It’s Not Okay.

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It’s not often I speak my mind publicly on controversial issues that social media seems to highlight more and more these days. I take the high road and keep my mouth shut. No one needs to know my opinions, and no one is going to change my mind about them. They are mine.. for me. They direct what I believe in in life, and how I choose to live my life- with respect, dignity, and moral decency. I’m not perfect.. and sometimes, no matter what I believe in- I too have been a victim of social conditioning. I have been guilty of stereotyping, passing judgement on people, side-eyeing groups of people.. but I will NEVER show it.

People are people. They are you, they are me. We all go though hardship. We all go through pain. We all have moments of intense joy, and intense sadness. We celebrate. We mourn. We bleed. We have desires, ambitions, plans, goals, hopes, dreams. We may have different ways of thinking about the world… but we are all human.. and we all deserve a chance in life.

So many messages from so many groups of people… so many groups singling out and targeting other groups.. spitting their venom, hate and disdain. It literally makes me sick to my stomach reading what people post online about each other. Sick. What people post about our leaders. What “leaders” are now posting about people.

Is it right to discriminate against someone because of what color they are? How about what God they believe in? What their gender is? What their heritage is? Where they were born? Where their parents were born? Who they choose to love? A disability? Social status? NO. No on all accounts. without exception. Period.

Have we learned NOTHING from the past? So many instances of hate and fear spurning mass genocides for thousands of years. This hate that people perpetuate has got to STOP. And yet.. we have people, who are in leadership positions (or vying to be) “praying” for one community of people, while expressing hatred, disdain, and persecution of another group of people. How can one as a leader honestly sit there and say that they feel sadness and at the same time turn around and persecute… when it was persecution that cause such horrifying event in the first place.

I’m also seeing more and more that there are people who will hide behind their religion- an institution that is supposed to support pacifism, honesty, loyalty, and morality, among other attributes- and end up being the most hateful out of anyone! How can you sit there and say you are Christian (for example)… when all I see is people hating on other people for not being Christian? Or.. not being Christian enough? Um, last time I checked- just because you call yourself a Christian.. doesn’t mean you can do no wrong. (Please don’t take me the wrong way.. I have NOTHING against any religion or belief… I just don’t understand how people are brought up in religion- an institution that teaches you to love, to respect, to lead, and to spread peace- and then turn around and spit fire on people who don’t live the way you do.)

News flash… it is not up to you to judge people. It is not up to you to try and change them. It is not up to you to tell people they are wrong for what they believe in. It is up to God. Whoever God may be.

I’m so tired of seeing people on this side, or that side. I’m tired of the politics. The conservatives said this… the liberals say that… these monkeys, those goons. And it’s all Obama’s fault. REALLY!? Because last time I checked.. the President of the United States does not wield absolute power people. You elect a congress too. They make decisions together to decide how this country is run. AND the President doesn’t act alone… he has a cabinet full of advisors who all confer with him to make decisions.. to provide guidance and input. The presidency isn’t one person. Stop making this about your own political convictions. Go to work, make your money, feed your children, love your partners, volunteer for a cause you believe in.. live your life and stop worrying about everyone else.. So the guy next door is gay… it has nothing to do with you. The woman down the street is Muslim. Good for her. You are Christian. You do you.

The only thing that’s going to “Make America Great Again” is people doing what they need to do in their own lives, respecting others for their opinions, and living honestly and healthfully. Enough with the politics, enough for the bigotry, enough with the hate! It is garbage! It is poison. It is embarrassing.

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America was founded on freedoms. Freedom from persecution. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. We are supposed to live in a country where we can be and live how we choose, without the threat of retaliation or consequences. We are supposed to live in a country where we can choose to believe in anything we want. NO…. Christianity is not the ONLY religion. It is NOT the supreme truth.. and NO America does not need to be brought back to Christianity. That is not what we were founded on. It is not what our flag stands for- and anyone who perpetuates this is wrong.. and very un-American. Be grateful you can speak your dissent about the government, choose your religion, your lifestyle, where and how to work, whether or not to pursue education,  or whatever else you choose to do in life. So many people in this world do not have this liberty. Learn from the past, and go forth with love and respect, and wisdom.

On a final note, I’m personally so moved by the countries around the world paying homage and support to victims of the tragedy in Orlando. Even though, these posts too have people commenting with hate and political nonsense, it brings me peace and hope knowing other people around the world feel the pain of this unspeakable crime. The same pain we felt for France when it had it’s terror attack last November, or Belgium this year, or the flight that was brought down by the Russians. Or the Syrian bombings of their own civilians, or the girls kidnapped in Africa. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I don’t care where you are or how distant you are from the situation… you feel pain. You hurt because these people are us. They are you. They are everyone. And if you don’t feel it, you are a pretty crappy human being.. and I’ll pray for you.

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6 Months

I’m notorious for going for long stretches without posting anything. 6 months isn’t my longest break.. but it is pretty long. So I’m going to jump into my first post in 2016 (Yes I know it’s May) by doing a little recap of my life since November.

Zeus

My puppy (or not so puppy) turned 9 in February. He is officially an “old man” dog, but I’ll always call him my puppy. Unfortunately, he has developed a health issue which has been ongoing for more than a year really, but it’s starting to get worse a lot faster these days. Mike and I have self-diagnosed him as having DM (degenerative myelopathy.) It’s a degenerative spinal cord disease similar in that to ALS in humans. He hasn’t been to the vet for it, so the diagnosis is unofficial. DM is not a disease that can really be tested for, rather it’s diagnosed after other problems are ruled out. It’s also something that can’t be treated, and there is no cure. I really didn’t feel like spending hundreds (thousands?) of dollars at the vet trying to rule out anything else.. and plenty of online sources I’ve read show dogs- including pugs- with DM, and they all look the way Zeus does. He is still himself really… he is not in any pain, still wants to play, still follows us around and greets us eagerly when we come home… but his hind legs have really been hindered. He stumbles when he walks, falls down a lot, and drags his back feet. At least, he did when it started to become apparent he had a problem beyond what I thought was just arthritis and aging.

The fact is.. we have noticed that his degeneration is moving rather quickly, at least in his hind quarters. Around Christmas time, we started to notice him stumbling more, dragging his feet, and walking stiffly. After the New Year, he was falling a lot more and seemed to have a harder time walking out in the grass. Last month we noticed he would fall and get stuck, especially on the tile in our kitchen. He just couldn’t get his legs up under him to push himself up. He was also having a really hard time not falling on uneven and slippery surfaces, like the grass outside and the tile. We decided at this point to look into getting him a wheelchair.

I did some research and found a great cart for Zeus on HandicappedPets.com. They sell doggie wheelchairs that are fully adjustable and customizable- and while they still were a little expensive- it was less expensive than having someone make a custom chair. We settled on a used/refurbished model and saved about $100. It came within a week and was pretty easy to put together. The hardest part was making all the right adjustments to make sure Zeus fit properly and comfortably in the chair.

Once we got him in and outside.. it was amazing the difference! He moved so fast! He no longer stumbled, and what was taking 15+ minutes to walk to the corner and back now took about 7. At first he walked in spurts- it does take a dog a little while to get used to the cart- and his front legs needed to adjust/build strength enough to support the work of walking by themselves. But honestly, he took to it very well. The cart is very light weight, and manuvers very easy. After some practice, he’s walking pretty good in it and sometimes walks ahead of me a little.

I do have to say, he looks a little ridiculous in the cart. BUT, he gets so much attention when we’re out. A lot people feel sorry for him and ask if he’s ok or what happened to his legs. Other people laugh, because it is quite funny looking. Overall though, I know it’s improving his quality of life and letting him stay with us a little bit longer.

Helping Mike change his oil... this is how he sits now.

Helping Mike change his oil… this is how he sits now.

As for me, Zeus is my baby. Seeing him struggle to walk breaks my heart, but being able to give him the wheelchair makes me feel so much better, even as he continues to decline. As of now (actually, we’ve noticed even more degeneration even over the past two weeks) he struggles to walk on the carpet, cannot walk on the tile anymore at all, and gets stuck a lot. He falls flat on his bum with his legs sticking out from under him, and can’t get back up. I’ve been trying to get him in the chair more inside so he can be mobile, but he can’t rest (sit or lay) while in the chair. My strategy right now is to take him for walks in the cart and then let him be in it while we are fixing meals/eating- that way he can come over and walk about the kitchen as he usually does- and then take him out when he goes in his pen, or hangs out with us on the sofa. I know it’s only a matter of time before the disease spreads and starts to affect his front and other body functions, but my goal as his mommy is just to make him as comfortable as possible and let him have a good quality of life as long as he wants it… ok now I’m getting teary-eyed… *snif*

Zeus in his wheels

Zeus in his wheels

 

Still sooo snuggly!

