Category Archives: half marathon

My Next Half Marathon

As you might remember, the next “big” race on my schedule is the Athleta IronGirl Half Marathon on April 22 in Clearwater. I’m starting to get a little nervous about it. Why? Because I don’t really have a plan.

Here is what my “long runs” of the weekends of the past month have looked like:

2/12 – St Pete Rock n Roll Half Marathon

2/18 – 4 Miles

2/26 – Disney Princess Half Marathon

3/3 – 5 Miles

3/11 – 2 Miles

3/17 – Harvey’s 5k

I know it’s only been three weeks since I ran a half marathon, but it feels like a really long time since I’ve run a “long” distance. I really should have run a long run this past weekend, but it just didn’t happen. And that’s okay.

But I need to start upping my distances again. So here’s what I’m hoping to run the next five weekends:

3/24 – 6 Miles

3/31 – 8 Miles

4/7 – 12 Miles

4/14 – Sharkstooth 10k

4/22 – Athleta IronGirl Half Marathon

Something you should know about my next half marathon? It has bridges. As in more than one. And these aren’t little canal bridges. These are these kinds of bridges:

(Photo courtesy of Caroline who got it from her friend Jenny)

Maybe that incline won’t bother those of you who run hills all the time, but where I live is flat flat flat. I’m hoping to get over to run at least one of the course bridges sometime before race day.

I’m not sure yet how much pressure I want to put on myself to PR at this half marathon. I’d like to say I’m going to run it “for fun”, but I know my competitive side will kick in when I get to that starting line. Just in case you missed it yesterday, I asked do you run every race to PR? I’m loving all the comments!

The weird thing about my next half marathon? It’s the last “big” race on my calendar until November. I’m thinking I might need to find a few new goals to keep me motivated through the summer. Nothing keeps me going like having a race on the horizon!

What’s the next “big” race on your calendar and what are you doing to get ready for it? 

 

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Believe You Can…And You Will! {Michelle’s Inspiring Story}

I mentioned in my recap of the Princess Half Marathon recap that I ran the race “solo” but I never felt alone. That is mostly because of the amazing people I met along the way. One of those people is Michelle, who I came across around mile 1.5. (She’s right there next to me in this photo, dressed like Cinderella!)

We chatted our way over the next four miles or so and she told me her amazing story. Before we separated, I asked her to find my blog so I could share her amazing story with all of you. Thankfully, she did.

Here is Michelle’s story, in her own words. Prepare to be inspired.

“A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you’re fast asleep…”            -Cinderella

Two years ago, I had a dream. I was close to weighing 400 pounds, and my dream was to drop the excess weight and live life to its fullest by weighing a “normal” weight. On April 15, 2010, I had lap band surgery. It’s a form of weight loss surgery that lessens the amount of food you can intake. A “band” was placed around the upper portion of my stomach and now my stomach can only hold so much food. In two years, I have dropped 185 pounds and I am still losing! It was not an EASY process, nor did I take the “easy way out” as some say. I still had the hunger cravings, and the desire to eat junk food. In the past two years, I have learned how to eat and live a healthy lifestyle.

As the weight began to come off, I became more active. In December 2010, I discovered runDisney. I decided to sign up for the Royal Family 5k in February 2011. I trained very hard for this 5k (3.1 miles). I did not follow any specific running plan nor did I enjoy running but since it was Disney, I wanted to do it! At that point, the farthest I could ever run was one mile. I ran the 5k in 57 minutes, and the feeling of running through the parks and accomplishing something I never would have been able to do before was INCREDIBLE! I knew at that point, I was hooked! I left that weekend knowing my next step would be running a half marathon.

As the months progressed, so did my training. Eight months later, in October 2011, I ran my first half marathon: the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I finished within three hours. It was hard but I did it! Who would have thought the girl who struggled to finish a 5k a few months prior would be crossing the finish line of a half marathon!

Then, something amazing happened…I became extremely competitive! I wanted to decrease my time and move up in corrals. I was placed in Corral E for my first half, but I knew that I wanted to eventually move up. I began signing up for different races. Annapolis Half Marathon in November 2011, Family Fiesta 5k, Donald’s Half Marathon AND Chip and Dale Marathon Relay in January 2012, Neverland 5k and Tinkerbell Half Marathon at the end of January 2012 (earning my Coast to Coast medal). By this point, my time had dropped from 3:00 to 2:37. I had moved from Corral E to Corral B…but it still wasn’t enough! I wanted to aim higher!

