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.

WDW Marathon
-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!

img_4194


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)

Advertisements

runDisney Tips and Tidbits

So, you want to run Disney. Congrats!

Many runners often start their journeys at one of the races that are offered at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, or Disneyland in California. No matter the location, there are some written and unwritten rules about navigating the landscape that should be established and researched prior to toeing the line. Some may seem obvious, others may be total news to you. Whether you’re running your first 5K or 25th marathon, these rules of the road from myself and other runDisney veterans will hopefully make your experience more enjoyable.

The 25th anniversary of Marathon weekend is coming up fast, and I posed the question to runDisney Twitter of what advice would you provide before racing. I have compiled my advice and that of others here in this post. This list is not all inclusive, as it would take months to compile an exhaustive document.

Take some of this with a grain of salt, as it may come off with a sarcastic tone. You’ve been informed.

Grab a snack and take notes…

BcXP1t8IMAAoc2c

Christina’s List of runDisney Tidbits and Advice:

-The Expo can be nuts. Be prepared by printing out your waiver, signing it, and having proper ID before coming to your booth. It expedites the process. Printers are available on site if you need them.

-If you’re planning on heading to the parks at any point during the race weekend, be aware that it is still peak season. Holiday décor will be abundant and many schools may  still be on break. Get your Fastpasses and ADRs early, and be prepared for long wait times at favorite attractions. Bring a book, magazine, and a spare phone charger.

-Bear in mind that runners of all nationalities will be descending into FL. Some of them do not understand the concept of runner’s etiquette and personal space, and can come off as brash and rude. (It’s part of their culture.) Deal with them however you need to; just don’t go to jail. That’s a lot of registration money down the drain if you do so.

-If you get hurt in training, or and think pixie dust will get you through the race, you’re sadly mistaken. If you are injured, you are taking a huge risk by furthering said injury on the course. Listen to your body.

-Don’t gorge yourself on too much sugar-laden park food or alcohol before you race. A drink or a treat is fine. Save the bottle of wine and Kitchen Sinks for after.

-Be prepared for ANY kind of weather. 2017 saw a cold front move through during race weekend, causing various weather patterns (10K was rain, half was cancelled due to storms), leading into wind and freezy ice cold for the full. Florida, surprisingly, is more than sand and sun! At least there won’t be any hurricanes during this time.

-Wear sunscreen, no matter what the weather is. I underestimated the amount of sun on 2017 marathon day, despite the 35 degree temps and 15 mph winds, and ended up with a nice burn.

-Sleep is good for the soul, ESPECIALLY if you’re doing Goofy or Dopey. Don’t let FOMO keep you from achieving your rest. Trust me, you’re not missing much.

-For the love of crap, don’t wear your “I Did It” shirt WHILE ON THE RACE COURSE RACING THE DISTANCE ADVERTISED ON YOUR SHIRT. You will get so many side eyes, you’ll be running through a sea of eyeballs.

-Leave earlier than anticipated if you’re driving. I panic if I know I’m running late, and much prefer driving in early so I can avoid traffic chaos.

-Nothing new on race day. The ONLY exception is for those things which you have been training with. For example: socks. I prefer a fresh pair of Thorlos Experia socks on race morning; I have been using them for five years and they  fit the best right out of the package.

-To prevent foot chafing, slather them up with Vaseline before putting on your socks.

-You’ll be hanging out in the corrals a LOT longer than you may realize, especially if you’re in the back. Bring throwaway clothes and hand warmers because you will start to get cold.

-If you are a female and take gels before racing, stick one in your sports bra. It’ll be toasty warm and delicious by consumption time.

-Balloon ladies are not to be feared. They’re very encouraging and are on your side—they want you to finish!! They start after the LAST runner crosses the start line. Then the game is on.

-First couple miles are just mass hoards of runners jockeying for position. Bring your patience. Watch for those runners who are not educated in runner’s etiquette and suddenly stop in the middle of the road while doing intervals without signaling.

-More miles than not are on long, lonely stretches of highway.

-If you plan on social media-ing during a race, your photos, statuses, and tweets will take a LOT longer to upload because of the concentration of runners in one location trying to do the same thing.

-If you plan on listening to music during the race, don’t blare your tunes so loud that you can’t hear your surroundings.

-If you plan on taking pictures, put your phone into airplane mode to conserve battery.

-Ladies-it’s okay to pee in the men’s room. Just announce that a lady is coming in and do your business. Hint: no one cares.

