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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Halfway there, halfway chafed

I’m in a temporary rut – one of exhaustion, hormones and with a lack of motivation. This week I have been nothing short of tired, no matter how much sleep I get. But I keep envisioning that June 3rd goal, how important it is to me and how amazing it will feel when it’s complete. I do have successes to reflect on, so I’m turning to this post to do so.

On April 8, I ran my first half marathon in two years! I traveled to the Bay for the Rock n Roll San Francisco Half Marathon, complete with great friends and my ultimate running partner. The day we drove in, the rain was a torrential downpour. Fingers and laces were crossed that it would clear up by Sunday, but until then, we had a two mile walk in Hurricane Half Marathon to get to the Race Expo. I love that we’re able to bring our guests to enjoy some of the Expo perks and I loved even more that Blue Buffalo was one of the vendors. I legitimately walked out of the Expo with more goodies for my dog than myself, which was great because I knew he was going to be pissed at me when I got home (see: Mamma’s Boy). Walking through the merchandise area gave me chills and it was the first time I had gotten nervous about the race. I decided on some retail therapy and got a beautiful teal commemorative tanktop that eventually went great with my race medal. 29873128_589164891464079_981320735037531872_o

We stayed at Club Quarters in the Financial District and it was a runner’s dream! Not only was there FREE WINE every day from 5p – 6p, but each floor had filtered water stations and each room had a yoga mat and resistance bands, plus access to fitness classes and a gym complete with Peloton bikes. Plus, the staff was super nice, there was electronic check-in, free laundry and an attached restaurant/bar. If I was in SF for business or just to be away, I could definitely see myself staying there for a few days without ever leaving (seriously, even my UberEats driver walked into the lobby instead of meeting me curbside).

On Saturday, we went to the birthplace of Irish Coffees at Buena Vista and aside from the finish line, this was the best part of our trip. To eat, you basically had to hover around other people until they got up from their spot and you could sit where they were. Luckily we made friends with an older brother and sister who allowed us to join them and another pair of strangers for breakfast. You would’ve never of guess that we had never met. It was like one big happy family at a breakfast table for the next two hours – sipping on Irish Coffees, compliments of the other couple, laughing, chatting, throwing things at each other (no really, I accidentally threw food on an old man’s crotch) and of course, enjoying some amazing, AMAZING food. I had a crab cake benedict that was perfectly crisped.

From there, we walked some of the course, said hi to the seals and eventually made our way back to the Expo for some last minute supplies and a less wet experience. Oh, and yes, the weather cleared and it was absolutely perfect. For dinner, we stumbled upon a restaurant down the street from our hotel called Mangia Tutti. Since working for an Italian family, I’ve become somewhat picky about my pastas and other delicacies. But everything from the wine selections to the bread dippings to the homemade pasta and authentic Italian waitress, was incredible. It was so nice to sit around a table and enjoy good laughs, good food and good company, all to ease the nerves of the Race morning. But alas, the sun was setting and it was time for me to get in my race preparations.

Fast forward to 4 a.m. when my alarm went off – I did all of the usual stuff – toast with PB and banana, Nuun, stretching, more Nuun, trying to poop, failing to poop, freaking out about not pooping and leaving before I pooped. I grabbed an Uber to Pier 39 as I was lucky enough to get VIP from the Rock n Roll race. I was also lucky enough to get to post to the RNR Instagram Stories all weekend which was SUPER fun and I squealed when I saw that some of my posts had almost 10,000 views (PR geek moment). As I was waiting for my friends to join up with me, a fellow Rock N Blogger recognized me and immediately invited me into the runner family. It was really awesome to meet face-to-face with some of the fellow runners I see on Instagram on a daily basis and that truly was one of the highlights of my trip.

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Ok, go time. (Literally, I finally pooped just before the Race started).