I signed up for the Royal Family 5k and Princess Half Marathon 2012. It was extremely important to me to run these races. It was my one year “anniversary” of when I started my running career. This year I went to Princess weekend with three friends, and we made it an amazing girls’ weekend! We ran the Royal Family 5k all dressed as Dalmatians.

We decided to stop for character photos (which I’ve never done before). Each time we stopped, we paused our Garmins. At the end of the race, we had finished the 5k in 35 minutes (not including the paused time it took to take pictures.) That’s a 22 minute decrease from a year prior! I was excited to run the half marathon the next day to see what my time would be!

The next day, I woke up ready to run! I was placed in Corral B and when those fireworks shot off, I was off. I ran my first mile at my SLOWEST pace ever. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I was averaging a 14:00 minute mile pace! I typically range around 10:30-11:00 for half marathons! Around mile 1.5, Callie (who recognized me from the Disney Princess Half Facebook group) approached me and started talking and running together. Callie was a huge lifesaver for me. We started averaging a 10:20 minute mile and ran together until mile 6 where we separated. It was around mile 6 that I looked at my Garmin and realized that if I kept the pace Callie set, I WOULD get a PR for this race!

I am a classic “amnesia runner.” I run through the parks, however, I don’t remember ANYTHING I see afterwards. Knowing that I would come very close to getting a new PR, I refused to stop for photos with the characters. I tried my best to jump in front of the professional photographers, however, I refused to stop or slow my pace. Towards the end of the race, I was running straight through all the water stops as well. I was averaging a 10:30 minute mile and knew I was about to accomplish something big! Once again, the competitive side of me kicked in and I thought “what if I increased my pace and my time would be even faster?” So…the last mile of the half marathon, I picked up my pace to 9:25. I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes holding a finisher’s time of 2:30:29! 

In four months, I dropped my time from 3:00 to 2:30! In two years, I have dropped 185 pounds. My goal for Princess 2013 is 2:10 which would ultimately earn me a spot in Corral A! 

Who would have ever thought I would complete six half marathons in eight months? I’m training for my first full in May and am planning to sign up for the Goofy Challenge in 2013!

Just in case there are any of you out there who thinks “I could never do that”, I hope Michelle’s story helps you believe that you CAN! No matter what your obstacle, if you believe you can…you will!

Have you ever met (or seen) someone who inspired you on a race course? 

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Disney Princess Half Marathon Advice

I know I’ve said it before, but the Princess Half Marathon really has been on my bucket list for years. Don’t believe me?

Here’s proof.

Back in September 2009, I wrote a post titled “I Want to Be a Princess” about wanting to run the Princess Half Marathon.

Then in September 2011, I wrote another post about how I wanted to run this race.

It’s been a long time coming.

Now that I’ve run the race, I have a few words of advice for you – a few “dos and don’ts” if you will.

i will forever run the princess half, i also enjoy this cute little blog :)

DO run this race: I don’t care if you’ve never run a 5k in your life. If you have EVER dreamed of doing just one half marathon in your lifetime, this is the one to do.

Oh, and by the way, this race is not just for “girly girls”. Despite the gigantic tutu I wore for this race, people who know me in real life will tell you that I am not the girliest girl out there. I rarely spend time doing my hair, putting on make up or wearing high heels. But once I got to Disney…this is how I felt:

Hehe.

DON’T stress about your time: This isn’t a race to attempt a PR. There are a lot of other races for that. This is your chance to run through Disney – take it all in and enjoy the sights. Take a few photos.

DO stay on Disney property – if you can: I know it’s not cheap, but if you are able to stay on Disney property, I highly recommend doing it. Logistically speaking, it is just the easiest way. There are buses out front of the hotel to take you to the race start and buses to take you back right at the finish line. I’m so glad I didn’t have to waddle my way out to my car in the parking lot after the race. The bus is just so convenient!

DON’T spend money on the Pasta Party: In my humble opinion, it wasn’t worth the money. The food was good, but not $50 good. But knowing Disney, they will probably improve it and it will be the best thing ever next year. Who knows. Oh and a big caveat – I’m pretty sure that people who bought the $50 tickets to the Pasta Party not only got the dinner, but also got entrance to Epcot for the rest of the evening. So if you’re looking at it from that perspective, it might be worth it.

