Wandering with a Purpose

Tag: race recap

Race Recap: 2021 Novant Lake Norman 15K & 5K

The Novant Health Lake Norman 15K and 5K was held on September 26 and is an annual race as part of the Charlotte 6 Pack Race Series. This was my first time running this race, and it was my first 15K. Automatic PR! I signed up for this as part of my Week 16 long run of 12 miles. I thought this would be a great way to make my last double-digit run of the Chicago Marathon training season more exciting.

The Course

The race takes place in Cornelius where you run through the Peninsula, an upscale community on Lake Norman. In addition to running through the neighborhood, you run through Jetton Park. The views are nice and peaceful, but the course is incredibly hilly! There are very few flat stretches.

Run Flat for NH 15K

The Race

There weren’t a ton of people signed up for the race, but it was still a good crowd. This makes me nervous because I don’t want to come in last place and have the event crew wait for me. My goal going into this was to be slow and steady. I needed to get the miles in and feel good about it.

The first three miles were great. I felt fantastic. It was a beautiful, almost chilly morning. We ran on the road and through the park. I opted to just run and see how I felt instead of doing a formalized run/walk pattern. (Spoiler alert: this was a mistake!) The next three miles involved walking, but I hung around an 11:22/mile pace. Then I got to a huge hill around mile 6.5. It was so big that I couldn’t run. It was a walk…and walk…and walk. I really felt tired around mile 7 and wondered if the race would ever end. Mile 8 was along the main road, so it was pretty boring. I just did a run-walk until I face another HUGE hill. Finally, I got to mile 9, rounded the corner and saw the finish line. I was done!

Other Details

When this race was originally planned, it was going to be virtual. I signed up in September when I noticed it was in person. Even though it was in person, they gave you your medal when you picked up your shirt. There was something really anti-climatic about already having your medal and then crossing the finish line and not getting one. I brought it with me and snapped a shot.

Instead of a race shirt, they had these GREAT zip-ups. This may be one of my new favorite shirts. It’s so comfortable. I’m going to wear it when I go to Chicago next month.

Me with my medal

In Conclusion

This is definitely a race I would do again to see if I could improve my time. I finished it in 1:46:20 with an average mile of 11:23. 15K is a challenging but attainable distance.

Race Recap: 2021 Around the Crown 10K

This is my second time running this race. This is such a well-run race and has a cool concept. The highlight for ATC10K is that you get to run on I-277 which is Charlotte’s inner belt. The views are awesome and it is just funny to run on a big highway. 

I achieved a PR when I did this race in 2019. I knew I wanted to do it again, but I was pleased that it fell on my 18-mile training date. When I got down to thinking about logistics, I wasn’t sure how to fit 18 miles in around it. ATC10K had an 8 am start time. Ultimately, I decided to run 12 miles the day before and then do my 10K the next day. I’m not sure if this is okay for marathon training, but I decided to go with it and then just make a good effort at the 10K. 

The Expo

The race is held on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend which is a paid because the expo was Saturday and no bin pickup on Sunday. If you want to do something else that weekend, it is difficult to get your bib. I went to the expo at Camp North End towards the end on Saturday. I’m not a fan of Camp North End, so I may be biased when I say it was just annoying. They planned other activities and such, but I must have arrived at a bad time. To support some of the local restaurants there, they have everyone a token for $5, but most of the food stalls were closed. I got my bib and shirt, and after exploring for a little, decided I was just going to leave. You also get a NoDa beer with a custom can. I’m not a big beer drinker, but I love when they do this!

Course map for 2021 ATC10K

Race day was really well organized. Lots of porta-potties. Music was playing. Started at First Ward Park. The weather was lovely. Since I would be done by 9 am, I left my hat at home. This was definitely a mistake. I was really nervous but just aiming to be slow and steady. Ideally, I would run most of it, if not all, but I knew there was a killer hill around mile 4.

