March 22, 2009

that's not fair!

So, in one of my new favorite blogs, I read this entry. I found Aimee Mullins' story fascinating, especially once I dug around on the internets to find out her background.

After seeing the linked presentation Aimee gave, it made me feel more confident in my stance. Having started running, and realizing how much of it lies below the knee, I have often thought that people with those fancy sprinting prosthetics have been at least on equal footing (pardon the phrasing) if not at somewhat of an advantage. Having seen her thoughts on the current dialogue, I see that maybe we are beyond amputees being disabled. Given technology, and art, there are so many things we can do! The Alexander McQueen (whom I ADORE) legs are an incredible statement on how we look at prosthetics! The fact that she can adjust her height on realistic limbs is incredible!

Please, do not misunderstand me, this is not something I wish for myself or for anyone. However, given what is available, I think that people in Aimee's situation are certainly not limited in their options. Hers may be different from mine. However, to say that one or the other of us is at a disadvantage is not true.

I think that this is a thought provoking piece on what we consider normal, or disabled. To me, it certainly gives a whole new meaning to the old saying, "the grass is greener..."

Posted by raven at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2009

almost grown up!

So, I (finally) have a 401K. This was the first job I'd had that offered one, and I'd been thinking about it for a while, but finally got around to signing up, and choosing where my money would go and all that. I'd been leery of late after hearing from friends about how much they've lost recently. However, as a coworker pointed out, with things so low, it's actually a good time to jump in, besides, the company matching part is free money.

So, I took the plunge! It's kind of a pain in the ass to allocate what funds go where, but I managed. Now, I hope to sit back and watch!

For the record, we have other investments and such, I just never did the 401K thing. So, getting ready for retirement a little more, since I am nearly halfway there (yikes!). One thing I really like is that the money automatically goes in. I don't even get to touch it first...which helps. So, let's all root for those stocks and bods and such to go up, up, up!

Posted by raven at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2009

i did it!

I completed my first half marathon!!!!

I think a little recap is in order.

We planned our trip such that all the Disney fun would be before the race, so that I wouldn't have to hobble around Disney after completing the race. We managed to pack a lot in, though it seems like no matter how much time one has at Disney it just isn't enough! I set aside time on Friday to get my race packet, as I wanted to get that out of the way. If I didn't have the packet, I couldn't run, and I didn't want to have to stress about it at all. So, at noon on Friday, G and I set off to Disney's Wide World of Sports for the Half Marathon Expo. We got there, and with the help of some cast members, we found the Expo, and the place to pick up my packet. First, we waited in a line to get my bib, chip, and pin. The lines were broken down by bib numbers, so the line was pretty manageable. I wasn't sure which princess I picked as my favorite, since I tend to prefer the villians. When the gentleman handed me my bib, I found I'd chosen Sleeping Beauty. So, my bib had the Half Marathon logo at the top, then it read "Princess Amanda," then my bib number, then Sleeping Beauty at the bottom. The bib was pink, which worked out nicely with what I planned to wear on race day. I signed off on receiving everything, and headed over to verify my chip. One quick scan, my name popped up, easy peasy. From there, we headed to the opposite end of the building to get my goodie bag that accompanied my packet. There wasn't a line at all for that, pretty sweet! The bag was a drawstring knapsack with the HM logo on it. Inside was a plethora of treats! A pink tech shirt with the logo and sponsors on it, a pair of LifeFitness shoe inserts, some energy chews, a stick of deodorant (secret!), a Sharpie Marker, flyers on all sorts of races across the country, all the rules and info about the race, coupons, and safety pins for my bib. I think that's everything. The lady that gave me my bag then told me where I could look at the medal. We looked...it was big and heavy! A real medal!! I was picturing it around my neck. We then had to head to yet another line to pick up our tickets for the post race party. This one was a real line. It took about half-an-hour or so to pick up the tickets. We got those, and I wanted to check out some of the vendors. There were lots of people there also checking out vendors, so our perusal was pretty quick. We did check out a booth that had some funny shirts, one of which said, "will run for wine." We decided that G's mom needed one. She's been talking about running, so we thought this would be a bonus incentive. They also had a shirt that read, "this seemed like a good idea three months ago." Had I not already had a shirt for the race, I would have picked that one up!! On our way out we checked out the official merchandise booth. There were some cute things, but the lines were huge, so I decided I didn't need anything. We finally were able to make our way to Epcot to enjoy the rest of our day.

