RECAP: Clearwater Distance Classic – 50K Ultramarathon

Sometime, a few months ago, my friend/coworker Whitney mentioned training for a winter marathon…which then became talks about an ultra…which led to a discussion about a road 50K (my only other was trail)…which became the basis for registering for the Clearwater Distance Classic.

Sure, it was the weekend after the Goofy Challenge, but it was a chance to run with friends and enjoy scenic views, so I was in.

Fast forward to yesterday

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Ready to run 50K!

Whitney, her friend/neighbor Darcie and I arranged to carpool up to Clearwater (about 1.5 hours away) and stay overnight so we could have as much sleep as possible before the big race. So, we left around ~3ish from Sarasota, and drove straight to Coachmen Park (where the race would start/end, and served as packet pickup). Although we hit quite a bit of traffic, we made it in right before they closed, and then headed over to our hotel for the night (the Hilton Clearwater Beach) to check in, before hitting dinner.

After a delicious sushi nosh and a quick stop at what was quite possibly the largest and nicest Walgreens we had ever seen (it had two levels, an escalator and frozen yogurt dispensers!) we changed into our PJs and settled in for the night at the late late hour of about 8:30 PM.

After drifting off to sleep (with Blended on the TV, which I laughed -loudly- at) I slept pretty soundly until the 5 AM alarm went off (with just one wakeup – at 11:54 PM I thought it was time to get up!)

The race start was 7:05 AM (which felt like sleeping in, after Disney last week!) and we wanted to have ample time to get ready, head over, and find a good parking spot.

My first race as a Bib Rave Pro!
My first race as a Bib Rave Pro!

Once on site, we dropped our bags and lined up for the portapotties (x2) before it was time to get running. The start was pretty weird – no official line ups, and all distance events started at the same time (5M, 13.1, 26.2 and 50K) which was a little annoying, but not too bad (the cool thing was that they let walkers start early – 6:45 AM, I think).

The first few miles were a bit congested, but beautiful, as we ascended the first bridge over to the Clearwater beach area, rounded the resort section, and hit the second bridge. The 5 Milers were split off at that point, and after an out and back portion by the residential condo area, the halfers headed back, and the marathoners and ultra runners kept on.

By Mile 8, we had stopped twice for potty breaks (Darcie has the world’s smallest bladder, lol) but otherwise, were maintaining a pretty good 9-10 minute pace and were still all together. We had been moved over to the shoulder of the road, marked off with cones (kind of narrow, but not terrible) and had to stay vigilant about crazy drivers. It was a beach road though, so there were a few nice views, as well as sights of fun kitschy beach cafes, shops and inns.

Mile 15ish, Darcie needed another potty break, so I stopped with her, but Whitney said she wasn’t feeling the idea of stopping, so she moved on and so we had to then pick up the pace to catch up with her – that was a little rough! For about .75 miles, we had to juice it up under 9 minute pace, which felt fast after the easy pace we had been going!

A little after 16, there was another fork in the road – straight for ultra, left turn for marathon – this was a ~5ish mile out and back to add the distance on the Pinellas Trail (which, P.S. was a little boring and shady – and I don’t mean covered with trees – I am talking stray cats and dogs, trailer parks, etc). It got really sunny at this point, and we were hoping for some cloud cover! We had to ascend two somewhat steep overpasses on that route!

Thankfully, the ‘back’ portion to the merge point felt easier (and the clouds came out to play) than the ‘out’ portion, and we were at Mile 21 then. After taking Gatorade and water at a handful of stops, I finally felt like I had to pee, and thankfully, there were ‘real’ bathrooms!!

And that’s when it went downhill for me…

Yup, at Mile 21, I found out that my *ahem* Aunt Flo was (unwelcomingly) visiting me early, and with her, a whole arsenal of related ailments, aches and pains. UGH. It was like being hit by a truck, and despite our thus-far pact of staying together, I told Darcie and Whitney to forge ahead.

We all stayed in relative eyeshot of each other for the next 2 miles or so, but then, their figures faded away. I was run-walking (2/:30ish), and took a moment to call hubs and let him know what was going on so he wouldn’t worry about me out there.

At Mile 27, I had to walk, the pain was so bad. Then, it subsided a bit and I did run/walk. Then Mile 29…walk. I have to admit, I was getting so frustrated. My legs felt great – amazing, even – and here I was, having to walk (though, I did run up every overpass – the seemingly endless overpasses).

