road trippin’ – guess where I went?

Friday I took a friend to the airport.  It was an early flight so it was only 9:30 am when I dropped him off.  I had a couple of choices:

1. Bum around airport town looking for something to do.

2. Drive home and hang out on the couch – did I mention I took the day off?

3. Drive to IKEA and Trader Joe’s.

my excitement was reaching this level

I chose #3.  I should mention from where I was at, it was a 3 hour drive. I  am still not quite sure why I picked number three but it was definitely a good choice.

I had a nice day!  It was fun to be on my own small adventure.  Since I’m not the most confident driver on the road, driving on the freeway freaks me out a bit.  And for good reason – I got run off of the road once this trip.  I didn’t realize there was only one lane for an exit (you could either go left for the exit I wanted or right for the one I didn’t).  I hate merging on the left!  Well, I saw to close to the actual exit that I needed to get in the other lane and no one would let me in.  So, I had to stop in the (sort of) lane that divides both of exits and then wait for a pause in traffic and gun it.

this was happening on the inside

For the record, VW bugs have a very different definition of “gunning it” than other cars but thankfully I was able to pull in front of a semi with some time to spare. I legitimately thought I would be sitting there for ages rather than minutes and panic was setting in. But all was well and I only had to deal with a few other jackass drivers.

IKEA was a success! I kind of knew what I wanted going into it as I recently checked out the website.  Of course, going through all of the rooms, I found some really cool spacing saving ideas and my list grew somewhat by the time it came to the self pick up area.  At this point, I was *fairly* confident I could fit what I wanted in my car.  I had moderately cleaned it out for my friend’s trip to the airport.  This meant, taking out some crap but leaving most of it so in reality, I was a wee bit concerned.  I headed to pick up this shelf first:

this was only $64.99... definitely a possible future purchase
this was only $64.99… definitely a possible future purchase

Haha, I couldn’t lift it off of the shelf.  T-rex arms!  It worked in my favor though because it would NEVER have fit in my car.  Kismet.

Next, I picked up this bad boy:

kallax shelfI plan on using it for a combo nightstand and additional shelving in my bedroom.  I found this wire rack, a total steal at $24.99.  I have kitchen appliances I don’t want to get rid of but they need a new home – my kitchen floor just isn’t conducive!  These are fairly expensive at Target or other ones were too flimsy for what I need it to hold so I was pleased with this find.

omar wire shelfI found quite a few other shelving options I really liked. There was one bathroom set up with a great shelf that had hooks.  It would be perfect for my bedroom but they were out of stock.  When I got home, I realized it might not have been the best purchase right now so again, kismet.

On pinterest I saw how someone had hung a shoe rack on the back of their door so I picked up one of those as well.  Again, very handy and it even came with hooks.  A couple of other little odds and ends jumped into my cart but for the most part, I did a fantastic job of asking myself, “do you NEED this?” whenever I was tempted.  Get this: I only spent $111.00.  Win.

mine has three smaller holes for hooks - this is great
mine has three smaller holes for hooks – this is great

Next up was Trader Joe’s.  There is something about this grocery store that calms me.  I have no idea why. I think I feel like I’ve found “my people” when I shop there.  It sounds silly and I can’t explain it any other way.  Thankfully, they weren’t out of stock on these bad boys like last time, and I hooked myself up with three bags.

peanut butter treatsI am decent at adhering to portion sizes with out and only eating a serving size at a time.  It’s a hefty calorie count and I have to run 2.5 miles to burn it off however, it is so.freakin’.worth.it.

The two hour drive home was exhausting.  The two pieces of furniture are still in my car as they are heavy sonsofbeehives.  Oh and I’m lazy. My quest to organize and decrease my hoard is an ongoing process. One step closer this weekend though!

 

fun finds & penguins

Here are a few of my fun finds.  This is the third time I’ve typed this sentence as my stupid thumb brace has somehow magically hit all of the buttons in tandem to erase what I’ve typed.  Maybe it was the blogging gods giving me a hint…

Anyway, here we go:

First and foremost this most fabulous gif ever:

I know, I can’t help it, I’m in love with these penguins and their sort of sack race fun!

