Sunday, July 29, 2012

Active Recovery

Today has been about active recovery.  I planned this day for two reasons: 1) I was going to make spaghetti sauce and needed to get it done before it got too hot outside and 2) I had not been good about treating my muscles and thought it was time to get back to that since I did 7 miles yesterday.  I did take my cue from the regeneration days my college coach had us do on occasion.  I have a DVD for yoga stretching and had been using it regularly through June, but realized I had not used it once this month.  After getting all the ingredients for the sauce in the stock pot, I did one of the half-hour yoga routines and then rolled with both the stick and the foam roller.  The foam roller is great for my quads and hips, but I can't get enough pressure on my hamstrings and calves, hence the purchase of the stick.  The results have been sore muscles getting treatment, and enough spaghetti sauce to have 19 freezer bags in the freezer.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rowan Atkinson's Chariots of Fire

OK, being a runner, I had to talk about the clip of Rowan Atkinson during the opening ceremonies.  I do have the theme to Chariots of Fire in my long run list, so I loved this part.  Since NBC wasn't showing the ceremonies live, I read about it and waited a little bit to go to youtube.  The link has since been removed, but for those who saw it, hysterical, and classic British humor.  I'm not a fan of Atkinson's Mr. Bean, but I do love the Blackadder series.  Without saying a word, he made his moment very memorable.

Also, has anyone seen the route for the marathon?  1 small loop and 3 big loops?  All I can think of is "Look kids, Big Ben!"  It looks like the runners will go by Big Ben 4 times.  I know my preference while running is not to repeat loops.  If I loop past my apartment complex, my mindset is end the run and go back home.  Aug. 5th is the women's marathon and Aug. 12th is the men's, and I will DVR those races.  The broadcast start is 5am Dallas time, and I do really hope I'll still be asleep.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

20 Weeks

Picture from Facebook
Well, I got a little bit of a shock yesterday when the Facebook page for the Dallas marathon/half marathon posted we are 20 weeks away from race day.  I'm still on schedule, but I figured it was time I got my rear in gear and increased the minutes I cross-train during the week.  I've been biking or using the elliptical for 30/35 minutes but now it's high time I increase that to at least 40.  The shock was more from not paying attention the way I did during my first half marathon training.  I did speed work yesterday to one of my trusty playlists and was recovering at 4.0 but pushing my speed at 5.0 and 5.2.  I really felt good going at that speed, which is encouraging.  I can now create a new phase in this training to push myself even more as I get closer to December 9th.  My goal for the Princess half was just to finish, but now my goal is to beat the time I got for that race.  I have 7 miles to do on Saturday, then Sunday I'll recover with yoga stretching.  I haven't done yoga stretching all month and I need to get back into that.  It really will be a re-generating session since I have stretching and rolling lined up, and no other kind of work.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Olympics

Since the Olympics officially start at the end of the week, I thought I'd have an Olympics entry, so here goes:

I'm not much of a fan.  There, I said it.  I do watch certain sports, but I don't fall over people on the way to get to a TV.

The Olympics happens during the day while I'm at work, so I can't really watch the events, and with all the time zones it's been in, it's not always easy to follow during my free time.  The one time I did watch the Olympics was during 1996, since I was eleven and got summer break and it was in the US.  I remember Michael Johnson running in his gold shoes and I remember Mohammad Ali lighting the torch.  The rest of the Olympics isn't really in my memory.

In 2000, the ceremonies were in Sydney so not only did the time difference dictate that I didn't watch much, I had a lot on my mind that summer and didn't really care.  In 2004 and 2008, I was working - 2004 a summer job during college and 2008 my first job out of college.  I do remember Google in 2008 having fun each day using animals from the Chinese zodiac competing in Olympic sports.  I caught on during day #1 and followed each of the images during the entire Olympics.  I will have friends over in London this year so I have an excuse to watch TV to see if they're caught on camera, but mostly I'll be reading the scores and maybe DVR-ing soccer.  I haven't made up my mind yet.  I was in my element earlier this summer with Euro 2012 and did make an effort to watch every single game I could.  Soccer is the sport I will push people over to get to a TV.

