Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge

Sunday, January 18. 2009

We did it!  After a year of planning and training in the heat, the rain and the snow, I crossed the finish line on Sunday, January 11 after running 39.3 miles in 2 days.  The event is part of Walt Disney World's marathon weekend and includes running the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday.  Somehow the idea of this race caught on last January and we traveled to Orlando with more than a dozen of our Chuckit running friends who were 'goofy' enough to do this race.  In retrospect, the hardest part of this race was getting up at 3 AM EST (midnight PST!) 2 days in a row to get to the 5:50 AM race start.  My strategy was to run a personal worst half marathon to run a more normal full marathon.  The half started with fireworks and we were off to the Magic Kingdom.  The energy on Main Street and music pumping through Tomorrowland was incredible.  Before I knew it, we had run through Cinderella's castle and were on our way back to Epcot and the finish line.  That had to be the most fun I've ever had in a half marathon as it was nice to take it easy and just savor the miles in a race.  After the race, we ate, napped and spent the rest of Saturday afternoon by the pool.  Then we carbed up at Portobello Yacht Club and went to bed early.

The alarm went off again at 3 AM and Richard and I dragged ourselves out of bed to meet Glen, Bert, Bill and Heidi for the bus at 3:30.  This time we were smarter and lounged on the ground in our 'throw away' clothing before proceeding to the start.  The fireworks were bigger this time and we were off and running.  We ran through Epcot and back up to the Magic Kingdom.  I ran across the 4:15 pace group heading into the Magic Kindom  and hung with them for a few miles, but never expected to finish with them since I had run the half the day before.  I used a strategy of walking through every water stop and Disney is so well supported that this is about every mile after mile 4.  I looked forward to running through the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, 2 parks I had not yet been to.  I encountered Disney characters and smiling faces and people waiting for character photos along the way.  Like the half, this was about the most fun I'd had in a marathon and I was happy to see the miles were passing easily.  About mile 24, Bethany was there to cheer us on and then I entered Epcot and knew I was nearly done.  I crossed the finish line in 4:13:55, over a minute faster than my fall marathon in Victoria and my 4th fastest time of the 10 marathons I've run to date.  I did some back to back long runs in my training and didn't feel like my long runs suffered as much as expected from the previous day's mileage.  Recovery was the bigger challenge and I took the rest of the week off from running to enjoy Disneyworld!

The rest of our trip was a blast and I got to spend time at all 4 parks.  Richard and I did an off road Segway tour around the Ft. Wilderness campground.  This wasn't nearly as much fun as our Segway tour of California Adventure, but it was fun to ride the off road Segways.  Surprisingly, I really enjoyed Animal Kingdom and decided Expedition Everest was my favorite attraction.  It combines outstanding line theming that captured my interest so much I was sad the line moved quickly and multiple roller coaster elements (backward, darkness) that make it a thrilling ride.  I'm not usually an animal lover (except for Tapas!) but I enjoyed the animal attractions in the park and it's clear Disney has made an investment in making this a world class park.  The Magic Kingdom was classic and felt like an expanded Disneyland, Hollywood Studios hosts some of the most thrilling attractions and Epcot's World Showcase and Illuminations fireworks show were spectacular.  My only complaint of the week was Disney's bus transportation to our All Star Sports hotel was at times frustrating.  The lines for downtown Disney were long and there was no direct bus transportation from the World Showcase/boardwalk areas to our hotel.  However, when I think about how large Disneyworld is and how much there is to offer, I am amazed that they make it all work with the top notch customer service Disney provides.

A Month After Detox

Sunday, August 24. 2008

It's been about a month since I wrapped up my detox diet so I thought I would take a moment to reflect on how the experience has and has not changed my eating habits.

First, I thought I might stay off caffeine after the detox period was over, and it's amazing how quickly we slip back into our hold habits.  I have to admit that the first cup of coffee I enjoyed after detox gave me such a buzz that the experience may have been worth the 3 weeks without caffeine.  I did stay away from the daily cup of coffee from our Senseo for about another week.  Then work got busy and I started ramping up my running mileage and I needed that cup of coffee to kick start my day. 

I am happy that I have reduced my consumption of alcohol.  I no longer feel like I must have a glass of wine with dinner or to relax after a stressful day.  My body really hasn't been liking too much drinking anyway so this is a big positive.  I'm probably still drinking more than half the nights in a week, but Richard and I don't always feel the need to finish the entire bottle that we open.  Again, progress.

I'm consuming less dairy but I started that before detox.  I have given into mozzarella lately because the heirloom tomatoes beg to be paired with mozzarella and basil.  And Richard home made homemade vanilla ice cream last night that was to die for!  We are eating less meat too.  I no longer feel like a complete meal must have a starch, veggie and meat or fish. 

We're pretty much back to eating pasta and regular soy sauce so I've given up on eliminating gluten from my diet.  Though, we're still enjoying gluten free waffles.  I'm not worrying about eating sugar either, but Richard's birthday cake aside, I don't tend to eat too much sugar.  Having given up both of these items, however, has made me more conscious of what is in my food.  I take time to read labels.  Gluten may not stop me from making a food choice, but when the list gets too long or the ingredients don't seem to be 'real food', I do find myself opting out.  Last week, for instance, I got very excited about bacon salt until I read the ingredients and decided not to add it to my fries! 

