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: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

My 2017 race schedule started at Walt Disney World for 13.1 magical miles! However it was not meant to be…

Friday: always the first stop of race weekend – expo! I was volunteering at the expo so I was able to pick up my bib and shirt before my shift started and the crowds arrived.

This was the 20th anniversary for the half marathon at Disney World. All participants received an extra gift of a luggage tag modeled after the race medal!

img_6564
After getting the important stuff out of the way, I was able to take care of some of the “would be nice” and “I may need” items on my list.

I picked up my Clif Shotbloks from the Track Shack booth, bought a shirt from New Balance and completed my costume for Star Wars Light Side weekend with the help of a skirt from RunningSkirts.

Race sponsors, GoodSense and Cigna, were giving out pain reliever and an awesome race belt and I snagged those before heading to my assignment.

Next up was lunch at Splitsville in Disney Springs with Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. I didn’t run for them this race but I did fundraise so someone else got the opportunity to run the 5k on Thursday.

Last stop for the night was Fit2Run to pick up the runner gift which was a small mason jar.


At this point, all half marathoners were on alert for race updates. They were calling for bad storms race mornings. The show would go on for rain but not lightning.

By 8pm, runners notified the race for the following morning was canceled. You can not control the weather and the logistics of a race this size would have been a nightmare to shift.

By 10pm, runners were notified how Disney would make it up to runners. Runners were given multiple options: park tickets, deferral into another race, upgrade to the marathon or a full refund.

I decided to defer for Princess 2018 since I was planning to run it anyway.

**please note: there typically are no refunds of any kind in racing. This was completely not expected or needed but very much appreciated. Never ever go into a race expecting a refund unless it is clearly stated the management will refund**

Saturday: with no race to run, I slept in a little bit and had a lazy morning routine in my room.

I moved all my post race plans up so I gathered myself and off I went (complete with rain gear).

First up was Disney Springs. Sephora was offering “athletic facials” to the runners and I was not going to pass up on free pampering. The experience lasted maybe 30 minutes and was AWESOME! I walked away with some new tips and tricks, previous advice confirmed and a bag full of goodies.

My next stop was a soggy round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens. Even though it was rainy and I was playing solo, it was a really good time! So much magic was put into every hole – I highly recommend! Everyone will be entertained on this course!


Finally, I headed back to expo. I wanted to pick up my half marathon medal and return the shirt I purchased at New Balance. I was expecting a lot of angry runners and stressed cast members but this was just not the case!

Upon arrival, I noticed lines. However these lines were to photo ops with characters! Half marathoners could snap pics with characters just like they would have on the course- how cool!


Walking into HP Fieldhouse, cast members from all over the resort were there to direct the runners to which ever option they choose. My option can be done through email and explained I just wanted my medal. Cast members were happy to help me and it was a quick and painless process. Also in the fieldhouse, Disney had balloon and caricature artists available. Everything was free and done to insure all racers went away satisfied.

img_6551
Heading over to Jostens Center to make my return, I noticed the DJs that are typically out on the course. They were rockin’ just like they do when they play for us on the course. It was awesome to see their vehicle up close since I’m normally running past when I see it.


Disney went above and beyond to make sure everyone was satisfied. While expo was crowded, I didn’t hear any grumblings from anyone. Cast members were friendly and helpful. They definitely did more than they needed to – especially since they can’t control the weather. Truly awesome customer service.


Sunday: my last day brought an incredibly early wake up since I was volunteering for the marathon (I’ll talk about the vacation part in the next post). My shift ended around 7:30am so I went about my day before coming back to the race.

I had some friends running their first ever marathon so in the afternoon, I went back to Epcot to congratulate them in person. All 3 finished and all 3 had a look of disbelief on their faces that they did it. I couldn’t be more proud! And the best part, I met them all through Disney!

It wasn’t the race weekend I planned but I made the most of it.

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: Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend

Run now, wine later!

Finally got to experience the fall half marathon at Walt Disney World. With a lot of changes to the race weekend, it was a lot of firsts for many involved.

For the first time, this race was a morning race. It also featured a new 10k and challenge. It was also a whole new course – eliminating a run through Hollywood Studios (I’m assuming because of the current construction at the park).

