Recap: Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

In summary: this was one of the most physically challenging weekends of my life

  1. No sleep
  2. Humidity
  3. Two races + four theme parks in two days
  4. DisneyWorld churros are nowhere near as good (or easy to find) as DisneyLand

Last summer, we were planning a Caribbean Cruise that was leaving out of Orlando. Having never been to DisneyWorld, we chose to start the trip a few days early to visit the Happiest Place on Earth. Luck would have it, a few days later the dates for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend were announced and it fell on the same weekend as our visit. Being a runner, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pass up the opportunity to participate. Though I had intended to just do the half marathon, once registration opened, I got super eager and over zealous and clicked on the Fairy Tale Challenge option instead.

The Fairy Tale Challenge is two races; a 10K one day and a half marathon the next. “Hey, no problem,” I thought. I wish I knew how I was going to feel the few weeks prior to race weekend. The closer it got, the more anxiety I felt. I knew I could accomplish one race, but two? What in the actual fork was I thinking? Nonetheless, I had every intention of beasting through four DisneyWorld parks in two days – making the best of my first time there.

We conquered Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios the first day, but already my feet were in excruciating pain and swollen. I tried to distract myself from thoughts of wanting to drop out of the race with churros and other Disney goodies, but much to my displeasure, DW doesn’t have churro carts at every corner like Disneyland does.

Living in a much smaller race community, I can show up to the starting line 10 minutes before the start time and find a perfect corral spot, a port of potty and a space to stretch. Apparently at DisneyWorld races, if you’re not in the parking lot two hours before the firework start, you’re not getting in. In the days leading up to the races, I had numerous internal debates about taking an Uber (what if there weren’t any?!) or driving the rental car (what if someone needs to go somewhere at 6 a.m. before I’m done?!). I was still debating this hours before the first race (10K) and thus I got no more than four hours of sleep the night before. Given I was also in a totally different time zone, the lack of sleep meant I awoke with enough butterflies to fill the Animal Kingdom. Ultimately I chose to drive myself at 3:30 a.m.

image1-5Half dressed and following a fight with my hydration backpack in which I lost, I sleep-walked to the car and made my way to the Epcot parking lot. The closer I got, the more I anticipated rows and rows of vehicles to be in my way. Next thing I know, I’m in a spot only a few spaces from the race grounds. Was I too early? Better safe than sorry. I spent the next hour in the car, trying to stomach my usual pre-race sprouted bread, peanut butter and banana along with some Nuun Energy. Its rare for me to not finish a meal and as such, I knew I was in rare form.

With about 45 minutes to first corral release, I made my way to my starting spot. The battle with my hydration backpack continued and it wasn’t long before I discovered that the entire thing leaked out everywhere, leaving me with very little water for the course. I knew there’d be plenty of aid stations for both races, but I’m also used to running in very dry climate so I wanted to be prepared for the humidity in every way that I could be. As they started walking my corral closer to the starting line, I saw a b-line for the restroom and decided to go one more time out of nerves (and my pre-workout kicking in). Why is this part important? Well, because I’d like to apologize to the woman who opened what I thought was my locked porta potty door. Maybe that happened because we both needed a pre-race laugh, not horror.

For both races, it took about two miles before my breathing fully acclimated to the humidity. That was quite possibly one of the toughest parts of the whole weekend. If I decide to do another Florida race, I’m training on a treadmill in a sauna.

For the 10K, I told myself I’d do a lot of walking so that I wasn’t completely spent for the next day. But I couldn’t help it. Running is my calling and I was running in freaking DisneyWorld. I reached the center of Epcot right as the sun was rising. It was my first time ever being in Epcot and I couldn’t have seen it for the first time in a better fashion. Epcot recreated famous landmarks from all around the world so I was literally running across the globe with a glorious sight in tow.

I ended up finishing the 10K in just over an hour; I grabbed my snack box and raced home to prepare for another day of theme parking. I couldn’t wait to go back to Epcot and get a closer look at all the landmarks (and eat some food from around the world). My feet were still throbbing and standing in long lines didn’t help, but I kept reminding myself of where I was and did my best to enjoy every moment (even if it meant standing in lines for 1-2 hours at a time; the Frozen ride was SO worth it).

Luckily that night I was able to get some sleep and I felt a little less stressed about the pre-race situation. The half marathon was a little bit busier traffic-wise and I had no idea that you actually walk a mile to the starting line once you’re in the race area (someone needs to do something about that… or give us an extra medal for getting that far). image1-6

I started the half with so much doubt. I pictured myself catching one of the busses to the finish. Before I even reached the 5K mark, I had to start walking because my body was tired and sore. I just wanted a shower and food and a nap. But my heart knew I was better than that and soon my mind was wandering with all my typical mantras; I pictured later that day when I’d be on a cruise ship. I gave myself point to point goals. I started brainstorming for my blog and coordinating Instagram post (none of those thoughts will make it here because quite honestly I was full of delirium). I didn’t stop for any of the characters on the course because the lines were long and I just wanted to finish, but they were welcomed distractions. By mile seven, as I was leaving the part of the course that goes through the Magic Kingdom, I finally felt like I was going to make it. The negative thoughts finally turned positive. I struggled to the end but I did it – and in less than three hours nonetheless.

