Friday, January 30, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Recap: Part V

Recap Part I

Recap Part II

Recap Part III

Recap Part IV

At long last, their marathon journey had come to a close and Dad and Matthew had accomplished something amazing! Now what?!

Duh, go to the movies! No, really, we went to the movies after the marathon!

Let's rewind again. On the day before we left for Disney, I happened to see that the Disney Parks Blog was offering a free, advanced screening of McFarland USA on the day of the marathon at 4:00 pm at Downtown Disney. All you had to do was be one of the first 100 people to RSVP. Naturally, I frantically called Matthew and we both emailed immediately. And we both got in! And got to bring a guest!

So, back to the day of the marathon. After Dad and Matthew finished the race, we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up and get down to the AMC Theater at Downtown Disney. It was a really easy process to get into the theater; they just verified our names and IDs, gave us a wristband, and we were good to go.

In the lobby, the runDisney folks had set up a back drop for pictures so we took a few with our medals. The theater has a bar and a full food court. We each got something to eat and a beer and then headed into the movie.

The movie was PHENOMENAL. Seriously. It was heartwarming, funny, and incredibly touching. It stars Kevin Costner as a washed-up football coach/high school teacher who lands in McFarland, CA where he somehow becomes the school's first cross country coach. It is a beautiful movie and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.

We also got to see some friends at the screening including Rick- a runDisney friend who recently moved to the Disney-area, lucky him! And we got to chat with Steph, who completed the Dopey Challenge. She is crazy inspirational and I'm so glad we got to catch up.

The next day, what we affectionately call "Marathon Monday," we had a near-perfect morning in Magic Kingdom. We had fast passes for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Thunder Mountain. We were able to walk right on to Pirates of the Caribbean, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and The Barnstormer. We also got to be trial users of a new fast pass-like system for Be Our Guest Restaurant and had an awesome lunch. As an added bonus, we got to hang out with Matthew's cousin/her husband, and some other runDisney/twitter friends- Dave, his wife, and our new friend Bill. And of course, we ran into Coach Jeff and his wife Patti. It couldn't have been a better day if we'd tried!

On the Mine Train!

We met Dave last year in the Dopey corrals- he's Perfectly Goofy; ten years of running the half and the full- amazing!

Be Our Guest- delish.

Yay for twitter friends!

Then we went to Epcot and our luck changed. We headed to the character spot in Innoventions with the whole crew- Matthew's cousin and husband and Jeff and Patti came over with us to the park. We got tons of pictures with Mickey and Goofy and then decided we would head over to Germany for a soft pretzel and a beer.

It was then that we saw the monsoon. I have never seen rain like that in central Florida. Never. So, we hung out in Innoventions for the next two hours, hoping for a break in the storm. In the meantime, we got lots of pictures at the other Character Spot- Disney even sent some characters out into the lobbies where people were waiting for the storm to pass.

That water was pretty deep.

Some of our favorites.

The storm didn't pass, but it did lighten up enough for us to venture out for a grapefruit beer at the Germany pavilion :-) We got some garbage bags and ponchos and headed out into the rain, about three hours after we got to the park. I'll tell you though, beer has never tasted so good.

The Garbage Bag Crew :-)

Soft pretzels and German beer. Yum.

After a few beers and even more rain, we decided to head back to our resort for warm showers and a relaxing dinner. As soon as we stepped off the bus at Art of Animation, it stopped raining :-)

Though it wasn't the day we expected, we had a blast and capped off 2015's WDW Marathon Weekend with some of our favorite people in our favorite place. We're not sure when we'll be back for Marathon Weekend again- we've already agreed to pass on 2016. But as you know, it's hard for us to stay away from Disney magic. Maybe it will be rekindled in 2017 :-)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend Recap: Part IV

Recap Part I

Recap Part II

Recap Part III

I've thought about writing this post every day since we've been home from Disney. It's proved harder than I thought it would be to try and sum up this day and this experience with a traditional blog post. Sure, I could just give you all the play-by-play of what happened and when, but somehow that wouldn't do this race or this day justice.

