You just signed up for…WHAT?!

Disney Princess Half Marathon registration opened this week to the general public and as always, thousands of princess in training registered (I’m sure thousands of returning princesses are now dusting off and polishing that tiara — I know I am!).

As a returning princess and a princess who is beginning the training journey herself, I thought it would the “charming” thing for me to do and share of the insight I have picked up over the years.

Congratulations! You are registered for the most royal of all race weekends! Whether it’s your first 5k, 10k, half marathon or challenge – you will be awesome! If you are moving up a distance, you got it!

The mix of excitement, doubt, panic, and overwhelming now what are completely normal. Let me point you in the right direction to get you settled…

1. Do your homework:

Ok – you went to the race page long enough to click register but have you actually read all the information available on the runDisney Princess Weekend page? If not, you really should. While not all the information is available, there’s a lot of info you will need – now, as you plan, and closer to the event.

Tip: do not rely on Facebook groups or the people in those groups to relay the correct information to you. The website literally has everything on there that you could possibly need to know and more about the weekend.

Other sources you can use to prepare for the weekend are The Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World (available on Amazon – so you can get a print or digital version) and blogs. From personal experience, both the Guide and reading blog reviews were how I researched my first Princess in 2014. With the blogs, I was getting good, bad and not so great moments shared with me so I could prepare for anything. The Guide provided a lot of insight into things I wouldn’t have even thought about.

2. Gear up:

If you are like me and this will be your first big race, please get proper gear! I knew before I started training in July 2013 that I needed to go to the “running store” and get properly fitted for running shoes. Do this – you will thank me later. Spending money now on the correct shoe for you will be a lot cheaper than spending money later on doctor bills because you picked a “cute” pair of shoes. Get fitted – then you can pick colors based on what your shoe comes in.

Another very important piece of gear to have fitted is a sports bra. I can remember after 2 months of training, I did my first 5k. The next morning I woke up with back pain and couldn’t figure out why. I was talking to my mom and she suggested maybe I didn’t have the best sports bra on the night before. It didn’t even dawn on me until I was hurting! Most running stores have seen the uptick in female runners. They will offer bra fittings so you can get the right kind of support (the twins and your back will thank you!).

As you progress through training, there will be other gear you may want to look into – watches, fuel, hydration packs, all kinds of clothes (see how quickly you dislike cotton), personal packs (like a Spibelt), glasses (check out Goodr), etc.

But right now, before you even think of taking a step, go get your shoes and a good sports bra.

3. Training:

Do you want to run, walk or do a combination? Only you know what your body will respond to.

When I started training in 2013, I knew I needed to run/walk. I didn’t think I could run. I quickly stopped training with intervals and tried to run as far as I could and then walk. Once walking, I couldn’t convince myself to run again. Fast forward to now – I am starting to build back up. This time around, I am making myself stick with intervals. Not only have I seen an improvement in my time (which are not speedy), I am seeing a consistent and steady pace that I am comfortable with. A comfortable pace is one where you can have a conversation and not feel like you are dying.

Also, look into training plans. There are so many out there. runDisney recommends the Galloway method – run/walk/run. You may want to start by doing a Couch to 5k program or train for a race through your local running club.

Decide how you want to train. This is your training plan for your race. No matter the distance – you got this!

4. Racecation:

You will be at Disney after all! Are you traveling alone? Going with a friend or family? Think about if you want to spend the weekend or week. You don’t have to book now but these are things you want to think about.

Tip: plan to arrive one day prior to your first race at least. You will need to attend expo to pick up your bib and race shirt.

5. Other sources

Join social media groups for a support network. It’s good to join groups to bounce ideas off of and share in the excitement. As stated before, do not rely on them for correct race information. While what is posted may be correct, it’s a good rule of thumb to use your race website for all correct race information. However, you may see the link to print your waiver in a group sooner than you would on the race page (we’ll get to that later).

Two books I read when I started training (and ones I plan to re-read now that I want to train properly again) were: Running Like a Girl and Confessions of a Fat Marathoner. Both books go into the good, bad and ugly of running – from losing your confidence after a bad training run to the thrill of crossing the finish line. Check them out and let me know what you think.

