Posts Tagged With: half marathon

Weekly Workouts and My Gold Belt!

IMG_7827Hi all! How was everyone’s weekend? This Friday, I was FINALLY promoted to gold belt in Taekwondo — super exciting!

It typically takes me way longer to graduate to the next belt level than it should because my piano teaching schedule makes it hard for me to make more than one class per week. It can be a little bit frustrating to feel so behind…especially since all of the “grown-ups” I joined with are now at the green belt level, and I often have to take classes with kids!

However, I really do enjoy martial arts. Don’t get me wrong — it’s no running or anything! — but there’s something about the whole “mind-body connection” aspect of Taekwondo that really appeals to me, and the lessons in discipline really have trickled down into other areas of my life.

Meanwhile, Thai Kickboxing has helped me discover both my inner and outer strength, and taught me how to defend myself…which as a newly-single woman I think is always very important. Not that my recent dates have given me any reason to bust out my sick moves…yet!

There’s nothing that eliminates my stress like punching and kicking and elbowing and kneeing a wavemaster until there’s a puddle of sweat at my feet and my heart is pounding out of my chest, or working one-on-one with a partner to see how these techniques might just work in a real confrontation. I have to say, hearing classmates and instructors call me “the tough one” always makes me feel really good. I may have never been the “pretty” girl or the “popular” girl, but, today, I absolutely revel in being considered the “strong” girl.

IMG_7749Monday (17th): 6 milesIMG_7772

Tuesday: 3 miles

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: Off

Friday: Taekwondo class and graduation

Saturday: 4 miles and Thai Kickboxing class

Sunday: 3 miles and Thai Kickboxing class

Total weekly mileage: 20 miles

I’m planning on getting in a long run today or tomorrow (most likely tomorrow, because I am SORE), since I once again missed out over the weekend! I figured I’d focus on ramping up my volume this week to compensate for being a little behind in my Dumbo training plan.

I’ve noticed that trying to juggle my addiction to both martial arts and running tends to pose a few issues when I need to be getting in those longer runs during half marathon training. I can only make Thai Kickboxing classes on the weekend, typically, which is when I really need to be focused on pounding the pavement.IMG_7829 And, let’s face it, neither activity is particularly gentle on the body, so when I don’t wake up feeling sore and stiff, I almost feel like I must be doing something wrong!

Trying to squeeze all of the martial arts classes I can into each week along with whatever runs are scheduled on my training plan really isn’t easy, but I’m trying to make it work!

Anyone else have a favorite fitness activity besides running? How do you juggle them both?

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Weekly Workouts and GLASS SLIPPER CHALLENGE!

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! I know I’m the WORST at keeping up with posting my weekly workouts, but here it goes again.

First things first…I may or may not have accidentally signed up for the runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge in February 2014! Honestly, I don’t even know what I’m thinking any more. I’ve completely lost it. I’m already registered for the Dopey Challenge in January, for crying out loud!

But there’s something about making my triumphant return to the Princess Half, my first half marathon, one year later for this all-new weekend challenge — the 10K and half marathon — that I found impossible to resist. So…I am IN!

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Sporting my Princess Half gear to celebrate getting in to the GSC!

This week, I definitely threw myself back into training for the Dumbo. I can’t believe how quickly that’s sneaking up on us! I’m upset that I missed my planned long run this weekend, but I’m headed out for a six-miler today and then plan to start with some longer back-to-back runs this coming weekend in preparation for that lovely 10K/half marathon combo that awaits me!

Sunday (9th): Thai Kickboxing class

Monday: 3 miles

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 5 miles

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday: 4 miles, Taekwondo class

Saturday: Thai Kickboxing class

Sunday: Rest; we took Dad to the Museum of Natural History for Father’s Day!

Plans for this week include keeping my mileage relatively high, and also, to stop being a big baby and to vary those workouts a bit! I’m still struggling with consistency when it comes to getting in speedwork — especially since the weather has been so HOT lately — so every week I pretty much start with a renewed promise to keep pushing my speed, at least a little bit!

However, I will say that I ran in some horrendous weather this week…I was caught in not one, but two heavy rain storms. You know…the kind that makes you feel as though you’ve  jumped into a pool fully clothed.

But I just kept right on going. A little rain (okay, a LOT of rain) isn’t going to stop THIS girl from logging those miles! That’s all that counts, right?

How were everyone’s weekend runs? Anyone else get caught in any less-than-pleasant running conditions?

 

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Getting Back to Business

731267-1049-0041sFirst, I want to apologize for being MIA for the past few days, and thank you all for your kind words and support with regards to the news I shared in my previous post. I really do appreciate all of your well wishes and words of encouragement, and they really have helped me a great deal in making this transition. I’m so incredibly grateful to be part of this community. So, thank you!

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I’d be lying if I said that my running has been a bit off schedule, at best. After taking on the Superhero Half Marathon last month as my third half over the course of six weeks, I decided I deserved a bit of a break. I was EXHAUSTED, and each race seemed to become a whole lot harder than the last. I’ve been keeping up maintenance runs — 3 miles here, 4 miles there — but my training plan has sort of fallen by the wayside.

However, my crazy half marathon streak did earn me acceptance as a Half Marathon Fanatic! Meet Half Fanatic #4358!734267_3145089682661_410711098_n(1)

Now I’m getting back to business, and have jumped right back on the training bandwagon to get my butt in shape for Dumbo Double Dare! I’m pretty much going to follow the same beginner plan as I did for the Princess Half Marathon (since we all know I don’t participate in runDisney races to set PRs), but I’m incorporating some back-to-back longer runs on Fridays and/or weekends to help gear up for running the 10k followed by a half.

As for cross training, I’m continuing with martial arts (Thai Kickboxing and Taekwondo) and cycling. I’m supposed to test for my gold belt (FINALLY) in Taekwondo this month!

Meanwhile, the thought of my impulsive decision to sign up for the Dopey Challenge is still looming over me. As thrilled as I am by the prospect of taking on my first full marathon — and, let’s be honest, scooping up so much runDisney bling in one weekend! — as the weeks pass, the thought of ramping up my training FOR REAL becomes more and more terrifying.

Deep down, I know this is something I can do. I know this is something I WANT to do. All I can do now is make a plan, get psyched, and hope my body cooperates when I begin my official training!

