Yep. I am well aware that this post is REALLY late this week. But…let me tell you…I was on a glorious, fun vacation. And I was off the grid for much of it because I was hanging on a cruise ship. Gotta love it.
Now, let me remind you, that when I planned a birthday trip…I was to have already run my marathon. I had planned on running the Erie Marathon, but it sold out before I could register for it. I wasn’t expecting that, so it made me give up on my dream of a Boston 2020 experience and turn my focus on Boston 2021. BUT…this now meant that instead of recovering on my cruise/vacation…I was now in the peak of my training.
My coach was very flexible with my schedule and kindly gave me a “down” week while I was away. But this did include two back-to-back 13 milers…which I moved from the weekend to the middle of the week (while on a cruise ship instead of at a Disney resort) , but this was how it would work in my schedule the best while I was away. I kept them back-to-back because I felt that was an important component to the training…just shifted WHEN they happened.
Was it ideal to have to train while on my birthday cruise/vacation? NOPE. Was it fun? NOPE. But…it is what it is right now…and I worked it in. It wasn’t perfect. It was far from it. Disney exhaustion is a real thing friends, and it definitely hit me hard. But…I managed to keep my training on track. I wish I didn’t HAVE to fit it in…but we made it work the best we could.
Let’s set sail…
Monday: REST/RECOVERY DAY! EMBARKATION DAY FOR DISNEY DREAM CRUISE!
I arrived in Orlando on Sunday morning and spent most of the morning running around Disney Springs and getting settled in to the All-Star Music resort for one night. No running around the parks. Nothing big on Sunday…just get a meal at Sanaa (THE BEST) and get some sleep to make the drive to Port Canaveral in the morning. I set an alarm and got up ahead of it, managing to work in my morning PT stretches that day. Then we made the drive to port and got signed up for the Castaway Cay 5K (which was now running on my birthday), and boarded the Disney Dream. The rest of the time was spent exploring the ship, grabbing lunch (they made me a gluten free tomato sandwich…which took some time to get to me…and they sent me 2…because I guess they thought I would starve)…settling into our room…going through the safety drill…catching a show…getting dinner (and meeting THE BEST tablemates ever)…dealing with Cathy getting sea sick…there wasn’t time for a run. And it was nice to have an extra day off and to feel like I could get used to the ship and get my trip off to a leisurely and un-stressful start start.
Tuesday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
Welcome to the wonderful world of training while on a cruise. This was NOT easy whatsoever. While eating breakfast, the ship pulled into Nassau in the Bahamas. YAY!! I had heard how touristy this stop was, so Cathy and I decided that we’d leave the ship, hit up the Hard Rock, hit the Starbucks (I was buying a mug for a friend), then head back to the ship. This was what we did and I was happy with this decision. The streets were crowded, and I could only imagine how the beach would be. While everyone was off the ship, I figured I’d go onto the track on Deck 4 and run my workout there. The problem was, part of the deck was blocked off due to some maintenance happening. AND…my GPS wasn’t working. At all. So I would physically have to count my laps. I wasn’t feeling it. So, we took the stairs up to Deck 11 and entered the fitness center. Here, I hopped on one of the treadmills and did an easy run (because I can’t run fast on a treadmill), putting in a full 8 miles at this pace, skipping the strides and vowing to add them onto one of my runs when I got back on land. Done. Cathy walked on the treadmill next to me and would replenish my water as needed, which was awesome. It was a great way to spend the afternoon before showering, changing (it was Halloween costume night!), and heading out to do some Trick or Treating and catching dinner with two of our table mates (the other 2 parties were at Palo that night). It was so much fun, and I wasn’t stressing the workout at all. That being said, I knew the rest of the runs on the ship would be on that treadmill.
Wednesday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.
This was supposed to be our day at Castaway Cay…but that got shifted to Thursday. Instead, this was our Day At Sea. It would also be Pirate Night. That’s fun, right? I got up early to get to the fitness center on the ship just after it opened at 6 am. I had 13 miles to log (really 13.1, because I can’t just run 13 miles), and was going to break it up (since treadmills go for an hour at a time) by doing 5 miles, 5 miles, and then a “fast” 3 miles right at the end. I had my bottle of Maurten with me and would fuel after each interval, with water in between. I learned, very quickly, that running on a treadmill on a cruise ship is HARD. You get a full-body workout because the treadmill belt is moving, but the ship is swaying too…so at times I felt like I was running up a hill, and at times down a hill. It took some getting used to. But I powered through with 10 miles at an easy
pace, and then 3.1 miles at a faster (maybe not super fast, but faster) pace. It was fast for me on a treadmill. Afterwards, when I finished up, one of the personal trainers on the ship came over and asked me if I was training for a marathon. He then asked which one and how many I had run. He just said he had noticed me running. WOOHOO!! So, while this wasn’t what I had in mind (and this probably would have been better on land)…I just made the most of what I had been dealt. Then, Cathy surprised me with a Stem to Stern wine tasting later that day. We did A LOT of walking around the ship that day too. And, of course, dressed up like pirates, went to dinner at the fancy Palo restaurant (where I had a gluten free souffle for dessert!!), and then had fireworks on deck. AMAZING.
Thursday: INSTRUCTIONS: 11-13 MILES WITH 3 MILES FAST FINISH – GOAL 12 MILES – EASY DOES IT UNTIL FAST FINISH AT THE END.
It was my birthday. YAY! I love my birthday. But this morning, I was up at 5:30 to get dressed and head up to the fitness center. It was still closed when I got up to the 11th deck, but opened up a few minutes later. I needed to start at 6 am sharp to get in 10 miles of running prior to the Castaway Cay 5K I would be running on Disney’s private island. I started right on time, with my Maurten bottle to fuel me through the 10 easy pace miles on the treadmill. I did another round of 5, then started over with the last 5 miles. Cathy met me up there as I finished up and we took the steps down to Deck 2 to group together with everyone doing the 5K. I was using the 5K as my “fast finish,” not sure how fast it would be in the hot sun on the island AFTER a 13 mile run the day before and 10 miles ahead of the 5K itself. We were walked off the ship and then to the start line of the 5K. Cathy was doing the 5K as well, but we weren’t running it together. We were sent off as the clock started and I passed quite a few people to start with, pulling into the lead female position (This, BTW, means nothing as this is a fun run and no official timing is given and people are encouraged to cut the course, LOL). But I made a goal in my head to stay in that position. It was definitely hot out there, especially when we weren’t in the loop (which had a bit of shade). The runway portion was probably the hottest, and I knew my first mile was pretty quick, but my second mile I faded a bit. I pressed on, pushing a bit more and picked it back up to finish “strong” that day. I was happy with it. First female. Birthday run. Done. Cathy came in and we decided to change into our bathing suits, do some shopping, grab an alcoholic beverage (a Conch Cooler) and lay on the beach for a bit. We took some pictures, went to eat lunch (the ship had a vegan and gluten free veggie burger, fries, and veggies sent to the island for me), then headed back to the ship. NO ONE was on there. We showered, changed, took pictures, and then went to a Mixology Class which was SO fun. Later on, birthday dinner with the entire table back together. And double dessert for me. LOVED it. The chef also created dishes for me the entire night to fit my dietary needs and make it super fun. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday…and the runs were a nice bonus!
