2016 Clermont Clay 15k

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It turns out that I have neglected to write a race recap for the Clermont Clay 15k that I ran last November.  It was my first 15k, so instant PR!  I have been wanting to run on the famous Clermont Clay loop for a while now, so I looked up the races that took place there and thought that this one would be perfect.  I even managed to get my parents and my sister to run the 5k that took place at the same time.  The Clermont Clay loop is a ten mile trail made of clay that goes by different farms and through fields.  A lot of elite athletes train there including Desiree Linden.  It is a very beautiful area to run and I enjoyed every minute of it, but oh those hills; so many hills!

When we arrived in Clermont on November 20th we followed a long trail of cars down a very long dirt road to the race parking.  I thought we had left in plenty of time, but with all the race traffic we were cutting it close.  After a long wait which felt like an eternity, we finally parked and I walked as fast as I could to the porta-pottie line.  There were only about five porta-potties and the line was long, but it moved fairly quickly.  I saw my family as they were headed to the 5k start, which was at my finish line, then I quickly headed to my start-line with Chris.  The race organizers knew about the parking situation, so the race started a little late.  I ran over to the start as I heard the National Anthem being sung.  I just had time for Chris to take a before race photo because the race actually started; talk about cutting it close!

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It was a very cool morning which made for perfect running weather.  It was so beautiful to see the sun rise above the fields as we ran down the clay trail.  I never race with my music, which made this run feel very peaceful.  I started off with an 8:12 average pace for the first mile, but then settled in to about an 8:30 pace for the next six miles.  Lately I have been trying not to look at my watch as I race and run more by feel.  It has worked out pretty good so far and it makes the races more enjoyable instead of worrying about my watch the whole time.

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About half way through, the hills started to feel harder and harder as I ran up them. They seemed to get longer and steeper the farther I was into the course.  At the start of each hill I thought maybe, just maybe it would be the last one.  Most of the time I was wrong, but I kept pushing as hard as I could and then coasting down the hill once I got to the other side.

Finally I got to the top of a hill and at the bottom I saw the finish-line.  I ran as fast as I could with all the energy that I had left until I finally crossed and did my Jeter fist pump in the air.  My family was waiting for me along with a whole table full of snacks!

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When I looked at my pace on the results board I started to cry.  First, I couldn’t believe how great my pace, was at a 8:31 minute per mile, and second I was in third place in my age group.  I was in shock!  Well it turns out that two other results came in later pushing me down to fifth place, so unfortunately I did not receive an age group award, though someday I will receive another one!

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Overall it was a nice smaller race.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the scenery was gorgeous.  I had a lot of fun and am glad that I got to share it with my family.  I think maybe they are starting to enjoy running!  Next up is my recap of my rematch at the OUC Orlando Half Marathon from last year.

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2017 Star Wars Half Marathon: The Light Side

20170115_045512_HDRLast December I decided to run my first ever race at Disneyland.  You see my boyfriend, Chris, had gotten a contract job in Irvine, California so I made plans to go visit him in January.  It just so happens that The Light Side Half was still available, so I signed up.

I have to say that Disneyland races are a very different experience from Disney World0114171044d races.  There were some things that I liked, but also some that I was disappointed with.  The Expo was very confusing.  We parked in the only lot that we found and then walked around trying to find the entrance to the expo.  We didn’t see any signs pointing in the right direction, but eventually found a line of people and assumed we were in the right spot.  That line was for the main expo floor so we followed a crowd underground to packet pickup where we were directed to stand in another line in what looked like the first floor of a very old parking deck.  I arrived on the third day, so I didn’t expect to have to stand in line and I have no idea why they were only letting a few in at a time, because when we got in there I saw that there was quite a bit of room to allow for a lot more people.

20170114_103648_HDR(1)Once I got to the front of my packet line I was given a bib, but it was not mine.  The volunteer had mistakenly given me the wrong bib.  I told her and it was promptly fixed.  I had to ask about the “X” next to my name which signified that I would be receiving a Coast to Coast wristband.  After I was banded we headed back upstairs to the main expo floor.

The expo itself was very open and exceeded my expectations after experiencing packet pickup.  It was not crowded at all and I was able to receive my Half Marathon shirt right away.  The merchandise area was on the other side of the building.  When we got over there we were told to stand in a line in another room which led to another line in the expo room until we were finally in the merchandise area.  Since I couldn’t get a pass holder discount I only bought a magnet and then we left.

The next morning we woke up early, but I didn’t feel as tired because I was still on east coast time.  I decided to wear my Princess Leia costume from the 2016 Enchanted 10k in honor of Carrie Fisher, who passed away the month before.  After I was dressed and ready to go we took the short drive to Disneyland.  One thing that I knew about before hand, but still didn’t like was the charge for parking.  Parking is always free for races at Disney World and I don’t understand why they charge almost twenty dollars at Disneyland that early in the morning especially since there aren’t as many hotels and most people probably have to drive in.

After leaving the parking garage a security booth was set up and it was the only one we had to go through before the race.  The walk to the staging area wasn’t too far and I passed the entrance to the corrals on the way so I knew where to go later.  Like always we stood around people watching and taking everything in before my final restroom visit and then the walk to the corrals.