Yep, rewatch it as many times as you need/want to.  I’m in total and absolute love!

2.  At the expo this weekend I found this sweatshirt:

yay! run MI friends!

A “Run MI” hoodie!  I love me a good hoodie, or long sleeve t so this was perfect.  Not to mention it was only $25 AND it’s a decent color that won’t show too much cat hair.  Oh and Michigander pride!

3.  Honey Maid Grahamfuls.  These probably aren’t the most nutritious snack out there but it reminds of when we used to put frosting on graham crackers as a kid.  I got the peanut butter/chocolate flavor but there are a bunch to pick from.  They are tasty.

4.  Adding mini chocolate chips to my Chobani snack size yogurt.  Mini chocolate chips are too fun so I’m compelled.

again, any reason to have dean on my blog

5.  Have you seen these Procompression socks?  Oh goodness, I LOVE polka dots!  I’m getting the sleeves.  They are the sock of the month so they are cheap (use coupon code BRD).

procompression sock of the month

6.  Did you know ants hate cinnamon?  I didn’t either and I’m hoping it’s true.  There must be an ant nest outside of my apt because I’ve been seeing a few of these bad boys.  They aren’t giant carpenter ants (vomit) but they aren’t the itty-bitty ones either.  I think they are the middle children of the ant family.  I’ve lined my window sills with cinnamon as it isn’t dangerous for Simon.  Fingers crossed this works and doesn’t attract other critters, which I didn’t even consider until office mate suggested chipmunks might like it.  Just something else for me to worry about when lying in bed at night.

7.  New sunglasses.  I ALMOST bought the white polka dot ones (see the above proclamation of love) however, they were just a bit TOO big.  Settled on another gem that are still bigger but don’t completely eat my face up.

I sent this pic to my sister and friend for opinions
I sent this pic to my sister and friend for opinions

8.  Yuengling – as I may have mentioned, I’m not a huge beer fan but more and more it’s growing on me.  Sometimes I find it odd that the running culture does include quite a bit of beer consumption… just a thought… I had one of these puppies the other night before the race and it was very drinkable.  I will definitely purchase in the future.

9.  Head scarves!  I’m wearing one in the above sunglasses pics and I adore them.  Headbands give me headaches and these are perfect.  I haven’t gone to bohemian in the styling quite yet but the option is there.  Target, friends – they are a bit shorter than the neck scarves although you can still wear them in this fashion as well.

10.  Some good songs.  Office mate is my personal DJ and he has great taste in music.  Many of my new favorite songs on my running mix I hear first at work.  Unfortunately, they are on my ipod which is currently somewhere so I can’t give you any names.  More to come…

11.  I guess I didn’t really find this per say, it’s more like I put it into action.  I’m trying to make working out more of a habit as opposed to something I do my best to wiggle out of on a daily basis.  I don’t want to THINK it’s optional.  I took mini post-its, numbered them 1-21 and get to remove one each day I do a work out.  I’ve also established how many days I can actually miss during this period before I have to start completely over again.  Like a reverse advent calendar, I’m loving ripping one of those suckers off the wall.  I missed 3 days in a row this week though so it’s time to start over.  I was going to give myself one more day to hop back on the train but time to be more honest with myself.

is it just me?  or does this 21 look a little smug?
is it just me? or does this 21 look a little smug?

Here I go again…  That’ll do for now me thinks.

25k race=15.5 miles of tough running

The 5/3 Riverbank 25k is the largest road race of its distance in the country.  As I mentioned yesterday, 7,000 people take to the streets of Grand Rapids, MI and there are runners from all over.

25k start line

I spent the night with friends who live about 25 minutes away from downtown GR.  Hanging out with friends the night before a race is a great way to ease any anxieties.  Pre-race fueling of pizza and a beer, playing with an adorable munchkin (who loved saying my name – it was adorable) and hitting the sack around 11:30 pm was the order of the night.  I woke up on time (and multiple times during the night) and despite my game plan to leave at 6:45 am I made it out the door at 7 am.

