Friday, February 8, 2013

Space Mountain, a cake and 13.1 miles.

Since I last wrote, I'm a year older. As someone cleverly told me, it was my 'tri' 'tri' birthday, also known as the big 33. Double digits that I gladly embrace. For those not in with the lingo, that's 'tri' as in triathlon. Get it?
Someone also told me that a woman is in her prime in her 30's and I've chosen to believe it. Not to mention that my handsome man woke me up at midnight with my favorite homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I can honestly say that no other year has started off on such a good foot. The right foot to be exact.

The holidays were lovely as usual. The constant holiday battle of trying not to eat too much and unsuccessfully fend off the never ending treats at work. My new slogan is, 'I workout to eat'.

The abundance of food was a little better as Brian and I were training for the Disney 1/2 marathon in early Jan. Now, I've done a few 1/2 marathons and like many other races, sprint and Olympic tri's, 5K's, 10K's..a 1/2 marathon is a race you can get through with no training. Would it be fun, definitely not, but someone (yes, even you) could struggle through 13.1 miles if needed. I'm happy to report for this race, that was not the case and Brian and I actually trained for the race around Disney. We did a few 10 milers, 1 or 2 10+ mile runs and many 6ish mile runs. We ran in 30 degree, rainy weather, slush, wind and all the other weather phenomenons Chicago has to offer. Lucky for us, the snow didn't hit till after the race.

The goal was a 2:15 1/2 marathon. My previous time was a 2:24, so I was going for that PR. A common trend.

We went to FL with the group Achilles, one that I have done multiple races with to include the NYC marathon last year. This time it was with about 15 other athletes with disabilities, many veterans completing the race on a handcycle, and a handful of us that would run the race. The title sponsor was Cigna and I had the honor of having both Brian and David, the CEO of Cigna as my guide.

The race started at 530am, as they want to have the race mostly finished before the park opened for the day. This led to a wake up of 2am! Yes, 2 in the morning. The race started off well with David by my side and Brian to my back right fending off any runners that would come up on my left. We ran through Disney, the brightly lit castle and by many Disney characters that were all open for pictures. If you know me, you know my obsession with time and might be surprised to hear that we stopped for a picture. Just once, and a quick one, but we stopped. I get nervous even thinking about it. But we have the blurry, castle, mid- race picture now for all to see.

The tired legs came at mile 9 but we were able to keep moving and keep a pace i was happy with. At mile 11 some Army characters yelled in familiar Army fashion to 'get up that hill' and to 'keep moving soldier' and that helped regain some of the motivation. Then at mile 12 we passed a band playing Call me Maybe and we had to throw in a little sing along. And then mile 13, we passed a gospel choir and finally we felt the thrill of the finish line to look up and see 2:09 on the clock. Even a beat up limb couldn't hide that excitement.

It's always exciting to PR but the feeling of knowing that training actually pays off makes it more so. But nonetheless, this race was an eye opening experience. Thinking that I had run 13.1 miles but in 11 short months I was going to have to swim 2.4, bike 112 and then run twice that distance. The realization that it's one thing to say you're doing a race and to talk about it, but another completely to do the race and be happy with it. Quite daunting.

The whole trip was a blast. The race, Disney World, where we sprinted through the kids to get in line for Space Mountain, Epcot, getting stuck at Thunder Mountain, some warm really might be the happiest place on earth. At least for a day. And I can't forget to mention the Jake and Mickey became fast friends. Perhaps even BFF's. And that I was the honored vet at the flag closing ceremony at Disney. Cool? I think so.

Back to Chicago we came, into the first mild, then cold, and now snowy Chicago winter. It finally feels like all is right with the world again.

A quick trip to visit Brian's mom in Tampa, a trip to see some Colorado friends, a drive to Minnesota and now back for a few weeks. I love my friends.

It's base training now, getting those miles in but nothing too fast or hard. My next big race is the Oceanside 70.3 in the end of March which will be here before we know it. In fact, it's only 1.5 months away, ha. Seriously, how does that happen? This will be my 3rd time at Oceanside, I've done the full race once, a relay the next year and now I'll be back to redeem myself and do the whole race. I'll be doing it with the Challenged Athletes Foundation Operation Rebound team and looking forward to racing alongside other challenged athletes.

And so it continues, the racing, the training, the working and the countdown to the Ironman that I might as well start now. 9 months.

But so much to happen before then. What a lovely life it is.

Until next time, Peace out. Love to you all.