2017 Princess Half Expo Reminders

It’s almost here!! Who’s excited?! 🎉🎉

One thing that every runDisney runner had to do is head to the expo. Not only will you pick up your bib, shirts, and other race day things, you’ll also get to browse around and check out the many vendors in the Josten’s Center and HP Fieldhouse. Below are the hours for the 2017 PHM Expo:

A couple of reminders from runDisneyBelle about runDisney expo-isms:

  1. If you are running the 5K on Friday, you must attend the expo on Thursday to pick up your stuff. If you’re running GSC, you must attend by Friday to get your stuff. If you’re running only PHM, come by Saturday to get your stuff.
  2. Make sure you have your race waiver signed (you can print this out at the expo), and your ID ready to hand in. Upon checking in with the volunteer at your bib station, you’ll will also sign a big book next to your bib number indicating you’ve picked up your bib.
  3. Glass Slipper runners will have their picture taken with their bib. This helps expedite the process of verifying challenge runners when it comes to receiving your third medal at the conclusion of the half.
  4. Enjoy the expo, walk around, see what there is to see. Don’t spend all day here, though. You don’t want to wear out your legs just walking around! For those that haven’t been here, there are stairs you’ll have to navigate, and it can be a bit of a distance from where you park to the entrance.
  5. Be patient if the line to actually get IN to the expo is long and winds its way around and around. There’s 25,000+ runners attending this weekend, so pack your patience and a well-charged phone.
  6. Make sure to get your picture with the race banners!


2015 GSC


There are also characters at the expo, too!


While the expo may be a lovely place to get lost in and look at all the shiny things, one concept does stand out over the rest…


It’s just stuff.

There is no sense getting violent and crazy over stuff.

Don’t ruin your racecation, or anyone else’s, by fighting over wine glasses and overpriced t-shirts.

I understand some of you are diehard collectors, but be mindful of where you are, the audience around you, and the purpose of this weekend: it is not to see who can sell a runDisney Dooney to the highest bidder on eBay. It is to promote friendship and magical memories through athletic activities and accomplishing your dreams through running and camaraderie. Remember…the internet is forever. Mind your manners.




See you real soon!!!



See You In Chicago! 

Woke up to some very happy news this morning: I’M RUNNING THE CHICAGO MARATHON!!!!


After being rejected by NYC, London, and Berlin, it’s nice to finally have some good luck coming my way with regard to race lotteries. The ChiMarathon will actually be my THIRD full for 2017, along with the Walt Disney World Marathon (January) and the RnR DC Marathon (March).

This is also a great way to begin my journey of becoming a World Marathon Major Six-Star Finisher!


Will I be seeing you next October?!



Everglades Half Marathon Recap

Run with the gators, they said.

It would be fun, they said.


And what fun we had!

Race morning started a little rocky: Chris and I got caught in traffic and ended up at the parking lot around 5:45am. The race started at 6:30am, and we still needed to be shuttled over. I was in a bit of a panic (I HATE being late to anything), but soon calmed down upon the sight of Team Shenanigans hanging out in the parking lot at Shark Valley Visitor’s Center.

And coffee. Life is always better with coffee.img_2506-1


We took a pre-race group shot and set out to the starting area, which was about half a mile away from the visitor’s center. Upon walking there, we discovered that the start was going to be delayed due to medics having not arrived.


So we waited. And waited. Took some pictures. Saw a gator. Watched the sun rise. Got squished together with other runners on the paved walking route that would serve as the race course. (It was like Cone Alley width-wise, to be honest. However, with the Vacation Races series, the cap for runners is less than 2,000 on most courses. With Everglades being an inaugural, the cap was at 1,000. It made it REALLY nice to maneuver during the race.)

Got to pace Chris for his first 13.1!

Finally, slightly after 7:00am, we started! Woohoo!

Vacation Races is walker-friendly, with an 18:00 mpm pace. We weren’t overly concerned about our time, and I just wanted to make sure Chris finished his first half marathon in one piece. Our team ran :30/:30 intervals the entire way, and just took in the scenery along this super duper flat course. One note about the course: there are no trees. No trees = no shade. After the morning clouds broke away, it got super sunny for a good stretch of the race, but the clouds eventually returned so it was nice balance.

Another great thing that Vacation Races does is that it ensures that the runners are well-taken care of on the course. For this race, there were six water/Gnarly stops, and each stop had Honey Stinger gels. I got to try a variety of flavors, and found that the Acai Pomegranate, Fruit Smoothie, and Mango Orange were very tasty. In the later miles, bananas and oranges were also offered.