I ate a bit too much pizza the night before as I was too hungry by the time it arrived.  I mention this because on the drive to the start, I almost had to pull over and throw up.  Jostling around for the next few hours was not appetizing and I didn’t eat my peanut butter sandwich until I arrived.  I did manage to drink some coffee though – priorities.

deep cleansing breaths kept the vomit at bay…

I drank some Vega Sport Pre-Workout Enegizer 20 minutes before the start.  I will post a review of this product in the next few days and it’s quality.  I’ve now tried it with training along with a race and I’m impressed.  The race started right on time, 8:20 am and I made it over the start line at 8:29 and this was the 11 min pace group.  The race is efficient.

I felt good for the first 5 miles.  I was using my quads and kept my ipod in my pocket so I could be in the moment.  I got stuck behind one guy who was complaining up a storm because the shirts didn’t say 25k on them.  It was a universal shirt for the 5k, 10k and 25k.  You could pay extra for a tech shirt with 25k on it ($15) but he “certainly” wasn’t going to do that.  He also said how he was going to send a nasty email to the director later this week.  Now mind you, I paid $35 for this race.  CHEAP!  Suck it up dude…

the shirt mr. grumpy pants was complaining about
the shirt mr. grumpy pants was complaining about

At mile 5 I took a powergel – provided, and turned on my tunes.  The water stops started at about 1.5 miles and they were approximately every mile and half after this, sometimes two miles.  The volunteers were incredible.  There was water, Gatorade followed by oranges and more water and then ICE!  Oh my goodness, I have never been offered cups of ice in a race but it was magical.  It was probably around mile 7 when it started and I would take a cup at each one hereafter.  It was heavenly.

After mile 6 miles my quads started cramping a bit.  Mile 8 was my magic mile as I knew at this point there would be no question to me finishing.  This was also my first lovely embrace with some biofreeze.  I think mile 7 was the start of the hills.  Man oh man, the hills kept coming!  I had forgotten about them, conveniently I might add, but I took them in stride = I walked many of them.

While I was keeping 11 min miles in the beginning, this crept to 12 by the halfway point.  Mile 1o I took another gel.  I also kept focusing on what a cool experience this was and how lucky I was.  The last time I did this race, my mental attitude was already in the toilet at this point.

this is a great depiction of my previous meltdown

The last five and half miles were tough.  More hills, more quad cramping, one more biofreeze stop and lots of water.  It was a beautiful day with a breeze, which was lovely but I was seriously reaching my “I’m done” point.  The last mile and half took forever and horror of horrors you have to run UP a hill to the finish line.

25k finish line
this was at the top of a long hill

My leg muscles were melting at this point.  I kept saying, “c’mon legs” almost yelling at them as I wasn’t sure if I could stay standing.  It was so, so tough!  I had nothing left – heck, even the girl who was puking her guts out that I passed a few feet behind me managed to beat me.  I made it though.

at this point, I could barely stand up straight - I kept almost falling backwards
at this point, I could barely stand up straight – I kept almost falling backwards

Hard/enjoyable race and I ran my buns off.  I have some work to do before my next half (it’s in 3 weeks) and I’m keeping some of my newly employed racing strategies.  Good gel timing, starting my music later and a positive mental attitude – putting these into practice again!

25k… the aftermath

My race recap will be up in tomorrow but the following has been swirling around my brain:

1.  More/real training would have made those 15.5 miles much easier!

2.  I think my rebellious streak comes into play with regards to running.  Maybe a “let’s see what I can do without training!” attitude.  Is this rebellion?  I don’t know but it’s how I used to shoot myself in the foot with regards to my academics as well.  I will also say it’s part of the procrastinator’s creed – if you don’t give your all to the preparation then you don’t have to risk your best being a “failure”.

deep thoughts on the hour drive up to the race and then back

3.  My legs were absolute gelatin as I crossed the finish line.  I completely left it all out on the course!  I was proud of myself.

4.  I stretched after the race, which I rarely do.  Solid plan Amy.

5.  Today my legs are fairly fatigued and sore.  My quads are especially tender.  I see some serious squats in my immediate future.

