7 Days!

After my husband and I came back from our RunDisney vacation in January 2015, we started talking about what we wanted to do for our next vacation. We like to plan nice trips every year or so, and we usually start soon after the last one so that we know what we want to do and have plenty of time to save up for it.

In 2012 we went to Vegas

Caesar's

Caesar’s

 

New York New York

New York New York

 

Paris, of course ;)

Paris, of course 😉

 

At the Venetian

At the Venetian

 

And saw the Grand Canyon!

And saw the Grand Canyon!

In 2013 we Honeymooned on a 7 night cruise to the Bahamas in style!

champagne in our suite cabin

Champagne in our suite cabin

 

Chilling on our private balcony

Chilling on our private balcony

 

sipping drinks from a coconut pool-side

Sipping drinks from a coconut pool-side

 

swimming in the most amazing water ever

Swimming in the most amazing water ever

 

The Newlyweds getting Fancy at dinner

2014 We layed a little low, in preparation for our week long trip to Disney World. We did take a trip to the Poconos to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary

 

Paddle boating in the lake at the Poconos

Paddle boating in the lake at the Poconos

 

Hiking

Hiking

 

playing lots of pool

Playing lots of pool

 

eating 1 year old wedding cake (YUM!)

Eating 1 year old wedding cake (YUM!)

 

and White Russians (of course!)

and White Russians (of course!)

January 2015 we went to Disney World!!!

Exploring Epcot

Exploring Epcot

 

Ready to run a 10K!

Ready to run a 10K!

 

mmm... avocado!

mmm… avocado!

 

Uncle Mike (aka Funny Mike) even borrowed Trenton's Mickey ears for a while :)

Uncle Mike (aka Funny Mike) even borrowed Trenton’s Mickey ears for a while 🙂

 

my spectator!

my spectator!

 

saying hi to Tony's camera

saying hi to the camera mid half marathon

 

Attack of the kids!

Attack of the niece and nephew!

 

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Dopey Complete! Showing off the hardware!

 

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Goofing off

 

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And then there’s this…

We didn’t do anything extravagant Since then. We’ve made trips to New York to visit Mike’s family/friends. We took a weekend trip to Virginia with my mom’s boyfriend’s family in Aug 2015. We visited my sister’s family last April to celebrate some birthdays. We even did a day trip to Hershey Park last month.

Boating in VA (with Zeus!)

Boating in VA (with Zeus!)

 

Happy 7 year old!

Happy 7 year old!

 

Happy 4 year old!

Happy 4 year old!

But in 7 days we depart for our biggest vacation ever! We will spend the next almost 3 weeks touring 7 cities of 4 countries in Europe! So excited!!!

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This is something we’ve been talking about for 2 years, been actively planning for 1 year, and anxiously waiting for since we made our deposit back in April. It’s taken some careful saving and lots of research, but we’re finally here.. paid in full… locked and loaded and ready to get this show on the road!

I took a trip to Europe with a student group in 2003, when I was 19. Back then there really were not camera phones, let alone smart phones, nor was there GPS or social media. Crazy to think about huh? I had a normal exposure camera and this was before you could even tell if you took a good picture or not! I took 11 rolls of film, 5 of them in Paris alone! I’m SO looking forward to going back and taking more photos.. unlimited photos.. that I’ll be able to share with family and friends in real time! (Or… near real time anyways.. as I probably won’t be posting much on the go.)

Mike has never been to Europe, and I’m very excited to go and experience these things with my best friend. While we don’t exactly share the same interest in being there (I’m ALL about the history and the art… and the art history LOL He’s all about meeting the people and seeing the culture) I’m just thrilled to share new experiences as we adventure around.

Our first stop will be in Dublin, Ireland. We will spend a few days there and make our way down, stopping for a few days in London, followed by Paris. From Paris, we get to take an overnight train to Florence, where we’ll also get to explore Pisa and the Cinque Terre. Then we will spend the last four days in Rome before we head home.

I think Italy is what Mike is looking forward to the most.. he is half Italian of course! He also is responsible for adding Ireland to our trip, as he has Irish on his mother’s side. While I’ve been to Paris, I have not been to any of the other cities we’re going to. Paris is my heart, but I’m also completely fascinated with the history of the English monarchy, particularly in the 14th-16th century range. I can’t wait to visit Westminster Abby, Hampton Court Palace, and the Tower of London. We’re going to see and do so much.. I can’t wait!

I’m most nervous about the language barrier. I speak a little French- not fluent, but enough to get around. I’ve been using Duolingo- an language teaching app, to try and learn a little Italian. I’m terrible at it. I have the hardest time with the pronunciation because I’m so used to the way the French say things. But I also have a phrase book and Google Translate.. and I think people know enough English to communicate. I just hate that Americans are so Monolingual.. and people here are so mean to others who don’t speak the native language, that I’m self conscious when it comes to visiting other countries with different languages. Ugh, C’est la vie.

