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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Town of Celebration Marathon

A mere two days after I finished the Space Coast Marathon, I knew I wanted to do another marathon. Yes, I remembered how I felt finishing Space Coast....
....But I was determined.  I wanted to beat miles 18 - 23.  I wanted to finish faster.  I wanted to try again.

I connected with some old training pals who were putting on an inaugural marathon and half marathon in their town and I signed up for the Town of Celebration marathon.

It was a first year race, but the course was Boston certified and I knew that the organizers were passionate runners who would make sure the event was a good one.  Plus I could sleep in my own bed, drive to the race, and make Kyle come cheer for me.

I was psyched. I had essentially 8 weeks between marathons, which was enough time to rest, run a 19 miler, work 20 days straight including both the Disney marathon and Tinker Bell half, and line up for the race.  Perfect plan right?

Race morning called for cool temperatures and I made sure to head to the race super early. The race started at 7am and I think I left my house around 5am.  I wanted to be able to park semi-close to the start.  I had time to park, use a real bathroom in Starbucks, chat with some friends at the start, use the "not real" bathroom aka ports-a-potty, and line up with the 4:20 pace group.
My race plan was the stay with the 4:20 pace group the entire time.  My last race was a 4:27 and I really wanted a 4:19.  I just needed to hold a 9:55 pace the entire race.  The weather was prefect and I was ready.
The race started right on time and in about 60 seconds I was on the move for my 3rd full marathon. The 4:20 pacer, Amy, was so much fun!  She had us chatting and telling stories. I spotted some Track Shack and RunDisney friends cheering at mile 3 and I settled in for the journey.
Usually I start to loosen up and feel good around mile 4.  That didn't happen this race.  I took my first Clif gel at mile 6 and felt improvement miles 8-11.
Mile 12 a sweet blog reader who was running the half chatted with me.  Thank you!  We lost the half marathon runners at mile 13 and headed back for another loop of the course.  Yes, the course was a double loop.  I really didn't mind it too much, but there were a lot of tight turns and they were all to the right.  My left hip, IT band, and psoas started to hint that they were angry.

I crossed the half marathon mark at 2:09 - right on pace.

By mile 15 my left leg was no longer hinting that it was angry - it was yelling!  I wanted to stay with the pace group, because I knew if I left them then I would not make my goal.  I also knew I needed to take a minute to stretch my hip.  I stopped to stretch my hip and when I started again it wasn't pretty.  My left leg was in pain and my pace group was gone. Leading up to this race I had kept telling myself to stay in it mentally and I was simply exhausted and it was only mile 15!  Whoops.
I knew Kyle was going to be around mile 17/18, so I texted him to see where he was as I took an extended walk break.  See ya PR.

I saw Kyle around mile 17 and I was a mess.  Tears and limps.  He was so sweet and tried to encourage me to be strong and keep pushing.  Keep pushing?  I had 8+ more miles!  I just didn't know how I could keep going.  I actually turned around and started to walk towards his car.  He shook his head and he told me that if I quit he would never let me run another marathon.  At that point it didn't seem like a bad deal, but he said that no matter how long it took I had to finish.  So I sucked up my pride and kept moving.

After a big boost of inspiration from "Let it Go" on my iPod, I remembered what I learned at Space Coast.  When it hurt, it hurt to run AND it hurt to walk.  I told myself that I could run longer than I thought, so I agreed on a plan.  Run .75 mile, walk 1 minute, run to the water stop, and repeat.  Someone I managed to pull it together and keep moving.  I wasn't going fast, but I was running.

Parts of the race went through a narrow wooded nature path.  Some runners weren't a fan of this part of the course, but I really liked it.  Running on the wood seemed softer than the pavement for me.  If it wasn't for still more tight right turns, it would have been an ideal scenery change.

The race course was pretty sparse at this point.  Not a lot of runners, but there were many Celebration residents still out there cheering. Thank you so much for your warmth and energy.  The volunteers at all the water stops were also amazing.

By mile 24 I felt awful.  NO PR was happening and I felt like a huge embarrassment to Kyle and everyone.  I had a strawberry Clif gel at mile 24 and vowed to run in the rest of the race.  No more walk breaks.  Don't laugh but was run about about a 10:20 - 10:40 pace.  It hurt, but I was running.

The race finished around a lake and I kept my "slow but steady" running pace to the finish. Kyle spotted me about 200 meters out and ran next to me.  I did it.  I finished.  26.2 x 3.
Finish time - 4:35
 It was not the race I wanted.  I could give excuses, but that doesn't make us better.  I simply didn't have the race I wanted.

This is how I sum it up:  I'm disappointed in my time, but I am not disappointed in myself.

The best feeling was when Kyle told me how proud he was to see me running the final mile coming around the lake.  He thought for sure I would be walking, but he was proud that I was still trying and running.
Would I run the Celebration race again?

Most definitely.  The race was in a good location, at a reasonable price, and the course was accurately measured.  My only complaints were that by the time I finished there was limited food and zero bananas.  I had to buy one at a local store.  There was also one point at the marathon/half marathon split where I nearly had a run in with a car.  I know from other local race directors that road closures are tricky in Celebration, so I expected some car trouble.

If you're looking for a flat, fast January run then I recommend the Celebration races.  I also recommend registering early. They will sell out again in 2015.
Tell me about a great race you ran this year.
When do you start planning your race schedule for the fall?

Love and 3 time marathoner,
Carissa & Kyle

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Neverland Family Fun Run 5k

If you asked me to pick the best location of any RunDisney race then I would choose the Neverland Family Fun Run 5k.  Hands down.

The race starts right on Main Street USA and if you're lucky then you might spot Tinker Bell flying through the sky!
The night before the race, Rudy and I were at the Magic Kingdom for an overnight rehearsal.  Ever sat on a double decker bus at midnight in the Magic Kingdom?  Pretty cool. Yeah, I like my job.
Although I may have had a little nap on the bus prior to our final show run through.  Jet lag is no joke.
The Neverland Family Fun Run 5k was the first race of 3 at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend.  The 5k was on Friday, the newly added 10k was Saturday am, and the half marathon was Sunday morning.  The fun run is an untimed event that's perfect for families and first time 5kers.
The Disneyland entertainment team always does an AMAZING job of creating costumes and stories for the family fun run. I've been a fairy, car mechanic, and Tweedle.  This year Rudy and I were dressed in our "London Best" as we were set to meet the Darling family after the race.
After the runners run through Disneyland, they enter Disney California Adventure, pass through Carsland, and around the lagoon with the World of Color lights on before meeting Rudy and I at the Finish Line.
I have yet to see World of Color during a Disneyland trip, but the lights and water are breathtaking at this race.

If you're thinking about a West Coast RunDisney race, think about next year's Neverland 5k.

What's the best race location you've ever run at?
How far would you travel for a race?

Love and 'hello darling',
Carissa & Kyle