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. 🙂

 

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2016 Navy/Air Force Half Marathon Recap

The opening percussion beats and bagpipes of Gaelic Storm’s “Blind Monkey” served as my 4AM alarm this race morning. No matter what race it is…whether it’s runDisney or RnR or this…early wakeup times suck. You wander around bleary-eyed and sleepy while trying not to spill your pre-race coffee while asking yourself, “Why did I make this wonderful decision?”

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This section contains affiliate links. Check them out below!

These are just a few of my favorite things that enable me to survive on race day: Nuun provides the electrolytes, EnergyBits for protein/healthy algae goodness, and sunscreen to not turn into a lobster. 

Now, I am a huge advocate of “nothing new on race day”, but I had been eyeing the forecast since two weeks out up until right before I left. The original forecast projected not just heat and humidity, but thunderstorms, as well. I turned to my Team Shenanigans members for rainy race day advice (just in case), as I have been fortunate to not have run in the rain at all in my running tenure. Jennifer Hall suggested coating my feet in Vaseline to prevent blisters. I located this here Vaseline (with cocoa butter) and applied it liberally to my feet.

Spoiler alert: no blisters!!


I started driving towards DC around 5AM, and I was super happy that there was very little traffic. Navigating traffic on race day is a surefire way to get the anxiety levels up. I always allot substantial time to arrive. I arrived around 5:30AM at the parking garage about two blocks from the staging area. I saw some other runners in a vehicle near mine and made it a point to make friends…DC is still pretty sketchy in the wee hours of the morning, and as always, safety in numbers.450fcb8c-e08f-4e73-92ae-a179e5400054

The staging area for NAFHALF and the Navy 5 Miler was on the National Mall adjacent to the Washington Monument. The field, in comparison to other races that I have run, was miniscule: 9,000 half runners compared to 25,000 or 30,000-deep fields. It was pleasant knowing that I could move around and not feel like I was being herded.

Race started slightly after 7:00. I was in wave #2. With the ding of the Navy Bell, we were off around 7:13 AM. The course was flat and in reverse of the MCM course, heading towards Haines Point (which is typically Miles 12-14 of MCM). The first 5K was overcast/not too hot, steady, and I think I clocked in somewhere around the 37:00 minute mark, according to the Garmin.

However…there was no 5K split timer. I didn’t get a split until mile four.

Weird.


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The second 5K ran concurrent with the Potomac River on Ohio Drive and past the Lincoln Memorial. The course split before the 5 mile mark of the Navy 5 Miler, with half marathoners heading left and 5 Milers to the right. The sun was juuuuuuust beginning to peek from behind the overcast skies, but stayed behind for the majority of this section.

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*looks around for 10K timing mat. Sees none. Grrrrr.*

I was also taking notice of my Garmin in these middle miles. It seemed as though the course measurements were off by at least .20 of a mile; when I reached an actual mile marker, my Garmin would show .20 over that. I’m not sure if the race coordinators noticed this, but I feel like I ran more (distance-wise, as in more than 13.1) than I intended to in this race.


Miles 7-11 wound up and around Rock Creek Park, which was nice, especially for the shady areas. Once I rounded the corner to descend a small hill near mile 9, the sun was making itself known. The heat rose rapidly and I started slowing down a little. I had also been fighting side stitches for the duration of the race, as well, so that didn’t help at all.

Rounding around the Arlington Memorial Bridge (and getting the perfect opportunity to do a flying jump at the camera), the final water stop was at mile 12 (with “The Final Countdown” playing).

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During that last mile, I ran into Jenny and Topher (short for Christopher), whom I had run into during the Rock Creek Park section. With Jenny’s encouragement, we all made a strong effort to run to the finish line together.

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Half marathon #6 conquered! (Chip time: 3:10:49….Garmin time: 3:10:54)img_0461-1


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

  1. Splits: I have NO idea why the only splits we received were at the 4 mile and 10 mile markers. Traditionally, you receive them every 5K, plus halfway. I’m aggravated by this, as I feel like I cannot assess my performance accurately, except from what my Garmin could tell me:
  2. Lack of on-course support: Usually during military-based races, the service men and women are out in full force cheering and encouraging runners on. Today’s race was not the case. Even the spectators were few and far between. Not sure if it had to do with the fact that NAFHALF has less pomp and circumstance than its sister race, the Marine Corps Marathon (or even the Army Ten-Miler), or what, but the course was unusually quiet.
  3. I do give props for the conservative pacing. Half marathon runners had to reach mile 9 by 9:45 AM to prevent from getting swept. That’s hovering around a 16/mpm pace.
  4. Being near the back of the field is not the end of the world. I hover around there for breeze appreciation and knowing I won’t have to be elbowing people while maneuvering for position. Plus, I can fart and no one pays attention.
  5. Driving back home (aka driving through DC traffic) after a race totally blows. I wish the Metro was not under Safe Track at the moment.
  6. After analyzing my past half marathon performances, I have determined that I perform the best in cloudy, overcast conditions.
  7. Posting live Facebook videos on the course was a ton of fun and kept my mind off of my distressed obliques.
  8. If you gotta pee in the men’s bathroom because the women’s room is closed, do it. No one cares.
  9. Today’s race is my third fastest half marathon. Still striving for the sub 3-hour goal, though.