I also have to admit that I’m definitely toying with the idea of registering for the new Glass Slipper Challenge. Held on Princess Half Marathon weekend, the new challenge means I’d get to run the new Disney Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half Marathon (i.e. same idea as Dumbo Double Dare) in the same weekend. And, since the Princess Half was my fiHalfFanaticrst half marathon ever, I thought it would be pretty cool to make my triumphant return one year later to celebrate an anniversary, of sorts. It’s especially significant to me seeing as how I was CONVINCED that I’d never be able to finish my first 13.1!

But, of course, I realize it’s slightly INSANE to head to Disney World for for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November, the Dopey Challenge in January, and the Glass Slipper Challenge in February. Or…is it? 😀

What’s everyone training for? For all of you Dumbo runners (that sounds rude, but, you know what I mean!), how are you training?

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RACE RECAP: Superhero Half Marathon

As many of you know, I will take ANY excuse to dress up (and run!) in a ridiculous costume. So when I first heard about the DSCF3438Superhero Half Marathon in Morristown, NJ, I KNEW I had to run it!

When it came to choosing my costume, it was no contest…I had to go with a Disney superhero, and race as an Incredible! I figured I need all the practice I can get for the zillions of runDisney races I plan to participate in, anyway. I scoured the Internet for weeks trying to track down red running capris, ordered a black Team Sparkle skirt (because, surprisingly, it’s one of the few colors I DON’T already own!) and I tried my hand at iron-on transfers for the first time (let’s just say…it did not go well) to make myself a sweat-wicking Incredibles shirt. I reluctantly cut two holes in an old, stretched out Bondiband to serve as my eye mask (AND keep the sweat out of my eyes), and then I decided to try racing in my new black Pro Compression socks for the first time, since they just so happened to go with the outfit anyway.

First things first. I woke up on Sunday morning to find that it was raining. I’ve never raced in the rain before, so I knew it would be…interesting. Based on some friends’ reviews of this race, I also knew going into it that it was going to be a somewhat hilly course, even though the race website described it as “mostly flat” — which I’m not quite sure is accurate. One of the course’s steepest hills had the paramedics stationed right at the top, for crying out loud! Trying to run to the top made me feel like I was actually IN a cartoon — you know, like when the character starts running and thDSCF3445eir legs are flailing around and dust is flying but they’re not actually going anywhere.

It was also a double loop course, which I’ve now officially decided I loathe…there’s something mentally unnerving about running past the mile 8 or 11 mile marker when you’ve only just started the race, and after I discovered everything the first loop had in store for me, I really wasn’t all that anxious to do it all over again!

I had planned for this to be my “just for fun” race, and I’m glad, because I definitely did NOT perform to my full potential (my chip time was 2:11). The fact that I’m still not fully recovered from the Long Branch Half Marathon combined with the rain and the hills and the fact that I once again (very STUPIDLY!) decided to attend my usual Taekwondo and Thai kickboxing classes in the days before the race did not exactly make for an easy 13.1.

However, it was still a lot of fun! I tried to relax into whatever pace I could manage (by the halfway point, I was completely ignoring my Garmin and just kind of going with the flow). I forced myself to chill out and enjoy the festive superhero costumes (I was secretly pacing myself with a Wonder Woman for the entire race!) and the not-so-festive rain and sticky humidity that was certainly keeping this race interesting, if nothing else!734267_3145089682661_410711098_n(1)

And it was great…now that I’m learning to give up the ridiculous notion that I can somehow magically PR in every single race, I’ve decided to practice learning how to loosen up and stop beating myself up and just enjoy the moment. After all, running IS supposed to be fun (sometimes)…right?

It was definitely exciting to see spectators’ reactions to all the costumes…they’re superheroes just for coming out to stand in the pouring rain to cheer us on, so I was sure to say thank you to everyone and give lots of high-fives! The kids especially seemed to enjoy seeing me as “Mrs. Incredible.” ;-D

My only complaint? (Other than the weather, I mean…which is nobody’s fault except Mother Nature’s). I registered for this race several months ago, and requested my t-shirt size on the registration form, as is pretty much the protocol. As it turns out, however, because I didn’t make the drive to Morristown (which isn’t horrendous or anything, but it’s still about 40 minutes away for me and really just didn’t seem necessary) the day before the race JUST to pick up my bib and t-shirt, I ended up with whatever was leftover on race day. I find that to be a tad unfair — I understand that those who register the day of a race end up with whatever shirts are leftover, but what in the WORLD is the point of asking us to request our shirt size when we register months in advance if you’re just going to hand shirts out to whomever happens to pick up their bib first? And they obviously didn’t order enough shirts in general because I heard the volunteers telling a bunch of other runners that their shirt size was completely “sold out”…but “here, how about a nice men’s size XL?” Absolutely ridiculous. I really liked the women’s cut, tech race shirts — for once, I knew I’d actually get some use out of my “free” shirt — but alas, the shirt size I requested was no longer available when I picked up my bib over an hour prior to the race…so I ended up with yet another too-big shirt that I’m never going to actually wear. Not cool!

The good news? Since this wasn’t a “push myself until I want to puke just to PR” kind of race for me, I had the opportunity to experiment with some new race day strategies. For starters, I’ve been trying to figure out what’s been causing my stomach cramping in the latter half of a race, and I’m happy to report that my DSCF3452stomach issues were pretty much nonexistent during this race. I know it could just be that I slowed my pace down a little bit, but I also tried a few other strategies: I tried taking in more Gatorade during the race, but I diluted it with water at every station (which I allowed myself to walk through, for once). I also ate fewer Clif Shot Bloks (and later in the race) in case they’re actually causing me some GI distress and I just don’t know it! Based on the advice of some of you far smarter runners, I also tried to focus on any sodium imbalances I may have been causing, and snacked on pretzels and tried not to OVER-hydrate in the day or two before the half marathon.