Friday: REST DAY! DISEMBARKATION DAY & MICKEYS NOT SO SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY AT MAGIC KINGDOM!
I must say, it was nice to not have to try to fit in a run before leaving the ship on Friday morning. We got our luggage packed up, went down to breakfast, which we ate with our entire table again, and then got in the line to get off the ship and go through customs. After that, it was a waiting game for our room at Port Orleans French Quarter to be ready. We grabbed a light lunch at Toasted. We hit the grocery store for water. We walked around the resort until the text came through and we could get into our room. Once that happened, we changed into our costumes for the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (we were Joy & Bing Bong from Inside Out), went to Magic Kingdom, got candy, went to eat at Skippers (we split an appetizer & entree), went on rides, got TONS more candy, walked around…and left at midnight. My legs were tired and my feet were SO sore. I think I got to bed just before 1 am and had to get up for a run on Saturday, now very glad I moved my back-to-back 13 milers to earlier in the week.
Saturday: SPEED WORK – MONA FARTLEKS W/ 1 MILE HARD EFFORT
When I woke up on Saturday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was do speed work. My legs were feeling heavy, the late night and time on my feet this entire trip, but more specifically…the night prior at Magic Kingdom. It was hot and humid outside. But…I knew this needed to happen and I needed to do it now before another long day of wandering around a Disney Park (Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT!). So…I headed out. Mona Fartleks were going to happen on the running path of the Port Orleans resorts…whether I wanted it to or not. Once again, these work like this: 2 mile warm up, 2×90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4×30 sec, 4×15 sec (with equal recovery after each at a pace faster than base pace), 1 mile hard effort, 2 mile cool down. I could tell from the start it was going to be a struggle. My warm up was MEH. My intervals felt like a slog. And there were plenty of obstacles along the way (people with luggage, people going to the buses, dogs, carts, strollers, people on the way to breakfast and not paying attention, and any number of all of them all at once). But I did sweat it out and get it done. I knew it was going to be bad. But I also had promised to tack on some strides, so I did that too…and those felt awful and slow and just sucky. I went back to the room, feeling really defeated, but had my spirits lifted with gluten free beignets and coffee. I showered, ate, put on sunscreen, headed to the bus to go to EPCOT…where we walked the rest of the day, once again returning LATE at night with tired legs and very sore feet. I knew I had one more day of runs ahead of me on this trip…
Sunday: INSTRUCTIONS: BASE RUN 6-8 MILES – GOAL 7 MILES + 4-6 STRIDES – EASY EFFORT – TRY NO WATCH AGAIN
Same run as I did on the ship…this time with the strides right at the end. I was hoping this run would go better than the previous one. Ultimately, this would work out to be the same distance as the Mona Fartlek workouts…just without pushing pace. I set out, and surprisingly felt good. I ran the same loops through the Port Orleans Resorts as the previous day. It was much earlier, as I was wearing my reflective gear, simply because it was still very dark out. I had an 9:15 am breakfast in Animal Kingdom, which meant in order to have time to do my run, I’d have to get up early and get it done so I could shower, change, put on sunscreen and…drive to the park. I was happy with how I felt on this. It was still warm and humid, but it’s Orlando, Florida. Of course it is. I said HI to a few people who were out smoking or sitting with their dogs on the trail. Got a lot of compliments on my Nox Gear vest (use code: CELIAC at checkout for 35% off). And I finished it up and was actually sad and disappointed with my overall pace. I felt like I was flying and it was so easy today…but the reality was sobering and frustrating. I did my strides, which felt so hard to push through and do…then went to prepare for the day. This was Animal Kingdom, some resort hopping (with Dole Whip), and then a dinner of Gluten Free Churros and Truffle Poutine. Cathy and I split those, went and rose Flights of Passage at Pandora, and then called it a night. We realized we hadn’t had a single vegetable all day…so we made a point to stop by the food court at the resort and pick up some celery and carrots to split…just to feel a bit better about life. I was thankful that my travel day the following morning was an additional rest day, which made things a little less hectic and crazy…and allowed for pre-airport gluten free beignets. HA!
So…all in all…it was a fun week, but it was hard on the training. I love traveling and taking trips, but with an actual goal this coming race, I had to prioritize my training when I had originally hoped that I wouldn’t even have to pack running clothes if I didn’t want to (let’s face it…I probably would have). It was a struggle. Mentally, the early mornings on vacation were rough, especially with my schedule and my diet being thrown off by late dinners, late nights, and more food than I thought was possible being put in front of me. But, you know…you just make it work. Even my coach said I was doing good fitting the training in while on a cruise and a stay at Disney World (since there was no races this time around) and to just let the bad runs go. Make like Elsa…Let it go! HA!
So, it will be nice to fall back into a “normal” schedule and see how I go as the summer days creep back in and warm us all back up…
It’s that time of year, friends. Yep. That time of year that the Starlight Strawberry Festival happens. And that means one thing…the Run for the Berries 5K. Because if you want to give me any incentive to run a 5K (not a big fan)…strawberries are a sure bet!
The one thing that has become pretty common with me, however, is that I’ve waited to register for this race (and numerous others) either on race day or close to race day. Why? I’m on a strict budget and signing up for races and having to not go to them for ANY reason is a waste of my money. So it doesn’t happen. So, for the second year in a row…I wasn’t registered until race morning for this race.
But the adventure doesn’t start there, friends. Oh no!! Because this seems to be the year where if anything bad can happen to me on race morning…it will. And the morning of the Run for the Berries 5K didn’t let me down in that aspect.
I woke up feeling slightly “off.” My stomach was unsettled. I thought, perhaps, some water with a Nuun tablet (electrolytes) would be a big help in this case, but it didn’t really seem to help. At least I was hydrated, right? It was also VERY warm out this particular morning. Like humid and hot. The kind of weather that you feel sort of suffocates you when you’re milling about it in. UGH. So, another good reasons for the electrolytes in the water. When I mentioned running this one to my coach, Daniel, he asked if I wanted to use it for training or to actually race it. I told him I wanted to race it. Mind you…I am NOT in 5K shape…AT ALL!! I was just a month off of a fast marathon and really hadn’t incorporated any sort of speed back into my training at that point. But, hey…it’s 3.1 miles…I got this, right?
My speed work sessions during training have been fast. So, I thought, as I had come close to breaking my 5K PR at this race before…maybe it could happen. Maybe I could get a damn PR in one of the primary distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon). Why not start with the one I hate doing…the 5K. Because these legs were not made for sprinting. They were made for…DISTANCE. But, hey…I could do this…in shape or not!
