Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend 2018 Part 1

Hello from somewhere above the southeast. Yes, I’m totally starting this from the plane on Monday evening because I simply have so many feelings to share from this amazing weekend. Yes, I just said amazing. That may be a spoiler but if you saw my instagram you already know that the WDW Marathon Weekend was full of smiles. My heart is so full and I’ve never smiled so much while running.

I met all of my goals for the half marathon and while I didn’t clock that sub-5 for my full, I am probably happier than I would have been if I did. More will be coming up about the races soon but first I would like to share some thoughts on the RunDisney experience. Not everyone had/will have the same experience as me, and I’m sure other race weekends are different but this is how it was through my eyes.

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As you would know/expect, running at Disney is freaking expensive. But in all honesty I found that it was worth every single penny. The races themselves were impeccably organized. Transportation to/from the events from my resort (Art of Animation – on property) was as smooth as butter. I was back to my hotel within a half an hour of finishing, which was huge for recovery between the half and full. The aid stations (medical and water) were plentiful and well stocked with products and amazing volunteers. The course entertainment when not in the parks was fantastic and made the miles fly by. While I know many Dopeys had a bad expo experience, I went on the second day and it was very smooth. And obviously, the swag is top notch.

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The actual of running this race was just as positive as the energy that I found at the Marine Corps Marathon. I was afraid this was going to be my view coming out of this weekend, but I’m not sure anything can beat the races themselves. Even if I wasn’t at Disney World, this would have still been a top EXPERIENCE. However, I as at Walt Disney World. Nothing beats running down Main Street USA and through Cinderella’s castle. I didn’t dress in costume but I love seeing everyone who did. Seeing the Mission Space ball and knowing that you’re almost there is just incredible. This was the best running experience ever. I will do other marathons, but nothing will compare (until I run NYC, London, or Boston (someday) ). The energy, camaraderie, spectators and volunteers were simply incredible.

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Yes, I’m on THE BIGGEST runners high right now. I’m expecting quite the post marathon/vacation blues to hit within the  next few days. It’s taking all I have not to scrap all other race plans for the spring and sign up for a marathon. After the races are over I’m still spending #allthemoney on merch (which I did not think I’d do). 

 

It’s Time to Go The Distance – Goofy Challenge Pre-Cap

“I’ll be there someday, I can go the distance
I will find my way if I can be strong
I know every mile would be worth my while
When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong” – Michael Bolton, from Hercules

It’s time, it’s time, it’s time! Well, almost. I don’t leave until Thursday but my bags are packed and ready to go! Having registered for the races and booking my hotel 10 months ago, I honestly felt like this week may never come. I’m having some mixed feelings going into the races, but it would take a lot to wipe the smile off my face until I get on the “not-so-Magical-Express” back to the airport on Monday.

Of course, I’ve been training pretty hard for these races. It wasn’t quite the buildup I hoped, but I feel prepared to run a marathon. While I’ve been running great long run paces, I still don’t feel as “in shape” as I did for my first two marathons. While I did run 17, 18, 19, 20 miles on double weekends, I didn’t run those numbers as often as I normally would. And even though mileage wise it’s not that much less, I do like running two 10’s and two 20’s before race day from the confidence standpoint.

Mostly to keep myself accountable with race plans, here’s how I plan to run out the big kahuna double race weekend.

Saturday – half marathon: SLOW SLOW SLOW. I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t set a new PR WORST in the half marathon. I mean, like, 12:30-13:00  miles. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll do 30:30 or 60:30 intervals. I have never run at 30:30, but I feel that’s my best bet to conserve energy. It may depend on how cold it is – if I’m too cold doing 30:30 I’ll definitely do 60:30. I also plan to stop for all the character stops that I so desire and just have fun.

Sunday – marathon: This is where things get wonky. Seriously, it’s stupid to think that I can run a PR the day after running a half marathon. But how my training went, I feel that I am so capable of potentially succeeding if I have a perfect day and maybe a little pixie dust as well. So while a PR isn’t my utmost goal, it is on my mind. The first thing I’m going to do is tape my watch. Because the #1 goal is to have fun, I really don’t want to be stressing. There are mile markers where I can generally see where my time is, and my tracking splits will get sent to my phone.

