Princess Training: IT BEGINS!

Good morning beautiful people! Guess what today is!!!!!!!

That’s right! Today kicks off training for the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon. Challenge training started yesterday.

But, I am not going to babble your ears off about training techniques or any of that stuff. Just get out there and run! You will have bad days, days where you don’t wanna, and really awesome days! Enjoy the journey. Add some Disney tunes to your playlist. Visualize the sights you will see along the course (sounds weird, I know, but it does help!)

Since training officially kicks off this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about a tool that really helped me back in 2013 when I started this craziness. I can’t remember where I found it and I ended up making two – one for home and one for work. Back in 2013, I had really awesome co-workers who cheered me on throughout my training and were really excited for me by race day!

Let’s make a motivational training calendar!

This is a super simple tool and you don’t really need anything special to create it. I made my training calendar on the computer, printed out some fun sayings and dug out some construction paper.

Step 1: decide on what training calendar you are going to use. RunDisney provides a good one. I happen to like coloring in my days so I always print out a calendar. I also typically add my races or other events (like the Polar Bear Plunge which is in January).

Step 2: google for images! They can be funny or motivational. Silly or serious. Pictures. Whatever is going to help keep you going!

Step 3: attach calendar to construction paper (or poster board). To do this, I simply stapled the last page of the calendar to the construction paper. I plan on ripping off each month as we progress through training.

Step 4: cut out and attach your images all around the calendar. Mine this time around is tame but the one I made in 2013 was a riot of color, images, sayings, motivational phrases.

Step 5: hang it up where you will see it! Mine is now on my fridge. In 2013, I had one on my fridge (and the boyfriend would see it and ask me questions – did you run? did you work out? how far are you running this weekend?) and I had one on my desk at the office. My co-workers got used to seeing me color in boxes in the morning!

There you have it! A simple tool to make and use as we start this journey together.

Training plans: Half Marathon and Fairy Tale Challenge!


Volunteer: Hershey Half Marathon

Autumn is here (kind of) and that means it is time to volunteer!

On October 15th, I volunteered the Hershey Half Marathon in Hershey, PA.

I signed up very late in the game on September 28th and there were still a ton of opportunities available. I quickly picked out a shift at the chocolate aid and got ready to hand out chocolate!

My shift on Sunday was from 8am to 10:30am. They did ask us to get there closer to 7:30 to avoid the road closures. I aimed to get there closer to 7am so I wouldn’t feel rushed and had a little extra time just in case I got turned around.

I am glad I got there early! In the dark and not knowing the area really well, I completely missed the parking garage we were told to park at. I did see the restaurant they gave us as a landmark but I couldn’t figure out where to park on the first pass. Once I turned around and came back, I could see where I was supposed to turn and was able to quickly park.

I had a short walk of about 2 blocks to where we were setting up. Once at the tent, I met the station leader, Brandon. He had me sign in and then gave me my volunteer shirt. A really cool thing about the volunteer shirts – one of the kids at the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital designs the back of the shirt! CMN is the beneficiary of the Hershey Half and I thought it was a really unique way to include them! (There is also a Miracle Mile where children and families (Miracle families) from the hospital come out to cheer on the runners!)

Since the race wasn’t happening yet, we could get warmed up with coffee or hot chocolate and donuts while we all got to know each other. Hershey had also brought us some chocolate too! I took my candy back to the car and grabbed my soda since I still had some time on my hands.

There were huge boxes of fun size Hershey bars just waiting to be given out. We used the empty candy boxes (from the volunteer candy stash) and made our own baskets of candy to give out once the runners came by.

We got in place and dodged the last cars that were allowed through (seriously – we thought the road was shut down and oh look! a car!)

Brandon brought out a portable speaker and started playing music and we all just started to relax and dance.

As the fast runners started to come through, no one took candy (boo!) but then the still very fast but hey I am at Hershey runners started to come and chocolate started changing hands.

I think my favorite runners were the ones who weren’t shut about collecting from all of us (I know I would!). I also really liked when a runner would come through and interact with one of us (whether it was a smile, thank you, or just something silly in response to us being silly).