Friday: Expo and Cocktail Reception

I arrived on Friday and immediately headed to expo. There was a line to get into packet pickup but it moved quickly so I was in the building before I knew it.

After picking up my bib, I headed over to the Jostens Center to pick up my race shirt and do some shopping (and freebie hunting!).

First stop was New Balance. I just wanted to drool over the pretty runDisney shoes (they are gorgeous!). I also never paid attention to their clothes options before – I definitely fell in love with a sweatshirt that had the castle in gold with the word “home” underneath. I was good and didn’t buy 🙂 I then just wandered some of the other booths to see what was being offered as I made my way to the shirt pick up area. This expo seemed less crowded than other expos I have been to at Disney – which was a pleasant surprise. After picking up my shirt, I swung by one booth and made a very tasty purchase:

img_5985

While sipping my champagne, I made my way up the last aisle of the expo. I stopped by the runDisney booth and looked at the pretty medals for the upcoming races. I also stopped by the Jeff Galloway booth. If you don’t know, Mr. Galloway is the official runDisney coach as well as an Olympian. He is all about the run-walk-run method. I got to meet him and he signed my copy of The Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World. He writes the foreward for each edition.

Finishing with expo, it was time to head to Disney Springs for the cocktail reception with Kellsie’s Hope Foundation. The event took place at Splitsville Lanes and I was super excited since I had never been there before.

The weather was absolutely perfect for an evening out on the balcony at Splitsville. The food and drinks were delicious and the service fantastic. It was a very fun and festive atmosphere for a gathering of Kellsie’s Krew.


I can’t tell you how much I absolutely love this group. The energy is infectious and the people are the best you will ever meet. I can not wait to run for them again in 2018 (I would in 2017 but I need to give my fundraising some time off; I raised over $2000 for 2016).

Saturday: Volunteering the 10K

It was an early morning on Saturday. I was up at 2 so I could be at my volunteer shift by 3:30am.

I’m always asked how I can voluntarily wake up so early to work for free. The energy at Disney races is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I love being there to see the smiles on runners faces as they finish, seeing the creativity of costumes, and just being a part of the excitement.

I was assigned to finsh line crowd control which basically means I tell people to keep moving to keep the chute clear so everyone can get through smoothly. I also get to help runners take photos of their finish line memories – the most popular background being with the medal tree and finish structure behind them.

Sunday: Half Marathon

Second early morning in a row but it is race day!

I was out the door by 3:30 and at the staging area around 4am. I made my way around the area dropping off my gear bag and making a quick stop at medical to get some TLC for a blister.

I was in corral I. I believe I crossed the start around 6:00am which was 30 minutes after the initial gun time of 5:30. I had been urged by a good friend to try a 30/30 run walk interval so that was what I set out to do.

img_6064

The first mile was around ESPN: Wide World of Sports. Not a super exciting area but it was cool to pass the entrance sign as it was all lit up in different colors and they had energizing music playing through the speakers. The second mile was boring service road leading to the main drag that takes you to Animal Kingdom. For entertainment, there was a DJ and an act from one of the night shows (potentially the new Animal Kingdom show). I also noticed the Country Bears. These first 2 miles flew by and I was really pleased with how the intervals were making me feel.

Miles 3-5 were through Animal Kingdom. This does include the parking lot. They had a water stop and a marching band in the parking lot to make it not so boring. Once approaching the park, the entrance was definitely a photo stop for a lot of runners. Once in the park, I noticed characters from Jungle Book out for photos. I really liked running through the park from the front entrance to the back. It was nice to experience the park a different way than Star Wars. I did stop for a picture in front of The Tree of Life.

Miles 6-9.5 were through services roads and areas I don’t really know. They did have some characters (Chip and Dale, Dark Wing Duck), a band, a DJ and a comic act along this part to provide distraction and entertainment.

Miles 9.5 to 13.1 were familiar to me. It was the exit for Magic Kingdom (so parking lot), long road way to Epcot (and everyone’s favorite on ramp – however I do love the toy soldier who is always there), and then the best site ever – the Epcot ball right over your head signalling you are almost there! It’s always a thrill to run past the park goers as they shout encouragement to you! I also noticed finishers wearing their medals cheering on those of us still heading to the finish.

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.