Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quick way to drop a few pounds...

...contract Norovirus.

I wish I was kidding.  But this is how my week has been spent thus far.   It started out great with a solid workout with the Super Secret Jillian Michaels Workout Society on Monday.  Then, overnight that night I was awoken to my stomach telling me something was off...

24 hours later, I'm 5 lbs lighter.  Not exactly a weight loss plan I'd like to endorse...but in case you were wondering why I have been so unusually quiet this week...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bored and Registering

Ok - so I finished Goofy...and then, even though I recovered pretty quick - suddenly going from massive long runs to under 5k at a time as thrown me right out of whack. 

I'm bored.

So I got it into my head that I need races.  I'm a race junkie and I need a hit of that sweet, sweet start line.

I put a call out on twitter, lamenting the fact that there are no races in Calgary this time of year...and Leana answered the call and told me about a 5miler on Feb 10.  Best of all - it has Crave Cupcakes involved.  And is only $25!

I couldn't sign up for the Crave Chick Chaser 5 miler fast enough.  It's going to be a small race, but there's bound to be cupcakes involved...and I've never done a 5 miler before.  Woot!  Instant PR!!!!  And the girls get a 4 minute head start!  Maybe I can win! (HA - not even a little likely)

Then, tonight I set up my family team for the Sport Chek Mother's Day Run and Walk.  Each year we run this race in support of the Calgary NICUs that supported our twins in their first eight days.   Best of all, we do it with as many friends and family as want to join us!  This year, I am particularly excited for the race because it is the first 5k my girls will run with their own two feet!  We are all excited to start training for it!

I am working to straighten out a team password issue, but if you are interested in joining our family team - just let me know and I will make sure you are on the list when I send out the registration information :)

So, now I have more to look forward race calendar for 2013 is starting to fill up...and I LOVE IT!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Reads: The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind

When Terry Goodkind wrapped up the Sword of Truth series, I had a sneaking suspicion that he wouldn't be able to stay away from Richard and Kahlan for long.   And I was proven right with the release of The Omen Machine.

In a nutshell - at the gathering for the wedding of Cara and Benjamin, prophecy hangs in the air.  As an obsession of the people.  As the strange words on everyone's tongues.  As the violent acts that happen to prevent its realization.  Most of all - it is coming true.  The prophecies are coming true almost as fast as they are revealed.

Suddenly, Richard and Kahlan feel like they are being watched.  As though the people's palace is no longer safe.  And when a strange machine is discovered that has been buried for thousands of years and it starts spewing forth the same prophecies as the people - things get very strange indeed.

This book was an odd one.  It jumped around A LOT.  It also left a lot of loose ends and never seemed to be able to provide concrete reasoning for much of what transpired.   It was as though Goodkind decided that he needed to give his bank account an injection that only his fans could provide so he took a bunch of random ideas and loosely strung them together.

Not only that, but the writing really irked me.  Goodkind isn't a great writer on the best of days, but he can usually string a decent story together.  This one felt as though he was repeating himself over and over and I found myself growing weary of the repetitiveness as the book wore on.   I think it is safe to say he only wrapped up about a third of the plotlines and he would lead the reader to believe the characters would take a certain action only to leave that line dangling.   Perhaps he was rushed to get it to a publisher and forgot to map it out in advance.

So - I withhold a recommendation on this one.  It feels too disjointed, but if you are a fan of the Sword of Truth series - you might enjoy a step back into that world again.  I didn't but I can be weird like that.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cardio Queen and the Lunchtime Run

Totally slacking on my blog time here...I totally forgot to write about yesterday's cardio with the Super Secret Jillian Michaels Workout Society at work (I so need a shorter name for us).  Anyway - turns out with all this running I am a video cardio queen.   Rocked it!   Sure, I still felt like I got a decent workout in, but it was fun to be able to goof off a bit while the other ladies were dying (they kick my ass on the weights videos while I am trying to balance on one arm and keep my nose from smashing into the floor, so I consider this my revenge... Jillian, what the hell were you thinking when you put some of those moves in?)

and then today, I really didn't want to go for a run.  My left knee has been naggy and I was just generally not feeling it.  Then I forgot socks AND my Garmin at home and that nearly sealed the deal.  But I found a pair of socks in the bottom of my desk drawer (say what?  I'm supposed to use those drawers for WORK related things?  Pshaw!)