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At the corral entrance, Chris took some pictures and then we said our goodbyes then I 0115170451was on my way.  I really liked how they had the corrals set up for the earlier ones.  I had to walk through a couple bib checkpoints before I made it into “B,” which made it extremely hard for someone trying to move up a corral.

Once in the corral it was the same wait as always.  I was a bit nervous because I hadn’t raced in a while since the half the week before was canceled.  I just told myself what I always do, all I can do is my best.  The same Disney World announcers were there, but the entertainment just didn’t feel as big, which was fine until the race started and there were no fireworks.  I understand that Disneyland is in a more residential area, but it just felt weird starting a race with a giant pulsating “GO!” on the screen above.

I felt pretty good at the start of the race.  It was so cold out, which made me run faster as I tried to warm up.  In less than a mile I was already in California Adventures.  I had never been to that park before so I tried to take everything in as I ran through it.  The park was gorgeous and a real thrill to run through.  The only problem that I had was the ground was wet so I had to try my hardest to not slip and fall.

RUNDISNEY_DLRMARAACTION9_20170115_396313432172_cropAfter we left California Adventures we ran around Disneyland park on the outside and entered through the back at about mile three.  It’s a Small World was beautiful all lit up.  I had only been to Disneyland once before and I was about ten years old at the time.  I knew that the run through the castle was coming up so I tried to position myself to get a great photo.  At one point a guy did run in front of my right before the castle and I later saw my displeasure in my race photos as you can see on the left.

I did get a great castle photo, but this was the part of RUNDISNEY_DLRMARAACTION15_20170115_396313432183the race that didn’t come close to a Disney World race through Magic Kingdom.  My favorite race moment ever was running down Main Street towards the castle during the 2016 Princess Half Marathon.  First of all, spectators aren’t allowed in Disneyland during the races so there was no crowd cheering us on, just a few Cast members.  Second of all we were running away from the castle.  I had to keep looking behind me as I ran to see the castle.  The whole thing seemed very lackluster compared to running through the Magic Kingdom.  After we ran through the gates we were done with the parks; the rest of the race took place on the streets of Anaheim and through Garden Grove.

Even though there weren’t Disney Parks or Characters to look at, there was plenty to keep my attention.  There were spectators everywhere! Whole bands and cheerleaders came out to play and cheer.  It seemed like one big party! I just wished that the parts through the parks were that entertaining and lively.  And since we weren’t on Disney property anymore there were no more pictures until the finish-line.

After leaving Disneyland the course headed south and at about mile six started a huge loop through neighborhoods and then meeting back up with the same road heading north back towards the parks.  Almost the whole time I just kept thinking about the turn north and to the finish-line.  I knew I would know when that point was because we would be passing the later corrals in the opposite direction.  I also knew that it would give me a push at the end of the race as I looked at my fellow runners and we encouraged each other.  I also liked looking at everyone’s costumes!

RUNDISNEY_DLRMARAACTION3_20170115_396313432188My splits were actually not bad and I kind of maintained a steady pace almost the entire race, though I didn’t know that at the time.  At mile ten I just wanted to be done and rest, though I kept pushing onward.  For a while I ran near this guy who kept counting down the miles as we approached each mile marker.  For some reason that helped me and pushed me forward.  I knew I was almost there and as I passed mile marker twelve I gave it my all.  That was probably my hardest mile.  As I rounded the corner right after mile marker thirteen I could see the finish-line.  I had made it!  Crossing the finish-line always brings me joy and makes me feel incredibly accomplished.  I ended up finishing in 1:54:30 with an average pace of 8:44, which is my second best half time.

The finishing chute for some reason felt twice as long as the Disney World ones. I grabbed my drinks and snack box and then found the challenge tent.  All they did was cut off my wristband and then let me proceed to collect my Coast to Coast medal.  It was so beautiful!  The main reason I wanted to do a Disneyland race was to get a medal with “Partners” on it.  I just lucked out that I completed the challenge in an anniversary year. I got my finisher photos taken then stopped by medical for some ice.  I had never stopped in medical before, but my foot started hurting as I crossed the finish-line.  I thought I must have landed on it wrong.  A medical volunteer gave me a bag of ice and I chatted with them as a sat for a bit and iced my food.

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Chris was waiting for me as I entered the family reunion area.  Another thing I was disappointed about was the lack of photo opportunities after the race.  There was one set up, but no photopass photographer, so we decided just to leave.  Chris also told me that he couldn’t find anywhere to spectate beside near the finish and every person he asked couldn’t give him an answer so he just waited back at the car until I was almost finished.

Overall I had a great time and really enjoyed the course.  I felt it was missing that extra magic from Disney World races, so I will probably stick to those from now on.  Coming soon:  my Dark Side recap.  It was a crazy one!