Also…I have fallen madly and deeply and HOPELESSLY in love with my new Pro Compression socks! After reading nothing but rave reviews on some of my favorite running blogs — and given the fact that I’ve been having nothing but foot issues lately — I decided to give ’em a shot. And I am SO glad I did. I’ve worn them for a few shorter training runs, but this was my first time racing in them. I was having some leg issues during the race because I went in with them already feeling a little sore from Taekwondo/Thai kickboxing — like the GENIUS that I am — and my sopping wet sneakers didn’t exactly help with my usual blister issues,DSCF3462 and yet at the end of the race, my legs were feeling pretty good! Since I’ve heard they can help with recovery — and it took me several days just to be able to WALK after my last half — I decided to wear the socks for the rest of the day (after washing them…since, you know, the several other colors I ordered haven’t arrived yet!), and also sleep in them. I’m proud to report that while I do have a little bit of soreness today, given the fact that I practically ran up Mount Everest yesterday and my legs and feet are feeling this great means that Pro Compression socks are pretty much MAGIC socks…and I will never race without them again!

Does anyone else find racing in costumes as fun as I do? ;-D

superheromedal

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Liebster Award and runDisney News!

I know I’ve been kind of quiet for a few days. To sum up…I’ve been struggling to recover after my less-than-stellar performance in the Long Branch Half (more on that soon!)

But in happier news, I also want to officially announce that…

I WILL BE RUNNING IN THE DISNEY WINE AND DINE HALF MARATHON THIS NOVEMBER!

winedine2013I wasn’t planning on doing it, but you see, it seems the planets aligned and the universe told me that I really, really should run Wine and Dine. It’s my parents’ wedding anniversary, and my mom (also a Disney dork, like me) wanted to head back to The World with the family to celebrate…and it just so happens that their anniversary falls on the week of the race! So without stealing their thunder too much, I’m going to just ahead and do a half marathon real quick — I’ll be using my runDisney and annual pass discount to help us score deals on dining, room, and theme park tickets (not to mention granting the ‘rents access to the BEST AFTER-PARTY EVER at Epcot!), so they didn’t seem to mind too much. What’s also exciting is that my sister and I will also be registering to run the Jingle Jungle 5K — and it’ll be her VERY FIRST 5K! I can’t wait to play running coach. 😀

In other news, I was recently nominated not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES for a Liebster Award — which is basically a way of recognizing your favorite up-and-coming blogs — and I’m so grateful to be part of such an incredible community of running bloggers! Thanks Lori and Stacy from Once Upon a Run, Run Stretch Go, and Tina and Colby from It’s a Marathon AND a Sprint!

LiebsterAwardHere’s how it works:

  1. Write 11 random facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions given by the person who nominated you.
  3. Create 11 new questions.
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers and mention them in your post.
  5. Thank the person that nominated you and tell the people you’ve nominated.

First, my 11 random facts:

1.) I take pictures of anything and everything. Constantly. I’m not a particularly skilled photographer or anything, it’s just what I do. I come home from vacations with thousands upon thousands upon THOUSANDS of pictures!

2.) I love polka dots. I’d say about 75 percent of the clothing in my wardrobe features some form of polka dots. You can NEVER have too many polka dot dresses!

3.) I collect snowglobes. I’ve had run-ins with the TSA on more than one occasion for forgetting about the “no liquids” rule and packing a snowglobe in my carry-on luggage. Having to pay $10 to ship a $7 snowglobe home from Las Vegas was NOT amusing.

4.) I studied abroad in college; I spent a week in Spain as a freshman, and then an entire semester when I was a junior. Fairleigh Dickinson University (my alma mater!) owns a campus in England, so we can choose to study there for a semester and then go on tons of awesome weekend trips, including Paris, Italy, Scotland, Wales, Ireland…needless to say, it was the best experience EVER.

5.) I’m completely obsessed with penguins. I had the opportunity to “meet” one at Sea World once, and it remains one of the most exciting moments of my life.

6.) I’ve always been fascinated by dinosaurs. When I was a kid and all the girls my age were dressing up their Barbie dolls, I was playing with plastic T-Rex figures. No joke.

7.) I kind of suck at swimming. A super secret goal of mine is to compete in a triathlon, and while the idea of taking on the running and cycling portion of the race thrill me to no end, I’m pretty much terrified that I’d end up drowning.

8.) I love horror movies. I have a ridiculous collection of them amassed by countless visits to street fairs/flea markets and used/discount DVD stores.

9.) I’m not a big drinker. Don’t get me wrong, I love a margarita or a glass of wine as much as the next person, but I don’t especially enjoy going to bars/clubs. It just doesn’t thrill me, and it never has…so you can imagine how incredibly popular I was during my college years.

10.) To say that I am a Type A personality would be an understatement. I’m ridiculously high-strung, obsessive about detail, and can’t survive without a schedule! I’m a HOOT on vacations (“okay, so after lunch from 12pm to 1:30pm, next on our itinerary is…”).

11.) My boyfriend and I have been together since high school. This November will be our 12th anniversary!

Now, on to the questions from the three bloggers who nominated me. First, from Once Upon a Run:

1.  If cost, time, money, etc were not a factor, what race would you most want to run? Every single runDisney race. Oh wait, I seem to already be doing that… 😀

2.  When is your favorite time to workout: morning, afternoon, or evening? I’m 100 percent a morning person, but I often have to squeeze in my run in the early afternoon.

3.  What’s your favorite tv show? Of all time? Gilmore Girls. Currently on TV? Probably The Big Bang Theory, The Middle, and Modern Family.

4.  What’s your favorite book? I’m a huge dorky bookworm and couldn’t possibly choose just one, but I love true crime and my favorite writer is Ann Rule.

5. What’s your favorite drink? (recipes please if you have it!!!) I looooves me a martini.

6.  Which is superior: cat or dog? I’m obsessed with dogs. Love ’em. Can’t get enough of ’em. I had to leave my dog (a Shih Tzu named Riley) when I moved out of my parents’ house, and unfortunately I’m currently residing in a “no pets allowed” apartment, but the second I move into a “real” house — at the rate I’m going, when I’m in my 60s — it’s canine time.

7.  Do you prefer appetizer or dessert? DESSERT! I’m something of a chocoholic.

8.  Do you have a teacher or mentor that made a big difference in your life? I always remember how my third grade teacher helped spark my love of reading and encouraged my knack for writing. I also took a few classes with an adjunct professor in college who was a freelance magazine writer…and that’s when I decided that I pretty much wanted to steal her life.

9.  Do you have a favorite local (non-chain) store or restaurant? I pretty much avoid chain restaurants like the plague, so, yes…MANY!

