27 January, 2014

Celebration Half Marathon Recap

Yesterday I ran my fifth half marathon.

A year ago, I still wasn't sure I could finish my first.  Every now and then, my reality surprises the crap out of me!

This was the inaugural year for the "Town of Celebration Marathon & Half Marathon," and I didn't find out about it until it was already sold out.  They ended up opening up more spots, and I jumped to register, despite the $100 price tag.  I figured that the money I'd save on a hotel would more than make up for the higher registration fees.

Going into this race, I felt strong, the weather was cool, and I was healthy.  I figured if I was going to meet any of my running goals in the next month, this was going to be my only chance (with Melbourne next weekend before my legs are recovered and Princess - with the on-ramp from Hell - the day after the Enchanted 10K).  I wanted to finish in under 3 hours, I hoped to maintain a 14 minute/mile pace, and I figured I could probably PR.  That's a lot of pressure to put on my chubby legs!

I had planned to wear this new long-sleeve running shirt I bought, and failed to re-check the weather in the last 24 hours before the race.  It was warmer than I had planned, and I really dressed wrong.  Luckily for me, Jackie (of the Orlando Half) had picked up her race bag that morning and loaned me her race shirt.  I think she saved my life!

Pre-Race, they had a zillion porta-potties near the start.  Unfortunately, the lines for the potties backed right up into the area runners were waiting to begin, so it was a little crazy right there.  If the National Anthem was performed, or if there were any sort of pre-race announcements, we couldn't hear them back where we were.  All of a sudden, we realized the race had started!

Funny signs like this one dotted one
long boring stretch of the course
The Course was really winding, and even though I stared at the map a bunch of times before the race I had no real clue where I was at any time.  There are advantages and disadvantages to that.  It was more of an adventure than you have on an out & back course, but a few times we'd catch glimpses of runners around corners and had no idea whether we were ahead of them or behind them.

A mile or two (ish?) of the course were on boardwalks over swampy areas.  These were my favorite parts of the course, despite the jagged corners and narrow pathways.  If Celebration wasn't 45 minutes from home, I'd enjoy doing my weekend runs there.

I never felt cramped by other runners, unsafe due to traffic on the roads (though I did think it was crazy that many roads weren't closed), or bored because there's a lot about Celebration that's interesting to look at.  However, I did feel lonely.  I was actually running the race with Jackie, so I wasn't really lonely.  But we were running through neighborhoods, and I was genuinely shocked that there weren't more people out cheering.  The race had a ton of volunteers, and they were wonderful as always, but I think the residents really didn't care.  And I think a race through neighborhoods should actually involve the neighbors.  Maybe it's just the people who live there (it is sort of like Stepford after all), or maybe the race organizers didn't try to engage the locals.  But that was the wet blanket of the day for me.

As far as volunteers go, my favorite one of the whole day was the little Boy Scout who handed me a cup of "fresh Gatorade, made with love," and then told me, "just today it's ok to be a litter bug."

My race was good.  I was able to maintain a pretty good pace most of the way.  I didn't touch my pouch of Craisins until after 9 miles in, and that definitely caused me to sag at that point.  I never saw anyone handing out Gu or other "fuel" shots, and I was looking for them from mile 6 to 10.  And throughout the whole race, I only skipped run intervals for water stops and once to eat a large handful of Craisins.  In the last 5k, usually the part where I feel dead, I surged and felt so strong I started pushing my run intervals faster.  I noticed I had less sore running muscles than walking muscles, and wished I had it in me to just run.
"am I really done?"

At the end, Jackie had a little more left in the tank than I did.  She passed a little girl with a portable PA system who told her that she could go get ice cream once she got her medal.  So when I passed the girl I asked her where the ice cream was and she pointed behind me to the restaurant I just passed, "but you have to get your medal first!!"  I usually don't appreciate precocious kids, but she made me laugh.  And then I jogged into the finish line with not even enough energy left to get my hands above my head.

Once we got our medals, we found ourselves in the after party, with punch cards good for one visit to various tents staffed by local restaurants.  I didn't hit all of the tents, because I took one bite of a watery-yet-slightly-low-tide lobster roll and decided that maybe a post-race banana isn't such a bad idea after all.  Also, what restaurateur thought "New England clam chowder is the perfect food for people who have just run 13 (or 26) miles?"  Maybe the other booths had better offerings, or maybe I was just not in the right mental spot for a mini food fest, but I didn't stay long and was happy to get home to leftover pasta and a bag of Skittles.