Congrats to everyone else who ran today/this weekend!

Next up: Everglades Half Marathon.

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2016 Princess Half Marathon Recap

I’m so going to PR this race…

I’m on track to PR this race! WOOOO!

…and there goes my PR for this race…right out the window…


 

The above dialogue essentially explains, in a nutshell, what happened during the Princess Half Marathon for me. But let’s backtrack for just a minute. After all, there’s more to a race recap than highlighting a failed PR attempt…


 

Just like the previous day, I woke up at 2:30 to get ready for the race. I think I stayed in bed until 2:40, but was immediately up and at ’em. My tummy was STILL giving me problems (as it had all week), so I was curious to see what would happen when I got out on the race course.img_2851

En route, it was just a teeny bit busier heading to the starting area at EPCOT than it was for the Enchanted 10K. However, I saw the first round of buses heading there, as well, and I’m fortunate that I didn’t leave a minute too late.

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After having pre-security “veg out in the car” time, I made my way through security and to the bag check. I ran into friends (including my fellow Kappa Kappa Psi brother, Chelsea!) and Team Shenanigans members along the way, which made the time go by much faster.img_2857-1

(^^space blankets for days!)

My BRF, Jess, and I made our way to the corrals together and we arrived around 5:15. (It is literally at 20-minute walk from Runner’s Village, just so all you future princesses and princes know. Don’t leave any later than 4:55 to make it there on time.) We were entertained by Carissa and Rudy, and the multitalented Miss America, Betty Cantrell, sang the national anthem (which I totally approved!).

Soon after, the fireworks were launched and the corrals were moving (much faster than they were for the 10K). Around 6AM, Corral I was sent off!

There were a lot of parallels between my 10K and half marathon. Among other things, I once again didn’t run with music, and I was completely fine with it. I had far too much fun listening to the on-course entertainment and chatting with other runners to really miss it much. img_2889

Miles 2 and 9 run next to each other on the out-and-back portion of the course. The elites were coming back up the road as I was heading down into Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t help but cheer for all these amazing athletes, including one of my running idols, Heather Schulz! I saw her running past the Mile 9 aid station, and I ran over to the left side of the road, stopped and shouted at the top of my lungs, “GO, HEATHER, GO! YOU GOT THIS! WOOOOOO!”

Just cheering like this for five seconds boosted me up, and I continued on through to Magic Kingdom. I crossed the 5K mark with a pace that would land me my B-goal PR of 2:45…just like last year. I was also taking advantage of Biofreezing the hell out of my knees since there were still a little funny from the 10K. Even with these quick stops, I was making great time.

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But that spirit boost didn’t last long…

My tummy started rumbling. Just like the 10K…

…hello, bathroom stop. Again. Stupid Mile 4/5 Curse…

Waiting for the bathroom added ten minutes to my time. SO FRUSTRATING. I kept staring at my watch and making mental calculations for what my pace needed to be to still be on track for a PR. At this point, I was even ahead of the 3:00 pace group by about 5 minutes. I stood in line and simply watched them run on by…

When I did get into the bathroom, almost nothing came out. Phantom pains? Perhaps. Needless to say, I was not happy.

I left and headed past the Contemporary and Space Mountain en route to the Mile 5 marker. At least I caught the sunrise at this point, and another runner and I took pictures for each other.

Running down Main Street wasn’t really fun this year. First of all, it was rather quiet. The music was playing and some spectators were cheering…but most of them were just dead. Not sure if the early-morning wakeup call had them all still sleepy or what, but it wasn’t the most exciting thing to do. Hanging the right and heading into Tomorrowland was nearly identical to 2015: the sun was beginning to rise. I knew the temperature was going to spike.img_290110670177_956466177742136_4471090198474420962_nimg_2906

Running through the castle was THE LEAST CONGESTED I HAVE EXPERIENCED IT, EVER. I was absolutely shocked at the ease I could maneuver through and still come out the other side unscathed. (Dark and blurry shot above, but notice the non-congestion.)

Right after Liberty Square, I could feel tummy rumblings making themselves known. Seriously. Not again. I ducked into the Adventureland bathroom.

I ran out and crossed the 10K timing mat. This was 1:31, and the second slowest 10K split I’ve ever run. I was halfway…. and I had to stop again.

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This all happened within the first half of the race. Three bathroom stops and my chance for PR-ing completely shot to hell. At this point, I was just hoping to finish.


 

The next half of the PHM course begins with the menace known as Cone Alley. As you can see from the picture, it is self-explanatory. img_2909

(^^Cones for miles. Yeahhhh…)

According to my Garmin, my Mile 7 pace was 20:00. #MiddleOfTheFieldProblems

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During Mile 8 (the Clif Shot mile), the sun came out strong. It was another “Blinded By the Light” moment as we ran past the Grand Floridian and golf courses. In addition to the Biofreeze, I was taking advantage of dumping ice cold water over my head and enjoying the fact I was running in a sports bra and not a shirt or tank top. Trust me, it felt great. 12715388_956466261075461_556184075146420519_n

I hit Mile 8.7, and grabbed my traditional Vanilla and Mocha Clif Shots. The sucky part about this section is that there isn’t a water station immediately after. Don’t take your Clif Shots without water; they’ll dry your throat out and you’ll have sticky residue all over. You have to wait about another half a mile to get water to wash it down, so carry them with you until this point.