I dragged my arse out and ran the southwood loop and by 1k in I felt much more into it.  Always happens.

And thank you Nike+ for taking away my excuses...I am such a stat whore.

I'm so glad I went.  I do, however, see that I have some serious work to do to get my speed back.

I was all glisten-y when I got back - thank you January warm up.  Oh and you can't tell in the pic - but that was a short sleeve shirt I wore under my jacket...and was still too warm.  (btw - so glad my new running jacket has pit vents.   Yay!)

The knee was still a bit tender, but feeling much better.  I'm taking the weekend off so I bet I feel much better next week.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You know you're an LOTR nerd when... get this in your email and it is the funniest/most brilliant thing you've seen in forever...

Yes - I am a nerd.   I'm ok with it.

(Thanks, Anna)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Techy Tuesday: 3D Soles Winner, plus a coupon code

A couple of weeks ago, I did a review of the 3D Soles app and orthotics.  Amy from Amylynn Runs won the giveaway and will be trying those insoles out!  I can't wait to hear how she likes them!

When I wrote to the company to let them know who the winner was - they then offered me a coupon code for 20 of my readers who want to give them a try.  The price has gone up a bit since the launch of the app, but it is still a great deal at $89 for custom orthotics and now you can knock another 20% off by using the following code


This will be first come first served by the code so I won't know when it runs out of uses.  If the company lets me know - I will add something to this post to let you all know it is done.


My First REAL Post-Goofy Run

Ok - after Saturday's attempt was downgraded to a walk and talk, I decided to climb back on the horse again at lunch today.

Plus it gave me a chance to put my new winter running jacket to the test.

Not sure what that face
All in all, not bad.  I took a short walk break at 3k to snap that photo and then carried on to the end.  No foot pain or tenderness, but my left knee was a bit grumbly on any downhills.  My chiro had noticed some oddness there last night so this might just be a post-adjustment oddity but I will keep an eye on it.

Not fast, by any means, but it felt good to be out there.  Plus - my new jacket is AWESOME!  In fact, it cut the wind so well that I was a bit overdressed with the shirt I had chosen to wear under it.  I will need to re-learn my layering for this jacket.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Batch of Running Goals

Today, I totally committed to my crosstraining when I joined the Super Secret Jillian Michaels Workout Society for a little Body Revolution.  My plan is to crosstrain 3 days a week for the next 10 weeks to hopefully bring about some balance to my currently-cardio-heavy routine.

The group is on week 3 now so I am kind of jumping in where it starts to get hard.  Some of the moves were IMPOSSIBLE...but I modified and kept going and now feel a certain sense of accomplishment for having sweated it out.  I just wish I'd worn my fitbit to see how it translates there....

As per my 36 Resolutions, I have some very specific running goals that I would like to conquer this year.

First up - the 5k.  I REALLY want to prove IN A 5K RACE that I can come in sub-30 mins (I've proven it a few times in 10k races).   So - today I registered for a 5k. The St Patrick's Day Road Race put on by the Calgary Road Runners

This was such a fun race last year and, while I PR'd...I'd really like to prove what I can do this year so will be focusing this as my sub-30!  Plus speed and hill workouts are nice for lunch hour!

Oh - and this past weekend - I bought myself some rewards for a job well done in Florida! MEC has an amazing clearance section and I was only in the store to score some new running underwear...when I stumbled upon this beauty:

Meet my new winter running jacket! The Ice Queen Ultra.  Bye bye shapeless Resolution Run jackets of years past...Skirt Sports to the rescue with something flattering and lovely!  And a helluva deal at $63 (the SS website lists it at $160)

I can't wait to give it a trial run tomorrow at lunch!

Getting Crafty: Washi Tape Decoupage

I have had these wooden letters to display in the new craft room, but hadn't been able to figure out what to do with them.  Then I had a lightbulb moment - I would design each one around a crafty thing I do and I was immediately drawn to the beautiful row of washi tape hanging on the wall.