And maybe…if the weather was slightly cooler and my stomach didn’t feel like it was sludgy…it might have. Spoiler alert: No PR. But let me first start with what I did do. I did get up and stretch and drink water and electrolytes, knowing it would be a steamfest (it usually is, btw). I dressed in the Boston crop that my friend, Natalie, gifted me with again…but went with different shorts this time for the Run for the Berries. I had my breakfast to go…something I could eat 30 minutes prior to the 8 am start.
My roommate and I left the apartment to give us time to get up to the Strawberry Festival, get me registered, use the bathroom, stretch, eat, and prepare to race. All of these things were accomplished and did happen. I even made myself eat the snack I brought, despite the stomach feeling wonky. It would be better thank bonky! (Rhyming is fun!)
I did some active stretching until it seemed about time to walk down the road to the start point. I was amazed how few people were there at this point. So, I got into what I figured would be the second row (where I usually start in this race) and stood there…waiting. Some fast looking people did wander down this way…but they stood behind me and I was like…”Nope. I try to be fast, but I’m not there kind of fast.” It all did eventually fill in though, even if I was still up front this time. Imposter syndrome!
The race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and we were sent off. And I was doing my best not to blow up in the first mile.
The past couple years I have done this race, my first mile has managed to be in the 6:40-6:50 range. Not this year. I hit that first mile and decided to just glance at my watch (this is a bad habit I got into when I had to pace myself through Toledo), noting that it said 7:13. It felt hard. And I knew I was fading already. The heat and humidity have really started to get to me this year, and my body was not responding well at all today. Nope. I decided I would attempt to pick it up…maybe I could for Mile 2.
It was maybe halfway through this mile, that I could physically feel my legs slowing down. So, my goals and hopes were just tossed aside, and I focused on simply finishing. I attempted to, but mostly failed to attack the uphills and ride the downhills, but my legs were not wanting to go any faster. They kept screaming to slow down. And they did…without me even commanding them to do so. Mile 2 was at 7:35. After Mile 2, there is a water stop waiting. Since goals were out…I stopped, snagged a cup, drank a splash, then poured the rest over my head hoping to wake up the body and cool off my core. I managed to get up the hill, but I was toast after that.
There are a few rollers after that as you head back to the road that takes you to the finish line. You actually sort of go uphill to the finish. Brutal. And I was fighting. I was fighting with all I had to get there. I could see the finish, see Cathy, see people cheering…so I pressed on. I think someone passed me. I don’t really remember. But I pushed as much as I could (it felt like I was going in slow motion). Mile 3 was 7:53. I was going off the rails. The last .1 miles to the finish felt like an eternity (Garmin tells me it was an 8:16 pace, LOL!), but I crossed the line and stopped my watch and was happy to have it done. I was handed a pink card and Cathy walked me over to the building to fill out my card with my name and time and age division…and mine was the first in the stack at that point…which I reminded her didn’t mean that I came in first. It just means I was the first one to fill out the card.
As the race was finishing up, we wandered back over to where we parked to grab my backpack so I could go duck into the bathroom and change out of my sweaty running clothes. I was happy that I packed a light dress to wear because it was really starting to heat up outside.
We made a circuit of the actual festival booths, while waiting on the awards to start…and indulged in our big bowls of strawberries (well, Cathy gets an actual Strawberry Shortcake), and a nice, icy cold, refreshing frozen strawberry drink. YES!! It was perfection.
The men are always announced first after the overall winners…and the overall winner this year (for men) was an 11 year old kid who was lightning fast. Seriously. And…as I’m getting pretty up there…I have to sit awhile through the females too…but…worth it. My card and time were in fact…right. I was first in my age division. How about that? I didn’t feel good…I pretty much died on the course…but…bringing home another pint glass (with an additional bag for being first in the age group).
I wish I could give you overall stats, but official results for this race haven’t been posted anywhere. Not on Facebook. Not on Pacers & Racers. Not on the Strawberry Festival page, nor the page advertising the Run For the Berries itself…it still has last year’s results. BUT…here’s what I can tell you…
Officially…I had positive splits. But positive splits for positive people. I finished the race in 23:37. I was the thirteenth woman overall. And I was first in my age group. That’s it…that’s all I got.
And hopefully next year I can get a bit faster, take those hills a bit harder, and not fade so much so close to the start. Fingers crossed.
And…should official results for this race every get posted, I will happily update this post to share them. But, I am not currently holding my breath!
Friends, I did not come all the way up to Toledo for this 5K. In fact, this race was my shakeout run. Tomorrow, the Glass City Marathon runs, in winter-like conditions, and I am not happy about it. I didn’t train all winter to not have a beautiful day of running. Looks like it will be 30 degrees at the start tomorrow with winds between 16-20 mph. And that sucks. And it has been festering in my brain since the weather changed as I was packing and then again as I was traveling up to Toledo.
I had a lot going on this past week. Between some training runs and cross-training. Between work and errands. I was squeezing in baking Lemon Blossoms for the MRTT/SRTT tent at the finish line of the KDF Marathon/minimarathon. I was getting a sports massage to get my legs primed for this effort on Sunday. And I was having a late dinner with my friends Melissa, Paul, and the one and only baby Carrick, the night before I had to get in a car with my roommate and make the long-ass drive from Louisville up to Toledo.
Thankfully, Cathy handled most of my packing. On Friday morning, I simply had to stretch, foam roll, make breakfast, get together road snacks and hydration…and yes…RACE FUEL…pack a few extra things plus toiletries in my suitcase…before taking everything down to the car, taking out the garbage, making a quick stop at Kroger, and hitting the road. It sounds like a lot. It was. But I enjoyed the dinner out with my friends, and despite getting home late that night, I knew I could sleep in a bit as we were hoping to get on the road by 9:30 at the latest. We managed. YAY!
But it was to be a pretty rainy drive and Mother Nature didn’t disappoint. In fact, not only did we get rain, we got about three traffic accidents that really slowed our progress into Toledo. And the first one ended up with us taking a major detour that was out of our way, but got us where we needed to be quicker than sitting in the long line of traffic would have. But the second one, we actually had to sit through and just creep through. I had to really pee at this point (remember…HYDRATION!), and now I was stuck in traffic for who knows how long. We got through that one and we managed to get to a rest stop 10 miles up the road. YAY! But soon we were sitting in traffic again…yes…AGAIN. And we hadn’t even hit Dayton yet. It. Was. A. Mess.
But…we did finally make it in to Toledo and to our hotel, the Home2Suites by Hilton. It’s a nice little place, with a full fridge, microwave, and lots of room and space. The beds are quite comfortable too. We hauled our luggage in and were told that some sports teams were coming in this weekend too…looks like some kids soccer teams…but we were staying through Monday, so it really didn’t affect us at all. We unpacked our stuff and took a moment to relax. The expo didn’t open until 4 pm, so we had a bit of time. But we wanted to get there close to opening, so we did eventually meander out and head down to the University of Toledo campus. On the way, we noted that we were close to both a Kroger and a Target…just in case we needed to make any sort of stops.
