Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Princess Half Marathon Recap!!!

The day is finally here! My alarm went off at 2:45am.  Which is the middle of the freakin night! Every time I am at a Disney race, and my alarm goes off at this insane hour, I always swear that I am going to implement a new sign up procedure - on the day that race sign ups open, I am going to wake up in the middle of the night, and go sit in my driveway for a few hours in the cold.  And if I really still want to register, then I can go back into the warm house and do it.  However, somehow I always manage to forget how horrid those early mornings are in the instant I cross the finish line and get an awesome medal.  I blame Disney and their dang magic :-)

So I got up and got my stuff together and we made it downstairs right around 3:30.  Since we were checking out that day, and had lunch reservations at 11:30, we needed to have everything packed up to take with us.  We left our suitcases with the concierge in the lobby and went outside.  There was a bus waiting for us, and another one waiting right behind it.  Thankfully my bus luck has continued for another race!  There were about 10-15 people hanging out in the lobby when we got down there, but in the 5 or so minutes it took us to take care of leaving our suitcases, the bus arrived, and the lobby cleared out.  I took advantage of the nice warm bus ride to eat my bagel and peanut butter. 

All too soon we arrived at EPCOT and made our way to the pre race waiting section.  It seemed like there were a lot more people than were here in January, but the races were about the same size, so I am sure the crowds were about the same...unless us Princesses just drag more spectators with us?  I hung out there for a little bit and tried to arrange all of my race crap.  I opted to skip my iFitness belt and just stick with the pockets in my skirt.  I tried to pack light, but still ended up with my inhaler, iPod, headphones, 3 GU, tissues, and my camera.  All shoved into 2 pockets :-)

I eventually decided that the lines for the bathrooms were entirely too long to wait in in this area, so I said goodbye to mom, checked my bag and started the trek to the corrals.  There were tons of porta potties along the way, and while the lines were fairly long, it was nothing too crazy.  I made it into Corral E without any issues and just sat down and tried to stay somewhat warm while I waited.  I had sweatpants on under my skirt, and was wearing a long sleeve shirt, but I left my gloves thinking it was not that cold out.  By the time I got to my corral I was freezing.  Of course, I am a wimp, but still.  I should have brought my blanket!

Before long, the Fairy Godmother was there to send us on our way!  Each corral had fireworks at the start and there was about 6 minutes between each start.  So it took about 25 minutes or so after the "official" start for me to actually cross the starting line. 

I think this course is the same as the one in January, but I never remember and tend to not pay very good attention to where I am going.  I know: start in the middle of nowhere at EPCOT, run to Magic Kingdom, through castle, along boring road back to EPCOT, up mountain (aka on ramp), into EPCOT, past choir, finish.  As far as the specifics, I swear there are things every time that I notice new, but I think they are always there.  This time, I remember going through the Ticket and Transportation Center, and there were tons of people on the road and on the monorail ramp, and a mini inverted hill, but I swear I have no recollection of this in January.  Sometimes I think I just zone out and run.  I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad :-)

The first few miles of the race are really not too exciting.  Carrying everything in my pockets was not working - I was having to stop like every 5 steps and pull my skirt up!  It would not be very princess-like to lose my bottoms! I took one GU and my tissues, and put them in the pockets of my sweatpants (and then of course forgot to take them back out when I tossed my pants at mile 3...oops), and carried my camera.  I carried my camera for the 5K, so it wasn't too big of a deal, plus I was always ready for a quick picture, and I no longer had to fidget with my outfit so it was win win :-) 

Once we made it to the Magic Kingdom parking lot, I had to stop and take a picture! 

And thanks to having Garmy with me, I  knew that I was keeping well above pace, so I decided that I was going to slow my roll and enjoy the park.  As usual the Magic Kingdom was amazing!!! Although, there is some construction going on at (I think) Main Street Bakery.  So they have this little fake building like thing set out that covers the sidewalk and goes all the way to the curb.  This fake blue house thing was somewhat interfering with the immediate view of Cinderella's castle that you get when you make that first turn onto Main Street.  So I jumped over to the left side of the road :-) Must maximize the happiness!  I stopped to take a picture in front of the castle before making the turn into Tomorrowland.

Somewhere in between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland I ran into these guys, and the line was short, so I figured I would make another little pit stop!

Just past them, we came back around and could see the back of the castle.  They had the trumpet player people up on the top which was cool, and royal Mickey was there just before we ran through.  I thought about jumping into that line for a picture, but it was super long, and I was excited to go through the castle...seriously, why is that so awesome?  So weird I know! But that tiny mile through the Magic Kingdom is well worth the price of admission :-) 

Mom was standing in her usual spot...so as I came down the path out of the castle, I made sure not to be making any doofy faces since I knew there were cameras sitting all over the place right there.  But once I made it down the little hill, I went into search mode and practically fell over another photographer sitting on the ground! Oops.  I am sure that picture will definitely be a keeper!  When I saw mom, I gave her my camera, knowing that the characters out on the road had long lines, and I wouldn't stop anymore anyway.  Of course as soon as we turned the corner, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen were right there with a decently short line, but oh well.  

We ran through Frontierland and eventually back out of the park for the journey back to EPCOT.  This is the point where I decided I was starving.  I had forgotten to take my GU out of my pants pocket, and I had already eaten one, so I was down to one, with 7 miles to go.  So I decided to wait until I hit mile 10 to eat it, to try to space things out a little.  Ordinarily, towards the end of a race, Chocolate GU is my absolute favorite snack.  Its like chocolate cake batter! So yummy! For some reason though, I had to choke it down this time.  I have no idea why.  I can never stomach any of the fruity flavors, but Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, and Vanilla I am usually good to go with. 

Mile 10 is also the point when I ran out of energy (should not have waited to eat that stupid GU, oh well).  My legs were killing me!  My shins and calves felt great (thanks to my compression socks), but my quads and hamstrings were totally revolting against me for making them do all this running.  I still trucked on though :-)  And then just as I was making the final turn to head through the EPCOT parking lot into the park, it started to rain!! Cold, misty, miserable rain.  It was not really heavy thank goodness, just enough to soak me, annoy me, freeze me, and then stop :-)  Figures that this would be the first race ever that I wear a white shirt in! Which thank goodness was fairly thick so no one got any kind of free show!

