Saturday, January 14, 2012

Disney Marathon Race Recap

I'm I flew down to Florida on Thursday night. I spent a couple of days resting and relaxing with the feet up as the family played golf and enjoyed the Florida sun.

I went for a 2 mile tune-up run on Friday, which felt like 10 miles. My mind wouldn't stop- Can I really do this? What was I thinking? Was my training enough? If 2 miles feels long how am I ever going to run 26.2 in a couple of days? I reassured myself that I felt this way on my last run before Boston last year and I PR-ed there. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I decided to run Disney, I only had enough time for an 8 week training plan. Doable, but I would have felt more confident with a typical 16 week plan. I was lucky enough to have running partners who were running Mississippi Blues Marathon on the same day, so I had company on all of those long runs through the holiday season. I had always envisioned that I would run Disney when I was older with kids. It wasn't one of the top races on my bucket list, but due to timing, location and the flat course, I embarked on the Wonderful World of Disney sooner than anticipated. 

As my brother Michael, sister Meghan and her boyfriend Ian tackled the parks,  I headed to the expo with my parents and Joe to pick up my race packet and number. 


We had an early dinner at Shula's Steakhouse located at the hotel. There weren't too many marathoners there- I assumed most were at the Italian restaurant carb-ing up on pasta. A bit weird to be eating at a steakhouse, but since I don't eat gluten, this seemed to be the best option for everyone.  The family was happy since they were able to eat a nice hearty meal with steak and chocolate lava cakes and souffles and I was able to have a simple dinner of a baked potato sprinkled with some salt. I topped it off with some hemp seeds that smuggled into the restaurant in my bag. 

Sunday morning came early- the alarm went off at 3 am. Joe was wonderful enough to take the shuttle at 3:30 am with me. My parents were able to"sleep in" and took the 4:30 shuttle. So early! Seriously, spectating is tiring. Spectators had to leave that early if they wanted to watch anywhere but the finish if their marathon ran under a 4 hour marathon.
 I was so happy I had packed sufficient "throw away clothes" and a trash bag to wear over my clothes since it was a chilly morning.
Staying warm and getting amped to run- sipping on some Mate tea pre race.

 I couldn't believe some of the people were in shorts and a tank top. After I checked my bag, gave my goodbye hugs and kisses,  the walk to the start line was about 15-20 minutes and only participants were allowed beyond that point. I was rushing to get to my corral and realized that I had completely missed the last set of port-a-potties. I spotted a good stretch of woods where many other people were peeing, so I quickly jumped out of my corral and went in the woods. Mickey, Donald Duck and Goofy all came to say hello and the announcer babbled on. I don't remember too much from that point on. I stripped my clothes with about 4 minutes before the start. I had to go again. shoot. ok well at least it is dark, but I was wishing I was standing in the water for the start of a triathlon rather than just standing on land in wet shorts. Oh well, I was on a mission. I had to run a PR to qualify for Boston 2013 since qualification times decreased by 5 minutes (note for non runners- that is a lot!!).  Fireworks went off from the start line and we were off. I was able to run right from the start, the crowds were fine, but maybe that is because I was near the front of the corral. It was pitch black, so looking at my pace on the garmin was not too easy. I wanted to run 8:20s at the beginning. I know that I blow up if I go too fast. The problem was that 8:20s felt fast- how was I ever going to hold an 8:08 pace later on in the race? The first two miles went by slowly. I was having trouble settling into a steady pace. We ran through a toll booth, which was weird. I saw my family at what I think was mile 2.5. The course wasn't too spectator friendly, there were only certain spots where spectators could watch.   The next couple of miles were all a blur. We ran through some parks, it was still dark out. Runners stopped to take pictures with Disney characters on the side of the course. I couldn't even tell you which characters I saw- I didn't see many though I know they were located throughout the whole course. I saw a 3:35 pace group ahead. The website only listed a 3:30 and 3:40 pace groups. I had no idea I could have started myself with the 3:35 group. Oh well, it was probably for the best, so that I would go out slowly and run my own race. Ok I will run with them for a while, I thought to myself. I saw my family at Magic Kingdom round mile 10- I was so impressed they spotted me twice now before I spotted them.  Usually it is the other way around. 
Depicts the race for me- most of it was a blur. 

