Princess Half Marathon weekend: Picture Pages

While the scoot chicks love to chat, we also love to share our favorite pics with our friends.

So instead of a traditional race recap, I will instead share my favorite photos from last weekend. If you wish to read my Princess Half Marathon weekend recap on my work blog, CLICK HERE.

20140227-125750.jpgWe arrived at Animal Kingdom Lodge on Thursday and each “Princess” was presented with a rose. Well played, Disney. I loved this special treatment!

cgrillWe celebrated our first night with a dinner at the California Grill atop the Contemporary. Here we watched fireworks over the Magic Kingdom and enjoyed an incredible meal! We were also a obsessed with the wine coolers.

rapunzelsLOTS of Rapunzels! From left, me, Brooke, Sara and Heather. And yes, we did plan to all dress as the same character for the Enchanted 10K. Heather made the two matching tops, and they were so comfortable to run in! Thank you Heather! All four of us participated in the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge, which is a 10K on Saturday and a half-marathon one day later.

20140227-130814.jpgPost-10K with friends Tara and Kelly.

20140227-125811.jpgOn Saturday, I worked at the expo with the Sparkle Athletic ladies. Here I am with  Kelly as we take a 3-second break from all the sales at their popular booth!

mermaidsHeather made our fantastic costumes. We’re Ariel’s sisters Aquata and Attina!

20140227-125835.jpgSoon enough, it was time to run the half-marathon. We snapped a few shots before the race at the starting line before the fireworks started us off on our 13.1-mile journey.

sparkle2With Elise (in pink), Kelly (in blue) and Carrie (in green) aka Sleeping Beauty’s fairies at the start. And yes, they wore those hats the entire race.

20140227-131904.jpgThose sparkle fairies sure are fast! I hung with them for the first mile, then decided to run a much slower race. This was my parting shot of them. Great job ladies!

20140227-131920.jpgThis foggy moment near mile 3 was one of my favorite images from the course.

20140227-131843.jpgSelfie by Cinderella’s Castle. I’m still laughing at this one. The crowd behind me was so motivating and encouraging. Hundreds cheered and whooped as I jumped into the air and ran off. It was among of my favorite moments from the race.

tianaHanging with Princess Tiana mid-race

20140227-131757.jpgWatching Mickey cheer several Princesses at the finish was pretty cool.

20140227-131725.jpgSelfie with my girl Kristin!

20140227-131808.jpgHad an incredible time eating my way around EPCOT with the wonderful Jillian! Starbucks and cronuts, then German Pretzels and Pilsner? Yes please!

germanySpeaking of beer in Germany….

fantasmicWe ended my final night watching Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios. All I can say is WOW!

20140227-125901.jpgAnd of course, here’s the parting shot of all my girly medals, including my pink Coast to Coast medal, which is awarded upon completion of the Tinker Bell and Princess half marathons.

I hope you all had an equally magical weekend!

Tell me about your race adventures! What was your favorite moment from the course(s)? Which was your favorite Princess race?

Prepping for Princess

One week from today, I’m heading to the Happiest Place on Earth!

That’s right, in seven short days, I’ll be reunited with several good friends in Orlando as we celebrate Princess Half weekend at Walt Disney World. I’ll be honest, I need this respite from rough wintry weather. As I write this, it’s 4 degrees below zero outside.

NEGATIVE FOUR

And I haven’t even factored in the wind chill (-15, for the record.) But enough about the weather. Let’s talk about all things girly and warm!

Princess Half Marathon and Tangled 5K were my first runDisney race in February 2012 as Brooke and I ran with Meri as she tackled her first-ever 13.1. We all loved the experience, but learned a few things in the process.

mvprincess2Brooke, Mer, and I with Cinderella and Prince Charming

SO! Here are a few tips for a successful Princess weekend:

How and where do I get my race packet (and shirts)?

Each runner is required to retrieve her (or his) bib and race packet from the “Fit for a Princess” expo, held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. There, you’ll also get a race shirt (or shirts, if you’re running several races!)

And of course, there’s LOTS of temping shopping inside the Jostens Center ranging from official runDisney merchandise, New Balance sneakers, Sweaty Bands head bands  and other apparel, like Champion, Raw Threads and Sparkle Athletic. (These are also great spots in case you need a last-minute costume too!)

The expo also features a Speaker Series that includes seminars on training, racing, how to deal with Florida’s heat and humidity and nutrition. This is pretty fantastic and filled with LOTS of great info.