The final stretch into EPCOT was great! There were lots of spectators cheering, and one lady holding up a sign that said something like "Complete Stranger I am proud of you too!".  It was awesome, and she could not have picked a more perfect spot to be.  It was a nice little boost to push us through the last mile or so of the race.  I have no idea where we wind through the park, lol...I know we make an out and back somewhere, but no idea where.  Its part of the 5K course, because I do remember running it the day before, but beyond that who knows.  Told you, I am not observant! The best part of EPCOT was having the Fairy Godmother out taking pictures! I have never seen her out on the course, and it figures I did not have my camera, and her line was not all that long.  It was just not meant to be.  But really, at that point I knew the finish line was super close and was not about to stop running!

Just around the corner was the gospel choir, and they were exceptionally upbeat! They were cheering and giving high fives to runners.  They started to sing, but I cannot remember what they were singing - shocking right!  It was something I had heard before, and the girls in front of me started singing along...maybe something from Sister Act? Joyful Joyful or Oh Happy Day?  Beats me.  I booked it past the mile 13 sign (which says "Finish" on it, even though there is clearly another .1 to go...whats up with that?) and down the path of cheering sections to the finish line.  I actually remembered to stop my Garmin when I crossed, usually I am wandering around after getting my medal and realize it is still running, but I was watching that bad boy like a hawk, so I managed to stop it at the right time.  It was a 3 minute PR, and 17 minutes faster than last years Princess.  So that was pretty exciting!  Its still no where near being any kind of fast, but at least I am heading in the right direction :-)

I collected my tiara medal, and grabbed some snacks and my checked bag.  It had started to rain a little bit at this point, so I grabbed my jacket out of my bag and tried to somewhat organize all of the stuff I was trying to carry before going to look for mom.  I shuffled very slowly and painfully out to our meeting spot, and we began the 800 mile trek into EPCOT (it was probably only a couple hundred feet, but my entire body was in pain at this point, so it seemed like the longest walk ever!).  Once in the park I changed out of my rained on race clothes so that we could go to Canada and Le Cellier for lunch! 

It was accidentally brilliant planning on my part because not only was Le Cellier amazing, but it is also the first country in the World Showcase so I did not have to hobble halfway around the "world".  We got there just as they were opening, and all of the servers came out into the little entry waiting area and sang "O Canada".  In French.  Lovely singing, no idea what they were saying :-)  I will google it later!

We sat down and began what is now officially my favorite meal in all of EPCOT, and I have had some good ones!

We started out with the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and Pretzel Bread.  Whoa yum!  I mean, what brilliant human being thought about turning a pretzel into bread and serving it with soup!  It tasted like regular soft pretzel, just a little bit thicker, and in the form of a breadstick sort of.  I am hungry just thinking about it.  There were some other kinds of bread in the basket, but I did not even touch them.  I am sure they were equally good though :-)

The restaurant was sort of dark, so my pictures did not come out all that well.  You get the idea, but my photography really does not do any of the food justice! 

Then we each ordered the Mushroom Filet Mignon.  Mom kept the mushroom risotto with hers, and I switched to the cream cheese mashed potatoes.  I am not a huge mushroom fan, so I was a little nervous that the risotto would be too much for me.  But honestly, it was absolutely amazing.  The mashed potatoes were delicious as well, and I am glad we got a chance to try them both, but next time I am sticking with the risotto!

I only ate about half of my meal because I needed to save room for dessert....Maple Creme Brulee!  Oh my dear lord it was so amazing!! I thought the Creme Brulee in Les Chefs de France was going to be my all time favorite, but this quickly ousted it! I would have considered licking the bowl if I were at home :-) 

After lunch, we rode the bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge, picked up our suitcases and headed home.  Another successful race in the books :-) 

I love this race!! I am all about wearing my tiara and being called a princess.  Its a shame that it is not appropriate for me to wear my tiara on a daily basis.  In fact, I forgot I had it on when I pulled into my parking lot, and got a few strange looks from my neighbors :-)  I mean, sure there are always things that could go better, but honestly, for there being 19000 ish runners, I think its a great race.  I cannot wait for the next one!  No one does it quite like Disney!

I was really lucky and constantly had cheerful and friendly people around me.  I did not hear any kind of negativity or snarkyness, which thankfully I have found to be so rare at running events.  Oh except at the very end, and I mean the very end.  Past the choir and just before hitting the last straightaway to the finish line, we are on a sidewalk, and the sidewalk splits and there is some grass/bushes/nature-like stuff in the middle.  I came up on two girls that were walking, and I was already too late to just jump onto the other part of the sidewalk, so I stepped onto the grassy part to go around them.  It wasn't a big deal or anything, I just took a step or two of offroading.  I was bound and determined to run that last tenth of a mile to the finish.  As I passed them, the one girl started yelling something about how they were at the finish and people were having to go around them because she was walking.  At first I thought she was yelling at me, so I turned around to get a better look at what was going on, but she was yelling at her friend, who was walking, and did not look very happy.  Dude...yelling is not encouragement.  Its not nice on any regular day, it is certainly not nice after 13 miles of running - no matter how fast or slow you are moving.  This is why I prefer to run on my own.  Not that I have friends that would yell at me or anything, and not because I would ever yell at someone else, but this way I do not have to worry about disappointing any one else if I am just not having a good day.  Although, for the record, 99.99% of the rest of the runners who were either in groups or alone, were super encouraging to each other.  This girl was definitely the exception, not the rule.  Thank goodness!