6.  I have a lot more determination and heart than I give myself credit for.

but I didn’t quit!

7.   I ran with 7,000 other runners!  This is the largest 25k in the country.  We all love running!

8.  Biofreeze is my bestie.

I’m talking to you biofreeze

9.  I didn’t run with my thumb brace because I knew it would be difficult to grab water and other fuel.  Adrenaline got me through the race buuut it wasn’t a great idea later.

10.  I parked about 8 blocks away.  Wow – it was a long way back!  A woman with her two kids offered me a ride to my car and while I was tempted I’ve watched way to much Investigative Discovery to take her up on it.

More tomorrow… all smiles though.  I seriously thought about not running – I had a prime excuse!  A dislocated thumb?  Prime!  However, I needed to prove something to myself.  I’m a proud runner!

 

uncle sam hearts tax day!

True to form, I did my taxes Monday…  I’ve nailed the art of procrastination of so many levels.

If yesterday is still sheds a shadow over your Wednesday or you just need a pick me up on a Wednesday, here is  some humor.  These are a few funnies that has made me laugh recently and wanted to share them.  Hope they do the same for you!  P.S. Uncles Sam says “thanks for filing!”  (Hmm… is it egotistical to speak for uncle sam?!)

pop up book of phobias
the horrors…
man, I love these!
man, I love these!
jurassic park
simon and I love Jurassic Park and this is very clever!
umm... this may have happened this weekend x2
umm… this may have happened this weekend x2
I tried explaining this to my co-worker and why I thought it was so funny.  lost in translation - I sounded like a crazy person
I tried explaining this to my co-worker and why I thought it was so funny. lost in translation – I sounded like a crazy person

bird and math

cracks me up!
cracks me up!

And what would this list be without a cat meme?!

haha, poor cat!
haha, poor cat!

Enjoy your Wednesday!

 

need for speed

I still can’t believe I ran 10:15 minutes miles on Friday.  This is a minute and a half faster than what I was running the week before.  And no, I’m not juicing!

stay away from the juice honey boo boo!

I’m going to back up a little… as I mentioned, my calf has been really bugging me.  It has been super tight and definitely causing pain when I run.  During my run last Saturday, it was hurting so much I shifted my form to compensate.  Of course, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

I have no idea when or how it happened but I haven’t been picking up my feet when I run – at all.  I’ve  heavily depended on my calves for all of my running power.  It’s like I’ve just been shuffling.  Lately, when my training plan called for speed work, I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to get faster when my feet/legs couldn’t GO faster.  Then I (physically) realized the concept of turning my feet over faster and was amazed.

this was my reaction too

This realization along with actually using my quads/hamstrings to run culminated into some speed.  On Tuesday, I went for a run and I could tell I went faster than I had in FOR-E-VER.  Lately, my pace has been hovering around an average of 11:50, maybe 11:30 if I felt good.  Friday, I accidentally found a setting on my garmin where I can set the pace I want to hit and then it tells me when I am on pace or ahead/behind.  What a great feature!

not my image but when this popped up on the second hill, I *may* have called my garmin some nasty names…

I set it for 11:15 since this was going to be my first run with my garmin and using this form.  I knew I was running faster, my garmin told me so, but it didn’t say how much faster.  There were times when it said on pace and on one hill it said behind pace.  My first mile was 11:07 and I was surprised!  Two long hills dominate the first part of my route, so I was happy.  I did four miles total and my splits were 11:07, 10:15, 10:17 and 10:22.

I’m still in shock.  My legs were fatigued yesterday in that “whoa, I put in a good work out” kind of way.  My plan was to run a few miles but an upset tummy restricted any bouncy behavior.  But as I tweeted, my spirit is renewed!  I wasn’t sure I would see these speeds again, despite my running coach telling me it was possible.  It’s weird because I figured I could do it but I didn’t know how.  Nor did I really believe it.  Now I have hope and evidence!

