My journey from couch to 26.2


Crushing It

Or maybe, more appropriately


crushing it

With 4 weeks remaining until Marathon #1 Day, I hit my peak mileage week for this training cycle – and the peak mileage week of my entire running career.

43 miles in one week – I topped out at 38 miles during training for the 2013 Disney Marathon and that included a 20-mile run.

And now that I’ve completed that 43 mile week – you know what? It felt easy!

I spent 7 hours and 16 minutes running over the course of one week, and I wasn’t sore and my legs weren’t tired at all!

My coach reminds me that I’m peaking at my training cycle right now, which is good, but that it won’t last forever. Boo!

I absolutely brushed my marathon tempo run this week (1 mile warm-up + 8 miles at marathon pace + 1 mile cool-down). For the first time, I actually felt like I could run 9:06s for an entire marathon.  I even set a new 10k PR during this run – 55:22. And that’s just training! I could be in the low 50s during a race!

Then again, I crushed my 15 miles on my Sunday long run. According to my Garmin, I even hit a new VO2 max, which means I am becoming a better and more efficient runner!

Anyway, my confidence and training at peaking at just the right time after a short period of doubt for the marathon. I’m still slightly worried about the elevation changes during the marathon – uphill for 6.65, downhill for 6.65, uphill for 6.65, downhill for 6.65. The miles from 13.1-18.8 are the ones that will be the toughest to maintain goal pace.

But no matter how it goes, I have the knowledge that I have given it my all. My whole year of running has been building up to this!



One Dozen

That’s how many weeks I have until the Indiana First Veteran’s Marathon on November 5.

So, I’ll be counting down to the marathon, starting with week 12.

week 12

Week 12 was one of the lowest mileage weeks that I’ve had in months. Following the Ghost Town 7k on Saturday, August 12, I actually got some easy runs!

With this new training cycle and my new paces, I have been trying to hit each pace on target and not run too fast. That is often a problem for me. But the new paces are keeping me in check.

Tuesday – 4 miles at EA (10:56)

  • Mile 1 – 10:44
  • Mile 2 – 10:46
  • Mile 3 – 10:45
  • Mile 4 – 10:38
  • I give myself a leeway of 10 seconds either way, so I did good until the last mile when I ran a tiny bit too fast. However, it was a good run.

Thursday – 4 miles at EA (10:56)

  • Mile 1 – 10:46
  • Mile 2 – 10:36
  • Mile 3 – 10:39
  • Mile 4 – 10:47
  • A little fast in the middle, but overall I kept it in check.  Loving the faster paces.

Friday – 4 miles at EB (10:11)

  • Mile 1 – 9:45
  • Mile 2 – 9:40
  • Mile 3 – 9:42
  • Mile 4 – 9:56
  • Oops, really fast on this run – I was doing more of a long run pace (9:49). Need to watch this so I don’t overly fatigue my legs.

Sunday – 6 miles at LR (9:49)

  • I did this run on the treadmill and had no issues.
  • I like the treadmill because it makes sure that I run the right pace all the time, but I hate it because I need to know how to keep that pace on my own outside.
  • But, kids and stuff, so treadmill it was.

Pacing and Planning

In my last marathon experience, I used Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan to train. I like Higdon’s plans – they’re pretty simple to follow (which was great when I was a fairly inexperienced runner), and the Novice plans only had four days/week of running (which was perfect for me).

However, it was hard for me to follow sometimes because I wanted more structure. Some runs were just “runs” and supposed to be slower. Other runs were at “pace.”

My original goal for the 2013 Disney Marathon was to run a 4:30, which equates to 10:16 minutes/mile. However, I was often running my “pace” runs faster than that – in the 9:45s – and my slow “runs” at 10:16.

I didn’t know how to control my pacing. I still don’t really, but now I have a Garmin Forerunner 235 that will vibrate when I’m running too fast or too slow. And I have a coach who tells me exactly how many miles to run at exactly what pace (give or take 10 seconds either way).

About my coach.

When I started my 2013 Disney Marathon journey, I obviously wanted to find other people who were going to be running as well. I found DISboards. If you want to know anything (and everything) about Disney – Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disney restaurants, Disney hotels, Disney tattoos, Disney Vacation Club, Disney purses, and on and on and on, DISboards is the place to go.

It turns out they had a whole section devoted to RunDisney – the races that Disney puts on at WDW (Walt Disney World, for you outsiders) and Disneyland. Now there’s even a race at Disneyland Paris!