I was still feeling incredibly grouchy at this point. My mile pace had increased significantly and I was watching my chances at even tying my original half PR of 3:06 sliding away with every step. I started up the Mile 10 overpass, and something in me changed…

 

I thought back to the Survival Guide, and how it had been a key resource to those that were running this very race. Around me, thousands of runners were striving to reach the finish line, and I knew that the last 5K of this race can be a total bitch. Now, more than ever on the course, walls were going to be hit, spirits would sink, and we would have to pick each other up if we were going to accomplish our goal of finishing for free bananas and lots of shiny bling, in addition to bragging rights.

This overpass makes or breaks runners. Even if I can just boost up one person, knowing that even I wouldn’t achieve my goals, maybe I can help them achieve theirs.

I ascended the overpass, passed the Army Men shouting orders for us to, “Stop texting and run!”, and ran over to the left side of the course. Peering down over the side of the overpass, I shouted to everyone below me…img_2917

YOU GUYS ARE DOING GREAT! KEEP IT UP! WOOOOOO!”

In those five seconds, my entire demeanor changed. As the response from my cheering erupted below and all around me, I accepted the fact that making these types of memories on the course is what makes a race what it is. It’s not about times and being hell-bent on PR-ing (although that’s always a plus). It’s making that difference for runners, even if it is only one out of tens of thousands, that can give them the boost to keep going and not give up. I had been there four years ago in my first race. Giving back to the running community in that fashion was absolutely priceless.

I dashed over to the Mile 11 med tent to re-Biofreeze, and the medics there said we were about 1.9 miles away from the finish. Woohoo!12717844_956466281075459_2684787305172947717_n12744045_956466284408792_5474967127571428553_n

Catching Spaceship Earth on the horizon and descending into EPCOT at Mile 12 is probably my favorite part of the PHM course (even more fun that running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom and storming the castle). The crowds are ample and the encouragement is electrifying. Plus, it was really shady in some spots. (Thank you, Spaceship Earth!)

Round the corner, pass the gospel choir, and head down the last straightaway to the finish line!img_2926


 

My time? Heh…3:26:19. Slowest half marathon to date. (Even slower than my very first PHM which was a 3:25:41.) But hooray for earning my Triple Slipper! (Three GSCs down, lots more to go!)img_2939

I wasn’t very happy immediately post-race. (Even when I was in line to do my GSC picture, I was fighting being grouchy.) I really stewed in my emotions for most of the day. Tack the slow-as-mud time on top of it, and there weren’t many positive feelings left.

It took a few days, but I’m at peace with my performance now. Surprisingly.


 

Christina’s Post-GSC Thoughts:

  1. Even if you don’t achieve your overall goal, there will always be more races to compete in to better your time. I’m very happy that I managed one PR out of the weekend. (Just goes to show that you CAN PR in a runDisney event!)
  2. Runner’s etiquette…ugh. Come on, y’all. Read the manual you’re given at expo time. Don’t be hogging the course by walking 4-6 abreast. That’s annoying as hell. And don’t get snarky when other runners say, “Coming through!” and split the middle of your group because it’s the only way to get around.
  3. Copious amounts of Biofreeze will make your eyes burn.
  4. You only get water on the course during the 10K. Electrolyte drinks are provided for the half.
  5. There’s nothing wrong with a little cold water over the head during the sunny parts of the half…until that water mixes with sweat and runs in your eyes. Many owies.
  6. Be sure to cheer your fellow runners on and say hi to those you do know! I had the privilege of running into some of my Team Shenanigans ladies on the PHM course and that was a very happy fifteen seconds of my race day. I also met more blog readers during PHM and those interactions kept me going.6A. Even the elites need love, too. If you’re in the position to cheer for those vying for the win, DO IT. I spoke with Heather during the expo and she said that it can get really lonely at the front of the field. These runners are just like us, and they deserve our support!
  7. Regarding diet...fiber is good for you, especially in the days preceding the race. Make sure your food contains an adequate amount of the stuff, or you’ll end up like me with stomach pains raging.
  8. No matter the race, RESPECT THE DISTANCE. I refuse to be cutesy and nice about this (and other topics) any longer. If you don’t train for the race, you’re going to be the one who is hurting like hell afterwards. Don’t come crying to those that HAVE done this before and complain about how much you didn’t train, and then try to go out and run it solely to say you did it. That’s not how racing works.
  9. HAVE FUN. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is listening to fellow runners get so worked up over getting swept and worrying about the Balloon Ladies that they throw any chance of having a great race out the window due to this anxiety. Throw your cares to the wind and just race. The majority of you that were concerned about it probably didn’t get swept, anyway.
  10. I’m glad I only heard “Let It Go” only once on the course this time.
  11. The runDisney Easter Egg Hypothesis is raging strong on social media, where the Mile 13 marker is the theme for the next year’s race. If this holds true…next year’s theme will be Snow White!