There is a month to my 25k and a month and a half until my next half marathon.  One of the reasons my legs are as tired is because my quads are not as strong as they need to be – why would they?  I’ve barely been using them!  I don’t know what to expect from these next two races.  I have some goals naturally but I’m going to keep them at bay and focus on training.  OH!  And no calf pain on Friday’s run!

“It may not be fast and it may not be pretty but it’s going in the right direction”                         – Eric Simonson

cut my own hair? sure!

On Sunday, I wanted a haircut RIGHT NOW.  I was done.  It’s been about 4 months since my last cut, which is a lot considering I have shorter hair.  Typically, my style needs to kept up approximately every 6 weeks or so to keep its shape.  But I didn’t get around to it.

Then I wanted to be able to put my hair back for Dopey so I wanted to wait.  Suddenly, I couldn’t handle it any longer and I decided I was going to cut my hair myself.

enter ominous music

So yesterday, after working for a little while I went to Sally’s Beauty supply and bought a pair of hair scissors ($15.00), the clips to hold up my hair ($3.00), a handheld mirror ($5.00), a spray bottle ($2.50) and a comb ($1.00).  I told the women working the register what my plan was and they asked me if I had ever done it before.  I told them, “nope”.  That was the end of the conversation.  Oh, I could have purchased some scissors for $10.00 but I got the jazzy ones for $5.00 more.

haha, I was a bit apprehensive!
haha, I was a bit apprehensive!

I looked up tips and tricks online and found some good advice and not so good advice.  First of all, there were very few posts about how to cut/shape your shorter hair.  It was either long hair or pixie cuts.  This worried me slightly.  I found a youtube video that was okay and it was a woman cutting her long hair short.  But that was it.  Some of the solid tips were to cut it when it was wet (still doesn’t make sense to me), don’t cut a lot off at once, go slowly and practice.  Practice?  Basically, make sure you’ve cut your bangs or something a few times so you are comfortable.

yep, I’m beyond creative using an edward scissorhands gif!

Then I just went for it.  I got scissor happy at one point but after deeply cutting my finger, I slowed down.  One tip was to sketch out what you wanted your cut to look like.  I should have done this since I forgot I wanted to have some layers!  This meant I needed to cut the layers a bit shorter despite the fact I cut the bottom to the length I wanted.  So, my layers are a bit shorter than I first intentioned.

here is the before
here is the before

I sort of had an idea in my head about the final look but it wasn’t very concrete.  What did I want?  I wanted a cut where I could blow dry it and not have to use a curling iron to enhance the curls.  Or put some hair junk in it and go.  Seriously, this was my main motivation.  Lately, my hair was looking straggly and I wanted that gone too.

Here is what I came out with!  I’m proud of myself!

ta-da!  the after
ta-da! the after

Actually, I am really proud of myself!  I love the Bourne movies and in the first and third one the women have to change their appearance and just start hacking at their hair.  It always turns out really cute.  I felt I could do this too.  Yep, in my brain I know a stylist went back over it and made it look better but not my heart!

If you are thinking about cutting your own hair here are my tips:

1.  If you are nervous about doing stuff to your hair and/or are very particular don’t do it.

2.  I promise, your hair will not look like you just stepped out of a salon.  Thinking I could pull of something exactly or even similar too a salon visit would have set me up for disappointment.

3.  I knew I could get it fixed if need be.

4.  I’m pleased with my scissors – splurge on these if you go the diy route.

5.  Be careful!  The cut on my finger HURT.  I had to put the band-aid on tight to help the bleeding slow.  These little suckers are sharp.

6.  Take it slowly.  It was suggested to have a friend there too but I think this would be boring for a friend and again, I was impatient.

7.  Remember hair will grow back.  I’ve dyed my hair black, orange (strawberry blonde gone wrong) and blue – not all at once!  I’ve had some really bad haircuts and I permed my own hair once.  Since I’ve given my hair a workout I wasn’t too worried about messing up.

I have no idea if I could do it again.  I’ll try and it will probably end up with a bit different of a style!  While I didn’t set out to do this strictly for the money-saving piece, I’m taking the win.  I like the idea of going to my stylist once or twice a year and then keeping up the style on my own.  Yay!  My handiwork is pretty nifty.

