Monday, January 30, 2017

I've Reached Double-Digits! - Celebration Half Marathon Race Report

I am so psyched!  It's finally here - my TENTH half-marathon!

I didn't set out and plan it to be my 10th half-marathon, but when I was looking for races to do last year, I was counting how many halfs I'd already done and realized that this one would be number 10. So I didn't do ANY other halfs after St. Augustine 2016.

This race is special to me. It was the 2nd half-marathon I did (Princess Half Marathon was my first), but it was the first half-marathon that seemed "real."  As if running 13.1 miles on Disney property is any fewer miles than running 13.1 miles not on Disney property. 

I've run this race every year since 2014, and if when I do it in 2018, I'll be a "Streaker" or "Perfect" or whatever they deem those of us who have run every race since it began. 

For this year though, I just want to get through it!

We drove down on Saturday, fueled with Polar Pop sodas and donuts from Daylight Donuts.  

Our stop at the Expo was uneventful. It's a small expo, so I never plan to be there long. We got my bib, my shirt and my bag, then walked around for about 10 minutes (again - SMALL).  Stopped by the table to see if I won anything in the raffle... I didn't. 

After that, we decided to go get lunch.  Hubby programmed the Garmin to go somewhere, but he wouldn't tell me where it was.  We drove for about 15 minutes before the Garmin showed what the finish line was - Long John Silvers!!  Oh, he loves me! He loves me so much!  He's not a hue fan of LJS, but he knows I am, and so is the kiddo, even though she didn't realize where we were going until we turned in to the parking lot. This LJS was great, because it was a stand-alone shop, not a hybrid (like LJS+KFC or LJS+Taco Bell).

I ended up getting the 2 Fish and 8 Shrimp platter, but substituting chicken planks for the fish, with fries and extra hush puppies for the kiddo.  Hubby got the 3 piece chicken platter, and the kiddo got the 8 piece shrimp platter. With drinks, it was about $30. 

Not busy at all
2 Chicken, 8 Shrimp, Fries and Extra Hush Puppies (for the kiddo)
I may or may not have made lots of sexual eating happy noises. It's such cheap seafood, but I love it!

Afterwards, even though I knew it was going to backfire, we headed to Epcot. Disney still had the Festival of the Arts going, and since I had a Graphic Arts major with us (the Kiddo), I thought she'd want to go check it out!

 Unfortunately, due to traffic and crowds, we didn't make it to the Anime class.  However, Hubby had heard that one of our favorite bloggers, EasyWDW, was going to be having a book signing at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot, so he wanted to attend that. Also, unfortunately, Hubby read the times wrong... Josh had already been gone for an hour by the time we got there!

So, here we were at Epcot and everything we wanted to do, we were late for! Since we were in Mexico, we decided to take a ride on El Rio del Tiempo Gran Fiesta Tour.

Fountain inside the Mexico Pavilion
🎶🎶  We're three caballeros, Three gay caballeros  🎶🎶
Then, to satisfy a little artist need, we stopped by the Animation Academy which was open temporarily in Innoventions.  I didn't like the location - it didn't feel very creative.  Oh well.

I don't remember which character we drew; it wasn't memorable I guess
After Epcot, it was time to get some fuel into me.  After having a good experience there last year, we went back to TGIFridays on US192. Both of them got burgers while I splurged again on the Jack Daniels Ribs + Steak.  Just like last year the ribs were delicious. I tried to save the steak to take home (spoiler alert - fast food steak doesn't taste good after a few days, especially when it was kept in a to-go container in a hotel fridge, then the back of a car... lesson learned!).
That mac is not nearly as tasty as it looks
I don't have any photos this time, but we stayed again at Baymont Inns and Suites on Sherberth Road.  Queen beds, lots of storage space. One night cost $58. Unfortunately, just like a few weeks ago at Champions, our HVAC system didn't work!  I tried to just deal with it, but after an hour or so, it began getting REALLY cold in our room, so I called the maintenance guy, who came out and fiddled with it before telling us that, yep, it was broken.  There was nothing he could do about it at that point, but they could move us to a new room tomorrow. I thanked him for trying, and explained that we would be checking out in the morning, so it didn't matter. He was able to Jerry-rig it a bit to somehow get the AC to be on "fan" only to warm it up a little bit.  But it was a cold night!