-Cinderella castle truly is the wretched bottleneck that race veterans talk about. Everyone stops and slogs through because there are photopass photographers taking pictures just on the other side. Here’s a hint—keep running through, and if you really want a castle pic, come back post-race and do a medal shot.

-Speaking of post-race medal shots, there are more photographic places around WDW to this at. Cinderella Castle is okay, but get creative! No one like the same boring shot at the same place clogging their media feeds.

-Cone Alley(s) are worse than Cindy Castle. There are several on the marathon route, guarded and watched by local police. Do NOT try to run on the other side of these. You will get caught, possibly pulled from the course, possibly hit by another vehicle (as it IS reserved for emergency vehicles).

-Speaking of EMS vehicles, it is entirely possible that you will hear sirens and/or see lights at some point during the race. Stay alert of your surroundings and get the hell out of the way. If someone has dropped on the course, time is of the essence. If someone is engrossed in their headphones, get them out of the way.

-Mile 8-9 is by the Grand Flo, and you’ll be hit with a blast of sun, provided that the sun wants to make an appearance.

-Upon entering AK, there may be cute fuzzy animals to pet 🙂

-If you have the time to ride Expedition Everest (around mile 14) and aren’t motion sensitive to coasters, go nuts. It’ll add a little time, but worth it for the bragging rights later.

-Miles 15-22 of the marathon are long and stupid and boring.

-WWOS (16-19) is a 5K of dumbfuckery and disappointment. Majority of runners hate this winding loop of torture.

-Running through World Showcase is incredible. Torches are lit, spectators are aplenty…and if you get there after 11am, you will have access to purchase alcoholic goodness. Just make sure to bring a form of payment. Favorites include:

-Grey Goose Slushie from France
-Beer Flight from UK (and turkey legs)
-More beer from Germany (and jumbo pretzels)
-Margaritas from Mexico
-Possibly wine from China/France

-Reminder: course officials have the jurisdiction to sweep at ANY point in the race. Don’t think that once you hit DHS that you’re safe. There’s no such thing as a “safe point” in a runDisney race. They can pull at any time.


RunDisney Twitter’s Contributions:

Emily (@iRunForDisney): “Any good suggestions for spectator spots during the marathon? Some midway location people could go and then make it to the finish line in time to see the runner cross?”

“Hogwarts running club has a sign that says, ‘No, we aren’t in the wrong park?’ around Mile 4 for the half, I think!” -Lauren (@wvumello_out)
“The Animal Kingdom parking lot is a great midway spot, giving you an hour/couple of hours to get over to the end of the race, depending upon your runner’s speed.” -Eric (@ericasco)

“My fam always does Main Street, DAK and Epcot! They work harder than I do! LOL.”
“Plan your bathroom breaks, so you don’t have to use the portas!!”
-Ian (@BazTastic77)

“Cheering at the Magic Kingdom is just amazing. I was able to get there before the first runner came through and stayed all the way for the last. Then I headed to EPCOT and cheered with Team Margarita and then scooted to the finish line! A great day indeed!” -Kristen (@DisneyKrstn)

“@MissusSmith and the kid stood in the hub and then moved over to Liberty Sq. to catch us after we exited the castle.” -Chris (@DopeyRunr)

“The boardwalk by Jellyrolls is also a good (and not at all usually crowded) spot, and gives you enough time to get to the finish line after seeing your runner(s) there.” -Heather (@MissusSmith)

“Don’t try to PR!
Wear a costume!
Stop for photos!
Get there EARLY!” -@Team Shenanigans

“Riding Everest during the marathon is a MUST!”
“If you don’t like port o potties, look at the course to see what bathrooms you can use in each park.” -Jess (@loveWDW5)

“You can use the bathrooms in the parks. Nicer than a port-o-potty!” -Erin (@mulderist)

“Bring money/credit card/Magic Band to buy some food/drink on your way to the finish (or have a cheer squad help you w/purchase).”
“Don’t be afraid to go slightly off course to use bathrooms while waiting for characters in (the) park. Strangers are usually kind enough to hold your spot if you ask.” -Sarah (@essaysareayaitch)

“Hydrate, and don’t eat at Ohana the night before a race.” -Ryan (@rteetz)

“Don’t be a rude asshole? Like walking five across, stopping suddenly without warning, etc.? I feel like we can do better spreading the word.” -Elizabeth (@TrainWithBain)
“Also, some stretches where even two across can cause problems, as the route is about 2.8 people wide.” -Eric (@ericasco)