Even though I don't make much of an effort to watch the competitions, let's go USA!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Broadway Music

Yesterday I decided to re-tweak my Broadway playlist because it wasn't feeling up to par.  I mainly had the long opening songs or show stoppers but I found it difficult to get a good running rhythm going while I was listening to it.  After I changed things around, I listened to it last night and it sounded good, but there was only one way to find out.  I normally run on Saturdays, whether it's short runs or long runs, so I headed to the gym to do 3.25 miles.  I got the headphones on and the next thing I knew I was at 5K, so I'd say the list is a success.  I'll continue to shuffle it around so I won't be able to anticipate the order of the songs, and to keep the beginning fresh.  I did not get through the whole list since it's 1.4 hours on iTunes.  Here's the current list with the artist or show title:

When I Was a Lad - Gilbert and Sullivan
Out Tonight - Rent
All I Ask of You - Phantom of the Opera
Anything Goes - Cole Porter
There's No Business Like Show Business - Annie Get Your Gun
Another Op'nin' Another Show - Kiss Me, Kate
Mr. Mistoffeles - Cats
Big Spender - Sweet Charity
Sunset Boulevard - Sunset Boulevard
The King of Broadway - the Producers
On My Own - Lea Salonga
Another Day - Rent
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Spamalot
The Phantom of the Opera - the Phantom of the Opera
Masquerade - the Phantom of the Opera
Do You Hear the People Sing? - Les Miserables
You Won't Succeed on Broadway - Spamalot
Prologue - Little Shot of Horrors
Le Jazz Hot - Victor/Victoria
Summer Nights - Grease
Show Me - My Fair Lady
Ya Got Trouble/Seventy-Six Trombones - the Music Man

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ways to Celebrate

After all the training involved in a race, I think everyone deserves to celebrate in some way.  My choice for the Princess was a Grand Marnier slushie sold at a kiosk in the French pavillion, but sadly I did not get one.  I was flying out of Orlando that night and we met up with friends after lunch.  I was not moving fast AT ALL after the half and had to skip it :(  It's my favorite drink in all of WDW and was very bummed I didn't get to celebrate the way I had planned.  It took a couple weeks for me to decide what to do, then someone pointed me in the direction of Running Warehouse.  I seriously need to control myself around running gear, but I found a great pair of Brooks running shorts, with pockets!  I have the exact same pair in another color scheme which I had worn during the Princess 1/2 and decided I wanted another pair.

What are your favorite ways to celebrate?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Upcoming Races

I try not to plan too far in advance since life is unpredictable, but I have circled a race in Austin in 2014 after I do the formerly named White Rock half in Dallas.  It's in February each year, which would only be 2 months after White Rock, and I need more time than that to recover.  At this point there aren't really any races that have grabbed my attention for 2013.  I could take it easy and do some smaller races in the area, and there is a possibility of a Tough Mudder.  I'd like to do a Mud Run first, but I think it would be a fun change of pace.

Have you or anyone you know done Mud Runs/Tough Mudders?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I went shopping this weekend!  I went to the Under Armour outlet a few miles north and only bought 2 things.  I'm so proud of my restraint.  I would've liked one of most things since I love UA but just couldn't swing it (darn!) I bought a gray tech shirt to replace the gray tech shirt I'd had for 4 years, and some padded flip flops.  I also ordered "the stick"on Friday, and that finally came today.  I have a foam roller but I've found it doesn't provide enough pressure on my calves, which can get quite tight after some long runs.  I have 7 miles coming up in a couple weeks, and I can really test it out then.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Princess Weekend - Recovery