I’ve run two marathons. I’ve run multiple half marathons. I’ve done relay races. I crosstrain with some of the most skilled fitness coaches in my city. But none of that compares to how physically and emotionally challenging this race weekend was for me. But I am a better athlete and person for what I’ve accomplished and I’ll forever be full of pride for not quitting.

 

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How Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson got me through a run

Here’s to hoping this humors you and makes your week a little bit better. If it doesn’t, it will at the least make you realize that in addition to being a badass, I’m also a weirdo. Or super cool. Whichever. Whatever.

In a year where I’ve already run over 300 miles, including a marathon, I’ve also already lost my distance training. Ya know what they say – “use it or lose it.” It’s true. And it’s not like I’m disappointed by it, I mean… hello, I ran a marathon. But I definitely didn’t think I’d struggle to get back to a 10K just three months later. Again, use it or lose it. I didn’t use it, so I lost it. I mostly didn’t use it because I’m secretly a really hot ninety year old woman who was nursing both hip and back injuries, so again, not disappointed.

As I persist to get back into a routine, I chug along, huffing and puffing, especially in the latter half of whatever distance I’m doing. My heart wants four miles and a donut, my body just wants the donut. Except on yesterday’s run, my heart (okay and maybe my body too), wanted Dwayne Johnson. Yes, The Rock. The People’s Champ. The Brama Bull.

What?

Hear me out. Running is monotonous. Running is long. Running tests all of your strength, both physical and mental. Sometimes to get to your goals, you have to think of weird things, or do boy band dance moves while everyone’s watching, or train yourself to play Words With Friends while keeping pace. Yesterday’s run embodied weird things. Like, how cool would it be if, on this trek of mine, I just randomly ran into The Rock? How would that go? Knowing me, it would start with word vomit and end with a really cheesy selfie where I look terrible and he looks like he hates the girl in the photo with him.

No, no… that’s not what would happen. What would REALLY happen is I’d be like “Yo Dwayne, I know you’re not from Reno so let me show you the course!” I’d give him the preface that I average an 11:30-12/min mile but don’t worry, I’m a marathoner. He’d give me the People’s Eyebrow and I’d assure him that yes, this size 14 curvy fit woman has run not one, but TWO marathons. Feeling confident he wouldn’t have to give me the People’s Elbow, he’d agree to stroll along and we’d become best running pals for life. (Side note, even though I grew up as a huge WWE fan who was in love with The Rock, I still can’t do the People’s Eyebrow.)

Two miles done.

While trying to keep my cool, I’d get consent from DJ to do a Facebook Live because you know, if this was really happening, I would need to make sure the whole internet world knew. My intro would go something like this: “You guys, I was just minding my own runner business when I caught up  with a familiar (literally) figure. Meet my knew BFF who I assure is not going to lay the smackdown on my candy ass.” Then angels would sing and I’d probably drop my phone as I moved the camera upwards to catch his face.

Three miles done.

As we trail along, we’d bond over our love for Kailua and protein shakes and how jealous I am that he got to film a movie with Amy Pond.

Being the social media king he is, Big D would want to put me on his Instagram and tag my running profile and that’s how I’d finally reach 1,000 followers on my Insta.  At the end, we’d high five and I’d introduce him to Pawko who would get to take his first picture with a celebrity.

Voila, four miles — done!

The moral of this story is that I probably don’t need pre-workout.

Checking in from the pavement

Aloha! If you follow me on Instagram, you know I recently came back from an amazing family trip to Hawaii and I’m still living on that post-vacation high. From the beautiful scenery and refreshing waters to being adamant about leaving my work phone at home and eating poke at least once a day, everything about it was exactly what I wanted it to be and more. From an active point of view (because duh, that’s why you’re here…I think), highlights included running and hiking with just a sports bra, no top, in the sauna (okay, just the outdoors), swimming with a dolphin and actually not gaining any vacation weight (see: sauna).  We also went snorkling off of a catamaran, where the workout came in the form of holding on for dear life as we bounced up and down on the roller coaster waves.

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I also spent nearly the entire week without wearing any sort of foundation or concealer. This is a HUGE victory for me as I’ve always struggled with acne and being self conscious of it. It was liberating. My skin absolutely LOVED the humidity and the tan, which ultimately were the motivators in this. I’ve been home for (sadly) almost two weeks now and have yet to touch my Benefit compact. Guess I’ll just need to go to Hawaii every other month or so to rejuvenate the skin. Oh well.