The expo runs for three straight days:

  • 10 am to 8 pm on Thursday, Feb. 20
  • 9 am to 7 pm on Friday, Feb. 21
  • 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, Feb. 22

Some times will be busier than others at the expo. If you want a Dooney and Bourke Princess themed purse, go Thursday morning as these babies will sell out quickly.

If you want to avoid as much shopping temptation as possible, go on Saturday afternoon as a lot of items will be sold out by then.

mvprincess1Meri and I at the 2012 Princess expo

How do I get to the expo?

If you are staying at a WDW “race weekend” resort, follow posted signs to the resort bus stop and look for the appropriate bus. There’s usually someone on hand at the bus stop to direct you. (and the buses are usually well-labeled.)

Don’t see a sign? Ask a cast member or ask at the front desk and they will direct you to the appropriate location.

If you are driving to the expo, parking is free at the Wide World of Sports.

Can I change my corral at the expo?

Sadly no. Until 2013, runners could switch corrals if they provided proper proof of time.

Race morning: What’s the drill?

My motto here is “better to be early than sprinting to the start.”

Personally, I get up insanely early to hop the first-possible bus out of my  resort. It’s absolutely worth rising a few minutes ahead of an already nutso wake-up call, to arrive early at the starting area. This gives you enough time check your bag, hit the bathroom and walk 20 minutes (in a crowd) to the starting corrals.

Then, be prepared to wait. Depending on how early you get to the starting corrals, you may have a wait until the 5:30 am race start.

Also, it’s a good idea to know WHERE you are going to be catching the bus. I tend to the bus stop to check it out the day before the race.

What should I bring race morning?

Bring a garbage bag (to sit on) or an old mylar blanket from a previous race. If the forecast calls for a chilly race morning, bring a throwaway shirt or sweatshirt and if its cold enough, gloves.  You can toss all of these items over the corral fence and to the side once you start running.

And obviously, bring your pre-race fuel, such as a banana, bagel or packaged treat.

I also always bring a package of tissues….just in case I head into a portable toilet without any toilet paper or need to make a pit-stop in the woods.

And you’re off!

Once you start running your 5k, 10k, or half-marathon, enjoy your experience! Snap lots of photos as he run and please be courteous to your fellow runners!

Til next week, I’ll be packing and hydrating….and repeatedly checking the forecast.  Have a great Princess weekend everyone!

mvprincess3Brooke and Meri celebrate at the finish in 2012.

Do you have any burning questions about Princess weekend, races, the expo? Send them our way! Are you running this weekend? What corral are you in? (We will look for you!)

Chick Chat: Wine and Dine half recap (no really!)

Whew!

We’ve been writing about our runDisney race weekend for days are but we’ve finally arrived at the HALF recap! If you’re looking for recaps of the kids races, the expo, or our pre-race shenanigans… well, you’re not in the right place. But if you want to hear how we fared during the actual race – this is the spot!

Ta-dah!

Ta-dah!

Vic and Brooke stuck together throughout the race, starting in corral C while Mer and Cam experienced the race alone. But not really alone! And for that reason, we’ve decided to go Chick Chat style with this post.

Vic and Brooke (corral C): We piled into corral C with friends Traci, Ray and Aaron. None of our happy crew planned to sprint 13.1, especially since our last few Disney runs were incredibly hot and humid.

corralc
So we stuck together as the fireworks sparked over the start line and sent us on our way. We quickly lost Ray and Traci as they zoomed ahead. Brooke and I ran side by side as we logged the miles – two happy Mouseketeers in matching costumes.

We giggled and chatted about recent life events as we ran. We waved to the fastest runners leaving Animal Kingdom just past the 5-mile mark as we headed toward our first theme park of the night.

The front gates were open and a huge, stunning Christmas tree welcomed us inside.  We headed into the park and wound through the pathways of the park.

I spotted a restroom near Expedition Everest, and shouted to B that I’d catch up, then peeled off to use the facilities.  A short time – and a short sprint – later I caught Brooke and Aaron at the tail end of the park. Success!

We waved to Cam as she passed us on the other side of Osceola Parkway. The final corral of runners was followed by an Army of street cleaners that tidied up after the crowd of 14,000. We paused around mile 7 so Brooke could use the facilities as well. Then again, we were on our way.

We settled into our happy pace, and headed into Hollywood Studios . We laughed about our amazing surroundings , we disco-danced our way through the backlot tunnel and we sashayed our way down the Streets of America, completely decked out in its “spectacle of lights.”

We cheered as we passed into double digits.

