In Which Jenn’s Dad Offers A Marathon Insight

My parents don’t have a ton of opinions on my running career. They think the exercise is good, of course, but they’re not into it or anything. They’ve never come out to spectate or what have you. Likewise, they’ve never discouraged me from running either. Their thought process regarding my running is pretty John Oliverian, all told.

But occasionally they’ll offer an insight, and here’s a good one from my dad.

After the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, my parents and I met up with my honorary aunt and uncle for dinner downtown. “So are you going to go home tomorrow and run again?” my uncle asked.

“Oh, no,” I said. “I have next week off. I always take a week off post-marathon. The best part of a marathon is the week you don’t run after!”

“I see,” replied my dad. “So it’s kind of like beating your head against the wall because it feels so good when you stop.”

And… I kinda can’t argue with that.


Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Recaps The Wrightsville Beach Marathon

The quote myself on Twitter: 


As a non-Disney race, the Wrightsville Beach Marathon was never gonna be the joyous march to glory that characterizes the WDW Marathon. And it wasn’t. But it went well enough. Now that I’ve sufficiently built your excitement, let’s dive in.

I hopped out of bed at 5am (which to runDisney enthusiasts is definitely sleeping in), down an Uncrustable, slapped on some tape, and was out the door half an hour later. My dad graciously drove me to the start line, and I was able to eat another snack and hit up a porta potty with plenty of time to spare before the 6:40am start time.

There were no corrals, but the staging area was peppered by pacers with large signs indicate their expected final time; we were instructed to place ourselves accordingly. A couple minutes after 6:40am we were walked a short distance from the staging area to the official start line, and then we were off!


The course was slightly different than last year, although not wildly so. This time we ended up on the main street right next to the beach pretty quickly, a period of time that was also marked by a rain shower. Combined with the mid-50s temperatures I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this, but it wasn’t a total downpour so it was okay.

Shortly after that we ended up in Landfall, a gated community of considerable size – we were in there for a good 4 miles or so. It being early there wasn’t a ton of spectator support, but a couple people were out including one excellent neighborhood group blasting music and waving to the runners as they perused a table of donuts. They weren’t sharing, but at least they were getting into the spirit of the thing!

A few miles later the half marathoners split off from us, while us marathoners began our lonely trudge to the faraway finish line on separate grounds. Which were pretty lovely to start – we ran by the bay and over a bridge with some very nice views. Of course, this was followed by a horrific, multi-mile labyrinth of Inception-style out-and-backs made all the more exciting by more rain at one point, but I suppose they can’t all be winners.


And how was I doing by this deep-in-the-marathon point? Okay. My energy wasn’t roaring, but I was keeping my pace pretty steady and none of the body parts on Injury Watch were acting up. Though I felt the lack of character stops acutely, I was impressed by how much the race organizers had boosted the volunteer support. In addition to water stops, there were a bunch of people along the course expressly there to cheer us on. Some of them were super into it, too; it may interest you to know that according to some NC high schoolers, I AM A QUEEN.

Unfortunately a rough part was coming up: the Double Lake Loop. There was a several-mile loop you had to take twice before breaking off for the finish line, and boy was that first loop rough as you watched people ahead of you peel off to the end while you trudged along on your first loop. 


In order to prevent cheating, you picked up a wristband just before completely that first loop, which served as a sort of ticket to the finish line. Some middle school kids were holding them out like jousting rings so you could just thrust your hand in without stopping, and at least that was a nice morale-boosting moment.


And then… to the finish! … Which was still about three miles away. At this point my mood took a bit of a dip. I never did break out any music, because I was afraid that if I stopped to get out my headphones I’d lose my momentum. Although I didn’t have far to go I knew the numbers weren’t adding up for a PR, and I just wanted to be done. Specifically I wanted to sit down on the side of the course and burst into tears. But I kept running, because nobody gets a medal for tears!

Luckily, a bright spot popped up unexpectedly. A lot of the water/Gatorade/Clif Shot stops (there were ALWAYS Clif Shots, which was nice, but only strawberry and vanilla, boo)  were specifically themed to local colleges and universities and manned by alums. At the West Virginia University stop, they were advertising beer… and expressly NO WATER. This a) made me laugh and b) they gave me some Bud Light or something that totally scratched the itch that was making me crave some seltzer water. I was not cured of my malaise, but I was bolstered. 

Finally, finally, we turned onto the University of North Carolina Wilmington campus, and I knew I was almost home. Half a mile later and then finish line was in sight! I managed to push it a little to the finish, and wound up with a final time of 4:38:38, which is not my BEST time but it is my SECOND best time so I guess that’s pretty good?


The post-race party is modest compared to some bigger races but proportionally pretty impressive. We got water, bundt cake, and a small bag of snacks at the finish, plus there was more food and massages in a runner’s only area. And of course any race that gives out good free beer at the end is a plus – there was a Dogfish Head tent and I took two small cups of Sea Quench sour ale (YEAH BABY!) before dragging myself off to meet my dad, who in addition to drop-offs can also perform pickups on request.

This was the 10th anniversary of the Wrightsville Beach Marathon weekend of races, and based on last year versus this year I think it’s starting to pick up steam. There were a lot more participants and more course support, and I enjoyed it about as much as anyone can enjoy a non-runDisney race. If you’re in the general area, I would absolutely recommend it.

When’s your next marathon? “Never” is an acceptable and understandable answer.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Is About To Tackle Marathon #13

Okaaaay! So. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this. I have a marathon coming up on Saturday. Wrightsville Beach Marathon go-round number 2.


But it’s not just any marathon. It’s my ceremonial marathon #13. And 13, as you may not know, is one of my lucky numbers!*

Unrelated.

So will this be my lucky marathon? Well I’ll tell ya… I don’t know.

Pro: It’s supposed to be a runner-friendly mid-to-upper-50s for most of the race.
Con: But it’s also supposed to rain the night before, so some parts of the course could be wet/muddy.

Pro: My IT band has been behaving itself of late! (Knock on wood, please. All of you.)
Con: I occasionally feel the beginnings of a tight hamstring. I’ve never quite gotten there but I better stretch and maybe even tape it up…

Pro: I have a solid fueling plan and having been making pretty nutritionally sound choices all week. No drinking.
Con: Oh, God. I’ve been sneezing a lot the last couple days. Am I getting a cold?!

In conclusion: darned if I know. But I do know that come tomorrow morning I’ll be toeing the line, like a good little non-quitter, armed with my race mantras and ready to face the music. Pray for me now and in the hour of my potential death.

*Fun fact about me: my costume was filed as Wench 13 when I worked at Medieval Times.

What’s your lucky number?

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

The Fairest Week In Review: 5/02

Good morning campers! I come bearing good news: I’ve secured another discount code! Remember when I ran the Wrightsville Beach Marathon and got a PR and everything was awesome? Well, you can run it too in 2019! For, like, practically no money by road race standards – right now the race is $65, but you can get $10 off with promo code MARATHONMADNESS10.

Of course, you’ll have to train for it and everything. Which brings me to the workout log.
Sunday | Parkway Classic, 10.02 miles outside in 1:31 if you believe my GPS
Despite a chest cold! Woo!
Monday | walked 2.05 miles outside in 35 minutes; 60 minute ballet class

Tuesday | ran 5.33 miles outside in 55 minutes

Wednesday | ran 5.3 miles outside in 55 minutes

Thursday | walked 2.09 miles outside in 35 minutes; 60 minute ballet class

Friday | ran 5.11 miles outside in 50 minutes

Saturday | rest
Went out with some friends, saw A Quiet Place and got irrationally angry about the inconsistencies (YES I KNOW EVERYONE ELSE ON EARTH LOVED IT), shattered my phone screen, and then drunk purchased a new phone. It’s red! So it was an exciting day.
Ummmm… anything else for this week? I wanna say no.
On to the roundup!

The Fairest Week In Review: 3/22

It’s been quite an eventful week for running – I ran a marathon, then I signed up for more races – not only Wine & Dine (more on that later), but also the Marine Corps Marathon! How? The MCM race organizers unexpectedly provided a “rush” option Wednesday morning, releasing 11,000 guaranteed registrations, and I snagged one. Once again, I’m gonna run with the Marines!

Workout log, prove I can do it:

Sunday | ran 6.01 miles outside in 60 minutes
I was hoping Moon could join me for a post-bachelorette 10K, but alas, she had to ship up to drive back to Boston.

Monday | walked 2.08 miles outside in 35 minutes

Tuesday | ran 5.21 miles outside in 55 minutes; 60 minute ballet class

Wednesday | ran ran 3.29 miles outside in 35 minutes
One final pre-marathon jaunt.

Thursday | walked 2.01 miles outside in 35 minutes
And then I packed for my marathon weekend trip!

Friday | rest
Drove down to Wilmington. I started in the early Maryland morning at 36 degrees, and by the time I hit NC I had my air conditioning on. It. Was. AWESOME.

I drove straight to UNCW for packet pickup, where the man who gave me my bib did a double-take at the second line. Look, if you’re going to ask me to “show my school spirit” at registration and then make the field mandatory, you’d better be prepared for the truth.

The expo itself was otherwise unremarkable – I was there about an hour after opening and it seemed like people were still setting up their booths. I didn’t spend much time there, but did stop for a free can of an energy drink called Sunshine that I actually very much enjoyed. Plus I really needed the hydration!

After the expo I rolled over to my parents’ place to prep. And then…

Sunday | Wrightsville Beach Marathon, official time 4:33:06
BEASTED.

Roundup:

Elbowglitter ponders mental health and how exercise alone might not be the answer.
I Run For Wine can help you fuel up for your next race.
easyWDW performs a thorough exploration of the Magic Kingdom’s menu changes.
The Tomorrow Society considers Disney parks and their place in the consumer landscape.
– On a similar note, The Disney Tourist blog wonders if Disney is relying too much on banked fan goodwill.
Disney In Your Day got to attend an official Toy Story Land preview event.
– Getting hitched in WDW? This Fairy Tale Life has some tips and tricks to know.
Living A Disney Life offers an insider look at the Disney College Program.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Recaps The Wrightsville Beach Marathon

And now for a tale of triumph! Comparatively speaking!


My traditional fitful pre-race night’s sleep led to me bouncing out of bed before my alarm (still got to sleep until very nearly 5am which for a runDisney enthusiast is a tremendous luxury). I quickly dressed and gathered my stuff, then bolted down some breakfast and headed out.

Race day weather promised to be beautiful, partly cloudy with a high in the upper 60s, although chilly to start. My dad dropped me off at the start about 45 minutes ahead of gun time, and I wrapped myself in my leftover runDisney space blanket and walked laps around the staging area to keep the blood moving.

About half an hour before the scheduled start there was a muffled announcement; what I think happened was that the shuttles from race parking broke down or something like that? And they were delaying start to make sure they got everyone to the corrals in time. We only ended up waiting an extra ten minutes, which wasn’t too bad. A quick national anthem from a violinist, a race prayer (awww, the South!), and we were off.

At which point I immediately needed to pee. This happens to me WAY TOO OFTEN of late but I need to figure out how to better manage my fluids, but there wasn’t anything to do except hold it until I found a suitable porta potty. Meanwhile dude were stopping off to the side to demonstrate their superior aiming abilities; maybe I should just start lugging a funnel with me.

Aside from that, the first few miles were uneventful. The half and full started together, so the course was a bit crowded, but not debilitatingly so. We were directed into the local gated community, Landfall, which I thought was sort of interesting; apparently the rich people of Wilmington are okay with letting a bunch of runners clog their roads for several hours? And it seemed like they were indeed largely fine with it, as many people were out spectating.

We emerged from Landfall, and I hit the bathrooms around mile 3, where the first relay handoff was – a bit early if you ask me, but nobody did. I multi-tasked by shedding my throwaway layer and took off again.

The next area of note was downtown Wrightsville Beach, and this is probably a good time to apologize for not taking any photos. That’s ’cause my phone battery has SUCKED lately and I needed to conserve it for later if I needed to call my parents or an Uber. That being said, we never actually saw the beach OR the ocean, marathon name notwithstanding, and aside from a few piers and a lake nothing was all that noteworthy from a visual perspective. 

Where was I? Oh yes, the downtown area. We passed multiple shops and restaurants before running across a bridge and through some neighborhood areas… and then somehow we ended up downtown again? And also somehow it had turned into an out-and-back?

I saw a pace group leader headed toward me, on the back part as I ran out. I craned my neck around to see what his timing was.. and he was doing 3:40. Almost an hour ahead of me. One of the longest out-and-backs of my life.

But at least there was reasonably interesting scenery, and I was amused to see the same restaurants and shops three times in a race, not to mention the bewildered tourists who were just trying to swing into town for some breakfast. Super bonus points for the girl in the inflatable T-Rex suit, who was there for all three downtown drive-bys and gave me an enthusiastic high-five.

Points to the race organizers: at the turnaround point they had officials carefully taking note of which bib numbers were passing by, lest anyone try to cheat. Gotta keep those race results honest!

From there we cruised down some streets until about mile 8, when the half split off to head toward the finish while the marathoners (and relay folks) trudged on. Those of us in it for the long haul were directed into a pretty back neighborhood along a marina. As I emerged from a wooded trail onto the street, I was greeted by a small cheering section of locals. “You don’t even look tired!” declared a very nice man who really should’ve stuck around to see how I looked around mile 24.

A few streets over and I was hitting that halfway point, and feeling pretty solid for all that. I was a little sad not to have music (battery conservation again), so I cheered myself up by pretending I was running the WDW Marathon again. Since it’s mile 13, I said to myself, you’d be passing the Thirsty River Bar and Expedition Everest right about now. I continued to use this tool to bolster my spirits throughout the race and it even kind of worked.

Through the whole race aid stations were solid, offering water, Gatorade, and gels at reasonable intervals. Which reminds me, just before the mile 16 station I saw a girl stop suddenly and blow chunks onto the road. She apologized to me – I assured it it wasn’t necessary and asked after her status – and she assured me she was all right. I hope things ended well for her.

I plodded on, beginning to feel the length of things but still in decent spirits. So far I was on track to PR – and, if I was very lucky – PR hard. I adjusted my A goal to be 4:35 or under, a new record by well over ten minutes but some quickly mental math told me as long as I didn’t slow down too much I could do it!

Mile 20 brought with it music, a pirate randomly positioned by the side of the course, an aid station – and confusion. See, I saw the 20 mile marker, took like 10 more running steps… and saw the 23 mile marker. Fearful I had missed something important (like, oh, a few miles), I backtracked just a little and asked a bystander if they knew what was going on. She assured me that I would be running the same section twice, and like that the course map lit up in my head – she was totally right and I had just forgotten. 

So I marched forward, my feet beginning to hurt a bit but enjoying the lakeside scenery. From there we wound up in neighborhoods again, some with just enough incline to make me a bit sad; but seeing as how the course had been fairly flat overall, I couldn’t really complain. 

The course split again a bit later, with those who had already completed two loops of the completed portion bearing left to head toward the finish (lucky jerks). Those of us on loop one headed to the right, and as we neared completion of lap 1 a group of volunteers gave us wristbands. These wristbands were our ticket to head toward the finish upon lap 2 as described above. As I said, the race organizers were very on top of potential cheating. And hey, free wristband!

So I made it to the final stretch, slowly but steadily pounding toward UNC Wilmington. As it always does, by mile 25 my spirits were lifting, and I actually found it easier to get through than some previous miles.

When we turned onto the UNCW campus for the final stretch I was feeling pretty spent. But the sight of the finish line galvanized me, and somehow without even thinking about it I picked up significant speed, powering past the finish line for an official gun time of… wait for it… 4:33:06. BAM. New PR by like 14 minutes!!!

And so as you might imagine I finished my tenth marathon feeling rather more pleased with myself than I probably deserved. All that running outside has paid off, people? … Oh, crud. Now that I run outside, how can I improve more? Is there, like, a outer-outside I can start running in?

Unfortunately the medals had gotten lost in the mail, so I didn’t receive one upon completion (they’re sending it to me). I did get a small reusable tote with some snacks, and there was also a runners-only room set up with additional food, including sodas, chips, muffins, and hot oatmeal. One of the pre-race emails had warned there would NOT be pizza this year, which leads me to believe that there HAS been pizza in previous years, and I was kinda bummed by its omission. Maybe next year!

The runners-only area also had a massage area, and there was a beer tent somewhere around, but I was tired and kinda just wanted the Reese’s egg and coffee I knew were waiting for me at my parents’ house. So I picked up an Uber and headed home.

And that was my Wrightsville Beach Marathon experience! I liked it – pretty flat course, good volunteer support, good location. I could do with some better scenery, but hey, they can’t all be at WDW. I would probably do it again.

ASSUMING THERE’S PIZZA.

Do you think anyone wants to take a roundhouse kick to the face while I’m wearing these pants?!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

In Which Jenn Goes After Marathon #10


This Saturday, I embark upon a historic milestone: my tenth marathon. 


“OMG, how did you get there???” you ask? Well…


“Damn, you need to branch out more,” you say? Your wish is my command: I’m heading down to NC for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. I hear the course is flat and fast, and my dad can drive me to the start line, which is another perk I look for in a race.

Some interesting (and dare I say heartening?) coincidences here. The weather forecast for Wrightsville Beach calls for a high of 66, which sounds lovely. Except the race starts before 7am, and when I look at the hourly I’ll probably be starting with temps in the upper 40s and maaaaybe finish in the low low 60s if I’m very lucky.

I’m a warm weather girl, but these temperatures aren’t too far off from what I experienced during my last WDW Marathon… when I PR’d HARD.

Also? My bib number is exactly the same as it was for last year’s Parks Half Marathon… in which I PR’d for the half.

So. My IT Band has been behaving lately. I felt strong and capable during my 17 miler. I have good omens on my side. Am I looking at a really great race?!

Probably not, now that I’ve suggested it. Dammit, why did I have to take up blogging?

Oh well. Wish me luck!

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!