Posts Tagged With: disneyland

Summer Running

Happy first day of summer, everyone!

Speaking of which, I have a confession to make. I kind of, sort of, don’t really like running in the summer.

There. I said it.

Last year, I began my Princess Half training towards the end of the summer, so while I had my fair share of long, sweaty runs, I was really ramping up my training in the fall. This year, since the Dumbo Double Dare is in California…in August…I figure I’d better get used to the hot weather!

Still, I’m having the hardest time “pushing it” on my training runs when I feel so drained. I’m doing everything I can to stay hydrated and fuel properly, and yet I pretty much dissolve into a sweaty, cranky mess by, say, mile 2. My energy just isn’t there.

Do I enjoy the abundant sunshine and longer days (i.e. more available hours to squeeze in my run)? YES! But why can’t I seem to make my body cooperate in the higher temperatures? I’ve never seriously trained for anything in the summer before, so maybe I just need to give myself more time to adjust (please, please tell me that’s the case)!

How fake does this smile look? SUPER HOT DAY!

How fake does this smile look? SUPER HOT DAY!

When I go out for a run these days, I find myself phoning it in a little bit. I’m taking more walk breaks than usual, and I’m resting on my “comfortable” pace. I know, I know, it’s probably OK to scale back your speed a little bit when the temperature soars, but I can’t help but admit that I’m just not enjoying my runs as much as I do in, say, the spring and fall. Or, heck, even the winter — I kind of enjoyed layering up and navigating the mounds of snow and patches of ice everywhere. It kept things exciting, if nothing else!

I have a few races coming up — the annual Firecracker 4-miler on July 4, which is kind of a meaningful race for me (if you care to find out why, here’s last year’s post!), as well as the Downtown Westfield 5k and Pizza Extravaganza towards the end of next month. Which, let’s face it, I run for the FOOD. Post-race pizza party? Like I’m really going to miss out on that.

I’m definitely trying to keep my eye on the prize — DUMBO! — but I’m hesitant to register for other races this summer because, to be honest, I don’t really want to. I just don’t enjoy racing in 75+ degree temperatures. Does that make me a “bad” runner? Am I just being a whiny baby right now?

In other news…I officially lost my first full toenail (second toe, right foot)! I will spare you the visual, as much as I’m tempted to take a picture of it! No more cute pedicure for me, I guess.

But…is it wrong that I’m kind of feeling proud right now?

Is anyone else struggling with running in the heat/humidity? Who has warm-weather running tips for me?!

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Fear of the Unknown

It’s hard for me to believe that it was just a few short weeks ago that I was terrified of not being able to finish a half marathon.

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A little preview of my St. Patrick’s Day race attire!

And yet last weekend I ran a 20K (which, come on, is pretty much a half marathon!), and yesterday I registered not for a St. Patrick’s Day 5K, but instead decided to go for a freakin’ 10-MILER: the Freehold Area Running Club’s 24th Annual St. Paddy’s Day 10-Miler. Because, you know as someone who is actually Irish, I feel it’s a holiday that’s worth celebrating with more than just green beer (blech).

And then I also just registered for another half marathon in May — the Superhero Half Marathon in Morristown — which, admittedly, I’m very much looking forward to because runners are actually encouraged to wear costumes. SCORE!

I’m toying with the idea of doing the Long Branch Half Marathon because it sounds like a great race — and who doesn’t love running along the shore? — but it’s also in May. We’ll see!

Meanwhile, I’m sitting here staring at my favorite race sites and actually having a hard time narrowing down the other races I want to tackle this year…I’ve got everything from 5Ks to halfs on my list, but I know I can’t do them all!

Well, unless I want to risk my legs falling off or — far more likely — going completely broke.

And then there’s a teensy weensy little part of me that is ever-so-slightly entertaining the idea of registering for the Walt Disney World Marathon in January of next year. Yes, that’s right. A year ago I was afraid of 5Ks, and now I’m Googling marathon training tips. I figure I’ve got plenty of time to train, right?! The only thing I don’t have is plenty of time to think about it…registration for runDisney races open up super early, and sell out super fast!