I am extremely grateful to my parents for bringing me on the dream vacation and am so glad that I got to spend the entire week making new memories with my family.

A few days before I left, I gracefully fell in the bakery at work simply by moving my foot a step to the right. It was real cute, but I’ll blame it on the thought of trying to step away from eating all the delicious-smelling sugary carbs. Such a simple fall that could only happen to me, turned in to a sprained hip and a shot of Motrin in the butt to ease the pain. Because of vacation, I couldn’t make an appointment to see my chiropractor which made for a very uncomfortable plane ride and first night in Hawaii. Thankfully, it didn’t deter the rest of the trip.

It has, however, put me on modified exercise since I’ve been back. I recently joined a new gym that has a regular schedule of cross training classes and, while nobody else might notice it, I’ve been pouting on the elliptical in the corner as I watch others sweat like there’s no tomorrow.

To top all of that off, I have been living without a refrigerator/freezer for TWO MONTHS. Long story short, is a home warranty really worth it? I’ve had no less than six service appointments at my house and have rolled my eyes no less than a thousand times. I will say, future blog post: “Living out of a mini fridge,” will come soon.

So needless to say, I’ve hit some roadblocks and for once, its not lack of motivation. My heart is there, my body isn’t. My mind is there, my kitchen is not. Here’s to hoping that I can return to badassery (and normalness) soon.

OH WAIT. Before I hit publish, as I almost just did…

In the midst of planning a February vacation out to the East Coast, we realized our dates fell in line with the Disney World Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Of course, both my runner’s brain and child-like heart went a flurry when I figured this out. When registration opened yesterday, I anxiously got in the virtual line at 9 a.m. on the dot to sign up. Twenty minutes later, I got in, but silly me decided to forget my Run Disney password. It took me all of sixty seconds to reset it, but unfortunately I got put back in the virtual line. I spent the next 30 minutes kicking myself and believing that I wasn’t going to get in. With three minutes to spare before a meeting, I got in. I GOT IN! Can’t wait to Princess-it-up and I couldn’t think of a better way to complete my very first Disney World experience!

All in a (5) Day’s Damage

Oh, hey! This is me writing to you 20 pounds heavier and two pant sizes bigger after returning from an amazing five-day vacation. For the record, I packed two gym outfits (we were in an Air B&B with w/d), my running shoes and Beats By Dre Powerbeats, armband and charger – however aside from a hike, those all went unused. When we arrived in Portland, I insisted to every Lyft driver that I’d be running while here – Forest Park, I’m coming for ya! Did that happen? NOPE. Running is my favorite way to explore a new city or new living area, but I also really like beer and food and beer and food don’t always get me out the door in the early a.m. Who knew?

While I’m still getting over that disappointment, I did wake up this morning wondering how hard a run will be. Prior to leaving, I managed to kick ass on a six-mile run (though I did need a trip to my Chiropractor after) so I was really looking forward to a long run in a new city. Six miles puts me ahead of my training schedule and if I want to stay that way, I’ll be heading out for a seven-miler this weekend. BUT, what’s the before and after going to be like? I mean, I literally can feel the big ol’ basketball that is my stomach bouncing up and down as I walk, what’s going to happen when I run?  In any event, Lebron, take me to the hoop baby! A-yooo. I digress and my point is, this weekend, it’ll be me and the mean streets of Reno taking on a seven-miler. I can sense the lethargy and failure now and have already started blaming the ten flights of beer I had in one day alone. Or maybe it was the two Blue Star Donuts I had yesterday before leaving. Will my running pants even fit?! Have my thighs rubbed together this much since I was 70 pounds heavier?! In the last week, I ate ALL the carbs, despite doctor’s orders and see the difference in my waist line, energy and even my skin – hello teenage acne.

The good news is that I did get a chance to go out and explore the wilderness in my Mizuno shoes. Thankfully we did this because by the third day my butt as begging for the good kind of burn, not the beer kind (shit, did I really just go there?). Here’s a picture of me trying to be one with the earth and Instagrammable. 19959142_463082744072295_8142670455384458794_nBut in all seriousness, it was great to get out and explore some trails, even if just a few short miles.  I’m nervously anticipating Sunday’s training run because it’ll be my longest run in 13 months (at this point, I bet every one of my blogs leading up to the Reno 10 Miler will say this). But I’m less so worried about the distance and more so about how I have not been not-so-fueling my body. My advice to you now, so that this didn’t feel like you completely wasted your time, is to take this as a second-hand lesson that garbage in is garbage out. Pay attention to what goes into your body as it truly does have an impact on your energy and performance… and the size of your butt.