12 Months of Medals: My 2015 (And Beyond!) Running Challenge

Keels

The Official Keels of RunDisney
Joined
Feb 27, 2008
So, you’re probably asking yourself, why have I taken on this challenge? The challenge to run a distance road race every month in 2015?

I wish I could give you a really great, inspiring answer – but, well, I just can’t come up with one.

The whole idea roughly start over brunch with two of my closest girlfriends, Kate and Sawyer. I confessed to them that I wanted to run the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2015, but I wasn’t sure how to tell my husband. As all good gal pals are, K & S were incredibly supportive – even to the point that I needed to run smaller races locally so they could come cheer me on! That gave me the nerve to tell my husband, who of course, was also supportive! At that point, he decided to train with me.

My training began in earnest at the beginning of December. They say it takes two weeks to make or break a habit, and I was slated for a 15-day work trip to Las Vegas. What better time to get my training going?

And the rest is pretty much history …

So, it’s official – I plan to run a distance race (minimum distance of a 10k, with a few exceptions) every month in 2015. Maybe I’ll catch the running bug and stick with it? Maybe my goal in 2016 will be a full marathon? Who knows what will follow. Or, honestly, what I’ll do with all those medals. But I’m looking forward to it.
 
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Keels

The Official Keels of RunDisney
Joined
Feb 27, 2008
Who Am I?

My name is Keels. OK, fine - not my actual name, but that's what everyone calls me.

I'm a simple gal. 33. Married to the love of my life and my very best friend. We've been together for 15 years, but it doesn't feel like it. He challenges me to push myself, to be better. Honestly? To be the best me I can be.

We have three sweet dogs and no children.

Previously, I lived life in very hectic, stressful industries and now I'm enjoying life as a housewife. Which is why this challenge came up.

I cook, I bake, I sew, I craft. I do not do laundry or clean up (which makes me the WORST housewife ever), but that's fine.

I like silly movies and reality TV. My perfect day is spent at the ballpark watching a day baseball game, where hopefully my team wins.
 
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Keels

The Official Keels of RunDisney
Joined
Feb 27, 2008
The Schedule:

JanuaryRock ‘n’ Roll 10k, New Orleans. COMPLETE!

FebruaryCowtown 10k, Fort Worth, Texas. COMPLETE! (Virtual ... thanks Mother Nature)

March – Panther City Half Marathon, Fort Worth, Texas. COMPLETE!!

April – Stockyards Easter 10K, Fort Worth, Texas. COMPLETE!!
Lone Star Half Marathon, Arlington, Texas COMPLETE!!

MayMayFest 10K, Fort Worth, Texas COMPLETE!!

JuneJoe's Run 10K, Fort Worth, Texas COMPLETE!!
Jalapeno Half Marathon, Fort Worth, Texas COMPLETE!!

JulyCRC 4th of July 5K, Fort Worth, Texas COMPLETE!!
Tour de Fort Worth Opening Ride - 15-miler, Fort Worth, Texas DID NOT COMPLETE :guilty:


August – None

SeptemberDisneyland Half Marathon Weekend (5K + Half Marathon), Anaheim, California COMPLETE!!!!!!

October – Cocoa Beach Half Marathon, Cocoa Beach, Florida COMPLETE!!!

November – Jingle Jungle 5K, Lake Buena Vista, Florida COMPLETE!!!
Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Lake Buena Vista, Florida COMPLETE!!!
Fort Worth Thanksgiving 10K, Fort Worth, Texas COMPLETE!!!

December – None

AND ... on to 2016:

January - WDW Dopey Challenge, Lake Buena Vista, Florida COMPLETE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

February - Dallas Hot Chocolate 15k, Dallas
"Under the Sea" 5K, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Glass Slipper Challenge, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Cowtown 5K and Half Marathon, Fort Worth, Texas

March - United NYC Half Marathon, New York, New York

April - Texas Independence Relay, Texas

May - Neverland 5K, Anaheim, California
Pixie Dust Challenge, Anaheim, California

September - Disneyland 5K, Anaheim, California
Dumbo Double Dare, Anaheim California

November - TCS New York City Marathon, New York, New York

December - St. Jude Half Marathon, Memphis, Tenn.
 
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  • Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans 10K - My First 10K!!


    Might as well start this whole experience by running my longest race ever in my favorite city in the U.S., right? It seemed like a good idea at the time ...

