Lisa Runs on Ramen

— running 26.2 and having foodie adventures too!


2 Comments

Empire State Building Run-Up (Part 2) and Happy Lunar New Year!

[ESBRU recap continued from Part 1]

I'm ready to run up this thing!

I’m ready to run up this thing!

So, the funny thing about the Empire State Building Run-up was that I didn’t know what to eat beforehand for an 8pm race. I had a big lunch of sticky rice with chicken at 12pm, followed by a Potbelly Italian sandwich around 2:30pm, just to keep my salt levels up. I hydrated all day like it was my job. I drank Nuun electrolyte drink and plenty of water, to prepare for the dry air in the stairwell. I ate a KIND brand granola bar the hour before the race, just so I could have something in my stomach, but I didn’t want to eat anything that might make me hurl! (I usually never think of the worst-case-scenario, but see–told you I was nervous).

Me with my coworkers Daphne and Sean

Me with my coworkers Daphne and Sean

I have been asked, how could I be nervous about running a 0.2 mile race (a quarter mile straight up, fighting gravity) when I’ve run 24-hour races before? Well, it was uncharted territory for me–I had never climbed up 86 floors in one attempt before. It is quite different from running a few miles for practice and then running the full distance in a race. I don’t do well with acute pain. Indoor track had been my weakness back in high school, since I didn’t take well to the wheezing and bloody, dry feeling when I sprinted over short distances.

Ok, deep breath, Lisa. You can do this! I kept picturing my heart giving out somewhere around the 76th Floor, and me collapsing as runners stepped over me. This positive visualization thing is NOT working.

Around 6pm the same day, I head to a cool event celebrating National Women’s Day at Niketown. I ran into my friend Evelyn there. I entered the raffle for a chance to win a Nike Fuelband or a pair of Nike Running sunglasses, but unfortunately I had to leave before the winner’s name was drawn. My name was on the raffle ticket, so I told Evelyn to try and claim the prize on my behalf if they called my name, since I had to head to the Empire State Building early for packet pick-up. Around 6:50pm, Evelyn texts me and says,

“Hey. You won.”

“!”

Are you kidding?? There were at least 50 other women there! Wow!!

Luckily, I didn’t have to run back to Niketown–the nice Nike people let Evelyn choose a badass pair of sunglasses on my behalf.

My raffle prize: Nike women's running sunglasses. Thanks Evelyn!

My raffle prize: Nike women’s running sunglasses. Thanks Evelyn!

I was ecstatic. The night was off to a good start!

So I get to the staging area on the second floor, and even at 7:00pm (an hour before race time), the place was throbbing with energy. A DJ was spinning music, adding to the party atmosphere. I take the requisite pre-race photos with friends, and I’m happy to bump into my friends Helen and fellow Marathon Maniac Jackie!

Jackie's friend (left), Jackie (center) and me

Jackie’s friend (left), Jackie (center) and me

Wams and me pre-run-up

Wams and me pre-run-up

DSC07123

Earlier in the day, my friend Shannon provided me an awesome list of ESBRU tips, including:

1) Use your arms as much as possible to pull yourself up the railings

2) Running the landings/flat parts

3) Breathe in through your nose and mouth quickly to give your lungs maximum capacity

4) Note that the first 50 floors goes by very quickly, but the last 36 floors have high ceilings and it seems to go on forever.

Thanks for the tips, Shannon! I also was told by Daphne to chew gum or take cough drops, because the air is super dry. I picked up my awesome tech shirt, a drawstring bag, and my bib, and I chat with my friends a bit to calm my nerves.

At 8:00pm, the pros were off. Later, I was told that a pair of Aussies won the men and women’s races, respectively. More on their insane finish times later. Read about the pro stair-climbers in this NY Times article. They don’t mess around.

At around 8:05pm, the media heat went off. My friend Brian was coaching Kelly Ripa on her run-up. As a result, he got an awesome shout-out on Kelly’s talk show, and he also appears in the last 10 minutes of Live! with Kelly and Michael here.

