(A Wine and Dine Story) And So We’ve Come….

…to the end of the road.

Literally.

I know this has been a long, drawn out, painful process.  Much like my running life has been the last few years.  And it ain’t over yet.  Well, almost.

I promise.

The pain is coming to an end.

When last we checked in here and here, I was headed for that great big starting line in the……….wait.  No no no. Not THAT one.  This one.

wine-and-dine-start

Jeep packed up, Wonder Mutt dropped off at the neighbors, and off to the most Magical Place on Earth we go.  Not without a giant case of the nerves.  After checking in to our little temporary home for the next few days the night before, we headed over to the expo.  Nothing too exciting there, just your usual, if more complicated, expo shenanigans as in past years.  Complicated as in “let’s just make everyone walk all over kingdom come to get anywhere else between packet pick up, shirt pick up, and goodie shopping” kind of complicated.

We managed to get through all the madness, hook up with running buddies Rae and Lisa, grab a brewski upstairs from the expo, head off for a day of eating, shooting aliens in Studios, grabbing some moonshine at Fort Wilderness (literally, moonshine!), and singing our way all over central Florida.  Yep, that was us you heard.

night-sweats

Much less hairy though.  MUCH.

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  Oh-dark-thirty.  No sleep.  Nerves jumping like Pop Rocks.  I tape the beeJesus out of my knees, get dressed, try to eat the bagel the hubs had so thoughtfully picked up for me the day before, quadruple check that I have all race necessities – tunes, shades, Sport Beans, sanity (not so much), and off we go.  Hubs drops me off at Coronado Springs so I can hop race transpo to the start, and back to bed goes he.  After a very short wait, bus arrives, off to WWoS we go, and the reality of what’s about to happen REALLY starts to sink in.

Holy crap woman, you’re about to run 13.1 miles.  Again.  With the very real possibility that you may finish, not finish, implode before you hit the start line, or act like that ninny in A League of Their Own.

baseball.jpg

Thankfully, the wait to start wasn’t unbearably long, and before I knew it, Rudy and Carissa, those ever faithful runDisney announcers, had the corrals off and running.  Ever vigilant of not starting off too fast, I ignored the typical bizarre looks I was getting from runners around me as I had the following convo with my psyche.  Apparently out loud.

“Hey idiot.”

“What.  Can’t you see I’m trying to run here?”

“Yeah.  That’s why I need you to rein it in and make sure you stick to your intervals.  Otherwise you may not finish.”

“I may not finish anyway.  And I hate running intervals.”

“Hubs said if you finish, he’ll have Patron waiting for you.”

(silence)

(more silence)

(even more silence)

“Dammit.”

Needless to say, agave juice won out.

Margarita in a glass

Dammit.

Soooo, as I wound my way at a snail’s pace around Animal Kingdom, of course I had to stop and hang out with these guys.

Stilt Guys1.jpg

My, you’re all really…..tall.

The new course then meandered along random Disney World roads and back towards Epcot.  At which point, my eyes lit up like I had just discovered a giant bowl of spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.  Due in no small part to what was probably the GREATEST MILE MARKER EVER……

mile-9-rev

Maniacal smiling!

Mile 9.  I knew I was going to finish this bad boy one way or another.  But not before I had to go through what I lovingly termed the MILE OF REALLY MOTHER-EFFER?!?  I JUST COULDN’T GET THROUGH THIS WITHOUT YOU, COULD I?!?

stubborn mule

Nope. Not a chance lady.

Hello Mile 10, hello “what the hell just imploded in my left leg?”  Oh wait, just a lovely little mixture of tight IT band, tuckered out left glute, with a touch of inner left knee soreness thrown in for good measure.  Now, all that being said, I had stuck to my intervals, stopped to stretch every 1-2 miles, and never pushed the pace the entire time.  I knew this was not going to be a speedy half, and had already decided to just have fun with it.  Having this blow up at Mile 10 didn’t really bother me all that much, and if I had to walk it in from there, then so be it.  I could live with it.  I knew the hubby and Lisa were already celebrating her oh-so-speedy finish, and I had every intention of joining them in consuming vast quantities of celebratory libations before much longer.

lisa-grouper1

“Move it girl, there’s partying to be done!”