Still sooo snuggly!

Fitness

I think in my last post I mentioned doing the Supreme 90 day workouts. Well, I would like to report that I completed 60 days of the program, but then got distracted. Mike and I planned to stay home in MD for Christmas this past December, but planned a trip to NY to visit with his family for New Years. I had pretty good success completing workouts in my father-in-law’s garage when we visited in October, and I wanted to do something similar in January. I did a little searching for programs and I really got pulled in by Beachbody’s Insanity Max 30 workout program. First- I loved the idea that the workouts were only 30 minutes long. Second- I loved that it was intense, which would make me feel like I got a great work out in the short amount of time. Third- I loved that the program involved no equipment. Which means I didn’t have to worry about bringing anything with me (other than my yoga mat… but even this wasn’t “needed”) when we traveled.

So I bought the program and did my workout s the whole week we were there. I continued the program when I got home and finished all 60 days. IM30 is really tough and at times made me feel like I’ve never worked out a day in my life. I ended up needing to modify a bunch of moves due to my bum knee, but the program had a modifier person in every workout, and I quickly learned which moves I needed to avoid/change to reduce my knee pain. All in all, I got through it pretty good and was proud of myself for seeing the program through.

That said, I did not have very good results from the program, at least from a body composition perspective. I don’t fault the program at all, as I did see a great improvement in my Max-out times and thus improvement in my fitness. I just have a hard time with my nutrition. I love to eat. I’m addicted to sugar… and my body does not do a very good job of metabolizing it. I’m convinced that my nutrition is the #1 thing holding me back from progress.

In an effort to help boost my metabolism, I wanted to incorporate more weight lifting. I backed off a bit after S90D in order to make sure focus on finishing IM30.I decided to go with another Beachbody product, Body Beast. It’s a 90 day gradual weight lifting program. It’s really marketed for men. but plenty of women have done it too. I’d managed to complete the first 3 weeks.. and then life got in the way. The plan at this point is to re-start.. so hoping I can keep up with it.

Weight Loss

Lately, I feel like I’ve lost my mojo and haven’t been going to the gym. I still get my morning workouts done, and have been eating 21DF style, most of the time.. but I’m getting minimal results. I know it’s totally on me and I need to suck it up and pull myself together- but it’s so easy to get into the mind set of “well it’s not going to work, so why try so hard.” Sigh.. I need to get over myself and just do what I need to do. I need to start doing my weight training again, consistently. I also need to be more careful with my nutrition. See, I know the answers… Ok.. whine over.

 

Mental Health

For just about a whole year I’ve been seeking treatment for generalized anxiety and panic disorders. I’d been having pretty bad anxiety attacks since 2012, some of which would last for hours. By the time it would finally fade (usually when I went to sleep and woke up the next morning) I would be so worried about having them again, it would trigger anxiety and the cycle would continue. I also had a lot on intrusive thoughts I could not control… usually involving my untimely death by one means or another. It was exhausting, uncomfortable, scary, and cyclic. Finally, Mike and my doctor got me to seek treatment. I started seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed me medication. It helped a great deal- I was no longer having the intrusive thoughts, and my panic attacks had stopped,  but I was still having breakthrough symptoms of random dizziness and shortness of breath, which didn’t alarm me so much, bu was really annoying to feel that way.

My job requires employees to participate in a special reliability program in order to work with some of the compounds we have. It’s a safety issue, but mostly a security issue- they need to make sure they have the most stable and trustworthy people working with some of their most secure and toxic compounds. As a participant in this program, we are required to self report medical records, changes in health or life status, prescription medications.. etc. I reported my anxiety issues and my medication and was required to seek a formal behavioral health evaluation. Long story short- it was recommended that I be suspended from the program- and thus working with certain classes of compounds- until I underwent 90 days of therapy treatment to address my symptoms. It was a little annoying to have to comply.. but I knew it would be good for me.

So I’ve been seeing a therapist and been working using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to de-sensitize myself from my anxiety triggers. The methods are quite simple actually, but do require a lot of practice. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve actually been able to taper off my medication and am ready to move onto the maintenance phase of CBT.. which will help keep my anxiety in check, as well as be able to bring it down if I do have a spike. I even have an appointment for a re-evaluation to be re-instated in the reliability program at work.. so happy about that.

Anyways, I wanted to share this because anxiety is a very common mental disorder. Sometimes your brain just gets stuck and chemical imbalances can occur to make you more susceptible to it. Medication really helps, but it’s a band-aid. Plus, a lot of people have a hard time going on or coming off the medications. (Coming off has been, and still slightly is a struggle for me.) But CBT has done wonders for me.. and I wanted to let anyone who is reading this and dealing with these issues know that it CAN be treated! I know how it feels to feel absolutely crippled from anxiety and it’s symptoms. People who have never experienced it do not (and really can not) know how it can affect you physically and emotionally. At my worst- I even felt a little detached and depressed- “why can everyone else live perfectly normal lives while I feel like I’m dying.” But there IS relief, you just have to know where to go. I would start with your general practitioner- see if they have a list of recommended counseling centers you can seek out. You want someone experienced in dealing with generalized anxiety disorders and can help you through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It may seem like new-age hooey when you first look into it (how can just breathing and imagery possible stop my very real and tangible physical symptoms!?!?)  but trust me.. you will start to feel normal again with enough practice! Feel free to message me if you have any questions.. I’ll be glad to help!

Vacations

In April my mom, her boyfriend, Mike and I went down to Orlando to visit my sister’s family. My niece’s birthday was on the 10th, my nephew’s the 18th, and my sister’s on the 20th. We rented a house nearby through AirBnB and it actually worked out really well for us. (Despite some drama in the beginning regarding the air conditioning, which was legit,  and my mom’s over-the-top expectations, which were completely unfounded.) The house had a pool, so the kids could come over and swim, and we enjoyed cooking out on the grill and taking advantage of the mild weather. Over the weekend, my sister held a combo birthday party for the kids at her community pool- which turned out great. Later that week Mike and I joined her, my brother-in-law, and a family friend for a wine tasting and tour at a local vineyard. Overall, it was a great relaxing and low key trip.. which is exactly what we wanted!

My sister's table of goodies.. she made everything..so talented

My sister’s table of goodies.. she made everything.. so talented

 

Happy 7 year old!

Happy 7 year old!

 

Happy 4 year old!

Happy 4 year old!

 

A couple weeks ago, Mike and I booked our fall trip to Europe! We finally pulled the trigger after talking about it for almost a year. It’s been on our “things we want to do before we have kids” list and I’m so excited to finally be able to go!

We designed our independent itinerary through Europeandestinations.com. I was a little nervous about using an online booking company like this, but so far everything seems to be going smoothly. We are able to pay in installments, the last being in August, so we’ll be all set for departure in late September. We are visiting 7 cities in 4 countries over the course of our 17 day trip. Italy was the country he really wanted to visit.. being that he’s half Italian.. and a Catholic.. so we will be visiting several cities there- including Rome and the Vatican, Florence, Pisa and the Cinque Terre. We’re also visiting Dublin to get a taste or Ireland (his other genetic heritage), London, and of course Paris. The booking company also lets us book activities and tours, so we are doing a select few tours through them, and the rest will be done/seen via our city passes ( Dublin, London and Paris.)

This will be my second time abroad, my first being when I was 19 with a group of students from my former high school. On that trip, we toured Paris, Provence, the French riviera, and Venice. For this trip, Paris will be the only city I’ve been to (Paris is my most favorite city ever!) and I’m so excited to explore and share the experience with my husband! I’ve already made a list of things we may need for the trip, watched tons of travel videos on YouTube, and even bought our city passes and guidebooks. Can’t wait!

Behold, the countdown!

Behold, the countdown!

Whew.. that covers a lot… I hope I can blog a little more here and there and not wait another 6 months to update. Anywho.. keep on keeping on people!

