it was all started by a mouse

For those of you who don’t know, runDisney holds races at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

I love all things Disney. The House of Mouse is my favorite place to be, and it’s my favorite place to run. Disney has always held a special place in my heart. Now it’s even more special to me. Volunteering at a Disney race gave me the “running bug,” and through a mutual love of running and Disney I found a phenomenal group of people over at Running of the Ears. I started running because of Disney, and my life has changed because of it.

After volunteering at the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World earlier this year, I decided to give running a try. It looked like the runners were having fun. runDisney was planning a race at the end of September, which would give me a little more than 6 months to train. It was only 10 miles, which didn’t seem very daunting to me compared with the terms “half marathon” or a “marathon.” It’s Disney. I love Disney. How bad could it be?

I now know that I am crazy. “Only” 10 miles???

I hadn’t run before and had no idea what I was getting myself into. 10 miles is a lot to run for a non-runner. I could barely run for 10 seconds straight. However, I got myself a training plan and started. I fit right in with the running community and, thanks to my obsessive personality, it only took a few weeks for me to sign up for all sorts of races. I love the people, I love running and racing, and I love the shiny medals (“bling”) you often get when you complete a race.

I was able to run the Expedition Everest Challenge through Disney’s Animal Kingdom on my two-month runnerversary. It was a blast, and it was fitting that a Disney medal was my very first bling. Now, it’s finally here: next week will be that 10-mile race I first signed up for, the Tower of Terror 10-miler. I spent all summer training, and I’m ready. I am also registered for four half marathons in October and November (one of which is another Disney race, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon), and two more half marathons in February (including the Disney Princess Half Marathon).

January 2013 will be a big month for me. The 20th Walt Disney World Marathon is on January 13, and I’m running it. All 26.2 miles. Even though I love running, it’s a lot of work, and I don’t think anything other than Disney bling could entice me to go that far.

The finisher’s medal for the marathon includes this quote from Walt Disney: “I only hope we don’t lose sight of one thing. It was all started by a mouse.” How appropriate for my first full marathon medal! I’m now a runner, and my entire life has changed, all because of Disney.

For me, it was all started by a mouse.

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It’s Pickle Time!

When your goal is to lose weight, sometimes you just have to get creative.

I’ve needed to do just that as my weight loss journey continues. They say that losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise (I’m not sure exactly who says it, but I’ve heard it loads of times). Although I tend to be a general overeater (hence my weight problems), nighttime is the worst time of day for me. I love to snack while watching TV or reading. After dinner, I crave dessert. Or a bag of chips. Or something else that I can’t shouldn’t have.

I have come up with many practical things to keep from eating myself into harm’s way. The most ridiculous (but most effective) of these is Pickle Time. It’s basically my favorite time of day. I love dill pickles, the big huge ones that come in big huge jars. Wrap one of those suckers in a paper towel, and I’ll work on it for at least 20 minutes. I take little bites and just enjoy it. When I’m done, I no longer crave a fatty treat. Besides, no one wants to eat brownies with dill pickle taste in their mouth anyways. (Don’t like dill pickles? Try this with a fruit like a banana or apple, or even a carrot. See how long you can make it last. It sounds stupid, but it works).

A few more:

  • Bubble bath. I’m not one to soak for long, but when that after-dinner urge is irresistible, I can just head to the tub. Once I’m in there, relaxing, enjoying the bubbles and reading a book, I’m physically prevented from raiding the kitchen.
  • Salad. Lettuce is my friend. I eat it like it’s going out of style. I make a simple dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and I try to have a very large salad before every meal (as long as the salad isn’t my meal). Even if it’s just plain lettuce and a simple homemade dressing, like mine usually is, it’s delicious, hard to eat quickly, and helps to fill me up. Even if I’m craving a cupcake, it’s easier to resist the temptation when I’m already full off my dinner.
  • Individually packaged sweets. This is a common concept, but it is still helpful to me. I don’t recommend this until you’re ready. Otherwise, instead of eating the entire big sleeve of cookies, you’ll just eat several smaller sleeves of cookies, and it’ll end up being the same number of cookies (been there, done that). Recently I’ve been able to transfer my slow, savory pickle-eating skills to individually-wrapped delicacies that are still pretty small but oh, so delicious. I read the label to make sure that one is ok (some processed foods pack quite a bad nutritional punch) and then enjoy it. I don’t have to be tempted by an entire open bag sitting there, longing to be eaten.
  • Modify. Get those creative juices flowing to come up with healthy versions of a food you love! For example, I’ve been able to come up with a healthy version of taco salad that is simply delicious. I just had to think a bit about what makes a traditional taco salad unhealthy and what I could do to get around that. There are some well-known substitutions (mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, for example) but you can also come up with your own. Don’t be afraid to try your ideas. If it doesn’t taste good, that’s ok! Modify it some more or try something else.
  • Second dinner. No, I’m not a Hobbit (or was that second breakfast?). But if I’m really craving a treat an hour or two after my dinner, it could be that I’m just still hungry. I’ve learned that it’s ok to be hungry. After I make sure I’ve hydrated properly, I heat up some fresh leftovers or make myself a quick version of a different dinner. I don’t believe in going hungry. But sometimes I have to be creative to figure out what my body is trying to tell me and how to satisfy it.
  • It’s not a race. This isn’t really something creative to do, but it is a creative way of thinking. I had to come up with something to preach to myself to keep from quitting. When I make a mistake and eat that whole package of cookies, I’m tempted to give up and eat even more because I’m obviously failing. I have to remind myself that tomorrow is a fresh day. I’m not in a race, except with myself, and I’m not ever going to be perfect, so when I fall all I have to do is pick myself up and keep going. And I’ll get to the finish in my own perfect time.