“Don’t be a jerk to other runners just because they are different than you (slower, walking, stopping for characters). Don’t walk (or run, people always put this on just walkers) more than 3 across so people can’t pass.” -Heather (@heatherw25)
“And be cognizant of whether there’s another group that is also two abreast right next to you, so that it doesn’t look like you are a group of 4 (or more) to others.” -Sarah (@essaysareayaitch)
“Yeah that’s a big issue where you get 12 people abreast on Osceola all walking the same pace even tho they’re not together – it’s still the same thing. Move over!” -Chris (@DopeyRunr)

“They give out chocolate at DHS for the marathon.”
“If you’re doing a challenge, get your legs in the pool after your races to help reduce inflammation.”
“Get a resort room near the lobby/elevator.”
“The toll booths going into the MK area are NOT bathrooms, even if it is dark in the early morning…Wait until the TTC/Tomorrowland depending on urgency.” -Eric (@ericasco)

“Whatever time you think you need to get up, get up half an hour earlier.” -Holly, Jolly Horizons (@horizons1983)

“Bring tissues in case {they’re} needed in the portapotty.” -Heather (@heatherw25)
“Wet ones in a baggie, often referred to as a sh*t kit.” -Chris (@DopeyRunr)


If you have anything to add to the running list, list it below!

Two Weeks Later…

It has been approximately 14 days since I clocked out for the last time.

14 days since ringing telephones and cacophonous nonsense filled my eardrums as the soundtrack of my days.

14 days since I last had to fight the rolling dumpster fire that is the D.C. Metro to make it to the city.

14 days since this journey to self-discovery and happiness began.

 

b10e2ffdd06792ce46a747a7a83f2aeb
source: lessonsfromcountry.tumblr.com

 

Personally, I’m doing okay. Not completely depressed, not completely overjoyed, just okay. Neutral for the time being. Trust me, it’s hard as hell to be overly excited about self-discovery journeys when you have no income coming in, your money stash is slowly dwindling, you haven’t heard back from the places you’ve applied to; you’re sure your application got lost in resume purgatory, and you want to move so badly yet are paralyzed with fear that you won’t get a job in your field and will have to settle, yet again, for a “survival job” that pays pennies when you have $163,000 of student loan debt whose looming presence suffocates you during the day and keeps you up at night .

That’s my professional life in a nutshell at the moment. So much fun.

188b065907becd3376494c94dfe6df11

However, I do have my birthday weekend coming up (which I have saved for and am getting many things comped for, thanks to Florida buddies!). The only thing I’ve had to pay for so far was my flight, which was incredibly reasonable (thanks, Jet Blue!). Now, I’ve only bought my flight down. Have yet to buy my flight back. Who knows…maybe the stars will align and something good will happen when I’m down there.


There are some happy things that are happening, such as…

I started Chicago/Marine Corps Marathon training yesterday. That’ll keep me occupied, and back into a fitness regime! Having a desk job caused me to gain between 10-13 lbs in the past year; when I was seating on the restaurant floor as a hostess, I clocked in around 10 miles per shift, and that went out the door two months later. I don’t fit into the cute summer clothes that I have, so all the more motivation to get back in the weight room!

 

DBlNr6fXgAEikHf
3 mile run to start!

 

I’ve also been asked what time I’m aiming for, and since Chicago is my focus race (as I am pacing three of my friends for their first full during MCM and just want to finish and gain redemption from 2015), I’m shooting for a sub 4:30. My previous three marathons (MCM 2014, WDW 2016, and WDW 2017) were all between 6:50-7:30. I was on track for a 5:24 during WDW this year, and I ended up wussing out after mile 6 when I hit cone alley. A 4:30 would be fabulous. Anything faster, well, even better!

I’ve also started a Disney Countdown on my social media accounts. I love doing this starting from ten days out, but I’m so excited that I started it from 15 days out! I pair one of my own pictures with a Disney quote and add the countdown to it. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram for the latest!

14 days
14 days: “You’re never too old to be young.” -Snow White
13 days
13 days: “To all who come to this happy place: welcome!” -Walt Disney

The sun and sand are still vivid in my mind, the echo of crashing waves and scent of salt air enticing me. I know it won’t happen tomorrow, but I know where I need to go…

e0670abee832995a04c664cae2c19fed

 

Search

 

2

 

MoveCopyDeleteCancel
0 Pins Selected

 

 

2017 WDW Marathon Recap

…four hours later…

2AM calls and I lay in bed, thinking, “Man, I had I just gone to sleep, and now it’s time for part two!” My body felt okay after the 13.1 accomplished just mere hours prior, but I knew it was gonna be hurting at some point along the marathon course.

