Happy Medal Monday…and NYE!

Happy December 31st! 2018 was a solid year with regard to running: five races, one in each of the distances I run. Two PRs (Cherry Blossom and Berlin Marathon), my first World Marathon Major (Berlin), and Perfect Fairy Tale Challenge status!

I’m currently planning for 2019, and I can happily add a third Cherry Blossom 10-Miler for April! I’m setting goals behind the scenes also, and I can’t wait to share those as the year progresses.

Happy NYE and hello, 2019! I hope y’all have a healthy and prosperous year! 💖✨🎀

Let’s Talk: Cone Alley

We’re two weeks from Princess Half 2018 weekend, and a hot topic among veterans and rookies alike is how to navigate the dreaded Cone Alleys that sprinkle the course.

First, let’s locate these on the map:

Mile 4-ish: This one of the biggest elevation changes in the race, and it is just past the TTC parking lot. You will descend and then ascend as you go under a bridge. Upon ascension, you will run parallel to Contemporary Resort and head toward Space Mountain.

Study these pictures for a moment. Not only do you have one half of a road to run on, and cars WILL be on the other side, so don’t think about jumping the cones, but you have a sidewalk on your left. Don’t be so caught up in taking pictures that you trip and fall. Many runners eat concrete here, so mind your footing and if you need to walk, stay to the right. You’re gonna be pushing to make it up the hill, so focus on making it.

Second area is just after the 6.8 halfway mark behind Magic Kingdom. This is the worst of the two Alleys:

Cones go on for at least a mile and a half or more. You will run with Grand Floridian on your left and the golf courses on your right. You’ll have shade at least for a little bit until the sun peaks and then you’re roasting.

When runners turn the corner and see these, their mental state immediately goes down the toilet. You don’t have much room to move, and the grass on the sloping hills to the left of the road will still be wet. Don’t run in this unless you want wet shoes! This will end around 8.something, near the Jelly Belly station and the road opens up again.


Navigating Cone Alley takes patience, and a whole hell of a lot of it. Pace groups will be run/walking, friends will hog the road seven-deep, and all forms of etiquette go out the door, along with your pace. Don’t be surprised if you add 5+ minutes a mile in this section.

Do your best to run single file in this section. Share the road with other runners. People tend to get nasty and cranky, so don’t let them deter your mood. Play some happy music and think good thoughts.

If you are grooving and come up to a wall of people, do not be afraid to loudly say, “Excuse me, runner coming through!” and break that wall. They’ll be pissy for two seconds, but let it go; it’s your race, not their’s.

Don’t even think about jumping those cones. That empty lane is reserved for emergency vehicles and other traffic. You risk getting hit, or taken out of the race by officials if caught. Orlando Police line these alleys and keep an eye out for jumpers. Don’t get arrested.


Any other advice for navigating Cone Alley?! Sound off in the comments!

Universal Orlando Fun Run 5K Recap

It was a very early Saturday morning when I woke up  for the company fun run. Having slept about three hours the night before (on top of taking two flights back from DC), I knew the run wasn’t going to be decent. I had the goal of breaking sub :30 in the 5K, and thought this race would be the one to do it.

I hadn’t run since Marine Corps; I walked a lot at work! But mileage at work doesn’t substitute well for legitimate racing miles.

Anyway.

UO Fun run

The field was slightly more than 1,000, which was perfect. The announcers were asking for competitive runners to be in the front, slightly less competitors in the middle, and walkers/strollers in the back. I thought this was very fair. I lined up near the front, still with that sub :30 on my mind.

At 6AM, we counted down and raced through the gates to Islands of Adventure!

 

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All of my pictures are going to be horrendously dark until the end. 

 

The course was very windy, as we alternated from onstage and offstage/backstage areas often. We were in the presence of our most majestic attractions, such as Hulk, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, Poseidon’s Fury, and Hogwarts Castle!