Washi tape is paper tape that can be either solid or printed with assorted patterns and comes in varying thicknesses.   You can usually find it in scrapbooking stores.  Michaels calls theirs "Craft tape" and it is in with the embellishments.

I also used the same technique later to re-"paint" some hooks for Buggies room since I was officially too lazy to actually PAINT them...You could experiment and cover any number of different things this way - have fun!

Supplies needed:
  • Washi tape (available in the scrapbooking section of Michaels)
  • Mod-podge (I used gloss)
  • small foam brush
  • Whatever object you want to cover
Make sure the surface you are covering is clean and dry.  This works well on previously painted objects as well, but you may need to have several layers of tape to cover any design.

Cover the object in washi tape - you can get creative with this and create a pattern - or just be boring like me and use a single tape.

Once object is done up exactly as you'd like it, insert thumbtacks in the bottom of it to lift it up off of the table for the coating step

Coat the object in mod-podge (don't forget the edges and the back - you can thank me now for the thumbtack tip) and let it dry.  I usually use a bit of waxed paper as a pallette to put my mod-podge on.

Voila - washi tape decoupage!

To hang my letter - I simply stapled a ribbon to the back and hung it up!You'll be able to see the result when i do my craft room reveal ;) Soon, I promise.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

First "Run" Post-Goofy

Yesterday, JS asked if I was up for coffee and I replied that I might even be up for 5k!   So, this morning, I met up with her at 7:30 to see if I could still run.

It was really icy around her house so we walked to the Elbow river pathway and started on our way.  I admit, I told her I would be ok with the run degrading to a walk with coffee so we had no expectations.  My left foot was still really tender so we did walk most of it.  It may be a while before I run normally again.

S'ok.  It's easier to tell the tale of last weekend at a slower pace anyway :)  We still got 4.5k done!

And the coffee and medal exhibition after was awesome.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Resolution Update: January 18

Wow - how did the 18th sneak up on me?  Time to update on my 36 resolutions for the year.
  1. Do something interesting with my hair
  2. Rework my home gym - Hubby actually started on this one for me.  I still need to put in some time down there.  Hopefully this month will allow that.
  3. Tune up my bike
  4. Take the girls to Zoolights - DONE!  We went on Saturday night.  You can read all about it next week :)
  5. Make amazing halloween costumes
  6. Plan a monthly date night - January - FAIL.  Opps.  This month just wans't conducive to dating.  I owe hubby a great date night, though.  He worked his arse off to entertain the girls last weekend while I was away and deserves a great night out.  Maybe we'll do two this month.
  7. Volunteer at a race
  8. Go thrifting once each month - done!  Did not have great luck in my search, but did manage to find some crochet hooks and month I need to focus on some clothing.
  9. Learn to knit properly - I didn't have much time to work on my needle knitting, but my loom has been producing a beautiful colourful afghan.  I would like to work on different cast ons and purling in January!
  10. Take a shopping trip to the States - err...kinda.  I was in the states.  I went shopping at Target.  I had intended to hit the outlets, but timing just wans't right and I wanted to go back to Target more than i wanted to wear myself out walking the outlets after my half.  So - I can sort of call this one complete, but I do hope to have another chance at shopping later in the year.
  11. Invest in a perfect black dress
  12. Get another tattoo
  13. Leave Facebook again
  14. Get an instagram poster printed
  15. Stay at the Banff Springs Hotel
  16. Go on an amazing hike
  17. Take my kids camping
  18. Re-learn how to draw and paint
  19. Create an outdoor reading area
  20. Plant a rose garden
  21. Redecorate the master bedroom and bath
  22. Train for a specific goal race - Goofy kind of counts, but that isn't what I mean by this.  I intend to really train for my 10k at Calgary Marathon this year.  That sub 60 mins will be mine.
  23. Create an indoor reader's sanctuary Create a creative space for myself - still in progress!  Between being sick and finishing my training and the holidays - I didn't have much time.  I did however manage to stock it with supplies in shopping sprees at Michaels on boxing week!
  24. Try to have an article published in a magazine
  25. Try standup Paddleboarding
  26. Go snowshoeing with hubby
  27. Go ice skating with my girls
  28. Visit Ontario in the Fall
  29. Self Publish One Book
  30. Run a 2:15 Half
  31. Run a sub-60min 10k - aiming for Calgary Marathon
  32. Run a Sub-30min 5k
  33. Run a continuous 10k - aiming for Run for Water
  34. Run the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World - COMPLETED!
  35. Complete a home yoga challenge
  36. Complete 8 weeks of Rip:60