10.  What’s your favorite summer destination? Uhh, Disney World? haha. If I had a bit more moolah at my disposal, I’d be summering in Europe.

11.  If we came to your town/area, what’s the one thing that we would HAVE to do? Atlantic City, baby!!!

Now, from Run Stretch Go

1) What are you most looking forward to this week? My superhero-themed half marathon this weekend! I may or may not be running this race dressed as an Incredible… ;-D

2) What is your favorite running accessory? Oh no, I have to pick just one?! No can do, sorry! On my everyday training runs, I’d have to say my assortment of Bondibands, Spi-belt, and I’m recently becoming addicted to Pro Compression socks. For racing, gotta love my Team Sparkle skirts.

3) Beach or pool? I’m a Jersey girl…there’s nothing I love more than lounging around on the beach with my face buried in a book.

4) Best restaurant meal you’ve ever had? Where and what? For someone who loves to eat (and dine out!) as much as I do, this is pretty much akin to choosing a favorite child. My favorite TYPES of meals to go out for are Mexican and Chinese or Thai.

5) Do you still have a land line at your residence? Nope. Absolutely no use for it!

6) Favorite song on your running playlist right now? No way I can choose just one! Some of the songs I listen to pretty much every time I head out for a run are: 50 Ways to Say Goodbye and Drive By (Train); Poker Face (Lady Gaga); What Doesn’t Kill You (Kelly Clarkson); Magic (B.o.B); How Far We’ve Come (Matchbox Twenty); Don’t Stop the Party and Feel this Moment (Pitbull)…and, of course, can’t forget Gangnam Style!

7) Coffee or Tea? I am completely and utterly addicted to coffee. It is no exaggeration to say that I cannot function without it!

8) If you could make up a holiday what would it be? Hmm…Disney day? ;-D

9) Movies at home or in the theater? Theater because it gives me a perfectly legitimate excuse to eat dark chocolate raisinets…

10) What time zone do you live in? Eastern.

11) Best tip for becoming a faster runner? Ah, if only I had the secret to this. In my experience thus far — and this is coming from someone who pretty much hates doing speedwork! — I’ve improved my speed through consistency. As soon as I started training for my first half marathon and running on a more consistent schedule, I couldn’t believe how much faster I could run!

Lastly, from It’s a Marathon AND a Sprint

1. If you could have one super power what would it be? The ability to run real, real fast? 😀

2. Would you rather have free Starbucks for life or free iTunes? STARBUCKS. Hands down.

3. What is your earliest memory? I have vague memories from my first Disney World trip at age 4, but unfortunately, even earlier memories from being bitten in the face by a German Shepherd when I was 3 and needing stitches…on Christmas Eve! I love dogs, but to this day, I’m scared of German Shepherds.

4. What has made you laugh the hardest? Anytime someone mocks my laugh (which, to be fair, is rather…distinctive). For some reason, I find someone imitating my laugh to be endlessly hysterical.

5. If you could have lunch with one person, living or dead who would it be? Walt Disney, of course.

6. What is your biggest disappointment? You know, if I was just a few (okay, several) inches taller, I may never have had a weight problem… 😉

7. Top 3 Favorite Cereals. Go! If you’re talking about the cereals I actually eat on a regular basis, I’m a Kashi girl. If you’re talking about what I would eat if I didn’t necessarily care about consuming a nutritional breakfast, then CAPTAIN CRUNCH!

8. What song would play during the opening credits of Your Life, The Movie? Something from Hanson! My fave!

9. If you were a dog, what breed would you be? Haha, this is a good one. A boxer? You know…since I love kickboxing? Or a greyhound? Since, you know, I like to race?

10. What is your favorite movie line of all time? Movie line? Not sure. But my favorite movie is The Little Mermaid. And Star Wars. (I’m not a geek AT ALL.)

11. What is your favorite blog post you’ve written? The recap of my first half marathon!

Okay, my turn! Here are my 11 questions.

1.) What are some of your hobbies (other than running, I mean)?

2.) What’s your favorite song of all time?

3.) What do you do for a living?

4.) When and why did you start blogging?

5.) What’s your favorite animal?

6.) What’s your biggest pet peeve?

7.) If you won the lottery tomorrow…what would you spend the money on?

8.) What’s your favorite color?

9.) What’s your favorite season/time of year?

10.) If you could eat one food every day and still never, ever get sick of it…what would it be?

11.) What are some of your favorite ways to stay fit (again, other than running)?

And now, for my nominees. Here are just 11 of the many, many, many AWESOME blogs written by incredibly inspiring runners I follow on a regular basis.

1.) Stephanie at Now I Run

2.) Amy at Writing While Running

3.) Rachel at Runner’s Tales

4.) Kim at Barking Mad About Running

5.) Erin at A Storybook Life

6.) Jodi at 13.1 Miles to Disney

7.) Katy at Running and Singing in the Park

8.) Lena at The Beginner’s Runner

9.) Lauren at Lauren’s Glass Slipper

10.) Emily at Keep Running Keep Writing

11.) Andrea at I Run for Donuts

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RACE RECAP: Long Branch Half Marathon

Yesterday I ran half marathon number 3, and I have to say…it was not easy.DSCF3344

As you may remember, I ran my second half marathon just two weeks ago, and crossed the finish line in a very unexpected 2:03. I was absolutely elated with my time (2:05 was my “best-case scenario” time goal). It was a beautiful day at the Jersey Shore, I was feeling strong, and in what seemed like moments after the start of the race, I was placing a medal around my neck.

So I sort of expected a similar experience this weekend when I ran the Long Branch Half Marathon for the first time. Once again, it was a BEAUTIFUL day at the Jersey Shore. But this time, I struggled. A lot.