The Bad and the Ugly
- I already mentioned my two biggest issues, neither of which was the fault of the race organizers: lack of town support and disappointing offerings at the after party.
- I'm not a fan of the logo on the medal/shirt.  Having seen a photo of the medal in advance, I'm happy to say it's nicer in person.  But I continue to dislike white race shirts (as do most other female runners I know), and I especially don't like the weird green stripes on this one.  But it's soft, so maybe I'll sleep in it or wear it under long sleeves in cooler weather.
- There was no live runner tracking, and race results weren't posted on the website until this morning.  Because I was close to a PR but not really sure RunKeeper was accurate, I was irritated by the wait.

The Good
- The course was flat and picturesque, and because the organizers capped the race at around 2200 entries, it really wasn't crowded after the first mile or so.
- Having a run buddy! For me, it's always a blessing to have someone say snarky things to, or who says the things that you were thinking (I'm not sorry at all we laughed at the bare-bottomed woman pulling her pants back up as she came out of the woods)
- The after-party. These things aren't meant for me. When I finish a race, I want a shower and a nap more than anything else.  But I wasn't overwhelmed by crowds or loud music, which is generally what happens to me in those situations.
- The volunteers. Wow, they were plentiful and enthusiastic. I only had to pause to wait for Gatorade at one stop, and even then just for a few seconds.

Overall, for a first-time event, I think it's safe to say things went really well.  This race has a lot of the aspects I've enjoyed in other races, but I think I might wait a few years to try it again.  If the residents get behind it and they manage more of a street party atmosphere like I experienced on some stretches of Space Coast and Orlando, I think this race could easily become a local favorite.

My Race Stats:
Clock Time: 3:12:35
Chip Time: 3:09:19 **PR**
Pace: 14:27
Overall Place: 1347/1574
Division Place: 141/164

My Splits (according to RunKeeper, which also said this race was 13.65 miles long):
mile 1: 13:32 min/mi
mile 2: 13:28 min/mi
mile 3: 13:48 min/mi
mile 4: 13:16 min/mi
mile 5: 13:49 min/mi
mile 6: 14:03 min/mi
mile 7: 13:54 min/mi
mile 8: 14:22 min/mi
mile 9: 13:56 min/mi
mile 10: 14:09 min/mi
mile 11: 14:27 min/mi
mile 12: 12:42 min/mi!?!?
mile 13: 14:24 min/mi

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Just a few quick random updates from today's trip to Publix:

  • According to the fancy new blood pressure station, I've lost 4 pounds since November 29.  I have a feeling I was down more than that but creeped up due to WAY too much fast food recently.  Still, less is less.
  • The Publix bakery doesn't sell not-frosted brownies.  Apparently I'm the only person who prefers her brownies naked.
  • A man approached me just past the card aisle. He was carrying two cards and was looking for a woman's opinion on which would be better to give his wife for their 53rd wedding anniversary tomorrow.  I would have felt bad laughing in his face and telling him he picked the WAY wrong girl (you know, due to my blatant disregard for the institution of marriage, the fact that I'm heartless - or so I've been told, and the fact that I've never really had much of a tolerance for cards with sappy sentimental poems), so I read both cards.  I paid attention to the words.  In the end, I recommended the one that made me almost tear up, even though it was three pages long and mentioned God.  And I told him congratulations.  Maybe I'm not heartless after all...
  • I also bought brownie mix, vanilla frozen yogurt, and bananas.  I think there's an epic sundae (with peanut butter) in my future.

24 January, 2014


I finished a two mile conditioning run this afternoon, and wanted to jot a few notes before I forget them.

- 1-mile time: 12:21! Holy new PR, Batman! AND that was the second mile!
- 2-mile pace: 12:34 min/mile. 

- first time I strung together two sub-13 miles!
- first mile faster than 12:30!

Of course, this was supposed to be an easy conditioning run because I have the Celebration Half in two days. Even still, I don't feel like I did any damage, and it was a lot of fun to go out there and try to run fast and not hold anything back. I felt awkward, like my arms and legs and breathing just couldn't get on the same page, and I was winded...but I felt strong and fast and... It was pretty awesome. 