Friday Reads: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (and my thoughts on the movie)

Thirteen years ago, I had never read the Hobbit.  I'd never had any interest in that kind of book.  But then, at the insistence of my then-fiancee, I opened it and my world was changed forever.  It was the first fantasy book I ever read and will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason.

With the release of The Hobbit movie last month, I decided it was high time I re-read it.   I have read the Lord of the Rings trilogy 13 or 14 times since I first read the Hobbit, but I had never re-read the book that started the obsession!  So strange, I know.

So, I bought the ebook for my Kobo and dove right in.   Ah, a return to the Shire and the original quest.  For those of you who have never read it (or now, not seen the movie) perhaps a short synopsis is in order:

In the Hobbit, we are introduced to a little people called Hobbits.  They live in a place called the Shire and have comfortable little homes in "hobbit holes".  They are an easygoing race who are content to spend their days relaxing, eating and smoking their pipes while enjoying a lovely ale.   They are not prone to adventures and, in fact, usually try to avoid them at all costs.  The main character in this novel is a Mr. Bilbo Baggins.  And his entire world changes the day Gandalf the wizards suggests he might be just the hobbit for an adventure.

Next thing we know, a herd of dwarves descends on his happy little hobbit hole and Bilbo is brought in as a "Thief" on their grand adventure to reclaim their ancestral home.  He is hesitant at first, but is soon quick to join the quest to the lonely mountain and the treasure that awaits under the watchful eye of the dragon Smaug.

I love this book.  So much.  I look forward to the day I can start enjoying it with my daughters (who WILL be enjoying it before the ripe old age of 23 that their mother was when she first read it).  It is undeniably a children's book, though so don't go into it expecting a writing style geared toward adults.  It was written for Tolkien's children and reads as such.   It is also a wonderful primer for Lord of the Rings in that it eases you into the world and the terminology.

And now, I know you have all been awaiting my take on the movie.  A month after first viewing it - I can tell you this - it was pretty forgettable.  It was visually stunning and remained true to the sequence of events until it cuts off.  I felt that Peter Jackson was trying a little too hard to turn it into an LOTR formula piece in how some of the characters were framed.  It was like he was trying to turn Thorin Oakenshield into Aragorn and Fili and Kili into Merry and Pippin.

I also felt as though this movie was far longer than necessary thanks to this side story line about the "Pale Orc" that just wasn't in the book at all.  I'm sure Thorin had other adventures in his life, but they were kind of unnecessarily added to the movie and didn't hold much place there.  This is a book that could have been very thoroughly covered in 2 feature length movies without missing any detail.  To make 3 - 3 hour  movies obviously shows it will have some "creative elements" that aren't really in sync.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who will watch only the movies and never read the book and I think it is a travesty to the beauty of this story that it be mauled this way.  I found that when the movie strayed, I would tap my feet in boredom and roll my eyes until it aligned with the story again.

That said, the fan girl in me will be watching the other two movies as well - but I go into it forewarned that it will not be the Hobbit movie I want.  It will be the Hobbit movie that Jackson made up.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Official Photos: WDW Marathon Weekend

I'm not going to post them all - particularly the ball diamond ones...but here are a few of my faves from the official pics of the weekend!  I'm still deciding if I want to buy them or not...

And, because it wouldn't be real if I didn't show my low point - the official photogs caught that too...

Final Thoughts on my Goofy Weekend

Some of this may come across as pretty negative - it isn't meant to be that way and I am not holding onto any of it.   I just feel some of these thoughts are worth noting so others may learn from my experience here. Overall - this was a fantastic experience and in many ways I knew how it would play out before I even entered into it.  

