Thursday, February 28, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Princess Half Marathon

This was my 3rd experience with the Princess Half Marathon so my comparisons will be based on 2010 and 2011. I didn't run it last year, and I missed  it so much that I knew from the day of the race last year I'd be doing it in 2013 if I were able! And while the weekend was fun and amazing and I felt strong and ran with no pain, the atmosphere of Princess Half Marathon weekend has certainly changed, in my opinion!

The first change was the Expo, which had been moved from the Wide World of Sports to Coronado Springs Convention Center. We stayed at Pop Century this weekend and took the bus to the Expo, but we would have preferred to drive so we could go straight to a theme park. Unfortunately, nobody was allowed to drive to the Expo this year. But since I don't usually mind the bus system, I could live with it.

We arrived at the Expo an hour or so after it opened. There were no lines to pick up our race bibs and I was so excited! We would be in and out of this Expo in a flash, I thought - Magic Kingdom, here we come! Oh, how wrong I was.

Bib and Coast to Coast bracelet - check! 
The next stop was to pick up our race shirts and packets. We made our way through the very crowded Expo shopping area, through the much too narrow aisles, toward the signs for the shirts. Then I saw a group of people - the line to pick up the shirts/bags. We finally managed to find the end of this line (that wrapped around the merchandise booths - felt so sorry for those vendors!) and it moved fairly quickly. I estimate we were in that line for about 15-20 minutes. Picked up our shirts and glad we tried them on first because Jan was given a men's shirt, so she had to go back and swap that out!

Then it was time to find the race merchandise. I had spotted a teal jacket that I HAD to have, so I got into yet another very long and windy line to get INTO the Run Disney merchandise area. Jan had to pick up an order from Raw Threads so she did that while I stood in the line. This line too much, much longer. I didn't look at the time because I honestly didn't want to know. I was losing my precious park time and that was bad enough. Jan returned and we finished our time in line. I ran for the jackets and tried on the last small. It was tighter than I prefer (since I wanted to be able to put it over a long sleeve shirt) but they had only larges left and that was too big. However, over in the corner, Jan spotted a medium for me so I grabbed it and tried it on! It was a little roomy but definitely not too big! Of course, by the time I was done shopping they had replenished the entire stock of jackets! Oh well, it was an adventure! I also bought a long sleeve Run Disney In Training shirt mostly because it says, "Every Mile is Magic" on the sleeve.

We had to wait in yet another long and windy line to check out. By this time, I was simply tired of being crammed in next to people. It was noisy and chaotic and stuffy and I was just done. We paid for our items and neither one of us had any desire to shop at any of the vendors anymore. I didn't even go to the Sparkle Skirts booth to say hi to Leah because I was on sensory overload! I only picked up a small thing of Body Glide because I needed to be able to carry it with me during the race, and I picked up a Fellow Flower for Jan (and was disappointed because they didn't even seem thankful for our business).

We went outside to find the lines for the buses and were greeted with another long and windy line. Thankfully Jan asked what that line was for and learned it was the bus going back to Downtown Disney for non-resort guests so we didn't have to wait in that one. We went over to the parking lot and found our own line for Pop. We didn't wait too long for a bus and were back at the resort before too long.

Race morning was upon us before long. The alarm was set for 2 AM so we could board one of the first buses. I believe we got onto the 2nd bus leaving Pop Century and it was a smooth ride to EPCOT. I heard from other friends that it was much more difficult getting to the start later on.

There was a sign warning us about the difficult weather conditions and that's when it really hit me - I was going to need to be really careful. I had been battling congestion since Friday morning and that was making it difficult to breathe. The humid air wasn't helping one bit. Time to change the game plan from "Let's see if I can run this faster than my previous Disney Halfs" to "Let's be smart and make it to the finish in one piece"! :)

Danger! Will Robinson! 

Corral B!