Side note: Vacation Races are cup-free. Bring your own bottles or purchase a Hydrapouch (pictured upper right) prior to the race.

We took a pit stop at the Observation Tower for pictures just before mile seven.img_2457img_2458

I have to give the award for Best Water Stop ever to the team at Mile Seven. There was a gentleman using the water coolers as bongo drums and singing an improved tribal chant that revolved around the central theme of, “Welcome to Mile Seven!”


As we turned the corner and started the second half of the course, we all realized that our watches were giving different readings with mileage. Sure, we added a tenth of a mile due to the Observation Tower stop, but even then, everyone was reading something different. Chris and I learned post-race that the race staff had very specific places where they could put the mile markers (due to terrain and wildlife and whatnot), and many were not precisely accurate. Our total mileage for the race hovered around 14 miles when all was said and done.

You really cannot beat this scenery, and the open space to run!


We did see our fair share of gators! As a rule of thumb: respect them, and they will respect you. They don’t care about humans as much as the sunlight they’re absorbing through their scales. The gators we saw were snoozing along the race course. We also saw many birds, too. It’s awesome seeing nature up close!

Chris and I neared the end and we did an all-out sprint to the finish line, which was insanely fun as the announcers were cheering us on. He beat me by four footsteps. 😛

Finishing his first half marathon! I’m so proud!!

We finished around 3:36, which is totally fine for a race that we weren’t concerned about being speed demons at. We walked around and cheered the rest of our teammates at the finish line.


It was fantastic day for running, and I’m so happy to have finally run a race with my team! (I only became a member of Team Shenanigans in January, and I tried to keep up with them at the WDW Marathon, but couldn’t. Now that I’ve got more training under my belt, I can’t wait ‘til Goofy Challenge!)

Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

  1. If you’re looking to PR, this is the course to do it at. It’s SUPER flat and fast.
  2. If you like races in nature, this is a race to do…or any of the Vacation Races, for that matter. They are all within the National Park System, and are designed to be an outdoorsy adventure so you can #FindYourPark. There are also additional challenges you can undertake, such as Club challenges and a Trifecta challenge. These are designed so that you can get the best experience possible within the park and its surrounding areas. They are also great incentive to earn a discount for the following year’s race!
  3. Bring a hat and extra sunscreen. Like I mentioned before, there’s no shade along the course.
  4. If you’re a running newbie, you’ll like these races. There’s no pressure or intimidation from other runners for being too fast or slow. Just run at what you’re comfortable at and you’ll be fine!
  5. Watch where you stand. We often don’t think about what’s lurking along the sides of the road if we stop to tie a shoe or something. Chris and I ended up standing near a bunch of ants that we had to shoo away from our shoes.
  6. Running with teammates is the best! It makes the experience more memorable. Also, don’t be afraid to make friends on the course, human and animal alike.


Coming soon: Everglades Club Challenges and the Trifecta Challenge! Along with many more pictures from this racecation! 🙂


Hot Cider Hustle 10K Recap

Caramel apples. Hot apple cider. Who doesn’t like running for delicious treats?!

In my quest to get into faster-seeded corral for Glass Slipper Challenge weekend and to continue with my Goofy Challenge training, I signed up for this here Hot Cider Hustle 10K a few weeks ago in October. I mentally had a goal of going sub-1:00, or as close to it as possible without destroying my body, as the Everglades Half is my next big race in two weeks.

The night before the race I had a minor body-image freak out as I tried on several different versions of outfits. I felt like everything I was wearing was squishing me in places that weren’t supposed to be squished, and I felt disgusting. To top it off, I was starting my period. #FemaleRunnerproblems  -__________-

I finally settled on my donut Sparkle Skirt, running tights, lots of pink accessories!, Athleti-tec hoodie and VSX sports bra. The hoodie was thin enough so I could just wear that and the bra and be fine. I’m not an advocate of wearing the race clothing ON race day (especially finisher/”I did it!” shirts)…but at this point, I wanted to be comfortable and not die. (Spoiler alert: it was a perfect combination.)


My stomach was a wreck, as was my mental state. I was frustrated and upset, and the slow Metro on Saturday morning didn’t help, either. I did arrive with plenty of time to spare, which was great since it was at least a half-mile trek to the starting area. The weather was all blue skies and sunshine with a slight chill in the air.