Then I knew the runner gods had been paying attention.  Mile 10 consisted of an insanely banked ramp up to an overpass.  A ramp which had no flat spot to run on.  ANYWHERE.  Now, I had received very strict orders from the Man and Torture Tony to NOT RUN THE RAMPS OR ELSE.

And for once, I actually listened.

Not just because there wasn’t a flat spot anywhere along that ramp to run on, but also because – you know – that whole pesky left leg thing.

Then, a Disney miracle happened.

miracle.png

No, not that miracle.

As the ramp peaked at the top of an overpass around Mile 11, I decided just to test the waters a bit and see if the extended walk break may have been enough for everybody to calm the hell down.  After a few cautious jogging steps – and a lot of breath holding – things seemed to actually be…..ok.

laugh dog

Say WHA?????

What?  Were you not paying attention?

I said,

EVERYTHING SEEMED TO BE OK

AS IN NO PAIN

ANYWHERE!

In complete and utter disbelief, I called the hubs and Lisa, told them to get the ‘ritas chilling, kicked it into high gear – well, MY high gear – and brought it on home.

The rest – as they say – is history.  Enjoy.

choir1

medal-shirt1

Enjoy the ride.

Thank you for following along with me on what has been on helluva ride.  Your good wishes and crossed paws all helped me cross that finish line on that beautiful morning, and I could not have done it without you.  I especially could not have done it without the encouragement of my hubs, my family, Lisa, PT Pam, Torture Tony, and Dr. Testa.  It’s been a long and painful journey, but we have finally arrived, in no small part to every one of you.  My running adventures will continue, and I hope to take all of you along on them.  Hang on tight, as the ride is only going to get better from here on out!

Yes, it’s really a race recap! Sort of…

I know this probably doesn’t sound like any big thing, but keep in mind I haven’t been much of a race girl while getting #brokeknees 1 and 2 fixed.

ice knee1

Don’t miss this nonsense!

Even though I’m not completely pain-free – and knew going into surgery that I may never be again – I have been able to accommodate my somewhat finicky joints.  In other words, keep the pain level to a minimum.  I can run.  Like the whole turtle though peanut butter kind of runs at the moment, but I’m okay with that.  I just keep telling myself the speed will come.  Maybe.  Hopefully.  It’s okay if it doesn’t because I really love peanut butter.

peanut butter turtles

After the fiasco that was the announcement of the new – and big steaming pile of dogpoop of a decision regarding Wine and Dine 2016 – I knew I had to get myself a proof of time to submit by August.  I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to properly train for a half after surgery #2, my old times were just that – too old – so a 10k it would have to be.  And if you live in south Florida, you’re basically screwed.

“Welcome to the Land of All Things 5k.  Because our attention span won’t last long enough for anything longer.”

serious grumpy cat

You suck south Florida…

Thanks to the utter lack of 10k opportunities, I bit the bullet and went with the Down2Earth cross-country series that goes all summer long, with this particular race being held at John U. Lloyd State Park.  Added benefit: they also run a 5k at the same time, so the hubby agreed to suffer right along with me.  What concerned me?  The whole CROSS COUNTRY part.  I haven’t run cross-country since high school.  The hubs has NEVER done cross country jaunts.  This should prove to be interesting, if not entirely life-threatening.

scaredy cat

Not you again…..

If you’re supremely bored and happen to go to the race website, you’ll see our race was held at a lovely sounding location known to locals as Dania Beach.  BEACH.  As in SAND.  LOTS OF FRIGGIN’ SAND.

sand1

Bobcat paw prints included at no additional cost.

Being the wise old runner that I am, (you can stop choking now), I figured it would probably be a good move to at least go down to the park before race day and figure out what the course would be.  You see, there’s only beach, access road, and parking lot.  That’s it.  Intracoastal waterway on one side, and the Atlantic on the other.  So on a balmy Sunday morning, the hubs and I drag our dupas out of bed, loaded up the cooler, and headed on down the road.  We managed to stop one of the park rangers to see if he knew where the course would be.  After all, he IS the park ranger.  If anyone would know, he would.  Right?  Yeahhhhhhh, not so much.  He gave us his best guess and we just flew with it.  Right onto the paw print marked sand as you see here.  I can honestly say I have never cursed so much at one race location in my entire life.  I think the bobcats have permanently vacated the area after hearing what was coming out of this girl’s yap.