Sunday morning dawned VERY cold, both outside and inside the room. Outside, it was around 48º and raining. I'm not sure how cold it was inside, but I had the shivers that just wouldn't stop.  I ended up pulling an old trick that works well in small spaces - turn on the hot water in the tub and let it go (this trick also works if you're in a room with only a sink). It will warm up the air and create humidity (because of the steam).  After a few minutes, it was warm enough to strip out of my jammies and start pulling on my running gear.

This would be the perfect weather for running - IF the sun was out!
Running gear today included Xersion compression tights under my SparkleSkirt (Freedom) and a CuddlDuds base layer under my top.  Rounding out my stylish outfit was an Xersion quarter-zip, rain jacket, stretchy gloves, ski mask hat and running hat. I'm dead sexy!

I'm holding up my hands to represent "10"
The camera is making it seem a lot brighter than it actually was. It was still dark and rainy, which made it hard to see puddles.  But we made it to the Start line with dry feet, and after hugs and kisses, I took up my spot closer to the back, near the sign for "Walkers."

Don't let the smile fool ya - I'm so damn cold right now!
Even with all these bodies, I'm still freezing!
There may or may not have been much fanfare at the start line - I was so far back, I couldn't hear a lot. Eventually, the mass of bodies began to move, so it was time to go!

I didn't take a lot of photos this time around - 1) because it was raining hard during many of the miles and 2) I've done this four times... not much changes.

I made it to Mile 1. I was cold. I was damp - not fully wet. Yet.

Mile 1
When we turned onto the little spur, my body said I had to PEE!  Usually, I'm okay, and don't need to tinkle during a race, but my bladder had other ideas this time around.

First for me?  I peed in the men's bathroom. I've heard tell that women do this at a race, when there are both men's and women's bathrooms. I've never done it. But the line for the women's room was long, and there were only a few in the men's line (all women), so I got in that line. Men - they didn't seem to care!  They, of course, were let in without having to wait in the women's portion of the line. And when they came in they were surprised to see chicks waiting for stalls. After the initial surprise, however, they just whipped it out and peed in the urinal and went on with the race. Kind of cool to see non-uptight people just going about the business of peeing.

C'mon, you'd take a photo of the men's room too!
However, after I peed, I got myself turned around. This bathroom is in a public park that runs between two roads on the course.  You run UP the road and pass the potty on your left, then do a u-turn (it's a hairpin), and run DOWN the road with the potty on your left. I don't have the best directional sense, so when I came out of the potty, I went left, which means that I cut about a 1/2 mile off of the course.

Look! I didn't run any of that!
I, of course, didn't realize this until I saw the Mile 3 sign, and the family cheering me on...

Quality photo right here...
Hubby told me I was making great time and that Betty (a running buddy) had just passed them a few minutes ago.  That really clued me in to the fact that I screwed up somehow... Betty is always about a minute or two faster per mile than me... I shouldn't have caught up with her.

Oh well, I'm too cold and wet to really feel guilty at this point. It is what it is, and I just have to keep going.

I liked her idea of wearing a base layer under a tank! Stealing for the future
I've made it past the 5k point, which always gets in my head a bit (like, "I'm almost done! Oh, I'm not doing a 5k...") and saw the Mile 4 sign near Celebration hospital.  It's still raining.

It's drizzling at this point - enough that I'm happy to still have my jacket
Like last year (this is probably a permanent change to the route), we went behind the hospital on a private road. They didn't have fun signs out like they did last year, though, but there was enough entertainment for me watching the rain hit the overflowing retention ponds.

