Let’s Talk: Cone Alley

We’re two weeks from Princess Half 2018 weekend, and a hot topic among veterans and rookies alike is how to navigate the dreaded Cone Alleys that sprinkle the course.

First, let’s locate these on the map:

Mile 4-ish: This one of the biggest elevation changes in the race, and it is just past the TTC parking lot. You will descend and then ascend as you go under a bridge. Upon ascension, you will run parallel to Contemporary Resort and head toward Space Mountain.

Study these pictures for a moment. Not only do you have one half of a road to run on, and cars WILL be on the other side, so don’t think about jumping the cones, but you have a sidewalk on your left. Don’t be so caught up in taking pictures that you trip and fall. Many runners eat concrete here, so mind your footing and if you need to walk, stay to the right. You’re gonna be pushing to make it up the hill, so focus on making it.

Second area is just after the 6.8 halfway mark behind Magic Kingdom. This is the worst of the two Alleys:

Cones go on for at least a mile and a half or more. You will run with Grand Floridian on your left and the golf courses on your right. You’ll have shade at least for a little bit until the sun peaks and then you’re roasting.

When runners turn the corner and see these, their mental state immediately goes down the toilet. You don’t have much room to move, and the grass on the sloping hills to the left of the road will still be wet. Don’t run in this unless you want wet shoes! This will end around 8.something, near the Jelly Belly station and the road opens up again.


Navigating Cone Alley takes patience, and a whole hell of a lot of it. Pace groups will be run/walking, friends will hog the road seven-deep, and all forms of etiquette go out the door, along with your pace. Don’t be surprised if you add 5+ minutes a mile in this section.

Do your best to run single file in this section. Share the road with other runners. People tend to get nasty and cranky, so don’t let them deter your mood. Play some happy music and think good thoughts.

If you are grooving and come up to a wall of people, do not be afraid to loudly say, “Excuse me, runner coming through!” and break that wall. They’ll be pissy for two seconds, but let it go; it’s your race, not their’s.

Don’t even think about jumping those cones. That empty lane is reserved for emergency vehicles and other traffic. You risk getting hit, or taken out of the race by officials if caught. Orlando Police line these alleys and keep an eye out for jumpers. Don’t get arrested.


Any other advice for navigating Cone Alley?! Sound off in the comments!

Diet and Mileage: How I Prepare for Princess Half Weekend

Princesses and princes, we’re roughly two weeks away from PHM weekend! Woohoo! *confetti*

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Now is the time to start fine-tuning our diets and mileage in anticipation of race weekend. For many, the timeline varies. I will share here what has worked (and not worked) in the past, and would love to know some of your secrets for optimal performance come race day!

Around a month out from race weekend, I start planning final runs/workouts and altering my food intake by eliminating or adding certain items. I find the one-month window to be the best for me; my body reacts very well, and I don’t drive myself insane with certain deprivations. Granted, I am human, so I slip up every once in a while, but I get back on track very quickly as I constantly remind myself that if I feel miserable now, it’s going to reflect on my race performance and overall happiness while in Disney, and nobody wants a cranky princess!

Here are a few of my tips and tricks:


Diet

          Alcohol—I go a month sober. (Giving up booze is incredibly easy for me, and my wallet is super happy. I didn’t do this for my first PHM and you can see the bloaty-ness in my picture…gross!) The extra detox time is awesome, and I can replace it with delicious teas and Nuun water.

Sweets/Dessert – Also for a month, I cut waaaay back on unnecessary sugars and sweets. Working in the restaurant business has its perks, and the dessert menu we have is extensive and delicious. After I got sick with Norovirus back in January (and subsequently expelled dessert on that day…), I’ve sworn off sweets for the time being. I’ll treat myself to a cookie or two once in a while, but I try to not go overboard.

Dairy—Heh. I have a love/hate relationship with this.  I LOVE cheese and creamer and milk. However, dairy items make me toot…and bloat. (See the common trend here? Everything makes my stomach bloat. Argh.) Again, I lay off the creamy stuff until post-race.

Fiber—This was a huge mistake I made last year and it threw my chances of a huge PR at the half marathon. My fiber intake wasn’t optimal in the weeks prior to the race, and I ended up with major stomach issues for race weekend (before, during, and after). I ran over to a nearby Publix for prune juice and fiber-happy foods, but it still didn’t make much of a difference.  Since then, I’ve committed to adding fiber-rich foods into my diet and using this as an area of focus in my training.

