2018 Enchanted 10K Recap

Saturday. 2 AM.

The mornings come early and miles even moreso. With the I-4 expansion project, the exit closest to where I’m at in Orlando is shut down at night. I had to leave earlier than expected to take a different route. No biggie, I still arrived obnoxiously early around 3:30 AM.

After many minutes of chilling, I headed into the runner’s village. I LOVE the fact that the 10K has such a smaller field than the half. I can move around and breathe and not feel trapped.

My team, Team Shenanigans, trickled in and we met up near the A-F bag check where another member, Kenny, was volunteering.

We also snagged a picture with the lovely balloon ladies!

My Sparkly Soul sister, Caroline, and I also met up for a pre-race picture!

We headed to the corrals and I was pretty excited line up with Corral C.

I was hanging out when a woman came running up to me. She recognized me from Instagram, and I the same. It was Dana (@ladysoup4)! It was amazing to finally meet in person!

*insert pre race stuff*

*fireworks*

With the mini waves, corrals were sent on a fairly regular basis. In no time, we were sent on our way.

I had an A goal of sub-1:00. My first mile was a 10:34. Steady. I was also running with music, which I hadn’t done in years. I mean, who could not run to The Greatest Showman?

Then I hit the hairpin turn by mile 1.5 and hit a wall of people.

I kept up the speedwalking and got a quick run break after mile 2. From 2-3, I had some open road where I’d run a distance, have a walk break, rinse and repeat.

Then those walk breaks became more frequent as the wall of runners got heavier heading into World Showcase.

Who can resist a runDisney World Showcase picture? Not I!

I slowed down and started to enjoy the scenery a little more. Country representatives were cheering and waving flags. The sun was slowly peaking. Torches were lit and the countries had that pink glow to them.

The Enchanted 10K soon became the Wildlife 10K when I descended the hill into Boardwalk. To my right, I saw a small pile of ducks that looked like they wanted to cross. I ran over clamoring, “Oh my goodness you’re so cuuuute!”, took a pic, and with the help of another runner, started ushering them across the roadway while calling out, “Ducky crossing!”

Now that my heart was full of fuzzies, I continued on.

Found some more Shenanigators!

And some funny signs:

The sun was about to rise as I entered Yacht Club, which, in my opinion, is the best part of the whole weekend.

Right ahead of me at Yacht Club, this beautiful Great Egret was chilling on the ropes. Perfect photo opportunity!

Best on-course picture I’ve ever taken. My slow pace was absolutely worth it for this postcard-worthy shot!

And then it flew away. Ha.

The rest of this section was picturesque as it has been the last four times I’ve run it.

Reentering back to World Showcase, I had to use the loo for the first time all race. There was an area by the Port of Entry so I ducked in.

Men’s room, of course 😛 When there’s no one in there, you take advantage of that!

EPCOT in all its beauty:

My time ended up being a 1:35:04. WAY off from my time goal, but with the scenery and pictures I got, it was worth it.

AND HOW ABOUT THIS MEDAL?!

Fifth Enchanted 10K complete, and, of course, I brought my other babies with me for a Perfect picture!

One down, one to go. Next up: 2018 Princess Half Marathon!

It’s the Autumnal Equinox!

Happy First Day of Fall! For me, this is my favorite time of year: cooling temperatures, hot beverages, foliage peeping, the smell of apple cider, Halloween…the list goes on. This will be my first fall not in an area up north. I am quite happy to be in Florida, but I really wish I had a vacation house in New England. I would retreat until the first snowfall and then come right back.

So in the spirit of the season, here are some of my favorite pictures that I have taken:


The locations of these pictures range from New England to Washington D.C., with the majority at Edinboro University, my alma mater. 
I know they’re pretty, but please do not use without my permission, and always give credit if you do. Each one has a unique story and technique that cannot be replicated through the eyes of another.

Cherry Blossom Season

After a cold spell here in DC last week, it was speculated that the treasured cherry blossoms that surround the Tidal Basin and other areas would not bloom. While some blossoms didn’t reach the poofy white stage and died off as a brown color, many did pull through! Woohoo!

The weather on Saturday was perfect for bloom watching. I am usually anti-DC on the weekends because it’s way too crowded, but I made an exception to walk about and take some pictures. Enjoy!





Here’s to hoping they stay relatively intact for the Cherry Blossom 10M next Sunday! 🌸🌸

More Than a Runner

There has been a disturbance in the running Force lately.

No, I’m pretty sure we’ve all taken our PRPs when needed.

I’m referring to the social media world, and people knocking other runners down for talking about anything else that doesn’t involve running. Especially with the way 2017 has begun…

To those naysayers…is it really a sin to talk about our personal lives outside of our online brand? Are we not allowed to have opinions about world events or debate philosophy or have academic discussion about *insert non-running topic here*?

 

Please. We’re all human. Have a seat.

 

 

I often post about running, talk about running, think about running. The majority of the online running community that I interact with on a daily basis also has running as a major descriptor of themselves. At first glance, the outsider may immediately stereotype any person with ‘run’ or ‘runner’ in their social media handle as a clean-eating, 7:00-minute per mile BQ athlete with a closet full of color coordinated outfits and an alarm clock chiming at 4am for their early morning run. But once you peel back the layers, one will discover that we runners are far more diverse than what is revealed online.