It was there, in the thread started for the 2018 Marathon that I found my coach – DopeyBadger. Just a science-oriented guy who started running a few years ago and never looked back. Now he creates custom training plans for others who are running Disney races and hoping to get into optimal running shape.

He’s been a great help over the last several months, once I decided in March that I wasn’t up to doing a whole year of training plans on my own.

His plans have resulted in my 35:11 7k earlier this month (an 8:04/mile average) and even a mile under 8 minutes!

Unfortunately, now that means he has upped my paces for marathon training. I’m slightly worried about this, but for the first week and a half, I’ve been able to hit them.

I actually have a harder time hitting the slow paces than I do the fast paces. I always want to go faster and it’s hard to be slow on purpose.

My pacing code:

Pacing Code

WU/CD – Warm-up and Cool-down – super slow, loosen the muscles, get ready for a harder workout – 11:38

EA – Easy A – slightly harder than WU/CD but still an easy jog – 10:56

EB – Easy B – we’re starting to work – 10:11

LR – Long Run – 30-45 seconds slower than marathon pace, used for those long runs to simulate marathon day – 9:49

M Tempo – Marathon Tempo – the pace that my coach believes I can hold for 26.2 miles – 9:06

HM Tempo – Half Marathon Tempo – the pace that my coach believes I can hold for a 13.1 mile race – 8:43

Speed – self-explanatory – 8:00


The color code you will see in the weeks to come as different workouts are sometimes highlighted in a different color to indicate what I need to do that day.

So this is my pacing. I’d love to run 9:06s for a marathon (putting me under 4 hours!), but we’ll see…

12 weeks of training to make it a reality.

Here I Go Again

Guess who’s back.

Back again.

Guess who’s back.

To run the marathon again.

Guess who’s back, guess who’s back, guess who’s back…

Stay tuned for the latest and greatest blog posts when I’ll write when I find time between running 40 miles a week, working 40 hours a week, and trying to keep 2 children alive. The husband just has to fend for himself.

Redemption, 5 years in the making…

The 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon



I run for myself…but not today


I run for myself. I run for vain and selfish reasons. I run to be healthy. I run to be skinny. I run for a number on the scale and a specific pant size. I run for food. For lots and lots of food. I run for a bowl of ice cream every night. I run for a tub of movie theater popcorn on the weekends. I run for swedish fish. Sam’s Club size bags of swedish fish. I run for plain blueberry PopTarts. I run a little for the “look at what the unathletic high school band/drama geek can do” factor. I run for myself.

Correction: I ran for myself. But not today. Today I run for those who started a marathon in Boston but couldn’t finish it. I run for those killed and injured standing on the sidelines cheering along their loved ones. Because I know them. Because I know the ones who stand outside in 40 degree weather or 90 degree weather for an hour or seven for one glance as you run by. Because they are my spectators. Because they are my husband and my parents and my brother and my sister-in-law and my friends. Because they are the ones who listen when you complain about tight IT bands and plantar fasciitis and shin splints when they really have no idea what you are talking about. Because they are the ones who make fun of you for running so much when deep down they are more proud of you than you are of yourself.

So today I ran for Boston. A city I have never been to and my knowledge of which is mainly limited to “wicked awesome” and Mark Wahlberg. Today I ran for runners. Because those runners and those spectators are someone’s spouse, someone’s parent, someone’s child, someone’s sibling.

And tomorrow I will run. And the next day. And the next. And I will run a marathon again. A big one – Disney or London or Chicago. Because I continued to fly after 9/11. Because I still went to London in 2005 after the bombings. Because I go on. Because I refuse to be afraid of life. Of living. I will continue to run, but always toward something, never away.

So today I ran for something other than myself. For something that had no effect on my life other than to shatter the community that welcomed me with open arms when I was slow and untrained. I run for them. Cheers runners. Cheers spectators. Today’s 5-miler and tonight’s bowl of chocolate ice cream is for you.

The Big Day: Marathon Tale Part 5

We are finally to the big day. Marathon day!

It was absolutely nothing that I had pictured and nothing that I had planned.  In a few ways (my time and sore feet), it was worse. But in almost every other way, it was better.


My mom felt it was necessary to take a picture of me eating my pre-race peanut butter sandwich.


I woke up at 2:45 to a Mickey and Stitch wake-up call. Luckily I had laid out all my stuff the night before:


I got up, got dressed, slathered on SPF 50 sunscreen, ate a PopTart and a part of a peanut butter sandwich, and I was off.

