2

2017 Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon – 1:47:01

If you’ve been following along on this blog for a while or follow me on Twitter, you know my hip has been all janked up for a little while now. So you might be surprised to see a half marathon recap coming at ya, but here we are.

This was my fifth half marathon this spring and sixth (sorta…depends on if you count the whole runDisney debacle) for the year. It was also, somehow, my first New York Road Runners race even though I’ve lived in Jersey City for two and a half years and have been an NYRR member for over a year. And still, to this day, I haven’t run a race in Manhattan. Of course, this is only true because I DNSed the Shape Women’s Half a few weeks ago because of the very same hip mentioned above.

Pre-race hip stuff

So yeah, let’s talk about my hip for a second and get that out of the way. It’s been bothering me for about two months now and, in the last few weeks, has caused me to barely run at all. I’ve been going to my normal physical therapist at Finish Line PT and started also going to a pelvic floor physical therapist, my friend Abby over at Spear. It’s been helping and I think we’ve started making progress between the breathing and strengthening stuff I’ve been doing at Finish Line and the soft tissue sorcery that Abby has been doing. The second half of last week was starting to feel promising that I was going in the right direction.

I also got an MRI last week which showed absolutely nothing. My orthopedist wasn’t able to find anything diagnosable to worry about which is good because at least there’s no real medical problem (I guess?), but frustrating because I don’t have a diagnosis to work from for treatment. Basically, his advice is to continue doing what I’m doing with physical therapy and keep my running mileage a bit lower. He also said I could run this race if I wanted to.

That all left me super on the fence about the race, but I figured I’d start it and see what happens with the plan to just drop out and hop on the subway to meet Danielle at the finish line if I was in pain.

Expo stuff

The expo for the race was much less an expo and much more a party. It was in Brooklyn Bridge Park, out where some of my Women’s Running photoshoot was. Danielle and I decided to meet up by City Hall on Thursday after work and walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to get there. Despite all the tourists, I think walking the Brooklyn Bridge is something everyone here should do at least once a year.

At the #airbnbbkhalf pre-party

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While there were tons of runners there, it wasn’t overly crowded at all and we were able to get our bibs right away. Unfortunately, they were out of pint glasses, but we probably don’t need any more pint glasses in our house anyway so whatevs.

We likely would have stayed a little longer, but the live music was SO DAMN LOUD. Or maybe we’re just too old now? I don’t know. Either way, it was too loud for our ears…and also we wanted dinner.

There’s my name on the sign thingy!

Race morning stuff

The race starts at 7am in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. If you’re like us and live in Jersey City, that’s tough. You gotta cross two rivers on a Saturday morning using two different subway systems that are both running annoying weekend schedules. But since our friend and neighbor Allison was heading to the race with us, we decided to be lazy and take a Lyft. Still, we had to get up at 4:30am and be out the door by 5:10am to get there with enough time to not worry.

We had the driver drop us off a few blocks away so we wouldn’t risk running into any road closures or traffic. After walking to the starting area, we immediately hit up bag check so Allison could drop off her bag (which had our stuff in it too) and then went through the security line. To our surprise, we didn’t have to wait for either, both were moving along quickly.

We hit some porta potties and then hid under some trees to avoid the cold drizzle. It wasn’t cold out, but the rain that was coming down was. Other than that, it was upper 50s and low humidity, so not bad.

Eventually, Danielle and I made our way to our corral and got in line for the porta potties again. This line might have been the worst part of the day. It was really long and snaking inside the corral—each corral had its own bank of porta potties. Because we were already in our corral, we didn’t have to worry that the start time was getting close while we were still in line.

Waiting.

The race

Unlike any other race I’ve been in, the corrals didn’t separate out the start of the race. Instead, they merely were used for seeding people and then the barriers between them were removed before the race even started. So you could have moved up anywhere you wanted after that. On one hand, this was nice because it kept things moving at the start and it was sort of like a smooth, but organized—albeit crowded—progression of things. On the other hand, it meant there was no escape from the crowding. The really odd thing about the start, though, is that it’s just around a 90º turn out of corrals.

While the corrals were pretty tightly packed, things broke up quickly after the starting line. There were a lot of people around, but plenty of space to still be able to run without being on top of someone. Though, that didn’t stop some douchedude from literally pushing me out of his way to get by.

Shortly after the start, we saw our friends Michele and Ashley go zooming by together. Michele was helping pace Ashley to a sub-1:40 finish (spoiler: Ashley finished with a 1:39:05!).

Danielle and I had planned to run the whole race together so we were mostly just trying to stick to our race plan of going nice and slow since we’ve both been dealing with all kinds of injury shit lately. That said, our 8:45-9:00 planned pace was nowhere to be found. Our first first miles were around 8:25 and we sped up from there.

The miles ticked by pretty quickly early on. Danielle and I just had fun and, before we knew it, we were at 5k and getting ready to actually run inside of Prospect Park instead of just outside of it.

The park was nice and scenic, but slightly hilly. Not even bad hills, but we don’t have any hills at all in Jersey City. I just tried to keep my effort even while going up or down. The water stop in the middle of the park was the only water I ended up taking the whole race—typically, I don’t take much water for non-marathon races. Of course, it went right up my nose.

While we were running much faster than we had planned to, things felt pretty good. I felt relaxed and comfortable. As we crossed the 10k mat, I remarked about that being the farthest I’d run in the month since the Star Wars Half. My legs didn’t seem phased by it, though. For me, the most important thing was focusing on my breathing like I had worked on in physical therapy. From the start, I had been consciously making sure I was breathing in deep with my diaphragm and exhaling fully (it’s the exhaling part that I’m particularly bad at). This seemed to be working well to keep my core engaged and offload the parts of my hip that’ve been bothering me. Through the 10k I had been 95% pain-free. When there was pain, it would be like a quick sorta sharpish thing that would come on and then I’d realize I’d stopped focusing on my breathing. After a few seconds of breathing properly again, the pain would go right away.

When we came out of the park at mile 7, Danielle said she thought the race was flying by. I agreed, but reminded her that we were just starting the less scenic part of the course that’s like a six mile straight shot down the highway.

However, to my surprise, the highway miles also ticked right off like nothing too! Somewhere around here, we passed Mary Wittenberg, former President/CEO of NYRR, and our friend Samantha, who was cheering.

The highway miles were very uneventful and it seemed like we had just turned onto the highway when we were approaching Coney Island. As we passed the 800M to go sign, I was feeling good and relaxed. My legs had plenty in the tank for miles still. Danielle’s IT band was starting to bother her, though, so we made no push to the finish.

With 400M to go, we had to all crowd in to go up a ramp to the boardwalk. It got a little tight, but it was manageable. And then once we got up on to the boardwalk, the finish line was in sight. Danielle and I cruised across at 1:47:01.

That damn guy’s head behind us!

Post race stuff

After crossing the finish line, we grabbed our medals and then walked for seemingly a million miles until there was water. When we finally got to the water tables, the were crowded and there were only half-filled cups of water. While it wasn’t super hot out, it was still warm enough that most people needed some hydration in their lives and those hard-to-get-to cups of water weren’t going to cut it. Then, like 20 feet past the tables with the cups, they were giving out the food bags which had Gatorade and bottles of water in them. It seemed unnecessary to have the cups of water when they could have just moved the food bags up like 20 feet instead. It would have been much smoother.

#AirbnbBKHalf done! Hip was mostly okay, can't complain.

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After grabbing feed food bags, we tried to take a quick photo in front of the old parachute drop, but some volunteer yelled at us to keep moving. WHATEVER DUDE!

After moving through a bit more, we saw Ashely and Michele again and found out about Ashley’s amazing finish time. Then we made our way over to the beer garden for some beers and to meet up with Danielle’s Gotham City Runners teammates.

Like a couple of fools, Danielle and I each ordered a liter of Flower Power IPA (7.5%) and guzzled them down at 9:30 in the morning on empty stomachs after a half marathon. We both were, uh, quite drunk by the time we left.

That’s not a 16oz cup, that’s a full liter!

Final thoughts

I really liked this race! It was fun and organized well for such a big race. And ending at Coney Island is really nice. If the weather wasn’t on-and-off drizzling, we could have hung out there much longer. I would definitely like to do it again!

I’m glad I was able to run. I was really unsure if I should or not. Less than a week before the race, I told Danielle I wasn’t going to run it because I thought it was going to be a bad idea. But it ended up being fine. My hip was okay through the race and then all day yesterday when we were out and about and walking for like a thousand miles. Like the kind of fine where I completely forgot about it.

2

2017 runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon – 2:07:40

Alright, moving on to the runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon from yesterday’s 10k recap

Pre-race crap

After spending the day walking around the parks post-10k, I was really struggling to get a good read on my hip. It would feel okay while walking, but then hurt a bit while sitting. I knew I’d want to take the half smart and be willing to walk if I had to. I had an invitation to run/walk the race with my friend Jen, but she said I’d probably lose my mind going at the pace she was planning. While I was pretty sure I was going to just do my own thing, I didn’t fully decide until I was getting walking to the corrals.

Anyway, backing up a little bit… I got in bed and asleep around 9:15 and woke up at 3:15, netting me around 6 hours of sleep—a bit better than for the 10k. I’d’ve loved to have stayed in bed longer, but I had a race to go do.

(Yes, double contraction back there. I’m a fan of multi-contractions!)