On Aches and Pains

Surprisingly, I am not in pain.  Stiff, yes...but not in pain.  I ran my ass off over the course of 3 days and I have had half marathons where I was more sore.  I think the difference was taking the time to recover quickly and properly.

After each race (except the 5k), I would stretch a bit and have an ice bath.  This was tricky since our hotel didn't have cold tap water.  So I would have ice for as long as the ice lasted and that wasn't long.  The weekend was busy so it was hard to avoid walking too much but it was what it was.   I still felt good the next day for each race.   Before bed after the half and the full, I had an Epsom Salt bath (tip for Canadians - if you do a lot of destination marathons - pick up the epsom TABLETS at shoppers.  Less space needed in your luggage and less chance of a big mess)

The one place I am really finding I have a great deal of discomfort is in my toes.  I was careful with clipping my nails and filing rough edges.  I had hot spots on the sides of my toes in the half so I wore blister pads in the full to cushion that area just in case and it helped.  Survived blister free unlike so many others in my party.  But, three days later - I still can't wear my shoes for long stretches.  These puppies need to be free to wriggle.  I can't tell if my pinky toe on the right is planning to darken or not.  I suppose if I have to lose a nail - Goofy is the race to sacrifice it for and the pinky toe is the smallest of the bunch.  I don't suppose I can complain.

On Team in Training

This Team in Training experience was much different from my first,  years ago.  TNT Flex is a different beast entirely.  I tried hard to stay connected to the coordinator and the coach, but it was still odd to be relying on people I didn't know come race day.   In the end, Ramona, my coach , was spectacular.  Loved her!   She made the effort to run with each and every one of us on race day and it really felt like I had a coach I knew...almost like having Coach Sheena there.

I think a greater effort could have been placed on showing appreciation to us overall.  Throughout our training and fundraising - we were constantly being told that we should aim higher than our fundraising minimums yet - there was little shown in the way of appreciation for those of us who did it.  There weren't even thank you notes at our places at the dinner - they were instead slipped under our room doors later. When I did Nike in 2010 - there were thank yous and tokens of appreciation all over the table for us. Not big and not expensive, but they added to the feeling of the event.  I felt some of the other details were lacking as well - for example, I noticed after I got home that my name tag stated that it was the 2012 WDW Marathon Weekend.   There were not many of us on the whole Canada team so it seems like some extra effort could have been done there.

In the end, though, I am proud to have done this for Team in Training.  Will I do another TNT event?  That remains to be seen. If I do - it likely won't be through TNT Flex.  I much preferred working with an actual chapter.  I think it is a wonderful organization, but I need a break.  A break from fundraising.  A break from drama.  A break from expectations.  If I could have done this event for a chapter - I would have. As it was...well, it was what it was.  I went. I saw. I conquered.

On Group Fundraising

NEVER AGAIN!  Sorry, guys.  I love the fact we were a team and that we were celebrating Anna's success in beating cancer...but I think a team should have equal effort and ours did not.  It was my own fault for agreeing to the team fundraising in the first place.  I knew there was no way that it would be equal right from the start and I should have listened to that naggy feeling because it would have saved my sanity in a big way throughout. I held onto a great deal of bitterness for too many months.  I feel really bad for the other members of the team who were much closer to the drama than I was - now that this is over, I don't need to deal with it anymore because my connection was really only to two people on Team Alberta.  I just feel sad at how it affected those I care about (and grew to care about) by how it all went down.  It's ok to be a princess as long as you realize that real princesses work hard too.

Live and learn and move on.   I will probably fundraise for something again...but it will be on my own and drama free.

On Florida

I never had any desire to visit Florida and I don't really have any desire to go back.  The heat and humidity were really draining on me.  I also didn't feel there was much to see outside of the parks (in the Orlando area).  It felt a lot like the parts of Mexico that I visited 2 years ago but more like a giant swamp.  I kinda just went with a purpose and now I'm home.  I probably won't go back. It just holds no interest for me.

On Walt Disney World and Run Disney

Run Disney puts on a hell of an event.   So well organized and really accommodating.  When there was suddenly a heat advisory - they answered the call with stepping it up in the aid station department! On long expressway stretches that could have been boring - they stepped it up int he entertainment department.  Always something to see or do or take pictures with.  Your brain was seldom left to contemplate the discomfort of running in the heat.