After making my way over to the race retreat tent to pick up my checked bag and get some food, I sat down to eat the food.  Oops.  Standing up afterwards was not easy, and I could already tell what the rest of the day was going to be like.  I met my dad in the tent since he had finished the race way ahead of me, and we left the tent to walk with my mom back to the car.  Getting out of EPCOT was the biggest problem.  I guess the organizers didn’t plan ahead of time to get cars moving out of the parking lot.  Another problem – everything I drank on the course came due, and our car had taken about 15 minutes to get out of the parking space.  We were in a line of cars, and I could see rows upon rows of port-a-potties without anyone around them.  We hadn’t budged either, so I made a beeline for the port-a-potty, well, as much of a beeline as I could.  My beeline was between a shuffle and a waddle (waffle?) but the car hadn’t really moved by the time I shuffled/waddled my way back.  Finally some of the organizers had set up cones and traffic started moving.  We made our way back to the Beach Club, where I tried stretching in the shower.  It didn’t do much since my muscles were so sore the rest of the day.
I basically shuffled/waddled around to the ESPN Club for lunch, back to the hotel to grab my luggage and into the car to meet friends for tea at the Grand Floridian.  The tea place has 2 steps up, and subsequently down, from the main level.  Going up the stairs wasn’t really an issue, it was going down them.  2 steps, and I needed a strategy on how to tackle those things.  My quads were not going to hold me, and I ended up turning sideways and gripping the railing as I descended down 2 steps.  Did I mention they were only 2 steps?  I went straight to the airport from the Grand Floridian and continued to shuffle/waddle through security and to my gate.  I tried to stretch whenever possible, but once I got on the plane, I only had one opportunity to do so, during my short layover in Houston.  I was also completely exhausted since I hadn’t had an opportunity to nap.  I got home around 11pm and unpacked what I could and finished around 11:30.  At this point I had been up for 23 hours, with only snatches of sleep on the plane ride home.  I zonked out, and was very happy I took Monday off from work.  I wasn’t moving very fast either.  It took a little bit to get out of bed the next morning, and I continued the shuffle/waddle theme that day as well.  It wasn’t until Wednesday that I could sit down and stand up without making noises like I was in pain.  But it was all worth it:

Next up is the formerly named White Rock half in Dallas!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2012

I was wide awake at 1:30am.  My phone alarm wasn’t due to go off for another hour, so I spent that time trying to force myself to go back to sleep, but that certainly did not work.  My stomach was growling, but I didn’t want to eat too early, even if I was going to the Race Retreat where there would be more food.  Finally 2:30am came, and I started my morning routine: breakfast, which consisted of Rice Krispies and a banana that I’d bought at the general store at the Beach Club, contacts in and race gear on.  2nd breakfast would come at the Race Retreat tent, and 11'ses would come after the race (I kind of do eat like a hobbit).

The great thing about being with the parents at a Disney race is Dad knows the routes from the Boardwalk/Yacht and Beach Club area, and can drive them with his eyes closed.  We bypassed the buses, which was a major concern after what I’d read about the January Marathon Weekend.  We arrived at the EPCOT parking lot in under 15 minutes, and made our way to the Race Retreat tent.  It was a little bit windy that morning, but I had a trusty trash bag to wear once we decided to make our way to the corrals.

Grete Waitz statue in EPCOT

2nd breakfast was water and a bagel and cream cheese.  As this was my first race, I don’t have anything to compare the Race Retreat tent to, but wow!  Our own port-a-potties, personal bag checks, and good food.  I’d certainly do the Race Retreat again whenever I’m back for a WDW race, which at this point could very well be for the full in 2015.  At this point I was just trying to relax and take everything in.  I was rather anxious to run this race since 9 months of training went into this endeavor.  5am came and Disney was trying to heard us out.  I half expected cattle prods.  We got to the corral during the singing of the national anthem because some half-brained idiot decided the narrow lane from the EPCOT parking lot to the corrals, where thousands of people are being condensed, needed port-a-potties all along the way.  As if this wasn’t enough of a bottle neck, it got worse as people were trying to avoid the port-a-pottie lines that were spilling onto the narrow lane.  People can’t hold it, or at least wait till they’re at the corrals?  There were tons of port-a-potties at the corrals as well.

Maybe I shouldn’t have thought that.  I don’t know why, because I certainly didn’t have to go whenever I went out for training runs, but the minute I got in corral “C”, I had to go.  Mind over matter!  So thanks to the bottle neck, I’d missed the national anthem, but had enough time to listen to 2 loudmouthed runDisney reps make a complete spectacle of themselves.  After the trekking adventure we had to take to get to the corrals, I was not in a good mood, and a little stressed out.  I certainly didn't think of those people were funny or witty.