It was a good thing we took the morning to do this though, as a couple of weeks later, we were as ready as we could be for more than a few miles in the sand.  The race field was very small, no more than 30-40 runners for both distances combined.  Race directions were simple:  run along the beach access road until you see the yellow tape, run around the tape, then run back to the start.  5k runners go once, 10k runners go twice.  All right, we can handle that.  It’s hot as hell, no breeze, typical south Florida summer humidity, nothing we’re not used to.  We all line up at the start, laugh about how many of us are going to die, gun goes off, and off we go. Into the wild sandy yonder.

The hubs knew I was running for time so he wished me luck and off I went.  Knowing that pacing was going to be a big factor, I did my best to keep the jitters under control and not go out too fast which I excel at doing.  Mistake #1, thinking there would be a water station at the turnaround 1.5 miles out.  Let me just stay this:  every race I have EVER done had a water station around the 1-2 mile mark.  EVERY ONE.  This one?  Not so much.  I got up to the turnaround, saw nothing but stupid yellow tape, and proceeded to say things that made the local snakes drop dead in mid slither.

WHO THE HELL DOESN’T GIVE YOU A WATER STATION AT THE TURNAROUND POINT ON A BEACH RUN???  Oh, wait…..

stooge

This stooge, that’s who.

Now, I put this one all on me.  I should’ve known better when my previous contact with the race director asking if there was going to be a water stop was met with complete silence. Definitely on me.  Lesson learned.  Moving on.

I passed the hubs on the way back and told him of the unfortunate circumstance and warned him that I think I had inadvertently killed a snake with my vocal venom.

“There’s no water at the turnaround.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“I’m a monkey’s friggin’ uncle.”

(We have a special relationship.)

Thankfully, after the final half mile back to the start in the softest sand you could imagine – and mind you this was just at the end of the first loop – they at least had water set up at the start line.  After stopping long enough to gulp down a couple of cups and throw a couple more over my head, off I went for Hell in the Sand part 2.  Which was pretty uneventful and much like Hell in the Sand part 1.  Pretty views of the ocean, lizards looking at us humans like we were nuts – guess they call it like they see it – and for the most part, completely by myself.  Race support?  Non-existent.  (Good thing no one dropped of heatstroke out there, they’d have been screwed).  So I just kept my head down, stopped freaking out over the ugly times I kept seeing on the trusty watch, and thanked the runner gods that the hubs had enough functioning brain cells to fill a bottle he had with water and toss it to me as I passed him for the second time on my way back out.

flashdance-9201.large

Yes, it felt THAT good.  Don’t judge me.

I managed to trudge back out to the turnaround, back through what beautiful little shade there actually was on the access road, out the to hellacious sugar sand along the beach, and finally made the final turn for the promised land.  About 300 yards from the finish, the hubs was standing on the side so I tossed him my iPod, turned on the after burners and hit the line still in an upright position.  I was hoping for a 60 minute finish time, but considering the terrain, I would have been happy to finish in 75.

Imagine my surprise, and somewhat sweaty delight, when I was told I had actually finished in 64 minutes, and good enough for 2nd place female! (Which sadly, once the results were posted on the website I was bumped down to 3rd place, but hell, I’LL TAKE IT!)

June 18 race1.jpg

(Smiling thinking about the post-race margarita.)