Who knew handing out tiny chocolate bars would make your arm tired?!

Anywho, we stayed and handed out candy until closer to 11am. We didn’t want to leave anyone on the course without some delicious chocolate!

It was probably the easiest volunteer shift I have ever had – with very little to set up or breakdown and a leader who knew how to delegate and get everyone involved. (Very Disney even though I wasn’t at Disney).

Upon signing out, each volunteer was presented with a voucher good for 1 admission during the Hershey seasons (Halloween, Christmas, Spring Time or regular season). We could also help ourselves to what fun size bars were left – we had a nice amount left even after the runners came through!

My plan for the day was to at least visit Chocolate World before I made the drive home. The voucher changed my plans and off to the park I went!

Pros: still a lot of desirable shifts so close to race day, chocolate, volunteer shirt, voucher for 1 to the park

Con: I found communication lacking – volunteer “final instructions” weren’t sent out until late on Friday and addresses weren’t in the packet (coming from Baltimore, it would have been easier to navigate to an address vs a parking garage that was listed by one name but was really called something else)

Fundraising: Kellsie’s Hope Foundation

In August 2015, I started my journey of being a charity runner. Why? August 2016 marked the 5th anniversary of the passing of my dad. I wanted to run in his memory and do something vs be sad about missing him for all that time.

I knew I wanted to run both runDisney races for Star Wars – Light Side 2016 at Disneyland and Dark Side 2016 at Disney World. My dad introduced me to the world of science fiction and it seemed like a fun way to “include” him. I also knew I wanted to run for cancer research.

After researching the different organizations associated with runDisney, I zeroed in on Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. Kellsie’s story just spoke to me. It was bad enough as a “child” watching a parent go through cancer, I can’t imagine the roles being reversed.

After asking about 1000 questions, I registered to run for KHF. Now what?

My first attempt at fundraising crashed and burned. I hosted a spirit night at my local Chik-fil-a. I did everything I could – handed out flyers, shared on Facebook, texted all my friends. I even got balloons donated by the local grocery store just to dress up the restaurants. After spending my evening at Chik-fil-a, I walked away with a $50 check – and most of that was thrown in by the restaurant…more than likely out of pity. Oh, I remember being so upset.

Second place I turned was the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s have an amazing fundraising program. You can sell tickets to one game – at a price that fits your budget or you can sell vouchers to games throughout the season. I chose to sell tickets to one game.

Again, this first attempt didn’t go the way I envisioned. A group of 10 joined me on game night. At $5/ticket towards KHF, I raised $50. While bummed and really not waiting too, I moved to my third attempt.

My third attempt went better. I proceeded to share my “why” on Facebook and texting friends. I discreetly asked at work – not my employers – but my co-workers and vendors that I interacted with (yes – the mailman and UPS driver were asked). It was incredibly hard for me to ask friends and family but I did. It didn’t take long before I had hit my goal.

While fundraising for Light Side, I was also able to fundraise for Dark Side. I simply swapped out the donation links once I hit the goal of Light Side.

I did cry during both races. At Light Side, a lady came up behind me and said my dad was proud of me (I wore a sign on my back that said “I run in memory of my father” — get it?) and at Dark Side as I crossed the finish line. I truly felt like Dad was with me – as weird as that sounds.


Further down the rabbit hole of fundraising I went. I was more confident with my “why” and ask. I was more comfortable with “no”. I registered to run Wine and Dine 2016 with Kellsie’s Hope.

This time around, I knew I could NOT ask friends and family to support me. I started looking for other ways to raise my goal.

It was at this time, I discovered the volunteering in exchange for volunteering. My best friend was stationed in Virginia and while here, she was determined to run a half in the “local” area. She signed up for a half marathon in Delaware and asked me to join her. I wasn’t trained to run but I did tell her I would volunteer and join her that way. When I went to sign up, I discovered the race management would reward volunteers with either 1. a free race entry or 2. a donation to the cause of their choice. Guess which one I picked?