“Let’s pick up that pace!” Brooke cheered. Oh, and we did. Our last two miles were by far our fastest. We sped up and passed runners left and right. We cheered for them, we cheered for each other and cheered for that finish line as we crossed second apart.

For me, the run was incredible. It was a celebratory race, six days after I ran NYC Marathon. (I still can’t believe I successfully ran a full and a half one week apart!) The run capped off a successful fall training season and two huge PR races. It reminded me why I love to run, and why I’m so blessed to have such incredible friends and support from so many across the miles.

Mer (corral G): Cam, Heather and I said adios to Vic, Brooke and Traci as they headed to the A-F entrance. We found the second corral entrance and said our goodbyes and good luck. As we peeled off into our own corrals, I ate a PocketFuel and realized just how alone running alone can feel.

Don’t get me wrong, I run alone. Often, even! But this was the first time I was surrounded by a slew of runners and didn’t know a soul. The feeling quickly passed as I fell into the zone that I usually find prior to running a race. When I signed up for this race in March, I had visions of a PR dancing in my head. However, with my quad injury in September/October and my heel pain that manifested during the week, I just wanted to finish and to cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

I made the decision not to have my phone out, not to take pictures and just to move forward.

There was a moment of silence for the veterans, as it was Veteran’s Day weekend, and then corral A was off. The new corral system (more corrals and a shorter wait time between each) seemed to work really well and we moved forward quickly. Mickey and Minnie were around to send off the first few corrals before they skedaddled, which struck me as odd. I mean, maybe they wanted to get to Epcot before the hoards?

Soon we were off! I really liked the course, visiting Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot was awesome and very different from the Princess half course. While running toward Animal Kingdom, we were able to see the leaders of the race on the other side of the road, approaching the 10k mark. That’s always inspiring!

Running through Animal Kingdom was great, despite with the animal aroma that hit as soon as we entered the park! From what I understand it was warmer than some people had expected but I was comfortable from start to finish, relishing the cool breezes that kicked up occasionally.

There were portions of the course that I wasn’t feeling AT ALL. The road toward Hollywood Studios was slanted pretty severely and didn’t feel great on the hips. I tried to even out my gait as much as I could and be light on my heel since that was the one that was coming down harder during that stretch.

I’ll be honest, I was surprised that there wasn’t more entertainment on this course. I understand that it’s late so the marching bands and cheer squads might not be able to make it but I expected more, especially on the access roads.

Hollywood Studios was a welcoming sight and we spent a good amount of time running through that park, miles 9 – 11, which was amazing. The Osborne Lights in Hollywood Studios was so incredible that I had to break out the phone and video a couple of seconds! Apparently Brooke and Vic had the same idea – it’s just THAT cool.

Heading out of Hollywood Studios to Epcot, there was an announcement warning that the course narrows. And boy, did it ever! It was pretty crazy over there and I was grateful when we finally reached the boardwalk portion for two reasons: more room and there were some spectators out, cheering on the runners! On an otherwise quiet course, it was really nice to have that support and it continued into Epcot.

My heel was not happy but the rest of me was as I rounded the final corner and saw the laser lights they had set up just before the finish line. I could hear the announcer and I flung my hands up in the air (and yes, I waved them around like I just didn’t care) because I had finished. I didn’t set any course records, didn’t PR, but I felt amazing! Beyond infinity!

As I collected my half medal and then my Coast-to-Coast I got hugs from both volunteers and thanked them profusely. I was the happiest I’d ever been at the finish of a half marathon and felt really good about what I’d accomplished.

Cam (corral L):

Yep, the very last corral.  Somehow when I had registered, I neglected to put in a projected finish time.  So I was stuck in the very last corral.  We were slated to run at 10:40 p.m., which seemed like hours away.  But after the first fireworks sounded, the line seemed to move quick.  Before I knew it, I was weaving through the traffic.  I must commend runDisney for their awesome use of fireworks.  All corrals received an explosive send off!

If you read my previous post, How Not to Train for a Half-Marathon, then you already know I was ill prepared for this race.  Meri turned me on to the run 3, walk 1, and I figured that, along with walking through water stations, would get me through the 13.1 relatively unscathed.  I didn’t have a timepiece, so I counted my steps instead.  I’d count to 60 three times, then walk for 60 steps.  This provided a welcome distraction and for the first 6 miles, I felt fabulous, especially after seeing two of my fellow Mouseketeers on the other side of the Parkway.  I also felt envious as they were coming up on the half-way mark!