At Mile 30, I knew I wanted to get it done in less than 5:30, so I kicked it in, and was happy to see the same finish of this race as Iron Girl – down a rounding walkway, then straight to home!

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Official finish: 5:28:28

It was definitely not an easy finish, but it was a satisfying one. I had a huge smile, and felt triumphant (and even happier when I reached the ONE AND ONLY medical tent and was saved by a female paramedic who had extra feminine products – my hero!!) Plus, I found out I wasn’t as far behind as I thought (Darcie finished around 4:13ish, Whitney 4:25) so I hadn’t made them wait forever, like I had feared!

Overall, it was a nicely organized race – I had fun with friends – and I got some pretty sweet bling. I don’t think I’d run it again (the course was just “okay”) but I have memories I won’t soon forget!

Other notable things:

  • The Script’s “Superheroes” totally made the end of my race with these lyrics: “Every day, every hour,Ā Turn the pain into power.
  • Mile 29 was when I laughed so hard after asking a fellow runner (who looked good and strong!) how he was feeling. He said, “I feel great!” / Me: “Well, you look it!” / Him: “I always feel great!!” / Me: “Good!” / Him: “I also always lie!” šŸ˜‰
  • Outfit was a win – Oiselle Distance shorts + Bibrave racerback tank + Brooks Glycerin 12 + Sparkle Athletic headsweats visor
  • After today, I plan on taking a week off running as double recovery from this weekend + last weekend – my legs feel great, but I know it’s the smart thing to do, if I want a successful February. So Day 1 is tomorrow!

Where did your running shoes take YOU this weekend?

RECAP: 2015 Goofy Challenge

I am SOO behind on recaps…and blogging in general.Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 5.29.26 PM

But I mean…I guess I have good reason…between moving, settling in, family visiting, running, racing and y’know, paying the bills (LOL) life has been a whirlwind. But a good whirlwind. And it definitely isn’t slowing down anytime soon…which is why I thought, well, I think it’s time to crank out a bit of a recap.

First of all, my initial thoughts about the Goofy Challenge – can be summed up in three words: It. Was. Awesome. Really, I mean I expected to enjoy it, but had no idea how much I’d learn and grow from it.

You see, in 2011, I embarked upon my very first distance event – the WDW Half MarathonĀ (see more runDisney posts here). It was the longest distance I had ever run in my entire life, and it was within hours after accomplishing that feat that I decided that a marathon was in my future. However, I never would have imagined that a Goofy Challenge was…

You see, before the days of the Dopey Challenge, the most hardcore thing you could do was Goofy (13.1 on Saturday, and 26.2 on Sunday)…and though I’ve said I was not interested before, I have to admit that after this year…my mind has changed a little on it...because honestly, each hour that was spent on the courses this past weekend were truly amazing.

From the spirit of the spectators, the energy of the volunteers, and the determination of all runners – whether they were embarking upon the Mickey Mile, gearing up for their first 5K or 10K, or stepping up to the challenge of 13.1 or more, there was a sort of presence this weekend that I just can’t describe. Sure, not everything went perfectly (um, crazy bus driver that took us on a tour of the Animal Kingdom Lodge parking lot), but perfect isn’t life.

With all that being said, I will *attempt* to encapsulate the sights, sounds and wonder of 39.3 miles as concisely as possible…and though I’ve not yet purchased my picture package, I will (if you haven’t seen enough pictures from this race already)!

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Darla from Finding Nemo!

Day 1: The WDW Half Marathon (AKA Donald Half)

My alarm went off at 2:30 AM, followed shortly by the wake up call service. I sprung out of bed, and did all my pre-race preparations – though this morning was a little different, as I had to adjust my faux headgear for my Darla costume!

I was able to move quickly enough to jump on the first bus of the morning, and much to my surprise, we took off with only about 5 runners total (I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House – for this trip) before driving (loops through the parking lot) to Kidani Village, where a steady stream of runners boarded the bus.

Once we made it to the Epcot lot and race start area, I wandered around in my PJs (which were my throwaways) before coming across Jen and AdamĀ (and their friends, the Giffords), who I hung out with for a while before stopping to chat with Kyle, Katie and other pals from the WDW Radio Running Team…and soon enough, it was time to head to the corrals!

I was in D – which, again, was meaningful and nostalgic, as it had been my corral for that first half marathon! I even contemplated going for the exact same finish time (2:04) but a few miles in, I thought I’d opt for my standard “dash to characters” strategy and not pay attention to my watch.

