Winter is coming…

And with it, comes my complete lack of motivation this year. Truthfully, I really haven’t had it since May. I kind of slogged through the summer. Since I couldn’t really run, I didn’t want to do anything. I felt like I was lucky to pull off a PR at Lakefront earlier in the month.

Since then, I’ve been all over the place, mentally, and physically as well. The week after the marathon I went to Florida for vacation. I ran 3 times — 21ish miles total. I considered this a total win for a beach vacation and actually wanted to run for the most part (if only to get away from family for an hour, but still).

The day after we came back (last week Sunday), I was super stoked to go for a run. I planned on running my 6ish mile route, and when I got close to my apartment door noticed my 6th mile clicked over at 7:57 — my 1st sub 8 mile since getting hurt at the end of May. I was pumped. I knew I could run faster though, so I ran another mile just to get my pace down a little lower. 7:38. YES. I love running. Running is my favorite.

The next 2 days, I ate like a gorilla in a grocery store, and afterwards was too lethargic to go to the gym, so… I just didn’t. No matter, I figured. I’d just go every other day that week. Which I did. But it was certainly not pretty. I had to absolutely force myself to run 4 miles on Wednesday. Honestly, I ran one and had to stop and really think if I wanted to keep going. I realized I DIDN’T want to. It felt hard, it felt slow, and it didn’t feel fun. I ran 3 more and hated every. single. step.

Admittedly, my ankle and heel have been hurting in a really strange way lately and I chalked it up to that. I blamed it on the gorilla/grocery store situation making me feel heavy. I thought maybe I needed to figure out a different way to lace up my newish shoes. I figured it was just one of those bad runs.

The next day I thought I’d give my leg/shoes/gorilla a rest from running to see if that helped anything. I slogged through an hour on the elliptical (truthfully, I don’t hatehatehate the elliptical) but my heart, again, just wasn’t in it.

Okay, so Friday, I felt sure that another run would break me out of the funk. Uhh no such luck. 5 miles of slog. Shoe/ankle/gorilla probs. I’m starting to get real annoyed by it. So Saturday morning I did another hour on the elliptical. I really didn’t want to. I wanted to run and not think it might hurt and just absolutely love it before/during/after the run but I didn’t do any of those things.

My hips and glutes also are still in the process of hating me, and I know I should be more proactive in strengthening and stretching them and I’m just not. I just don’t want to. I don’t know what my problem is, but it’s irritating me, and at the same time, I can’t change it. I think — if working out isn’t giving me the feeling I know that it should give me — is it making it worse to force myself to do it? Do I just need the mental break from it? I don’t know the answer.

I’ve mostly been forcing it for the past week because I am pacing the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival Marathon this coming weekend and felt that I couldn’t afford to lose too much fitness from Lakefront. But after the race, I’m really not sure what motivation I’ll have to get to the gym, other than my innate fear of never losing all the weight I managed to gain this year. Yet again, these past 2 days I went home from work with all the intentions of going to the gym to just do SOMETHING, but miraculously found myself on the couch with pizza/cookies/ice cream/all of the things (seriously) instead.

Today, I’m going to give it a go and see what happens. I’d like to run outside where I don’t really have a chance to stop at any given moment, but the weather has been really quite uncooperative for the past 24 hours on that front. So my plan is to re-lace my shoes (I’ll try anything at this point and am seriously hoping this helps stop my foot feeling like it’s rolling around in my shoe and thus causing me the weird pain), fire up the YouTube & Netflix, and pray that I start running and don’t want to stop. Cross your fingers.

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The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: 2015 Lakefront Marathon Recap

Better late than never, yeah?

I originally delayed this post because I just didn’t really want to think about the race at all. When people asked how it went, I just kind of ignored the question. “Fine, I guess…” But I’ve gotten over the initial sting and I’m laying it out now.