Additionally, it was going to cold. Legit Florida freezy ice cold. With the cold front that was sweeping the nation that weekend, Orlando was spared from the wintry mixes of precipitation, but not from the biting winds. The air temperature was roughly 35-ish degrees…with NNW winds at 15mph. Real feel = -2983726 degrees (to me, anyway). The temp would get up into the 40s later on in the day, but the wind wasn’t going to cease. As I brewed my pre-race coffee and dressed in layers, I thought about the WDW Marathon in 2016, where the air temps were comfortable with lots of cloud cover, but the humidity was outrageous. I hoped for the same cloud cover for the 2017 race.

I departed around 3AM and headed to EPCOT. Rooming over in Old Town, I had about a 10, 15 minute drive over. There were a couple more cars out than last year, but I still arrived with a ton of time to spare. I kept my car idling with the heat on, organizing my new neoprene Fitletic pouch, listening to Hamilton, and sipping on warm Nuun water. (It’s not as gross as you may think. In fact, warm Nuun water is really tasty!)

Chillin with A.Ham.

I departed my toasty car (and the Hamiltunes) around 3:50 AM and made my way through the “no bag check” security line (although I did pause for a moment to open up my belt, which I was told that I was good to go). This was the first runDisney race I’ve ever taken part in where I didn’t check a gEAR bag. All I really needed was my ID, keys, phone, money, and race fuel.

I had a strategy with my race fuel. Having used Honey Stinger gels on course for the Everglades Half, I developed a preference to them over the Clif/GU gels (which are thicker and slosh around in my stomach). I had three with me, plus a new item: Run Gum! I was going to take a gel every 10K, and the Run Gum at halfway. I prepped my first gel in my sports bra to warm up (to be taken just before the corral was launched), and lined up everything else in order of consumption.

I made a beeline for the TS reunion signs, the meetup spot for Team Shenanigans—and of course, sold my kidney for some more coffee (which was warm-ish…stupid cold weather).

We all started gathering and huddling to stay warm. Silly me totally didn’t bring a blanket or extra sweats or anything, but Kristen saved the day by offering me one of her Mylar space blankies. Thanks, Kristen!!! ❤

Team Shenanigans in the house!

Once the time to depart came, we started the 20 minute corral walk. Jess, myself. and her runner buddy, James, walked together to the starting area. We bid each other farewell, and I jumped into corral J, eager to get warm. I meandered into the middle of the corral, and ducked down behind some taller runners. I made a couple of new friends and we talked about running, the weather, congratulating those that bumped from the half to the full, cheering on the firsties, and how much we wanted to be in Mickey/Donald/Goofy’s costumes at the moment.

Before long, the anthem was sung and the fireworks began to launch. It was go time!

I had about half an hour until J was launched, so I continued hunkering down and wrapping the Mylar around me. I did let people know that if they were going to run with their blankets, to open them up when they passed a timing mat, or the frequency waves would not register their time. The runDisney announcers were encouraging us to actually get rid of the blankets, and I ditched mine as our corral was pulling up to the line. I also downed my first gel (which was deliciously warm!) and got ready to go.

The second we started, the wind kicked up. I was SO glad that I was wearing gloves (although I KNEW I should have worn a hat, too). The first few miles were honestly fantastic. I ran into Doug, Brittany, Caryn, and Susanna of Team Shenanigans and we entered Magic Kingdom together.

During Mile 4, I ran past the same portapotties that squashed my sub-3 dreams during Princess Half 2016. I laughed internally, as I was feeling awesome on the insides, and kept on going towards Contemporary and Space Mountain.

My first five miles were absolutely incredible. I was holding a 12:24-ish pace and was estimated to finish in…wait for it…5:24:00.

A 5:24 marathon? That’s an hour and a half PR! Whaaaaaat.

Soon we were running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom and stopped over to some of the team members who offered us caramels and M&Ms and treats of all sorts. I could feel the bathroom calling, so I took off again through Tomorrowland and up through New Fantasyland.

I approached the bathrooms and saw that the line for the women’s room was, as always, out the door. I overheard a woman asking her friend behind me, “Is it okay to use the men’s restroom?”

Yep, it sure is!” I replied instantly, reflecting on Princess Half 2015 when I did just that. (When ya gotta go, you gotta go!) I beelined for the entrance and called in, “Lady coming through! Gotta pee!” I rushed over to the first available stall and did my business, and got out of there.