Just a little throwback to ’97. I was always a Goofy fan.

My run plan is to run 60:30 through the half and then up to 90:30, which is similar to how I ran the NJ Marathon (I think I did 10/16.2). I’ve run consistent long runs at 11:30 and below paces easily while running 60:30, so I don’t think it will affect my speed negatively.  I do not plan to stop for character photos in the first half of the race. When I get to mile 13, I’ll re-evaluate. Am I on pace to potentially PR? How am I feeling? If I’m on pace and feeling good, I’m giving myself permission to go for it, and I’ll re-evaluate at mile 20 and keep going. Maybe I’ll stop for desirable photos with short lines, maybe I won’t. If not, I’ll just to to finish and have fun and stop at whatever photo stops I want. First and foremost, my #1 goal is to have fun. I’ll probably cry going down Main Street USA and I’m totally okay with that. If I were to set time goals, my heart is set on that 4:59:59 mark.

Another thing I’m really excited for is to make videos! While I was burnt out in November, watching videos that runners filmed during the WDW Half and Full really helped to keep me looking forward to this weekend. I first watched these videos while (unhappily) on the treadmill, and I cried three times in the gym. Seriously. I’m excited to pay it forward a little and make my own! Filming video, let alone talking on camera and editing is completely unknown territory for me. I’m excited to see how the videos will turn out. Hopefully they will help someone out like the videos kept me going. I still have been watching at least one of these videos a night before bed. I’m also excited to make a video of memories for my Mom, family movie style. To do this I considered borrowing a friend’s GoPro but ended up buying a small point+shoot camera with good image stabilization. AND IT’S PURPLE!

For those who’ve come across my small little blog while I’ve been training for this race, let me know if you’ll be there! I hope you all have a wonderful race (races?) in the most magical place on earth. While my blog isn’t much, it keeps me motivated and helps me reflect. I truly believe reflecting is a huge component in success. And to my few regular readers, you can (almost) finally stop hearing about Disney for a while! I’m so ready for this daunting task to be over, but I know when I cross that finish line on Sunday, I’ll also be a little sad (*crying as I write this at work*). I’ve been dreaming running the WDW Marathon for 10 years, and it’s finally happening. I hope it’s everything that I have dreamt of!

Goofy Challenge Training Week 15: 12/11-12/17/2017

I’m coming to you all straight from taper town today. With the completion of my 20 miler this weekend, I officially made it through the bulk of training for the Goofy Challenge! I’m ready to enjoy the next few weeks of less running, more sleep, and eating well. That won’t be hard with the holidays! I indulged in cookies yesterday. I don’t deny myself sweets, I’m just not a huge fan of them (give me doritos or cheese and crackers any day). However, I ate 8 cookies last night and I’m totally okay with it.

Let’s look back at how week 15 was.

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Monday: Rest. I was planning to run, but my quad was bothering me so I played it cool.

Tuesday: 5 miles during my afternoon break. I used 90:30 intervals for the first time since my period of “burn out” and ran pretty fast for me (10:47 average pace) and felt good!

Wednesday: Rest – I was planning to go to NP, but it was a windchill of 9 degrees when I woke up. NoThankYou.

Thursday: 5 miles during my break again. I made a conscious effort to run easy. I didn’t fuel well in the morning, and I felt really bad when I finished.

Friday: 8.13 miles. My plan was for 10, but it started snowing as soon as I got to the trail. By the time I was done, I was running on two inches of snow. I didn’t have my trail shoes, so I was slipping everywhere and kept having to de-clog my treads. Man, I forgot how much harder it was to run on snow. I was beat.

Saturday: 20.01 miles at 11:17 avg pace! GUYS, I RAN  20 MILES AT FASTER THAN GOAL MARATHON PACE!! That wasn’t even a goal or on my mind. I just wanted to finish. This long run was weird, though. I ran 6.2 miles to a race, ran a 4.9 mile race, then ran just over 8.8 to finish it out. Running to the race was almost all uphill, and the conditions were pretty icy. The race was full of hills. I ran some miles fast (like a 9:40ish first mile) and some slower (11:30). I kinda did my intervals, but ran the downhills straight. I didn’t want to screw myself up for the rest of run, but wanted to push a little. Then I ran 8.8 miles back down towards Jake’s house and finished around the harbor. I was tired when I finished, but could have kept going. My body felt great, aside from my tight quad.