DO spend money on the Race Retreat (if you have it): After paying about $150 for a race entry, I probably couldn’t afford the extra $99 for the Race Retreat. But if you happen to have some extra money, or if this is the one an only half marathon you think you’ll ever do, I really do recommend the Race Retreat. Who doesn’t love being treated like a VIP?

IMG_7726.JPG

DON’T try to use the port-a-potties on the walk to the corrals: I promise – there are more of them closer to the starting line. Standing in line there will just frustrate you and others since the port-a-potty lines block the way for those trying to get to the corrals. Just wait. There will be more.

DO get there on time: The whole bag check and walk to the starting line takes longer than you think. Really. It does. Get there on time.

DON’T put your race bib on your back: I saw so many runners doing this – and I have no idea why. If you put your race bib on your back, the photographers can’t identify you in the race photos. And we all want to be able to see our race photos, right?? Oh and don’t forget to smile for the cameras too!

DO dress up in costume: Maybe you shouldn’t do a full tutu if this is your first half marathon, but at least do something to get into the princess spirit. You’ll be glad you did. Oh and by the way – the medic stops along the way have Vaseline available. Just in case that costume doesn’t end up being quite so comfortable after all.

DON’T try to use a port-a-potty with your tutu on: Just trust me on this one.

Do you have any advice to share about this race in particular, or about running a half marathon in general?

 

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What’s Next?

I still have a few more posts to write about my amazing weekend, but I have to tell you first what’s next on the horizon for me.

That’s always the question after a big race, right? “What’s next?”

I have a 5k planned in March and a 10k planned in April, but I signed up last night for my next half marathon…

On April 22, I’ll be running the Athleta IronGirl Half Marathon in Clearwater, FL!

I know, I know. I might be a little bit crazy. My first three half marathons within a two month span?

What can I say?

Apparently I’m a big fan of the 13.1 mile distance.

I’ve heard this course is beautiful, but the bridges are tough. I’m up for the challenge! And you better believe I’m aiming for a new PR at this one!

One of my friends from IRunMommies likes to say, “To run fast, you have to run fast.” So simple it almost sounds silly, but it’s so true. Katie and I met up this morning for a quick two miles – and we sprinted the last quarter mile as fast as we could. Honestly? We just wanted to be done. But it felt good to push our pace! We knocked out 2 miles in 21:44. Not bad! I’d love to see that number get under 20 minutes in the near future…

What is your next running goal? 

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Awesome Costumes at the Princess Half

I definitely had fun dressing up for the Princess Half…

But I wasn’t the only one.

Everywhere you looked at this race, there were people in AWESOME costumes. Thankfully, my sister got a photos of some of the most amazing ones.

Cruella Deville ran the race with a few of her dalmatians…

We saw a few frogs along the course – hoping to get kissed by a princess, I’m sure!

I actually talked to this runner before the race started – she even had amazing fake eyelashes on! And her hair – you can’t tel in this picture but it was absolutely beautiful. She said she got up at 2:30am to start getting ready. That’s dedication!

Woody made an appearance…

And Rapunzel ran the race with Pascal on her shoulder, next to Princess Aurora.

There were a few Minnies on the course…

And lots of Cinderellas and Tinker Bells.

I loved seeing a few Prince Charmings on the course…

And guys in Tinker Bell wings.

Mrs. Incredible is one of my favorite characters now that I’m a mom – and this runner’s costume was spot on!

I have to admit – these girls’ costumes were pretty impressive. Did you notice that Snow White is running with an apple in her hand??

But I have to admit – these girls win the prize in my book. Check out Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum!

So creative! I really wish I knew how they made those hats – and kept them on their heads for 13.1 miles!

Let’s take a vote – which is your favorite costume? 

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Disney Princess Half Recap

I have heard about the Disney Princess Half for years and have dreamed about being a part of it, but never thought I would actually be lucky enough to run it. That dream came true this weekend and I have to tell you – it lived up to (and exceeded) my wildest dreams!

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we? My sisters and I woke up at 3:20am (yes, I typed that correctly) to get ready for the race. We headed down to the buses in the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and thankfully didn’t have much of a line at all to board. They dropped us off at the Epcot parking lot and we made our way over to the start of the race.

We got down to the start of the race and I grabbed a quick photo with my AMAZING sisters who came to spectate the race. Don’t you love my sisters’ shirts? (Made by my super-crafty sister Shannon – she’s the one that designed and made my race costume too!)

I rode into the race on the bus with the two of them, and these lovely ladies, Meghann and Theodora!