Running through the Animal Kingdom was great relief.  It seemed to be cooler in the park and I relished in the breeze.  I’m from Southern California so the heat didn’t effect me as much as the humidity.  Despite it being well into the night, I was immediately drenched in sweat.  I was sweating from my arm pores…my arms!  As I said goodbye to the Tree of Life and headed back along the Parkway, my enthusiasm started to diminish.  So far I was keeping my 13 minute mile pace and I was trying to stay with a couple who were also run/walking the race.  The gentleman had a super loud watch that beeped at the intervals and that was enough to motivate me to keep pace with them.

It was around this time that I puked.  I had fueled pretty well, I thought.  I had pasta for lunch, a peanut butter and banana sandwich for dinner, and I snacked on some Honey Stinger chews during the first half of the race.  I started feeling crampy so I grabbed some Powerade at the next hydration station.  I’d been drinking only water until this point and changing things up seemed like a good idea at the time.  Not so much.  I would realize in the next few days that I actually had a stomach flu.  But at this point I thought I could possibly remedy the turmoil going on in my stomach.

It was all downhill from there.  And I mean that in the worst way possible.  Shortly after entering Hollywood Studios, I started to have a lot of pain in my left Achilles tendon.  Combined with the constant cramping in my stomach, I was pretty wiped out.  My walking time started to get longer, and I stopped counting.  I was in survival mode at this point.  I was feeling pretty shitty about my pace and it wasn’t until I saw the fantastic Osbourne Christmas lights that I decided to call it.  No, I didn’t quit the race.  I just quit worrying about the time and I started admiring the sights.

Running along the lake, I could see what I believe to be a giant golf ball in the distance.  I wasn’t exactly sure where the finish was but as spectators began to line up along the course, I knew I was getting close.  I could hardly run at this point, so I walked a little then ran a little and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  I’d never been so relieved to see the finish.  I slowly walked back to meet the other girls, my two medals clinking around my neck.  I was exhausted and my digestive system was wrecked.  And I had no intention on wining or dining.

But I finished.  I don’t know how I got there, but I did!  Sure, it took me 3 and a half hours, but, hey, finishing is always my PR.

Brooke:

Once Vic and I crossed the finished line, we were ready to change and meet up with some of our pals who had already made it into the After Party.

We found Traci, grabbed our complimentary drinks (beer for them and the cutest little plastic wine goblet for me), and headed towards the park entrance.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Once inside, we had to navigate through crowds of spectators and racers to get to the World Showcase. Once there, we headed straight for Canada to meet Ray and eat some of their amazing cheese soup- I look forward to it every year.

There weren’t many lines at this point, just a lot of dancing, chanting, happy Disney employees. As one would expect from Disney, they do a lot to make these events magical for everyone. From congratulating you on your race, to staging a dance party in front of their food kiosk, the park workers ensure that the post-race party is a time for celebration.

After a visit to the craft beer tent (Abita Purple Haze for me), it was time to meet Meri. We hugged, chatted about our race experiences and I ogled her collection of medals. Then we checked instagram, natch, to catch up with our other friends. We immediately knew we had to find Lisa to congratulate her on her PR.

Who PRs at a Disney race? That girl! Congrats Lisa!

Who PRs at a Disney race? That girl! Congrats Lisa!

We found Vic, Ray and Traci in Germany, and hoped we could grab a pretzel, but the lines had grown and it was time to meet Cam. Mer and I circled the Showcase (Bonjour France! Next time, keep the creperie open, s’il vous plait) and headed back to the entrance. We congratulated Cam and then trekked to the bus to head back to my hotel. At 2am, all walks seem to last forever. We came, we ran, we medaled. It was time to go the eff to sleep.

What a difference a few years makes. I ran my first Wine and Dine in 2011 by myself, and celebrated with my husband at the after party. And by “celebrated,” I mean I was too sore to enjoy anything. This time, I got to hang out with so many friends, meet new people and run with a pal. I love being a part of this community.

As for my own race performance, I had hoped to run 10 minute miles and that’s exactly what I did. Thanks to Vic for keeping me entertained! Next up for me is a return to Disney for the Glass Slipper Challenge, but in the meantime, don’t expect me to sit and rest. I have plans…

Have you ran a night race before? Were you at this year’s Wine and Dine or have to participated in past years? Tell us about it in the comments!

runDisney’s 2014 Tinker Bell weekend, now with 10k!

tink102

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the 10k distance. Therefore, when I first started catching wind about the additions of 10ks to the already awesome runDisney weekends, I got excited.