     

Congrats to everyone who had a magical race weekend! You’ve earned your medals and bragging rights, so show that bling and post those pictures! Shoutout to everyone who I met on the course and for everyone who benefitted from my PHM Survival Guide. I hope to see you all at a future runDisney event!img_2933

 

Until next time…see you at the finish line!

*~*Christina*~*

2014 Marine Corps Historic Half Recap

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So here we are once again. Today’s adventures will take us to the 2014 Marine Corps Historic Half. If you recall, I signed up for the HH while I was in Disney for the 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge. Like the previous races, this one will come with its own set of lessons learned and whatnot. Sooooo let’s get started!


 

Out of all the races I have done, this one may have been the most complicated driving-wise. The Historic Half took place in Fredericksburg, VA, which is about an hour from Washington, D.C. Once again, Adriane (my cousin) had come to the rescue and provided me a place to stay. However, since I was still in school at Edinboro at the time (far NW corner of PA), there was going to be a LOT of driving to do in a short amount of time.

About 7 hours’ worth in one day. But I finally made it!

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I left Edinboro early, didn’t die on the way down, and made it to the Expo to pick up my race packet and other goodies, then took off again for the city. I arrived around sunset, and my cousin-in-law, Robert, decided to take me out for dinner and a little nighttime sightseeing. The Washington Monument had just reopened the week prior due to the 2012 earthquake that left the structure a little no-so-sound for tourists. (This provided a perfect topic for my Crisis Managemnt class on geologic crises and D.C. tourism later that week.)

I finally got to bed around midnight, and I knew I was going to be hurting in four hours when I had to leave for the race. I got up around 4:00 AM, and got on the road shortly thereafter. I was pumped as I was driving down, jamming out to some tunes and eating EnergyBits. I was a little shaky about where I was going, but the traffic was VERY tame and rather sparse. I soon found other cars with their various race stickers on them, and followed them to the starting area. I parked over in the Wegman’s parking lot, caught a couple more zzzz’s, ran in to buy some breakfast, and waited patiently for more time to elapse before exiting my car.

Lesson 1: Parking lots at the start/finish area, with a Wegman’s RIGHT THERE, is like heaven for a runner. Get there early for prime parking.

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The race started at 7 AM, and by comparison to the PHM, the field was tiny. Maybe 7,500 runners at most. This was fine by me; I could actually run without getting trampled!

I blazed my first 5K in 38:36. For me, a 12 mpm was relaxed, steady, and fast by my standards. As the course began to weave its way through the little suburban towns, I couldn’t help but notice that EVERYONE BRINGS THEIR PUPPIES. CUTEST RACE SUPPORT EVER.

Lesson 2: Take time to pet the puppies. And shake the hands of the veterans that cheer you on. Your time may drop a bit, but that’s okay. It’s worth it.

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Around the halfway mark, I started feeling incredibly fatigued. More Energybits were consumed and more miles were checked off with more walking than running, of course. Thank you, Jeff Galloway, for ensuring us turtles that it’s okay to walk during a race without feeling lousy about it.

Lesson 3: Seriously, if you need to walk, go ahead and walk. You’ll save your legs and prevent injury.

Then…Hospital Hill came.

What is Hospital Hill? Well, I’m glad you asked…

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This feature is the crowning glory of the Historic Half, and it is constantly talked about online in the months and weeks leading up to the race. At the HH expo, there is a treadmill you can jump on that simulates its 12% gradient. The hill lasts slightly over half a mile, but let me tell you, it seems like an eternity. And there are no trees for shade. This hill makes or breaks runners, but you have to conquer it in order to get that medal!

Lesson 4: Do NOT shy away from hills and stairs during your training. Running these will seriously help your overall fitness and your VO2 Max levels, plus you can make it up Hospital Hill without dying (as much).

I sloooooooooooowly made my way up the hill. I was so tired and achy at this point, all I wanted to do was sleep. But I was almost finished, so I couldn’t just crash in the middle of the street for napnap time!

I finished in 3:10:04, and got medal #5 for the collection! (This medal is made of pewter, I believe, and it is heavy!)

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Post-race adventure:

So, remember that fatigue I was talking about earlier? Yeah, all of the Energybits in the world couldn’t quell it. I ran into Wegman’s, bought lunch, and sat down for about an hour eating it. On my way back to D.C., I could barely keep myself awake. It was warm outside, I was exhausted, and coupling those things together meant that it was prime sleepytime.

Result: I almost rear-ended a car on the beltway. I swear, I was about an inch away from its back bumper. Squealing tires and all.

After this, I knew I had to pull over somewhere. So I found a parking lot and parked under a big shady tree, where I proceeded to nap for about 1 ½ hours.

Lesson 5: DON’T DRIVE WHEN YOU’RE TIRED. BAD THINGS MAY HAPPEN. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your backseat nap-ready.


 

After-race thoughts…

If you’re looking for a serious challenge, do this race. The variations in elevation make the course really interesting. The course support is wonderful, from spectators, Marines, and puppies alike. The field is NOT as large as other mega-races as aforementioned, so it’s nice to attempt a PR at. To this day, this race is my second-fastest half marathon time, and still reigns first for 5K and 10K splits. (38:36 and 1:20:15).

