Perfect Challenger Status Earned!

Five years. Ten races. Fifteen medals.

What. A. Journey. 🖤❤️

Race recaps coming shortly! Congrats to everyone who participated in the 2018 Princess Half Marathon weekend!!

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Hello January

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Happy 2018, everyone! May your year be plentiful with memories and happiness, and slay all of your goals. Be smart and educate yourself on everything you can get your hands on. Travel somewhere new. Hold your loved ones close and let your friends know you’re thinking of them often.

I look forward to taking you all along for my adventures this year. Let’s get started!

🎉✨🥂🍾

What If?

What if?

What if I can land that dream job and salary?

What if I meet that perfect guy and find my happily ever after?

What if I get that one chance to prove everyone wrong?

What if I achieve those huge goals?

What if I make the seemingly unattainable…attainable?

We’re all plagued with, “What if?” scenarios raging through our daydreams and thoughts. Repulsed by reality, we retreat to these pleasant moments that our subconscious conjures up, ones where everything goes right… The perfect day is had. The victory is won. The meeting gets cancelled. Everyone gets to have class outside. Work is cut short so everyone can play with a pile of corgis.

With the sigh of disappointment, we come off our clouds and back into reality, where life is grounded, familiar, real, stale. A snoozefest. Corgi-less.

But sometimes, you latch onto that one hypothetical memory, the one that keeps playing on repeat. It comes alive any time you are in a familiar room, a favorite song is playing…then you start to time travel…and your imagination soars to the future. Every move that is occurring in the hypothetical becomes more vivid, more vibrant; you can feel, taste, hear exactly what is going on as if it is happening right then.

You can’t escape it. It becomes consuming. You can’t imagine yourself NOT doing what your subconscious is hinting at you to do…


I told myself after the Marine Corps Marathon that I was done with marathons. Done. Donezo. Finir. End game. I did four marathons. Four is an okay number; it’s more than one. I was happier with shorter distances. I was starting to fall in love with 10Ks, possibly moreso than half marathons. I wasn’t stuck on some course trapped in my feelings of grumpy misery hoping that the finish line would come at mile two of 26.2.

Settling on my 99% done with marathons mindset, I ran through my runner thoughts: Giving up now means not reaching Six Star Status with the World Marathon Majors. Means no Edinburgh Marathon in Scotland (but there is a half!). Also means not claiming my deferral for Chicago 2018, which I purposely deferred because of life (like so many of us have had to do in the past).

(…frankly, I was repulsed by reclaiming my Chicago entry because it meant repaying $195…)

That’s a fifth of my rent! And I’m not making $14/hr on 42 hours a week like I was in D.C.

But that “what if” was nagging at me.

What if you put your name in for one last lottery, just for shits and giggles? If you don’t get picked, then you can retire from marathons!

Then the logical side of my brain jumped in with:

Buuuuuut if you get picked….ya gotta run it and eat your words after telling everyone you were done with them!

So this battle went back and forth for awhile. I was eyeing the Berlin Marathon, which I had been denied for previously. Its lottery window was still open, and its price manageable.

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Ah, what the hell. I’ll give them my info.

And so I did.


Time passed and the lottery closed. I went back to my normal routine. Pushed it out of my head.

In that time, I had found a song that I couldn’t stop listening to. I had set it as my alarm on work days. Something I could listen to on repeat and not get bored, a theme song of sorts. I discovered “Back 2 U” by Steve Aoki & Boehm ft. Walk the Moon on YouTube when watching various sorority bid day videos. There’s a lot of references to running in the lyrics…and it made me start daydreaming about my races and running in general…

So now I’m running like you set me free out in the wild
I know you want me to come home, but it might take awhile
I’ve got my heart in my hands while my head’s up in the clouds
And only heaven knows if I will make it back to you

So I, I just keep running…

Pairing this song to my recent submission to Berlin, I started dreaming…

About making my way to the airport, passport in hand.

Staring out the window as we fly over the ocean, clouds passing by.

Various Germanic scenes of villages, monuments, landmarks.

Starting that marathon at the pop of the gun with 44,000 other runners.

Racing 26.2 miles to the crowds of over a million, to the wall of cheers slamming into me each step of the way, the ensuing adrenaline propelling me to push myself more than I ever had.

Turning the final corner and racing that straightaway through the Brandenberg Gate to the finish line.

It was like one of those freakin’ montages that you see of an elite just before the beginning of a Marathon Major on TV.

Vivid. Vibrant. Real.

And I would tear up every time that I thought about it. For days. Because, “What if? Like, holy shit, what if this actually happens? It’s like I’m clairvoyant. I’m seeing all of this unfold in front of me. I’m getting goosebumps.”


