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Oh, Life

10 Apr

You keep my busy.

I managed to disappear from blogging. Again.

Somehow my schedule gets in my way, but I’m back.

Truthfully, there hasn’t been much “exciting” stuff happening in my life worth reporting as of late.

This happened yesterday though:

WDW Marathon 2014

 

I’m officially registered for the 2014 WDW Marathon! This will be my first full marathon, so I am pretty excited. And a little scared, but no going back now!

I had stressed myself out quite a bit prior to registering as I couldn’t decide what was the best option for me. I knew I wanted to run SOME WDW Marathon Weekend event but wasn’t sure which to pick. Although, I’m insanely attracted to bling, I knew I wasn’t physically ready to tackle the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge or the Dopey Challenge.

And I knew I wanted to do at least the Half Marathon in order to try and complete Run Disney’s Coast to Coast challenge in 2014.

I think what finally helped me rationalize the decision is that I really DO want to try and run a full marathon, Walt Disney World would be an incredible place to do it AND it was the same price as the half marathon. Double the miles for the same price? Definitely more bang for my buck! It’s still a good 9 months away, and I have a few other runs scheduled before then, so hopefully I’ll be ready for January!

Other than that, life has included completing the Pig Run (race recap to follow), LOTS of schoolwork as we approach the end of the spring semester and lots of work!

The Newest runDisney Challenge!

26 Mar

Have you heard about runDisney’s Dopey Challenge that was recently announced?

During WDW Marathon Weekend, runners can choose to participate in the Dopey Challenge which would require runners to complete the weekend’s 5K, innaugural 10K, Half Marathon and full Marathon events over the course of the four day weekend! That’s a total of 48.6 miles! For several years, individuals have had the option of completing Goofy’s Race and Half Challenge for the successful completion of the half and full marathon, but this new challenge definitely ups the ante even more!

Runner’s that complete all four events, walk off with SIX medals (from the four individual races, the Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge medal and the Dopey Challenge medal), shirts from each event and, most importantly, insane bragging rights having completed this intense challenge!

You can read the official announcement on the Disney Parks Blog HERE.

It’s an interesting idea. I’ve been toying with the idea of the 2014 WDW Marathon being my first full marathon and had been considering the Goofy Challenge as an option, but now the Dopey Challenge is intriguing me! In all seriousness, I realize it would be a huge commitment and require a lot of work but there’s a large part of me that questions IF I could do it or IF it would be crazy to try having only run a couple half marathons so far.

As someone who has LOVED all my runDisney experiences thus far, I’m sure all four events will be incredibly memorable races!

runDisney Fan!

runDisney Fan!

All of the 2014 WDW Marathon Weekend events open for registration on April 9th. I know I’ll be running at least one, but I will definitely be using the next week or two to make that decision! I’m sure all the events will fill up pretty quickly. Whatever I end up deciding, I’m already incredibly exciting for these 2014 races!

A Whirlwind Week

20 Mar

Last week, my sister came to town for her spring break with a friend.

Since none of my family lives in Florida, it’s always great when someone gets to visit, especially my sister!

She and her friend split their stay and stayed at my condo a few nights, her friend’s family and at a Disney resort for a night. While I did still end up working during most of their visit, I did have a couple days off too!

We spent a lot of time visiting both the Walt Disney World Theme parks as well as Universal, all of which is always a good time for me!

Jurrasic Park River Adventure- Too cold for me to ride!

3D Fun!

3-D Fun!

Theme Park Explosions at Fear Factor Live

Theme Park Explosions at Fear Factor Live

Matchbox Twenty Concert as part of Universal's Mardi Gras celebration!

Matchbox Twenty Concert as part of Universal’s Mardi Gras celebration!

Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom!

Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom!

Needless to say, I didn’t end up exercising or running much while they were here! I did manager to sneak in a 2.5 mile run on Saturday, but that’s if for formal exercise. A day at the parks can be a workout in and of itself though!

They left on Sunday, but I feel like it’s taken a couple days for me to get back into the swing of things. I haven’t run this week at all. I really should have made an effort yesterday, but catching up on household chores and grad school work ended up taking precedent.

Hopefully,by the time you read this on Wednesday, I’ll have squeezed in a workout! I’ve got plans to go wedding dress shopping with a friend this evening, so the morning will be my only chance! I’m not usually an AM workout gal, as the snooze button typically wins, but I’m going to try my best!