We were lucky enough to get a chance to enjoy the Race Retreat this morning at the race.

The Race Retreat is an amazing experience that runners can purchase for an extra fee. It offers a climate controlled place to gather before the race complete with a pre-race breakfast buffet, bag check and port-a-potties! The life of luxury as far as a runner is concerned. We found Heather at the Race Retreat – apparently Belle was a popular costume choice this year. 🙂

We headed out toward the corrals just before 5am. A quick word of advice for anyone running the Princess Half – it is a LONG walk to the corrals! We also ran into quite a bottleneck. People were stopping at port-a-potties along the way and the lines were blocking the line going to the corrals. Too bad they didn’t know that there were PLENTY of port-a-potties right by the corrals – without lines!

I headed into Corral B and got ready to run!

I decided to run this race “solo”, but quickly realized I would be anything but alone out there. There is an amazing sense of camaraderie out there on the race course and I’m planning to tell you about some of the amazing people I met along the way in a future post. You will be inspired!

Before I knew it, Corral B moved to the starting line and we were ready to go. With an amazing display of fireworks, we were off!

I didn’t really have any time goals for this race – I really just wanted to enjoy it. (See me in the middle of the pack in the gigantic tutu? One pro of dressing in costume – it sure helps your family find you out on the course!)

I had planned to stop for all the characters, but really felt in the groove for those first few miles so I just kept going. There is a sense of anxious excitement on the race course over those first few miles – I just wanted to get to the Magic Kingdom!

Before I knew it, we were entering the park. There is NOTHING like running down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Absolutely amazing!

There were characters through the park but the lines were long and I didn’t want to stop. But how cute are Cinderella and Prince Charming?

And then came the epic moment I’ve heard so much about – it was my turn to run THROUGH the castle! There is nothing like it.

See the guys up on the balcony? They were playing the horns and it just added to the atmosphere. What an amazing experience! Just after running through the castle, we passed the 10k mark. I still felt great!

As we exited the park, we saw Sleeping Beauty, her prince and the fairies.

Before I knew it, we were at the halfway point – where they played Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger” – one of my new favorite songs. Such a perfect song for that moment.

Around Mile 8, I saw Belle and knew I had to stop and get a photo. I waited in a pretty long line for the photo, but it was worth it. I LOVE this photo.

But standing in line wasn’t easy on my body. I started to run again and WHOA. My body couldn’t quite figure out why in the world we were running again. It took a little while to get back in the groove.

I saw my sisters again around Mile 8. I’m hoping to get my sister to write a recap from a spectator’s point of view because I have NO idea how they saw me so many times. Apparently they ran quite a race of their own getting from point to point. I can’t thank them enough for their support out there!

Around mile 9, I found my new friend Lori who is the RunDisney mom on the WDW Mom’s Panel. Such a sweet girl! She pushed me through that mile because I just wanted to be done at that point. And then suddenly, I saw these two girls come up behind me:

Yep! Meghann and Theodora came flying past me – they had stopped in just about every character line out there. You’ll have to check out their recaps for some fun photos. Meghann shouted some words of encouragement on her way by and I pushed through.

Shortly after I saw them, I came across Jack Sparrow who blew me a kiss as I ran past!

Love it.

And then Mile 10 happened. Ouch. I had heard about the overpass (the Florida equivalent of a hill) but it hit me pretty hard. This is also the time I realized I had a chance to PR so I tried to pick up the pace and push it.

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was downright hard. I wanted to just give up and walk the rest of the way, but I forced myself to keep running. I pushed as hard as I could.

My sisters found a spot near the finish line and saw Meghann come through first – love this photo of her. 🙂

And then I came through, a few minutes later:

I have to admit, I just wanted to be done at this point. Like at the Rock n Roll Half Marathon, my hips were starting to scream and some of my pains from pregnancy were come back. I knew I had to be close to the finish line, so I kept pushing on.

About this time, we ran through a back parking lot and came across something that had me bawling like a baby. I’m not going to tell you what it was (because I don’t want to spoil the surprise for any of you running the future) but it absolutely gave me the inspiration and drive to kick it in gear to the finish line.