Oh yeah.. my birthday was on Mother's day.. we had Mexican.. the margaritas were fantastic ;)

Oh yeah.. my birthday was on Mother’s day.. we had Mexican.. the margaritas were fantastic 😉

Meal Plan Week 1

I mentioned last week that I have started round 4 of the 21 Day Fix eating plan. I’m still meal planning, but I found a great tool on the Apple App store- a 21 Day Fix app for my iPhone. I’ve been using it for a few days now and I find it simple and easy to use, and a pretty good way of tracking the containers. I plan my weekly meals ahead of time so I know what I’m eating… but sometimes the plan doesn’t pan out the way I wanted. (For example, I will not have enough of the dinner I cooked to last me all week, and I have to improvise for a few days.) The best part was.. it was free! Yay free!

21 Day Fix App

21 Day Fix App

 

Week 1 (round 4) meal plan

Week 1 (round 4) meal plan

I had written up half this post last week, but life got in the way and I was unable to finish it. Last week I made two recipes, one for lunch and one for dinner. My vegetable counts are a bit high, which is why I highlighted them. But I think that eating more veggies is not a bad thing, so I made them yellow (neutral) rather than red (missed/failed target). Unfortunately, on Tuesday, I ate an extra carb and an extra half fruit…but not because I wanted to. I had a pretty hard workout and was feeling weak, sick, shaky, and tired. I ate the extras in attempt to boost my blood sugar so I wouldn’t feel so bad. I had an excess of 350 calories at this point, so I didn’t feel bad about needing to eat something. ( I did eat my Quest bar when I got home from the gym… this feeling came on after that.) It is what it is.

Breakfast:

I was in the mood for oatmeal last week- and since we have arrived in fall, I decided to get some pumpkin. I like to mix in protein powder with my oatmeal- not only does it give me a boost of protein, it helps sweeten the meal, so that I don’t have to add extra sweeteners. I bought some Quest protein powder from Amazon- it was cheaper than the Ideal shape I’ve bought in the past, and it has double the protein. (Less vitamins/nutrients, but that’s ok.. I take a multi.)

I got vanilla because it's fairly universal, and I can make it chocolate if I want by adding cocoa powder.

I got vanilla because it’s fairly universal, and I can make it chocolate if I want by adding cocoa powder.

I blended the powder (red) with half a cup of pumpkin puree (1/2 green), half a banana (purple), some cinnamon and some water. It came out as a mousse-like consistency.. not what I expected.. but it worked. I added to my oats (yellow) and microwaved for 1:30. It came out nice and fluffy, and I didn’t have to add more water to it. The flavor was great, and it made a lot- almost spilling out of my bowl. I paired that with my coffee.. and yes I used (natural) creamer… not willing to give up everything.

pumpkin pie oatmeal

pumpkin pie oatmeal.. looks gross.. tastes great!

Lunch:

I found a great recipe on Fit Mom Angela D‘s blog (In fact, I found a number of great recipes on her blog… so I’ll be a frequent visitor, I’m sure.) for Greek Chicken Souvlaki Salad. I portioned it out into 6 servings and added green container of spinach for an extra boost of veggies.

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Salad = 1 green, 1 blue, 1 red, and 1/2 orange. Extra green for the spinach I topped it with.

Dinner:

I found a recipe for Baked General Tso’s Chicken from Healthy Feels Happy. I added some tofu in with the chicken, since I wanted to double the recipe to feed both my husband and I for the week. I found it very time consuming to dip and coat all the pieces with egg/bread crumbs, but the actual cooking was pretty easy (30 mins in the over, turning at 15 mins. The sauce as prepared per recipe was a little salty. I added some agave nectar to sweeten it a little more (probably about a tablespoon) and that made it perfect. I served it with some brown rice and some steamed broccoli. The husband approved 🙂

General Tso’s Chicken/Tofu; 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green, 1 tsp (for the sauce)

Unfortunately, the General Tso’s only lasted until Tuesday. So, I had to improvise the rest of the week. I had some Birdseye California style protein blends in the freezer, and I combined that with eggs and some spinach. It was not terrific, but it was an alternative.

California style protein blends

California style protein blends

 

Eggs (red) Spinach (green), and CA style protein blend (1/2 green, 1 yellow)

Eggs (red) Spinach (green), and CA style protein blend (1/2 green, 1 yellow)

Snacks

For my first snack, I cut up an apple into little pieces to fit in my purple container. I then sprinkled the apples with cinnamon and drizzled some Jiff Natural peanut butter on top. Since I had to limit myself to 1 tsp of peanut butter, I heated my tsp amount for 30 seconds in the microwave, and drizzled it over the apples. It was very yummy.

Snack 1: apples (purple), cinnamon (free), peanut butter (1 tsp).

For my second snack. I measured out some cut carrots and celery in my green container. I paired them with a half orange container of pumpkin seeds (since the other half was used for the kalamata olives in my lunch.)

My post workout snack was a pumpkin pie Quest bar (red). OMG… this flavor is awesome! It’s a little higher in calories than I would like, but it is a limited time flavor and I wanted to try some, so I bought a 12 pack. It’s worth it my friends.

YUM

YUM

SO, this was week 1. I got as little caught up in my weekend plans and deviated from the Fix on Friday and Sunday (unfortunately). But, Today starts week 2 and I have nothing coming this week to derail me, so I’m getting right back to it. I will post my meal plan for week 2 sometime this week, as well as my fitness routine that I’m trying to work out. So far I’ve been able to stick to it… but I’ll talk all about it in another post. Happy Monday!

2015 Disney Marathon Weekend! Part 6- Last Day and Departure

If you’re just joining in my 2015 Disney Marathon Weekend series… check out my other posts on our arrival in Disney, and my 5K, 10K, half and full marathon experiences.

The day after the marathon, I was still hurting, but I definitely felt much better than the previous day. With 12+ hours of sleep under our belts, we got up and had a nice leisurely breakfast. It was nice out- not too cool, not too warm, and a little sunny. I had a few things I wanted to do on this Monday, but I wasn’t in any hurry. I really couldn’t be anyways.. as I was still walking pretty slow due to my knee.

The first thing we did was wander around our resort. There are lots of cool sculptures around and we wanted to get pictures with some.

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Ariel is my favorite

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Joining the party

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Posing with King Triton

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Mike is digging Sebastian

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Scariest Disney villain of all time

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Isn’t he handsome!?

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I think he likes this collection piece

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Treasure!

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Mike and the Snarfblack

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I found a Dinglehopper.

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Plotting with Scar

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I feel like I’m being followed…

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Hakuna Matata!

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Mufasa!

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Chillin’ with Rafiki

After we were finished our shenanagans, we headed out to Animal Kingdom. I was able to get fast passes for the Safari ride and “Its Tough To be a Bug.”

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“Dramatic” picture in AK.

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Tree of Life

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“Dramatic” picture of Everest

We had to wait a little while for our turn to ride the safari, so we wandered around a gift shop a while.

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Hanging around Africa

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Panama Jack

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I think this Safari hat suits me

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It’s a Pumba pilllow!

Finally it was time to get on the Safari. Always a good time.

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After the safari, we had some time to kill before seeing the bugs, so we popped over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

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On the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch

 

When we got over there, we saw that Chip and Dale were out with a very short line. I got in line, but they left for a break when I was the second person in line. We wandered in to the main building and saw that Rafiki was coming out.. since there were only 3 people there, I got in line and got to meet Rafiki! He was very excited about my Dopey medal, clapped and gave me a big hug!

 

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Hanging out with my pal Rafiki

We headed back and made it to see “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” We really didn’t need our fast passes, but they’re cool to have anyways. When we got out of the show, it had started to drizzle a bit. I decided to buy a poncho in the event that it started raining harder. I really didn’t need to see anything else in Animal Kingdom, so we got on a bus and headed over to Downtown Disney.

The ONE thing I wanted after the marathon, was Ghirardelli ice cream. It is the best treat at Disney World ever! I had wanted to get one at the cool down party on Sunday evening, but I ended up passing out dead asleep, and even if I hadn’t I don’t think I could have walked fer enough to get there. So, my plan was to get one for “lunch” and then spend the evening over at Hollywood Studios, the one park we hadn’t been to yet.

We made it to Downtown Disney fine and found it wasn’t too crowded in the shop. There was barely any tables open though, but magically I spotted some people leaving and I scooped one up. It had started to rain pretty good while we were in there, and not a lot of people could sit out on the terrace.. so we were pretty lucky as more people were ducking into the shop to escape the rain.