Let me rewind a bit. On Saturday, I headed down to Monmouth Park Racetrack for the expo, where I picked up my bib and did a little a lot of shopping. I was trying to spot Kim from Barking Mad About Running, who also ran the half and was volunteering at the expo, but didn’t get to see her, unfortunately. I was disappointed that arriving at 10:30am on Saturday meant that the majority of the women’s shirts that I wanted were sold out in my size (interestingly enough, my spectators later informed me that they were all re-stocked for sale on the day of the race…not cool!). But I did manage to get some official merch, along with some super cute tees and a 13.1 magnet from Bay Six, a new fuel belt from Hippie Runner, and, of course, I spent lots and lots of time at BondiBand shamelessly digging through piles of headbands and carrying on about how much I LOVE them — prompting the woman at the table to ask when I was going to come work for them. (The answer: ANYTIME! CALL ME!) ;-D

2013-05-04 12.20.40The race was slated to begin at 6:45am SHARP for half marathon runners on Sunday, followed by the full New Jersey Marathon at 8am. After making the drive to Monmouth Park on Saturday for the expo in a solid 45 minutes, I went ahead and allotted an additional FULL HOUR to our morning commute  for the traffic that I knew was going to back up along the several lights leading into the racetrack.

So my sister, BF, and I piled into the car at the ungodly hour of 4:55am to make our way to the park…and I am sorry to report that I would have missed the start of the race completely had we left just five minutes later.

We arrived before 5:45am, but the traffic to get into the park was absolutely insane, and it took a solid 45 minutes just to make our way into the parking area. I proceeded to make a mad dash for the port-a-potties (because I know myself enough to know that I will NOT stop during a race), and stood in a line that appeared to be about a mile long. The race day security was no joke, either; I completely understand the heightened security, but I know there was some frustration about not being able to carry even a small purse.

Meanwhile, it was now approaching 6:45am, and the announcer was calling the start of the race. I figured I had a few extra minutes since I was in Corral C, so I didn’t worry too much — I had no idea then that the corrals were being released within seconds of each other. It was finally my turn at the port-a-potty, so I did my thing and then ran like hell to the starting line…only to discover that the corrals were now gated, and my corral was next to start. Another frustrated Corral C runner broke through the barricade, so a bunch of us followed, and it was IMMEDIATELY time to start running.

I’ve cut it close before, but I NEVER want another race day experience to begin this way…stressed and aggravated is no way to begin a 13.1 mile journey!

Of course, I had my sights set on beating my previous half marathon time of 2:03. I knew that only two weeks had passed since my last race, but I knew I had it in me to push just a little bit harder. My foot issues (which I have conclusively diagnosed as tendonitis) have been subsiding in the last week or so, thank goodness, but I tied my shoelaces loosely so as to not cause any flare-ups during the race. Little did I know that something so seemingly insignificant — SHOELACES, for crying out loud — would be among my downfalls in this race.

photo 3In miles 1-3, I was feeling good. I spent some energy weaving around other runners, but there was definitely room to run (not the case at Runapalooza, unfortunately), and I found my stride right around an 8:45 pace for those first miles. But then came mile 4, and I started to feel a little…off. Though I wasn’t experiencing any of the pain that I’ve been dealing with in my foot, I could feel some discomfort in my left shoe, so I allowed myself to pause for the briefest of moments to tug at my socks and adjust my sneaker.

If it was just my stupid foot that was the problem, I could have dealt with it. But overall, I just wasn’t feeling that great. By mile 5, I knew that this was just not going to be my race. My legs felt heavy, I felt tired…and the miles ahead of me seemed endless.

The course took us through a variety of back roads and neighborhoods in the towns of Long Branch, Oceanport, and Monmouth Beach. Though I know Hurricane Sandy ravaged the race’s previous course along the boardwalk — and that race organizers overcame enormous obstacles in re-routing the course and being able to hold this race at all — the scenery just wasn’t that exciting (also, there were several giant hills that I wasn’t expecting!). If it weren’t for the AWESOME spectators, I don’t know what I would have done — I kept pausing my iPod completely to feed off their enthusiasm (I still don’t know how I rudely ignored the cheers from blogger pal (Writing While Running) and fellow Jersey girl Amy…sorry again that I missed you!)

When I reached the halfway point where the half marathon relay runners were switching off, I spotted Emily, who blogs at Keep Running Keep Writing and whom I know from our former shared post at New Jersey Monthly magazine. I was really struggling at that point, but I was so happy to see her and all of the relay runners and spectators at the 6.5 mile mark — some of whom gave me shout outs for my Team Sparkle skirts! — and they infused me with the energy I needed to take on the second half of the race. I waDSCF3338s shocked to see that my sluggish 9:30 pace was now back to around 9:00 for the next mile or so.

The energy was short-lived, however. Now not only was I tired, but I was POSITIVE that I had an enormous blister forming on my left foot…I refuse to allow myself to walk during races, but I begrudgingly let myself stop for moment to re-tie my shoelaces. It helped a little bit, but unfortunately it was too late.

I spent the final miles of the race playing every mind game I could think of to ignore my aching, blistering feet. The cherry on top of it all was that my usual stomach cramping was back in full force by mile 10 — now I know it’s not just a coincidence, and I’m determined to figure out what is causing it.

Meanwhile, I kept telling myself to just keep doing the best I could, not every race can be a PR, enjoy the moment, look how far you’ve come, blah blah blah, but there’s part of me that still couldn’t help but be disappointed in myself. Old habits die hard, and I am the textbook definition of a perfectionist…and once I knew this race wasn’t going to result in a new PR, I felt defeated and discouraged. I could not wait for that finish line.

In the last two miles, we did have the opportunity to run along the beach — I had already seen the Sandy devastation during Runapalooza, and did my best to ignore the sight of the torn up boardwalk — and there’s something about being near the ocean (or any body of water, really) that really does soothe me. So while I was dead tired and ready to rip my sneakers off and throw them far, far away, I sucked it up anDSCF3380d forced myself to enjoy this moment and be proud of myself…and thankful that even though it wasn’t my best performance, I was still so very fortunate to be doing something that I love.

And then the finish line was finally up ahead, I was handed my medal, and all of the pain and frustration of the previous 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 9 seconds (my official chip time) just faded away.

Oh, and when I reunited with my sister and boyfriend, I finally did rip off my sneakers…and proceeded to find the most disgusting blood blister (never had one before, but a Google search definitively confirmed my diagnosis) you could ever imagine on my left big toe. It is GROSS.

Overall, the race was well organized and I, of course, had an amazing time…but basically this is all a long-winded way of saying that you learn a whole lot from a race when you fall short of your expectations!

1.) First and foremost, when race organizers say get there early, THEY. MEAN. IT.

2.) Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to register for three half marathons over the course of six weeks. D’oh.

