Friday, January 29, 2010

Still thinking about Ironman

I think about my Ironman accomplishment in some way or another pretty much every day. The reasons differ depending on the day.

This week, Dan Hicock, professional photographer, head of Tri DC magazine, and friend of Team Z, has been posting the pictures he took at Ironman Florida.

My favorites so far are definitely the swim pictures. Wow, can you tell I am elated to be out of the water? Check these out!

I am also rather partial to this picture:


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

As you probably know, I’ve been considering the whole M-dot tattoo issue for a while now…even before I did the race. I just couldn’t decide whether I needed a permanent tribute to the event on my body.

Inspired by my teammate Kat, at the race expo I purchased a bunch of temporary m-dot tattoos.

I was pretty psyched about wearing my tattoo, which I put on the outside of my left ankle. I felt really cool. Even if nobody saw it (hello, winter!) and those who might see it at the gym probably don’t know what it is.

After a few weeks I stopped wearing it for a while. I decided to put one on for my (post-Goofy, Disney) cruise. And then came formal portrait night.

The next day, one quick look at the photo gave me the answer I was searching for. Tattoos are not for me. At least not ones that can’t be hidden by normal clothing. I just didn’t like this big red thing on my ankle with my cute little dress and shoes.

So that’s that. I will consider putting it somewhere less obvious, but I think I am happy with my pretty m-dot pendant, my collection of Ironman gear (see my cute visor!?) and my IRONCAT license plate.

Some casual shots along side the water in Nassau, Bahamas.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Now what?

After race weekend, I planned to give my body a full week off. Yes, off! As in no running, no swimming, no biking, and no weight-lifting. I can’t remember the last time I took more than a couple of days off from exercise, but I knew I needed it. My calves, plantar fascia, and Achilles were telling me so.

I thought I might go a little crazy without the exercise, but the combination of the park and cruise activity, and with the mellow vacation vibe made it all fine. It was actually pretty nice.

Now I am back in the swing of things after a GREAT vacation. Admittedly, while better, my ailments are still present. It is time for a Dr. Keith visit, for sure.

I’m holding off on planning any races for at least another month, but at least I am at a point where registering for a (short) triathlon (and gasp, swimming again) seem reasonable.

2010 is going to be the year of yoga, I decided. I’ve been going to the weekly class at my work gym, and am looking into other options. I even went to the yoga class offered on my cruise.

After discussing developing my yoga abilities, I jokingly asked my friend Beth whether there were any yoga competitions or endurance yoga events. Hehe. I know that is not what it’s about and I’m looking forward to experiencing the benefits of yoga.

Yes, it is challenging for this type-A girl, but I can do it. I like the idea of breathing deeply, improving my posture, being more present in the moment/more mindful, and of course, having more flexibility and core strength. Maybe I should change my blog title to Cat’s Journey to Becoming a Yogi.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Positively Goofy!

It is official! I am goofy!

39.3 miles (plus) done, three medals acquired, and good fun was had!

The plan was to take it easy and have fun, easy runs. Mission accomplished (mostly)!

Here’s the rundown:

Packet pickup (Friday)
After arriving at the airport and having the worst rental car pickup experience ever, I finally made it to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. Everything went extremely smoothly. There was a special separate (distant) area just for goofy participants. [Side note: According to a page that Heather  posted, there were approximately 23,000 half marathoners, 24,000 full marathoners, and 7,500 “Goofy race and a half challenge” participants.]

T-shirt and goodie bag pickup was in a different building. It was quick and easy and the schwag was sweet. Thee nice, long-sleeved tech tees (one for each race and one for the Goofy challenge), fluorescent orange goofy challenge shoelaces, a chintzy orange beaded goofy challenge necklace thingy, a pink sharpie pen (they were sponsors) and a bunch of usual biofreeze/kinesio tape stuff.

Half Marathon (Saturday)
I’m pretty used to waking up early but this was kind of insane. For the 5:40 am race start, Disney recommends that runners be onboard Disney transport by 4 am. So wakeup was at 3:15.

Getting to the race start was not as easy as it sounds. I had planned to take one of the shuttle vans, but instead accepted a ride from a fellow runner I met in the lobby. We departed the hotel at 3:45 am. We arrived at EPCOT parking lot much, much later. Traffic was insane! I wasn’t really worried about it though, since I figured that the longer I was in the car, the less time I’d be standing around in the freezing cold.

It was a looooong walk to the starting area. And oh yeah, did I mention the lovely weather? 28 degrees and sleeting. Oh yeah.

Sandy and I wound up in the wrong starting corral – we were supposed to be in C but wound up in G. It really wasn’t a huge deal, but it did mean being around mostly walkers for pretty much the entire race. From beginning to end it was pretty challenging to run at anything close to my usual pace.

Fortunately, I was not too concerned about time so I just dealt with it. (The next day, at the marathon, I was in the correct wave and it was a million times better. Still not conducive to a PR --should anyone be thinking of racing Disney for one-- but a LOT better.)

The race itself was a blast! I had SO much fun. Just as I planned, I stopped for lots of character pictures and just enjoyed myself.

It was SO neat running through the parks, albeit for very brief periods. It really got me excited to start my Disney vacation and it was really neat to see the parks all lit up (most of the race was pre-dawn).

Entering the Magic Kingdom

Notice the wearing of panchos

I was really impressed, but not surprised, by how well the race was organized. Volunteers and cast members (Disney’s term for employees) were fabulous across the board.

