Thursday, January 30, 2014

Is it Friday yet????

This week is dragging on and on and feels like it will never end.  I'm not sure why but I'm really struggling this week.  Overwhelmed and stressed out and feeling tremendous weight and pressure on me from every aspect of my life.  I just want to crawl into my bed and sleep until it's over.  How do I cope with stress when running doesn't help?  Well, lately (and I am not proud of it) I've been 'enjoying' a nice glass of wine or ice cold beer.  That's not helping either.

I think it's just a lot of things going on all at the same time.  End of the month is a busy time for me at work because metrics and meetings take over my life.  Working really hard and getting no where fast, kind of like running on a treadmill.  I'm sure I'm still getting some sort of benefit that I'm not aware of yet, but right now it is really challenging to stay motivated.  There is a lot of uncertainty with rumors flying around about changes in the business, plus performance reviews and promotions and bonusable goal review and goal setting for the new year.  I'm trying to stay positive because I know I crushed my goals last year, but I'm also trying to stay realisistic because I know how rating calibration meetings tend to go and I doubt I will get what I think I should get.
Last week I decided to try and do Super Bowl Squares as a fundraiser sort of last minute and hassling people for money and trying to get 100 squares filled when some people are just not interested and some people do not want to participate if half of the money is going to charity, they want to be greedy and often even a little bit rude/mean to me when I ask.  I had one person actually ask me if they won could they claim the tax deduction for the portion of the money raised that would be equal to the money that they won.  I didn't even know how to respond. 

I'm trying to do something good, raising money for cancer research and thinking of all kinds of different creative ways to do it and incentives for people that wouldn't normally donate, and most of the time it is well received and supported, but occasionally it's not and it's that small fraction of the population that really gets under my skin and irritates me.  It's ok if people are not interested in giving or can't afford to or already gave to another cause or any number of reasons that prevent people from donating.  Then there's people that give, but reluctantly and make me feel like a jerk for asking as if I'm stealing the money from them for personal use or something.

I'm also planning a really cool fundraising event for next week, but trying to remind people to register for it and organize potential raffle items and worrying about whether or not I will have enough things and if the event will be a success and raise much money is weighing pretty heavily on me.  I am trying to resist the urge to spend my own money to supply raffle items because I end up doing too much.  I want it to be fun and raise money, but I need to just relax and just enjoy the event and stop worrying so much.  It IS going to be great and I know everyone that is coming supports me and the cause I am running for and at the end of the night they will all have a good time no matter what raffle items are there.
Meanwhile, I keep almost forgetting that with all of this going on I have ANOTHER event Saturday for a different charity.  It's time to climb some stairs for American Lung Association.  It snuck up on me again this year, I'm not ready, not trained, and it is going to be tough, but I signed up to climb 3 times this year so that's 123 floors, 246 flights, 2367 steps.  I LOVE this event.  It is always a great day and I can't wait to do it and have a celebratory brunch and beverage afterwards, but I haven't really even had any time to think about it at all.  I don't even know if half of my team will show up.  I'm getting my usual pre-race acupuncture treatment on Friday so maybe I can get a little stress reduction too.

So, Friday cannot come soon enough and once this weekend and next Tuesday's event are behind me, I really hope that the stress is behind me too.  I need to start focusing on training for Boston and start mentally preparing for it.  I LOVE those 26.2 miles and I want to really soak it in and appreciate every mile.  Not just in Boston, but every step along the way.  I need to remind myself that I have come so far and my journey has been filled with ups and downs much like the roads from Hopkinton to that stretch on Boylston street, the first part was mostly downhill and it hurt a lot and beat me up, but I turned and pulled myself up and in many ways I have experienced the pain and glory of crossing the finish line.  Just like in the race, in life the journey doesn't end there, you keep moving forward.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Polar vortex can't stop me

It is C-O-L-D!!!!!!  For the past two weeks we have had days in the single digits, but luckily Saturday morning wasn't that bad for running and this coming Saturday doesn't look too bad either.  Plus, I can still run when it's ridiculously cold out, it just means I have more laundry to do.

