Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It was a Christmas Miracle!

My official Christmas vacation started with a training walk. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I met up with some other Disney peeps. Lisa and Mary are training for the full and Kelly is training for the half...and all were tapering while I was out for "the big one." My training got a little out of whack because I got so sick a few weeks ago but I was going into the holiday weekend with the determination to finish all 30 miles of training. I wanted to get in 10 miles on Friday and 20 miles on Sunday (I wanted (??) to get 20 miles in on Christmas Day but decided my family really should come before training.) Even though it was cold and the path was pretty icy, it was hard to not enjoy the morning with such lovely ladies as these:
They are all runners and I wanted to chat with them about race weekend so I sucked it up and ran the first 2 miles with them. I didn't have any knee pain but it felt like my lungs were about to explode. They humored me and when it was "my turn" to talk, they slowed down a little so that we wouldn't have a medical emergency in the middle of nowhere when my lungs exploded from trying to run and talk at the same time. I didn't want to push it so I dropped off when Lisa's Garmin gave us the heads up that we were at 2 miles. Luckily we were on an out and back so I got to see them again in a mile and a half. I didn't see Kelly again as I think she stopped at 7 miles but Lisa and Mary kept going so I got to see them once again. They walked with me for a few minutes before I turned around and then I ran with them for a few minutes. I was feeling really great so I had gone out further so that when I returned to the car, I would have about 11 miles. As I got closer to the parking lot, Lisa had come back out for me. I was still feeling great and she was up for it so we walked another mile together so that I had an even 12 miles. I think 12 miles is just what I needed to get some of my confidence back after being sick and falling behind in training.

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family. I won't lie, I was a little sad that The Pilot had to work Thursday through Sunday but we survived. He was abused by cranky holiday travelers but got to enjoy Chinese food on Christmas Day with the rest of his crew while my family took inappropriate pictures.... Ever heard of Flat Daddy? After some friends brought their "Flat Son" to a wedding a few years ago, I decided to run with it since The Pilot would be away over Christmas and so, Flat Pilot was born. He isn't in the military but he was still away for the holidays and I thought we could have some fun with it, which we did. It's a good thing he has a good sense of humor because my mom placed the bacon wrapped fillets in front of The Vegetarian Pilot...
My birthday is coming up soon...the day before the Goofy Challenge starts! It was pretty strange to get my race information to see "age on race day: 30." That pushes me into the next age group! Anyways, since I won't be in town for my birthday, my parents decided to go ahead and give me my birthday present. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the Garmin Forerunner 110! I've been old school since 2004 when I started marathon training, using a Timex Ironman watch and the trail maps to determine pace and mileage. Welcome to the 21st century, Amber! While it's a lot bigger than my Timex, the Garmin will tell me EXACTLY how far I have gone and my live pace! It will even tell me how many calories I burn. Just when I thought I couldn't get any more obsessive about my training....

After eating lots of yummy food on Christmas (including mass consumption of the Buckeyes that my mom and I hand-rolled a couple weeks ago) and after configuring the Garmin (I did NOT lie about my weight like I do on my drivers' license), I headed to bed early to prepare for my 20 miler.

It was another cold one and there were flurries as I headed back out to the trail. This time, a Team in Training alum, Niki, met me for the first five miles. I would post her picture but by the time we got back, both of our cell phone batteries had died because it was so cold (my phone was fully charged when I started!). We enjoyed a quiet 5 miles talking about our Christmas activities. I think she thoroughly enjoyed the quiet time since she has three kids under the age of 4. It's probably NEVER quiet at her house.

As Niki and I wrapped up 5 miles, Lisa and her dog, Blu, came out to join me for the next 4 miles. I enjoyed chatting with Lisa (now that my lungs weren't about to explode) and to watch Blu dog enjoy the snow and new sights and smells. It's fun to look at things from the perspective of a dog...or even a small child for that matter. I suspect that their view on life is very similar..."Oooh! Shiny! What's what? This looks interesting, I need to touch it and smell it. I like being outside. I love the snow. I want to roll around on the ground. Uh oh! I have to go to the bathroom...right NOW!"