Although not my favorite course (that honor belongs to Wine and Dine! See my 2012, 2013 and 2014 recaps) I still enjoyed this race. And as in every runDisney race, I definitely enjoyed my prior CM knowledge of property by utilizing “real” bathrooms (hello, Ticket and Transportation Center – (TTC)!!) and, even more, there is definitely something that sends chills up my spine running through a dark Magic Kingdom!

In Frontierland, I heard someone call out my name and was happy to see fellow Disney fan and friendĀ MeghannĀ (check out her recap here)! We ran together for a few minutes, and chatted until I had to stop again to take a pic with the princesses and she kept going.

Around the time we hit the road back toward Epcot, the sun was starting to rise over the Magic Kingdom area resorts. I actually enjoy this part of the race – seeing runners making their way toward MK, as we made our way back. There was a lot of cheering on both sides, and a generally good vibe going on.

Soon enough, it was the “hill” (complete with Green Army Man) and the path back to Spaceship Earth was almost illuminated. I kicked it in for the finish, and despite fighting a bit of a cramp in my right leg, I let the cheering take me in to my 13.1 finish in 2:01.

collage_20150110083203396After exiting the race chute, I headed to the character greeting area and got my picture with Goofy (after all, it was his race challenge!!) and had the pleasure of seeing my friend Jeff as well.

It was hard to believe, but 1/3 of the challenge was already complete! I returned to the resort for a shower and a nap before heading out for some Epcot fun (including the Pasta in the Park party – future post coming on that!!) that evening.

Day 2: The WDW Marathon (AKA Mickey Marathon)

Beep beep beep.

After a surprisingly restful sleep, I was up again at 2:30 on Sunday morning, ready to take on the second race of the Goofy Challenge!

For this race, I’d be joining my pals Megan and Carlee (spoiler alert, you can basically read her recapĀ for all the pics and amazingly described details) for 26.2 miles of Huey, Dewey, Louie fun!

And FUN we had!

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Ducks…duckface.

With concept of a “PR in FUN” embedded firmly in our minds, we rocked the course with Megan’s training method of 2/:30 Galloway run/walk, and with another potty stop (at TTC of course!) we made our way through all four parks, the speedway, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and the Boardwalk area, you could NOT wipe the smiles off of our faces!

One of my favorite things about this marathon, truly, is the excitement you can see in fellow runners, spectators, volunteers, cast members, and everyone else in between. You honestly lose yourself in the environment, and though it’s still 26.2 miles, you never feel “alone” and in fact, as each mile clicks off – at least for me – you start to almost feel sad that it’s coming to a close (unlike a regular marathon…that you might just want to hurry up and end!)

From the on-course dance parties, to the chocolate at Hollywood Studios…the goats, pigs and donkeys cheering you on at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the endless “High-4’s” from Mickey-gloved chEAR squad members – there honestly was magic in every mile – and I didn’t get paid to say that! šŸ™‚

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As a runDisney fan, I knew that I’d enjoy the 39.3 mile journey, but, as I mentioned above…there really was no way for me to imagine how I’d feel at the conclusion of it all! If post-marathon depression is a thing, I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to be immersed in the excitement and energy of tens of thousands of like-minded individuals in the place where dreams come true.

What’s your next big race event?

What’s Next?

This past weekend’s Chicago Marathon marked the first event in what I anticipate to be a pretty exciting Fall/Winter Racing Season. After this week’s rest (still sick, ughhhh), the schedule kicks into gear later this month, with the following:

  • October 25 – Boo Run – 5K – Lakewood Ranch, FL (graduation race for our No Boundaries program)
  • October 26 – Bill’s Beer Run – 5M – Casey Key, FLĀ (graduation race for our No Boundaries program)
  • November 8 – Jingle Jungle 5K & Wine and Dine Half Marathon – Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • November 30 – Space Coast Marathon – 26.2 – Ā Cocoa, FL
  • December 14 – Best Damn Race – 13.1 – Cape Coral, FL

Moving into 2015…

  • January 10-11 – Goofy Challenge – 13.1 + 26.2 – Lake Buena Vista, FL
  • January (sometime) – Celebration Virtual Marathon – 26.2
  • January 18 – Clearwater Distance Classic – 50K – Clearwater, FL
  • February 15 – 26.2 with DONNA – ?? – Jacksonville, FL

Wait…what….what’s going on with DONNA? Well,Ā the original plan was 110. Then, there were whispers of it going away…I had to think about what to do next…and so, I thought I’d do what I did this year – 5K on Saturday, and 26.2 on Sunday…but then, I see it is back, officially…but, I may or may not have another possible race going down the next weekend (more on that as soon as I have more concrete details) so at this point, I find myself laughing at the fact that I may be running “only” 29.3 miles…oh, life. šŸ˜‰

So, as I attempt to expend energy in ways other than running the next few days, my mind is all mixed up with grand plans, ideas, costumes for Disney races, and some rough plans about training schedules and goals for the next few months. It’s a crazy feeling…and a privilege…to continue to do what I love, and share the experience with so many.