Saturday, we had decided to divide our day between Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. I had a meet-up scheduled with the SparkPeople group that got me through the training, which was to be the divider of the day for G and I. Between our Friday night excursion to see The Watchmen, and this trip to meet up at Downtown Disney, we learned that Disney transit is tough when you are trying to be somewhere at a specific time. Anyhow, we made it, and I finally was able to put faces to all the ladies I'd been chatting with online for so long! I felt a little bad, as I tend to be shy in situations like that. However, I did have some good chats with some of the team. They are all pretty cool, and they are all very supportive. Some are old pros when it comes to running, some are first timers like me. It was a nice time. We grabbed some delicious food before making our way to the Magic Kingdom for some last fun before my big race. We did pretty much all the things we wanted to do at MK. The park closed at 10, and silly me thought that would allow me plenty of sleep before the big race. I forgot to factor in several things. The lag time of getting out of the park, waiting for the shuttle back to the resort, and the biggie---Springing Ahead! After I got everything prepped for the morning, I got a whopping three hours of sleep. Oops!

Now, what you have all been waiting for--The Big Day!! The alarm went off at four, and was a little painful. After a round with the snooze button, I got up. I got in a shower, and put on my racing clothes (a pair of black running capris with fucshia trim, a black running bra, a black tank with a sparkley silver and pink tiara on it, running socks, and my running shoes). I made sure everything I needed was in my bag, things like ID, cell phone, room key, snacks...I threw on my Tink hoodie to keep warm until I checked my bag, put some jam on a croissant, whispered some good-byes, and was off for the bus. We were instructed to be on the bus by five am, to get to the start on time. When I got to the pick-up area, I was greeted by a HUGE line of runners waiting for the next available bus. Hmmm...I did get there before five....I hoped that those instructions allowed a little lee-way!! I found the end of the line, and tried to be patient. Every minute was putting me closer to the race!! There were runners of all types waiting in line. There were even some men! There were lots of costumes, some of which I truly wondered how the person would be able to run in! I love wearing a full length gown, don't get me wrong. However, I don't love them for running! Eventually, I was on a motorcoach and on my way. I drank one last bottle of water on the way, and tried to be calm. Though it would have been nice to have some company, I think maybe it was better I didn't. I probably would have been chattering a mile a minute!