We seemed to be timing everything well before the race. There were no lines for the porta-potties the first two times we went. The walk to the corrals was uncrowded. And we had no trouble getting into the corral. I think the key for us is that we did everything very early. We saw many, many people running to Corral A right up until race time! That sort of stress is not fun at all! 

Selfie in the corral with less than 2 minutes to go - Jan, Cindy, and me!

Corral A took off and then it was our turn! It was so exciting to be back at Disney World for a race after 13 months!

Jan, Cindy, and I run at different paces and with different intervals. Yet, all the way up to the Magic Kingdom, we kept running into each other! We even crossed into the Magic Kingdom together - so we stopped and took pictures of one another! I wish we had stopped someone to get a picture of the 3 of us. 

I didn't stop for character pictures because the lines were way too long for my taste. But I did stop and get a few great shots in Magic Kingdom. I usually don't stop but this time I wanted some good pictures!

Scary-looking selfie in front of the castle!

My favorite part of the race - coming up Main Street USA!

Getting ready to Run Through the Castle!
After we were through Magic Kingdom, I put my camera in the ziplock baggie and put it in my pocket. The strap was literally dripping wet with sweat and I was afraid I was going to ruin the camera. I figured if I wanted a picture badly enough, I'd stop to get the camera out at that point. :D

The effort I was having to put forth was greater than I realized and despite keeping to my fueling and water strategy, I was fading fast. I think it was just the difficulty of getting oxygen into my lungs that was doing it to me. My plan was to run the last mile in, like I did at Tink, but I decided against it this time. I passed the 10 mile marker and was really just over the whole thing, which I've never felt before. I even considered walking and thought to myself that nobody would care if I walked the rest of the way. But then I decided that walking would just mean I was out there longer and I just wanted to be DONE! LOL So I kept on with my intervals.

Once we were in EPCOT (I didn't even stop to take pictures of the entrance like I always do - that's how badly I just wanted to be done LOL), I decided to keep running. It was probably 8/10 of a mile, according to the readout on my Garmin. As I rounded the corner with the Gospel choir, they were singing one of  my favorite songs and that really boosted me to the finish line! I rounded that last corner with a smile on my face - so glad that I had finally finished. I had had no pain at all and I was so grateful for a strong finish in tough conditions!

My official time was 2:32:58 - less than 10 minutes slower than my best ever Disney half, and right around 6 minutes slower than my first ever Princess Half (where I ran the entire way!). I think that is a pretty strong showing, considering the intervals, the congestion I was feeling, the humidity, and the fact that there were 12,000 more finishers this year than during the first year (much more crowded course).

Coast to Coast Finisher 2013
I am glad that I chose Princess as my first half "back" from injury. And while I'm sad that I won't be able to "Run Through the Castle" for a few more years now due to financial constraints, I think it will be OK. The magic that was present in the first couple of Disney races I did seems to be missing now. Maybe that's because I've done 7 of them in 3 years?! They say absence makes the heart grow fonder so perhaps that will be the case for me. I am thinking I will set my sights on the 20th anniversary of the Donald Half Marathon in 2017 (since I ran the 15th anniversary as part of Goofy)! :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Race Report: Royal Family 5K

Can you believe I've never done a Disney 5K before? LOL

Well, it's true! After doing many other Disney half marathons and even Goofy, I finally managed to do a 5K. I always run the Saturday morning before the race anyway, and I would always see people coming back from the 5K with medallions. I would wonder why I didn't go ahead and do the race myself since I was out running anyway! And this year, at last, we did!

I traveled down to WDW with Jan like I always do, and we were both a little nervous this weekend. Jan has been battling an injury since the WDW Half Marathon in January and I started getting congested on Friday morning. We had planned to take the 5K easy - and we decided to go without our Garmins so we wouldn't be tempted by the clock. (I was a little disappointed when I realized there was a clock out on the course at each mile marker and the finish line - so much for the "untimed" event that Disney billed this as @@)

Naked Runners LOL
We got up at 3:15 AM and were on the bus from the resort at 4:30. No traffic delays and we arrived at the EPCOT parking lot with plenty of time to spare. I have to admit to being surprised to see a couple of food trucks and a concession stand! I've never noticed this before at a Disney race. Is this just for the 5K? Or do they have these at the half and I just never saw them before? Regardless, it was a bit odd!