DSCF33873.) I need to work on my pacing. In my last half, I went all out in the beginning and then crashed and burned a bit at the end. This time, I tried to be more conservative in the beginning, and then various factors prevented me from picking up the pace in the final miles…so I just got slower, and slower, and slower.

4.) It’s time to figure out what the hell is causing me stomach issues every. single. time. I race! I’m currently using Clif Shot Bloks as my fuel, as many of the gels I’ve tried cause nausea. The blocks don’t seem to bother me during long runs, but I’ve recently been experimenting with Honey Stingers gels (delicious, BTW…I LOVE honey), so I’ll have to see if I need to make a switch.

5.) More hill training and speedwork. NO EXCUSES!

6.) Rest means REST. In the week prior to my last half, I did very little running (or anything, really) because I was trying to rest my foot — and I ended up feeling fantastic during the race. Last week, since my foot was feeling better, I was desperate to “make up for lost time” and I’m sure I ended up over-training — which would explain my sluggish performance yesterday. I need to get better about tapering and not pushing myself too hard in the days before a race.

7.) Most importantly: I cannot — and will not — PR at every race. So I need to stop being ridiculous and realize that I’m not a robot and that sometimes, I just have to accept that I’m doing my best and be happy with it.

How do you deal with race day disappointment?

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Last Week’s Workouts and ANOTHER Half Marathon!

Hope everyone had a marvelous weekend. We had AWESOME weather here in New Jersey (although right now it’s rainy and dreary and gross), and I’m excited to finally be running in spring-like conditions!

Photo credit: njmarathon.org

Photo credit: njmarathon.org

Yesterday I took the plunge and registered for the Long Branch Half Marathon, which is part of the New Jersey Marathon. I said I wasn’t going to do it. I really didn’t think I was going to do it. I thought that taking on Runapalooza so late in April, followed by the Superhero Half Marathon in mid-May, would be too much…not to mention the fact that my spring races are already costing me a pretty penny, and I’m trying to save for Disneyland!

But then I took a good hard look at my Dopey Challenge-running self — I mean, really, I should probably get used to running A WHOLE LOT OF MILES in a short period of time — and I decided to just go for it. It’s a pretty big deal for us New Jerseyans (well, the full marathon that’s held on the same day is, anyway), so I’m excited to be part of it!

In other news, I am feeling pretty damn stupid right about now. I’ve been whining about pain running along the top of my left foot  for weeks now, and lost I don’t know how many hours of sleep worrying that it was a stress fracture or some other kind of serious injury and I could kiss running good-bye for weeks, if not months (hence my hesitation to put on my big girl panties and see a doctor). Well, after following the advice of countless runners and health care professionals on-line who have written about the all-too-common foot tendonitis (in runners, often caused by too-tight sneakers), the pain is now disappearing…and all because I’m tying my shoelaces more loosely, doing some simple foot and calf stretches, and massaging the tendons in my calf and foot. If that’s really all it was, I am SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL…but I’m still feeling kind of foolish right now!

DSCF3227

Pretty sure my Disney Princess Half Marathon gear helps me run faster! 🙂

And now, on to last week’s workouts. As you know, I ran my second half marathon last weekend, but I neglected to mention that I followed that up with a local 5K the following morning that was a fundraiser for a few of the elementary schools in my town…and despite running on legs that pretty much felt like lead, I actually PRed! My old 5K PR (from a Halloween race last October) was 27:59, and now it’s 27:18 — and, best of all, I took third place in my age group (gotta love small races)!

Sat., April 20: Runapalooza Half Marathon (recap HERE)

Sun., April 21: Bloomingdale/Orange Ave. School 5K (rescheduled from November thanks to Hurricane Sandy)

Mon., April 22: Rest

Tue., April 23: A second day of rest…I thought it would be prudent given all the running I did over the weekend!

Wed., April 24: An easy 3-mile run

Thur., April 25: Went out for a 4-miler, came home after 3…I wasn’t feeling sore, but my legs felt so heavy and I just wasn’t into it.

Fri., April 26: 6.5 mile run — felt pretty good!

Sat., April 27: Thai kickboxing class and 10-mile bike ride. It was such a beautiful day, so I forced asked my sister to accompany me for a few miles.

Sun., April 28: Thai kickboxing class

I was hoping to get in a long run this weekend, especially after deciding to run the New Jersey Half Marathon, but I’ve decided that it might be best to take this this week’s runs pretty easy to help me gear up for the half marathon. I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me in terms of those final training runs before a big race.

How do you train in the last week before a race?

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RACE RECAP: Runapalooza, Asbury Park Half Marathon

I’m still reeling from last week’s events in Boston, but I felt as though the only thing we runners can do to show our unyielding support for the victims and everyone affected by this tragedy — and a nice big F-U to the [insert expletive of your choice] who did this — was to just keep running.

IMG_6930So I ran my second half marathon this weekend, and, in a way, it sort of felt like it was my first — I completed my first half in Disney World, but I wouldn’t exactly call what I did “running a half marathon,” given the fact that I was stopping every half mile for photo opportunities! However, running the Miles for Music 20K in March gave me the confidence that I could actually RUN a half marathon…after all 12.4 miles is nothing to sneeze at, and I did manage to run the entire course with a sub-2 hour finish time, so I was feeling optimistic about my second attempt at 13.1!

I headed down to Asbury Park with my parents and sister at the ungodly hour of 6:30am on Saturday morning for Runapalooza, a race that benefits the Special Olympics of New Jersey; this year, some of the proceeds were being donated to help restore the Jersey Shore after the destruction Hurricane Sandy caused to our beaches.

We received several e-mails in the wake of the Boston Marathon advising us of security procedures — though I have to say, it was a little disheartening to see bomb-sniffing German Shepherds all over the place — and asking that we don blue and yellow to show our support. There were even blue and yellow ribbons and hairbands available for runners at bib pick-up, which I thought was really nice. I also pinned the Runner’s Unite for Boston race bib from RunJunkees on my back, and saw that lots of other runners had done the same.

I had to pick up my bib on race day, as I really don’t live close enough to Asbury Park to make the driIMG_6941ve twice in two days, nor far enough that I felt the need to get a hotel for the night. Those picking up their bib on the day of the race had to make a mandatory $5 donation to the Special Olympics of New Jersey; though I sort of resent the idea of being forced to shell out even more money (after my $75 registration fee!) just to pick up my bib, I was perfectly fine with writing a small check for a good cause.

