2018 Princess Half Recap

Sunday. 2 AM.

Happy five-year runnerversary to me! Happy tenth half marathon! Happy I’m Getting My Perfect Challenger Status Today Day!

No matter what my finish time was going to be, I knew the day was going to be celebrated. I packed up all my Princess medals the night before, knowing that I would add three more to the collection for a grand total of fifteen.

I woke up with my strategy of sticking with the 60/30 pace group in Corral E and aiming for a 2:30. I arrived at EPCOT in plenty of time, like always, to hang around and slowly warm up. While en route to the security checkpoints, I ran into Ashley, who is one of the best wheelchair athletes runDisney has! We had been social media friends for quite awhile and it was awesome to finally meet in person!

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I checked in and meandered around. Not too long later, I met up with Christine, who I met during Marine Corps Marathon weekend!

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We journeyed over to the corrals way earlier than usual and we were there around 5. I found my way to Corral E (highest corral ever, yay!), and stretched out, talked to some people, listened to the pre race stuff. You know, the usual. The same scenario on repeat from the last five years…

At some point I stood there, absorbing my surroundings. The cheers, the crack of the fireworks, the buzz of nerves and excitement…and I felt utterly surreal.

If this was my last Princess Half, I would be completely okay with it. I know I had been talking about it on the downlow, but honestly….I’m so over this.

We inched closer to the starting line, and I took a look around to figure out where the pacing group was. Oh, they’re behind me. I’ll get started and drift back towards the once we get going.

Three…two…one…GOOOOO!

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The journey of 13.1+ Princess miles began once again.

Pairing up with that pace group for the first two miles felt great. My times were steady, around 12:30 and 11:30 respectively.

Then it all fell to shit. I lost my group.

Too narrow of a course coupled with WAY too many people running, walking, and intervalling became an absolute nightmare.

On the bright side, I was on par for incredible sunrise pictures, and talking with other runners! Around Mile 4 in the TTC parking lot, I started taking in my surroundings and enjoying the scenery. I could still hear the fireworks being launched around 6:30am from all the way over there. The weather was calling to be extremely hot later on and I felt quite grateful for my 5:50-ish start time.

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The Princess Half course itself has remained unchanged for the last nine years (as far as I know). However, this year featured a small yet unique difference: instead of making Mile 5 right by the down and back by Space Mountain after the Contemporary Cone Alley, it curved to the left just prior to that, and took us right in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance!

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Now THIS was a special treat. The Main Street citizens were up on top cheering down at us, and being able to enter from the very front of Main Street U.S.A felt SO magical.

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And this sunrise…. I could NOT get enough! You could tell by looking at my splits where I stepped aside for optimal photo ops!

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Now the second half of the race…

*brain goes dead*

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Once you hit the curve after Mile 6.8, and you’re not in the front corrals with open road, everything just falls apart. It’s hot. You hit Cone Alley after Cone Alley. So many cones.

And so many people.

I try my best to stay to the farthest left that I can in this area. There’s no point in running, because you just can’t.

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I started cramping up around Mile 8. I knew had a ton of time on the sweepers (over 45 minutes), and I decided just to walk the rest of the race from this point. My pace fell into the 16-17 minute range…but that’s so typical of a runDisney event, especially given the logistics and conditions of the course.

The rest of the race had me mentally counting down the miles. The EPCOT geosphere kept getting closer and closer, and I felt relieved and content about the thoughts going through my head…

-I want my runDisney career to be over.
-I want to be off this course with all these people.
-I want to be in my bed after taking a shower.
-I am so tired of this repetition, year after year.
-Couple more miles? Sure, I can do that. Get me out of this sun.
-All this money in registration fees and all we challengers get is a bib designation and a lanyard? Not cool, runDisney. Y’all can do better…

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Descending into EPCOT, the crowds grew and their cheering moreso. I hustled my butt over and around to the final down and back loop and straight on towards the finish line.

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My time? Ha. 3:35. Two minutes faster than my all time slowest half and definitely my slowest Princess Half. But I didn’t really care. I finished. I was a 5-year Challenge legacy runner. I had completed my sixth Princess Half, and tenth half marathon. All reasons to celebrate.

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I collected my medals and legacy lanyard and made a beeline for some shade. After downing some electrolytes and water and that super tasty banana, I layered up for my legacy shot (and found Ian in the process!).