Being injured has changed so much of my life these past few months. It's given me heartache, envy, depression. However, it has also given me a new appreciation for my health, my strong spirit, and the people in my life who have lifted me up during the darkest days.

Without those people in my life, I don't know how I would have handled being injured. Without the texts, emails, messages, phone calls, pep talks- I would have just wallowed in my misery and been a terrible person to be around.

But I wasn't. Because of some awesome and inspiring people. And some of these same awesome and inspiring people were running the Walt Disney World Marathon; my two biggest cheerleaders included: Matthew and my Dad.

I remember just sobbing to my Dad when I got the diagnosis. I remember repeatedly apologizing. This was supposed to be our race. We were supposed to train together and cross the finish line together. I sobbed to Matthew. Apologized to him, too. I knew all the long runs would fall to him; he would have to coach my Dad through his first marathon. I felt like I was letting both of them down. I felt like a failure.

But neither of them saw it that way. They both said, "It's ok. We'll figure it out." We adjusted the long runs; they ran, I biked. Matthew and I spent hours showing Dad youtube clips of the course, preparing him for what was to come. We sent him articles about running, training, nutrition. We adapted.

After training for close to a year, the day had finally come. Dad was going to run his first marathon. Matthew was running his eighth full marathon and fifth Goofy Challenge. We got everything ready, developed a plan of where I'd see them during the race, and then I watched Matthew and Dad walk back to the corrals.

I waited for them in the Magic Kingdom, just after mile five. I got to see so many of those awesome and inspiring people I mentioned earlier: Coach Jeff, Nathan, Patrick, Donna, Mandy, Matt, Kathleen, Lee. I got to see other twitter/ig friends- Krissy, Megan, Carlee, Bill, Angela, Julie, Scott. So many people came up to say hello that the woman beside me asked me if I was a local :-) Matthew texted me often, letting me know where they were and how they were doing. He also sent a ton of pictures.
A MUST when you run at Disney.

Before too long, I saw them running down Main Street. Kim (Matt's amazing wife) was there again and grabbed some phenomenal pictures. They looked amazing. So strong. So far, so good. We chatted for a few minutes and then they headed off to run the next part of the race. I hung out for a while and then headed out to Wide World of Sports where I'd see them next.

So much joy. So much love.

My heart is about to burst. Thank you, Kim, for these pictures.
Selfies with Donna!

My usual spot. Thanks, Mandy, for the picture!

Me and Coach Jeff- another awesome moment captured by Kim.

Me and Matt, aka Hokeyboy

Mandy, with a halo :-)

I jumped on a bus to WWOS and chatted with fellow spectators. Once there, I set up in the stadium and cheered for the runners- they were just six short miles from conquering the marathon. I kept getting texts from Matthew updating me on their progress. They kept running into our friends- it always amazes me that out of thousands and thousands of people, we can find our running family. They also bumped into Lori- a blog reader from Minnesota who recognized Matthew and Dad on the course. Funny story- as she was going back through her pictures, she found me in her castle selfie! How cool is that?! Matthew and Dad also ran into Artney from My Pretty Brown Blog and Matt from Hokeyblog. Yay for friendship!

Matthew's got great selfie skills. Artney, Matt, and Lori.

Lori's castle selfie with a grumpy sign holder in the background.
I'm having fun, I swear. Thanks, Lori, for the photo!

Matthew texted and let me know they were close to the stadium. I walked out of the stadium and got onto the road that leads them out of WWOS- just before the mile 20 marker. Soon enough, I saw them coming my way. When they got to me, I jumped in with them. Yes, you are reading that correctly, I jumped onto the course with them.

Let's rewind for a minute.

Right after I got injured, as I was sobbing to my PT about how I'd be missing Dad's first marathon, he offered a suggestion- "You'll still have your bib, right? What if you ran six or so miles with them? You should be trained up to that mileage by early January." So we thought about it. And we talked about it with Dad. He thought it was a good idea. He asked me if I would help him get from mile 20 to mile 26.2 by running with him; by finishing what we'd started a year earlier. With a request like that, how could I refuse?