I’d love to do a packing post… as I researched them heavily in preparation for this trip. I’m also probably going to do a post for each leg of the trip, but I may not get to them very fast. In the meantime, if anyone is curious, I’ll probably be posting pictures on Instagram if you want to follow along 🙂

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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 😉

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

Meet Doug the Pug.. from the Doug the Pug Facebook page. How cute!

Meet Doug the Pug.. from DougthePug.com How cute!

It’s Wednesday and hope everyone is gearing up for a super great Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow! I finally solidified my plans for dinner, and will be going over my Aunt’s to have dinner with her family and my dad.. and of course my husband is coming too!

Pre-dinner activities will include a Turkey Trot 5K with my husband and my friends, followed by a breakfast over at my mom’s afterwards. I’m glad I get to spend a little bit of time with everyone… but I’ll definitely be eating more than my fair share. Meh… that’s kind of the point with this holiday though, so not going to beat myself up over it. It’s one day.

I have been keeping that in the back of my mind however, and have planned this week accordingly. First lets take it back a bit.

A couple weeks ago, Mike and I drove up to his hometown of Farmingdale NY to visit with friends and family. We stayed Wednesday (Veterans day) to the following Monday. We hadn’t been up there since last Christmas, save a quick weekend trip to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday. Plus, we were planning on spending this Christmas at home in MD, since we’ve never done that in the 7 years we’ve been together.  It was a great little vacation, filled with some relaxation, and a little rushing around to see everyone. But it was also filled with food, and while I tried to prepare myself as much as I could (brought hard boiled eggs, salad fixings, greek yogurt, Kashi, some fruit and healthy snacks) I still couldn’t avoid the bad stuff the whole time. Most of the time the food was healthy, but I way overate my portions and couldn’t always follow the 21DF plan. I DID work out just about every day I was there, doing some pretty killer bodyweight HIIT workouts involving lots of plyo. But exercise can only take you so far when you’re not eating your best.

Anyways.. I decided that instead of replacing the S90D workouts I would have done, that I would just “re-do” that whole week when I got home. So I did. As of yesterday, I finished day 30 of the program. Quite happy to officially be 1/3 in! I haven’t measured any progress yet, because for the past 3 days, in anticipation of Thanksgiving and all the eating that goes with it… I’ve been following the 3 Day quick fix part of the 21DF plan.

So what is the 3 day quick fix? Basically, it’s a 3 day meal plan designed to be done at the end of a round of the 21DF to give you a little extra boost in your efforts, and help break through some plateaus. I’m doing it in preparation for Thanksgiving, but it can be done whenever you want a little edge up. The plan is pretty easy and tells you exactly what to eat- 6 small meals over the course of the day.

Breakfast is egg whites, coconut oil, and oatmeal. I cooked 4 egg whites in the coconut oil, and then made some plain oatmeal, adding a little Truvia and cinnamon. I do have to admit, I had my cup of coffee w/ fat free half and half.. not giving up the coffee. Sorry.

21DF 3 day Quick Fix breakfast

21DF 3 day Quick Fix breakfast

The next four meals rotate between chicken and fish with steamed vegetables. Some of which have coconut oil. The way I did it was I got some Perfect Portions chicken breasts and some individually portioned fish fillets (salmon and tilapia) and cooked a bunch of it to put in lunches. The chicken I cooked in the coconut oil, but the fish, I did not. One chicken meal was to be accompanied by yams, so I cut up and steamed some sweet potatoes. I also got some steamed broccoli to eat with the other chicken dish, and some Green Giant frozen vegetable mix to eat with the fish meals. The sixth meal was ground turkey, coconut oil, and steamed vegetables. I simply cooked the ground turkey in the coconut oil, then used the same pan to saute some spinach and tomatoes. This meal I ate after my workouts.

Four out of 5 of my remaining meals

Four out of 5 of my remaining meals

I’ve been pretty good sticking to this 3 day plan… my mantra has been..”It’s only 3 days… It’s only 3 days.” I miss yogurt and avocado and fruit and grains, and the occasional sugar. This plan is not sustainable for me beyond the near term.. thus.. only three days.

I do feel that I’m less bloated (not that I was a ton bloated to begin with) so I guess that’s a positive.. but I don’t like eating this often.. it feels strange to me to eat a regular meal every 2-3 hours.. especially when I come home from the gym. I’m usually craving something sweet and eat my Quest bar.. not ground turkey. I will say that although I’ve been kind of dreading my meals.. they’ve also been pretty good, so I don’t feel unsatisfied at the end… just.. doesn’t fit my cravings in the beginning. Guess that’s not a bad thing… but just kind of boring.