The weather Sunday is going to be perfect running weather for me - mid-50's and no rain. I bought a new long-sleeve shirt...hoping I won't end up being too warm in it...and finally got a sun visor. 

Speaking of visors...

No offense to visor wearers or lesbians ("some of my best friends are..."), but is it possible to be the former without looking like the latter? I certainly can't pull it off!

And back to Celebration...

The weather and my preparation lead me to believe I could PR this weekend. Heck, if I feel this good on Sunday, I think it's likely I'll finish with a sub-14 pace. My big goal is to finish in under 3 hours, but that definitely seems a little too optimistic. 

Wish me luck. It's going to be a fun weekend!

23 January, 2014

Static Oops

Sixth Grade Jamie dressed me today for work. She put me in black leggings, a mid-thigh-length sweater, and red boots. Sixth Grade Jamie loved leggings and long sweaters…  

Actually, that’s the last page of the story. The truth is that my sixth grade self was forced to assist when I was already at work because my 34-year-old self couldn't seem to get it right this morning. I started out today wearing the leggings (which are actually capri-length spandex running pants) and boots under an ankle-length knit skirt, with a simple black top. It was one of those “if I’m going to keep that skirt in the closet, I’m going to have to wear it eventually” sort of ensembles that was serviceable but not really something I would generally wear.

It turns out, the skirt was NOT AT ALL serviceable. The heat is on in my office building, and the dry air turned me into a giant ball of static cling. Every time I got up from my desk, the skirt would bunch, cling, and ride up. It was the dry air/skirt version of a wet t-shirt. And it was awful. A quick internet search told me hairspray works against cling, so my officemate was nice enough to lend me hers. I think it made it worse! The anti-static monitor wipes in my desk (basically lint-free slightly damp towelettes) didn’t help me either.

Within two hours, I had reached my breaking point. I decided to just pretend that the long cardigan I keep in my office for cool days was a sweater dress. It’s not the least attractive ensemble I’ve ever worn to work, but I was joking all day that I feel like Wonder Woman in an overcoat.

Truthfully, I don't hate the outfit I ended up in.  But I don't think I'd wear it again.  The sweater ended up just as staticky as the darn skirt, and I ended up having to tug it back down every time I stood up.

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout-out to Sixth Grade Jamie for helping me out today, and also thank everyone in advance who participates in my upcoming Kickstarter to buy a full-length mirror before I break my neck standing on the edge of the bathtub in heels...

22 January, 2014

New PR

Cast Walking (& running) League started back up for the season today, and I'm back on a team. It's been two years since my season as a team captain, back when my goal was just to walk for the whole hour without whining. I did 2.5 miles the first night and was so proud of myself. 

Tonight, I ran four miles in 54 minutes. I also set a new one-mile PR of 12:37. I've been having pretty crummy runs recently, and it was wonderful to get out tonight, breathe in fresh air, and run. 

The Celebration Half is this Sunday, and if I stay healthy I think I might have a chance at a PR. The course is flat, the weather is supposed to be perfect (low 54, high 71), and I feel faster than I did going into Space Coast. 

Today was beautiful. My run was fabulous, and I feel awesome*!

*as long as we ignore the aches in my left hip and hamstring and my right arch. New shoes are on the horizon!

21 January, 2014

Full Fowler

I started out today feeling professional and pretty spiffy in my new button-down shirt, wearing glasses and actually blow-drying my hair.

That lasted until a half hour into my work day when one of my foremen walked into my office and bitch-slapped my ego so hard that when it woke up my clothes were out of style.  Here's the transcript:

Him: wearing your glasses today?
Me:'s that kind of day.
Him: geeky?
Me: [open-mouthed stare] I was going to say the kind of day where I don't put my contacts in, but...
Him: geeky.
Me: screw you, pal!

It was meant in fun, and he didn't really hurt my feelings, but it did cause me to reevaluate the ensemble: long straight hair, glasses, button-down, cardigan...

Oh no...I've gone full Fowler*!

Amy Farrah Fowler is possibly the TV character I identify with the most - mostly because of her endearing awkwardness - but that doesn't mean I want to DRESS like her!

And in case you're not fan of the show (or if you are), here's the "Best of" AFF...

*bonus points if you got the Tropic Thunder reference.  If not, don't look it up - there's no way that could NOT be offensive out of context!