I was instantly in a better mood when corral A was sent off.  There was a five minute wait between corrals, so 10 minutes after A was off, my corral was off.  I had put together my iPod playlist so the song I ran to was about the same length as the song I recovered to.  It was dark and crowded when “C” set off, so I was very aware of what I was doing and what other people were doing.  Being in a crowd did help to calm the first race adrenaline and I was able to start with a pace that did not kill my legs during the first couple of miles.  The first characters on the course were a couple people on stilts, on an overpass on our way to the Magic Kingdom.  I did not stop for any character pictures, but made a point to see who was stationed where, until I hit a point where I zoned out.

Even before the park gates were Captains Jack and Barbossa and further up, the princes.  One of the groups I wanted to see/hear was the Japanese drummers, and I’d heard they were past the gates to the Magic Kingdom last year, so I knew I still had a little ways to go.  Through the gates with signs warning about the speed bumps, and we were running past the motor speedway.  To go with the speedway theme, some Richard Petty (Mr. the King from Pixar) driving school people were out in their driving suits.  It was still dark at this point, and the people were all I saw.  As we wound our way towards the Ticket and Transportation Center, we ran past the female villains of Disney movies: Maleficient, Cruella de Vill, the Queen of Hearts, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s step-family.  No Ursula.  After this group I heard the echo of drumming, but still had to run a bit before I saw the Japanese drummers.  They were situated at the TTC so the plastic covering behind and above the seats were magnifying the drumming.  Awesome is all I can say.

Winnie the Pooh

At this point I needed to go!  Remember how I said I needed to when I got to the corrals?  I’m now 4-ish miles from “C”, and I bypassed all the port-a-potties on the course.  Why?  I was aiming for a real bathroom.  I reached the bathrooms at the TTC, and saw a line out the door for the women’s bathroom, but saw one woman run into the men’s, because, as always, there was no line.  I followed her, and we were the start of the line.  With that taken care of, I was back on the course, running towards the water-bridge, which then takes the runners by the Contemporary Resort and into the Magic Kingdom.  The characters at this spot were tumblers, but some guy had the microphone and kept telling us we were almost halfway there.  This guy cannot do math.  Yes, I could see the castle, but I did the math in my head – halfway is 6.55 miles, and we had not even passed the 5th mile marker.  In other words, we’re not yet at the Magic Kingdom, and halfway is on the other side of the park.

Turning towards the Magic Kingdom, I saw the backside of the park.  We turned onto Main Street, which was rather congested due to spectators taking up part the road.  I tried not to hit anybody, but it was a tight fit.  We turned towards Tomorrowland, where Buzz Lightyear greeted us.  From there was into a little bit of Fantasyland - Cinderella with her prince, and then some characters from Alice in Wonderland, I think the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit.  At this point I started focusing more on my running than the characters.  Next was through the castle where I needed to use my elbows before I got bowled over by a runner who wasn’t watching out.  Thanks to soccer, I know how to use my elbows!  Into Frontierland and we passed Louis and Tiana and Prince Naveen, both in human form.  At this point one of my muscles was starting to cramp up, so I stopped to stretch it a little bit but apparently missed Jessie from Toy Story.  The course went beyond Splash Mountain, and into the back area of the other side, and over the 10k timing mat.  My thoughts at this point were “Hey, dude at the water bridge: NOW we are almost halfway there!”  Right in that area was Aurora and Philip, plus a medical tent.  I should’ve grabbed some Biofreeze, but didn’t.

