Race Report: 2014 New York City Marathon

What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes

As I write my race report for the 2014 New York City Marathon, I am contemplating throwing my name into the 2015 NYC lottery for the 5th time…to enter the 2015 TCS NYC Marathon Lottery Click Here.

On November 2, 2014, I was lucky enough to run my 2nd New York City Marathon in 2 years.  I had run NYC in 2013 through guaranteed entry having been a lottery reject in 2010, 2011, 2012(New York City Marathon – Chemo Shemo).  Never in a million years did I think my number would come up again and I would be given a do-over.  Lucky for me, I would have tons of company in New York.  Both of my running friends, Alison and Janice, were also running through their guaranteed entries – being rejected in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

With Alison and Janice

With Alison and Janice

Because this my 2nd NYC Marathon, I knew what to expect and I was looking forward to savoring the experience.  First up, the 1st rate New York City expo.  Sadly, I was a little disappointed.  Sure there was the humongous official merchandise store, but it seemed the 2013’s NYC expo had more vendors and they weren’t all crammed together in such tight quarters.  Walking this year’s expo, the aisles made for tight, slow-moving and less-than-pleasant shopping.  It was so bad, Alison had to remove her self from the crowded conditions.

With Bart Yasso

With Bart Yasso

I did get to visit with my some of my favorite runners and vendors Bart Yasso in the Runners World booth, Sweaty Bands, and runDisney. And most importantly to me, I got to order my 2nd Tiffany New York City Marathon apple charm.

Official Merch

Official Merchandise

As a member of NYRR the club 2014 entry fee was $216 plus a $11 processing fee.  The non-member US fee was $255 plus a $11 processing fee.  The non-US fee was $347. Note – for 2015 there will not be a fee increase.  Yes, the New York City Marathon is an expensive marathon, here’s what you receive:

  • Entry to the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon (including fluid/fueling stations, medical support, entertainment, baggage handling*, security, and more)
  • Runner “goody bag”, including official ASICS technical shirt and official Marathon Program magazine.
  • Official transportation to the start from Midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, or the Meadowlands Sports Complex (New Jersey); Start festival, including breakfast and entertainment
  • Finisher materials: medal, food, beverages, United Airlines/Foot Locker Heatsheet™, official results magazine

– From New York City Marathon.  See more at: http://www.tcsnycmarathon.org/plan-your-race/getting-in#sthash.GFAb4tMG.dpuf

2014 Bib, tech, program, swag

2014 Bib, tech, program, swag

Since I had already been through the joy that is the NYC Marathon transportation ….I slept in an hour longer than my hotel roommates and got up in enough time to take the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry.

Heading out in the morning

Heading out in the morning

It seemed my subway and ferry rides were less congested than in 2013.  Thankfully all rides were uneventful as I moved from the subway…..

Lady Liberty

Our view of Lady Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry

to the Staten Island Ferry and onto a bus to reach Fort Wadsworth – AKA Marathon Village.

Arriving at Fort Wadsworth

Arriving at Fort Wadsworth

My good college friend, Steve, was volunteering in Marathon Village.  He was stationed at the Poland Spring Water station (you don’t even want to know what time Marathon Village volunteers had to arrive).  I stopped by to say hi and to try to find a place to escape the cold, strong winds.  Runners were camped out and in any available shelter, including the Poland Spring Water truck.

With my colllege friend and 2014 volunteer - Steve

With my college friend and 2014 volunteer – Steve

After a potty stop and a hug, it was time to say good-bye to Steve, and make my way to my corral.  Our marathon start was delayed and there was a back-up at the corrals.  But soon, we were walking and making the turn behind the buses to the start line.  For every wave start of the marathon, I believe they sing the Star Spangled Banner. I don’t remember that, but I do remember they played New York, New York as we crossed the start line and began our assent up the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

The 1st mile of the NYC Marathon...

The 1st mile of the NYC Marathon…

The marathoners were notified of high winds, cold temperatures and that the wheelchair athletes had started the race at mile 2 to avoid the bridge winds.  However, I was not prepared to run headfirst into the 30 mph winds (for miles).  And soon as we started the assent, you felt the winds pushing you back – hard.  The wind did not stop the entire 26.2 miles.

On the bridge into Manhattan

On the bridge into Manhattan

My coach wanted me to start with 30/30, 20/20 or 15/15.   Then at the halfway point, to see how I felt and move to 20/15 or 30/20 if I felt good.  He then suggested at 20 miles to move to 60/30 or 40/20 or 30/15.  But I didn’t take his advice – a former Olympian and finisher of over 150+ marathons – I didn’t listen.  I felt good and I wanted to run 2/walk 30 from the start.  Here were my mile splits:

  1. 11:11
  2. 10:07
  3. 10:54
  4. 10:46
  5. 10:58
  6. 11:16
  7. 11:16
  8. 11:51  I began cramping up on my side at mile 8 and then shortened my intervals.
  9. 12:10
  10. 12:44
  11. 13:35
  12. 13:11
  13. 14:12  By Mile 13 I was full walking and had totally run out of gas. 
  14. 15:27
  15. 15:57
  16. 18:01
  17. 17:48
  18. 16:29
  19. 16:42
  20. 17:11
  21. 18:03
  22. 16:59
  23. 17:13
  24. 17:02
  25. 16:51
  26. 15:04
  27. 7:28:07

I think I was running while both dehydrated and under fueled.  I kept drinking water at all the water stops.  Then I stopped to use the port-a-potties at every mile.  I walked until mile 25.  It was ugly, I was dejected and I felt like it was a repeat of  the Hartford Marathon.  I just put my head down and tried to remain positive, but it was a hard race and my dreams of beating my time for 2013 were squashed.

At the finish!

At the finish!

In 2013, I ran NYC having received a chemotherapy treatment the Friday before Sunday’s race and finished with a 5:28 time.  This year I expected to do better, but it was not meant to be.  I finished in 6:20:11.

Volunteer awarding me my finishers medal

Volunteer awarding me my finishers medal

Here are some of facts of the 2014 NYC Marathon directly from Runners World:

  • The start temperature in Staten Island at 9 am was 43-degrees
  • The wind was blowing at a steady 31 miles per hour
  • There were gusts of more than 40 miles per hour
  • The wheelchair race was shortened to 23.2 miles due to winds on the Verrazano
  • The race had 50,564 finishers breaking 2013’s record as the biggest marathon in history. (50,869 starters)
With Janice and Alison after the finish

With Janice and Alison on the subway back to the hotels

When you are out on course in the middle of 26.2 miles all you can think about is yourself and getting to the finish.  Because I was wallowing in my own self-pity, I didn’t realize others might also be having a crappy day.  It turns out my friends were all finished with the race, but were also all worn down.  I saw my HMF Teammate Chris Trotta at the finish and picked up Janice and Alison at the medical tent.  I have to admit I felt a little better hearing all my friends struggled too because as you know – misery loves company.  Regardless of how we got to the finish, we did finish.