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SO worth a marathon to eat one of these!

We sat a while and ate our ice cream. Mike was a little worried about the rain, but I still wanted to go to the other park. I figured we could wait out the majority of the rain and then head over. We finished our ice creams and decided to move to make room for other customers looking for a seat. We walked outside as the rain picked up again. We found a seat close to the building under the terrace and put our feet up to avoid the flood. Then the skies OPENED.

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Watching the monsoon!

We sat there for more than an hour watching the driving rain, and wathing people rushing to shelter. I didn’t mind waiting and it was kind of relaxing to watch the rain. It had cooled off a lot, but I was comfortable in my sweatshirt and poncho. At one point it had let up a lot, so we decided to make our break for it (mind you, I still couldn’t go very fast due to my knee.) The wind had picked up pretty good, and it was a cold rain. By the time we got on a bus, we were both soaked (and I was shivering!) My knee had been aching.. not enough to deter me from wandering around slowly, but I just couldn’t picture myself walking all the way back to our room to change, then all the way back to the buses to go to the park. I conceded defeat and decided just to go back and stay in for the evening.

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Drenched and on the bus.

We took our time and packed up for our departure the next day. I felt bad that we should have spent more time at the parks (tickets are expensive!) but you just can’t battle the weather.

The next morning we had a fantastic breakfast then caught the Magical Express back to the airport. Always sad to go home, but I was ready to get life back to normal. Since I didn’t get a chance to take a picture at a park with all my medals, we took some pictures in front of the Disney store in the Airport.

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Proud Dopey finisher!

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Even got some of Mike in his 10K medal

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High five Mickey.. high five!

And thus ends my 2015 Disney Marathon Weekend saga. If you stuck with me through the whole thing.. thanks for reading! I hope my experiences gave good insight to the runDisney races and helped paint the picture of what it’s like to run at the “Happiest Place on Earth!”  Will I do the Dopey again.. NOPE- one and done. It’s just too expensive and too hard on my body physically. Will I do the Goofy Challenge.. I can’t say never, but it’s not on my radar anytime soon. Will I ever run another runDisney race.. I hope so! In my eyes, they still are the best races I’ve ever run. I hope to be able to experience other race weekends like Princess or the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. But for now, I’m taking a runDisney break. The takeaway- yes, it’s expensive. Yes, the challenges are strenuous both mentally and physically. But never put limits on yourself, whether it’s a 5K or an ultra marathon.. if you want it, take it! As Walt Disney once said….

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2015 Disney Marathon Weekend: Part 5- Marathon!

It’s taken a while, but I finally finished Part 5 of my Disney Marathon weekend series! Marathon day! (If you haven’t yet read my previous posts in this series check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4!)

Sunday was it! The culmination of all my training I’d done since July 2014! The last day! The day I would run my 2nd ever marathon and complete my first Goofy and Dopey challenges! All the running we had done in the three days before this didn’t even equal HALF of the total mileage for this challenge. This was THE big day, and once it was over.. I would be earning my last 3 medals! That is.. if I could finish.

It didn’t look good. My knee was hurt. My body was tired. My mind was not very positive. This was going to be a tough day.

Another 3 am wake up. Since I got back to the room late the previous night, we had got less than 4 hours of sleep. Keeping my eyes open was painful. I’m so glad I paid a crap ton of money to have this much FUN.

I was probably most excited for my marathon outfit. I had ordered a Dopey-green Raw Threads T-shirt that said “Love 48.6” on the front. On the back, I ironed on a decal I got from an Etsy shop that said “I’m with Dopey” and had a Mickey hand pointing to the side. Dawn was going to wear a matching one with the hand pointing the other way. I paired it with my purple sparkle skirt, and Dawn had on a green and purple tutu she had made. It was fabulous.

Marathon outfits!

Marathon outfits!

Traffic seemed a little heavier this day than the past 3 days. We ended up meeting Dawn and Tony 20 minutes later than we said we would… totally my fault.. I just couldn’t get myself together! We sat on the bus for a while trying to get to Epcot property. I was getting a little worried about making it on time, but we were ok. We even hung around a little while in the staging area before heading through the baggage claim tent to the runners only area. The weather was much warmer than it had been all week- in the 50’s. Pretty good running weather, but it was due to get much warmer, and there was even a chance for rain. I love how I had tank tops for my costumes for the three cold days, yet it was warm on the day I had a short sleeve shirt. Figures.

We made the hike to the starting corrals. a lot of people had already gone ahead, and the National Anthem was being sung before we even got to corral H. We still had plenty of time though, and were in our corrals by the time the first wave went off. As we got closer and closer to the starting line, I had a horrible sickening feeling in my stomach.. all I could think about was how much this was going to hurt.. and how I might not make it.

Marathon Starting line

Marathon Starting line

I didn’t take a lot of pictures for the first half of the course because it basically was the same as the day before. On mile 2 I could feel the pain creeping into my left knee. I would run an interval, then walk and it would feel better. But by the end of the next 90 second run interval, I would feel it again. The more this went on, the more intense the pain at the end of the run interval. I stopped at a med tent and put some Biofreeze on my knee. It helped at first, but the pain crept back in. I started to panic.

Dawn was the best.. she was telling me “you can do it.. come on.. we will get there.” But I was in a bad place. Physically I was hurting.. mentally I was giving up. On mile 3 I started crying. I couldn’t fathom running 23 more miles if my knee hurt this bad now. I told Dawn “I might have to drop out.. I don’t know what else to do. It hurts!” My girl turned to me and told me “NO! You are NOT dropping out! We have come this far.. you are going to FINISH. We are going to do this.. and I will be beside you! You think you are the only one out here hurting!? This is a MARATHON… you can’t do this without having pain sometime or another!” Then she brought up how she almost died at the Marine Corp Marathon, and it was true. I had no right to complain. All the Dopeys around me were probably in pain just like me (well maybe not JUST like me, but having a rough go at it all the same.) And then I got to thinking… what a blessing it was that the rest of me felt pretty good. My legs for being so tired, were holding up well over all. My feet had not started hurting. My right knee that had given me trouble in the 10K was feeling just fine. It was not cold.. or hot.. or raining..  and my husband was out there ready to cheer me on. I thought about all the sacrifices he’s made for me throughout training and for all the races I had already done. Somehow I snapped out of my miserable funk, and I decided I wasn’t going to quit.. I was going to DO this!

Since I was having considerable pain at the end of my 90 second running interval, I cut back to 30:30 intervals. It was miserably slow, but I found I could do that and it took the edge off. I got to hug my husband again at the Transportation Ticket Center. He asked how I was doing, and I told him I was hurting, but it was fine. I put on a smile so he wouldn’t worry.. and I didn’t even mention how a mile before I wanted to drop out.

We hit Magic Kingdom and I stopped in the same bathroom for a quick break. Something had come over me after Dawn gave me my verbal “slap”.. I was being really silly.. saying all kinds of nonsense things. I told Dawn about my “trick” that got me through my 23 miler on my peak training week, and we started playing a similar game. As we hit mile 6, I was feeling SO much more positive. I was still hurting, but it wasn’t getting worse. I was happy to hit 6 feeling “ok.” We started focusing on mile 12. I said, “If I can just get to mile 12 (that’s where my knee totally crapped out on me in 2013) I know I can walk the rest of the way and finish.” So we started chanting “Mile 12! Mile 12!” every time we started to get bored or needed to restore focus.

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Heading down Main Street in Magic Kingdom again!

Back behind the Polynesian We ran past our DJ friend again… this time “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors was blasting out… it was a great pick-me-up. Mike texted me and let me know he and Tony were going to be in the same spot as the day before to cheer us on. So happy to see my spectator again 🙂

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As we were trekking along, we came up on Bert and a few penguins from Mary Poppins. The line was super short, so we decided to jump in! Mary Poppins herself wasn’t there.. which is probably why the line was so short.

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Right after mile 8, we made the turn into the Speedway. This is probably one of my favorite parts! How many times in your life can you say you ran on a NASCAR speedway!? I didn’t remember how steep the tunnel getting in was though… a very sharp decline followed by a steep climb. The elevation change aggravated my knee pretty bad, so we walked. It was pretty slow anyways because it was fairly narrow and there were a lot of runners funneling through.

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Course Photographer caught this as we were coming out of the tunnel. Thumbs up.. still moving forward!