Have or do you cut your own hair?

What other kinds of beauty routines to you do on your own?

self esteem > budget

Saturday was friend get-together day!  Instead of swapping gifts, we meet up and do some kind of activity together.  It’s great since two of them live an hour and 15 mins away (in opposite directions of course!) and my other friend lives in town but our schedules don’t seem to match up all the time.  So a day devoted to our friendship and fun is fabulous!

well, this almost happened

M and I started the day with a run.  It was my first run since Dopey and M had a baby 8 weeks ago and it was her third or fourth run back.  Let me just say, she is a champ!  Check out her blog here for adorable baby pics and her post-baby fitness routine.  I really appreciate how M finds pockets of time to be active with snowpocalypse and a wee babe!

in case you forgot what we looked like
in case you forgot what we looked like – old pic but totally works, just add more snow

After 3.5 fridgid (seriously, it was 17* and with a feels like 4) we quickly changed and headed out to meet up with L at our new Baskin Robbins!  Yay!  Really quick, the run felt good.  I could feel it working out some racing kinks but yesterday my legs felt fairly fatigued.  My knee tweak was also annoying me.  Saturday night my feet hurt too and I am not sure if this was from the run or the mall-shopping extravaganza.

Coffee in hand we hit the mall.  Here’s the deal, it’s not exactly like I haven’t been spending some cash lately.  I’ve been wanting to build my reserves back up from the holidays and my vacation so I wasn’t planning on purchasing much.

I’m going to start calling my savings account the “banana stand”

HA!  I laid out some cash.  The economy should send me a thank you card.  Part of the catalyst for my change of heart/mind was Thursday I noticed my favorite pants are starting to get a hole in them.  Granted, I’ve had these pants for 6 or 7 years but I only have a couple of pairs that I feel look decent, i.e. aren’t summer capris, don’t make me look like a street walker because they are so tight, or gigantic from my much heavier days.  Yes, I’ve kept some of these clothes but this is a subject for a post on another day.

While I’ve been kicking up the fashion a bit lately by getting creative with my closet, having two pairs of pants in the middle of an arctic winter is difficult.  Considering what I just mentioned above about the state of my other pants, there is something to be said about feeling confident in what I am wearing.  Stuffing myself into a pair of pants so I have to stand in a certain way or suck in my tummy all day makes me feel really down on myself.  I don’t think about how I just ran 48.6 miles in four days.  I think about how I’m a failure and should be losing weight.  Boo.

body image quote 2So spending some money is worth it.  I’ve had this realization before but it took some talks with my friends to realize it again.  I’m worth it!  My body is worth it!  And feeling good about myself begets healthier habits – whether it’s to maintain weight and fitness or to improve it.  Dealing with depression has brought on approximately 15 lbs and I need to stop feeling ashamed of this and instead embrace the fact that I’ve made it to the other side of the depression.

Oh yeah and the SALES!  This definitely made it easier!  For instance?  I got two pairs of cords from Ann Taylor Loft for $40.  I bought four bras that were each $16.00 – and this was from Victoria.  Probably TMI but I think nice underlovlies equals higher self-worth (for me).  Why?  Because I’m even spending money on something the world doesn’t see!  Just my own theory/view.

this was the first time I’ve enjoyed shopping for regular clothes in at least a year!

All in all, it was a great day!

What do you do if you are having a low self-esteem day?

Do you love or loathe shopping?

I had a dope time, yo

While I guarantee I will be referring to my weekend again in future posts I think this will be the last in the Dopey series (1, 2, 3, 4).  I’m sure you want to thank me for moving onto a different subject matter.

run!
run!

I’m really happy I took on this challenge.  It was a huge confidence boost and brought back many of those “I love running” feelings that can sometimes get lost in a majorly long training cycle.  Yes, I started rebuilding my foundation back in May or June and then started training around July.  Those are some long months!

all the medals!
all the medals!

Here are some of the highlights:

1.  Met Amanda from Too Tall Fritz!  Well, ambushed her actually but those are just semantics

a celebrity siting!
a celebrity siting!