Disney Princess Half Marathon: Things I Learned

19 Mar

As evidenced from my recaps, the Disney Princess Half Marathon was a great experience for me.  I would not hesitate to participate again, if timing (and my financials) was right.

Here are a few of my top takeaways from running this race:

1. I CAN do it.

No matter how many runs I complete in the future, I am 100% sure this will always be a top takeaway. I may not be the fittest or the fastest runner, but I can definitely get out there, stay positive and tough it out to the finish line.

2. It WILL be crowded.

runDisney races are quite different from some of the other local races I have run as far as size goes. The Princess Half had over 26,000 runners, the largest crowd this half marathon had seen. Disney is incredibly organized and does a great job of managing the crowds, but it is inevitable that the course will still be packed. The first couple miles can definitely include some bobbing and weaving and there are spots throughout the course where the running path narrrows to one lane, so it can be a bit tight.

3. You can’t predict the weather.

Being from the Orlando area, I have had a lot of friends run the Princess Half and other Disney races over the past few years. Each time, the weather seems to be drastically different. While Disney steers clear of offering any runs in the middle of the summer, it is impossible to predict what the weather may be like! For instance, one year it was freezing at the Disney Marathon in January but the next year it was almost 80!

This February, the weather has definitely been yo yo-ed quite a bit and we ended up having humid, hot weather for this half as well. It’s definitely good to be prepared for all types of weather, as you really never know what to expect.

4. It’s worth every penny.

runDisney races can be pricey. For me though, the cost was definitely worth it. Running through the Walt Disney World property  and theme parks I have grown up visiting and still love was amazing. In typical Disney style, the entertainment on course was also amazing. Fun DJ’s, awesome puppets and props from throughout Disney, character photo ops and other local musical groups were strategically sprinkled along the way really helping to break up those longer stretches of road.

5. Take your time at the expo.

I was on a tight schedule due to work when I picked up my packet, but if I had the opporunity I would take more advantage of the expo in the future. I still kick myself for not buying the Mickey eared 13.1 car magnet! They did have some merchandise for sale after the half, but sadly, the magnets were sold out.  There are so many other great vendors at the expo and wish I had taken some time to learn about their products! runDisney also offeres some great speakers at the expo, including Jeff Galloway and a runDisney nutritionist, so I would love to have the time to listen to them in the future!

6. Good energy is infectious

 I am so appreciative of my fellow runners. There was such an excitement in the air at this race, which I know helped keep me energized and motivated. From the beginning, I love seeing everyones racing outfits and costumes, because you tell how pumped they were to be a part of this runDisney event! I believe runDisney races get a good mix of experienced runners and those participating in their first race, which I fell definitely adds to the “buzz” in the air. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time, and that definitely kept me positive, too!

7. This race is about having FUN!

Lastly, runDisney events are runs where your #1 goal should always be to have FUN! As I stated, for this race in particular, the crowds and weather could be a challenge. My personal philosophy was to embrace the experience! Those challenges can be tough if you are focused on your watch or obtaining a PR. If you go into the run looking to have fun, enjoy your run and make some great memories you are  miles and miles ahead of the competition.

I wouldn’t trade my Princess Half Marathon experience for anything! Looking forward to my next runDisney events in the fall!

Disney Princess Half Marathon, Part 3: Miles 6- Finish!

18 Mar

Picking up where I left off on Part 2, reaching the 5 Mile marker was a pretty big milestone on this course as it meant we were close to entering the Magic Kingdom!

Up until this point, I had felt my roomie and I were both doing pretty well but I could tell she was struggling a little bit more than I was. It was incredibly humid for February in Florida and I don’t think she was prepared for that.

With the help of my Garmin, we were following a 1 minute run/1 minute walk plan pretty well, but at this point we switched to mostly walking. I was still feeling pretty strong, but I didn’t want to abandon my roommate, as I could tell it was mostly a mental struggle and knew she could finish.

We were cutting through a bit of the Magic Kingdom’s backstage area, so I knew we were close to being on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street! Even though I frequent the theme parks, this was by far the part of the race I was most anticipating!

Main Street!

Main Street!

This was another part of the course that was FULL of spectators, so the energy was great! Once we got a little closer to the castle, I insisted on a picture! And managed to capture a photo of a guy running in an AWESOME tutu in the background!

Castle!

Castle Shot!