I knew I wasn't going to see them again to the finish. Whenever I see them I instantly get a rush of adrenaline, renewed energy to keep me going strong. I was hoping that surge of energy could last me to the end. I had settled into my pace running about 50 yards back from the 3:35 pace leaders. Running with the group definitely helped, and kept me on pace. I didn't feel so alone and the miles started to fly by. Those pace leaders were my carrot. 
1 8:16
2 8:21
3 8:16
4 8:22
5 8:29
6 8:09
7 7:55
8 8:01
9 7:51
10 8:04
11 8:02
12 8:00
13 8:01
14 7:52
15 7:53
16 7:55

Then around miles 16/17 I felt like I was pushing too hard. My heart rate was creeping up and knew that if it got any higher, I would be flirting with a blow up. It is about balancing on that fine line of pushing hard, but not pushing beyond your limits. Those 4 seconds gained per mile now could turn into 13 minute miles later on in the race. And yes, that has happened to me before. not fun. not pretty. I decided to pull back and let the pace group go ahead. I was able to stay calm and do my thing since the last couple of miles I ran with them were sub 8:00- too fast, I just needed to run my own race. I backed off. Around mile 21 I realized I needed to step it up just a little bit. 5 miles left of pain. "Sweet Caroline" was playing on repeat as I passed the 21 mile mark. Was that intentional? I don't know, but I took it as a sign to pick it up because nothing was going to stop me from getting to Boston. The pace group was completely out of sight.  I started to pick up the pace and reel in the 3:35 group that had severely dwindled to about 4 runners. I caught up to them and passed them. My legs hurt. My body hurt. I was nervous about cramping. I tried not to let my mind wander about the effects of drinking the on course Powerade with limited sodium and artificial sweeteners. I just took some more of my electrolytes and kept going. I knew if I kept this pace I was golden. Just hold on body, hold on. I had run behind a guy wearing a shirt  that said "You vs. You" for pretty much the whole race. It was all up to me. It didn't matter who else was on the course, I didn't have to beat anyone else, all I had to do was keep my legs moving and shut down any negative thoughts that my mind conjured up about slowing down. Keep my mind going and body going that is it. You vs. You.  I passed mile 26 and rounded the corner and saw my family in the crowd. They started cheering "PUSH IT KATE PUSH IT- GOOO!!" - the anxiety in their voices made me nervous that I wasn't going to make it. It wasn't a normal cheer, it was a very anxious cheer. I looked at the finish line clock and realized I had 30 seconds to make it. I ran as fast as I possibly could. 
17 8:00
18 8:05
19 8:03
20 8:14
21 8:19
22 8:08
23 8:00
24 7:49
25 8:16
26 8:06
27 7:26
3:34:42. I made it. Mission Accomplished. Qualified for Boston again and ran a Personal Best. One hour and 2 minutes faster than my first marathon 6 years ago. Thank you Disney.

Chip Time3:34:42
Overall Place674 / 13478
Gender Place113 / 6315
Division Place23 / 1114

You can watch the video of me finishing here. I am in the green tank top and finish right near the end of the video clip under the clock on the left. 

To top it all off, nothing was better than to cross the line and see my beautiful family. Nothing is better than to be surrounded by the people that you love most in this world. 
Post race (and post comfy t-shirt change) with my parents. 
The whole support crew sleeping post race. Spectating is hard work!
I've been enjoying some recovery time, sleeping a lot and resting. I've done some swimming and some yoga, but I have been respecting the recovery and don't intend on running for another week.
Onwards and upwards- I'm so excited for Ironman Mont Tremblant training to start in a little over a week! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash, Kale and Red Rice/Lou Ristaino Workout

As I sit here in the Florida sun with my feet up and resting up for Disney marathon on Sunday, it is hard to imagine that just 3 days ago I was running around a track in the cold, windy, frigid Boston weather. 
The 3 lil pugs sunbathing

Somerville Road Runners  are quite familiar with the "Lou Ristaino workout" that is traditionally run the tuesday before a marathon. It consists of a continuous 4800 on the track running the first 800 at your goal marathon pace. Each successive 800 is run 4 seconds faster than the previous one. The start should feel very easy and by the end you should be working somewhat hard. 
Since I was the only one running a marathon this weekend (at least in my pace group), I would be all alone doing the workout. I decided to stay home and go to my town's high school track and be done with the workout 2 hours earlier than if I would have waited to go to SRR. I am so grateful that my sister Meghan was willing to do the workout with me, it made it so much easier to get through. The workout wasn't bad, but the howling wind, the creaking trees, the pitch dark track and my completely numb feet made me grateful that I was hopping on a plane to run in warmer weather this weekend. 
Meghan and I cooked up this delicious Hearty Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash and Quinoa from Cookin Canuck's blog when we got home. Let me tell you it tasted so good on a cold night.