I’ve lost a lot of weight, and I still have a lot more to lose. It’s easier when I can come up with ways overcome each day’s obstacles. Are you trying to lose weight? What things have you come up with to help propel you toward your goal?

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Never Forget.

Today I remember the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, their families, and all those who have, in the name of freedom, made great sacrifices in the 11 years since that day.

(This photo of my grandfather and I was taken in 1994.)


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Today is my 6-month runnerversary!

My life has completely changed since March 5, 2012. When I changed from a sedentary lifestyle and began running, I took it fairly seriously. I recognized that to be the best I could it had to touch every aspect of my life. However, during the past few summer months, I felt like I was in a holding pattern and doing the same (boring) thing over and over.

I’m glad I stuck with my training over the summer despite my feelings, and I finally reached a turning point in the past week or two. I gradually noticed that I started to pull together proper nutrition, hydration, mileage, speedwork, core strength and other concepts to be not just better, but to truly be the best that I can be. Some of it I did purposely, but I was also doing some things without realizing it.

I can’t fully explain my summertime lull or why I’ve changed recently. It could be the general lack of races (and their corresponding excitement) over the summer here in Florida. It could be the summer heat. It could be that I was in a transition and my body finally got used to this whole running thing. It could be that I was fed up with feeling bored all summer. I don’t know if it’s mental, physical, or some combination of the two, and while the “why” is important for when it happens again, I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure.

Today I’m excited about the fall and I can’t wait to see where the next six months take me.

I’m also excited about the first Giants game of the season tonight. 🙂

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I was mistaken.

Yesterday I made a running mistake.

After distance training all summer, I wanted to beat my 5K PR time. I achieved that PR in April, on a cool(ish), cloudy, almost-raining morning. Yesterday’s 5K race was in September (obviously), and it was already getting warm and humid when the race started. I wasn’t sure I could beat my PR because of the summer heat. The plan was to run normally the first mile or two (to conserve energy and get all warmed up) and then give it all I had at the end.

Although in my head I knew the dangers of going out too fast, I started out the race confidently, running much faster than my normal pace and feeling great. It’s easy to do this in a race. People are cheering. It’s exciting. People are watching. You are being officially timed. The problem with this is that your body hasn’t trained for this pace and can’t keep it up for very long. In my case, I started to slow down in the second mile, and didn’t have as much energy at the end as I’d planned. For the last half of the race I did my best to pick up my pace but it just wasn’t working too well.

I still attempted to push it hard for the last quarter mile, and was helped by a more experienced runner who jumped in with me, ran with me, and told me I could do it and not to slow down. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Tears were coming out of my eyes and I was wondering how pitiful I must have looked for that runner to feel the need to come out and help me.

Ultimately, I did beat my PR by a little more than a minute. I was happy about that, but I instantly wondered if I could have beat it by more, or if it would’ve been less painful, had I followed my plan and taken it “easy” at the start. I compared all my struggling with the seemingly-small improvement of one minute and felt disappointed in myself.

As time goes on, I hope to get better not only at running but at racing. I’m not sure when my next timed 5K is going to be, but I hope to use my experience yesterday to run smarter not only in 5Ks but in all of the distance races I have coming up.

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I’m still relatively new to running, but I have always wanted to improve my slow pace. The way to do this, I’m told, is through speedwork. I’ve heard it isn’t fun, but it’s worth it. If you’re unfamiliar with speedwork, check out “Officially Gone Goofy” to the right in my Blogroll. She is a speed demon and wrote a great post about speedwork on August 22.

So although I might regret this decision later, I just decided to sign up for a speedwork class on Wednesday nights at a local high school. I’m terrified.

Any tips?

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Labor Day Plans

This morning I decided to sign up for a race on Labor Day. Here’s the tshirt design:

I can’t wait!

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