The pre-race area was out in the middle of a huge parking lot adjacent to RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. I could clearly see that this race course was not going to be the most exciting: a loop-to-loop course, all in the parking lot area. Woot.

At least there were puppies near the gear check area, and all over the place 🙂 :

Around 8:50, we started lining up. This race is similar to the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, where it’s an honor system: faster runners are in the front and slower runners/walkers are near the back. I lined up somewheres in the middle (always a safe bet).


The gun fired at 9:00 and the race began. the weather was chilly but the sun began to peak and it warmed up a bit. I held a steady, even pace for the first little bit, relying on my Hamilton music to keep me in tempo. My first mile was 10:01 (which, I do believe, is the fastest mile I’ve ever had in a race. Woohoo!)


Up ahead of this was the loop into mile two, and straight into a ton of sunshine with no shade relief. This was a pain as I didn’t have sunglasses and wasn’t expecting to be blinded by the light, literally.

Another huge pain of this race? Runners randomly stopping to walk in the middle of the course without signaling. That’s a surefire way to get hurt, or to hurt someone else. I spent a lot of time dodging people in the first couple of miles and knew I was wasting energy by doing so.

Around mile 2-ish.
Here we go loop-de-loop.

This loop course was a first for me. By the above pictures, you can see it’s not the most fun course in the world. BUT…it was flat, with little to no elevation change. There was one water stop (slightly out of view on the above picture to the right), with Gatorade on the first lap and water on the second lap. I had to pee desperately on my second loop around, and saw three portapotties off in the distance around this area. SO grateful!


Speaking of second loops around, it got really quiet really fast. 1500 runners had signed up for the 5K, 700 for the 10K, and 300 for the 15K. My first 5K split hovered around 34:00 (which is a split PR for me!).  It was nice to take my time on the second loop, to slow down when needed, and to experiment with pacing. I had several Hamilton songs ready to go, such as “Washington on Your Side” and “The Election of 1800“…all Nightcore versions. (Nightcore music is sped up and sounds like chipmunks singing.) Running in tempo with these really set me up for an even pace. (For example, I found that in WOYS, which is 2:12, I could cover a quarter of a mile and not feel winded.)

Despite a boring course and fighting cramps and peeing, I still wound up with an official 1:16:58 PR,  which is a seven-minute improvement from February’s Enchanted 10K! Woohoo!

No medals for this race (boooo), but a brand new mug for my collection! (Yaaaay!)

I submitted the POT update for GSC weekend. Here’s to hoping for a higher-seeded corral!

This race was full of firsts for me, including this…

This caused so many headaches…

Since this course operated on a loop, the finisher’s chute offered instructions on how to navigate. If one was running the 5K, great! Go straight. Those on longer distances, step on the first timing mat for your split, and follow the cones on the left to get back on the course. For some reason,  many runners didn’t adhere to these instructions and found themselves either shortening their distances or lengthening them, intentionally or unintentionally. This caused such a snafu at the end, that the awards ceremony didn’t happen for those in the 10K and 15K distances. The results had to be tabulated by hand (since some 10K/15Kers would have had blazing fast splits), and other than the overall and 5K winners, awards weren’t handed out right then. I also didn’t get my results until later on in the evening when they were posted online (hence the one-second change between -my Garmin and the official time.)

If you’re going to run a looped course, know what distance you’re going to run and stick with it. It’ll cause a lot less stress with the timing and scoring department later on, and be honest if you want to go up or down with distances! It’s almost like banditing a race if you’re intentionally racing a shorter or longer distance than what you’re registered for.

Next up: Everglades Half Marathon racecation!

Run For the Badge 5K Recap

I’m branching away from my meticulously-detailed recaps to bring you a Reader’s Digest version of my most recent race, the Run for the Badge 5K. Held on the streets of Washington D.C. on Saturday, October 15th, this race benefitted the National Law Enforcement Memorial fund, and brought runners from 47 states and three countries together (along with many more through the virtual version).

Chris convinced me to sign up a couple of weeks before race day. It was very chilly, but a great day overall to break out the thin blue line gear.

(Picture one: Sparkle Skirt, Brooks MCM ’15 jacket. Picture 2: Sparkly Soul, and a bow that Chris’s mom made for me!)


(Chris and I. I love his shoelaces! Plus, his Garmin matches with the black and blue theme.)


T’was a chilly morning. Temps were in the low fifties. Perfect running weather.


