Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Year, New AWESOME!

It's going to be really tough to top last year, but that won't stop me from trying. Here's a quick 2015 recap: Dopey Challenge #2, Ice Climbing, Flying Pig Marathon (#20), flew a plane, went sailing, hiked Franconia ridge solo, completed the New England Mountain Goat Series, played Polo, rappelled down an 80ft. waterfall, did a high ropes obstacle course, went to Hollywood, took a pottery class, went to Niagara Falls, ran marathon #21, played BINGO, went dog sledding, and a whole lot of other awesome things.

My total mileage for the year was pretty low, but I went into the year with the goal of doing more non-running things so it makes sense. I think I checked off something like 50 items on my "to-do" list and reached a total of 150 things checked off (out of the growing list of currently 475 things). Looking back, it was in a word - EPIC. I know people tend to overuse that word, but I think it really applies to 2015 for me. I accomplished A LOT for one year and had A LOT of fun.

So far 2016 has had a decent start. I rang in the New Year at a Gatsby style red carpet gala. Then got up the next day with a bit of a champagne headache and ran a 10K. It wasn't fast, but I felt good so I didn't care.
This past weekend I completed my 3rd Dopey Challenge in Disney World. As usual, the weather was my biggest challenge, not the 48.6 miles. The 5K and 10K went well, although thinking about it now, I might have raced them a little too fast in preparation for the half and the full. I finished the 5K in about 40 minutes (stopping for a picture with Chip and Dale about a mile into the race). I finished the 10K in about 75 minutes. It was pouring rain and a little cold, but overall not too bad.

For the half marathon, I dressed as Tinkerbell again and tried to get as many fun photos as I could, saving my legs for the full marathon. It was hazy and humid. Not as bad as 2015, but still muggy. I was drenched within the first mile. I stopped at almost every character to get a photo and I think I finished in a little over 3 and a half hours. Afterwards I refueled and relaxed the rest of the day at our hotel and even got to spend some time floating around in the lazy river. 

The morning of the full marathon I felt pretty good. It was really humid again, but the temperature was cool so I wasn't too worried. The forecast was 68-70 degrees and partly cloudy for the whole day. As soon as I started running though my legs felt heavy and my quads were not happy. I made it to the castle and through Magic Kingdom feeling pretty good. The sun started to peek through the clouds around mile 10 right before Animal Kingdom. Lucky for me it stayed behind the clouds and didn't really come out.

Running into Animal Kingdom I remembered that the past few years of the race Disney allowed runners to ride the roller coaster Expedition Everest mid-race. I've always skipped it, but I had a feeling it was going to be a long day and I decided to take the opportunity and have a little fun before the really tough miles. It was right at the half way point and I was 3 hours into the race and fully expecting a 6 hour marathon so, why not? IT WAS AWESOME!!! Totally worth it. I will do it again next year and every year I run Disney as long as my legs will let me.

I had such a boost of adrenaline and energy after that, the next few miles flew by. It wasn't until I got to the ESPN Wide World of Sports around mile 17 that I started feeling not quite right. I actually swayed and stumbled a bit and almost went down. I took a quick status check and realized I was crusty and covered in salt, I couldn't remember when I took my gels and how many I had left, I couldn't do simple math to figure out from one walk break to the next what time my watch should read, I was starting to get nauseous, and despite the relatively low temps I felt like my head was on fire.

I had to stop for bandaids on my toes twice in the next 3-4 miles and also covered myself in biofreeze to attempt to stay cool and pain free. I did my best to stick to the run 6 minutes - walk 1 minute alarms I set on my watch, but found myself walking a little more and running a little less. Each time I started running I felt like I was going really fast and pushing really hard, but my Garmin told a different story and my body just wouldn't allow me to do what my brain wanted to do - RUN. I started heaving somewhere in the last 10K. Couldn't drink anything even though I knew my body was completely depleted. I ran out of Gels and didn't have any salt tablets.

I was texting mile updates with friends to let them know I was still moving forward and to have something to mentally focus on. One foot in front of the other, one mile at a time. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, only 2 more miles, I can do it. 25.....last mile, come on body just keep moving. Back spasms and stomach cramps. Dizziness. Nausea. This is not fun. Then I rounded the last corner past the big golf ball of Epcot, with the gospel chorus singing and dancing and cheering me on, I pushed through the pain and crossed the finish line. STILL STANDING! Not fast, but I finished. Then I sat down and was handed a puke bag by a very nice medical volunteer. I had to sit for about 15 minutes before I felt like I could move and even then I did not feel well, but I didn't want to go to the medical tent so I got up and got my medals and found my friends.
On the way to the car we found a wheel chair, so naturally I took a little ride. Back at the hotel, it took me a few hours to be able to get any fluids or food down. But I managed to shower and eat a slice of toast and force down some Gatorade and slowly came back to life.

It's a strange sensation to finish another marathon and another Dopey Challenge. During the race it's a struggle and an intense physical effort, but not long after it seems like a dream (or nightmare) that didn't really happen. My body still has faint memories, aches and pains, and fatigue but my brain has already blocked it out or forgotten that just a few days ago I traveled 48.6 miles on my own two feet four days in a row. I have to remind myself I DID IT because it is too easy for me to focus on the perceived failure. It didn't go as expected and I was slower than I wanted to be and I felt awful at the end, but I DID IT!

Already thinking about fall marathons and which one might be fun to run....stay tuned.

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