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Global Energy 10k: RACE REPORT

I hadn’t planned on signing up for a race in September because of Florida’s heat, but I just couldn’t pass up the offer. Someone posted about the Global Energy races in one of my runDisney Facebook groups and there was a coupon code making the race free! I hadn’t heard of this race, nor had I planned on racing so soon this season, but since it was free I thought that I would give it a shot. The race, put together by Bimbo Bakeries, was for  either a 10k or 3k. It was run in 37 cities in 22 different countries all on the same day. The race has been run two years in a row, but this was the first time in Orlando. I chose to do the 10k.

Two days before the race I went downtown to pick up my packet at Orange Theory Fitness. The event merchandise I received was really nice and I was impressed! The race shirt was orange and blue, not my favorite color combination, but the material was a really soft tech material and the back of the shirt was a breathable mesh with all of the cities included in the race printed on it. I decided there that it would be the first time that I would wear the race shirt to the actual race. I also received a bag and a fitness towel. It was some of the best race swag that I have ever received!

The morning of the race I was a bit nervous. I wasn’t as well trained as I would have liked, the weather was warmer than any other race I had ever participated in, and I had injured myself.  Two days before the race I had gotten up early and ran outside (I had been running most of my runs on the treadmill because of the weather). My mind started wandering and my legs seemed heavy and I didn’t notice a raised crack in the side walk. I fell on my hands, elbow and right hip. The force of the fall was so extreme that I hit my head on the pavement. Thankfully my headband protected my head from getting scraped up, but it did hurt and I was taken aback. I got up in pain and noticed the blood dripping down my elbow and hands. I walked the mile and a half back home to wash up.

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So back to the morning of the race, I wan’t feeling my best. I woke up close to six, got ready, and then we headed to Festival Park were the race was held. There weren’t really parking signs so we got turned around heading to the parking lot. Once in line for parking it was pretty easy. We were able to park pretty close to the start line. As per my usual routine I waited around a bit and then headed to the porta potty line. Once out of there we made our way to the race starting area. Orange Theory lead a warm up that I participated in while Chris went to go get a spot near the start line. After the warm up we headed into the corral.

The corral for this race was just one big blocked off area at the starting line. There weren’t even pace markers so I just made my way near the front, but made sure there were people in front of me so I wasn’t first.

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Shortly after that it was time for the race to start. I was feeling extremely nervous at that time, but I knew that I just had to try my best. The countdown started, then the air horn, and we were off. I was a little too excited at the start. Once I started running a huge smile came across my face and I remembered why I was doing this. I looked down at my watch and I was at a 6:30 pace, which ended up hurting me in the long run. I tried to slow down a bit and settle into the run.

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The course went through downtown Orlando and on a lot of the same streets that the OUC Orlando Half Marathon goes through. Half of the race was on these downtown streets, a lot of which were brick roads. I made a conscious decision to make sure I didn’t trip on any rouge bricks.

At about mile two I starting questioning my choices in deciding to run. I had some thoughts about just stopping, but I am not a quitter so I tried my best to put those thoughts out of my head. The heat wasn’t too bad at the beginning as the sun was behind the buildings, but it heated up at the race went on.

A little after the half way point I past the road leading back to the finish line and ran on a sidewalk past an airport on the way to Lake Underhill. While heading towards the lake the winners of the race were passing us and heading back the other direction back to Festival Park and the finish line. I didn’t think I had that much more to run, but I was wrong. Once at the lake we went over a very long bridge and was told there was water at the other end. This was the first time that I have ever gotten water in a 10k before and I had the heat to thank for that. For some reason in my tired delusional state I thought that once we got our water we would turn around and head back the other direction. As it turns out we had to go around the entire lake which was about a 1.5 mile loop. I tried my best, but my legs just didn’t want to go any faster. I just focused on maintaining my pace and finishing.
Back on the sidewalk after the lake we passed runners that were just starting their journey around the lake. I felt for them because the sun was getting hotter by the minute. In no time at all, but in what felt like forever I was arriving at the six mile mark. Only .2 to go. I tried to speed up, but I don’t think I did. As I turned the corner that lead to the finish line I waved hi to Kim, one of my bosses from Track Shack. She was standing at the corner making sure the runners knew where to go.

As I raced towards the finish line I was told to stay to the left because the 3k finishers were on the right. I hurried over the finish line and did my fist pump as I was finally able to stop and catch my breadth. It was a nice feeling, but I started to feel a little sick not long after that. I vowed to improve my training so the next race would seem easier and I would feel stronger. I received my medal which was very nice and one of my biggest. It had the host city, Beijing, on the back. After that I went to get all of the refreshments which included some breakfast bars, water, a banana, and a huge orange. I opened the water and devoured it at once. There weren’t photographers at this race, so I had Chris take my finishing photo in front of the Orlando sign.

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There were some tents around and I was able to get some more snacks and a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese. My bib had a coupon for a free sandwich from a food truck so we went to stand in that line as I ate my bagel. After I got my grilled cheese sandwich we walked around to see what the other booths were and then I wanted to leave. It was time for me to relax at home after a nice long shower.

I ended up finishing the race in 54:37 giving me an 8:49 minute per mile pace. It was my worst 10k time, but I was very proud of it considering the circumstances. I just have to train harder and go out stronger next time.

