Everglades Half: Trifecta and Club Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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More pictures coming soon!

 

The Great runDisney Debate…To GSC or Not to GSC?

So…here we are.

Princess Half registration is coming.

Glass Slipper registration is coming.

Usually I’d be bouncing off the walls with anticipation.

But this year? Not so much.

For the first time since 2012, I haven’t felt the same pangs of anticipation and happiness like I typically do for my signature runDisney event.

Honestly, I feel…hollow. Numb. Apathetic.

Can I even say…burned out?

InsideOut

I’ll admit, runDisney is highly addicting. The feeling when you run down Main Street U.S.A. toward the castle cannot be replicated. Accomplishing your fitness goals at the Happiest Place on Earth yields the same reaction. The energy and camaraderie (for the most part) is contagious among veterans and firsties alike, and we’re all in it together to get across the finish line. In subsequent years, you give back and become one of those cheerleaders/kinda-sorta “runDisney Experts” and offer your advice and words of wisdom through social media and IRL.

It’s exciting and thrilling…but also mentally draining, and…perhaps to an extent…

Unfulfilling?

I have been debating heavily for a few weeks now (and the thoughts have crossed my mind for months) about registering for 2017’s Glass Slipper Challenge. For those that have followed my blog and socials, you know that this is my signature weekend: PHM 2013 was my first ever race, I’m on track to be a GSC legacy (three for three so far!), and I wrote an entire PHM Survival Guide last year detailing multiple aspects that runners should be aware of when they meddle in the middle of the magical mess* that is runDisney.

(*If you got the “Cabinet Battle #2” Hamilton reference, give yourself a gold star.)

When I went down for GSC this year, I felt mentally prepared. I essentially reviewed everything I knew through my Survival Guide and couldn’t have been more prepared logistically. Physically, however, was a different story. (For those wondering, little to no fiber + long days = massive stomachaches and no PRPs.) When I finally arrived to do the race weekend, I felt like I was going through the motions: go here for packet pick up, browse the expo, spend money on some things (or not at all!), sleep/wake/leave/arrive at ass-o-clock in the morning, be herded into intensely packed corrals, run or run/walk the courses, take pictures, say hi to people, update socials along the way, cross finish line, get medal, rinse and repeat.

I’ve done the above list for four years now.

Looking at it…I don’t feel inclined to do it again. At all.

Hell, I don’t even feel like writing about anything PHM-related. (I tried doing an updated registration blog post, and I deleted it halfway through writing.)

Is it possible that this is my time with PHM/GSC is drawing nigh?

My brain says yes, and my heart is close behind.


There are far more reasons behind my decision-making than emotions, obviously. A viral blog post by Chris Smith (@DopeyRunr) of Team Shenanigans made its rounds through the runDisney world after Star Wars Dark Side weekend, which you can read here:

http://teamshenanigans.org/breaking-up-with-rundisney/

I’ve reread this several times and realized that many of my decisions to potentially give runDisney/Princess weekend a rest align with what he wrote. So, here I am to give my two cents…


1. Increase in Pricing, Decrease in Magic

We all know that runDisney is all that and a bag of marshmallows, and it ain’t cheap by ANY stretch of the imagination. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have spent to run these races in the last four years. However, for the cost that runners shell out just for registration fees, you would think that runDisney would step up their hospitality, especially since prices have increased dramatically within the last few years. In the past, there have been complimentary park registrations and goodies out the wazoo. Nothing like that is seen anymore, except for maybe the free parking fee on the morning of the races if you’re driving yourself to EPCOT. (Hey, $20 is $20. I’ll save wherever I can!)

The quality of the runDisney Experience has taken a severe nosedive in recent years, and it affects runners and non-runners alike. Tempers do run high, especially with PHM weekend. Ask yourself this: is it really worth shelling out $1000+ for a weekend just to see women fighting over wine glasses and breaking things at the expo? To watch non-runners stock up on runner-specific merchandise just to turn around and upsell it on eBay? To witness fellow runners demoralizing each other over social media through virtual catfights and name calling? To run through 13.1 miles with two character stops (when in years’ past, there would be no less than eight or nine)? To contract transportation companies with little to no knowledge about how Disney operates their bussing systems, resulting in stranded runners needing medical assistance in hot, non-shaded parking lots?

This is the sort of “Disney Magic” (or lack thereof) that deters me from participating again. With every race, the quality steps down another two or three notches. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

(Side note: can someone update the runDisney website? Please? And maybe hire a PR team to answer inquiries on a timely basis? runDisney is really lost with this whole communication thing and it loses major points every time I log on and see that the website hasn’t been updated since 2012 or something.)

2. The Racing World Extends Beyond the Walls of WDW

This is one of the biggest points I’m making with this list. There ARE other race series other than runDisney, which is something I’ve had to beat into my head recently. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC 5K in March and absolutely loved it. I’ve also run the Marine Corps Series and will be experiencing the NAFHALF in September, the Vacation Races series in November with the Everglades Half. The Hot Chocolate 15K series is another one I want to experience, as well, plus the World Marathon Majors….etc.

 

 

See what I mean?

99% of the time, these other races are far cheaper than a single race or challenge run that runDisney offers. For example, I calculated that I could do at least four RnR fulls ($80-ish/race) or halfs ($70-ish/race) for the price of Glass Slipper (around $330 for two races).

Plus, these series are offered in areas where I haven’t traveled yet, and I LOVE TO TRAVEL! Win-win.

I also have other racing goals on my mind, specifically accomplishing the World Marathon Majors and earning Hall of Fame status with Rock ‘n’ Roll. GSC legacy status is wonderful and everything, and the concept early on was enticing…but it doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I want to experience something new and fresh, and by stepping away from runDisney, I can achieve that.

3. Virtual Races Are Really Not That Bad

I have always detested virtual races.

Personally, I’ve always thought that they were never “real races”, and that people would do them as a cheap cop-out for running IRL.

Well, I’m here to apologize for that assumption. Virtuals are not that bad after all.

I experienced my first ever virtual race when I went to Atlanta at the end of June. Chris and I ran the #OrlandoUnited 5K, bibs and all. It was sunny (87 degrees with humidity around 60%), very uncomfortable, and I felt like I was gonna die (we Northerners do NOT like the heat!)…but we coached each other through and took walk breaks when we needed to. We finished around 45 minutes, and we also ran for a really great cause: through this race, Final Mile Race Management raised $100k+ for the families of the Orlando tragedy. I am SO proud to be a part of that, and we earned cute medals!

I’m here to renounce my seemingly profound hatred for virtual races, and I honestly look forward to signing up for more.

4. World Marathon Majors…London-Bound?

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Let’s jump back to #2 for a second. The World Marathon Majors is a lifetime goal of mine. My name is currently in the lottery for the London Marathon, and I’ll find out in October if I’m selected. The money that I would be using for GSC would easily go to my travel expenses. This is a hypothetical factor, obviously.

But what if I don’t get selected for London? What else can I do to kickstart my WMM journey? Fundraise for Boston, perhaps? The possibilities are endless.

5. Adulting Priorities—Financials

rundisney money

The biggest concern, of course, is the financial aspect. Judging by how much I’ve spent in the past for runDisney events, it is very easy to plunk down upwards of $1000 or more on a racecation here. With rent and transportation eating up a good chunk of my paycheck nowadays, I have to be very careful where I spend my fun money. Glancing back at point #1, the prices seem to rise for runDisney (and Disney in general) every time you turn around. By cutting out one race weekend, I can easily save (and allot for cheaper races, or funnel it into London, for example).