Breakfast Sandwich before the 5K, anyone??
I looked around for the "H" tent where I was going to meet up with the ROTE folks, but I didn't see those tents this time. So Jan and I got in line to get our picture taken with Mickey and Minnie - something I had never done before! The line was long, but we had time to kill! And the DJ was fantastic so we had lots of fun dancing around in the line!

The hugs from Mickey and Minnie made my morning!
After the picture and a little bit of "Thriller" dancing, it was time to move to the corrals. Somehow, Jan and I ended up in the A Corral! LOL This has never happened before, and I don't anticipate it happening again! But for one day, I was in the A Corral!

For a moment, I can feel like a speed demon!
Time went by very quickly and we were walking to the start line. My plan was to run from character stop to character stop. Since I didn't have my watch to mark my 3/1 intervals prescribed in my training plan, I would wing it this way. Jan was going to see how she felt. Neither of us wanted to push anything the day before the half. This was to be fun all the way - not racing!

Best fireworks ever!
Right away I had to adjust my game plan. We started out the run in the parking lot and there were no characters! Oops! So I ran for a bit and then took a walk break. I did this a couple of times until I was finally inside EPCOT. I had caught up with Jan again because she was taking it easy, and we ended up sticking together for the rest of the 5K. There weren't as many characters as I thought there would be, but with all the pictures I took, I think the walk breaks ended up being just about right.

Here are some of the pictures we took on the course:

There weren't as many characters on the course as I was expecting - and no princess that I can remember. But it was still a lot of fun. And it was over much more quickly than I could have imagined! We got our medallions and headed over to the bus back to the resort!

5K Finishers - and had a blast doing it!

Later on in the day, we went back to EPCOT and had our picture taken with our 5K shirts and medallions on! Sort of an "after" picture!

I think I will do a 5K on race weekend every time now! It was SO much fun! As an added benefit, getting up super early that morning helped me to be really tired so I could go to bed early for the big race the next day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Race Reports to come later today - or maybe tomorrow. I have had a cold all weekend and just got home last night! Just know that the weekend could not have been more wonderful! :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's TIME!

It's finally time to put on the Sparkles and Tiaras....

I am leaving today for the Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World, part 2 of my Coast to Coast Challenge! I will try to update my blog via my Kindle Fire, but I'm not sure if it's going to work. If not, then I'll update as soon as I get home!!

Thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement in the last 4 months!

It's not too late to donate, either! Through Sunday you can click on THIS LINK and donate easily online!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Race Report: 2013 Run the Reagan 10K

Run the Reagan is a local race that takes place entirely on a highway called Ronald Reagan Parkway. I used to drive this highway quite frequently and the idea of running on it was very exciting! I did the 5K back in 2009 as my second-ever 5K race and I'd been wanting to complete the half-marathon, but it's always the weekend before Princess! This year, I decided that I would do the 10K since I had 6 miles on the schedule anyway.

The forecast called for snow the day before the race and I was extremely excited! Unfortunately by the time I woke up in the morning, they had taken the snow out of the forecast - leaving a very cold day with some partly cloudy skies. Boring. But that's OK!

I was looking exceptionally cute on the morning, and I hadn't even realized that my shoes actually matched my skirt and shirt until someone pointed it out to me! I knew I loved those shoes! :)

My chapter of Moms Run This Town met up for a group picture for 10Kers and Half Marathoners (the 5K started 2 hours after the longer distances) and then I also got to meet up with an old friend who I haven't seen in a couple of years! She was doing her first ever 10K race and we ended up running together.