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Think I should run my Superhero Half Marathon dressed as this fetching woman?

Oh yeah, and then there’s the small matter of taking on Disneyland’s Dumbo Double Dare challenge (a 10k followed by a half marathon) in less than six months!

Even though I was less-than-impressed by my overall performance at the Disney Princess Half Marathon (recap here!), crossing that finish line in an upright position turned out to be all I needed to let go of my fear of the unknown. I was so afraid that my training wasn’t going to be enough, or that I’d somehow discover that I really, really just wasn’t cut out to be a runner.

I’ve spent a lifetime doubting myself and my abilities in just about everything — and running just so happens to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally — so I really struggled with self-doubt throughout all of those months of hard training for my first half marathon.

DSCF3043But as it turns out, all I needed was to prove to myself that I could finish that first 13.1, and now I’m chomping at the bit to put myself and my training to the test in longer distance races.

It just amazes me how I can waste so much time letting fear keep me from doing the things I want to do. NO MORE!

So…tell me about the races you have coming up! 😀

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Race Recap: Disney Princess Half Marathon (part two)

Just in case you missed my previous recaps from the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend: check out my expo recap here, and race recap part one here.

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When I left off, I had spotted my ChEAR Squad in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Now I know what they mean by the power of the spectator in a race, because it really did provide an instant boost that I needed to face the second part of my first half marathon. I stopped for some castle pictures and then waved good-bye to continue my journey.727412-1008-0014s

I will say that the second half of the race wasn’t quite magical as the first for me! Once we made our way out of the Magic Kingdom, I no longer had that BIG MOMENT of running through the castle to look forward to…and now that the sun was out (although there were plenty of clouds, thank goodness), the heat was starting to affect me more and more.

I continued my race day plan of running until I spotted a character I wanted to pose with, and vowed not to let myself stop to walk at all. I mentally gave myself permission to slow my pace down as much as I had to in light of the weather conditions, but I had worked so hard and trained for months and months to RUN a half marathon — and that’s exactly what I intended to do.

I’m proud to say that even though I was definitely tired, and did slow down through one or two water stops and took an unexpected potty break in mile 9 (let’s just say I was suddenly hit with some stomach issues that simply would not wait until I finished), I kept that promise!

DSCF2788However, all of my silliness and photo taking in the first half of the race had really started to catch up with me. The second half of the course is marked by some very narrow paths, and as I looked around at the runners around me, I saw that there were a handful of women who started in B and C…but a whole lot more with E, F, G, and yes, even some H’s, printed on their bibs.

I seemed to be the only A left, and for a brief moment panicked about spotting those dreaded buses that would whisk me to the finish line.

Truth be told, I hadn’t been paying a whole lot of attention to time, and was pretty much only using my Garmin to gauge my pace at that point (I kept starting and stopping it for character/water/bathroom breaks)…so I was getting worried about just how far back in the pack I had fallen. My proof was right there in front of me, when I spent the majority of miles 7, 8, and 9 just trying to weave around the walkers and slower runners.

I can’t complain — it was my own fault that I was now amongst the slower princesses — but it was frustrating and pretty much impossible to “make up for lost time,” as I had hoped. I couldn’t quite find my pace as I tried over and over again to politely DSCF2787break through walls of walkers who, unfortunately, were taking up the entire path. Some of my more dangerous maneuvers included running on the grass, which was very uneven and muddy and I feared slipping or twisting my ankle…and, I’m not proud of this, but I definitely took on a few stretches of road in the oncoming traffic lane with several other runners who seemed desperate to get ahead of the pack — despite the warnings of the cast members telling us to stay on the other side of the traffic cones.

By the time I reached some of my the character photos I definitely planned to stop for, including Genie and Stitch, I knew that I could pretty much count on tacking on a solid hour to my anticipated finish time. The lines for characters were getting a little shorter — I think everyone was just ready to finish the race! — but it DSCF2795was still eating up some significant chunks of time. Worst of all, though, I found myself really struggling by miles 10 and 11, especially as we had to make our way over some hilly overpasses on the way back to Epcot…and I really, really just wanted to finish. I scarfed down the remainder of my Clif Shot Bloks in those last few miles, and that helped, and I felt fortunate that my body wasn’t aching or in pain. I was just tired.