I did both the WDW Marathon and GSC this year, and had to get very creative on a limited budget for even the basic necessities. (Staying off-site at a hotel I found on groupon.com saved me SO much.) Don’t get me wrong, I did sign up for 2017 Goofy, so I am committed to that. I may make that my only runDisney excursion for 2017. During 2016 Marathon weekend, I managed to get everything that I needed park-wise done, and had a blast doing so. When I returned for GSC in February, I had zero desire to go back to the parks, since I was JUST there. ($220-ish saved on park admission.) I also discovered the Boardwalk and Disney Springs as being wonderful places to hang out at without paying an entry fee.

Maintaining legacy status for GSC is pretty cool and everything, but at what price? Why am I paying exorbitant fees for the same course year after year, and essentially the same medal with one or two things changed? I also ended up with a patellar tendonitis injury during GSC that set me back over a month in my running endeavors. (Probably due to the abrupt stopping and starting stress on the knees that one experiences by being on a runDisney course with a billion other runners.) Honestly, my desire to continue experiencing the same things is waning, and I’m ready to move on to other experiences in the running world (back to point #3).


Final thoughts…

Unless I find a huge pile of money somewhere, I’m going to sit out Glass Slipper 2017.

I just said that. Holy shit.

I will not be poised and ready to go at 11:50 AM on July 12th on active.com as I await the link to go active for this race.

I will calmly sit back and watch the chaos and craziness unfold before me from a distance.

I have done my time with this race weekend. Now, it’s time to pass the torch along to someone else looking to continue their legacy status, or run their first GSC.

I’ll still cheer you all on, and answer any questions you may have. After all, I’m a nice person like that.

But for me, it’s time to seek new adventures and different roads to run.

If you’re in WDW during Marathon weekend, I’ll see you there.

If you’ll be participating in 2017 Princess weekend in whatever capacity, I wish you all the best. Adjust those tutus and lace up your shoes. You have slippers and tiaras to earn.

Trust me, I will be watching. See you at the finish line.

❤ @runDisneyBelle

Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. Expo Volunteer Experience

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To kick off this D.C. racecation, I was presented with the opportunity to volunteer for the RnR DC weekend by my fellow Team Shenanigans member, Jenn (@Jenneral1 on Twitter!). I arrived at the D.C. Armory around 8:45 on Friday morning ready to work and give my fellow runners a fantastic experience.

The majority of the volunteers would be downstairs in the basement doing corral check-ins and changes. After receiving instructions from the Race Crew supervisors, Jenn and I called dibs on the Corral Change booth.

Yep, Team Shenanigans was in charge of making decisions.

For those that have never run a Rock ‘n’ Roll race, the corral changes for this series is a LOT easier than, say, runDisney. RnR corral changes are based purely off of an honour system. If you know that you’ve been training at a faster pace than the corral you are placed in, you can request to be bumped up. We make a little tally mark on the spreadsheet for statistical purposes and to make sure the corrals are filled evenly. That’s all! (There were many comments of, “That was so easy!” It is. You don’t have to sacrifice your firstborn or sell your soul to transfer corrals.)

One of the most humbling things I experienced during my time at the corral change booth was being asked questions and confidently giving advice to other runners about pacing and to provide corral options. Jenn said that it is better that experienced runners are at this booth to act as a mentor and source of information. It was awesome seeing many runners walk over with a harried, worried facial expression about their corral placement and leave with a smile and newfound energy to rock their race day.

Plus, it was great seeing runner friends, Ken (#kenthumbsup) and Malinda of @TwinsRun!!

Around 3:00, I jumped over to Corral Check-Ins. Around this time, until 7:15 or so, the traffic picked up a bunch, and volunteers were leaving their morning shifts. At one point, I was manning two corral sections due to the area being temporarily understaffed. I was put in this chaotic situation many times last summer—I worked for a whitewater rafting company, and the pre-rafting paperwork/logistics craziness that would occur in the hour before everything was to start (which I called “Power Hour”) truly prepped me for these Corral Check-In tables. (Thank you, Three Rivers crew!)

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(…after the storm at 7:15 PM. It was quiet. Too quiet….)

Our Race Crew leaders were incredibly hospitable. They made their rounds roughly every hour or so, making sure we were fed and watered appropriately. (I ate so many fruit snacks and Cheetos it was unreal.) We also got lunch and time to explore the expo. They made it known that our service and time were greatly appreciated. (If it isn’t for the volunteers dedicating themselves for however long they will be there, these races will not have the same fluidity. So make sure you thank your volunteers when you see them!)

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I will be more than happy to volunteer for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series again. I had a fantastic experience, and I encourage anyone that is even thinking about volunteering to do so. I noted that the majority of the crowds at this expo were very friendly towards us volunteers, even during peak periods. There was no drama, nothing getting broken, no craziness… just smiles and thank yous. It’s very different being on the other side, but volunteering gives you a better perspective on everything a race weekend needs to run right.

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Next up, the Rock ‘n’ Roll D.C. 5K!

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. IV, Part II

Hello, runners! We have about three weeks ’til Princess Half weekend! *listens to the cheers* As event guides and waivers are being released over the coming days, the excitement is going to increase tenfold. I know some of you are freaking out…please don’t be. This is why I take hours out of my week to write these guides for you. If I can assuage your fears even just a little bit, then I’m doing my job.

Time for Episode IV, Part II! I consider this the heart of the race weekend, and the meat and potatoes of this Survival Guide. (aka, you better get cozy; this is gonna take awhile!) I have mentioned before: Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Before every race, I sit down with the course map and analyze where all the points of interest are. If you have an idea of what is ahead of you (especially with water and aid stops), you will go into the race a little less stressed. And we all need a little less stress! I will be providing visuals along the way with pictures I have taken and additonal resources from other bloggers and photographers.


 

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Episode IV, Part II: A New Race…Pees and Sees Along the Course

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You’ve crossed the start line and you’re on your way to many magical miles in Disney World! Woohoo!

So, what will you encounter along the routes? Places to pee and things to see, of course! Let’s return to the course maps from the last episode, shall we?…

Enchanted 10K

10k PHM Map

You have an idea of the elevation changes on this course. (Not many. Yay!) You’ll traverse through EPCOT and the Boardwalk. There are characters along the course for picture stops. (These change every year, and there’s no list available before the race to know this, so it’s all a big surprise!) Your water/aid stops/general road map is as follows:

Mile 1: Flaaaaaaaaaat.

Mile 1.25: Up the overpass. (Biggest elevation change on the course.)

Mile 1.75: Water….just over the downward part of the overpass ramp. I do believe there is a character stop over here.

Miles 2-3: This gets a little dull, but Disney has music and videos playing on the jumbotrons.

Mile 3.3-ish: First Aid tent (this is the ONLY med tent for the 10K)

Mile 3.6-ish: Water stop as you’re coming into EPCOT by China.

Mile 4: WOOOOOO EPCOT!! You’ll burst through and be greeted with all of the torches lit up and music playing in the background. It is my absolutely favorite part of the weekend. So many feels.

Mile 4.75: Water again

Mile 5-Boardwalk and Yacht Club.

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Mile 5.4-ish: More water.

Mile 6.2 = finish line!

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Race Etiquette Pointer:

**When you’re going through water stops, grab what you need and keep going. Don’t always stop at the first volunteer. There are about a dozen volunteers with cups in their hands, and make sure to thank them! POWERADE IS FIRST, WATER IS SECOND. And try your best to get your empty cups into the trash cans.**


 

Princess Half Marathon

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Before I start, one of our teamRunDisney members, Chris Mel, took photos along every mile of the PHM last year. His photos are on Facebook:, and are a fabulous visual representation of what you’ll find on the course: https://www.facebook.com/Triangleoutdoors/media_set?set=a.1306562266027933.1073741883.100000225167545&type=3

Mile .8 = water. Yep, you’re getting water pretty quickly.