The Ronald Reagan Parkway is a hilly road, which isn't surprising for GA! I did my 3/1 intervals but I didn't go nearly as slowly as I wanted to because I was too busy talking with my friend. I got warmed up quickly in my jacket, but my zipper was stuck so the jacket had to stay where it was. If you saw a crazy woman trying to pull a black jacket over her head (unsuccessfully @@) yesterday during the 4-5 mile, that was me. I'm sure it was entertaining! And a special thank you to the man behind me who restored my fallen earbuds to me! LOL

We ended up crossing the finish line faster than my own first 10K had been, and I had run that one straight through! ;) It was a ton of fun and I am so glad that I did the race.

Traditional Race Shirt Picture - Freezing Cold edition!

Look out half marathon in 2014... I hope to be coming for you!! :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

First trainer ride and the lessons learned therein


I have been looking forward to my first trainer ride this entire week! Last weekend, we turned this area of the garage...

Scary messy!

into this...

Training space!
The area was filled with camping supplies that didn't get put back in the shed and old toys that I cannot bear to part with just yet, so it wasn't a huge undertaking, but it did take several hours. It had to be done anyway because we are going to lay some flooring down in this area and turn it into a dance studio for the girls. They will just have to move my trainer over when they need to plie' or tendu! LOL

Setting up the trainer was also quite fun. The Bike Shop Guy (BSG) had told me that it was just a matter of taking it out of the box and setting it up.

Um. No.

Luckily, my husband excels at Google, so he printed off some step by step instructions (which were not in the box) and I was all set! It took about an hour to get it all set up and I took a few test spins.

Got my game face on! This is my "intimidate" look!
Alas, I had to wait until Friday to be able to really use it. This is the second-to-last week of training for Princess so I have to keep to the schedule! But that ended up being a good thing. Because it dawned on me that I still didn't have a water bottle cage for Mike! And if I was going to be sitting there for 45 minutes, I was surely going to need some water!

There are a hundred million (estimation) kinds of water bottle cages in all price ranges. I have asked for a couple of suggestions and got no responses. So I finally gave up and went to Walmart and bought a $10 cage that came with a bottle. I figured that it would get me started and if it turns out to be junk I'm only out a few dollars.

I came home, got out the multi-tool from my bike bag and went to work. It was a piece of cake!

Water bottle cage installed and ready to go!
I really do feel like a complete Tough Chik when I use the tools to do something on my bike. Yes, yes... it's just a water bottle cage, 2 simple screw thingies - but, hey, it's a start!

So finally this morning it was time to ride! I don't have any pics from the ride because it was early and I forgot! LOL But I will share the valuable lessons I learned from my first trainer ride:

1. It is warmer in the garage than you think. The weather lady said it was in the mid 30s outside so I dressed accordingly. After about 3 minutes, I peeled off all the layers I could, including the mittens, and proceeded to sweat buckets for the next 42 minutes!

2. Padded shorts are not an option. I used to be able to get away without padded shorts on Frank, and I never wore them to the gym. However, the saddle on Mike, while more comfortable than Frank's by a long shot, is not very forgiving on The Queen! No long-term damage done. Just sort of a sore ride!

3. The trainer is not as loud as I had feared. Since this was an entry-level trainer (I wanted to put most of my money towards the bike itself), I knew it would be loud. The reviews on amazon really freaked me out, though. I was afraid I was going to wake up the kids. But it really wasn't all that bad. I compare it to the sound of the washing machine, dryer, or dishwasher - sort of a white noise effect. In fact, the squeaking pedal had a better chance of waking them up, I think. But they all remained asleep!

4. I am too dependent upon numbers. My bike computer does not work on the trainer. I realized this only after I already purchased it, so while I can use it easily for outdoor rides, I would have been better off buying the bike cadence sensor and bike mount for my Garmin. It is cheaper and would work with what I already own. Oh, well, I will live and learn and add that to my wish list for the future! :) Besides, I am too dependent on numbers (speed/distance) so maybe it's a good thing that I can't know exactly how fast I'm going and have to rely instead on how I feel?!