Protein: I love quinoa and beans (low-sodium). Mixing them into salads is one of my favorite things now. They’re stomach-friendly and provide long-lasting energy.

Grains: I try to avoid squishy bread items like bagels or muffins. (Again, major stomach bloat. I worked in a bagel shop during 2015 PHM and you can really tell that I enjoyed eating there. See picture below.) Granted, I do need carbs. I stick with toast or English muffins or cereal. Granola bars are also a favorite.

Fruits and Vegetables: I’m a natural rabbit. I love my greens and delicious fruits. Favorites include apples (especially for the fiber), pineapple, oranges (early morning pick-me-up), tomatoes, spinach, various legumes, and bell peppers.


Mileage/Exercise:

The month before race weekend is Beast Mode time (provided that life doesn’t happen to derail those plans). I add additional strength training and cardio to my workouts, with long runs on the weekends. I’ve found that your arms get just as much of a workout as your legs do, so do not neglect those bicep curls or tricep extensions! Your abs also need some love, especially your obliques. The side-to-side movement that your upper body does will get very sore very quickly if you do not work this section out. Stretching is also a primary focus; feeling loose and relaxed is far better than that “stiff as a board” feeling.

I add at least one “Mock GSC Weekend” where I emulate race day conditions. Since I run Glass Slipper, this includes a Saturday and Sunday of a 10K and a half marathon (or mileage that is very close to 13.1). For those of you that are firsties for any race or combination thereof, I would HIGHLY suggest taking advantage of this at least two weeks before race weekend. It’s good to shake some of those pre-race jitters, and to get your body used to early wakeups on multiple days. 2:30AM does come quickly!

If you are running in costume, take it on a test run or two to see what does and doesn’t work with it. I cannot count how many discarded tutus, sunglasses, tiaras, and miscellaneous things that have fallen off runners in the first 500 meters of this race. Take extra care that things won’t slide or fall off. Nobody wants to risk tripping and crashing on the highway because their feet got entangled in your tulle. Same goes for any new piece of running equipment you’ll have (visors, belts, arm bands, iPods, sunscreen, etc.). Test drive these and see what works.

As always…nothing new on race day!

What diet and mileage tricks do you use as you prepare for race day?

2017 PHM/GSC Waivers and Corrals

Greetings, princesss, princes, and runners everywhere! It’s that time of the year again…PRINCESS HALF MARATHON WEEKEND!

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We are three weeks away from race weekend, and there are plenty of topics to cover! I noticed that many of you have taken to reading my Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide series over the last month, and I am soooooo happy that you have! As always, if you have questions, let me know and I shall try to answer them the best that I can.

To get started, there are a few logistical items to go over. Just today, corrals and waivers got released!

If this is your first runDisney event, fear not. Here is how you go about navigating this strange new world and deciphering the corrals!

  1. Head to: https://www.rundisney.com/princess-half-marathon/
  2. Click on “Runner Info” and scroll down to Waivers.
  3. Download your waiver by clicking the link and filling out the info:
  4. Print out your waiver and sign it! You’re done!

If you do not have access to a printer, you can print it out at the expo. Make sure you have your ID with you to present to the volunteer who will check you in.

When you view your waiver, you will see a number at the bottom of the page that indicates your bib number. Using this number, match it up with the corrals for PHM or GSC. If you are running GSC, you will get your 10K corral placement upon arrival to the expo.

We have 21 days, runners. Start shining those tiaras and stocking up on the pixie dust! Oh, and getting a few miles under your legs for those last long runs! 🙂  

If you can dream it, you can do it! Stay tuned for more Princess Half funtimes! 💖✨🎀

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. VII

Hey princesses and princes…

SURPRISE!!! *confetti cannons and fireworks*

That’s right! There’s one more Survival Guide episode for you all!

I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to release this episode, and I figured that it’s about that time. We’re less than a week out from when all of the Princess Half weekend excitement goes down, and the energy is ramping up on the social media feeds. Outfits are being displayed, encouragement being passed around, final training miles being run, and the taper crazies running rampant, as always. There’s a certain electricity that amplifies any runDisney event. With Princess Half weekend, however, I have noticed that it seems to be more prominent with this race than any of the others.

This final episode will be filled with motivation and positive thinking and pretty pictures. (runDisney released an album of motivational running pictures and quotes several years ago, and I’m glad I saved them to share.) Think of this episode as the narration to your weekend.

Got your snacks? Yay! Let’s go!