I guess I should really start with training for the race, or lack there of. After the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in May, I promptly was dealt the most excruciating, and apparently, long-lasting bout of ITBS for the entire summer. I ran a half in June that was riddled with pain. I took A LOT of time off. I went to physical therapy. I ran another half in August (my first run over a few miles since the one in June), and it went surprisingly well. PT paid off.

With the ability to run longer than a few miles without fearing for the crazy pain that would come during and after, I started to realize I kind of had a marathon coming up that I was supposed to be training for. I was still really, really nervous about running. I was afraid that any little tweak would set something off again. I cautiously approached Dumbo Double Dare (10k + half marathon) weekend at Disney and felt okay at the end of the weekend. Lakefront was a month away.

The next Monday at work I had the ridiculous urge to run an actual long run. I left work early and set off for the gym (treadmill for the win). My thought process/intended distance was to run at least 18 miles. I wouldn’t recommend this to a friend. I know you’re supposed to build your mileage back up and I’m very lucky I didn’t manage to re-injure myself, but there it is. I ran just over 19 and felt good. The next week I ran 15 and a half after doing leg day in the gym for the first time since spring (file under: other things I wouldn’t recommend to a friend, ow), and that weekend I paced the 2:15 group at a local half marathon. The next weekend was Lakefront. I had done what I could.

Luckily, the day & night before the race was spent cheering on one of my favorite people eva, Sara, at the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon, and then proceeding to eat away our pain at Comet Cafe. So my mind was occupied and I didn’t really have time to stress about the impending race, which was nice. After we ate I went home and started packing up for the next morning.

Everything I had on my person:
The North Face Better Than Naked running hat
Oiselle Flyte tank top
Moving Comfort Rebound Racer sports bra
Skirt Sports Redemption Fitness Shorts (my favorite. pockets. I wear them like… more than you should without washing them in between)
CEP Compression Sleeves
Injinji socks
Mizuno Wave Rider 18s
Garmin Forerunner 920xt
iPod shuffle or nano or something old that I was given so I don’t know what it’s called
Nathan water bottle & holder (they apparently don’t make it anymore, and I can’t remember what it was called)
Tailwind Naked flavor (3 scoops in the bottle)
1 pack of strawberry Clif ShotBloks

Nutrition is always a main area of contention for me. In that, nothing works. When I run long runs I usually don’t use anything or bring anything with me or I’m on a treadmill and am just generally unconcerned with anything major happening that I can’t just stop running and walk the quarter mile home. This is all fine and dandy and works for me, except that during marathon distance race situations (I don’t bring anything for half marathon races, so…) I feel like I obviously need fuel. I had used ShotBloks in the past, and they worked okay, but at Green Bay I got so sick of the overly fake and sweet taste of them (I rarely eat fakey processed foods, so it always is that much worse tasting for me) that I didn’t really want to use them again. But, I hadn’t used anything else and knew that even if I hated the taste they would ostensibly work out for me, so that’s what I brought. I used Tailwind in my bottle because I figured the naked flavor would help negate the disgusting taste issues I have with everything else. Turns out, I was wrong (more on that later).

So, I woke up around 5ish the morning of the race and started getting dressed/ready. I don’t eat breakfast before races either (again, I wouldn’t recommend this a friend, but it’s what works for me so don’t yell at me because I won’t listen), but I did take a Red Ace shot of beet juice (because I’m seriously obsessed with beet juice. I can’t stop). I live about 20-25 minutes away from the start of the race (it’s point-to-point, and ends a few miles south of my apartment, so I was all good on the return trip), so I acquired my ride and was on my way. I still wasn’t really thinking much about having to, you know, actually run a marathon. I got there early, as I tend to do (I have a very serious fear of being late to the start of a race), so we just walked around/waited to go to the bathroom. Around 7ish (the start was at 7:30), they announced that we should start lining up.