You can see a glimpse of Kelly Ripa (bib 300). She was high-fiving participants.

You can see a glimpse of Kelly Ripa (bib 300). She was high-fiving participants.

At 8:15pm, my heat starts lining up. For some reason I’m placed in the first heat, which either implies I’m really fast (ha!) or they knew I just wanted to get this over with (probably). In any case, I was excited to finally get going. This will be my first time ever on the Empire State Building observation deck! My friend Ben was there to support and take photos. Thanks, Ben!

Lisa pre-run-up. Photo by Ben Ko.

Lisa pre-run-up. Photo by Ben Ko.

We wait about 10 minutes in the second floor corrals, then we’re led to the first floor where the start line is located. We’re waiting around for about 15 minutes. I had already eaten two of my three cough drops already. Oops! I was wondering what the delay was, and then finally I saw: they were spacing runners five seconds apart. It was a time-trial; they lined up the athletes single file, they gave you the signal to go, then you went up the staircase individually. It was a lot safer this way–the pros have to sprint for the small doorway, and usually there are elbows being thrown. Luckily I didn’t have to worry about that. The event director gave us last minute instructions: “Folks, remember that once you enter the stairwell, there’s only one way out–you must go UP the stairs. Do not go DOWN the stairs, go UP.” That made me chuckle. I guess someone had tried to go down…

DSC07140

Finally, around 8:50pm it was my turn. Ready, set, go!

I sprint towards the doorway into a gunmetal-gray stairwell. It’s pretty narrow, only wide enough for about two people. I climb up the stairs two at a time, and around the 10th floor I’m already breathing heavily. I pass a few people on the way up, and everyone’s really polite about it. I whisper ” ‘Scuse me,” because I have no breath left to talk! It feels like a jail (or a really old public school)–most of the doors are shut, the stairwell is drab, and all I can hear is the echoing of feet above me. I try to run the landings at first, but at the 20th floor I’m already struggling. I didn’t want to pull out my camera to take photos because I was aiming for under 20:00, and that would have wasted precious time.

I noticed that there were cheery Empire State Building employees intoning the destination every 10th floor so that you could keep track. When you’re flying up the stairs as fast as you can, it’s hard to read the numbers. I loved the employees! They looked so chipper in their maroon uniforms and were the only source of motivation in this dead zone. I reach a water station somewhere around the 30th floor (I could be wrong). My legs start feeling dead, but at least they’re not hurting. My lungs feel like they’ve aged five years by breathing in all the dust. My coworker Gordon comes up behind me and she shouts encouragingly, “This is nothing! You can do it!” as she speeds by. She’s an amazing runner–I have no clue how she had the energy to cheer. The cough drop feels like sandpaper in my dry mouth. Crazy!

40th floor…

I start feeling dizzy. I no longer care whom I pass or who passes me. I felt so lethargic. “This is hell on earth,” I think. “Why, why would anyone voluntarily do this??”

50th floor…

I remember Shannon’s words. The higher floors do feel like they take forever. I was desperate to get some fresh air–my brain felt like it was cotton. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so bad. Maybe it’s because stair-climbing is the most masochistic sport ever.

60th floor…

I slow down a lot. I feel like I was going to faint if I went any faster. Slow. And. Steady. I don’t want to die….

70th floor…

I start to cough. My vision starts to get blurry…so close, hang in there…

80th floor…

I trudge up the stairs and I can feel a slight wind. There’s fresh air! One of the stairwell doors is propped open and the breeze gives me hope. An ESBRU employee yells “you got this!”

86th floor…

Like a lost hiker in the desert staggering towards a mirage, I shift my tired legs into a run towards the observation deck door. The volunteers and staff are clapping and cheering as the runners emerged, dazed, and run a victory lap around the deck. The finish line is illuminated and the city is a beautiful carpet of lights beneath our feet. I made it! I have conquered the Empire State Building Run-Up!