When I got to Jake’s I saw his roommate outside, and he said “I’d invite you skiing, but you look thrashed.” Yes, Andrew. I felt pretty thrashed, but also pretty stoked that I was officially in taper town.

Sunday: REST. My legs were a little sore in the morning, but felt better as the day goes on. As I write this (about 7 pm) I feel fine. I’ve been ravenous all day, but I normally am after that long of a run!

Weekly total: 38.x miles. Not the 40 I had planned, but with plenty of miles atop snow and ice, I’m cool with it!

How was your week of running? Have you had any snowy runs yet?

Running in 2017: A Look Back

With December almost halfway over, it’s time to reflect on the year that has been 2017. I can’t put into words how good 2017 was to me in many ways. In terms of running, it was my best year yet. I’ll be sad to see it go, but 2018 also has a lot in store for me!

Throughout the year, I stayed healthy and injury-free for the first time. GUYS. I RAN A YEAR INJURY FREE!!!!!!!! Sure, I took extra days off here and there for aches and pains, but I was never hurt. I ran more miles than I ever have. I started to cross train regularly (then stopped, oops). I also experienced my first period of “burnout”, but I made it through.

January – March: In late 2016, I signed up for my second marathon. I started training the week before the new year began. Aside from a cancelled half marathon I ran relatively consistently. The worst part of these months was stepping away from November Project due to work-related stress. I remember one, 18-mile run that went very poorly but besides that, running was great. I ended up running 93.8 miles in January, 98.4 miles in February and 125.1 miles in March.

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With two of my fave pals (who run) at the trail half!

Races: Little Patuxtent River Run Trail Half (2:32), Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon  (2:19:35), Shamrock 5K (27:01 – PR), Baltimore Road Runners Club St. Patrick’s Day 5K (27:51)

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April-June: April brought peak week for the New Jersey Marathon, the taper, and of course, the race! I was so proud of myself for setting a huge PR. It took longer than I had hoped to recover from the marathon and I kept a pretty low running profile in the following two months. I ran my personal worst half marathon at Zooma Annapolis on a very challenging course. I also started to ride my bike more in preparation for my first Duathlon! I ran 134.1 miles in April, 46.4 miles in May and 74.8 miles in June.

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Sole of the City 10K (easy run before a 20 miler)

Races: Oldfields Half Marathon (2:12:43), Sole of the City 10K (1:12:22), Columbia 5K (aka Hangover 5K – 33:19), New Jersey Marathon (5:03:42 – PR), Stoneleigh Stampede 5K (28:52),  Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon (2:33:27), Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K (38:56)

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*don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry*

July-September: Once July hit, I really started to get back into the swing of things. My mind started to get back into training. I worked really hard to set a PR at the Charles Street 12 miler and went straight into training for the Goofy Challenge. I also completed my first multi-sport race and won an age-group award for the first time. Things got a little funky when I started my new job, but I was able to keep going strong. Summer seriously felt like it would never end, but it made me a stronger runner! I also ran my first RAGNAR! I ran 81.9 miles in July, 125.4 miles in August and 106.8 miles in September.

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Post Ragnar DC leg-3. I ran so hard my bib belt broke!

Races: Towson 4 on the 4th (39:44), Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon (2:29:08), Maryland Sprint Duathlon (1:43:04), Too Hot To Trot 10K (58:55 – short), Charles Street 12 Miler (2:03:33PR).

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October-December: These were, without a doubt, my hardest months of the year. In September and October I went full force training for Goofy. I was running doubles and putting in a lot of strength- and cross-training time at the gym. That, combined with work and putting tons of pressure on myself in my relationship, led to getting really burnt out. I thought about giving up on Goofy and just not running any more after. I stopped cross/strength work and really minimized my training – I began to do just enough to make it to the finish line but took all pressures off of myself. It took 3-4 weeks, but I finally found my way through it. During these months I’ve experienced some quad pain, but it’s nothing that made me take more than one extra rest day a week. I ran 121.6 miles in October, 116.8 in November and I have run 54.8 miles in December as of December 13 (I have 35 more on the plan for this week – HAH!).