I should mention, this is a very small race. It’s usually capped at 2500 runners (I’m pretty sure?), but this year, for the 35th anniversary, they capped at 3500 instead. There are no corrals, but there are pace groups and signs off to the side of the start denoting the estimated finish times for that area of the start. I really, really wanted a sub-4 finish, even though I hadn’t really trained for that I felt (and still feel) very capable of that. I lined up near the 4:10 pace group thinking that that would help me not go out too fast.

I like numbers. When it comes to running, I’m a statistic fiend. Which is ironic, because I’m really (REALLY) bad at math. Like, I have to count on my fingers. I wish I were kidding. But anyways, I had analyzed and compared previous marathons and plotted pace for the entire race to negative split. I knew exactly where I wanted to be at the half. Even though I tend to do better during races if I don’t overthink it while I’m running, I couldn’t help myself.

So I put in my headphones and started my music a little before the race started to try and get out of my head and at 7:30 sharp we took off. I just ran according to feel, but I felt GOOD. The first few miles clicked by like nothing. I like to split up marathons in thirds in my head (9-9-8.2), and the first third was over before I knew it. I took a ShotBlok around mile 7, but I had to choke it down, so those were out of the question for the remainder of the race. But still, I was running relatively on pace, and was just ahead of the 4:10 group for most part. I felt like my iPod was playing the best possible songs on shuffle and things were going swimmingly.

Just before the half, I really started to hate the taste (naked flavor! how could this STILL have a taste?!) of my drink, so I planned on pouring more water on top of it at the halfway aid station to dilute it and hopefully make it more palatable. I clicked through the half at literally the exact pace I had planned on and was feeling great. I stopped quick to put the aforementioned water in the aforementioned bottle and carried on.

As the 14th mile clicked over on my watch (I only look at pace as it clicks over at each mile marker. I’ve learned early on to NEVER look at it otherwise. In my case, it’s always a recipe for disaster, no matter what race distance), I was disappointed that it was a little slower than I was going for. I figured, no matter, I stopped for the water and that’s probably why. I can make that up easily. But as I went into the 15th mile, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t get my legs to turnover AT ALL. They felt like bricks, and my pace fell even more. I can only hypothesize that this was due to my lack of caloric intake, but I could not force myself to eat anything. I barely wanted to drink my (highly diluted) Tailwind at this point even.

The next few miles went by in just a hellish slog. It wasn’t that I was in any sort of specific pain, I just felt so lethargic. It felt like my playlist had exhausted all the best songs in that first half. Around mile 18, I started throwing up occasionally. I diluted my water even more.

As my pace dropped and dropped, I started to consider that clearly my A goal (sub-4) was probably out of the question. I was waging a mental war with myself, while my body waged a physical war with itself (at this point, my left glute had stopped firing, making my stride all weird and off). I was mad at myself for even THINKING about not being able to hit the A goal, but also I guess I was trying to be realistic? Either way, myself was mad at myself.

Once I was around the 20 mile mark, I was already calculating how long it would take me to run the last 10k. I really wanted to will myself to pick up the pace here. It literally runs along my typical running route which I love and thought would help here. Last year at this point in the race I was picking up speed significantly and I was hoping some of that old juju was still floating around, and it would hit me and I would feel better and faster and it would stop hurting so damn much. No such luck. With each successive mile closer to the finish, I tried to push myself to go just a little bit faster, but I just couldn’t do it. Those last miles certainly weren’t the hardest I’ve run, but they sure as hell were not fun either.

When you get to the Lakefront park, spectators start lining the sides of the course (aka park path) to cheer you on. I just really wanted nothing to do with any of it anymore. I didn’t want all these people to see me struggle. I tried to push myself even harder so I just be done with the whole ordeal, and even with like .15 miles left to go I just could. not. do it. I was so frustrated, but finally it was over.

