Couch to HM in 2 weeks! #FAIL : Correcting my Training Missteps

About six weeks ago, I first started the Jeff Galloway Beginner Half Marathon training plan for the Princess.  I was attempting to follow it to the letter, but I began to get overly concerned about my (too slow) pace.  I decided I would ‘test’ my current HM time, by jogging/walking 13.1 miles one lovely Sunday afternoon.  DG, ever the supportive partner, said he would stay by my side the entire time.   The idea was to see how much faster I would need to get in the next four months.    (It made sense in my head at the time.)  But boy was that a dumb thing to do.  I hope it goes without saying that this ridiculous ‘time trial’ is NOT on the training plan, and nowhere does the esteemed Jeff Galloway recommend a new runner attempt such a bone-headed move. 
Unfortunately, I followed some bad advice I read elsewhere about lengthening your stride, plus I forgot my knee sleeve, and I tried to ‘speed-walk’ when I wasn’t jogging.   At about 8.5 miles, I took a bathroom break, and DG said he was hungry.  We walked across the street to a restaurant and sat down.  I fully intended to get back and finish my 13.1 distance.  That never happened.  I stiffened up something awful during that meal.  I could barely walk the rest of the day.  And my knees and heels were in agony!  My knees, especially the left one, were wobbly and aching from the heel strike beating they took.  The plantar fasciitis was so bad I wanted to cry the next day at work.

Fortunately, my annual checkup was the next morning.  My doctor made no attempt to discourage me from running, phew! and I asked for a physical therapy consult.  Three days later, I went to PT for the first time ever, into the very capable hands of Tallahassee Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy.   The diagnosis was weak hip flexors.   I got several exercises and stretches to do for homework before my follow-up appointment.   That same night, I stopped by my local library to pick up a knitting book, and decided to peruse the running section.  The offerings were very slim, but one called Chi Running caught my eye.  I raised an eyebrow at the promising words: ‘Injury-Free’ on the cover.  But I thought it was worth a look, and maybe this time I wouldn’t do anything as dumb as try to go from Couch to Half Marathon in two weeks!
This book was a revelation!  I gobbled it up in two evenings and decided to do a nice short trail run at an easy pace, applying some of the Form techniques.  I unplugged the headphones and set the Nike + Running app to silent.  Then I headed to a small state park nearby.  I had the MOST FUN! I explored the new-to-me trails, scrambled up hills, skipped over puddles, hurdled fallen trees, danced over the creek bridges, enjoyed the crunching of leaves and twigs underfoot, and breathed in the great smell of a forest on a crisp fall morning.  I actually spread my arms out and ran downhill with my eyes closed.  I ended the run by sprinting across an open field like I was crossing a finish line.  I had run a 5K distance before I knew it, and set a new PR!  I finally got that ‘Runner’s High’ I keep hearing about.  I was walking on air for the next several days. And I had NO PAIN anywhere!  My knee felt like it had never been hurt.

I’ve had some good runs and some not so good runs since that magical day on the trails of Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park.   But the Chi Running method is slowly but surely working for me. 
The Bad: I have not gotten faster as I had hoped.  I still get plantar fasciitis pain when I first get up in the mornings and after long run days.  But that is my own fault for slacking off on the stretching and ice packs the physical therapist said I MUST do.
The Good:  While I am not faster, I have increased my distance - from 3 milers to 8 milers as of this date.  After every run, I know I did something right when my abs are sore. (This will make sense when you apply the techniques and run with your core, not your legs.) Once my exclusive domain, I’ve not been near a treadmill in over a month.    I’m learning to unplug the music, enjoy my surroundings, and spend more quality time with DisneyGroom exploring our local trails. And I’ve not needed that cursed knee sleeve, not even once!
After inhaling that library book, I’ve purchased my own copies of all three of  elite ultra runner Danny Dreyer ’s books: Chi Running, Chi Walking, and Chi Marathon.  I’ve read the first two cover to cover and am working my way through the third.  It does include extremely detailed training plans for Half and full Marathons. A review will be forthcoming on this blog.  In the meantime, check out for more information.
So to sum up: Do not attempt, under any circumstances, a Couch to Half Marathon in two weeks.

Disney Firsts! Wine Dine Half Weekend recap

Well, a week late, but wanted to get a post up.  Been a busy week, so I have barely had a chance to look at Brightroom or photopass pix.  Most of these came from our phones.

So, now a weekend of firsts...  where to begin.

Friday: We left my sister's house in Tampa, and got to WDW a little after 10.  With all the things we wanted to get done, we decided to go to Expo first, before the hotel.

Our first race expo!  So cool! Got my book signed and some training advice from the legendary Jeff Galloway.  (We had our Bride and Groom ears on so running friends from twitter and FB would know us.)