Anyways, today is my last day doing this.. so tomorrow I’ll take some measurements and see how I’ve done for this month. Looking forward to getting the next month going!

 

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 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

 

 

2015 Disney Marathon Weekend! Part 2- 5k!

Continuing on my 2015 Disney Marathon Weekend saga, I give you Part 2- 5K! (If you missed Part 1 click HERE)

Thursday morning I was up at 3 am. The 5K started an hour later than all the other races, but still, 3 am sucks. What made it easy though, was that I set all of my race things out ahead of time, so I didn’t need to go digging through my suitcase to find stuff.

There had been warnings out all over Facebook regarding the wind chill advisory for Thursday morning. I knew the temperatures were supposed to drop, but I figured.. “eh, how bad could it be?”

Bad. It was bad. When I woke up I felt a little chilled, and I noted that the temperatures were reading in the high 30’s, so I decided to do the smart thing and wear a jacket under my tank top. My outfit for the 5k was supposed to be a purple tank top I made that said “legs are required for racing” and my green tutu I wore for the Shamrock 5K last march. I accessorized with a pink sports bra and pink sparkle head band. Obviously, I was going for my favorite Disney princess, Ariel. In anticipation of the cooler weather forecast, I purchased a bunch of arm warmers in various colors (green for Ariel!) I could sport in case of an emergency. It was clear that that alone wouldn’t be enough. So, I threw on my thin Under Armour premium from the Sole of the City 10K that I decided to bring last minute. (SO glad I did that!).

After a quick breakfast of a bagel, I grabbed a heat sheet to wrap around me, snapped on my race bib, snatched up my small hand held water bottle, my phone and some hand warmers, and headed out to catch a bus to the start. As soon as I left the hotel room.. I realized I had not only made a smart decision to wear the jacket… I had made a necessary decision. It was cold. SO much colder than upper 30’s should have felt. The wind was raw and very gusty. I walked quickly to the main building and stood inside the doorway to wait for Dawn. When she showed up, she was also wrapped nice and tightly in a heat sheet. I started to complain about the cold when she informed me she was wearing a tank top. (YES… she wore a tank top and no other layer in upper 30’s, feels-like-upper-20’s, windy weather.) She was dressed up as Tinker Bell, complete with wings. The wings also prevented her from being able to pull the heat sheet over her head to try and get a bit warmer. Her costume looked great though.. too bad Florida decided to become Maryland for a day. (Don’t get me wrong… it was in the single digits at home! But this was pretty darn cold for central FL.)

We got right on a bus and were temporarily relieved of the bitterness. But, the reprieve went too soon, as it was not long before we had arrived at the Epcot bus drop off and herded to the start. Disney races are fun like that.. get up super early, catch a bus, stand in a staging area for 1-2 hours, walk (sometimes far!) to the start corrals, wait another 30- 60 minutes, walk to the start line, wait another 5 minutes.. add the bitter cold and yeah, not fun.

As we made our way to the staging area, we noticed some runners huddled inside an empty “Information” tent. We weren’t sure what they were congregating for until we rounded the corner and found an occupied “Information tent.” This tent was perpendicular to a chain link fence covered with some kind of construction wrap. A ton of runners were huddled here, so we made our way to the fence where we might be shielded by the wind a little. We could feel there was a slight heated breeze coming from the Information tent and realized they must have heaters. It was by no means warm, but it did block some of the negative effects of the wind. We huddled there a while until we were chased out by staff. After that, we joined the pack of runners a little further out in the corner, all standing close to one another trying to block the wind and cold. There was a variety of people.. some with skimpy costumes, some with warm coats; There WERE a few like Dawn, with exposed skin, but not many. I had elected (like a fool) to wear capri leggins and not my fleece insulated tights (stupid! stupid!).. and the lower part of my legs down through my feet stung so bad in the cold.

Tinker Dawn

Tinker Dawn

But I thought I WAS smiling!

But I thought I WAS smiling!

Finally, like the runner version of the March of the Penguins, we were herded to the start corrals. Dawn and I were both assigned to corral B, which was just fine for us, because it meant we could start all the sooner and be done with this nonsense. After about another 30 minute wait, we finally were herded to the start. As we were standing around at the start line, listening to the announcer try and psych us up for the race, one guy started singing “Let us goooo! Let us GOOOO!” Best Let It Go rendition EVER.

Waiting for the GO!

Waiting for the GO!

When we were finally off, neither one of us wanted to toss our heat sheets. So, for the very first time in my 4 years of running, I ran with my heat sheet. The first couple intervals took us around the Epcot parking lot and back in through the backside of Epcot’s World Showcase. Only, we were so cold, that I think we ran pretty much the first mile before actually doing intervals.