2.  Went over to Animal Kingdom lodge where I had my tasty mouse head waffle and checked out the animals.  It’s great – you can see some of the animals you would see on the safari tour without having to go to the Animal Kingdom park.

giraffes are the best
giraffes are the best

3.  Discovered the Mickey head ice cream sandwich.  Also very good and cute to boot.

this was very good regardless of the shape!
this was tasty regardless of the shape!

4.  Disney kind of slacked on the Dopey merchandise and early expo attendees wiped them out of the stock they did have (I mean in about 4 hours).  They had tech shirts left but I wasn’t interested since I already had one.  I finally found a light sweatshirt from Raw Threads, which I love.  Also in Downtown Disney Hanes has a design your own shirt so I created a long sleeve Dopey one.  It was super speedy and they have a ton of different characters.  Disney did come through afterward though and I found a (cotton) shirt online and yes, I already ordered it.

the sweatshirt is from raw threads
the sweatshirt is from raw threads
this is the shirt I made!
this is the shirt I made!

5.  I took advantage of the fun atmosphere.  Disney races are geared toward all-level athletes and it is a good time with no pressure – well, aside from the pressure you place on yourself!

my namesake restaurant in downtown disney!
my namesake restaurant in downtown disney!

6.  The race snacks weren’t anything extravagant but they did have these rice chips and little things of cheese.  This became the absolute yummiest thing in the entire world.

dopey snacks7.  Running in costume is so fun!  People are so freakin’ creative and I loved seeing what everyone came up with.  Mine was fairly simple but thanks to Sparkle Athletic, Running Skirts, Pro Compression, Aspaeris and some RockTape, I was running in style.

cleaning my costume in my room - much better than being all smelly
cleaning my costume in my room – much better than being all smelly

8.  It was warm.

beautiful view and no snow!
beautiful view and no snow!

9.  I’m obsessed with all things Dopey.  Luckily, I didn’t let this overtake my pocket-book but it was close!

dopey is just so cute!
dopey is just so cute!

10.  Iced mochas are tough to come by outside of the parks.  There aren’t coffee shops in the resorts, which really surprised me.  So future race attendees not visiting parks, you can score a good (naturally expensive) espresso drink right outside of the ticket areas of Epcot.  You do have to go through bag check but then it’s fairly close.  For me, it was totally worth the cash!

my view from the coffee hut
my view from the coffee hut

11.  I’m not quite sure on how much money I spent but doing a Disney race certainly isn’t the cheapest option when it comes to racing.  As I was walking to Epcot after the marathon, a security guard asked me if I would be returning next year.  I told him, to ask me after my body had recovered!  Honestly, I won’t be back next year.  There are a lot of other races I want to do and Disney kind of saps my race budget.  Nevertheless, I am so happy I could take advantage of this opportunity and was actually able to save for it!

I so wanted to keep this space blanket... but I didn't
I so wanted to keep this space blanket… but I didn’t

10.  Simon has decided I can’t go anywhere for a good long while.

dopey simonI am so grateful for this experience!  I’m grateful for all of the support, encouragement and confidence from all of you and my other friends and family.  There were times when those “you got this” were what kept me going!  Thank you!

now 26.2? what a dopey idea

Did you know there is a handle in the porta potty hooked to the door to hold onto while doing your business??  I had no idea!  I was quiet Sunday morning thinking about what was ahead of me.   As we gathered at the porta potties for our last race, we were all talking about nerves.  Almost falling in the porta potty (again) made me even more nervous and I told my friends this.  They asked me why I hadn’t held onto the handle?  This was race-changing folks!

only 26.2 miles to go!
only 26.2 miles to go!

At the start line, I was freezing cold.  It was a chilly morning and I was happy as a clam.  We all knew it was going to be much cooler than the day before and I was thrilled.  I sat and chatted with a woman who was doing the Goofy and we talked running for about a half hour.

oooo - pretty! now RUN!
oooo – pretty! now RUN!