The Race

I listened to a Bigger Pockets podcast and just went. We ran through Uptown, past the Knights and Panthers stadiums before making our way down the ramp to 277. I was feeling really good, so I had to really watch my pace to not go too fast. I needed to save my energy to the end. Every time I looked down, I was below an 11-mile pace, which made me nervous. 

Once I was on 277, I laughed. It is so funny to run on a big road like that. Totally different perspective when you’re not in a car. You notice things you wouldn’t normally notice. The views are pretty since Charlotte has such a pretty skyline. When you make your way around the city, you start to feel the hills. I had to walk for a little after the 3-mile marker then kept going steady until the BIG hill. This hill is just awful and it’s long. Once I passed that, I resumed my run and just kept going. About 5.5 miles in, I knew I was going to finish and have a decent time. It was time to stop holding back my speed. I ran the rest well and sprinted once I saw the finish line. I felt so strong! Man, was I proud of myself!

When I looked down to stop my watch it said 1:06 something. If that was true, I thought it could be a PR. I didn’t confirm before but I thought my 10K best was 1:08 something which I earned at the 2019 Around the Crown 10K. I couldn’t wait to get home to check. (Spoiler alert, I did PR!) My official time was 1:06:51.

In Summary

The thing that makes me most excited is how good I felt. I wasn’t too tired. I felt strong. It was night and day from the Emerald City Half (which was also half the distance). I’ll continue to do this race in the future. It was such a good time and a really fun course to run. The race organizers do a wonderful job. It would be cool to see them host another race in Charlotte. 

Race Recap: 2021 Emerald City Half Marathon

To make my long runs a little more palpable and fun, I researched and found several races that overlapped. I looked for races in NC, but we don’t have a lot of long ones in the summer because it is so hot. My brother lives in Ohio, so I looked there, and low-and-behold, I found a half marathon that fell on my 16-mile day

The Emerald City Half and Quarter Marathon and 5K are hosted in Dublin, Ohio. From what I hear, this usually falls during the Irish festival, but that wasn’t held this year because of Covid. I wasn’t really sure what to expect other than that it should be a flat race. 

Event communication was fair. They sent a few emails that had a ton of information. It was a lot to process but eventually, I took it all in. I wasn’t familiar with the city so I didn’t understand the reference points. 

The course was great. It was flat and very scenic. There were a lot of water stops which were desperately needed with the heat. 

course map of 2021 Emerald City Half Marathon

Miles 1-3

The race started out well. We ran through a cute downtown before going on some rural streets and neighborhoods. I ran with my brother (who was doing the 5K) before he split off after the first mile. Then I was on my own. I was staying at a steady pace and taking in my surroundings. 

Miles 3-7

I didn’t realize it, but we would spend the majority of the course on a trail. I really enjoyed this and thought it made for a pretty run. I was feeling okay at this point, but just trying to stay steady on my 3/1 run/walk pace. 

Miles 7-10

I really started slowing down. My walk breaks got longer here, but I kept trying to get into a run. 

Miles 10-13.1

WALL! The only way to describe the rest of my race. I hit a hard wall and couldn’t recover. It got really hot and humid. I was getting water to drink and pour in my head at every stop. I would try to run for short periods but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I always try to run over the finish line and while I feel like I tried, I’m sure it wasn’t a real run. My official time was 2:40:09, which averaged out to a 12:14/mile pace.

When I finished, I collapsed. I got my medal and a bottle of water. The volunteers handed out an ice-cold towel, which was AMAZING! I looking for a spot to sit and sat on the ground. I needed time to recover and process what happened. I felt miserable. I worked to get my water down and enjoyed the relief from my towel. After a bit, I made my way to find a banana and my brother. 