I am more than a runner. Here are some fun facts you might not know about me:


 

1. I am a musician.

 

 

My first love in life was music, although my parents would disagree with this. (I would run out of a room screaming and crying if people sang Happy Birthday. Worst song ever.) I joined the chorus and picked up the saxophone in the fifth grade (back in 1997, mind you). I literally became Lisa Simpson, gaining proficiency to join the band within just a few months, and proceeded to earn spots in county/district/regional bands in high school, lead alto in jazz band, first chair in summer music camps and concert band, marched alto and bari saxes in marching band, fell in love with conducting as assistant drum major for two seasons, conducted my 100-piece high school choir during my final concert in high school, and auditioned to several universities for their music programs in hopes of becoming a music educator.

 

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Oh, and I sang a few anthems, too…all 178 of them 🙂

While my academic path detoured away from music education in both undergrad and grad schools (different post unto itself), I never stopped the pursuit of learning and performing music. I picked up percussion and joined the drumline. I taught front ensemble at a local high school for their competition marching band. I played in the pit for several high school musicals on sax and percussion. I assisted a fellow director with his marching band for a season. I went to graduate school (originally) for my M.Ed and delved into vocal and timpani performance. I chartered a chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. I became the national anthem vocalist for our athletic department and held the role for five years, right up until my graduation in 2015.

 

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PA Intercollegiate Band 2009 (my senior year!)

 

I’m a music nerd. Plain and simple.


 

2. I am a weather weenie/science nerd.

 

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Edinboro, PA, September 2014. One of my most prized photos ever!

 

I used to play scientist when I was little: I would take all my books outside and set up a makeshift “laboratory” using lawn chairs as I stared at the night sky. I fell in love with astronomy and space science after watching The Magic School Bus Gets Lost In Space episode in the fourth grade. My dad and I did (and still do) watch the GFS models on noaa.gov to track incoming storms, then stand outside and watch them go through. Trust me, if math wasn’t such a bitch, I would have gone to Penn State for meteorology. I did end up with a minor in Earth Science in my undergrad, after briefly switching my major over to Geology. I took a Meteorology course and fell in love, and subsequently enrolled in the program. I am an advocate for the sciences, a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory show, and am always down for a natural history museum. (Not surprising, Night at the Museum is one of my favorite movies!)


 

3. I am an Army brat

I was born in Ft. Bragg, NC. My mom and dad met while serving in the Army. I have lived across the United States and even in Hawaii where my little brother was born! Personally, I think due to this early travel, my sense of adventure and wanderlust are extremely high; I am always down for a road trip or for daydreaming about faraway lands. Most of my family was/is in the military in some way, shape or form. The discipline that ensued yielded to success during band camp or drama rehearsal or anything that requires even the tiniest amount of discipline and focus. I am often asked if I had ever served, due to the way I carry myself, but I just smile and give my story.


 

4. I am a nature junkie.

 

 

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In conjunction with #3, I grew up camping outdoors every summer. Not this glamping shit that you might see online, but legit tent camping with sleeping bags and bugs and swimming in lakes and fishing and campfires. It’s the good life, it really is…and all of this was before technology and cell phones. As I got older and more into meteorology and photography, I started storm chasing and capturing lightning pictures, along with other fun things: clouds, trees, leaves, bugs, landscapes, water…anything that tells a story and shows the beauty of the Earth. I also tented an entire summer up in the middle of the middle of the woods in Maine near the Canadian border a couple years ago. Trust me, some mountain air and a peaceful environment really does the soul good.

 

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I can see Canada from this hill.

 

 

Being in the presence of nature is a powerful feeling. It forces you to really stop and be one with your surroundings. In that one silent, surreal moment, your perception on who you are in conjunction with the bigger picture of nature is altered, and forces you to think about life just a little bit more.

 


 

Now I ask you…

How are you #MoreThanARunner?

 

Everglades Half: Trifecta and Club Challenges

“Everglades terrain can be summed up like so: sawgrass, sawgrass, sawgrass, water, water, water, BERRY PLANT!, sawgrass, sawgrass, sawgrass, BIRDS!, sawgrass, sawgrass, sawgrass…

If that doesn’t make it on your blog, there’s something wrong with you. :P” -Chris

After the Everglades Half, Chris and I traversed around the surrounding areas and explored all what the Everglades had to offer. Vacation Races does a great job in providing extra incentive to those who go above and beyond just running the races; there are a variety of clubs and challenges that, when completed, can offer a great reward in the name of race discounts!

For this race weekend, there was a Trifecta Challenge that consisted of…

  1. Picture with a gator
  2. Walking the Anhinga Boardwalk Trail
  3. Swimming in Biscayne Bay

With medals and bibs visible as proof that you accomplished the challenge and had run the race, a 20% discount for next year’s race entry!

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Gator picture! (as per my last post)
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Anhinga Boardwalk! photo cred: Chris
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Biscayne Bay! photo cred: Chris

For the even more adventurous, there are Club Hikes that one could participate in, as well. Completion of these hikes results in a 50% off discount for the following year’s race!

Chris and I signed up for the Slough Slug Club (which is a guided hike through–legitimately through–the Everglades with an NPS ranger), which turned out to be a ton of fun! Our tour through the River of Grass (and mud and algae and all kinds of stuff…yay nature!) resulted in no shoes being lost, me taking a swim trying to get OUT of the ‘glades, and lots of laughs:

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We also had the privilege of going on an airboat ride (to join the Airboat Club) that was guided by a member of the Miccosukee Indian Village. Now THIS was a blast! We got up close and personal with a lot of gators, birds, and even visited a hidden village tucked away in the depths of the ‘glades…

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More pictures coming soon!

 

Everglades Half Marathon Recap

Run with the gators, they said.

It would be fun, they said.

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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.)

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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!”

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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!

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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. 😛

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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! 🙂

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