Together with my PT, we decided that the final decision would be made the morning of the marathon- it all rested on how my foot felt that day. Had my foot been cranky, I wouldn't have risked it. But it felt great.

Now before I go any farther, let me put a few things out there- yes, I was registered for the race. Yes, I paid for the race and obtained my bib legally. Yes, I was disqualified because I didn't have any timing information for the first 20 miles of the race. I did not take anything that I didn't pay for and I didn't take anything from any other runner.

So, the three of us ran the last few miles together. And took tons of pictures. Kim (Matt's wife) saw us in Epcot and grabbed a few more pictures.

Dad wanted to stop for the "babe."

Matthew just LOVES Duffy.

Almost there!

Another awesome shot from Kim.

And then just like that, Dad was a marathoner. Matthew was an 8-time marathoner and 5-time Goofy Challenge finisher. I could not have been prouder. Two of my most favorite people had just ROCKED 26.2 miles. How awesome is that?

My finishers. 

After the marathon, Dad thanked me for getting him through those last tough miles. I thanked Matthew for staying by his side for the first 20 and all the other hundreds of miles he ran to get Dad to this finish line. Words can't describe the pride and love I felt that day, in those moments after the race, watching Matthew and Dad hug and congratulate each other, big smiles lighting up their faces. It was a once-in-a-lifetime kinda feeling. This my friends, is true magic. The purest kind there is. And I'm so glad I got to share a little piece of it with them :-)

Be on the lookout for a final recap later this week with all the fun Disney stuff we did post-marathon!

Monday, January 26, 2015

AM: 1/26/15

Well hellooooooo, Monday! It feels like forever since I've done an AM post. The last few weeks were pretty hectic but now that my life is back to its normally scheduled routine, let's talk about this past week's accountability.

Monday- This core workout from Runner's World. AMAZING. Best part- no crunches!
Tuesday- 4 miles with a running group, 12:42 pace
Wednesday- Runner's World core workout
Thursday- Rest day
Friday- 6.1 miles with Matthew, 12:12 pace
Saturday- 15 minutes on the recumbent bike, strength workout (biceps, squats, quads, chest), 2 mile walk with "Walk Away the Pounds"
Sunday- Short recovery run with Matthew. Tried 30:30 intervals and felt pretty awesome. 13:43 pace

12.94 total miles.

This week's training is brought to you courtesy of my awesome new Oiselle training journal that Steph sent to me! I absolutely love the idea of keeping a handwritten journal- it's something I haven't done in such a long time.

Isn't it beautiful?

Also- here's a little update on my stress fracture foot: it still freaking hurts. Not as much as before, but still, I had hoped to be better by now. Even worse, last weekend I stepped on my left foot (the good foot) kind of weird and now I have what feels like stress fracture pain somewhere between my third and fourth metatarsal at the base of my toes. It would be my luck to fracture the OTHER foot now wouldn't it? I have an appointment with my orthopedic doctor on Wednesday to see what's going on with these wonky feet I have. Hopefully all is good and I can keep training.

One of my and Matthew's resolutions was to eat at home more often in 2015. So I have been cooking up a storm lately- and even meal prepping on Sundays! Who the heck am I?! But really, it's saving us money and saving me Weight Watchers points. Here's my new favorite grab and go breakfast:

Cook ahead of time: 1/2 pound of ground turkey (I use 85% lean) and egg whites (I use the small container, approximately 10 egg whites)

- Reheat 1/4 of the turkey/egg mix
- Toast a Thomas's Bagel Thin
- Spread two wedges of Laughing Cow cheese on the bagel.
- Use the turkey/egg mix as sandwich filling between the two halves of the bagel.
- Enjoy!

It's 8 PPV for the entire sandwich and keeps me full until lunch. And it's super yummy. And really easy to throw together before work.