Last Saturday was my first post-Dopey run.  I did 8 miles with my friend Lisa, just a simple loop out towards Tewksbury and Andover, we skipped the big hill and went around it (the elevation change is the same but it takes you over some gentler inclines that don't really feel like hills).  It was cold out, but not too bad, sort of spitting wet snow like stuff a little, just enough to be annoying, but too warm to be snow and too cold to be rain.  I felt really good since I had rested all week following Dopey.  I was ready to get going again and it was my first official training run for Boston.
From this point on I ramp up pretty fast and need to start doing hills and work on speed and watch what I eat to try and drop a few pounds before the big day in April.  I kind of hope the weather stays a little nasty because in my mind that means the race day will be better.  If we keep getting lucky with warmer weekend days it makes me nervous about race day conditions, but it is still WAY too early to worry about that.  For now, I am looking forward to my 10 miler tomorrow and having my Sunday completely free because I don't have to do back to back long runs.

My fundraising has sort of stalled this month, after the Holidays and before a few fundraising events I have planned I'm not worried, but it would be nice to keep my momentum going and get a few donations here and there.  I mailed out about 50 follow up letters plus hundreds of emails after Dopey updating people on my progress and sharing news about upcoming events.  I really hope that I can be at $8K by the end of February.  Right now I am right around $7000 if I count the company matches that haven't been credited to my page yet.  
When I hit $8K I become what Dana Farber calls a "pace setter" it's a significant milestone on the team and I will get a special patch to add to my singlet to wear on race day.  The next milestone after that is $13.1K, it's above my current goal, but still within the realm of possibility.  If I make it to that milestone I will be on top of the World overwhelmed and extremely grateful to all my fantastic supporters.  Remember 100% of the money raised goes to innovative cancer research projects, not a portion and a fraction - ALL OF IT!  The work that Dana Farber does is really amazing and every time I read another update from the team my mind is blown by the breakthroughs and miracles that are happening because of the funds we raise.

PLEASE consider making a donation today:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I'm officially Dopey!!!!!

I'm back from Florida.  I had an amazing time and still can't believe I just ran 48.6 miles in 4 days.  It was so much fun.  Disney races always are.  I left Wednesday morning and took a cab to Logan from my work parking garage, it's usually a flat fee of $33 but because of the stupid Callahan Tunnel closure it ended up costing me $50!  Still cheaper than parking for 5 days but damn.  I was at the airport early so I got a coffee and just enjoyed some people watching until my flight boarded.  I saw a woman (without kids around that I could see) wearing Minnie Mouse ears already, someone was excited to go to Disney.  Don't get me wrong, I love Disney and had a tiara and a Rapunzel dress in my checked bag, but in the airport in Boston, a little bit much, but hey she was happy and having fun so good for her.

I got to Orlando, got my bag and picked up my rental car and headed straight to the expo to get my bib# and do a little shopping.  I was on a mission.  I had a few things in mind that I wanted to get and I had brought a couple of books with me to have signed by one of the Runner's World editors that was going to be there.  I never thought the expo could get any bigger, Disney is absolutely one of the biggest health and fitness/marathon expos I've ever been too and I LOVE it.  Only one bigger was Berlin because it was in 5 airplane hangers AND outdoor space too.  Well.....Disney kicked it up a notch this year and instead of just one building filled with vendors and running gear gallore, they had TWO and some outdoor vendors.  Seriously, when I die and go to heaven, I think it will look like the Disney Expo.

I got my bib#s, we got 2.  One bib to wear for the 5K and the 10K and one bib to wear for the half marathon and the full marathon.  I had to make a mental note which one was for which races because I instantly had a mini anxiety attack vision of showing up with the wrong one.  From the packet pick up I made a b-line for the shirts and then the official merchandise.  I kind of wanted a hoodie, but I didn't see any Dopey hoodies, plus, if I'm honest with myself, I really don't NEED another hoodie.  The rest of the shirts were running shirts or t-shirts and I really don't need any more of those, I have boxes and boxes of race shirts in my basement.  I looked at the magnets and car decals, but my car is getting kinda old and I don't want to put a new sticker on it if I am not going to have it much longer.  I settled on a nice necklace with a 48.6 and a little Dopey on it.

