Thursday, February 12, 2009

Save the Light Half Marathon

Never did I think after completing my first marathon that I would complete another half marathon within the same month...but I did! Ever since the Disney marathon I had been itching to get back out there and challenge myself with another run. But, I also needed to give my body some time to heal. After the week we spent in Disney, I felt like I didn't give my body too much time to relax. We were up and at the parks the day after the marathonand didn't stop for five days....not the smartest thing to do, but how can you just stay in your hotel room when you're in Disney World! So after we got back to SC, I rested a little, fought off a cold and then got my butt right back in the gym. Even through I've been in the gym a lot, I really haven't been running very much at all since the race. Maybe just a couple miles every few days. I wanted to do more than that but my body really wasn't having it. I was still so burnt out. So I spent more time that any persob should on the elliptical machines - my joints and knees were thanking me for giving them that type of non-impact activity.
Well about 2 weeks ago I got an e-mail reminder from about the Save the Light Half Marathon. I ran this race last year and did awful. I'm surprised they even wanted me back!! I got a knee injury about half way in to the race and barely finished the race. I swore I wouldn't run that same race again just because I was so angry and bitter about last year. But this year, coming off the marathon, I still had that feeling of "I can do anything I want"! Reckless abandon! So I signed up, and so did Rob. We definitely didn't train for this race but we did it anyway. I didn't have really high hopes and mainly just wanted to do it to get back into the routine of running. The day before the race I started coming down with yet another cold and almost decided not to run at all - but I am so not a quitter!!
So we ran the race and it was awesome. I am so happy I did it. We had great weather, sunny and 40 degrees to start warming up to about 50 or so by the end. The scenery was wonderful running right alongside the beach at a few points. And I did my personal best at this half: 1:59!! My goal in a half has been to finish under two hours and I totally did it! I beat my time from last year by 13 minutes!!! I felt so amazingly proud of myself! Running seriously brings me so much joy and happiness. It makes me feel proud and accomplished. I am so happy that I'm not a quitter and that I was strong enough to power through!
Now to move on the my next physical challenge......

Friday, January 23, 2009


Well the marathon was almost two weeks ago already and I still haven't updated my blog!! I've tried to write about it in the past week but the experience is just so hard to describe. It was one of those life moments that is beyond words and explanation. But I'm going to do my best because I don't ever want to forget a moment of that day! So hang in there, maybe go grab a cup of coffee, because this is going to be a long one!

Sunday morning, January 11th, 2:15 am:
Rob and I wake up to the sound of the dreaded alarm clock! It was time! No turning back now. I rolled out of bed in what seemed to be, and actually was, the dead of night. No one should be even be awake at this hour, let alone preparing to do a 26 mile run! But we did get up and thank goodness the adrenaline kicked in almost immediately. I didn't feel panicked, just excited. We had laid out all of our marathon gear perfectly the night before so we wouldn't be scrambling for anything in the morning. That was a great idea. You don't realize how many little things you have to have ready - socks, band aids, running chips, I pod, elastics, visors, sunglasses, glide, sports bra, gel packs, the list goes on and on!! But we had it all, got dressed and sat down to enjoy our first meal - bagels with peanut butter and lots of water. I was praying so hard for no stomach problems...of all the potential problems that could arise on race day this was the ailment I was most worried about. After our breakfast we walked to our hotel lobby, made some last minute trips to the bathroom (last time we would see a flushing toilet for take advantage of those last moments in a working restroom..believe me!) By 3:20 we were on the bus and headed to Epcot for the start of the race.

We arrived at Epcot and man was it dark! There were thousands of people walking in groups to the white tents we could all see in the distance. It all just felt so surreal. We finally got to the tents and the area opened up to a giant party. Some crazy 80's hair band was playing, people were checking their bags, and stretching on the cold ground. There was energy in the air. I was so happy that we weren't freezing our butts off too. It felt a little chilly but man were we lucky. It was in the low 50's already and the forecast called for a sunny day, with a high in the 70's! We seriously could not have asked for a better day for this race. Once we were in that area, we waited around for a long time. The race was not due to start until about 6:00 and it was only barely 4:00! The good thing was that it left us plenty of time to wait in the LONG lines for the port-o-potties! Gosh I hate those things!! We probably waited in line for about 30 minutes! After that we started our 20 minute walk to the starting corrals. I was actually glad to have the long walk because it kept the blood flowing and prevented us from sitting around and getting tired. Once we got to the corral's Rob's dad had to go to a separate area so said our goodbyes and walked off to our own corral. Their were two starting lines for the race so we were pretty sure after that point that we wouldn't see Rob's dad until the end of the race.