Purchases: One More Mile race belt in the new Zombie Apocalypse design for DisneyGroom, plus a runDisney shirt and lanyard to use for all the race pins we will start collecting.

We were rushed at this point, so I only got to walk through ¼ of the vendor booths.  SO much shopping I didn't get to do.  And I didn’t get to hear any of the speakers. But there is always January! and February!

Rushed back to our resort.  Was hoping to change, but it was still too early to check in to our room.  We got our room keycards and dining plan activated.  Just enough time to park the Jeep and hop a bus to Animal Kingdom.  

First visit to Tusker House.  This is the most vegetarian friendly spot I’ve found to date at WDW.  We had a great meal here.  DisneyGroom got his carnivore on, and I enjoyed at least four different types of couscous. Nom!

Hopped the monorail to the Polynesian for our first runner meetup. RunDisney so I can Eat Disney FB group.  Really nice group, led by the tireless Linda (follow her on twitter @runeatdisney).  Runners and Foodies!  These are definitely our people!

Got a swag bag stuffed full of goodies that a runner needs.  This is what was left after we ate all the snacks and used the sunscreen.  Don't you just LOVE that bag?

Made it over to Magic Kingdom, just as it was getting dark.  And score! A First! We got into New Fantasyland.  Did the Under the Sea: Voyage of the Little Mermaid ride.  It was too cute. And all too brief.

On to the next first.  First MVMCP! SNOW!!! On Main Street USA  Sorry... ALL of the pix were really blurry.  But it was a great time.

We stayed for the first parade.  I know from our favorite movie, “A Christmas Story” that the Santa float signals the end of the parade.  So here he is…  now we were exhausted and ready to go back to catch some ZZZs.

Saturday Morning: Our first runDisney event!  Woo Hoo!  So many cool stops along the way.  We saw Pluto and Donald and Goofy! Rafiki, Balou, and goats, owls, and sheep too!  What a fun course!

Also had a quick post race photo with some of the Run Disney So I Can Eat Disney group too.  Alas, with the sun behind us, no one got a good pic.

Back to our hotel to change for MK.  Our first stop is almost always the Buzz Lightyear ride.
This time was my First time maxing out the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.  DG taught me the 'sweet spots' for high scoring.  And here are our scores! INTERGALACTIC HEROES!  That's right!

Then Buzz Lightyear meets his hero.  DisneyGroom is enjoying the new Buzz ears I got him.

Off to New Fantasyland: Meet my new boyfriend

Be Our Guest lunch and desserts


Got a Le Frou’s Brew – OH MY! DELICIOUS!  This will be the next Dole Whip.  Frozen apple cider blended with marshmallows and other tastiness.  I got the special 'ale mug' with Gaston on it.  But I forgot to get a pic before I drank it down.

On to Enchanted Tales with Belle.  DisneyGroom got selected to be part of the action.  Love this, as it is very interactive, and has a photographer every step of the way.  You get a Belle themed photopass card at the end, so all participants can relax and just enjoy the show.

The plan was to go to DHS until closing, then head back to MK.  We knew with the race coming through later we wouldn’t have a lot of time there but we had two things in mind.

1) Animation Academy is one of our traditions.  This time we drew Pluto. Guess which one is DG's drawing?

Grabbed QS dinner at the ABC commissary at Hollywood Studios – meal was ok – but dessert: OH MY! Pumpkin Maple cupcake the size of a giant muffin! What a cute Pumpkin Mickey on top (made of white chocolate).

2) The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – DisneyGroom really likes the New York street facades.   The city blocks make me nostalgic for my hometown of Washington DC.  Ours were NEVER this clean though.  By then we were really tired and made it an early night.  Didn't get any pix this time of the Spectacle, but grabbed one on the way out.

Contemplated going back to MK for Extra Magic Hours… but we had that early wakeup and no rest that day.

Sunday: Late Saturday night, early the next morning were really miserable.  We believe we got food poisoning.  DG was in awful shape.  Somehow we got our belongings gathered and checked out of our resort.  Really wanted to head home, but DG knew I was looking forward to Food & Wine, and we had a lunch reservation at Akershus.  It would just be rude to stand up the Princesses!

We got to the gate at EPCOT…  and ugh….  DG got very very sick.  A very kind castmember put him in a wheelchair and got us to First Aid.  We lay down on cots, sipped cold water, and napped for several hours.  I woke up in time to run over to Norway and explain why we couldn't make our lunch reservation.  They were booked solid, but promised to squeeze us in at dinner.  That gave us five more hours to recover.

This was what we both ate for a late lunch.