From the official merchandise booth I made my way systematically through the rest of the expo zig zagging my way up and down the aisles trying not to miss anything.  I poked around in a few of my favorite booths and checked out some new gadgets.  I bought a t-shirt at Raw Threads, I love their shirts.  And then I went ot look for the Runner's World booth.  I got there and Mark Remy was starting to walk away.  I panicked and said, "wait, you can't leave now!" and threw my books in front of him.  Nice, real nice, Alicia.  I don't understand why I can be totally normal most of the time and can work a room like a politician but then other times I fumble and say the most awkward and random things.  I would have loved to chat with him and the other guy about the Runner's World half marathon in Boston later this year and about books and writing and all kinds of stuff but I was so embarassed by my own awkwardness that I kept it short and got the books signed and ran away.

Lucky for me the next stop I was looking for was right nearby.  I wanted to get a sparkle skirt for the 10K.  I tried one on and loved it.  It was perfect to match the Minnie Mouse ears I had.  Ok, mission complete.  Done with the expo.  On to the hotel and grocery shopping.  Orange Lake is only about 15 minutes away from all of the Disney stuff, it is AWESOME.  It's where I usually stay with my friend Jason and Kristen and anyone else we can convince to come with us.  This time I was all alone, it wasn't going to be the same without my partners in crime, but I'd make the most of it.  I checked in and dropped off my bags and then I went shopping for food for the week.  It's tough to buy food for one person and not buy too much because anything you don't finish just goes in the garbage.  Such a waste, but not much you can do about it.  They don't make single serving peanut butter or tiny bottles of olive oil.

Back at the hotel room, which was a King Villa with a full kitchen, I made some pasta and a salad and went to bed.  Alarm set for 3:45am, the latest I would get to sleep in all weekend because the 5K started at 6:15 and the rest of the races started at 5:30.  Plus, Disney insists that you get to the parking lot by 4:30 and in your start corral by 5:00.  It's crazy early.  It would be awesome to sleep a little in the corral before the start but I'm usually too excited.

The 5K Family Fun run was so different than all the other Disney races I've done.  The start area was not nearly as crowded.  It was more like a local race, smaller and more low key than the other Disney races, but still lots of characters and costumes and fireworks at the start.  My plan was to run the whole thing because I had rested for several days before leaving for Florida and I wanted to shake out the legs and get rid of a little nervous energy before the bigger races.  Well, I got a mile and half into the race and saw Dopey on the side and a very very long line to take a picture with him and I couldn't resist the urge to stop.  Plus, I figured it wasn't a bad idea to take it easy and save my legs for the half and the full.  I waited nearly 20 minutes and got my picture and then ran the remaining mile and a half to the finish.  Done before most people even got out of bed for the day.

After the 5K I had all day to kill time and nothing to do so I went to the Magic Kingdom.  I haven't been since I was in middle school and that was a miserable trip with my mom and a few of her friends and my brother.  The only other time I went was when I was 11 and that was even worse.  So, I figured this was a great opportunity to see the happiest place on earth when I am at my happiest and really enjoy all the magic.  The park wasn't really crowded and because I was by myself I was able to cruise through most of the lines.  I did all the major attractions - Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World, and some of the newer rides too.  I walked around and just took in the sites until I started to get tired and hungry.  I looked at the restaurant options and nothing really appealed to me, although I was really tempted to get a turkey leg in Frontierland.

Wrapped up the day and went back to the hotel to eat and relax.  I set the alarm for 3:00am this time and ended up falling asleep on the couch watching Law and Order around 7:00pm.  Got up and got dressed for the 10K Friday morning.  I wore a black tank top, capri pants and my new sparkle skirt, topped it off with my Minnie Mouse ears.  I must admit, I think I looked pretty cute.  The 10K start was a lot like the 5K, less crowded and more low key.  They announced that there were 7000 Dopey runners and about 10,000 total so I think that less than half of what they have for the half and the full.  My plan for the 10K was to stop and take pictures of all the mile markers to break up the race and resist the urge to run hard.  It worked perfectly.  I still managed to finish in a little over and hour and I got some great pictures.  Afterwards I waiting in a ridiculous line to get my picture with Minnie Mouse, totally worth it!!!  I love the pictures.