 

PHM Survival Guide, Ep. VII: The Race Awakens: Final Thoughts From Christina

I have mentioned this before: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. For many of us, that happens when you cross the finish line and can officially say, “I Did It!”

But the truth is, it happens far sooner….407811_580612858631347_62542001_n

 

Life begins when you make the decision to toe the line…to commit to the distance, the training, the long hours of pounding the pavement or track or treadmill to put the miles under your legs. To say, “Yes. I’m going to do this”, and follow through all the way until race day.

There is a lot of sacrifice when training for a race, as you all know: Giving up sleeping in on the weekends in exchange for greeting the sunrise of a new day with a workout… replacing your comfort foods with something more healthy that makes your body happy and fuels you…deciding to head home early and rest up instead of staying out with friends on a Friday night.

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Or on the flip of the coin…battling runner grumpies when you’re trying to find this thing called a runner’s high that everyone sems to talk about….fighting waves of apathy, sadness, and a disinterest in running….thinking, “Ugh, I have to wake up at X- time and run X-miles for a long run?” and promptly hiding under the covers. Your training may have been derailed by life or illness or other variables, and you might be discouraged and frustrated, thinking, “Why the hell did I even sign up for this?”

(All of this I have experienced before. You’re not alone.)

It can suck sometimes. It really can.

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But it will pay off. Even if you can’t see it now, showing up on race day is your dedication in action. Your costume/outfit is on, the feelings of excitement and anxiety churning in your stomach (it’s all those butterflies that are back again!), and you know there’s no going back. You’ve made it this far. Whether you’re a Perfect, a veteran, a firstie…the love is there for everyone. Everyone is sharing thoughts, feelings, anticipation…your hearts are in sync and eyes are on the prize.

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Everyone that toes the line has a story to tell. And these stories, while most remain unspoken, drive these races to be what they truly are: the gathering of athletes of all abilities to chase their dreams and accomplish their goals.

Next week, it’s go time. It’s time for your victory lap.

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The Fairy Godmother counts you down, the fireworks go boom, and you’re off on a magical journey of whichever distance you’ve signed up for. Take in the experience. The atmosphere and sights are unlike any other race you’ll ever participate in.

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For the firsties…no matter the distance, you’re accomplishing a feat that thousands before you have done. You’re following in the footsteps of even the most elite runners in history; they’ve all been there. Everyone has run their first race at some point in their lives. You’re now partaking in that tradition. Embrace your first race.

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On race day…race your race. This phrase may reflect many things: You may be running for a new PR…you may be running just to complete the distance to say that you did…you might be running miles in memory of someone…hell, you may be racing for an age award, or even for the win. Whatever your reason is, you’re here. You’re going to go the distance, just like the song says.

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When you cross the finish line, throw your hands in the air and cheer. You deserve a celebration. All the weeks and months, trials and tribulations, struggles and successes you’ve endured will culminate into an explosive euphoria that will rival anything you’ve ever felt before. Your life is going to change forever. Smile, cheer, cry, hug your friends. This is your time. Take it in. Enjoy it. By the time you get home, you’re going to want to do it all over again.

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See you at the finish line.

 

*~*Christina*~*

Team Shenanigans PHM Podcast

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I got my podcast debut recently.

Last week, I was asked by Chris Smith (@DopeyRunr) of Team Shenanigans to be a guest on their podcast which focused on previewing the Princess Half weekend! I teamed up with Chris, Brittany, Ken, Mark, and Caryn to cover a bunch of different topics (with typical Shenanigans humour) surrounding the upcoming race.

Here is the link: http://teamshenanigans.org/22-princess-half-marathon/

Happy listening!!

 

*~*Christina*~*

 

2016 PHM/GSC Waivers and Corrals

Waivers and corrals are finally available for Princess weekend! Woooooo!


 

Link for waivers:

http://trackshackresults.com/disneysports/waivers/princess_w16/verify.php


 

Once you have your number, check for your corral!

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Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. VI

Would you look at that…two weeks to go until we are descending upon the House of Mouse for Princess Half weekend! *hears the cheers*

My time with this here PHM Survival Guide is drawing to a close. We only have one episode left to cover pertinent information regarding the event, so let’s not waste any time! This episode will cover the post-race aspect. What really happens when you cross the finish line? How do you go about recovering, physically and emotionally, from such an event? How long should you wait until you’re back into a normal routine with your fitness?