While I understand the need to reopen the roads - I did feel that the course narrowed far too often to handle the mass of people running.   I heard too many stories about people DNFing because they were trampled and I took a great deal of elbows to various parts of my body (I feel particularly bad for those who saw the business end of my own three-pronger elbows...

I was incredibly struck by how well maintained Walt Disney World was.  I don't know what I was expecting in that regard - maybe that it would be the same as older theme parks I had visited in the past - but Disney blew me away.  From the mascots who never stray from their character to the pristine upkeep of the parks - I was impressed.  Utterly impressed.  It makes me look forward to visiting Disneyland with my girls one day.

I also liked staying in resort on the property.   Having free access to buses to all of the locations was awesome.  As was the free airport transportation.   Often, when I travel, my transportation costs end up eating up my budget.  Not so this time.  I spent a bit on cabs, but saved enough by not eating out that it all evened out in the end.  The rooms weren't much to write home about, but they worked for as much time as I spent in mine.   Playing a part in the race meant it was so much more convenient to be onsite!

On Visiting the States

I can't wait for Super Targets to eventually come to Canada.  And for Cherry Coke to come back.  And Mint M&Ms.  mmmm mint m&ms....


But to sum it all up, Walt Disney said it best:

It's kind of fun to do the impossible ~ Walt Disney

Race Report: WDW 20th Anniversary Marathon

WARNING: This post is EXTREMELY photo-heavy!

When I had gone to bed the night before, I was stiff.  An ice bath and epsom bath hadn't really helped.  And I was worried.

But when 2am rolled around, I woke up feeling tired but less stiff than I had been.  Marathon day was upon us and I had to be ready to rock it whether my body wanted to or not.

Into my marathon singlet I went...this time I was running in celebration of Anna's recovery!

Because the day before had been cutting it a bit close, our team decided to meet 15 mins earlier and to catch an earlier bus to the start.

I was meeting Nikki at the same place as I had before.  I knew I'd beat her there so I had plenty of time to drop off my checked bag (I had really regretted not having flip flops to change into the day before) .  Nikki's bus was caught in traffic so I had a bit of a wait so I took some photos of the staging area...

and then I went and asked Santa for what I really wanted for Christmas: to cross this finish line with a smile on my face!

Nikki arrived and we headed out to the startline.  We were in corral E again so we went with the corral C and D people so we'd have loads of time. The procession to the start seemed to go faster this day but it was still a crawl.
We were able to seed ourselves closer to the front of E and settled in to wait for the start. And witness the characters of the day...

Can you imagine running a marathon with stuffies tied to your butt-length hair?

The announcers were interviewing people up front, including Joey Fatone - who was also going Goofy.

Then it was fireworks time!  and we were off!

The first 9 miles of the course were identical to those of the half - out to the expressway then into the Magic Kingdom and then on to the speedway and animal kingdom.  Zipping around ESPN Wide World of Sports. Finally through Hollywood Studios and back through Epcot to the finish.

Soon we were back at the Magic Kingdom and being lifted up by the cheering crowds.

We saw Jack Skellington

and were soon at the castle

Ran past Winnie the Pooh's house

Saw Belle and the Beast

and then it was through the castle one more time!

On to 10k.  Feeling overheated but otherwise doing well and running strong.  The stiffness of the half had been shaken off by this point, but I was throbbing from the heat.

I was smitten with Mary Poppins so this time we stopped for a character shot.    The first shot was a fail because I was so busy telling her "YOU are FAN-TAS-TIC!"  She was a Julie Andrews doppelganger.  Truly fabulous!

Shortly after, the course strayed from the half.   There was a steep hill warning sign as we came into the Walt Disney World Speedway and we descended under the racetrack and came up on the other side.

The race track was scorching hot.   There was music playing and local car enthusiasts had brought their prized wheels out to show them off - the track was rimmed with shiny cars both racing and collected.

And the cast of Cars was there as well!

And, in a throwback to the "Cars" of my youth - HERBIE!!!!!!!!!!!!