15 January, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

I took this picture a little over a week ago, with a mixture of pleasure and exasperation.  The pants I'm wearing here are ones that I bought some time in the fall.

I love them - they are pretty much wrinkle-proof, comfortable, dressy, and they fit my waist and thighs more proportionately than most pants.  Plus, they were a size smaller than my other pants when I bought them.  Every time I put them on and saw the number on the tag, I smiled.

As you can see though, the waistband is starting to get to the "needs to be 'altered' with a safety pin" stage.  They slip down to my hips, which wouldn't be bad except the hems hit the ground if the waistband is at my hips...  

More and more of my original pants are getting to the humorously large point, and this pair of pants tells me something important that I need to remember: don't buy a bunch of clothes at once!  I stopped on my way home today to do some impromptu clothes shopping, and did something I haven't done in many many moons: walked straight to the "normal" side of the store.  As it turns out, the normal side has sizes all the way up to 18, so it wasn't the moral victory I'd hoped for, but I did grab three pairs of pants and three shirts and headed to the dressing room.  One pair was the exact style pictured above, except one size smaller.

Time for a flashback!

During the fall of my sophomore year at Penn State, my mom came to visit and took me clothes shopping.  None of the pants I tried on were fitting right, and I pitched a fit when she grabbed a pair that were size 16.  I think I cried when I realized that they fit.  Considering it was over fifteen years ago and I still remember that particular shopping trip, you can rest assured that it made a major impression.

...and back to the present!

All of the pants I tried on today were 16's.  One pair - sadly, the much-needed khakis - was comically "sausage casing" tight.  Another pair of Dockers were tight, but not ridiculously so.  I have a few sweaters and other hip-length tops that'll work with them.  And the third pair were the dress pants I was thrilled to find.  Putting on a pair of 16's that fit gave me flashbacks to the college shopping trip, and turned me into every cliché woman in a diet food commercial who zips up a pair of pants triumphantly and dances in front of the mirror.

It.  Was.  Awesome!

Sixteen is way smaller than the 20's and 22's I started with, but also nowhere near my goal.  Of course, I never did make a solid number goal, either by size or weight.  When I said I wanted to shop in the normal section of the store, I didn't realize that the normal section has expanded to such large sizes.  I think I'd look awesome in a 12.  That's average and normal these days, right?  Maybe that's a good 2014 goal.

Anyway, that's the latest on my progress.  It's wonderful to see results, even though getting to this point has been long and slow.  And as long as progress continues in the same direction, I'll be patient getting there.

...and I won't buy more than two pairs of pants at the same time!

12 January, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend Recap #2: Running

Did you already read part one?

All week last week, people who work in my building kept asking if I was running this weekend.  "Nope, I'm just cheering this time" became my standard response.  My next scheduled race is Celebration in two weeks, so my weekend plans included cheering for the 10K and full marathon and an 11-mile training run of my own on Saturday.

Fate, however, had other plans!  A friend (who was also not planning on running) acquired a race number from someone else, and then decided at the last minute to pass the number along to me.  And in case you were wondering my definition of "last minute," I didn't know at 2pm on Friday when I left work that I'd be waking up 12 hours later to run in this race!

Cat planned to run, but failed to train.  She decided that her lack of training meant she'd be at my pace anyway, so we decided to run together.  This is the first long race I've run with someone else, and I can't even tell you how much better that made the whole experience.

The course for the WDW Half is the same as for the Princess Half - start on the highway near Epcot, run to and then through Magic Kingdom, run some more highway, trudge up the on-ramp of death, tackle some more unexpected hills, run through the front half of Epcot, finish in the Epcot parking lot.  When I ran Princess, I just didn't understand what all the fuss was about.  People seem to love running toward Cinderella Castle and talk about how special and magical it is.  Last February, I was unimpressed.  There was a great cheering crowd, but I thought the whole park was a choke point and I would have been happier running in a wide-open space instead.

Cat was just as thrilled as I was...I swear!
This year, EVERYTHING was more magical.  We ran through the parking lot, into Town Square, and rounded the corner onto Main Street, USA.  And I actually got a little choked up when I saw the castle.  It was...for lack of desire to come up with something original...absolutely magical.

Did I mention magical?

The rest of the Magic Kingdom was just wonderful - through Tomorrowland, past the Tea Cups, through the Castle, past Liberty Square and Frontierland, and out through the back vehicle gate.  Before we knew it, we hit the halfway point.  Halfway ALREADY?!?