I got to the bus stop around 3:25 a.m. Marathon transportation was running from 3–4 a.m. From 3:25 until 4 a.m., probably six buses passed us by and never picked anyone up. It was terrible. Finally someone called the resort and told them that they needed to send buses our way. One came around 4:05 – except it was full, but we were able to get on and stand in the aisle.

Unfortunately it was 90 million degrees on the bus, I still had the flu, my sunscreen was very aromatic, and we were stuck in traffic for 45 minutes. Oh, and I tend to get bouts of motion sickness. So I sat myself down in the aisle, put my head between my knees, and prayed to God that we would get to the staging area quickly. We didn’t, but I didn’t puke, so that was good.

We finally made it to the staging area, and I dropped off my bag at bag drop, with sandals and such for after the marathon. I used a super disgusting port-a-potty and continued on my way to Corral C!

 Disney 025

It was quite a walk from the staging area to the corral, but I needed all the extra time I could get to recover from that horrible bus ride!  It was already super humid at 5 a.m. Gah! Not a good sign of things to come!

 But soon enough, it was time to start! First Corral A took off, then Corral B, and we inched our way closer to the start.  Finally, it was our turn for fireworks!

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Ahhhhh!!!! The start line!

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The start of the marathon was pretty exciting. I really couldn’t believe that just a year ago I couldn’t run two minutes on the treadmill and here I was at Disney (trying) to run 26.2 miles. I must be out of my gourd.

 The first mile passed pretty quickly, though not quickly enough. I wasn’t moving at as fast as a pace as I wanted.

However, two days ago I didn’t think I would be able to run ten feet, so I was doing alright.

Mile 1 – 12:26

There were some different banners and nice pictures of Mickey, etc. along the side of the road that I didn’t take pictures of. I just was focused on getting through the first few miles; they are always the hardest miles for me – settling into a rhythm and overcoming the mental blocks.

Mile 2 – 11:55

As I pounded down the highway towards mile marker 2, I saw a large ship in the distance.

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At this point, I wasn’t running the pace I wanted to, but I was still running. I knew I wouldn’t make my time goal so there was a big decision to make:

Do I run this marathon for a specific time, or do I run this marathon for fun? 

This is Disney after all:


So I decided to run for fun! You can’t pass up Captains Jack and Barbosa in front of the Black Pearl!  Too bad Orlando Bloom wasn’t there…

Captain Jack had a very long line, evidenced by my third mile.

Mile 3 – 16:27

Not much was going on after Captain Jack for the next mile or two.

Mile 4 – 12:45

Somewhere around mile 5 or so, Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas were out for pictures. But I hate, hate, hate that movie! I hated it 20 years ago when I first saw it, so I gave it another chance around Christmas 2012. It was still stupid. So I gladly passed up their super long line.

 My plan had to been to run around 10:45–11:00 minute miles.  So we can see what the flu and a lack of nourishment does even at the beginning of the marathon.

Mile 5 – 12:22

We then entered the Magic Kingdom!

 Disney 044

We passed by the Contemporary and under the monorail on our way into the park.

Around this time, I ran alongside a guy and his wife – he was dressed as Marlin and she was dressed as Dory from Finding Nemo.  Except that everybody was shouting “Nemo!” at him, and he was actually Marlin so he kept shouting “No, I’m Marlin!”  He was already kind of pissed at mile 5, I can’t imagine after 26.2 what he was saying to people that called him Nemo! 😛

Running up Main Street.

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Then I came across a long line that I definitely had to stand in!



Belle and the Beast!  My two favorite Princesses at one photo op!


After I stood in this line, I realized that there was one that I really should have waited in – King Mickey and Queen Minnie! Unfortunately, my time was already very bad and I wanted to keep moving.

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Mile 6 – 20:29

I still wish I had stopped for them!

I then ran through the castle and was greeted by the crowds on Main Street.

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Had to stop for a photo op in front of the castle!

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And we continued on our way! Outside of the Magic Kingdom, we passed by the Grand Floridian and ran into some old friends: Mary Poppins and Burt!

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Mile 7 – 12:08

Mile 8 – 13:40

Came across a character from another Disney favorite! Genie! Grant me a wish – to finish this marathon!

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It was pretty warm by this point – the sun was up and we were on pavement, so were being cooked like eggs in a frying pan!