Take a deep breath. Let it all sink in. Over the next few days to a month, start putting your thoughts, goals and expectations into place. Do your research and properly gear up. We’ll focus on all the other “things” to a runDisney race but first things are first.

Feel free to ask me questions!

I’ll see you at the finish!

Race Recap: Disney Princess Half Marathon

My favorite!

Dust off that tiara and get ready for a magical 13.1 throughout Walt Disney World… come with me!

As you know by now, expo started Thursday before the race. I had the first flight out and somehow made it to expo by 10:30am. 

Tip: always just leave your luggage with bell services – this way you can just hop the bus to expo!

I was prepared for a HUGE line – complete with building wrapping (it happens) however I was able to just walk through the doors and into the building to pick up my bib.


After getting my bib, I picked up my volunteer credientials for the 5k and 10k and then decided to head to Disney Springs. My shirt would be waiting for me when I came back.

Once at Disney Springs, I used my bib to take advantage of runner promos and freebies. Score!

I also picked up lunch, dinner and a super tasty cupcake from Sprinkles to enjoy on my birthday (which was the next day).

I then headed back to expo. I had a vendor shift with Endure Jewelry until close and wanted to make sure I was done expo before I had to work.

This time there wasn’t a line to get into Josten’s Center. I was just able to walk in.


After receiving my shirt, I did a quick walk through of the official merch. Even though it was after 12 on the first day, I was pleasantly surprised with how much was still available AND cast members were restocking! 

Coming out of the merchandise area, I noticed a fancy food booth where you could get champagne and accompaniments. I also saw:


How cool! You could get your Disney nails done right there are expo! If I didn’t have to work, I would have loved to have gotten a mani and sipped on some champagne!

Fast forward to 9pm or so…

Finally back in the room! After checking out day 1’s haul, it was time for bed!


Friday morning was a tad chilly. I was a volunteer that morning and tried to perk up the runners as they went by me at o’ dark thirty! I amused myself at least!

Saturday morning was a little better. I was a screaming fan for the 10k. Though I didn’t so much screaming, I did do a lot of cowbell…and waving! I must say volunteering is kinda awesome. I think my two favorite costumes of the 10k were: Taco Belle (hahahaha get it?!?!) and Moana’s chicken!

Sunday morning — race day! Well kinda…

So fun story – I set 3 alarms. Guess which alarm woke me up? Oh you know the one that goes off everyday at 5:30!

Tip: always schedule a wake up call!!!

After a brief panic attack and lots of unDisney language, I was dressed and out the door.

Four modes of transportation, lots of tears, and embarrassment later, I was FINALLY at the staging area. As I was getting closer, I heard the fireworks for the last corral go off…….

I went directly to the runDisney info table and confirmed I heard the last corral start. I then explained what happened. After a round of it can happen to anyone (which you don’t want to hear at that moment), I asked if I could please have my medal. The runDisney staffer said he needed to check. He came back a few minutes later and I burst into sobs (again)! I thanked him over and over and then headed back for my bus.

Once on the bus, I noticed there were 2 others with me. They had medical issues. I told them they had been faster than I was and congratulated them. 

At this point, there was nothing else to do but learn from a horrible morning and try to make the best of it. 


In hindsight, it was probably good I didn’t race. My feet were so swollen my shoes didn’t fit properly and once I got home, I was a fevery mess.


Any race day horror stories out there??

Disneyland in January

My whirlwind Disneyland adventure began immediately after the Star Wars 10k! After a quick costume change, I was back and ready for my day at the parks!

I was really excited for my day. I have done 2 other Disneyland races but normally I fly in on Saturday, do the expo scramble, hit the park like it’s going to disappear and then bed, race, gone! This trip, I had the entire day to spend at Disneyland and just enjoy the magic.

First up, Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour (*note – I am going to be vague only because I do not want to ruin it for you!). I figured there would be no better way to “see” the park.

img_6607

I checked in, received my name tag and listening device and picked my lunch. I had a few minutes to just sit and relax so I took that time to finally eat my post race breakfast.