The course narrowed a bit here, and was rather boring.  Before the boring part we came across some Pixar Cars, and some firemen.  Disney had a Kelly Clarkson song playing at mile 7, and the volume was interfering with my iPod.  I tried to get out of there fast since my iPod had songs were my intervals.  I need to know when my walk interval kicks in!  We went by the Grand Floridian where some handsome men were proposing to the runners, and Belle, Beast and Gaston were also in this stretch.  It was at this point characters started messing together.  The horses were pointed to home, and I was focused on that.  I think Pocahontas was in this stretch, but cannot remember.  We passed the food station, which isn’t food, but Gu.  Trying to avoid all the used Gu packets is like trying to avoid gum on the sidewalk.  Mile 9 was a welcomed site because there was a medical tent.  Now is the time I got Biofreeze, but was presented with a problem.  I had this big blob in my hand, and it wasn't easy trying to get it on the cramping muscle while staying neat.  I didn't want to be wearing half the Biofreeze on my clothes.  All I can say is this stuff works!  I started feeling a difference right away and was ready to tackle the remaining 4.1 miles.

runDisney bling

Mile 10 is the dreaded part of the course: the overpasses.  The only “hills” towards the Magic Kingdom are a short on-ramp, and the up side of the road under the water-bridge.  Now, when my legs are shot, I have to go UP an overpass, and the elevation continues into mile 11.  The course designer’s name was Mud at that point.  My iPod hit a “run” song right at the ascent of this thing, so I was kind of motivated to conquer this up ramp at a run.  I had to keep going at a slight incline through mile 11, then it was down a bridge (hallelujah!) towards EPCOT.  It turns out I timed my playlist quite nicely because "Free Bird" came on between mile 11 and 12, and the guitar solo halfway through the song kicked in right before the 12 mile sign.  I picked up my pace, and found I had avoided the dreaded wall.  My longest run was 11 miles and I had expected to meet Humpty Dumpty sitting on that wall.  Sorry, Dumpty, I missed you this time!  Right after the 12 mile sign was Mrs. Incredible and Mushu.  Free Bird was followed by "Almost There," Tiana’s song, right when I turned into EPCOT.  Great timing again.  Out and back in ECPOT, then out of the park, past the gospel choir (hearing angels at this point) and up a small elevation (really Disney?), past Prince Mickey and crossed the finish line.  I picked up my medal, the food box every runner gets, got discombobulated a little bit, and finally found my way to the Race Retreat. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Princess Weekend: T-minus 1 Day

We decided to hit up EPCOT for the morning before returning to the hotel for some relaxation and later to the WISH meet at Downtown Disney.  The Flower and Garden festival had not officially kicked off yet, but most of the topiaries were on display since the start date was the following week.  It was quite fun walking around all of EPCOT and looking at what was ready.

We hit up Soarin’ early and then kept to the World Showcase, where we also had lunch.  Again, not many healthy options within the parks, but the World Showcase has more options than other parks.  We all decided to go to Morocco to get Mediterranean wraps from the Tangeirine Cafe, and I had the chicken wrap without the veggies.  They still piled on the sauce, but I wiped some of it off with napkins.  While I like flavorful sauces, I prefer my food not to drown in it.  After that we stopped by France, which has the best adult drink in the parks – the Grand Marnier slushy.  I was planning on getting one of those to celebrate the next day, but this day all the drinks were strictly water.  Very boring.  My parents stayed in the parks for a bit longer while I made my way back to the Beach Club.  Before heading to the villa, I stopped at the little grocery mart off the lobby and got breakfast for the morning: Rice Krispies, a small milk carton, and a banana.

The afternoon was very low key, even when we went to the WISH meet.  Downtown Disney was very busy and so was the area around it.  I also got a great Red Wings shirt from our family friend Carrie.  I've been a Red Wings fan since the early 90s, so bit thanks Carrie!  After the meet we went straight to dinner, off Disney property, at Bahama Breeze.  This was partly my choice because I still wanted to stay healthy but have something substantial as well to hold me over for the race.  I had their Grilled Chicken and Tropical Fruit on Mixed Greens salad, which is (obviously) mixed greens with grilled chicken, pineapple, red grapes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, honey roasted almonds and crumbles of goat cheese.  It was perfect!  I thought I was going to be too anxious to eat, but I found I was relatively calm at dinner.  I’d put in all the hard work and I felt ready.