Once we got to our corral it started to get really exciting. The energy was intense! There was a huge video screen playing scenes from movies, and tons of music blaring in the air! The wheelchair race started a few minutes after and we could see on the video screen as they took off. What an incredible sight! After that we had our own countdown, with all the Disney characters and of course the fireworks that I had been so looking forward to!! What an amazing way to start the race! After the national anthem I had already started to get really emotional and so the start of the fireworks really brought tears to my eyes!

We were on our way. It was 6 am and still dark as night, but that actually felt great to me. I really liked the feeling of running in the dark. Rob and I weaved our way through the crowds, and began our trek into the Epcot parking lot. It was incredible the number of runners you could see in all directions. It was so powerful and motivating to know that we were all in the same boat and that we had all worked to hard to get to this moment.

Before I knew it we were in Epcot, running underneath that giant silver globe! After that we ran through the front of the park and then off into the world showcase! It was amazing to see it all lit up! You could see China, Japan, and even the Eiffel Tower in the distance! So cool! We got about halfway through the world showcase and at that point our path directed us out of the park and into the back lot area of Epcot..definitely and area I'd never seen before. We were only about 2 miles into the race and I knew our next park, the Magic Kingdom, would not come up until about mile 10. This would be a long stretch. But I felt good. Right before the start of the race Rob told me about something he read in Runner's World magazine. The article said that the first 10 miles of the race are physical, the second 10 are mental, and the last 6.2 are all heart! I loved it! That was a great way to think about it. I knew my training had prepped my body to easily handle those first ten miles. The physical first ten went great. We even miraculously met up with Rob's dad right around mile 5 after the two starting routes merged into one running group. All three of us running together for a couple miles was awesome!

Before I knew it we were at the Contemporary Resort, and I knew we were getting close to the Magic Kingdom. As I was running I was noticing all the great costumes people had on. There was even a couple dressed as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell! They were awesome. We also saw a Jack Sparrow in the mix too. I think my favorite marathon outfits I saw was from an Asian couple running together. They had their names on the back of their shirts along with a logo underneath that read "Team Ugly Shorts" and man were their shorts HIDEOUS!! They were bright neon colors and short enough that they only left a little to the imagination. Hysterical!!

As we started to near the Magic Kingdom, the crowds of spectators just absolutely amazed me! There were belles ringing, music playing, crowds yelling and screaming, signs waving in the air! This was my next emotional moment. This sight once again almost brought me to tears. It also recharged my battery and gave that next boost of energy to keep going. We ran down main street USA and could see Cinderella's Castle in front of us as the sun was rising! Amazing moment! We rounded around future world and then cut to the back of the castle. I knew that most eagerly awaited moment was approaching...we were about to run through the castle! I turned around and grabbed Rob's hand and we ran through the castle together! So cool! We all cheered as we went through it and emerged through to the other side. One of my most favorite moments of the race. We kept running through the remainder of the park and out to the back lot.

We were at mile 11 now- the physical first ten was over and it was time for the next ten - the mental phase. This would be our next long stretch - 8 miles until the next park! I still felt pretty good. Rob and I had managed to stay together this whole time. Our goal was to finish the race together, but somewhere towards mile 13 we got separated. I thought for sure we would meet up again, but decided to just keep going on alone. And man did I feel alone! It's hard to imagine feeling alone when you're surrounded by thousands of runners and screaming crowds, but I did. This part would for sure be mental. I was starting to get tired, felt alone, and it was due time to start using some positive thinking to pull me through this part. I just wanted to get to Animal Kingdom to get that next burst of energy. The crowds along the way were great though. More screaming fans, more Disney characters, and a bunch of different high school bands playing! Such great crowd support, but man this road felt long. Like it would never end!

Finally I was almost at Animal Kingdom. Once I was through this park I would be a mile 18! As I entered the park there were groups of goats, and all sorts of other animals...kind of cool but they seriously had some barn yard stank! Not exactly what you want to smell when you're already feeling a little nauseated! But oh well! It didn't matter because I had made it into the park. It was beautiful. We were running through a remake of a rainforest. Bright green plants all around which shaded me from the now bright hot sun that had risen and was beating down upon us all. I ran towards the Everest ride (one of my favorites)! For those of you who have not seen's amazing! Before I knew it, I was out of Animal Kingdom and on to my next trek to Hollywood Studios.

This is where it got tough. I started to loose momentum soon after mile 19. I wanted so badly to meet back up with Rob. Mile 20 would be the start of those six miles that were supposed to be all could I run without my heart? Up until this part I had not stopped at walking! I had my own water with me so I had no need to stop at the water stations. But I was getting tired now and I was hungry. I had already had some gels, and a banana, but my energy was low. I decided to walk for minute. That way I could restore some strength and maybe even find Rob. So I stopped and expected to have pain immediately. My knees were a little sore as I took my first walking steps but not awful. So I walked for a few minutes. I got some energy back but no luck finding Rob. I would have to start my 20 miles without my heart. But I gave it my all and started running again.