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Running around the track

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Sunrise peaking through the clouds

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Crossing the checkered flag!

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Race car.. Disney style!

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Love it!

On one side of the speedway, locals had their classic and modified cars on display and you could take pictures with them. For some reason.. it seemed like there were less cars out this year than in 2013. Also, I kept waiting to see Lightning McQueen or Mater.. but I didn’t see either. Bummer.

My Speedway pictures from 2013

My Speedway pictures from 2013

As we exited the speedway, we passed mile 9 and headed back on the highway. I stopped at another med tent to put more Biofreeze on and stretch a little bit. The we were on the road to Animal Kingdom! Amongst our silly chatting, our chanting of Mile 12, and taking in the sights along the highway.. I started to get hungry. I was SO happy when volunteers were giving out bananas around mile 11. I think “OOOHHH….BANANA!!!!” came out really loud. I couldn’t help it. When you run a marathon, you tend to eat all the food.

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Am I delusional.. or is that an alligator…?

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Coming up on mile 11… it was clouding up and getting pretty dark.

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Cool topiaries

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Getting closer to Animal Kingdom.. yep, that’s a pig with a race bib!

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I loved this owl… the girl in the pink ran up to take a picture and the owl turned it’s head all Linda Blair style and started staring at her! Funniest thing ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen.. we made it to mile 12!

Ladies and Gentlemen.. we made it to mile 12!

Mile 12 in 2013

Mile 12 in 2013

We hit mile 12 and me knee was still hanging in! Dawn said “Now we have to set a new goal.” I suggested mile17.. the beginning of ESPN center. We agreed and kept on going. Running through Animal Kingdom was a great distraction. PLUS at that time, the park was open.. so among the spectators were general park go-ers. You can never go wrong with more spectators!

20K!

20K!

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Running inside Animal Kingdom

I don’t do roller coasters, but I tried to convince Dawn to jump on Everest.. She wouldn’t go though.. saying “yup.. cause that’s all I need is to feel like I want to barf while I’m running a marathon.” Good point.

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Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom

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Passing Dino-Rama

After a little ways, we exited out behind the scenes. I was wondering if this was new, because I remembered running past the front entrance of the park. Never the less.. we hit half way!

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HALF WAY BABY!

We doubled back around and ended up running past the front entrance.. now THAT I remembered!

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So cool to have everyone hanging out and cheering for you!

I had noticed that I never saw the Tree of Life as were ran through the park.. but there was a lot of construction going on.. and walls up everywhere.. probably why I missed it. I made sure to stop at a med tent outside the park to attend to my knee. Stretching every so often helped a little. Moving along down the highway again, I saw some grave-digger guys from Haunted Mansion.. or maybe Tower of Terror… either way, the line wasn’t so bad so we decided to stop. It turned out to be the perfect personification of what we were feeling.. (or at least how I was feeling :-p)

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This marathon is KILLING me!

We continued on.. running through miles 15 and 16, getting ever closer to mile 17. We saw another DJ, some trampoline performers and Phineas and Ferb. As were getting closer, I was getting texts from Mike letting us know where he and Tony were in the ESPN complex.. and that they had sandwiches for us. It was right around then that it started to rain. A drizzle at first, but then it really started coming down! It was annoying because our legs had gotten to the point where it was hard to stabilize yourself in even of a slip. We saw a girl go down and was escorted to the medic tent sobbing. On the other hand, the rain reminded me how grateful I was that it was NOT sunny out. It was pretty humid and warm, and if the sun had come out, it would have been grueling. Finally, we make it to the entrance.

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Entering the Wide World of Sports complex

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Dawn high-fiving other runners on their way out

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Rain selfie!

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Chugging along in ESPN

My knee was hurting pretty bad again and I decided to stop to use the bathroom. I stretched while in line, but it really didn’t help. After a few more intervals, I knew I would have to walk for a while.

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Around the track

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Thought this was ironic… check the mile 18 sign up ahead..

We finally made it over to Mike and Tony.. and we were treated with cookies and sandwiches… I told him.. “all these runners may be passing us.. but I bet every single one is jealous of our sandwiches right now!” There should be a medal for world’s best spectators. REALLY. That should be a thing.

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World’s BEST spectator

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Chowing down

We left them and I still couldn’t run. We soon found ourselves at mile 19, and made our way into and around the stadium. IMG_4160

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I’m hurting.. but still moving!

After the stadium we meandered back towards the avenue we entered the complex on. We saw the guys a couple more times as the raced ahead of us (wasn’t hard because we were still walking.) but soon we were exiting and making our way back to mile 20! I was SO excited to see runners still coming in to ESPN; In 2013, by the time I came out, there was no one coming in! Seeing people still going in made me relax a little bit, and I knew I wasn’t too far behind that I might get swept.

I decided to keep walking and to try to run again at mile 20. Once we got there though, I couldn’t run more than 10 seconds before I had sharp shooting pain in and around my left knee. Dawn kept trying to encourage me.. but I physically couldn’t. I told her I’d walk to the med tent ahead, try more Biofreeze, and stretching, but I doubted anything else could be done. She told me she couldn’t walk for the next 6 miles (she had somewhere to be at 12:30) and I said I understood. After we left the med tent, and it was clear I couldn’t run anymore. We said our goodbyes after mile 21.

As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t really too upset by my need to walk. After all, I had thought about dropping out at mile 3. But I did feel bad for holding Dawn back.. and I felt really sad that I wouldn’t be able to finish with her.. especially after she had to accommodate my injury all those miles. But I smiled because I had made it to mile 21… and I was going to claw my way to the finish line, one way or another.

It felt strange to be alone after all that time. Our outfits had also gotten A LOT of attention with comments like “Cool! You’re even running on the right sides!” and “Those are awesome shirts! What a great idea!” We even had someone ask to stand between us while their friend took a picture from behind. But now that we had parted ways, I felt a little out of place. I decided to walk my way to Hollywood Studios and then see if I could run a little. I was keeping in communication with Mike about where I was, and he kept telling me to hurry up! My phone was on it’s last legs and I had to keep the texts to a minimum.. I still wanted to take pictures!

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35K!

As I approached Hollywood Studios.. I tried to run again. I made ran the 30 second interval, but I was really gritting my teeth at the end. As I started to walk, I had the shooting stabbing pain that was not going away.. “Yep.” I told myself. “That was stupid, and I’m NOT doing that again!” Then it started to rain again. Great.

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Raining coming into Hollywood Studios

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Passing the water tower and getting some encouragement

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Running through the tunnel on the Back Lot Tour ride.

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The Incredibles outside of the park had escaped to seek refuge from the rain… Mike and Sully were still hanging out under an awning though!

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Heading towards the park’s entrance

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Spectators outside the park

Near mile 24 I got a text from Mike that Dawn had finished! She made up a lot of ground the past few miles. I was two miles behind her.. but I heard mile 26 calling my name!

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Walking my way towards Epcot

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Swan and Dolphin..so NICE to see you!

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My favorite sign EVER.

As I walked my way along the lake, I was having large spurts of overwhelming emotion. I was trying my hardest to hold them back. I just couldn’t believe that I was doing it AGAIN. This was my second marathon. This was the Dopey challenge. and I was going to FINISH. I was also having a little bit of lightheadedness. I couldn’t figure out why- I had meticulously been making sure I was taking my fuel and drinking at every water stop. I was yelling at myself in my head that I had made it this far.. and I was NOT going to pass out NOW. I took a Power Aid cup at the next water stop and felt a little better after. I just had to stay focused and kept my eye on the prize.

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Yes.. that sign says 40K!

I fought hard to hold back my tears as I walked my way into the last park. I had just enough battery power left on my phone for my last few pictures.. and I texted Mike. EPCOT.

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Holy Crap. Mile 25.

The music they had blasting in Epcot was phenomenal. It was there to usher everyone in and tell them YOU. ARE. CHAMPIONS. There also were SO many spectators.. it felt like everyone there was these just for us runners. Even though I was so close to the finish, I needed to go to the bathroom. I had passed the opportunity about a half mile back because I wasn’t sure that I could get back up if I sat down! But as I walked my way through the World Showcase, I decided I did NOT want to crossing my legs trying to get my medals and hurry off to the bathroom. I wanted to enjoy and savor the moment. So I ducked into a restroom in Morocco. Definitely the right decision.