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I also ran into the Princess Men, whom I had met at the Enchanted 10K the previous year! Props to them for running in those costumes in the heat!

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Five years. Ten Races. Fifteen Medals. What. A. Journey.

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Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

At the time of this writing, it’s been almost two months since this race day. Yes, I’m happy to have celebrated all of the personal milestones that came with the weekend. I’m excited for those that completed their first races or earned PRs on this course. All finish lines should and will be celebrated.

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However, after much contemplation, I have reached an impass with runDisney. No longer has the registration fees yielded the results that I wish to receive from a race company. I have calculated paying over $1700 in the last five years just for registration fees for the Glass Slipper/Fairy Tale Challenge. I understand permit fees and other administration/logistical things on their end obviously cost money….but what we get in return in terms of a race experience isn’t worth it.

I’ve received questions and inquiries from other runners on my socials about what all the perfect Challengers received, like sashes or different medals or whatnot. Unfortunately, what I mentioned earlier about the bib designation and lanyard is 100% accurate. I’m super proud of the Perfect Princesses getting their sashes….but c’mon runDisney…couldn’t you have splurged on something cool for us?

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I also have running goals that simply cannot be met on a runDisney course. As someone that is striving to run faster, trying to dodge 25,000 other people on a tight course where many do not adhere to the runner’s etiquette of going two-wide or less when walking is just a buzzkill that I wish to not battle with anymore. Until the day comes where I can earn an A corral status, my time with runDisney career is on a permanent hiatus.

While I won’t run the races, I will be here to support all of you who do! I’m here for all of your questions and 100% honestly blunt answers about Marathon and Princess weekends. Who knows, you may spot me at an expo or I may be on course acting as a cheerleader!

See ya at the finish line!

Fairy Tale Challenge

Next up: Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

2017 Year in Review — Running

This year was…quite something. I think out of this year, more than any other, each race has its own specific story to tell. These range from the dramatically emotional (RnR DC) to elation (Clyde’s 10K), from observing the goodness of the running community (WDW Half) and sheer perseverance (MCM). Let’s dive into the review…


January: Goofy Challenge

WDW Half
Nothing like starting out the racing year with a cancelled race! Due to storms, the WDW Half was cancelled and we were issued refunds in a variety of forms for our registration. (Anyone else still using their gift cards?! I am!) However, it didn’t stop many of us from trekking around the hotels and parks to get that mileage in! Cast Members and other runners set up makeshift water and candy stops along loops where runners were getting their laps in. Cheers from guests and runners alike pierced the air through the parts as we donned our bright yellow race shirts and ran circles around World Showcase. Social media support was intense, and we couldn’t stop clamoring over how one event brought out the best in the running community, and how we were all a part of this history.

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-So Mr. Cold Front came through, and I was fortunate to have brought cold weather clothes to Florida. It was 35 degrees with 15 mph winds. Official Florida winter. Never had I felt this cold during a race. Even with the sun, I was still freezing.

My race was awesome, though…for the first five miles. I was pacing to hit a 5:24 marathon (which would have been a 1.5 hour PR). But once I hit that stupid Cone Alley at Mile 6.8, that went out the window. I turned it into a fun run, rode on Everest, and grabbed a margarita to finish my third marathon in 7:30.

Then I went back to my hotel, wrapped myself in my space blanket, and thawed out.

February:Glass Slipper Challenge

Enchanted 10K
-The entire weekend I was plagued with side stitches. I could barely run any of the 19.3 miles for these two races. But I did PR in photography, running into social media friends, and watching a kick ass sunrise over Yacht Club and Boardwalk.

Highlight of the race: I MET MY RUNNING TWIN, LINDSAY!!!!

However, if you looked around, you could tell that runDisney was pulling back on a lot of our favorite things. For one, the Fairy Godmother didn’t wave us away, nor were there characters at the beginning. That’s been a pre-launch tradition for as long as I can remember.

My fastest mile of the weekend was Mile 1 with a 10:47. Fabulous.

The 10K medal is definitely my favorite of the four 10Ks I’ve run thus far.

