A case of the *blahs*

January 29th, 2009

Pretty much everyone that knows me would say that I am an upbeat person. I try very hard to make others feel comfortable and laugh. My personal upbeat person is my husband. He is my best friend and makes me laugh. He always finds a way to make me smile.

My husband has been in New York teaching a class this week. In the current market, it is a blessing to have a job. I know that I shouldn’t be down, but I miss him terribly. We became spoiled for a month during December/January because he had vacation time and the class schedules were slow. We spent a whole month together without separation. It was wonderful.

This week has been hard on both of us. Not to say that life isn’t going on as usual. I am teaching our son, doing our activities, and taking care of our 86 yr. old Nana. My husband is teaching his classes, etc. However, we both miss our best friend.

We are coming up on being married 19 years in March. The funny thing is…the time hasn’t been slow or boring. It has really just sped by. We have both gone from young adults to young “old” people together. We are both starting to get: gray hair, aches and pains, and laugh lines. We have endured: numerous lay-offs, moving 8 times, having a baby, changing careers, deaths of loved ones, and much more together. As the saying goes: “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger”. Honestly, you can pretty much get through anything if you have the right person by your side. Mine happens to be in New York right now.

When my husband is gone, I don’t sleep well. Having a big bed to myself just seems selfish…LOL  Really, I just miss my other half. I guess that means that I have found the one to spend the rest of my life with. When he is gone, I only feel half alive. I go through the motions of daily life. When he returns, I feel energized and ready to tackle anything.

If you are reading this (and are in a relationship), tell them you love them. Being in a relationship is tough. It takes 100% dedication on both sides. There are ups and downs. There are times when your loved one carries you emotionally. A good relationship is like that. You both go out of your way to help each other get through life. You are their friend, lover, therapist, confidant….

My Dad and I talked this last week about he & my mom. My mom passed away in 2001. He realized after my mom died that sharing your life with someone isn’t about the big events. It is the little things that you miss. Going for a walk. Raising children. Laughing and crying together. When your loved one is gone, those are the things you miss. The little things that made your relationship special.

So…I am feeling *blah* today. Thankfully, my husband will be home late on Friday night. That is tomorrow. I know that I will sleep really well and have a smile on my face while he is here. That is love. Making the most of your time with those that make you whole.

Ran 3M today with a personal best time

January 25th, 2009

It was cold this morning as the runners crossed the start at 3M Half marathon. The sun was just coming up at 7am. There were runners of all shapes and sizes.

I was fortunate enough to meet up with fellow Sparker, akorelc, before the race. This amazing woman (ran a 60 miler recently over 3 days) advised her group to take the first 3 miles slowly as they were full of hills. I wished everyone good luck and was on my way.

Earlier in the morning (5:45am), I kissed my husband and wished him a good flight. He would be leaving for New York for a week-long business trip. I was sad that he couldn’t be at the race, but a paycheck nowadays is more important then a half marathon cheering section. Our son was on a Boy Scout camping trip. I would be running the half without support team.

On Mile 2, the runners ran on a frontage road next to the freeway. As I was coming to the hill crest on the frontage, I heard lots of honking. I looked over to see my husband driving down the freeway honking at runners. He didn’t know that I was right there or that I saw him. However, it was a WONDERFUL pick-me-up and motivator.

On Mile 6, there was a woman holding a sign up saying: “Run Shannon Run”. I know that the sign was for another Shannon running the half, but it felt like it was for me. I passed the lady and said: “Thanks so much. My name is Shannon too!” She smiled and said: “Go! Go! Go Shannon!”

There were some hills along the way. However, I just told myself that they weren’t large and plowed right to the top of them. There was no stopping me. I wanted to beat my personal best for a half (2:05:03). I was determined!

When I got to the finish, my iPod Nano said that I had beaten my personal best. With my last races in Disney World, my Nano and official chip time can be off by a few minutes. I needed to wait for the official time on the website.

I am very happy to say that my official time was 2:04:54. A personal best for me. Woohooo Baby! This was my 5th half marathon. I would love to run 15-20 more in the next 10 years (before I am 50). Can I be under 2 hours in the future? I sure am going to try.