I hope all the people out in cyberspace who are considering running this race (or any other Disney race) in the future can weed through the negativity and complaining that inevitably seems to pop up right after an event and find the great experiences and stories out there that make the race special.  I know I am already excited for next year...and cannot wait to see what will be in store for the 5th Anniversary!!!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tangled Royal Family 5K

My alarm went off at 4:30!  Mom and I got up and got dressed and went down to the lobby to get on the bus.  There wasn't one there when we got outside, but it came along in about 5 minutes, if that.  We made it to EPCOT and began the traditional "wait until the start" procedures.  Mom got her coffee, and we were going to get in line for a picture with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider but they had just closed the line down when we went to get in it.  I was hoping waiting in line would make my long wait go faster, but we just missed it.  I figured I would just jump in the line when we finished the race, but I have no idea where they moved them to?  So weird.  So no Rapunzel picture for me.

Instead of waiting in line, we entertained ourselves by listening to the DJ and watching all of the people around us.  Surprisingly the time flew by!

Before long it was time to start! For some reason this race seemed super congested.  I am not speedy by any means, but I was having to weave around people like crazy.  The route was the same as it was in January...through the EPCOT parking lot, around the World Showcase, circle around the front of the park, and then back out the parking lot.  The lines for characters were really long, so I only stopped for a picture in front of Spaceship Earth, but that is the first time I have ever stopped for a picture during a 5k so I was impressed with myself :-)

I was having some major issues with my fuel belt.  Hence the reason my number is so crooked.  I look so disheveled!  I bought a new iFitness belt at the 26.2 with Donna expo.  I upgraded to one that has an inhaler pocket, loops to hook gels in, and a bib holder so I do not have to pin my number to my shirt.  I have had the single pocket one for a few years and love it.  The first time I wore it during the Donna half, it was riding up like crazy.  I thought maybe it was just too tight, so before the 5k I loosened it up (all the way, which in hindsight was silly).  So this time it rode up like crazy.  I think I went the opposite direction and it was too loose, which was causing the riding up.  But I am not sure.  I will have to try it out on some training runs and find the right size.  I know its something I am doing, it is just a matter of getting the perfect fit, but nevertheless, I was fidgeting with it the entire race.  Luckily it was only 3 miles, so not a big deal.

Once we finished, we collected our medals, and headed back to Animal Kingdom Lodge and breakfast at Boma.  Which was super yummy as always!

After breakfast we went back to the room to shower and get ready for the rest of the day.  I had an appointment for a tour with the Disney Vacation Club people, so that was our next activity.  I have been pondering and researching this for months, so once I was able to talk to a real person and have all my questions answered I took the plunge and joined.  I have a super small amount of points, pretty much just enough to get me through WDW Marathon weekend and Princess weekend, but its a start at least.  So I am now officially a part owner of Animal Kingdom Lodge :-)  Hooray!

Once the tour was over we decided to head to Magic Kingdom.  We were aiming to hit Pirates of the Caribbean, the Buzz Lightyear ride, Haunted Mansion, and a snack.  I was also on a mission to find Cinderella on DVD (which was unsuccessful, turns out she is in the vault...boo...but will be released sometime at the end of the year...yay).  We got into the park just as the 3:00 parade was starting.  Which meant practically every person in the park was on Main Street.  It was insane.  We watched the parade and then attempted to head to Adventureland for our visit with the Pirates.  We stopped for a Dole Whip - I have no idea how I have never tried one of these before, but boy was it yummy!  I had the pineapple/vanilla swirl because I was not sure how I was going to feel about all pineapple ice cream, but next time I am going for all pineapple.  And I want to try the orange as well.  I imagine it will be like a creamsicle.  Yum.  That was about the time we decided the park was absolutely way too crowded for us to do anything productive so we hit the monorail and went back to EPCOT.  We had dinner reservations at Via Napoli, so EPCOT was our next stop anyway, we just got there earlier than imagined!

The first stop in EPCOT was of course Journey into Imagination with Figment.  Shocking right!  From there we just slowly made the walk around World Showcase to Italy.  I was starving.  Somehow we missed lunch, and my Dole Whip was just not doing anything for me at that point.  So by the time we sat down at Via Napoli I was ready to order anything and everything on the menu!  We opted for Margarita pizza and spaghetti and meatballs.

I should add here that the spaghetti was delicious, but when we ordered, I asked for the meatballs on the side, because I was not sure if I wanted them.  It came out with the noodles in a bowl, and the meatballs and sauce on the side.  So mom was given the job of operating on the bowl of noodles and mixing it all with the sauce and meatballs.  While she did a lovely job, the presentation was obviously not as clean as if it had come from the kitchen already mixed together.  But it still tasted great.  Oh and there were actually 4 pieces of pizza on that plate, but I was so hungry that as soon as our waiter set it down I was inhaling a piece while mom worked on the spaghetti.  After I was halfway through with that piece I remembered I forgot to take my pictures!  Tragic, but that is what happens when I miss lunch :-)  Both dishes were sooo good!!!

We opted to skip dessert in Italy, and pick up some treats in the Werther's caramel store in Germany.  Mom got a caramel/peanut apple and I got caramel corn and a piece of caramel.  That's a lot of treats!  It just smells so amazing in there, I lost control and wanted to eat everything!  I was so full though.  I think I ate one piece of popcorn.  Two days later I still have the majority of the popcorn and about half of the caramel, so I am definitely making my treats last :-)

Once we finished stocking up on our non healthy treats, we took the boat back to the other side of EPCOT and headed back to the room.  My feet were super tired and getting sore, and I knew the next morning was going to be much earlier and I had 13.1 miles to cover.  When we got back to the room I laid out all my stuff and crashed!

An Expo Fit for a Princess

Princess Weekend is finally here!! Friday I shopped my heart out at the Fit For A Princess Expo.  It was amazing as only an expo can be.  It was a little bit different of a set up than last year, where packet pickup and shopping were held in the same building.  At WDW Marathon weekend, we picked up our bibs in one building, and then shirts and shopping in another one.  However, there was a cheerleading/dance competition going on this weekend in one building, so there was a tent set up where we picked up our bibs for both the 5k and the half.  It was all enclosed, and there was flooring down and air conditioning running, so you really did not notice you were in a tent.  Cinderella's coach and royal coachmen were outside the tent, so of course I had to stop and take my picture with them!