157

2014 NYC bib, blanket and medal

The following night, I was invited to a UCAN event at Yale University where I got the honor of meeting Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon and 4th place finisher of the 2014 NYC Marathon.

169

With Meb

I had Meb sign my medal because I told him, “it’s the only race I’m ever going to run with you.”  It turns out, our paths would once again cross….in Las Vegas!  171

Is the New York City Marathon on your bucket list?  Will you be entering the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon lottery?  

Registration Tips for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend/Dumbo Double Dare

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Finish

2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Finish

Today, February 10th at 12pm EST registration opens for the runDisney Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend – September 3-6, 2015.  This will be the 10th anniversary of the Disneyland Half Marathon and registration is expected to close quickly.

The Disneyland Half Marathon Expo will open on Thursday, September 3rd.  The Disneyland 5K will be held on Friday, September 4th, the Disneyland 10K/1st race of the Dumbo Double Dare on Saturday, September 5th and the Disneyland Half Marathon/2nd race of the Dumbo Double Dare on Sunday, September 6th.

Registration Fees:

  • Disneyland Half Marathon (includes race entry, tech shirt, medal):  $199
  • Disneyland 10K (includes race entry, tech shirt, medal):  $110
  • Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (includes race entry to 10K & Half, 3 tech shirts, 3 medals):  $330
  • Disneyland 5K (includes race entry, t-shirt, medallion):  $75

Earn the Blue Coast to Coast Challenge Medal:  Run both a Half Marathon on the East Coast and a Half Marathon on the West Coast in the same calendar year to receive the Blue Coast to Coast Race Challenge medal.  Please note – in addition to the Blue Coast to Coast, runners can earn a pink edition of the Coast to Coast Race Challenge medal by running the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon in February and the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon in May. Those who complete this combo of races will receive this newly created medal only at the 2015 Tinker Bell Half Marathon.

The 3rd running of the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge (running both the 10K and the Half Marathon) will probably fill first. If you are planning to run in 2015 then book quickly to not be disappointed.   Do not wait to register.  Both the 2013 and 2014 races sold out within HOURS.

Registration Tips: 

  1. Know your Active.com account and password prior to 12pm – EST.  If you do not have a Active.com account and password please register for one prior to 12pm registration day!
  2. Remember to stay calm and block off your calendar and silence your phone for no distractions!
  3. Know which races you are planning to register.  New for 2015 –  Proof of Time to support your anticipated finish time is not needed at the time of registration.  You must provide your proof of time on the runDisney website between March 10, 2015 and June 2, 2015 or you will be placed in the last corral.
  4. If you are registering others:  have their home address, phone number, email, date of birth, In Case of Emergency Contact Name/ICE Phone Number, and tech shirt size.
  5. If you want to purchase additional items – like pins, parties, cheer squads, jackets - register for the RACE FIRST and then log back into Active after you have secured your race registration.
  6. Have your credit card available for serious damage!

Are you signing up for the 2015 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend?  What are your registration tips?

Race Report: Hershey Half Marathon

025

I kicked off my birthday week running the 5th Hershey Half Marathon, held on Sunday, October 19, 2014.  The race was $75 and included a long sleeve tech, goodie bag, finisher’s medal and 2 tickets to Hersheypark in the Dark!  As a frequent theme and amusement park patron, race entries which include park tickets entice me to participate and to bring my family along for the weekend.

026Please note – a Kids Fun Run was also offered for children ages 2 to 13 for $12.  The race distances ranged from 30 to 340 yards.  Registration included a Fun Run t-shirt, Fun Run Medal and a “sweet treat.”   Unfortunately, we could not make the Kids Fun Run due to a Cross Country Meet, but maybe in 2015!

027This was my first time running the Hershey Half Marathon, but I have visited Hershey Park as a child and with my family when the kids were younger.  Now that they were older, and more importantly TALLER, we were all excited to see which coasters we could ride together!

029We arrived at Hershey mid-afternoon, checked into our hotel and promptly headed to packet pick-up.  Packet pick up and Expo was held at The Ice Palace.  The expo was two rows of  vendors with packet pick up located in back.  Although the expo was extremely small, there were plenty of free, GENEROUS samples and it was very well-organized.

Hershey Half Swag Bags

Hershey Half Swag Bags

After a quick stroll through the expo, we headed to the park for the Hersheypark in The Dark event with our FREE (included) tickets!

036

One of the things I love at this park is the ride height signs.

One of the things I love at this park is the ride height signs.

037

The Hersheypark in The Dark event’s hours were from 12pm to 10pm – 10 hours of park fun, again with 2 tickets included with your race registration. The park’s “roller ghosters” were renamed for the event and there was themed entertainment and attractions.  Kids 12 and under were invited to visit Treatville. Treatville was a walk-through trick or treat area.  My children received a bag of Hershey candies.  Adults were not offered any candy – so I had to steal my kid’s candy and I shamelessly begged the volunteer for a Cadbury Scream Egg – MY FAVORITE!!!!

Entering Treatville

Entering Treatville

Inside Treatville

Inside Treatville

The park was not crowded.  The longest line wait-time was 30-minutes – and this was for a top coaster.  My only wish was that we were dressed warmer.  The cold coupled with the early race time had us heading to the park exit earlier than expected.  We grabbed a quick dinner at Red Robbin (located right outside the gates) before heading back to our hotel, Hampton Inn and Suites.  

058

Race start was scheduled for 7:30am.  My friends, Scott and Susan, advised me to get to the stadium before the roads closed.  This was important since my hotel was located on the race course.  I listened and arrived early enough for a front row spot.  Susan joined me to wait in the warm car while Scott went back home for a forgotten item.  Both were course veterans and pointed out the important things – like the location of the best flush toilets to use before the race.

With Susan and Scott

With Susan and Scott

 

Hershey Characters posing for snaps pre-race

Hershey Characters posing for snaps pre-race

After my less than stellar performance at the Hartford Marathon the week prior, I decided I was going to run for time.  Without consulting my coach, I decided on a 2 minutes/30 second interval.  I also decided I was going to break in my new Mizuno Wave Rider 18’s…

071

Soon it was time to begin.  The Hershey Half Marathon has a self seeding start – meaning wherever you wanted to start in the crowd, you could…and soon we were off running.