2016 Star Wars Half Marathon The Dark Side: RACE REPORT

I awoke to the sound of my alarm going off at two in the morning.  That could only mean one thing: time for another runDisney race!  My plan worked.  Since I got up super early the day before, I was able to fall asleep that night and I woke up kind of rested.  It was the morning of the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon The Dark Side!  I jumped out of bed, brushed my teeth and then started to put on all the pieces for my costume.  I was going as a Sith Lord with a light up skirt.  The lights were Chris’ idea and they turned out great!  My Mum had to sew my skirt without me this time because I was working in Canada until right before the races.  We had to come up with the measurements via a Hangouts video chat.  It paid off because the skirt fit perfectly!  I had found a black tank on clearance at TJ Max and the headband was made by ChickyBands on Etsy.  I thought the red imperial symbol matched perfectly with my skirt!  I wore a running belt so I could stuff my battery pack inside.  It worked out great and was very comfortable.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACORRALCANDID7_7661064538As soon as I had all my things together we left for Epcot.  This was a different race course than had ever been run before.  It started in Epcot, but ended at the Wide World of Sports Complex.  That wasn’t the most convenient, but more on that later.  When I arrived to Epcot it was just like any other runDisney race; tons of people waiting around for the announcer to say we were allowed to go to the starting line.  I had a Photopass photographer take our picture and then we waited around until it was time for me to go.

When it was time, I told Chris bye and followed the mass of people heading to the start line.  It was slow progress until we got to the split of the beginning corrals and back corrals.  I headed towards the beginning corrals and made my way to the porta-potties.  When I was done I walked nervously to corral B.  I didn’t see any pacers there, so it looked like I was on my own.

I couldn’t really see the stage because my eye sight was so bad and I never run in my glasses.  I was too nervous to pay attention anyway, but the announcers did their usual spiel and Disney did some Star Wars advertising.  I remember thinking that I just have to try my best and not worry about a PR.  The fireworks sounded to start the push-rim contestants and bring me out of my thoughts.  A couple of minutes later corral A started and we began to move to the start line.  The 1 minute warning was said over the loud speaker, then 30 seconds….3……2…..1….and we were off!

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACOURSEACTION9_7663070574-cropI started running at a conservative pace because I knew I would need my strength later on since my training didn’t go as well as I would have liked.  The first park we entered was Epcot at about mile one.  Running through the World Showcase is one of my favorite parts of Disney races and it was as breathtaking as ever.

Next was Hollywood Studios which was a nice change from previous courses.  We entered the park at about mile three and ran right down Hollywood Boulevard toward the Chinese Theater and past a bunch of Storm Troopers.  At this point in the race I was still feeling great at about an 8:30 pace per mile.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACOURSEACTION19_7661321818On the way to Animal Kingdom I started feeling the fatigue.  Osceola Parkway was long and it felt like I was going uphill the whole time.  There wasn’t much around which was making it tough to go on, but the excitement of running through Animal Kingdom kept me looking forward.  I have to say that the Animal Kingdom parking lot is HUGE!  It felt like forever running around it before we entered the park.  Animal Kingdom was pretty difficult for me and because of that, most of it was a blur.  I do remember running past Primeval Whirl as we entered and then as we exited we ran to the park entrance where there is an incline that I always dread after a long day at the park.

After Animal Kingdom and a high five with one of the 501st legion members, it was back to Osceola Parkway and on to The Wide World of Sports Complex.  This was really difficult because my legs started hurting in Animal Kingdom and my pace showed it.  I slowed down to about a nine minute mile.  As bad as my legs were hurting, I knew that I had to keep going.  I gave it my all and ran as best as I could back down Osceola Parkway, which ironically still felt like I was going uphill.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARAFINISHLINE3_7661062415-cropWe entered The Wide World of Sports through a dirt path on the side of the complex.  I didn’t even know about that path and was very surprised that I was all of a sudden running on dirt and rocks.  It was tricky, but I did not trip!  We then ran around some fields and turned going towards the front and the finish line.  When we made it to a shorter dirt path I heard a girl behind me yell, “Is this over yet?!  I want to lay down!”  I felt that sentiment as well.  At that point I could hear the finish line announcer and a crowd of cheers.  I finally turned a corner and saw the finish line itself.  I was so exhausted and couldn’t wait to cross.  I finished with the time of 1:56:06.  Even though that was my worst half marathon time I was extremely proud of what I accomplished.

WDWRUNDISNEY_WDWMARACOURSECHARACTER2_7661444511After I received my medal, towel, and snack box I met up with my family and we headed to the Star Wars character backdrop area for pictures.  There were about ten different ones, each with a different Star Wars character.  I took pictures with Darth Maul, some storm troopers, Jabba the Hutt, and a tentacle monster.  When I was done with those lines we went straight to the buses that would take us back to Epcot.  I wanted to beat the rush of people so we didn’t have to wait too long for a bus.  As it turns out there wasn’t a line at all!  We got right on a bus which was a relief because I was really sore and needed to sit down.  As soon as it filled up we were taken back to our cars at Epcot.  Apparently to get to the finish line my family had to stand in a long line and wait about half an hour for a bus to take them there.  The buses were also quite a walk from where I left them to go to the start line.  They were less than happy about the experience because in addition to the long walk and wait, the bus was falling apart and the driver got lost on the way to the finish line.