I’m still aiming for a sub-3 hour half marathon, which has eluded me thus far in my running endeavors. I guess my new theme song should be, “Someday My PR Will Come”.

Thanks for reading! All past race recaps are now complete. Until next time…

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge Recap: Part II

If you didn’t read Part I, scroll down and read it. Then come back up for Part II. ‘kay? Great!


Alrighty, now on to the races! Here is GSC 2014, Part II. I will admit, some of the details are really fuzzy, but I’ll try to fill in the blanks as much as I can.

I spent this racecation off-property, and race-day transportation was a hot topic. I had NO idea how I was getting to the race, except via taxi. But spending that sort of money in Florida on taxi travels was a major pain. I was lucky enough to run into a woman (her name was Kat) at breakfast on Friday that had run the 5K. We decided, “Hey! Let’s eat breakfast and talk stuff!” So we did! After bonding for about an hour, and learning that she, too, was doing Glass Slipper, was able to offer me a ride to the start lines.

SUCH. A. RELIEF.

Lesson #1: Make all the friends. You never know who can help you out. I had the exact same thing happen this year for GSC, only it was 3:15 AM in the lobby of the hotel and new friend, Jennifer, offered me a ride.

The Inaugural Enchanted 10K was around 9,000 runners strong. There were five corrals, A-E. I was back in D. We got into our holding areas in the parking lot, and we were led around in front of the other corrals on our way to the staging area. It was awesome listening to the other corrals cheer for each other. We were all the there for the same purpose: to race.

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I had met several Twitter friends in real life the previous day at a #runnerslove meetup at Polynesian for meeting, greeting, and winning lots of stuff. I found Jess in my corral and we agreed to run a little bit together.

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Once the fireworks went off for us, We ran Galloway intervals for the first couple of miles. Well, I tried to, at least. First mile…totally fine. Second mile was an ascent onto an overpass with a downhill lead into mile 3. I couldn’t keep up with Jess at this point, so she went on ahead and I slowed up my pace, which was fine with me. I was going to enjoy the sights and whatnot.

The weather was fine that morning, and would be the same for the half the next day. I felt comfortable heading into EPCOT, which I found to be the COOLEST part of the race. Running through the nations was spot on, as was heading along the Boardwark and Yacht Club. At these incredibly photogenic spots, all the pictures were taken.

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I finished the race in 1:28:40, which I had expected considering I was dodging people and taking pictures. I also wasn’t overexerting myself because I knew I had to complete the second half of the challenge the next day…

Princess Half 2014:

Sunday morning comes and it’s Princess Half day! Just like 2013, we all arrive at EPCOT and the party is going full force. After potty breaks and coffee and stretching, the mass of runners began to file towards the starting corrals, with the faster runners heading left and not-so-faster runners to the right. As I chilled out in Corral J, I thought about my race plan: stay strong, steady, and not take as many pictures as last year. Since I had gotten my “It’s your first race so take pictures of all the things” out of my system last year, I could focus more on actually running.

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Once the corrals were released, I fell into a steady rhythm with some excellent song selections. I do believe that “Chasing the Sun” by The Wanted was the first song to come on, and I fell in tempo with the music. My first two miles were incredible. Just how I wanted them to be.

Then Mother Nature Called just before the 5K mark.

There were a couple of close-by potties by the course, but after waiting five minutes in line I could feel my legs getting tired. Some of us caught sight of portapotties all the way across this huge field, so we all decided to run over to those. (I ended up pulling a Julie Andrews and belting out, “The hiiiiills are aliiiiive with the sound of muuuuusiiiiiic!” This enabled laughter.)

So with this little detour, I had missed the water stop. As I hit the 5K timing mat, I felt dead. And I hadn’t even reached Magic Kingdom yet! The weather was overcast and humid, which was perfect for me coming from the snowbelt of Northwest Pennsylvania. I paced myself and hit Magic Kingdom, swearing five ways from Sunday that I wasn’t going to stop as I ran down Main Street USA. I turned through Tomorrowland, stormed through the castle, and made my way backstage. This is around the halfway point of the race, and coupling the 10K from the previous day, I had already run a half marathon!

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At this point our halfway song, “Let It Go”, was booming through the speakers; the perfect mid-race pick me up! You could hear the runners singing along as we stopped to pose next to this nifty little sign:

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My legs were feeling the toll of the mileage, but I kept going. I had to finish this. I wasn’t about to crap out now. I fought my way to get here, and come hell or high water, I was going to finish with some new shiny bling!

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Up and down the hills, around the overpass, down through EPCOT….and there was the finish! Woohoo! 19.3 complete, finally! I was tired. I was sore. But damn…I finished.

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I finished in 3:06:48, which was a 19-minute improvement from 2013 PHM. After receiving the medals, I was elated. I knew that this was going to be my race, and I couldn’t wait to return in 2015.


