Last Sunday, April 14th, I ran the Hershey 10k race in none other than Hershey, PA! Perfect running weather greeted, Alison and I – a little cold standing around but once we warmed up it felt great. After we arrived and parked in Hershey, we met up with my other friend Amy and chatted awhile. Soon it was time to cycle through the bathroom line and get our place at the start. I was excited for this race because I really enjoyed it last year but a little nervous because I hadn’t gotten much running in during the week. But I figured I would push as hard as I could and see what happened. I quickly got into a groove and was feeling really good. I ran my fastest mile EVER by about two minutes in the first mile of the race – oops!! I was still feeling really good and as we wound our way through the parking lots of the resort I was excited that I could see the middle of the pack. As we rounded our way along, Hersheypark Drive, there was a water stop. I have finally figured out how to fuel my body and had a little bit of Gatorade and water and was feeling great. I was excited to turn back by the outlets because I knew we were nearing the half way point and soon would get to run through Hersheypark – a highlight of the race. If you have ever been to Hersheypark, you know all about the hills. This combined with other rolling hills, makes this course interesting and a little challenging. I tried to run up some of the hills and run all the downhills. A nice change from last year’s course was added time in the park!! They squeaked out more distance by having us run the path by the newest coaster – Sky Rush. I would imagine if you were in the middle of the pack this area would be really congested because the course is so narrow here (about the width of a sidewalk). Soon, we headed out of the park and I new the finish was just a short distance away. I knew I was going to PR but was excited to see my how much. I turned into the stadium and sprinted through the finish. I looked at my watch and saw I finished in 01:16:43 – a 7 min PR over last year!! I excitedly retrieved my medal (really neat design!!) and got food and water. I waited by the finish to see Alison come in – she had a great race too and set a PR. After we took a few pics, we headed over to the Hershey Grill for breakfast. The Hershey Races are great – they are relatively inexpensive, interesting courses, and great pre and post race amenities.
Last week, runDisney announced their latest even during marathon weekend – the Dopey challenge. This challenge will start with a 5K on Thursday, a 10k on Friday, a half marathon on Saturday, and a full marathon on Sunday. That’s right, 48.6 miles in 4 days. For the effort, you will get six medals and six t-shirts (individual medals for completeing the 5K, 10K, half, full, Goofy challenge medal for completing the half and full, and the Dopey medal). Initially, I was going to “just” do the full for my first marathon experience and go Goofy in 2015. But, when Disney announced this race, I decided I wanted in on the inagural action.
Fast forward a couple day and I started doing some searching for a more local marathon in the fall. I quickly found the Marine Corps Marathon and was sold – this was going to be my first marathon. Taking place on October 27, this course winds through DC and Alexandria, VA. I am so excited for this race and love the meaning behind it. I am so thankful for all of our servicemen and women who have defended our freedoms and the symbolism behind this race is great.
Marathon training starts in a few short weeks (middle of April). I will be following a 28 week training plan by Jeff Galloway. I will be doing two short runs (30-45 minutes on Monday and Wednesdays) and a long run on Saturday. On rest days, cross training will supplement and help increase my overall fitness. I am so excited to take on these two challenges but also petrified because to date my longest run has been 13.1 miles. In previous half marathon attempts, I have not faithfully followed a training plan but I know with a marathon I will need to dedicate 28 weeks to achieve this goal and really see what I am capable of.
Friday, March 15th, my friend Amy and I headed out from central PA for Washington D.C. We arrived around 4:15pm and checked into our hotel in Arlington. After dropping out stuff, we headed over to the metro to make our way over to the expo. This is my first experience with the Rock N Roll Series and overall I was pretty impressed from start to finish. I quickly collected my bib and picked up my race swag bag (FYI – this is the first big race I have done where there was ACTUAL SWAG in the swag bag – think gu, chapstick, a sample of a brand of glide, etc.). Since Brooks was a sponser of this race, they had some amazing gear. I bought a tech shirt and a tech pullover. We then started to wonder around the expo, which I thought was pretty small compared to others, especially considering the fact there was 33,000 plus spectators. I bought a few headbands and got taped up at KT TAPE (if you have never used this stuff before, make sure to check it out, you won’t regret it). By the time we left the expo and made it back to Arlington, it was nearing 7:30 and we were starving. We set off in search of the perfect carbo loading meal for both spectator and racer and found it at the Cheesecake Factory. After a quick walk back to our hotel room, I laid out my stuff for tomorrow and stretched before hopping into bed.