The expo itself was held in the Savage Hall Sports Arena. It isn’t a large expo, but it was big enough that we walked through a couple times. But, we made our first official stop all the way at the back…at the packet pick-up. I had to get both my Savage 5K (my shakeout run) packet and my Mercy Health Glass City Marathon race packet as well. This was very seamless and easy, to be honest. I had my bib number in my e-mail and showed my ID. Simple. The 5K gives you a soft stadium blanket. You can pay extra for a t-shirt, but why? Love different race swag. I got a yellow half-zip for the full marathon and Cathy got her bib for the 5K as well. With those in hand, we went to have her knees (that had been acting up this past week) taped up by a chiropractor that was there in the expo…and then shopped. I picked up some gluten-free and vegan protein cookies that were being sold and sampled there. Really good. And also got the Glass City Marathon Bondi Band. We wandered back over to official merch, where I picked up a hoodie and a race t-shirt (compliments of Cathy). And then we headed out.
We, sadly, were having a hard time finding food options for this race for me. Lots of reviews on Find Me Gluten Free pointed us away from many of the options we had thought about. But…we passed a Marco’s Pizza on our way to the expo, and I called to see if they did gluten free (the one in New Albany doesn’t, but the one near my parents in Birmingham, AL does…so it was worth a try). They did…so we decided that we would go ahead and put our trust in Marco’s Pizza for dinner that night.
We ordered a Gluten Free Pizza without cheese, topping it with onions, mushrooms, and banana peppers. Cathy said she didn’t even miss the cheese when ti came out. And, the man who took our order, a guy named Davis, basically walked my pizza down the line to make sure there was no cross-contamination. He was amazing. And so was the pizza. We hit up Kroger on our way back to the hotel, picking up some bananas and some gluten-free cookies to have for dessert. I am a dessert fiend. I must have dessert.
It was getting late. So while Cathy showered, I stretched and did my foam rolling before getting settled into my bed while watching Diners, Drive-ins & Dives on Food Network (of course!). I set an alarm for 6:30 am, since race start wasn’t until 9 am, and we called it a night.
I hate hotel pillows, for the record. They are always too soft for me. MEH. But I slept relatively well, getting up to use the bathroom, do my first round of stretches in the dark, and then get back into bed for about 30 minutes until the alarm went off.
We were up and getting ready for the race right on time. And it didn’t take us too long to get fully dressed and ready to head out the door. It was 41 degrees, but real feel was 35 degrees. I opted for capris and a long sleeve shirt for this one. And gloves, because I have to wear gloves in anything in the 40s and below for temperatures. I just have to. We made the short trip down to the race, parking near a parking garage on campus and not too far from the start of the Savage 5K. I was thinking we’d hang in the car for awhile, but we ended up throwing on some garbage bags and making the trek to the start area. After freezing for a bit, I commented that we still had an hour to go before the start, so we went over to the Savage Hall Sports Arena to sit down and stay warm prior to the race. We had our photo taken on our way up the stairs, but ducked inside and took a seat on the stairs to wait until it was a little closer to race start. I ate my banana with 30 minutes to go.
We did meander out 15 minutes before the race start and went to get into our corrals. I was in Corral A and Cathy was in Corral D. I kept my trash bag on until about 5 minutes before the race. I had set my Garmin to give me some certain strides for the last mile so I pulled up that workout and then set my watch to start the workout. A few people spoke before the race start, and a blessing was given as well. And then…at about 9:01 am…we were on our way.
As I think I mentioned above, I was using this run as a shake-out leading into tomorrow’s race. So, I held myself back and just ran comfortably…not pushing my pace or effort on any hills. I felt really good, which was surprising after sitting in the car for so long the day before. I just sort of settled in at a comfortable pace, and focused on just not pushing it. There was a bit of a hill heading into the first mile marker, but I crested it by not pushing effort or pace, and felt like I was holding back and doing a good job. I was under an 8 min pace. WHOOPS.
Mile 2 went a bit better as I reined it back a bit. This was a fun mile, as we got 2 water stop options and a dash through the Greek Village near campus. It was really nice. And as I turned back onto main roads, I passed a cute mother/young daughter team that was running and the mom was just being very encouraging to her little girl. It was adorable. Back onto the streets and back through another water stop opportunity, and I was heading into Mile 3.
My watch was set up to do 80 meter pushes with equal recovery for strides. But…my watch just beeped at me like after 1 second of running and then settled in to the extra mile I tagged on. Glad I did that. But now I was going manual. Which did help to slow me down some. I would run for .05 mile and then ease off for the same amount of time. And I did that close to the 10 times I was supposed to (after the Garmin fuck up), and just pressed the lap button. My data was already screwed up, but I wanted to give something to my coach to look at. After I got that last mile…I pressed it in to a strong finish, which happens inside the University of Toledo’s Glass Bowl Stadium. I did a fast 10 miler which finished on a stadium field just like this, so that was sort of fun. I threw my hands up as I crossed the finish and my name was announced and went to collect my medal and some water.
Now, I was waiting for Cathy to finish her race, but we weren’t allowed to wait in the finisher’s area. I moved off to the side, just past the finish line, and waited for her, trying not to freeze. That’s been the worst part about Cathy now doing my races…that I don’t have warm clothing to slide into at the finish right away.
She came across and I snapped pictures and shouted at her. She was introducing me to the people she ran with for most of the race. We took some photos, then headed over to get our Commemorative Glass Mug. She went to go get beer and I went to get official results. I couldn’t remember my Athlinks login though, so I ended up just looking it up on the RaceJoy app. Then we went and got snacks, and Cathy got 2 slices of pizza (she got my slice), which she said was actually really good.
And…to my absolute shock…I came in 2nd in my age group. What the hell? I wasn’t even trying. We didn’t know if I’d get my award there or if it would be mailed, and no one else seemed to know either. Not even at the Race Info booth inside the expo. I finally asked back by where we picked up our packets and they actually know. Awards would be mailed. YAY! So, that’s something to look forward to! We walked through the expo one last time, and Cathy thanked the booth who taped her up because she had a good 5K with their help. And then we made the cold trek back to the car and headed out.
I needed hot coffee…stat. So, we headed over to Bigbee Coffee (a local chain in Toledo), where I got a Neapolitan Latte with Almond Milk. It. Was. EVERYTHING. If you like Neapolitan ice cream…it tastes exactly like THAT! Holy crap, it might be my new thing in life. Then I ducked over to Kroger to grab some sushi for a quick lunch and picked up some Pop Chips Nutter Puffs. Cathy grabbed something from the frozen section for a little bite and her favorite Doritos before we paid and headed back to the hotel.
I showered an climbed onto my bed to work up the race reviews that I now owed the blog. So here it is!!
So, my official results for Glass City’s Savage 5K are that I finished in 24:19, which was way faster than I intended to run it. But I honestly held myself back. Craziness. I was 91/1212 finishers overall. I was 16/739 female finishers. And, as I just mentioned above, I squeaked in a 2/96 in my age division! WOOT! If nothing else, I can take that away from this race.
