped the first few miles fly by. Lead up to the marathon and during the beginning parts, my legs didn't really feel tired, but they felt used. Not the fresh feeling I had the day before or for most marathons. We initially agreed to stop at every character, but we flew by the first few (Um would you stop for Br'er Fox or Br'er Bear?).Eventually Erin pointed out that we should stop soon, or else we'd never make it!

Eventually we hit the Magic Kingdom, which was just as cool to run through the second time around! Even better since this time we posed with every character we saw! Obviously I was pumped for Buzz Lightyear and Woody, but I had fun with the Cinderella gang! There was a long line but the step-sisters were cracking jokes. Plus we got to pose with Prince Charming? I was tempted to leave a sneaker behind, but I figured I'd need that for the next 15 miles.

After the Magic Kingdom, it was back to the back roads! Disney was great about water stations. I started to worry as the temperature climbed, but there was water at least once a mile. All with Powerade or water. Around mile 14 they had a food station. I had just take a Gu at 12, so I grabbed a Mocha flavored pack for later. It was around this time that we ran by Disney's golf course. I had no clue that existed!

Before we headed into Disney's Animal Kingdom, we ran by their water and sewage plant. After running 15 miles, this was not a smell I wanted to deal with. This was my only complaint about the course. It was hot and smelly, and I was not enjoying myself. We did get some wet, cold sponges around this point, which was fantastic!

Not too much farther though, and we entered the Animal Kingdom. This was my first time at the park, so I was excited to see what I could. We were greeted by staff members with ferrets, donkeys, a sheep, and the cutest pigmy owl! The Animal Kingdom was nice and shaded too. Definitely a perk!

Erin and I had decided that starting at mile 17 we could alternate walking a mile and running a mile. I was feeling pretty good at the end of 16 (apparently doing miles in the 9 minute range!), but I knew that wouldn't last if I didn't start racing smart. One of the most vivid memories I have from my first marathon is how painful it was to run after taking a walk break (no matter how long or short), and after trying to restart at mile 18, I knew I couldn't stick with our run a mile/walk a mile plan. We decided to just take walk breaks as needed.

Usually around this time in a Marathon, I am BORED and ready to be finished! I didn't get that same feeling at all. I think it was in part because of how awesome Disney is, but mostly because I got to run with Erin. We were determined not to leave the other one behind. When one of us was feeling unhappy, the other one would bring on a bit of extra pep. We made each other laugh, and were the only two to shout "So good!" when we heard "Sweet Caroline" played by a DJ along the course. I don't know if I could have handled 39.3 miles without her!

Around mile 22 we entered Hollywood Studios. It was cool to see all the sights from the day before. We even ran right through the "Behind the Scenes" ride tunnel that featured movie costumes. This part of the course was also exciting as we got to see more characters! At this point, the parks were open, but the Disney did a great job of keeping the crowds to the side. Some park-goers seemed confused, but mostly it was nice having extra cheerleaders.

I was starting to feel really, really tired here. I would try to run, but couldn't keep it up very long. Erin and I took a walk break, and we figured out that I hadn't had a Gu in almost 10 miles! No wonder I was tired! I think by taking that Mocha Gu, I'd forgotten that it'd been so long since I'd actually eaten one. Whoops! I took the Gu and was feeling better as we left Hollywood Studios and headed by the Disney Boardwalk.

Around here, my ankle really started bothering me. Not the muscle so much, but it almost felt like my shoe was too tight or something. It had been slightly annoying earlier in the race, but now it was just hurting. After Hollywood Studios, Erin encouraged me to stop at an aid tent and grab some Biofreeze. She's a total genius as this didn't solve the problem, but made the next 3 miles doable!

Finally, we entered Epcot. The announcers reminded us that the big Epcot sphere was our finish.We still had a few miles to go, but having a visual of the finish was a great push! Since the park was open, there were even more characters! Since not all were affiliated with the race, there aren't professional photos of them all. This was a very fun part of the course, as we got a huge range of characters to pose with! Even though we were only a mile from the finish, we still took our time and meet with the characters. I am so happy we did that, as I just wanted to savor the experience.

Finally, we approached the finish. We were going to be Goofy! We picked up the pace and set our 39.3 mile PR!

After we crossed the finish, we got our blankets (and quickly tossed them as it was HOT) and our Mickey Medals. Erin and I then headed to the Goofy finish area to get our Goofy Medals!! The two medals kept clanging together and making so much noise. I secretly loved the sound, as I was so proud of my accomplishment!

We slowly made our way over to the bus and headed to the hotel. We took our time at the room getting ready. We got some lunch and eventually headed to Epcot wearing our Goofy medals. We went on a few rides, and finally got ourselves some well earned Margaritas in "Mexico." We shopped in "Germany" and watched a band in "England." Finally we bought some American beer and grabbed a spot for the fireworks.

We slept in until about 7:30 the next morning, and then headed out to the Magic Kingdom (rocking our Goofy race shirts). Nothing quite compared to the day before though, when we traveled through all 4 parks, stopped mid-race for character photos, received our Goofy medals, and celebrated by drinking around the world. All in all, it was definitely a magical race weekend, and I am already looking for another Disney race to run!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Goofy Challenge: Part 2

Saturday morning was the Disney Half Marathon. Erin and I woke up a little before 4am to quickly get ready and hit the road. The shuttles from the hotel started at 3am, but we opted for sleep over waiting around the start.