UPDATE: When I called the bike shop about the squeaking, I also mentioned the numbers game and the sensor. It turns out that they sell a compatible sensor and he would be delighted to swap it out for me! So I loaded up Mike and off we went. BSG could not hear the squeaking but lubed up various bike parts as a precaution and hooked me up with the sensor. I just ordered the bike mount from Amazon and it will arrive on Tuesday! YAY!

So there you have it... first training ride is complete! I'm looking forward to future training rides, and more importantly, some nice long rides at the parks and greenways once the weather warms up! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nerves? Taper madness? Or what?

I am having a hard time getting my groove on for the Princess Half Marathon next weekend! I'm not sure what my problem is! I haven't even been feeling an overwhelming urge to pack. I know. Scary!

And if you can believe it, I'm not even really sure what I'm wearing for the 5K! In fact, I keep forgetting that I am running it and therefore need to pack another outfit! Honestly I have only a vague idea of what I'm wearing for the half marathon. :(

This is going to be my last Disney race for quite a long time so I really want to savor the memories and enjoy myself. But that's hard when I'm having a hard time getting into it. I should be thrilled and beyond excited - getting the anniversary medal AND the Coast to Coast!?! And I'm pretty well prepared physically, I think. Training has gone remarkably smoothly for having thrown another half marathon in there in the middle.

So what's wrong with me?!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just two more weeks!

Two weeks from today I will be running for my Princess Half Marathon and Coast to Coast medals! It's not too late to donate! 94.5% of the money you donate will go directly to Spectrum Autism Support Group to help them with their summer camp program! The only way to give them more money would be to write a check directly to them - and if you'd like to do that I can give you the address! Thanks so much for your support! :D

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A whole new way to ride!

When the forecast calls for low to mid 60s and bright sunshine and it's early February, you know you need to go outside!

When you also have a brand new bike hanging in the garage calling to you, you know you need to go to the park for a bike ride - even if the training schedule says "Rest Day" on it!

So I did! :)

I purposely didn't take my Garmin. Today wasn't about speed. It was about getting familiar with my new bike and learning how to use the brakes and shifters since they are so different from my old bike. My new bike has a computer on it so I used that to keep track of my mileage. (Yes it does track time but I didn't pay attention to that screen... possibly because I couldn't figure out how to switch it to that screen but truly it didn't matter so I didn't stress about it! LOL)

I have to admit I was nervous. I'm not that good on a bike yet, but that's what 2013 is all about! So I got out there and just started pedaling.

I cannot begin to describe how great it felt! Well, honestly at first it felt weird. I'm not used to hunching over so much. And my palms (by my thumbs) really hurt. I finally figured out on the 3rd lap that I was all tensed up and holding on for dear life! Once I relaxed a bit, my hands stopped hurting! LOL

As a matter of fact, once I relaxed, nothing hurt! Not my shins, or knees - my wrists didn't hurt and my hands didn't get numb! Even the Queen had an easier time of it on this saddle!

And the best part? For the first time, I felt like I was RIDING the bike, not pedaling and trying not to fall off. This bike feel like more of an extension of me rather than some big, scary death trap! And that right there is going to be a huge plus!

Post-ride selfie... next sunny day I'm going to get one of the kids to take a picture of me ON the bike, where you can actually see the bike! LOL
See the big smile on my face?? This is after 11 miles... and feeling like I could do a lot more, with some practice! It was an awesome feeling!

Oh, one more quick note... while I was riding, I decided on a name for my new bike! I'd like you all to give a warm welcome to my new friend, MIKE! :D

What's the reason, you may ask? Well, there is always the "Mike the Bike" idea, and the notion of taking a "Mike Ride", but the main decision for this name is simple: American Pickers! The stars of that show are Mike and Frank! And they love to find bikes! And they go together.

While my new bike will be ridden more and is taking the place of the old one, I don't want to forget everything that the old bike gave to me - namely my first two triathlons! Without Frank, there would be no need for Mike! I wouldn't have found a love for triathlon if I hadn't had Frank. He will always be special to me! And I will always be grateful... so when I think of Mike, I will think of Frank, too!