I would do this 5K again in a heartbeat, to be honest! It’s a fantastic course for a fast race. So, if you love traveling for 5Ks…or live near Toledo…definitely consider this one! I’ve had my feet up all afternoon and am preparing to head out to a gluten free deli for dinner in a bit before stretching, foam rolling, and prepping for tomorrow’s marathon. Think happy thoughts for me, please!
It had been over a year since my last trip to Disney World. It felt like so much longer. And a few things were changing this time around. After the bathroom incident during the Walt Disney World Dopey Challenge, we actually decided to move our “Disney home” from Port Orleans Riverside to…The Art of Animation Resort. It is a “step down” from the resort level of Port Orleans, which, this princess was fussing over, but it wasn’t bad. And, honestly, I’m only in the room to sleep. But still…I sort of did miss the extra space, especially when I was trying to foam roll at night AND watch Food Network at the same time (priorities).
The trip to Orlando meant an early morning to catch the first non-stop flight out of Louisville. This just happened to be on a very wet, rainy, cold morning. Hauling luggage out to the car was not fun, but we got everything loaded in and hit the road. We parked the car (we couldn’t find someone to give us a ride, so we had to pay to leave the car there while we were away) and went in to check our bags (one of the perks of flying Southwest is the free checked bags) and get through security. It didn’t take long to get through that at all, and nothing flagged for the first time in the history of ever. Not even the laptop. I don’t know why I bring my laptop with me. I have good intentions of using it…and then I rarely do. What I didn’t realize was, bringing it this time would be a blessing. More on that later.
The flight was uneventful, and we landed in beautiful Orlando to temps in the 70s. LOVE! Our first stop was a nearby Whole Foods. We were going to grab snacks for the resort, and ended up grabbing lunch there as well. I found a Summer Veggie Roll that had a Gluten Free Peanut Sauce with it…so I was quite happy with that selection. I grabbed a tub of watermelon and a Sumo orange as well (which I saved for later). And, of course, water…because I needed to stay hydrated. Cathy snagged a small cup of the Lobster Chowder (she has missed that selection in Louisville), some small cornbread muffins, and a small helping of fried rice and Vietnamese-style chicken.
After we ate, we decided that since we still had no word of our room at the resort being ready, we would use the bathroom at the Whole Foods and change into our sundresses and lather up with the sunscreen so we could head over to the parks. We had Animal Kingdom on the schedule. This turned out to be more of a hassle than it was worth, honestly. Cathy had to make multiple trips out to the car to get things out of suitcases and we were taking turns running into the bathroom to change and then slather on the sunscreen. It took way longer than it should have.
BUT…we finally considered ourselves ready for the parks and hopped back into the car and drove to the resort to drop off luggage. We made sure we had our necessary items and headed to the bus stop to get over to Animal Kingdom.
I was so happy to be back at Disney…and the weather was truly stunning!! Our first stop is our favorite place to get Iced Coffee. There was definitely more of a line there than we were used to…especially on a Wednesday, but we waited, placed our order, wasn’t sure which one was mocha and which was vanilla…but we got that sorted ourselves. We drank them as we killed time ducking into shops and the like…before we hit up our FastPass for the Kilimanjaro Safari. I love doing the safari, and our guide was awesome (they are, but she was really fantastic) and the animals…they were really active and on the move. It was probably the most animals and the most activity from the animals I have seen on any trip on the Safari. As we exited, we branched off to the Gorilla walk. I wasn’t happy when we had to walk through the birds. I. Do. Not. Like. Birds.
We went to grab a quick snack to tide us over to our later dinner reservation…Cathy’s traditional fries. I ate my Sumo orange. And then, as we wandered around, we came across Scrooge McDuck. His line handler, Caitlyn, was amazing. She was so much fun to talk to while we were standing in line. And this was my first time meeting any of the Duck Tales characters. Scrooge was a lot of fun, and Cathy kept trying to get him to go out for an alcoholic drink, but he was strict about his tea. And then we hopped on over to meet Launchpad McQuack next. I told him that I was really good at crashing too. HA! It was fun and we had some great photo ops!
But then we saw the most amazing addition to Animal Kingdom…KEVIN. Kevin from UP. If you haven’t seen this in person, get to Animal Kingdom NOW. Just book your flight and do it! Kevin is phenomenal. And fun. And SO animated. This encounter spurred an early purchase for Cathy’s traditional Disney plushie purchase – Kevin!
We took a stroll through Pandora and then spent a good chunk of the afternoon wandering and exploring. But our time for our traditional first day at Disney meal was growing near and we hopped a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy some food at Sanaa. We didn’t have to wait long to be seated and we already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to eat. Our server was a trainee and he did an awesome job. We both got something to drink with our water, Cathy got the Savannah Cider and I got the lemonade that came with a wildberry foam of some sort. I don’t remember the really cool name that it had…but it was delicious.
We started with the bread service, of which I got three pieces of the gluten-free bread and Cathy got two of the regular naan. We split one of the GF ones and we were off to the races with the different sauces, Cathy being very careful when she would spoon her sauce to not contaminate anything. This is one of my favorite things at Sanaa. For our meals, I went with the Chickpea Wat and Cilantro-Coconut Vegetables, which is served with scented Basmati Rice. It’s my go-to every time I am there. Cathy stayed with her favorite offering in the entrees, the Traditional Sosatie, which is Braai Lamb with Apricots, Pap, Spinach, Cashews, and Goat Cheese. It was all very filling and delicious.
Gluten Free Bread Service at Sanaa
Chickpea Wat, Rice, and Cilantro Coconut Vegetables
After eating, we hopped on a bus to head back to Animal Kingdom to catch the bus back to the Art of Animation. We had our room number now and went there to find our bags already in there and ready for us to settle in for the night. I took a quick shower, went to foam roll and we settled in for the night. I set an alarm for me to wake up to because I had a training run to get through before we started our morning.
And that’s what I did. I forgot how hard it is to run in humidity, which would be a theme for this half marathon weekend for sure. The resort had a great running path around a lake, which was perfect for me to train on. Keeping an easy pace wasn’t hard in the heat/humidity. I finished that off with some strides, returned to the resort, showered, and we went to the dining area at the resort to find something for breakfast. That was a high anxiety and high stress situation and we vowed that would be the ONLY time we did that. Cathy went to order me a gluten free and dairy free omlette, with mushrooms, jalapenos and spinach for me. And since I couldn’t have the biscuit, the chef tossed some fresh fruit onto my plate. It was perfect. We ate and then headed out to the car to head to the Wide World of Sports for…the race expo. It was on the ride over there that my Garmin flashed me a “Sensor Error.” Not sure what it meant, I started to try to figure it out. It was that the sensor…the thing that actually reads elevation and heart rate and all that stuff, was no longer working. I figured I could, hopefully, talk to the Garmin reps at the expo and maybe get it sorted.