5:30 came pretty quickly and I got up and started to prepare for the race. After a quick metro ride, we found gear check and waited in the never ending porta potty line. There were still a lot of people in front of us in line when the race started at 7:30. I wasn’t too worried about it, since I was in corral 33 which wasn’t slated to start until after 8:20. By the time, I cycled through the line, I walked towards the start and joined by corral. Maybe five minutes later and I was off.
The neat thing about the Rock N Roll events is they have bands about every mile which helps to break things up and keep it interesting. I was feeling pretty good at the start of the race – even though the first mile I went out a little to fast. I quickly settled into a nice rhythem and began to start taking several sport beans every 2 miles. For me, I find it better to keep putting a little in my stomach at a time instead of a whole pack at once. We were winding our way through DC, and around mile 6.5, I came across this beauty (the picture doesn’t begin to describe this hill – check out the course elevation here). It seemed to go on forever. Luckily once we got up the hill, we had some downhill portions so I was able to make up some time.
By about mile 10, I realized I was within shot of my A goal (finish under 3 hours) but knew I could not let up. I was struggling to keep going and starting to get really tired (I haven’t been very good about getting in long training runs – the last time I ran anything over 6 miles was at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January). I kept plugging away and got a text from Amy letting me know she was in front of the Geico banners by the finishers chute. Knowing where she was gave me a push to keep moving forward. As I came up to the Geico banners, I saw the sign she made for me and made me feel great to know there was someone here personally cheering for me. I rounded the corner into the finishers chute and as soon as I crossed the finish line, I realized I missed by goal by 36 seconds!!! I was so mad at myself because I stopped at around mile 7.5 to use the restroom because only one person was in line. After standing around for 3+ minutes, the person in the porta potty was still not out so I decided to head back out because my muscles were stiffening up. If I would not have stopped here, I would have easily broken the 3 hr mark. Even though I was disappointed, I was still happy that with 3 hours 36 seconds, I PR’d my Hershey half time by 10+ minutes!
After I collected my medal, I was greeted my a ton of food in the finishers chute. There was so much to choose from – bagels, frozen chocolate milk, jamba juice, water, gatorade, apples, bananas, power bars, and potato chips. I grabbed some food and headed over to gear check to get my bag. After meeting up with Amy in the family reunion area, we headed back to metro to go back to our hotel. After a quick lunch, we headed over to Sprinkles cupcakes and Georgetown Cupcake in the Georgetown area of D.C. Thus, concluded a fun weekend in DC and we headed back home to central PA. This was great race and I am considering adding Rock N Roll Pittsburgh and Rock N Roll Philadelphia so I can participate in the Heavy Medals series and earn extra bling : )
You may be a runDinsey nerd when the first thing when buying running sneakers, is these would go perfect with a race costume : )
I went to my local running store, Inside Track, and saw these – the Asics GT-2000. I have been pretty fortunate that I found a brand of shoes that work perfectly for my foot after the first fitting. I am on my third pair of Asics and love them. When I saw these babies I immediately knew my next race costume – Rapunzel!
Sunday morning came and again another early wake up call; this time at 2:30 am. I got up showered (I know, I know – I am getting ready to run a half marathon but if I don’t shower in the morning, I feel so sluggish), stretched, and ate my pre-race breakfast. For this race, I decided to dress as Minnie Mouse. I bought Minnie Ear barettes at World of Disney, a red and white polka dot Sweaty Band, a black C9 Target shirt, and the red dot Running Skirt with capris. Alison and I headed over to the corrals. After a quick stop at the porta-potties, we wished each other luck and I was off to corral B.
I was so excited to be in corral B, so I wouldn’t have to wait as long to start and hoped the character lines were realitvely short. Before I knew it, it was 5:00 am and the elite athletes were off, quickly followed by corral A. A few minutes later, it was my turn. We started off Disney property for about a mile before turning into Disney’s California Adventure. The adrenaline was flowing and I was feeling pretty good. The world of color fountains were running which looked awesome against the dark morning sky and I could see the first character stop up around the bend. I decided for this race, I wanted to have fun and would stop at all characters with short lines; first up, Phinneas and Ferb. Before I knew it, we were out of California Adventure and onto Disneyland. While I loved running down Main Street, I didn’t get the same feeling as running down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom in Disney World (I think it was because there was not many spectators at Disneyland. As we wound through Fantasyland, I stopped at my third character stop – Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from one of my favorite Disney movies, Tangled.