The good news was that I was getting closer to Hollywood Studios and only had about 5 miles left! I was getting so close!! A that point I had reached a part in the course that had a little loop around...and that's when I saw Rob in crowd! Course wise we were still about a mile or so apart from each other but seeing him and getting a wave from him gave me a burst of energy that I really needed.

I made it into the next park and got some water, Gatorade and another banana I took a few more walk breaks in these last few miles 1.because they helped and 2. because I really wanted to finish this race with Rob. But I knew if I walked for too long it would be too hard to start running again. So I kept my walking stints brief. As I passed out of Hollywood Studios (which is now a blur to me) I knew I had only one more park to go before the finish line. The crowds of spectators were getting more and more awesome. I ran along the boardwalk and someone in the crowd yelled out "Go Amanda". It was no one I knew but it felt like I had just gotten a huge hug from one of my best friends. Someone else told me I only had a mile and a half to go!! Wow!! I was almost there!

I rounded the corner and was back in Epcot. Now I just had to run around the world...well the world showcase...but it seriously felt like it would be that long! I took one last brief walk break, but still no Rob, so I started to run to the finish line. I saw the big Epcot silver globe again and knew I just had to make it out to the parking lot. But suddenly I saw someone it wasn't Rob, but it was the same Peter Pan and Tinkerbell that I had seen in the first 10 miles of the race! I told myself that there was no way I was going to let Peter and Tink beat me so I picked up the pace! That's when I zoomed past them and saw in my viewing distance the most beautiful sight....THE FINISH LINE! The crowds were huge, the sun was shining, and I was almost there...this was my moment! I high fived Chip and Dale in the last few moments and then victoriously crossed over that line!!! IT WAS AMAZING!! I was done, I did it, dream accomplished! Very few moments in my life could compare to that.

Soon after I had the absolute joy and privilege of seeing my hero, my husband, cross the finish line!! I threw my arms around him and thanked God for that incredible moment. WE DID IT!!

After that we went to get our medals (so awesome by the way!) and immediately went towards the medic tent to get ice. My stomach was starting to really hurt after that so I sat in the parking lot and tried to calm my body down. We wanted to go back and see Rob's dad cross the finish line though, so I tried to get up and start the walk back towards the finish line. That's when it happened. I stopped walking, Rob looked at me and just started saying, "No, come over here" but there was no controlling it....I was puking!! Awful!! Rob grabbed a medic going by on a bike. They came over, sat me down, but I was fine Just a little shaken up and a tiny bit embarrassed! They took me over to the medic tent and Rob went to find his dad. I was on my way over to the tent when I saw that Rob had found his dad and he had crossed the finish line! That sight made everything perfect again. All 3 Keller's finished!!! WE DID IT!!

What a journey! We trained, we ran the 26.2, and we survived! We even got "26.2" tattoos to commemorate the occasion!!! Thank God, thank my family and friends, and thank my husband!! I love you all!!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It's about that time!!

Florida here I come!! We're leaving tomorrow morning at 9:00 to head down to Disney World. The big race is on Sunday so this will be my last blog before the big day. Rob and I are so incredibly excited and will be frantically packing tonight to be fully prepared for what lies ahead.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support and love!! You will be with us on the big day! And if you want to be a spectator from a distance, all you have to do is go to the following website and you can track our progress throughout the entire race!

The race starts at 6am on Sunday January 11th!! Check out the course map above to see how it's all going to go down!

Cheer us on and say some prayers!! Love to everyone!

Monday, January 5, 2009


As the race draws closer I am becoming more and more determined and motivated. So many people have been checking in with me this week. Friends, family, and co-workers have been asking questions, wishing me luck, and just taking a general interest in all the hard work that Rob and I have put into our training...and it means the world to me!! I feel accountable to everyone, and not in a bad way. I obviously want to do this race as a personal goal. But I also want to do this as a testament to my friends and family that have shown me what the word determination really means. I've had so many friends who have gone through such difficult times, especially recently. Life can be utterly painful at times. Things happen that can tear us down and make us feel like we can't go on. But quitting is not an option in life. You have to go on and keep fighting. I want to run this marathon for all my friends and family who have been so strong and never given up. I'll definitely be thinking of all my friends and family during this race and using those relationships to motivate me. I have so many people in my life that keep me going on a daily basis. So thank you for all your love and'll be with me on the big day!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

'Weather' I like it or not...