It was a little later in the morning, but still early.  I think I got back to the hotel by 9:00am.  I took a shower and got dressed and had a little bite to eat then headed to Downtown Disney.  When I got there it was still so early I wondered if the stores were even open yet.  I shopped around for a few hours and got some souvenirs for friends at home.  Then I went to the movies to see Frozen.
   Super cute and a great way to kill some time and stick with the Disney theme of the weekend.

Headed back to the hotel to make dinner and get ready for the half marathon.  I had a frozen pizza for dinner and tried to get to sleep really early again.  Up at 3:00am again, starting to feel it and could see it in my face as I got ready to run the half marathon, I looked like death.  I decided to ditch the Rapunzel costume because the forecast was for 70 degrees and 95% humidity.  It was gross and swampy out.  I knew I would be done before it got really hot out, but the humidity was a killer.  My plan for the half was to stop at EVERY character for a picture, but I was in corral K and most of the people around me were walking so it was super crowded and a little annoying right away.  I took a few pictures in the first 5-6 miles, but after that I started to skip characters because I was getting annoyed at the lines and walkers.  Usually, I'm in corral D or E and there are no lines because the people RUN and fewer people stop for pictures.

I finished the half in 3:12ish soaking wet and feeling pretty happy about it.  It felt like I swam 13.1 miles, but my legs were feeling really good.  I hydrated really well and fueled right.  I got one of the RunDisney beers at the finish area, not really because I wanted a beer, but because I was thinking ahead to the next day.  The Beers were $8, but refills were only $4, so I kept the cup and planned to bring it with me the next day. :)  Yup, I'm wicked smart.  After I finished the beer I left and got some lunch on my way back to the hotel.  Back at the hotel it was time to test out the water slide and pool right behind my room and it was perfect timing because it wasn't mobbed with screaming kids.  SO MUCH FUN!  I spent the afternoon at Downtown Disney again and saw Lone Survivor, it was amazing and very inspiring for the 26.2 mile journey I was about to go on.  It is really amazing how much pain we can tollerate and still keep moving and keep fighting. 

Sunday morning I had to wake up a little earlier because of road closures and having to get to the start corrals and whatnot.  I was ready though.  It was show time.  The rest of the races were just for fun.  Now it was time to get down to business and get serious.  It was time to run a marathon!  I was a little nervous, but mostly excited.  I started in corral K again, but this time I planned to get ahead of the walkers in the first few miles.  The 5:00hr pace group started in corral J so my plan was to catch them and pass them.  I did it, by the time I got to Cinderella's castle I had passed the 5:00hr pace group and I was feeling amazing!  Continued on around the race track at the speedway and towards Animal Kingdom feeling good.  I was doing 10:30s and 10:40s and consistant even paced for the first half.  The sun came up and by mile 15 I was starting to feel all the miles adding up.

I was still running strong, but my pace started to slow a little at a time.  I started doing the math in my head, 10 miles to go so if I can keep an 11:00 pace I will still finish in ??????  It's tough to do math when you're running and tired and dehydrated and hungry.  Made it to ESPN Sports complex around mile 17 and knew this was where things fell apart last year.  I did not want that to happen again.  I kept moving and convinced myself to push through the pain, I had more miles behind me than ahead of me and I could do it.  The 5:00hr pace group passed me around mile 18 or 19, but I knew that because they started in the corral ahead of me I still had a little buffer room and if I could keep them in sight I could finish in under 5hrs which was my goal.  I really wanted to get a 4:45, but knew 5hrs was more realistic.