After-challenge thoughts:

  1. For anyone completing the challenge, do NOT go all out during the Enchanted 10K. Take your time and enjoy the sights. Multi-day races, such as GSC, Goofy, and Dopey to name a few, require discipline and training to conquer. What I did in the weekends leading up to race time was do a “Mock Glass Slipper”, where I’d run a 10K on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday. This was a huge benefit when it came time for race day and I knew what was coming.
  2. Don’t have coffee at the holding area. Even if you’re a coffee junkie like I am, don’t have coffee less than an hour before a race if you’re not used to it. Otherwise, you’ll be singing The Sound of Music while running across open fields en route to the potties far too early in the race.
  3. Pick songs that get you moving! Music empowers the soul…and your feet! Tunes with a pulsing tempo can help set your pace and give you a boost when you hit the mid-race slump.
  4. Take the time to walk around and stretch out after. This was critical. After being on a plane immediately after 2013 PHM, I was determined to not have that happen again. After the half, I came back to EPCOT and spent the day walking about (quite slowly). Then on Monday, when I checked out the hotel, I spent the day in Magic Kingdom. I felt a lot better in the days following the challenge than I had the year prior, and kept this EPCOT/MK tradition in 2015.
  5. Beware: accomplishing fitness goals may lead to the registration of more races. After I got back from EPCOT that Sunday night, I thought, “Hey, let’s do another race!” So I ended up registering for the Marine Corps Historic Half marathon!

Thank you for taking the time to read about my Glass Slipper experience, and the quintessential reason why the blog is named the Glass Slipper Catalyst. This race came a pivitol point in my life, even though I didn’t see it at first. By training for and conquering the challenge, it became the catalyst that I needed to continue on this fitness regime. My love for running and my runDisney community has expanded tenfold, I’m so glad I get to share my enthusiasm and experiences with all of you.

*~*Christina*~*

GSC 2014 Recap: Part I

So, as promised, here we continue on with recapping my life. Last week was PHM 2013, and now this week we’ll hit on Glass Slipper 2014. This will be divided into two parts: the pre-pre-pre race (as I’m typing this, the backstory is incredibly elaborate and can be supplemented by stalking through my back posts), and the races themselves. Trust me, it will be beneficial to read Part I before Part II, as this may give anyone who is fighting for motivation a bit of a boost. Trust me, I’m there with you! ❤


I had debated about even signing up for GSC, as the Space Coast Marathon Series was rolling out their Big Bang Series challenge. I’m a science geek, but I’m also a Disney dork. Space and explosions vs. glittery girly stuff. Hmmmm…

I decided for GSC. Smarty pants me decided it would be great to schedule a spa appointment ON THE DAY REGISTRATION OPENED. I was just a wee bit tense about making the cut as I lay there getting pampered that afternoon. Once I got out though, I cranked 80 mph to get home. I settled at my computer and saw that the registration percentages were high…but not completely sold out. I eagerly punched my information in… and voila! I was in! *insert happy dance here*

Lesson 1: Don’t schedule anything on registration day. Nothing. Not even a potty break. Unless you’re registering while using the potty. Then props for multitasking.

Now, this was in June of 2013. This was also the start of my quarterlife crisis.

I could not get motivated to train for this race, or do much of anything. Every day seemed to be a struggle. I was hardcore depressed, and I knew it; all I did was lay in bed and cry about how much I hated being in my program (M.Ed-Middle/Secondary Instruction), how much I hated grad school, and hated life in general. I found myself up all night begrudingly doing summer school classwork and sleeping during the day. This lasted for about three months. When the fall semester started, I was still a wreck. Everything annoyed me, and I found everyone to be annoying. I had this consistent ringing in my ears (which I later found out to be a symptom of depression and out-of-whack things happening with your body), I was harboring a highly negative energy that garnered some questionable looks from those that knew me as this super-positive, happy ray of sunshine, and I was just pissed beyond belief at the most stupid things. I had to excuse myself during choral and symphonic winds rehearsals so I didn’t blow up at the ensemble (my tolerance for musical mediocrity is miniscule). To top it all off, our music department got wind of being potentially cut due to reasons unknown in the two weeks before school started. The energy in the department was at an all-time low, and we were trying to keep it all together. Also, I was chartering our chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity, and was clashing with the then-president at the time (I was secretary). Everything was a disaster, and every day just seemed pointless. Even though it is said that exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant, GSC was the last thing on my mind.

Second week into school, I got sick. Full blown flu. That knocked me out for at least a week. I can hardly eat bananas to this day.

The real kicker…a breakup. Out of freakin’ nowhere. Fourth week of school or something. It was the absolute last thing I needed on my plate. Thanks a lot, universe; I love you, too.

But it was also the kick in the ass that I needed to start making changes. Big changes.

Slowly, I started refocusing my thoughts. Even if I didn’t feel like training, I went and pounded out a couple of miles. (Feel free to go back through the October 2013-February 2014 posts and you can find some examples of these workouts. For example…working out while watching the NYC Marathon.) I started eating better and began to invest in EnergyBits as a source of food (not having a fridge as an athlete isn’t ideal, but these little bits helped with that). I found social media to be a wonderful outlet for support, and I began to invest more time on Pinterest absorbing motivational pins (it would take me about ten minutes of looking at those before I grabbed my shoes and headed out the door).  Our fraternity colony started progressing rapidly, and that brought on a newfound sense of accomplishment as we ticked off each requirement to move from colony status to chapter status. I’ll even admit: I went to therapy for awhile. (Yep, chipper ol’ me went to therapy. I thought I was crazy for doing so, but having a neutral source to talk to was therapeutic.)