My official (and Garmin time, so weird) time was 4:09:00. Exactly 10 minutes shy of my A goal. My B goal, however, was to get a PR, and I made that by 2 minutes and 54 seconds. Bittersweet. (The C goal, is always, always to finish.) I think what is more frustrating than my finish time, is that I had such a terrible time in the second half. I REALLY love running, but I really, really hated it for a little over 2 hours, and that makes me sad. At the same time, I realize that having such a terrible experience helps me appreciate the good races even more. No one in their right mind should think a marathon will be easy, no matter how many you’ve run. And I think that’s the reminder I’m taking with me to the next race. Until next year, Lakefront.

No one said it’d be easy

Life, ya’ll. It gets in the way. Of lots of things, of most things.

Namely, blogging. Secondly, running.

So let’s focus on the running thing. I see the last time I made a meager appearance here was a few days before my last marathon. I guess it’s only fitting I make my return a few (9!!) days before my NEXT marathon. I guess I never talked about how that whole thing went, but sometimes (all the time) there’s so much overload in my brain that I want to say about a topic that I panic and say nothing instead. Or too much. In this case… well, obviously, nothing. To make a very, very long story short: it went well, all things (bad weather, bad fueling, bad attitude) considered. A 12+ minute PR. But I trained like a monster for that thing. I ticked nearly every run off my training schedule like it was my job (sadly, it isn’t my job). Usually I don’t even MAKE a training schedule, so, this was a pretty big deal in my book (and this is my book, so it’s a big deal).

Fast forward, oh, about 4 months, to now. Shockingly, I’ve spent the past few months in a self-imposed pile of wallowing that can only be induced by me doing what I do best – getting hurt and not being able to run painlessly. This time it was a long bout of IT band issues, which I slowly remedied with physical therapy. It took a bit of time, and it annoyed the hell out of me, but it was finally(!!) getting better. In August, I ran the Madison Mini Marathon (why don’t they just call these damn things what they are – a half marathon), and my goal was to hopefully not be in excruciating pain. As my last run over 6 or so miles was in June at my last half, I was hoping this was a reasonable goal. Lo and behold, it was, and actually ended up being my 3rd fastest half. (though I have reason to believe the course was short. Count it!)

So this was all well and good and promising, except I started to feel a little bit of tendinitis creeping up in my interior ankle. And I thought, oh yes, I’ve felt this pain before. I know the depths of torment it can bring. I was determined to not ignore it, like I did last year, when I kept running until I made it unbearable to the point of not being able to train for the Lakefront Marathon (which I actually wrote about here and here). So I took a mini-break. I felt it subside. I continued on.

I started to add longer-ish runs back into my routine. Each time it was a little dance with the devil, like is this going to end in pain? Each time I squeaked out alive. Tiny little baby twinges on the inside of my ankle. Fine. 10 miles. 19 miles.

So on Tuesday, I figured, hey, I’ll run like 14ish miles. Because even though I know you’re not supposed to play catch up when you’re training for a marathon, sometimes (all the times), I just literally cannot stop myself. So off I waddled (after making the mistake of putting off this run until the day after leg day. So… that definitely helped nothing at all), slowly but surely. It was a struggle, marked by the whole inability to get my legs to move after the day before in the gym. But that’s the kind of suffering I can endure. At the end of the run (which unexpectedly came out to 15.5 miles total) the outside of my ankle hurt. Because I apparently am incapable of catching a break.

So, I may be exaggerating the pain in my head, but I really don’t feel like taking chances on it either. I’m pacing the Brewers Mini Marathon on Saturday (holla at yo girl if you wanna run a flawless 2:15!), and Lakefront is the weekend after, so I’m crossing all my appendages that it’ll all work out in the end. I think a lot of the issues may boil down to shoe choices, but the problem is I’m not sure which shoe choice to make. I thought I was pretty sold on wearing the Mizuno Wave Sayonara 1 (old school) to both pace the half, and for Lakefront, but after wearing it on Tuesday and getting the weird niggling ankle pain, I’m basically questioning all my life decisions.

I guess time will tell? No one said it’d be easy, but I’m sure as hell going to make it worth it.