The rest of MK was decent: through the castle, into Liberty Square and Adventureland, and finally backstage.

Up until the first 10K mark, I was doing great. My pace was en pointe and I wasn’t too winded or overheated. I downed my second gel and started into Cone Alley, which instantly zapped my mental state. I stuck to the right hand side and walked the length of it, my time significantly decreasing by five minutes per mile. (Going from 11, 12-minute miles to 17…15..16…yeeeeeah. -_____-)

At mile eight, right by the Grand Floridian, I was hit with a huge burst of sun. Lovely. And there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Also lovely.

After a few highway miles, the second park appeared around mile 13.1: Animal Kingdom!

I took my Run Gum at this point and felt some more pep in my step…and the drop in my stomach of looking at my Garmin and seeing it just about to die even though I had fully charged it the night before. Gaaaaaaaah. (I only have splits up until Mile 15 before I had it save the run as is.)

I ran into fellow Shenanigators Rebekah and Raymond (and even Ian in passing!) and we proceeded to head to Expedition Everest. We had about a 45 minute advantage over the balloon ladies, so why not ride a roller coaster in the middle of a marathon?!

That tacked on about ten minutes to my run time, but it was so worth it. We wound our way out of AK and past the sewage/water treatment/stinky place, where I had to make another pit stop. (Trying to put your running tights back on after peeing in the cold is such a drag!)

I halted my Garmin at mile 15, and continued along the “scenic” route towards Wide World of Sports (which included Cone Alley #2). The sun was out in full force, but I didn’t think too much of it because of the wind. Heh…if I only knew what I’d be waking up to the following morning in terms of sunburn…

I was mentally all over the place in the second half of the run. I kept up with a Galloway pace group (I think maybe the 5:45 group). I texted Chris on occasion, mentioning, “I am seriously questioning my life choices right now.” My knees were aching and my left hamstring felt weird, so I took it easy (i.e. dawdling). I couldn’t Biofreeze anything because I couldn’t pull up my tights past my calves to get to my knees.

However, I was more upset about the fact that I seemingly let a huge PR slip from my fingers. I mean, I was freakin’ ELATED over the fact that if I simply kept up my pace after the first 10K and not wimped out like I typically do, I could have had a hell of a performance. But nope. It’s better to finish the race alive and in once piece. Plus, I had a margarita to earn in Mexico later on!

I met back up with Jess and James around Mile 16-ish, and Mile 18 led us to Wide World of Sports…the literal hell of the WDW Marathon.

As far as I know, nobody is a huge fan of these three miles. It’s just down and around, up and about through the track and practice fields and baseball diamond. At least the 20M mark was here…10K left to go!!

I also saw Jackie of Team Shenanigans entering the diamond just as I was leaving it. I swear, we are everywhere!! It was also nice that the volunteers kept mentioning that the rest of the team was ahead of me. That was a comforting feeling, knowing they had my back like that.

I exited WWOS and headed down the highway (and up the Green Army Men overpass) towards Hollywood Studios.

I was getting so relieved that there were only a few more miles to go. I started down the path towards the Boardwalk, enjoying the sights and scenery (I am partially biased towards this area…it’s too beautiful!).

I kept updating the team on my whereabouts and how much closer I was getting to Mexico. I rounded the corner behind World Showcase/United Kingdom to throngs of supporters and heroic music blasting on the speakers overhead. Almost done!!

I met up with Team Margarita outside of the cantina and got my beverage. I proceeded to sip and savor the limey deliciousness as I crossed the finish line of my third marathon in 7:30:23, and finished my first ever Goofy Challenge!


Christina’s Post-Marathon Thoughts:

  1. Be prepared for ANY type weather. Look at the long-range forecast for the area you’re going to run, and bring appropriate clothing. This will save you a trip to the local store and a decent chunk of money. I guess a lot of runners were stocking up on cold weather goods at the expo. While that’s great and all…that adds up rather quickly. Also, running in the cold is going to zap your energy faster. Stay warm, and hydrated! You may not feel thirsty, but you’re still exerting energy in the form of exercise.
  2. If you want to run faster, you have to train faster. I can attribute those first five or six miles of amazingness to speed work and strength training in the gym. Now that I know what that speed feels like, I can be more prepared for future races and build up my stamina.
  3. Sunscreen for days. I brought a ton of it with me, and barely used it. I really should have layered it on, even though it was cold and windy.
  4. Get plenty of rest the night before. Four hours of sleep going into a marathon will suffice…sort of. Aim for seven or eight hours for optimal performance. I would have been at EPCOT sooner to do my WDW Half had it not been for the lines to get into WWOS and the traffic getting out. I ended up two hours behind schedule and got home way later than I wanted to.
  5. Check your shoes. This is a big one, especially for those of us that accomplish this lifestyle on a budget. I have never been properly fitted for running shoes (gait analysis, the whole nine yards), and I’ve been operating out of the same pair of shoes for the last year (which, by now, are weeeeelllllll worn in). I feel incredibly guilty shelling out for new shoes, especially since I made my very first pair last about three years with no issues whatsoever. I now have a peroneal tendon strain in my left foot that I’m currently nursing, and I honestly blame my ill-fitting shoes. With that said, make sure your equipment is in good repair before utilizing it for any race.
  6. If you are considering the Goofy or Dopey multi-day challenges, start preparing as early as you can. 39.3 and 48.6 miles on your legs are no joke, and the multiple days of waking up early can wreak havoc on you mentally and physically. Take it easy in the parks, refuel as needed, and make sure you’re resting and stretching! Don’t underestimate the mileage.

    Thanks for following along! There will be more pictures of cool Disney and Universal things to come. Next adventure: Glass Slipper Challenge 2017!

2017 DIY WDW Half Marathon

img_3904

By now, the majority of you know the basics of what went down at the WDW Half: storms ripped through, race got cancelled. When I awoke Saturday morning, the first thing I checked was the radar. All I could think of was, “runDisney made the right call.”

 

img_3906
I love storms, but I’m not running in this.

 

I hopped onto my other social medias, and was immediately inspired. Many runners were laced up and running around their resorts! And some had even done their mileage the previous night before the storms moved in! Treadmills were occupied, fans and supporters were along the routes cheering, and the Disney cast members brought their A game, setting up tables and cups for hydration stops while other runners brought out candy and other goodies.

My eyes were glued to my Twitter feed, constantly updating for the latest news. This was the running community at its finest: we’re there to work (in the form of miles and medals), so we worked. So many stories and accounts of runners trekking through the resorts and parks sparked a new life in the runDisney community. You could give us oranges and we’d still make lemonade out of them!

img_3897

In my opinion, runDisney did a decent job with regard to communications. From the first instant that they knew something could go wrong with race day, they were on top of their game, letting runners and spectators know what was going on and directing that information across every channel they had: social media, the digital event guide, the race website, and even signs on the sandwich boards in the resorts. (I’ve heard some complaints about the timing of the information being released, but give them some credit: they have X amount of cast members trying to update and format X amount of communication platforms. Not everything is going to be “going live” right when they say it’s going to. Cut them some slack; they did the best they could with what they had.) Cast members kept their cool as they were peppered with hundreds of questions which they had just received the answers for. Once the ultimate decision was reached, obviously there was disappointments, and even outbursts of anger among some. True, we all spent a lot of money and time getting TO Disney, and a hell of a lot of time training on top of all of that. I can understand disappointment…but think of it like such: lightning is deadly. If a bolt struck a runner within a corral (and with 98% of us geared up with electronics and costumes and other random things, the probability was high), it would wipe out all 2,000 runners in that corral. runDisney was looking out for us. They also broke out their secret “Race Gets Cancelled, Open This” compensation plan and offered several alternatives for challenge and half runners. Since I was doing Goofy, my half marathon fees would be refunded in the form of a gift card (soon to be mailed), and I’d be getting my half medal at the conclusion of the marathon on Sunday.

img_3905

With all that said, here’s how my day actually went…


*Woke up and watched Beauty and the Beast with Chris. (Perfect precursor to the Be Our Guest reservation for Sunday night!)

img_3907

*Headed to the expo so Chris could pick up his medal (since he was doing just the half).

 

img_3919
“It’s the Great Car Half Marathon!” -Chris

 

*Waited out in the rain and snaked the line all the way around WWOS for half an hour. We even got a character stop!

img_3920
Wait time: 30 minutes. No Fastpasses.

*Jumped back in the car and headed over to EPCOT (albeit very slowly. It took forever and a day to get out of the parking lot). That’s where our DIY WDW Half would begin…


 

img_3940
All the miles! All the food! All the friends!

 

We arrived around 2PM, and from the moment our feet hit the pavement, we were off. The only thing on our mind at the moment was bratwurst (and our team meetup in Mexico). After cruising through security, we were on our way to Germany!