Mile 5 - let the slog begin
Mile 5 is the beginning of the Two-Mile Slog. It's a very long road, with not very much to look at. To counteract that, the race always puts up fun signs.  They're pretty much the same every year, with a few new ones thrown in. 

"Only those who risk going to far can possibly find out how far they can go"
No, I'm not!
Don't I know it!
This one was blank on the "front" side - you had to turn around to see that it said "You are going the wrong way"
By Mile 6, don't think I could feel my fingers anymore. It's very empty back here, and very boring. It was time to Walk Dance - "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten came on my iPod (don't judge me), so I walked, I lip-synced, I gesticulated, it was a good 3 minutes. People driving by probably thought I was having some sort of full-body spasms, but it got me energized.

Mile 6
There were a moderate amount of spectators out today, which was surprising, given the weather.  This group was giving out lollipops.  With my gloved hands, I didn't have much dexterity, so I ended up grabbing two.
Thank you, Candy Ladies!
Blue Raspberry (eww) and Cotton Candy (yum)
Wet and cold, I crossed the 10k mat, and continued my way towards the boardwalk area.
The Mat-Minder always looks so bored, no matter the race
There was another group of spectators further up - the great family with all the inflatables - who also had out a cooler full of GatorAde. I scored a red one!

I am GratefulAde for the GatorAde
Of course, I was way too cold to want to drink it, so I put it in the pocket of my rain jacket.

There were more signs ahead.

Shit, I don't have any change!
Completing my TENTH one of these is a REALLY big deal!
I do believe! I do believe in fairies, uh, I mean, the voice that says I can!
Mile 7 meant that I was more than halfway done. It also meant that I was close to the boardwalk area.

Mile 7! More than halfway!
Dammit, I'm slow this time... I got passed by the lead marathon runner just past the Mile 7 sign (generally I'm passed around mile 8).

I wonder if he was the winner?
Usually, I walk the boardwalk as a reward for doing my 1/1 intervals up to that point, but I'd actually been 'running' most of this race, and I decided to keep going, unless the boardwalk felt unsafe under my feet. (Remember, my 'running' is about 4mph... some people walk faster than I run...)

Yep, still raining. More than a drizzle, less than a full on rain
I made it to Mile 8, where I normally get passed - I'd been passed by probably 15 marathoners at this point. But I was still 'running' and feeling pretty good - except for that cold and wet part.

Mile 8, feeling okay
Welcome to... The Motherfucker Mile™.  I've covered this before, but The Motherfucker Mile™ is the mile that is mentally most challenging for me, and the most rewarding to conquer.  I was almost swept from my first half-marathon at Disney at mile 9, and all I wanted to do was make it to mile 10. I succeeded, and finished my first half-marathon, and ever since then, Mile 9 has been a make or break moment.

Yep, The Motherfucker Mile™
Within The Motherfucker Mile™ was the 15k mat.  Surprisingly, I'm happy with that time!  That's pretty much my average Gate River Run 15k time.  Oh, but these last 3.8 miles are the hardest!

15k mat with it's little raincoat
I made it! The Motherfucker Mile™ has been demolished and I am awesome! I'm cold. I'm tired. I want to be done. But I'm still awesome.

TEN!  Mile TEN!
During the last few miles of this race, I zoned out. I didn't want to think about the weather. I didn't want to think about how I was tired of 'running' and should walk. I didn't want to think about the pain in my feet (I think my Plantar Fasciitis is coming back, ugh!). I honestly can't tell you if there was anything going on in my brain for that last half-hour or so. I was just spotting landmarks and calculating how much further.

I made it to Mile 11. I was getting passed regularly by marathoners at this point; many of them were supportive, with "you go girls," and "you got this." Much appreciated, fast people! Thank you. 