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Walking my way through my LAST mile

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Professional photographers caught me a few times in Epcot

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Still smiling!

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SO CLOSE!

FOCUS

FOCUS

As I passed the Ball, inching my way closer and eagerly looking for mile 26, I passed a man with a walker. A WALKER! AND I had to walk pretty hard to pass this guy! As much pain as I was in, I couldn’t believe there was someone who had walked the entire marathon with a walker. It was very humbling to witness. I HAD to get a picture of him. What an inspiration.

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His cape said “Rod’s Hero” Hero indeed.

Finally I was passing mile 26. I was having a harder time holding back my emotions. Mike texted me and said he was near the finish.. to look for him under a large tree.

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I rounded the corner and saw the tree. Under the tree, I saw Mike, Tony and Dawn! She had stayed to watch me finish! They started cheering wildly, and I yelled that I was going to run it in! I didn’t want to finish walking, I wanted to finish running! I had saved up the very last of the energy I had and as I made the last turn to the finish line, I took off.

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Running it to the finish line!

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Most beautiful sight in the world.

It hurt SO bad. It was all I could do to fight back tears of pain and emotion as I dug in and fought for the finish. This race was HARD earned. I was a two time marathoner, and I was a Dopey Challenge finisher. I was on top of the world.

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26.2 and 48.6 DONE!

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Fighting so hard to hold back my emotions

It was really hard to hold back the tears as I was given my marathon medal. I had my picture taken and headed through the challenge tent to be verified for my Dopey finish. I was handed my Goofy and Dopey medals and I couldn’t be prouder. I hobbled my way through the finisher chute, declining a picture with my new challenge medals. I just wanted to get some ice on my knee as fast as I could!

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Never given, ALWAYS earned.

I had a medic wrap a giant bag of ice to my knee with plastic wrap and hobbled over to our designated meet up spot. It still hurt to walk.. and the ice was very cold.. and melting all over the place. It felt strangely good though. I finally met Mike and the others and Dawn and I got pictures with our new prized possessions.

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Showing off Micky, Goofy, and Dopey!

I had finished the race in just over 7 hours- which means that I did NOT beat my previous marathon time of 6:56. While this was disappointing, sometimes, you have to shift your goals to the realities of what’s going on around you. In the end, all I wanted to do was finish, and somehow, I was able to scrape that together. I couldn’t have been prouder of myself.

My Garmin Marathon stats

My Garmin Marathon stats

As I hobbled over to a bus, I had NO idea how I was able to walk all those miles in the condition I was feeling. Twisting my knees in any way brought on terrifying weakness, like they could snap.. and I was very very slow trying to get around. We got back to the hotel and I was really glad I had not made plans for later in the day. It took about 30 minutes to walk back to the hotel room! I immediately took a shower and soaked in the bath. All I wanted to do was crawl into a ball and sleep. My mom ended up calling me while Mike was in the shower, and I had to tell her all about it. As soon as she was off the phone, I crashed. I had planned on napping for a few hours, then getting a late dinner in the cafeteria. It was hard to walk, but I wanted to move around a little to keep my muscles from getting too sore. I woke up and the clock read 10:56. I was dazed and confused, and even asked Mike why the clock was wrong. he said it wasn’t. I had slept for 7 hours!

It was then I realized that I had run a marathon on 3 hours of sleep. I didn’t have the strength to walk down to the cafeteria, so we scraped together the food we had in the room.. peanut butter, bananas, some nuts, remnants of my snack boxes given after the races. We had a makeshift dinner of snacks and watched about an hour of TV. I then brushed my teeth and went back to bed.

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Stay tuned for my last Disney Marathon Weekend post, coming soon!

2015 Disney Marathon Weekend: Part 4- Half Marathon!

I’m back to continue my 2015 Disney Marathon Weekend series with part 4- half marathon day!

This half was kinda special to me. In 2012 I launched my crazy running obsession by completing my 1st ever half- the 15th running of the Disney World Half Marathon. It was the biggest physical challenge I had ever done in my whole life. It gave me the courage and confidence to reach for even bigger challenges.. and I never would have even dreamed of doing the things I’m doing now before my first big milestone. That medal means the world to me.

The race that started it all!

The race that started it all!

This year, I returned to Disney to take on the Dopey challenge… and as part of that, I would be completing my 10th half marathon. I am so glad I was able to come back to the place that started it all and continue the magic with another great milestone 🙂

Anyways.. another 3 am wake up. This time however, it was not quite as cold. The temps were in the 40’s.. which was still cold.. but balmy compared to the previous 2 days. I decided to wear my black jacket under my costume again, as we were going to be out on the course longer than the previous races. Dawn and I were going as Marlin and Dorey for this race. I made a shirt that said “Just keep running, just keep running” on the front, and the back said “Sydney Epcot or bust!” I thought it was great… but for some reason, not a lot of people got it. I had several people come up to me on the course and ask if I was from Sydney. “Um.. no.. Finding Nemo..? Oh never mind.”

Ready for 13.1!

Ready for 13.1!

Tony and Mike were spectating for us, so they joined Dawn and I on the bus and in the parking lot before the start.

Marlin and Dorey

Marlin and Dorey

The starting line for the half and the full was different than the one for the 5K and 10K. The walk to the corrals was much longer- almost a mile! Once we were in our corrals, we waited for the start. We were in corral H, which if my memory serves me right- is the same corral we were in the first time we ran this half marathon! Soon they were playing the National Anthem, and letting the Elites and wheel chair divisions go. One by one corrals were released and we crept closer to the starting line.

Starting line!

Starting line!

Go!

A few fireworks and we were off!

About a half mile down the road, I turned to Dawn and said… “would you hate me if I told you I have to use the bathroom already” Then she told me “no, cause I have to too!” We skipped the first couple of porta-pots due to the lines, but I couldn’t hold it anymore by mile 2, so we stopped near the Pirates of the Caribbean ship. I was pretty self conscious about how wide my homemade tutu made me feel.. but I decided to take it off when visiting the bathroom.. less to get in the way and less chance of a *ahem* wardrobe malfunction.

Pirates of the Caribbean on mile 2

Pirates of the Caribbean on mile 2

After the potty break, we soon found ourselves entering Magic Kingdom property! I was excited because this meant we would soon see Mike and Tony, who were waiting for us at the Transportation Ticket Center.

On our way to Magic Kingdom!

On our way to Magic Kingdom!

On mile 3 we saw Wreck-it Ralph and the crew from Nightmare Before Christmas. We kept a look-out for Mike and Tony and finally found them right before mile 4!

Wreck-it Ralph!

Wreck-it Ralph!

Nightmare Before Christmas

Nightmare Before Christmas

my spectator!

my spectator!

taking the above picture!

taking the above picture!

saying hi to Tony's camera

Saying hi to Tony’s camera

Moving right along… we ran under the tunnel making our way through mile 4.. I always love the DJ standing above us, with his giant hands and empowering music. So much fun. We came up on Space Mountain right by mile 5. Right after that we made a sharp turn and ran ourselves right onto Main Street!

This DJ is always fun

This DJ is always fun

mile 5 up ahead!

Mile 5 up ahead!

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Entering Magic Kingdom!

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running down Main Street.. Castle up ahead!

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Lots of runners pulled to the side for pictures

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Quick selfie

Continuing on, we ran through Tomorrowland. There was a huge line for Buzz Lightyear.. and for every character really. I started to realize that we really wouldn’t be stopping for characters this year as we had hoped. It was around this time that I announced to Dawn that I had to go to the bathroom AGAIN. (I don’t know what was wrong with me.. I never have to go this much.)

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Entering Tomorrowland

After my bathroom break (of which I had to double back because I left my phone in the stall! Seriously… what was wrong with me!?) we ran our way to the back of Cinderella’s castle. On the balcony was Anna and Elsa from Frozen greeting everyone as they ran through!

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Anna and Elsa on the balcony

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Running through the castle!

On our way out, someone jumped in front of me and stopped right in front of the photographer, so I didn’t get a picture coming out.. but we decided to stop and get a picture in front of the castle (something we’ve never done before!) There were a lot of photographers here, so the line moved rather quickly.

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Waiting in line in front of the castle.. so pretty in the morning light

Happiest half on Earth!

Happiest half on Earth!

We pressed on and hit mile 6 near Frontier Land. We wound our way through the rest of the park and exited out behind the scenes. As we were leaving the park and making our way back to the highway, there was a DJ playing Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off.” He was keeping us going and being pretty funny- telling us “You’re half way there runners! And if you’re running tomorrow…. you won’t even be close!”