I kept wishing I had gotten just a few more hours of sleep, or didn’t eat whatever it was that hit my stomach with a vengeance in mile 9. I cursed the weather over and over again for being so hot and humid, and I cursed myself for not incorporating more speedwork into my weekly training runs…I now felt as though I was crawling, and my Garmin showed me averaging about a 12-13 minute/mile.

By mile 11, I was mentally and physically DONE — so much so that I decided I wouldn’t stop for any more characters or photos. I kept texting my ChEAR Squad to let them know I was on my way, but that the heat was really getting to me. I argued with myself about stopping to walk a bit over the hills (in defiance to the the green army man from Toy Story shouting at us to “move, move, move!”)…but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Mind you, I was moving at a ridiculously slow pace (for me) at that point…but I just kept running.DSCF2799

When I finally saw the mile 12 marker, I knew I was going to be able to do this. The last two miles had taken a lot out of me, but with just over one mile left to go, I decided to push myself and pick up the pace as much as I could. Running into Epcot infused me with some refreshed Disney excitement, and even though I was struggling, I knew that I would be finishing my first half marathon in just a few minutes…and that it would all be worth it in the end.

727332-1150-0038sAnd when I finally saw the shiny “13” mile marker and the finish line in the distance,  suddenly, all of my physical discomfort seemed to disappear. I sprinted towards the bleachers at the finish line and started waving like a loon at my sister and boyfriend (I never did spot my mom!), and of course felt compelled to run over for a quick photo with Princess Minnie Mouse before hopping back into the throngs of people crossing the finish line for my ultimate BIG MOMENT.

Another quick review of ChEAR Squad: There seemed to be plenty of room for spectators at the finish line, but if you have someone in your party who has trouble standing for long periods of time (that would be my mom) or if you want those aerial shots of you crossing the finish line that can only be taken from the bleachers, you may want to consider the additional expense. My personal ChEAR Squad also seemed to thoroughly enjoy the complimentary beverages and bathrooms while they were waiting 1,000 years for me to finish the race!

I threw my hands in the air and finally, it was over. I had finished my first half marathon.

I thought back to all the training runs I had done in the sweltering summer heat or the pounding rain or in three inches of snow. I thought about all the times I was busy with writing assignments or too tired or not feeling up to running, but still forced myself to lace up my sneakers anyway. I thought about all the 5Ks and 10Ks I had pushed my body through in preparation for this very moment.

IMG_3960And somehow, all of those hours upon hours of pounding the pavement were made so very, very worth it in those two seconds I spent crossing the finish line.

Even though, as anticipated, my participating in the Disney hooplah along the course cost me A FULL HOUR of time, I have absolutely no regrets. I Screen shot 2013-03-06 at 12.21.25 PMwouldn’t have done this race any other way, and now I will forever have all of these photos to remember the time I did the impossible. The girl who was too overweight and out of shape to run a mile had just completed a half marathon, and I don’t care what the stupid clock at the finish line said — nobody can ever take that away from me.

A large part of the reason that I’ve always loved Disney is that, to me, it represents dreams. Yes, of course I realize it is, at the end of the day, a multi-zillion dollar entertainment corporation, but I do believe at its core that the heart of the Disney message is not being afraid to chase your DSCF2803goals…not matter how unlikely or “impossible” they may seem (everyone knows the famous Walt Disney quote about doing the impossible, right?!). I have spent my entire life being put down by others, and being told that I couldn’t be a writer or that I would always be overweight. It took me a long time to wake up and realize that none of those things were true…and that I had the strength inside me to pursue my dreams all along. I never could have known that, someday, one of those dreams would include running a half marathon — or that I would not only become a writer, but also successfully learn how to live as a healthy, active person. 727388-1012-0018s

That’s why I feel there was no more appropriate place to run my first half marathon, and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Disney Princess Half Marathon to the serious competitive runner looking to PR because it would probably prove just a bit too darn crowded, I couldn’t have asked for a better first half marathon experience. If anything, this race has reminded me to stop doubting myself, and taught me the importance of pushing myself out of my comfort zone — and now that I’m no longer afraid of the distance, I’m already registering for my next half marathon (which I WILL run for time, to see what I can REALLY do!)