The race track seemed so long.  And because it was so exposed, the temperatures soared.  I was melting.  I took a gel and chugged some Nuun and carried on.

A short jaunt on the expressway brought us to the Animal Kingdom.  Some of the animals came out to greet us.  I had to capture Pumba...but there were also little owls and a bunch of goats.  This little guy was so friendly.

The stretch that followed seemed the longest and most boring.  Running in the heat with little to look at.  There were characters here and there and then there was a section where the utilities for Walt Disney world were managed...included a fragrant waste treatment facility.  It was really interesting to see the signs they set out, though, detailing fun facts about the water and treatment facilities for the parks.

Then we entered Animal Kingdom proper.  Running past vendors and monkeys and then, I had to stop for a pic with Expedition Everest in the background.

They were pulling people off the course to ride the roller coaster if they wanted to.  I just couldn't imagine sitting down at that point in the race.  We were almost halfway and I was afraid I might not be able to stand back up again, let alone run!  But lots of people DID ride it!

Shortly after the halfway mark,  my legs were feeling really warm so I tarted dumping water on myself to bring down my body temperature.  Nikki and I had a running joke after that about how I wet myself at the halfway point!   HA!  We are hilarious!

It was about here where we picked up a new running buddy.   I never noted his name but he was part of the TNT team in Kansas City.   We had leapfrogged a few times - each time with a "go team" but after Expedition Everest, he said "Do you ladies mind if I run with you for a while?" and we welcomed the distraction.   I shared my story and he regaled us with TNT stories from his chapter.  He was one of those who had taken the opportunity to ride the coaster too!   It was so great to have someone there to boost our spirits a bit because the heat was starting to drain us pretty well.

Here's a photo of him from the official TNT pics :)

There hadn't been a mission mile in the half so I was keeping my eyes out for one in the full..when we came upon signs with inspiring quotes on them.  Nikki and I stopped for photos and our buddy decided to carry on. Turns out Disney doesn't do the Mission Mile.  I definitely missed it.

This is one of my favourite quotes of all time...

Another long stretch happened around this point and we plodded onward toward the ESPN Wide World of Sports, where we were looking forward to the "Mile 20 Spectacular" and spent some time speculating about it.   As we entered the park, there was the meanest sign ever!  Good thing it wasn't directed at the marathoners...

And then the heavens opened up and a bright light shone down...on the kiddie pool full of sponges!!!!!  I cried.  All I had been begging for since the 10 mile mark was a sponge.  To get one at the 17 mile mark was incredible!  INCREDIBLE!  I took two and kissed them and wiped myself down over and over.  Then shoved one in my bra so I could do it whenever I wanted.

I didn't take many photos throughout ESPN.  We wove around alot of the complex.  We ran around the running track.  My spirits dipped lower and lower as the heat exhausted me.  I had a serious case of the mean reds and I could feel my skin burning and my body throbbed and my feet hurt and I felt every inch a marathoner on the verge of the Bite Me Zone.

And then we entered the ball diamond.  This was the stadium that is the home of the Atlanta Braves for spring training.  Part of me had it in my head that this was where the mile 20 spectacular was to be.  When we entered it and it had nothing going on - I was disappointed.  It was like I deflated and became really out of it.  I couldn't will myself to run.  It was all I could do to not wave Nikki onward to leave me to my misery.

We walked the outside of the diamond and when we got out, I told Nikki I needed to stretch a bit.

So, I moved to the side and stretched out my legs.   And beat my head against the chain link fence. And mentally bitchslapped myself.  THOROUGHLY.   I gave myself the most serious talking to I have ever done.  I told myself that I needed to suck it up and get through the last 7 miles to the finish.

When I returned to Nikki's side, I was in a better place.  My body was still dehydrated and exhausted, but my brain was in a better place.  Run, walk, crawl, drag.   I was crossing that finish line.  Cancer patients don't quit mid-treatment - I wasn't going to quit mid-race!

Soon, we were at Mile 20 and the spectacular for the 20th anniversary of the race!   I had spent weeks wondering what it would be.  I had pretty much decided it would either involve confetti or that it would be some American baseball thing that I didn't get.