Once we picked up our 5k bibs we stopped in front of the castle scene for another photo op.  I mean, its Disney, you are supposed to take pictures everywhere :-)

After picking up my half bib (which actually said Princess Christina! I was so worried I had registered too late, but there it was! Hooray!) and stopping at the mini runDisney merchandise part to buy a shirt that said "Sorry Charming, Gotta Run", we followed the red carpet into the tshirt pickup and shopping part of the expo.  While I love free stuff, I was a little bummed that the shirt was white, since it was white last year, but oh well.  I bought a lot of stuff.  Thank goodness this is the last race expo I will be going to for a while!  And of course I had to visit the glass slipper/running shoe :-)

My first stop was the Yurbud booth.  I have been hunting the perfect headphones, and they promised me these would not fall out.  I had them fit me for the correct size and bought a pair...but also threatened that I would be back the next day after the 5k if they fell out! (Threatened in a nice way, not a freaky way, lol)Turns out they were just as amazing as they promised, so my hunt for headphones is officially over! (Insert appropriate celebratory dance here :-) )
After that, I stopped at the Running Skirts booth and successfully completed my Cinderella outfit!

Next I hit up the Raw Threads booth for my "Race You to the Castle" shirt that I have been looking at for the last few races.  I finally decided to just buy it :-)  Seriously, it is the softest shirt ever!  Here it is with my Prince Charming shirt...and my yurbuds!

The only other place that I bought anything was the Newton booth.  I am not ready for new shoes yet, but they were $20 off, plus I would not have to pay to have them shipped, and I will be ready for new ones before the next race expo, so I just decided to pick some up.  Its not like they are going to expire or something, and now whenever the old ones wear out I will just have to shop in my closet and my newest pair of pink sneakers will be ready :-)

After the expo, we went to check in at Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I love it there.  Our room was nice, even though I was cheap and opted for the parking lot view as opposed to the savanna view.  But we were never in the room anyway, so it wasn't too bad.

After spending about 10 minutes in the room, we left to go to EPCOT.  We had dinner reservations at Les Chefs de France so decided to just hang out there beforehand.  The first stop was to visit my favorite buddy Figment.  I love that little purple dragon! I got a Figment stuffed animal on one of our first trips to Disney when I was little.  I carried him around so much, and sadly by the neck, that eventually his neck broke and his head just hung limp.  Sad.  I finally replaced him when I was here in January, but he no longer is wearing his yellow sweater.  So we rode Journey Into Imagination (which we walked onto), and then looked around in the imagination lab area thing/store.

Once we finished with that it was time for dinner.  Yum yum!  I have drooled over the menu at Les Chefs de France for years, but have never eaten there.  So I have had my meal planned for months: french onion soup, Gruyere mac and cheese, creme brûlée.  I will admit, when we walked through the restaurant I saw the braised short ribs with pasta and it looked delicious.  I ALMOST changed the mac n cheese at the last minute, but knew I would be disappointed later if I did not stick with my original plan.  It did not disappoint!

After dinner, we walked back to the front and got on the bus to go back to Animal Kingdom.  I was exhausted and had absolutely no double falling asleep.  The 5k had a start time of 7am, with the buses starting at 5, so my alarm was set for 4:30. Not super crazy early, but still earlier than normal.  So I was sound asleep by 10!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Let the Royal Preparations Begin!!!

Its almost time for the Princess Half Marathon!! One of my favorite weekends ever.  I mean, what is not to love about a weekend where it is totally appropriate to wear a tiara??  It is always a multistep project for me to try to get ready for a race.  I have to figure out what to wear for both the 5k and the half, remember all of the accessories that I will need (Garmin, iPod, etc), and then pack just the regular clothes and stuff.

I started with the obvious task...polishing my tiara!!! And by "polish" I mean cut the tag off of it that says I paid $3.50 for it at Claire's :-)  It certainly has some sparkle though, which makes me very happy!

Next on the list is figuring out what to wear.  I can guarantee I have brought too much.  Actually, it would make more sense for me to not even bring anything because without a doubt I will leave the expo with a brand new outfit...and if my Running Skirts buddies have their new stuff with them, I will probably wind up with more than one outfit :-) Tragic really.  So, this is what I have planned so far.  I know for sure I am wearing the sparkle hearts at some point.  But I am hoping for a blue cinderella skirt, so depending on whether or not that is an option, and what other new stuff I find, will determine the rest.  I also have some short sleeves and tank tops, depending on what mother nature has in store :-)

The last thing on the agenda for tonight was packing the running accessories bag.  I don't even know what to call this stuff? All the crap that I cannot function without is probably the most accurate description, although I will just stick with "running accessories"...it sounds nicer I think :-)  This is what I have so far...and there is still some stuff that is missing.

I have no earphones.  This is my newest drama.  I have dysfunctional ears.  I don't know what it is, but everything falls out of my ears.  I can be sitting on an airplane not moving and my stupid earphones will fall out of my ears.  So finding ones to use while running has been quite the experiment.  I had some that wrapped around my ear, and they did not fall out, but they annoyed me because it was tricky to wear my sunglasses with them on.  My mom bought some new ones at the last expo we went to, and they do not fall out of her ears, but I take 10 steps and they are falling out.  There are 2 different vendors at this weekends expo so I am hoping to find something that will work.  Which breaks the whole "do not do anything new on race day" rule, but desperate times call for desperate measures!

I also had to add a few extra things for this weekend...I fear that I waited so long to register that my race bib may not say "Princess Christina".  This will just not be acceptable, so I needed to make sure to bring a marker to fancy it up myself!  Honestly, it kind of weirds me out when strangers along the course yell for me by name, but I am making an exception for the whole "Princess" thing.