073

The race began within the parking lot outside the Stadium and ran around another parking lot until we entered Hershey Park.  Inside the park there was some congestion and tight corners, but in a blink of an eye, we were again outside the park and running through the surrounding roads headed towards Milton Hershey School.

074

I had been warned about the Hershey hills, but they were relentless.  These hills were rollers.  And on and on they rolled…

My family outside our hotel cheering me on...

My family outside our hotel cheering me on…

Some of my favorite parts of the race were the roads around Milton Hershey School.  The students came out to cheers us on and we welcomed the support on the rolling hills.  Another race highlight was having my family come out of the hotel room to cheer me on!  Note – I run so many races, my family is unimpressed with my running.  I chose a hotel that was literally on the course so all they needed to do was step outside the door to see me pass.

The finish!

The finish!

With every mile I passed, I knew I was putting in a good race with a good time.  I knew I wasn’t going to PR, but considering the rollers, I knew my run/walk/run finish of 2:17:25 was a success.  I was ecstatic.  I haven’t seen a time like that since BC (before cancer) and the course had unrelenting hills and wind.  Also, I felt strong at the finish.

Finisher of the Hershey Half Marathon!

Finisher of the Hershey Half Marathon!

My only disappointment with the Hershey Half Marathon was the 5th anniversary medal.  The medal was not shaped in the form of a Hershey candy like in previous years.  It showed the Hershey factory with its 2 smoke stacks….meh.  I wanted a Mr. Goodbar or a Hershey Kiss shaped medal!!!  But other than my personal disappointment in the medal design, Hershey was a solid, well-run race weekend.  The volunteers were excellent.  The post-race refreshments were stellar.  There was SWAG, with the medal and race shirt – did I mention the 2 free Hersheypark in The Dark tickets…..THUMBS UP HERSHEY!  Well done.

055

Hershey Half Marathon swag

The Hershey Half Marathon will be run on Sunday, October 18, 2015.

Hershey Half post race refreshments...

Hershey Half post race refreshments…

Is the Hershey Half Marathon on your #bucketlist?  Have you run the Hershey Half Marathon – what did you think?

Race Report: Hartford Marathon

Picking up my bib for my 4th Hartford Marathon

Picking up my bib for my 4th Hartford Marathon

The Hartford Marathon is my hometown marathon.  Not only have I helped coach the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s 1st time marathon training groups on the course, but I have also raced the course.  This was my 5th time running Hartford and my 1st representing Team HMF.

092

I decided to pick up my bib and shop the expo prior to attending the new ticketed event “Girls Night.”  The Hartford Marathon expo is located in Hartford’s XL Center.  Since I was attending the expo the Thursday night after work and right before it closed for the evening, picking up my bib was a breeze!  I was able to visit the vendors and shop the official merchandise before the event.

094Linda Ambard, who I met at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon while we were both being profiled for Why I runDisney, would be earning her 50th State in her quest for 50 full marathons in 50 U.S. States at the Hartford Marathon.  She was chosen to be part of the Aiello Inspiration Team and I was greeted by her face when I walked into the expo!

093

Hartford Marathon's Race Director, Beth Shluger introducing the guests

Hartford Marathon’s Race Director, Beth Shluger introducing the guests

When Hartford Marathon announced, “Girl’s Night - Powerful Stories from Fearless Women: Kathrine Switzer, Molly Barker and Colleen Kelly Alexander”  I quickly registered to attend with my best friend, Nicole.  Beth Shluger, Race Director – Hartford Marathon, led questions of the guest panel – Kathrine Switzer, Marathon Woman and iconic athlete, Molly Barker, the founder of Girls on the Run and Colleen Kelly Alexander. To say the evening was “inspirational” would be an understatement.  My three big takeaways were:

  1. Kathrine Switzer told us about training for her 2nd marathon – with your eyes on a goal and hard work you can do anything – BE FEARLESS.
  2. Hartford doesn’t have a Girls on the Run chapter and we really need one!
  3. If Colleen Kelly Alexander can do it anything is possible

Here’s Beth Shluger’s recap of both the evening and highlights of the Hartford Marathon weekend.

108

Colleen Kelly Alexander sharing her remarkable recovery when she was run over by a freight truck in 2011

With Kathrine Switzer

With Kathrine Switzer

The 2014 Hartford Marathon took place on Saturday, October 11th.  This was my first 26.2 after finishing my breast cancer treatments and I was excited to run on my home turf. I was asked to represent Team HMF and was featured on NBC 30’s marathon coverage.

Speaking with NBC Connecticut before the race

Speaking with
NBC Connecticut before the race

Unfortunately, my running was not where I wanted or needed it to be to run a solid marathon.  My coach’s advice was to use this race as a long training run for the New York City Marathon.  He suggested I run/walk 60/30 or 40/20 for the first half and then switch to 2/30’s.  Our goal was to finish under 5:30 – if the weather cooperated.

With Linda before our media interviews

With Linda before our media interviews

The weatherman had called for rain race day.  The temperature was to be in the 40’s – which is normally perfect – but coupled with rain, would not be ideal.  After speaking to the media, I chose not to meet my team, but since I was parked only 2 blocks from the start, to stay in my warm car until the last possible second.  When I ventured to the start, I wore a plastic rain poncho.

Back in the car and staying dry...

Back in the car and staying dry…

Since it was raining, I don’t have any photos to share from the course.  It was a wet, New England day.  Regardless, I followed my coach’s plan and did 60/30 intervals until miles 17.  Mile 17 is the turn of the out and back.  It also turned out to be my wall.  Sensing this, I dropped my intervals down further to 20/30, but I mostly just walked from miles 17 until the finish.

139

My hat signed earlier that morning by Kathrine Switzer.

There was a steady rain until I was somewhere within the 20-mile mark.  The temperature had dropped to 48-degrees and I was miserable.  My gloves were soaked.  My socks were soaked. Everything was soaked and I was chaffed in spots I have never been chafed before.  I was doing great until 17 and then I was wrestling with my inner demons.  I was trying very hard to be exactly what Kathrine Switzer had written on my hat – “BE FEARLESS” and HAPPY – but it was ugly.

I was so upset when I saw the 5 hr pacer pass me…then the 5:15 hr pacer passed me…and worst yet – the 5:30 hr pacer passed me…I was defeated, yet I kept moving forward forcing myself to not give up and NEVER, EVER, EVER looking back.

At the finish!

At the finish!