After all these years, we finally figured out the key to getting official merchandise…turn up at the expo on the first day, go straight to official merch and wait in line. The wait wasn’t that bad and we made friends with the people around us. The line moved pretty swiftly once they started letting us all in…even if at one point it was like all lines went out the window and there was this huge surge toward the front of the line. But we got in and started to shop. I bought WAY MORE than I intended to, but they had Disney Princess Weekend ears that both Cathy and I snagged, plus I needed pins for each race. I fell in love with a wine glass (of course I did) and then all the cute clothes. I had a lot of things I LOVED…but ended up getting the official challenge zip-up. And then Cathy found a cute dress thing that is actually a cover-up for before/after races. Love that. So…over $260 later, I was ready to head over to get my race bibs and then hit up the actual expo.
The bibs were easy. This was Cathy’s first time obtaining a Disney race bib. Did I mention that she was doing her first Disney 5K?! Pretty exciting. Our numbers were a good distance apart, so I left her to get hers while I went over to pick up mine. She found me there and the guy was commenting on how I was one of the fast ones…and I said I was dropping back to Cathy’s corral, and he asked her if she was offended by me saying that I was “dropping back” and Cathy said, “NO. Not at all. Because she is definitely not going at her normal speed with me.” From there, we headed over to the actual race expo to get our race shirts and then do some shopping. Which, we didn’t really do. I was upset that there was no Garmin booth there (I mean…HELLO) but remembered that Misfit was the official activity tracker of Disney races. So…I was stuck with a broken watch for my races. Joy and happiness. UGH. That really got me riled up and I didn’t want to spend any time there…but we did make the traditional stop by Bondi Band, where we found two headbands that would work for me. One for my 10K costume…and one for training (for the record…it says “The Before Breakfast Club.” HA!) It was as we were leaving the expo that our friend, Melissa, texted us to let us know that Peter Tork (if you know me, you know of my obsession with The Monkees) had died. And I legit cried right there in the expo. After a few deep breaths, we headed out to start our day at…Magic Kingdom (aka: my favorite park).
We had FastPasses for Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and the Seven Dwarves Mine Train spread out throughout the day. But Haunted Mansion was our first stop, and the FastPass line was INSANE. But it thankfully moved quickly. This is Cathy’s favorite ride by far. We hit up Space Mountain soon after that. And then got Dole Whip (required). We shopped. We walked around. We made our way through the Mine Train queue (also INSANE) and were put in the very back of the coaster. And then…dinner. We went to Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen, which our friends Melissa & Paul introduced us to a year ago during Dopey, and we fell in love with the food and the atmosphere. I already knew what I was getting and told Cathy she had to have it too. But first…an appetizer. We split the Falls Family Falafel. And then…for our entrees…the Perkins Thai Noodles (gluten-free and minus the chicken to make it vegan), which is THE BEST thing I have ever eaten on Disney property. For real. Cathy now understood because when she got this last time, she had the flu and couldn’t taste any flavors. We had leftovers, so we boxed those up and headed out, back to the resort, stored those in the fridge and decided they would be post-10K breakfast in a couple days.
Gluten Free Falls Family Falafel
Gluten Free Perkins Thai Noodles
Showers and foam rolling commenced and we turned it in, with me setting an early 2:20 am alarm for us to get up and get dressed and ready for the first race of the weekend: the Disney Princess 5K.
Disney Princess 5K
Race: Disney Princess 5K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 22, 2018
The most difficult part of any Disney race weekend is those early morning wake-up calls. Today was probably the least stressful of the three, but instead of just me getting ready, Cathy had to get costumed up as well. Sadly, my original costume, Iron Man, didn’t get assembled in time (I ordered a shirt from I Am A Superhero Fitness Apparel, DO NOT EVER DO THIS…their customer service is the worst, and it wasn’t a match with the leggings, so I contacted them to send it back and get a replacement in time for the race, and never heard from them…at all…after getting the info to return everything…and never received the replacement in time), so I had to break out my Wonder Woman costume for this one. Iron Man, part of the Marvel Universe, owned by Disney, would have worked better…but it is what it is. Cathy, however, was ready to rock her Captain America outfit. And she rocked it. Trust me. She even had light-up Captain America Mickey Mouse ears that our friends, Melissa & Paul, brought back from Disneyland Paris. We finished getting ready and headed out of the room to get to the bus that would take us to the parking lot of Epcot, where the staging area is prior to the race.
We disembarked and walked through security (no bag line…WOOT) and went to see what characters we could get our photos taken with. We managed to hit up Tiana (one of my personal favorite princesses) and Merida. Then we opted to head into the corral area and get to Corral C. We had a long wait being in that corral, so we took a seat and watched the different videos running on the big screen and the earlier corrals parading over to the start line. Cathy pointed out that there were plenty of “overly optimistic” people in those earlier corrals. While the Disney 5K is officially untimed, we both made sure we had our Garmin watches primed and ready for our start. Before we knew it, it was our turn to make the march toward the start line…and it took a few waves, but we got our fireworks and we were off.
Except I was off at my speed and Cathy immediately said, “I don’t go that fast.” HA!! So, I fell back and got moving with Cathy, who proved to be a pro at the Disney cuts through the crowds. I also don’t know how she wasn’t dying in long sleeves and long leggings, but she was holding her own. I did get ahead of her a few times, but immediately would fall back to her side. The morning was humid and warm…the low 70s with humidity in the 90s. MEH. So, honestly, how she wasn’t dying, I will never know. That being said, in that sort of humidity, she did get a bit of a side-stich so we switched to the Galloway Method (run/walk) so that she could have some recovery time. This proved to be a fantastic option, as she walks faster than she runs. Honestly. When we hit the construction workers, she even heckled them right back. Because, that’s Cathy for you.
I would give her little pep-talks, and we ducked into the World Showcase, which now meant we were tackling some hills. It was crowded, but it wasn’t phasing her. I let her choose her walk segments, where it was hard for ME to keep up with her at times. But I made her run the downhills because downhills are my favorite speed. We ducked out of the Showcase and then back in and started to make our way toward Spaceship Earth…which meant we were getting close to the finish. We do have to make this strange turn around thing before heading to the exit. We rounded the corner, and I could see our finish line. I reached back to her to take her hand and we headed toward the finish line. She kept reminding me that my go was a different speed from hers. But, we crossed the finish line! It was awesome. And our official 5K distance was a new PR for Cathy, where she clocked in at 46:26, beating her previous PR by well over a minute. We received our medals and made our way out to get official photos and then get the snack boxes and head back to the resort. We took our turns showering, changing, and snacking before we headed out to spend the rest of the day at Epcot!
We did lots of character stops that day, Pluto, Baymax, Ralph & Vanellope, Elsa, Ana. The Festival of the Arts was going on, so there were plenty of food booths happening. And Cathy decided to forgo her beloved schwarma once again and eat around the world. I already knew my big meal of the day was going to be a Beyond Meat Burger at the Liberty Inn with Celiac-safe fries. I was really looking forward to that.