Mile 1.5 = elevation change. It is one of two changes that are significant in the entire course. Don’t go out too fast and burn yourself out before you hit this point. There’s a downhill part to the uphill, so it’s be a nice relief!

Mile 2.9-ish = water and first aid.

Mile 3.1 = 5K split timer

Mile 4 = there is a DJ over the tunnel by Bay Lake with the big Mickey hands at this part (you may have seen him in others’ pictures before). This is also Cone Alley #1. It is a downhill section (largest negative elevation change of the race), so be mindful of where you’re running and who is around you.

PHM 2013 people

Mile 4.6-ish = water and first aid.

Mile 4.9-5. Passing by Contemporary Resort and Space Mountain. You’re almost on Main Street USA! **Note: watch the trolley tracks  while going down Main Street USA. You might roll your limbs on these if you’re not paying attention.**

**Storm the Castle**

When you’re going through the castle, you may encounter a bottleneck and it may feel like a dawdle through the castle. Typically, you will exit to the right once you’re out of the castle, BUT…during the WDW Marathon, they opened up the left side of the castle exit, allowing for the flow of runners to be far more smooth. If you plan on going down the left side, watch the terrain. I heard that some runners ate it here during the marathon. Plus, don’t stop without checking to see if someone’s behind you if you want a picture. It’s great way to get hurt.

You might need to go to the bathroom in MK. Just gonna warn you now…the lines may be atrocious. Don’t always stop at the first one you see. Your three options are Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland/Frontierland. I have included a supplementary blog post by Julie of runwalkrepeat.com at the bottom of this page.

Mile 6.2 = water and first aid. This is right outside of the MK backstage area. Your 10K split will also be recorded here.

Mile 6.5-8 = Cone Alley #2. This is a very literal term: coming out of the backstage area, runners will be funneled into an obnoxiously tight section of the course. I absolutely abhor this area. It is a two-way street, and you’re running on one side of it. There is a barrier of cones on the center line. Do not cross the cones, because you’ll get yelled at. The road is flanked by these cones to the right and a grassy hill to the left. I do not recommend running through the grass. Wet shoes + wet socks + potential for rolled ankles = no thanks.

For those planning race strategy, I would bide my time and patience during this part. The road will open up soon.

You will also be passing by the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts along Mile 7!

You will also reach the halfway point during this time! Woohoo!

PHM 2013 halfway

Mile 8.7 = Clif Station. You’ll see these from down the road by their gigantic flags waving in the wind. There will be four types of gels being offered, if you wish to take them: Vanilla, Raspberry, Citrus, and Mocha. (The Mocha has 50 mg of caffeine in it. Take this with caution if you’re prone to pooping after caffeine consumption.) There is a water/First Aid station just beyond this at Mile 9. I HIGHLY suggest taking your gels and getting to the water station BEFORE consuming them. Taking gels without water will dry your throat out and not taste good. And I think it says somewhere on the package that you should consume with liquid, anyway….

Mile 9: Long. Long and flat. There is a water stop right beofre you tackle the overpass. Mile 9.3 is the 15K split timer.

PHM 15K

Coming up the overpass you will see the Mile 10 marker. Make it up the hill, and it’ll go flat for a bit.

EPCOT! Seeing Spaceship Earth is a joyous site, and it means you’re almost to the finish line!

Mile 11: Water and your last First Aid stop. The spectator support will begin to grow exponentially for the final two miles.

Mile 12.25: Last water stop.

*insert EPCOT goodness…loop back around to Spaceship Earth….gospel choir….*

FINISH LINE

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Alrighty, so that’s a basic rundown of the course. Time to talk about other things that are of serious importance…


 

Balloon Ladies…Love ’em or Hate ’em, They’re Still Here

In order to keep a sense of order regarding pace, runDisney incorporates a small group of ladies (they’re professionals) to maintain a 16 mpm pace throughout the course. So many runners dread seeing them, but rest assured, they want to see you finish. runDisney only has a certain amount of allotted time to keep the roads closed to the public so we runners can finish safely.

The balloon ladies’ job is to adhere to the 16 mpm pace once the last runner in Corral P crosses the timing mats. The time that you see on the clocks at each mile marker is the overall time for the race. For example…if you get to Mile 4 and the time says 1:18, that is the amount of time that has elapsed since the very first corral was launched.

Obviously, the farther up in corrals you are, the more of a time buffer you’ll have for photos and potty breaks. Heed this warning though…don’t get so caught up in taking pictures that you lose track of time and get swept. Yes…this has happened before. Many runners have to make the choice between photos with their favorite character or getting swept. Think about this before the race as a possible scenario.

I have read for the past few months that people are paranoid about being swept. You won’t get swept if you stay ahead of these ladies. There are several sweep points along the route that have big yellow charter buses next to them. I believe these points are around Miles 4 and 8, possibly 10. Officials hate to sweep, but must to maintain course safety.

If you happen to get swept, don’t try to fight about it. It is going to suck, and there will be a lot of emotion coming from your fellow runners as you board those busses. (I was swept at MCM this year, and it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.) You’ll be taken to the finish and still be given a medal. What you do with this medal is entirely up to you. Some save it as motivation to train harder, others may not accept it at all.


 

Mile Markers and Split Timing

Many of you are firsties, so the concept of mile markers and splits (not the delicious banana kind) may be foreign. Here’s the quick rundown of how to interpret them.

Mile Markers: The second that you cross the start line, you are beginning the first mile. At the end of the first mile, you’ll see the first mile marker. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ALL THAT DISTANCE BEFORE YOU WAS A FLUKE. Think of seeing a mile marker as a reward: ”I just finished the first mile, yay! Let’s see what character it is and take a picture.” Then you do to mile two. And so on. Each mile marker indicates how many miles you have finished. (Example below: You’ve reached the mile 11 sign. You have finished 11 miles. Woohoo!)

PHM 2013 Mulan

Splits: A split is how races are broken up for timing, or your pace per mile. For runDisney, there are several splits that your runner tracking will record: 5K, 10K, and 15K splits, plus your start and end times. Make sure you step on the timing mats so your chip transfers the data! You’ll see these areas marked by distance flags. (See 15K flag above.)

Once waivers are released, you can sign up for runner tracking that can post your progress and results across Facebook, Twitter, and text message. Before I bought my Garmin, I had my splits sent to Twitter and my phone. This was a great way for me to stay in tune with my times and gauge if I could afford to take an extra picture or spend more time in the bathroom.


 

First Aid/Course Safety : How to (Literally) Survive a Race

Time to get serious. Yes, I get serious sometimes, and this is a topic I will not be light on. Surprisingly, there is something far more important than getting a shiny medal, and many runners ignore this.

It’s called taking care of yourself. It’s listening to your body when it’s telling you to slow down and take in more electrolytes. It’s not fighting through an injury should it crop up during the race. It’s adhering to the weather and dressing appropriately.

I mentioned this in the last episode, and it needs to be repeated until the end of time: runDisney may be deemed as “fun races”…but they are still races just the same. You will be putting many miles on your legs and your body will go through a grueling test of endurance, no matter what the age or ability level. If you have not been training and eating properly, and you think you can just wing it…you are sadly mistaken.

I had friends telling me that the saw people doing the Dopey Challenge (5K, 10K, half, and full) for the first time (undertrained) during Marathon weekend, and after the 10K, they were in rough shape. How they were going to survive the next 39.3 miles (and two more 2 AM wake-up calls)?

I saw someone getting put on oxygen during the marathon; ambulances made their way down the same path that the runners were on, and we all had to shift to the side of the road. Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah last November, when the heat was so bad that runners died on the course? People pass out in the heat due to overexertion and dehydration, heat cramps and heat exhaustion.