For all those that have encouraged me with my running, thank you so much. I am not a little runner at 165lbs., but I am determined to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle. I was the chubby, sweet girl in school. I am still sweet (no, really…I am), but I refuse to live a sedentary lifestyle. Bring on the AT&T Marathon in 3 weeks. I want that medal!!!

Good-bye Holiday Pounds!

January 22nd, 2009

I got this little poem from my mother-in-law today. It made me giggle, so I thought I would post it here.

T’was the month after Christmas,
and all through the house,
Nothing would fit me,
not even a blouse.

The cookies I’d nibbled,
the chocolate I’d taste
At the holiday parties
had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales
there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store,
(less a walk than a lumber).

I’d remember the marvellous meals I’d prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,
The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese
And the way I’d never said, “No thank you, please.”

As I dressed myself in my husband’s old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt…
I said to myself, as I only can,
“You can’t spend a winter, disguised as a man!”

So, away with the last of the sour cream dip.
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip.
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
Till all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick.
I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie.
I’ll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.

I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore…
But isn’t that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all, and to all a good diet.

Great inspirational quote for living life!

January 20th, 2009

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

– Mark Twain

When my husband’s young uncle died unexpectedly, we both were crushed. We realized that this uncle had so much to do before he died. He never did those things. After that, my husband & I decided to stop talking about things we would like to do, and DO them. He got his dream car. I started running marathons. We started to travel more.

Live life to the fullest. Enjoy each day and tell those you love how special they are to you. Stop putting off to tomorrow what you can do today.

Ways to save at Disney World

January 19th, 2009

We have been to Walt Disney World something like 4 or 5 times now. Each time, we learn new ways to save money on vacation. I thought I would list a few here just in case someone is reading this that wants to go to Disney (or another amusement park out of their area).

  1. Go online for specials or deals for your vacation. You can also find tickets for most amusement parks on Ebay at a much lower rate.
  2. Try to pay for your airfare and hotel in advance. We put our vacation on our credit card early and tried to pay it off BEFORE going on our trip.
  3. Go for the rental car option. Having a rental car works wonderfully for many reasons. The most important is to be able to go to a grocery store for snacks/drinks. Our family ALWAYS gets a rental car, drives into town, and buys fruit, snacks, and drinks for our time at the park. This will save you lots of money at the parks. To save on gas for your rental car, you can also take the monorail or bus system. If you prefer not to have a rental car, this is always an option. However, you won’t be able to go to the grocery store for snacks if you do.
  4. Our family usually has ONE MEAL each day while on vacation. I know that many folks go for the dining plan at Disney. This is a great plan for those that need to eat 3 square meals + snacks daily. Our family doesn’t eat that often. We bring in snacks with us to munch on throughout the day. Usually, we will get a muffin/coffee at the resort cafeteria for breakfast. We will have a nice, sit down lunch at the park, and then a snack dinner. Lunches are cheaper! Let’s put it this way, after running my marathon, I wanted to have spaghetti & meatballs for dinner. The four members in our party had a dinner bill of $130 at the Epcot Italian restaurant. We didn’t have anything extravagant like lobster or prime rib. We had pasta. It pays to snack and have one meal a day. Unless you really want to spend over $100/person a day at the parks just on food.
  5. Pin Trading: If you trade pins, DON’T buy them at the park. Plan ahead and buy lots of pins to trade on Ebay. This time, we only got 20 pins to trade on Ebay. As each family member collects certain things (mine is Nightmare Before Christmas, my husband is Monorails, my son is Muppets, my mother-in-law is Goofy), it pays to have pins to trade before you go. The pins we bought on Ebay were $2/pin. At the park & Downtown Disney, they are $6+. That is a big hit to your pocketbook. Buy your trading pins from Ebay…that is smart trading. Remember that green lanyards are only for kids to trade with cast members. Don’t be afraid to go up to cast members to trade. That is one of the requirements of their job. Even if you don’t trade with them, remember to thank them for their time!
  6. If you want souveniers from the park, look at tags. I found an embroidered Pirates of the Caribbean bowling shirt for 50% off. Yes, it cost me $24. However, it is something that I wanted and I was glad to get it for cheaper. My husband and I also found a rack of embroidered windbreakers for $19.99 each. They were normally $60 each!!! It pays to look for sales items.
  7. Buy the souvenier cup from your resort. I think this time around the cup was $14. That sounds like a bunch until you realize that in a week’s time, you will fill up that cup countless times with coffee, soda, and hot chocolate.
  8. Enjoy the rides that are included with your park ticket (i.e. Everest, Space Mountain, etc.). DO NOT fall for the carnival games at Animal Kingdom. Just like all carnival games, they are geered to take your money and the odds are against you for winning. Just enjoy the rides.
  9. If your party is tired, pull up on a curb at any of the parks and watch a street show. We highly recommend the ones at Hollywood Studios or Downtown Disney. Besides, you just might be chosen to be a part of the show!
  10. If you have small children, bring your stroller. Renting strollers are expensive. Bringing a small, folding stroller with you helps your pocketbook.
  11. Prepare for the weather! This time, the weather folks said that it was going to be in the high 60s-low 70s. We had a few days that were in the 50s and FROZE our backsides off. To avoid being forced to buy warmer clothes on vacation, bring clothing you can layer. You can always take clothing off if you get warm. Bring only t-shirts when it is in the 50s is asking to break your wallet. Don’t forget a hat & sunscreen too!
  12. Remember to bring batteries, film, medication, and toiletries that you might need. These things are available at the gift shops at a huge mark-up. Being prepared saves you!
  13. Bring a backpack for every member of your party. Lockers are available at the parks, but they aren’t cheap. Carrying your water bottle, jacket, etc. with you saves you from getting a locker.