After 4 miles, Lisa gave me a pep talk, made sure I had enough water and sent me on my way. It was wonderful to have 9 miles out of the way already. It goes a lot faster when you are chatting away. with friends...though I quickly realized that I should have lined people up to walk the last 9 miles with me instead of the first 9 miles!

It was a very slow day. While the path had been plowed, it hasn't been above freezing in several days so the lingering snow had turned to ice, making the path very slippery. I had to take shorter strides than normal and tread lightly so that I could keep my balance. While I was loving the freedom that the Garmin gave me (knowing when to turn around and not having to do any mental math!), it was a constant reminder that not only was I not going race pace but I was going slower than the Disney time limit! I've done several races under the Disney pace requirements but I've never done a half and a full back to back, so it is a legitimate concern....especially after I read this in the "final race instructions" e-mail I received:

After crossing the finish line on Sunday (full marathon) and receiving your marathon medal, please check in at the Goofy tent. You will receive your Goofy medal after we verify that you completed the Half Marathon and the marathon in the allotted times.

I feel nauseous. I might go postal on someone if I survive both races only to find out that I didn't meet the time requirements. I'm trying to tell myself that I was slow only because of the ice and snow. I know that I can finish both races within the time limits. I've done it before. I'll also be taking steps to make sure I stay within the requirements. I have an action plan for any pit stops that might be needed (the benefit of this being my 7th year going down for Disney Marathon weekend is that I know where all of the port-a-potties are and which are the closest to the road and should have little or no line). I will have pace charts with me on both days so I can be absolutely sure that I'm well within the pace requirements. I also have a new tool that I can pull out if needed. I now know that I can RUN if absolutely needed. I've never been much of a runner before this year but after the triathlon training earlier this year, I've still been incorporating running into my training. My run pace is pretty darn slow but it's faster than my race walk pace. Disney also has a warning system for the pacing requirements:

Pace cyclists will be on the course indicating when runners are behind pace by waving orange flags at mile markers according to the official pace time. If you reach a mile marker with an orange flag waving, please note you are behind the required pace and can be picked up at any time.

You can bet that I'll be running as fast as my Goofy legs can take me if I catch sight of one of those orange flags. I may also beat one of those pace cyclists with their orange flag if they try to pick me up....but that wouldn't be very magical so I'll just do my best to make sure that doesn't happen.

Back to my 20 miler....I was still trudging along. I tried to stick to my fuel plan with my Shot Blocs starting at mile 5 and then about every 2 miles after that. Not only is this Goofy race a new challenge and I'm trying to finish within the allotted time, but I'm also taking measures to try to avoid hitting the wall during the full marathon between miles 19 and 23 like I have in the past. Hopefully by more diligently sticking with my fuel plan (and getting in my 12 and 20 milers over the weekend!) will help avoid the evil place that I get to that makes me doubt why I do this to myself.

I was feeling pretty good all the way to mile 15 but that's really when the mental fatigue hit me. I was bored out of my mind! My cell phone was dead from the cold so I couldn't even text anyone for some inspiration. I had only one more trick up my sleeve (or in my Fuel Belt) and that was my iPod. Luckily that battery was still working. I put it on shuffle and kept going. The last 4 miles got pretty ugly as the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. It also started snowing again. I felt like having a hissy fit but that's not really an option when you are still 4 miles from the car.

My TNT friends, the Garmin, the iPod and my determined legs got me back to my car after 20 long miles. I was exhausted by my body still had a little left in me so that was reassuring. Let's hope there are still 6.2 miles more in it on January 9!

I surprisingly felt decent on Monday. Usually the day after a hard, long workout is the most painful but I recovered pretty quickly. My toes were sore from trying to grip and keep my balance on the ice and snow and I have a small spot on the back of my right ankle that's a little raw. That concerns me a little and has me second guessing my decision to switch to the narrow shoe...any thoughts on that.

1 comment:

  1. Amber, this is amazing! I know you already know this, but I wanted to remind you that you are such an inspiration to so many people - me included. I have always been so amazed and in awe at the determination you have. I love you sweetie and I will be keeping track of you on race day(s) for sure! Good luck lady and kick some booty!