Marathon Playlist (help!)

The time has come for ALL THE PREPARATIONS! which means I need to finalize my ~marathon playlist~ which means I need help! I typically don’t listen to music when I run but like to have a full playlist ready on my shuffle for backup in case I need it. I tapped into it about 14 miles in at Lakefront last year and I’m feeling like this year I’ll probably need it at like mile. ..2. It just feels like it might be necessary.

So I’m calling for suggestions to help round out what I’ve already got down on the playlist. What’s your go to song?

This is what I’ve got so far:

Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon
Geronimo – Sheppard
Let Go – R.A.C
I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers
Cruise – Florida Georgia Line
Wasted – Tiesto
Blank Page – Taylor Swift
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
Came Out Swinging – The Wonder Years Melrose Diner – The Wonder Years
Little Secrets – Passion Pit
Carried Away – Passion Pit
Tongue Tied – Grouplove
Rare – Man Overboard
Darlin’ – The Beach Boys
Weekend – Priory
Wild At Heart – Gloriana
Pumping Blood – NONONO
Cecelia and the Satellite – Andrew McMahon
The Wild Bunch – Fireworks
Dumped – New Found Glory
Just the Way I’m Not – All Time Low
Weightless – All Time Low
Walls – All Time Low
Honey, I’m Good – Andy Grammer

But I clearly want like a 5 hour buffer here (who knows what might happen?!) so I’d like a lot more to go off of. Help!

#REALwomenmove

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m all about the hashtags. Using them brought me to the fitness/running community online and to people that I now consider good (and some of my best) friends (my parents never told me to stay away from people on the internet, clearly). It’s a little bit insane the power a hashtag can have, when I actually think about it.

So naturally, when Skirt Sports launched its #REALwomenmove campaign, I was all over it. Real Women Move is about empowering women of all ages/shapes/sizes/etc. to get up and get moving. And given the fact that since I started running I’ve lost 25 pounds, and subsequently gained 20 of them back, the concept especially resonates with me. I absolutely refuse to let a minor bump in the road like a few (okay, maybe more than a few) extra pounds keep me from continuing to do what I love. In the past, this is where I’d quit. I’d chalk it up to a failure and give up. Not this time. This time I know that I love running for reasons outside of physical appearances. Occasionally, I’m actually moderately good at it.

And besides the fact that the #REALwomenmove hashtag is empowering all on its own, Skirt Sports is going above and beyond and is giving away Get Started scholarships for every 5,000 hashtags used. The scholarship includes a TON of awesomeness – bra, top, bottom, hat, socks, and a free race entry to your first 5k. You can submit your story for consideration or nominate a friend who exemplifies the Real Women Move traits.

Seriously, I wish I had known about Skirt Sports when I first started running. Their commitment to uplifting and connecting women from all over is just insanely incredible. The community is so encouraging and positive and the Real Women Move campaign is just another example of that. So hashtag away, so I can encourage you, too!

So what does #REALwomenmove mean to you?

And Then There Were Three

I… I did a thing. A potentially stupid thing (honestly, what else is new?). A bit of a backstory: I planned out towards the tail end of 2014 that I wanted to do two marathons in 2015 – one in spring, and one in fall. It seemed like enough time to train/race/recover between the two. That was the easy part – I agonized over which two to do. Yes, agonized, because apparently I have nothing better to worry about than running related things, but I mean, come on, it’s a big decision. Bryan probably wanted to kick me out of the apartment given all the times I asked his opinion about it.

I eventually decided on the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon for the spring. Fall was the real issue, with a new kid on the block, the Milwaukee Running Festival marathon in November. I felt like I really wanted to support that. But, I also really wanted to run Lakefront again because I had such a good time last year. Eventually, after a long internal (and external – sorry Bryan!) debate, I decided to register for Lakefront. AND THEN.