Princess Half Marathon

-This was my fifth Princess Half, so I knew exactly what to expect course-wise. The course map has remained unchanged from when I ran my first in 2013. Due to traffic, the race was actually delayed by a couple of minutes as they waited for all of the elites to arrive. Once we started moving, I made the decision to not chase a sub-3 PR, and just to focus on photography, just like the previous day. I finished in 3:34, definitely not my best performance. But I did get my GSC legacy shot (which prompted a lot of, “Shut the front door!” from those watching me layer on 12 medals), and met social media buddies Ian and Keith!

March

Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon That Wasn’t

-Easily the most frustrating race I have ever taken part in. So frustrating that I have declared a boycott of all RnR DC races and RnR marathons. Lack of course split signage and course officials directing runners to said split caused Chris and I to finish just the half, not the marathon which we paid for. Having NO idea what was going on, I cried just before the finish line, looking around like a lost puppy dog. I blew a sub-3 chance with my little tantrum, but I couldn’t help it. Any race that goes against what is written in the race instructions online gets no respect from me. I have now coined the term logistical ignorance to describe the experience.

It was also the coldest! I thought WDW was bad. That didn’t hold a candle to DC.

Some good stuff happened though: I met Meb, and Chris and I got new half marathon Prs with 3:02 on a very hilly course (and I got to ring my first PR bell!). Also, there could always be Hamilton tickets at the finish…you have to cross the line to check!

April

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

This race definitely falls under the Prettiest Race of 2017 for me. DC got nailed with a cold snap that killed off a lot of the cherry blossoms in March, and the little guys were struggling to bloom as the Cherry Blossom Festival was getting underway. Somehow, a warm front came through, and we had blossoms for race day!

This was my first 10 Miler, acquired through the lottery, so it was an automatic PR. While this international field is intense (anything run in the DMV will have an intense field, because competition), there is still plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Trending with WDW and RnR, this race was also cold as hell. It’s just been the year of cold! I swapped out my original outfit for thermal tights and sleeves.

This was also the first race where I wasn’t hell bent on taking pictures. Starting in the last corral, I had roughly an eight minute buffer between the pace vehicle and myself, so I was more focused on keeping that barrier. (CUCB requires proof of time upon lottery entry for corral seeding purposes just like runDisney.) It took me five miles to finally pull my phone out and snap a course picture. The course reflected all of my other DC races, so I knew what was along the route. CUCB does have a time limit of 2:20:00, Finish past this and you will not be listed as an official finisher. I finished in 2:10, just barely making it!

Clyde’s 10K

And another PR! Getting closer to that sub hour 10K!

Having worked for the Clyde’s Restaurant Group at the time of racing, I was granted a comp entry for the company 10K. Taking place in scenic Columbia, MD, it was a 10K of extremely hilly proportions (and the crazy Route 108). Afterwards, a delicious brunch catered by Clyde’s of Columbia was consumed. I was disappointed that there was no medal for this race (making it three 10Ks so far that remain medal-less), but I am very happy with my 4 ½ minute improvement from the Hot Cider Hustle 10K from the previous year.

And then we go into hiatus…until…

October

Marine Corps Marathon

Ahhh, my revenge marathon on the same course that gave me my first DNF in 2015. I was also running with Chris and Lauren, who were out to crush their first marathons. It was hot, it was brutal, I got diverted at Mile 17 because I arrived thirteen minutes too late to Charge the District. I still found my way to the finish line and got a medal…and a lot of Shake Shack the next day.

I told myself no more marathons after this. Then I put my name in for Berlin…

…and now I’m eating my words. I’ll be writing a more in depth post on this whole topic coming soon. 🙂

December

UO Fun Run 5K

Company race through Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Slowest 5K so far, but a PR in character stops with 11!

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So this year by the numbers:

-9 races
-117.2 miles traversed
-10 Medals
-4 locations (FL, DC, MD, VA)
-3 Personal Records (MCM should’ve been #4 with a PR by 9 minutes, but only after hypothetical times were calculated by the timing company)
-2 Marathons
-2 Disney challenges
-1 New Distance (10 Miler)

2017 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I didn’t enter Marine Corps Marathon weekend with high expectations. With my resentment towards the 26.2 distance aggrandizing since the WDW Marathon in January, I honestly just wanted to get in and get out with minimal injury. Having flashbacks of my 2015 experience in DC still fresh in my mind, I didn’t care what my pace was. I wanted to cross that finish line and be done.