We got to the race drop-off pretty quickly. We dropped off our bags and headed out on the long, cold, crowded walk to the start. Erin and I are both pretty short, so we had no idea at any point how close we were. A sudden burst of fireworks let us know that the first wave was leaving and that we were just steps away from the corrals. We hurried into ours and waited for our send off from Donald, Goofy and Mickey.

The race started on Epcot Drive, which is like a 4 lane road and the runners were on the right hand side. Unfortunately, spectators were on the left and side, far away. It would certainly be tough to spot a loved one cheering you on from that distance! The first few miles were boring. The highway was fairly quiet, and we didn't see any characters until a couple miles in. At this point I was seriously considering skipping the marathon the next day. I didn't think I could handle 26.2 miles back roads in central Florida.

We finally saw Scrooge McDuck. Erin had informed me that we would run through the race today, and during the full we would allow stopping for photos. This sounded fair to me, and it was the perfect motivation to make me run the full marathon. I wanted to stop at all the fun characters along the half! I was amazing by the variety of characters along the course. There were new characters like the cast of Tangled. Obscure characters like Darkwing duck. Recent favorites like Jack Sparrow, and then childhood favorites like Mary Poppins.

Around mile 5, we finally entered through the back door of the Magic Kingdom! It was cool to see some of the behind the scenes stuff. Then before I knew it we were running through Main Street surrounded by cheering fans, the Mayor of Main Street USA, suffragettes, and tons of energy! We ran through Cinderella's castle, through Tomorrowland, into Fantasyland and Frontierland. It was amazing seeing all the familiar landmarks and checking out the new additions. I definitely got into the Disney spirit here!

After that things picked up! The miles flew by, and before I knew it we were in Epcot, where the race was going to finish.

We didn't set any records. I think our final time was 2 hours and 30 minutes, but we definitely had fun. I have to add that while I had my ipod, I didn't use it the entire course! I think I really enjoy ipod free running! Erin and I both agreed to leave them at home during the Marathon.

At this point we were only 1/3 done. I still wasn't sure how I would perform the next day, but I knew I wanted to get out there and have some more fun!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Goofy Challenge-Part 1

A very belated "Happy New Year" to you all!

2012 was off to a quiet start, mainly because for the first week, I was living in fear. Total fear of this guy:

Scary, right? You don't agree?

Well, Walt Disney World hosts a Marathon Weekend each January. The weekend consists of many activities, but mainly a half marathon on Saturday, a full marathon Sunday, and the Goofy Challenge. The Goofy Challenge is for all the crazy runners who decide they want to partake in all of the weekend fun and complete the half and full marathons. Guess who signed-up last year for the 2012 Goofy Challenge? This girl:

Um, yeah. The thought of three shirts and three medals proved too strong for me to resist, so my friend Erin and I decided to take on the challenge. Still not sure how she talked me into that one.

Well the months passed by, the Chicago Marathon came and went. And it was time to focus on Goofy. But the motivation didn't come, the wedding tasks needed to be tackled, and new activities were just more exciting then logging miles upon miles. My training for this event was way below par. As the Challenge approached, I doubted my ability to finish a full marathon, let alone one proceeded by a half marathon.

I talked myself down. I told myself that I could handle a half marathon. I would just run that and then enjoy my Disney vacation.

Friday morning, I left chilly Boston and headed toward sunny Orlando. Erin couldn't make it until later in the evening, so I arrived by myself. Luckily I knew my way around the Orlando airport from a visit last summer, and quickly found the "Magical Express" which would take me to my hotel, Disney's Pop Century Resort.

As I boarded the complimentary airport service, I started getting excited. Everything was so well organized! There was an on board video explaining Disney's hotel check-in process and how to book various tickets. About 30 minutes later, I checked in to the hotel.

1982 was a great year
The Pop Century Resort is one of Disney's value hotels, so I expected less than magical service. I could not have been more mistaken! The cute theme of the resort was well executed. There was a great cafeteria ready to feed me at almost any hour (I can attest to this as it was open when I left for the race at 4am the next morning!). The staff was friendly and helpful. They told me how to get to the expo, provided me with a race weekend schedule, and told me about race day transportation.

Buildings were themed by decade, and our room was in the 80's block. There was all sorts of cool pop culture references through out the resort like giant replicas of Foosball men, a huge Roger Rabbit, twister stations, and so much more! My only complaint was that our room was far away from the hotel center, so we did a lot of walking. Though great scenery on the way!

After I got settled at the hotel, I went to the Expo to pick-up my number. I'd never been to the Wide World of Sports complex, so it was neat to see. An entire building was dedicated to number pick-up, and the shirt pick-up and vendors were in another building. So many people were there for the various race events!

The expo was packed, so I didn't really do much exploring. Plus, I hadn't eaten since breakfast, and I needed fuel fast!

I went back to the hotel to drop-off our bags and numbers, then caught the shuttle to Downtown Disney. I explored the shops, grabbed a veggie burger, and walked around. Downtown Disney is such a cool and relaxed atmosphere. There were so many stores where you could find just about anything Disney related. I didn't stay out too late, as I knew a 4am wake-up was on tap for the following morning. I went back to the hotel and got my race gear ready as I waited for Erin's arrival.

More on the half to come!