    Goal: Finish under 1:30
    Previous Training Best: 6 miles in 1:27

    The Trip: Flight was uneventful - it's just a quick 50 minute flight from DFW, we grabbed our bags and hopped a cab straight to the Expo for packet pickup. We didn't land until around 3 p.m., and with the Expo closing at 5 p.m. we decided to have our cab drop us at the Expo.

    The Expo:
    You could feel the "Rock 'n' Roll" experience once you walked in the door. DJ music, flashing lights, the whole nine yards. Packet pickup was SUPER easy. You went one spot for your bib, backpack and safety pins, and then another spot for your t-shirt. You crossed a place to active your timing chip (this one you had to affix to your shoes). The only negative I'd give this is that is was hard to find the "Beer Garden Wristband" booth ... this is where you could get your wristband to prove you were old enough for beer after the race if you didn't want to tote along an ID with you.

    Where We Stayed: Because I'm a creature of habit, we stayed at the J.W. Marriott on Canal Street. The turned out to be about a 1 mile walk from the Expo. But, as we found upon checking in, it was THE PLACE to stay at for the race. Yes, this was the hotel for the VIPs and Elites. Our walk to the starting corrals was less than .25 miles.

    RACE DAY:

    Bag Check: Was pretty amazing. At the Expo, you were given a black drawstring backpack to use ... if you wanted. But in your little baggie of safety pins, you also were given a small zip tie. On your bib was your bag-check tag. You could affix that tag to ANY bag and drop it off at ...

    One of about 16 UPS trucks that were broken up by last name. At race end, once you come out of the Finisher's Chute, was the line of UPS trucks. Easy to drop-off and easy to pick-up.

    Corrals: You had to self-assign yourself to a corral. My husband gave me a kiss and then worked himself up to the second "corral", which was 9:00/mile. I chose to stay in the very back of the pack, way past the 11:00/mile sign. The biggest problem we found with self-assigning is the selfish people that get way up to the front just to walk the whole event, in the middle of the course.

    THE RACE:

    Mile 1:
    I stayed to the very back of the pack, and immediately started to the right because I wanted to be friendly to a lot of the runner-looking people that were behind me. Little did I know, but I was a better "runner" than them. I ran the entire first mile straight through (I'd never done that in training runs before), and in a record time for me. This course was awesome, and it started out well - you run straight around Lee Circle, almost near the WWII Museum before you cut up to Magazine.
    Mile Time: 11:12 (PR)

    Mile 2-3.5: Kicks out of Magazine onto Decatur. Passed some of my favorite bars. Could smell the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. We're running straight alongside the river at this point, and the bands are on point. Also, all the morning staff from restaurants and stalls at the market are out cheering.
    Mile Time: 2 - 11:48, 3: 12:15

    Mile 3.5 to 6: This was the longest, straightest, flatest and ... most populated stretch. You run down a street called Esplanade, which is the upper street closing off the French Quarter. We were running during the earliest weekend of festival, so the houses were already decked out for Mardi Gras. The crowd on the street was amazing. My favorite sign? "Cemetery Ahead! Look Alive!" - and there was. In the last quarter-mile, you pass the famous St. Peters Cemetary.
    Mile Time: 4 - 12:47, 5 - 12:30, 6: 12:57.

    The Finish: You finish the race in City Park, the "Central Park" of New Orleans. It's shaded, wooded and toney. The finish chutes were clearly lined. I crossed, got my medal, took my picture in front of a finisher's Step & Repeat. I was then handed Water, Gatorade, Chocolate Milk, and a bunch of other crap I didn't take. They also have ROLLS of Rock 'n' Roll-branded mylar blankets that they will peel off for you (think like an oversized roll of mylar paper towels). I had my super-cute medal engraved with my time. Bag pickup was so easy.

    My Thoughts:

    Other than "HOLY ... I DID IT!" ...

    This was the best place for me to do my first (and longest) race. I love New Orleans. I loved running by my favorite places. I loved that I knew where I was at all times. I also loved that it truly was a flat and straight course.

    The post-race concert by Trombone Shorty was easily worth the cost of my race fee.

    This was also clearly a "destination" race for people, as we saw everyone wearing their medals wherever we went - especially at brunch at Muriel's (my favorite) ... and it made me sad because I DIDN'T wear my medal! We were surrounded by tables full of race runners. SO ... lesson learned.

    Official Finish Time: 1:21.26. 6 minutes better than my previous 10K training time.
     