Along the way, we were keeping a steady pace, and getting compliments from fellow runners along the way! We hit World Showcase and said a quick hi to our fellow teammates at Mexico before we bolted for Germany. The weather was chilly and gloomy…but it didn’t stop us from our first fun stop of the “race”.

img_3935
Mmmm…beer…and brats…

 

We piggybacked to Mexico and met up with Team Shenanigans for good times and our traditional boat ride.

From Mexico, we made a day out of traversing World Showcase and Future World, stopping plenty of times for rides and shenanigans…

img_3983img_3992

As Chris and I were heading up the bridge by France, I heard a voice ask…”runDisneyBelle?” Turns out it was Ted (@BigGoofyRunner!)! It’s always great to meet the online running community in real life. You can read about his WDWHalf adventures here!

After a few loops and some laps around The Land with Jess, Kristin, and Jackie, we headed over to the Boardwalk to mix things up a little! By then, the sun had gone down and it was getting windy and cold. My tolerance for cold is next to none (I seriously turn into Elsa!), and I ducked into a gift shop to buy gloves.

We were nearing the 13.1 mark and we had to head back to the car anyway, so we returned to EPCOT and continued walking circles until we finally hit the half marathon mark! Woohoo!

img_4024

After a victory ride on Spaceship Earth (and a five minute escape from the cold), we headed to the ferry boat and back to the car. I got back to my hotel around 9:30 PM, and immediately laid out my flat runner for Sunday morning. Those 13.1 miles were going to catch up to me in about seven hours, and 2AM was going to come way too soon…


Shoutout to ALL of the athletes who completed their improvised WDW Half Marathons last weekend. Y’all are such an inspiration! Check out the hashtag #wdwhalf on the socials and see what went down those days. You are now a part of history, and will have stories for years to come. Your dedication and resilience during a time of frustration and disappointment truly shows the heart and soul of what the running community is all about: we don’t back down from our goals, and consistently persevere–even when the situation isn’t perfect–to get shit done. And that is what we did.

 

Next up: 2017 WDW Marathon recap! 

2017 WDW Marathon Expo

After many a delay on I-95 on Thursday on my journey down to Florida, I finally arrived that evening around 8:00 PM. I had originally planned to go to the expo that evening, but had to settle for the following day. Friday rolled around and it was sunny and beautiful outside…far cry from the coldness I left up in Maryland the day before. I arrived early to Wide World of Sports around 10:00 AM, and joined the throngs of runners eagerly awaiting to pick up their bibs and race goodies.

img_3787-2img_3791-1

The lines to get into the HP Field house wrapped around several times outside, but the lines moved fairly quickly (even though we were all asking where we could get our Fastpasses!)

Once inside, I made a beeline for the Goofy Challenge bib pickup, got in and out in two minutes, then proceeded to explore the expo with Jess, Kristin, and Jackie!

img_3806-2img_3807-2img_3808-2img_3809-2

The New Balance shoes were so en pointe this year. In stead of being character themed, they were ride themed!

img_3793-2

 

The official weekend clothes were really cute, but soooo expensive. The marathon jacket was so sleek in its red and black!

img_3805-1img_3802-2img_3804-2img_3803

The Dooney and Bourke bags were also on sale. The pattern is too cute! (I wish the bag was in black, though.)

 

There was also a plethora of race banners with the courses on them. I found these to be a perfect combination!

img_3814-1

img_3797-2
Happiest Mickey ever!

I often don’t purchase official race merch, due to pricing; the race shirts that we get with registration suit me just fine. I was a big fan of the colors this year, especially the royal blue for the marathon!

 

The runDisney booth had their medals on display, and I caught a glimpse of the Princess Half Marathon weekend medals!


img_3884-3

As the sun began to set on Friday, all eyes began to turn towards the radar. There had been talks about calling the WDW Half due to impending storms. If runDisney made the decision to cancel, it would be the first time in 24 years that runDisney had cancelled a race. Additional communication was sent out to runners in the afternoon and early evening hours with regard to monitoring the weather, and around 10pm, the race was called. 

What happened on Saturday would forever make its mark on the running community, and in runDisney history. Stay tuned…

2016 In Review

And here we are, once again. The Year In Review.

2016 was quite a year. Let’s take a look back…

I kicked off the year with a new car and my #AreWeThereYet road trip to Disney World for WDW Marathon weekend. (I deemed my “revenge race” after failing to finish the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon). I entered the weekend feeling rather miserable and isolated and nervous…and left feeling fulfilled and fuzzy inside; I attended my first runner meetup with We Run Social, and I joined Team Shenanigans. I learned that runner camaraderie can really pull you out of a funk in about five seconds. All it takes is love, laughter, a margarita and a spin around Mexico.

