Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Virtual racing: The Jelly Bean Virtual Race

Typically when I'm doing a race, it's in-person, meaning I'm there alongside hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of other runners and walkers. Every now and then, I see a post somewhere for some virtual race that's going on...what's a virtual race you ask? Well, that's when people from all over (the city/state/country/world) run a race together, but separately. Meaning we all don't travel to the same place to run the same course, instead we run whatever the virtual race distance is but in our own town or on our own treadmill and then report back how we did. Most of these are just for fun, like the Running of the Ears Munchkin Run (we did a half of a half-meaning half of a half marathon so 6.5 miles where we treated ourselves to munchkin donuts at the end)
We did that one so those of us left at home during the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend last year wouldn't feel left out. I even went so far as to map out my miles so I ran/walked to Dunkin Donuts, got my munchkins, then ran/walked back home...I think the people at the shop thought the sweaty smelly girl buying munchkins was a little nuts.

Anyway, I've been reading some recommended running blogs and came across Run With Jess. Excellent blog, lots of great product reviews and an overall good read. I saw something there about The Jelly Bean Virtual Race and was intrigued. At first I thought, how cute...then later I thought, hmmm I think I'd like to try that! Then I realized there's also some neat raffle prizes from sponsors like SparkleSkirts, Nuun, Gu and several other cool places-and I decided to go ahead and sign up. I've initially signed up to do the 5K and 10K, but I'm thinking since we can do them any time over a whole week (April 1-8) that I may also add the half marathon...I would do the 10K this Sunday, the 5K during the week and the half the following weekend. I just wish I actually owned a bike so I could do the bike 21K also (I really miss having a bike, but that's a post for another day). I may wind up only doing the 5 & 10K's like originally planned, but I'm going to shoot for all three (anyone have a bike they want to give me to make it all four? LOL).

So if you have a chance, I'd recommend checking out the blog and signing up for the virtual race...hey, you might even win something! I'll report back next week on how things went.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2011 WDW Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay Weekend Recap

Sorry if some of this is not very fault for waiting 5 months to write a recap *doh!*

This was my first time doing a relay so I wasn’t sure what to expect; it was also only my 2nd time doing a race at night (my first was only a 5K-Expedition Everest Challenge-and was broken up by obstacles; the “run” portion was only 45 minutes or so). I was runner #2; my runner #1 would be starting the race over at Wide World of Sports and would run from there to and through Animal Kingdom for 4.8 miles, then I would take over for an additional 8.3 miles from the Animal Kingdom parking lot to and through Hollywood Studios, then over to Epcot for the finish.

I left home early Friday morning so I could check in to my hotel (All Star Sports) and get to the expo when it opened. Love the color of the shirt, a nice deep maroon.

For us relay participants, we also received a commemorative baton which was a miniature rolling pin, so cute!

Everyone also got a $10 Disney gift card, supposedly to use at the race After Party at Epcot at the food & wine booths, though you could actually use it whenever you wanted to. Wish they would do that for every race!

Friday night was Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom (which I absolutely love and highly recommend, I’d go every year if I could!)...normally when I go to the party I am done by 10:30-11pm but since I knew Saturday night would be a late night, I stayed until the park closed at midnight and then a bit longer at the park entrance where I met up with Rebecca from ROTE...we took a picture at the front so we could say we were in the park for its 30th anniversary since it was past midnight (I wasn’t about to battle the crowds there in the morning, plus I wanted to sleep in a bit since I’d be up late the next night with the race).

I had a late breakfast reservation for myself for Saturday morning at Kona Cafe (no, not Tonga Toast-not a fan of things stuffed in my french toast-but still very yummy), then back to my hotel for some pool-lounging and relaxation time since I didn’t want to tire my legs out wandering in the parks.

Had a late lunch/early dinner before hopping the bus to head to WWoS to meet up with the other Running of the Ears folks before the race.

My partner Tracy and I took a before-race pic before it was time for me to head over to the busses that would take us runner #2’s to the exchange point at Animal Kingdom.

Two other ROTErs were also running the relay so we rode over together and hung out until it was time to start watching out for our partners to come in. The weather was nice, was in the upper 60s with a little breeze by the time I’d get out on the course. They had it set up so when runner 1 got to our area in the parking lot, they branched off to the right of the course into the relay exchange where the runner 2’s were waiting. We had mini-chutes to wait in to watch for our partners with different colored flags...only problem was the flag color on the chart at the expo was different than what they were at the exchange. But next to the flags were signs with bib numbers so that helped out.