As I think of more things, I will post them. Although a week-long vacation at Disney World can cost you, you don’t have to go broke doing it. Just be prepared and think frugally. Oh…and have a Magical Time!

My Walt Disney World 2009 Goofy Experience

January 13th, 2009

For those that wanted to know all about my races, I am sorry for the delay. Besides running my races, we are on vacation in Walt Disney World and I haven’t had much energy to write over the last few days. I am now sitting in our hotel room at the Port Orleans-Riverside waiting for our laundry to get done before I go to bed.

Let me start off by saying that running the Goofy races was amazing. I had trained since the end of July ’08 for these. I wanted to run the 39.3 miles as an early 40th birthday present to myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I can do anything that I set my heart on. That I might be a bit overweight and greying at the temples, but I CAN DO IT!

My husband, son, & mother-in-law all volunteered for working the half and full marathons. We were unhappy to see that the shifts/locations that they requested several months ago had been changed. They were told that they had a 5 hour “cheer squad” shift for the half marathon and would be unable to see me finish. Although that upset everyone, we decided that it was okay because they would hopefully see me on the course.

The half started at 5:50 in the morning. In order for me to take the bus from the hotel to be at the race on time, I had to get up at 3:15am (that is 2:15am to my Texas body time). The beginning of the race was spectacular with fireworks and lots of fanfare. Goofy, Mickey, Minnie, and Donald Duck were at the start to encourage the runners. There were thousands upon thousands of people. They said that it was the largest turn out ever for the half.

I did see my family around Mile 6. It was a joy to come up a short hill and see my family screaming encouragements to me. The race went well until Mile 12. I started to feel a sharp pain in my right hip. As I have Trochanteric Bursitis in both hips, I sort of expected some discomfort. I wound up running the half in 2:06:20. Not spectacular, but a pretty fair time for me.

When I was done with the race, I hopped on a bus back to our hotel. My husband called me over an hour later saying that they were still not done with their shift. He was also extremely upset with Disney. Disney had promised all volunteers that they would receive breakfast, race volunteer apparel (shirt or jacket), and a free ticket into the park. When they showed up early for their shift, they were told that they were out of food and apparel. “Ooops! Sorry about that folks!” My husband said that folks that they rode on the bus with had volunteered several years in a row. They had never seen Disney be so unprepared. The weird thing is that the runners were asked to have family/friends volunteer. The volunteers were all sent paperwork and were kept track of. We found it weird that they hadn’t planned for as many volunteers as they had. It just sucked for the family/friends that came to support loved ones. You know?