We started the tour at the Firehouse – Walt’s original Disney apartment. From there, the magic (and chills) just began to wash over me.

img_6610

It was really cool to listen to clips from the past and hear Walt talk about his vision of Disneyland. We proceeded down Main Street and our guide pointed out little things along our way.

We stopped at the main “hub” and little extras I had never noticed at the castle (probably because I am always running around and don’t have the time to notice). We walked across the drawbridge and into Fantasyland! We made our way around the park with stops at Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn and monorail, Lilli Belle train car and Pirates!

While waiting for the group during a pit stop, I noticed where I was. Being near Pirates, I knew Blue Bayou was around (I’ve eaten there the two other times I was at DL) but I never noticed this door. This will probably be the closest I ever get to Club 33!

img_6623

It was now time for the biggest part of the tour – the Disney Dream Suite! I laughed, I teared up, I got chills… if I ever got to stay here, I don’t think I would be able to sleep from excitement. It was simply amazing…

Fun fact: did you know the Haunted Mansion is based of a house in Baltimore?!?! I will try to find out more of the history and see if the house is still around! How cool!!

Anyway, after the Dream Suite, it was time for Walt to say good-bye. We headed to the partners statue and listen to Walt for one last time.

img_6611

Then it was lunch time! We headed to the Jolly Holiday Bakery for lunch. Our pre-ordered lunches were waiting for us – yum! While eating, we received our second tour keepsake (the pin pictured was my name tag for the tour) – a beautiful pin that opens and has the opening day speech inscribed.

img_6627

I would HIGHLY  recommend this tour. It was amazing. I had no idea what to expect – but I am glad I didn’t know. It was incredible to be immersed this way in the magic without having much of an idea of “what’s going to happen”.

After lunch, I decided I was going to try to catch the Dapper Dans in action. I have never seen their “show” at either park and gosh darn it – it was going to happen! I lucked out and had a cast member help me find them. I joined the small crowd watching and just enjoyed listening. You don’t hear or see this kind of act everyday! As people left, I was in the front of the crowd and to my surprise, the Dans asked if I could help in a song (I really can’t sing and dislike crowds looking at me). I joined them “on stage” and was told when they pointed to me I should say “you”. Luckily, a cast member was there and was able to snap a pic of me with the Dans.

img_6635

After this awesome Disney experience, my day was made even further when I got to meet:

img_6645

By this time, my friends joined me and it was time to hit some attractions I had never done before (or Disney World doesn’t have). We did a carriage ride up Main Street then headed to the Launch Bay in Tomorrowland.

We did Autopia (where I got my drivers license!) and found Nemo on the Finding Nemo Voyage. We then rode the carousel and I discovered Disney sells pickles! (How I didn’t know that is beyond me but they were so good!).

Dinner was at Cafe Orleans where I could get my beloved Monte Cristo sandwich and Mickey beignets (yum!).

img_6659

After dinner, I picked up a tasty Dole whip to hold me over until we made it to California Adventure Park. I seriously just collect food when I’m at any Disney park…I don’t buy things – I buy food!

I managed to book the World of Color Dessert Party for the night I was going to be there. I was really excited – I had never seen WoC before and neither had my friends. Before checking in, we hit up Ghirardelli and Boudin Bread Factory (free samples of chocolate and bread – yes please!)

It was then time (or by this time my knee was telling me it was time) to head over to where we needed to check in for the World of Color Dessert Party!

It was wonderful! We were first in line and were the first ones seated. Once at our table, we were brought bottled water and cheesy breadsticks. All three of us had menus showing us what would be on our dessert plate. I was also pleasantly surprised – we could could order both adult beverages – the World of Color Cooler (the blue drink) and champagne (did not last long enough for a picture – oops). I had also arranged for my friends to be surprised with best wishes – they just got married this past weekend so I had to do something to mark their special day while I was with them in Cali!

The show was awesome! I was worried it would be hard to see because the fast pass area was right in front of us. You couldn’t even tell people were there. You could even feel the heat from the pyrotechnics during the show (it was a little chilly). I sang along with the music and danced (or hopped) in my chair. I loved it!

After the show, our waiter brought over boxes, extra water and hot tea to go! I loved ending my long Disney day in this way.