Guys, the danger of all of this is very real. You need to stay alert at all times. The temperature soared last year during the half. I gradually slowed my time and made it to the end safely, albeit sunburned and tired. I knew that a PR wasn’t worth fainting over. Slow your time by thirty seconds for every five degrees the temperature rises. Your body heats up fairly quickly once you start moving, and you will feel naturally twenty degrees warmer than the air temperature. Add humidity and even higher temps, and it’s a recipe for potential disaster.

There is also a Medical Information section in the Event Guide (pages 48 and 49). Head over to rundisney.com and click on the Princess Half Marathon section (it’s under “Runner Information”.) Take some time to go over this, and all of the other sections. This will give you some advice on what the aid stations will be like and how to take care of yourself during the race. The first aid tents on the courses are stocked with all the things. If you need to be treated for something, do NOT hesitate to stop in. If something feels achy, Biofreeze is your friend; if you need to slather it on, there’s plenty of it. Same with Vaseline. The Vaseline will be on popsicle sticks…do NOT, under any circumstances, eat this. (Some think it’s a treat. Then they eat it…and find out it isn’t…)

Again, I implore…please take care of yourself while you’re out there running. You may not be aiming for a PR (I will be…that will be a later post closer to race day), but you’re still exerting yourself with the same intensity. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at a 6 mpm or a 16 mpm…miles are still miles. We will have all covered the same distance in the end.


 

Spectators

If there is one thing that runDisney events are known for, it’s the amazing crowd support. This is especially prevalent along Miles 1-2, Magic Kingdom (4-6), and EPCOT (11-13). They’ll be cheering for you, and the energy will give you that push to make it down Main Street U.S.A., or past Spaceship Earth. Cast members will also be out in droves. Make sure to give out high fives and take note of the runner signs! Some of them are quite hilarious.

If your squad has a ChEAR Package, or need ideas for places to go, refer to pages 52-54 of the Event Guide. A Spectator Viewpoint list can be found here, as well.


 

After the Race…What’s Next?

You rounded the final corner coming out of EPCOT, raced down the last straightaway, high-fived Mickey, and have crossed the finish line! Woohoo, you did it!! Now it’s time to go down the finisher’s chute. This is where celebration and recovery begin.

-Tell your guests in advance that they are NOT allowed down the runner’s chute. This is for runners only. They can meet you at the post-meetup areas in Runners Village.

-First stop is medals. Find a volunteer and get medaled! Admire it for a minute. It’s shiny, isn’t it?

-Water, Powerade, bananas…they’ll all be here.

-Get your picture taken (if you wish!)

-Head by the tents for your recovery box and probably another banana or five.

**Glass Slipper Challenge participants….there is a seperate area just for you to get your challenge medal. I will cover this, and all GSC-related things, in Episode V. That episode is reserved just for you!**

-Get your gEAR bag and smile. You’re done!! Head to the celebration area in Runners Village. Stretch out, take a few selfies with your new bling, congratulate other runners that are around you. You all worked hard to make it here.

-There are additional First Aid tents at the end if you need assistance.

The most important thing to keep in mind while traversing the finisher’s chute is to KEEP MOVING. Don’t let that lactic acid build up in your legs by stopping and plopping on the ground. You’re going to be tired, you’re going to be hurting…but you’ll hurt worse later on if you don’t fuel up during this window of opportunity.


 

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I know this post was insanely long, but there’s a lot of information to be covered. I’ve probably missed something, so if you have questions, please ask them and I’ll do my best to answer!

On a seperate note…

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WHO IS RUNNING THE GLASS SLIPPER CHALLENGE?!? *sees hands going up*

Woohoo! Whether this is your first GSC or your third, I’ve been waiting eagerly to write the next portion of this guide. Episode V: The Glass Slipper Strikes Back, will be tailored to GSC-specific details of race weekend!

Until next time….


 

P.S. If you’re still feeling nervous, take some time to scour the internet for PHM and GSC recaps and other runDisney blog posts. Thousands of other runners have done these races before and are happy to share their experiences. Pinterest is also a great resource.

Supplementary Blog Posts for this episode:

http://www.runwalkrepeat.com/2014/01/princess-half-marathon-potty-time-where-are-the-real-bathrooms-avoid-using-the-port-o-potty/

http://www.runwalkrepeat.com/2014/01/princess-half-marathon-dont-fear-the-sweepers-or-balloon-ladies/

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. II

Welcome back! Thank you all for reading and providing such wonderful feedback from Part I. Your energy is keeping me alive and thriving, and so excited to continue writing. Props to you all! *confetti*

I would like to add a piece of information from our very own Ken Alegre, whom you may recognize from social media as #kenthumbsup. He suggested that you remember RAIN GEAR when you’re packing. This is so critical, especially in FL weather, and I can’t believe I missed it! Thanks, Ken!

Today’s adventures will take us to a crticial part of any runDisney weekend: surviving the expo. This is 20% actual race logistics, and 80% not overdrawing your bank account. I will take you through both the important and fun aspects of the expo, and all the things you need to be aware of! (Heads up: I am not one for lingering around an expo. I make a game plan, get what I need/want, and get out. There may be some gaps in information with this article, so if I forget anything, please list it!)

Got your ID? Got your credit card? Got a sense of adventure? Great! Here we go!

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Episode II: Attack of the Expo…I Have HOW Much In My Bank Account?!

Before you even go to the expo, you need to know the following:

  1. What times the expo is open. The excitement usually begins on Thursday of race week around 10AM. The times for the 2015 expo were as follows: Thurs 10A-8P, Fri: 9A-7P, Sat: 9A-5P.
  2. How you’re getting there. runDisney has a plethora of on-site shuttles during race weekend. These shuttles will be marked with runDisney signs in the front windows. These busses will start as early as a half-hour before the expo opens. If you’re offsite, head to I-4 and take exit 65 to Osceola Pkwy. West. Hang a left onto Victory Drive and volunteers will be directing you to your parking spot.
  3. BRING YOUR ID AND RACE WAIVER. You will not be allowed to race without your bib (obviously), and if you need to print your waiver, there are computers available in the HP Fieldhouse. THERE IS NO PACKET PICK-UP ON RACE MORNING. Even if you hate crowds and shopping, you still have to go to the expo. Sorry, kids.
  4. Have a game plan. Heading to the expo, especially on Day 1, is like Black Friday (or Black Thursday, or Cyber Monday…whatever shopping holiday you celebrate in November.). Plan for large crowds and those dashing for what I call the Big Three: official runDisney merch, runDisney New Balance shoes, and Dooney and Bourke bags. These are known to sell out within an hour with little to no chance of restocking. runDisney releases the weekend merchandise in the weeks before the race. This gives you plenty of time to plan, mentally and financially. (It also helps to have a set amount that you’re willing to spend at the expo. Once you hit that limit, don’t spend any more. Many vendors have online sites that you can order things from, so you can window shop and have a mental cache of prices if you wish to purchase items later.)
  5. Review the official race weekend guide on rundisney.com. You will receive a hard copy of this with your race packet pickup items. This contains vital information for race weekend, including a road map to where everything is located at WWOS. 1512303_1113107575381870_8432471459995632656_n
  6. Make sure you thank the expo volunteers, or any volunteer you run into. They’re busting their asses on-stage and behind the scenes to ensure that you have a great weekend. They deserve so much credit, so don’t turn on the Princess Diva Attitude if something doesn’t go your way.

With regard to the road map, there are two main buildings where things are at. These are the HP Fieldhouse and the Jostens Center. Here’s a breakdown of both buildings:

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HP Fieldhouse:

-All packets are to be picked up here. (Kids, 5K, 10K, PHM, GSC). Some are on the upper floor, some are on the lower floor.