Cat and I talked the whole time, about family and friends, work, life, how the race was going, how long we'd make it before we would have to stop to pee (4 miles)... occasionally we'd high-five for silly reasons or chat with strangers.

I particularly loved the water stop manned by Disney Cruise Line workers.  It was great to hear the different tunes that the ships' horns play, and there was a lady with a PA announcing groups as they ran past - "Disney Cruise line welcomes the Team in Training!!" - which made me long to go on another cruise.

My absolute favorite part of the entire race is going to take a few sentences of flashback to explain.  Back in 2009 (I think) when Scott still worked at the Magic Kingdom, he had a 3am shift on a Marathon Sunday.  His car battery died, and he woke me up to drive him to work.  As we pulled into the MK gate, there was a giant marker for Mile 10.  I laughed and asked him to take a picture of me fake-running past the sign in my pajamas and flip-flops.  He declined, and I've pretty much reminded him about that every race weekend ever since.  The photo that got away...

Fast forward to this past Friday:

I found myself alone with the Mile 5 marker for the 10K (featuring Nemo, Dory, and Marlon), and took a picture of it and posted it to Facebook with a comment about wishing someone was there to take a picture of me fake-running past it in my jeans and boots.

perhaps for my next race my signature
move should be *actual* running
instead of just faking it for photos!
During the race yesterday, Cat and I found the Nemo marker and I HAD TO get the picture.  It wasn't until she took the picture and we started running again that it clicked -- Nemo was at mile 10!  This photo was four years in the making, and was even more special because I was actually fake-running...past mile 10...and Nemo during an actual race!  (if that doesn't just tickle you, I guess I understand. but it instantly became my favorite race photo ever because of all of the history wrapped up in one picture.

Like most races, the last 5K of this race kicked my butt.  I didn't think the on-ramp and hills were quite as bad this year, but I was still pretty winded and exhausted by the time we made it into Epcot.
Right before the park, we passed a girl with a poster that said "2 LEGIT 2 QUIT," and I asked her if she was old enough to understand the reference on her poster.  Her answer "I'm 35," followed by the hand gestures that go with the song.  "Oh, then I guess you are."  I hope she was flattered and not annoyed!

After running the entire race together, Cat and I stuck together all the way to the finish line.

...but I slowed down and veered left to high-five Goofy and she ended up crossing the finish a few seconds before I did.

My bad!

There was more high-fiving, and I found myself choking back tears for the (at least) third time.  Even if we had planned for this and trained together and worn matching costumes, I doubt we would have had a better race together.
Friends with medals (and balloons oddly positioned behind our heads)

We might go weeks without talking sometimes, but my friendship with Cat is one of the most enduring and constant of my life.  Frankly, the fact that we're still friends after 13 years (including one where we shared an apartment) is kind of mind-boggling.  And sharing this moment with her might have been the best moment of our whole friendship.  It's in my top five for sure.

My Race Stats:
Clock Time: 4:23:53
Chip Time: 3:29:08
Pace: 15:36
Overall Place: 17761/20242
Division Place: 1035/1254

My Splits (according to RunKeeper):
mile 1: 14:06 min/mi
mile 2: 14:04 min/mi
mile 3: 14:28 min/mi
mile 4: 14:15 min/mi
mile 5: 15:18 min/mi
mile 6: 14:28 min/mi
mile 7: 14:43 min/mi
mile 8: 15:16 min/mi
mile 9: 15:02 min/mi
mile 10: 15:41 min/mi
mile 11: 16:09 min/mi
mile 12: 16:13 min/mi

mile 13: 16:28 min/mi

I don't think I mentioned that heat and humidity were definitely a factor in this race.  And talking slowed us down a bunch.  But neither of us were in it for a PR, and we had an awesome time.

WDW Marathon Weekend Recap #1: Spectating

Ever since I started training for my first race, I have been humbled by the support I continue to receive from friends, family, and even strangers.  Stranger support is a crazy thing, and it's mostly apparent on race day.  There are tons of random people standing on the sidelines of the racecourse, yelling and cheering, holding funny signs, telling you that you're awesome, and all sorts of other nonsense.

To a beginner runner, it's invaluable.  And it means so much to me at every race I run.