Conclusion

Even though I crashed hard, I am proud of myself. I ran this after running 3 miles earlier in the morning. If you take my first 13 of the day, I did really well. The heat/humidity has been affecting me a lot and very badly; this race was no exception. The race organizers did a great job making sure there were plenty of water stops and the cold towel at the end was such a treat! I probably would have gone faster if I knew that was waiting! 😀

Race Recap: 2021 Charlotte Racefest 10K

Charlotte Racefest is an annual race here in town, but it was completely new to me. It supposed to be in April, so it was canceled in 2020, and they moved the 2021 date to June which was great since North Carolina’s COVID restrictions were lifted in May. The race is a half marathon and 10K.

While I hadn’t heard of the race before this year (not sure why), I came across it in my race research earlier this year. I didn’t sign up for the 10K yet because I wasn’t sure if I should do a lot of races during training, and I didn’t want to miss out on a lake weekend. Luckily, my parents went on vacation this week, so I was home. Unfortunately, when I went to register earlier this week, the 10K was sold out! I am not in shape to complete a half marathon, so I was really bummed. Then when I was surfing the interwebs on Wednesday or Thursday night, I saw it. No joke, but the registration page said “1 spot remaining” for the 10K. I jumped right on that. Not sure if it was an error or what, but I wasn’t asking any questions.

Check-In

The race and check-in were at Armored Cow Brewing Co., which was new to me. Personally, I thought this was a great location for pick-up and race start. It’s a large brewery and there is a TON of parking! Check-in was really easy. You checked in to get your bib then went to another station to pick up your shirt and bag. I think something definitely was off because I didn’t get a normal gold bib that the 10K racers received. Mine was black, so I’m thinking I snuck in. The race shirts were cute, too.

The Race

They did it for COVID protocol or because the greenway is narrow, but there were 5 waves. The half marathon started at 7 am and went off in 3 waves followed by two waves for the 10K. Most of the race was on the greenway, which was really nice. I’ve run on it before with the run club, but I don’t run there on my own so I’m not too familiar with it. The 10K (and the first half of the half) was an out-and-back past UNCC. There were two hills at the beginning which reared their ugly head about a mile from the finish. It was not pleasant!

Since it was so hot, the race team had water stations about every 1.5 miles. This was very appreciated, and I took water at the first two stops and a Gatorade at my third. I give major kudos to the half marathoners because it was HUMID!

My Goals

One of the things I’ve read is that you should plan an A, B, and C goal for races, which I think is really smart. My usual goal is usually just to finish, but I’m trying to be more structured. I really debated what my goals should be for this 10K. This was my weekend long run, so it’s supposed to be an easy pace. At the same time, it’s a race environment, so it’s a chance to kick it up a bit! What to do? Finally, around 5:40 am, I decided my goals should be:

  • Goal A: Run at 11:30/mile pace
  • Goal B: Run a heart-rate run
  • Goal C: Finish

My Performance

Well, I know I accomplished C and technically, I accomplished A, but it wasn’t because I was steady. I came out hard. It was so exciting to be part of a race and the was quick out of the gate. Isn’t that the first rule of racing – start out slow? Sigh. I looked down at my watch as I was getting onto the greenway to see I was running a sub-9 minute mile. YIKES! I tried hard to slow down and saw a mid-9 a little later. “SLOW DOWN!” I told myself, “You have 6 miles to go.” Not good to get so frustrated at the beginning, at the same time, I was enjoying the run. I just knew I couldn’t sustain it normally or in the humidity. My first-mile split was 10:03.

The rest of the run, I tried to run slow, but I really struggled. Whenever I looked at my wrist, I was running somewhere in the 10s, when I really needed to get into the 11s. I wouldn’t be able to sustain it, so I would walk (in the 14s). It went on like that for 5 miles. I want to run a steady pace; that’s what I’m worried about for Chicago. I need to focus on pace.

Well, around 5.3 there was a hill. Not just a hill but a BIG hill. So much for running the rest of the way. Almost everyone had to walk up that hill…and that was just the first one! Great course, but wow, those were two killer hills at the end. Poor half marathoners!

The Finish
me with my racefest medal

Luckily, I saved up a lot of gas to sprint at the end. Or at least I felt like I was sprinting. I felt good at the end and was very happy about the race. I was surprised to see my results – I averaged an 11:20/mile pace and finished with my second fastest time of 1:10:02!