Darth Vader Flat Amy for tomorrow's #StarWarsHalf! First time ever running in anything close to a costume.

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I was excited to put on my Darth Vader costume. It was my first race costume ever and I had only thrown it together literally the night before we left for the trip and hadn’t actually put it on yet so I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to look good. I Amazon Primed a very cheap Darth Vader costume at the last minute and then cut out the belt and chest control panel and cut the cape off. I pinned the belt to my shorts and the control panel to my sports bra and threw the cape around my neck. The costume also came with a lightsaber so I had that as a prop too! After everything was put on and ready, I thought I looked pretty decent. Much better than I expected, to be honest!

If I was uncomfortable with my stomach in a sports bra for the 10k, I was triply uncomfortable for the half. I’d been, uh, backed up literally all week and was looking super bloated from it. Plus, 🏃‍♀️ + (🚽 - 💩) = 😧. But it was either stick with the sports bra or ditch the costume altogether since I didn’t have a black tank top with me. I sucked it in up and just went with it. Whatever.

I did this again.

Not bad for a costume I put together the night before our trip! #StarWarsHalf

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When I got to the staging area, I checked my bag right away and went to the designated meetup spot. My friend Jeff was already there, but Patrick was waiting in line for photos and…I don’t know where anyone else was. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Jeff and I chatted for a while to kill time before hitting up porta potties and heading to our respective corrals. While in line for the porta potties, I joked that it was the kind of humidity where you sweat enough that you can just pee your shorts while running if you have to and it doesn’t even matter. Jeff and the guy waiting behind us looked at me like I was the grossest person they’ve ever met, but HEY WHATEVER IT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER WHEN YOU’RE SO SWEATY YOU LOOKED LIKE FELL IN A POOL!

By the way, autocorrect changed that to “porta parties” which sounds like a totally different kinda thing.

But, yeah, anyway, it was humid as hell.

Since I didn’t have to sprint to make the corral before closing, I had plenty of time to just hang around and listen to Rudy and Carissa do their thing on stage. Though, the people checking bibs at the corral entrance gave me a hard time because my A corral letter was covered by my costume and they had to see it. My “I assure you, I’m in this corral” didn’t get me very far. I mean, I was bib 20,178 (Dark Side Challenge bibs started at 20,000), of course I was in the A corral! Oh well.

Eventually, the stormtroopers showed up again to send us off!


 

 

The race

My hip was a concern, but there wasn’t much I could do about it except take things easy and see what happened. I started off at a very easy effort and hit a 10:39 first mile including a photo stop with R2D2. My second mile got down closer to an 8:30 which is an easy effort for me, but I knew I should be going even slower than that and tried to slow myself a little. For mile three, I had to stop for a photo with some Ewoks so that gave my hip a minute to just chill.

Amelia with R2D2 at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

R2D2!

At this point, I was honestly surprised I was still wearing the cape. I figured I’d want to ditch it just after starting. It was that cheap costume material that just soaks up sweat like a sponge and sticks to you. And it was shaped to go over your shoulders and cover them, not just hang behind. Once I started running, I obviously got it off my shoulders and threw the whole thing behind me, but it didn’t want to stay, it kept swinging around to my right side. As much as I hated it, though, I liked having it for my photos so I just kept dealing with it. And, of course, I was also running with a lightsaber in my hand—and my phone in my other hand since an iPhone 7 Plus is too big to put in any of my running short pockets. The lightsaber was a real piece of junk. Like, accessory that came with a $25 costume kind of junk. It kept falling apart on me so I had to keep putting it back together while running over and over again. I think I had to pick up parts of it from the ground and reassemble it close to 15 times. It was the bane of my existence. I dreamed of finishing the race just so I could emphatically throw the cape and lightsaber in the trash.

Amelia with ewoks at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A couple Ewoks!

Somewhere just after the Eworks, I ended up catching up to Jeff and started running with him for a bit. We chatted and I said I’d probably stick with him for a while, as that was a good pace for me to be running with ol’ hurty mcstupid hip. My hip had been starting to hurt, but slowing my running pace to 9:35ish seemed to help a lot really quickly. Jeff was super worried about the humidity so he wasn’t trying to go too fast either.

That humidity suuuuuucked. It was sticky and sweaty and swampy and gross. Being from New Jersey, humidity is a concept I’m very used to, but it hasn’t quite settled in yet this year so I wasn’t ready for it.

As we entered Animal Kingdom via the back of park, I took a moment to appreciate that this was the only time I’d be there this trip—I’m a huge Animal Kingdom fan, bee tee dubs. We quickly made our way around through Asia and DinoLand USA and I had some fun passing the photographers.

Really happy with how my #StarWarsHalf costume came out! #DarthAmy

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Coming out the back of Animal Kingdom there were some stormtroopers, tie fighter pilots, and other characters out. I stopped for photos with the stormtroopers and then took some selfies with the others. I was too sweaty to operate my phone, though, so it took a while to open the camera app. Jeff kept on going so I was back to pacing myself again.

Amelia with stormtroopers at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

My troops.

Amelia selfie with jawa at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with some jawas.

Amelia at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with some of my men.

Amelia selfie runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

More of my men.

At this point, the sun still hadn’t really come up yet and I was trying to get as far as I could before it did. I knew it’d burn off some of the humidity, but I didn’t want to be dealing with the sun blasting on me on a day that was going to get up to 90º.

After Jeff and I split, my pace started creeping faster again and there was a big break in photo stops. By mile 5.5, my hip was starting to hurt again—really getting close to that 5 out of 10 threshold. At 6.5, I started thinking I’d need to walk soon, but I wanted to try to make it to 8 before I did. I just kept trucking. This section from 5.5 until 10 was the section between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. This included the trek down Osceola Parkway, similar to the marathon if you removed the Wide World of Sports part. This section is always my least favorite part of the marathon and it wasn’t much different for this race either. It’s just kinda boring.

Just as I was starting to think about switching to walking for a bit, I spotted Jeff up ahead again. I kept my pace so I’d catch him just a little before the 8th mile marker and then stuck with him again. The humidity was taking its toll on him, but we ran together for the rest of the race and chatted it up about all kinds of things. After running with Jeff for a little bit, my hip started feeling better. By mile 9, I think it was just about 100% pain free. I was thankful for this and knew it would be best to just lock it in around that pace.

My cape was still driving me nuts and my lightsaber was still falling apart. I considered ditching them, but I’d come so far already, I knew I needed to just stick it out.

Once we made the turn into Hollywood Studios, I knew it was runtime-funtime from there to the finish. I grabbed some photos coming down Sunset Boulevard and was all smiles while posing for photographer after photographer.

Amelia with stormtroopers at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

More of my troopers.

Coming out of Hollywood Studios, Jeff was starting to struggle. Being from Pittsburgh, this was not his weather at all. I tried to keep the conversation light and he kept doing some math for what his finish would be, wondering if it’d be under 2:10. I assured him he had plenty of time to work with to make that happen.

Amelia at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Having a blast coming around Crescent Lake!

This time, instead of running on the Beach and Yacht Club side of Crescent Lake, we ran around the Boardwalk side while Jeff told me about the time our friend Lauren got yelled at for cheering too loudly during a race. Classic Lauren! I stopped for a few selfies with some characters and sprinted to catch back up to Jeff. We had been running in the 9:30-9:45 range so my legs were pretty fresh for bursting my way back up to him.

Whoever this guy is.

Amelia with tie fighter pilot at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

A selfie with one of my pilots.

I couldn’t remember what the course was from there and whether we’d be going the long way around the World Showcase in Epcot or not. I was trying to map it out in my head based on how much distance was left and was still a bit unsure. To my pleasant surprise, we did take the scenic route around the World Showcase. From here, I tried to be as encouraging as I could to Jeff and keep the pace steady. My hip was still feeling good so I was thankful for that.

Amelia in World Showcase at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Coming around the World Showcase.

We hooked right into Futurewold, under Spaceship Earth, and then out the side of the park towards the parking lot. I fist-bumped a stormtrooper because I couldn’t high-five with my lightsaber in my hand and he accidentally lapped my Garmin. Hah!

Sadly, most of the photos cropped Jeff out so this is the only one I have of us running together.

As we approached the finish, I asked if he had a finish line jump in him like he did for the 5k and he sorta just groaned at me. I went for it, though, and leapt into the air for the finish.

Amelia leaping in the at the finish at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

So serious.

I finished in 2:07 and Jeff was 2:05, well under 2:10. He thanked me for keeping him on pace and said he’d have slowed a lot if he was running alone.

We grabbed some photos with the photographers and then went over to get some Dark Side photos. We waited in the line for Darth Vader and then moved over to Kylo Ren. When I got up to Kylo Ren, I looked at him and said “grandson!” He did not appreciate my humor.

My wonderful running parter for the day, Jeff!

My grandson #StarWarsHalf

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Amelia with Darth Vader at runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

We’re practically twins.

After watching the awards, I walked over to the nearest trashcan and threw my lightsaber and cape right in it. I mean, like I really slammed it in there. I was so happy to be rid of them! Oof!

This race was a lot of fun and my first time running in a costume was interesting. I’ll never run with a cape again, that’s for sure. I don’t know how superheroes do it. Capes are the worst for running! I’ll also never do another prop I have to hold again. Other than that, my costume was great and not a problem at all.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Medals

The Dark Side Challenge Medal Collection.