We entered Epcot and did half a lap around the park. We ran back into the parking lot and then I finally saw it – the finish line! I sprinted to the finish line, but missed PRing by just about 30 seconds. Blast! I tried not to let it get to me – I enjoyed my race and that’s all I wanted from this race. But being soooo close makes me wish I had pushed just a little bit harder in the middle of the race. I hate playing the “what if” game – what if I hadn’t stopped for as many photos? What if I had run just a little faster? I’m willing to let this one go – but you better believe I’ll be PRing at my next half marathon!

Official time? 2:36:31. I’ll take it!

I had a lot of people ask me about my costume and I plan to do a whole post on that, but I have to tell you – it didn’t bother me AT ALL while I ran. My sister did such a great job putting it together! Anyone interested in a tutorial? I might have to have her work on one of those for me. 🙂

After the race, we returned to the Race Retreat where we were given free flip flops (it felt SO good to get out of my running shoes after 13.1 miles!) and had quite a spread for breakfast – including mimosas!

Don’t worry – I am completely aware that I been absolutely spoiled this weekend. THIS is the way to do a Disney race! I really recommend the Race Retreat – we had perfect weather, but I can’t even imagine how incredible this place would be if the weather were bad. Like a little bit of Heaven for someone running a race!

We boarded a bus to ride back to the Resort and thankfully didn’t have to wait in line AT ALL to get back to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The runners staying at the All-Star Resort weren’t so lucky – their line seemed to be a mile long!

I still can’t believe I had this amazing experience. I honestly had to pinch myself several times over the weekend – I felt like I was dreaming! I still owe you a full recap of the 5k, not to mention the awesome day we had touring the parks on Saturday – but Meghann’s recap really hit all the high points of that day.

I cannot thank RunDisney and FitFluential enough for this unbelievable opportunity. I have a few more posts planned around this weekend, so if you have any questions about running a Disney race, please ask in the comments! I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!

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Disney’s “Fit for A Princess” Expo!

Before I tell you about the Expo, let me take a moment to show you the amazing view from my hotel room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Giraffes on parade? Yes please!

We headed over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to check out the “Princess Fit for a Princess Expo”.

Before we got started, we were lucky enough to meet with the Expo Manager, Lori Schaper and some of our RunDisney hosts, Bob Hitchcock and Jennifer Wilkes.

These people have the hospitality thing down pat. After all – it is Disney. Would you expect anything less?

Right outside the entrance to packet pickup – Cinderella’s carriage!

We got inside and picked up our bibs for the 5k and half marathon. It’s really happening!!!

By the way, subsequent to this photo, I changed corrals from H to B – any other runners starting in Corral B?

We started walking around the Expo and I saw this beautiful face:

It’s Sage Steele from ESPN!!! She is hands down my favorite SportsCenter anchor. I knew she would be at the race so everyone I’m with knew how anxious I was to meet her. It’s her first half marathon and she is so cute about it – saying how nervous she is. We watched her film a short segment:

And even got a photo with her:

Note to self: Work on controlling the “OMIGOSH I’M SO EXCITED” face for photos with celebrities. 🙂

We checked out some of the awesome booths at the Expo…

Meghann got dusted with fairy dust (aka glitter)…

We posed with the Chiquita banana girl…

And I resisted buying this shirt for the Mini Athlete.

Quite the spread of freebies from the Expo!

And a few things I couldn’t resist buying:

That’s a Bondi Band (on sale at the Expo for $5!), a Sweaty Band, and my favorite fuel, Sport Beans, that I got for just $1/each!

If there’s one thing I have discovered about Disney, it’s that they do it RIGHT. The Expo was top notch – I just might have to find my way back there tomorrow!

After the Expo, a few of us decided to hang out at Epcot for a while.

Say hi to Brittany, Christie and Meghann!

We hit up as many rides as we could:

(We went on the “wimpy” version of Mission to Mars – still plenty intense for me!)

We checked out the Test Track – a very fun ride, but I had some unexpected flashbacks from a head on collision I was in a few years back…

Any my favorite Epcot ride – Soarin’!

And then we went “outlet shopping” since all our phones were dead. 🙂

Hehe. Never underestimate a group of bloggers and their electronics.

We were lucky enough to get to go to the Pasta in the Park Party tonight – part of the Princess Half Weekend.

The food did not disappoint!

We also had the opportunity to take some photos with a few of the most famous  Disney princesses!

What an awesome day! My sisters are here now – I’m so excited they’re here to experience the rest of this weekend with me!

And now it’s time for bed – we have another early day tomorrow. I’ll be running the Tangled Royal Family 5k in the morning! Wish me luck!