Changes

I made a lot of changes to my normal routine, which definitely impacted my performance:

coaster
The medal was made to be a coaster. Haha!
  • Music. I normally run to podcasts or books since they are easy going. When I listen to music I want to sing or dance which wastes energy and causes me to go faster than I should. This likely contributed to my speedy take off, but I had fun listening to my songs when it was a struggle.
  • Pre-race fueling. My race didn’t start until 7:55 am, which is late for me. I have to eat something for a 6 miler, but it’s usually a piece of toast. With a finish around 9:15 am, I knew I was going to need something else. I had a waffle with peanut butter around 6:15 am and decided to have a Huma gel before the race. I think this worked well.
  • Nuun. Since I was nervous about the humidity, I had a Nuun before the race. I’m not sure if that helped at all or if it would have felt worse if I didn’t. My fingers get really big when it’s hot outside, and that still happened today. I’m not sure how to stop that, but I would like to figure it out since it uncomfortable.
  • Nerves. Even though I was just running this for fun and had to do the miles anyway, I still got really nervous before the race. Not sure how to reduce this feeling, but I need to figure it out. Even when I visualize standing at the start line for the marathon I get really nervous…and I’m not even there!

Race Recap: 2015 Savannah Half

The 2015 Rock ‘n Roll Savannah Half Marathon was my first half marathon. I’m writing this recap in June 2021 as motivation for my upcoming 2020 Chicago Marathon training efforts. While I didn’t have a blog at that time, I have always journaled about my big experiences, so I thought I would add those in as part of this recap.

I signed up for this race in February 2015. I had planned out the remaining of my 50 states by 30 goal, which would finish in May 2015. That had been instrumental to me and helping me through a down period in my life. I knew I needed another big goal to work towards when I finished that trip. By the time I visited Alaska, I knew a half marathon was my next focus. This was a SERIOUS race – I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to finish, so I planned to take my training very seriously. My youngest brother also said he would join me on this adventure, so I was pumped!

Training

Several friends suggested that I follow Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Marathon Training program. I ran a little in college (about 2 miles most days), but I never thought of myself as a runner – far from it – then fell out of working out for several years until I decided to pick up running again. At New Years’ in 2013, I did a Couch to 5K app then made a habit of running a few days a week through Central Park. This was an amazing experience. Between this and several friends getting into running, I started to gain an appreciation for the sport. I watched the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll Half/Full Marathon in December 2012 and the NYC Marathon in 2013, which provided a new perspective. These people had a goal and did the required training to achieve it. Maybe I could do it, too.

When I started the training, I was not accustomed to running 4 days/week. I think I was running 2 or 3 at the time. My main worry was about the distance, so I made sure I always did my long run on the weekend. I traveled to Austin to do a 7-mile training run on the Colorado River with my brother. Then, in October, I visited my friends in NYC to do my 11-mile training run in Central Park.

How to Make a Stress Fracture

Even though I was diligent about my weekend long runs, I was not good about my week day runs. I’m sure there were weeks that I didn’t do any of them. I just thought I needed to make sure to cover the distance, no matter how hard it got. When I visited NYC, I stayed with a friend who had run the NYC Marathon several times and another friend who was training for it. I had a lot of good motivation around, and I wanted to keep up with them.

I stuck with my friend on our 11 miler, running the first 7 miles without walking – a first for me. Then I ran/walked at the end. I’m not sure what part of it I told her to go ahead of me, but I was walking at the end. I was hurting, and I assumed I had a sore muscle. I’m the worse when it comes to pain. I don’t get specific, except just that it hurts.

After the run, I met up with my other friend who was running 7 miles after doing a half marathon race in the park. We made our way back to Hoboken as I hobbled down subway stairs. We rushed around the city later to catch rush tickets to An American in Paris on Broadway. My foot/leg/lower half hurt, but I just assumed I over did it. Eventually, I went home and was feeling okay. No runs during the week.