My family didn’t get back to the hotel until after lunch. They hadn’t eaten anything all day. They were hungry and they were mad. They also didn’t want to volunteer for the next day. I couldn’t blame them. My mother-in-law came specifically because I asked her to volunteer. Anyways…

We had a nice lunch and then walked around Epcot for several hours. My legs were tired and I needed to rest. I was getting up at 3:15am on Sunday to run THE BIG ONE. The marathon. The one I was nervous about. I hadn’t run a marathon since 2004. I wanted to do well.

I knew that the marathon would be tough when I woke up the next morning with a really sore hip. Not a good sign. I popped 3 Ibuprofen, prayed, and headed to the bus. In my training, I had run two weekends of 10/20 (that is 10 on Saturday, and 20 miles on Sunday). However, I had never considered being tired from walking around the parks and lack of sleep from sleeping in a hotel bed. My goal was to run the marathon in 4:30 or less. I could do this. I had been training for this. I wanted this badly.

I saw my family at Mile 10. I was so happy to see them. I was also incredibly tired. Why was I so tired? Why was I so sore? My husband handed me a peeled banana and traded my regular glasses for my sun glasses. “How are you doing babe?” I just looked at him with a weak smile and said: “I am soooo tired!” I kissed our son and went on running.

I saw my husband again at the Animal Kingdom for Mile 20. By that time, I had walked about 4 times. I was pretty angry with myself for walking here and there. I didn’t plan on walking. I also didn’t plan on needing to use the port-a-potty on Mile 18. Thank the Lord for those plastic toilets though. I had to wait in line to use one and it took about 6 minutes to get back on the road, but I didn’t have an “accident” during the race because of them.

My husband screamed my name on Mile 20. Seeing his face gave me a boost. I needed to hear him encourage me. I was starting to doubt myself and my ability to get to the finish. I texted him just after passing him saying: “Forget 4:30. I just want to finish. I need a vacation!” He sent me a note back saying: “This IS your vacation!”

I was coming up a hill on Mile 22 when my phone rang. It was my husband. All he said was: “You can do this honey. I know you are tired, but you are almost there. Keep moving!” Honestly, my brain was starting to check out. My body wanted to quit. My brain had already thought about it and decided that a nap was a better idea.

I can tell you that at this point, I had seen some amazing things along the race route. I saw a man dressed in a gladiator costume. I saw a man running in a thong. I saw countless Minnie Mouse runners. I saw fit people. I saw not fit people. I saw tons of people just like me needing to walk here and there. I saw pretty much every Disney character imaginable cheering on the sidelines. I saw some hilarious signs from family members like: “There are plenty of port-a-potties. Don’t poop your pants!”, “This seemed like a good idea 6 months ago!” “Why couldn’t the first marathoner drop dead at Mile 20 instead?”

My husband sent me a text on Mile 24. He told me that he was in Epcot waiting in the England area. As I came down a hill into the back road of Epcot, I saw one of the distinctive red phone booths in England. I came around the corner, and there was my husband with his camera taking my picture. I smiled a huge smile and ran past him. I had a mile to go. I ran around the World Showcase. I ran around England, France, Italy, Germany, Moracco, Japan, Africa, Norway, China, Mexico and out of Epcot. There was a huge gospel choir singing to us as we left Epcot. We ran out into the parking lot. Just a bit further now. The crowds became HUGE. There was cheering and screaming. There was a huge set of stands jam-packed with spectators. There was the finish line.

I told myself to sprint and ran for the finish. My official time was 5:00:19. I didn’t beat Oprah and her under 4:30. However, as my husband says: “Oprah didn’t run a half marathon or walk around Disney for several hours the day before her marathon.” I suppose that is true. I know that I would have been under 5 hours if I hadn’t gone to the port-a-potty. You know what? Who cares? I made it. I ran 39.3 miles in two days.