I started out fantastically, with my first quarter of a mile hovering around 2:30. I slowed for a quick walk interval, then started back up again. The route ran through Marvel: Superhero Island, and the characters began. I never stop for characters in runDisney races, but seeing as there were very few people comparatively doing this race, I felt it obligatory to stops for some characters:

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Comic Book Strip and Toon Lagoon were next:

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Then Jurassic Park and Hogsmeade!

 

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Frog Choir!

 

Even with character stops, my first mile was around 13 minutes. Not bad.

To clarify, this was a non-chipped race. Nothing is officially official, and I’m going off of my watch data.

We ran out of Hogsmeade and through The Lost Continent. All of the decorations were on as we traversed through Seuss Landing.

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Hooking a left out of Seussland, we started the ever-so-boring backstage portion.

Soon, we were in Universal Studios Florida, and the second half of the race!

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I took it easy and just absorbed the emptiness of the park, along with the decorations. It was sooo relaxing to take in the scenery without guests or a ton of runners. It was a relatively quiet race (no spectators, either, since the park hadn’t opened up at that point).

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My pace had slowed down even more, but I was suprisingly okay with it. I was just on the lookout for the next character stop!

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By the time I finished the race (51:25), I had a PR for character stops with 11.

UO FUn run finish

I met up with some of my attractions team and we proceeded through the breakfast line, which is better than any recovery box I’ve ever received.

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All in all, a good day for my first and only 5K of the year!

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2017 Marine Corps Marathon Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sort of.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. We were so over it by this point.

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

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

Left up the hill…

Support crew selfie!


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

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

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

Christine also came over and celebrated with us!!


Christina’s Post-Race Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

The Weekly Review

Going to try something new here in the form of a Weekly Review. (Named as such until I can think of something cooler. Maybe I’ll bring back the runDisneyBelle Review…better alliteration…)

Thoughts on the Week:

-2017 is flying by way too fast. I cannot believe that TOMORROW IS APRIL 1ST. Just…wow. Where has this year gone?! I feel like I turn around and lo and behold, it’s Friday. (and this is after thinking that every day of the week is Thursday.)

 

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DC is blooming! Caught these tulips in Lafayette Park.

 

-I’m closing in on my one-year anniversary here in Washington D.C. on Monday (woooo). I’ve never been able to say that I’ve been with a company for an entire year, since I’ve spent most of my 20’s in university (that equates to semester assistantships/jobs or something seasonal in the retail/restaurant industry). I’m mentally preparing a more in-depth retrospect of my past year for Monday, so stay tuned.

 

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Meanwhile, in running land…

 

Welcome to Marine Corps Marathon Lottery Week! This is a pretty suspenseful week as marathon hopefuls put their names into the abyss in hopes that they get picked to run The People’s Marathon (also known as The Marathon of the Monuments). Above is my “The waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!” face.

So I waited and waited some more. Thursday was MCM Notification Day (aka “Break Your Refresh Key Day)…

And there was celebration! I am SO happy to have been picked for the 42nd MCM, and for good reason: it was my first marathon. And it was also the marathon where I got my first DNF in 2015. It is going to mean SO much to exact revenge on the course that did me in. Must do. Can do. Will do.

 

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It is also Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Miler weekend!! Also known as the Runner’s Rite of Spring, the CUCB 10M draws runners from national and international fields, with large prize pools and fast times. The CUCB course, which will take place in D.C. around the Tidal Basin, Rock Creek Park, and Hains Point, is super flat with an elevation change of only 31 feet at most, so there will be exciting racing within the elite field. There will also be a 5K run/walk after the 10 Milers have taken off. There will be roughly 16,000 participants (almost like a runDisney race!), and hopefully the remaining blossoms haven’t fallen off the trees yet. Temperatures are projected to be in the low to mid 40’s on race morning with sunshine (which is like a heat wave compared to Rock ‘n’ Roll DC a few weeks ago), so we should be good to go!


 

Congrats to the MCM Class of 2017! Let’s get out there and rock it! And good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

Anything notable happen to you this week?

 

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

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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.”

 

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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

 

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“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!

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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…


 

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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”.

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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…

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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!

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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!