Fast forward to Sunday morning (what you thought I was done?! Silly!) – it was half marathon day. I was going to participate as a spectator. I purchased the Spectator Viewing Party package.

The event started at the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney. There was a breakfast buffet set up along with coffee, tea and juice. You could purchase alcohol as well (mimosa anyone?!)

By the time I was finishing my plate, the first wheelchair finisher was crossing the line (I “slept in” on half marathon day):

img_6691-1

Then I headed down to Main Street to cheer on the runners! It was so cool to be on Main Street during the race and not be running! I saw my friends running and cheered them on and stayed until the last few runners had passed me by. Then I decided to play on Main Street since who knows when I’ll get to do this again!

I headed back to the ESPN Zone to warm up and wait it out while my friends did the long, boring miles between the park and the finish.

img_6706-1

I should half marathon like this more often!

Once I was alerted my friends had passed the 15k mark, I headed out to the special cheering section for the viewing party. I was expecting the bleachers but what we had was so much better! We had lounge style seating – comfy seats with ottomans so we could lounge! It was awesome. We also had a great view of the finish line and the last few steps runners would take before finishing.

I loved cheering on the runners. I know by that point myself I need to dig deep (even that close to the finish).

It was a whirlwind trip but not nearly as crazy as my Disneyland trips normally are. Jammed packed with new experiences, I loved every minute of my time out in Cali.

I would highly recommend Walk in Walt’s Footsteps and the World of Color Dessert Party. I enjoyed the Spectator Viewing Party and would recommend it if your curb crew includes older or younger people (the nicer seating was much nicer than a cold bleacher). With breakfast and parking included, it could make for an enjoyable morning if your crew will be waiting awhile.

Race Recap: Star Wars: the Light Side, 10k

About a month ago (I’m so sorry for my delay!), I flew out to California to participate in Star Wars: The Light Side race weekend.

I’m not a few fan of Disneyland half marathons but I did decide I was going to run the 10k. The course was entirely on Disney property with about 4 miles being in the parks.

Disclosure: I am a member of New Balance Rewards and cashed in my points for a race bib. (All those shoes at the outlet – yes I have a problem!)

I flew out Friday and landed with just enough time to spare to get to expo before it closed for the evening.

After quickly picking up my shirt and bib, I headed back to my hotel (which was less than a mile from Disney property) and got myself ready for the next day.


Race morning quickly arrived. A good Disney friend offered to pick me up and take me to the race. She got me and off we went!

Friendly reminder: don’t leave your bib in the car! Yes I totally left my bib in the car and we had to turn back…oops.

After the bib fiasco, we wished each other luck and headed to our separate corrals.


After what left like a long time, we were moving up and then crossing the start!

We covered from Disney roads before heading backstage. Running through the backstage areas are always neat and very nicely themed. Rebel signs were on buildings and we ran through a tunnel which had Darth “breathing” at us.

We entered California Adventure Park by way of Cars Land.


I think my favorite part of this park though was this view:


After running behind Mickey’s Fun Wheel, it was time to exit the park and head backstage again!


Then it was time! Disneyland!!! I decided I was going to start taking pictures and just enjoy myself so hooray random photo ops!

We entered through Toon Town:


Then pass “it’s a small world” and it was still all decorated:


Into Tomorrowland and we were greeted by:


Now comes my favorite section: Fantasyland!


Through New Orleans Square:


And lastly, down Main Street as we headed towards the finish:


On my way to the last backstage area leading to the finish, I ran into one of my favorite cheerleaders:


Seeing her was definitely a nice little boost. Last stop until I crossed that finish line!

I must say no matter the race or destination, the last mile always seems to take FOREVER!

But I finished!

Stay tuned for next week when I take you through my many Disneyland adventures from the rest of my weekend!

DIY: Princess Leia running costume

With the passing of Carrie Fisher, I decided the best way to honor her memory was to run the Star Wars Light Side 10k as Princess Leia.

I’ve never run in a full costume – always something running inspired. I quickly put together an idea and started making it happen.

I always find Disneyland races to feel cooler on race morning so I knew I would want to run in a t-shirt instead of my usual tank. I used Etsy to find a cute Leia running saying – “my only hope is to cross the finish line” – and then sent that off to be printed on a shirt.