This photo is like an accurate representation of my addled brain at Mile 11
Mile 12, as always, is deceptive. I think I'm so close to the finish line when I get to the Lake Evalyn area, but then you go all the way around it, then cross a boardwalk to another fucking lake

One point One! One point One!
At least it's the final lake - Lake Rianhard. From the walkway around this lake, you can see the Bohemian Hotel, as well Center Street and the massive crowds waiting for you at the finish line. It's a mood lifter for sure!

The finish line is between the teal building and the pink building across the lake
There's never a big Mile 13 flag, but I was happy to see a tiny Mile 13 sign... my OCD thanks you. 

Mile 13 (the caption is tiny, like the sign)
This sign was right on the corner, before turning on to Market Street. On the drive down yesterday, I'd had a discussion with Hubby that all I wanted for this race (besides to finish) was to have enough energy to RUN around the corner and all the way through the finish chute. Many times I walk around the corner, then trot through the chute. I wanted to RUN. Run like I knew how to run. Run like I wasn't a 200+ pound fat ass with Plantar Fasciitis and smoker's lungs. I wanted to RUN.

So I did.

After I passed the Mile 13 sign, I pulled myself up and ran around that fucking corner like I was the hero of an action movie. I ran through that chute like I was Meb and I felt bad ass!

I got my medal from Liz, who we volunteer with at Disney, and then... well, it got weird.  She had her arms open, to move me out of the middle of the chute, but I mistook it for an invitation for a hug, so I hugged her!  She was cool about it and hugged back, but it was awkward.

This medal meant so much to me (seriously, I think I'm gonna lose it just typing this...). This medal means I finished TEN half-marathons.  That's kind of a big deal. But this medal meant so much more. I smoked from about 1990 to 2007 (with a few breaks for pregnancy and quit attempts). I failed PE in 8th grade because I refused to run track. I was always "the fat girl," "the lazy girl," "the girl who never ran for a monorail." It was easier to raise my child with TV and video games than to run and play with them at the park. I was the girl who couldn't take stairs without being completely out of breath halfway up those stairs. I was the girl who made fun of girls like me.

But now?

I'm "the girl who ran ten half-marathons."

Those fat, cold fingers are trying to mime "10"
I'm still a fat girl, and I'm still a slow girl, but those things are getting worked on. I've made huge strides in my life the past 10 years since I quit smoking (I quit because Pall Malls were outrageously expensive, at $2.75 a pack... now they're almost six bucks!). I changed to a healthier birth control (TMI? Whatever.). I take the stairs at work. I try to cook healthier lunches and dinners (ARFID is still hampering those efforts, but baby steps to the healthy...). There is so much more to life now than eating fast food for lunch every day, then going home and sitting on the couch for hours, and eating pizza for dinner.  I'm sad that it took this long for me to realize it, but I'm glad I realized it at all.

"Hey, how you doin'?"
My official time was 3:57:33, which is an 18:08 pace. Not super happy about that outcome, but it's still under 4 hours, so I'll take it. My 10k time was 1:44:26, and my 15k time was 2:42:15 (which might be my fastest, I think?)  I was 175th out of 177 in my age group (F35-39), and 1752nd out of 1783 total finishers (last HM finisher came in at 5:04:54).  

Oh, and other what?!?! news:  I beat Leah Powell (Queen Mum, founder of SparkleSkirts)! It was only by about 2 minutes, but it counts! She finished just under 4 hours.  Betty, as usual, was about a half-hour ahead of me and finished at 3:35:41.  

Once I came down from my high of realizing that I just ran around the corner and finished my 10th half-marathon, I realized I was FREEZING!  (By this point, it'd warmed up to about 50º - the high for the day was only 54º!) We headed off to the Celebration Publix so that I could change my clothes. I think I also got something to eat or drink, but I don't remember. 

Dude! I want that new-style passholder magnet!
Now in some much warmer clothes, we headed off to our celebratory reservation at Beaches and Cream!  I think this is our 3rd year doing this, and it's become a bit of tradition.  