727340-1011-0027sOh, and after I was sprinkled with pixie dust and handed my very first half marathon bling, I did manage to get my photo with my favorite princess…and went on to enjoy a few more magical days in Disney, where I reveled in my accomplishment. I cannot WAIT to take on Dumbo Double Dare, and I’m already planning my next several RunDisney races — consider me an addict.

The best part of all is that now I KNOW I can do this…so there’s no stopping me now! 😀

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I DID IT! My First Half Marathon: Disney Princess!

I’m back from my first half marathon and RunDisney event — the Disney Princess Half Marathon — and I’ll be posting a whole lot of recaps and photos over the next few days…but first and foremost, I would like to announce that I DID finish, and I DID have the time of my life! I cannot WAIT for my next RunDisney race: the Dumbo Double Dare in Disneyland!

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One of many, many castle photo ops!

Before I start posting lots and lots of recaps, reviews (Race Retreat, ChEAR Squad, etc.) and photos from my trip, I wanted to take a moment to share a few post-race thoughts. My finish time was an entire hour — yes, a whole freakin’ HOUR! — later than what I had planned (2:30), but I’m going to go ahead and chalk that up to the fact that I stopped for almost EVERY photo opportunity along the course, a few pit stops, and, of course, the ridiculous humidity that I was SO not prepared to run in.

As a Northern princess, I had spent the last few months tackling my final long runs in the bone-chilling 30 degree weather…and the temperatures on race day soared to almost 80 degrees, with 90 percent humidity! I tried my best to maintain my usual 9-10/minute mile pace in between character stops, but ultimately couldn’t muster anything faster than 11-12/minute miles, especially in the second part of the race when I was really feeling the effects of the 2:30am wake-up call and was literally dripping with sweat (gross!).

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Yes, I was one of those runners taking pictures of all the mile markers!

Probably to the dismay of my devoted “ChEAR Squad” — my mom, sister, and BF — I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that I was sort of taking my sweet old time along the course. I am an absolute Disney freak, and I definitely got a little carried away with the excitement of combining my absolute two favorite things — running and Disney — on the day of the race. I was lucky enough to move up to Corral A based upon my most recent 10K time — because, yes, I am usually just a tad faster than my 3:30 half marathon finish might suggest! — and since I had that extra time cushion (there was a 16-minute/mile maximum pace starting with the last wave of runners), I decided to take full advantage of all the fun and excitement along the course.

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Yet another photo op!

I saw lots of other women arguing with their running buddies about stopping for a particular character or photo opportunity, and I didn’t want to do that to myself — I wanted to take tons of pictures and have fun and enjoy this moment that I had worked so hard for, and if that meant a less-than-desirable finish time, so what? I’ll just run another half marathon that doesn’t include all of the hooplah on the sidelines and focus on my time for that race.

The course was also pretty crowded (more on that later), so my time also included lots of weaving around slower runners and walkers, because my only other race day plan was that when I wasn’t stopping for photo ops or potty breaks that I would just keep running…and that’s exactly what did!

For me, this race wasn’t about setting a PR (although, as a first time half marathoner, I suppose it was an automatic PR), it was about having a blast in my favorite place in the world…and, most importantly, proving to myself that I can do this. I had spent the last six months training and planning and thinking about this race, and all while wrestling with self-doubt that I’d ever be able to cross that finish line. I am not some natural-born athlete; I may be physically fit now, but I am, at my core, a woman who battles a lifelong weight problem every single day, and all of the residual issues that go along with that — and I probably always will be.

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By far the LONGEST character line of the race!