Next step, bottoms. I knew I would not like running in a long skirt (like Leia’s iconic outfit from Episode 3). I decided on a running skirt from RunningSkirts.com. I love these skirts because they have pockets and compression shorts underneath. I picked my skirt up at Marathon weekend (yey expos!). 

Last step, the belt. This was the real trouble for the whole costume. I knew I didn’t want heavy. I also knew I didn’t want to spend a lot to make a belt I would only maybe wear once or twice.

I decided the easiest material to work with would be felt and sparkle material. A quick trip to my local craft store and boom – I was in business.

Now, how do I make a belt?!?! I turned to Pinterest to find a pattern. There were a lot of detailed patterns for a more authentic looking belt. I found one for a Halloween costume and after looking at it, I realized it was at the belt shape I wanted.

Step 1: gather all materials needed; pattern, construction paper, pencil, felt, sparkle material, scissors, tape and pins.


Step 2: assemble the pattern

I cut out the pattern once. I then taped piece 1 and 2 together. From there, I traced the pattern twice on to construction paper. Once both pieces were cut out, I taped both sides together to make one large belt shape.


Step 3: cutting the material

I put the belt shape on top of my sparkle material and pinned the shape down. From there, I proceeded to start cutting the belt out of the material. I repeated this process twice so I could have both sides of the belt.


Step 4: adding felt

After cutting these pieces, it became very clear that I would need to add the felt to the sparkle. This would give the belt some weight. I repeated step 3 but with felt. Once the felt was cut, I used fabric glue to attach the sparkle to the felt.


Step 5: sewing

After letting the glue dry overnight, I got ready to sew the 2 pieces together. Sewing is not my best work so my stitching is very fundamental and did the trick. 


Step 6: finishing the belt

Last step was to add Velcro to the belt. I bought adhesive Velcro and cut it into strips. The instructions said to let the adhesive sit for 24 hours after applied to the fabric. 

Finished look:


Not pictured: my white runDisney New Balance shoes completed the look

And you can see that it was a humid morning and my buns barely made it through the corrals but here’s what they looked like:

Race Calendar 2017

Well friends, it’s the last week of 2016 and of course – I am already thinking about my 2017 race calendar. Are you?

Walk, run or crawl, here is my list of races to check out if you need a change or want to go for a more active year:

Cupid Undie Run: yes, you did read that right. In February, grab your friends, drop your pants (for charity) and run the best mile of your life. This party starts and ends at Powerplant Live. Earn fun incentives including a very comfy pair of undies by hitting fundraising goals. This race is definitely more of a party so come on out to support a good cause and watch as jaws drop as you run downtown in your drawers!

B3 Series: start in March with the St. Patrick’s 5k, continue in April with the Sole of the City 10k, and complete the tour of Baltimore in September with the Charles Street 12 (miler). All races include at least 1 post race beer if you are of age and the race shirts are some of the best in Baltimore! All three races are available on their own as well but if you are up for the challenge register for the series.

Atlis Endurance Trail Events: if road races aren’t your cup of tea, check out the events put on by Atlis Endurance. They offer a wide variety of trail races both locally and along the coast. These events are low key and high energy but it could be because the race directors have a bit of a sweet tooth. Oh and the trails they pick are absolutely gorgeous!

St. Michael’s Running Festival: looking for fast and flat? Look no further than the St. Michael’s Running Festival on the Eastern Shore. Brought to you by the same team that puts on the 10k Across the Bay, you’ll enjoy a scenic course and maybe earn yourself a PR.

Zooma Annapolis: this is the ultimate girls race weekend. With a host hotel, beautiful course, great swag and awesome amenities, this is a must do every year for me. Enjoy packet pickup and a cocktail reception on race eve and follow up your race with wine tastings, yoga and massage. Offering distances of 5k, 10k and half marathon, there is something for you and all your girlfriends!

Baltimore Womens Classic: come out and run one the oldest all womens 5ks in the area. This makes a great first 5k for everyone – there are some hills but I don’t think they are terrible. Join the fun and feel the girl power throughout the day. All finishers receive a beautiful medal and a rose as they cross the line!