The race continued on through some backstage areas and soon it was time to run through the castle. I backtracked once I got out of the castle looking for Alison’s mom, Julie. She had many sunglasses and I knew I would need those for later on in the race. After I located her, it was on to Fronteirland, where I soon ran into Jack Sparrow. I have wanted a picture with Jack Sparrow for the past two or so years but have never been able to track him down. I was so excited the line was short.
Next, we made our way out to a backstage area and to Downtown Disney. There were tons of spectators loudly cheering and waving signs. Shortly, after we got off Disney property, there was a group of Red Hat Ladies that stretched on forever (at least a block). This was a huge rush and really exciting. Around this time, I also saw my favorite sign on the course: “You trained longer than a Kardashian marriage!” The race was half way over and I was feeling decent. I knew the “fun” part of the race was over and I wanted to concentrate on making up for lost time from taking pictures. Disney did a great job keeping us enterainted out on these roads with lots of bands and cheerleaders.
Around mile 10, I was really starting to feel tired and was ready to be done with the race. I was so relieved to get back on Harbor Blvd. and see the Tower of Terror. I knew we were getting close. I had two local friends that I knew were coming out to see me finish so I was trying to text and run to locate them – not an easy task. After a hair pin turn, I sprinted towards the finish and high fived Goofy on the way to the finish. I was so excited to get my medal – I think this is my current favorite medal. It is so big and Tink spins!!
Getting out to the family reunion area was a bit chaotic with tons of families around but I soon located my friends and talked to them until Alison finished. All in all, I loved this race and course. Almost half of the race was on Disney property which was fantastic and the medal is gorgeous. I can’t wait to get back to Disneyland in August for the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge! Kudos to runDisney for a great race and awesome course support.
Saturday morning started off bright and early – we had to be at the start of the Neverland 5k by 5:45am. This was my second Disney 5k – but by far my favorite. I had done the Happy Haunted Trails 5k (during the Tower of Terror 10 Miler weekend), but the course just wound its way through ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. This entire race would be run in both Disneyland and California Adventure. My friend Alison and I made our way over to the Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland for the start. Based on the time we arrived, we were in corral C. Our only goal for this race was to take our time and stop for LOTS of photos.
We turned the corner and quickly found our first group of characters – Wendy and Peter Pan. Advice for anyone running a runDisney race is dress in costume. I went as Capitain Hook – rocking a Raw Threads, Team Sparkle Skirt, a red Sweaty Band, and a hook and sword I bought on closeout from the Disney Store. We got noticed and once I finished the race saw that we made the official @runDisneytv twitter feed; a major highlight of the weekend. We wound our way through a backstage area and took pictures with different parade floats.
Next up was Toontown where we ran into Goofy and Pluto.
Even though the line was really long, we decided we had to wait for Captain Hook and Mr. Smee, so I could get a picture with my costume inspiration.
As we were waiting in line for a picture with the Lost Boys, we saw sweeper golf carts approaching. We apparently were having too good of a time and were in dangerous of not finishing. Since there was only one person in front of us, we decided to wait it out and try to sprint ahead of them. Luckily there was not many characters between the remaining section in Disneyland, so we realized we were in the clear.
My favorite area to run in was Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure. I got to see this area a little bit yesterday during the Tink Half Meet Up, but I loved getting to see this area again. We came out of Cars Land and headed down Paradise Pier and were greeted with a huge line of 100+ people waiting for a picture with Minnie and Mickey. We decided we were going to pass up this character opportunity. While this race was untimed, we estimated our time to be around an hour and fifteen minutes. This was BY FAR my slowest 5k time ever, but it was also one of the most fun races I have ever done. I loved all the unique character opportunities we were able to take advantage of. Another great race is in the books!!