Enter: The Fleet Feet Brew City Marathon challenge (hello, longest name ever). Basically, it’s one of those, run 2 races, get another medal type of deals. I’m honestly a sucker for anything billed as a “challenge”. Not to mention that other medal business… But I was like, yeah, no, I can’t run two marathons in less than a month (Lakefront is October 4, Milwaukee Running Fest Marathon is November 1). Seriously, I still don’t even think I can run ONE marathon without dying half the time. So I put that thought out of my head, and that was that.

Or so I thought. The other day, I was talking with a coworker/fellow marathoner who had just run the Tobacco Road Marathon. We were talking about our race plans fort he rest of the year (him putting in for Chicago again, me running Lakefront) and I mentioned how I had a hard time deciding between my two fall marathon options. I mentioned the shiny new challenge deal, saying something along the lines of, but I can’t do it. His response was something to the extent of “Why can’t you? You’ll already be trained for a marathon anyways.”

And in my brain, all I need is for literally one person to tell me I should or can do something I want to do anyways, even if every other person has told me it’s a bad idea, even if I KNOW it’s a bad idea. And then I’ll end up doing it. So, that’s how I ended up registering for three marathons this year instead of my carefully planned out two. Here’s to not dying…

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Falling off the Proverbial Wagon — all or nothing attitudes & a long history of eating disorders

A preface: if you were expecting a semi-self-deprecating post about how I’m accidentally okay at running, maybe wait for the next one.

Ever since I was a little kid, I was perpetually uncomfortable with how I looked. I was shy, and awkward, and fairly small or at least “normal” sized i.e. healthy for my age and height. I remember noticing how I felt bad hanging out with friends who were smaller than me, and better if I was hanging out with friends who were bigger than me. I was 10.

As I got older, the feeling was only exacerbated. In middle school, I made my mom buy me loose fitting T-shirts because I thought I looked fat if they were remotely tight. I ate very little, albeit very unhealthily. Think boxes of Kraft mac & cheese and pizza that could pass as cardboard. I certainly didn’t exercise, as my only form of activity consisted of walking to my friends’ houses occasionally if we couldn’t get a ride. I was always very uncomfortable eating in front of others. When I was a freshman, I didn’t eat in front of my then boyfriend for literally months, and we hung out almost every single weekend.

Once I got my license, my minimal activity decreased to essentially nothing. I played soccer for three years in high school, but we weren’t very competitive and it wasn’t exactly strenuous work for me. I never ate breakfast and very rarely ate lunch at school. When I did eat, again, it was very processed non-food. I was a notoriously “picky eater” and was gaining weight again fast.

Once Bryan and I started dating, and I became increasingly comfortable with him and his family, I started eating more in front of him/them and eating dinner at their house. His mom is chronically caring and always goes out of her way to make people feel welcome, so she would make me whatever I wanted, and a ton of it. Towards the end of my senior year, I decided I needed to lose the excess weight I gained, and rather than workout or eat healthier, I mostly just stopped eating.

So by now, you get the cycle. I was either comfortable with who I was with, and would eat a lot of mindless junk, or I was uncomfortable (i.e. when I made new friends in college) with who I was and who I was with, and wouldn’t eat at all.

Then, as I wrote about in my post about how I started running, I decided I really needed to get in shape. I wasn’t “overweight” per se, but I was really unhappy and extremely unhealthy, so I started running and tried to start eating healthier. I learned how to eat for health and started feeling more energetic and felt better physically and mentally. That year, I ate crazy well, lost 20 pounds, and was *finally* happy with how I looked and I thought I kicked the disordered eating once and for all.

But as I’ve learned this past year, it isn’t really something you “kick”, especially when you’ve been in this insane cycle for literally 15 years now. I essentially turned the previous disorder into orthorexia. And then, I started to feel like I could eat a “treat” every now and then and be fine. Apparently, this is not the case for me. Like a lot of distance runners I know, I have an extreme all or nothing attitude towards most things. I also have an extreme (processed) sugar addiction. Like, an actual sugar addiction. Once I’ve had a little, I need it, and it’s really hard for me to stop. So now I’m in this weird cycle of unhealthy “health” food eating, and I struggle frequently with binge eating. My weight has gone up and down so much over the years, always by 15-20 pounds, but just enough to go between feeling good about it, to feeling really bad about it.