I slept terribly the night before, getting about four hours total. Chris and I woke up around 4:45, and before I knew it, it was 5:45 and we were out the door, heading to the Metro. I swear, no matter how much time you give yourself to get ready, it’s never enough!

We arrived at the Metro slightly after six. I was sort of excited to ride, as MCM partnered with WMATA to open the Metro two hours early to accommodate the runners, with extra Blue and Yellow trains to the Pentagon station. Okay, so we’ll have trains operating every five minutes or so, easy peasy. I won’t have to freak out about being late.

I should’ve known better. This is DC Metro, after all. The first train didn’t arrive until 6:30 AM.

We arrived at Pentagon station by 6:45, and it was a madhouse. With each arriving train, the platform got more crowded. The crowds were moving at a snail’s pace to begin with, probably due to those not being prepared in advance with their Metro cards to tap out of the station. It took us about 15 minutes to exit.

Following the swarm of runners to the starting area, the sun started to cast a beautiful yellow and orange glow in the sky. Rosslyn was off in the distance and its buildings were reflecting the rays as a sort of welcoming beacon for us. The weather was slightly chilly, but that was going to change quickly once the sun peaked. After walking roughly over a mile, we came upon the UPS drop off location.

Over the booming speakers, we heard: “If you’re here and running the 10K…ouch!” -announcer guy

(The MCM 10K, which is also on my list, was taking place IN the city as the last 6.2 miles of the marathon course. If a 10Ker was at the Pentagon, well…)

Chris and I found our other Kappa Kappa Psi brothers and running buddies, Lauren, and her husband, Patrick (who was playing support crew with our other friends Chris and Ema). After a quick picture, we headed to the starting area.

With the fear of being swept fresh on our minds, and after careful analysis of our previous races and paces from this year, we decided to line up around the 5:00 area. We’d have a somewhat decent barrier between us and the sweeper vehicles, and be in the vicinity of the 5:00 and 5:30 pace groups in case we wanted to join.

The parachuters did their performances, and the Ospreys did their flyover to the cheers of the crowds. At 7:55, the Howitzer fired, and the race began!

Sort of.

Any Marine Corps Marathon veteran will tell you that it takes, on average, twenty minutes from the time the Howitzer fires until you cross the start line. So it’s a perfect representation of the military: hurry up and wait.

Around 8:17am or so, the three of us finally started our journey! First stop: Rosslyn.

I posted several times on social media that the first 5K for this race is the worst. It has the most elevation changes, and staying conservative will be beneficial in the later miles. The crowds were ample and puppies even moreso. We stayed steady, walking the hills and running the flat areas. The energy was amplified, and, trust me, greatly appreciated. We hit the 5K mark and descended into Spout Run along miles 3.5-4 on the GW Parkway. (This turned out to be my best mile of the whole damn race.) The views of Georgetown University were gorgeous as we headed towards Key Bridge.

The crowds started to thin a little as we ran down M Street in Georgetown and flew down Wisconsin Ave.

Our next stop was Rock Creek Park, and I was starting to feel a little fatigued. Lauren and Chris were definitely faster than I was, whether running or speed walking, so I tried to keep up the best I could.

RCP was shady and pretty as always. Having run the same route during several other DC races, I knew what to expect. The turn around at mile 7 led to a nice downhill (same downhill as NAFHALF and halfway up the evil hill from RnR DC), and back into the shade. As we headed past mile 8, we saw the sweeper busses coming up the other side. Already?! There’s no way in hell I was getting on that bus this year.

My lower back was starting to hurt, and it was getting harder to keep up with Chris and Lauren. I didn’t want to bog them down with my slowness, so I told Chris to just go ahead without me. He didn’t want to leave me behind but I didn’t want to screw up their race plans. I watched them get farther away, and I had no doubt that they would finish their first marathons strong and in one piece.

The sun was starting to rage around mile 10 as I headed toward Hains Point. I was starting to feel dehydrated and weak, and slowed to mainly walking with some running bursts in between. My new friend, Christine, whom I met post-expo and is also Ms. United States: District of Columbia, caught up with me around mile 11.5 and we shared some encouraging words before taking off for the Blue Mile at mile 12.

I’m glad I wore sunglasses for this race; I got really emotional watching other runners stopping by the signs of their loved ones and just pausing to reflect.

I also got a lot of high fives in this section, which was great because I was about to fall over.

