Monday, July 15, 2013

New races on the horizon

So after a sad absence from racing for the past few months, I'm back in the game and ready for the next few races. My next race is a triathlon coming up on August 24th. I'm especially excited for this tri because it's an olympic distance, which I haven't done before. It's the Lake St. Louis Triathlon: long course. So if you live anywhere in the Missouri or close Illinois area I'd suggest signing up for it because it's one of the most popular St. Louis tri's and I hear that it's a whole lot of fun...well "fun" in the sense that endurance race participants consider fun.

But the more fun race that I'd like to inform you guys of is the upcoming Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. The awesome thing about it is that in past years it's just been a 10k and 5k. This year I guess they decided to add a half marathon and I'm ecstatic. I really wanted to get in one more half marathon this year, but the only one left is the Rock 'N' Roll series one which I hear is AWESOME to participate in. If at all possible, you should sign up for a rock 'n' roll race in your neck of the woods because this series of races are really popular around America. Alas, I could not sign up to run because I volunteered for odd jobs throughout race weekend, because a race of that magnitude needs a whole lot of volunteers. But, lo and behold I got an email from Go! St. Louis that said they'd be doing a half marathon along with their 10k, 5k and 1-mile fun run, and of course 10 minutes later I was signed up for it. Here's a video from last year's events featuring all the fun costumes. I'm cautiously optimistic that for these races I will actually have better time management skills than I did for all my other races earlier in the year. Fingers crossed that everything goes well and I'll actually be properly prepared for these races.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

race updates

It seems that I have been mysteriously missing from this blog for a while now. Since my last update I completed the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon and the TriZou triathlon.

The half marathon was in April and went better than expected. I didn't have much time to train with the bad weather and my work schedule so I wasn't looking forward to it too much. But it ended up being a nice warm day with no rain (which this year is a miracle with all we've had). I believe that I finished somewhere around 2:47, but don't quote me on that. My only complaint was that pretty much the whole thing from mile 6 on was up hill. From mile 6-8 was an insane hill called "Holy Hill." I don't know who decided to call it that because it was just one straight hill for two miles, the worst part being that you could see the top the whole time, but it was just so far away. At mile 12 there was another tiny hill which kind of crushed your spirit because you were so close yet you still had one more hill. Right after that hill you turned a corner and could see the finish which was horribly deceiving because you still had one mile to go. But all in all it was a great experience. I don't know how many half marathons are in my future but it was fun.

The expo over in Chaifetz arena

Thought this was a good one

The start/finish on race morning

The TriZou on the other hand was not as great. Yet again I had little time to train because of weather and work schedules. I ended up finishing in the same time I did last year which to me was very disappointing because I thought that I did great. My swim was understandable kind of slow, which I'm ok with because swimming has always been my weakest discipline. But my bike on the other hand was horrendous. It was probably partially because I only trained outside once before the race (there's only so much hill simulation you can do on an indoor trainer). And there are a lot of hills. The other reason being that I burned myself out on the bike last year and I didn't want the same to happen this year, but apparently I underestimated how hard I could go by quite a bit. The run was my one shining discipline. I guess all the running I had been doing recently carried over, even though I had only run a few times since the half marathon. My run was about 27 minutes which for me is blazing fast. But all in all, I love the trizou and will probably still try and make it back next year.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eric Thomas: secret to success

I'm sure by now you guys have seen one of the 'secret to success' videos. I was able to find the whole speech that Eric Thomas gave. I'll put the whole speech for context (and plus it's a great talk) and my favorite of the 'motivation' videos.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Road to Disney Half Marathon: Recap of the weekend

The Disney World Marathon Weekend is over, and with it is the completion of my first 1/2 marathon. It was an awesome race and I really hope I can go back next year for the full marathon. So I figure I'll split this recap into a few parts: pre-race, the race, post-race, random things I've learned from the weekend. As a side note I will be writing this from a perspective of someone who's staying at one of the resort hotels

        The first thing I noticed about the weekend is that the majority of people are there for the races and Disney knows it. Pretty much every employee/ fellow Disney visitor asks if you're doing one of the races that weekend. It's really an electric atmosphere from the moment you get there and really gets you in the spirit to go out and race.