(I joked that this was a .01 gratification run, since we had to go through the finish line to take the first turn onto the course.)

The gun fired at 9:00AM and we took off down the road and around the corner. The course was very flat, save for a hill at the beginning (and the same hill at the end when we looped around to the finish):

There were a couple of issues with the route, in which the runners would be dodging each other at intersections where the course looped out-and-back and runners would be running into each other as they rounded the corner to the next section. There was one water stop at the halfway mark, which is normal for a 5K.

Personally, I was running a great race at the beginning. Chris and I ran a steady pace and felt decent as we ran in the shadows on the buildings around us. Around halfway through the first mile, my good ‘ol friend Side Stitch came back in full force. My projected 9:00/mile went out the door as I clutched my obliques and slowed down. Chris was right there with me as I threw a partial hissy fit; I was overheating and felt ugly and out of shape. He boosted me up and continued to do so throughout the entire 3.1 miles. I also noticed that my heart rate was skyrocketing into the 190’s. Not necessarily a good thing. I took note of when my Garmin told me these warnings and slowed down accordingly.

I was really hell-bent on getting a sub-:30 5K, but as we ran down the final stretch (“No walking breaks!”-Chris) and around the corner, I realized that being able to finish strong regardless of how crappy I thought I was racing earlier was more important. img_1298

I stopped my Garmin, and realized I had PRed with a 35:50! That’s a seven-minute improvement from March, when I was running the RnR DC 5K on a damaged knee and finished in 42:07.

Finished almost in the top 100!


Chris educated me on the fact that the medal is roughly the same size as a law enforcement badge. Genius!


Post-race munches. Hell yeah, fruit snacks!

I can always count on Chris to keep pushing me to the next level. Our fraternity motto is “Strive For the Highest” and I’m constantly reminded how much I CAN do with a lot of faith and a little pixie dust. I’m so proud to call him my Big Brother and to have celebrated his birthday by running with him. 🙂


Brace Yourselves…Fall Race Season Is Coming.

It’s just about that time of year again: the air begins to cool (unless you’re up here in D.C. and you’re still sweltering in 90+ degree weather), kids are going back to school, the leaves begin to turn, and pumpkin spice begins to dominate the shelves.

Oh yes, one more thing…



I don’t know about you all, but the relentless sunshine and humidity has wreaked havoc on my initial training plans for this summer. Some days were definitely better than others, and I relished the cool, cloudy days. (I found myself ironically doing my longest mileage on the hottest days with the worst humidity. Ha.) Just like back-to-school season has a sense of newness with an aura of new beginnings and a clean slate, I consider September the start of the new racing season; this past weekend was the Disneyland Half/Dumbo Double Dare weekend, along with Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach. From there, a whole slew of races and their shiny bling will be dominating our social media feeds until probably…mid-April-ish, after the Boston and London Marathons?

I’m rather excited to get started on my journey. I feel more like a legitimate runner with the lineup of races that I have on the horizon. I also got a terrific steal on a Planet Fitness membership…$99 for an entire year! You seriously can’t beat that! 🙂

I kickstarted this upcoming lineup of races back in August with the virtual National Park Series 100th Birthday race/#NPS100VRC. Props to the Virtual Running Club for heading it up! There were three options and I chose to run the 5K. My time may seem super slow…but I did have a lot of speed bursts throughout my time on the treadmill, and that I really can run up to 8 mph.

I am very much looking forward to getting this 3D ranger hat medal!


My IRL running schedule will be the busiest it’s ever been. Here’s the current rundown for the next six months, with possible additions along the way:

September 18th: Navy/Air Force Half Marathon (#NAFHALF)


Running through the nation’s capital has always been a treat; there’s so many things to look at, you definitely won’t get bored on the course! I’ve been looking forward to the NAFHALF since I signed up for it way back when. The course map eerily reflects the Marine Corps Marathon route, so 95% of the terrain will be insanely familiar. I feel like this will give me a decent advantage. The projected weather, however, is calling for scattered storms and a high of 82 degrees. I really hope the heat and humidity hold off until after we’re done.

I’m still chasing my first sub-3:00 half marathon (current PR: 3:06:48 from PHM ’14), and am hoping to use this race as a POT update for Goofy Challenge weekend in January.

November 19th: Inaugural Everglades Half Marathon (#EvergladesHalf)


Chris and I have a goal to complete each of the Vacation Races, which take place at National Parks. There are currently nine, and we decided to get a jump start on completing our mission by signing up for the Everglades Half! This will be Chris’s first half marathon; I’ll be playing pacer while he plays tour guide. (He’s a Floridian with extensive knowledge of the flora, fauna, and all things National Parks related.)

