Monday, March 28, 2011

National Half Marathon 2011

The weekend for the National Half arrived sooner than expected.  My training for this had been slim since the Princess (and we know what it was like before that.)  Don't get me wrong . . . I got a few runs in from time to time, but the week before the race was not made for running. This time, my professional and family life had to take precedent over my running.  In fact, even the day before the race, I wasn't sure if I would make it.  A girl's got obligations, you know - and these were biggies.  As a result, I went into this race a little less ready than I had hoped.  I knew I would finish but didn't think it would be pretty!

That morning, after much worry about whether or not to make the trek, I packed our bags and my race gear.  This time, the hubby and two kiddos made the drive and visit with me.

The car is packed and the kids are ready to go!

 Jake is at the wheel . . .

 and I am ready to roll!

 Washington DC, here we come!

 About 2.5 hours later, we arrived at our Nation's Capital!

Our first stop after upacking at the hotel, was the Expo.  We were three blocks from the Blue and Orange line, so we decided to take the Metro.  Once we figured out the ins and outs of the system, we became real pros.  Getting around town was pretty easy . . . unless you needed it at 5 am (like I did the next morning).  The Metro wasn't to open until 6 am, so I would need to take a cab to the start.  As it turned out, this was a great plan.  

The kids enjoyed the Expo and made a new friend!

The next morning, I got up at 4:45 to get ready.  Since no one was awake to take a pic of my race day outfit, I took one in the mirror to commemorate the morning.  I decided to go Red, White, and Blue and show some spirit.  After all, my last race was the Princess - where wearing costumes was the norm.  I thought this blue sparkle skirt would be perfect.  As it turned out, not many people got into the patriotic theme at all.  I was one of a few . . . in fact I don't recall any.  However, I got a lot of cheers for the "girl in the blue skirt"!  

A map of the race course, showed the route and the sights we would see.

 The race start was freezing - literally.  Luckily, we were able to wait out some of it indoors at the Armory . . . right up until the time we needed to enter our corrals.  We waited for what seemed like forever.  BRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But once we got moving, the START came up quickly!  I pulled over to take this pic and forgot to set my Garmin until a tenth of a mile or so into the race.  Oh well!

For the first 1/4 or so of the race, I saw many people running the opposite way to the Start!  Many couldn't make it in time because of the train system and the traffic.  Thank goodness, I was not one of them and took a cab early in the morning!  Running BEFORE the start of a race is not my thing, for sure!

After running through the neighborhoods near the Armory and RFK stadium, our first "sight" was Union Station.  I have taken a few tours of the city that start at this point.  This area is usually so busy with traffic . . . and here we were - thousands of us - running through the streets.

Then, we got a our first great view of the Capitol.  I think I managed to see this building from every angle and side during the race.

A little later, I saw this building and thought it was apropo.  Here I was - running a race I wasn't really trained for.  This was certainly going to be a lot of work!

Here is one of the very many views I mentioned earlier.

We ran by some of my favorite Smithsonian buildings . . .

and the Washington Monument!

I live near the beach in Delaware where the land is flat.  I read that there were "a couple of hills" during this race, but I certainly wasn't prepared for what was in store . . . they weren't huge.  The hills were gradual - but there were MANY!

Another Hill

And Another

And Another

And Another

And Another 
Near Howard University

And Yet Another . . . were there downhills?  Yeah, there were some, but I was too busy cruising down them, trying to make up for some lost time, to take pics of those.

Finally, after all of that hill climbing, I was back in the neighborhoods near the Armory.

Back inside the warm Armory, I posed for a pic after getting my winter coat from bag check.  Believe it or not, I set a PR by two stinking seconds.  

Go figure  . . . little training + lots of hills + picture taking = a PR?  
And I walked a lot?  
(See future race thoughts at the end of this post.)
I certainly got in an AGGRESSION run and forgot about my professional and personal troubles for a couple of hours.

After warming up a little, it was time to hit the Finish Line Festival to meet the family.  The kids joined the children's races, and it was to be DS's first race ever.  

He was so excited for his debut!  Mom Mom even bought him new running kicks!  Although you can't see this in this picture, these Nikes have hot green trim to match . . . 

his running gear!