The race also included a small expo — I know I’ve been completely spoiled with attending a runDisney race expo as my first! — and runners were awarded with a free beer afterwards (which I skipped…I hate beer). There were bagels and yummy mini muffins and bananas and other goodies to help us re-fuel afterwards.

IMG_6948It was pretty much perfect racing weather, other than being hit with a few strong gusts of wind (fine when it’s behind you, not so fun when you’re running AGAINST it!), and the course ran through lots of local neighborhoods with some lovely ocean views. It was unfortunate that a large section of the race took place on a main street, in traffic, where I had to run on the sidewalk at times…not an ideal option when it comes to preventing runner’s knee and other unnecessary aches and pains. However, everything was really well organized and there were plenty of volunteers to help cheer us on.

The race course usually runs on the boardwalk, but I knew they had adapted this year’s course to accommodate for the fact that, unfortunately, so much of the boardwalk was destroyed by the hurricane. I was definitely a little disappointed that we only had the opportunity to run on the boardwalk for the last quarter mile or so of the race — although it definitely was a nice way to bring us all home! — but, of course, that’s not the race organizers’ fault.

I went out pretty fast (which, for me, is about an 8:30 pace), and I held that for about the first two miles. I felt great, and my foot really wasn’t bothering me all that much, so I decided to juIMG_6996st go with it. I usually struggle with just how conservative to be during races, so this time I tried to push myself a little harder, and kept a close eye on my pace to ensure that I was holding about a 9:15 for the majority of the middle miles.

I was really enjoying the race and the first 10K seemed to fly by…but it always seems to be somewhere around mile 11 that I begin questioning WHY THE HELL I DO THIS TO MYSELF. I choked down a few Clif Bloks every few miles, but my energy really starts to dip in that last 5K…and like my first half, it was right around that point when I started being hit with stomach cramps that would. not. go. away. I wouldn’t allow myself to walk unless I was making a quick stop for water, so I’m thinking maybe I need to adopt a new strategy or continue experimenting with my race day fuel, since this isn’t the first time I was forced to slow down in the final miles of a longer race due to stomach issues.

As I was struggling with stomach pains and fatigue in the last 5K, I couldn’t help but think of all the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. There were, of course, reminders of Boston IMG_7146everywhere, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one running with a heavy heart on Saturday. Thinking about the victims and their families, and the marathoners who never got to cross that finish line, really helped me to dig deep and finish strong. Who was I to complain about a little stomachache or a sore foot or feeling “tired?” Running is an incredible gift, and I was determined to run this race for all of those who can’t.

The good news was that I proved to myself ONCE AND FOR ALL that my 3:30 Disney Princess Half Marathon finish time can purely be attributed to my shenanigans on the course (still no regrets!) because I finished under my best-care scenario goal time of 2:05. My official chip time was 2:03:25, and I was beyond thrilled with the accomplishment…especially given my recent foot issues. Interestingly enough, my foot felt slightly sore in the first mile or two, and thenIMG_7167 the pain disappeared for the duration of the race, only to come back as soon as I started walking around after crossing the finish line. After some research into this phenomenon on-line, I’ve decided to try ONE MORE ridiculous self-treatment option — something so obvious as adjusting THE WAY I TIE MY SNEAKERS — and resting for a few days before sucking it up and seeing a doctor.

I’ve already submitted my shiny new half marathon PR to the folks at runDisney for Dumbo Double Dare…fingers crossed that it lands me in Corral A or B! 🙂

Does anyone have any tips on how to fight fatigue and finish strong in those last few miles?

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Weekly Workouts: 4/7-4/14

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! The enormity of what I’ve gotten myself into — registering for the Dopey Challenge as my FIRST marathon — is really starting to sink in now, and I found myself at Barnes & Noble yesterday scouring the running books for titles like “Marathon Running for Dummies.”

dopeydiamondsI know I’m in WAY over my head here, but I have to say that I am really excited about the journey. I know I really should have had at least one marathon under my belt before attempting to train for the Dopey Challenge. I know that I am probably a fool for taking this on. I know that training to run so many races in one weekend, including a FULL MARATHON, is going to be ridiculously hard and painful and downright terrifying at times.

But you know what? I am taking this challenge very seriously, and think I’m motivated and disciplined and and determined and just plain crazy enough to make this happen.

On that note, I thought I’d join every other running blogger and become a bit more consistent when it comes to posting weekly workouts. A large part of training for any race is consistency…and what better way to stay accountable that to share what I’m doing right here? So here’s what last week’s workouts looked like.

Sunday (4/7): Thai Kickboxing class, 10-mile bike ride. It was the PERFECT day for a bike ride, I couldn’t resist!

Monday: 8 miles, slow. And I do mean VERY slow…we had some unseasonably high temperatures here in New Jersey last week, and my body was SO not ready to run in 80-degree weather!

Tuesday: 5 miles

Wednesday: 3 miles

Thursday: Rest

Friday: A gross, rainy day, so I hit the gym I just joined that opened up around the corner from my apartment (Crunch Fitness). I ran there and back, and did a little speedwork on the dreadmill for a total of 4 miles, then did some strength training. I was reminded of just how much I hate running on the dreadmill…it really is pure torture!

Saturday: Thai Kickboxing class
2013-04-14 15.36.57

Sunday: Thai Kickboxing class and 10-mile run. It was my first long run in my new Sweat Pink laces, the weather was perfect, and other than a nagging pain in my foot in the last few miles (details below) and some serious soreness in my legs from doing a zillion squats and lunges in my kickboxing classes, overall I felt great!

Thoughts for this week:

I think I overdid it a little bit. I’ve been training for the Asbury Park Runapalooza on April 20, and I’ve noticed I tend to panic in the final week or two before a bigger race and try to do everything I can to make sure I’m “prepared.” I’m still new to all of this and never know if I’m running enough, or too much, or too fast, or too slow.

I was planning to run a few half marathons this spring, and have sort of been playing it by ear since the Princess Half Marathon in terms of keeping my weekly base up and getting in my long runs, but without the step-by-step training plan I used for my first half — since I really was starting from square zero! — I’m still not quite sure EXACTLY what I should be doing in between races if they’re, say, three or four weeks apart.