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    Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    Cowtown 10K ... and My Thoughts on Virtual Races



    Goal: 1:12
    Previous Training Best: Race 10K time of 1:21; Training 10K time of 1:16

    I was in a groove heading into the Cowtown. At this point, I was already stretching out runs for the Panther City Half Marathon and my times were as good, if not better, than my race time from the New Orleans 10K.

    And then Mother Nature reared her ugly head. The day before the Expo opened, we got two inches of ice. Followed by another inch of snow. So. There would be no 10K.

    Luckily, our friends at The Cowtown gave us an option to run our race in a "virtual" race.

    Super. Awesome. I'll still get a medal ... but, I can't use this time.

    My Virtual Run:
    Knowing that my Virtual time wouldn't count for anything as a Proof of Time, I chose the last long-run weekend before the Panther City Half as when I'd do my Virtual run.

    I had my RunKeeper set to alert me and stop when I hit the 10K mark - so I could take a screen grab and see my time - and then I would start back up and finish out 10 miles for the day.

    I did my best on this run, but honestly? I wanted this for a really improved proof of time. I was on track for a great proof of time. I guess I'll be happy that I get a medal? I mean ... I actually went and ran the distance. But I wasn't in this one for the medal. I wanted a time. A LEGIT time that I could use for other races I have later this year.

    Finish Time: 1:15.16.

    My Thoughts:

    I run four days a week by myself, in the same place I did this training run. Of course I'm going to be pretty constant with my training time, right? Because what do I have pushing or driving me to do better?

    10Ks of a certified nature are basically like finding a needle in a haystack. And I'd trained my junk off for this one, hoping to get to my goal time ... or maybe even better! I was just hoping for that race adrenaline and the certified time. And I got none.

    The day I did this run was pretty much the worst run day ever. I was over it, because of the virtual run. But because of the virtual run, I didn't get to set up a good training 10 mile run for my upcoming half marathon. The run I went through was VERY hilly.

    And then my husband told me that Yu Darvish needed Tommy John. Also, it was Spring Forward weekend. So, yeah, we're talking about a very terrible Saturday.

    But I finished 10 miles (in 2:26.12) just one week before ...
     
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    Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    Coming Soon: My First Half-Marathon ...
     
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    GrandAdmiralStrife

    DisDad #744
    Joined
    Nov 25, 2006
    This journal is just awesome! I myself am doing my first race in a few weeks (Cap10K in Austin on Apr 12) with my second 2 weeks later (Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Round Rock 4/19). Hopefully I'll see you at WDW in January, if I can sign up for the Dopey!
     
  • Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    This journal is just awesome! I myself am doing my first race in a few weeks (Cap10K in Austin on Apr 12) with my second 2 weeks later (Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Round Rock 4/19). Hopefully I'll see you at WDW in January, if I can sign up for the Dopey!
    THANKS!

    I can't wait to hear about the Cap10K in Austin ... I REALLY wanted to run that one, but that's opening weekend for the Rangers AND my birthday weekend, so I'm just going to stay around here and do a smaller race.

    I love the 10K distance - it was a great way to jump into my training. You'll do great - and I'm sure you can get in for Dopey!
     

    Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    When a Dope Changes Plans

    So.

    There's always a point when your plans change.

    This past Saturday, my plans changed.

    My goal in 2015 was to run a race every month that resulted in a medal. After that? I would run for fun. Or for a challenge. Or for THE challenge.

    That's right. I'm going to bite the bullet and go for Dopey in 2016, despite never having run a full marathon before.

    I've hit a major mental block after finishing my first half marathon with only eight weeks of training. But, I think Dopey will help me get back on track.

    I think I made my mind up Saturday morning officially. We were in Dallas to do a charity walk for our best friends' daughter via March of Dimes (she was born premature - 27 weeks!! - but is in perfect health at 8 years old!). The walk was a 5 mile course out by White Rock Lake in Dallas. We got there early because I wanted to get a run in, so I ended up running the whole 5 before the walk started and then went back out and walked the 5 mile course again. The run kinda stunk, because mentally I just haven't been into the whole running thing since I finished my first half - but after about mile 2, all I could think about was Dopey. "You'll never finish Dopey if you can't even do this stupid 5 mile run!" and things like that. I finished the last two miles with the best negative split that I've had during my training (we're talking almost a 2 minute improvement each mile). So, I think that's probably what sealed the deal for me.