-KIDS, PHM TEAMS, AND GSC RUNNERS ARE THE EVENTS WHOSE PARTICIPANTS ALSO PICK UP THEIR gEAR BAGS AND RACE SHIRTS HERE.

-Official runDisney merchandise is here AND in Jostens

-Commemorative items and pre-purchased items. If you ordered extra goodies when you signed up, you’ll get them here.

Runner tracking, volunteer check-in, and additional exhibitors

-Runner Relations

Jostens Center (floorplan posted later on):

-5K, 10K, AND PHM RUNNERS PICK UP THEIR RACE SHIRTS AND gEAR BAGS HERE.

-Offical runDisney merchandise is here AND at HP Fieldhouse

-Race-weekend speakers

-Inspiration Station

-Majority of the exhibitors! (This is the Black Friday part I was mentioning earlier.)

-More runDisney merchandise! (I believe that runDisney split this between both buildings so people aren’t stepping all over each other in one area.)

(Rant: I wish runDisney would plan things so that ALL packets and gEAR bags/race shirts were in the same building. Having them in two seperate buildings is a major pain.)

*Aside from the Fieldhouse and Jostens center, the Welcome Center has your Pasta in the Park tickets (if you ordered them), and also theme park tickets should you wish to purchase them.

*New Balance also offers a virtual queue check-in, if you’re planning on purchasing their shoes. UPDATE: 1/20/16,10:35 PM: Meghan Gorny has provided us with a fantastic overview of this!: “The New Balance Virtual queue experience. The queue for New Balance shoes opens at 6am each day of the expo until spots are filled. The first day of the expo, the appointments are for runners only and they will ask for your bib number when you register. When you get to the website, they will ask for what size and shoe that you are purchasing. Spots seemed to go quickly at marathon weekend. I signed in at 6am and got an appointment for 1pm. When you get to the expo, there will be signs showing you where to go check in for your appointment time. When you check in for your appointment, they bring you to the New Balance area, they bring you the shoes that you requested. You can also ask for 5 other pairs of shoes.”

Alrighty. So you know where things are at and what you need to do! Let’s begin…


 

  1. First and foremost, even if you’re a shopaholic or absolutely hell-bent on being the first in line at 7AM on Thursday to get the Dooney and Bourke bags, GET YOUR RACE DAY ESSENTIALS FIRST. I mean, that’s the reason you’re down here, right? Head to the Fieldhouse with your ID and race waiver (or print it out when you get there), and look for your race and your bib number. There are seperate booths with ranges of numbers. Find what corresponds to you and head on over. You will be greeted by the volunteers. Offer your information, and they will retrieve your items. Be sure to sign yourself in in the binder in front of you: find your bib number and put your John Hancock next to it. Once you’ve signed in, the volunteer will verify the bib number and shirt size on your waiver matching the actual bib they give you. In addition to the race event guide, there is also a sticker that will go on your gEAR check bag. This has your bib number and first initial of your last name. DON’T LOSE THIS.
  2. Next, go get your race shirt and gEAR bag. Stand in line and offer your bib to the volunteers there. (There is a tear-off portion with your shirt size on the bib, which will be redeemed for your shirt!) You’ll get your shirt and check-in bag (which will have safety pins in it. DON’T LOSE THESE.)

It is best if you try your shirt on. There is a place for shirt exchanges if you need to do so. The shirt cut seems to change every year. I have PHM/GSC shirts that are either too small or too large.

3. Now that you have your essentials, it’s time to go exploring! What is wonderful about PHM weekend is that sometimes you can get your picture taken with the princesses! (I cannot guarantee this happens every year since it’s not listed on the road map for the Jostens center. You never know what times they will appear, so you really have to take your chances. I got pics with Minnie, Snow White and Cinderella in 2015.)

There are so many vendors available to runners. You can go to your favorites and restock your gear, or find Jeff Galloway and have a chat with him. Here’s a partial list of fun things you can find at the Josten’s Center! (List from 2015, and it changes every year!)

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APEX

Bondi Band

Champion apparel

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (race weekend celebratory charity!)

Coppertone (did you get your sunscreen yet?!)

Dannon (free yogurt!)

Divas Half Marathon Series

Endure Jewelry

Fit2Run (I got my Garmin through them during WDW marathon weekend!)

KT Tape (you can get taped at the Expo)

LUNA bar (you can get cheer signs here!)

New Balance

Noah’s Light Foundation

SparkleAthletic

SparkleSkirts

SparklySoul

SpiBelt

SportHooks

etc. etc. etc.

4. Now that you’ve bought all the things, maybe you’d like to take a breather and attend a seminar. There are a variety of them held throughout the week by various atheltes and motivational speakers. Be sure to check the list in your event guide, as these also vary every year. Some of the seminars from 2015 included:

-Jeff Galloway, “I Can Go the Distance!”

-Danni Allen (Biggest Loser Season 14 winner), “Change Your Life One Step At a Time”

-Luna Pace Team, “13.1 Dream Come True Tips for a Magical Race Day”

-runDisney panel, “Information for Runners and Spectators”

-Jenny Simpson (Olympian), “Go For the Gold!”


 

So you’ve got your new stuff, heard some motivational words, received race-day advice, and now it’s time to head back to your hotel with all your new goodies and a positive bank account. Woohoo!

And now it’s time for the real talk.37075_580616501964316_1669205870_n

 

Sometimes things aren’t all Mickey ears and pixie dust.

One thing that you will see post-expo is runDisney merchandise being resold online at a much higher price, especially the D&B bags and New Balance shoes. Princesses (and princes)….it’s going to happen. It has become a staple of runDisney events for those that aren’t even running the races to nab multiple quantities of the merchandise to resell for-profit. Hell, even some runners do this. I’ve heard all the complaints in the book: “This merchandise should be reserved for runners only.” “runDisney should pay attention to the consumer demand and order more to be prepared for race weekend.” “All of it was gone in an hour…why do people suck so much!?”

Stop. Seriously. Put your big girl panties and big boy boxers on and grow up.

It’s going to happen, and there is nothing you can do about it.Take the high road and resist join in the social media chatter about how things are seemingly unfair.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and move on.


 

Thank you for reading Part II of my series! You’ve officially survived the expo! Again, I ask those that have additional information that I’ve forgotten to add it. I’ll ensure proper credit is given.

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You’re sitting in a sea of new things, and eagerly counting down the hours until you get up and get ready for your race! How do you prepare the night before, especially when you’re either A. so excited you can’t sleep, and/or B. you’re terrified and full of pre-race jitters? Stay tuned for PHM Survival Guide, Episode Three: Revenge of the Pre-Race Jitters, coming soon!

The Story of the Bow

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I like big bows and I cannot lie.

They’re my trademark accessory. Surprising for someone that’s almost 30 years old.

It’s amazing how many people will recognize me out of the blue when I’m sporting one during a race or wandering around places. With this identifiable symbol becoming associated to my name/blog/social media spheres, the possibilities of name branding become endless. I also like to feel girly every now and again. Bows and glitter. Cheering for people on and off the course. Spreading love and contagious enthusiasm.

How did the bow come to be? Well, I’ll tell you…


 

It’s quite simple.

For PHM 2013, I wanted to accessorize with something girly. I wasn’t keen on wearing a tutu or a tiara or having fairy wings, as it seemed the majority of the running population at the time was shifting towards those items. I wanted something different, yet still sport my excitement and enthusiasm towards my first race and runDisney in general.