2014_Walt-Disney-World-5K-10K-Course-Map

2014 map, but essentially the same course

I had warmed up enough to toss my heat sheet right before we entered the World Showcase. Dawn ran with hers the whole time. We didn’t stop for characters 1- because it was too cold, and 2- because of the long lines. We kept telling ourselves that it was just a 5k.. and that it would be over soon and we could go back to our warm hotel rooms. In Epcot, there was music playing as we ran. We sang to some of the songs to keep our spirits up. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah came on.. and I hadn’t heard that song in ages! In fact, I don’t know if any kids now days would know it at all. I started singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah , Zip-A-Dee-Ay… My oh my what a wonderful day!” Dawn joined in with “plenty of sunshine headin’ my way!”… then everyone around us joined in to finish out the chorus; “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-Ay!” It was a great moment! (And now I have it stuck in all your heads too! :-p)

Running into Epcot's World Showcase

Running into Epcot’s World Showcase

running in Epcot

sun is starting to come up

sun is starting to come up

looking back towards France

mile 2!

pretty sunrise

pretty sunrise

There's the ball!

There’s the ball!

Almost done!

Almost done!

mine... mine...

mine… mine…

Finish line!

Finish line!

crossing the finish line

crossing the finish line

We finished in 37:38 (chip time) and made our way through the finishers chute. We got our medallions and finisher’s photos. RunDisney provided us water and power aide bottles, bananas and a box of snacks. You wouldn’t think we’d necessarily need snacks after only a 5K.. but I had my bagel breakfast at about 3:30 am, and it was now about 7 am, so I was pretty hungry. The snack boxes were great… much better than ones they have given out in the past. (NO shrink wrapped stale processed bagel!) One thing I was VERY disappointed with was that runDisney was not handing out heat sheets at the end of the race. It was bitter cold out, and now I was wet from sweating. It was miserable. I chalked it up to maybe runDisney didn’t give them out for the 5k.. being that this was my first time doing this particular race, I was disappointed, but accepted it.

5k DONE!

5k DONE!

5K

My Garmin stats

We wasted no time and made for the lines for the buses. We discovered our bus was (of course) the one with the longest line. And it was long. RunDisney was loading buses up two at a time, but we still had to wait for 4 buses before we finally got one. When I got back to the hotel, I still had a long walk back to the room.. and this time I had no heat sheet and was slightly damp. I also had tossed my hand warmers during the race, and for whatever insane reason (probably the same insane reason I was not wearing full pants) I didn’t bring my gloves. As I was walking into the wind, I was absolutely frozen. My hands hurt from being so cold and I noticed that they had started to turn purple. Not good. When I got in the room, I had Mike take a quick picture of me with my medal in my costume, and I jumped right in a hot shower to warm up.

3.1 down, 45.5 to go!

3.1 down, 45.5 to go!

Good old Pluto!

Good old Pluto!

Once I was warm and clean, I lounged around a bit telling Mike about the race. (There’s not much spectator action for the 5K, so he stayed in the room and slept in.) Around 9:30 we headed out to Epcot to meet my sister again. Trenton had school during the day, so it was just Diane, AJ, and Gemma hanging out for a bit. We had some pastries and coffee in Les Halles Boulangerie & Pâtisserie in the French pavilion, saw Figment at Journey Into Imagination, and rode Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth again. We also sampled soda at Coca Cola’s Club Cool and was pleasantly surprised that they had some new choices to sample.

Yup, still cold!

Yup, still cold!

Gemma, Daddy, and Uncle Mike on Living With The Land

Gemma, Daddy, and Uncle Mike on Living With The Land

Gemma was excited for Figment!

Gemma was excited for Figment!

Checking out the Coca-Cola merchandise

Checking out the Coca-Cola merchandise at Club Cool

Around 2, my sister and gang had to leave to get Trenton from school, so Mike and I decided to go back to the hotel and relax the rest of the day. I really felt like we should be going to another park because it was still early, but I knew we were making the right decision to go back and rest, as my legs and feet were pretty tired, and I was only 3.1 miles into my 48.6 mile challenge!

Waiting for the bus!

Waiting for the bus!

We ended the day with dinner at the hotel and Epsom salt baths for both of us. It is amazing how much you walk around when out and about, and how big a toll that puts on the body. My Fitbit had registered 26,076 steps for Thursday alone- which translates roughly to 11.77 miles. That included a 5K, but all that extra walking adds up! No wonder my feet were killing me and my legs were tired. I had also logged 24,259 steps (10.11 miles) on Tuesday, and 22,808 steps (9.54 miles) on Wednesday. This 10+ mile/day thing was hitting me pretty hard mentally, and I still had so much further to go in the challenge. Something to think about if you are reading this in anticipation of doing a future Dopey challenge.

We turned in early, around 8:30 because we were set to wake up at 2:30 on Friday to get ready for the 10K!

Check back to continue on to Part 3- 10K!