142.4 as of 1/21/15
-3.4 from previous week
-48 since January 2013
-59.6 since HW

Woohoo!! The plateau has officially been broken! For the last eight weeks I have been losing and gaining the same two pounds. It was awesome to see a significant loss this week.

I did two things differently: 1. I ate less fruit. 2. I didn't use my 49 weekly "extra" points. I think these two changes helped significantly in finally seeing a loss on the scale. It's getting tough to lose weight the closer I get to goal- I have to change some things up and not keep relying on what helped me lose the first 48 pounds. That's still insane to think about- I've lost 48 freaking pounds! Crazy. Here's to another week closer to goal :-)

How is your 2015 shaping up so far?

Friday, January 23, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend Recap: Part III

Recap Part I

Recap Part II

After getting a good rest on Friday night, Matthew and I woke up at 2:30 on Saturday morning to head to the half marathon. We were on one of the first buses over to Epcot; Matthew had all his gear, I was equipped with multiple spectator signs and my winter coat. Yes, it was another freezing and windy morning in central Florida.

After meeting up with our peeps- and getting to see Matt aka Hokeyboy and his wife Kim- Matthew and I said our goodbyes as he headed back to the corrals. Luckily, I've spectated races at Disney before so I knew roughly when I needed to head over to the monorail to get a good spot at the Magic Kingdom. One of the benefits of not running this race was that I was able to see all of my running friends- those that came early and those that were rushing in at the last minute. I was so happy to finally meet Kathleen and Lee in person- we've been twitter friends for a long time and I've loved following both of their journeys to Dopey. I also got to meet Natalie and Jimmy, quite possibly the most good-looking and sweetest couple I've ever met. Seriously- they're awesome. And we met up with Andrea- whom I first met in-person last year on marathon morning, on the bus to the race start. Heather and her crazy awesome mother were there too- we have the best friends around.

My camera sucked all weekend until I figured out how to balance out the whiteness. My bad.
Me, Hokeyboy, Matthew, Kim, and Coach Jeff. Thanks to Matt for this picture.

Around five, I headed toward the monorail. The first corral would start at 5:30 and the first runner would get to MK around six. The wheelchairs would be there within 15 minutes of the start. So I knew I had to hustle if I wanted a good spot.

Back in the day, before I was a distance runner, I would watch Matthew run these races at Disney. In case you didn't know, I'm a professional spectator :-) I have a spot in MK, just before the runners take a right and turn into Tommorowland, that is just perfect for spectating. Here's why: they block off only half of Main Street, USA for the runners which means that it is incredibly congested during that part. However, when they are about to turn into Tomorrowland, the path widens and swings out to the left, just in front  of the castle. That way, I'm sure to be seen and runners can safely hug the left side and come over to say hi to me without impeding the flow of traffic. But you've got to be there early and you've got to be ready to claim your spot.

Big shout out to Mandy for grabbing this great shot!

Also, I photobombed about a thousand people's selfies. Including these fine folks. Everyone wants the castle shot :-)

A quick ride on the monorail and I was in MK. As I entered the park, I was moved to tears. Full on, sobbing tears. It was beautiful. Seeing the castle lit up, with the huge Christmas tree in the foreground- it was just emotional. I think part of it was sadness that I wasn't able to run. It is still tough watching from the sidelines, longing to be part of the race.

Breathtaking, right?

Anyway, I found my spot and quickly got my signs ready. I was tracking multiple friends so I would be ready when they were close to me. I was also texting with Lauren, who was spectating from her resort around mile seven. I missed Coach Jeff and Patrick but did get a quick shot of Nathan as he flew by. I was able to see my friend Donna (who I first met through Instagram and then in person at the Divas VA Race), Mandy (twitter friend who I met in person at the Runner's World Half), Carlee, Krissy, and Megan (all twitter/IG peeps) and I even saw Bart Yasso! I yelled for him and he waved! I'm pretty sure this means we are BFFs now.