Hanging around Epcot.

1

2017 runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10k – 1:08:15

Star Wars! Disney! Running! YEAH!

I grew up a pretty big Star Wars fan so I’ve been wanting to do the runDisney Star Wars races since they first became a thing a couple years ago, but this was the first one to actually worked out for me. And, of course, I’m going to do the “challenge” if the have it! Besides, a 10k and half marathon on back-to-back days isn’t outside of the how I run on a normal weekend.

Pre-race stuff

If you recall my state of running post from last week, things haven’t exactly been great for me in the running department. In in the eight days before the weekend, I only had done a 3.5-miler and a 4-miler because of my hip. And I knew going into the weekend my hip was going to be questionable. The plan with my physical therapist was to do the race, but be willing to take a DNF if the pain got worse than a 5 out of 10.

Because we just did our annual week-long trip for Marathon Weekend in January and were also in Disney in October, we decided to just make it a quick weekend trip and stay at a value resort—Pop Century. We flew down Friday morning and came back Monday afternoon. Using points for our flights, the refund gift cards from the canceled Disney Half Marathon in January, and only doing a few days, the entire trip cost us less than $600 out of pocket for hotel, flight, food, and race fees.

Leaving the expo.

When we got down on Friday, we hopped right on a bus for the expo without wasting any time. To our surprise, the expo was empty. We’re used to it being a zoo, but we walked right in and got our bibs and shirts without waiting. We also were able to walk right into the official merchandise section, though, we didn’t buy anything. Even though the expo was pretty empty and not stressful at all, we didn’t stay long before going back to the resort and dropping our stuff off. We had Chefs de France for dinner in Epcot and eventually got back to the room to go to bed by 10:15. Much later than I normally go to bed for runDisney races, but I was less concerned about sleep for a 10k / half marathon challenge than I am when there’s also a 5k and marathon on top of that.

Flat Amy.

The 10k

I hopped rolled out of bed at 3:25am and quickly threw my pre-laid out running clothes on. Having overeaten at dinner the night before, I wasn’t too thrilled with how my stomach was looking in just a sports bra, but it was humid and I wasn’t in the mood to be messing around with no shirt.

Just me being silly after getting dressed.

The bus ride over was short and was at starting area, outside of Magic Kingdom, in no time and the security checkpoint was a breeze. The lines for photos with members of the Dark Side were ridiculously long so I didn’t even think about it. Unfortunately, I had trouble finding any of my friends that I was hoping to see so I yanked my shirt off, checked my bag, and walked over to the corral. It was really nice having the start and staging areas be together, without the 20 minute walk between the two like there is for Marathon Weekend.

I found a porta potty line that only had a few people in it and when I came out, my friend Alison was right there. We talked for like 30 seconds before I got a tweet from my friend Jeff saying they were closing the A corral. As soon as I saw that, I took off sprinting to the corral while yelling back to Alison to have a good race. I got into the corral with time to spare and then ended up meeting up with Patrick and Karen. Patrick and Karen were Garth Vader and Obi-Wayne Kenobi for an amazing Wayne’s World / Star Wars mashup. They both ran in wigs and jeans. Not jean shorts, jeans. Not running pants that looked like jeans, jeans. A hilariously bad idea.

I mean, they looked great, but…those jeans.

The pre-start stuff included some old Star Wars trailers, as well as the trailer for The Last Jedi. And, of course, the usual antics of Carissa and Rudy. And then the stormtroopers rolled in to remind us that Captain Phasma would be watching us and send us on our way.

runDisney Star Wars Dark Side 10k fireworks start

The standard runDisney fireworks.

I wanted to start off conservatively and being with Patrick and Karen—who were, again, in friggin’ jeans—helped with that. It seemed like they immediately regretted those jeans. Though, they are the kinds of people who stop at every photo stop in Disney, so I ended up ditching them at the first stop.

I was worried about my hip so I wanted to try to take it as easy as possible. My first mile was a 9:20, right about where I should have been. And then I hit my first photo stop in mile two. Overall, I hit about half of the photo stops through the race. For the most part, the lines weren’t ridiculous, but most weren’t super short either.

I actually don’t know the Star Wars Rebels characters names :/

My hip felt okay for the first couple of miles, but started to hurt after that. The pain level was getting to around a 3 or 4, maybe, but when I’d stop and wait for a photo, it’d stop hurting and feel fine for a couple minutes after I started running.

It was a little more than half the race before we finally got into a park, which might be why I don’t really remember enough of the first half of the race to actually write anything interesting here. It’s like my brain just stopped recording for a while.

Darth Maul is more popular than I expected, tbh.

A little past the 5k mark, we rounded into Hollywood Studios and ran by Fantasmic and Tower of Terror and then down Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. I stopped for some stormtrooper photos because obviously. From here, we continued down the same way the marathon does and followed along the water to Crescent Lake, past Beach and Yacht Club to Epcot. I’m not sure what happened on the boardwalk, but I passed a woman who was on her hands and knees and being helped up by two men. She seemed real slow to get up and looked like she might have tripped pretty hard. That boardwalk area can always be a little treacherous. It’s slippery if it’s wet and the boards are easy to trip over.

Hollywood Studios stormtroopers

Standard Amelia.

Right before turned into the service entrance to the World Showcase, I stopped for a photo with Chewie. He was quite sweaty. Not his sweat. He was putting his arm around sweaty ass runners and it was a serious yuck situation.

He was SO gross from runner sweat!

Coming through the UK and Canada and then into Futureworld, I wanted the race to be over. It was just 10k, but I was worried about my hip for the half. It was still under my pain cutoff, but it wasn’t feeling good and it wasn’t promising for the half.

More stormtroopers.

What is this rebel doing with these guys here?

As I approached the finish line, there were stormtroopers on either side and I went for a high-five with the one on the left. I got nothing. Nothing at all. I hung my head in shame as I finished.

After the race, my hip felt pretty much fine. I waited for photos with Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma and ended up seeing Jeff in line for Kylo Ren before I hopped back on a bus to the resort.

I don’t know what I’m smiling about, but let’s just say I was laughing at this guy.

I’m learning the dark side of the Force from Kylo Ren.

Jeff and I with Captain Phasma!

I had a lot of fun with the 10k and couldn’t wait for more fun with the half. That recap is coming tomorrow!

The photographer made me hold this damn sign. I was not amused.

Magic Kingdom for the day!

5

2017 Rutgers Unite Half Marathon – 1:44:06

Rutgers Unite Half Marathon post race

This thing was actually really hard to hold up

Three weeks, three half marathons.

This week was the CGI Racing Rutgers Unite Half Marathon. Unite has a special place in my heart. Not only does it run through my old alma mater and where I used to live for over a decade—and partially through a park I often did training runs in before moving to Jersey City—but its inaugural year was also my very first half marathon, back in 2010. Plus, as I mentioned two weeks ago, CGI puts on great races that are well-organized and bridge the gap between rinky-dinky local race and crowded big city race.

Back when I was putting together my spring racing and marathon training plans, this was supposed to be a goal race. I wanted to snag a PR here. However, after running nearly race effort two weeks ago and full race effort with a new PR last week, plans changed. My legs spent last week being mad at me so I “downgraded” this race to a fun training run instead.

I originally didn’t have any extra miles on the schedule for before this race, but after downgrading it, I decided I should work it into what a logical long run would have been for this week, 17 miles.

I woke up nice and early at 5am to get dressed and get my stuff together to drive down to New Brunswick. The drive was nice and quick and I showed up much earlier than planned. I took the extra time to in the warm car and relax for a bit. Eventually, it was time to get on out there. The race is a point-to-point race so I parked at the finish and planned to run four miles beforehand. I threw my running backpack on and set out to run to the start. Because of how the course winds and loops, parking by the finish still only gave me about two miles so I did a little loop in Johnson Park to rack up another two miles in the middle. I’ve done many miles in Johnson Park in my Central Jersey days, so this was a nice little throwback. Anyway, weather was fantastic for running. Low 40s, sunny, zero wind.

I ended up getting to the start nearly twenty minutes earlier than I originally planned, but I just took my time checking my bag and hitting a porta potty. Then I stood around in the sun looking for all the people I knew running. I saw exactly none of them.

When it was time to get into the corral, I lined up with 8:00 mile pacer. The plan was to stick with this group and keep myself in control. The last two weeks made it clear I’m incapable of doing that on my own right now. This would put me at a hair under a 1:45 finish.

The first few miles of the race were pretty uneventful. I stayed glued to the pace group and chatted it up with my fellow runners. We chatted some about Rutgers itself and some trivia and then about upcoming races and PRs and such. The course through Livingston Campus was a little different than the last time I had ran this race, but it wasn’t bad at all. I lived on Livingston for two years and spent nearly nine years of my life at the radio station there so it’s always nice to get extra time to check out how much it’s changed since I graduated. Anyway, these miles ticked off pretty quickly.

After heading back to Busch Campus, where the race had started, I was feeling a little tired. We had been running slightly under our target 8:00 pace, but still well under race effort for me. Mostly, my legs were still tired from the last few weeks of training. After crossing mile 7, I pulled just a little ahead of the pacer. Not much, I could still hear him talking and coaching, but enough that I couldn’t see him anymore. I kept trying to pull back enough to fall back in with the group, but struggled to not keep pulling slightly ahead. My body seemed to find a rhythm it liked and I was okay with letting it do it’s thing at this point.