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Mile 6!

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Shakin’ it off!

We ran by the golf course and Polynesian resort. I got a text from Mike saying he and Tony were waiting by an unmarked cop car. We chugged along until finally we saw them! There is nothing better than seeing your people cheer you on as you’re getting tired.

Speaking of getting tired.. I didn’t mention in my last post that during the 10K, I had started getting some sharp stabbing knee pain on my right knee. It felt like it was just under the knee cap. It wasn’t every step, but every couple of steps, and it came and went, and came again. Worried about this, I decided for the half, to wear my knee brace on my right knee. Prior to the half, I had not felt any hint of the knee pain I had been experiencing towards the end of my training on my left knee. This pain in my right was a whole other type of pain… one that I could tell could be debilitating if it decided to become a real injury. The type of pain I had in my left knee was more of a softer pain, one that came on gradually and became more intense over time. Ironically.. the pain I had been experiencing in my left knee was the same pain I had in my right in 2013 that caused me to walk half of the marathon.

During the half, I felt no notion of the stabbing pain on my right knee. I did wear my brace, with the idea that if the left knee started hurting, I’d switch the brace over. Around mile 7, I could feel the pain creeping into my left knee. By mile 9, I had to switch the brace.

We continued our 90:90 intervals, but I was definitely feeling run down and was hurting more and more. The brace helped, but only to a point. I think the damage was already done. I was stopping to stretch more, and definitely running slower. Mile 10 was very welcome.. especially considering who was on the sign!

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Yay fishies!

On mile 11, we met two girls who were also running as Marlin and Dorey.. it was pretty cool as they said they had not seen any others all race.. and neither had we! As we entered into Epcot.. I was hurting pretty bad. I didn’t have to stop running, but I could tell my gait had changed and I was gritting my teeth at the end of every run interval. I was excited to be back in the park though, still smiling for the cameras!

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Not sure why Dawn is flying.. or why I’m doing that.. but I look pretty happy…

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This is a photo runDisney posted on their Facebook page.. way cool!

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Rounded the corner and HOME STRETCH!

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Bringing it home!

Apparently Mike and Tony were standing by the finish line. Mike said Dawn saw them, but I was in the zone. I SO wanted to be done.. I was hurting pretty bad. Dawn grabbed my hand and we charged for the finish line… another race and my 10th half marathon in the books!

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Nothing like that finish line!

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3 of 4 Dopey races and 22.4 miles DONE!

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Running sisters for life ❤

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So proud of my bling!

This half ended up being my worst half time ever.. over 3 hours! Strangely, I was ok with this.. because I still had a full marathon ahead of me.. and I had NO idea how that was going to happen.

Race 3 and 13.1 DONE!

Race 3 and 13.1 DONE!

Garmin half marathon stats

Garmin half marathon stats

Once again, heat sheets were not being handed out after the race. It was annoying, but at least I had given Mike my coat to hold while we were running, so I had something to throw on. It wasn’t terribly chilly, but being sweaty, it was enough to make me feel cold. We ended up finishing before 9, which was perfect because I really wanted to watch Trenton run in the kid’s races that morning. We wasted no time and hopped on a bus back to the hotel. There was no direct transport to the ESPN complex, so we had to go back to the hotel to catch another bus back out. Since we had plenty of time (The kids races started at 11) I decided to have a quick shower before we headed over.

Even though I was worn out and didn’t like the idea of walking to/from our room.. the shower was the right decision. I didn’t have time to soak in my Epsom salts, but I felt 10 times better after getting a little fresher. Not going to lie though, my knees- both of them, were shot. The left one hurt, and the right one was very weak and tired. Navigating stairs was a bit of an issue.. and I could not go fast. Again- I had no idea how I was supposed to run a full marathon the next day.

Now I have 3!

Now I have 3!

We boarded a bus bound for the ESPN complex.. and then sat at a traffic light for 4 cycles. ESPN was literally across the highway from where our resort was… and it took us almost half an hour to get there. In true runDisney fashion, the bus let us off at the furthest possible place it could. It was 11 at this point, and I was really worried that I would miss Trenton. I still had to gimp walk about a mile to where the races were being held and I couldn’t go very fast. We made it with about 10 minutes to spare, although I almost died going down the stairs. (OK exaggeration.. but it hurt.)

We waited while they sent the kids off in waves. Trenton was running the 200 yard dash. He was pretty hesitant before hand and kept saying he was going to walk. We decided to split up so that he could have  cheering spectators all around the track. I took Gemma to the far side, Mike was in the middle, my sister stood at the start and raced around as he ran, and AJ was at the finish line. I almost didn’t see him coming, and I might have missed him if I hadn’t seen Diane running near me. I looked up and saw him trotting along.. with a kind of worried yet determined look on his face. We cheered him on, but I’m not sure he heard us.. at least he never responded.. I guess he was really concentrating!

My sister sent this awesome pic of Trenton before his race!

My sister took this awesome pic of Trenton before his race!

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The proud finisher

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Couldn’t wait to text me something… sigh.

Well, he finished in second to last place in his wave.. but he didn’t walk at all! We were so proud of him and wanted to take pictures.. but all he seemed to be interested in was getting Mom’s iPhone so he could “text Aunt Stephanie something.” Sigh.. that kid is a class-A tech geek at age 5.

We meandered our way out of ESPN and made plans to meet them over at our hotel for lunch. My sister had made us a wonderful lunch of egg salad, avocado hummus, and snacks. It was really great and she’s a pretty good cook! When we first planned out our trip- we were going to hang out by the pool and spend some time with the kids. Unfortunately Mother Nature decided to make it the coldest week of the year in FL, so we couldn’t use the pool. After a bunch of post lunch silliness, Gemma was getting cranky. My sister asked if we would take Trenton while they drove around with Gemma so she could nap a while. No problem-o!

Attack of the kids!

Attack of the kids!

What I really could have used was a nap myself, but I was happy to spend some time with my favorite boy. I really wanted to take an Epsom salt bath to try and relax my sore and tired legs, so that’s the first thing I ended up doing to get it out of the way. Mike hung out with Trenton and I took my timer and soaked for 20 minutes. It felt so good and was so needed. When I got out I snuggled into bed between Mike and Trenton. Mike started dozing off as Trenton played with Diane’s phone and was trying to get me to text him. Over and over and over. Eventually I had to tell him that I needed to charge my phone and he couldn’t text me anymore. I got out my iPad and he was tickled that I had a folder on there labeled “Trenton”. I told him it was because he put a ton of apps on there last time I came to visit, and I put them in his own folder- he said he didn’t remember doing it! Eventually he got bored and decided to take a look at all our running gadgets. I was explaining what each one did when he came across Mike’s Bluetooth earphones. He had to ask Funny Mike what they were and how they worked.. and was genuinely attentive and amused. He had us set them up on Diane’s phone and danced all around the room to the music in his head. He thought they were the coolest thing since sliced bread. It was so funny.

It was around this time Diane and AJ arrived back with Gemma. Gemma was so excited to be in the room because she is a huge Little Mermaid fan! She kept telling me that “Aweal is coming!” “We gotta find Aweal!” We sat and watched the beginning of Frozen and then she wanted to watch her “egg videos” which apparently were weird Youtube videos of a woman opening chocolate eggs to reveal toys inside them. (Diane said she found them once and now watches them all the time. Weird little kid.) Later, she found my tutu I had worn in the race earlier and exclaimed “Hey! Check THIS out!” Yes, this kid is 2.

Gemma in my tutu

Gemma in my tutu

Me and Gem hanging out watching "egg videos"

Me and Gem hanging out watching “egg videos”

We all had dinner reservations at The Wave restaurant in the Contemporary Resort. After taking some time to get ready, we finally headed out. Trenton wanted to ride the bus and the monorail, so he hung out with Funny Mike and myself. Diane, AJ and Gemma drove in their car. We waited a long time for a bus.. over 20 minutes! We saw buses for every other park EXCEPT for Magic Kingdom. In fact, we had seen multiple buses for all the other parks. By the time we finally got on a bus (and waited another 10 minutes for it to load up some disabled guests, we finally got on. They crammed us in, but we managed to find a seat for Trenton. I was a little mad I had to stand because Magic Kingdom was the furthest park away, and my poor legs were still very tired. But I didn’t complain.