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Disney Princess Packing List

Guess what? I’m going to Disney World…tonight!

That’s right. My unbelievable whirlwind of a weekend begins tonight. That meant I spent last night packing for my first ever destination race. I actually didn’t realize that until I started packing – this is the first time I will be somewhere other than at home (either my own or my parents’) before a race.

Whoa.

There’s a lot to think about. I figured a list would help me pack, and I thought it might help some of you pack as well. So here you go!

Running

  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Garmin
  • Costume (!)
  • Extra jacket in case it is cold
  • Clothes to wear after the race (including flip flops!)
  • Visor
  • Headband
  • Hair Tie
  • Water bottle
  • Sport Beans (or fuel of your choice)
  • iPod (doubt I’ll use mine though)
  • Extra safety pins
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

Logistics

  • Photo ID
  • Race confirmation
  • Hotel confirmation
  • Business cards
  • Money (my family will get a laugh out of that one…)
Technology
  • Phone
  • Phone charger
  • Computer (and charger)
  • Mini camcorder (and charger)
  • Camera (and charger – sensing a theme?)

Everyday Clothes

  • Cute outfits for dinners, the park and the expo
  • Underwear/Bras
  • Pajamas
  • Shoes (flip flops and flats)

Personal Items

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Contact Solution/Case & Glasses
  • Hair product
  • Hair brush
  • Lotion
  • Face wash
  • Shampoo/Conditioner (if you’re picky)
  • Make Up

Am I missing anything??

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St Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Recap

One word to describe my first half marathon?

COLD.

Here is the craziest part. It has been in the 80’s here over the past week. Then we woke up this morning to temperatures in the low 30’s. As if that weren’t enough, we were dealing with 20 mph winds! Unbelievable.

I decided (after considering all of your advice!) to layer it up. My family joked that I looked like I was heading out to run in Alaska, but trust me – I needed every layer!

I wore: two sports bras (as usual), my “Wannabe Athlete” tank top, my bright yellow jacket, a throw away yellow zip up hoodie, and an ugly brown coat I bought at Wal-Mart in college and haven’t worn it at least 5 years. I also wore my Bondi Band, visor and a beanie I would eventually throw away at mile 11. I grabbed a pair of my husband’s socks (that already had holes) and used them as gloves. On the bottom, I wore my capris – and wrapped a trash bag around my legs while we waited to start. I am not kidding…it was COLD!

We headed downtown around 6:15am – and the race didn’t start until 7:30. Have I mentioned how cold we were? My dad thankfully found an alcove at Tropicana Field where we could hide from the wind. The only problem? We shared the alcove with a dumpster. Not such a problem in the dark – but we definitely didn’t want to see what surrounded us when the sun came up. Eww.

But we didn’t care. At least we were warm!

We came out of our hiding place to find the other IRunMommies who were running the race. We had quite a crew!

After the photo, we quickly retreated back to our warm alcove.

A few minutes before the gun went off, I headed to find Corral 11.

Since I’d never run a half marathon before, I really had no idea what time to predict. I wrote down 2:50 as an estimate, but feared I had sold myself short and would be frustrated dodging other runners.

Thankfully, I mentioned my fears to my friend KellyAnn, a seasoned runner. Her suggestion? Just start at the front of the corral – since they space out the starts of the corrals by about a minute, you have time to get going without tripping on people. SUCH great advice. Seriously. I am convinced it made the start to my half marathon SO much better.

I found Katie right before we took off (sorry for the blurry photo!)

And we inched to the front of the corral. It felt SO cool to have our toes on the starting line. I had a brief (and fleeting) moment of feeling like what an elite runner might feel like. Nothing but wide open space ahead.

Before I knew it, we were off! The adrenaline surged through me and I looked down at my Garmin and saw I had started at an 8:36min/mile pace. Whoa.

See those people up ahead of us? We caught up with them in no time. Some of them never ran a step of the race – they were walking already! Not sure why they were in the corral ahead of us…

I tossed my brown coat right before we started, but almost wished I had kept it for those first few miles. It took a while to get feeling into my hands and feet! Before we knew it, we were at the 5k mark – our 5k time was 33:36. Great start!

Right around that time, we saw our awesome spectators for the first time. Katie handed off her big cat and I handed off my yellow hoodie and sock mittens. I meant to give them my beanie too, but forgot – and later found myself happy I still had it!

I can’t say enough about our awesome spectators. As cold as we were running, they had to be even colder spectating. But they were there, offering their love and support. I can’t thank them enough!