We arrived early, so we were told that they would text us when a table became available. Weather was still terrible (cold and wet is the worst combo - you can feel it in your bones!), so instead of sitting outside, we wandered back inside of the resort and sat at Martha's Vineyard Lounge. If you're interested, check out EasyWDWs review. It was comfy. It was quiet. But most of all, it was warm!

Comfy couches - looking toward's Ariel's Lounge
Once we were seated at Beaches and Cream, Hubby and the Kiddo each got a soda, while I got a cup of hot water with lemon. You always see this in the movies that people get hot water with lemon to soothe their throats or to warm them up, so I thought I'd try it. I guess it worked, at least a little. I was feeling warmer (but that could be because we were inside, where there is a heater and a large flat-top griddle behind the counter?)

Bling and Celebration Button (labeled it from home)
Hot water with lemon - yes, it does warm you up inside!
Kiddo ordered the Mudslide. Hubby ordered the No Way Jose. I ordered the Milky Way Sundae.

The Kiddo is such a rebel
However, as you can see in the photo, I ended up with another No Way Jose!  I think we confused the waitress - Hubby doesn't like whipped cream, and when I ordered my sundae, he joked that "she can have mine." I guess the waitress thought that meant I could have the same thing he was having (a NWJ).  I very nicely asked her to fix the issue, and she came back with a beautiful MWS.

He's so photogenic!
As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I only made it about halfway through this behemoth.  I think Hubby and the Kiddo finished theirs completely.  With tax, tip and Passholder discount, our total was about $38.

Neither the Kiddo nor I were up to going to the parks, which made Hubby kind of grumpy, but he knows by now that if I'm too tired to go to a park, it's not gonna be a lot of fun if I'm forced to go to a park.

We headed to WaWa for road trip food, and both of them realized something that shouldn't be true - they were still hungry! Dude, you just put away a pound of ice cream, how are you still hungry?

There was nothing at WaWa that they wanted to eat, so we decided to drop into the Wendy's drive-thru.  Both of them wanted nuggets, and I admit - the idea of something savory after all the sweet was appealing. I attempted to order 10 nuggets for each of them (a 6pc box and a 4pc box, since they didn't sell 10pc boxes separately), and a 4-pc spicy nugget for me (they don't carry anymore! Wah!).  This would have been about $7. After I gave the cashier our order, she suggested we order the Family Size chicken nuggets.  Uh, what is Family Size? Fifty chicken nuggets! It was $9.99, but after a moment's consideration, we went for it. Come on - we HAD TO!

Behold, the beauty that is fifty chicken nuggets, piping hot from the fryer, in a huge plastic to-go container.

Yes, there really are fifty in that container
I ended up only eating 6, which meant that there was 44 left in the box that the two of them split. Yes, they each ate twenty-two chicken nuggets (though I believe that the kiddo ate more than her share). We had one hell of a laugh about the family-size container of nuggets, but I wouldn't hesitate to order it again!

After we got home, I chilled out on the couch for a while, then unpacked all my swag.
Raw Threads Bamboo Tee (so soft!)
Close-up of the graphics
Yay... another string bag...
The BEST tumbler in existence (seriously - GET ONE OF THESE THINGS!)
I love the vibe of the medal this year
What the heck is this thing?
Hey, it lights up!! It's a light-up armband thingy!
I'm going to leave on a high note here. When I was planning this blog post, I wanted to incorporate a bunch of Chandler clips from Friends, but I couldn't figure out where to put them, so please enjoy!

Up first - from the first season, Chandler smoking in Central Perk:

Then, Chandler smoking again after quitting for three years

Lastly, this is important - to anyone who feels like they aren't bad ass because they only do half-marathons, or don't feel like a runner at all because it takes them 4 hours to cross a finish line - shut up.  There is no only in what we do. There is only AWESOMENESS in what we do. Own it.