I ended up finishing the Race strong but slow coming in at 2 hours and 50 minutes. A lot of that was due to stopping for the bathroom or mostly to take photos of the most beautiful course I have ever run. You guys, I RAN ACROSS THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. And the weather was perfect, sunny and most importantly, especially in SF, clear. The views were some of the most incredible I have ever seen in my running days and my heart was just beaming as bright as the sun. My running pal and I stuck together for the majority of the race, talking and motivating, all to pass the time. By mile 11, I was ready to be done so I sped up a bit. I had been suffering from sore feet all week and a cramped calf from walking the hills which had me super worried about my performance all weekend. At the mile 12 marker, my foot started to go numb and I literally yelled out “Please, no, not now.” And it worked. The Running Gods heard me. The .1 of 13.1 was a steep downhill to the finish line which had runners crossing at top, powerful speed. Crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings I’ve had in recent times as I’ve ached so badly for that feeling. I so missed that feeling. I so wanted that to be the outcome of this journey.

And now… on to 26.2.

Sacramento Dessert Bar & the Week-Long Migraine

So on July 28, I woke up at the usual 5:15 a.m. and made my way to the gym to work on my upper body. Felt great, kicked butt, yadda yadda. As I’m getting ready for work, my vision started to blur a little. I realized I hadn’t eaten yet so I went and grabbed a quick protein shake and chugged some water. Vision still blurry and head now pounding, I could tell something wasn’t right. As I headed into work, I got nauseous, my mouth and fingers went numb and I was sweating profusely. WTF was going on? Within the first ten minutes of the work day, I was in the bathroom three times throwing up. I was trying to tough it out as I was already taking a half day to drive to Sacramento for my cousin’s wedding, but I couldn’t take any more. I headed for the door and made it home just in time to puke five more times. I did everything I could to toughen up as it was an important weekend and I was so looking forward to spending time with family. Luckily Scott was coming with me and he was able to drive on my behalf but we weren’t even sure I could do a two-hour drive in my condition. Thankfully we did make it to where we needed to be, but the rest of the day, I was constantly sweating and could not shake my headache. That was the absolute worst migraine I’d ever had. And it didn’t go away. For seven days. SEVEN DAYS OF HEADACHES. None as bad as that day, but the lingering pounding sensation meant there was little to no desire to be active.

I did pack running gear, per usual, and really wanted to run along the Sacramento River, but instead I opted for a 1,000 calorie Oreo Cheesecake at Rick’s Dessert Diner with my family and a Punch Bowl at Coin-Op. All the sugar probably made my heart beat just as fast as working out anyway…no? I’d get back to working out Monday anyway, right? Wrong. Whatever, that cheesecake and the other desserts my peeps got was the shit. Despite multiple nights of nine hours of sleep, I did not make it to the gym once. It wasn’t until yesterday that I finally put on my  Mizunos and ran a 5-mile taper run, and last long run, before Sunday’s Reno 10 Miler. Lucky ducky Pawko got to join me for the first mile (sadly, we haven’t been able to get outside much because of said migraine, the heat, and smoke from nearby looming fires). Surprisingly, I felt pretty ok. A little hip pain here and there, but I paced under 12 mins per mile and was even able to sprint to the end and finished in 58 minutes. My quads are paying for it today. Every time I find myself sitting at my desk for more than ten minutes, I instantly regret the moment I have to stand up. I’ll probably squeeze in one more 5K sometime this week and other than that, it’ll be all strength training, foam rolling and active rest days.

I started this morning with some upper body and core work. I had a last minute opportunity to go back to Burning Man at the end of the month, which is one of the only times you’ll ever see me in crop top (if you should be so lucky), so now I feel pressure to work on my core. Realistically, I know not much can be done in three-ish weeks, but hey, it’ll make me feel better at the end of the Playa. Planks, crunches and hip dips for days. And on the note of preparing for Burning Man, as I started to pull out all of my costumes and supplies, I discovered I literally have a tutu for every color of the rainbow. This makes my heart so, so, SO happy.

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.