So here’s my takeaway from the Down2Earth 5 and 10k Cross-Country Run:

  1.   Ability to see the course online prior to race day – zip
  2.   Questioned answered by race director prior to race day – dog poop
  3.   On course race support – nada
  4.   Would I do it again? – perhaps

Here’s why that last one isn’t a flat out no.  I found out afterwards this was the first time this race was held at this location.  Normally they’re put on at Oleta State Park in Miami.  I’ve taken my bike there a few times and the park trails are CONSIDERABLY more runner friendly than at John U. Lloyd.  I got the impression when the race director was telling us about the races at Oleta, and proceeded to wave his hand at the sand and say “there’s no running in this kind of crap at Oleta”, that he wasn’t happy about the conditions either.  The only hangup for us?  Lloyd Park is only about a half hour away from our humble abode.  Oleta is a little more than an hour.  And in Miami.  MIAMI.  Trust me, not NEARLY as glamorous and these guys made it look.

The ending of the story?  I got my proof of time for Disney.  I got to run a race again, with the hubs.  I haven’t been able to do that in years.  Neither of us died.  I got a medal.  I know now that I have the verbal ability to scare away bobcats and shock snakes to death with my vocal venom.  ALL GOOD THINGS.

June 18 medal1

The aches and pains we felt over the next few days in places that neither of us knew we could be achy and painy from running in the sand?  Well.  That’s a story for another day.

Enjoy the ride.

 

Have you ever been disappointed with support at a race?  Have you ever done an entire race in the sand?  What are the worst conditions you’ve ever tun in?

Who Says You Have To BE There?

So yesterday, THIS happened!

Yeah, we're bad ass.

Yeah, we’re bad ass.

Nicole kicked dupa running her second – yes SECOND Dopey Challenge – and Kellie?  Well, Kellie ran her first marathon EVER.  AFTER running a half on Saturday.  Yes, psycho puppy decided to run her very first 26.2 as part of the Goofy Challenge.  Goofy?  Yeah, I’d say so.  Just a little bit.

Garsh!  Whatever made me think to run 39.3 miles?!?

Garsh! Whatever made me think to run 39.3 miles?!?

But the best part of the whole day?  Even though the Accountabilibuddies couldn’t all be there in person to cheer on our girls, we were able to keep the fun going anyway.  Thanks to smart phones, fantastic song lyric recall abilities, and runner tracking, we were able to keep Team Can-Am laughing, in great spirits, and feel like we were right beside them.  Even through Kellie’s semi-meltdown around mile 14.

What’s wrong with our girl Nicole?

Oh, you know.  Just a little marathon pain.  She thought this would be easy and comfortable.

Silly Kellie.

But all was once again right with the world once a grapefruit beer was consumed.  Prior to crossing the finish line of course.

"Yes, all is right in my world."

“Yes, all is right in my world.”

And who couldn’t be happier for being just a bit Dopey?  In a really good way of course.  Not dopey like….well….you know.  A dope.

"I'm Dopey!  And I like it!"

“I’m Dopey. And I like it!”

Of course all of this gushing, (and the multiple subsequent texts of “you’re next!”), really does make me set my brain even more on completing 26.2.  Someone just needs to get that message across to these friggin’ things…

Who?  US?!?

Who? US?!?

Let me be the first to congratulate ALL the runners from this past weekend.  If you ran one race or all of them, set a new PR or got swept, it doesn’t matter.  You got off the couch, you raised who knows how many thousands of dollar for charity, you battled your demons, and you have every right to look at yourself in the mirror tomorrow and be proud of yourself.  And feel free to have a Mickey muffin on me.  Or #drinkallthedrinks.  On me, of course.  I’m good like that.

Hello beautiful.

Hello beautiful.

 

Enjoy the ride.

Congratulations runners?  Did you run all the races and get all the bling?  Which races did you run?  Was it the best time ever or do you want to erase it from your running memory?  Will you go back and try it again?

Let the Games Begin!

It’s official.  The madness has begun.

Disney Marathon

Facebook is burning up with all the last minute freakouts.  Kellie is about to go off the deep end.  Nicole is trying to keep her calm while battling a last minute germ attack.  It’s Marathon Madness at it’s best.  Not that I can blame any one of you.  Who wouldn’t freak, knowing this is waiting at the finish line?

Hello beautiful.

Hello beautiful.

As you may remember, I ran a disastrous Donald Half during Marathon Weekend last year.  Knee issues aside, it wasn’t my favorite race.  My apologies if I offend thee, but I will take the Wine and Dine course, (and late night start), over this race any day.  Except for the gospel singers.  Those people know how to party.