At five pm, we finally emerged from First aid station and decided to try to walk gently until dinnertime. We may not be able to eat, but we could still enjoy the sights of our First Food & Wine festival.

We had just started to work our way around the showcase when we decided to stop at a Photopass photographer.  The couple right in front had a magical moment when the guy got on bended knee and pulled out a ring!  Clever guy, the photographer got 29 photos.  I was so excited for them - I only thought to grab a phone pic after he stood up.  How Exciting and Romantic! Congrats mystery couple!

We made our way around the showcase with only one food stop for me.  A tasty little cheese bread from Poland.

And now - our First time at Akershus.  DG decided to get me back for flirting with Gaston by charming Princess Belle.  Yep, I was jealous.

We were still feeling too queasy to enjoy the tasty food.  But DG had a small bite of pork medallions and declared we HAD to return.

We had our photo ops with Princesses Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, and Jasmine.  And we were pleasantly surprised that a photo package of a framed 5x7 and several 4x6s were included in our meal.  What a deal!

The desserts looked decadent and so tasty.  Our wonderful server understood our dilemma and packaged them To GO for us.  So we could enjoy them the next day from home.
And that was it.  We stopped for one last pic (note we still look nauseous) and headed to the highway for our four hour plus drive to north Florida.  

A very eventful weekend.
This was also a (one month early) celebration of our first wedding anniversary.  Unfortunately, the first weekend of December we’ve got too much going on close to home and won’t be able to make it back down to ‘the scene of the crime’.  We are hoping to sneak in a Disney day over Thanksgiving weekend, since our families live in Central and South Florida.  But, we’ll try to do something magical and wonderful on December 3rd back at home in North Florida. J

Feeling like a "real" runner... when does it happen?

The momentum is building.  The Princess Half training continues of course, but our first runDisney event is just a few short days away.  I find myself being very apologetic about 'only' running the 5K during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.  Like I am a fraud, not a real runner, until I get a full marathon under my belt.  Those thoughts are a bit crushing, but in some ways motivate me.

I have the aches and pains of a runner, and even had to get physical therapy recently for running related injuries. I love to read about endurance training and races.  I obsess about proper shoes, performance wear, weather conditions, and that oh-so-scary (to me) long run. And triathletes get my respect more than movie stars, rock stars, or politicians do.  Ironmen and Ironwomen...  I'm so in awe, I'm not even sure they are human.   So we've established I am a running fangirl that hits the pavement on a regular basis.  But, why don't I feel like a runner myself?

I have a vision in my head of what a runner is. Lean, agile, and speedy.

I am none of those things.

In my head, I feel like this oft-used image of Homer:

Overweight, spent, and slow as molasses.

A fraud.

I've only done 5Ks until now.  And the truth is, you can fudge your running in a 5K.  Local 5Ks are brimming with walkers, entertainment, vendors, and spectators.  It is easy to get caught up in the spectacle, stroll along chatting with the other runners, and not think about your own race.  And that is just what I've done.  I always focused on the fun and never worked towards a PR.

But Rome wasn't built in a day, so I've been kicking up the training plan.  I had a 5-mile long run scheduled today on the Galloway Run/Walk plan, but a detour this morning left me out further than I wished to me, so it became an 8-mile run instead.  For someone that has never run further than 4 miles, it was a big leap.  I was shuffling along slowly, the sun was beating down, it was hot, dirty, and my phone died on mile 6, so I couldn't even call DG to come rescue me!  But I made it home somehow and feel almost ok.  The plantar fasciitis reared it ugly head again.  But my new compression sleeves - those babies are worth their weight in gold for saving my calves.

I am committing myself to run a local 10K on Thanksgiving. And I'm going to really try for a decent (for me) PR.  There is a 15K option, but I think attempting that will leave me useless the remainder of Thanksgiving weekend. And after visiting DG's fam in South Florida, we are going to try to sneak in one last day at Magic Kingdom before our annual passes expire on Dec. 1.  So I still need to be able to walk a few days after the race.

But I digress. (Thinking about the parks has that effect on me.) I'm hoping that somehow in my head, making that leap in distance from a 5K to a 10K will flip a switch in my brain to "you are now a 'real' runner".  Here's hoping.

DG is progressing beautifully and getting faster all the time. I'm so so so proud of him.  He completed his 8 mile run yesterday in half the time I did today.  He's got a local 10-mile race coming up in Dec. 1, sponsored by the local running group: Gulf Winds Track Club.  A race for runners by runners, with none of the fanfare of a Turkey Trot or Jingle Bell Run.  It's funny, he takes on events like these - trains with experienced endurance runners, and DG doesn't think he is a 'real' runner either.  He certainly is my hero though.

When did it happen for you, dear reader?  What was that moment you felt like a real runner?