Oh no! So the planner in me just had to check the forecast now that I'm ten days out from the marathon. And the verdict is 60% chance of rain. Crap!! But, and not to put down the forecasters, seriously most of the time it's nearly impossible to get a true picture of the weather when it's only one or two days out. I wouldn't be shocked if things changed in the next ten days. But, what if it doesn't?? I have got to be prepared for anything: rain, sleet, snow, heat, cold, lightning, tornadoes...well whatever, you know what I'm saying!
So now I'm scouring the internet once again for tips. And I'm definitely seeking advice. Rob and I have been so lucky during our training and have not had to do much, if any, training in the rain. One thing I've been so blessed with is having no blisters at all during my training. Rob's not so lucky. His feet are pretty darn nasty (love you honey but you know it's true!! haha) I'm scared that bringing tons of moisture into the picture will wreak absolute havoc on our feet. I'll definitely be taking a trip to the running store this weekend to make sure I have the best socks possible in the event of rain. I also read about wearing a garbage bag during the race, or for at least part of it, as a lightweight way of keeping your body from getting too cold and wet without weighing yourself down. So please, any runners who read this bog, post your tips, and lots of them! You never know what you're going to get on race day, and the best I can do is be as knowledgeable as possible!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here I come 2009!

So with all of it's ups and downs, 2008 has come and gone. The downs were definitely low. Lower than I could have ever expected. But the ups were heavenly and life altering. It's hard to believe just how much happened this year. The last 365 days handed me a huge learning experience. So much happened that I never could have expected. Rob and I have been through a lot this year, a lot that most people don't even know about. I used to worry so much about my marriage. Not that it wouldn't work...but just a general worry. Like I was in constant fear of what tomorrow would bring. Now I'm not afraid. I'm not full of worry all the time. That worry used to cripple me before and hold me back from things I wanted to do and say. I was not happy with who I was back then.
Today, on December 31, 2008 I can proudly say I am the person I want to be. There's always room for growth, change and improvement but that's what makes me so excited for each new day now. Life is amazing and I take each day for what it really is. It's a gift. I feel stronger, more open, and more thankful.
I know a lot of my blog has been about running and marathon training, but that really is a huge part of my life. It's my meditation time, my growth time, my reflection time. It renews my energy, helps me set goals, makes me feel Strong, and fosters a better bond in my marraige. There are not a lot of things in this life that I feel like I was made to do..but running is definitely something that I feel called to. I'm so excited for upcoming race in less than two weeks. It will be the biggest running challenge I've ever had. It's a great way to start off 2009. I know throughout the whole thing, when I need an extra push, I'll think of how much I grew this year. There were immense growing pains and times that I wanted to just quit, but I never did. I proved a lot to myself this year and I intend to keep going! Welcome 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

13 More Days!!

It doesn't seem possible but the race is in 13 days! Holy crap! I am truly excited for the big day. Throughout the last month I've been getting sick of of all the training - to put it mildly! The better word would be HATING! I guess that's a pretty common thing to feel in the last month, at least according to Runners World magazine. Ever since we did our 20 mile run though, my spirits have really lifted. It's basically down to the wire now and I don't have any more long run weekends to worry about. Oh and even better, we're going to have a week in Disney World once all is said and done! I'm not sure if we'll be able to walk in the parks after the race since I heard the post race pain is pretty excruciating..I'm seeing those little motorized scooters in our future! Beep, Beep! Pain or not, I WILL be making my way through those parks, eating all the goodies I want! haha!

Speaking of pain, things on the recovery front have been going really well. After the 20-miler I had a good day or so of pain in my left knee and foot which really wasn't too bad. Rob, being the champion he always is, was like downtime at all for him! He recovered like a rockstar! Overall it left me feeling a little more confident that we won't be laid up the entire time we're in Florida. I'm still a little wary of my bad knee but plan on icing every day and night for the next 2 weeks.

I also got new running shoes this past weekend. (See the pic above) I know what some people will say about trying to run the race in new shoes but I'm not too worried about it. Throughout my training I've been wearing the Asics Gel Kayano 14 and they have been fabulous! I got the same kind this weekend, just the newest version (15). I'm going to try them out on the treadmill tonight to see how they feel. They say to replace shoes every 500 miles and I'm sure we've had at least that much since we started training in August. My clue that they were wearing out is that I now have 2 dead toenails...eww, gross I know! I haven't had that happen since I purchased the Asics, up until now. With my old Nike's that used to happen all the time. Turns out I was wearing the wrong size shoe back then. Well now that I'm in a monster size 9.5 I thought my little piggy's would have plenty of room. And they have. But after the last long run, I was a little scared when I saw the black toes pop up over this past week. I think my shoes are almost too big now. A little too stretched out. That's jut my theory but any excuse to buy new shoes I'll take! Plus they are super white which I love! I do feel a little like I'm betraying the stinky yet superb shoes that pulled me through my training. They'll never even see race day! How sad!! Hopefully my new shoes will treat me just as kind and I'll be well on my way to finishing a strong 26.2!