Poor Ollie saw me bring out the suitcases and spent the rest of the night on high alert - meaning he was either sitting at the edge of the suitcase or right under my feet!  He is typically somewhat of a shadow anyway, but throw a suitcase into the room and he is even worse.  His distress allows for some cute photo opportunities, and I am never one to turn down his cuddle love :-)  For the record...he actually does have eyes, he is just currently in a shaggy period, so they are hidden! An up and coming haircut will return him to his ever so handsome state :-)

So now I have 2 bags packed, and I have yet to have a stitch of non running clothing! I guess that will be the next project!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The tragic loss of my aquamarine hoodie...and other news

Today is a sad sad day. The story begins a few weeks ago. I got an email from Lululemon with the new stuff added to the website the night before (I really need to unsubscribe from these, no good will ever come from it). Of course I had to check it out before getting up and ready. The first item was the loveliest aquamarine scuba hoodie ever. A perfect color. As someone who is always cold, I adore my scubas. Live in them. They are the most warm and comfortable things ever...also expensive. So I decided that I would wait, and if I made it all the way to Princess Weekend without skipping any of my runs I would buy it as a reward (yes I sometimes have to bribe myself to run...doesn't everyone?). On Saturday when mom and I were shopping, we went into Lululemon and they had one, just one, aquamarine hoodie. As fate would have it, it was my very own size 8. I carried it around the store, and even wore it for a bit, but ultimately decided to leave it there, since I had not yet fully completed my challenge. I figured I would just go home and order online. Well wouldn't you know that I got home and went online only to see that every single size was sold out! Today I happened to be in Orlando, so I decided to run into the store at the Mall at Millenia and hope they have one. No luck. It was so close to being mine, and now, not so much. Is the universe punishing me for that run I technically did skip due to the cold rain? If so, it's just mean. Odds are there will be a new color that I love just as much...but still :-)

In other related news, I registered for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler today. I'm excited for this race because it goes through Hollywood Studios, which is a nice deviation from the typical EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. Of course when I upgrade and start running the full marathon I will get to see it, but this is a nice shorter trip :-). It will also be mom's first race longer than a 5k. The bad news is that it starts at 10pm. This is way past my bedtime. I am not sure how I am going to feel about starting a long run when I am usually asleep? Mom will be in heaven since she is one of those crazy people who can stay up all hours of the night. Me, not so much. Plus there is an after party that lasts until like 3am! Awesome yes...but I cannot remember the last time I saw 3am...well saw it before going to bed of course. Forget the training runs, I am going to have to practice staying up late! That may be more difficult than the running. It's a tough life :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When did I move to Alaska? Otherwise known as 26.2 (13.1) with Donna

So I am just going to go ahead and get this out of the way right now...I live in Florida.  I have lived in Florida so long that sometimes I actually forget not to say yes when people ask me if I was born here.  And I therefore believe that winter is classified as anything below 70.  Wimpy yes, but it is what it is.  I have never even run in cold weather.  The coldest was probably the WDW Half, and it was maybe 50ish at the start? So yeah, I am a wimp.  So for all my cold weather living friends and family, don't judge my distress over the coldest weekend ever :-) Seriously though, I think it actually was the coldest day in a long time...so it was legit!

Mom and I left for Jacksonville Saturday morning and went straight to the Expo.  I cannot even begin to say how awesome this expo is.  I love it.  Organized, plenty of shopping, and lots of fun.  I picked up my race packet, we signed the banners that mark "Memorial Mile" (the mile along the beach), I got to meet Donna, and mom won a really pretty quilt in the silent auction.  All in all quite a success!

From there we went to check in at the hotel and find some dinner.  We decided to go out to St Johns Town Center and eat at Maggianos, and do a little shopping while we were there...aka go to Target and see how much warm clothing I could stock up on to take with me to the race.  I had to settle for some kid sized gloves, since all the others were completely sold out.  The fingers were somewhat on the small size, but it was better than cold hands.  Maggianos was busy! Yes it was a Saturday, but it was maybe 5:00...still in the early bird hour.  Must have been all those crazy runners needing their pasta fix.  Luckily we scored a table in the bar and were in and out of there pretty quickly.  I had chicken parmesan and mom had this rigatoni with chicken and mushrooms and a creamy marsala sauce.  Both were quite yummy. 

After dinner we went back to the hotel so I could attempt to figure out what to wear in the morning.  I opted for the safe decision of just wearing everything I brought with me! Or at least it seemed like it :-)

Once the what to wear decision had been made, it was off to bed, since those 3am alarms come very early. Or rather, it was early to pretend to sleep, because I tossed and turned all night long.  I think I maybe slept for about an hour or so.  I need to work on the pre race sleeping.  I woke up and immediately checked the weather, only to discover it was 29 degrees out!! Brrrrr!!!!!!

I got dressed and was downstairs in the lobby right around 4.  I was having all of these nightmares that everyone in the hotel was going to be waiting to get on the shuttle at the same time and I was never going to make it in time, but there were only 2 other runners down there.  By the time the next bus arrived at 4:30ish there were about 8 of us, so it wasn't too bad or stressful.  I have been extremely lucky and have not had a single transportation issue with this race, or any other race (knock on wood).  I think the fact that I am a nervous nellie and usually end up on one of the earliest shuttles typically helps this, but I will take it!

It took us about 30 minutes to make it to the Mayo Clinic, which was the start and finish of the race.  We got off the bus and froze in the Family Reunion area until it was time for me to head into the Runners Village and check my bag and such.

I left one hoodie with mom, and took the sweatpants, gloves, scarf, and blanket figuring I would just drop them at the start line or along the course as I warmed up (all of the clothing is picked up from the course and donated, so its not like real littering!).

Once I made it into my corral, it was just about time for the race to start.  Against my better judgement, I left the blanket when I started to move.  I would have loved to keep it with me, but it just did not seem possible to run with it...although I could have used it like a superhero cape.  Darn, I will keep that in mind next time!  I think it took about 3 miles for my toes to warm up and not feel funky.  The scarf would not stay wrapped correctly, so it did not make it past the start line either.  As for all of my other "throwaway" items, I crossed the finish line with every last one of them :-)

The course took us out of Mayo, onto J Turner Butler Blvd, onto A1A, through a bunch of beautiful neighborhoods, onto the beach, and then back home.  To say this event has amazing community support is an understatement.  The bridge was packed with cheering spectators with noisemakers and signs.  People in the neighborhoods we ran through were out basically having a block party (even in the freezing temps!). One man was even making bloody marys :-)  Just after mile 5, we make one last turn and end up on the beach.  Best miles ever.  It was the hardest part of the race for me because the wind was coming straight at us, but its hard not to love being able to run on the beach just as the sun is rising.