My first official day in Disneyland began with a bang! I was lucky enough to be one of fifty people selected to participate in the runDisney Official Meetup. Before the big race weekends, runDisney organizes a meetup where participants get to run through the parks before opening, complete with celebrities, some cool swag, and incredible surprises along the way. This experience did not disappoint at all.
Luckily, I was still on east coast time so my 5am wake up call didn’t bother me too much. I rolled out of bed and quickly got ready. A lovely social media friend, Tracy, from #TeamRunDisney offered to give me a ride so I wasn’t walking over by myself. We checked in by the Disneyland Hotel and was given a runDisney black tech tee to change into. I quickly found Amy who I have been communicating with on facebook and twitter. I have followed her blog for some time and we realized we live about a half hour apart – small world.
Photo courtsey @runDisney
Bob Hitchcock, gave us some instructions and gave a brief introductions to Sean Astin (Goonies, Rudy, Lord of the Rings fame), Ali Vincent (first female winner Biggest Loser), Tara Gidus (offical runDisney nutritionist), and Jeff Galloway (official training consultant runDisney). With that, we were off, following the Galloway 30/30 plan – which consists of running for thirty seconds then walking for thirty seconds. We made our way through Downtown Disney, heading into Disneyland. The sun was just starting to rise and the park looked beautiful.
We wound our away around Fantasyland and were greeted with a great surprise – Tinkerbell.
Photo courtesy @runDisney
After splitting into groups for pictures, we crossed over into California Adventure. I was excited because I had yet to visit this park and was so excited by what I saw. After completing our 2.75 mile run we stopped on Buena Vista Street for a group picture and were greeted by Minnie, Mickey, and Goofy.
Photo courtesy @runDisney
Our next big surprise came when they announced we would get the ULTIMATE FASTPASS – a ride on Radiator Spring Racers in Cars Land. I had heard so much about this ride and was so excited I would get to ride it (later in the weekend it was not uncommon for this ride to have a three hour plus wait). This ride did not disappoint and I think it was one of my favorite rides of the entire trip.
After everyone rode, we headed over to the Grand Californian hotel for our next surprise – breakfast at Napa Rose. We started off with a lovely continental breakfast and heard from a variety of speakers. Ali Vincent spoke about her journey on the Biggest Loser and her Live Big with Ali Vincent show. She really spoke to me as she talked about living the best possible version of yourself because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Tara Gidus, runDisney nutritionist, talked about the importance of healthy fueling both pre and post workout – something I have been lacking on. Sean Astin talked about his #run3rd campaign. This campaign is a really neat idea – you run first for yourself, second for your family, and third for whatever cause you choose (like Team in Training, etc.). We were also treated to a cooking demonstration from the Napa Rose chefs – huevos rancheros and a black bean cake. I am an incredibly picky eater but I loved this dish and the protein it packed.
Our morning was quickly dwindling down, but runDisney had one more surprise for us – a one day, park hopper ticket valid so we could all enjoy the parks. This experience was such a fantastic opportunity and I feel privileged that I was selected to participate. Thanks runDisney for a fantastic start to an incredible weekend. If you want to learn more about this event, check out #TinkHalfMeetup on twitter.
So this weekend, I am coming up on my one year “runiversary” of my first big race, Disney’s Princess Half Marathon. While I am sad that I could not attend the race this year, it made me incredibly reflective of my journey thus far. On the early morning of February 26th, 2012 I remember feeling incredibly nervous and anxious as I was about to run 13.1 miles. While I was active in sports in middle school (soccer and gymnastics), I quit when I entered high school. I was always chubby, but I quickly packed on the pounds throughout high school and college. It wasn’t until the late spring of 2011 that I decided I needed a change in my life. A friend was talking about running the Disney Princess Half Marathon. As odd as this may sound, I decided I needed something to do with my spare time and began to train. I started with the Couch to 5k program and started nine months of incredibly challenging and hard work. While I wasn’t fully prepared for the half that February morning, I finished and found a love for running and healthy living. Flash forward, a year later, and I now have 3 halfs, 2 ten milers, a 10K, and countless 5Ks under my belt. I also have halfs 4-14 planned so far this year along with some other races and have gone on a journey to complete a half marathon in all 50 states. I wanted to start a blog to document this journey and after gaining some inspiration from other bloggers I hope to someday inspire someone to lead a healthy and fit lifestlye.