Exhausted

Exhausted

Here were my final results:

Net time for 86 floors (1,561 steps): 20:35

Overall: 379/726

Gender Place: 93/248, Age Place: 29/69

For comparison purposes, the first-place male, Mark Bourne, finished in 10:12. The women’s winner, Suzy Walsham, finished in 12:05. They are jaw-droppingly hardcore. Read about the results here.

My friend Chad, who was working the finish line

My friend Chad, who was working the finish line

It was cold, and the staff and volunteers were trying to usher me inside. “Wait!” I said, “I need to take more pictures!” My brain was really addled and I needed the fresh air. I breathed deeply and just enjoyed the view. Then, reality set in and I realized it was about 30F and I was in shorts and singlet. Plus, I needed to get my medal inside.

The view was definitely worth it. It’s beautiful at night.

View from Empire State Building, 2/6/13

View from Empire State Building, 2/6/13

DSC07147

The finish line

The finish line

All the volunteers and staff were fantastic. Once I went inside, I saw tons of volunteers eager to hand us our medals. The medal is gorgeous!

ESBRU finisher medals

ESBRU finisher medals

I got my medal and took a few more photos before heading down in the elevator. I had to take one with a fabulous ESB staff member:

DSC07157

DSC07160

DSC07148

I went back down in the elevator and was very happy to have post-race plans to look forward to. My friends were waiting to celebrate with me at Arirang Noodle restaurant in Korea town. Thanks so much to everyone who came out and made me feel special! Congrats also to Wams and my fellow stair runners who completed the race!

Me and Wams at Arirang

Me and Wams at Arirang

A few of the lovely people who came to celebrate at Arirang

A few of the lovely people who came to celebrate at Arirang

I ordered a delicious bowl of chicken and handmade noodles in soup. It was super delicious.

Chicken noodle soup at Arirang, Korean-style

Chicken noodle soup at Arirang, Korean-style

My head felt funny, as if it were stuffed with cotton, and unfortunately this feeling persisted for two days! I also was sneezing non-stop for two days, and I’d “almost-sneeze” and feel even worse because I couldn’t get it out. I later found out that the likely cause was the thinner air and slight air pressure change at the top of the building, which explained why I felt so bad starting around the 40th floor. There was also a lack of oxygen and poor ventilation in the stair well. This is an awesome, unique race, but just be prepared for some challenges that you can’t really train for! For me, the hardest part was the dry air and lack of oxygen. Luckily, everything returned to normal in a few days.

Thanks everyone for your support and positive energy before, during and after the race!

Last but not least, thanks to Team Refuel for providing my awesome jersey, and to Shamrock Farms and Team Refuel for the Rockin’ Refuel chocolate milk that I devoured at home post-race! The chocolate milk helped me recover, and my legs weren’t even sore the next day.

Thanks Rockin' Refuel!

Thanks Rockin’ Refuel!

Happy Lunar New Year!

I want to wish everyone a happy Year of the Snake in 2013! I celebrated with a family dinner in a restaurant in Brooklyn. It was great seeing my mom’s side of my family, and my little cousin Fion even baked a beautiful cake for the occasion!

Lunar New Year is one of my favorite holidays, because the focus is on family and sharing a meal together. Sure, there are also lucky red envelopes, but that’s just a bonus. I wish all my friends health and happiness in the coming year!

Beautiful fondant cake baked by Fion!

Beautiful fondant cake baked by Fion!

My aunt got me these cute Disney Princess lucky red envelopes...

My aunt got me these cute Disney Princess lucky red envelopes…

Advertisements


4 Comments

Grand Central Centennial, Lululemon Warehouse sale, Empire State Building Run-up preview & NYRR races!

I had a jam-packed week from 2/1-2/6, filled with Super Bowl excitement, Lululemon Yogabowl Warehouse sale planning, two races, and Grand Central’s 100th birthday!  I had actually just run the NYRR Manhattan Half Marathon on Sunday, 1/27, and had barely recovered from the cold snap that we had for that race. It was one of the coldest races I had ever run, 20F at the start and it only warmed up to 24F by the finish. I ran a 2:06:36 (9:40 min/mile pace), but I really wasn’t going for time because it took me all of 3 miles to warm up and feel my feet! I decided to race smart and save my effort for the Gridiron Classic 4-miler and the Empire State Building Run-up the following week. Thanks so much to my friend Ben for taking photos, Jennie and others for cheering, and to all the volunteers who braved the cold!

Manhattan Half Marathon (photo by Ben Ko)

Manhattan Half Marathon (photo by Ben Ko)

Trying to stay warm at the post-finish

Trying to stay warm at the post-finish

It was my first half-marathon of 2013, so I was happy with the effort. January for me is all about getting back into it after a bit of holiday indulgence.

A few days later, on Friday, 2/1/13, was a New York milestone: Grand Central Terminal’s 100th birthday! As a native New Yorker and someone who had been through Grand Central more than a few times, I was excited to partake in the celebration. There were giveaways, food samplings, and some merchants even “rolled back” to 1913 prices!

GCT blog1

I’m pretty good at finding deals and discounts in NYC, and this seemed like a gold mine of deals. Plus, I wanted to be there for the festive atmosphere. There was a big stage set up for a ceremony and celebrity guests like Cynthia Nixon and Mayor Bloomberg, but I didn’t stick around for that.

I was able to take advantage of the following deals throughout the day:

– 1913 prices: 5 cent fudge at Li-lac chocolates, 10 cent nylon watch straps

– bought four $2 silk scarves from Toto

– Free stuff: Vince Camuto nail polish, Grand Central (plastic) luggage tags,

– Tastings: free seafood spring rolls from Pescatore, large financier pastry from Financier, Granola bars

There were huge lines for some things like 5 cent coffee from Financier, so I steered clear of those. Other cool stuff that happened throughout the day included: USPS unveiling a limited-edition express mail Grand Central commemorative stamp, First Day of issue cancellations, the holiday train show, Guiness World Record presentation for “busiest terminal in the world,” a Lego model replica of GCT, and special merchandise at the NYC Transit Museum Store. Financier even created a beautiful cake to celebrate the centennial!

The famous golden clock sits atop the GCT 100 cake by Financier Patisserie

The famous golden clock sits atop the GCT 100 cake by Financier Patisserie

Lego replica of Grand Central

Lego replica of Grand Central

I was actually most excited about the First Day of Issue cancellations for the postage stamp, since my mom is a philatelist (stamp collector) as a hobby, and I used to go to stamp shows as a kid. There was a huge line for this, but I buddied up with a stranger to minimize the wait time (he was in one line and I was in another). The First Day Covers are also collector’s items, and can be very valuable one day. For me, I’m just keeping it for sentimental reasons (for now).

photo (3)

My best souvenir of the day--GCT 100 First Day of  Issue cover!

My best souvenir of the day–GCT 100 First Day of Issue cover!

And, like a big geek, I got super excited when I realized that the MTA created special Grand Central Metrocards that were issued at the vending machines at Grand Central. Perfect timing–I needed to buy a new monthly Metrocard anyway!

GCT blog 3

Happy 100th Birthday Grand Central!

Lululemon Yogabowl Warehouse Sale, Long Island 2/2/13

YogaBowl_PN12

I am a pretty big fan of Lululemon athletic wear for running. I ran my 100-miler in Lululemon shorts, flew to Vancouver with my friend Amy for the inaugural Sea Wheeze Half Marathon (sponsored by Lululemon) in August 2012, and I pretty much buy their stuff on sale (usually only 20% off) if I reach a significant running milestone. When I first heard about the Lululemon Warehouse Sale (Yogabowl), I knew I wanted in. Problem was, the sale was on Long Island and I don’t drive.

Well, thanks to the magic of Facebook, I connected with four of my running friends who were also Lululemon fans, and we planned all week long to hit the sale on Saturday (the second day) to score some running gear at deep discounts. Lululemon stuff only goes on sale once in a blue moon, and only for overstock items. At best, you get 25-30% off, nothing more. I heard that each year since they started a warehouse sale, Lululemon only picks one US location and one Canadian location. Last year’s was Chicago, so this was an opportunity not to be missed!

So Evelyn, Cipriana, Kristen, Mary and I piled into a rented car at 6:30am on Saturday, and drove from Brooklyn to Long Island. We had stopped at Bagelsmith in Brooklyn for breakfast, so that helped us feel more alert. After a 45-minute drive, we arrived 7:40am and doors opene at 8:00am. Luckily, the line was pretty short compared to Friday’s reports (two hour long waits!).

Four Brooklyn girls and a Manhattanite at the Lululemon sale

Four Brooklyn girls and a Manhattanite at the Lululemon sale

We were waiting for only 10 minutes after the doors opened (maybe 100 people ahead of us).

Once we were in, I headed straight to the racks of crop pants and “Swiftly” tees. Most of my friends were done browsing in 1.5 hours, but I took two hours because I was having a hard time narrowing down my choices.  The space (Nassau Coliseum) was huge, there were fitting rooms, and there was a huge selection for women in most sizes. The men’s section was pretty small.

Lululemon sale at the Nassau Coliseum

Lululemon sale at the Nassau Coliseum

Pros:

Some of the prices (as of 8am Saturday) were pretty decent– $29 for a pair of shorts (normally $62), $69 for jackets, $4 for undies.

-great selection—best selections were in sizes 8 and up, but I still had a lot to browse through for size 6

-They had a decent amount of stuff from the Sea Wheeze, their race in Vancouver (limited edition product)

-it was a good crowd, no one got mean or pushed or anything

-they had a DJ and dance stage for entertainment

– at 9:30am they started giving out free bikini tops (normally $58) and one-pc bathing suits with every purchase!

Cute crop pants I ended up buying

Cute crop pants I ended up buying

 Cons:

-Some things were still pretty expensive—for example, a running top was still $39 (marked down from $59)

-Three hours after we left they dramatically slashed prices—when we arrived everything was below $99, at 12Pm everything was below $55, and they had 4 men’s items for $100! Bummer, oh well.

-the pricing was really confusing at the register—you couldn’t see what they were typing in and you had to check your receipt to make sure they didn’t over charge. I had to check it like 3 times.

In the end, I got a good haul of 10 items (including smaller things like a yoga mat bag and undies) and I had fun. The sale was overwhelming at times. I would go back if the sale returns to the area, but I wouldn’t fly in for it (like the girls in this article)! My friends were also very patient and we all got good stuff. I like Lululemon because their designs are awesome, and their stuff lasts. I run a lot of races in the products and nothing has fallen apart yet!

After all that shopping, we were hungry, so we rushed back to Brooklyn around 11:00am for brunch. We had some vegetarians in the group, so we went to an awesome vegan spot named Maimonides of Brooklyn (M.O.B.). The space was bright and airy, the food was fantastic, and the menu was interesting. I ordered the spicy grits with kale and vegan sausage, and it was great! I will definitely be back. They even have La Colombe coffee!

Maimonides of Brooklyn, a vegan restaurant/cafe.

Maimonides of Brooklyn, a vegan restaurant/cafe.

Spicy grits

Spicy grits

NYRR Gridiron Classic 4-miler, 2/6/13 (Super Bowl Sunday)

After all that pre-Super Bowl shopping excitement, I was ready to run the Gridiron Classic! This was a cold, wet race for me. I wore my thin New Balance sneakers, and unfortunately they are so thin that any moisture from the ground seeps up through the sole! My feet were cold and wet by walking through a rain-soaked Central Park before the race even started. I saw Kino in his Baltimore Ravens jersey, and a group of my Dashing Whippets teammates. There were a ton of people, since the race was sold out.

Dashing Whippets before the Gridiron 4-miler

Dashing Whippets before the Gridiron 4-miler

I was wearing purple because I was cheering for the Baltimore Ravens. Go Ravens!!

I felt pretty good the entire race–although it was cold, it wasn’t as cold as the previous weekend so I wanted to make the most of the weather. I finished in a time of 33:22, or 8:21 min/mile pace. I was pretty happy! I also had to save my legs for the Empire State Building Run-Up taking place only three days later on 2/6. It was nice seeing my running friends, as always.

I'm closing my eyes here. Must be tired.

I’m closing my eyes here. Must be tired.

Ran into my friend Eric at the finish line!

Ran into my friend Eric at the finish line!

After the race, I had lunch with my friends Suzanne and Celia at Forcella in Brooklyn. They specialize in amazing fried margherita pizza. The crust is fried, then it’s baked in a brick oven. It was delicious. Thanks Suzanne for the invite! I was then off to Alex T’s place for a Super Bowl viewing party. I’m glad I ran a race the day of, since I indulged in wings, chips, guacamole, and all that good stuff that completes a Super Bowl party. Ravens won, yes!!

Fried margherita pizza at Forcella

Fried margherita pizza at Forcella

Empire State Building Run-Up, 2/6/13 (Part 1)

The Empire State Building Run-up is a very special race. Where else can you run up 86 stories (1,576 steps) to a gorgeous nighttime view of New York City? I had been trying to get in for the past two years but didn’t get in through lottery, and then finally I made it in! The field is limited to about 730 people, and this year over 1,900 people applied. I felt very lucky to be toeing the starting line. Some media celebrities like Natalie Morales and Kelly Ripa were running too! I had met both of them in previous events (Natalie at the 20in24 Back on My Feet race in 2011, and Kelly at an off-Broadway play), and it was cool to be facing the same challenge as them. Kelly Ripa was fundraising for Team for Kids (a cause near and dear to my heart, providing running programs for needy kids), and Natalie was fundraising for MMRF (Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation), so my hats off to them!

The Empire State Building is lit up in orange for MMRF (Multiple Myeloma Research Fdn)

The Empire State Building is lit up in orange for MMRF (Multiple Myeloma Research Fdn)

Going into it, I knew not to underestimate these stairs. I had prepped as well as I could, practicing on stairs in my office building ( 3 x 11 floors), climbing the Haiku Stairs, using the Stairmaster at the gym for 20 minutes at a time, and keeping up my running. I pretended that my running background gave me little to no advantage, and that was actually the right way to approach it.

I was pretty nervous, staring up at the skyscraper and knowing that I would be running up the belly of the beast at 8:00pm after a long workday. My friends provided encouraging posts on my Facebook page and through email, so I’m thankful for those! My friend Kenneth said “King Kong has nothing on  you!” Knowing that, I couldn’t possibly fail!

DSC07108

Stay tuned for part 2 in a few days…(even though it’s a short race, it deserves its own post!)


2 Comments

Disney World Marathon 20th Anniversary & Mission Chinese Food

It’s the night before the Empire State Building Run-Up, and as usual I am blogging late into the evening. I am so excited to compete in the Run-Up, and I can’t wait to write about it! But before I do that, I have to recap some awesome stuff that happened in January. To start the New Year off right, Jackie and I went to Mission Chinese Food on Orchard St in New York. It’s one of the hottest new restaurant openings of the year, and we wanted to try it before it got even more popular.

I got there at 5:15pm on 1/2 (considered a holiday), and there was already at least a 1.5 hour wait, a mere 15 minutes after the doors opened! The hostess was very nice though, and all the customers were excited to be there and didn’t mind waiting in the cramped foyer. Jackie arrived from work 30 minutes later, and being the foodie geeks that we were, we asked to take a picture with Chef Danny Bowien. Not only did he take a photo with us, he let us have a glimpse of the kitchen, and he later gifted us a plate of super spicy chicken wings!

Lisa, Chef Danny Bowien, and Jackie

Lisa, Chef Danny Bowien, and Jackie

We shared the plate with other people in line–also our mouths were on fire because of the copious amounts of hot chilies on the plate! We buddied up with some people in line to chat about what to order, and after TWO HOURS (worth it), our table was ready!

Our friend Juergen later joined us for dinner, and we ordered all the good stuff off the menu: thrice cooked bacon, egg egg noodles, beef roll, and kung pao pastrami.

Thrice cooked bacon at Mission Chinese Food

Thrice cooked bacon at Mission Chinese Food

It was a ton of food, and best of all, everything was delicious. My favorite was the thrice cooked bacon…Jackie proclaimed that next time, she’s not sharing, haha. If it weren’t for the 2-hour wait, I would come here all the time. Thanks Chef Danny for meeting us, and the staff at Mission Chinese–you guys are great!

The Disney World Marathon Weekend

The weekend of January 12-13, I went on a whirlwind trip to Orlando, FL so I could run in the 20th Anniversary Disney World Marathon. I did the Goofy Challenge in 2011, and while it was fun, it was extremely expensive ($340 registration), and I wasn’t a fan of waking up at 2:30am two days in a row. The Goofy Challenge is a combination race–you run the half marathon on a Saturday, and the full marathon the day after, for a total of 39.3 miles in a weekend. It’s worth doing once, but I probably won’t do it again until I’m rolling in the dough, haha.

I arrive on Saturday morning at the Disney Caribbean Beach resort, put down my things, and headed straight to the expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. There were commemorative items for sale, like Dooney & Bourke 20th Anniversary marathon bags, posters, pins, and other stuff. I splurged a bit on a Dooney and Bourke cross-body bag. I couldn’t resist!

Special limited-edition Dooney & Bourke bag made just for the marathon!

Special limited-edition Dooney & Bourke bag made just for the marathon!

I also got to meet former Olympian Jeff Galloway, the official runDisney training consultant. Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper was also taking photos with fans at the Cigna booth! It was the first time I’ve heard his name, but he’s a really nice guy and down-to-earth. He ran the half-marathon earlier in the day and came in third.

Me and Jeff Galloway, Olympian and famous running coach

Me and Jeff Galloway, Olympian and famous running coach

Me with Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper in the Cigna booth

Me with Olympic triathlete Hunter Kemper in the Cigna booth

I was pretty exhausted after my flight, so after picking up my packet and posing for a few more photo opps, I was eager to avoid the madness and finally get to explore the park! I bought an afternoon ticket for $69 at the expo (saving $15 or so) and decided to spend the rest of the day at Magic Kingdom.

New Balance photo booth pic

New Balance photo booth pic

I got to Magic Kingdom around 3:30pm and finally ate a late lunch. I had a barbecue chicken flatbread and iced mocha from Pinocchio’s Tavern (a fast-food type place), and made a note to myself to try and eat better next time I come to Disney! It’s so hard to travel and find the “right” foods to eat before a marathon. I was meeting up with my friends Scot and Sandy (Marathon Maniacs who recently got married at the Honolulu Marathon!) so I was looking forward to seeing them and not crash on an empty stomach. I went to see the new Fantasyland, and while the structures themselves were impressive (Ariel’s castle and the Beast’s castle), the attractions were so-so and aimed towards younger kids. I really wanted to eat at the new Be Our Guest restaurant , but you had to reserve weeks in advance. Next time!

DSC06636

Ariel's castle, part of the new Fantasyland

Ariel’s castle, part of the new Fantasyland

I had a blast watching Philharmagic 3-D and going on rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, and Haunted Mansion. Scot and Sandy joined me for the Haunted Mansion ride so that made it even more fun!

Me and Sandy clowning around at the Haunted Mansion

Me and Sandy clowning around at the Haunted Mansion

Scot and Sandy, the newlyweds!