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Favorite race photo ever – my nephew’s first finish line!

Races: 4 Miles for Eli 4 miler (38:XX – short, but with a stroller!), Baltimore Running Festival 5K (38:06) and Half Marathon (2:31:12), Towson Homecoming 5K (37:17 – short), Towson Turkey Trot 5K (31:50).

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October + November = 3 5Ks with friends!

In 2017 I ran 1 marathon, 6 half marathons, 1 10K and numerous other races. I set PRs in the marathon, 5K, and 12 mile. I will also hit my big goal of 1200 miles for the year in mid-December! It’s hard to pick out a favorite moment from the year, but if I had to choose it would be the entire New Jersey Marathon. I trained well, trusted my race plan, and ran my race. Or maybe hitting the 1,000 mile mark for the with friends by my side – it was amazing to share it with others, even if they were just a small part of it.

I also loved being a Bib Rave Pro in 2017! I ran three great races with them and tried numerous great products. I’m really looking forward to another year as a Pro!

As you know if you’re a regular reader, my 2018 is going to start off with a huge bang with my 18th half and 3rd full. I’ll be back soon with racing plans for 2018 as they are largely set in stone already. Crazy – right?!

What were some of your running highlights this year? What was your favorite race?

Goofy Challenge Training Week 14: 12/4 -12/10/17

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there is just ONE MORE WEEK until I start to taper for the Goofy Challenge! My magic bands have arrived, all I have left to buy is Disney’s Photo Pass service, and our fast passes have been booked for a month (well, some I re-did this week). This week didn’t go quite according to plan, but I’m really happy with how it turned out!

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Monday: Rest. My quad was really achy, so I took an extra day to let it recover a bit.

Tuesday: 5 miles before work. This was my first morning run in forever that I really enjoyed and was happy that I got out of bed for. I kept it pretty easy on the hills.

Wednesday: Rest. I woke up feeling ill and stayed in bed. I thought about running in the afternoon, but ended up going home and sleeping through my break. My daily resting HR was about 6 BPM higher than normal, so I took it as a sign my body was fighting something and needed rest.

Thursday: 5 miles during my afternoon break! It was an absolutely beautiful day to be outside, and it really helped me keep up my motivation during my last work hours of the week.

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Friday AM: CRYOTHERAPY! I’m planning on writing a post on this experience soon, but I’m so glad I went. My quad does not feel 100%, but it certainly helped it feel better and also helped my calves loosen up.

Friday PM: 7.31 miles. I honestly didn’t think I’d make it that far, but I felt great!! If I didn’t need to get home to start making dinner (homemade sauce, yo!) I probably would have ran another 1-2 miles.

Saturday: 19 miles! Guys, this run was fantastic. I think it was my second fastest long run pace of this training cycle, and I felt like I could have gone on and on. Now that I look back, it was :23 sec/mi faster than any 20 miler I’ve done. I had almost decided to go for 20; however, it started snowing the minute I started to run and by the end I was sick of my eyes burning by being pelted with snow. Then I spent the day celebrating my Birthday! I had an amazing night out with friends. Now, I’m ready to “detox” without (almost any alcohol) for the next 4 months until it’s time to go to Florida!

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My phone was almost dead by mile 10, so no run picture happened. So you get this beaut instead!

Weekly total: 36.6 miles!

I’m so glad that I’m finally, truly starting to feel like myself again. This week is my “peak week.” I’m aiming to hit 40 miles in 4-5 runs. Then it’s taper time, just in time for the crazy holidays. Taking two trips in 2 weeks is going to be draining, but so worth it. I’m hoping work will be nice and quiet in-between so I have some good downtime.