While my foot was starting to feel better in the last week or so, I think the combination of the kickboxing (you know, slamming your feet against a giant, hard punching bag) and the long run in the same day — which I NEVER do, by the way! — caused me to injure it again, because now it’s sore in a different part on the top of my foot. Meanwhile, pretty much every muscle in my body aches from all of the kickboxing (my instructor decided it was muscle conditioning weekend, and I had my ass handed to me!) combined with running.

Needless to say, I am NOT a happy camper right now. I’m going to officially call this week “taper time,” spend plenty of time resting my stupid foot and possibly take my bike out for a spin…and cross my fingers and toes that I’m feeling better by the race this weekend. There’s also a local 5K I already signed up for the day after the half (I figured it wasn’t too early to start getting used to back-to-back races!), so if I have to back out of that, I will. If things aren’t getting better, I will stop self-diagnosing myself and see a doctor…promise.

How do you train in the last week or two before a big race?

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My Incredibly DOPEY Decision

So yesterday I did something crazy. Like, real crazy. WAY crazier than my decision to register for the Dumbo Double Dare, which I thought was just pure MADNESS at the time (and now just doesn’t seem so scary after all).

disneyprincesshalfmarathon1Yesterday, I got completely swept up in the excitement of Walt Disney World’s Marathon Weekend. If you follow runDisney fanatics on Twitter or Facebook — especially as many as I do — you just can’t help it. I had been casually entertaining the idea of attempting a full marathon ever since I crossed the finish line of the Princess Half in February and proved to myself that I could make it through 13.1 miles without dropping dead.

Running a marathon, a FULL marathon, has always been one of those pie-in-the-sky, maybe someday, “you never know” type dreams for me. Let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, I’m still a running newbie, and I figured that someday, SOMEDAY, I’d probably go ahead attempt a full marathon.

But there was one thing I did know for sure. I knew that if I WAS going to take on 26.2 miles, it was going to be at Walt Disney World. It just had to be. So I figured maybe I’d consider registering for the 2015 marathon…or 2016. Or, hell, 2017 — what was the rush?

Truth be told, when I read accounts of runners training for their first marathons on their blogs, I’d physically cringe. 20 mile training runs? Who has the time? Or the energy?

When I read countless recaps of this year’s “Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge” — running the half marathon followed by the full marathon in the same weekend — I shook my head. What the hell were these people thinking? Were they TRYING to get themselves injured? Or killed?

But yet I couldn’t help but admit to myself that I was so incredibly, amazingly in awe of these runners. I wanted to do it, too. I wanted to be a marathoner.

I knew there would be one minor road block standing in my way. I was absolutely, unequivocally terrified of the idea of running 26.2 miles. Who did I think I was even CONSIDERING the idea? A year ago I was struggling to finish 5ks, and I really only have a handful of distance races (10 miles+) under my belt…and now I’m sitting here fantasizing about running a marathon?

When I was in Disney World in February for the Princess Half Marathon, cast members were constantly asking me if they’d “see me next January” for the marathon. I would then proceed to laugh hysterically. “I’m not quite there yet,” I told them. In fact, I believe one of my first tweets upon hearing the news of the Dopey Challenge was something along the lines of, “good luck to everyone doing the Dopey Challenge, it ain’t gonna be me!”

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it. Even just a little bit.

Yesterday, my mindset shifted. Big time. I wrestled with a giant knot in my stomach all morning, watching the clock for the 12pm registration time for the Walt Disney World Marathon. Should I register for 2014? Is it too soon for me? Will I be able to do it? Am I ready? Will I EVER be ready?

The answer? Who knows. Is there EVER a good time to train for a marathon? Will I EVER be “ready?”

There will always be work and family and responsibilities, and I couldn’t help but think that if I WAS going to do this, now is probably as good a time as any. I have a fairly steady client base of both editors and piano students, so while I will never get rich doing what I do, I manage to live quite frugally (I still drive the beat-up old car I bought in college; it has 170,000 miles on it for crying out loud) and also have some money saved up from spending the majority of my 20’s working and living at home with my parents. I don’t have children or pets or a mortgage, and I make my own work hours.

Are YOU Dopey? Photo credit: www.talkdisney.com

Are YOU Dopey? Photo credit: http://www.talkdisney.com

Most importantly? I’m 27 years old, and in the best shape of my life…no physical ailments or health issues of any kind (knock on wood), other than the occasional minor running-related injury, of course.

So yesterday I had to ask myself the question: Why not ME? Why not NOW?

I’m sure you can probably guess what comes next.

I whipped out my Disney Visa (my poor, sad, TIRED Disney Visa), and registered for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon.

But, wait, there’s MORE.

In this moment of insanity, I couldn’t help but be seduced by the Dopey Challenge. In its inaugural year, it’s a challenge to run not only the marathon, but also the weekend’s 5K, brand-new 10K, AND half marathon.

That’s a total of 48.6 miles. In 4 days. The thought still sends chills down my spine. And not the good kind!

Was it it a good idea for my health? My sanity? Maybe, maybe not. But…runners who complete all four races receive not only a medal for each race, but also the coveted Goofy Challenge medal AND the brand spankin’ new Dopey Challenge medal. SIX MEDALS. Can we say BLING?!

So I thought for a moment. If I was going to put my body through months and months of marathon training…why not go ahead and celebrate my hard work with the ULTIMATE weekend of running?

Why not aim high? Why not take this chance? Why not believe in myself for once?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am nothing if not ambitious (and, also, just a little bit off my rocker). So…

DOPEY CHALLENGE HERE I COME!

I think what really sealed the decision for me is that I have truly gone through my whole life putting things off and doubting my ability to do what I wanted. “Someday” I’d “try” to be a freelance writer. “Someday” I’d “try” to lose weight. Of course, there was even a time when I told myself that “someday” I’d “try” to run a 5K…how long ago that seems!

I am TIRED of doubting myself. I am TIRED of putting things off. I want to be the kind of person who has the confidence and the courage to set a goal and then make it happen. I don’t want to “try”…I just want to DO. And I’d say this is a step in the right direction!

Okay, so who else is doing “Dopey?” Is it anyone else’s first marathon?

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