The walk back to the car felt extremely long from the area where the bus dropped us off and I didn’t think I was going to make it to the car.  I did make it and we drove home where I was finally able to rest after a very tiring weekend.

I enjoyed the race, but I have to say I wasn’t a fan of the course.  It seemed a lot more difficult than Princess in regard to the elevation.  I also missed the mid race excitement that running down Main Street and through Cinderella’s Castle brought to the other races. I did like running through three parks this time, but ending in The Wide World of Sports Complex felt less climactic than I was used to.  With the constant raising of prices for Disney races, I’m not sure that I will be inclined to sign up for this half anytime soon in the future.  I am glad that I got to participate in the inaugural race, but legacy just doesn’t seem worth it for a race where I wasn’t fond of the course.

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2016 Princess Half Marathon: RACE REPORT

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This year’s Princess Half Marathon was an incredible, amazing experience. I had never run a Disney half marathon before and it left me wanting more. Disney really knows how to put on an event and I am so thrilled that I got to be a part of it.

I woke up at about two in the morning because I was really nervous about getting to my corral on time. I knew it was about a twenty minute walk from the finish area in the Epcot parking lot. I also thought that there would be more traffic getting there because of how many more people were running the half than the 10k. Thankfully traffic wasn’t bad and we were able to park and walk to the staging area just fine.

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Waiting to walk to the corrals

I was really nervous before the race. I just kept thinking about my first half, OUC, and how I lost it at about mile nine. I was determined to not let that happen this time. Chris waited there with me until it was time for me to go to my corral. I saw Marathonfoto employees all around so I took the opportunity to get our picture taken together. I knew that I would be buying the photo package, so I had to get my money’s worth! When they called for us to go to the corrals I told Chris bye and followed the sea of thousands headed in the same direction. Chris left to meet my parents and sister, who had just arrived in the parking lot. They were going to head to the Magic Kingdom and wait for me to pass on Main Street.

Everyone was packed onto the road, moving at the same

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Walking to the Corrals

speed as one solid mass. I saw another Marathonfoto person on the side, so I stopped for a “before” picture. After a while there was a fork in the road. A huge construction sign pointed corrals A through H to the left and I through P to the right. This thinned out the crowd and I was able to quickly make my way to the porta-potty, which there were tons of with no lines! I had gone before we headed over there, but I had to make sure I wouldn’t have to go during the race because I wouldn’t be stopping.

I had an energy gel before the start that my sister had bought me. She said it was good to have more than one during a half, which might have been my problem at OUC: not enough fuel. I finished the gel and then headed to corral B. Once in the corral I made my way to the front on the right. That was where Diane, my pacer, told me she would be at the expo and sure enough she was there! I re-introduced myself and talked to her a bit. She told me a little bit about her strategy and that she loved my costume. Then it was time for announcements on the stage and the National Anthem.

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I remember feeling sick and texting my family that I felt like I had to puke. This felt like the biggest thing I had done in my life and I was feeling the nerves. They assured me everything would be fine, but I wasn’t so sure.

At 5:30 the wheelchair division started and then corral A followed shortly after. Next was our turn. I was right at the starting line again and as soon as those fireworks went off it seemed the nerves had left my body. I took off and it felt incredible! I was running to the Magic Kingdom!

My strategy at first was simple; stay right behind Diane. For the most part I was successful. The first couple miles I was right behind her despite other people drifting in front of me and getting in my way. It was a bit crowded at the beginning and there was a huge group that like me, were trying to stay with Diane. She made it entertaining. She started quizzing us on Disney Princess Trivia and tried to have us remember which Princess was on every mile marker that we passed. She also gave us running tips and made sure that we checked our posture. The only problem was that she started off ahead of pace. She was supposed to stay at an 8:20 pace but the first mile was an 8:12 pace and the second was 8:07. I was able to maintain an 8:22 pace for the third mile, but by the forth she was pulling away and I never saw her again.

The fourth mile ended up at 8:26 and I was starting to feel worse as the run went on. I knew that during mile five I would be running down Main Street and I was hoping that would be the boost I needed to get me going again. Right before mile four we ran through the Transportation and Ticket Center. There were people lining the course in the parking lot and on the bridge the trams usually go under. I loved the excitement of the spectators cheering on the runners. The entirety of mile four was run parallel with Bay Lake. I wasn’t even noticing my surroundings at this point. I was so nervous about what was yet to come. As we neared the Magic Kingdom gates my heart was quickly pounding in my chest which probably caused me to slow done. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to handle the excitement that was waiting for me on the other side of the gates.