Goofy Challenge Training Weeks 11 + 12

So long, so quiet! Things haven’t been quite silent around here, but I’ve slowed down a lot since getting sick a few weeks ago. To be completely honest, November has not been what I was hoping for. I started off the month aiming for my first 150 mile month, and I’ll barely hit 120. However, things are starting to feel a little better. It’s just in time, because there are just 2.5 more weeks until taper time!

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Week 11: (11/13-11/19)

Monday: 5 miles of a “workout” on the treadmill. I was feeling pretty motivated. I ran with longer, harder run intervals and finished with a 10:12/mi average – my fastest of the training cycle so far. “Daily” plank and 30 burpees.

Tuesday: 5 miles on the treadmill, again. I could not muster up the energy to get up and out of bed. Again, the “daily” plank and 30 burpees that I was trying to start up again.

Wednesday: Literally no.desire. to run.

Thursday: Typical rest day.

Friday: 8 miles. 2 miles, 2.5 miles of hills at NP, then finished up the daily miles. It took a lot to get going, and I really hated it. I didn’t enjoy the run at all. When people asked me how training was going, I didn’t have a positive word to say.

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Mid-NP photo by Gio Vargas!

Saturday: 18 miles was on the docket. 0 happened. You could have paid me $1,000 and I wouldn’t have ran. I was done. No fire in me. Instead, I enjoyed a relaxing day and a friendsgiving. I tried so hard not to think about, or talk about running. When my friends kept asking/talking about it, I tried to change the subject (for once). It was very needed.

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Sunday: Rest

Week 11 total: 18 miles.

Week 11 was #rough. I was the first time since I started to run that I truly felt an aversion to running. I was exhausted, stressed, and was putting so much pressure on myself to train as hard as possible for the Goofy Challenge. It killed me that I was working so hard to run a race that wasn’t “for time,” even though my paces have been great lately. I needed a change in mindset, and I needed it fast.

On Saturday morning, I posted in a Dopey Challenge training group on facebook about the struggles I was facing emotionally. Finds out, I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. It felt great to rant about it to people who were training for the same (or a similar) event and I saw that I wasn’t the only one in this state of mind. I just need to finish the marathon. It may not be fun, but it will be done.


Week 12: (11/20-26)

Monday: 3 miles. It took all I had to get out in the morning and I ended up running without my watch! I wasn’t feeling well, so I turned around when I felt like it.

Tuesday: 5 miles on the treadmill. While I ran, I watched WDW marathon videos on youtube and it really helped keep me moving. I teared up a couple of times, even!

Wednesday: Rest day.

Thursday: 3.15 miles at a Turkey Trot with a friend from work. We went to have fun and finished in 31:54. We were aiming for under 30, but it was hard with all of the weaving we had to do, as well as a few good hills. We kicked it in good and finished the last .2 at under 7:30/mi pace!

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Friday: 5.1 miles in the afternoon, as I took the morning to do some shopping. Actually, I ran this after a lunch and movie with beer and lots of popcorn. I ran without structured intervals and it felt wonderful.

Saturday: 18.1 miles. The run was a little rough, with 3 potty stops (with no feeling of relief), an outfit change, and some wonkiness in my legs. I felt pretty weak, and ended up running 60:30 for the entire run. Nevertheless, I was proud of myself for running the entire distance.

Sunday: Rest.

Week 12 total: 34.35 miles. A bit more back on track.

I shortened my weekday runs this week, mostly just to run enough days, but not to kill myself in the process. I focused a lot more on getting good sleep and taking the pressure off of myself. As of Wednesday night, my legs still don’t feel 100% after Saturday’s run. I’m thankful this weekend only calls for 13ish miles – which I’ll be sure to run easily. Hopefully I’ll be back to 100% by next week. Just two more hard weeks of training!

Goofy Challenge 2018 – My Training Plans

Happy Tuesday everyone! Yes, I can’t believe I’ve been posting so much lately. I’m in a really positive place with running right now and I just can’t stop myself. Now that the Charles Street 12 Miler is over, it’s time to officially start training for the Goofy Challenge.

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I can’t wait to run through you – TWICE!

For those of you that don’t know, the Goofy Challenge is a two-part race challenge that happens during Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in January. On Saturday you run a half marathon, and on Sunday you run a marathon! That’s 39.3 miles through Disney World in just two days! This will be my third marathon and 18th half marathon.