We got to Magic Kingdom and walked over to take the monorail to the Contemporary. This was also very crowded. We were getting texts and phone calls from Diane and Dawn wondering where we were. We let them know we were on the way as we had to wait for 2 monorails before we were able to get on one. When we finally got to the restaurant.. we saw that everyone was still hanging out waiting to be seated. So much for making a reservation. (We did however, get to catch the end of the Ravens game on a tv by the bar… and were devastated that the had lost and were now out of the playoffs for the Superbowl. Darn!) It was after 7:30 by the time we were finally seated.

The restaurant was pretty nice. It had somewhat of an upscale vibe, even though Disney only rates it as two dollar signs ($$) for dinner. There were a limited amount of entrees to choose from, but it hit pretty much all the basic groups (chicken, pork, beef, pasta, fish, and vegetarian.) I had the pork tenderloin and Mike had ravioli. While we were waiting for our food, we shared some house bread.. and Gemma decided to eat a lemon slice. Seriously. I think there’s something wrong with her :-p

Gemma eating her lemon

Gemma eating her lemon

My pork tenderloin

My pork tenderloin

Mike's Ravioli

Mike’s Ravioli

When dinner was over, Dawn Tony Mike and I jumped on the monorail.. except we got on the wrong one and ended up in Epcot instead of Magic Kingdom. We had to walk a little ways from the monorail station to get to a bus stop. All that walking! I was SO tired, I could have collapsed and fell asleep right there. I was also still sore, and was REALLY dreading the next day. It was kind of funny that earlier in the week, I had expressed the thought to Mike that I was scarred from the last time I ran in Disney.. and all those feelings I had back in 2013 about running the marathon and how worried I was at the time came back to me even though this time was going to be different. Well maybe it was a gut feeling or a bad omen or something. Because here I was two years later in the same exact position-. dreading having to run all those miles with a hurt knee. I was feeling rather sick over the thought of running.. it was really bringing me down. All my hard work, all my precautions of taking it slow, running intervals, and paying attention to my body did nothing, and I was still showing up to the starting line injured. And this year I wasn’t starting in Corral C.. I was starting back in H.. meaning I had less of a buffer if I could run anymore to finish in the required time. On top of all that weight on my shoulders.. I was exhausted and it was really late.

We got back to the room sometime after 10. I wanted to take another Epsom salt bath, but I really needed to get in bed and sleep. I decided to ice my knee for about 10 minutes and try to sleep it off.. after all, I had to be up in 3.5 hours to run a marathon.

2015 Disney Marathon Weekend! Part 3- 10k!

Friday was a big day! It was the day of the 10k, Mike’s FIRST 10k race!

We set our alarms for 2:30. Am. Yeah…. Ouch. The forecast was still cold, but marginally better than the previous day, with little wind. Swell. There were lots of comments on Facebook from people who were nervous about this race because they were scarred from the previous day. I have to say, I was with them on that. I decided on wearing my pants, but decided not to wear the jacket this time. My outfit for the race was a yellow tank top that said This Beauty Runs Like A Beast in red glitter, a yellow sparkle skirt, red sports bra and red sparkle headband. I added yellow arm sleeves to the mix for extra comfort. Mike wore his Baltimore 5K shirt with a long sleeve shirt underneath. I was going to make him a shirt that read BEAST on the front, but he was having none of that. (Too bad.. would have been cute!)

ready to race!

ready to race!

We headed out to catch the bus around 3:30 am and met up with Dawn and Tony. Dawn had a pretty awesome Snow White costume going on. We had no trouble hopping on a bus and heading to the start. Since there was very little wind, we ventured out closer to the DJ stand in the staging area. We took advantage of no line in front of a Goofy Challenge backdrop while we were waiting around.

being Goofy

being Goofy

Mike and I

Mike and I

Hanging out near the DJ stage

Hanging out near the DJ stage

After standing around a while, we were ushered into the corrals. Mike was placed in corral D, so Dawn and I had to drop back to his corral to run with him. (Dopeys had one bib for the 5/10K and a second bib for the half/full, so our corrals were still B for Friday as well.) The waiting seemed like forever. I tried to get Mike to block the breeze for me, but it really didn’t help. Eventually the corrals ahead of us had gone and it was finally our turn to line up.

Dawn the burrito

Dawn the burrito

10K start line

10K start line

The race started in the same place as the 5K, took off in the same direction, but turned the opposite way, leaving Epcot property all together. We got to run through the Epcot lot gates, which was cool, and encountered our first characters under an overpass running down the highway. Mike thought it was really cool.. and told me later it was the coolest part of the course (pun intended.)

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Anna and Elsa from Frozen.. they even had snow falling around us

We kept our intervals pretty good, still using 90:90. Like the 5K, we didn’t stop for characters because the lines were a little long. The highway stretch was a little dull, other than a few characters and the Frozen overpass. But soon enough we were looping our way back into Epcot and the World Showcase.

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Mile 3 – sign on the gate behind Epcot

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World Showcase, 10K style

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Running around the world!

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On mile 4 we saw Genie…

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And Mickey… as you can see, lots of people taking selfies to avoid the lines

The Second half of mile 4 brought us to the boardwalk- a place I had only been once before, during the 2013 marathon. It was really pretty all lit up.

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Running down Disney’s Boardwalk

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View across the lake

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Coming off the Boardwalk and heading towards the Yacht Club Resort

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Crossing the bridge towards Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

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Lighthouse at the Yacht Club near mile 5

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Mile 5- cause who doesn’t love a good pirate ship!?

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Race selfie!

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cheesin’

Eventually, we made our way back into Epcot. Mike was getting a little tired at this point. Dawn and I were trying to give him words of encouragement was we went along. I kept telling him that it was almost over and that he was going to rock it!

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There she is!

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getting ready to pass The Seas pavilion and the Nemo ride

At this point there were a ton of professional photographers snapping pictures everywhere… we got a couple of interesting ones…

Mike was in the zone.. and I was trying to keep him there!

Mike was in the zone.. and I was trying to keep him there!

then there's THIS gem

then there’s THIS gem

I wanted a picture at mile 6.. because it was a huge milestone for Mike to be almost done his longest race ever. It turned out to be one of my favorite pictures!

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hellz to the YES!

We rounded the corner and took her home! Mike was a little bit ahead of us at the finish.. he wanted to be done already!

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nothing like the finish line!

Dawn and I finishing behind Mike

Dawn and I finishing behind Mike

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SO upset with this one.. my camera just wasn’t fast enough!

Proud 10K finshers!

Proud 10K finshers!

chip time was 1:28:56

Garmin was a little off on the mileage, chip time was 1:28:56

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Isn’t she beautiful!?

Again, like the previous day, runDisney did not hand out heat sheets to fnishers. The snack boxes and the like, were the same. Didn’t complain though… the little tortilla chips and packet of cheese to dip them in were pretty darn tasty. The line for the bus wasn’t as long this time- I’m guessing because it wasn’t quite as bitterly cold as the previous day, and people were lingering about.

After showers, resting, and a nap, Mike and I headed out to Downtown Disney.

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We wandered around a bit, looking in some stores, and taking pictures of some scenery. I stopped in the Christmas store and bought this little guy:

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Dopey 2015!

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Proud 10K finisher in the candy store!

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Mr Potato Head!

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To infinity and beyond!

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Lego Dopey

LOOK what I found!

LOOK what I found!

YES! Pug stud earrings at a jewelery shop!

YES! Pug stud earrings at a jewelery shop! I would have totally ROCKED these!

We made our way to Splitsville Luxury Lanes on the west side. I had dinner reservations for us there later on in the evening and we wanted to do some bowling before dinner. We had to wait a little before bowling, so we enjoyed a drink at the bar first. It was fun, but for only an hour of play, it was pretty expensive.

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Splitsville at Downtown Disney

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Enjoying our drinks- cinnamon toast coladas!

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How’s THIS for an action shot!?

 After dinner we headed back to the hotel. We got back later than we wanted because we waited for a shuttle boat to take us back to the marketplace from the West side (buses no longer run over there, and I wanted to save my legs the walk.) We made time for another round of Epsom salt baths though, and then hit the sack. Saturday would be a loooonnnngg day and another early morning.

Next up: Part 4- Half Marathon!

And if you missed them:

Part 1- Arrival and Expo

Part 2- 5K