This is the only picture I took on the race course.  Last year I had pictures from everything, but it was really difficult to maneuver getting the camera in and out of my fuel belt with frozen fingers!  Once we were back off the beach, we were heading home.  I think I was right about at mile 7 or 8 when the first marathoners started flying past me.  I cannot imagine what it is like to run that fast! The killer of the course is coming back over the bridge.  I do not know what happens, but when we leave and go over the bridge during the second mile, its nice and level.  And then somehow during the run, it becomes this super steep mountain! Or at least it sure looks like it from the bottom.  Somehow I managed to make it up and over and then around the corner to the finish.  Still frozen, still layered, but very happy :-)

I grabbed some soup from Panera, and then went to meet mom out in the Family Reunion area.  Luckily she had found a tent with heaters, so I was able to defrost a bit while waiting for Sister Hazel to play!

I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this race is!  The community support is amazing, and the miles fly by when there are people cheering at every turn.  I wish I had taken pictures of some of the groups that were out there.  One house had a sign offering "Free Mammograms" with two holes cut out for you to insert your "mammos".  It was hysterical.  The people that are cheering on the bridge are awesome!  Not only are they still in full force as you run back over at mile 12/25, but there are tons of them (and runners who have already crossed the finish line and just come back) that run down the bridge just to run back up it with people that are coming in.  I do not want to even guess how many extra miles they added on to their day, but it sure was motivating!

At the water station right before we went onto the beach, I met a woman wearing a sash that said she was a 5 year survivor.  As I thanked her for my water and volunteering and congratulated her on her 5 years, she thanked me for being out there running.  She thanked me! It was really quite absurd, considering all she had gone through, I was only running a measly 13 miles.  It was humbling, motivating, and encouraging all at the same time.  I think that was the moment that I decided I was going to run the full next year.  I mean, its the least I can do, considering.  Luckily I am still riding my runners high so I have not started to freak out about the fact that I just signed myself up to run 26.2 miles.  But I am sure it is coming very soon :-)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Walt Disney Marathon Weekend - Saturday, January 7

Today brought another super early alarm.  I got up and got dressed and ate the bagel that I picked up at the end of the 5K.  It was dry and boring, but that is what happens when you forget to pack anything for breakfast and have to make do with whatever you find.  (I will be much more prepared for all future traveling meals! I even have a super cute little cooler bag thing to keep everything stored in!)  It was still pretty cold out, but I had a pair of pants that I brought that I was planning on throwing away at some point on the course when I warmed up.  I also had a sweatshirt that I was wearing, but since mom was coming with me to the start, I could give it to her right before walking to the corrals and avoid having to check a bag.  We got on the bus, again without any issues, and headed over to EPCOT.  Things were a lot more busy than they were for the 5K.  People were everywhere, and again there was a DJ playing music and stuff.  At one point Tony Horton, the P90X guy was doing a warmup.  I was so cold and so nervous that I basically stood frozen in place and just watched everything around me. 

Once they made the announcement that it was time to head to the corrals, I handed mom everything that I did not need, stole her gloves, and started the long walk to the corrals.  I think every time I make this walk it gets longer and longer.  There are tons of people, all packed in and moving super slow.  I have no clue where it even goes, and would never be able to retrace the route at a regular hour of the day, without 28,000 people crammed in with me.  At one point we walked past some kind of tram "graveyard".  It was sad and creepy.  I made it in to my corral and waited for the race to start.  I think I was in corral D, or maybe E...its all a blur now, but it was a good wait until things got started.  Donald, Mickey, and Goofy came on stage and Donald sent the first group of runners off, accompanyed by fireworks!  I went to turn on my Garmin, and received the most dreaded message...LOW BATTERY! I wanted to cry.  Garmy is like my electric security blanket.  There are clocks at every mile, so its not impossible to do the math and figure out your pace, but after about 4 miles I start to forget and it gets ugly.  I almost had a nervous breakdown at mile 8 because I forgot where I was at mile 7 and somehow determined that it took me 20 minutes to travel this one mile.  It didn't, my math was just a little messed up :-)  So this is why Garmy and I are such good friends.  She alleviates any panic attacks and keeps me on track!

Eventually my corral was up and ready to run.  The first few miles were noneventful.  I do not remember much about anything before the Magic Kingdom, except pulling off to the side of the road to ditch my pants.  This was probably quite entertaining for everyone running past me because I of course could not get them over my shoes, and was hopping around trying not to land on my bottom.  I really was not ready to get rid of them...but there was no way I wanted to run through the castle with those pants on! A little way down the road I tossed my gloves (well mom's gloves technically).  Thankfully they were the cheap 99 cent version, so she did not care :-)

Magic Kingdom is a little tricky when running! You run past the sign over the entrance to the parking lots, and get all excited because you are almost there....only its still a long way away.  Annoying as it is, it helps to spread out the excitement.  Once you come around the corner of the backlot area and on to Mainstreet USA things get awesome.  This is by far the best part of the race, short as it is.  The streets are packed with people cheering and yelling.  Its like being famous or something :-) I think its safe to say there are very few people who manage to run this part without tearing up a little bit - I know I can't!  I do not even know why...maybe because it brings out the kid in me, or something equally sentimental and deep :-)  We turned and ran through Tomorrowland and back around and thru the castle.  Mom was waiting right at the bottom of the sidewalk where we came out of the castle.  I have no idea how she scored such an awesome spot, but it was really nice to see a familiar face in the sea of people. 