Got your snacks? Great! Let’s go…


 

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode VI: Return of the Post-Race Blues…What Happens to You Physically and Emotionally After Your Race

Note from Christina: I ran across an article on p. 52-53 in the Dec. 2015 issue of Runner’s World titled, “Congrats! Now What?” by Bradley Stulberg. This episode will be pulling a great deal of information from that article, and I must give credit to him for writing and researching it. In fact, this episode will have several citations from other sources. Being a researcher, and knowing plagiarism is bad, I will cite my sources along the way.

You’ve crossed the finish line, received your medal(s), and you’re walking to the gEAR check tents, sweaty, tired, yet incredibly elated. YOU DID IT. You seriously did it! **happy dance**. You trained your ass off and made it all the way to the finish. You’ve earned the right to wear your “I Did It!” T-shirt and to blast on social media pretty pictures of you wearing your medals. Any time you’ve completed an athletic feat, you’ve earned bragging rights for days.

Also, you’ve earned a shower and a very long nap.

Before naptime though, here are a few things to keep in mind during the first 24-hours of your race, courtesy of Stulberg (p. 53):

Fruit-basket

Refuel, refuel, refuel. The first 24 hours post-race is what you’re going to be aiming for with regard to protein intake. You just put your body through an incredible test of endurance. The water, Powerade, bananas, and recovery boxes you’ve received at the end of the run are designed to replenish critical elements in your body that you’ve lost through exertion and sweating. Electrolytes, potassium, and sodium are way up there, along with sugar and protein. While I don’t suggest sitting down to a four-course dinner immediately afterwards, getting some sort of food into your body—especially protein and carby foods– is key for muscle recovery. (Stulberg quotes Corey Hart, a doctoral candidate and physiologist from the Univ. of Utah, as suggesting to “frequent snacks that are high in carbs by also contain 25 to 30 grams of protein” [p. 53].) Fruits are a fabulous way to refuel. Bananas, pineapple, and papaya are just a few examples of post-race happy foods: bananas have potassium, and tropical fruits contain bromelain and papain which have anti-inflammatory properties to speed up post-race recovery.

-While it’s great to relax—after all, you’ve earned it!– you definitely should continue moving around to some degree. It’s not great if you immediately get back to your hotel and flop on the bed without stretching. Lactic acid buildup is a real thing, and you won’t be able to move well after. You can go at a snail’s pace here, and compression clothing is your friend! I typically walk a park (EPCOT) after the half, just to keep things somewhat loose. I stretch and rest as I see fit, and let my body do its own thing. I wouldn’t recommend an action-packed day immediately following the race, as you will end up being more counterproductive in your healing.

-MAKE SURE TO CELEBRATE! Remember what I said about taking the pictures and smiling and being all happy and stuff? This is the time to do it. Neurologically, you’re going to be riding a high for quite awhile; your dopamine and serotonin levels will be through the roof. Be sure to bask in the fact that you completed your mission, reflect on the positive points during your race, and celebrate with friends. Wear those medals as long as you want to. It’s great walking the parks the days after…you’ll find runners wearing their medals and their t-shirts. Many will be offering their congratulations to you. Make sure you pay it forward, especially if you see a princess that might be lonely and doing the weekend solo!

-If you have problems sleeping, that’s okay. As aforementioned, you’ll be riding your post-race high for awhile. Once your body does start coming down from it, feel free to cuddle with your blankies and Mickey plushie. You deserve sleep.


Okay, so that covers the first 24 hours. The next window to you’ll encounter is the next 1-3 days. What happens?

-Stulberg mentions, “Active recovery expedites the body’s natural repair processes by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles” (p. 53). This is the time to walk about. I traditionally head to Magic Kingdom on Monday during PHM weekend and stay all day. I look like a penguin waddling about, but it really helps with recovery.

-You may be temped to go get a massage to alleviate the pain and tightness. It is advised that you wait a few days before receiving one. Stulberg quotes Hart, “You want to let your muscles heal, and deep-tissue massage can cause muscle damage” (p. 53). Your body is going to be transforming itself internally in the days and weeks to come. If you insist, I would suggest a light Swedish massage that isn’t too taxing on the body. (I don’t know about you, but when I get a deep-tissue massage, it’s like I just put my body through a marathon; it’s really sore for a few days after! Again, that’s just my opinion.)