As I was cheering, I looked over and there was Kim, Matt's (Hokeyboy) wife! She is probably my spectating idol- she takes phenomenal pictures and captures such cool moments. We chatted for a few minutes and then Matthew texted that he was on his way. He looked GREAT at mile five! We chatted for a minute, I got a few pictures, and then I sent him on his way. I had some time- I was expecting him to run a 2:30- so I stayed for a while and cheered for more runners. Then I meandered down Main Street and back to the monorail to Epcot so I could see Matthew finish.

Seriously?! How awesome are these pictures?! Kim is AMAZING! Thank you, Kim!

So happy to see my runner!

As I'm getting off the monorail, Matthew called me- he was at mile 13 already! Natalie and Jimmy had caught up to him at mile eight and paced him to the finish. I was so upset- there was no way I'd make it in time to see him finish. And the winner for the worst girlfriend/spectator of the year goes to... Ugh.

Luckily, Matthew was totally cool with it and met me right outside the bag check area. He had actually finished somewhere around 2:16, a full 15 minutes before I was expecting him! He flew through those last few miles! As we were grabbing some pictures and talking about how he totally ROCKED the half, our friend Justin spotted us and said hello. I cannot express how much we love runDisney events for this reason; we are surrounded by so many friends and so much love.

Finisher selfie with Natalie and Jimmy!
Halfway through his fifth Goofy Challenge.

We headed back to the resort to get cleaned up and relax. While walking around our hotel, we randomly bumped into fellow Enell Ambassador Julie from Run, Walk, Fastpass, Repeat. She was running her first marathon the next day so we had a quick pep talk and a quick picture :-) Dad and Margie headed out to Downtown Disney and Matthew and I took a short nap. I decided to head back to the expo and meet Coach Jeff there. Matthew napped some more :-)

Team Enell in full force.

At the expo, Jeff and I walked around, got our feet taped up at the KT Tape booth and ran into Lauren and her husband Mark! We chatted for a while and made plans to meet up the next morning for the marathon. I also bought a great running jacket at One More Mile and got another picture with Jeff Galloway- I just can't resist talking to him when I can; he's such a cool guy.

Jeff! Sidenote, only at a race expo is it appropriate for me to dress like that.

We left the expo and headed back to our separate resorts. The Ravens game was on at 4:30 and I wanted to make sure I got back in plenty of time to watch it. After laying in the sun with Matthew for a bit when I got back (it FINALLY warmed up!), we went to our room to get ready for the next day and watch the game with Dad and Margie. At halftime, we ran over to the dining hall and grabbed food to go so we could keep watching football. After a frustrating loss, we quickly turned off the tv and started chatting about the next morning. We also showed my dad a slideshow that we made with running pictures and video "good luck" messages from the rest of our family. It was cool. I might have cried. Just a little ;-)

We climbed into bed around nine, nervous with energy for what the next day would hold for Matthew and my Dad. My 58 year old dad was about to be a marathoner. And Matthew was about to be an 8-time marathoner. I was so excited, it took a long time for me to finally fall asleep. I just couldn't wait to see all the Disney magic that would unfold the next day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 WDW Marathon Weekend Recap: Part II

When we last left off, we were getting up at 2:30 am for the 2015 WDW 10k. Why 2:30 you ask? Well, with a start time of 5:30, a requirement to be in your corral by 4:45, and the fact that the last bus leaves your resort at 4, we were up and out the door by 3:30 am to make sure we would be on time for the race.

We arrived to the Epcot parking lot around 4 am and quickly looked for a way to stay warm. Thank God I had packed a pair of leggings and a jacket- I had planned on wearing shorts and a t-shirt! It was probably around 40-45 degrees and very windy. After meeting up with some of our friends, we finally figured out that if we stood in the bag check tent it felt about 10 degrees warmer.

Our running ohana.

Huddled in the bag check tent for warmth!

Around 5 am, we ventured out from the bag check tent and headed to our assigned corral. On the way, we ran into Sid Busch, a running legend and my personal hero. Sid has run close to 300 marathons; each one with a fallen soldier's picture pinned on his back and while carrying the American flag. He's impressive.