I guess the point of this post is mostly that I feel like it’s something I have to get out of my head. Not many people I know know the extent of the disorder, and it isn’t something people generally casually talk about. I mean, it’s definitely not small talk. I’m certainly not perfect, and lately it’s been a constant struggle, but I’m working on getting back to not eating junk all the time. It’s been bad for my training and recovery and my skin and my wellbeing. And I need paying attention to and being nicer to myself. So I typically can’t take my own advice, but if you’ve ever been in a similar boat, don’t be so hard on yourself.

Walt Disney World Half Marathon Race Recap, aka ALL. THE. TEARS.

I’m currently in a deep state of Disney depression. This was my first time ever (!!!) at a Disney park and oh my god – can I just live there? (life goals!) So, Disney + Running = my 2 favorite things. Seriously. The only reason I was able to convince Bryan to go was basically, I signed up for the race and told him now we didn’t have a choice. His excitement was minimal (but he TOTALLY ended up loving Disney. How could you not?!)

We ended up getting into the area midday on Thursday, and Bryan was actually crazy sick the day before/that morning/that day. So he basically fell asleep the instant we got to the hotel, and I was way too excited to just sit around, so I headed to the expo while he napped. So much excite!! I picked up my bib and shirt, and didn’t really look at too many of the vendors (which was HARD! But I was saving my dinero for Disney related things… and the Lululemon outlet. Oops.) So I bought a RunDisney pin (why didn’t anyone warn me how addicting pin trading is?! I’m a sucker for collecting things) and I bought a RunDisney pullover thingy. Which a bird later pooped on. In front of Cinderella’s castle – super magical! And then I headed back to the hotel. By that time Bryan got his act together and we adventured to downtown Disney. All day Friday we spent the day at the parks.

So Saturday morning – I set my alarm for some time around 3:15ish (Bryan was NOT happy upon learning this) but I have this chronic fear of missing the start of a race, getting lost, not knowing where to go, etc etc, so I think maybe slept a combined 2 hours. Seriously. So I finally just got up, got dressed, got Bryan to the car, and we headed to Epcot!!

I don’t know why I thought that I wouldn’t be cold while I waited for the start – I guess I thought since it was like 60 degrees warmer than at home I would feel like I was in the tropics or something. Not the case. I didn’t take into account the fact that we had over an hour before the start to wait around in the dark. I had a tank top, t-shirt, skirt, and compression sleeves on for the race, with my Thermoball over it while we waited. Then I realized I would probably (duh?) want to take pictures during the race (I usually never carry my phone during races) and I had no pocket to put it in. I have a Galaxy S5, also known as the biggest phone EVER (not actually), so carrying it in my hand was 100% out of the question. I told Bryan if I had my credit card I would just buy the half marathon zipup in the merchandise tent because 1. long sleeves 2. pockets!! I think he was sick of me shivering and complaining, so he just ended up buying it for me.

While we were struggling to get through the throngs of people to pay, I finally found my insta-friend Rebecca (aka @no_becky)! I changed into my zipup and pinned my bib back on, had Bryan take some pictures of us, and we headed off to the gear check/corrals!

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It was a longer walk to the corrals than I anticipated, and my watch was still a time-zone behind, so I didn’t realize how close to the start time it already was. I ended up having to run to my corral so I got there just in time for the fireworks to go off for Corral A. Luckily there wasn’t too much time in between each corral, so it wasn’t too long before C was moving up.