I made some slight adjustments:
-I cooked the onions and garlic in a separate pan while the chicken was cooking to speed up the prep time. 
-I added Kale for some extra greens: I used 4 large kale leaves, stripped them from the stem and  into the stew at the same time as when I added the shredded chicken
-Substituted Red Rice for the Quinoa. I really only did this because I had just bought this Heirloom Bhutan Red Rice at Whole Foods and wanted to try it.
Verdict on the Bhutan Red Rice: Delicious! Very quick cooking- only 20 minutes! Nutritious and mineral rich. The anthocyanins present in the rice are antioxidant nutrients and give the rice its deep color and support health. I will add red rice to my list of great gluten-free whole grains and definitely make it again! 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Salmon with Dijon Lentils and Kale and Seeking the Magic of Disney

Happy New Year! I like to think of each day as an opportunity to start fresh, set goals and set intentions. But there is nothing like the new year to reflect on what progress has been made in the past year and what has and has not been accomplished. The new year marks a great time to revisit your goals and intentions. I have been inspired and excited these past couple of days by the conversations I have had with people about their goals and by reading all the 2012 goals on twitter and FB.
I am excited about 2012 and all the opportunities that lie ahead. My first immediate goal of 2012 is on Sunday. I made somewhat of a haste decision about 8 weeks ago to not run Boston even though I was extremely excited to qualify and register with the more selective qualifying requirements this year. My decision was made when I realized that my goal "A" race this year is Ironman Mont Tremblant (I will write more on my race schedule soon) and I would be taking away too much precious training time if I were to run Boston. I would be doing 2 things poorly instead of one thing well. Not to mention that I would probably have a slim to none chance of qualifying for 2013 without a proper taper with the 5 minutes faster requirement this year. Without running Boston, I needed another marathon to run to qualify for Boston 2013 before Ironman training starts. Within a day of ruminating about the different options, I had signed up for Disney Marathon based on the date of the race, the flat course and the opportunity to visit my mama in FLO- RIDA! :)

So, in the words of my sister, I am heading to "Mickey Mouse's House" to attempt a 2013 BQ of 3:34 this weekend.  My PR is a 3:36, so I am a bit apprehensive about hitting a 3:34 with such a short training plan. Hopefully the magic of Disney will bring me some good luck.

On the food front, I made this dish last week. It is a quick and easy meal. The lentil portion can be easily doubled to eat for leftovers.

Salmon with Dijon Lentils and Kale
Serves 4
4 pieces of wild caught salmon
1 yellow onion
1 shallot
2 cups of lentils (french, green or a trio blend is fine. Buy sprouted or soak before cooking)
1 bunch of kale (I used curly green kale, but lacinato or red kale is fine too)
2 TBSP olive oil
3 TBSP dijon mustard (if eating gluten-free, make sure you buy a gluten-free brand)*
salt and pepper to taste

Soak lentils in water for about 8 hours**. If you buy sprouted lentils, this step is unnecessary. Rinse lentils and cook the 2 cups of lentils according to package in 3 cups of water or broth in sauce pan. After cooking, drain any extra liquid.  
Heat olive oil in large skillet. Cook chopped onion and shallot in pan (about 5 minutes). Strip washed kale off stems and rip into small pieces. Add to skillet. After about 2 minutes, stir in lentils to skillet and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper and dijon mustard. You can add more or less mustard depending on taste.
Add olive oil to another large skillet and sear salmon in pan for about 4 minutes per side on medium high heat. Serve the salmon over lentils.


*Many mustards contain gluten because of the vinegar used, so if you are eating gluten-free, make sure you chose a mustard that is certified GF. I use Organicville Dijon Mustard.

***Why soak the lentils? Soaking the lentils will remove enzyme inhibitors and provide better digestion of the lentils and better absorption of the vitamins and minerals present in the lentils. If you don't plan the the lentil soaking beforehand, you can soak for even a short amount of time for some of the benefit. You also can also buy already sprouted lentils for a bit more money: