Trying To Plan

Every year I swear I will turn into a more organized person who plans things well in advanced. Sometimes I succeed and other times I end up paying the most expensive entry fee to a race because I waited to the last minute to register. I am going to do better this year.

Organized Sommee Card

So here it is for all of the internet to see my tentative race plan for the remainder of 2014.

Race The Bar Lakeland Bar Association 5K

Race The Bar is a run/walk 5K on April 26 at 6PM in Lakeland, Florida. It is an evening race, so that should be fun. It has a post race party with food, drinks, and door prizes. J actually did an internship with the Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc. which is one of the race sponsors.

The Lakeland Runner’s Club 5K Watermelon series takes place on June 7, June 28, July 26, and August 23. $30 for four races that are always a ton of fun. This is my third year running this series and I know it will be a highlight of my summer running. This race also takes place in Lakeland, Florida around the beautiful Lake Hollingsworth.

Miracle Miles in Orlando Florida

Miracle Miles is one of the few 15K’s in Central Florida. I ran it once years ago and love the distance. The date for 2014 has not yet been announced but it normally is in September and will fit nicely into a fall half training plan. Miracle Miles is in Orlando, Florida.,

Red Ribbon Half Marathon & Run

The InnerAct Alliance Red Ribbon Half Marathon & Run is the only half marathon in Lakeland. This race is hilly (for Florida) course and I had so much fun running it last year. (Last years race report for those who are interested.) They are offering those who ran the inaugural race an entry for $45 if they register before April 13th. At that price for a half, it is impossible to say no.

So that’s my race plan for the rest of 2014. Not overly ambitious but it should be a lot of fun and I am hoping to cut a decent amount of time off of my 5K PR,.

Celebration Half Marathon Recap

The Celebration Marathon & Half Marathon, otherwise known as the race I almost didn’t run, was on Sunday. As I discussed here, I was freaking out because of a nagging IT Band issue that forced me to miss running most of January (I could run but the pain had me running with a slight limp which is very strange.) Ultimately, I decided that trying my best and walking if necessary, is a fine way to start a race.

On Sunday, I woke up at 4 AM and did the normal coffee/dicking around on the internet trying to wake up thing. I was not exaggerating about being nervous and did not sleep all well. After being sufficiently caffeinated, I ate a light breakfast and changed my clothes five times. It was a foggy cool 56 degrees and I could not decide whether to wear capris and a t-shirt or shorts and a tank. Preferring to err on the side of being cold, the shorts won.

I thought parking might be an issue for this race because the race start was in the downtown area and there is not a ton of parking. The residents tend to take up a lot of the street parking, so I knew that would be tough. I decided to park at Celebration Health, which is usually where I park for long runs, and walk the mile to the start. The good, I was able to use an actual bathroom before the race. The bad, I walk a mile much slower than I run it and I arrived at the start when they were singing the National Anthem. I attempted to squeeze myself into the starting corral but it was tight (plus moving during the anthem seems to be something people frown upon.) I eventually worked my way to the middle of the start and we were off.

My plan was to run at a comfortable pace and walk if I needed to. Luckily, it was cold enough that my leg started to feel slightly numb, which I think really helped with the pain. Celebration is such a beautiful place to run and I enjoyed looking at the houses and the pretty trees. (If you want to see what I mean, check out the course video found here.)

Around mile 7, I started to hurt and took more regular walk breaks. By around mile 11, I was done and watching my Garmin every 30 seconds hoping the miles were going faster than they seemed.

Celebration Half Split Times

As you can see, I had a tiny little bit of gas left to pull myself over the timing mat. I stuffed my face with some awesome food (garlic knots and a delicious muffin.) Wandered around the finish area for a bit to cool down and look for anyone I knew. (I did see a friend from the Lakeland Runner’s Club which was awesome.) Then I realized that I had to walk the mile back to my car but decided if I made it, would stop at Starbucks on the way home.

Official time 2:21:13. Not my best but not my worst. For the amount of training I missed and my wonky leg, I did much better than I expected.

So in a nut shell…

The Good:

Loved the medal.

Celebration Half Marathon Marathon Medal

Loved the shirt.

Celebration Marathon Half Marathon Race Shirt

Great food.

Race support was excellent. Lots of water stops with great volunteers.

Beautiful course.

Great price.

The Bad:

I had to hunt for my water after finishing the race.

Would prefer timing clocks throughout the course.

There was a delay in getting the times posted.

For an inaugural race, the good far outweighed the bad. The race is showing a lot of savvy by allowing people to give constructive criticism on their Facebook page. I know the race directors care about responses because I ran into one on the hike back to my car. He asked about my experience and took a few notes about the minor criticisms I had.

Ultimately, I really enjoyed running the Celebration Half Marathon and plan on running it again.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There was horrendous traffic getting to the highway on Thursday, so J decided to skip his classes that day. When he came back home, he suggested we go to Disney.

Animal Kingdom is the park we least frequent. It is a great park but the animals are the main attraction and that can get old fast. It also closes earlier than many of the other parks, so if you do not get an early start, it can be hard to have enough time to spend there.

The main attraction at the center of the park.

The Tree of Life is huge and really beautiful. It houses the It’s Tough to be a Bug! show and has intricate carvings throughout the base of the tree.

Outside of the Flights of Wonder, we spotted my favorite bird.

Owl! If you follow me on Pinterest, you may have noticed my love of owl tchotchkes. They are just so interesting looking.

Upon arrival, we made a beeline for Fast Passes for Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition. This is my top must ride at Animal Kingdom. It puts you in a vehicle and takes you on a safari through a wildlife reserve. I never get tired of this ride because each time is different.

We saw a giraffe.

A lioness.

Scary warning sign which is Disney’s attempt to keep it real.

Plus zebras, rhinos, elephants, and a cheetah.

We did a lot of walking and spotted Expedition Everest. I am a big chicken about heights, so I have never been on this ride.

It was a beautiful day and it made me so thankful having an annual pass.

Do you have a favorite Disney park?

Valentine’s Day Part Two

On Saturday, J and I finally made it to Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales. We have been meaning to eat there for years but never managed to. Chalet Suzanne has a fascinating history and has been around since 1931 which is incredible in Florida.

To get to the restaurant, you turn down a long drive that leads to this interesting collection of buildings (there is an Inn and Spa plus the dining rooms that make-up the property.)

Chalet Suzanne Exterior

Chalet Suzanne Exterior at night

We might be dorks but both felt that this door was very Hobbit-like.

Chalet Suzanne Yellow Door

Chaley Suzanne Lake Wales Historic Place

Walking into the restaurant, there are tons of antique accents.

Chalet Suzanne Interior

We would love to come back just to get a better look around.

J found this and thought it was hilarious.

Chalet Suzanne Florida

Each table setting was different and really pretty. I particularly liked mine.

Chalet Suzanne Vintage Plate

J started with the Caramelized Grapefruit and Organic Chicken Liver.

He loved it especially the chicken liver.

Then there was the Escargot Cappuccino.

So cute and delicate in a teacup with the puff pastry hanging over the edge. It had loads of garlic and the paring with the puff pastry was delicious.

J then had the famous Moon Soup (otherwise known as Romaine.)

They call it Moon Soup because it was taken on Apollo 15 to the moon in 1973.

This soup was a real standout and J loved it.

We both ordered salads but it started to get dark and the pictures for both came out awful. J had the Caesar and I had the Baby Blend with Citrus & Pear.

For entrees, J ordered the Maine Lobster Newburg. He had done some research into how Lobster Newburg is made and was really looking forward to trying it. (Some information about Lobster Newburg if you are curious like J.)

The waiter breaks up the contents in the bowl and puts it over the puff pastry. J loved this dish and would highly recommend it.

I had the crab cakes.

I prefer crab cakes served with tartar sauce but these were decent. If you like crab cakes, these definitely will do the trick.

We grabbed our desserts to go because the service was a bit on the slow side and we were both getting tired.

Overall, I liked Chalet Suzanne but found it to be a tad over priced. (J’s Ketel One martini’s were $18 each.) The atmosphere is really beautiful and romantic, so come early to walk around and take pictures. We are planning a return visit to try more of the interesting dishes on the menu.

Moving Forward

Leading up to the end of end of Half Marathon training, I started to have a nagging feeling of what to do next. I wanted to let myself enjoy the St. Pete Women’s Half and take the time to really process how I felt about it before I jumped into a new training plan. Living in an area with a lot of great races, I knew it would be difficult to know where to start.

This week has been one in which I took it easy. I did not exercise for three days following the Half and have only run one day. I wanted to take it easy because of the holiday and to really think about how to move forward. Sometimes taking that time to rest, mentally and physically, can give you the push to jump into a new routine.

So One Day I Just Decided To Run

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The question I have mulled over the most, is whether to focus on short or long distances. I want a sub-30 5K and I am very close to obtaining it. With regular speed training, I know I can get there. At the the same time, I want to run another Half. I learned a lot training for the first one and think this training cycle will be a lot more efficient. So what to do?

I decided to train for the Half. I will still run a few shorter distance races (a few five and ten K’s) but think maintaining the fitness I currently have, will help improve my time rather than starting to base build later in the year.

Here is the current race plan. It is tentative and I reserve the right to change my mind.

A Race:

Gasparilla Distance Classic – March 4th Half Marathon

Other Races:

The Florida Half Marathon 10K & 5K December 17th – Will do the 10K

Beat the Elite 10-K Challenge – January 14th

Seasons 52 5.2K – January 21st

House of Hope Run Around the Pines – February 18th

Iron Girl Clearwater – April 4th Half Marathon

How do you feel after your A race? Ready to jump into a new training cycle or do you like to take it easy?