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Strangely I don’t have too much to say about the actual race. I stopped to take a picture as we entered Magic Kingdom, and also stopped for a picture with Ralph and Vanellope (important). The only other times I stopped was to take a picture of the castle, and for a picture with Mickey and Goofy. So, it turns out I didn’t *really* need to bring my phone. Don’t tell Bryan I said that.

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I must say, I didn’t expect how much of the race was on the highways/onramps. I hadn’t been paying too much attention to pace (because, hello, Disney who cares) buy once I was within the last 2 miles and saw I could go sub 1:50 (which I’ve only done once before), I kind of decided to just go for it. My official time was 1:49:something which 1. yay! 2. boo! because I realized I was less than 20 seconds off my PR – and if I hadn’t stopped for those pictures blah blah – you know how it goes. I do feel a little sad I didn’t do the Dopey or Goofy challenge, but I’m already trying to convince Bryan to go back – because yep, I cried a little when we were leaving. Immediately when I got to work the next day I was already on the RunDisney site – because, of course – I’m hooked. Basically, when can I go back?!

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Start now. Don’t stop.

With the new year approaching (and fast. what?!), a lot of people turn to talk of new year’s resolutions, fresh starts, etc etc. So I figured now was as good of time as any to share a little more of my humble running beginnings.

Basically, I was seriously the laziest person. My diet consisted entirely of things that came in boxes (read: not real food), and I thought it was the weirdest thing that people went to the gym, like more than once a week WHEN NO ONE WAS MAKING THEM. The year before, I signed up for one of those boot camp things at a gym, and it was SO HARD. I paid a ton in advance, and went twice (I think it came with 6 sessions). In one of the two classes I went to, we had to run around the building at one point (MAYBE a quarter mile, maybe). I could barely do it. I went inside and threw up. And then I stopped going. A few other times I would decide to “get in shape”, work out for a week or two, and then stop.

I originally started running in January of 2013 solely to lose weight. I still lived at home, and we had a treadmill from like… 2001. (It’s still there, and I still run on it when I’m home. Everything still works except the incline is broken.) I didn’t particularly WANT to run or think I would ENJOY running, but since the treadmill was there, and I was too embarrassed of how I would look while working out… I decided that’s what I would do. Also, it was January in Wisconsin. Without a gym nearby, I didn’t really have a plethora of options.

So, I started out running at 6 mph. I don’t really know why, but I just decided that was the pace that I should do. I made it about a mile before I had to stop. It was HARD. But something *finally* clicked in my head that this time I wasn’t going to give up after a week. So I just kinda kept at it. I remember when I finally ran 2 miles without stopping and was SO FREAKING PROUD OF MYSELF. I got to the point where I would run every day (this ended up being a mistake, for obvious reasons, since I’m still the most injury prone person I’ve ever met). I still worked at the library at this time, so I started to randomly read Runner’s World on my breaks or when it was slow. I remember reading an article that mentioned someone’s PR, and having to google what it meant…

It was in one of those Runner’s World issues that I saw a race in Wisconsin for that coming June. It was the Summerfest Rock n Sole – which has 5k, quarter, and half marathon distances. I thought – yeah – I want to run a 5k. I signed up and was SO NERVOUS. I wanted to finish in less than 30 minutes. I kept running.

And then it was April and finally starting to be less of a frozen tundra in Wisconsin, and I had lost just enough weight to feel comfortable being seen running by other people, so I started to run outside sometimes too (aka magic). And then my friend Morgan somehow convinced me that I should run the quarter marathon instead of the 5k. And I thought, maybe I could do that…

I mean, needless to say, I did it. And then I did it some more. And then I thought, maybe I can run a half marathon. And I did. And now I’ve run 10. And then I thought, just MAYBE, I could run a WHOLE MARATHON. And I freaking did! And I’m going to again. And then there’s that whole ultrarunning business…

I guess my point is, I think some people overestimate my running experience. But what it really comes down to is that I never ever stopped. I never stopped running or pushing my boundaries or knowing that I. Can. Do. Hard. Things. So can you. Start now. Don’t stop.