Cam, Vic and I ran the Tinker Bell half this past January in California’s Disneyland and it’s a race that holds a special place in my heart. I met some really cool people at the 2013 meetup and I hope to make my way back to the West coast to run Tink again at some point. (Jess, next time, you’re doing it too!)

We fairies need to stick together!

We fairies need to stick together!

So today’s announcement from runDisney about the 10k to the Tinker Bell race weekend lineup was happily received!

tink10k3I know that some people might think it’s crazy to fly across the country for different races but this is honestly what keeps me going, it gives me purpose and reason (especially when a training run isn’t going the way I’d hoped).

If you want to check out more about the Tink Half 10k, definitely hop on over to runDisney’s blog post regarding it. I’ve already said that I can’t swing getting myself to the Glass Slipper challenge in 2014, which I’m super bummed about. Maybe I can get out my pixie dust and fly across the country for the Tink Half/10k? Hmmmmm.

tink10k1

Let’s chat about runDisney races! Which have you done? Which do you want to do? I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in the Princess half (2012), Castaway Cay 5k (2012), and Tink half (2013). Coming up? Wine and Dine!

runDisney’s 2012 Princess half weekend – Tangled 5k race recap

Note – I wrote this recap last year after the Princess half weekend.  Since we’re getting Scoot A Doot up and running, I thought it would be fun to revisit recaps (and this one in particular, since the runDisney Princess Half 2013 weekend is coming up!). –

Victoria and I arrived on Thursday night and Brooke took us to her lovely abode.  We were both pretty exhausted so rather than drinking their extensive collection of wine (it was tempting!) we opted for bed.  Especially because we had a full day/weekend planned.

The Princess Expo at the Wide World of Sports was the next morning.  You want to see us there, don’t you?  Well, okay!  Here’s Shaina (wearing her daughter, S!), me and Brooke.

Princess half expo - Shaina, S-baby, Me and Brooke

After we bought some shirts and attire, we made our way through the expo and checked out some of the booths.  Like this one, for example.  WANT WANT WANT.

Bought some adorable compression socks from the ladies at Runningskirts, which we wore the next morning at the 5k (you’ll see those in a bit).  Bopped over to the next building and picked up our bibs for the races and then back to get our shirts.

Disney’s like a well-oiled machine and we really didn’t have any troubles during all of this.  There was one line for the half that was just SLAMMED; all the people seemed to show up all at the same time.  But all things considered, it was great!

I had gotten our park tickets through runDisney and since we were staying at Port Orleans, we had to go over to the resort to get our tickets.  They seemed a bit confused as to where I could pick them up – I was told the Guest Relations booth would be able to give them to us but they weren’t able to dole them out since it was part of a pre-paid package.  Thankfully it wasn’t too much trouble to go to the resort.

We spent the rest of the day at the Magic Kingdom, wrapping it up early since we had the 5k the next day.

Or should I say morning.  As in, before the sunrise.

Brooke, Me, Shaina and Victoria

Brooke, me, Shaina, and Victoria sporting our awesome socks!  They are still my favorites.

Brooke, her husband (Josh) and Vic went off ahead, placing themselves further ahead in the open corrals, because they are speedy speedsters while Shaina and I hung back.  It was Shaina’s first 5k and I wanted to take it easy since the next day was my first half.

While we were waiting to start, I got the nervous pee feeling.  You know the one, where you’re like… Oh!  I’m nervous and naturally that means I feel like I have to pee.

Except that we started the race and at the same time Shaina and I realized that it wasn’t going away and we actually HAD to pee.  Awesome.

Our view of the start from where we were in the corral.  We should have moved up, for the record.

So we stopped at the first row of port-a-potties and took care of that.  😉

Lots of people walk the 5k, which is awesome – but they also placed themselves at the 11 minute mile corral.  There was a lot of bobbing and weaving but we just stuck together, tried not to run into/trip anyone and had a great time.

I’ve always had this vision of running around the Epcot World Showcase – it stemmed from a conversation that I had with my dad one summer while we were there on vacation.  So when we entered the loop at Mexico I was super excited and kept exclaiming to Shaina, “Isn’t this FUN?!?”  I’m not sure she thought it was as fun as I did but she said she did.  😉

Headed into Germany

It was just fantastic – I loved everything about this run!  Sure, it was crowded but I went into it thinking that it would be so I wasn’t expecting anything else.

The last mile

After we crossed the finish line we got our Tangled medallions and met up with the rest of our group.  Josh just finished the C25K program and was able to finish under 30, which was his goal.  HOORAY!

Vic and I after the race

Good times!