Looping back around through Busch Campus breezed by and mile 9 showed up before I knew it. From there, the rest of the race was about 90% the same route I did my warmup miles on, just in the opposite direction. We made our way into Johnson Park for an out-and-back and then across the Landing Lane bridge over the Raritan River and into New Brunswick. Coming over the bridge, I reminisced about the hundreds of miles worth of long runs I did on the Delaware-Raritan Canal Tow Path, which I would often pick up at this exact point. Such blissful miles, those were!

I was happy to find that the steep hill in Buccleuch Park was no longer part of the course. This hill used to always hit me right in the legs. It’s not long, but it’s pretty steep and comes at you in the last mile or so of the race. I didn’t miss it! Our route in the park was little more than in and out before making our way down College Ave—the center of College Ave Campus—to the finish line.

I was still slightly ahead of the pacer who had continued running slightly fast all race. I crossed at 1:44:06 and he was only a few seconds behind me. So that was about a 7:56 pace which I think is reasonable for an 8:00 pacer, to be honest. Either way, I was pretty happy with myself for sticking to my plan for the day and taking it on the easier side of things and not going too fast. My legs really didn’t need another hard effort long run.

Overall, I really love this race. Now that I no longer live in the New Brunswick area, it was really nice to come back for a race through areas I spent so much time in. And I also just love what CGI does. They’re races are pretty fantastic.

With this race down, I’m halfway through my half marathons for the season. I’ve got this weekend off and then runDisney Star Wars Dark Side and the NYRR Shape Women’s Half Marathon on back to back weekends after that. Until then, training continues!

4

2017 NYCRUNS Ladies First Half Marathon – 1:39:40

Snagged a (small) new PR today in rough 20mph wind at the Ladies First Half Marathon. #runchat

A post shared by Amelia Gapin (@entirelyamelia) on

Half marathon number two of six this season! Yes, last week, I think I said it was five, but…well, now it’s six. Yeah, I added another one into the mix because I have problems. Many problems. Send help.

This weekend’s race was the NYCRUNS Ladies First Half Marathon along Shore Park in Brooklyn. Not only was this my first time running an NYCRUNS race, but it was also, somehow, the first time I’ve ever raced in NYC. Yes, I know. I’ve lived in Jersey City and worked in Manhattan for two and a half years and haven’t actually raced within NYC before this weekend. Weird.

This race, like many of the half marathons that NYCRUNS does is a simple course along the Hudson River made up of two out-and-backs. The first is a shorter one from the start at American Veterans Memorial Pier to just passed the Verrazano Bridge and back. And the second one goes out a bit further before turning around and heading back.

My morning was not as smooth as I would have liked. I spent Thursday and Friday participating in Hack Day at work. It’s a 24-hour hackathon we do a few times year where people get to work on whatever projects and wacky ideas they want. At the end, we present them for voting and a winner is crowned. Typically, there’s usually much junk food and drinking and very little sleep. I slept for 4.5 hours in a conference room Thursday night. I knew this was going to mess me up a bit for Saturday so I got in bed super early on Friday. We’re talking like 7:50pm. I think I ended up closing my eyes around 9pm.

I had a great plan for the morning that involved taking public transit to the start and running two miles before the race so I could get to my scheduled 15 miles for the day. Unfortunately, the PATH Train decided it wasn’t going to follow its own schedule and I had to take a Lyft to the start. Somehow, this resulted in me getting there a half hour earlier than planned, leaving me with time to kill and destroying my perfectly crafted plan. 🙄

The weather was chilly, in the upper 30s and windyyyyy. We’re talking 20mph winds that made it feel bitterly cold. The forecast had rain in it all week, but luckily that stopped before I left the house so at least I had that going for me. Adding rain into the mix would have suuuuucked a bag of old rusty dicks—look, I don’t know why they’re rusty, they just are, okay?

While waiting for registration to open up so I could get my bib and start de-layering for my warmup, I met up with fellow trans runner Allison who was running her very first race as Allison! Exciting! We chatted for a while as I watched the time tick down. Once there was about 25 minutes before the start, I quickly took off all my layers and threw them in my bag. Allison offered to take my bag over to bag check with hers so I was able to just take off from under the overpass where all the runners were sheltering themselves from the wind.

I did an easy mile out down the course to the first marker and turned around to come back. On the way out, the wind was at my back a booster strapped to me. Unfortunately, it was brutal headwind on the back. Still, I was able to get my two miles in and get warm. I got back to the start with about three minutes to go before race time. Basically perfect.

This race was supposed to be a big contrast from the LOVE Run the weekend before. It was really important for me to take this one slowly since I didn’t in Philly. Just a training run. My plan was to run around a 1:45.

It was a small race, 346 runners, so the start wasn’t wild at all. I was able to find some space to run with no issues. Like the week before, I started off faster than planned. Not as fast this time, but a 7:41 first mile. I thought I was running slower based on the feel, but it would turn out I was, in fact, not

From here, I kept things mostly steady until the first turnaround with 7:46 and 7:45 second and third miles. The small field spread out quickly and there just a handful of people out cheering so things were quiet. The only notable part here was a few puddles where the course narrowed a bit. They took up 80% of the path which meant squeezing in a little so there would be enough room for runners in both directions to get by without running through them—they were deep enough to cause some wet feet if you did go through them. But everyone on the course was extremely mindful and courteous. It seemed to be a non-issue overall. Women!

The back part of the first out-and-back sucked with the wind in our faces. Someone yelled out to the woman running behind me that she was in 22nd place overall. I didn’t realize I was so close to the front, but I really didn’t want that to get in my head.

Unfortunately, it got in my head.

Hitting the second turnaround, I was feeling okay. I felt better than I had in Philly, but I was giving roughly the same effort level. As soon as I looped around the cone for the turn, I was next to a man (there were really only a handful who ran the race at all) who seemed to be running about the same as me. We ran from this point, at roughly 4.75 miles, all the way to mile 9 right next to each other, basically stride for stride. We didn’t say a single word to each other, but there seemed to be an unspoken agreement of us pacing each other. While it worked in terms of keeping me steady, that “steady” was too fast. Through this section, I dropped into a race effort level. I ran 7:23, 7:19, 7, 14, and 7:12 to the last turnaround at mile 9. I really didn’t want to be running this pace for a training run, but I mostly felt good. At this point, it was in my head that this was a small field and I might be able to place in my age group. Dammit, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

I knew I was somewhere around 12, but wasn’t fully sure how many runners were ahead of me. After turning around and starting the final back leg of the race, a woman coming from the other direction yelled “you’re eleven” at me. This really motivated me (dammit). I had slightly dropped the guy I was running with and was on my own here. The wind sucked again, but I didn’t want to increase my effort. I tried to just keep it the same and let my pace suffer however it was going suffer. Miles ten and eleven only lost a few seconds each from where I had been.

I was getting tired in the last 5k. Really tired. The race effort level was catching up to me, especially since it wasn’t planned. Still, I tried to hold strong. I started catching up to the 9th and 10th place women, but didn’t think I’d have it in me to take them both. The tenth place woman seemed to be slowing down a lot and, even though she tried to pick it up to stay with me, I was able to pass her easily. At this point, I was right behind the woman in 9th, but I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get around her. I wasn’t about to fight for it either. If I was truly in 10th place now (assuming the woman who yelled “eleven” was correct), I was pretty happy with that. I didn’t know the ages of these women so I didn’t know if it’d work out for me to place in my age group, but 10th overall was a pretty rad idea!

Somewhere between miles 11 and 12, the 9th place woman started slow a bit. As I made a move to get around her, she started fighting to stay with me, but I was able to hold the pace more than she was. After I passed her, the man I was running with before appeared next to me again. He had briefly passed me somewhere in this section, but couldn’t stay ahead of me. As we came down the last couple of miles, I was ready for the race to be over. My legs were tired and the 20mph wind in my face was not helping at all.

After I got to the last mile, I started watching the pier getting closer and closer and focused on that finish line. I had slowed a bit, but was holding on with what I had. I knew was I was in PR territory now. I didn’t know exactly how much of a PR it’d be, but I knew that was now on the table too.

As we approached the 13th mile marker, I could start to make out the clock and I could see it turn 1:39:00. I knew this was going to be close, but I was running fast enough to just sneak it in under my 1:39:51 PR. I started to kick with what I had left and pulled ahead of the guy next to me and powered across the finish wanting to puke.

I crossed at 1:39:40, an 11-second PR! I was also the 9th woman overall and FIRST IN MY AGE GROUP! It was a small race, but this was the first time I’ve placed in my age group since I transitioned. I would say I was pretty psyched about this, but I didn’t actually know until I was already on my way home from the race. They weren’t announcing placings or doing awards at the race so I hadn’t stuck around for too long afterwards. I changed in a porta-potty and then started heading back to the subway to head home.

Oops.

I’m mad at myself for running a race effort when I wasn’t supposed to, but I’m pretty psyched at my performance. Even the smallest of PRs is still a PR. And while the wind helped me on the out parts, it was brutal on the backs. It probably evened out in the end. This ended up being a good race effort with decent strategy. I slowed in the last two miles, but I kept mostly even splits through the middle of the race and negative split. It feels like my race-day instincts are reasonably decent. This race ended up being a nice confidence boost on top of Philly the week before.