Here are my stats for my 1st marathon after completing breast cancer treatments:

  • Start 8:03:47
  • 13.1 Chip time 2:26:21 – 11:11 min/mile
  • 20 mile Chip time 4:04:11 12:13 min/mile
  • Finish Chip time 5:41:35 13:03 min/mile
Finisher shirt, medal, water bottle and my bib

Finisher shirt, medal, water bottle and my bib

The following day I felt perfectly fine. No aches. No pains. And everything felt great except for the chafed body parts.  Considering the amount of rain and puddles, I surprisingly didn’t have any blisters on my feet.  I chalked it up to another successful Hartford Marathon.  See you on October 10, 2015.

Race Report: 2014 runDisney The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler

056The main event of the weekend, and the second race of the day, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler had a start time of 10pm.  A full 14 plus hours after the start of the Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run.  So as soon as got back to our rooms, we ate breakfast and got out of our costumes/running gear, and napped.

101It is vital, especially with races both in the morning and at night, to rest and stay off our feet as much as possible.  In 2013, I didn’t rest as much as I should, and the little rest coupled with Florida heat made the 10 miler difficult.  This year, I stayed off my feet until it was time to costume up, park at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and bus over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

147Perfectly Goofy Gail and I choose costumes from the Haunted Mansion’s stretch room – complete with props!  I always complain that the 10-miler should be a half marathon – that is until I’m at mile 9 and then I’m happy to only have a mile left.  I was ECSTATIC we were “only” running 10 miles since I was carrying both a parasol and stuffed gator.  And then I was THRILLED I was “only” carrying a parasol and stuffed gator for 10 miles when I was handed George to carry for a stretch….He was WAY heavier than both combined!

138

The Tower of Terror 10 miler was a great race.  The weather was humid, but not too unbearable.  There were plenty of character stops, although with all our stopping and waiting in line, we ended up having to hoof it at the end to outrun the sweepers…

Here’s who we saw on course:

  1. Jafar – Aladdin
  2. Shenzi, Banzai and Ed – The Lion King
  3. The Queen of Hearts – Alice in Wonderland
  4. Doctor Facilier – The Princess and the Frog
  5. Captain Cook – Peter Pan
  6. The Witch – Snow White
  7. Jack Skellington and Sally – The Nightmare Before Christmas
  8. The gravediggers – Haunted Mansion
  9. Stitch – Lilo and Stitch
  10. Zombie football players
  11. The Big Bad Wolf – The Three Little Pigs
  12. Ballroom dancers – Haunted Mansion
  13. Lotso – Toy Story 3

We had a great time at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler.  Having a night race dedicated to Disney Villains with the spirit of Halloween should remain in the runDisney schedule.  Unfortunately, the race is not on runDisney’s 2015 schedule, but we hope we see it back in the future.  Here’s a video recap of our race – we hope you enjoy!

Did you run the Tower10Miler?  What was your favorite character stop?

Race Report: 2014 runDisney Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run

045

Can we “hitch” a ride to the start….

runDisney’s Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run is (was) one of my favorite 5K races held at Walt Disney World.*  This was my 2nd year running The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler weekend races and my 5th runDisney weekend of 2014.  One of the cool and challenging things of  this weekend is both of the 5K and 10 miler, like the Wine and Dine races, are held on the very same day!  This can make both rest and fueling a challenge.

067

With Honest John and Gideon…

The Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run began at 7:30am.  Which by runDisney’s standards is in the middle of the day!  A 7:30am start is THE latest start time of any of the runDisney races!  Unfortunately for us, it was raining when we drove over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex so we camped out in the car waiting until the last possible second to make it to our corrals by 7:15am.  Lucky for us the sky cleared as we scurried to our corral.

080

With the Big Bad Wolf…

The Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run has one of the best openings of a runDisney 5K (second only to the Tinker Bell 5K).  Right before the start of the race, the Headless Horseman rides in from the woods to welcome the runners to the race – please see the video below for his entrance.  And for those who don’t make it to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – it’s quite a treat!  After that excitement and the singing of the National Anthem, we were sent off and into the woods…

086

With the Haunted Mansion grave diggers…

The 5K Trail Run’s course is run on the soccer fields and dirt trails of the Sports Complex.  Considering it had just rained, the trails were not in that bad a shape.  However, because we were costumed, we took our time enjoying #ALLTHECHARACTERSTOPS.

Glow in the dark t-shirts and medallions with the race bibs.

Glow in the dark t-shirts and medallions with the race bibs.

This weekend’s races are extra special if you like stopping for photos because the “villain” characters aren’t regularly in the parks.  Here are the characters we encountered:

  1. Honest John the Fox and Gideon the Cat – Pinocchio
  2. The witch – Snow White
  3. Brer Fox and Brer Bear – Song of the South
  4. The Big Bad Wolf – The Three Little Pigs
  5. Grave diggers from the Haunted Mansion

For a 3.1 mile race there were just enough characters and the lines were manageable.  The volunteers were outstanding as usual.  I especially loved the “glow in the dark” race t-shirt and Hitchhiking Ghosts finishers medallion.  In my opinion, it was a great improvement over 2013’s orange tee and Mickey themed medallion.

For a full video recap please click below:

*The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler Weekend is not on runDisney’s 2015 race calendar.

Did you run the 2014 Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run?  What did you think?

Breast Cancer at 41 – The Bells and Whistles

703Finally after a year and a half, the long road of my breast cancer reconstruction is finally complete.  What you must realize, I have been extremely lucky.  Unlike others, I have not had any infections.  I have not had any complications.  My surgeries and my recovery have gone to plan – knock on wood.

Timeline:

  • April 2013 Lump found through self-exam
  • June 21, 2013 Mammogram & ultrasound
  • July 2, 2013 Ultrasound guided biopsy
  • July 8, 2013 Breast cancer diagnosis
  • July 30, 2013 Bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction (tissue expanders)
  • July 2013 – January 2014 chemotherapy and gradual expansion of skin w/saline
  • February 25, 2014 – Complete hysterectomy with breast reconstruction (permanent implants)
  • August 1, 2014 Nipple reconstruction
  • January 22, 2015 Areola tattoos

Nipple and areola reconstruction are the last stages of breast reconstruction and must be done after the implant reconstruction has healed.  Although these procedures are purely cosmetic I thought them to be necessary to help give my breast a more natural look and to somewhat hide the mastectomy scars (ha, ha, ha – it’s pretty hard to hide scars that cut each breast in half).

Of all my reconstruction bandage photos, this is my favorite.  I would totally rock this bandage bandeau.

Of all my reconstruction bandage photos, this is my favorite. I would totally rock this bandage bandeau.