And that’s why, my Disney obsession aside, I would recommend the Disney Princess Half Marathon to any first-time half marathon runner — or anyone looking to infuse a little bit of fun into their racing schedule. I was surrounded by nothing but supportive women in all shapes, sizes, ages, and ability levels, and it wasn’t some pressure-packed race experience amongst elite runners…even in Corral A. By the time I was standing at the start line and waiting for the Fairy Godmother to send us off, I had all the confidence I needed to know that I would be able to call myself a half marathoner in just a few short hours.

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Nothing better than celebrating a successful race at the Magic Kingdom!

It was a race that was all about having some silly, girly fun, with runners wearing elaborate princess costumes and tiaras and being sprinkled with pixie dust upon crossing the finish line. I honestly didn’t even have time to play the self-deprecating “you’re never going to finish” game along the course because I was so preoccupied with my next big moment — running through Cinderella’s castle, seeing the Epcot ball in the distance — or wondering which character I might get to visit with next.

Overall, I had an AMAZING first half marathon experience, and I can’t wait to share the finer details here with all of you! Stay tuned! 🙂

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Why I Love Running

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d proclaim the reasons I’ve fallen head over heels for running.

(I better love it, seeing as how ONE WEEK FROM TODAY, I will be headed down to Walt Disney World to take on my very first half marathon!)

1.) The way I feel when I’m done. Sure, sure, the running part is great and all, but whether I’ve gone out for a 2-mile run or a 12-mile run, there are no words to express the way I feel when it’s over. Call it runner’s high, call it endorphins, call it whatever you want, but I am addicted! I never feel more confident than when I can spend some time in my running duds and come home all sweaty and tired and sore and…proud.

2013-02-06 13.59.372.) The new relationship with food. It’s no secret that I used to have a serious weight problem; I spent most of my life struggling with obesity, and trying every trick in the book to gain control over my unhealthy eating habits, from fad diets to good old-fashioned starvation. Now that I’m a runner, I am forced to see food for what it truly is: fuel. Gone are the days when I obsess over every carbohydrate or scour the supermarket for the latest and greatest in fat-free snacks; I understand now that my body needs carbs and fats and all of these other nutrients — in moderation — to perform at its best.

3.) The sense of accomplishment. There is little in life that makes me as proud as the moment when I cross the finish line of a race, or when I head out for a 10- or 12-mile run and actually finish. It doesn’t matter whether I PRed or struggled through every mile — I get to constantly experience the joy that comes from setting a goal and seeing it through every time I sign up for a race or take on a new distance. There’s nothing like proving to myself over and over again that I CAN do this.

4.) The community. It has been so rewarding to communicate with, and learn from, fellow runners, who are always so willing to share their tips and encouragement. Coming in from a bad run to see that I have a new supportive comment on my blog or an encouraging tweet from another runner helps more than I could have ever imagined. It’s so much fun getting to share my new obsession!

5.) The stress relief. I’m definitely not known to be a relaxed, carefree person — I’m pretty much the exact definition of someone with a Type A personality, and have always tended to be just a tad high-strung. But not when I’m running. Lacing up my sneakers and going out for a run is a time for me to unwind, decompress, and maybe even work through the problems of the day in a calm, rational way as I’m traversing my usual running routes. Don’t get me wrong, running can certainly be physically exhausting, but it really can help soothe the mind. Even my mind.

6.) The body acceptance. Thanks to my lifelong weight struggles, I’ve always been pretty hard on myself about my body (read: I’ve loathed it with a passion). Even after my weight loss, I focused on imperfections like residual stretch marks or loose skin instead of seeing what was right there in front of me: a strong, healthy body. Running makes you appreciate everything your body is capable of achieving, and it has helped me develop an acceptance for what I have — and for that, I am eternally grateful. I’m not saying I have the perfect body, or that I ever will, but I’ve finally been able to break the cycle of striving to be “skinny” — instead, I focus on being the strongest, fittest (and, yes, even fastest!) runner I can be.

7.) The empowerment. I don’t think I need to say that running is HARD. WORK. But proving to myself that, yes, I could run a 10K, or yes, I could make it to double-digits in my long runs, makes me feel as though I could accomplish ANYTHING. Because running can be so physically grueling, and because it is a physical activity that was never, ever possible for me — someone who has always been obese — conquering my fear of taking on new distances and proving to myself every single day exactly what I am capable of achieving when I set my mind to it is incredibly, unbelievably empowering. I was the girl who couldn’t run the mile in gym class in high school, who was pointed at and laughed at for huffing and puffing my way around the outdoor track four times and still finishing last. And today…I am training for a half marathon.