     The very first official race business that you need to take care of is going to get your number. There's very obviously marked buses that come fairly often to every resort. We stayed at the Polynesian and there was actually a cast member standing outside with a 'Marathon Weekend' clipboard who was more than happy to answer our questions about transport to the packet pickup/expo.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
     The packet pickup/expo take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The bus drops you off and it's fairly easy to find your way by just following the crowds. But one tidbit that I wasn't aware of is that the packet pickup and expo are actually separated into two different buildings. You first go to the packet pickup which is in a very open indoor arena. It's very obvious where you go to pickup your race number. They have plenty of lit up signs with the race you're doing/race number. There weren't any waits at all, I was able to walk directly up to my spot to get my number. (shown below).
One really cool part about the race gear is the way they worked the electronic trackers. Traditionally each competitor in a race is given an ankle bracelet like tracker or a chip that goes on the shoe laces. But Disney incorporated them onto the race numbers. Bear with me here as I try and describe it. There are two plastic looking strips that were placed on the back of the race numbers. Apparently these strips were programmed with all your information (name, age, etc). After you got your number, they had you walk over what I would guess is an electronic tracker much like they have at races (where you run over them and they take your split times). As you walked over the strips, there were computers right next to you which popped up your name. My guess is that the purpose of this was to make sure your information was correct. The picture below is a better representation of what is going on.
Next they send you off to the expo which is pure-awesome-madness. It's also in an indoor arena, but you walk in on the second story and look down to see vendors everywhere. Your main objective at the expo is to pick up your clear bag for storage during the race and long sleeved tech t-shirt. This year the colors of the shirts were 1/2 marathon=yellow, marathon= navy blue, goofy=burnt orange (basically Texas orange). Once you get your gear, you get to peruse all the amazing vendors that they have there. They have everything from clothing, to shoes, to car stickers, to athletic trainers for massages, and everything in between.
The Expo
Race time
      If you're anything like me, you got/will get absolutely no sleep the night before the race. All types of transportation start at 3am that includes buses and the monorails. (if you're staying at a monorail track resort i.e. polynesian, grand floridian, and contemporary you're expected to take the monorail so that the buses can be used for those staying at other resorts). I actually got really lucky because I got to the Ticket and Transportation Center (where the Epcot monorail goes to) at 2:40 thinking there would be at least a hundred or so people waiting to board. But as it turns out I was the only one to show up that early and the nice monorail employee sent off the monorail a few minutes before 3 and I was the only one on the whole thing.
   Once you step off the monorail there's a lot of helpful employees already standing in the parking lot about every 30 feet with light up stick-things. Every single one of them greets you with a smile and a "good luck" as if it's not 3 o'clock in the morning. My personal favorite was an older gentleman who said "have a magical race!" There's the Disney spirit!
     So you walk into a waiting area. You have the option to pre-order tickets to get into a heated tent with food and such (the name is escaping me right now), I personally didn't, but I would suggest that you do. We got lucky this year because it was record high temperatures, but another racer I was talking to said that it's worth the extra money because a few years ago it was raining and freezing. They've got a DJ and a coffe/bananas (I'm assuming it costs money) at this point, but there's not an exceptional amount of stuff to do. They did have the green toy soldier from toy story with a microphone to amp some people up though.

 Eventually they point you toward the row of tents where you drop off your clear plastic bag. I personally put my sweat pants and hoodie in there because it was warm enough for just shorts and a t-shirt. I also put my room key, but that was about it. On the other side of the tents are dozens of porta-potties. You sit there until they open the gates and let everybody walk to the start. If I remember correctly, they let everybody walk to the start around 4:45 or 5 (don't quote me on that). It's about a 20 minute walk to the start, which I thought would bother me but it surprisingly was just fine since there's thousands of people doing the same thing around you. As you get closer to the corrals, there's even more porta-potties. From there they have giant lit up ball things that have each corral letter so it's easy to find your spot.

From there it's just a matter of waiting until your corrals' turn. They have announcers to entertain everybody until the race starts.

  Before I knew it, my corral was off and running. It was awesome seeing all of the costumes and excited people around. Races are always so much better than training because everybody is suffering/enjoying (depending on your personality) the event with you. The first few miles were somewhat uneventful with one high school band at about the 2 mile mark. The first characters that we came up to were none other than Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbosa. The line seemed fairly long and although I had planned on taking pictures with all the characters I was now questioning that. So I asked the lady who came up behind me if it was worth it. She confirmed that is was because she told me that last year she ran the race with a few friends and she was the only one to take pictures and now the others regretted it because they have nothing to remember it by. So from then on I made a point to stop at every character (for the most part).

Then we ran through the magic kingdom property (but technically not the actual magic kingdom itself...not really sure how the boundary lines work). We ran past the race track, where I missed an opportunity with Chip and Dale because they were around a corner and I didn't want to backtrack around 100 people. I was so excited to see Jack Skellington and Sally up next, mainly because you pretty much never see them in the parks.
  At mile 5 was the big kahuna of theme parks: The Magic Kingdom. It was easily the most amazing part of the race. It had a lot of character interactions, and not random characters, but the all stars themselves (princesses and toy story characters). It's hard to say what part of the Magic Kingdom was the best, but if I had to choose it was probably coming into the park down mainstreet with the castle still lit up with Christmas lights and running through the castle

After the Magic Kingdom things settled down a bit. There were a few more character interactions left, but not a whole lot. My favorite character interaction was definitely with Mary Poppins and Bert...probably because I loved that movie as a kid. But I got really lucky in that a few people in front of me in line had spot on Mary and Bert costumes. We all had to take pictures of them because the costumes were so perfect

Shortly after that were Lilo and Stitch and then Genie at mile 8. Aside from the green army man around mile 11 and some random characters that I wasn't familiar with near the Epcot entrance at mile 12 that was the last of the characters. There were a few other things like a DJ, high school band, and fire truck also. But I've got to say that I personally faded a bit at the end cause my longest run had been 9.3 miles in 20 degree weather. But at this point, I wasn't doing it for the time, just the experience. Finally we rounded into Epcot for the last mile where there were spectators all around. That last mile seemed like it lasted forever, but it was totally worth it when you rounded the final turn and saw that finish line. We all wore our medals proudly.