    My parents went ahead and bought my bib via a travel agency as my "Christmas" gift. My husband will be running the 10K with me. But more excitingly - I think I've convinced my sweet MOM (she who has never run in her life!) to run the 5K leg with me!

    I want to warn anyone following this journal that it's about to turn into a super Dopey-centric training journal.
     
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    roxymama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2015
    That was so nice of your parents! And now you will not have registration anxiety next Tue about signing up. I look forward to reading about your training since I keep hearing people on board for 2018 and maybe I'll be crazy then too :)
     
    Joined
    Apr 9, 2015
    Hello there! Just finished reading through your training journal, looking like a great start to 2015! GO YOU! I've been working on mine too but I picked up a knee injury that made the last couple of weeks a whole lot harder :sad1:

    Your milege is way higher than mine at the moment we've got a pretty slow build up on the novice supreme training plan. Are you following a particular plan?

    I'm sorry to hear that your 10k didn't work out :charac2:

    I can't imagine a virtual run being as motivational as the real thing but well done on your time!

    I'll be following along :-)
     
  • Pixie Heart

    Faith, trust and pixie dust!
    Joined
    Apr 22, 2014
    Hello again!
    You rock, girl! A half in 8 weeks?? A M A Z I N G ! :worship:

    Loved your journal. It is so detailed and nice to read.
    You almost, almost convinced me to do the Dopey! But I am still afraid of it.
    Well, who knows what will happen April 28? :P
     

    Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I know I owe y'all a race report on my first half. But, I still can't really wrap my mind around going from not-a-runner to a half-finisher in eight weeks. I can tell you about all the crappy parts that followed, but it all still feels surreal - even after doing another half.

    So, that said - in this post, I want to write a little bit about the mental side of running that I've been dealing with.

    Running: It's a Lonely Road ... That Goes On, and On, and On ...

    When you read a blog item or talk to a friend that has just finished a race - their first response is always "It was amazing!" or when you ask how their race went, the response will almost ALWAYS be "it was great!".

    Both of those statements are lies. Running a half marathon (or even a greater distance than that) is not amazing. It's not even great.

    It's also not fun or awesome or even the bomb.

    A distance race is a test. Frankly, it's the physical version of the SAT - only you can take it, and only you are responsible for the outcome. Sure, you can train (or study) to shoot for that perfect score (a great finish) ... but in the end, it's only you holding you back or pushing you forward.

    I've always tried to be the best at whatever I've done - top of my class in high school, athletic scholarship in college, sports writer at 19 - you name it.

    When I decided in December to focus on running, I thought that with time and effort (and pure drive, honestly) I would automatically be awesome at running. My best friends run and are good at it. My husband runs and is good at it. So, sure! I will be good at it, right?

    Wrong.

    No matter what I do - no matter how I run or what I run, I'm the same runner I've always been. I'm slow - my posture is great, my form is solid - but I'm slow. I mean, I get passed by speed-walkers slow.

    So yeah, I will probably never be good at running. But that doesn't mean I'm going to give up or even stop trying. I've been fighting to be great and fighting to walk and run since the moment I was born.

    While not a massive disability, I was born with a club foot. I've had a couple of major surgeries through my life - including a triple arthrodesis on my left foot, along with a heel construction (I didn't really have one) and an Achilles extension. My left foot? Size 5.5 shoe. My right foot? Size 8 shoe. THAT is my biggest problem these days!

    I was always told running wouldn't be an option for me, and for years I believed it.

    And, obviously it's true - because I'm the slowest runner on the planet. But that won't stop me.

    Being a runner is only for certain people. I think it's for people that are OK with themselves. People who look for and value that extra few minutes of alone time.

    Because running is a lonely venture. The training runs - it's just you. The early mornings or the late nights, it's just you. The time on the treadmill? It's just you. Even on race day - you may be surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people, but it's still just you.

    I run by myself - that's both training and races. I've run two half marathons now, at almost six months total of running experience - and I've always been solo when I cross the finish line. I've had to give myself some serious pep-talks - and I've even cried (yes, mid-run, it happens when the person giving you a self pep-talk is kind of a B) ... and those have been at mile 3 and mile 8 during halfs. But, you know what? I never quit. I haven't given up. I haven't even tried to quit or give up.

    With running, you're alone with your thoughts for most of the time. You can mask it with music or a podcast, but it's really about "how's my pace? What's my distance? How much further?". Or, sometimes - in the darkest of scenarios, you start doubting yourself. By that time, you're probably way past the point of return - maybe it's four miles into a 10K, or eight miles into a half marathon.