Right before mile marker 9, we had a very, very steep descent and then ascent into the Walt Disney World Speedway. We ran 1.25 miles on the track.

Mile 9 – 14:20

Saw some Challengers on the track.

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They also had some of the Cars characters out, like Tow Mater and Lightning McQueen, but I didn’t stop for pictures with them.

On the highway to Animal Kingdom, I met up with some friends…and some enemies!

Yikes, what are we plotting?

 Disney 065

Jiminy, I need some advice. How does one run 26.2 miles?

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Mile 10 – 15:31 (long line for the evil characters!)

Mile 11 – 14:07

We were now on our way into Animal Kingdom!

I ran by Expedition Everest


And met Safari Daisy and Minnie


Our jaunt through Animal Kingdom was way too short, but before we hit the highway, we met Safari Pluto and Mickey!


Mile 12 – 12:38

Mile 13 – 13:06

We are halfway there!!!

Mile 14 – 15:21

Somewhere around here, we started running on the highway…and we never stopped.

It was mindnumbingly boring, and it was hot as Hades.

I want to take this moment to thank the thousands of volunteers who made the marathon possible. There were something like 22 water stops on the course, and I utilized every single one of them! They filled up the water bottles I was carrying and gave me cups of water and Powerade to drink. I never would have made it without the volunteers!

Mile 15 – 16:28

Mile 16 – 14:23

Mile 17 – 17:13

Somewhere around here I took a picture with my absolute favorite character during the marathon.

Life is like a hurricane…here in Duckburg…



And then another one…

Sometimes some crimes go slipping through the cracks…



But they didn’t rescue me, I had to continue on my way.

Mile 18 – 13:50

Around mile 18, we entered into Disney’s Wide World of Sports. While it was nice to see some grass and run on a track and break up the monotony, it was boring. It might have even been more boring than the highway. I was never this bored during my long training runs. I was also possibly delirious from my lack of food.

Mile 19 – 15:31

Mile 20 – 18:01

At mile 19.5, we went into the baseball field in WWOS.  At this point, I had expected the “Mile 20 Spectacular” and was sorely disappointed that it was basically a video feed of the runners on the big screen. I was not happy. As evidenced by this picture:


WWOS was slowly killing me. Outside we hit the actual Mile 20 Spectacular, but I still wasn’t impressed. These guys were there, but I had no time to stop. My feet hurt so badly and I just wanted to be done.

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Mile 21 – 17:02

Mile 22 – 16:24

Mile 23 – 16:00

Around mile 23, we finally entered into another Disney park. It had been 10 miles since we left Animal Kingdom and those 10 miles were boringgggggg.

So we entered into Disney’s Hollywood Studios! There was a candy stop at mile 23, which was heaven! Mini Hershey bars! They tasted so delicious! They were slightly melted since it was like 90º. 

We ran through the backstage areas and through where they house costumes from previous Disney movies. That was so neat!

Finally, we came to another character I wanted to take a picture with!

I’m gonna wreck it!

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After this, we ran down the Main Street of Hollywood Studios. They were playing One Direction on the loudspeakers, and for some reason, it gave me a lot of energy!  I was bobbing my head along to the music and happy that I had just a 5k left!


Mile 24 – 16:11


After leaving Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we headed on a narrow path to the Boardwalk. It was very nice, though tight. It was extremely difficult to pass anyone.


Mile 25 – 15:28

We finally entered Epcot, and I spotted my brother and sister-in-law! I was so excited – crappy bus transportation had forced my family to miss me throughout the marathon so I was so happy that I almost cried when I saw them. I high-fived them and continued on my final 1.2 miles!

The marathon photographers captured the moment I saw Karl and Theresa!


Mile 26 – 16:59

A gospel choir sang us the final .2 miles to the finish line.

And I sprinted as fast as I could “sprint” after 26.19 miles.


Final time: 6:42:53

I did it!!!!


After puking twice on an airplane, after less than 2,000 calories in 3.5 days, after feeling like I was going to puke on a bus 30 minutes before the marathon, and after one year of training, I completed the Walt Disney World 20th Anniversary Marathon.

And when someone says that I’m not tough and that I can’t hack something, I will relate this story and ask them what they did 3 days after coming down with the flu. And their answer will probably be sat on their butt on the couch, not run 26.2 miles in the record high Florida temperatures.  And I will laugh and show them my medal.


It may have taken me 1.5 hours longer than planned, but if this doesn’t show my determination, I don’t know what does.