Dirty Girl Mud Run: this 5k course offers mud and obstacles so grab your girls and go out and play! You can get as dirty (or stay as clean) as you want. Runners receive a medal, fun samples, a clean shirt and free pictures for participating. You can typically find deals on LivingSocial or Groupon.

Boordy Trail 5k: don’t let the name fool you! This course is 3/4 road and 1/4 trail as you leave and re-enter the vineyard. It’s an easy out and back course that ends with – a wine tasting! Another one of my favorites of the season, post race amenities include a wine tasting, wine pairings (bread, fruit, cheese, etc) and a concert. Makes for a great evening out with both your running friends and non-running friends!

Baltimore Running Festival: tour the streets of Baltimore while completing a 5k, half marathon, relay or marathon. You will definitely appreciate your city a lot more after participating in this hometown fave. Swing by the zoo, take a lap around Lake Montebello and run through Camden Yards on your way to Ravens Stadium. Really declare your hometown pride by completing the Baltimoron challenge – running the 5k and half marathon back to back!

10k Across the Bay: start on the Western Shore and finish on the Eastern Shore! You have to run the bridge to beat it! I am looking forward to taking part in this race in 2017 – will you be joining me?

Ugly Sweater Run: Don your best (or worst) holiday clothes for this festive 5k. Runners receive cookies, hot chocolate and a super warm beanie for completing this race. There are fun photo ops before, during and after the event so come out to take an epic holiday card picture!

There are so many great races throughout the running season it is impossible to list them all. I participate in quite a few every year – from big productions to small ones. The above list compiles races that I think would be good for all abilities and offer the most bang for your buck. I am always looking for races that offer something unique (let’s face it, you can only get so many race shirts!).

Happy New Year!

 

 

Recap: Women Rock! Chicago

Over the weekend I made my way back to Chicago to participate in the Women Rock Chicago race.

This race came to my attention in 2015 and unfortunately, I was unable to make the race last year.

I signed up in the spring and made the decision this would be a quick over and back trip. I paid for my packet to be mailed to me (it was an additional $30) so I would have it. I always try to have my packet ahead of time so I am ready to go on race day. Having everything I need ahead of time helps keep some of the pre-race anxiety at bay. Packets were mailed out around September 1st and I received my packet about 10 days prior to race day.

Race morning was a cool but humid weather day – luckily we would be running on Lake Shore Drive around Lincoln Park so there would be a breeze. The race village opened at 6am and my plan was to be there as close to that time as possible. Another way I keep the anxiety at bay – arrive early!

I wandered around the village to get my bearings and then checked my bag. It wasn’t super crowded. Most participants there were for the longer distances – the half or the 10k or were participating in one of the challenges. Team Ortho did a nice job staggering the distance start times so we all weren’t on top of each other trying to check in and get ready to run.

The half started at 6:30am. I watched the girls leave the starting area and then headed over to where the 10k was starting so I would be ready.

The 10k was set to start at 7am however I think we started closer to 7:10.

img_5819

I can’t say much about this course. It was definitely different from the course I did with the Run Mag Mile Half last weekend and it did have it’s pretty parts. But with both races, the course didn’t provide much distraction after passing it the first time. This course was also one big loop – however the 10kers didn’t have it nearly as bad as the half marathoners who had to do the loop between 2 or 3 times. I was a little jealous of the 5kers – I believe their course took them around the Lincoln Park Zoo and I know I would have enjoyed that!

Anywho, I finished with a time of 1:42 – slower than I was hoping but within my range. Once I crossed the line, I received my beautiful medal, post race snacks, my gear bag, and my personal fave – a celebratory drink! While it was non-alcoholic, it was a tasty treat.

With not much to see or do in the race village, I headed back to the hotel to clean up and re-pack for my trip home. But first I had to take a pic of the race swag:

img_5821

Long sleeve tech running shirt, pendant with Swarovski crystal, branded champagne flute, medal, and buff.

New for this year was an after party at a roof top bar downtown at the Godfrey. There participants were treated to a complimentary glass of champagne and a beautiful view of Chicago’s skyline.