I felt great at this point and may or may not have danced a little much to one of the bands playing “Living on a Prayer.” Fun stuff.

We crossed the 10k mark at 1:07:57, just a little slower than my 10k last month. Considering we weren’t even halfway done yet, I really didn’t mind.

We just took in the sights and enjoyed the ride. Oh and accidently took photos with my cell phone. 🙂

Around mile 7, Katie started feeling a little rough. Her knee has been bothering her for a while and it started giving her trouble, along with her feet and her stomach. She tried to convince me to go on ahead but I refused. I had committed to staying with her come hell or high water.

But I still felt great. Amazing, actually. Poor Katie had to deal with my “pep” as she put it.

Finally, around mile 10, I saw Mary doing her “cool down” run near the course and she jumped in to run with us. Katie needed a walking break and I asked her if she was SURE I could go on ahead. She insisted. And so I went.

My splits sure looked funny around that time. I went from doing Mile 10 in 13:45 to Mile 11 in 11:16. I hadn’t run a mile that fast since Mile 3. Seeing my family again definitely helped!

(Where’s Waldo? Hint: I’m in bright yellow and still wearing the white beanie on my head)

But it was there at Mile 11 that I finally started to feel the strain I was putting on my body. My hips started to ache and I suddenly became acutely aware of the fact that I had birthed a baby just eight months ago. My hips were the only place I had pain during pregnancy and that pain came back to visit me over those last two miles.

I seriously don’t think two miles have ever felt as long as those last two miles felt.

With less than a mile to the finish line, my little sister jumped in to run with me. I laughed when she said, “Do you want to sprint to the finish?” I responded,”I AM sprinting!” 🙂

Before I knew it, I saw the finish line ahead. I just kept repeating (out loud I think), “Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.”

I couldn’t believe it.

All those years of dreaming. All those miles of training. All those moments of longing.

I crossed the finish line at 2:35:33 – with the biggest smile on my face.

Was it easy? Not at all.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Will I do it again? You better believe it.

Katie came in in not far behind me, finishing strong!

While Katie and I were plugging along, my dad was running his own rockstar first half marathon. The longest race he had ever finished was the Gasparilla 15k somewhere around 1992. And until the 10k last month, he hadn’t run a distance race since that time.

But if you were out there, you wouldn’t have believed it. He rocked his first half marathon at the age of 53 with a 2:09:12 finish. That’s an average pace of 9:52min/mile. Unbelievable.

I have to give a big shoutout to Meghann who ROCKED her race – with a PR of 1:45:39!  Despite spending all the time before the race together and going to brunch afterwards together, I don’t have a single photo of her on raceday. Not sure how that happened, but check out her blog for her recap! (Including some pretty hilarious photos of us hiding next to the dumpster.) 🙂

Last but not least, thank YOU for all your love and encouragement over this journey. You have no idea what your comments, tweets and posts on Facebook mean to me. Seriously. Without you, this wouldn’t be possible. I mean that. You made me believe in myself and now I can proudly say that I have completed a half marathon.

It’s going to take a little while for that to sink in.

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What Should I Wear For My Race Tomorrow?

I am totally a wimp when it comes to cold weather.

As a Florida native, I break out the sweaters and scarves when the temperatures drop into the low 60s. You think I’m kidding.

We have had really warm weather here lately, and I even remember being concerned last weekend about how warm it would be for the half marathon. Well, not anymore. As of right now, here is the forecast for tomorrow:

While I’m not really concerned about running in that weather (it will probably feel nice actually!), my big concern is what to wear.

Such a typical girl, right? 🙂

It’s still in the 60s here today so it is hard to imagine it will be that cold tomorrow morning. But I’m trying to plan ahead.

My last race, the St Pete Beach Classic 10k had 40 degree weather when we started and this is what I wore:

But as you can tell from my pushed up sleeves, I got pretty warm around mile four and started wishing I could take off my jacket.

I had been planning to wear the same thing I wore on my last long run for the race tomorrow:

But if the “feels like” temperate is 35 degrees, I’m afraid I’ll be FREEZING.

I’m playing with the idea of wearing “throw away” clothing – but I’m trying to make sure it’s something I wouldn’t mind wearing for the whole race in case I am cold.

Ahh…too many choices!

If you run in cold weather, please help this Florida girl out…

What should I wear for my race tomorrow?!?!?

 

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