Since Tracy was texting me to let me know where she was on the course, I pretty much knew when she’d be coming so I was watching out for her. I still almost missed her, then heard her calling my name and waving. After a quick hug, I headed out running. And running...and running. And then I saw the start timing mat for the runner 2’s...after I was already past my time to change back to walking *sigh*. Wish I would’ve known that our timing mat was so far out, I would have worked a walk up to a run before reaching it...lesson learned for next time I guess.

The course headed out of the parking lot and onto Osceola Parkway. While I knew it would be darker than what I’m used to since I’m a daylight run/walker (well duh, the race started at 10pm and I didn’t start until almost 11:15pm), it was a bit out of my comfort zone even with the available lighting from streetlights and course lighting since I was pretty unfamiliar with the course from a race standpoint. That slowed me down a little bit since I was being more careful and watching my surroundings more closely. I was in between 16-17mm the whole time though...would have liked to go faster but the dark was making me concentrate more on watching around me and so my pace would keep dropping off, then I’d try and speed up again when I could be more sure of footing and not running into others.

Headed to Hollywood Studios and wound quite a bit through it before heading toward Epcot for the finish. I did take pictures along the way, but coupled with the dark and my walking/running, almost every single one came out very blurry.

The finish line seemed kind of closed-in to me; it didn’t seem like there was anywhere for lots of spectators to watch and cheer. I’m so used to having a huge, long finishing chute with tons of people cheering all over that this one seemed kind of anti-climactic. But, Mickey was there and of course I high-fived him as I crossed the finish! Got my cool medal and headed over to get my free drink and regular post-race refreshments.

I’m not one for alcoholic beverages (used to when I was younger but now I don’t like how they make my head feel at all) so I grabbed a can of Coke instead. I should have saved it for later--soda after a race was just not satisfying or enjoyable at all and I threw it out after only drinking half. Met up with Tracy afterward and joined a few ROTErs, but I was just tired out and decided to just change into a different shirt since it had cooled down some more and head back to the hotel to crash. Tracy was ready by then as well so back on the busses we went.

Overall it was a great experience for my first relay. Of course you have the great on-course entertainment with Disney characters which helps the miles go by quickly. It was a bit quieter than the other WDW races I’ve done since the number of spectators was drastically reduced; guess they didn’t want to stay up until the wee hours of the morning just to watch us crazies out there LOL. I did miss the cheering though.

Met up with some ROTErs for another breakfast at Kona Sunday morning then headed to Epcot for a bit before making the three hour drive back home. I wouldn’t mind doing the “full” half marathon for Wine & Dine one year, I’ll be keeping it in mind for some time in the future.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I'm back! Someone virtually smack me if I disappear again...

Okay so I know it's been a reeeeeaaaaallllllllllllyyyyyy long time since my last post but I'm back now and determined to be good about posting. I need to keep myself accountable so if you don't see me post at least once a week come by and poke me. I'll be trying for more often than that though, hopefully at least 2-3 times a week or more. Don't let me get lazy people!

I'm going to be posting some VERY overdue race recaps including 2011 Wine & Dine Relay, 2012 Disney Half, 2012 Disney Marathon Relay and 2012 Princess so you might see several pop up one after another...or maybe one a day until I'm all caught up, we'll see how fast I can type LOL. I'm hoping I haven't forgotten too many things from the races but my memory isn't the greatest in the first place so fingers crossed...

Just to catch up, I've gained back a bit of weight. From my highest point, I had lost 45 pounds by the time I did my first half marathon (2010 Disney Half) a little over 2 years later I've gained back about 23 of those pounds. I've already berated myself for being stupid and getting lazy again about my eating. I think I was getting frustrated at the fact that even though I was exercising regularly my weight loss had stalled--for many months! It's very discouraging to eat right, exercise and not lose. And so those little indulgences started creeping back in-some soda here, a too-large portion of dessert there-starting that slippery slope.

Then I saw one of the pictures taken by the photographers along the Princess course. The disappointment and embarrassment just flooded in. I don't think I've ever seen a worse picture of myself, even at my highest weight. And I don't want to ever see a picture like that again (and I'm absolutely not brave or confident enough to post it). So back to it I go-and back to the blogging to keep the accountability factor going. Please please please if you see I haven't posted send me a message or comment. With DH on the road most of the time for work, it makes it much harder to stick to eating and exercising plans. Things are so much easier with someone else around to help with accountability and to buddy up with.

I only have one race officially on the schedule right now (meaning only one I've already paid the registration for) which is this year's Expedition Everest Challenge. I'm really looking forward to it-my goal right now is to lose at least 10 pounds before the race which is in 6 weeks...totally do-able, I just need to keep focused. I'm hoping to also sign up for Disney's Tower of Terror 10-miler (end of September) and the 2013 Disney Full Marathon (beginning of January) along with some local races (5K/10K/half marathons--whatever I can find), just need to figure out the $$$ part.

And so I begin again........