Overall, even if the changes in my diet are minor based on my detox diet, it was a valuable experience.  It helped me think more about what goes into my body and along with that we've been paying more attention to where are food comes from.  We recently took an outstanding cooking class at Culinary Communion called the '250 Mile Diet.  Our group made a fabulous local and mostly vegetarian meal.  I feel so much better when I know where my food comes from and what goes into cooking it.

Detox-The End of Week 2

Monday, July 21. 2008

A few people apparently read my blog (this always suprises me!) and have asked about the detox diet so I thought I would provide an update now that I've ended week 2.  I'm sure this comes as no surprise, but I've broken the diet several times in the past 2 weeks.  It is surprisingly HARD to keep caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten and animal products out of your diet.  Here are a few observations from the experience so far:

1)  Eating out is nearly impossible.  Even trying to be 'good' one night, I ordered take out thai food and it came with egg.  No egg on the menu!  Pad Khee Mao was not meant to be wasted so I ate it anyway.

2)  We had friends in town and went for Italian at Bizzarro.  Aside from a lettuce salad, there were no options in our diet so I opted for a vegetarian pasta dish.  If I was breaking the diet, I may as well have wine, so I drank that too!

3)  I try to consider myself vegan when I eat out, but that doesn't always work.  Traditional soy sauce has gluten so I know I've broken the diet a few times on this alone.  It's shocking how certain restaurants are so vegan unfriendly.  But props to Cafe Venus.  They make an awesome tofu scramble and even offer vegan bread.  (unfortunately that has gluten-see, this isn't easy!)

4)  I must confess to having wine (a lot) at Lily's birthday party.  I got into the Lay's potato chips and you know, they ARE on the diet.  Just potatoes, vegetable oil and salt.  Personally, I think they shold be marketed as 'natural'.  Even Michael Pollen would approve - he recommends no more than 5 ingredients in his book 'In Defense of Food'.

5)  That same night I got into a cupcake.  Wow - it was good!  After eating very little fat and no sugar for almost 2 weeks, it tasted really good.

6)  The only diet 'rule' I haven't broken is caffeine.  That was hard the first few days, but not a problem at all now.  I'm not sure if I'll go back after this week.

7)  Even with some minor rule breaking, I have a lot more energy and feel much better eating all the fruits and veggies so I'm going to try to relax the diet and stick to some of the principles even after the end of this week.  I've cut out much of the 'crap' in my diet so I'm hoping my pants get a little looser too!

Detox Day 3

Wednesday, July 9. 2008

I went for a facial at Gene Juarez last week and the aesthetician recommended trying a detox diet.  She said I would be shocked by how much it would clear up my skin so I figured I'd try one.  I did a little research on the web and ran across Oprah's 21 day cleanse.  It seemed simple and not one of those crazy plans where you just drink liquid.  I just needed to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, animal products, sugar and gluten for 21 days.

Well, it's day 3 and the whole thing has been eye opening already.  Richard agreed to try this with me so we went shopping at whole foods the night before we started.  It's shocking how hidden ingredients like sugar and gluten are in food.  'You mean I can't have ketchup w/ my potatoes'? Richard asked in shock.  'No, honey, sugar.'  We did find sugar free ketchup which isn't quite the same but it does taste like real tomatoes.

So far the hardest part has been giving up caffeine.  I really am going through withdrawl in the mornings, with the headache to prove it.  Our vegan dinners have been amazingly good and this has been a great opportunity for us to use our CSA farm produce share and take advantage of all the fresh fruits and veggies available in Seattle in the summer.  I faced my first real challenge eating lunch out today.  There was probably palm sugar or something in my curried rice noodles but I did the best I could.  Tomorrow I'll face an even tougher challenge as we're having Confab at our place and it usually involves wine.  We'll see how long this lasts...

We Have a Wedding Date!

Sunday, July 6. 2008

Richard and I just returned from a weekend in Portland where our goal was to visit wineries until we found a spot for our wedding.  Fortunately, stop #1 proved to be the perfect place so we saved some gas money and our livers from wine tasting.  We signed the contract on Saturday night and got to enjoy the rest of the weekend in Portland.  We picked out our wedding bands at Margulis, purchased some Himalyan salt blocks at The Meadow and enjoyed a run on the Leif Erickson trail. 

Today is our 1 year and 2 month pre-wedding anniversary!  The date has been set for 9-6-09.

The Seafair (half) Marathon

Sunday, July 6. 2008

I really wanted to like this race.  A few years ago I paced the second half of the marathon and felt bad for those who ran the whole thing.  There were a lot of hills and even one within the last half mile.  I remember commenting on the course just before a guy behind us threw up.

This year the course had been altered to run across 520 and a few of us were jazzed about that.  From the elevation map, the east rise of 520 looked to be the longest hill so I thought they finally had a winner of a course. I was dead WRONG.  Apparently there are some pretty nasty hills in Bellevue (I run up Kamber once a week and these are much worse) and I faced them starting in mile 6.