right after you finish the race they provide water and/or gatorade. The finish is right next to where the original meet up place was that morning. There's also ice and athletic trainers willing to help you out back at the finisher area. They were also giving out little boxes filled with crackers, protein bars, and chocolates. It wasn't anything great, but we payed enough for the race that I was going to take anything that they were giving away for free.  
       It was probably one of the best feelings in the world walking around with my medal after running 13.1 miles. My disclaimer is that I had power walkers going as fast as I was toward the end, but when I wasn't standing in line for characters I ran the whole thing. It may have been slow, but I take pride in my glorified walk/run/shuffle...or whatever it was that I was doing to propel myself forward. 
      It was awesome seeing everybody the rest of the day walk around proudly with their Donald medals.
Random other things I learned
--don't do this race if all you want to do is PR or be super serious. That's not what this race is for. This race has so many entertainment factors and takes place in "the happiest place on earth" so enjoy all that it has to offer. There's hundreds if not thousands of 1/2 marathons that take place in the United States every year, use those ones to PR and test your limits. This one is about the Disney magic. 

--everybody along the sidelines cheering are amazing. I think I can speak for nearly every racer when I say that the more encouraging and loud people are on the sidelines, the more pumped I get. The day of the Marathon my friend and I were along the sidelines in Hollywood Studios cheering really loudly and getting the rest of the crowd excited. I could tell that the runners really appreciated it. Some came up for  high-fives, others raised their hands, some looked at us and cheered back. The only thing that would have made our cheering more encouraging was if we had cowbells. But seriously as a spectator never underestimate the power of a few encouraging words even if they're as simple as "You're looking great" "keep up the good work." Also along those lines are all the hilarious signs. People can get quite creative and that is also appreciated

--This goes along with the whole "have fun during this race" thing. Take a whole bunch of pictures. Telling your friends about the awesomeness of the race isn't nearly as fun without pictures to show it. Plus there's so many awesome character picture opportunities. Lets be honest you'll never be able to get pictures with these characters/ in such short of lines as during this race. They bring out the big gun characters for the races. Take advantage of it. If only I had done the Marathon because they had even more rare characters like Pocahontas and others that are slipping my mind right now

--wear your medal proudly every day that weekend. Even if you just do the 1/2 marathon like I did, still wear your medal on Sunday. I didn't want to at first because later that day people would be walking around with their super fancy Mickey medals and Goofy ones and I thought that I'd feel almost embarrassed by only doing the 1/2. But as it turns out, there's a lot of people that only do the 1/2 and no matter what medal you're wearing you feel like you've really accomplished something. 

Well that's that, hope you guys found that recap helpful. Hopefully I'll be able to go next year and have even more stories for you guys.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Road to the Disney Half Marathon: Almost there

We officially got one day left until a friend and I head off to Disney for the half marathon. Several months consisting of a lot of running has lead up to this weekend. I'm really excited because it looks like the weather is going to be perfect. I've got all my gear ready to go and now I've just got to wait until Saturday. The weekend is basically dedicated to the full marathon, but for now I'm just going to be happy that I'm even doing the half. Who knows, I've been talking to other friends about possibly doing the full marathon next year, but that's a whole year away and we'll worry about it then. I'll be sure to upload things for you after I get back from the trip and let you know how it went.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The road to the Disney Half Marathon- Two weeks and counting

I'm starting to get really excited for the Disney Half Marathon! As of today, the race is exactly two weeks away, and we leave in less than that. I'm in the home stretch, I can see the light at the end of the training tunnel, (add in any other sports cliche you'd like). And it's feeling great... well so to speak. Now that my knee has settled down a bit, my foot is bothering me, but those are just problems that I know how to avoid for my next running race. For now I'm beyond excited for this race.
       The 'official' RunDisney facebook page has been updating like crazy with videos and excited people and the event itself has sent a lot of last minute confirmation emails, so with nothing else to look forward to this winter break, my sights are set squarely on the Disney Half Marathon.
       For all of you that can't make it, I'll be documenting the whole thing. I'll be taking an insane amount of pictures and who knows maybe I'll take a few videos and make them into a youtube video (if I can figure out how).

     p.s. I must be crazy, but here's a new update on my racing endeavors. A friend of mine just convinced me to sign up for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon in early April. Despite the fact that I'm an abysmal runner and every year people drop like flies from the heat, I'll do it anyways just for the heck of it. A few friends are also doing it which is pretty much the only reason why I even considered it. But here's the real kicker, the day before is the Run For Your Lives 5k where I'm going to be a 'chaser zombie' for a few hours in the morning. Sooo....we'll see how this works out, with my main concern being potentially getting injured during the 5k. So I'll have an exciting weekend to relay to you all after the first week in April.

In light of my Disney trip---- remember that Disney is an amazingly magical place (I don't care how old you are, nobody can deny this fact) and if you're doing one or more of the races that weekend, have an amazing time!