As for NYCRUNS races, I’m a fan! They’re small, which is a nice bonus around here. The medal and shirt for the race are both super cute and the race was only $50. Really can’t complain about that!

4

2017 Philly LOVE Run Half Marathon – 1:39:58

This was like three minutes after finishing. I put warm clothes on right quick!

The last three races I was supposed to run in Philly were all DNSed the morning of—the 2015 Broad Street Run and the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon. But my Philly DNS streak is over! Yesterday, I did not DNS. I actually ran a race! It was my first race in Philly since the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon.

The Philly LOVE Run first of five half marathons I’m running this spring. Yes, I’m running five half marathons this spring. I’m currently training for Grandma’s Marathon and, for this training cycle, I decided to do something different for my long runs. I wanted to change things up a bit and, instead of doing all my long runs along my normal route, earn a few new race medals in the half marathon. This also goes along with my biggest running goal of 2017, running more races and focusing less on PRs.

Pre-race

We drove down to Philly on Saturday and went right to the expo at the Convention Center. CGI Racing expos aren’t particularly huge, but they are well-organized and stress-free. I had my bib, race shirt, and mug without waiting in a single line for anything. After a quick lap, we were out! We hung around the city for a couple hours and got drinks at Brü Craft & Wurst, a great craft beer and wurst bar we happened to stumble upon. After that, it was dinner and ice cream with our friend Hollie.

Got my bib!

Hollie was also nice enough to let us crash at her house the night before which helped make it a cheap weekend with few worries! Of course, Hollie is one of the silliest people I know and when I walked into the bedroom, there was a framed copy of my magazine staring at me. Awkward!

After some foam rolling, it was off to bed before 10pm.

Awkward!

I made Hollie take a picture with it and own it!

I got up at 5:15, got dressed, and hopped in the car. It was a 20 minute drive from Hollie’s to where we parked in Fairmount Park, about a mile from the start. I had 15 miles on the schedule for the day so I needed a couple warmup miles before the race. I gave a quick goodbye to the wife and took off for a mile down Ben Franklin Parkway and a mile back. I finished with just enough time to hit a porta-potty and sprint to my starting corral.

The forecast had some light rain in it for race morning, but luckily it held out and race start was 44º with 10mph winds and overcast. Great racing conditions!

The race

The race started on time with a nice bit of energy. I was in the first corral and lined up between the 1:30 and 1:35 pacers. I wasn’t trying for a big PR or anything so I knew I wasn’t going to be trying to hang with either of those pace groups, but I felt confident with my placement being reasonable enough anyway.

Through the first mile, I hung tight with most of the runners around me and clocked a 7:19 first mile. Oops! Definitely much faster than the 8:00 I was thinking I should have been running. I tried to pull back slightly, but mostly just went with it. If I had stuck with that pace, I’d have had a massive PR, but I knew that wasn’t realistic as I’m not exactly in my best shape right now.

As we were heading around City Hall, Twitter friend Megan came up from behind to introduce herself. She’s just a few months postpartum, but was looking to run a 1:39. We ran together for a bit with some light conversation before I dropped back. Again, this was really just a training run so I knew it was time to get things under control.

Unfortunately, mile 2 totally threw both my Garmin and Apple Watch off so I didn’t have accurate splits at all to compare to how my legs were feeling. It was back to doing mental math based on the clocks at each mile marker—which, luckily, each mile had—just like the old days!

After looping our way back onto the Parkway and to pass through the start/finish area, I started keeping my eyes open for the wife. She said she’d be around mile 4—we had discussed her being around The Oval, which is roughly mile 4.25. It was a good thing I was looking, though, because she was right at mile 4, ahead of where I was expecting her. We waved and I tossed my arm warmers at her.

Things were quiet for a while after that. We rounded The Oval and made our way down MLK Drive and into Fairmount Park where the crowds were mostly non-existent. I was feeling tired, definitely not how I wanted to be feeling to a training run, but it was very par for the course with my running lately. I wasn’t too worried about slowing down if I needed to, my most important thing was not wanting to leave myself too sore or tired to continue my training this week.

As we approached mile 7, I started watching for the lead runners to be coming down the back portion of the out and back. I was able to see the first three men before we veered off MLK Drive and up an onramp at mile 7.5. This is where things got tough, the next half mile was climbing uphill. It was not fun! We don’t really have hills in Jersey City so my hill game is way off these days. The climbing felt like forever, but things leveled off exactly at the 8th mile marker. A guy who had been running near me for a while told me I was helping motivate him and keep him steady here. I was glad to make myself useful!

After some quick looping, we came back down the same hills and I flew. My legs were tired, but gravity, yo. I got a side-stitch halfway down this section, but I was able to work it out pretty quickly.

Before I knew it, we were at the last turn around—mile 9.75ish—and I knew it was a straight shot back to the Art Museum and finish from there. I was feeling tired, but at this point I wanted to keep it steady to the finish. I had been mostly in the 7:30-7:45 range for my splits, except for hillsville mile 8. Coming down this last 5k, a man and woman whom I had passed in the downhill section and who were standing next to me in the corral passed me. I wanted to use them as my rabbit for the rest of the race, but I didn’t want to push myself more than I had been. I kept it close, but didn’t increase my effort level any. As I crossed mile 11, I started getting a little nauseous so I eased back a little for a couple minutes until that subsided.

Once I passed mile 12, I started using the Art Museum as my beacon for the finish. I was ready to be done, but I decided not to push or kick at all to the finish. It wasn’t a goal race and I wasn’t in it for a PR. I did some math at the mile marker and knew I’d be close to my PR, but I thought I was roughly 30 seconds off.

Looking strong at the end!

As I approached the last curve, I spotted the wife and cruised my way to the to the finish line. My mental math was close, but slightly off and it turned out I was only 7 seconds off my PR! If I had known I was that close in the last couple of miles, I would have kicked a little harder. Oh well! I’m not even the slightest bit disappointed, though. Again, this wasn’t a goal race and I was supposed to be running much slower. I was pretty happy.

After the finish, the woman (of the man and woman combo mentioned above) congratulated me and we chatted a little. She snagged a PR! I ended up finding her on Instagram later in the day and we chatted a bit. After talking to her, the guy from mile 8 came up to tell me he PRed and I was helping keep him going all race! In the past, I’ve always hated knowing people were using me to run faster or hold steady, but I was actually pretty psyched about this. I was really happy for him!

After grabbing my medal and some water, I met up with the wife and we walked over to the Whole Foods near the finish to grab some groceries and coffee. A man in the produce section commented on my medal and we talked about races in the city for a few minutes. And then the cashier also struck up a conversation with me about the race. SO MUCH LOVE IN PHILLY THIS WEEKEND!

Final thoughts

This was a great weekend in Philly and I was really happy with the race! CGI Racing puts on great races that are organized and fun without being massively huge and overwhelming.

My performance was much better than I expected. I’ve been in a bit of a running rut lately, but to get so close to my PR without putting in a race effort was a nice boost. I had a big burger and greasy fries the night before and didn’t do anything to prepare for this as a race. And I went at about 90-95% of a half marathon race effort. So it was nice to find out I still have a lot of the strength I’ve been struggling to find lately.

Lastly, I felt like this run helped me really start to hammer home some of what I’ve been working on in PT lately. I’m a very quad-dominant runner. My quads and calves do all the work and everything else is just along for the ride so I’ve been trying to work on engaging my glutes, hamstrings, and core while running. It seems I’m finally starting to get this as I could feel them working all race. And I could feel the work being spread from just my quads to the rest of my legs as well. I still have some work to do, but this felt like a major contributor to running so well without pushing my effort level.

5

2017 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge – Marathon

This is the third post for the 2017 Dopey Challenge. Checkout my recap for the expo, 5k, and 10k here and the half marathon here.

Rocking that Dopey Challenge medal in Magic Kingdom!

The marathon! Not only is the marathon my favorite race distance, but the Walt Disney World Marathon is one of my favorite courses and easily the most magical of them all!

Pre-race stuff

I set out my clothes and got to bed nice and early for the marathon. I’m pretty sure that even with my 3:25am wake-up, I still got seven hours of sleep. Pretty good! I would have probably gotten even more if I didn’t spend forever the night before worrying about what to wear.

This year’s race was cold. Okay, not cold for someone who lives in New Jersey, but cold for a race in Florida. The starting temperature was around 38º with 15-20mph wind. At home, this isn’t really that bad. In fact, with a race temperature that was predicted to be around 40-44º for most of the race, this is just about perfect racing conditions to me. Minus that wind, of course.

But, this wasn’t home. I wasn’t just walking out my front door and taking off like I normally do when I run in the cold. I had to wait around in that cold for the race to start. This is bad enough for most races, but runDisney races are exceptionally bad with how long you have to wait before the race. First, you have to deal with taking a bus to the starting area which means waiting for that and leaving extra time, just in case. Then you have to walk close to half a mile from the bus to the staging area with the bag check. THEN it’s another 20ish-minute walk to the corrals. Add in leaving time to hit a porta-potty, meet up with friends, and get into the corrals before they close without having a close call—like I did for the 5k—and you’re talking 60-90 minutes of being outside before the race. Not bad when the weather is nice, but brutal when it’s cold.