My husband has suggested that instead of running 10 marathons by the time I am 50, I should consider running 20 half marathons. I am signed up to run the 3M Half in 2 weeks. That will make my 5th half marathon so far. I enjoy running half marathons. Not to say that running a marathon isn’t amazing, I am so glad that I have done two of them. However, I think my husband might be on to something. We will see.

I am very proud of myself. Running the WDW Goofy races is hard. Really hard. However, I can now say that I have done it. It was an experience I will never forget. I am so glad that I made it.

Now…on to several more days of Mickey and vacation. I think I have earned it! 😀

Tomorrow is the WDW Half. Yeah Baby!

January 9th, 2009

I am packed and ready to get up at 3:15 a.m. (that is 2:15 a.m. Texas time….*gulp*). I have to be on the bus no later then 4:00 a.m. in order to get to Epcot for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon.

I am excited. My family is excited. It looks like they are volunteering around Mile 8-9. I sure hope that I do well tomorrow.

The one sad thing is that my family won’t get to see me finish either the half or full races due to where they were positioned for volunteering. I am taking a disposable camera with me in a small fanny pack.

I need to get to bed now. 3:15 a.m. will be here really soon!

Bring on my Half….I AM READY!

Write you tomorrow!
Shan
From the Riverside at Port Orleans, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA
8:19 pm

In Orlando. 2 days until WDW Half…Yeah!

January 8th, 2009

Our day started at 4:15 am. We left Austin, TX to fly to Dallas. We then took a connector flight to Orlando, FL. As I HATE TO FLY, I was given a low dosage of Valium to curb my anxiety. Thankfully, the flights were bearable. *grin*

After getting our car and checking into the Riverside/Port Orleans, we drove to the Disney Sports Complex to pick up our racing bags. My family got information for where they were to cheer the runners for both the half & full races. I was given a bag with THREE lovely, long-sleeved Cool-Max shirts saying: Half, Full, and Goofy Races. My excitement is rising. I also had a wristband strapped to me that said “Goofy Races”. I know that it will go in my souvenir box later.

We spent the rest of the evening in Epcot going on Test Track & Soaring. We are now back at the hotel and getting ready for bed.

We plan on spending tomorrow at the Magic Kingdom. I will need a nap tomorrow and to get to bed early. The half marathon buses start running at 3am. That is 2am Texas time. Oh my goodness!

I think I can….I think I can….I CAN DO THIS!!! 39.3 miles in two days? HECK YEAH!

Can I beat Oprah?

January 4th, 2009

I was curious what Oprah’s time was when she completed her marathon. She did it in 4:29:20. I read that many people weren’t happy with her as she had “staff” along the course giving her drinks & food so she wouldn’t get caught up in the refueling crowds.

Honestly, in my heart, I would love to run my marathon in under 4:30:00. I am not a fast runner. When I run in a race, I usually run about 9:30/mile. Not fast. I know. However, it is running. I train alone. I don’t have a running group or coach to train me for 6 months. I use the Hal Higdon Intermediate II schedule. I have gotten in 2-20 milers, 1-19 miler, 1-16 miler, and several 12-13 mile runs this training season. I sure hope that is enough to get these chunky legs over the finish line within 4:30:00.

I have been reading blogs from runners that ran the 2008 WDW Goofy races. As there are so many people running, many runners said that it was impossible to keep there normal pace. That is discouraging. However, am I there to make a personal best time, or to have fun? Is it too much to ask for if I say…both?

I might not have a “staff” to give me drinks/food along the course. I just have my loving family cheering me on, my Camelbak Hydrobak full of Gatorade, and a few Hammer Gels. The rest as they say, is determination.

I sure would love to beat Oprah though. Who needs a staff anyway?!

One Week From Today…

January 3rd, 2009

….are my Walt Disney World races. I am getting nervous/excited about it. My family is already starting to pack items for our trip. We have gotten our Disney pins for trade in the mail. Our tickets are printed. My race waiver is printed and signed.

I have 8 miles to run tomorrow. Next week’s schedule is:

Monday – Off
Tuesday – 3 Miles
Wednesday – 4 Miles
Thursday – Flying to Orlando
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Half Marathon
Sunday – Full Marathon

*Knees knocking* Where has the 6 months of training gone? My races are here. Woohoo!