The pain returns…

I didn’t run over the week, but the next weekend I tried to run 5 miles. I made it about 2 or 3 miles before I broke down crying and called my mom to come to pick me up. It was awful. Not only was I in pain, but a half marathon is a lot more than 3 miles. I went to the urgent care (I will never go to one with a running injury again) who took an x-ray and said everything was fine. I went home to ice my foot and my ego. The next week, I visited a sports doctor a friend recommended. He did a horribly painful exercise to test for tendonitis in my foot. He basically used a ribbed (not sharp) pizza cutter-like tool to separate the tendons in my foot. It horribly bruised my foot since I bruise like a peach. He said to run some the next week – if it started out painful, then keep running, as it would work itself out. If it got worse while I was running, he would send me to a different specialist.

Well, it got worse as I ran. I couldn’t take it. Reluctantly, I made an appointment since I wanted to run long-term. He said of the 8 people to visit him for possible stress fractures, I was the winner. He explained to me the importance of training during the week. Those runs are to help your body build up the ability to be on your feet and handle the stress of running. Between not doing those runs and then going into overdrive in NYC, I had created a stress fracture on my right foot. I was to stay off my feet for some number of weeks – no running at Savannah.

A Very Tough Decision

My world was crushed. I was so close, and I ruined it. I regretted not running my weekly goals. When I asked my brother his plans for the weekend, he said he was going to do the race even though he hadn’t done a training run since our 7-miler in mid-August. Even though I was jealous, I said I would go and cheer him on. Our parents and brother were going to come, too.

I walk sulking to my friend who is a really good runner and had run many races. He suggested that I should walk the race. I couldn’t believe the suggestion – was he serious?! I was scared about getting last place when I was running! If I were to walk, I’m sure I wouldn’t even make it past the 15-minute pace requirement. What if my foot hurt, and I couldn’t make it to the finish line. He explained to me that there would be medical tents throughout the course that could help me if I was in pain, that lots of people walk through the race so I wouldn’t look unusual, and also assured me that I wouldn’t get last place.

I agonized over this for days. Then, a few days before we were leaving, I went on a 3-mile walk and didn’t have any pain. “Okay,” I thought. “I’m good to go. I can’t miss out on this opportunity.”

Travel to Savannah

Savannah is a four-hour drive, so my family went down the night before. We stayed downtown on the Riverwalk so we could get to the start line easily the next morning. We stopped at the expo before crossing the bridge. What an unreal first expo experience. It was so exciting getting our bib and t-shirt then walking around at everything running. To that point, I knew to get a good pair of shoes and some GU gels, but I that was about it. I didn’t know about all of the things you could sell runners.

We went to dinner on the Riverwalk where I had a simple dish of pasta and vegetables. My brother and I laid out our clothes (I didn’t know to take pictures then!) and went to sleep. Early the next morning we got up, had our Cliff bars, and walked to the park.

The Start Line

Having only done three races (a small 5K, a small 10K, and a run at Yankees Stadium), this Rock ‘n Roll event was like something we had never seen before! It was insane how many people were there. My brother went to his corral in front, and I went to the back of my corral. I didn’t want to start in the back because I would need extra time to walk. I was so stressed about making the time limit and finishing.

While we were waiting, I started talking to a pacer and asking about her experience. To my surprise, a girl in our conversation said she was doing the marathon and hadn’t trained at all because someone told her she could walk and she “did that sometimes”! The pacer started giving her a lot of warnings, but it shocked me. Maybe I wouldn’t be too bad off, but I was really worried for her. The heat index was also unseasonably high for November, so the event crew was actually redirecting the marathon route to try to find more shade. After completing this race and Disney races, I give the race event teams a lot of credit. They are dealing with a variety of kinds of people. While I believe that everyone can do a half or a full who wants to, I do believe you need to train for them and have a healthy level of fitness. Even though my brother didn’t have a running plan he did, he was a very active, athletically inclined young male. As you will see later, I am very jealous of people like him.