From there we went back out of the Magic Kingdom and onto the long boring stretch back to EPCOT.  This is where I had the 22 minute mile miscalculation/nervous breakdown.  This is what happens when you do not have your Garmin and know you are not at all trained for a race.  Lesson learned :-)  To be honest, I was physically feeling pretty decent.  Unless I was just so worried about those balloon girls jumping out of somewhere to drag me off the course that I did not even notice any pain? Once I made it past mile 8 and up onto the ramp I looked back out over the course and there were still tons of people behind me.  I let out a sigh of relief and knew I could make the last few miles. 

Going back into EPCOT was much more fun than it was during the 5K because the park was actually open and so there were people inside.  I bet those guests that did not realize they were going to be there on the same day as a half marathon were not very happy though!  But it cracks me up that with all of the thousands and thousands of runners participating in the events over the weekend there were still people that had no idea what was going on.  That would be an unpleasant surprise...although I bet every park was empty by 5pm since we all had such early wake up calls!  They had little walkways and I guess they were letting people cross when there was a break in the action, but I am not really sure.  Finally I made it around the corner and past the gospel choir.  This is the second part of the course that always makes me cry.  Who knew running was so emotional.  I could not tell you what they were singing, or if they were even singing at all, lol.  Its more significant because you know you are literally around the corner from the finish line than for any religious purposes, but they are amazing nevertheless! 

The finish line was the best sight of the day.  I had little confidence that I would even see it.  I happily collected my Donald Duck medal, and picked up some snacks before heading over to meet mom.  They were giving us some mini cliff bars - one was chocolate mint...woah was it yummy!  Once mom and I met back up, we decided to go into EPCOT and find some food, rather than wait to take the bus back to our room.  I cannot even tell you where we ate (Electric Umbrella or something maybe?) but I had the most awesome cheeseburger ever! Would it be so awesome if I was not starving and had not just run 13.1 miles? Doubtful.  But at that moment it was delightful.  I met a woman in there who had done the race, and was now in a wheelchair due to blisters.  And she was doing Goofy so she had to do the same thing all over again.  Hopefully she stayed off her feet and got those things healed up or something!  After eating we headed back and checked out and went home. 

This was the most stressful half marathon experience for me.  And it was all mental and unnecessary, but still.  I knew I had not trained like I should have (or really trained at all).  Instead of enjoying the race, I was panicked the entire time about not being able to finish.  I think I stopped for maybe one picture.  The funny thing is that I took 5 minutes off my Disneyland time, but that is from not making a single stop.  Once I saw my official (slow) time, I realized that I was ahead of pace the entire time, and pretty much stressing myself out for no reason.  I have no idea why I have such a fear of those sweepers!  I know I am fast enough to keep pace...I have been lucky enough to never even see a sweeper on the course, but still. 

The good thing is that this experience taught me alot.  I have been really good about getting in all of my runs and have been going to yoga three times a week as well.  Yoga has been awesome!  I wish I had not waited this long to start going.  26.2 with Donna is this weekend and then back to Disney for Princess 2 weekends after that, and I am crazy excited for both!  They are probably my two favorite races ever. :-)

So, thats that as far as my WDW recap.  From here on out things will be on time...and hopefully with pictures!! Get excited :-)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend - Friday, January 6

The alarm went off at 3:00am.  Which is basically the middle of the night! We got up and got dressed and decided to walk down to the little food court thing and get a bagel and coffee.  Upon arrival we were very sad to discover that they were not opening early today, only Saturday and Sunday.  Which was a bummer since I was not a good packer and did not bring any breakfast.  So we headed back to the room and I grabbed my mini Luna bar that was in my "goody" bag.  I think this was actually the only "goody" in that bag, but whatever.  Taking that walk was actually a good thing because we both realized how cold it was outside, and so we grabbed an extra layer before heading out to the bus stop.  I have heard nightmares about the whole bus system, so I was nervous to wait too long to try to catch a bus.  But there was one waiting there for us and we made it on without any problems.  There was not much traffic and we got to the EPCOT parking lot with lots and lots of time to spare.  That is the one thing that I hate about Disney races, they have super early wake up calls, and then you have to sit around and wait forever for anything to start.  I do not think it would be possible for them to get everyone there and assembled on time if they did it any other way, but it still makes for a long day. 

The bag check was right when we got off the buses.  This was somewhat of a dilemma for me because I was just not ready to part with my warm clothes, but did not want to have to walk all the way back out here.  I decided to just suck it up and deal, and check my bag.  We headed around the corner and there was a DJ playing music and keeping the crowd pumped up.  Mom got in line to get coffee, but did not have any cash on her, it was in the checked bag.  So I took this as a sign that I just needed to go get the bag back and warm up.  I re layered, mom got her coffee, and we huddled under a generator powered light.  Great for giving off a small amount of warmth, bad for the fumes we were breathing in while staying warm. 

Eventually it was time to line up for the race.  This is only my second Disney 5k, but this is the first time I have seen them do a corral start.  It was not anything really organized or official, so it was sort of confusing.  They kept saying they were going to start things off in three separate groups, which was good, since it would alleviate some serious crowding.  But then they just made a general announcement that it was time to be in the corrals, and people were lining up everywhere.  Mom and I headed to the middle/back, figuring this was going to be about the second or third start.  But alas it was the first, which freaked me out since I am not that fast and certainly do not want to cause people to have to dodge around me, but I think everyone was somewhat confused because there were a variety of speeds all around me. 

The race itself is somewhat of a blur.  I know the first mile is around the EPCOT parking lot, and then we end up in the park, and the finish line is back in the parking lot.  This was the first time I was running with my inhaler, and I had to make myself slow down after I saw how speedy I had been during the first mile.  This was probably part adrenaline and excitement as well as the lack of my chest feeling like someone was standing on it.  I did not want to go too crazy since I had to run again in the morning, so I slowed down and just took things easy.  After crossing the finish line, I got my medal and tried to wait for mom so I could get her picture as she was crossing, but there was starting to be a cluster of people and they forced us to move out of the way right as she was crossing.  I should have waited on the other side so we could run across together, but I was not thinking straight that early in the morning.  We took our finisher photos and got on the bus to head to breakfast at Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge. 