I wasn’t planning on taking Run Gum until the halfway point, but I took it just before I entered this section. Holy crap, was that a bad idea. I didn’t have water to wash the flavors down, so the sugars coated my mouth and throat and felt thick and suffocating. This error would affect the rest of my race as the ensuing dehydration made me feel sick and gross.

My half split was a 3:09, which is surprisingly decent compared to some of my other half splits over the years.

The second half of the race was torture. My stomach and back weren’t cooperating, the sun was blazing, and I was so ready to be done. However, just past the halfway mark was the Funny Sign Mile. I was SOOOOO happy that they didn’t take these down prematurely, unlike in 2015 when everything seemed to disappear after all the faster runners went through.

The objective here to focus on was making it to the “D.C. Gauntlet” at Mile 17 by 12:33. I had about 45 minutes to make it three miles. Not an easy feat when you feel like dying and are walking the entire distance. The pace car (white car with colored handprints) was annoyingly riding alongside of us (and we honestly didn’t know if it was the official pace car or what it was doing), but I was just happy to not see those stupid sweeper busses riding my ass.

I saw fellow Kappa Kappa Psi brother Katelyn at Mile 16! 💙💙💛

I came up on mile 16 and, after taking liquids, thought I had to go to the bathroom. I stepped in and tried to go. Nothing happened. At this point, I knew I was going to be diverted past the first gauntlet and to the bridge. I took a moment, gathered myself, and got back on the course. Even with the copious amount of liquids I ingested, it still felt like it wasn’t enough. It would actually be several more miles before I saw water again.

I missed the cutoff for the D.C. Gauntlet by 13 minutes, and to be technical, I’m not considered an “official finisher” due to this. Cutting across Jefferson Drive and right to the Beat the Bridge portion at mile 19.5, we slowpokes merged in with the bulk of the other runners here, and rejoiced over the fire hydrant that happened to be open and spraying water about. I also heard my fellow Team Shenangians member, Meghan, cheering me on as I went to the bridge.

The 14th Street Bridge…I had no doubt I’d get over this, as I started around 12:50-ish. Still walking, the sun was beating down on us, and its effects were affecting all of us. Still feeling ultra dehydrated, I was very tempted to ask another runner if they had water I could take a quick sip of. Embarrassing as it was, I ran around asking random support groups if they had water. One of them—I didn’t quite catch a name—actually seemed reluctant to give me a bottle, but they did. If it wasn’t for that water, I probably would have dropped on the bridge…or over the bridge.

I got over the bridge and into Crystal City at 1:36, 13 minutes before that cutoff. As I was heading in, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was Chris! He was soooo confused as to how I got ahead of him, and I told him I got diverted. Still confused, I told him I’d explain later, and he started getting ahead of me. He was a man on a mission at this point, and I knew he’d finish. I asked where Lauren was, and he said she was behind him a ways.

During the Crystal City section (and at other points on the course), I had other runners come up to me and ask if I was @runDisneyBelle, seeing as they had seen my flat runner on social media. One of them was @runnerchick29! Trust me, I am ALWAYS happy to meet other runners on course. Look for the bow and say hi 🙂

Having run MCM before, I can tell you that no matter how many fire hydrants and hoses were open, Crystal City is awful. It’s neverending, and runners drop like flies. The crowds were really good this year, had lots of food, and I caught quick glimpse of the medal from a distance. I knew had to finish (and to justify buying the jacket prematurely!). I swing around Mile 23, and saw Lauren on the other side of the road! I ran over to her and we were just like, “…mehhhhh….when’s it gonna be overrrr?”

Yeah. We were so over it by this point.

The last 5K was just as brutal as the first 5K, but with water and animal crackers, and more sun. By the time Mile 25 arrived, we had swung back to where we had started about 6.5 hours prior. This time, we’d be taking the hill to the Iwo.

I ran into fellow Shenanigator Kristin here, and it was a great boost to get us to the finish!

Left up the hill…

Support crew selfie!


So I crossed the finish line for my fourth marathon, if you can even call it that. Due to being diverted from those miles in the city, the Xacte splits actually calculated predicted pace for the 30K and 35K marks for me. I appreciate its generosity as it gave me 12:33/ppm and 13:17/ppm respectively.

I got across that finish line and my “time” was a 6:41:43. To me, that’s all that matters at this point. Mission Accomplished. Woohoo.