"Get thee to the finish liiiinnnnne!"

“Get theeee to the finish liiiinnnnne!”

Sadly, there seems to be a common thread weaving its way through all the race talk this year.  It seems like an inordinate amount of runners have recently suffered great losses in the last few weeks leading up to race weekend.  I can only send my love and best wishes that you may find peace and healing in the upcoming miles.  I know many of us find just that when hitting the pavement at our darkest times.

peaceful running

And if during what may feel like never-ending miles, you find yourself getting sad, and a little pick-me-up is in order, just look for these two.  Singing the entire litany of every Disney song ever written.  It’s guaranteed to cheer up even the Grumpiest of Dwarfs.

We roooccckkkk!!!

We roooccckkkk!!!

Best of luck to everyone running, singing, and volunteering this weekend.  Everyone here at Black Dog Productions is already proud of you.  Now….GO KICK SOME DUPA!!!

 

Enjoy the ride.

Who’s headed to Marathon Weekend?  Will you be running ALL the miles or just some of them?  Nervous?  No worries!  Kellie and Nicole will be taking requests!

Notes From The Road

If you’ve been following the escapades of the two main characters of this little corner of the blogging world, then you know it’s been just over a month since I’ve returned to the road.  I am happy to report that so far, all is good.  Actually, all has been GREAT!

Whoo hoo!!!!

Whoo hoo!!!!

Here’s a quick rundown – no pun intended – of the main highlights:

Pace: has thankfully been decreasing each week.  My first couple runs were merely shakeout runs.  I had to get my body used to the actual motion of running again, after spending 4 months on a stationary bike, elliptical, or ARC trainer.  It’s comforting to know how well the body remembers!

Form: Fell right back into it.  I’m just letting my body move in a way that’s most familiar.  Why fight what it knows works best for it?

Breathing: This has never been an issue for me and one I’m entirely grateful for, especially knowing how many runners suffer from asthma or other breathing-related issues.  I still get the occasional stitch in my side, and fully expect to fight that little pain in the dupa once I start incorporating speed work again.

And the mother of them all…

ITBS: I can say with extreme cautious optimism – NOTHING YET!

Happydance, happy dance, happy dance!

Happy dance, happy dance, happy dance!

All the killer leg workouts in the gym, all the painful foam rolling, and all the melted paper cups of ice just may be starting to pay off.  I’ve had a few twinges of knee pain, but I’m pretty sure it’s more related to my ever-decreasing cushion of whatever that crap is that the kneecap sits on.  And I can ENTIRELY deal with those #shenanigans.

Arthritis?  I don't need no stinkin' arthritis!

Arthritis? I don’t need no stinkin’ arthritis!

 The Plan: is to just keep on keepin’ on.  I’ll keep suffering the hormonal teenage onslaught at the gym, all in the name of keeping the ITBS at bay.  Mileage will continue to increase slowly, but this no more than 10% a week thing is for the birds.  Besides, if I stick to that, I won’t be hitting 13 miles until, oh, the WINE AND DINE HALF! Um, can you say “not gonna happen”?  I’m still going to be smart about it, but these gams gotta get it done.  And preferably BEFORE November 8th.

Well, hellooo gorgeous!

Well, helloooo gorgeous!

Until then, I’ll keep watching what I stuff in my yap, putting in the hard work to gain some much needed strength and flexibility, and challenging myself with a handful of both live and virtual races.

Show me the bling!

Show me the bling!

And of course, running with the best (canine) running partner around.

She's a bit hairy and easilt distracted by squirrels, but she's my buddy!

She’s a bit hairy and easily distracted by squirrels, but she’s my buddy!

Because it would totally suck if I blew this chance at being able to do what so many others can’t.  AND get to run in places like this.]!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Let me know your thoughts on my progress and if you have any ideas or advice on my continued training.  I’d love to hear from you! Hear that all you nurses in the family?  The RUNNING ones?!?

Enjoy the ride.

How long after an injury did it take you to feel good about your training again?