DD was all set to run her second race as well!

The kids had a blast and got their first running medals.  

We set off, back to the hotel, via the Metro so Mommy could get a hot shower - and we could all get some lunch.

Me and My Racing Man

We lunched at our favorite DC hangout . . . Clyde's.  YUM!

We had a wonderful time in Washington DC.  I absolutely NEVER planned to PR.  Now, I really have to wonder what I am capable of doing with proper training and little walking breaks.  I am guessing I would easily be able to break 2:10 - and maybe one day even 2:00.  Hey, a girl can dream!
  The truth is, I don't know if I will ever have the time to dedicate myself to running like that anytime soon.  My job and family responsibilities require much balance.  I am glad and appreciative to have some time for myself and "get lost" in running - even for just a couple of hours.

My next scheduled race is the Island 2 Island Half in Ocean City, MD to Assateague Island.  I think most of that route is flat until the bridge at the end.  I have a lot going on right now that probably won't let me train (health issues with my beloved family members), but I am now hoping to break 2:20.  Seems like a reasonable goal . . . the 2:00 finish will have to wait.  Until then - I will continue to run on!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Coming Soon . . .

A week from today, I will be getting to bed early for an early morning wake-up for the National Half!  I can't wait to run through DC and by all of the nation's sights!  The only problem is . . . I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been running since the Princess Half - and none have been long runs.  Well, I'm going to try to get out tomorrow before I make the trek to MD for my daughter's cheer competition.  

My son, 6, will be running in his first race ever, in the parking lot of RFK, right after mine is over.  He is running in the Monumental Mile (although his age group does a half-mile), and my daughter will run her 2nd race (a full mile.)  They will get a t-shirt, goody bag, and a medal.  Can't wait until next weekend.  I am getting my red, white, and blue outfit ready.  Just had to get another Sparkle Skirt after the Princess run!  Couldn't resist the royal blue for this race . . . 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Princess Half Marathon 2011 - A Race with Friends!

This was a spectacular long weekend with friends . . . oh yeah, the race was fun, too!

Cheryl and I registered for this race in the late fall.  Somehow, in January, we convinced two other co-workers to join us.  With less than 7 weeks of training, Christine and Deb were on board!  Guess we all needed some well-deserved respite from the day to day life of leading an elementary school!

Cheryl did not train like she would have liked, as life got in the way.  As for me, I had several hurdles as well.  We had some snow and ice conditions that made outdoor running impossible.  About a month before the race, I got hit hard by the flu.  I was out flat for about a week - then came recovery.  Then, a little over a week before the race, I got strep that did not respond to the first round of antibiotics.  The second round was more successful, but it was a little late to get some quality long runs in.  I knew I could cover the distance, though.  I went in with the mindset that this would be a fun race weekend with friends.  I was there to have a good time - not to race for a good time.

We couldn't wait for the end of February to arrive . . . and then, suddenly it did!  We spent Thursday night at an airport hotel in Baltimore.  We had the first flight out to Orlando so that we could spend as much time in the sunshine as is humanly possible!

Cheryl was up and ready to make the short drive to the airport . . . 

. . . and so were Deb and Christine!

The gang:  Christine, Me, Deb, and Cheryl

Our airport chariot awaits!

All went smooth at the airport!

We had fun talking and chatting about our upcoming fun . . . time flew and then we were about to as well!

We had a great flight and were soon in warm and sunny Florida!  We were so excited to begin our magical adventure!  So, we boarded the Magical Express!
As you can tell by the tiara, I got princessy right away!

We got to the All Star Movies Resort and unpacked our clothes and race gear.  Then, we were off the Expo and Packet Pick Up!

We were greeted royally by some coachmen . . . we knew we were in for a trip fit for true princesses!

Once again, the Expo was amazing . . . we got our "shop on" and picked up our race packets.
The Expo shopping experience . . . 

The incentive for it all . . . 

The famous Jeff Galloway

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a drinker.  However, champagne could not be resisted to begin to "Celebrate My Royal Accomplishment".