An even bigger set of fireworks exploded and the first group was off!  At this point, I realized I had to go the bathroom again.  I had time to run to the porta potty but I thought maybe I was just nervous and I wouldn’t need to pee anymore once I started running.  Plus I hate porta potties so I didn’t want to use it if I didn’t really have to.  Unfortunately, I overestimated my bladder and I had to stop even before I hit mile 1!  Great job, Aim! But the handle sure was helpful!

dopey marathon signI used the same strategy as the last three races and made sure to walk once a mile.  I used the water stops a lot and also walked any hills despite them not being very steep.  My legs were sore and at the start of the race I seriously questioned whether or not I could pull this off.  Five miles in, I knew I would finish.

it really helps with moral to have a giant mouse cheer for you
it really helps with moral to have a giant mouse cheer for you

The day before, I found some flat ground in the grass along side the road and since it was a similar course for the full I did the same thing.  It allowed me to get in a zone in many areas of the race and I could just run.  It was hugely helpful – physically and mentally.  My pace was pretty even and I felt more and more confident.  All of a sudden I completely believed I was a STRONG runner.

Mile 14 changed my race and my running future.  When I saw the mile marker I said to myself, “I only have 12 miles left!!”.  Last year?  “Oh my gosh, I still have 12 miles left”.  The difference between the words “only” and “still” is the best example I have of my strong mental attitude.  My  quads were tight and hurting.  My feet were sore, my left calf was irritated and I was more and more excited about this race and distant running as a whole!  It’s completely twisted.

race/game/life changer!
race/game/life changer!

I took some fun pics – Rafiki is my little zen master and last year when I saw this army guy I wanted to punch him in the face.  It was nice not to hate him this year!

rafiki and I sharing a zen moment
rafiki and I sharing a zen moment
he was pretty funny!
he was pretty funny!

The woman who brought the cups of Pepsi was back (tasted fabulous!) and another woman brought pretzels.  I love taking treats from strangers during a race!  I took another picture of the castle so I could completely take in the moment.  My new motto became, “it’s going to hurt anyway, so I might as well go for it”.  I would select something in the distance and run to the point and then walk a certain amount.  I stuck to these mini goals like glue.

once again, chills as I ran through
once again, chills as I ran through

My average pace was approximately 14 mins for the first half and a little over 14 mins for the second half.  I really owe all of my solid pacing to the treadmill, which I no longer hate with a passion.  I hit the medical tents for BioFreeze 3 or 4 times, was able to get 1 Tylenol (they were really strict about this), went through every water stop, and took advantage of the two banana stations.  They also had a cold wet wash cloth station and incredible volunteers.  I finished in 6 hours and 2 mins!  I crossed the finish line and started crying.  I truly had a good time the entire race.  I felt tough and ran through the muscle fatigue and the hurt.  I was/am so stinkin’ proud of myself!

wahooo!
wahooo!

I collected all of my medals, took a massively cheesy finisher picture and headed to the ice tent.  They wrapped my quads and I waddled out to our meeting area.  I was waiting for friends and then kind of forgot I had the ice on my legs for about 45 mins maybe?  It wasn’t until my friend asked me why my knee was turning blue that I took the ice off and noticed my numb legs.  I gave myself a minor case of frostbite!  It’s no joke!  I got a ripe ol’ sunburn and frostbite in the same day.  By the way, my legs are still kind of numb so take it from me and be careful when icing.

this wasn't my smartest move
this wasn’t my smartest move

Oh and right when I got to the meeting area I had to ask a stranger to help me sit down!  My legs were incapable of doing it on their own.  Once we had all of our team in, we took pics and I headed off for coffee.  Seriously, knowing an ice cold mocha awaited me was a huge motivator.  I did forgo activities in the evening as I was beat.  Just getting off of the bed to pack was an effort!

oooo - shiny!
lots of shiny!

I really am looking forward to my next marathon.  When I was running, I kept thinking about how lucky I was/am to participate in such a cool event.  I thought about how just 8 months ago I was so depressed getting out of bed was my accomplishment.  I remembered how I had to rebuild mileage and the love and support I’ve gotten from so many people.  Endorphins + feelings of gratefulness is some powerful stuff people!  Thank you all!