8.) The travel. Of course, I had to mention this one! I can see now that running just pairs so nicely with my desire to travel and go places and experience new things. I am beyond thrilled to be able to combine my love of running with my love of, oh, I don’t know, say Disney World, and am excited to participate in races and meet other runners from other other parts of the country (and, no, I don’t just mean my upcoming trip to Disneyland for the Dumbo Double Dare).  My running journey has been nothing but exciting and fulfilling, and I look forward to where it might take me next!

Your turn. What do YOU love about running?

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Taking a Leap of Faith

This week, I did something absolutely insane. I still can’t believe I did this.

On Tuesday morning, I started hearing rumblings of something called “Dumbo Double Dare” on Twitter and the DIS Boards threads I’ve been frequenting ever since I registered for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Not gonna lie — I had no clue what it was.

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So, of course, I Googled it…and found out it was related to the Disneyland Half Marathon coming up in August. I’d been entertaining the idea of registering for the half marathon for weeks, mainly because it would give me the opportunity to earn the coveted Coast to Coast medal awarded to runners who complete a race at both the Walt Disney World resort and the Disneyland resort in the same calendar year. And, plus…I’ve never been to Disneyland, and I figure it’s about time I change that!

However, I sort of planned to wait until after I ran the Princess Half next month to make any crazy decisions (read: I wanted to see if I would survive one half marathon before committing myself to another one).

As it turns out, this year, Run Disney decided to add a 10K option to the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend…and they were offering a special “Dumbo Double Dare” medal to finishers of both the 10K on Saturday followed by the half marathon on Sunday.

coasttocoastmedalAll of the runners I follow on Twitter were posting all morning about how quickly the Disneyland events were going to sell out…and what a hot ticket the Dumbo Double Dare was going to be — it was only open to 5,000 runners. Apparently, the majority of the spots had been filled with early registration during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend earlier this month.

Suddenly, I had minutes to decide whether I would be taking a leap of faith and registering for a second half marathon before I had even finished my first.

AND…I couldn’t help but ignore the fact that I suddenly and desperately wanted to challenge myself to the Dumbo Double Dare. I’ve raced in a handful of 10Ks and I regularly complete 6-mile training runs, so I figured I should probably be able to handle following up a 6.1 mile race with a half marathon, right?

disneylandhalfWho the hell knows? All I know is that at 12pm on the dot — the moment those registration spots opened to the general public — I sat there staring at the Active.com registration page, arguing with myself about whether or not I could do this. Aside from the fact that I had promised myself I’d pay down my Disney Visa before next month’s trip (YEAH, RIGHT), I am still wrestling with self-doubt on a daily basis that I’ll be able to finish one half marathon…let alone a 10K AND a half marathon over the course of just 48 hours.

I still sometimes have a hard time calling myself a “runner,” and yet there I was contemplating flying across the country to take on a total of 19.3 miles IN ONE WEEKEND.

I saw the minutes ticking by and was compulsively scrolling through Twitter updates about how the challenge was almost full, and decided it was time to stop doubting myself. I wanted to do this, and there was absolutely no reason that I shouldn’t.

Soooo…I DID IT!

I got in just minutes before the Dumbo Double Dare was officially declared sold out. The 10K sold out in a matter of hours, and the option to register for just the half marathon was gone by the next day.mk

It looks like I’m going to Disneyland! And, yes, that’s enormously exciting for a Disney freak like myself. Not to mention, it’s pretty awesome to think that I am among a very limited amount of runners who will be taking on this challenge.

However, the most exciting part of all is that if registering for this insane weekend of running doesn’t prove that I’m finally starting to believe in myself, then I don’t know what will.

And that might be even more thrilling than the FOUR (!) medals I’m going to receive that weekend.

Anyone else as insane as I am? Who else is doing Dumbo?

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