So this weekend I decided to pay it forward during the WDW Marathon Weekend.  I wanted to volunteer for the full marathon, but by the time I signed up there were only standby spots available. Since that was out of the question, I focused on cheering instead.

not a huge crowd cheering for the 10K!
My marathon weekend started on Friday morning at 5am when I got to the Yacht Club to cheer for the 10K participants.  The race started at 5:30, but I was worried it might be crowded, since this was the only place to watch the race (not including the start/finish) that was accessible to spectators.  I was WRONG.  At first I was the only person cheering for as far as I could see on either direction.  A little after runners starting passing me, two women came out where I was and we all clapped and cheered.  We were just past mile 5, so we yelled a whole lot of "1.2 to go," "you're doing great," and "you're awesome"s.

I knew three people running the 10K, but I quickly realized it's really difficult to spot three in a field of 10,000.  I only saw one of my people, and even only then because he yelled and waved at me.  Flaky and unobservant?  Yes...yes I am!

My two new friends and I (one of whom ran the full marathon today) cheered until the very last racer trudged past us.  Those past few were so inspiring.  They were crumbling but not broken.  In short, they were awesome.  I was also really impressed by the RunDisney Cast Members biking along with the back of the pack.  They referred to the racers by name, encouraged us to keep yelling, and were incredibly professional.  I think this was my first contact with non-volunteers, and it was apparent that they love their jobs.

When I got to work Friday morning, my throat was sore, my fingers tingled from clapping for so long, and I was absolutely electrified by all the positive energy.  I couldn't wait to do it all again Sunday for the full marathon!

...and so, after a long and busy day on Saturday (more to come in part 2) (ooh, foreshadowing!), I found myself a coloring spot on my bedroom floor and made a poster to hold for the full marathon (inspired by this kid):
I need thicker markers...and a ruler.  But for a first-ever race poster, I was quite pleased!

I decided at the advice of another supportive stranger to hang out at the corner of Osceola Parkway and Victory way, where the runners would pass me around mile 16.5 heading into the Sports Complex and then again heading out of the Sports Complex after mile 20.  I had four friends running, and wanted to catch them all, so I had NO plans to hop from location to location.  Besides, I really like cheering for strangers!

I got to my spot around 8:00, expecting my fastest runner to be in that area a little after that time.  I pulled out my sign and smiled and occasionally whistled or whooped for someone going by.  I gave an extra smile or wave to people wearing some sort of "Incredibles" garb (and there were lots!).  As the hours passed, I was whistling non-stop, except when I was yelling.  Runners were yelling to me, and I came up with a list of things I could yell back at them.  My favorites were the ones who yelled "YOU are incredible," and I'd yell back "you're incredible-er!"  One guy yelled that I was incredible-er-est...and then he yelled it to me again almost an hour later when he passed me again.  I posed for pictures by myself, posed while one runner took a picture with me and another runner, and even got in 2 selfies!  Oh, and one sweaty Incredibles guy even hugged me!


I *did* end up seeing three of my four runners, and even managed to get unflattering pictures of two of them.  More than anything, I was there to support them.  Two were running their first full marathons, and I've been following along with their progress for months.  And since I've had a friend or loved one there to cheer for me at almost all of my races, I knew I wanted to do the same for these girls.

(I also wanted to watch them closely to see how awful running more than 13.1 miles truly is)

I also met two people I only know from online.  One was waiting for her brother to run past, and another recognized me and got my attention.  That was like the icing on the day.

By the time the last 5,000 runners were going past, I was punchy.  I was dancing along with the loud music (on rotation: three songs I'll be hearing in my dreams because I heard each one at least 50 times), coming up with ridiculous things to yell - my personal favorite was "virgin margaritas at the next water stop!", and yelling my throat raw.

If you've ever run - or even walked - a race, you know how awesome volunteers and spectators are.  But unless you've ever volunteered or spectated, you might not appreciate how wonderful runners are.  I lost count of the number of people who took a few seconds out of THEIR BIG DAY to say thank you to me for standing there with a silly poster.  Just like Friday morning, only on a much larger scale, I am energized by the positivity aimed at my by strangers.  My attempt to pay it forward kind of backfired, because I think I got more from the runners than they possibly got from me.

Really, truly: if you EVER have the opportunity to cheer for a race, DO IT.  You'll be encouraging countless people in the home stretch of pursuing their dreams, and you'll be glad you did.

On to Part Two!