The biggest change came when I changed my program. After being so miserable in Education, switching to Communications was the best thing I could have done for myself. I felt like this huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I didn’t feel like I was obligated to be a teacher after that day. Everything started looking up. The days seemed brighter. Life was great.

Lesson 2: No matter how much people tell you that you’re good at something, or you’ll make a good *insert profession here*, do what your heart says. You don’t owe it to anyone but yourself to make the right career decisions.

Soon, I really began to throw myself into my training as a distraction after I learned my ex moved on faster than anticipated. I still had to see him in the music department, so it was all the more reason to keep on kicking ass.

Lesson 3: Breakups lead to fit girls. ‘nough said. Hell, even I’m using this mantra right now as I train for WDW Marathon weekend.

I ran my first 10K in November, keep on training through December, 2014 comes, and Happy New Year! I spent that New Year’s not out at a bar, but on the treadmill watching Rockin’ New Year’s Eve on the TV, and “running” into the new year. (I think I clocked in five or six miles that night.) As the weeks progressed, I logged 58 miles in January and 35.5 in February before I left for GSC weekend. I could feel myself getting stronger, faster, more muscular. Accomplishing workouts became an addiction, as did receiving compliments from my colleagues. Academics, KKPsi, music…they were all going so well for some odd reason. (I still believe that when I exercise, good vibes are produced.)

Mid-February, GSC weekend arrived. I knew that the months of training I put into this was going to pay off. I packed up my stuff, jumped on the plane, and headed to sunny Florida!

Up next: Part II: The Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge.


P.S. I do appreciate all of you who took the time to read all this gibbledy gook. It helps to put things in perspective when attempting to recant adventures from almost two years ago. Plus, you get to learn some more about me, and how I’m not-so-perfect as traditional social media outlets may depict people as. Filters and editing can only hide so much, but I prefer to be raw and real for all of you. So thank you!

TBT: Princess Half 2013

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I had started my running blog for about a year or so before I made the silly choice to go off the grid for awhile. I deleted all of my posts associated with my first race (Princess Half 2013) and everything thereafter…but for some reason, I saved the recap. I have a terrible time keeping myself accountable for writing about all the fun things in my life, so we’re just going to play a little game of catch up for the next little while! (Keep me accountable! I still need to recant the tales of Glass Slipper 2014 and Historic Half 2014 and my Scotland trip.)

Today, we’re going to revisit my first ever race. My cousin, Adriane, posted on Facebook one October day that she was running PHM and asked if anyone wanted to join her. Now, she and I we were in constant wars with each other growing up, so I was a little hesistant to say yes initially. At this point, in October 2012, the Princess Half WASN’T EVEN CLOSE TO SELLING OUT. The current percentage full hovered around 75-80%. However, I figured it would give me the kick in the pants I needed to really start running

(Side story: I found out about runDisney back in 2010 while leafing through my first ever copy of Runner’s World, and always wanted to give running a shot. Ex-boyfriend at the time, who was a star cross-country runner and phenomenal swimmer, wasn’t much help in the enthusiam and motivation department; he came more from the Land of Criticism and Egotistical Athletic Attitudes. This was a major turn off, and I didn’t bother with running after that. I mean, if you’re not getting the support from those that are closest to you, it’s a major letdown.

Lesson: Surround yourself with your cheer squad, and the energy will multiply tenfold. If you need to find better cheerleaders, go right ahead.)

So yes, I started out with a half marathon.

No, I had not raced any other distance prior to.

To this day, I STILL have yet to run a 5K race.

I was coming off of a terrible grad school semester due to failing a class on account of dealing with impacted wisdom teeth torturing me for 16 weeks. After getting that surgery done, passing a kidney stone, and getting my “failed class = expulsion from grad school” verdict overturned, I was finally heading to Disney World! I battled a lot to get to that point, and my last long run prior to was ten miles. My excitement wasn’t waning though; this was also an anniversary race! In the House of Mouse!

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Anniversary race = kick-ass medal. House of Mouse = Disney geeky goodness.

So without further ado, here’s my recap!


My alarm was set for 2:45 AM, but I found myself up at 2:20 AM. I rolled over in my bed at the Pop Century, and got all the fuzzies that come with race-day excitement. By the time Adriane got out of bed at 3, I was already dressed and scarfing down my bagel and banana. We were out the door by 3:30 and heading for the buses. On the way there, I could see all the traffic heading into the staging area. My thoughts were, “Holy traffic, Batman.” It was nuts! We got to the meeting places around 4:15 and parted ways, agreeing to find each other at the end (easier said than done, especially with a semi-dead phone).

Bag check was flawless and easy. Line for the bathroom was long but I found myself engaging in conversation with a woman behind me. If my memory serves me correctly, she was running her fifth half marathon, plus she was a cancer survivor! That was inspirational. After the bathroom break, we all walked towards the corrals. A-E branched off to the left and F-H went to the right. The people around me and I agreed that the others were heading to the slaughterhouse and we got to be free, happy cows in the fields.