After the Expo, we hit EPCOT and did some park touring and met some new friends:

The day before the race, we went to Animal Kingdom and got wild!

Then, we headed back to EPCOT and made our way to Italy for some carb-loading fun!

We didn't stay out too late this night.  We headed back to our resort and set the alarms for (gasp) 2:45 AM!  It didn't really matter, as most of us didn't really sleep anyway.  We greeted the early morning with smiles and got all princess-ified!
Princess Cheryl

Me and my "Move Over Cinderella" shirt

Princess Deb

Princess Christine

We boarded the bus to the Start at about 3:30 and headed to the staging area where we took some photos, danced, mingled with other princesses, and soaked in the pre-race excitement!

Then, it was time for the more than 1/2 mile cattle walk to the start line.  Cheryl and I said our "good lucks" to Christine and Deb as we made our ways to our assigned corrals.  Since Cheryl and I had proof of time, we started in Corral B!

In no time, we were off . . . with about 17,000 of our closest friends!

I promised myself I would not take this race seriously and would stop for lots of photos.  At first, I wasn't sure if I would live up to the promise I made myself . . . and then I saw these two hotties near the Richard Petty Driving Experience.  Hey, they weren't really "characters", but they were worth stopping for!

And then, I couldn't stop myself from stopping!  
Two of my favorite Disney characters:  I am assuming we must have been running near the Polynesian for this one.  There were also dancers in grass skirts (male and female) next to these two.

As we were near the Transportation and Ticket area, we were treated by this young drum group.  Got your feet moving to the beat!

They tried to hide the hill of death near the Contemporary by using men in spandex jumping on a trampoline.  I think this would have worked for men if reversed, but it did very little for me!  LOL!

Finally, I made it to Main Street!  Couldn't resist having a Cast Member get my pic in front of the castle.

Near the Haunted Mansion, I met these two "drop-dead" gorgeous ladies.

Smee and Hook

Clarabelle had no line for pictures, so what the heck?

Native American Princess

This was about at mile 8 and I was exhausted.  I stopped for a pic out of sheer physical need!

And finally, I made it to the finish!
It wasn't my fastest - but it was a perfect fit.  I stopped for at least 10 photo opportunities and I was coming off being sick!  I will take it!

Then, I waited at the end for my friends to join me.  It was fun to look around at all the great costumes and the reactions to the finishers reaching such an amazing goal . . . some for the first time and others with repeat performances.  I was so excited for my friends!

We celebrated the accomplishment in the Magic Kingdom, of course, wearing our "I DID IT!" shirts . . . and taking pictures with some of our new friends!

That night, we celebrated with a character meal at the Garden Grill in EPCOT - an all-you-care-to-eat family-style place.  And we were in an an all-you-care-to-eat family-type of mood!

Cheryl and Mickey read us our meal choices.

Mickey and Christine

Christine, Chip, and Deb 
(Oh, I hope I got the chipmunk correct!)

Me, Chip, and Cheryl

Ahhhh . . . Lite Pomegranate Lemonade - there wasn't enough of it that night!

During our final day, we had some lunch at Japan in EPCOT.  I had been having a hankering for California Rolls the entire trip, and my friends let me indulge!  After coming out of the counter service restaurant in Japan, we saw the Candy Art Lady.  We watched her for a while with another couple.  After several minutes, I realized who this unusually smily couple was:  Ethan Zohn and Jenna Murasca - winners from Survivor!  They helped to kick off the race the previous morning and were doing some park touring of their own - with a personal escort, of course. 

Our final farewell meal took place at the Prime Time 50's Cafe where we took part in the delights of pot roast, meatloaf, and keeping our elbows off of the table!

We were sooooo sad to see the fun end.  After all, there was a lot of build up getting ready for this trip.  I am currently having the post-race blues - reading message board trip reports and blogs (and now creating my own) to relive the excitement.  I couldn't have spent the trip with three other more beautiful friends . . . on the inside and out.  I loved the trip, and I love my girls!

PS . . . when I got home, the kids (especially DD) were fuming that they didn't get to come.  DS got over it quickly.  He can be bought easily with souvenirs.  The 10 year old daughter holds more of a grudge!