Friday, March 8, 2013

A confession

I ran a half marathon in a tutu. And a tiara. I, who may or may not have been known to have scoffed at folks who run in costume in the past, happily and willingly donned a tutu....a homemade tutu nonetheless...and a sparkly foam tiara and trotted around Disney World 2 weekends ago for well over 13.1 miles. And guess what? I LOVED it. Of course, if you were anywhere even NEAR Facebook that weekend you already know all about this, but for the few of you to whom this may be news, there you have it.

Carter and me in 1991
at our senior dance
Of course, here is the caveat. I didn't love running in the tutu and the tiara because they are awesome to run in. (In truth, the tiara was a non-event...I couldn't even feel it on my head. But the tutu was kind of a pain to run in. Those things are NOT built for speed!) But I loved running in them because it meant running alongside this chick ---------------------------->>>
my friend of almost 25 years, Carter. Carter and I were roommates when we were juniors in high school and have remained friends despite all of the miles that have separated us over the years and the vast differences in our daily lives. While I am now a running stay at home mom she is now a running OB/Gyn and mom of two. Her ability to balance all of that while keeping a fantastic sense of humor makes her one of my heroes. When my family and moved to N.C. a year and a half ago, we moved to this town and this state specifically because she was here...because I knew that (despite all the miles and years) by moving close to her my husband, son and I would have family to help us settle into a new life. In summary, Carter is a world-class friend and a totally inspiring woman. So when she decided that she wanted to celebrate her 40th birthday by running her first half marathon at Disney I was instantly 100% on board. Just watching her get ready for this race has been phenomenal...when I moved here Carter's standard run was 4 miles at about a 10:00 pace, but over the past 6 months her long runs have creeped up from 6 miles to 12.5 miles at sub-9:00 pace and her weekly mileage has doubled. She worked HARD and by the time the weekend rolled around she was totally ready to rock the half marathon distance.

This is the part of the blog where I will inundate you with photos and a little race recap of my first-ever "girls weekend". There is some serious running in here (skip to the 5k for that) some long humid sauna-like running (refer to the half marathon portion) and just some silliness (see ALL the photos). Here is how it all went down:

Tutu at RDU.
All the cool kids
are wearing them...
6:00 p.m. Friday: we headed down to Orlando. Ellen's tutu was a little too awesome for her suitcase so she treated all the travelers at RDU to a little tutu-preview.

Once we arrived in hot, humid Orlando, where the forecast was predicting 90% humidity and record highs all weekend (uh-oh) we immediately went to bed. Super thrilling, I know, but Ellen and I had BIG PLANS for Saturday. Unfortunately, while Ellen went right off to sleep I opted for the "stay up almost all night coughing and losing your voice" option. Sigh.

Pre-5k. Notice that it is PITCH
BLACK out there?!?!
3:40 a.m. Saturday: the alarm went off. By choice! Ellen and I got up and donned our Oiselle singlets, my LUNA tattoos and warm up shirt and our racing flats and headed off to the Happiest Place On Earth. While it was clearly still night outside of the park, as soon as we arrived at the race start it was freakishly daytime-like thanks to all the flood lights and the music. Lots of music. The Funky Chicken, YMCA, and the Harlem Shake, family style. (?!?!) We picked up our bib numbers and proceeded to run many, many loops of a parking lot as a warm up, eat my obligatory pre-race Clif Double Espresso gel and drink a lot of water in a futile attempt to replace all the sweat we had lost during the warm up.

6:30 a.m. Saturday: Starting gun of the Disney Family 5k. With this comes my only complaint of the whole weekend. If you refer to the registration information for this event it is listed as a 5k. There are results of other 5k's that are run in the RunDisney series. This 5k cost $60 and 8,000 people registered. Given all that info it stands to reason that this will be a race, right? Evidently it was wrong to make such an assumption. A couple of weeks before the race RunDisney sent out final instructions that included casual mention of the fact that this would be a "fun run with no official results and no awards". Huh?!?! I mean, I am all for the fun runs of the world, but I would have loved to have known that this race I had paid $60 for and was getting up in the middle of the night for wasn't a race! I have to admit, I got a little mad for about 5 minutes when I first read this info. But then I decided that I would still run it, at race pace, and use it as a mental toughness exercise and a time trial.