After that it really was back to the Beach Club and get ready for the race the next morning.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Princess Weekend - Travel and Expo

Travel day!  My flight was leaving Love Field at 8am, and I was connecting through Houston, though thankfully I didn’t have to get off the plane.  I love how Southwest is all business to get on the plane and get going.  I didn’t have any worries like I did going to Orlando for the 5K.  I always think I can sleep on early flights, but that never happens.  I’m wide awake after driving to the airport, and let’s face it – airplane seats aren’t comfortable, no matter who you fly with.  I tried to read whatever book I had on my kindle and just pass the time until we landed.  I met my parents at the airport and we got the rental car before heading out to the Disney property.  It was a bit warm that day, and with the forecast for the weekend, I was concerned about the weather.  But there was nothing I could do about it.

First up was the Expo. 

The last time I had been to an Expo race, the 5K booths were on the top level of the Jostens Center and the half booths were up against the back wall on the lower level, with the shopping booths on the lower level as well.  Things were now different, and I think I like this set up better.  The Field House had the booths for bibs, race retreat and B-tag checks.  Following the maze, we came to official merchandise, which was my only purchase.  I wanted an “I did it” shirt and knew to get one at the Expo instead of waiting.  Then I immediately handed it over to my mom with the instructions of “only give it back if I finish the race.”  I even kept the tags on.  I’m not superstitious, but I didn’t want to anger the running gods.  Then we headed into Jostens to get our swag, which ended up being the tech shirt and not much else.  Disney’s going green and released all coupons online prior to the race.

I did stop at the bling booth, not that I needed any more motivation.  That tiara medal was looking quite nice.  I also wanted to see the 5K medallion.  I love the designs Disney comes up for the 5K races, and this year it had Flynn and Rapunzel, complete with her frying pan.

We didn’t stay long at the Expo before heading to our hotel, the Beach Club villas.  We normally stay at the Boardwalk, and it was a little strange looking across the lake at the Boardwalk area.  The Beach Club is really nice though, and it was quiet.  Once in the villa, I started laying out everything I would need for the race: shirt with the bib pinned to it, compression shorts, running shorts with pockets, calf compression sleeves, sports bra, energy chews, headband, iPod, headphones, iPod armband, socks and sneakers.  I did not have to attach any timing chip to my shoes because the B-tag is on the back of the bib.  After preparations and some relaxing, we headed out to the Magic Kingdom.

This Magic Kingdom this trip was all about the retro rides.  I had been waiting to get back to MK ever since Disney made the announcement that they were reverting back to the original Enchanted Tiki Room.  It’s not a pure copy of the Disneyland Tiki Room, but the original Sherman Brothers songs are back and so are the birds.  Also on the agenda were Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree, and the Carousel of Progress. 

I was so happy we did this game plan because a week later, Robert Sherman died at the age of 86.  He and his brother Richard wrote so much of my childhood soundtrack.  As they wrote in Mary Poppins “a man has dreams of walking with giants/to carve his niche in the edifice of time.”

We also decided to have dinner in the park after most of the rides.  The Magic Kingdom still doesn’t have much in the way of healthy foods, but there is one place that offers a taco salad: Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe in Frontierland.  What’s served is a fried flour tortilla with seasoned beef, and the fixin’s come from the salad bar.  After dinner was a Dole Whip.  There’s no way I can describe a Dole Whip.  Just have one and you’ll know what I mean.  After dinner we did Carousel of Progress then headed back to the Beach Club.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vacation and new sneakers

I'm back from vacation.  I road tripped to the Rocky Mountains and was very lazy in the mountains.  Something to do with the fact that I was at 8,000+ feet above sea level and Dallas isn't even 500.  I did lift weights one day, but did not get back to cardio until this morning.  The one active day in the mountains was trail walking in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Along the way, we saw this guy eating behind some trees:

My first ever sighting of a moose!  We tried looking for elk, which I've seen before, but did come across any.  I guess they were on the eastern side of the park.  It's always easy to spot animals in the park because people are parked on the side of the road, taking pictures of said animal.  I needed proof of my first moose sighting.

I got back yesterday afternoon, and was greeted with the Texas heat *ugh*.  It was in the 50s when I woke up yesterday morning in the Rockies, this morning it was almost 80.  At least I got these.  My current pair of shoes is 7 months old, and got me through my first ever half marathon.