I had a trip to Washington, D.C. planned at the end of November for the Cherry Blossom Kickoff Party. It was two days full of fun and friends while exploring around the city, like I always did when I lived up there.

During all of this, I was refreshing my email. Results would begin the 30th and would take several days to finish…but would they start midnight Germany time, or when their offices opened up the in morning at 9AM Germany time? Honestly, they never gave us direction on the timing. Just the date.

So I waited. And waited. Refreshed my email a million times. Checked my credit card statement (and got fooled into thinking it was the amount taken out. Nope. Just a payment I had made that was so close to the actual amount. Damn.) I tried to stay distracted by not constantly refreshing every five minutes. So I did some laundry, some cleaning, took my cousin’s dog out for a walk, watched some TV…

I was texting Chris when I popped over to my mailbox again for the 593rd time.

There was something new. I looked.

Congratulations!

My eyes went wide. Oh, my, goodness. I clicked open the email and read it. And I started crying.

I. Was. In.

I’m not sure if it was good vibes and good thoughts, or the runner gods wanted me to do this one last marathon, or what was going on, but holy shit. I couldn’t believe it.

My, “The Simpsons are going to Germany!” moment had arrived.

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Now, typically when I apply for lotteries, I blast it all over my social media. However, after proclaiming that I was done with marathons, I didn’t want the word to get out that I had entered yet another marathon lottery. I told just a couple of confidants through twitter DM, but I knew would have to be sneaky about it. At least for a little while.

Chris was ecstatic, as were Adriane and Robert (cousin/cousin-in-law), and my confidants. Social media was erupting, but I resisted jumping in on the party. Instead, I walked down the road and attended the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Kickoff Party, which was the reason I had flown up to D.C. in the first place. Not only did I partake in meeting up with my friend, Heather, and meeting her husband, Roswell, but I got a T-shirt preview, lots of delicious garlic knots and salad, met other runners (including the race director for Marine Corps Marathon, Rick Nealis), and landed a guaranteed entry for CUCB 2018. So see ya in April, D.C.!

As I posted the news on socials and got on the plane the next day to return to Orlando, the fantasy montage that I kept myself entertained with for the days and weeks leading up kept rolling through my mind. Only this time, it felt concrete. Secure. My subconscious fantasy daydream stuff had been right. I’m not sure what good vibes the universe was giving me, but I wasn’t going to complain.

I got in.

I am going to Berlin, Germany.

My marathon journey is not yet over.

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Berlin-Ville

I was a child walking with giants a hundred feet tall
Out in the wild, you wouldn’t believe all the things that I saw
I took a high road out in the open under those stars
And all the while, I just got closer to going too far…

So now I’m running like you set me free out in the wild
I know you want me to come home, but it might take awhile
I’ve got my heart in my hands while my head’s up in the clouds
And only heaven knows if I will make it back to you

So I, I just keep running…


Now, fast forward to the present day. There’s one teeny little detail that I have left out of this entire monologue. Until now.

Whilst on the plane heading to D.C. the day before lottery results began, I pulled out my travel journal. I often write when I fly, as it calms my nerves and gives me a fantastic distraction.

I got my song going, cracked open my pen, and started writing….

Berlin results will be announced shortly, starting tomorrow. I’m tellin’ you…being selected will change so much. Having #BQinBerlin on my mind and striving to achieve something that perceived to be unattainable by so many will shatter that misconception. I want to make the seemingly unattainable attainable. Part of me wants to be that role model for others, to show that determination, discipline, and dedication are all required—not optional—to achieve the biggest dreams and goals.

That third line. The little tidbit that I have held from the internet:

#BQinBerlin

You read that right.

I went into this process with a mindset: if selected, I would be going out with a bang. I would be attempting to BQ. To train for, and to qualify for, the Boston. Freakin’. Marathon.

If Berlin truly is destined to be my last marathon, I am going to go out having put my best foot forward. If I qualify, then I’ll pull a Shalane and scream, “Fuck yeah!” I’d wrap up my marathon career on the biggest stage in the running world at Boston. If I fall short, then I know I had the best race of my life and I can retire happily having completed at least one World Marathon Major, and an international marathon.

No matter the results, there will be plenty of beer and bratwurst consumed post-race. And maybe some cake.


Welcome to my 2018 goal. There are many miles yet to be traversed, and it’s not going to be easy. Grab your running shoes and passports. The world is waiting.

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Welcome to #BQinBerlin.

It Is Done. Life is Good.

Yesterday was The Day.

I clocked in, did my job, and clocked out.

The day went by fast. Every time I turned around, another hour had passed.

I gave a lot of hugs. Oh, so many hugs. And a few high fives.