I had my nipple reconstruction on August 1, 2014, five months after my implant reconstruction.  It was an outpatient procedure where my skin was formed into a nipple shape and stitches were used to secure the form of the nipple.  The recovery was easy and my only limitations were 3 weeks off from running and swimming.

Although my plastic surgeon had suggested me going to a tattoo artist to have my areola tattoos done, I couldn’t wrap my head around THAT experience and chose to schedule my appointment with my plastic surgeon in his office – heck I had met my insurance deductible January 2nd  why would I go elsewhere?  However, when the appointment finally came and the nurse told me the tattoo machine wasn’t working, I decided to change my plans.

Months earlier this story on Little Vinnie’s Tattoo shop in Maryland had been sent to me:

http://www.nytimes.com/video/health/100000002915699/the-nipple-artist.html. 

I decided to call Little Vinnie’s Tattoo Shop to schedule an appointment.  Paul Bessette answered the shop’s phone, my questions and soon I had an appointment to go to Finksburg.

Little Vinnie's Tattoo shop

Little Vinnie’s Tattoo shop

On Thursday, January 22nd I walked into Little Vinnie’s Tattoo shop.  I was promptly greeted, filled out the necessary paperwork and soon it was time to get inked.  Paul accessed the situation, used plastic nipples for placement and size, and Sharpied the outlines.  After a quick artistic consultation with Vinnie, we were on our way.

Paul mixing ...

Paul getting ready…

Paul mixed the ink and we decided on colors.  Then it was time to begin.  Because my breasts were removed and replaced with implants, I didn’t feel the needle UNTIL he worked on specific areas – and the pain was NOT felt in the area being inked.  And really the pain was nothing.

I cannot say enough positive things about my experience.  Every single person I encountered at the shop was professional.  Heck, they’ve seen it all.  They were respectful and I know they felt they were actually making a difference in women’s lives. After my reconstruction, I felt like a nipple less freak.  I didn’t feel sexy.  I didn’t feel like myself.  I felt incomplete naked.  Having my nipples reconstructed was my first step to me feeling back to normal, but having my nipple tattoos was the icing on the cake.

As we began Paul said to me, “…I want you to look in the mirror and smile.”

When I was watching him work in the mirror and I saw the almost complete tattoo, my demeanor changed.  I smiled.  I leaned back into the chair and I got back my swagger.

And now when I look in the mirror at my naked reconstructed body, I smile.  I smile through tears of joy.

With Paul Bessette

With Paul Bessette

Click here to find more information about Paul Bessette and The Vinnie Myers Team.

Enjoy Early Registration for runDisney Events

Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members have access to early registration for runDisney events before the general public.

Today, Tuesday, January 27, 2015 early registration begins for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend at noon EST / 9 AM PST on the applicable Annual Passholder Program and Disney Vacation Club benefit pages.

2015 – 2016 runDisney Early Registration Dates:

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna
Event Dates: September 3 – September 6, 2015
Early Registration Starts: January 27, 2015 – noon EST
Early Registration Ends: February 9, 2015 – 8:00 PM EST

Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
Event Dates: November 6 – November 7, 2015
Early Registration Starts: March 3, 2015 – Noon EST
Early Registration Ends: March 16, 2015 – 8:00 PM EST

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna
Event Dates: November 12 – November 15, 2015
Early Registration Starts: March 24, 2015 – Noon EST
Early Registration Ends: April 6, 2015 – 8:00 PM EST

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna
Event Dates: January 6 – January 10, 2016
Early Registration Starts: April 14, 2015 – Noon EST
Early Registration Ends: April 27, 2015 – 8:00 PM EST

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend presented by Sierra Nevada Corporation
Event Dates: January 14 – January 17, 2016
Early Registration Starts: June 2, 2015 – Noon EST
Early Registration Ends: June 15, 2015 – 8:00 PM EST

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Event Dates: February 18 – February 21, 2016
Early Registration Starts: June 30, 2015 – Noon EST
Early Registration Ends: July 13, 2015 – 8:00 PM EST

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend presented by PANDORA Jewelry
Event Dates: May 5 – May 8, 2016
Early Registration Starts: July 28, 2015 – Noon EST
Early Registration Ends: August 10, 2015 – 8:00 PM EST

My Race Tips for runDisney’s Grumpy, Goofy, Dopey and Everything in Between!

Photos from 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend:  Family 5K, 10K, Half, Full

Photos from 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Family 5K, 10K, Half, Full

The 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon “Weekend” is right around the corner.  And feelings of excitement, dread, fear, nausea, etc. have probably begun to set in if you haven’t experienced Marathon Weekend before – and probably even if you know EXACTLY what you are up against.

2014 Race Bibs for WDW Weekend

2014 Race Bibs for WDW Weekend

In 2015, I will be celebrating my 7th Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  I will be running my 7th WDW Marathon, my 6th Goofy and my 2nd Dopey Challenge.  I’ve learned many things from the addition of the 10K to Marathon Weekend.  I offer you some NEW tips to put your mind at ease.

Please note, I have written other blog posts on tips I’ve learned for the WDW Marathon Weekend Races – please feel free to click the links below:

Tips for Experience runDisney Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

11 Tips for Running Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge

My Top Walt Disney World Marathon Tips

Tips For the Week Before You Leave for Marathon Weekend:

Packing costumes for the 2014 WDW 5K

Packing costumes for the 2014 WDW 5K

  1. Begin Getting Up Early:  You may of heard you will have to get up EARLY (the middle of the night) for the WDW Races.  This is true – probably between 2:30am to 3:00am is when you should be up and out the door to catch the bus or monorail to get through security (checking of your bag, race belt), and to bag drop (a secured location, alphabetically organized where you can leave your belongings in the runDisney clear bag until after the race), prior to walking to the Corrals.
  2. Fuel Up:  Now is the time to put down the holiday sweets and get focused on the races at hand.  Nutrition is all about eating what you have been eating during your training.  You know what works for you – DON’T CHANGE IT NOW.
  3. Hydrate:  Begin your hydration now.  Carry a water bottle with you and be conscience of your intake.  How do you know you are drinking enough water?  Check you urine.  Your pee should be light in color.
  4. Plan it Out:  Meals, grocery list, Expo shopping list, get it together now while you can think clearly before the excitement of being in WDW hits.
Packing for the 2014 WDW 10K

Packing for the 2014 WDW 10K

Packing List: 

Race attire laid out for family - 2014 WDW 5K

Race attire laid out for family – 2014 WDW 5K

I use MouseSavers Ultimate Packing List.  Google it since it will not allow me to place a link here.  It is the BEST Packing List I have ever seen and I have been using it for years.  For a great Running Checklist I use A Runner’s Race Checklist.  Below are some of my additional items:

  1. Fuel:  Bring what you need from home.  Yes, there will be vendors selling this and that, but use what you have been using during training for Marathon Weekend.  Leave the new stuff for post WDW races.
  2. Hydration:  Bring a water bottle with you EVERYWHERE – carry it empty through security, fill it for the plane, carry it with you to the expo, in the parks.  Refill it often.
  3. Race Waivers & Photo ID:  Both are needed to pick up your race bibs.  There are printers at the expo if you forget, but save time do it now.
  4. Magic Bands, Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club Card:  Both the Annual Pass and DVC Membership cards will give a 10% discount on runDisney official merchandise.  You will be able to use your Magic Band for changing privileges at the official runDisney merchandise store.
  5. Power-strip:  With Kindles, iPad, iPhones, Garmins, cameras – there are never enough outlets.  A power-strip consolidates all your electronics in one spot for ease and efficiency.
  6. Race Shoes:  I bring 1 pair per race – for Dopey I will bring 4 pairs.  I will bring different shoes for park touring.
  7. Costumes:  If you haven’t been to a runDisney race, the costumes are part of the fun.  Do dress up and have a great time!
2014 Walt Disney World Expo

2014 Walt Disney World Expo

The Walt Disney World Expo:

  1. runDisney Merchandise:  My tip is to create a shopping list prior to arriving.  Here is a link to the Official 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Merchandise.  To say that it can get down-right crazy at the expo is an understatement.  Stay calm and smile.
  2. New Balance runDisney Shoes:  If you would like to purchase the official New Balance runDisney shoes registration begins Wednesday, January 7th 6am via this link.  You can obtain a shopping time and hold your desired shoe type and size.
  3. Create a Shopping List:  The Walt Disney World Expo is a runners paradise.  I’ve attended some large running expos – New York, Boston, Marine Corps and Chicago – Disney is one of the best.  TIP:  strollers are not allowed, if you must bring a child into the expo, I would use a carrier.
2014 Expo bags for family

2014 Expo bags for family

Magic Band and Finisher Bracelet

Magic Band and Finisher Bracelet

Tips for Grumpy, Goofy and Dopey – Multiple Races in Multiple Days:  adapted from my 11 Tips for Running Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge with the addition of the 5K

  1. Pace Yourself:  The Challenges are all about survival and pacing yourself.  Conserve your energy.  Get your rest.  Minimize time on your feet.
  2. Switch it Up:  I bring 1 pair of shoes per race.  This is especially important for the Half Marathon and Full Marathons.  Remember to bring addition footwear options for park touring.  Remember it’s Florida and it can rain at any time.
  3. Be Prepared:  I layout my race attire in drawers, on hangers, on the floor for all 4 races so I don’t need to think about it as the days progress and the mornings come earlier and earlier.  I stack my clothes backwards with the last item I’m going to put on, on the bottom.  I also lay my sunblock, deodorant and Glide next to my race attire so I don’t forget to use it in the morning.
  4. Use Compression:  I recommend compression socks for each race if running the Goofy and Dopey.  Wearing them racing will change your life – no joke.  If traveling long distances via car or plane, wear compression on the flights to and from the weekend.
  5. Remember Your Challenge Bracelets:  After each race, when running a challenge, runners will have to check into the Goofy or Dopey tent to receive their race completion bracelets.  After the 5K, 10K, and Half you will receive a bracelet.  These must be worn until the completion of all your races in order to receive your challenge medals.
  6. Get a Rub Down:  Bring money for the Massage Tent.  It is $1 per minute and helps with recovery between races especially for the Goofy/Dopey.  Note, the Massage Tent is only available for the Half and Full Marathons.  Another option is booking a massage at Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs or The Grand Floridian.  Also, remember to pack and use your Stick or foam roller.
  7. Fuel Up & Hydrate:  Yes, you are on vacation, but a race-cation is a different animal.  It is not best to eat foods you haven’t prior to racing.  Keep to your known foods to minimize porta potty time during the race(s).
  8. Stay Calm and Carry On:  I think this is the most important tip.  It is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of the starting line.  There will be fireworks.  There will be stories of inspiration.  You must not succumb to the craziness of others.  Run your own race.  Stick to your race plan.  When using run/walk/run move to the side and stick to your intervals from the very start.  Focus.  Stay true.  Keep your eyes on the prize.
  9. Focus on the Now:  Remember to concentrate on the race at hand.  Take each day one day at a time.  Don’t worry about the full marathon on the 5K morning.  Break up the distances and focus on the NOW.
  10. Get Your Rest:  Go to bed early.  Remember those mornings come soon enough.
  11. Walk it Out:  Rest is great, but sitting around is not.  Remember to walk to help ease recovery and avoid tightness.  And ROLL BABY ROLL!
  12. Celebrate Your Accomplishments:  It doesn’t matter if it is your 1st race or your 100th.  To quote Bart Yasso, “never take a finish line for-granted.”  Be proud of your accomplishments.  Celebrate your achievements, you earned it.  Tip:  It is common for runDisney race finishers to wear their medals – 5K, 10K, Half, Full, Goofy, Dopey – in the parks and around the resort during WDW Marathon Race Week! 
2014 WDW 5K

2014 WDW 5K

Tips – Walt Disney World Family Fun Run 5K:

  1. Arrive Early:  Characters will be available for pre (and post) race photos.  There will also be a DJ to warm up the crowd.
  2. It’s a FUN RUN:  The 5K is not officially timed (unless you are running the Dopey) so now is your opportunity to stop & pose for photos!
  3. Conserve Your Energy:  If you are running multiple races during the weekend it is best NOT to push yourself during the 5K.  Why risk injury?
  4. Pay Attention:  The race begins prior to sunrise.  There are runners of all different abilities on course.  Please keep your eyes and ears open.  Watch for uneven pavement, puddles and sharp turns.  Watch for children.  Don’t stop short or worse in the middle of the course to take a photo.  Always move to the side!
  5. Have a Race Plan:  When running with family members make a race plan the night prior to the race.  Not in the morning, it’s too early.  Confirm a meeting place both pre & post race.  Designate race buddies.  Wear Road ID’s.  Give the children instructions on where to go if you get separated.  Give the adults instructions on where to go if you get separated.  Make sure everyone knows their hotel name & bus number.
  6. Communicate:  Because of the concentrated amount of runners at the race start and finish line, it is best to use TEXT as a mode of cellular communication rather than phones.  Make sure all members of your party know your chosen mode of communicate prior to arrival.
Finishers of the 2014 Walt Disney World Family Fun Run 5K and Kids Races 200, 400 meters