After discovering this little fact, I started looking at races I had on my schedule. I discovered 2 of them would make a donation if you organized a group to volunteer. I immediately reached out for more information and started talking to my runner friends. I managed to organize 2 groups of 10 (one for each race, with a little crossover) and received donations from both events.

Since I was still away from my goal, I turned again to the Orioles. I picked another game with a giveaway and started selling tickets. This time around, I managed to sell about 25 tickets (yey!) and raised $125!

Towards the end of the summer, a runner friend who is a teacher by weekday (and an amazing runner by weekend) started telling me about hosting an exchange student for the school year. She is a runDisney runner and completely Dopey and was planning her trip for 2017. She wanted her student to participate too but of course, the 5k bibs were sold out. I registered once again for KHF and told them I was raising money so her student could run. I worked a couple races in exchange for donations and boom – a truly awesome first trip to the States was made even better with a first trip to Disney World and a first 5k.

Still with me?

That brings us to the current year – 2017. This year, I decided “just because” to be a fundraiser for KHF. I signed up to raise $1000.

After plotting my plan of attack, I went to work. I started with the Orioles. This time I went with vouchers. Once I posted to social media, another runner friend stepped up and talked me into organizing a game day for his child’s school. Together, between vouchers and game day tickets, we hit my goal of $1000 in no time.

Around this time, my best friend told me she wanted to come to Princess 2018. We decided the best way to secure a bib would be charity. She is active military so if she can’t go, she isn’t out of any money. At the time, she was pre-deployment so I took care of securing her spot. Since she was going to deploy at anytime, I took on her commitment of $1400 (she’s a little crazy and doing all 22.4 miles at Princess).

With 2 fundraising campaigns going on at one time, I was admittedly, a little overwhelmed. I decided to focus on my O’s fundraiser until it’s conclusion and then turned my attention to her.

I worked 4 races and organized 1 volunteer group to secure the bulk of her donations. I also reached out to some of her family to ask for donations as well. Lastly, a few of my family members who hadn’t donated to my initial $1000 for 2017 donated to her page.

To date, I have raised over $6,000 for Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. I have had the opportunity to run almost all the runDisney events (still need Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, Castaway Cay and Disneyland Paris) and made some great friends along the way. I have also raised a lot of money for a great cause in memory of my Dad – who I am sure is scratching his head saying ” My kid doesn’t run.”

I can’t say it’s been perfect or pretty. I can’t say I haven’t gotten mad at myself for taking on so much. I can’t say I haven’t yelled or cried depending on the moment or the mood.

I will say it is all about attitude and believing in your “why” and the cause. If you don’t have those things, you are not going to succeed. Same goes for running. If either were easy, everyone would do it.

Just for fun, I am $100 away from hitting $2,000 (remember, the original goal was $1,000?). Would love to hit that goal and if you would like to donate, please go here!

Disclaimer: in the past 2 years, I have also raised money for Children’s Miracle Network, Special Olympics of Maryland, Avon’s Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Children’s Tumor Foundation.

Fundraising: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

Today is a special day for Children’s Miracle Network Hospital! It’s Child Health Day!

I have been an avid fundraiser for the last two years. Almost every single Disney race has been run after fundraising for a RunDisney approved charity.

For the 2018 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, I decided to fundraise CMN. The race in 2018 will be my fifth princess and the first time I run for the celebratory charity. I signed up to be a “fundraiser” and committed to raise $250 before the end of the year. A “fundraiser” does not earn a race bib – they are simply fundraising and spreading awareness.

Back to today – October 2 is Child Health Day. As a group, we are trying to raise $10,000! How? Each Miracle Maker is going to try for $32 in donations today (or more!). Why $32? Thirty two represents the 32 million patient visits by 10 million kids across the country each year.

So far, fundraising for CMN has been amazing! I have hit my minimum already and would love to receive a $32 donation today! It’s tax deductible and for the kids!

To donate, please click this link!

Stay tuned! I will post an update if we get to the $32 (personally) and the $10,000 (as a group). Also, a longer more extensive fundraising post will come soon!