I entered Magic Kingdom and as I rounded the corner onto Main Street I couldn’t believe what I heard and saw. There were people screaming and cheering everywhere! It was incredible! I kept my pace best I could as I scanned the crowd for my family. About halfway down I saw them and they were screaming my name. I waved and pointed at them as I passed. It was the greatest feeling in the world to run down Main Street and see my family there cheering for me. I am really grateful to have such an amazing support system. That was the boost I needed. I continued to Tomorrowland, then Fantasyland and through the castle! When I exited the castle there were more people cheering; it was amazing! The course then went through Adventureland and passed right by Splash Mountain before it headed back out of the park and back to Epcot.

Mile five inside the park was done at a 8:29 pace, but it started falling from there. I tried to go more by feel than looking at my watch the whole run, which made the run more enjoyable. At the halfway point there was a DJ and he notified us that the female lead runner was twenty minutes ahead of us. Mile six took me towards the Grand Floridian at an 8:33 pace.

There were more and more photo stops on the way back to Epcot and more to see once the sun started rising. I passed a bunch of men in tuxes (princes?) and a women in what looked like a wedding dress, yelling, “Pocahontas, Pocahontas, over here!” I waved as I ran by, but I was not about to stop for a picture. I had a PR to set!

I had heard that the stretch back to Epcot was boring and monotonous, but I quite enjoyed it! It was flat and straight, though I don’t think I went as fast as I could. Miles seven and eight were still climbing down at 8:45 and 8:48. Across the median were Princesses going in the opposite direction heading to Magic Kingdom. There were so many! I couldn’t believe when I saw some people from the other side further up run across the median and across my lane to use the porta-potties that were on my right. If they were to run right in front of me they were going to be plowed over. Luckily it didn’t have to come to that.

I was grateful when I came to the fuel station half way through mile eight. There were different flavored Cliff gels that I had never tried before. I grabbed a citrus flavored one with caffeine and kept on running. It was good, but I was needing water to wash it down by the time I finished it. Luckily I came to a water station not long after. I had been getting better at the water stations. I passed by the first couple, but really started using them right after the Magic Kingdom. After the sun started coming up it felt really good just to splash some on my face. Each time it gave me a second wind to keep going.

Miles nine and ten were my slowest at 8:50 and 8:53.  Mile ten was the dreaded overpass that I had been hearing so much about.  There were actually three and I didn’t think they were so bad.  I credit that with all of the hill training that I did beforehand.  It’s true, most of the hard work is completed during training.  When the race starts, you are truly almost finished!  One thing that helped me up those overpasses was knowing that I would get to run down them as soon as I made it to the top.

My Nike training plan that I have been following for every race (some more closely than others) always said to run at a competitive pace the first ten miles and then race the last three.  I could not accomplish that during OUC on account that I felt like I was dying, so I tried to do it here.  I sped up during miles eleven and twelve. At the end of one of the overpasses right outside of Epcot was a school marching band and cheerleaders.  That really pumped me up;  it was as though they were cheering just for me!  I finished mile eleven in 8:36 and twelve at 8:35.

790645_1015_0015Now came the hardest part of the entire run: the last mile.  Mile thirteen entered the park, ran to the beginning of the World Showcase, turned around, and then headed out to the parking lot, past Spaceship Earth.  I gave everything I had during that mile.  I was still feeling good, but I pushed my pace for a strong finish.  That mile took me only 8:15, which was great considering I had already run twelve miles!  As I rounded the corner out of the park I passed a gospel choir.  They were signaling that I was almost finished!  I pushed the pace some more and saw the finish line in the distance.  I ran my heart out and crossed feeling strong and accomplished!  I didn’t make my goal of 1:50, but I made a new PR by about two and a half minutes!  And I accomplished that with PRing the day before in the 10k and running hard during the 5k!  My final time was 1:52:39.  It was the perfect ending to the race series for me and a great first Disney Half Marathon!

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I made my way though the finishing chute to receive my gorgeous half marathon medal and my snacks and refreshments.  Then of course more photo opportunities.  I took a finisher’s photo with my half medal then I was directed to the challenge tent.  It took no time at all for them to look me up and see that I earned the Glass Slipper Challenge medal.  I moved forward to where a volunteer awarded me with the medal around my neck.  It was such a great feeling and accomplishment.  I worked so hard during my training and I was extremely proud of myself.

My family met me after I got all of my finishing things.  They had made it back to Epcot in time to see me cross the finish line.  They told me how great I did and that they were proud of me.  I was so grateful to have them all there.  We headed to the character area where I got my picture taken with Cinderella and since I missed her last time:  Rapunzel!  On the way to the car there was a picture stop where I held a speech bubble above my head.  The photographer there was taking those photos for promotional items.  My family also took my picture there.  One last photo in front of the Princess Half sign and then it was time to leave to get ready to go back to Epcot for the day!

When we got back to Epcot after I was showered and relaxed I got my picture taken in front of Spaceship Earth with all of my medals on.  We also went to the Visa cardholders photo spot for more photos.  Here’s a tip I didn’t know before:  there are exclusive photo opportunities for Disney Visa card holders with the characters where you get the digital downloads of the photos for free!  It was a nice little surprise during the day.  After my parents left, Chris and I ended the day with a wonderful, delicious dinner in China.  I will definitely be heading back there in the future.