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I got to Corral F with plenty of time to stretch out and chill. Slowly, the corrals began to fill up. I appreciated the Jumbo-Trons that displayed runDisney TV. After the playlist that included Gangnam Style, YMCA, and Don’t Stop Believin’, the national anthem was sung (VERY professionally, which I give the singer points for), and we were ready to start the race! Every seven to ten minutes another corral was released by the cue of pretty fireworks. Finally, our corral started moving forward. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually going to do this!!

PHM 2013 start

Three, two one…GO!

The corral started slow, then slowly picked up speed. I ran with my phone in my hand the entire time while tweeting and Facebooking the adventure, and I think that helped me keep a relaxed form. I kept a steady pace and just soaked in all the sights and sounds you could when it was still dark outside. I called out mile markers and listened for the cheers in response. We saw the elite corral A runners passing by us on the other side of the highway when we were around Pirates of the Caribbean. Maybe some day I will be one of them, but not now…I was in it for the fun!

PHM Mile 3

(I later learned that Rachel Booth had crossed the line in 1:17. I took a picture at Mile 3, and that time had read 1:18. It’s amazing that someone can maintain a 6 minute/mile pace for thirteen miles! Major props to her!)

PHM 2013 people PHM 2013 Tomorrowland

I got really excited as I saw the sun rising through the trees and over Magic Kingdom. I still couldn’t believe I was plowing through this run. With the amount of people on the course, we had to funnel and fan out appropriately. It felt nice to have room entering MK, but then we funneled back in heading down Main Street. I started running on the sidewalk so I wouldn’t run people over or get run over. As a musician, I appreciated the fanfare heading into Cinderella Castle. As a runner, I wish I could have flown through the castle like I see those runners do in the Runners World magazines. BUT, I did get to see the murals on the inside of the castle!

Castle

Before Mile 6, it was definitely bathroom time, so I zoomed into one before leaving the MK. I was happy that people were getting in and out quickly; I don’t think anyone wanted to get swept while taking a bathroom break!

By the time mile 7 came, my legs were on autopilot. BioFreeze became my best friend on this run, and I was careful not to get it all over my phone! I was starting to run in the grass just to get by people around mile 9, which was nice on my legs and knees. Along the second half, I ran into a girl that I met on the bus going to the motel on Friday. Her name was Valerie and her friends were dressed up as the Dalmatians! We ran together for a few miles, evaded the evil Sweeper girls, and got up those pesky hills.

PHM 2013 Mulan PHM 2013 more people

When I saw the outlines of Spaceship Earth, I knew the end was coming. I saw a woman with all five of her Princess Medals on cheering us up that last bypass. I turned around and saw the throngs of people behind me…

PHM 2013 Mile 11 people line

Holy people! I was relieved that I wasn’t going to be the last person to finish, and I kept going, soon landing in EPCOT. Home stretch! Down the main strip of EPCOT, back up, around the corner, go backstage…

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–hey, there’s the gospel choir!–

…and there’s the finish line!! I ran down that street and I knew I was on top of the world. I totally felt like a rock star.

PHM 2013 finish

I knew I wanted to make my first run memorable, and what memorable way to do it by running in Disney!

Finisher Photo


Super cute, right? You always remember your first race.

Lessons that I can remember:

  1. Running with a phone in your hand….gaaaaaah. That was simply annoying. As easy as it was to have quick access for photo taking and whatnot, it slowed my time down considerably. I know I was only in this first race for fun, and I did it in 3:25:31, but I had to tear the battery out and let the phone reboot a few times, plus it was all sweaty and gross. For 2014 GSC, I invested in an Armpocket. Best decision ever.
  1. Invest in legitimate running clothes. For this race, I sort of went into it blindly when it came to clothes. (See pictures above.) My shorts were fine, my trademark bow was pink and cute, but my top was a different story. I used a tank from Old Navy…and a cotton sports bra. Not one of the fancy ones. This caused uncomfortable chafing for a few days after. I soon invested in a VSX sports bra from Victoria’s Secret and it’s been my go-to style ever since.
  1. Don’t immediately get on your flight a couple of hours after the race. We had thought the resort would have given us a later check out due to the race. But this wasn’t the case. Once off the course, we had to find the bus, get back to the hotel, pack, and immediately take off for MCO. This was so inconvenient, plus painful. I hadn’t had time to shake it all out after (I’m talking hours of walking in EPCOT or Magic Kingdom in the days after a race), so I was stiff and sore and limpy for about a week. So…take the extra day or two and stay in the parks. You can get your Disney geek on while walking and stretching.
  1. runDisney. You have to do it at least once. The hype is incredible. Registration can be messy. But if you’re willing to put the time and patience into training and planning, every mile truly is magic!

Do you remember your first race? Did you start off with a 5K and slowly increase mileage, or go crazy like me and decide to start off with a huge distance for your first race? Was it runDisney, or another series?

If you’ve made it this far, congrats! Thanks for reading, and if you’re running this weekend (*cough*WineandDine*cough*), best of luck!

*~*Christina*~*