-Continue basking in the fact that you completed the distance. For most, the post-race high is still running strong. For others, though, this may not be the case. Don’t try to ignore the feelings that are an result of having completed your race. Whether you had a great race or a not-so-great race, take the time to acknowledge what you’re feeling. This may be in the form of writing a race recap, posting pictures, tweeting, talking about it, whatever medium you’re comfortable with. After I got swept during the 2015 MCM, I wrote my recap for it. It was painful and I cried while writing it (it took me about two hours), but I came to terms about what I was internally feeling. In the days and weeks following, I used my story as personal motivation to finish the mileage when I went back to D.C. for the holidays.


How about up to a week after? Curious to know what happens? Read on…

-You’re going to be sore. You’re going to be sleepy. You might not want to get off the couch. Hart mentions that your hormonal system may be out of whack, especially if you’ve been training for extended periods for a distance (p.53). You naturally surpress the feelings of fatigue and exhaustion during your training period, and now that you’re done, it’s all rushing back. Don’t ignore this; maintain light activity levels so you can get all of your neurological levels back to normal.

InsideOut

The Post-Race Blues. This is huge, and 99% of us will encounter this in some way, on some level. Any time you get built up for a huge event, whether it’s a race, wedding, baby, something…there’s a degree of preparation and excitement leading up to it. The pain of dealing with the, “What now?” feelings after are more painful than the physical pain. After you train and prep for so many months and your excitement crescendos into one event, the after-effect can have your feeling unfulfilled. Your neurochemical levels are returning to normal, and the high may be wearing off. I have found this to be especially prominent with Disney events; you’re already heightened by the perfect hyperreality of the Disney concept, and you may fall into what I refer to as “The Disney Effect”. (You get so engrossed and absorbed into the seemingly perfect atmosphere that anything that isn’t Disney is way below you. Returning to the real world is an epic letdown.)

You may be tempted to sign up for another race the minute you get finished with Princess weekend. If you feel like you want to, that’s great! (The post-race high does crazy things for some of us. I signed up for the Historic Half after PHM 2014 and that was three months away in May.) Just keep in mind that you want your body to heal properly, so don’t react on emotion and sign up for everything in sight. I’d focus on one that’s at minimum a month away; your body will still be retaining its muscle memory from this weekend, and you won’t lose any significant degree of fitness in the process.


We got you through the first week. What about the two or three weeks following?

-Your body is still repairing itself. Surprisingly. Even if you feel amazing and you want to have a hard workout, restrain yourself. After the WDW Marathon, it took about four days until my body felt fantastic. As much as I wanted to run again, I didn’t. I even asked Patrick, my fabulous running buddy who has run seven marathons, what the window of recovery would be for after a full. He mentioned around a month. I almost spit out my coffee. He talked about the internal changes your body goes through, and while you may feel loosey goosey and ready to run again, try not to. I resigned to the fact that I would be essentially resting a lot longer than I wanted to.

If you absoutely have to run or do any kind of workout because you’re going to go nuts, follow Patrick’s advice: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Listen to your body and don’t push yourself like you would during your peak week before tapering. Gradually ease yourself back into a routine.


We’ve covered what happens physically and mentally to you after a race. This can be applied to almost any endurance event that you complete.

Now, with regard to PHM weekend-specific post-race stuff, there are several points to be made. Many people often forget that these things exist!

Medal pictures in the parks. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. Bring your medals with you and head to the parks for photo ops! If you’re a legacy runner of any sorts, you may be carrying more than one medal. (I brought all six of mine last year to MK. I met new friends who were also GSC legacy runners; I shared my medals and they invited me to hang out with them. Meeting new friends is always a grand time!)

Disney Springs/Downtown Disney Post-Race Celebration! There is post-race party over in DS/DTD after the PHM. Many restaurants and stores will have discounts for those sporting their finisher medals. Check the event guide for the specifics on these discounts and places of interest.

MyDisneyMarathon.com: In the coming weeks, your results will be posted online, along with your finisher’s certificate! Print this out and hang it on your running wall. You’ve earned it!

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My very first race!

 

MarathonFoto: The photographers will be diligently uploading and tagging your photos in the days and weeks following the race. DON’T FREAK OUT IF YOU DON’T SEE YOUR PHOTOS RIGHT AWAY. There will be many hundreds of thousands of photos that will have to be combed through and uploaded. Adopt the pace of nature: be patient.nature-patience-quote


 

We now have reached the end of the Princess Half Survival Guide. I am so happy that you’ve come along for the ride and (maybe) learned a few things along the way! I’ve had a lot of fun writing, researching, and sharing my running/Princess experiences. I hope to meet some of you during Princess Half weekend! If you have any questions that I can answer between now and race time, let me know!

See you at the finish line!

*~*Christina*~*