The day (June 29, 2008) was exceptionally warm.  I don't fault the organizers for that but because of their poor planning, the race start was delayed at least 15 minutes.   Those 15 minutes matter as the sun is beating down and warming up the asphalt.  The problem was clearly the logistics of transporting people from the finish line in Bellevue to Seattle.  I'm not sure if transporting family had anything to do with that, but I really can't believe the race committee allowed family on the busses when they had no prior experience with transporting people.  I anticipated this would be a problem and arranged for my own transportation. (Thanks Richard!)  There were athletes late to the start and some missed the start.  The race committee offered to donate half the money for those who missed the start to a local charity, which I find offensive. They (the race committee) should refund the athletes who missed their race as a result instead of just donating money for them.

As if it couldn't get much worse than warm weather and a hilly course, the water stops were a mess.  Several of them were not prepared for the crowd and I hear one even ran out of cups.  I know preparing for the rush of people is difficult and the day was hot, but I think better planning and preparation could go into training the volunteers.  I do thank the volunteers who were there since I know it's not easy!

My last complaint (and I swear I'm done!) is that the event was planned to conflict with the Shore Run, an annual event with a history much longer than the Seafair marathon.  Next year, I'm running the shore run! :-)

Running with the Garmin 405

Saturday, June 28. 2008

I've been running for more than 20 years.  I've been running marathons since 2000 and for most of that time I have resisted technology.  I bought a Nike heart rate monitor and speed/distance pod several years ago but the pod never calibrated well and my heart rate data never really interested me.  Eventually, I gave up the tools and just used the watch.  When the Garmin 305 came out, I didn't feel the urge to buy it.  I had enough friends with them that I could always ask 'how far' and avoid wearing the heavy 'brick' on my wrist.  Also, running is as much therapy for my head as a physical workout for body and I've long argued that I don't need to know my heart rate and pace for each mile.  Sometimes it's nice to get lost in the run and not worry about it.

When the Garmin 405 came out I was also just coming off the high of a fabulous experience at the Napa Marathon.  (It's well organized, small, gentle rolling hills and absolutely beautiful.)  Boston qualifying was back within reach (not close reach, but doable with a lot of work) and I decided that I would make the investment in a new training partner.  They were backordered at REI, but after a couple weeks I picked up my brand new Garmin 405.

My first couple runs with my new 405 were terrific!  I had my exact mileage and pace per mile and the knowledge that it was being recorded made me run a little faster.  Then came a track workout with the 405 and I will admit to uttering more than a few 4 letter words.  The training partner kept coming on and STAYING on so I couldn't see the timer for feedback.  Then I tried the lap button and it didn't reset the larger timer view.  It just continued running and I couldn't get instant feedback during my workout.  I'm sure this is a setting that I can change but changing the settings are not intuitive with the 405 bezel design.  I found this out when I accidentally turned off my GPS and set up coordinates 5 miles into a 15 mile run.  8 miles later I finally figured out how to get it back on and the rest of the run the watch beeped at me with every step.  Sigh... I admit to more 4 letter words.  The sleek bezel doesn't make me happy and does not work well in the rain, a problem for one who lives in Seattle.

The Garmin ANT agent tool to upload my running data as well as the garmin connect web site for storing this data online have also proven disappointing.  It's really cool to see the maps and data on my runs.  But again I complain that these aren't very intuitive and I haven't uploaded data since the first time.

I've dumbed down my watch to just show my overall time, distance and pace.  My friends that have the Garmin 305 can show 4 readouts on their screen and include their heart rate.  That would be useful if I was into the heart rate monitor or maybe it would help me find value in the HRM.  As it stands, I've run with the HRM once in 3 months.  I think this goes to show that I'm just not a running techno geek.  But my advice to those techno geeks out there that have yet to join the Garmin bandwagon... save your money and buy the 305 on sale.  Or wait until Garmin learns from the current 405 and improves upon it in v2.

Flying Virgin America

Sunday, June 8. 2008

We just returned from a trip to California.  We spent most of the week at my parent's home in La Quinta and ventured to Orange County for a couple nights in the Newport Beach Fairmont and a day at Disneyland.  Flights to Palm Springs and Ontario were pricey, but Virgin America was advertising some great specials to LAX so we decided to add an hour to our drive and try flying Virgin.

Due to 8 years of consulting and an irrational fear of flying, I really hate to fly.  But I am always thrilled to try something new and looked forward to trying the Virgin experience.  The planes were brand new A319s with an in flight entertainment system in every seat called 'Red'.  Red is similar to Jet Blue's television system and would have been really cool except the sound didn't work in our seats.  The flight attendant told us they were still working out the kinks.  Better luck next time!

What we did find really cool was Red's ordering system for beverages and food.  They did the initial round of cart service and from there, if you wanted another drink, you could order it right from your seat and they'd bring it to you.  It's much nicer than the dings that constantly go off as people confuse the flight attendant call button with the light button and the service is terrific.  I also liked that Virgin America is cashless.  I was a little bummed, however, that we couldn't order champagne to celebrate so we had to toast our engagement with gin and tonics.  (see previous post on engagement!)