Through Hollywood Studios and around the boardwalk into Epcot for the last few miles and I was doing great.  I was hurting and pretty sure my feet were bleeding, but I was doing it and I was about to finish my 15th marathon and my first Dopey Challenge!  I picked up my pace in the last few miles and started passing people.  I feel bad for those people, I've been there and it sucks, but I felt awesome and knew I had raced smart the whole week leading up to this moment and conserved just enough to finish strong.  I rounded the corner exiting Epcot and into the parking lot where the finish is and kicked a little more to get across the line.  Not sure if I wanted to scream or cry or hug someone.  I felt the rush of emotions that I get everytime I do this and I remembered why I love running marathons so much.  For the GLORY and of course.......after water and food and a mylar blanket....... the BLING!
Got my beer too!  It was a beautiful day and I DID IT!  I sat and chatted with some other runners and enjoyed my celebratory beverage and soaked in the sun and the awesomeness of the day.  Holy crap I just ran 48.6 miles in 4 days!  Still blows my mind.  Who am I?  I really do this stuff?  Not just crazy, DOPEY.  Unbelieveable.  Still so hard to believe I went from couch potato to multiple marathoner and I'm still at it.  I think I'm dreaming and I don't want to wake up.  I LOVE MY LIFE!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Ok 2014, let's do this!

Oh, HI! Just getting ready to have the best race ever in the happiest place on earth.  I know I have trained for this and I have done Goofy 3 times before, and this will be my 15th marathon, but I can't help it, I still get crazy nervous in the week leading up to race day.  So, before I talk about how nervous I am, let me re-cap the last few days of 2013.

So, I did it, I completed the holiday run streak.  Running at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Years.  I ended up with a total of 220 miles, the last week was rough and I was really happy to NOT run on January 2nd (plus we got a huge snow storm so it would have sucked to run).  It was ridiculously cold a few of the days.  Christmas morning was in the single digits.  I didn't get my 20 miler in because of a snow storm, but I did manage to do another 3-7-11-18 weekend and that went well so I think I will be fine for the Dopey Challenge.

Santa was REALLY good to me and listened to my request for donations to Dana Farber.  I got about $500 in donations over the holidays.  My fundraising is going great. I hope I can keep up this pace.  I'm almost at $7000.
In a few weeks I will be having my first public event.  I am hoping that a lot of my friends and people in the community can attend.  It will be a really fun night at the Old Court in Lowell hosted by the wine shop Tutto Bene.  We will be painting the Boston Skyline.  I will have door prizes and opportunity drawings.  There will be a cash bar and of course you get to take your artwork home with you. Call or go online to sign up - you need to register to attend and paint.  So, this means all my friends that said they want to go, you can't just show up, you need to SIGN UP.
Ok, now back to Disney and getting Dopey.  In just a few days I will be running 4 races back to back, 5K-10K-half marathon-full marathon, 48.6 miles in 4 days.  I've trained and I feel really good about it but I am starting to freak out and get nervous.  I think I'm more nervous than usual because I'm going by myself, not with my usual running buddies Jason and Kristen.  I know several people that are running and will be in Florida, but it's not the same.  I've run races alone before and I always meet really cool people along the way, but it doesn't make it any easier. 

Plus, I had some last minute emergency travel changes to add to the stress.  I thought that the 5K started later in the morning Thursday and I would have time to get my number on race day, then I got the final race instructions and found out I have to get everything Wednesday and my flight was scheduled to arrive after the expo closed so I had to switch flights and pay an extra $200 for the new flight in fees.  It's cool, it worked out and I will have more time Wednesday to check out the expo and go to the grocery store after I check into my hotel.  I just really didn't need that freak out on top of already freaking out about the races.
I'm also sort of freaking out about leaving.  I'm pretty adventurous, but I'm also a home body.  I don't like to leave my comfort zone and I worry A LOT about my house when I'm away.  It's old.  What if a pipe bursts, what if there's an electrical fire, what if someone breaks in?  These are the crazy thoughts that go through my mind.  Plus, I need to find someone to feed my cats.  They can pretty much take care of themselves but I like to have someone check in on them and make sure they didn't eat all their food in the first day I was gone.

I'm trying to decide if while I'm down there I should go to one of the parks to kill some time, but the tickets are like $100!  Geez, Disney, I already paid an arm and a leg for the race registration, don't you think you could give me a pass with the registration???? Come on, just once it would be nice.  How do I decide which park to go to?  Do I go traditional and do Magic Kingdom or go for new stuff and go to Universal?  Or do I save my money and just chill by the pool?  Things to decide in the next few days.....but first I need to do a little work, it will be a good distraction so I can stop freaking out.