Finishers of the 2014 Walt Disney World Family Fun Run 5K and Kids Races 200, 400 meters

Tips – Walt Disney World Kids Races:

  1. Arrive Early:  The Kids Races are located on the track of Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.  It’s a hike from the buses.  Leave enough time to go to the bathroom and find your meeting location.
  2. Find a Volunteer:  It’s “organized chaos.”  The kids are lined up by race – 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters.  Trust me, find a volunteer and have them point you to the correct location.
  3. Keep the Child Claim Ticket:  Each child’s bib has a claim ticket.  Once the race is over the child will wait until a parent with the correct claim ticket comes to the chute to claim the child.  No ticket.  No child.
Linda Ambard and I with Biggest Loser Winner, Ali Vincent

Linda Ambard and I with Biggest Loser Winner, Ali Vincent

Tips – Walt Disney World 10K:  

  1. See Tips for 5K
  2. Bring Your Camera & Smile:  As the race distances get longer the opportunities for Character Photo stops increase.  runDisney race professional photographers will be on hand to snap your official race photos plus they will also snap photos with your personal camera or cell phone.  Please note official race photographs cannot be combined with Disney’s Memory Maker.  Tip:  Have your camera on and ready to snap a photo so the character lines continuously move.
  3. Course Support:  Water and PowerAde stations will be on course before mile 2, 3.5 and 5.5 if you require fluids before these stations, it is best to bring your own.  First Aid tents are also on course and have Tylenol, BioFreeze and Vaseline on hand.  Volunteers will be stationed throughout the course and on bikes.  Flag them down if needed.
  4. Medals and Finisher Chutes:  Once you are through the finish line remember there are multiple volunteers awarding medals so keep moving forward and don’t cluster.  Remember to pick up ONE water, ONE PowerAde (available in multiple flavors) and ONE recovery box.  Don’t forget to pose for your official finisher photo.
Running through the castle!

Running through the castle!

Tips – Walt Disney World Half Marathon:

  1. See Tips for 5K and 10K
  2. Spectators:  Have a plan for your loved ones of where they can see you on course and/or at the finish.  Tracking is available via runDisney, however, it is best to use a different source like the Garmin tracking app for precise tracking.
  3. Main Street U.S.A.:  The best thing about running the Half and Full marathons are running up Main Street U.S.A.  The roar of the crowd is deafening.   However, one must pay attention.  There are trolley tracks in the middle of the street so watch your footing.  Do not stop suddenly for photos – please move to the side.
  4. Cinderella Castle:  Make sure you pose in front of the Castle.  If we are lucky, the Christmas lights will be lit.  There are multiple lines going simultaneously.  Go to the X, smile and move on – you’ll be happy you stopped.
  5. The Hill:  The “hill” is a ramp to an overpass located on Mile 10, but it is a hill.  It is also a smaller, banked ramp.  If you choose to walk, then please alert those behind you by raising your arm before you slow down and move off to one side.
Alison screaming her head off during our Expedition Everest Ride!  She was terrified and I was peeing my pants laughing at her terror.

Alison screaming her head off during our Expedition Everest Ride! She was terrified and I was peeing my pants laughing at her terror. (Note Perfectly Goofy Gail smiling)

Tips – Walt Disney World Full Marathon:

  1. See Tips for 5K, 10K and Half
  2. Be Prepared for Anything:  Meaning it might be a 5 plus hour day – it all depends on the weather.  Therefore, bring Chap Stick and TP.  Wear sunblock and Glide.  Bring your sunglasses and/or visor/hat.  Salt tablets are not such a bad thing to carry.  I also wear a race belt with NUUN and carry my own Gels.
  3. Walt Disney World Speedway:  Watch your footing in and out the steep ramps.  Note  – the speedway is banked.
  4. Riding Expedition Everest:  By the time most of us are entering Animal Kingdom, the park is opening and you may get the opportunity to ride a coaster DURING a Marathon!!!  If it is, then proceed to the Single Rider Line and prepare to hold on to your hats and sunglasses!  Tip:  Remember to pause your Garmin or keep it on to record the fastest mile of your race! 

Good luck!  And see you next week at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend!  Next up –  Going Coast to Coast:  The 2015 Inaugural Star Wars Weekend – 7 days and 71 miles of fun!

What did I forget?  What are your favorite Tips for runDisney’s Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend?  What item do you recommend everyone pack?

Closing the Door on 2014 – AKA The Year I Out Ran Cancer

Photos from 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend:  Family 5K, 10K, Half, Full

Photos from 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Family 5K, 10K, Half, Full

2014 was one of the best years of my life – hands down.

I mean what’s not to love.  I finished chemotherapy.  I got new boobs.  My hair grew back.  I got to run 50 races.  Seriously, what more could you and should you really ask for in life?

So here are some of my highlights from 2014:  

Finishing Chemotherapy: 

I don’t know a better way to kick off the year except by completing chemotherapy treatments.  On Thursday January 2nd, one day earlier than scheduled due to an impending snowstorm, I recevied my 6th and final chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.  I would still require an additional 13 Herceptin treatments, but Herceptin wasn’t as debilitating to the body as Taxotere and Carboplatin.

Some photos from different stages of breast cancer treatment.

Some photos from different stages of breast cancer treatment.

As the chemotherapy drugs left my system I grew stronger.   Every time I sat in the cancer ward to receive treatment, with fear and suffering around me, I left re-energized to live my life to the fullest and appreciate the NOW.  Every opportunity I was given I took advantage.  I celebrated being alive.  I reflected on the past and made a plan for the future.

With my doctor and some brave patients receiving treatment.

With my doctor and some brave patients receiving treatment.

Outrunning Cancer: 

Running through breast cancer treatments and surgeries wasn’t easy.  My oncologist supported and encouraged me to run knowing it was my way of coping having breast cancer and loosing my breasts.  At any age, a double mastectomy is not an easy process.  It is not just one surgery, but a series of appointments with lots of recovery – both physically and mentally.  And as you know if you follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I used running as my coping mechanism.

Races 4-7:  Tinker Bell 5K, 10K, Half, Princess 5K

Races 4-7: Tinker Bell 5K, 10K, Half, Princess 5K

I wasn’t always feeling good and running wasn’t always easy. But I completed 50 races in 2014 with a total of 485.49 racing miles/843.97 miles in total.  Here’s some of my running stats:

Providence Half, Ragnar Cape Cod, Iron Horse Half, Runners World Hat Trick

Providence Half, Ragnar Cape Cod, Iron Horse Half, Runners World Hat Trick

  • 17 5k’s
  • 7 10k’s
  • 14 Half Marathons
  • 4 Full Marathons
  • 8 – other distances including 1 duathlon
  •  2 PR’s, 5 hats, 11 states, 41 bibs, 44 shirts and 48 medals

Not bad (and quite crazy) considering I wasn’t allowed to run for 9 weeks of 2014.