I didn't expect what it actually was.  It was cool but I didn't really find it was all it was hyped to be.  There were these giant puppets for several Disney characters...

Cool, right?

and then, right before you run through a giant archway printed with every medal from the last 20 years - was Mickey, Minnie and Pluto!!!!  That was pretty spectacular.  The lineup was insane so I didn't pause for a pic.

There may be a photo kicking around of me going in for an attempted Mickey ass grab through the fence...hubby should really be careful what he texts me in the morning...

And then, as TNT races tend to go for me and wasn't long before I looked ahead and saw her through the crowd!

She was holding strong so I vowed to see her at the finish and carried on.   Shortly after, Coach Ramona caught up with us and ran for a while by my side.  We had started asking medical tents for sunscreen (they were all out) and I wish I had asked Ramona because I found out later that she had some!  I was really scorched.

After a couple of miles or so, Ramona left us to find the last team mate she wanted to check on and Nikki and I tackled the expressway again.

It was during this time that we also saw how they clean up after a race of this scale.  Our route lined up to the people entering ESPN and a bus and a herd of street sweepers were chasing the last of the runners - making the expressway nice and clean and ready for traffic again.  The buses were to pick up participants who wouldn't make it to the finish on time.

We saw the Incredibles!

And soon we entered Disney's Hollywood Studios.   Around here we started to take fewer and fewer photos.  Look at us - we look too hot and exhausted to hold a camera!  It was also around here where I tied an imaginary rope around Nikki and just tried to keep her in sight.  She was running so much stronger than I was.  We were pretty quiet and just kept putting one foot in front of the other...

AHH Shade!  We got to run through the costuming department.  It was cool to see the sewing machines and fabric and dress forms!

Then through the park and the false fronted buildings...

When we left the Studios, there was a great deal of really pretty scenery I was too tired to capture.  Lots of waterfront, but narrow pathways.   Through resorts, where crowds cheered us along.  I remember reaching a TNT Cheering Section and I went in for high fives and the first lady squeezed my hand and said "you've got this"  I cried.

I saw a boy swimming with a duck.

Asked some fairy godmothers for some magic to carry me along.

and then it was into Epcot where each swell of crowd cheering reduced both Nikki and I to tears.   One foot in front of the other we plodded ever onward.   As we ran around the lagoon in Epcot, I was grabbing TNT coaches to beg for pep talks.    Each and every one of them complied and helped me carry on.

At mile 12, someone handed me chocolate...I stashed it for later.

It was the homestretch and past the gospel choir to the finish.  I was choking on my tears now.  It was so emotional.  When we came around the corner and could see the finish - Nikki and I squeezed hands and said "We did it" and ran for the finish!   Mickey and Minnie were flanking the line so I swept to the side and wet in for a Mickey High Five before I crossed.

With tears in my eyes, I embraced Nikki and we had a moment of celebration!  And joyfully walked to collect our amazing medals.

Of course, there was a TNT photog ready to snap my very emotional face as the medal was put over my head. From the TNT Slideshow...

Our finish time was 6:18

We then left the finish chute - grabbed water and Powerade and headed for the Goofy Tent.  I must say, the volunteers giving us our Goofy medals handled us with a sort of was almost ceremonial how they placed them over our heads.

And then it was done.  All that was left was photos, grabbing food.  Getting the hell out of my runners and into flip flops.  Then to check in at TNT!

Heat advisory sign...

The TNT Check in also took a victory photo of me with my 3 medals!  I was so happy to have packed Donald into my checked bag.

I ran into Anna and the rest of Team Alberta shortly after and then said farewell to Nikki, who wanted to find her travel buddies. I am so incredibly grateful to that girl for sticking it out with me through my mean reds and my heat rage!  She's an amazing woman who really rocked this race!  I'm proud to call her a friend!

We had done it.  We had conquered the Marathon.  We had conquered Goofy.  We were victorious!

It was so hard.  It hurt.  It was HOT!  it was HUMID!  I was tired.  But I was elated!   I still am.  Even recapping this has brought me to tears many many times.   I'll let you hang on for my final thoughts to hear how I processed it in the end...

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