Anyway, the national anthem played and the race started! We were off – I was doing a half marathon!

The Race

The minimum pace limit was 15:00/mile but my friend said I would have more than that if I didn’t start in the back. The last person at only 15:00/mile. My goal was to be around that pace, which would have me finish in just over 3 hours. I didn’t have a watch or anything at that time, so I don’t remember how I clocked it. I guess I just watched the race clock.

Even though I was walking, I have a quick walk. Even from the beginning, I was passing people, and I have no idea how. I was terrified of coming in the last place. The first mile or two was through the city with lots of spectators and funny signs. Since this was my first big race, I was surprised by all of the signs! I loved it! The first one I saw (or the one that I will always remember) was a man standing on a street corner. He was holding a bright yellow piece of cardboard in one hand and a beer in the other. It said “It’s early. I’m drinking. You’re running. I’m winning.” It was so appropriate for the drinking town of Savannah, and I laughed so hard.

The beginning of the race went through some neighborhoods I wouldn’t have ventured to on a normal trip. Many of the residents came out to cheer us on and they seemed happy to see us.

Savannah finish

Around mile 5, we made our way back to the historic area of Savanah, which I find beautiful. It is gorgeous to see how the Spanish Moss falls off the trees around all of the squares. The course has a lot of out-and-backs and the middle part goes around parks, so it’s a great race to have spectators. They don’t have to walk very far to see you at 2 or 3 different spots. Seeing them was a huge boost.

The Finish

Overall, I felt great. I got a cramp twice, and it was hard not to run, but I finished in 3:01. I was so proud of myself and everyone who participated. It was an incredibly hot day that day, so it was not an easy race.

Post-Race

Rascal Flatts

One of the best things about this race was one of my favorite bands, Rascal Flatts, was the post-race entertainment! I couldn’t believe such a big and popular band would be playing FOR FREE after the race. I was in heaven.

My brother killed his first half. I think he finished around 2:30, which is amazing for not training. He had a killer cramp in his leg that was saved when someone gave him bananas to eat. He caught the running bug, too, and went on to do two more with even less training, more drinking, and both were PRs. I don’t quite understand how people can do that. I have to train, and training is a real bear. More power to them, but I will never understand how some people’s bodies can do that.

victory lunch
Shrimp and Grits was the perfect victory lunch

What I found amazing about this experience is that anyone really can participate in a long-distance race if he or she wants to do it. I didn’t believe people when they told me that before. I think one of my friends is right. He always encourages to do half marathons because anyone can do that without a ton of changes in their daily lives. Marathons require more adaptations, but they are possible. You just have to put your mind to doing it.

It was a long journey, but I made it! I’m glad I was encouraged to walk the race since I really wasn’t out of place. A lot of people walk during the race, and I was able to do it without hurting my foot more. I finished my first half marathon on November 7, 2015. This was the start of a new hobby and passion.

Race Recap: 2019 NYC Half

Getting Into Running

My running career has been fickle. I was very committed to running two miles almost daily in college. That’s when I was in my best shape, but I fell out of running after college. I was set to get back into it by using the Couch to 5K app in early 2013. A few of my friends were running half or full marathons. Even though I thought they were crazy, but mostly I was impressed. It was great for them to do it, but I didn’t think there was a way that I could do this myself; 13.1 miles is a lot!

The Motivation

In early 2013, I moved to NYC and was exposed to a lot of people running. Many of the girls I worked with did half marathons and cared about their health. Going to Central Park (my favorite place) you can’t help but notice all of the people running. It was a completely different world and very motivating. Since I was trying to get back into running, I started to do a 3 mile loop from my house to the park then around the reservoir before returning home. When you find a route like that, it is comforting to do the same thing every time you go out there.