I never thought completing a challenge would mean that much to me.  I always just saw it as just another medal.  I honestly couldn’t believe that I raced back to back days so well.  I am proud of that Glass Slipper medal and I wore it all day around the park to show it off.  I may try another challenge in the future, but for now I have to start training for the Star Wars: The Dark Side Half, so I can get another PR.  But since the race is in April in Florida, I highly doubt that.

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2016 Enchanted 10k: RACE REPORT

20160220_052834I woke up the morning of the 10k feeling rested and ready to race!  The good thing about getting up early and running the 5k the day before is that I was tired enough to fall asleep that night despite all of my excitement.  The 10k started thirty minutes earlier, so that meant I had to get up earlier.  Every night before bed I made sure that I had everything that I would need laid out and ready to go, including my costume.  About thirty minutes after I woke up we were heading out the door.

This race I was dressed as Princess Leia.  I had found the perfect Leia dress at JcPenney that looked like it was made for running.  The material felt great and it even had netting on the back in case I got too hot.  The only problem was that it had a hood attached for the hair and a tight collar around the neck.  My mom was able to remove the hood and collar and re-sew a neckline to create a perfect running costume!

I was really feeling the nerves by the time we got there.  I planned this race as my goal race.  I figured that it would be the easiest to go my fastest which would get me a great proof of time for future races.  I really wanted to finish in less than fifty minutes, but I would be happy with just beating last year’s time of 51:25.

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IMG_4502_cropIt was a cool morning so when it was time to enter the corrals I removed my jacket, but left the white matching arm warmers on.  Once again I headed to the front of corral A.  Time seemed to speed by and before I knew it we were once again walking towards the start line.  The announcers talked for a bit and then at about 5:30 the fireworks went off and I sprinted over the starting line and out onto the course.

This course was the exact same as last year, right down to the entertainment.  That didn’t bother me, but I thought they could of at least had Ariel and Prince Eric on top of the first overpass instead of Anna and Elsa since the theme was The Little Mermaid this year.  After the overpass we made our way through the Epcot parking booths where a speaker warned the approaching runners of the speed bumps.  I don’t remember that happening last year, but it sure was nice.

One of the hardest parts of the course came at about a mile after we turned the corner and headed back towards the park.  There was an overpass we had to run up, but it wasn’t as bad as I had remembered from the year before.  My hill training really paid off on those inclines!  The first mile took me 7:36 according to my Garmin.  I was very happy with that because that was about the time of my first mile the year before.  The problem I had that year was that I really slowed down after mile one, especially in the second half.  This year I wanted to try and maintain my pace the best that I could.

433654_221009921_XLargeMile two was 8:02 with the incline which wasn’t bad at all.  I allowed my self to slow down a bit for mile three.  I planned on really picking the pace back up for the second half.  Mile three took me 8:10 and then we finally entered the World Showcase.  I tried not to look at my Garmin too often and went by feel.  If I felt that I could speed up then I did.  When I wanted to look at my watch to see how far to the next mile it was almost impossible because of how dark it was even in the passing lamp lights.  I could have hit the back-light button, but I was afraid that I would accidentally mess up my track.

I did end up picking up my pace during mile four at an 8:04 average, which could be because of my excitement of running through the different countries and onto the Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk didn’t seem as difficult this year either.  Last year I was afraid I would trip on one of the boards, but this year it didn’t seem to make a difference.  It was one of my favorite parts because I was almost finished and the guests from the Boardwalk Hotel were out there cheering us on.  Mile five around the Boardwalk took me 8:12.

433654_220987142_XLargeLike most races, the last mile was the toughest.  Mile six brought us through a backstage area and back into the park.  I used everything that I had in me to maintain my pace and beat my previous record.  I knew by my time that I probably wouldn’t make my goal of under fifty minutes, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to give up and I would try my best.  I was able to maintain my pace and finish mile six in 8:12 as well.

The most welcoming sight was when I passed Spaceship Earth.  That was always the symbol for the end of the race to me.  I sped past it and then passed the six mile sign.  Only 2/10ths left!  I ran as fast as I could and looked up at the clock when the finish line was in view.  All I had to see was that the clock was past the fifty minute mark and the disappointment settled in.  I know that I must have had a disappointed look on my face, but I ran hard anyway.  I smiled and did my fist pump over the finish line!  Then it hit me, I beat last year’s time!  A new PR is cause for celebration!

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433654_221107016_XLarge_cropAfter I got my medal and snacks, my family informed me that my tracking said my time was 50:17.  They told me how great I did.  I only missed it by 17 seconds!  If only I had made those seconds up, but I was still proud of myself.  There wasn’t too long a line at the characters so I headed over there to get pictures taken with my medal on.  I was in line for Rapunzel, but by the time I got up there Aurora took her place.  I took my photos and then we headed to the parking lot.