What’s next for you?

 

RECAP: 2014 Chicago Marathon

chimarathon14A week ago today, I imagined I would beĀ celebrating my return home with a shiny new PR, reveling in the accomplishment after months of tough training, and planning out my next move…and yet, here I am, lips and skin chapped, throat sore, and legs swollen with a finish time right smack dab in the middle of my PRs and PWs – yet, feeling strangely calm about it.

The Chicago Marathon was a race to remember – in so many ways. It was a day of gorgeous, perfect weather. A day of seeing so many amazing athletes, friends, spectators and volunteers. A celebration of running, of health and of life. Amongst the crowd of more than 45,000 runners, I was fortunate enough to run with several friends (including rockstars Lauren and Mindy), see amazing inspirations (like Jess)Ā and soak up the energy from incredibleĀ Oiselle teammatesĀ and cheerers – I just cannot describe the intense feelings of love and support that I experienced on Sunday.

So, in lieu of a traditional race recap, here’s a list of things I know will stay in my heart and mind forever, following the 2014 Chicago Marathon:

  • Sometimes, it’s just not your day. At the start of the race, I was battling a sore throat and some sniffles, but I chalked it off as travel ickiness. Unfortunately, at Mile 16ish, I realized it was much worse. Without going too much in to detail, each step was painful, thanks to intense abdominal cramping.
  • I thought about DNFing for a while. DNF = did not finish. Seriously. As my 10th marathon, I thought – I KNOW I can do this, but I have so many more goals coming up, including a handful of marathons. I thought it would be a smart choice. I didn’t think it’d be worth the chance of injuring myself, or overexerting. I stopped right around Mile 17 and sat at an aid station and talked to hubby on the phone. He convinced me that I’d be mad if I didn’t finish what I started. He told me to finish strong. So, I did the best with what I was given for the day, and looking back, I am glad.
  • Chicago volunteers and spectators know how to BRING IT. RecapsĀ and reports fromĀ past participants warned of dead zones during the race, but there was not one moment that I felt unsupported or “alone.”
  • Large races have their pros and cons. Okay, this is one I did NOT expect: the intense lack of etiquette from fellow runners!!!! I had cups thrown at my legs and feet from runners, was spit on from runners who couldn’t bother to move to the side to do so, and elbowed and shouldered. I was NOT used to that and was quite irritated! Was it a huge influx of first time racers, or just a huge amalgamation of self centered rude people? Blah. On the flipside, I did love the fanfare and how ROCKSTAR the City of Chicago makes you feel, wearing your medal around that afternoon…and night…and next day šŸ™‚

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I have more thoughts, and will probably post more, but these are the major points that have been popping around my mind since Sunday…so before I go…

THANK YOU.

Thank you to EVERYONE who has sent kind words, thoughtful notes, motivation, congratulations…it means so much. I’ve been working to respond to as many as possible, and have been continually inspired by the legions of my own friends who accomplished the incredibleĀ this weekend – from first marathons (Rockstar Sarah), PRs (what’s UPPP my fabulous race roomie, Ashley!), to BQs (Jesica, you are my hero) and more – it was a weekend of amazing things.

 

 

 

RECAP: Mr. Beery’s BEER MILE

About a week ago, I was invited, via Facebook, to attend a BEER MILE event at a local bar, Mr. Beery’s.Ā As a bar with a drinking bar with a running problem (they host a weekly HUMP DAY 5K, which I’ve attended once) I was admittedly intrigued at the idea – but pretty intimidated at the actual idea of participating. So, I clicked “maybe” on the event page, and left it there for a few days.

At the end of this week, I was telling hubs about the event, and much to my surprise, he was interested in attending!Ā Then, yesterday morning, at our local free 5K event out of New Balance, I chatted about it my friend Melissa, and they convinced me that I should not only attend…but participate in the costume contest (she had won the contest at the last Beer Mile).

Challenge accepted.

duffman_costume

The idea for this costume stuck me as I was driving home yesterday, post-run. See, my original idea was to go as the Miller Lite High Life girl (you know, the one on the moon?) but after I found out that the beer being used in the event would be Bud, I wanted to steer clear of brands. Well, at least “real” ones – and, of course, I had to come up with a costume idea that I could construct from items around the house.