With the traditional Disney fanfare (fireworks and awesome music), we were off! We had decided to walk this race since Dad's girlfriend, Margie, is a speed walker. Well I don't think any of us were prepared for how fast she walked! We were running to keep up!

This course was the same as last year- 2 miles on the roads near Epcot, a quick lap around World Showcase, a little jaunt around the Boardwalk, then a quick stroll through Future World on the way to the finish line in the parking lot of Epcot.

Similar to last year, there were pretty long lines for each of characters so we didn't stop. We did make a quick pit stop in Italy to get a picture with the Neptune Fountain (a mini Trevi Fountain) and we caught up with Mandy, our awesome friend who was running the Dopey Challenge. Also, a first for me- I got recognized by a blog reader!! Sweet Paula saw Matthew and I standing on the side of the course and pulled over to say hi- totally made my day! It surprised Matthew to be recognized with me and I absolutely loved it. Thanks for stopping to say hi, Paula!

We finished the 10k and promptly decided to head back to the resort for a warm shower and a nap! We had originally planned to go straight to Epcot after the 10k but it was so chilly, we knew we had to get warm before we started the rest of our day. We had fast passes for Epcot later in the afternoon and decided that park time could wait for a nap.

Proud finishers.

After a nice long nap, Matthew and I headed to the Blogger Cook-Off and Dad and Margie kept napping. We had made plans to meet up with them at Epcot in time for our 3:45 Fast Pass for Soarin'.

We headed back to Wide World of Sports with no real clue as to how the afternoon would play out. All I knew was that I ended up on a short list of bloggers that were invited to a cook-off, Iron Chef- style. I was excited but also a little nervous- this was the first time the event was being offered so I had nothing to compare it to.

We arrived at WWOS and headed for a tent in the back. Yes, it was in an open-air tent (kinda outside) and yes, it was still chilly. Some cast members eventually brought us blankets to keep us warm! After checking in, Matthew and I wandered around a bit looking at all the food stations and different ingredients. There were around 40 people there- mostly bloggers and guests of bloggers. I knew some of the bloggers there and also got to meet some of my blogging idols- so freaking cool.

After a quick talk about nutrition from Cigna, we were split into teams and paired with a Disney chef to prepare a nutritious meal for our fellow bloggers. Our team's secret ingredient was beef and we decided to make a healthy stew. With insight from our Disney chef, we quickly got to work! It was really, really fun and I loved working with our team, especially Amelia from Half Crazy Mama. She was so sweet and so fun to be around.

All the fresh veggies and fruit you could ask for.

There were about six cooking stations, complete with everything you'd need to cook a meal.

Spices, wine, oils, vinegar.

Carefully listening to our Disney chef JP's sage advice.

Chopping veggies and beef.

Amelia from Half Crazy Mama and me- sampling our awesome stew!

After making all our meals, we got to sample everyone's food! It was so amazing- especially the chocolate chip bread pudding and the shrimp and grits. OMG. So, so good.

Matthew and I ate at a table with Artney from My Pretty Brown and her husband: self-proclaimed "support staff" Corey. She was running her first marathon and he was running his first half marathon. They were so sweet and we chatted all about food and running and life. I have a feeling we will be friends for a while :-)

Matthew, Me, Corey, and Artney. Good food and good people. Photo courtesy of Cigna.

Before we left the event, we got a private meet and greet with Chef Mickey and a gift bag filled with cool goodies from Cigna. Overall, it was a really fun experience and I am so humbled and grateful that I was invited. Meeting fellow bloggers, hanging with Mickey, and eating awesome food? What more could a running blogger ask for?!

Matthew and me with the main mouse.

The event finished up around three and we made it to Epcot just in time for our first fast pass of the afternoon. We had a fantastic afternoon wandering around World Showcase and Future World and then headed back to the resort around seven. You know the drill by now- we had another super early wake-up call the next morning for the first leg of Matthew's Goofy Challenge: the Walt Disney World Half Marathon!

Just hanging with our pal, Pluto!

Stay tuned for Part III of the 2015 WDW Marathon Weekend Recap!