And to end a great race, I went over to get a picture with a character from my favorite cartoon.  Scrooge McDuck.  And to mess up my awesome happiness, Scrooge McDuck switched out with Daisy right when it was my turn!!!  Noooooooooo!

But she was cute, so I got a picture.


I grabbed my stuff, got my snack box, and headed for the bus!  We headed back to Port Orleans Riverside, and my mom was kind enough to grab us a pizza and a sweet, cold chocolate milk for me.

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My plan was to take a shower, a nap, and rest! However, I ate and felt awesome!

I showered and headed out for the Magic Kingdom with everyone, except for my poor, poor dad.

It turns out that I gave him my flu bug. He did watch me at the marathon (on Sunday), but after we got back to the hotel, he was down for the count. The poor guy didn’t leave the hotel room until Thursday – and only then so we could fly home to Pennsylvania!  I felt so terrible!

And that is the tale of my first marathon. I was slow, and I was sore, and I was tired. But I finished, and it was great!

I never thought that I would run a marathon.  My goal in 2012 was to run a 5k!  If I can do it, anyone can!

The Day Before the Dawn Before the Day of the Marathon: Marathon Tale Part 4

For some reason, when I sat down to write this post, all I could think of was The Muppet Christmas Carol and the Ghost of Christmas Present saying “This is the night before the dawn before the day of Christmas!” Hence the title of this post.

For some reason, when I sat down to write this post, all I could think of was The Muppet Christmas Carol and the Ghost of Christmas Present saying “This is the night before the dawn before the day of Christmas!” Hence the title of this post.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

The day before the marathon, I was feeling better but still worried about being able to run.  My brother and sister-in-law had flown in the night before, so now the whole family was together at Disney!

We headed to breakfast at the resort, and I finally got to eat some food in the shape of Mickey. That is all I wanted to do at Disney!


After I ate breakfast, I started not feeling very well. Darn Mickey waffle, so tasty, but my belly was grumbling about actually receiving a meal for the first time in two days.

My brother decided he wanted to change into shorts, so he ran back to the room. I thought about going and lying down. But we sat on a bench and waited for him, and in 10 minutes, I was feeling a lot better.

We headed off to the Animal Kingdom!

Hello Tree of Life!


We stopped for a picture.

Oh Dad!


This one isn’t too bad. It was very bright and warm already at 9 a.m.


Our first stop was Kilimanjaro Safari. I love animals. I would love to be a safari guide at Disney; my two favorite things combined into one – awesomesauce!

The elephants were splashing around in the lagoon – it was so cute! I even took a short video of it. Love!




After that, we took the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  The train was so interesting because we passed by where all of the animals are housed. We saw the rhinos and elephants that had the day off from being part of Kilimanjaro Safari and learned about their care.

At Rafiki’s Planet Watch, we met Rafiki! I look terrible (and I’m supposed to run 26.2 miles tomorrow?!).


We also hit a number of shows/exhibits (Flights of Wonder, Nemo, etc.).  Animal Kingdom has some rides but it also has a lot of things you can sit down at, which is nice. I really enjoyed Flights of Wonder with all of the different birds.

My big lunch of the day:  Super Pretzel!  And you know what, it tasted so awesome!

I did dare to go on Expedition Everest – a roller coaster that even goes backwards! Now that is weird!


While my mom, brother, and sister-in-law headed on to Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic, my dad and I headed out of the park around 5 p.m. – I needed to eat, get off my feet, and get to bed; and he has bad hips and he also needed to get off his feet.  We were two of a kind that week, in more ways than this!

We went back to Port Orleans Riverside and had dinner. I opted for some pasta with chicken.  It wasn’t bad, and I was trying desperately to get some carbs into my body.  I had stayed pretty well hydrated even with the flu, but my food intake was desperately lacking. This was my next-to-last meal before the marathon and I needed something for fuel.

Food intake in days prior to marathon. Thursday: two pieces of toast which did not stay down. Friday: two PopTarts, maybe 3-4 ounces of chicken, fries. Saturday: Mickey waffle, strawberries, Super Pretzel, pasta with chicken.  I should have been eating more than that combined EACH DAY!

I went to bed around 8:30, and I didn’t sleep very well. I woke up about every hour and looked at the clock, ticking down to 2:45 a.m. when I needed to get up, get dressed, and get to the marathon.

I was able to walk around most of the day at Animal Kingdom without a problem. But would this prove good for me or come back to haunt me during the race?

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