When the gun went off it instantly became clear that there were plenty of other people in the (seeded by pace even though this wasn't a race) corral who were determined to race this thing. Two girls got out in front of me and were running at what felt like a dead sprint. It was pretty clear to me that I wasn't going to be keeping up with that so I just tried to run my own pace. By settling into a manageable pace I was actually able to pick them both off by the 3/4 mile mark. And then I was alone. In the dark. Running around Epcot. It was SO WEIRD. The music was playing and there were flood lights and a few employees getting the park ready who would cheer a bit as I streaked by but otherwise I was just running along solo. I went through the mile in 5:50, feeling the effort and the humidity a bit, but my legs were still turning over well. Because of the humid conditions and my cold my effort level was definitely greater than it was during the hilly 5k I ran a few weeks ago (and that is saying A LOT) but thanks to the training I have been doing I was able to keep cruising along at the high effort. At about 1.5 miles in I briefly lost my focus and started getting lost in how hard I was was working, how tired I was, etc. Fortunately I got my act together pretty quickly and went through mile 2 in 5:48. First time I have ever been faster in the second mile of a 5k in my life! The third mile was, unfortunately, by far the hardest. Obviously I was getting tired, but then...I went off course. Ugh. There was a small area where the course just wasn't clearly marked and I followed the guy who was way out in front of me the wrong way. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I lost about :30 total with that mishap. Even without that little scenic detour behind the bathrooms this mile had the most twists and turns which didn't help my pace. I came through that mile (per my watch) in 5:58. Slower, but still under 6:00! Even though I was frustrated, a little tunnel-vision-y and just plain tired I ran my last .23 miles (not .12, but .23 thanks to my getting lost) in 1:05...good enough for an 18:50 finish time and first woman overall in the non-competitive fun run :) While it is definitely frustrating to run that hard and then have an inaccurate time due to getting lost, I was thrilled that when I converted my time to remove that extra distance I came out with an 18:10, which would be a new road PR by 5 seconds for me! I will spare you any race photos from this event because I frankly look like I am either about to keel over or have just received the shock of my life (thanks to the camera flashes because it was dark out!) in each and every one of them. 

Oiselle super-fan Joyce!
There was LOTS of Oiselle
and LUNA love in Orlando!
Ellen and me, post-5k.
Finally, the sun came up!
Once Ellen finished her tempo run (which garnered her a fifth place finish because her tempo pace is now totally speedy), she scraped me up off the pavement where I was waiting for her and we set off for our cool down. The cool down was interrupted by a delightful conversation with two New Balance employees, a Oislle fan encounter (hi Joyce!) and, of course, a few photo ops. By 7:30 a.m. we had been up for almost 4 hours, run 7.5 miles & were totally ready for a nap.

Lunchtime, Saturday: Time for the half marathon expo, which was punctuated by multiple visits to the fab ladies at the LUNA booth (I was able to replenish my stash of temporary tattoos) the purchase of light up shoelaces for Carter and the retrieval of my "elite" bib, which I found wildly entertaining for some reason.
Carter and me, all grown
 up and race ready!