After a lot of back and forth regarding shorts vs crop tights and short sleeves vs long sleeves and throwaway arm warmers vs real arm warmers, I opted for Oiselle Distance Shorts (basically my standard issue marathon shorts), my Chicago Marathon short sleeve shirt, and Oiselle lux arm warmers as my race outfit. Prior to the race, I kept on a pair of loose joggers, the cotton t-shirt from the Disney 5k, the Dopey Challenge long sleeve we got this year, and a couple mylar heat sheets (one as a skirt, one for my top).

The final outfit. Took a lot of stress to finalize on this.

When my alarm went off, I was surprisingly awake and ready to get up and go. I gobbled down a Clif bar and drank some water, but I was trying to be conservative with how much I drank. I know hydration is important even when it’s cold out, but I also knew I wouldn’t want to be dealing with hitting porta-potties any more than I needed to in the cold. I quickly got dressed and Ellen and I headed out to catch the bus. Luckily, there was one waiting for us and we were able to get right on without waiting out in the cold! The ride was quick and so was the walk to the staging area. There was only a short line to get through bag check. It was cold, but it didn’t yet feel super cold.

We hit up the standard We Are Awesome Runner Friends meeting spot and chatted it up with the group. Everyone was cold, especially Nathan who lives right near Disney and isn’t used to the cold at all. Our friend Lauren came by to visit for a minute so we could get our group photo, but then she went back to the heated VIP tent like some kinda jerk! *insert me pouting here*

Eventually, it was time to check our bags and move out. When I pulled my joggers off, I literally screamed as the cold touched my bare legs. It was not pleasant! I quickly got my mylar heat sheets all tied around me and dropped my bag off. The walk to the starting area was the standard runDisney affair and all I could think about was hours from then when I was nice and warm again. Though, I did question if I’d ever be warm again. We were lucky to find some short lines for the porta-potties and took care of business—I must say, this was a minor feat in itself with all of the heat sheets and layering to deal with.

I got into the corral with plenty of time to stand and wait around. I just did my best to stay huddled up with myself. For some reason, Disney put me in corral E which isn’t really where I belong. I hate saying that and sounding like I actually care or think it matters or compare myself to other runners (I really don’t), but I was corral C last year and the time I gave was within the corral C range (and faster than the one I gave for last year). Plus, I’m a 3:28 marathoner. Still, I didn’t care too much since I wasn’t planning on racing. In fact, starting in corral E probably matched up much more with my plan to run just around a 4-hour marathon.

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon starting line

Really hard to get a good selfie of the starting line here with this lighting.

Anyway, time flew by pretty quickly and it was time to go before I knew it! Which was good because I was violently shivering! While I had seriously debated if I could actually run while keeping the heat sheets tied around me, I ditched them as the corral before us got going. The announcers said they might interfere with the timing mat and I knew they’d just annoy my anyway. Some runners did start with them on though! They looked hilarious while actually running!

The first 10k

The corrals ahead of us went quickly and there were no mini waves so the corrals to off started with little delay between them. Amazingly, the moment I started running, I forgot about the cold and was totally fine. In fact, from race start to finish, the weather was a complete non-issue for me. It was basically perfect.

I started things off easy and focused on keeping myself steady. My plan to stay just under 4:00 meant my target pace was around 9:09.

I clocked in my first mile at 8:57. A tad faster than I planned, but not too shabby at all. The important thing was to just stay controlled in this first mile and set a good tone for the race going forward. Just past the first mile marker, I ripped my throwaway shirt off Hulk Hogan style. Just tore it right down the front like a total badass! We can ignore the fact that I had pre-cut the neck to make the hole bigger and easier to take off during my run.

Most of the way to Magic Kingdom was quiet and uneventful. I think runners were still pretty cold and the cheer sections on the highway were a less filled than normal. One thing I noticed was the lines for photos were really short. This was a trend that continued the entire race and, after the first two or three of them, they were never more than five or six people deep—most were like maybe one runner. This was shocking to me. It was cold out, which I suspect was a big reason for it, but with the half marathon having been canceled, I’d have expected Dopey and Goofy runners to be upping their photo game. I didn’t stop for any of these early photos myself, though.

As we passed the fourth mile marker, my pace was pretty steady. My legs were okay, but not as good as I would’ve liked (pretty sure I say this in every marathon recap I do). The section right around here is where the second big cheer section is (if you include the one on the highway going into the Magic Kingdom) and it was fantastic! The cold did not keep people from being out here and getting their NOISE on! It was such a nice surprise to see these amazing people out there.

Just after we sailed through this cheer section, I stopped at a bank of porta-potties for a quick pee-pee break. When I came out, I took a moment to take off my long sleeve top and neatly tie it around my waist nice and tight before I started running again. This made for a longer stop than planned, but it beat having to pull it off and tie it while running. It also meant less risk of losing a headband or something in the process.

Once I started moving again, I still felt like I had to pee. I felt this the entire race. I knew I didn’t have to, but I never stopped feeling like I had to pee. Ugh!

As we made our way past the 5th mile marker and into Magic Kingdom, I couldn’t believe how quickly it felt like this had come up. Main Street U.S.A. was packed and loud, just like always! So much excite! I didn’t stop for any selfies here like I usually do because I wanted to just focus on my running. But as we came through Tomorrowland, I saw Buzz Lightyear with only a short line waiting for him. I hopped in line and then he promptly walked away. WTF BUZZ! I decided not to wait for him, but I did see Patrick as I took off to leave again. Just a little ways up, I made up for it with a photo with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Tweedles!

Then it was through Fantasyland, both new and old, and Cinderella’s Castle—I stopped for a photo, of course. Coming through Frontierland, I stopped for a quick shot with one of the Country Bears and then got back into my rhythm as we passed the 10k marker.

This is an important photo!

A quick jamboree!

By this point, I had only taken water once. I knew it was important, but I didn’t want to risk spilling it all over my face or getting my gloves wet with the temperature where it was. I know my body and knew I went to bed hydrated so I kept my water breaks to about three throughout the course of the race. Instead, I used the water breaks to thank all of the volunteers for being out there.

I love this photo coming out of the castle.

Through the first 10k of the race, I had lost just about 3.5 minutes to my pee break and photos. Hardly anything for a Disney race!

10k to 13.1

The section between the two Kingdoms is always a tough part of the race. It’s nearly 10k and, unlike the section between Animal Kingdom and ESPN, you’re still early in the race and needing to stay controlled.

I stopped for a few photos along here with the characters that were out. There were no lines so it hardly cost me any time at all.

He’s big. He’s bad. And he’s a wolf.

My mile splits were a little erratic through this section of the course as I fought with my body wanting to pick it up a little and my brain knowing I shouldn’t, especially since my legs were feeling tired already. I was nice and warmed up and started pulling my arm warmers down. I wanted to pull them off completely, but I was afraid I’d need them after Animal Kingdom while on the highway with nothing blocking the wind—I tried to figure out which way the wind would be blowing there and thought it would be a headwind. My fear with pulling them off is that they’d be a pain to pull back on when I needed them again. So I just left them pulled down to my forearms.

I’ve never taken a photo with Genie before!

Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope!

Glitchin’ and wrecking’!

These guys!

These hippies replaced the RV hillbillies I love 🙁

There used to be a section of the course here that lapped around the Disney World Speedway, but the Speedway doesn’t exist anymore. Last year, there was a new out-and-back section added around mile 11. It was a boring stretch of plain road just to even out the miles a bit. This year, the out-and-back was in the same place but went out farther than last year. I wasn’t surprised by this when we hit it, though. I knew there would have to be some section to make up for the changes in Hollywood Studios caused by the construction of Star Wars Land (I really hope they don’t call it Star Wars Land when it’s done).

My first half splits. I had my watch in manual lapping mode and lapped it on each mile marker so this should be pretty on point.

The weird thing about this though was, from mile 11 on, all the mile markers were moved from where they previously were the last few years. It wasn’t a lot, but up until the 23rd one, they all came up a little sooner on the course than before. It was actually a nice surprise at times.

Anyway, the section between the two Kingdoms flew by way faster than it ever seemed to before. Maybe it’s my growing experience with this race (5th time running it), who knows? My only complaint here was the RV hillbillies that I always loved to take photos with were gone. Instead, they were replaced with a couple of hippies with an RV. Not the same!

Sadly, the animals that are typically out as you approach Animal Kingdom were MIA this year. My guess is it was just too cold for them. This was disappointing, but understandable! We made our way into Animal Kingdom and through Africa and Asia. Asia was nice this year with the construction fencing from last year being gone now.

We hit the halfway mark and I checked in with my watch. 1:59:22. Right on schedule! I knew most of my photo ops were behind me and I was picking it up so I wouldn’t have much trouble negative splitting if my untrained legs didn’t bonk.

Feeling good through the halfway point!

13.1 to 20

We came out of Animal Kingdom, passed the 14th mile marker, and then came around to one of my favorite photo stops, the graveyard! This year, I went for a zombie style photo, but it didn’t come out as well as I’d have liked.

Zombie Amy! Spooky!

Mile 15 came right up after that and the rest of these highway miles ticked off like nothing. Unfortunately, I didn’t see one of my other favorite photo ops, Phineas and Ferb, along this stretch where they typically are.

As we made the turn towards ESPN Wide World of Sports, I was feeling pretty good and my splits had dropped down in to the low 8s. As we entered into Wide World of Sports, I took my second gel. Typically, I take one every five miles, but I only ended up taking two this whole race. I just wasn’t really feeling like I’d need them.