I’ll jump on my soapbox for a moment and shout I AM SO PROUD OF LAUREN AND CHRIS FOR FINISHING THEIR FIRST MARATHON! Chris kicked my ass by twenty minutes and Lauren finished just a couple minutes behind me. I am SO proud of my fellow brothers for accomplishing their goals.

Christine also came over and celebrated with us!!


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

1. I say this after every marathon, that I’m done and completely over the 26.2 distance. Then I find myself toeing the line for another full. But after this one, I feel like I am truly done. I got my “redemption” by crossing the finish line for this race. I didn’t get swept, nor did I die due to the heat. Calculating the miles from Metro excitement and heading to the start line, it gave me roughly 27-ish miles post race, according to my Garmin pedometer. I will call that a win.

Getting back to future marathons…I am supposed to do Chicago next year due to deferring this year. However, I would have to repay $195 just to claim my deferral. That’s literally a fifth of my rent and over two days’ worth of work! With this being the biggest reason to skip, and the ever growing resentment towards the distance, I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Chicago 2018. Let me also remind you all that I will also not be running in Disney in January for Marathon Weekend. I ran the last two years and abhor the course. Why continue doing a distance that I cannot stand, and dealing with the, “I’m so done with this.” angry feeling before, during, and after the race?

2. Weather all around the nation has been obnoxiously hot this year. I suggest to race officials that an additional water stop be put on the bridge for future races. For those like me who got diverted at 17, we did not get the convenience of the two water points that were in the D.C. Gauntlet. We went from the mile 16 water stop to mile 21.75 without water in the blazing sun.

3. Major thanks to everyone who came out and cheered for us during this race, even for us turtles in the back. Trust me, we greatly appreciate it. Cheers are not reserved for just the fastest runners on a course.

4. I was disappointed to see so many vendors packing up their stuff as I made my way into the Finisher’s Festival. I understand y’all have places to go and things to do, but we turtles would like to partake in what you have to offer, as well! I wanted bacon and watermelon.



Congrats to everyone who finished this weekend! It was an arduous course, and the weather moreso. Great job of Charging the District, Beating the Bridge, and Taking the Iwo. You ran with purpose and finished with pride. Extra confetti to the first timers! You deserve it!!

Thanks for a great racecation, D.C. Until next time…

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!)

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(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.

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(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.

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Finished almost in the top 100!

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

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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. 🙂

 

2016 Enchanted 10K Recap

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The Enchanted 10K on Saturday morning was nothing short of amazing. Driving to the staging area was calm and serene; there were maybe two other cars on the road at 3AM. (I drove from US 192.) I vegged in my car for awhile and then made my way through security and bag check.img_2779

Looking around, I noticed that the scene was eerily calm. I knew that there would be a little more than twice the amount of people racing on Sunday, so I took in the fact that I didn’t have to wait in line at the bathrooms, I could find an open area to stretch and zen out without tripping over anyone…and there were only six corrals (up one from the last two years).

I went over to Corral D and quickly made friends as we waited for the corrals to launch (two of which happened to be part of the #PrincessMen group!!). (Was it just me, or did the timing of the launches seem a lot more spaced out this year?)

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When we were let loose, I fell into a very steady rhythm. I didn’t run with music, and I was completely okay with it; I didn’t miss it at all. My Garmin later showed me that my splits were in the 11:30-12:30 range, even when ascending the Mile 1.5 hill. That’s never happened before! Woohoo!

My pacing consistent, and I briefly walked twice in 3.1 miles (also never happened before). After the 5K mark, I had many runners racing up to me after recognizing my signature hair bow (“You’re our bow girl!” was one my compliments!) and telling me that they read my blog and appreciated all of the advice I had given on the Princess Half Survival Guide I had created. This gave me so many warm fuzzies, and it was fantastic to know that my experiences and advice was helping my fellow runners achieve their goals and that they sincerely appreciated my efforts.

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(^^photo courtesy of Allison!)

This energy boost came at just the right time…it was EPCOT time!

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My spirits were soaring and I was in a comfortable groove. Hell, I even broke what I was saying about not wanting to take pictures and took some anyway. (I had never experienced World Showcase accented with pink before, so naturally, photos were a must!)