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I signed up for this challenge for a couple of reasons. 1- I’m crazy for running. 2 – I was so sad when the WDW Half was cancelled this past January. I knew I wanted to run the marathon this year, but wanted to finish what I went to Disney for in January. SO, my motivation for the Goofy Challenge was born! I wish I could do the Dopey Challenge, but for a 25 year old who spent the summer transitioning between jobs, that’s not a financially sound decision 😛

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Anyways, today’s Tuesday On The Run topic is Fall Training Schedules, which is perfect! I spent so much time and effort researching and deciding how to train for this race.

  • NO fall marathon. This decision broke my heart. I LOVE the marathon but I’ve only done two so far. It simply takes my body too long to recover from one to feel comfortable running Goofy after a fall 26.2.
  • Hal Higdon’s Dopey Training Plan is what I’ll be following, mileage wise. This plan mirrors his Novice-2 marathon plan, with double long runs every other weekend, and 3 weekday runs. The mileage starts out low the last month, so I may add some miles here and there. I’ll also modify some weekends towards the end, when there are “Dopey simulations”. Seeing as I’m not doing Dopey (but having serious FOMO about it), I don’t need the 4 day simulations.
  • Different training days. Due to my new job, I now have Friday-Saturday weekends and work 9-5 on Sundays, which doesn’t work with 3:00+ Sunday long runs. My weekday runs will now be Monday-Wednesday (NP Day!), with rest days on Thursday and Sunday. (Every other)Friday and Saturday will be my two long run days.
  • Galloway intervals will continue. I have been training using run/walk intervals with great results for over a year. I’ll be upping my everyday intervals to 90 seconds run and 30 seconds walk for easy runs, 2 minutes run and 30 seconds walk for “pace” runs, and will do a mix of both for long runs.
  • Fewer races! My plans to run a half marathon in December fell through, so right now my only major race planned for the fall is the Baltimore Half Marathon (and 5K). I’m going all out with this trip to Disney. I’d rather save my money to spend there than run random races. If the opportunity comes to run another race or to, I’ll consider it/them, but I’m okay with the minimal races for once.

This week is my first week of training and the drop in mileage scares me a little. Three 3 mile runs, a 5 mile “Pace” run, and 13 miles on the weekend. It has been so long since I have routinely run “just” 3 miles. I keep telling myself that the reduce in mileage will be a break my body needs after a high-mileage month in August. My body will be thankful for that break when I’m running 20-30 miles in a weekend.

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I’ve also spent time thinking of goals for the Goofy Challenge. Realistically and honestly, I’m going to run the half marathon SO EASY. Like I’ll be proud of myself for running a 3 hour half, and plan to take most of my character photos during that race. I want to show up for marathon morning with legs feeling like they just on a really long shakeout the day before. Also realistically, I’ll probably stop for some different character photos. I’ll be training for a goal time around 4:45-4:50, giving myself time for character stops in hopes of beating 5:00. I don’t think it will happen, especially the day after 13 miles, but training this way will set me up for more success for marathon #4.

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LOVE character photos!

Vacation wise, the trip to Disney World for the Goofy Challenge is really planned out. Everything on my end is booked (my mom needs to book her flights!) and I have every day planned out. I’m stoked to stay at the Art of Animation Resort – I booked back in February to get the lowest rate possible. This hotel is closer to everything than the All Star resorts, and will hopefully cut down on the bus troubles that my group experienced in January. I’ll do 3 park days, with NO park between the half and the full, because I think that’s just dumb. I swear I’ve read almost every restaurant menu to find out where I can track down my carbs for the weekend.

This may be more than you all wanted to know, but seriously, I’m just so excited to run 39.3 miles on January 6th and 7th! BTW if you want to do the WDW Marathon or the Goofy Challenge, there are still spots open to register!

Thank you Erika at MCM Mama Runs, Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice and Patty at No-Guilt Life  for hosting Tuesday’s on the Run! I’m happy to be linking up once again and can’t wait to participate again.

How is your training changing this fall? What are your upcoming goal races?