Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Five- Favorite Fall Activities

Well, it certainly doesn't feel like fall here in Phoenix, AZ. While the temps are actually decent in the morning, the 10 day forecast still shows us getting to 100 degrees. But since it is technically fall, here are my favorite fall activities. I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta- Mar On The Run, You Signed Up For What? and Eat Pray Run DC.

1. Fall Races

This is the first year since 2011 that I don't have a fall marathon on the schedule. Granted, I trained for the same marathon 3 summers in a row and finally ran the NYC marathon last fall. I can't tell you how happy I am that not only do I not have that big scary event staring me in the face, but it makes my fall half marathon seem like a walk in the park.

NYC Marathon 2014


This year, I'm running Wine & Dine Half and I'm so excited to run it. I've also never experienced the Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT, so that'll be an adventure, too. I'm doing the half, but also walking the 5K with my mom in the morning. I haven't been to a race weekend with my mom since the Disneyland Half in 2012.


My sister, my mom and me at the Disneyland Half 2012


2. Fall Horse Shows

Every year, we have an Arizona State Championship show in the fall. Last year was my first year to compete and I psyched myself out and didn't do very well. This year, I'm much better prepared and doing really well, so I'm excited to compete this year.

In addition, AZ is hosting the Regional Championships. We're part of Region 5, which is AZ, UT, NM, CO, Eastern MT and Western TX, and WY. This is my first year qualifying and I'm really hoping just to place. There's quite a few qualified riders in my level, so just being in the top 8 would be amazing. Unfortunately, Lou isn't the fanciest of dressage horses, but we make a good team and ride really accurate tests. Hopefully, that will make up the difference.

But Louie is also a magical unicorn. That should help.


3. Wearing Fall Attire

I hear that in some parts of the country, people are already wearing long sleeves. Wha...? I'm still wearing flip flops. And will be until after Halloween. But then it's suddenly really cold here and I can't find anything warm to wear. And by "cold" I mean something below 60. Sweaters and boots? Yes, please.

My niece is so cute!


4. Fall Running

It's no secret that I hate running in the sun. Ironic, right, since I live in the land of blistering sunlight. Once fall kicks in, I start running right after work. It's always dangerous for me to have to go home first and wait for it to cool off because typically, I'm already comfy on my couch before that happens. I don't really have time to run before work because I ride before work and I'm already leaving my house at 5:45 to get to the barn on time.

There's a small window where the temps are just perfect for running. It's not too chilly, but not too warm. Pretty sure that lasts like a week in November. I'm a Goldilocks runner: everything is just too warm or too cold. I'm never happy.

Doesn't everyone dress like M&Ms to run? Hot Chocolate Race 2013


5. The Holidays

I love the holidays. My family is big on gift giving (which is unfortunate for my bank account) so there are always lots of presents I need to get wrapped. Surprisingly, I actually like wrapping presents. I find something on Netflix to binge on and set up shop wrapping. My cats usually like to help.


He's so helpful.


Louie has outfits, too.

What are your fall favorites?


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On The Right Track

It's amazing how much more I have to blog about now that I'm running again. What a concept for a running blog, eh? Getting back to running after essentially an 8 month break was tough. The first few runs were just under 3 miles and it was a serious struggle. Then I went for a 5 mile run and actually felt pretty good during the entire thing. Sure, I took several walk breaks, but I didn't feel like I was going to die, so that's a win.

There are two things coming up on my calendar that have gotten me back in the running groove, the first being the Wine & Dine Half in November.

From the RunDisney Facebook page

I am super excited about this race. I've wanted to do it for years. I'm also walking the 5K with my mom in the morning. I'm looking forward to finally getting to run a different half course at WDW than the one I'm so used to running. Not to mention the after party and meeting up with blogger friends!

The second reason is that the Dressage Regional Championships is about a month away. Luckily, AZ is hosting this year and it's practically in my back yard. Louie and I are qualified, along with about 42 other riders in our level. So it wouldn't hurt to drop a few (or a lot) of extra poundage beforehand. One of the other girls at the barn also wanted to lose some weight before regionals and started working out with a personal trainer. After the first day, she could barely walk which led to this conversation:

Yep. Stupid white, stretchy, unflattering freaking breeches. I hate you, white breeches.

But it's gotten me out and hitting the pavement. Or the desert, which is where my last several runs have taken place. It feels really good to be back out there. I was a bit worried when the first few runs felt so difficult, but my last run felt good, so I'm pretty relieved about that.


Now I just have to decide on my race outfits for Wine & Dine. I think I'll be making my mom go matchy matchy with me for the Jingle Jungle 5K, either dressing as Minnie Mouse, since I already have the ears and skirt, or something more Christmas themed. For the half, I was thinking something wine themed since it's my favorite beverage. Anyone have any simple ideas for me?