We arrived at the start area, and got off the bus. I could hear the DJ stand playing some dance music to get everyone pumped up. There were lots of tents set up, and people everywhere. It was still dark, so there were lots of large floodlights set up to make it a little easier to navigate. I decided to check my bag right away, so I wouldn't have to worry about it, should race time arrive. They had the check broken down alphabetically by last name, and then by bib number within that. Pretty cool, I had wondered how they were going to manage up to 8,000 bags. After checking my bag, I just needed to find something to do with myself until the race. I found a patch of pavement, and again tried to be somewhat calm. I made sure my intervals were programmed into my Garmin, I did some stretches for my hip flexors and calves. I hopped up and down to put my nervous energy somewhere. Finally, we were instructed to head for the corrals. I followed the mass of people to the start. It turned out that the mass of people did not know where they were going, and we all turned around and headed for the real start. We were told that the port-a-potties were the last ones until after the start, so if we had to go, to do it now. I declined and headed for my corral. I felt a little sad that I wasn't in a corral further ahead, but this was my first time, and I could always work up to that. I watched the crowds make their way to the correct corrals, and kept looking behind me to see how mine was filling up. Wow, there were a LOT of people! I stretched some more, and tried to keep warm. Despite all the people around me, it somehow felt cooler here. I had no idea what time it was, and tried to be patient for the start of the race. Suddenly, there was movement. Our corral walked ahead, through the next corral, picking up speed. Eventually, we were jogging. Then, we were across the start line! I started up my Garmin, and decided to run my first two intervals, skipping that first walk break to give myself a buffer between the sweepers. Right away, there were folks cheering us on. There was music. Before I knew it, I was passing the first mile marker! Each mile marker depicted a different princess, with the appropriate theme music playing. We were told there were hidden Mickeys in the mile markers, but I honestly didn't want to waste time stopping to try and find them. I journeyed on. People were running off to the bushes, I think some to pee, some to puke, ick. Soon there was a water station, but I didn't need that yet. Onward! We looped around an on ramp, which was a little tough to run on. The right to left slope made it hard to maintain form. Oh well. Onward! Soon there was trivia along the roadsides. Questions about the various princesses. I read them when I was able. Soon enough we were met by more water, powerade, and a medical tent. Lots of runners started getting Biofreeze. I kept going. Soon, there were characters to greet us, and many runners got in line for photo ops. I remained focused, and kept going. The mile markers kept coming. On our way to the Magic Kingdom, there was a drum line (at least I think that's what the kids are calling them these days). The runners cheered for the drummers, and the drummers cheered back. A wheelchair racer passed in the opposite direction, and we cheered for her, and kept going. I finally grabbed a water to tame the tickle that threatened my throat. Just before the Magic Kingdom there was a group of Chinese-style drummers. They were in traditional dress, it was beautiful...just like the Olympics!! There were also spectators. I kept my eyes open for G and his parents, as I wasn't one hundred percent certain which spectator option they chose. They weren't in this batch, but that was okay. We continued in to the Magic Kingdom. Through Tomorrowland, through Fantastyland (hi spinning teacups!!), and to Cinderella's Castle! There were constant cast members cheering us on, which was cool. Then, through the castle! We continued through Frontierland, and backstage. More characters awaited. It was kind of cool to be in the cast members only area. Like we got to be in on a secret. We continued running. Then, I saw Maleficent. For a split second, I wished I had my camera. Oh well, more running!!! Around mile eight, I saw the fam. I waved, and worked my way over. Quick hugs, I apologized for being gross and sweaty, and some pictures, and I promised to see them at the finish line. Off for more running!! I was beyond the halfway point and into the home stretch. I was doing this thing! As the sun got higher in the sky, I tried to maintain cool thoughts. Before I knew it, we were passing the drum line again. I overheard someone point out that we were going to have to run up the hills we came down on the way out. I was glad I trained in a hilly neighborhood! Up one hill, up the on ramp (stupid slope!), and we were headed to the big hill up to Epcot. I pushed up them all, and headed for the park, past the mile 12 marker. By this time, the park was open. It was funny to be running in the park, with all these guests! I kept going, and thought maybe some of us would inspire more runners. I smiled at as many people as I could, as guest, cast members, and spectators cheered us on. We were getting so close!!! We looped through the park, and I kept reminding myself the finish line was getting closer. I could hear the crowds as I came up on mile 13. As the finish line came into sight, I started tearing up. I was almost there....I was really going to finish this thing!!! I smiled at Mickey and Minnie, and bam, I was across the line. I maneuvered over to have my chip cut off, then the big moment I was waiting for, I got my medal! The fairy godmother sprinkled my with fairy dust, and there it was. I decided to grab a Powerade off the table, and started drinking...gross. Luckily, there was the fam waiting for me on the other side of the fence. Hugs and pictures ensued. I begged off for a moment to claim my bag, and met back up. We got in line to see about having my medal engraved. The combination of the $20 cost and having to give up my medal for the process turned me off, so we decided to head back to the hotel. G got the alert to his phone with my chip time. 2:37:30, 12 minute miles. I didn't quite make my goal of sub 2:30, but it was darn close. He showed me my chip times during the race, and I sped up as it went on. Part of the problem was starting in the last corral. It took me a while to get into the right pace group. I think that would have easily put me under 2:30. Oh well, next time!

My MIL has promised she is going to run it next year. I sort of committed my husband into doing it, as well. I guess this means I have to keep running!!

Posted by raven at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2009

i'm going to disneyworld!

In just a few minutes, actually. I started down this long winding path early last fall, and what seemed so far off in the distance is now here. In less than a week, I will reap the benefits of months of training. When I started, I could just eke out thirty seconds to one minute of running. Now, I can run for several miles straight, as many as fourteen with using Jeff Galloway's walk/run intervals. I've run in rain, snow, heat, below zero temps, on ice, in water up to my ankles. I'm still surprised at how impressed people are when they find out I'm doing a half marathon. I'm not gonna lie, it's been a lot of work. However, it is totally attainable. I mean, I'm just shooting for a finish, and getting my medal. No record breaking or anything. Mostly just proving that my lazy butt can do it. If my lazy butt can get off the sofa and do this, I am pretty confident that anyone can.

I just want to give a thank-you to everyone around me who has offered support, listened to my incessant running chatter, and put up with my lack of free time. It has been truly incredible to me how supportive everyone has been, be it family, friends, co-workers or internet acquaintances. I have met some incredible and inspiring people who have kept me going on those days when I just wanted to give up. All the support has been so crucial during my training...I don't want to let any of you down!!!

I finally got my last long run in yesterday (the last couple of weeks have been off kilter with my bad back flaring up and getting some sort of sinus infection) of 14.3 miles. I had to take a couple of unplanned walk breaks as my knee was grouchy in the middle, but I finished in three hours. Slow, yes. However the max time for me to finish the 13.1 is 3.5 hours, so I should be good for getting my medal, even if I have to slow down a bit for heat or the like. I have two short training runs left, then BAM! The half is here. I don't know if I will be around the internets too much this week, but my goal is to keep my Flickr page updated with pictures, and to get a post-race recap in ASAP.

Thanks again!!!!!

Posted by raven at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)