Then, I got the courage to sign up for an interesting looking 5K – Runyon 5K at Yankee’s Stadium in August 2013. This would be my first 5K and my first race; I was so nervous about it. The night before I went out with friends and didn’t even have a glass of wine! I woke early the next morning and took the subway solo to the Bronx. Before we started, a volunteer or event coordinator gave us the highlights of what to expect – we would be going around the field twice (so cool!), get video taped on the scoreboard, then would make our way up and down multiple flights of stairs and ramps. This would not be a race to PR.

The Race

Five and a half years later, I am very proud to say that I have finished 6 half marathons, a full, and a handful of smaller races. It all came full circle on March 17, 2019, when I completed the NYRR United NYC Half Marathon. NYRR is a premier running organization based in NYC and hosts many races in the city throughout the year. All of the runners who impressed me at work and in the park were part of this group, and I wanted to be part of it one day.

2019 NYC Course Map

It was a tough one because the stairs kick your butt, but ultimately, I was successful! I couldn’t believe I had the courage and stamina to complete my first 5K. I had completed a race in NYC.

In fall 2018, there was a post for the NYC Half on Instagram. I thought it was weird because it is a hard race to get into via the lottery, so why would NYRR advertise for it? On a whim, I asked my friend Ursula if she wanted to try for the lottery with me, and she said yes. Because of the limited number of spaces, I didn’t have much hope of being selected, but we both were!

The event was everything I could have hoped. I didn’t train as well as I wanted, but I had my second fastest time. The city was absolutely beautiful, and even though I was tired at mile 10, the energy of 42nd Street and Broadway energized each step. Finally, when I got into Central Park, I was back to where I use to go on runs five years before. I was running with the motivational runners who inspired me way back then.

The Accomplishment

The city closes Times Square for NYE and for this race – so cool!

When I finally crossed the finish line about 2.5 hours later, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was a beautiful morning because the sun was out (it was cold). I crossed the finish line like I had done 6 times before, but this one was different. This one showed how much I had grown and showed me how much I could accomplish in five years. I now did something those motivational people did. As I continued walking, a volunteer greeted me with my medal. Heck yes! Accomplishment!

Finisher!!

Then I went to find Ursula so we could talk and get ready for our next challenge…



Race Recap: 2019 Disney Half Marathon

Disney always does it right – and always leaves you wanting more. 2019 Disney Marathon Weekend was no exception. This is was my sixth half marathon and first time running it at Disney because of the rainout in 2017. As a whole, this was a great experience – the community, the characters, the accomplishment. I fell in love when I did the full marathon last year.

Race Review

To be very frank and honest, I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the course. In total, it’s a lot of highway running. I guess I knew this, but I didn’t realize it until I got there. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do it again; it’s just that the highlights through the Magic Kingdom and Epcot were short. Running through Epcot was very, very limited. I think this was because of construction, and hopefully, will be changed in 2020.

2019 Disney Half Marathon Course Map

Tips

Even though this race was one of my slower times, I had a lot of fun. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t run for time; I run to get the miles. There are character stops at least at every mile. I still haven’t stopped to wait in line because I’m scared I won’t be able to run afterwards. PRO TIP: make sure to have your camera out in the Magic Kingdom because there are characters every few yards!

Even though my posed picture in front of the castle didn't show up, I got this action shot!

Another tip is to make sure to run a race beforehand so you can submit your “proof of time.” My friend didn’t have a recent race time, so she was placed in heat H, which was the last one. I wanted to run with her, so I had to start late because Disney is very strict about letting you move up. Our start was more than an hour after the official start! You start a long time before that IF you have a race time. It doesn’t even have to be a good time. For the half marathon, you have to have a finish time for a 10K or longer and a half marathon time for the marathon.

I got to pose while running in front of Spaceship Earth!