Plus, as promised there were lots of characters out on the course. Aid stations were plentiful. Sharpie even had funny signs with odd sayings, facts and trivia in some of the more boring stretches of road. There was music, including a number of school bands and groups of cheerleaders. It was a wonderful experience.


Mary Poppins was my FAVORITE growing up

Out on the golf course


With all of my stopping for pictures and real indoor bathrooms, I came in around 2:50 for the half. My PR is 2:08 and my half Ironman time for running 13.1 is around 2:20. I would do it all again exactly the same way. Except I would eliminate the precipitation and make it at least a little warmer. It was brutal but totally worth it.

And since I know that several of you are planning to do Disney and/or Goofy in the future, I will note that post-event transportation was nearly as challenging as pre-race. It wasn’t fun waiting for the bus back to the hotel and taking the long ride when cold, wet and tired.

As far as advice, if you’re not going to stay in an EPCOT resort, I suggest having someone drive to EPCOT, park, and drive you back to the hotel.

Marathon (Sunday)
Again with the 3:15 wakeup. This time I tried the Disney transport and it was actually worse. I was on the Disney bus for almost 50 minutes – standing. As I suggested above, I think if I did this again I would stay at one of the EPCOT resorts so I could take the monorail (booking way ahead!). Otherwise, I suppose I could leave earlier, but who wants to get up before 3 am? Ridiculous!

I made it to the starting line (and my appropriate corral) just 2 minutes before the start. Not the way I like to do it but at least I wasn’t standing around too long.

The temps were way warmer this day. You know, like 30 degrees instead of 28. And windy! At least it wasn’t wet. But it was icy… Guess what you get if you have water stations with 30-degree pavement. Ice rinks. That was a new challenge for me.

Start of the full marathon

Chip and Dale


I stopped for somewhat fewer pictures this time since I had gotten shots with many of the same characters the day before.

About to run through the castle


About to enter Animal Kingdom

Minnie is safari-ready

Mickey, too!

P-p-p-power rangers!

Although I felt pretty good going into the day, by the middle of the race I definitely felt the effects of the run the day before. I took my time and remembered that I was there to have a good time and so I walked a lot more than usual.

Oh, and here’s a funny story. Around mile 6 I noticed that I no longer had my cell phone. Oops. It must have fallen out of my hydration pack when I took out a gel. I borrowed phones from a couple of fellow runners and tried to call my phone. Finally, a couple of miles later, someone picked up. He had my phone. He offered to bring it to the finish line but I opted to wait for him to catch up to me.

I waited for this kind stranger for over 15 minutes…which was actually pretty hard considering it was sooo freezing. Meanwhile I bonded with the volunteers at the medical tent, which was the designated meetup spot. I got to watch all of the runners go by. I wouldn’t do that again, but it was a memorable part of the day.

When I got my phone back I saw it had a rough day, too. It is all scratched up and the battery case is missing. My little phone needed to replaced anyhow, but now it is hilarious with the duct-taped battery and all. Just a little souvenir from race day.

Now here is the really funny part, Around mile 23 I calculated that in order to come in under 6 hours, I would need to average 10-10:30 miles for the remainder of the race.

Where did this 6-hour number come from? I have no idea! I just got it in my head somewhere along the way. Maybe because I rmembered  that your predicted marathon time is double your half marathon time plus ten minutes...and I based it on the day before's half time. I don't know.

Ordinarily, I run a marathon in around 4:30. So why was I hell bent on being under 6 hours? Again, I have no idea.

Throughout the race I kept reminding myself of the goals: have fun, relax, and take it easy enough so that I can enjoying touring the parks Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

By this point, however, it hurt just as much to walk as to run and I was sore enough that I figured it didn’t matter what I did at that point, I was going to be hurting regardless.

So I took off. I felt like I was really zooming, especially since those around me were all in the 6-hour marathon bunch and were probably averaging 13-14:00 miles.

Lo and behold, I made it across the finish line in 5:59:something. Wow, I am stubborn! And determined! As sore and tired as I was, I got it done.

I'm done!
That's me behind the blue hat.

It is still windy!

For all of that, I got some pretty sweet medals.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm Goofy

As if you didn't know that already, it will soon be official.  I'm goofy!

Can you believe that Disney's Goofy challenge is almost here? Saturday morning is the Disney Half Marathon and Sunday is the (full) Disney Marathon. Those wacky enough to do both get three medals (one for each race, and one for being insane enough to do both), and the special designation of being Goofy!

Word is that the medals and the race shirts are really cool. I can’t wait!

My lovely DC Tri Club friend Sandy and I are running together and we have declared that these will be fun runs. In other words, we are taking it slow. The plan is to stop and take pictures with the many characters that will be along the course and just have a blast. I intend to ignore the clock and get through the weekend with minimal damage to my body. Plus, I want to enjoy Disney after the races…which means not leaving it all on the race course for a change. Hopefully I will keep the plan in mind if I get a little burst of adrenaline and try to start racing. (Sandy, remind me of this, will ya?)

We are freaking out just a tad since neither of us expected a forecast like we’re seeing…Check this out:

Saturday – low 27, high 43
Sunday – low 30, high 48

Yikes! It is going to be super cold when we start these races at 5:40 am. Reviews from previous years races complained of the hot temps at the end of the race. Yeah, that won’t be a problem this time around. I’m sure people will complain about the weather anyhow…

Still, I am so excited for this trip. Two race days, some park/shopping days (Orlando has awesome outlet malls) and then a three-day cruise. Yipee!!!