From Main Street, we made our way through Tomorrowland and into Fantasyland, making our way back around to Cinderella’s Castle and another fun photo op.

Fantasyland

Fantasyland

There were some members of the royal court playing trumpets and motivating runners on the run through the castle. I thought they were a lot of fun!

Trumpeters!

Trumpeters!

We made our way through the castle, and were able to enjoy a great view of Main Street and our fellow runners.

Main Street Crowds

Main Street Crowds

You can see how crowded it is- and also how gray the sky is. Definitely a reflection of the humidity in the air.

As we ran through Frontierland, we hit mile 6 and knew we were getting close to the half way point!

Mile 6!

Mile 6!

Soon, we were making our way through some backstage areas again on our way out of the park. Disney kept the backstage area fun, by having some of the parades and characters out greeting runners.

Steam Trains

Steam Trains

Cinderella and Prince Charming

Cinderella and Prince Charming

We made our way back onto the road. We passed by one of Reedy Creek’s, Disney’s personal emergency services department’s, firetrucks and a DJ pumping up the crowd.

Reedy Creek

Reedy Creek

Fans of runDisney on Facebook were able to vote for their favorite song to be featured as the anthem of the race at the half way point. Girl on Fire, by Alicia Keys, came out on top- so the fire truck fit perfectly. And, with that, we we had finished half of our run!

Half Way There!

Half Way There!

Not too long after, Mile 7 was in sight!

Mile 7!

Mile 7!

Right after Mile 7, we passed by the Grand Floridian Resort, where Mary Poppins, Bert and a chimney sweep were cheering runners on.

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

As we passed the Polynesian Resort, we saw Lilo, too!

Lilo

Lilo

Mile 8 was not far behind, followed by the musical stylings of an accordion club!

Mile 8!

Mile 8!

Accordion Club

Accordion Club

At this point, my roommate was struggling pretty bad, which was a challenge for me as I really wanted to make sure I was supporting her as best I can. I made sure she was fueling as needed and really did my best to keep her motivated! I consider myself to be naturally peppy so was trying to keep the positivity flowing. I did balance that with a littttlllleee bit of “Drill Sergeant Stephanie” sending a little tough love her way, too!

By this time we had made our way back onto World Drive and well on way into the home stretch towards Epcot and finished Mile 9!

Mile!

Mile 9!

About half way through Mile 9, my roommate insisted I run ahead. I had mixed feelings as I didn’t want her to get into her head being by herself and quit, but I was looking to push myself a little more. I did end up separating from her at this point, but not without her pinky promising me that she would cross the finish line.

I picked up the pace and made my way to Mile 10 and down World drive to Mile 11.

Mile 10!

Mile 10!

Road Running

Road Running

Mile 11!

Mile 11!

While the course is relatively flat, you do hit a few hills on the overpasses. Of course, these seem to happen more frequently at the end which definitely kept things challenging! Some inspirational signs were scattered throughout this part of the course, which always seem to motivate me to give an extra push.

Inspiration

Inspiration

Motivation

Motivation

After passing Mile 11, I knew I was approaching the entrance into Epcot, which gave me some added pep in my step. Just before entering the park, there was a photo op with Mulan and the Mile 12 marker!

Mulan

Mulan

Mile 12!

Mile 12!

With the passing of Mile 12, the course made it’s way pass cheering spectators and into Epcot through a side entrance and caught sight of the icon of Epcot, Spaceship Earth! The Epcot section of the course is relatively fast, making its way through Future World to the start of the World Showcase and back towards the front of the park.

Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth

At this point on the course my Garmin unfortunately died, but I knew Mile 13 and the finish line were not too far. The course wound it’s way backstage again towards the parking area.

Right before Mile 13, a gospel choir was singing backstage which was wonderful. Not only was their single excellent, it was just the right expression of joy and motivation to make the end to pump up my energy at the end of race!

Gospel Choir

Gospel Choir

Mile 13! 0.1 to go!

Mile 13! 0.1 to go!

As I passed Mile 13, you could begin to hear the roar of the crowd of spectators and the announcers at the finish line! I gave it my last push of energy and made it to the finish line!

The Finish!

The Finish!

Whether a 5K, 10K or half marathon, crossing the finish line always feels great and makes me a bit emotional and this was no exception.