Wide World of Sports has a ton of turns, but they’re not too bad if the course isn’t crowded and you’re not trying to PR. We did our lap around the track and then into the stadium with lots of energy. Heading into the stadium I passed Joy and Sadness! And there wasn’t a single person in line! I had to snatch that photo up!

Joy and Sadness from Inside Out

Joy and Sadness!!!!

Stadium lap.

I was feeling good as we crossed 20 miles, but I was starting to feel like I had to poop a little bit. I had done some mental math through this section and realized if I kept going as I was, a 3:45 finish was possible. It was going to be close, but I could push for it.

20 to 23

This is the last quiet section of the course and the section I consider to be the last part you have to worry about.

Coming out of Wide World of Sports, we hit a wall of wind in our faces. This was the only part of the race where the wind was even something I noticed, but it was stupid.

As we passed 21, I was starting to tire a lot, but that was probably more due to the fact that my pace dropped into the 7:40s for this whole section rather than stay steady where it was in the low 8s.

This section also features the last two hills of the course. The first of which is probably the worst one of the whole race. It’s really not that bad, but it’s a highway onramp so it’s banked and a big wide turn. This is the point of the race that I always think of as the “just gotta get past here” point.

After nearly a mile, we hit that second little hill which was smaller than I remembered. After that, we made our turn into Hollywood Studios! Nothing but fun from here on out!

Mile 24 to finish

As I mentioned above, the Hollywood Studios section was different this year because of the construction. This year, we entered over by Fantasmic…ish. The course followed some of the walkway between Sunset Blvd and where the amphitheater is and popped us out behind Tower of Terror where the ride lets you out. The park was open by now so you could have taken a quick detour to the Twilight Zone, if you wanted. From here, we ran down Sunset Blvd to Hollywood Blvd. This was actually a really cool change to the course. As much as I LOVE Streets of America (RIP), this might be even better.

After we got back onto Hollywood Blvd, the course was the same as ever. We exited by the front of the park and made our way over to the walkway along the river towards the Crescent Lake resorts and Epcot.

By this point, I was passing runners left and right, but I was ready for the race to be over. As we approached the Beach and Yacht Club, I started looking for Danielle who was cheering outside of our room. We spotted each other at the same time and as I flew on by, I yelled “I gotta poop!!!” at her. The people around her didn’t know how to handle this.

Second half splits. Picked it up quite a bit!

The section along Crescent Lake quickly ended and I was feeling exhausted, but powering through with what I had left in me. I really was trying to get under 3:45! Of course, the Boardwalk along the Beach and Yacht Club here is where the “you’re almost there!”s started. Oof. I must have heard it a dozen times before even getting into Epcot. Seriously, folks, don’t say this if the finish line isn’t within eyesight.

As we turned into the World Showcase, I knew the 25th mile marker was just on the other side of the UK Pavilion as we crossed into France. I lapped my watch for a 7:29 mile here and told myself it was just 1.2 to go.

The countries ticked off as we traveled around the world on our way to Mexico and then into Futureworld. The final bit. As we passed under Spaceship Earth, I looked for the 26th mile marker and lapped my watch for a 7:21. I was shocked I had just run my fastest mile of the day with how I was feeling for the last couple of miles.

Epcot Futureworld

Futureworld! So close!

We exited the park and there was the beautiful finish line staring me down. I heard my name called by the announcers and then sailed across the finish line.

3:43:29!

Post race

Last year, I dry-heaved at the finish and thought I was going to throw up for the last 10k. The year before, I thought I was going to shit my pants for the last 10k and thought it was all going to come out the moment I stopped running. This year, I didn’t feel either. I had to poop, but it wasn’t an emergency…yet. Whew!

I collected my marathon, Dopey, Goofy, and half marathon medals (runners of the challenges got their half medal here) and then stopped for some photos before hopping on a bus back to the resort. Now, my body has collected itself a little and that poop was ready to come out. I barely got back to the room in time. It was a real photo finish!

I look like a mess, but I’m pretty happy here.

Chip'n'Dale!

Chip’n’Dale!

After I got in the shower, I was dismayed to find out that I had forgotten to put Body Glide on my lower back to protect from my shorts’ waistband. Oiselle’s Distance Shorts are great for marathons because of their three pockets, but their waistband will fuck you up if you’re not careful. While I did put Body Glide on my thighs, I had also forgotten to do under my bra, but that somehow escaped unscathed.

That night, we met up with the We Are Awesome Runner Friends group at Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge where we pigged out on delicious food and PRed in milkshakes. And Lauren drank two liters of Diet Coke.

This is a lot of meat. Yikes!

It was Patrick’s birthday!

Final thoughts

I’m really, really happy with my time for this race. Not only was this a 16.5 minute course record for me, but I negative split by 15 minutes. And this is my second fastest marathon since transitioning. If I hadn’t run Chicago back in October, this would have been a PR.

I had a lot of fun with Dopey this year. While doing four races over four days that all start at 5:30am is stressful, these races are a lot of fun and really enjoyable.

First, you bite your pretzel…

…then you drink your beer!

Finally, one additional change that Disney made this year was to start using their own photographers for race photos. No more MarathonFoto. The great part about this is it enables you to add them to your Disney PhotoPass and they start showing up pretty quickly after the race. My guess is Disney is using a lot of facial recognition software here to pull this off, which also explains how I have some photos where you can’t see my bib at all. But the best part about this change is that Annual Passholders get their PhotoPass photos for free so FREE RACE PHOTOS!

Finally finally, I ran the entire Dopey Challenge, all 48.6 miles, with my phone in my hand. I don’t typically run with it and being an iPhone 7 Plus, it’s too big for any pockets so it had to stay in my hand. Anyway, it wasn’t an issue at all until two hours after the marathon when it fell out of my jacket pocket and the screen cracked. ACK!

Wait, one more finally! I really loved the medals from the races this year. The retro style of the marathon and half marathon medals was fantastic!

2017 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge medals

These are good medals!

And when you’ve run 48.6 miles, you get as much ice cream as you want! Gimme that Dole Whip!

4

2017 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge – DIY half marathon

This is post two of three for the 2017 Dopey Challenge. Checkout my recap for the expo, 5k, and 10k here.

No disappointment here!

So this was the weird day of this year’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. We’d been watching the weather all week and knew it was going to be rainy. I don’t mind running in the rain if it’s not too cold, but thunderstorms were in the forecast, which…is a problem. runDisney had been sending out tweets that they were monitoring the forecast and would make a decision accordingly. We all had our fingers crossed that the thunderstorms would miss us or the timing would work out.

Unfortunately, at around 7:30 on Friday night, runDisney put up a post on Facebook stating “out of an abundance of caution” they were deciding to cancel the half marathon. I was shocked. As far as I know, they’ve never had to cancel a race before and it felt really early to be making that call. I understood their decision, but I didn’t have to like it!

I was literally snapping this Flat Amy pic when I got the cancelation notification!

Everyone was bummed. Twitter and Facebook immediately went crazy with people reacting. In the end, runDisney made the right decision. They had to think of the fact that they wouldn’t be able to evacuate all of the runners from the course if there was lightning in the area and also about their volunteers setting up throughout the night. As it turned out, it did lightning in the area throughout the night and continued well into the morning. It was the right call.

I have to give runDisney a lot of credit for how generous they were. Runners were offered refunds in the form of Disney gift cards, park tickets, entry into another runDisney race, or the option to run the full marathon the next day. Surprisingly 1,500 runners took that option! Dopey and Goofy runners are getting automatic refunds via electronic gift cards. And everyone got/gets their medals.

Still, many of us came to run and I didn’t feel right taking a medal for a race I didn’t run or taking Dopey and Goofy medals when I didn’t do the full challenge. This where things actually started to get fun. People started making all kinds of plans to run on their own. Some woke up at the same time they would have otherwise, others opted for a little extra sleep first. At first, doing laps around resorts sounded like it was going to be kinda miserable, but I’m stubborn and wanted to take part.

The half was the one race Danielle was planning on running so she still wanted to run too. We slept into just a little since we could and then got out there for our own half marathon. We were staying at the Yacht Club which is one of the Crescent Lake resorts so pulling this off was really easy. We did laps around the Boardwalk and out and back to Hollywood Studios. Each lap was just about 2 miles and quite scenic.

Just doing our thing!

When we got outside, there were already a bunch of other runners and the number of them just kept increasing throughout our run. Many even had their bibs on! It was amazing and there was so much camaraderie among everyone. Having that many people out there running at the same time almost made it feel like it was still a race! Some people even came out to cheer! At other resorts, people started setting up water and aid stops for runners.

Throughout the run, there was lightning that we could see in the distance, but it was never right over us. The good thing about where we were running was we had shelter most of the way that we could have ducked into if we needed. The rain held out for most of our run until about ten miles in, but it was so humid and warm out that it felt great! At one point, we got a pretty decent downpour going and it was probably my favorite thing ever!

Figured that the day that was 70º in the morning was the day the race got canceled.

We ended up doing our DIY half marathon in 2:00:29 and finished right at the lighthouse with huge smiles on our faces! It was an incredible experience, possibly even more fun than the actual race would have been. I’m so glad we decided to go out there and do it. By the time we were done, I had a huge smile and zero disappointment about the race being canceled.