The rest of the day was spent napping, relaxing by the pool, drinking lots and lots of electrolytes and eating. All massive luxuries for the 3 moms and 1 non-mom who works 7 days a week. It was bliss. I mean, I really missed my husband and son desperately. No wait, it was bliss AND I missed my husband and son.

cookies soften the blow
of a 3 a.m. wake up
3:00 a.m. Sunday morning and a new "wake up early" PR for all of us. Once again, I had decided to cough instead of sleep so I am not sure I actually had any waking up to do. Once we were all up we celebrated Ellen's 32nd birthday with the gift I had been busting at the seams to give her....personalized iced sugar cookies! These may be her most fave cookies in the world so it certainly started the day off right. Once again we set off for the Happiest Place On Earth, this time with 23,000 of our closest friends, in the middle of the freaking night. 

with the 32nd b-day girl
Once we ditched our race day bag and walked the 20 minutes to the starting corral area I decided to do a little warm up. The only area to run was a .10 mile stretch so I just ran down and back for 2 miles. By the time I was done I was drenched in sweat - at 5:00 a.m. it was 66 degrees and 90% humidity. With conditions like that I knew that it was going to be a long morning. Once I hopped back into the corral I quickly discovered that my "elite" bib meant that I was considered qualified to answer lots of questions on topics ranging from "how do I improve my half marathon time so I can get into the "A" corral" to "how do I turn on my heart rate monitor and GPS". Bemused as I was I was also extremely flattered at this perceived expertise and I was happy to help where I could.

5:45 a.m. The gun for our wave goes off. Confetti...sorry, fairy dust...shoots into the sky and fireworks rocket off. And finally so did we! Holy cow was it ever crowded out there though. As soon as we got going I realized that Carter and her college roommate Colleen were MUCH faster than the other women in our corral and so we commenced project "pass 3,000 other competitors. Nicely." There was a LOT of weaving (like .3 extra miles worth of it!). For the next two-plus hours we ran through a LOT of Disney parking lots, right down Main Street U.S.A., THROUGH the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom (which was actually incredibly cool and exciting), past just about every Disney character ever created, around the giant golf ball at Epcot and even past the site of my running off course incident of the day before. While I can't say that it was ultimately the most scenic race course I have ever run on there were some pretty exciting and entertaining moments. There was also a lot of humidity and unfortunately the combination of the humidity and all the weaving around people definitely took their toll on our overall pace. Despite all of that Carter pushed hard throughout the entire race and had a great attitude, even during the rough latter miles. And ultimately, 2 hours, 7 minutes, 35 seconds, 13.41 miles, 3 bathroom stops (thanks humidity), 4 discarded tutu sightings, a 4 Clif gel net gain and way too many men in bad princess outfits later Carter, Colleen and I crossed the finish line smiling and happy and Carter became a half-marathoner. I am immensely proud of her and incredibly grateful that I got to experience this whole journey to race day with her. I may have even shed a few tears. (Okay, I totally did.)

8:00 a.m. Best part of the day begins...cue the ridiculous, fun photo shoots. I am just going to let the photos do the talking here folks. But seriously, what's not to love? When you are wearing a tutu and a tiara you kind of need to live it up, right?
Usain Bolt. Well, sort of...

the MoBot
Ryan Lochte, eat your heart out!

10:00 a.m. We sit down to breakfast. We have been up for 7 hours, have run between 13.1 and 18.5 miles each, have been to Starbucks and some of us have even taken showers. We feel ridiculously productive and also pretty darn entitled to a few extra pieces of bacon. The rest of the day was spent eating, resting, walking around, eating. And eating. Which made it just about a perfect day in my book. 

So, to answer the question that I am sure is on everyone's mind at this point, would I wear a tutu and a tiara for 13.1 (13.41) miles again? While I can't say that I think it would be a suitable speed kit, if Carter asked me to I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Maybe you'll see us all at the decidedly less humid Tinkerbell Half in California next year...


  1. i totally tried to results stalk the 5k and couldn't figure out why none were posted. now i know - fun run! but WOW, what a fun run you had!! and way to go Carter, what a great race for you!! and yes, tinkerbell half next year for someone else's 40yr bday celebration maybe?

  2. Great post Allie!!! I loved seeing the photo of you and Carter from 1991! I think the tinkerbell half marathon sounds like a great compromise...still magical but with fewer drenched in sweat moments (hopefully). The big question is: do they have a *REAL* 5k at that one?

  3. Oooh, just seeing this, but thanks for the shoutout! :-)

    Best friend races are definitely the BEST.