On the way to the parking lot we past a medal engraving tent.  I stopped to check it out and was informed that it was $20 and it would take less than two minutes to get it done.  Chris paid for my medal to be engraved and I was really pleased with the outcome, that was until the results were posted by Track Shack.  According to my results I finished in 50:15.  I was happy to have finished two seconds faster than I thought, but now my medal had the wrong time on it.  I asked the next day at information and the guy didn’t know why there was a difference and didn’t think two seconds mattered; he must not be a runner.  I emailed Track Shack later and was informed that they use a different timing system for the runner tracking then the official results and that is why there is a difference.  The right time is the official results, which means that my medal engraving is in fact wrong.  I will have to try to get it fixed somewhere, or just live with the wrong time.  I would advise that you not get your medals engraved at the finish line.  It’s not their fault, but since the official results don’t come out until later in the day, there is a chance that the time they engrave will not be correct.  They also don’t engrave the place on there.  I will not make that mistake again.

After we left Epcot, it was time for a well-earned breakfast at the Contemporary resort.  I had never been in the resort before so I was extremely excited.  The food at The Wave was really good (sweet potato pancakes!) and the grounds were beautiful.  We were able to take a great family photo just outside by the water.  After we went to pick up our free gift at Fit 2 Run at Downtown Disney, it was rest and relaxation the rest of the day for me so I would be ready to tackle my first Disney half marathon the next day!

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2016 Princess 5k: RACE REPORT

20160219_054513The day finally came!  It was my first of three early morning wake-ups and the morning of the Princess 5k at Disney!  The hardest part of the whole weekend was trying to get some sleep the night before the 5k.  I ended up going to bed around eight, but only got a couple hours of sleep before I woke up at 3:15 am.  Despite not sleeping well, I got right up and dressed for the race.  I didn’t want to make three running costumes for the weekend, so I recycled my Elsa one from last year.  I had just enough time to get dressed, fix my hair, and get my stuff together before we headed out the door around 4 am.

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My parents and my sister were also running the 5k and they met Chris and I there.  Chris was not running because for some reason he thinks running is boring.  He waited in the stands for me to finish and held our stuff.   Before we headed to the corrals we had time for a quick group photo.

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This year there were six corrals:  A-F.  I don’t think there were more people running; they just had less people in each corral.  At about 5:15 we headed to our corrals, and I said my goodbyes as I entered corral A.  There were a lot of people in there already when I arrived, most of which were sitting down and leisurely chatting with fellow runners.  There was plenty of room for me to make my way to the front of the corral.

The corral lead and the volunteers joked with us as we waited, which made time go by faster.  When it was time for us to move up the the start line, the bike racks that were keeping us enclosed were removed and we lined up at the runDisney tape that the two volunteers held up in front of us.  This part was not new for me because I am usually the one leading the corrals for Track Shack, but this time I got to take it all in and relax.

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For this race I planned on taking it easy.  I still had two more days of races so I wanted to be ready for those as well.  Although, when the fireworks went off to start the race I took off.  I kept telling myself to slow down, which I did my best to do, but I was just so excited that I couldn’t help myself.  As we made our way into Epcot, there was a photo stop with Goofy on the left.  I thought about stopping, but by the time I made my decision it was too late and I couldn’t get over there.  I decided that I would stop at the next one.

20160219_061446-1-1.jpgWe entered the World Showcase and it was as beautiful as ever all lit up in the dark early morning sky.  The next photo opportunity came and it was Chip and Dale.  There were only three people in line so I stopped.  My first time ever stopping during a race!  I stopped my Garmin and then had my picture taken.  When I was done I started my Garmin again and took off running thinking, “This is fun!”  I then stopped to take a picture with Donald and Daisy in front of the American pavilion.

 

On the way back to Future World I stopped to take a picture with huge light up crab and then some fish in front of the Living Seas.  That was the last photo spot, which was a bit disappointing.  I was having a blast taking photos!  Who knew?!  The next part circled though Future World, past Spaceship Earth, and then back out towards the parking lot where the finish line was.

I did my fist pump as I crossed the finish line.  I couldn’t believe that I stopped four times and still finished in under thirty minutes!  So much for taking it easy.  My Garmin data said I had an average pace of 8:39.  Disney races are great because I am so excited that I don’t even realize that I am going that fast!

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After I got my Little Mermaid Medallion and snacks, Chris met up with me and showed me where he was watching from the stands.  He had to leave to go to work for the day and I stayed there to watch my parents and sister finish.  My parents started in corral C and with their pace I figured they would finish at about an hour on the clock.  I was right, but I still missed them crossing.  I was so upset because I was in a great place to get a picture.

My parents met me in the stands and then we waited for my sister.  She was in corral F. After I had finished I heard them releasing that corral at the start line. I believe each corral was about ten minutes apart, so I knew it was going to be a while.  At one point my Mom thought she saw my sister going cross the finish line.  She looked kind of like her and she was also wearing a Cinderella costume, but it was not my sister.  A little bit after that she did finish and received her well-earned medallion.

I really appreciated how much fun the 5k was this year.  There was no pressure; it was just a fun run through Epcot.  After the run we planned on a relaxing day at Animal Kingdom.  The whole day was a lot of fun and I look forward to running my next Disney 5k in the future.  After Animal Kingdom, it was another early night to bed because I wanted to feel well rested for the 10k the next morning.