Cathy & Me with Baymax
Ralph, Cathy, Me & Vanellope
Cathy & Me with Elsa
Me & Cathy with Ana
After we completed our time at Epcot, we headed to Disney Springs and hiked over to Erin McKenna’s to get some gluten-free and vegan goodies. We ended up with a box of delicious baked goodies and then headed back to the Art of Animation to clean up, get things prepped for another early morning, let me foam roll, watch Food Network, and get some rest.
Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Race: Disney Princess Enchanted 10K
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 23, 2019
Once again, another race this trip where I didn’t get to wear the outfit I originally intended to wear. My original plan was to dress up like Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6. I couldn’t find the material to have my friend or my mom work up an actual costume for me (everything was either the wrong type of fabric or not close to the correct color). So…I put it up for a vote on my social media as to which costume I should revisit for the 10K…Vanellope von Schweetz (Wreck it Ralph) or Judy Hopps (Zootopia). Between Instagram and Facebook…Judy Hopps won it going away.
This just happened to also be the race that my coach, Daniel, wanted me to really push myself on and race. No problem. Save for the 74 degree morning temperature and the 95% humidity. I knew in this costume I would die racing, but, dammit, that was what I was there to do. So, with a bunch of layers on top, a carrot recorder, a ZPD badge, and a full hair extension piece over the top of my head to make the “bunny ears”…I was as ready as I could be to race this 10K.
Once again, we headed out of the room to get to the bus and settle in for the drive over to the staging area again. We didn’t spend time getting Princess pictures ahead of time this time around. Instead, we went to scope out the spectator area for Cathy. We were stopped by some volunteers and told that it wasn’t open yet. Apparently, according to Cathy, it’s very much like rope drop at one of the parks…pure stampede and elbows thrown to get a spot. She didn’t want to end up not able to see me on the 10K start so, I went to stand in the group waiting to get into the corrals…and soon were let in. I immediately went over to the tables and got some water to attempt to get ahead on hydration. This was one of the few times I raced a 10K with a hydration belt, mostly because I needed it as Judy’s utility belt, but with the heat, I was happy to have a steady source of water if needed.
I was in Corral A for the rest of the challenge weekend, so I wasn’t going to be waiting around for long. I did get into the corral early and moved toward the front before carefully taking a seat (my costume involves a bunny tail…so…yeah). I wasn’t going to waste any energy standing up though. NOPE. I wanted to really give my best to the race itself. And before you knew it…I was heading out of the corral and lining up for the 10K. I was in the second wave to go off…and Cathy actually did manage to catch me as I headed out.
The first part of the 10K is pretty dull. It’s a lot of road. As I started out hard, I passed a group of runners that were staying together and heard one of them say, “I guess she’s not stopping for photo ops.” It made me laugh. Not today. Not this race. This was the one I was supposed to give my all in. At about the second mile, we get sent up a ramp, the biggest hill we face in this race, but I felt strong as I powered up it, giving a mental thanks to my friend Christine, who has been training with me and having us do more hills than I like on our runs. I wasn’t going to look at my splits, but I felt like I was moving fast and strong.
At about Mile 3.5, we duck into the World Showcase (FINALLY) and run around about half of it. This is where it gets fun, because they really do up the park nicely with employees out their cheering, music blaring, and the atmosphere is just different from the road miles. I got a few shout-outs from the employees with “GO JUDY.” I pumped my arm in the air in response. We are directed out of the showcase and are directed toward the Boardwalk. I hate running on the Boardwalk because it can be slippery at times (they actually have an announcement about this as you approach the actual boardwalk). I traversed it safely, yet cautiously, and transitioned back to the pavement, feeling like I was picking it back up.
Runners take the roads back into Epcot, hitting the actual park this time. I got a few more Judy Hopps shout outs and was loving it. I poured a cup of water over my head at one of the water stops and learned that that was a HUGE mistake…because my long hair extensions were now sticking to my arms and driving me crazy. How people who have really long hair and keep it down when they run manage it, I will never know.
I love every race that ends in Epcot because you get to run the light-up path around Spaceship Earth. It’s beautiful when it’s still dark out. I pushed up and around, and worked my way to the park exit, where they send you past some blaring music and toward that finish line.
I was so happy to see the finish and as I was running toward it, heard my name announced and everything. As I got closer, I could hear someone approaching from behind, and used my best Kelsie kick (she is WAY better at it than me) to stay ahead of that person and cross with my hands up in the air for victory. I stopped my watch and was SHOCKED when I saw a 48 at the front of my time. I really pushed hard in that race…and didn’t want to feel disappointed by my time…but I felt disappointed by my time and that I really probably could have pushed it a little more and much harder. But I had given my all in the end…the heat and humidity had just taken its toll.
I met up with Cathy at the runner’s reunion area, after having her shout “Hey Fluffbutt” over the wall at me after I got my medal, my snack box, my water, and my official photo taken. I actually did this twice and was glad I did, because the first one was awful. Sometimes you just know. Lines for the princesses weren’t long, so we hopped in to get photos with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Elena, and Cinderella. Cinderella said that she bet Judy Hopps could teach her mice a little more discipline. God, I love meeting Disney characters.
Post-10K race with Sleeping Beauty
Post-10K race with Elena
Post 10K race with Cinderella
We hopped on the bus to head back to the Art of Animation resort where I showered, changed, and then ate cold leftover noodles from Skippers and split one of the GF and Vegan Donuts we got from Erin McKenna’s with Cathy. And then…we were off to spend the day at Hollywood Studios, where I rode Tower of Terror twice, got on Star Tours twice (one time I was FINALLY the spy), checked out the new Toy Story Land, I had my best game ever on the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Rangers Spin (I came CLOSE to Cathy’s score. Usually I suck). And then, we departed Hollywood Studios to head out of the Disney World bubble and hit up Toasted, a gourmet Toasted Cheese place in Orlando. They have Celiac-safe options, vegan options, and safe Rosemary & Truffle Fries. HELLO!! This seemed to be the best pre-half marathon option for me and it was worth the drive (even though then we were informed that they now had a location very close to Disney World). Then…back to the hotel to rotate through showers, foam rolling, Food Network (you know the drill). And then…rest. The half marathon was all that was left.
Oh, but let’s not forget…my official results of the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K were that I finished in 48:49. I was 97/12,274 finishers overall. I was 44/10,466 female finishers. And I was 8/1549 people in my age division. So, I mean, it was a really good finish…but I knew I could do better. I wasn’t going to let it disappoint me. I felt like I gave my all that morning.
Disney Pincess Half Marathon
Race: Disney Princess Half Marathon
Place: Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Date: February 24, 2019
Final day of early morning 2:20 am wake-up alarms. When you get to the last race in the race series, you are pretty much ready for said series to be over. I was pretty excited about the half marathon because I was given no pace goals, simply to treat it as a training run. My race was the prior day…on the 10K. I love having a no stress race, especially at Disney.