All done! We perfectly nailed it so we finished exactly here.

7

2017 Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge – pre-race, expo, 5k, and 10k

What better way to start off a new year than with a weekend full of racing in Disney? For the second year in a row, I ran the Dopey Challenge in Walt Disney World. It’s a 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon over the course of four days. And it’s a fantastic and wild event! After last year, I said I wasn’t going to do it anymore. It wasn’t because of the running, it was the walking up at 3:30am four days in a row thing. Yet, here we are.

Training

My training was, as has been trend for the last few years, not great. I ran an amazing marathon in Chicago in October, but then have been plagued with near-injury stuff since then. I was able to keep just enough fitness through the last few months to feel confident going in that I’d be fine to finish, but not enough to be feeling good.

The longest run I’d done since Chicago was a 15-miler in early November. And then I DNSed both the Philly Half Marathon and Philly Marathon because of my ankle. Since then, my longest run was just 13 miles and my ankle has been hurting off and on.

Expo

Danielle and I woke up at balls o’clock in the morning for a flight down to Orlando on Wednesday. With all the early nights you have because of the races, you need to maximize your time down there so we always take an early flight. After we hopped off Disney’s Magical Express and checked in at the Yacht Club, we got right on a bus over to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the expo.

When we rolled up, it was a MADHOUSE! There were swarms of people and it was totally unorganized. The expo for Marathon Weekend is always a little crazy, but this was the worst we’d ever seen. The line just to get into the building to pick up our race bigs was queued back and forth on itself a few times. Luckily this went quickly. Unfortunately, the line to get into the Jostens Center, where the actual exhibitor booths and pick up for the half marathon shirts are was even worse. It wasn’t organized at all. For a place that deals heavily with queue management, Disney really didn’t do a good job here.

Once we finally got into the expo, we did a quick lap and then got the heck outta there. Though, on our way out, we did run into my friend Julie who wasn’t just running her first Dopey, but her first marathon ever!

5k

The morning started off with a 3:30am alarm that I wasn’t ready for at all. I just wanted to sleep forever. But I dragged myself out of bed and threw on the clothes I had laid out the night before. We were sharing a room with our friend Ellen who was also doing Dopey for the trip so her and I got our stuff together and headed off to the bus.

5k Flat Amy

The nice thing about the 5k and 10k is the start is a lot more sane than the other races. You start near where the pre-race staging area and bag check are, rather than a 15 minute walk away like the half marathon and marathon. This lets you get there a little later.

It was chilly out. Not so much by my standards for running, but for Florida. I still wore a tank top and shorts, but I’m used to being able to just walk out my door and start running, not having to wait around for and hour and a half before running.

Love these people!

We met up with a bunch of my friends from the We Are Awesome Runner Friends Facebook group and took the first of our group photos before heading off to the corrals. My friend Nathan and I waited too long to go into the A corral and almost didn’t make it. They were closing it off as we were walking up and then forced us run to catch up to the back of the corral, which had already been walked up to the starting line. It seemed unnecessary to make us run to catch up considering there was still 20 minutes before the start, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Anyway, I was fine with starting in the very back of the corral as I wanted to run nice and slow, but Nathan’s coach wanted him to tempo the race.

Disney World 5k starting line

The starting line

The 5k started with “mini waves” which is something I’ve never seen in a race before. Rather than just let each wave go, they broke them up into smaller groups. Part of the corral would go, then two minutes later, another part, and so on. Our corral was broken into three mini waves. It sounds confusing and awful, but it was actually really nice. We were spaced out a lot more on the course and the start-of-the-race stampede was greatly reduced.

So much happy

I kept things nice and easy. I had no desire to push myself hard right off the bat. At about the halfway point, right after we got into the World Showcase in Epcot, I caught up to my friend Jeff and we ended up running the rest of the race together while chatting it up about running and races.

Maybe a little exuberant for a 5k finish, but it’s Disney World!

I crossed the finish line right at 29:00 on the dot, grabbed my medal, and made my way over to the bus. The medals this year were surprisingly nice. In the past, the 5k medals were a rubbery plastic, but this year they were actually medal. A nice little surprise!

2017 Walt Disney World Marathon 5k medal

Quality medal!

10k

Friday morning started off much the same. We didn’t leave quite as early so we had less time to wait around. But there was a bus waiting for us when we walked outside so we still ended up at the starting area nice and early. We took another group pic and then we headed off to the corrals again. This time, we didn’t cut it as close with the closing of the corrals!

10k Flat Amy

Patrick was a playing card! No idea how he ran in that!

I had walked over to the corral with Nathan and Aimee from our group and we hung out in the back of the corral before the start. When the race started, we stuck together for the first two miles, while passing Jeff along the way. After that, I pulled back a little and let them go on ahead. Again, without the training under my belt for Dopey, I didn’t want to push it.

Classic Amy face!

More Classic Amy

Amelia Gapin and Pluto at 2017 Walt Disney World 10k

Pluto!

I kept things nice and comfortable and had some fun. The race was over before I even knew it! I kind of regret not stopping for many photos, but I was running nice and comfortably and just wanted to keep my rhythm. I cruised across the finish line with a 56:26.

After the race, I waited in a loooong line to get a photo with Dopey and then sprinted off to just barely make it on a bus before it pulled away.

All-in-all, the days 0-2 of the Dopey Challenge were relatively uneventful and low key. Not bad!

Amelia Gapin with Dopey

Hanging with Dopey!

2

2017 CJRRC Hangover 5k – 21:44

 

That new PR smile!

2016 is finally over and 2017 is here. Who knows what this year has in store for us, probably even worse things than 2016, but let’s just take it one day at a time. And the Central Jersey Road Runner Club’s 35th annual Hangover 5k is a good place to start.

This was my second time running this race, and despite it being on New Year’s Day, I like it a lot. You get a decent hoodie, there is hot chocolate at the end and the course is mostly in a park near my in-laws house so I’m pretty familiar with it. The race starts with 1 3/4 laps around the 0.8-mile loop in the park, then out on the local streets for less than a mile, and then back into the park for another full loop in the opposite direction. It’s flat and there aren’t too many turns. If you’re not hungover, you can do pretty well.

We took New Year’s Eve nice and easy last night so getting up this morning was a lot easier than three years ago. We started the night off with a couple beers at our favorite bar a few blocks from our house with a couple of our friends and then we all came back to our place for some games and snacks. None of us got more than buzzed and we got to sleep before 1:30. Thanks to a noon start time for the race, there was plenty of time to sleep in and be lazy for a bit before heading out.

The weather was great for a 5k today. 47º at race start. There was a decent wind elsewhere, but it was mostly calm in the park.

As far as my plan for the race, I just wanted to take it easy and not actually race it. With the Dopey Challenge coming up next weekend, this is the first of five races in eight days. No reason to push my legs hard.

We made our way to the start early and snagged a spot near the front, but not too far up. The race started right on time which is rare for small local races.

At the gun, Danielle took right off and left me behind. She’s “only” doing the half marathon in Disney World and isn’t looking to race it so she didn’t need to worry about anything. Not more than a few seconds later, my friend Sarah flew on by on the right with a quick “hey Amelia” as she blew by. She went on to take second place overall.

I started off much quicker than I wanted to, but I was barely keeping up with the people around me. My legs felt good, but I felt like I was breathing a bit hard already. We made the first lap around the park and then passed the one mile marker as my watch displayed a 6:57 for the first mile. Oops. That was a solid minute faster than I was planning on doing.

That’s when I said “ah, fuck it” and decided to keep at it. Despite crushing Chicago Marathon less than three months ago, I’m not in tip-top shape right now. Between dealing with some ankle tendonitis and keeping my effort level easier since I’m not “training,” I’m just not at my fastest. I felt like I was running just about as fast as I could probably hang onto for 3.1 miles, but I knew it wasn’t exactly the smartest idea.

I rounded out the rest of the second lap around the park feeling like I was working for it but still within reason. The section outside the park went by pretty quickly as I focused on getting to the second mile marker—I knew exactly where it was because we parked right by it. I passed by at 7:00 and told myself it was okay to let off the gas if I had to. At this point, I knew even if I really pulled it back, I’d be pretty happy with my time.

Once I made my way back into the park, I knew it was just one more 0.8-mile lap around the park and I’d be done. I decided to keep it steady and not give it anything extra. Dopey and all that.

With a little less than half a mile left, I saw Danielle up ahead. I was gaining on her very slowly, but didn’t make much effort to try to catch her. I was starting to get that end of race nausea thing I get sometimes so I knew I couldn’t push it anymore unless I wanted to risk dry-heaving. I spent the final third of a mile with her just barely ahead of me all the way to the finish.

I crossed the finish just as the clock said 21:44, a new PR by over a minute! I was 12th woman overall out of 367 and 4th in my age group. I would have placed in my age group, but Danielle’s 21:36 took 2nd and the woman between us was apparently in our age group as well.

For a race that was just supposed to be an easy three miles and my first 5k since this same race three years ago (if you exclude the Dopey Challenge 5k from last year), I was pretty happy to have a new PR. Of course, I’ll probably regret as I’m trudging through Dopey next weekend, but Future Amy will have to worry about that. For now, this is giving me a little motivation to work on the 5k a little this spring and see what I can do when I’m actually in shape to be running fast.

Not a bad start to 2017.

Not a bad hoodie!