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Proudest Race Moments (Also, My 300th Post)

Holy Smokes, this is my 300th post! Where has the time gone?! In honor of my 300th post, I'm totally going to steal an idea from someone else. The girls over at Fairytales and Fitness just posted about their proudest race moments. I enjoyed their stories, so I'm going to share mine.

The first proud moment that springs to mind is, of course, when I crossed the finish line of my very first half marathon. It was the 2010 Disneyland Half Marathon. I had never run a single race before, not even a 5K, but I heard that my favorite place had a half marathon, so I signed up immediately. Can you believe that I signed up in April or May for that race? I don't think it ever actually sold out.

I trained for my first half in the scorching AZ heat, which was horrible. I had never done any sort of distance running before in my life and I think I only managed to get to 9 miles in training. I was scared to death that I wouldn't actually finish. 

Luckily, the morning of the race was actually overcast and foggy with temperatures at least 20 degrees cooler than what I had trained in. I loved every moment of that experience. And I cried like a baby when I crossed the finish line. Having never been a runner or any sort of athlete, I never thought that I was even capable of finishing a half marathon.

My second proudest moment was also at the Disneyland Half Marathon, but this time in 2012. I was in training for the NYC Marathon and I took training for that very seriously. Despite the fact that the NYC Marathon was cancelled that year, my hard work paid off in that I got a PR (still my current PR since my training has been so irregular since then!) at the Disneyland Half. 

I pretty much busted my ass the very last mile to cross the finish line under 2:40 (yes, yes, I know most people still think that's slow) and managed to do it by the skin of my teeth in 2:39:53. It was a 5 minute PR.

My third proudest moment was completing the Goofy Challenge in 2013. Since the NYC Marathon had been cancelled, Goofy Challenge ended up being my first marathon. 

The 2013 WDW Marathon was the 20th anniversary and from what I heard afterward, the temps were the highest that particular year. It was pure misery. The fact that we were sweating at the start line at 5:00AM in January, was a bad sign. And I mean really sweating.

I literally sobbed for half an hour after I finished. It was a double whammy - my first full and first Goofy Challenge.

As a funny side note, my friend Debra, had come to spectate. At the time she lived in Florida. Once the race was over, she met me at the finish area. Not only was I an incoherent, blubbering mess, I was also starving. So she got me back to the Art of Animation's (our hotel) food court, sat me at a table and proceeded to go get me some food. She came back with a burger and fries and then went to a different line to get herself something. 

I was so delirious, over heated and exhausted, that I didn't even think, I just started shoveling food in my face at lightning speed, while sitting alone. 

Here I was scarfing down food like I was a homeless person (and most likely smelled like a homeless person) when I stopped and glanced at the table next to me. There was a family of four just staring at the spectacle I was making. 

They looked like regular vacationers not as all associated with Marathon Weekend, so I'm sure it was confusing for them to be watching a stinky girl in a sparkle skirt wolfing down food. Ahhhh, memories. I wish I had a picture of that.

Who else wants to share their proudest moments?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Breaks Can Be Good...And Bad

For most of this year, I've taken a break from running and racing. In January, I did the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland, which was awesome and super fun and I'm sad I'm not doing it next year, and I'm doing Wine and Dine Half in November.

Taking a break was really good for me in some ways and not so good in others. First, it allowed me to have more time to focus on showing my horse. Louie and I have had a great couple of years, so it's been worth the sacrifice of not going on too many racecations. 

Taking a break also allows your body to rest and heal. Before the 2014 New York City Marathon, I injured my knee. I wasn't able to run for the month prior to the race, so showing up at the start line feeling fairly unprepared wasn't really any fun even though I did finish. I had also been battling an issue in my hamstring. Putting running on hold helped both of those issues heal. As I've slowly started getting back into training for W&D, I haven't had any issues with either problem.

I also felt really burnt out. My first race was in 2010 and in that time, I've run 20 half marathons and 2 full marathons. I had so much fun going to races, but I really did get fairly burnt out. I didn't feel like training, even if races were fun.

Post Goofy Challenge 2013
How is it possible to have running burn out, but still
want to run the WDW full again?

The downside of taking a break is that now running 3 miles feels super hard. It's like I'm starting over. I know that with a little work, I can tap into that base I had developed as a runner, but it takes a bit to get back into the groove.

A couple of weekends ago, I went up to the mountains and we found ourselves on a 9.5 mile hike up a mountain. We had done a 4 mile hike at the same trail before that and it felt really easy. So I reverted back to marathon thinking and my brain still believes that 9.5 miles doesn't sound that hard. Silly brain. My body does not agree. It was rough.

The other issue is weight gain. It's so easy to gain weight when you stop running. While running alone doesn't really impact the scale that much, it keeps it from climbing up. Not running makes it super easy for those pounds to stick.

Oh, so true.

So I've been back at it and training for Wine & Dine, but it hasn't been easy. I got a late start, as usual, but I'm trying to get myself out there as much as possible. A short two mile run is better than no run. So there you have it. I'm slowly getting back on track.