I spent some quality time with my fellow hosts, the bartenders, the front waiters, the managers. Gave them my thanks and wished them the best.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t change my mind. I walked out the door with my dignity intact and a new vision.


I woke up this morning. The sun rose, the birds sang, the rain sprinkled the leaves.

No feelings of dread, no feelings of regret, no negativity.

Just peace. Acceptance. Gratefulness. Things I haven’t felt in forever.

I made my coffee and took a shower. Opened my computer and started writing. Started dreaming. Mentally making lists of what I want to do and where I want to go.

One variable across all those thoughts remains constant:

Half Full Everyday:

Keeping that mug half full at all times. Or completely full.

Just not overflowing. Spilled coffee does no favors for anyone. 😉

Good vibes bring great things.

Here’s to you, and here is to the future.

 

 

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…

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IT’S TIME FOR RACING SEASON!!!

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)

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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)

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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)

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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…

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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!

*~*Christina*~*

Pre-Race Thoughts: Time Goals For 2016 GSC

My stomach’s been in knots all day long.

Sure, I’m leaving for my signature race weekend tomorrow. I should be excited and bouncing off the walls. After all, I’m leaving the land of snow and ice and epic grossness that is Pennsylvania in favor of the sunshine and palm trees of Florida. I’m racing my race for the fourth time. I’m maintaining my legacy status with a third challenge run. I’ll be in a familiar environment with fellow princesses with tutus and glitter all over the place. What’s not to be excited about?

There’s something weird about my mindset this time around.

I don’t often get pre-race anxiety. But as of late, it’s been running rampant. Couple that with severe atelophobia (look it up), and I’m setting myself up to potentially hit my wall long before I get to race morning.

But why, Christina? You’ve run this race a billion times before. You’re like an expert when it comes to Princess Half-isms! Hell, you just wrote a whole survival series about it. You’re a pro! Stop worrying!

Yeah. That’s cute. However, it’s not that easy…


 

In years’ past, I would always come in to race weekend with the goal of taking pictures, finishing, and having fun. I’ve done that with all three PHM weekends thus far. I’ve taken the pictures, I’ve run the courses, I’ve done the things.

I told myself back in January that I was taking my running up a notch this year.

It’s about to take off this weekend.

For the first time ever, I have set legitimate time goals for myself. I sat down after the WDW Marathon and analyzed every single race I’ve ever run in the last three years and all of the splits associated with them. From this spreadsheet, I created plausible A, B, and C goals for both the Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half. Just by looking at them, they’re not outrageously difficult to accomplish (they’re still conservative times for some), but the challenge will be to do it on a runDisney course starting from a middle corral. Each time I have set will result in a shiny new PR that I will seriously scream and cry over (with much happiness) if achieved. And maybe do a happy dance, too.

My goals are as follows:

Enchanted 10K (Current 10K PR: 1:25:33):

A: <1:05:00 (10:28 mpm)

B: <1:15:00 (12:04 mpm)

C: <1:25:00 (13:40 mpm)

Princess Half Marathon (Current Half Marathon PR: 3:06:48):

A: <2:30:00 (11:26 mpm)

B: <2:45:00 (12:35 mpm)

C: <3:00:00 (13:43 mpm)

These goals aren’t horribly unreasonable. It’s not like I’m telling myself to maintain a 7:00 mpm pace (which I can’t do right now unless chased by bees or something). Based on the runs I’ve done during this month between races, I’ve been picking up the speed and averaging around 11-something a mile, and feeling really good afterwards!

The only exception I’m making to all of this is based on the weather. If it’s going to be humid and hot, then I will not overexert myself just to PR. I will try my hardest to do so, but my health comes first, especially with a multi-day run. Passing out for a PR isn’t worth it to me.

I’ve had my fun in the past with taking pictures and seeing all the things. It’s time to put the phone away and race for real. I’m still debating bringing the phone with me as a precaution in case something does happen. I’m changing it up this time and not bringing extraneous stuff on the course, including my music (I tend to lose more time fighting headphone cords and keeping everything in my Armpocket organized). The fewer distractions, the better. My times will still be posted to Twitter and you can find me on the runner tracking program if you wish to follow my times.

The excitement starts tomorrow. Follow my Twitter @runDisneyBelle for updates!

 

*~*Christina*~*

I’m a Marathoner! YAAAAAY!

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It’s official: yesterday I finished the Marine Corps Marathon and can officially call myself a marathoner! Woohoo!

*happy dance under a shower of confetti and champagne*

I shall have a recap up this week with more pictures. For now, I have to travel back to PA. Congrats to everyone that participated! And a special thanks to everyone who has followed me this weekend on this blog and Twitter and Instagram and all the other social media sites I have going on. It means the world to have so much support!