Their Mike and Frank...

My Mike and Frank! :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I'm a trail runner now, too!

Yesterday my training schedule for the Princess Half Marathon called for a 10 mile run. Since I just completed the Tinker Bell Half Marathon 2 weekends ago, I wasn't as concerned about this 10 mile run as I otherwise would have been. I just wanted to get in the miles, without hurting, and have a little fun.

My Moms Run This Town chapter was meeting at Stone Mountain for a group run and I decided to join them. I've never run at Stone Mountain, only cycled, and since I will be focusing on triathlons after the Princess, I wasn't sure when I'd have the opportunity to run the 5 mile path around the base of the mountain again.

Despite the fact that it was below freezing when we met at 9 AM, 5 of us showed up. Some of us stayed together and others did their own paces! I love it when that's how it works out! Our chapter leader stayed with me despite the fact that she had her own pacing she was planning to do, and then when we met up with another of the ladies from our group, she asked if we wanted to do the trails that she enjoys so much. I have been wanting to try trail running, but I have to admit to being apprehensive considering that I trip over my own feet when I'm running on flat pavement. And with the Princess only 3 weeks away, I didn't want to fall and hurt myself! But I decided to give it a try, figuring I could always stop and go back to the paved trail if I felt it was too dangerous!

So here I am... on my first trail run!

Good trail for a first-timer!

Being a little goofy!

After we finished our first lap around the mountain, we went back the other way to do some more difficult trails. We did walk the challenging parts, since we ALL have races coming up in the next couple of weeks!

Rocks, limbs, and streams to cross!

Even some granite outcroppings!

The views were certainly worth the effort, though! But I did learn quickly to STOP and take pictures! LOL My full attention was needed on the trail so I didn't fall!

Covered bridges...

A grist mill!

Beautiful lake-front views...

And, of course, Stone Mountain!

Trail runners taking a break to document the event!
I ended up doing a little over 11 miles, but with all of the walking and stopping to take pictures, it didn't feel that bad! I think I really started feeling it around mile 9.5, which is awesome! And one thing I noticed quickly was that I didn't feel it in the usual places like my calves, but more so in my hips and quads. I guess it's from all the darting back and forth across the trail, and then the softer terrain was easier on my lower legs.

I am not sure I've ever had so much fun on a training run! I will definitely be checking out the trail running again in the future! It was fantastic! Maybe I'll even try a trail race later on this year?! :D

Friday, February 1, 2013

Let the Good Times Roll!

Take a look at what I brought home with me today!!! :)

I am so excited, I can barely stand it! I finally got a brand new bike!! This is last year's model, so it was on sale, and that allowed me to upgrade to a better model! The bike is a Trek Lexa, which is a women's specific bike. The Guy at the store was fantastic and I really like how it feels to ride. 

I also purchased a trainer

which will be set up in this space

in the garage this weekend. God willing. LOL

I cannot believe how much more comfortable this bike is, even just in the test ride that I did. And Bike Store Guy did some basic adjustments for me that should make it even more comfortable! One funny thing from the test ride - the gears are in a completely different place on this bike (at the brakes, and in fact you downshift by moving the brake handle in which is cool but a little freaky). Anyway, I was shifting and thinking that it wasn't working. You see, on my Frankenbike, when I shift, there is a big CLUNK as the bike goes into each gear. And when I am switching the bike chain there is a HUGE clunk! LOL This bike was completely quiet, and I was taken aback! ;) But it was shifting, as I could feel by the ease and difficulty of the pedaling.

I cannot wait for some beautiful weather, and I may go out one day next week anyway and just bundle up! LOL I am beyond excited about my new bike and I'm really looking forward to improving my cycling skills now! Bike Store Guy did suggest that my next investment be some cycling shoes/pedals! Hello, birthday?!?! :)

Now, I just need a name for the new guy in my life...