I had acquired a pink and white bow from my college’s cheer squad during one of our “Pink Out” basketball games at some point. I may have worn it in my hair a couple of times while I was singing the anthem, and when I was out and about, because…why not? Being a former cheerleader, sporting a bow or ribbons of sorts is like being fitted for a glass slipper: revs up some sort of internal energy and transforms you. (Maybe not that intense, but you definitely feel a new pep in your step!)

So I wore the pink and white one for PHM ’13, and quickly retired it due to the elastic becoming seperated. It still hangs on my medal hanger above that medal as a “first race, first bow, first medal” symbolism.

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Enter 2014.

My chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi became active at the end of the 2013 fall term. What better way to sport my fraternal dorkism level than with all things blue and white? I splurged on a jumbo Chasse Cheer blue/white/gold bow. Knowing the symbolism behind the colors, I felt like I could represent my brothers everywhere I went….including the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge!

In addition to the GSC and Historic Half, I sported that bow at our District Convention. This resulted in a plethora of brothers now recognizing me wherever I went (IRL and social media) just because I wore it. I brought it with me to subsequent conventions, including our recent National Convention last summer in Kentucky. I would tell attendees, “Just look for the bow!”…and they did! (Last weekend at Disney, I had brothers in Florida call for me from across the Boardwalk just because they saw the bow at nationals. It’s really fun to be recognized for your trademark!)

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Later in 2014, I added a third bow to the collection: the black and red with stars. I bought that one for the MCM, and wanting to mix up the color scheme a little, didn’t settle on a traditional red, white, and blue bow. (It also matches the MCM colors, which are black, red, and yellow!)

I stuck with bows #2 and #3 throughout 2015. When it came time for the WDW Marathon and the upcoming GSC, I knew I needed something new, something fresh.

*cue bows #4 and #5*

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Bow #4 is green, white, and gold (or the “Tinkerbell” bow), and Bow #5 is a pink/white/stilver “Princess” bow (worn during the marathon and as a replacement for Bow #1). The most common phrase I would hear throughout WDW Marathon weekend was, “Are you runDisneyBelle/Christina? I thought so; I recognize the bow!”

*insert excessive giddiness and hugs and “I’m so happy to meet you!” here*

*end scene*


 

And there you have it. A relatively simple story about why I wear bows, and will continue to do so during running events.

Seriously…if you see the bow, come say hi. I love meeting new friends!

pink bow

’til next time…

2016 WDW Marathon Race Recap

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I had been waiting for the WDW Marathon for two months with great anticipation. After the sweep at MCM in October, I was determined to get my revenge and prove to myself that I could still run 26.2 and FINISH (and maybe have a little fun in there, too).

I set my alarm for 1 AM and planned on leaving my hotel around 1:30 since I had to commute in from US 192. It was about a ten-minute drive to EPCOT, so I wasn’t too concerned about hitting traffic. Leading up to this, I had established a terrible habit of falling asleep around 2AM and waking up at noon. Fear of sleeping through the marathon was high on the “Things to Be Anxious” list.

I must have not heard my alarm go off, or something…I woke up on my own at 1:46 AM.

Seriously?! What the hell, alarm clock.

I bolted out of bed, and in ten minutes was dressed and heading out the door. (It’s surprising how fast I can get moving when I’m looking forward to something.) On my way to the staging area, my stomach burst with butterflies, and this was amplified as I saw the fleet of charter buses coming from EPCOT and heading to their respective resorts. This is it, I thought to myself. No going back now.

I arrived at EPCOT at 2:16 AM, and parked behind the K-9 Unit. It was a perfect spot; I got to see the pups and be cozy in my car all at the same time.

parking

I chilled out as runners started trickling through the security lines. Contrary to the previous day when the half marathon had taken place (and reading everyone’s complaints about slow security), the process seemed to be a lot less hectic. I guess runDisney figured out what to do to make the sequence of events more smooth, and it was working.

Around 3:45, I made my way through security and dropped off my post-race stuff. Then I started looking for people. I had never been so social during a race weekend. I had made it a point to meet (or meet up with) as many people as possible IRL, and it was turning out to be a record weekend for that…

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ken and i

Patrick and I took off for the corrals around 4:45 and after meandering through the herd, bid each other farewell and “Have a great race!” at the grassy median. I went to the right towards corral L and found a spot to veg and listen to the DJ/race personalities during pre-race. I thought their humor was en pointe and lively, moreso than the other races I’ve taken part in. Well done!

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*insert pre-race ceremonies and stuff here*

*Fireworks go boom*

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As we were progressing through the corral launches, the humidity was becoming obnoxious. I had Underarmour underneath my shirt (to go along with my “Minnie” outfit), and I was either going to be okay with it on (since I tend to run cold no matter what I do), or I was going to die. Once Corral L started the race, I didn’t make it to the first mile marker before I was ducking behind one of the maintenance trucks and removing it.

I’m glad it’s going to charity. I had that piece since my senior year of high school for track season (back in ’05). I totally got my money’s worth out of it!

It took a few miles to get into a groove of some sort. My Armpocket was giving me major issues (sliding all over the place) and I wasn’t feeling the music I was playing. I had debated about running with music at all, and I should have left my iPod in the car. I enjoyed interacting with the other athletes around me and we were tossing jokes back and forth as we headed into Magic Kingdom. No tunes needed; there were plenty on the course!

MK: Magical as always heading to the castle. I had heard that it was an absolute bottleneck the previous day for the half, and was surprised and pleased that runDisney had decided to divert the runners BOTH ways coming out of the castle. This may have been the smartest idea runDisney has ever come up with.

Miles 7-11: The first 9 miles or so reflects the exact same course as PHM, so I knew a huge stretch of epic boredom and clusterfuckiness was about to come. When you come out of the backstage area of MK, the course narrows to half of the road at this point, and is NOT. FUN. AT. ALL. You’re tripping over people, everything stinks (literally), and getting trapped behind slower people coupled with the thoughts of, “We’re not even halfway yet. Grrrrr….” is enough to make anyone go crazy.

This time, though, I was closing in on my Team Shenanigans friends, estimating I was around a mile or so behind them. I kept communicating with Chris (@DopeyRunr) via Twitter, and eventually caught up with them at Captain Jack and Barbossa!

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(Photo courtesy of Chris!)

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(Photo courtesy of Ian!)

Goal: Get fast enough to run with their group. Even just being around them for five minutes gave me the best boost of energy!

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AK: I was toying with riding Expedition Everest at AK at mile 12, but I was scared about being swept at this point (#BackOfTheFieldProblems). Props to everyone who did ride it though. It looked like a ton of fun!! (Once again…goal is to get faster to enjoy the rides with enough of a time cushion to be comfortable with doing so.)

Coming out of AK, I met a new friend on the course, Autumn! She was completing Dopey, and she and I stayed with each other up until the Yacht Club/Boardwalk area. I am SO fortunate to have run with her. She and a couple of other runners were keeping tabs on where the Balloon Ladies were and they estimated they were about 20 minutes behind us at any given point. This made me feel comfortable, yet still anxious.

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Miles 14-18: …just like 7-11; long, pointless, pretty blah. Autumn and I chatted a lot and fartleked the course. Heading into Wide World of Sports, I was so ready for it all to be done.

I wasn’t a fan of the WWOS portion (even though I heard my name over the loudspeaker, “Christina Campbell, how are you feeling?!” and I threw my arms up and cheered). It seemed like it would never end. I did appreciate the plethora of stands tunes and college fight songs being blasted over the speakers as it reminded me of my marching band days of yesteryear. But again… wasn’t a fan of this portion of the course.

Coming out of WWOS, it was the Mile 20.5 Spectacular with Laura (@ChickenHatCheerer) of Team Shenanigans! She had a ton of food with her, yet I wasn’t feeling up to eating at all…but she convinced me to have oranges. Best decision ever.

At this point, the section of road (mile 17) that ran parallel to Miles 20 and 21 had been shut down. The next leg of the race was Hollywood Studios, and I knew there was a sweeper bus in there somewhere. I hustled on up the hill and made it backstage for Miles 22 and 23….and got chocolate. Sweet, sweet Dove chocolate. 😀

 

I was getting close to finishing this race. I saw the Mile 23 marker and got so excited that there was only 3.2 to go! I even passed the cutest bulldog heading to the Boardwalk and got to give him lots of pets. (Dude, if you see course puppies, pet them. Instant mood booster!) More and more cheers rang out: “You’re so close!” “You’re such a badass!” If runDisney can be really known for something positive, it’s that course support from volunteers and fans is extraordinary.

I saw a firstie that was starting to struggle and really hit her wall around Mile 24. I fell back for a moment and made sure she was okay. She was getting really emotional about everything hurting and “I’m going to finish my first marathon!” excitement. I took her hand and said, “Then we’ll finish this!” We ran hand in hand past the Swan and Dolphin (where she worked) and around the back part of the Boardwalk until she stopped for a picture with the Fairy Godmother. I truly hoped that she finished with a huge smile on her face.

The last portion of the race was through EPCOT and the World Showcase. I knew many runners would be heading to get food and beverages, and the throng of spectators kept growing. Last part of the race. Finish strong and don’t slow down (much)! Around Italy, I started picking up the pace, the energy of the crowd driving me those last 1.2 miles. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a cell phone sticking out from the crowd. Someone’s trying to take a picture of me? Well, okay! I slowed down, and saw it was Patrick! I dashed over and gave him a hug.

“Hi! You finished!” I exclaimed.

“Hi! Go finish!” he told me.

“I was so afraid that you got swept!” (Because #AchillesProblems.)

“I’m fine! Go finish!”

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(Photo courtesy of Patrick!)

I smiled and turned back to the course, constanty moving forward even though a major blister decided to form on the ball of my right foot less than a mile away from the finish line. (Really, foot? You decide to act up NOW?) There was no stopping, though, as I passed the gospel choir and down the last straightaway across the finish line in 7:11:59.


 

I have my redemption.

I have my revenge.

I’m a two-time marathoner.

I can run 26.2.

I. Finished.

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Post-Marathon Thoughts:

  1. I need to get faster. Period. Being stuck in the middle to back of the field and having to dodge slower runners who insist on not adhering to race etiquette of not walking 3+ abreast across the road, or not communicating their run/walk intervals, is grinding the hell out of my gears. It seems like a lot of my friends are in the upper corrals, and trust me, I really long to be up there racing with them. Just for once, I would like to have a race where I can test my limits of athleticism and really RUN. Having to walk at a 15:30+ pace isn’t much fun anymore, and now that I’m going to be starting on my fourth year of running, I think it’s about time to kick it up a notch or five before GSC.
  2. Phone Stuff: My phone was only charged around 80% when I left my car. (I didn’t plug it in overnight and had to use the little USB port on my dashboard. It doesn’t charge as fast as one may think!) Airplane mode is your friend during a race! Between social media-ing and taking pictures, I finished the race with about 10% left.
  3. The Dreaded Armpocket: The biggest blunder I had in this race was my Armpocket. I’ve had it for two years and the velcro is starting to loosen. I also can’t keep my phone, iPod, and EnergyBits stashed neatly in there; everything becomes a mess. It also got saturated with sweat over the course of those hours, and it wasn’t fun having it strapped and sliding on my arm. My left arm was pretty sore afterwards. I’m highly considering not running with it for GSC, especially since it made me so cranky this time.
  4. Oh, the Humidity: The weather for the entire weekend was eccentric. The 10K was a Splash and Dash v.2, the half marathon was Fog City, and the marathon was Running Through Soup. It got breezy after the halfway point, but it provided little comfort. Even the elite runners were posting how much they were hurting and how conservative they ran their races. I felt like the course provided extra water stops, or maybe it was the fact I was running a Disney marathon and not just the PHM where I know where all the water stops are. Nonetheless, I really hope that the weather for GSC isn’t going to be terrible…
  5. I’m the Anti-Runner With Food: Many runners are ravenous when they finish a race. I am the exact opposite. I’m surprised that I ate as much as I did on the course (oranges, pretzels, chocolate, almonds, one out of the two banana stops). But some of the stuff I had I couldn’t bring myself to swallow and simply spat out (most of the almonds, gummy bears). Even at the Polynesian later that night, I merely picked at my food. I posed this question on Twitter a few years ago, but does anyone else have the anti-hungries while in training or post-race?

     

 

Final Thoughts:

To everyone who made this race fantastic, THANK YOU. I was a jumble of emotions and jitters and overthinking on my way down to Florida, and it continued throughout the weekend until the race started. I fought some serious “I want to be anti-social and stay in my room.” feelings, but I’m glad I shoved those aside and hung out with people. You all did a stellar job quelling those fears for me, and I’m eternally grateful. I may not have had a PR, but I damn well PRed in FUN (just like Team Shenanigans suggested that I do!); I have never had so much fun during a racecation! This newfound confidence is already getting me excited for GSC weekend, where I get to do all of the traveling and running again.

 

List of People To Give Thanks (And Many Hugs) To:

-Team Shenanigans (Chris, Ian, Brittany, Ryan, Kristin, Laura, Jess and Mike, and everyone else!)

-Patrick (“We found Nemo!”)

-Amelia and Katherine (so happy to have met you in person finally!)

-@IShouldRun and @DisRunnerK (more happiness to meet the two of you on race morning!)

-Ken and Rowena (#kenthumbsup for days!)

-WeRunSocial crew at their meetup (Justin and Devin (#MakinLemonadeOutta), BamaGirlRUNS, Dani, Meg, Sarah, and everyone else!)

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(Photo courtesy of WeRunSocial!)

-Every single one of you for your support and encouragement!


 

Congratulations to everyone, and good luck to those traveling to Disneyland for Star Wars: Light Side weekend!

 

Five more weeks ’til Glass Slipper/Princess Weekend! Until next time…

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See you at the finish line!

*~*Christina*~*

WDW Marathon Weekend, Part I

It’s that time of the year.

It’s time for the Super Bowl of runDisney: WDW Marathon Week!

(Or Goofy or Dopey or even just the 5K… whatever race or challenge you’re partaking in!)

It took me 30+ hours of travel time, but I made it to Disney World on Thursday…a whole day earlier than expected. The theme of the trip was, “Are we there yet?” and had visions of road trips from The Simpsons with Bart and Lisa nagging Homer and Marge about when they were arriving.

 

I was fortunate to check in to my hotel a day early, and trust me, I was so happy to be in a legit bed that wasn’t a makeshift nest in the back of my car.

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Friday was expo day, and the weather was on and off between sprinkles and a monsoon. This was the first non-PHM expo I had ever been to, and to be honest, it was insanely confusing. Yes, there were maps, but I felt like I was being given the run-around trying to find where I was supposed to be to pick up certain things. Packet pick-up was fine, but trying to find where my marathon race shirt/race bag pick up was drove me up the wall. I’m not sure why it has to be in a completely seperate building, so I’m just going to chalk it up to runDisney for oddball planning.

(IMO, all merchandise should be in one building, and all bibs/race shirt/check-in stuff should be in another. Period. None of this half and half crap.)

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I didn’t get much at the expo (not a fan of the runDisney merchandise), but I did splurge…on a Garmin! I’ve been searching for a fitness watch for awhile, and the peeps at the Fit2Run booth helped me out tremendously. I wasn’t looking for something with a lot of bells and whistles; I’m surprisingly simple. I got to try a couple of them on, and found that the more advanced models with the larger watchfaces were too overwhelming on my tiny wrist. I settled on the Forerunner 25, and I’m excited to put it to use!

Plus it’s pink. Couldn’t resist the pink.

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I found myself at EPCOT in the afternoon to meet Team Shenanigans over at Mexico for margaritas. I was feeling rather melancholy after the expo and was debating about even leaving my room for the rest of the day. I changed my mind when I saw their meetup post on Twitter, and they had been encouraging me over the tweet-machine the last few weeks. I had to go see what the excitement was all about, and I’m glad I went. What a seriously fun group of runners! (Especially when all 30-some of us decided to ride La Fiesta. So many shenanigans!)

I also had a surprise encounter with my Princess Half friend, Jess! (Photo #2) We met in 2014 and have been runner buddies ever since.

Group shot courtesy of Brittany (photo #4).

 

Later on, Living With the Land with new friends! (Photo courtesy of Jess.)

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We all parted ways after this and I spent the rest of the day making friends with the natives (aka squirrels and duckies) and taking pictures of World Showcase.

Of course, it’s not a trip to EPCOT without Illuminations!

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And, of course, Spaceship Earth:

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Marathon is tomorrow! For those that have been racing the past few days, you’ve battled rain and humidity and everything in between. Props for your grit and tenacity! I can’t wait to race with you!

2015 Reflections

Welp, it’s about that time.

Time for the semi-obligatory “Year In Review”.

This year was interesting. Not quite as thrilling as 2014, but it still had its moments. Here’s my favorites from 2015:

Graduating. I FINALLY GOT MY MASTERS DEGREE. ‘NOUGH SAID. 

All things Kappa Kappa Psi. Being a charter member for my fraternity has taken me places I never thought possible. 2015 allowed me to serve as the Vice President of Service, once again be the chapter delegate at our Northeast District Convention, travel to the University of Arkansas for the Southwest District Convention,  campaigned for the Vice President for Student Affairs position at the national level, gained another amazing little and a grandlittle in my Diamond Line, and made so many new friends and connections across the country. I returned to Edinboro this fall and took part in the initiation ritual as the Epsilon class became brothers. “Miss Nu Zeta” is now my official nickname due to the blood, sweat, tears, and passion exhibited during my tenure to make NZ fantastic (and recognized by the current brotherhood). I look forward to seeing what I can bring to the table as an alumna; I’m already serving as an independent leadership consultant for chapters!

Traveling. I traveled SO MUCH in 2015…

    1. January: West Virginia University
    2. February: Orlando, FL/Disney World
    3. March: West Chester University (PA), Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas
    4. May: New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine
    5. June: Quebec City, Quebec
    6. July: Virginia, Kentucky
    7. October: Massachusetts, Washington, D.C.
    8. November: Texas
    9. December: Washington D.C. (again!)

planning the trip

Running: I maintained my legacy status for the Glass Slipper Challenge, and did the MCM Almost-Marathon thing…that was about it! OH! And I met many new friends! Taking part in Bibchat and Runchat on an almost-weekly basis deepens my love for the running community which I am a part of and serves as serious “runspiration” for me. Hell, I logged 47.2 miles during my holiday week in Washington D.C….

Anthems: I wrapped up my career as Edinboro Athletics’ Anthemist in April. Five years with six sports across three divisions resulted in 176 anthems. I returned to Edinboro in November for a weekend and sang two more anthems, so my current total is at 178. Trust me, this is one aspect of my life that I miss dearly.


Now that that’s done, let’s look ahead to a very sweet ’16!

Oh hey, let’s start everything right by getting a new car!

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I just acquired this snazzy 2011 Nissan Versa today. She still needs a name (taking suggestions!), but man…she simply purrs under the hood and handles SO well. There is abundant room in the back for all my stuff and then some. I’m THRILLED to go on adventures with her.

Speaking of adventures…

My first two adventures for 2016 involve runDisney! WDW Marathon is only a week and a half away, and the Glass Slipper Challenge is in February. I’ll be driving my lovely new Versa down to Florida for both of these races. (Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than flying, plus there’s the whole “road trip” concept that I’ve been craving ever since my California plans got dashed.) I am also looking forward to ramping up my running and fitness levels and being much more consistent in my training. My big 2016 goal, aside from running more races (and trying to find a source of income to fund my races and my life), is running 2016 miles! This is a HUGE undertaking, but I know that I can do it. It averages out to about 5.5 miles a day at a minimum. Knowing that I have serious support through my Bibchat, Runchat, teamRunDisney, and We Run Social crews, I see no reason why I can’t strive for the highest in my running endeavors.


Major thanks to all of YOU who have followed along on my blog and social media platforms! Feel free to follow along on Twitter/Pinterest/Snapchat @runDisneyBelle. You all are amazing, and I wish you nothing but happiness and prosperity in 2016!

See you at the finish line!

❤ Christina ❤

 

 

12/8 Bibchat: Tuning Out Boredom

Tuesdays have become one of my favorite days of the week lately.

Why? It’s simple:

Bibchat.

A glorious hour of the week dedicated to runners interacting on Twitter and answering questions about fitness and running. Sometimes there’s even prizes!

I couldn’t participate last night due to traversing the mountanous New England region in the dark. This sincerely bummed me out. So, to make up for it, here are the questions (and my responses!).

Side note: as a professional musician, I couldn’t help but geek out over the music questions. *squeeee*


 

Intro: Name, location, share a pic!

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Hi, it’s Christina from Pennsylvania! *waves*

 

Q1. Admit it—long runs can be boring. What do you think about to keep boredom at bay?

A1. A plethora of topics: food, squirrels, weather, how much the hills suck around my town (but are so good for you), more food, neurologic/auditory hypotheses about why my music seems to magically slow down the longer I get into a run, how much money I’ve invested into the last three years for running things…

 

Q2. What’s your audial method of choice to beat long run boredom – music, audiobooks, podcasts, phone calls, other?

A2. If I’m on the treadmill, the TV wins. Music keeps me going if I’m outside. Podcasts and audiobooks tend to lull me to snoozyland.

 

Q3. Do you run with a partner or group? If so, how do they help you tune out boredom on long runs?

A3. I’m a loner runner, which is both a blessing and a curse. Being alone gives me time to think, but being with people would give me a chance for IRL interaction (doesn’t happen often).  I tend to make friends with the happy  little squirrels that chase me along the running route:

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Q4. How do you cope with boredom on the treadmill? (Music, shows, sports, moves, magazines)?

A4. TV for sure. It helps if there’s sports on. It’s a subconscious mood booster and motivator. (*cough*BostonMarathon*cough*)

 

Q5. What is your top get-fired-up song for before or during a run? Share a time when it saved you from boredom in the past!

A5. *squeeeeee* Yay music question!

Umm, do I have to pick just one? Yes? Okay, fine.

“Chasing the Sun” by The Wanted. Perfect for those ass-crack of dawn wakeup calls for runDisney races. It was playing during the ’14 PHM pre-race party, and it was the first song (coincidentally) on my playlist.

We’ve only just begun, hypnotized by drums
Until forever comes, you’ll find us chasing the sun

They said this day wouldn’t come; we refused to run
We’ve only just begun, you’ll find us chasing the sun

 

Q6. What’s the weirdest mind game, method, or mantra you’ve ever used to get through a really boring run?

A6. Hmmm. I turn on Avicii’s “Hey Brother” and think about baton twirling/dance routines for it, and I don’t even twirl baton.

Recently, though, my last 5K I fartleked between houses to take pictures of their holiday light setups!

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