 

All was fine and dandy…until nature called. Naturally. The GI issues some of you know about came creeping around, and before I knew it, I lost about five minutes in the bathroom and my mile 5 split was around 17:00. Yeaaaah. Bye bye, Goal B PR of <1:15.

My tummy was being very wonky, and I had to dig deep to get to the finish. The Yacht Club and Boardwalk area of the course is one of the most energetic areas of the entire weekend. I found two of my runner friends from last year’s PHM, Heidi and Elizabeth, along Mile 5 at the Boardwalk and naturally had to run over to give hugs and say hello!12705714_10207438911204116_895612308054131561_n

(^^photo courtesy of Elizabeth!)

Once I passed Spaceship Earth, I became obsessed with my watch. I was nearing my original 1:25 PR in 2013, and I had just minutes to go to improve that.img_2804

 

As I rounded the last corner and headed down the straightaway, it was a now or never moment. I bolted for the finish. I didn’t care how much my shins and knees hurt (and they were kind of wrecked seeing as I had never run so fast before during a race.)

After checking my time, I found that I PRed by a minute and a half.

What? I PRed? WHAT THE HELL?! What is this madness?? This hasn’t happened in years! YAAAAAAAAY!

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I felt, and still am, absolutely elated. I will accept a 1:23:38 for my new PR, and I’m so thrilled that it happened on my favourite course to date.


Next up: 2016 Princess Half Marathon Recap!

2014 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

I had a surprisingly decent sleep the night before the marathon. Granted, I kept waking up about once an hour, but I felt eerily rested. I woke before my 4:30 alarm and located some coffee in my cousin’s apartment (my liquid gold), and my pre-race chow (bagel and EnergyBits). At 5:30, I departed for the Shaw-Howard Univ. Metro station. (which was a 10-second walk from the apartment). The station was empty, save for maybe two or three other travelers. I found a young woman lacing up her sneakers and instantly made a new friend (she told me that the UPS bag sticker was on the back of the bib, which was news to me! <— note to those running in the future).

Once the metro let us off at the Pentagon station, it was about another mile and change walk to the corrals. Tents, UPS trucks and port-a-potties dominated the huge parking lot. I dropped off my stuff, then made a beeline for the potties for the first of about eight pee trips during the day. I walked over to the corrals and realized that 1. I was insanely early, and 2. It was breezy and I had no addditional warm up clothes with me. (BIG mistake…by the time we lined up for pre-race ceremony things, I was shivering and shaking.)

Pre-race anthem was done by United We Sing, and being a veteran anthem singer myself, I absolutely approved this version: it was short, to the point, and done with gorgeous harmonies. The parachuters did a great job with the American flags, and the military aircraft was an impressive touch.

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The Howitzer fired and we slowly shuffled to the start line. It took about twenty minutes to get from my spot in the 5:30 corral to the start line. (I had originally shifted near the ClifBar 5:30 pace group, but lost them almost immediately.) I crossed the start and realized that the next 26.2 were mine for the taking.

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I had studied the course elevation chart and knew that the first 5K was going to be uphill and arduous. Lee Highway at Mile 2 was steep and hilly. I held back a TON during this, reaching the 5K around 40 minutes in.

The crowd support during this first 5K was fantastic. (And, as always, there were So. Many. PUPPIES!!! :D)

 

 

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Georgetown University along the Potomac

Miles 4 and 5 went past the waterfront by Georgetown University, across Key Bridge, and provided great scenery and delicious smells as we went down M Street. Restaurants are getting ready for their morning brunch crowds, so be ready for the tease!

 

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Georgetown’s historic M Street

 

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I found two women to run with for a little bit, running with 1:1 Galloway intervals. Running through Potomac Parkway and into Rock Creek Park was wonderful; this was a scenic, tree-lined, forest-y, shady kind of run. The sun had not quite kicked in, but you could tell it was creeping up. At this point, I needed to pee. Again. I also needed to take some EnergyBits. I had a terrible time trying to hold a cup of water in one hand, tear the runner’s bag open with my teeth, and run all at the same time. I had to stop (and thus losing my interval girls), take my Bits, and pee. I lost a ton of time and my groove trying to do this; I’m a person who can’t think straight if I have to go to the bathroom. The world essentially has to stop and restart after I get done.