    The thing to always remember is - the mileage will ultimately end. Left, right, left, right, left, right. And then you're to the crowd cheering. You get that medal. And then ... it's great. It's amazing.

    The run itself will never be great. It certainly won't be amazing. It will be just you. But the finish?

    The finish is the best.
     
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    roxymama

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 26, 2015
    I was in college crew (rowing) and we had shirts that said "pain is temporary, pride is forever".

    Everything you just wrote about being alone out there and having to give yourself pep talks rings so true. Next time you are out there I'll be shouting in your ear "you got this". You just probably won't be able to hear me up here in Illinois!
     

    FFigawi

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 28, 2009
    Time out! Who said that only fast runners are good runners? That's not true at all. Just because you're slow does not mean you are not good at it. It just means that you're slow. Don't ever tell yourself that you're not a good runner because you're not as fast as other people. Are you out there running? Are you training properly? Are you resting and fueling properly? Then you're a good runner. Simple as that.
     

    mbwhitti

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 22, 2014
    The Schedule:

    January – Rock ‘n’ Roll 10k, New Orleans. COMPLETE!

    February – Cowtown 10k, Fort Worth, Texas. COMPLETE! (Virtual ... thanks Mother Nature)

    March – Panther City Half Marathon, Fort Worth, Texas. COMPLETE!!

    April – Stockyards Easter 10K, Fort Worth, Texas. COMPLETE!!
    Lone Star Half Marathon, Arlington, Texas COMPLETE!!

    May – MayFest 10K, Fort Worth, Texas; Mimosa Run, Fort Worth, Texas

    June – TBD

    July – TBD

    August – TBD

    September – Disneyland Half Marathon, Anaheim, California.

    October – TBD

    November – Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

    December – Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon Relay, San Antonio

    AND ... on to 2016:

    January - WDW Dopey Challenge, Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

    February - Glass Slipper Challenge, Lake Buena Vista, Florida; Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Half Marathon.

    I'm having a hard time finding races for the summer months too...I'm in Mississippi and it gets hot here, so I know it must be miserable in TX. Thought about traveling north but with DL and W&D, the funds just aren't there. I may have convinced some girlfriends into a road trip to Chicago for the RocknRoll half in July. We shall see.
     

    Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    I'm having a hard time finding races for the summer months too...I'm in Mississippi and it gets hot here, so I know it must be miserable in TX. Thought about traveling north but with DL and W&D, the funds just aren't there. I may have convinced some girlfriends into a road trip to Chicago for the RocknRoll half in July. We shall see.
    Yeah ... at this point, I may have to revisit my whole initial plan.

    I'm doing a sprint tri in July. And I'm doing another 10K on May 30 that I may cheat and say is my June entry. I'm doing a half in August (where I may die), but October will likely be devoted just to Dopey training and distance work.
     

    BuckeyeBama

    You are stronger than you think.
    Joined
    May 29, 2013
    A piece of unsolicited advice - stop thinking about the distance of your runs while running. If running a long distance, always break the run down into segments (run/walk intervals, if that is your style) and only think about the interval that you are currently running. Don't plan for or think about the next interval at all during the run. It doesn't exist. If your run interval is 1 minute or 1 mile - it doesn't matter - you KNOW that you can handle that interval. And guess what, no matter how tired you get, you will be able to handle the next, and the next, and the next. So stop thinking about them.

    You will find that you can run further and faster if you can limit your thoughts to the one segment of the race that you are currently running.
     

    Keels

    The Official Keels of RunDisney
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2008
    A piece of unsolicited advice - stop thinking about the distance of your runs while running. If running a long distance, always break the run down into segments (run/walk intervals, if that is your style) and only think about the interval that you are currently running. Don't plan for or think about the next interval at all during the run. It doesn't exist. If your run interval is 1 minute or 1 mile - it doesn't matter - you KNOW that you can handle that interval. And guess what, no matter how tired you get, you will be able to handle the next, and the next, and the next. So stop thinking about them.

    You will find that you can run further and faster if you can limit your thoughts to the one segment of the race that you are currently running.
    Thanks! I tried intervals, and I just don't think they're for me. On a race, I like to think of it in 5K portions. The first 5K is always the worst for me. The second, I'm in a groove. The third, I feel like I'm good but still doubt myself. The fourth? I wish I could be stronger - I always feel like I run out of gas.
     



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