Update: I was able to raise my $32 on October 2nd AND the Miracle Makers community collectively raised OVER $10,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals! Pretty cool right?!

Princess Training: The First 5k

Good morning Princesses!

Time got away from me for a little bit and I just realized you have probably completed your first 5k sometime this month! Congratulations!

You took the first HUGE step of half marathon training (ok, maybe the second – the first would probably be signing up for a half marathon!). Next up will be your first 10k for a proof of time for corral placement.

I would recommend the Couch to 10k – which should have been offered after completing the 5k program. Princess POT is due by November 14th.

When I first started this process – way back when in 2013 – POT was a little later. My 10k worked out to be the same weekend the official training wanted me to run 6 miles. Don’t panic! Follow the training for the first 10k. I would think this would put you at doing a 10k sometime in late October.

Official Princess training starts October 24th. If there is overlap between the two plans, complete the 10k training first. After you’re 10k, then jump into the half marathon training ๐Ÿ™‚

You totally got this! It’s a long string of firsts which also means it’s a long string of achievable goals. I know that kept me going as I trained!

As the miles get a little long and we start to change seasons, let’s talk about gear you may want to add to your “kit”. You already have a fitted pair of shoes (or two), a good sports bra (or 5!). But here are some things to consider:

Do you have ID? I do not run with my license on me. Instead I run with a Road ID. If something were to happen to me, medics would have some basic info about me – no allergies and my blood type – and my mom’s number. These come as bracelets, shoe tags or wearable attachments.

Need music when you run? So do I. I ran a race back in June and they had partnered with Aftershokz. What I love about these headphones – they don’t go in your ears! The speakers sit just outside your ear (so the top part of your cheek closest to your ears), leaving your ear open so you can here that dog bark or car honk or someone trying to get your attention. I run early in the morning or around dusk solo. These let me have my music while giving me piece of mind knowing I can hear everything.

Lastly, runner lights. I don’t know the technical terms for them. But I have 2 small lights I can attach to my clothes. They have 2 settings – a solid light or a strobe type effect. You can typically find these on the counter at most running stores. There are also “vests” you can purchase. They look similar to what would be worn if you are in the movie “Tron” – literally small robe lights that are made into a wearable.

There you have it friends! Keep on running and I’ll see you again at the start of half marathon training!!!

Princess Training: The First Steps

As promised with my post back in May around the time of registration, I am going to walk you through the craziness you signed up for!

Hopefully in the two months since we last talked, you have done your homework – or glanced over the assignment!

In 2013, it was around this time that I started running. My friend had already put the idea in my head about: Disney, princess, running. I was still deciding over the distance I would sign up for (back in 2013, Princess 2014 opened in July and did not sell out until early August).

Basic gear you should already have: a fitted pair of running shoes (yes I know dropping $100+ is hard) and a good sports bra or two (seriously, back pain is no fun whether you are an A or DD).

Other gear you may want to consider: a Road ID, sunglasses (check out Goodr), and headphones (I really like AfterShokz).

Last girlie thing: please please take care of your skin! Have a good face scrub/moisturizer ready for post run! Find a good sunscreen that makes your face happy while you are out there sweating – my go to right now is Clinique’s Hydro-Rush.


If this is your first race ever (like it was for me) or you are increasing your distance goals, I recommend starting now.

Way back when, I was starting mid-July my Couch to 5k program. Yes, it really sucks starting in the heat of the summer but you have to start sometime! Running in the morning or evening are your best bet. Find a time that works with you and stick with it! Most Couch to 5k programs seem to have you run 3 days. Life happens so be flexible but do try to get those 3 runs in each week!

If you start training now, look for a local 5k to complete in September.

Princess Training starts in October. By starting now, you get to figure out what works and what doesn’t – for you. Remember everything on my blog is my suggestions and what has or hasn’t worked for me.

Also, by starting now, you are starting your base skills and will only build on them as you go through the process. You may even feel confident enough to take on a 10k before the November 14th Proof of Time deadline! How awesome would that be!