My costume was much easier to get into, so getting ready was a breeze. My nieces (Kaytlynn & Baileigh), decided that I should dress up like Snow White for the half marathon. And thus, my mom created a new top (my old Snow White top was pretty much dead after the Dopey Marathon in 2014), and Snow White was running again. It was another hot and humid morning, but there was a bit of a breeze this time. And that was helpful for sure. Cathy and I headed out to catch the bus right on time, and made it to Epcot without any issues. YAY!! And I had plenty of time to meet up with people I was hoping to meet up with. BONUS!
The problem was, I was the only person from my local MRTT/SRTT group that was in Corral A. The rest were in Corral F and starting later. Meaning…they weren’t going to arrive until later. Stephanie, a friend I met through Instagram, was running as well, but she was in traffic and Corral A was needing to get loaded in. My friend Janelle attempted to find me, but apparently I had already made it to the corral. She was in A…but we never did find each other. BUT…all that being said, I did manage to get hugs, greetings, photos, and some catch-up talk time with a friend of mine from my Elementary/Middle/High School days…who was on my softball team and everything – Tarra. So that was amazing. She and her husband were running the half and we had hoped we would be able to catch up with each other prior to the race. It was the only meet-up that happened for me.
We eventually parted ways and I knew I needed to start making that spectacularly long hike from the staging area to the corrals. It’s a great warm-up and…I didn’t need to sprint it like I did for the marathon during Dopey 2018. Corral A is a bit of a bear to get to though…all the way up and a bit of off-roading. But I got there, got inside, moved up to where I wanted to be, and took a seat. I had a bit of time before things kicked off and I didn’t want to be standing the entire time.
But, soon they were preparing to send the wheelchair racers off. And then…the waves for Corral A. I was in the 2nd wave to take off. The fireworks went off and we were on our way, taking on the dark highway of Disney World, making our way toward Magic Kingdom. It’s a lot of road, a lot of screens and character stops, and a lot of just knowing what awaits you on Main Street inside Magic Kingdom. I didn’t make characters tops, although the lines are never long for me. I wanted to really treat this as a true training run, my only caveat being that I would walk every water stop. I wanted to stay on top of my hydration as the race went on because I hadn’t been running in heat and humidity. It was 20 and below back in Indiana. Around Mile 3-ish, I think, I saw the monorail wing by. I actually wondered if Cathy was on that one, as she skipped the race start to hopefully catch me on Main Street in Magic Kingdom. She has attempted to do this twice before, and I have always beat her to the castle. She said that is the one downside to cheering on a “fast” runner.
I ticked off those highway miles and made it to Magic Kingdom. This is, by far, the best part of this race. You duck inside and make the turn onto Main Street. The crowd is amazing. This is the best part of any Disney race that sends you through Magic Kingdom. And, wouldn’t you know it, in the screaming and waving crowd, there was Cathy! She had a sign, a cowbell, and was filming me as I made my way up Main Street. I gave a wave as I went by and then made the turn to go into Tomorrowland. From there, runners cruise through Fantastyland, then through the castle, before exiting through Liberty Square and out through Frontierland. It’s the best part of the race. I always look forward to the dash through the castle itself and the photographers stationed on the winding path down towards Liberty Square. It’s amazing. But then the cheers and lights fade and you find yourself back out on the roads, making your way back toward Epcot.
There is a lot of highway on this course, but Disney does it’s best with characters and DJs and music. And every mile marker has a different character and a theme song on it, so it is something to look forward to. After Magic Kingdom, you’re halfway through the race.
The best part, for me, after that is the Green Army Guy, the ones from Toy Story, that is stationed on a hill around Mile 10. You often here him shouting at the runners to get up the hill and other motivation. As I was nearing him, he shouted, “I want to hear you make some noise.” And none of the runners around me did anything. But I’m a good group exercise veteran and I went, “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” And he ran with it. I got a whole call-out just for me. “That’s right Snow White! That’s right, Snow. You’re going to find your finish line. You’re not going to be Grumpy or Sleepy. You won’t feel Dopey. You’ll feel Happy when you cross that finish line. Go get it, Snow! Don’t be Bashful.” It was amazing!!
At Mile 11, I spotted the infamous Balloon Ladies on the opposite side of the course. There were a lot of people darting back and forth over the road as there were port-o-potties on our side of the course. I noticed, later, that these runners were just at Mile 1 at this point. And I was 2 miles away from being done. Crazy!
At Mile 12, we were directed back into Epcot to make the dash through to get to Spaceship Earth. I love this part of the race. Right as I was coming up toward it, one of the volunteers closed one side and directed me and another woman the opposite way. They do this to help with the flow of traffic. The woman I was running with was like, “Why did they do that?” So I tried to explain while running with her. We made another turn and she said, “We have to be close to being done.” I told her we were going to round a corner, run past a gospel choir, then make another turn and she should see the finish line. And then I said, “Go get it!”
My favorite part of any half at Disney World is that gospel choir before the finish line. It is just such a mood lifter. You just feel good. I mad the turn and started down the path toward the finish line. And I crossed it, feeling really relieved to be done. Another hot Florida race complete. I spotted Cathy up in the stands and waved as I walked to go get my medal. As I made my way through the line, I had to veer off to pick up the challenge medal as well. They take a picture of you with your bib at the expo…so they have volunteers who check every challenge participant before letting them through to get the challenge medal. I snagged a snack box from the guy on the very end who said “We have the best bananas over here.” HA! And then I went to get my official photo done.
Afterwards, I exited through bag check and found Cathy. She said that lines weren’t too bad for characters, so we decided to get in line for some. On the way, I spotted Heather Shultz, and had to go say HI to her. She ended up coming to stand in line for some princess shots with us. It was nice to get to talk to someone I cheer on through social media so much. We had gotten in line to meet Pocahontas, but right when we got up there, they switched her out for Merida. Oh well. We took the photo op anyway. We also got photos with Mulan and with Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) before we decided to hop on a bus back to the resort so I could get cleaned up and we could head out to Port Orleans French Quarter to get some celebratory Gluten Free Beignets (they took over an hour and that’s another long and rambling story that I won’t get into here, but I was PISSED).
Me with Merida
Me & Cathy with Mulan
Me with Aurora
Anyway, my official time for the Disney Princess Half Marathon was that I finished in 1:45:24. Not bad for walking those water stops (and I walked EVERY one). I was 176/20,088 finishers overall. I was 89/17,099 female finishers. And I was 14/2665 people in my age division. Not half bad for a training run, eh?! I was quite happy with it.
So, another Disney race weekend and challenge in the books. I hadn’t done the Disney Princess Half Marathon since 2013, so it was nice to return to it. And, with the water stop walks I made myself take, I almost tied my time from 2013 (it was 1:45:06). So…yeah. I love coming to Disney to run and while Disney Princess seems to be one of the more popular races of the ones offered, I was so happy that I came back to it. Next time, I hopefully won’t wait 6 years to come back.