Scot and Sandy, the newlyweds!

Before my day was over, I scarfed down a pulled pork sandwich from some diner in Tomorrowland, caught the “Wishes” fireworks show, and saw my favorite thing ever, the Main Street Electrical Parade!

DSC06739

At around 10:00pm, I finally left the park and got back to my hotel at 11:00pm. I had been awake since 3:30am Saturday and I had to wake up at 3:00am for the Disney Marathon, yikes!

So yes, I did make it out of bed (one of my fears is oversleeping for a destination marathon), and here, I bring you a sub-set of this blog post:

How to get the most bang for your buck during the Disney World marathon (and having fun with it)

1) Don’t worry about your marathon time when it’s 80F, 80% humidity, and your “stuck in an NYC winter” body hasn’t adjusted to summer temps yet.

2) Carry a camera and take lots of pictures with the characters

Pirates of the Caribbean!

Pirates of the Caribbean!

3) Wait 20 minutes on line for a semi-blurry photo with Mickey and Minnie

DSC06871 - Copy

4) When you’re running on a marathon course completely exposed to sun, pretend like you’re working on your tan and that the sun is your friend.

5) Ride the Expedition Everest roller coaster mid-race (in Animal Kingdom), around mile 12.8. Best. Decision. Ever.

A souvenir from my mid-race roller coaster ride

A souvenir from my mid-race roller coaster ride

6) If you see a massive line for a photo opportunity, like the one at Mile 20 (the 20th anniversary “surprise”), move off to the side and take your own photo. It’s sort of like a civil way to photobomb.

DSC06959

7) Enjoy your shiny, spinning Mickey medal at the finish and remember that the winners of the race and the back-of-packers get the same medal!

disney2

The 20th Anniversary Disney World marathon medal

The 20th Anniversary Disney World marathon medal

So, my final time was 6:13:15, which was a personal worst by 13 minutes (my second-worst time was the Chicago Marathon 2007 during the heat wave), but I had a blast! It was totally worth it to get photos with all my favorite characters and to ride a roller coaster mid-race. Plus, I usually wilt in the heat so the goal was to finish without getting dehydrated. Here are a few more photos from my journey:

DSC06856

DSC06886

DSC06898

DSC06951

DSC06882 - Copy

DSC06980

DSC06966

DSC06993

I got a photo with Mushu (from Mulan) in Disney World back when I was 11 years old, so the last photo has special significance for me!

I got to cheer on other Team Refuel members during the race, and I even got asked about the Team Refuel voting contest from a prospective team member. As soon as I finished and got back to my hotel, I was frantically trying to clear the room and check out (they only gave me 12:00pm checkout while another person from the same hotel got 1:00pm! Not cool). I put my stuff in the luggage room and headed to the resort’s food court in search of some calories and chocolate milk. Luckily, they had Nesquik (my favorite), and I downed it to help aid my recovery. I also had baked ziti and a breadstick to hold me over, at least until I got my second lunch haha.

I met my friend Derrick from California in Downtown Disney for some more high-quality recovery food. We ended up going to Wolfgang Puck’s Bistro for some awesome food in a casual setting. I had a hearty chicken noodle soup and a pesto chicken sandwich with aioli.

DSC07026

Derrick did the Goofy Challenge and had three clanging medals to prove it! The medals came in handy because RunDisney arranged for 20% off several restaurants for finishers that showed their medals. Score! Lastly, we stopped by Earl of Sandwich and I got an amazing Hawaiian chicken sandwich with pineapple. It was so delicious. I find that I like to eat two smaller meals after a marathon, because immediately after I usually have a small appetite.

I left Orlando on Sunday and had a good flight home. It was a short weekend, but filled with great memories. I am grateful for the support of Team Refuel, and I like sporting my jersey in races like this! I feel blessed to have been one of the lucky runners in the 20th Anniversary of this very special marathon.