At this point, the runner grumpies started to get to me. I wasn’t even at the halfway mark and I was pissed off at the world. Mile 12 was dedicated to Team Blue (wear blue to remember those who have fallen) and was lined up with American flags. It was significant and touching, but I didn’t get lost in the sights too much. Halfway came around and I was on Haines point. Humourous signs lined up the sides of the roads and provided much needed giggles and happiness. (One of the best signs was “Run like the person behind you has Ebola.”) I also found a pack of Kappa Sigma brothers cheering, and upon recognizing that they were Greek, I shouted, “Everyone gets a high five!!” and ran down the line for high fives.

 

1925189_730850596970363_23775239605698309_n10710975_730850573637032_3212737196771477628_nThe race had started to get hot and sunny at this point, and while there was a strong breeze, there were no clouds in sight. Just before the National Mall, I began to observe my watch more and more, determined to Beat the Bridge. (MCM 101: Make it to the 14th St. Bridge by 1:15 PM and you’re safe from being swept.) Once again, I had to lose time by peeing. (Those Marines certainly know how to keep you hydrated!) I took more bits before hitting the Mall. Around Mile 16, I noted that it was around noon. Hour and fifteen minutes to go.

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Being near the back of the pack, I kept looking around behind me to see how many runners were still there, and where the pace vehicles were at. At a couple of points, they were on the other side of the road that I was running in the opposite direction on. (If seeing pacers doesn’t motivate a runner to go faster, I don’t know what does.) Passing by the Washington Monument, I proceeded down the National Mall towards the Capitol Building (which I kept mistaking for the White House the entire time I was there). I saw a small group of Alpha Phi Omega brothers that I shared cheers with on Mile 17 🙂10685560_730850713637018_7866336727615202433_n

Heading back up on Miles 18 and 19, I began to run with two other women. We were all calling out times to each other and to those around us, encouraging each other that, “We were going to maaaaaaake it!” with regards to the Bridge. 12:55 hit and we were a mile out. We kept scaling the hill that was right before the bridge, wondering, “Is this the spot? Is…*this* the spot? When are we saaaaaafe?!” (Note to race coordinators: there should be blinking signs, balloons, and Hollywood-style spotlights at the “safe zone”.) We saw the Mile 20 marker in the distance and agreed to take pictures of each other when we got there as proof that we Beat the Bridge!

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Once pictures were done, we began to trek across the 14th Street Bridge, which is a lot longer than it looks. There was NO cloud cover, the sun was beating down on us, and I could feel my skin frying. It was 1:15 at this point, and knowing that I was safe, I didn’t care about my pace at all. As I slowed down to a steady walk and my big toenails began to feel the strain, the runner grumpies resumed and I knew that the last 10K was going to be the most arduous. Crystal City was beautiful, but a pain in the butt. Being a “turtle”, I could tell that the majority of the crowds had dispersed from earlier. (Even when I was running down the National Mall, the crowds were sparse, and pedestrians were risking walking across the road in front of us, which was highly annoying.) Before Mile 23, there was this humongous water sprayer that cooled us down, but once again, I found it annoying. Between 23 and 24, a spectator called out that even though we were at the back of the pack, we were doing fine and that “you’re almost there!”

{Spectator etiquette: First of all, don’t shout out where our location is in reference to everyone else. Yes, we’re at the back, but don’t make us feel inadequate by pointing out the obvious. Also, unless we are on the last mile, we are not “almost there”.}

10354088_730850736970349_2425747227096470059_nThat last 10K had me counting down the miles. Finally, the final ascent by Arlington National Cemetery was conquered and I crossed the finish line. I could officially call myself a marathoner! 1901705_730850773637012_8415929836316732961_n

My time was 6:51:51. I had improved my 10K and half times by about five minutes for each. (1:21 and 3:01 respectively.)

As I rested on the grass by the Iwo Jima memorial, I told myself that this was a one-and-done deal. As the likes and comments and favorites came flooding through my social media, it didn’t relinquish the pent up tension that had built over the second half of the race. I was grouchy and I knew it. I’m not sure of what this “runner’s high” elation that others experience feels like, but I had the opposite. From now on, I’m definitely sticking with anything below a half.

I am happy that I set out and accomplished this race. With all races, it had its highs and lows. Congrats to those who participated and extra thanks to those who allowed me to run with them.

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Next up: Recovery. Then Glass Slipper 2015. Yaaaaaaaay Disney!