January 7th and 8th: Goofy Challenge (WDW Half Marathon and WDW Marathon)


I told myself in the beginning of the year that I would be kicking my fitness up a notch, and what better way to do so than to train for one of the toughest runDisney challenges? For those that are unfamiliar with Goofy, it is 39.3 miles over two days. 2017 will be special, in which the half marathon will be the 20th anniversary edition (bring on the special bling!). I originally wanted to sign up for the half solely, but something inside of me said, “Go Goofy!” After having such a blast at the WDW Marathon this year, I decided to give it another go around. Plus, Chris and I will also be running the WDW Half together! (We’re going to focus on the half as a legitimate time race.)

A word to the wise: 39.3 miles is definitely not something to screw around with. I’ll be following Hal Higdon’s Dopey Challenge training plan, and it just so conveniently begins for me on September 12.  The first long run of that week is…a half marathon (aka NAFHALF)! How perfect!

February 22nd and 23rd: Glass Slipper Challenge (Enchanted 10K and Princess Half Marathon)

Fifth PHM, fourth GSC, and a potential Belle theme. As much as I wanted to say no to this challenge this year for a variety of reasons, the thought of being so close to legacy status excites me. The development of my PHM Survival Guide last year gave me a closer attachment to this race weekend as I connected with so many runners over the topics covered.  I definitely want to come back and have a better performance in 2017; major stomach issues kept me from achieving my A-goal PRs in 2016.

(And no, Chris is not running this one with me. Haha.)

March 11th: Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon

RnR D.C. was my first ever race in this series, and trust me, I fell in love with it. Not only was it my first 5K ever (and first time being a pacer!), but it was also my first race expo volunteer experience.  Rock ‘n’ Roll really knows how to put on a great performance. I truly look forward to completing more of their events and eventually going for Hall of Fame status, probably in 2018.

Speaking of pacing, this will be Chris’s first FULL marathon! It’ll be my job to make sure we don’t die on the course; the course cutoff is at 5 hours and 30 minutes, or a 12:35/mile. (Rather quick for an RnR marathon, but D.C. has strict road close/open times.) If all goes well, we will also be running the Marine Corps Marathon later in 2017.

The only race that I have a TBD on at the moment is the London Marathon. I put my name into the Goblet of Fire…errrr, the race lottery, way back in May. I’ll find out in October if I get to begin my World Marathon Majors journey!

By looking at this list, you may think that I’m way over my head. A 10K, four half marathons, and two (possibly three) fulls in six to seven months?

Like most runners, I’m crazy.

But you know what else? It’ll also make me accountable for my training and nutrition. If I am to come out on top and be successful, I have to be more diligent, dedicated, and disciplined. After all…



What is on tap for your fall/winter racing season? Any specific goals that you’re trying to achieve?  Will I be seeing you at any of these races?


See you at the finish line!


runDisney: The Beginning of Improvement?

Seems like it’s been a big week for runDisney!

First, the Castle to Chateau medals were revealed. So. Freakin’. Adorable! I adore the colors and the designs. (I’m a huge fan of the Remy medal!)

Yesterday, runDisney debuted new 5K medals. Many runners have complained about the lack of “medal-ness”, for lack of a better term, from previous races. (For those just jumping on the runDisney bandwagon, they were rubber medallions.) Material-wise, it’s an incredible upgrade. Design-wise, however, they’re a bit lackluster. I can hardly distinguish WHAT is happening on the medal because there is little to no color contrast. The lanyards look super sweet, though!

Also, runDisney is shifting towards digital event guides. I’m at a crossroads with this. While they’re doing their part for the whole “Going Green” movement, I personally like to have something in my hands to flip through and reference at a moment’s notice.

Now that it seems like runDisney is actually starting to listen to the complaints of the consumers and are slowly, yet surely, acting on them, I am curious to see what other changes are coming our way. Personally, I’m hoping for changes in the following areas:

  1. Quality vs. quantity with regard to runner perks.
  2. Race-day transportation fluidity for those on-site.
  3. Providing a map of character stops for those racing solely for pictures.
  4. Bringing back the oldie-but-goodie runDisney aspects, such as the night races and better perks for Wine and Dine after-party in EPCOT.


Any other thoughts from the peanut gallery on these recent changes?