I didn’t know it at the time, but at a Kappa Kappa Psi meetup the night before the marathon (where it was raining cats and dogs), I would meet a Life Member who would eventually adopt me as his new Little. (Long story short: when you’re a colonist for your chapter, you don’t necessarily get a Big, so you’re kinda on your own to figure everything out.) Chris is a major piece of my 2016 story, on fraternal/professional/friendship levels. He claimed, “You look like you need a Big Brother”, and history took off from there. We have traveled many places this year, had many deep talks about life, and there are more adventures in store in the coming future. I encouraged him to start running, and his first race was the Dark Side 10K. He paced me for an 8:55 mile in March (even on my bum knee from GSC weekend), we ran our first race together in October (Run For The Badge, right here in D.C.), and I paced him for the Everglades Half Marathon in November. We have several races lined up for 2017, including the WDW Half and the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Marathon (his first full!).


One of the biggest highlights of my year came with the penning of the Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide. I have a knack for telling stories and writing how-to guides (it’s the internal teacher in me). 2016 was my fourth PHM and third Glass Slipper Challenge. I was reading on many groups about how many firsties were freaking out about the little things, and knew I had to do something to assuage and educate them that there was nothing to really be concerned about. The series became a huge success, and I received many thank yous from readers while attending meetups and while on the course during the races!

A major goal of 2016 was to PR in my races, especially the half marathon (which I have now deemed my distance). I went into PHM weekend aiming for a sub-3 hour half…and ended up with my second worst half to date. I dealt with GI issues the entire week leading up to the race and during, and it affected my performance for both races. (Note: fiber is your friend!) I also left that weekend was an injury to my left knee (runner’s knee), and it stalled my Run the Year 2016 efforts for a month and a half….

…but 2016 also yielded many athletic firsts: sporting Sparkle Skirts (#BeAwesome, Team Sparkle!), volunteering for races, cheering for runners during Marine Corps Marathon, and running 5Ks/virtual races. This year yielded to eleven medals (with a twelfth and thirteenth on the way), my first finisher mug, a couple of personal records, so many fun memories, and eyes to 2017.

 

The travel bug bit once again, and I found myself traveling: Pennsylvania (I surprised Chris for his birthday with tickets for Eastern State Penitentiary’s Terror Behind the Walls experience), Florida (because Food and Wine/Flower and Garden/Halloween Horror Nights/Everglades Half racecation), and a road trip to Georgia (wedding time!!).

1281d491-a54d-4a2b-a790-ee875f0579b09b1cd2f1-e2e5-44c9-bb79-26c8a6f9e3a6

My travels were not quite as diverse as 2014 or 2015, but I’m still glad I escaped the rat race that is Washington D.C. Speaking of D.C., I finally ended up getting my first legit job almost a year after graduating graduate school. After my job search in the higher ed/student affairs department yielded a big goose egg, I am now currently in the hospitality/food and beverage industry (which is far more intricate and intense than one may realize). It’s still not my dream career, but I’m trying to make it work the best that I can. It definitely has its ups and downs, and but I am semi-content with where I am at the moment. How much longer I stay here working in such a large city, I really do not know. I’ve come to terms that I am not a city girl at all, and I so much prefer a rural, quiet life. I am often riddled with anxiety and stress that sometimes affects my performance, but I have a great team of managers and staff that have my back and keep me sane.

I made my way up to Edinboro this fall to watch the latest class of Kappa Kappa Psi brothers get inducted for my chapter. While there, I was officially presented with the “Miss Nu Zeta” award for “unswerving support of the organization and members since the founding of the chapter”. What can I say…I love my brothers, and am still incredibly honored to have made such an impact on the organization that it yielded to an accolade of sorts. 🙂

kkpsi-2016


I am very much looking forward to 2017. There are some big events on the horizon, such as four marathons (yes, four…with focus on the Chicago Marathon!), runDisney funtimes, Kappa Kappa Psi National Convention in Orlando, and turning the big 3-0 in June!


Thanks for following along with me this year! If you ever have a topic that you would like me to write about, don’t hesitate to suggest it. I’m always looking for fun things to write about (runDisney or otherwise). Have a fantastic New Year’s, and I will see you in 2017 from the place Where Dreams Come True!

Fireworks WMK II

❤ Christina ❤