Let me just say - I love Boma.  Their juice is the best thing I have ever had.  I think our server said it was mango, passion fruit and something else.  I could not replicate it if I tried...actually I wonder if there is a copycat recipe floating around the internet somewhere.  I must research this.  To eat I had: eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, bacon, a blueberry muffin, chocolate chip muffin, and cinnamon roll.  This list makes it sound like I ate about 6 meals, but they were all small portions plus the muffins were minis and it all fit on one plate, so its really not as bad as it seems :-) Plus I was starving!

After breakfast we took the bus back to EPCOT and switched to the bus to take us back to the Caribbean.  We showered and hung out for a while and then decided to head over to EPCOT.  Only, somewhere in the time that we were waiting for the bus to EPCOT we decided to go back to the expo.  Mom wanted to get an "In Training for 2012" shirt.  I was not going to discourage any shopping, plus I was pondering maybe getting the marathon version of the same shirt, so we went back to the expo.  The Disney merchandise was completely picked over.  There was nothing left.  Mom did manage to find her shirt, but as far as any Marathon or Goofy training shirts, there was nothing to be found.  We did wind up at the Bondi Band booth and had fun looking through all of the funny sayings and stuff.  I look like a complete dweeb in those things.  Everyone else that was trying them on looked totally normal.  This guy even came over and tried on a princess one, and he looked normal, but me, not so much.  Once the Bondi Band girl came and helped me fix it up a little it was better.  So we each grabbed a few.  Mine say "Powered by Pixie Dust" and "Will Run for Cupcakes".  I probably will not give a crap how ridiculous I look when I am running in the middle of summer and sweat is dripping in my eyes, so these will certainly come in handy!

We left the expo and went to EPCOT.  We had some time before our dinner reservation so we just walked around and shopped a little.  Dinner was at Teppan Edo, the hibachi restaurant in Japan.  It was so yummy.  The show was pretty much the same as it is at every other hibachi restaurant, but the food was really good, and you can never go wrong with white sauce.  I have no idea what it is, or how it is made, and I do not want to.  I just want to enjoy it guiltlessly :-)  After dinner we headed back to get ready for bed, since yet another early morning wake up was coming!

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Recap - Thursday, January 5

So this is way late, but I thought I would recap as much as I could remember from WDW weekend.  I learned a lot over the course of the weekend and I do not want to forget. Plus, race recaps are fun :-)
The "weekend" began on Thursday morning.  Mom and I headed out and made a pitstop at Millenia to go into Lululemon.  Big mistake.  I love this store, but really need to stay out of it.  I inevitably spend money.  I use everything I buy, and its great quality, but I need to ground myself from there.  We stopped in the food court and had these delicious salads.  After that we headed out to the Wide World of Sports to the Health and Fitness Expo to pick up our packets and shop some more.  The expo was already crazy crowded when we got there, and it was maybe 1:00 in the afternoon.  I think we had to walk almost a mile from where we parked the car! We went in to packet pickup and got our shirts and bibs without any issues.  Then we shopped.  This is the first time ever that I have been to a Disney race and not bought one single Disney item.  I was so beyond petrified that I was not going to finish the race that I did not want to jinx myself with any extra merchandise I may have to get rid of later.  I ordinarily am not this superstitous, but I was just feeling less than prepared.  Normally, my Disney philosophy is "if you think you may want it, buy it, because it will be gone later".  There are so many runners and not that much merchandise, so thinking about things and coming back later is never a good idea.  Mom was looking at the "In Training for 2012" shirts but decided to just wait and think about it for a while.  We went back to the Expo on Friday after the 5K and there was not a single "In Training" shirt to be found.  I strictly adhere to the "rule" of never wearing anything race related until after I have finished the race, but sometimes you just have to buy it and hide it in a bag or something!

I was pretty good at all the other booths as well.  Actually I do not think I bought anything until we got to the Running Skirts booth.  This is another one where I have no self control.  I just love their skirts and compression socks (which are a lifesaver when it comes to keeping my shins happy).  If I am going to run and there are going to be photographers on the course, I want to at least look somewhat decent.  And after running any distance, I am guaranteed to look rough, so anything I can do to somewhat help the situation is always a plus in my book.  I have also gotten mom hooked on them, so we both did some damage, but we will be dressed beautifully for all of our races :-)

After the Expo we headed over to Hollywood Studios (which I still catch myself calling MGM, even though it has been who knows how many years since it has been changed...oh well).  We had a dinner reservation for Mama Melrose's.  This was the first time I have eaten there and it was pretty good.  We split the gnocci and penne ala vodka.  Both were good, although I would have been much happier if there were no onions at all in the penne, but it was not the end of the world to eat around them.  We also treated ourselves to a bellini cocktail...always a smart idea the night before a run :-) It was small though, and we had plenty of water to go along with it.  All in all a pretty successful dinner!  (Note to self: take more pictures...even of food)

We finished eating just about the time the sun was going down, which meant it was time for the Osborne Family Lights to be turned on.  I have no idea how I have lived in Florida for all of this time and somehow have never seen these lights! They were so awesome.  I must admit, that I am a sucker for anything Christmas-y, so they of course made me very happy.  At certain times they play music and make the lights dance to it, which is fun.  And they even have snow falling from...well falling from somewhere.  Of course the analytic nerd in me is dying to know how many workers it takes and how long it takes for them to get those lights up and down.  Knowing Disney, it all happens in one night, but as far as the rest of the logistics one can only imagine!

We walked around a little bit more and then headed to the Caribbean Beach Resort to check in.  This was the first time I have stayed at this hotel, and it was pretty nice.  Although, the last Disney resort I stayed at was the Grand Californian, so this was obviously no where near the amazingness of that one, but it was still nice. 

After unloading all of our things and whatnot, it was early to bed for a crack of dawn wake up call for the 5K.  Well it was early to bed for me, mom is a night owl, and she eventually fell asleep with her iPad on her pillow and her head on her iPad.  Which could not have been comfortable, but I have woken up to find her in much crazier positions!