Go ahead, get out there! Those baby steps in the running world aren’t going to take themselves! You totally got this!

If I can pull myself back up from my comfy cloud of laziness, you can totally take on your first 5k and crush it!

Happy running!

Back on the Training Bandwagon

Hi everyone! I apologize for being MIA for almost two months but there’s a good reason…

I decided in April to actually try again. Try what? Well, try to care enough about running to actually train for my big race this year. I know I have done a lot of races but I haven’t been in shape nor have I trained – for any of it.

In April, I set out to gauge myself with a 5k. I picked the Philly Hot Chocolate 5k/15k. My plan was to try to run the first mile, intervals the second mile, walk the third and finish with a run across the finish line. Yeah…that didn’t happen. I got maybe a quarter mile in before realizing I lost my running mojo more than I thought and holy shin splints Batman! Decided to walk it out with attempts to run sprinkled in (my shins made their objections known with each attempt). It was seriously embarrassing and it didn’t help that I was humiliated throughout those 3.1, I finished completely defeated.

The following week, I had a 10k. Obviously, I wasn’t trained but I went into it knowing it was another test run. If you are ever in the area in April, sign up for the Sole of the City – it’s an awesome road race in Baltimore with typically an awesome premium and a fun post race party. After the previous week still very much in my head, I had an unusual pre-race melt down. I actually was in my car crying and contemplating heading home. I have never been terrified of a starting line. After giving myself a pep talk and some kind words from my friends, I headed to the start area.

While the race did not go as stellar as I wanted, my heart melted at the end of the race. A girl, slower than me, got close enough to tell me I had been her rabbit the entire race. She said my pace was consistent and she had been trying to catch me. I can’t remember if it was her first 10k but I could tell she was more pooped than I was. We chatted along the last of the course. I pulled back so she could finish but she wanted me to cross with her. We actually raced (literally) across the line. I think we both surprised ourselves that we still had some gas in the tank! It was an awesome moment and a good reminder that while I am slow, someone slower is behind me and maybe trying to “catch” me.

That week, I sat down and made myself a schedule. I wanted to start small so I started with cross training. Going from zip to 6 days a week is a major adjustment. I settled on two days of cross training. I found a strength workout on Runner’s Worldย and ordered a few supplies from Amazon (exercise mat and stability ball). The first week I modified the exercises to do them without the equipment.

Week 2, I added a third day. Day 3 was just another day of cross training but a more gentle form of cross training – yoga. This workout I found on my Nike Training Club app.

Finally, I started adding some running. I did a few days with the Couch to 5k app but I quickly gave up on that. I did the program when I first started in 2013 but this time around, I wasn’t into it. Instead, I started walking a mile. I had moved and my mile markers were different since the last time I ran in the neighborhood. I found where a half mile was from my place and sometimes walked, sometimes did jog/walk/jog and sometimes just tried to run.

Once I had established this routine, I made an actual training schedule. I have my crossing training 2 days a week. I run 3 days a week with one of those days being a long run (long runs didn’t actually start for a good month so don’t panic thinking I lost my mind). I scheduled 1 day for yoga which could be switched out for pilates if I need to work more on my core. And I scheduled 1 rest day.

Here’s the May training calendar

It’s almost July and I am just 2 workouts away from completing 2 full months of a self imposed “try to care again” session. I can’t say I’ve made leaps and bounds physically but I am sleeping better. I am also doing pretty good on my diet and making smarter decisions (like just last weekend, I discovered the most delicious meal at Panera and it’s only 200 calories but it is filling and mmmmmmmmmm). This weekend’s long run is 6 miles! 6…miles…

Those 6 miles will be slow and painful and very not pretty but they will get done. I can tell you I am hoping by trying so hard in the heat of summer, this fall when I actually train for my half marathon in February, some form of speed will be with me.

There is no shame in being slow. There is no shame in walking. There is no reason why you should steer clear of road races if you are slow or walk (I have actually been told to switch to other racing where walking is “allowed”).

Your pace. Your race.

Happy running from your favorite snail ๐Ÿ™‚