I had dressed as a super hero before, so I racked my brain to think of a similar type of costume that had a tie-in with beer – and that’s when it hit me – DUFFMAN! Yes! The colors were things I could work in easily (if not for a few tweaks) and it’d be instantly recognizable.

Creating the costume was half the fun! I cut apart an old race shirt, ripped the sleeves off, and attached a red napkin to the shoulders as a cape with safety pins. For the bottoms, I layered two Sparkle AthleticĀ skirts (the blue lower, and the red hiked up and worn higher), and attached three can coozies to a SPIBELTĀ to make the beer belt. I topped off the outfi).t with as red cap – and created “Duff” accessorized logos for the headwear, shirt and belt with cardboard, sharpie and an old white tech tee (for the larger shirt decoration) and voila! DIY + no cost = BEER MILE READY!

Costume on, we headed to Mr. Beery’s a little after 6 PM, for the 7 PM start – so we registered right away ($20 per person, included entry, a tee shirt, and a ticket for a post-race beer) and there I ran into Melissa and Rob!10500303_10101421442534833_3824183049465233981_n They were stoked about my costume choice, and MelissaĀ gave me some tips about a successful beer run.

As the crowd grew, I began to face the realization that I would very likely win the costume contest – not only because I was getting plenty of cheers from fellow participants and bar-goers, but well…I was the only one in costume! Thankfully, I am used to being a little “out there” so it was amusing šŸ™‚ I quickly received the moniker, “DUFF!” or “Duff girl!” which was just fine with me.

Around this time, we began to check the weather (it had been super hot all day) and much to our surprise – we noticed it was POURING. Now, this was an interesting development as the start time closed in – would it slow down, and create a more humid environment? Would it stop, and cool the area down? Or, would we be chugging and running in a downpour? We just had to wait and see.

Soon enough, it was TIME. The drizzle had slowed, and it was clammy, but a little cooler, at least. Outside, the rules were explained – since it was outside of the bar, it wouldn’t be held around a track, like many beer miles are traditionally held, but down the street to the stop sign and back (apx .25)…and of course, a whole can of Budweiser had to be consumed before each lap – and poured over our head, to ensure it was empty!

Well, now or never, right?!

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Chug!

Ā Ā 

First quarter...good.
First quarter…good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hubs rockin his first quarter.
Hubs rockin his first quarter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second beer was harder to drink. FUN FACT – this was my first EVER time drinking Budweiser so I had no idea what to expect. If you somehow have never tried Bud like me…I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Left high and dry for a high five from hubs šŸ˜‰

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By this point, I was starting to question why we were here. Hah! There was major gurgling going on in my stomach, and I was pretty sure I was going to lose it at any minute…

Check out this cool GIF.
Check out this cool GIF.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point, no one had puked yet…but, with the carrot of it being a prize, I figured, what did we have to lose? I ran my last two laps a little faster (I think?) since it was clearly my forte (over my sloooowww drinking) and though I felt close a few times, I didn’t puke!

Hubs wasn’t so lucky, though.

Yes, my hubs, a Murphy by birth…took the “1st to Barf” prize. We were so proud šŸ˜‰ It was right around the time I finished the mile – with 1.21 miles showing on my Garmin, with a 15:21 completion time, so averaged out at 12:55!

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An extra lap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my semi-intoxicated state, I hadn’t realized that hubs was a beer behind me, so even after yakking, he had one more run to go! So, I thought I’d jump in and run that last stretch with him…a victory lap?

Finishers!
Finishers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were many laughs to be had…and quite frankly, by the end of the mile, the idea of another celebration beer was frankly kinda gross – but after some water, I thought a better quality beer would be in order, so we got one to share – Bolder Chocolate Shake Porter it was!

After a bit, hubs went down the street to order us a few bites to eat while we waited for the awards ceremony.

the back of the tee.
the back of the tee (I guess hubs can’t wear it) šŸ˜‰

 

 

There were gift certificates for winners in each category – first male, first female (that girl was SMOKIN!), best costume and first to puke – so, for an event with only four prizes, the Murphy clan swept half! Haha!! So, with two $25 gift cards, the experience officially became one we wouldn’t soon forget, but one that definitely saw us come out ahead – and would bring us back to the bar, soon!

All race photos from Mr. Beery’s

Have you ever ran a BEER MILE? Would you?