As always, we finished the day at Epcot. We had dinner with Disney Princesses and then watched Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. It is a nice routine that I’m glad I got roped into with my friend. It’s a pretty show, and you can walk around Epcot with an adult beverage, so it is very relaxed. Many race finishers come out to show off their medals at Epcot after the race. Since we did the half, Dopeys and marathon runners were in

Our Itinerary

Piglet
We had dinner with Pooh and friends at the Magic Kingdom. Piglet and I are BFFs.
  • Friday
    • Flew to Orlando and to the Magic Express (for free!) to our hotel
    • Went to lunch at Disney Springs before making our way to the race Expo at Wide World of Sports
    • Met our friend at the Expo and walked around to look at everything Friday
    • Had an early dinner at the hotel cafeteria. This has turned into an annual routine before race day since they serve spaghetti, and it’s less expensive than other things on the property.
    • Early bedtime because 2:30 am comes quickly!
  • Saturday
    • Wake up early for race day! Take the shuttle to the starting line.
    • The half marathon starts at 5:30. We didn’t start until well after 6:30 and finished before 9:30 am.
    • We hung out around the finish line for a while before heading back to take showers.
    • The next stop was Animal Kingdom to go on rides before heading to Epcot for dinner.
    • We had dinner in Norway with Disney Princesses Belle, Aurora, and Cinderella. They never break character – even for a group of 30-somethings with no children!
    • Watched Illuminations for the last time since it would retire the decade running show in a few weeks.
  • Sunday
    • After getting ready, we headed to Hollywood Studios to cheer the marathon runners! It was insanely hot that day, so they needed motivation. We watched some shows and rode a few rides.
    • We then walked to Epcot to continue watching the marathoners. They were looking so good! We then took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom where we talked to a Dopey who said it was a great experience, and he was still glad he did it.
    • We visited MK for a while, had a quick dinner, and then got ice cream before watching the “Happily Ever After” show.
  • Monday
    • One of my friends left very early in the morning. My other friend and I took a walk around the hotel property to see everything.
    • Then we went window shopping at Disney Springs before lunch.
    • Finally, we left to board the Magic Express to take us back to the airport.

Race Recap: 2018 Chicago Half Marathon

Lay flat the night before

It wasn’t pretty, but it’s done. Half marathon #5 is in the books. I raced in the Chicago Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon on July 22, 2018. As mentioned, I didn’t not prepare for this race. On top of this lack of preparation, it decided to rain. One of my major concerns signing up for this race was the weather. You never know with Chicago. It’s July – theoretically a summer month – but in Chicago it may not be hot. On the other hand, it could be hot and humid like in Charlotte. But Chicago did not disappoint, it was cold and rainy…all race long. And since I’m a fickle runner, this was my first time running in the rain.

Even though it wasn’t adequate conditions, my time was only about 5 minutes slower than my PR. I couldn’t believe that (I finished around 2:34). This race did, however, provide many valuable lessons that a more experienced runner probably already knows. (And I know I need to train.)

2018 RNR Chicago Half Course Map

Lessons Learned

me and my medal
  1. Wear a ball cap. It would have helped keep the rain out of my eyes and my hair in place.
  2. Even with good socks, you’re prone to blisters. My feet were basically wading in a puddle. The shoes were soaked! It was miserable. Walking around Chicago afterward didn’t help. I don’t know the way around this, but I am very thankful for my Feetures socks because it would have been a lot worse. If you run and haven’t tried these socks, do it. Somehow there is such thing as a better sock, and it’s worth the money!
  3. Chaffing is worse when clothes are wet. If I had known about this, I would have worn either a long sleeve shirt or a tank top. My sleeves and my phone holder rubbed against my arms a lot, and it stung for days! I think the only way around this would be to get rid of sleeves.
  4. Wear short pants or shorts. This one I should have saw coming. I packed yoga pants (what I was originally going to wear) and then pants for the plane. The night before, I decided it was going to be colder outside, so I should wear my pants. These pants are longer and don’t tighten on the ankle, thus, they hit the ground and soaked up water from all the puddles. This added weight to my pants (in addition to the water in my shoes). I greatly regretted not wearing my yoga pants, even if it was going to be colder.

But that’s why we wander. We learn from our experience and then (hopefully) use them to make us better in the future.

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