I continued out of the shoot, collecting my finisher’s medal and some water. I decided to stop and get some ice for my hip. While it wasn’t bothering me much, it seemed like a good preventative measure. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it to a good viewing area to watch my roommate cross the finish line, so I continued on and grabbed some snacks. Disney provides a snack box that includes a bunch of health snacks- hummus, nuts, crackers, chocolate and, of course, a banana. I grabbed a Powerade too and found a spot to wait for my roomie.

She was about 20 minutes behind me and with the help of a couple text messages were able to find each other pretty easily. We had had intentions of walking around Epcot for a bit after, but she was a little bit more worn out than she expected and I could feel the starts of a headache so we decided to make our way home, after once last photo.

Finishers!

Finishers!

This half was such a great experience for me. Running around Disney, a place I truly love, and accomplishing something that I feel is still such a huge fitness feat for me makes me feel so wonderful!

And clearly, I’m addicted as I’ve signed up for two more runDisney races in the fall! I already can’t wait!

Coming soon, I’ll provide a quick summary of my thoughts on my overall thoughts on the race, in terms of pros, cons and just helpful tips for future Princess half runners!

Disney Princess Half Marathon, Part 2: Miles 1 through 5

15 Mar

The Princess Half Marathon started with a super early wake up call.

Up Before Daylight

Up Before The Sun

As a chronic over sleeper and lover of the snooze button, I decided to set a few back up alarms.

Runners were supposed to be at the start line by 5AM, but a lot of the roads leading to Epcot closed as early as 4AM. So even though my roommate and I live about 15 minutes from Epcot our goal was to leave between 3AM and 3:15AM. We weren’t sure how bad traffic might be, but we made it to Epcot without any major delays. Since we had gotten there pretty early we took a few minutes to wait in the car and relax before heading to the starting area-without the sun up, it was still quite chilly!

In the Epcot parking lot, Disney had set up their pre-race area which included bag check, concessions, merchandise and various photo ops. There was also a DJ pumping up the crowd and a VIP Race Retreat area. We chose not to wait in line for any of the organized photo spots, but did spend a couple minutes taking pictures in this area.

Ready to Run!

Ready to Run!

We didn’t have any bags to check or need to use the restroom, so we decided to make the walk to the starting area. It is quite a bit of a trek, probably about 20 minutes to where the race actually begins.

DSC03249

There were roughly 26,000 people running, so Disney breaks the group into several “corrals”. I was in corral C but my friend had been placed into corral F. While Disney requires you to stop at Runner Relations at the race expo in order to move to an earlier corral, if you want to move back it’s usually not a problem. I opted to move back so that I could at least start the race with my roomie.

She was planning on following the Galloway method with a 1 minute walk/1 minute run plan. I had never run more than a mile two in this manner, so I wasn’t sure it was something I’d feel good sticking with for the 13.1. I decided to give it a try with the hopes of cutting down on the risk of injury since I’ve had trouble with my hip in the past and to enjoy some of the run with my friend.

We had quite a bit of time before our wave would be starting, so we were able to get comfy for a bit and do some stretching. runDisney has some really entertaining race announcers, so I enjoyed listening to their banter and the interviews they conducted. Actor Sean Astin was there and completing the Coast to Coast challenge and Ali Vincent the first female winner of the Biggest Loser was also running for a charity, so it was fun to hear their story! They also interviewed a woman who was the last finisher of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland who was determined to continue on her health and fitness journey and  complete her second half at WDW too! It was inspirational to hear her story and see the drive and determination that she brought to the run.

Waiting Our Turn

Waiting Our Turn

Soon, it was time to get the first wave of runners started with the help of the Fairy Godmother and an explosion of fireworks! A great thing at the runDisney races is that each corral gets the same sendoff at the start line. It’s helps keep the energy up and keeps you anticipating your turn at the start line.

Soon, it was our turn. Our corral was directed up to the start line relatively quickly.

Approaching the Start

Approaching the Start

The announcers were preparing us for the start and soon the Fairy Godmother was getting ready to count us down!

Countdown Time

Countdown Time…and a Lady’s Head 🙂

And then, with some more fireworks, we were off!

Fireworks Start

Fireworks Start

The course starts out right outside of Epcot, on Epcot Center Drive and makes it’s way up World Drive towards the Magic Kingdom. This can be a long stretch of road, but Disney does a great job at filling the course with fun entertainment along the way which makes it a lot of fun!

Mile 1

Mile 1

Each mile has a fun decorative marker. We didn’t stop for many pictures on the way, but I did manage to get a picture of each one along the way! With the large number of runners, the clocks aren’t super accurate past the first corral but it’s always great to see how far you’ve come.

I tried to catch on the go shots of a lot of the entertainment as we ran.

The Princesses

The Princesses

Bird Puppets

Bird Puppets

Mile 2!

Mile 2!

Us On The Go!

Us On The Go!

Paparazzi Shot of the Men of Disney

Paparazzi Shot of the Men of Disney

And soon we were approaching the entrance to the Magic Kingdom!

Here it Comes

Here it Comes

The Magic Kingdom (Toll Plaza)

The Magic Kingdom (Toll Plaza)

If you’re not familiar with Disney, this can be a little deceiving, as you still have about three miles until you actually enter the theme park! While I was aware, it was still the first, of many, milestones for me!

After passing through the Magic Kingdom toll plaza, the course makes its though the Magic Kingdom parking lot, by the Richard Petty Driving Experience and towards the Ticket and Transportation Center.

Mile 3!

Mile 3!

Lightning McQueen by Richard Petty

Lightning McQueen by Richard Petty

Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters

Evil Stepmother and Stepsisters

This was the first spot on the course where a lot of spectators were present cheering the runners on. I always get a kick out of reading all the inspirational and funny signs that have.

Haha!

Haha!

The green one above is a bit hard to read, but says “I took the monorail, it was faster”. Definitely one of my favorite Disney themed signs!

Mile 4!

Mile 4!

The next stretch took runners back onto the road by Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Cones, Cones and More Cones

Cones, Cones and More Cones

As someone who has frequently seen individuals preparing the course, I never cease to be amazed by the sheer number of cones used on this portion of the course!

As you get closer to the Contemporary, you approach a pretty steep decline in the road followed by a steep incline as you pass under a water bridge connecting to lakes.

Down and Up

Down and Up

The course also gets a little narrow, making the crowds a bit of a challenge, but Disney must realizes runners can use a little motivation and has a DJ above looking to keep the energy up!

DJ Pumping Up the Crowd

DJ Pumping Up the Crowd

After making it back up the hill, which was mostly challenging due to the thick crowds of runners, there were some neat decorative puppets/parade floats and the mile 5 marker.

The Genie!

The Genie!

Sebastian

Sebastian

Mile 5!

Mile 5!

With the passing of Mile 5, we were close to making our way onto Main Street of the Magic Kingdom…

Catching Up to the Present

6 Mar

What have I been up to since starting an unofficial blogging “break” in December? I’ll recap some of the runs below in more detail at a later date, but here’s a look at what I’ve been doing-running and otherwise!

Enjoying the holiday season with my first trip home for Christmas in FIVE years! Complete with quality time with the family, christmas cookies and other homeade meals and treats galore, SNOW, a trip to NYC and a Coldplay concert.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Freedom Tower in NYC

Freedom Tower in NYC

 

Snow

Snow

Stew Leonard's, the Best Grocery Experience. Ever.

Stew Leonard’s, the Best Grocery Experience. Ever.

Coldplay!

Coldplay!

Ringing in the New Year from my condo complex’s parking lot with a friend.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Taking in some Broadway at the Bob Carr with student rush tickets to Mary Poppins!

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins

Running the Color Run in January during it’s first visit to Orlando.

Running the Dick Batchelor Run for the Children at Universal Orlando for the second time. One of my favorite 5K’s!

Not exactly a running photo, but take in the post-race area at Universal's CityWalk!

Not exactly a running photo, but take in the post-race area at Universal’s CityWalk!

Celebrating my golden birthday (26 on the 26th of January) with surprise cupcakes, work, pottery painting and dinner with friends!

A Welcome Birthday Surprise!

A Welcome Birthday Surprise!

Palm Tree Pottery

Palm Tree Pottery

Starting spring semster grad school classes. Two online courses this semester. Taking advantage of tuition waivers and making slow progress towards my Master’s.

Running the Lady Track Shack 5K, an all female run in Winter Park, Florida.

Running the innaugural Winter Garden 10K-and tackling a new distance!

Running the Disney’s Princess Half Marathon!

Planning my 2013 (into 2014) dream race schedule which includes signing up for Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 Miler and hopefully signing up for Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon when registration opens!

Preparing for my sister’s arrival to Orlando for Spring Break- which means some upcoming time spent enjoying the local theme parks!