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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A few of my favorite running things

I hate being all preachy, but I love preaching the things and people I truly believe in. As I spent much of 2018 expanding my running world and making hundreds of new running friends (i.e. you reading this), I latched on to the products you all promoted and even discovered a few on my own. Here are a few of my top running finds of 2018:

  • Goodr sunglasses – polarized lenses so the sun doesn’t blind you, that come in gorgeous colors and who’s ‘mission statement pretty much says what (they’re) about: We’re recklessly committed to fun…blah blah blah, sunglasses.”
  • Sparkle Athletic Skirts – So I literally own a tutu in every single color. Half of why I became a runner was so I could prance around in a tutu. But sometimes they aren’t all that practical unless you’re running the Ultra on the Playa at Burning Man. Fast forward to multiple, sequin-filled dreams later, I now have a bit more practicality and a bit more sass in my running attire.
  • Science in Sport energy gels – because chewing energy gels is out of style and absorbing melted-jello is in. That may not be the most appealing way to describe these, but that’s why you’ll try them for yourself. And that is – I appreciate their liquid form vs. chewy cubes that have to be chased with water (multi-tasking is hard).
  • Pro Compression Marathon Socks – I wish I had actually discovered these while training for a marathon, but now that I have them, I can’t run without them. I feel like I’m floating on pillows and recovery is 10x faster. Side note – as of late, I’ve had a terrible obsession with buying expensive and colorful running socks. Like, its almost out of control.

And a quick shout-out to some of my favorites that I’ve been using for years: vaseline for chafing, Cyclecast for active recovery, Powerbeats by Dre for … sweet beats …, foam rollers for masochism, Nuun for helping me avoid runner’s trots and Saucony shoes for supporting my passion.

What do you recommend I check out for 2019? 

 

A (running, curve-loving) place

Season’s Greetings and Chocolate Eatings! I love a good catchy rhyme.. and a good Toblerone. I write to you from a place I thought I wouldn’t be at. Of course this time of year, its natural to reflect on the last twelve months, what you sought to do at the beginning of the year and what you actually achieved. When I say I thought I wouldn’t be in the place I’d be at, I say it with multiple meanings.

I am no longer on a weight loss journey. Yes, I want to see the scale go down. Yes, I’d love to get smaller sizes at the store. But this year, I’ve really learned to fall in love with my body and all it has accomplished. I walked around Hawaii in my sports bra or swimsuit top for most of the trip, and I was comfortable doing so. I ran races in just a sports bra and learned to block out the gawkers. I posted photos of myself in these once vulnerable states so that all the world could see. And they were met with nothing but support and love from the world out there (much to my surprise, I’ve yet to be approached by a shamer – knock on wood). This is the year that I have learned to love my body more than ever. Through curves and rolls and stretch marks and muscles, it is mine to keep, mine to nurture and mine to love so I sure as hell am going to do that.

I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say I’m bummed by how tight my pants are, how many times I’ve skipped the gym this month and how many nights I’ve opted for a big, cheesy plate of pasta delivered via DoorDash instead of the homemade chicken fajitas in my fridge. I told myself I would no longer let the holiday season get to me, but it did. I told myself I would never look at January 2 as the day to start over, because I would never stop, but its happening. Place #2 I thought I wouldn’t be in.

I’m as excited about running as ever. After my first marathon, I refused to put my Saucony shoes on. I couldn’t find it in me to wake up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym. There was no WAY I’d even look at signing up for another race. Thankfully, that didn’t happen after this year’s marathon (place #3 I thought I wouldn’t be in). I kept running throughout the year (logging 527 total miles in 2018!!) and I have multiple race prospects on the horizon for next year. I am super stoked to be heading to Walt Disney World for the first time and as luck would have it, our trip was coincidentally fell on the same weekend as the Princess Half Marathon. I’ll be doing Desert Sky Adventure’s Biggest Little Half Marathon shortly after and will hopefully make a triumphant return to the Reno Tahoe Odyssey relay race this summer. That gets me through June of next year and I’ve set a goal to complete four total half marathons in 2019 so there’s certainly more miles in my future.

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“The feeling of being different is really what makes us the same. We have our own struggles, yet we want the same things. We want human connection, a place to feel at home, and pizza.” ~Justin Timberlake, “Hindsight” 

 

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!