Breast Cancer Walk, 1/4 Marathon, Legends 4-miler, Simsbury 10K

Breast Cancer Walk, 1/4 Marathon, Legends 4-miler, Simsbury 10K

Became A Media Whore: 

Why not turn something not so fun to talk about into something inspiring to motivate others?  I was given the opportunity to share my breast cancer story and share I did.  First, I celebrated finishing chemotherapy at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon completing the Dopey Challenge.  My story was documented by runDisney for their Why I run Disney series:

Then I was asked to appear on Emotional Mojo by Diet Diva herself Tara Gidus.  Here’s the link to the segment on EmotionalMojo.

I Got New Boobs: 

Yup, Christmas came early for me in 2014.  The Tuesday following runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon weekend, February 25th, I went back into the hospital for a complete hysterectomy and my new breast implants.  Unfortunately, the entire breast reconstruction process is a long, tedious process and I went back into the hospital again on August 1st for additional reconstruction.

Top:  Post hysterectomy/reconstruction  Bottom:  Post reconstruction

Top: Post hysterectomy/reconstruction Bottom: Post reconstruction

 I Touched Greatness: 

The running community is not only inspiring, but humble and incredibly giving of their experiences, expertise and time.  Here are some of the greats I got to met “in the flesh” in 2014!

With Dimity & SBS, Bill Rodgers, Mr. Yasso and half of Team Hoyt.

With Dimity & SBS, Bill Rodgers, Mr. Yasso and half of Team Hoyt.

With Aly Raisman, Meb Keflezighiand Kathrine Switzer

With Aly Raisman, Meb Keflezighi and Kathrine Switzer

I Became Part of the Team:

It was quite a honor and humbling to be asked to apply to represent the inaugural Team HMF.  Even though I run and I “race”, I don’t always consider myself a “real” runner because I’m not really fast.  But regardless, I was one of the 14 women and 10 men representing fast and not-so-fast runners (me) for the 2014 Team HMF.

Representing Team HMF at the Manchester Road Race, Norwich Winter Fest, Huffing for the Stuffing and Mitten Run.

Representing Team HMF at the Manchester Road Race, Norwich Winter Fest, Huffing for the Stuffing and Mitten Run.

I also was honored to win a spot and represent the national Team Chocolate Milk.  I only was able to run Las Vegas for Team Chocolate Milk in 2014, but hope to inspire and run more in 2015!

Avengers 5K, Avengers Half, Representing Team Chocolate Milk in Las Vegas, Malibu Fitness 5K

Avengers 5K, Avengers Half, Representing Team Chocolate Milk in Las Vegas, Malibu Fitness 5K

I Crossed Items Off My Bucket List:

My bucket list is always evolving and I was able to cross a few items off in 2014!  I ran my first Ragnar – Cape Cod and then a few months later I got to run another for Team Bondi Bands at Ragnar Adirondacks (an ultra no less).  I also completed my first duathlon, set a new 10K PR at the BAA 10K, and a new 5K PR at HMF Women’s Red Dress 5K.

Completing the Shamrock Duathlon

Completing the Shamrock Duathlon

Two H-U-G-E Disney bucket list items were accomplished in 2014.  First, I got to tour Walt Disney’s apartment on Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland.  (I also got to see the BATHROOM).

Standing in Walt Disney's apartment.

Standing in Walt Disney’s apartment.

And then we were asked to dine at the private, and legendary, Club 33 in Disneyland.

Enjoying lunch at Club 33

Enjoying lunch at Club 33

I Took the Trip of a Lifetime: 

My family and I finally got to take our National Park “Death Tour.”  In 16 days we traveled 4,671 miles by car to 17 states, 12 National Parks, slept in 11 hotel rooms,  and took over 2,000 photos.  We saw bison, elk, moose, prairie dogs, wolves and even 1 black bear – UPCLOSEANDTOOCLOSEFORCOMFORT.    We saw the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Indian Reservations, geysers, waterfalls, dinosaur bones, etc.  We hiked, fished, rode horses, dug for fossils and even white-water rafted. 

IMG_4850

Celebrated My 43rd in Style!

I turned 43 in 2014 and decided to turn the milestone into an event.  I first got to attend a meet & greet for Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic to the Stars (all time favorite fluff to read).

096

With the author, Sophie Kinsella (pen name).

 

But best of all – I asked for and received the best 43rd birthday present a cancer patient could ask for…her chemotherapy port removed!

Pre-surgery for port removal on my 43rd birthday!

Pre-surgery for port removal on my 43rd birthday!

So these were some of my highlights of 2014.  I am looking forward to an outstanding 2015.  The best is yet to come!

With Gratitude: 

Thank you to my family and friends for allowing my dreams to come true.  I also want to thank my social media family sharing my story and supporting me through my struggles and my triumphs.  Thank you for your continued love and support.  Many people have reached out to me throughout 2014 to share their personal struggles of how my story has helped them to reach their goals.  I am humbled by your kind words.  If you see me at a race, please introduce yourself, because I would be honored to meet you in person and to shake your hand.

Special thanks to Cherylann, Sue, Mary, Tara, Candice, Terri-Ann, Jo-Lynne and Nicole for allowing me to call on you at any and every hour of the day.  To my Best Running Friends, Alison and Janice, for allowing me to abandon them completely in 2014 on my “outrunning cancer” quest.  To Perfectly Goofy Gail for being game and crazy enough to run beside me.  To my medical staff of nurses and doctors at Hartford Hospital who took care of me while in surgery, recovery and throughout treatment (I don’t WANT to know what you did when I was under).  And to my family and friends for putting up with my running obsession this and every year since 2008.  But most of all, to my husband Jack, who shakes his head, but willingly “allows” me to follow my heart and continue to live my big crazy dreams – you all have made me a stronger, braver person because of your love and support.  Here’s to an even better 2015!

CHEERS TO 2015!

#DrinkAllTheDrinks – CHEERS TO 2015!

Maker Mother Marathon Runner

Embracing life with a bit of grace, a lot of perseverance and a positive attitude.

From Dancing to Running

Dancer Turned Runner Running My Way Through Life!

margaritasmilesmouse

A topnotch WordPress.com site

disneytripandstuff

Thoughts, questions and ponderings

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,134 other followers

%d bloggers like this: