Posts Tagged With: sparkle skirts

Race Recap: Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4-Miler

Hope everyone had an awesome 4th of July! I know I did. 🙂

Yesterday, I ran the Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4-Miler for the third year in a row. Spoiler alert…I pretty much bombed. Despite a start time of 9am, it was already approaching the 80s when the race started, and the humidity was absolutely ridiculous. I was drenched by the time I completed the first half mile.

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Allow me to rewind and say that, first, even though this race takes place in my town and right at the park where I do the majority of my training runs, I did not allow myself enough time to actually walk to the park. I left my apartment a bit too late, and by the time I had walked/run (VERY slowly) to the park and then stood in the never-ending women’s bathroom line, I jumped into the crowd of some 1,500 runners at the precise moment that the gun went off!

Unfortunately, it seems I didn’t guesstimate all that well in terms of starting amongst the the runners who share my pace, because I spent the first several minutes of the race trying to weave around slower runners and find an open stretch where I could finally exceed an 11 or 12-minute/mile! The race is usually pretty popular and crowded, but for some reason, I had an especially hard time getting into my groove this year, and found myself running on the sidewalks and apologizing constantly for bumping into fellow runners.

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As it turns out…it didn’t matter all that much. By the second mile, I knew this was going to be a less-than-stellar performance. I am still having the hardest time pushing my pace in the heat, and I had developed a cramp in my side (side stitch?) within the first 10 minutes of the race. I’m still not sure what caused it — it remained with me for the entire 4 miles — but since it couldn’t have been caused by going out too fast this time, I suspect it had something to do with something I ate, or possibly being dehydrated, or possibly having some kind of sodium imbalance (which is an issue I’m still working on trying to fix, thanks to you, my wise readers!). I even walked through the two-mile water stop to try to massage my side a bit (which usually works), but, no dice.

So, I pretty much ignored my Garmin and focused on the fun of it all. That has sort of been my M.O. whenever I end up running in a race that isn’t living up to my expectations. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily the best approach, but even though I’m definitely a competitive person and I always like to “beat” myself, running has ALWAYS been more to me than setting PRs. I know I’ll probably always be a middle-of-the-pack runner, but there’s still part of me that is just thrilled to be running just for the sake of running. I think that’s part of the reason I love my Sparkle Skirts so much…they’re a visual reminder that this is supposed to be FUN, and to try not to let my usual urge to beat myself up over everything take precedence over the fact that running is something I truly enjoy. At the end of the day, I feel pretty lucky to be able to do this after everything I’ve put my body through over the years!

Just in case you needed proof...it. was. HOT.

Just in case you needed proof…it. was. HOT.

As a side note, I was also sort of proud of myself for racing without capris (too hot!)…I finally seem to be coming to terms with my insecurities about those certain parts of my body (upper thighs, triceps, lower abs) which, let’s just say still contain a great deal of evidence that I used to be quite a bit larger! I would have never have felt confident enough with bearing so much of my thighs in the past, and body acceptance is just one of the many gifts that running has given me, honestly.

Even in the brutal heat and humidity, I still fared better overall than my previous two attempts in this race…no stopping to surreptitiously “tie my shoes” (read: catch my breath lest I drop dead), so to me, that’s a win! Also, if any residents of Cranford who may have been among the many people spraying us with hoses or sprinklers are reading this, allow me to take this moment on behalf of all of yesterday’s runners to THANK YOU! It was greatly appreciated!

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Anyway, my finish time was pretty atrocious (38:38), given that my average pace in shorter races as of late has been anywhere from an 8:30/9 minute mile, tops. It was made even worse by the fact that, as it turns out, the race wasn’t even chip timed! I’d estimate that it took me at least 30-45 seconds after the gun went off just to make it to the starting line, but all that was recorded was my gun time. I was definitely a little disappointed.

But, it’s all good. I have someone new in my life who forced asked me to sign up for yet another 4-mile race next week, the Woodbridge Run for Pizza (yes, that’s right, I’m running TWO pizza races this month!) so I’ll get a chance for redemption. Although, it will still be summer when I run next Wednesday, so, we’ll just see what I can do. 🙂

How do you deal with not living up to your race-day expectations?

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Recap: Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo

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Ready to get my shopping on!

I thought I’d start my Princess Half Marathon weekend recaps with a look at the race expo (if you didn’t see my first post-Princess recap, click here). Appropriately dubbed “Fit for a Princess,” the expo was pretty much the female runner’s heaven, with endless booths of must-have running gear and essentials along with girly apparel, sparkly jewelry, and plenty of other fun and festive accessories.

This was my very first race expo, so I feel I should mention that I really didn’t have anything to compare it to and pretty much had no idea what to expect during my entire race weekend experience.

That being said, I had read enough blogs and message board posts ahead of time to know that if I wanted a pair of those coveted RunDisney New Balance sneakers, that I had better get there early. I had already pre-ordered my Disney Princess Dooney & Bourke bag, so it was all about the sneakers that morning.

These lovely gentlemen were on hand to greet us at the expo.

These lovely gentlemen were on hand to greet us at the expo.

I had already changed my hotel to the Coronado Springs resort, which was hosting the expo this year, because I found a better deal through my annual pass discount than my original reservation at the Port Orleans French Quarter.  I was lucky enough to be able to wake up around 7am and take a stroll over the expo, where I was amongst the first 20-something princesses in line for the sneakers.

After the New Balance folks helped organize us into an orderly line and directed us to their booth, I spent about 30 minutes waiting for my turn to try on a pair of the sneakers…and let’s just say that I may or may not have purchased both models, with the justification that my size 10W feet were probably better suited for the wider men’s pair…but I really wanted the women’s, too!

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Yeah…this happened.

My next plan of attack was, of course, the RunDisney booth, where I was greeted with quite a surprise. It was 9:30 in the morning and the booth was absolutely and completely PACKED. I mean it, you could not move. I had to squeeze my way through what seemed a mile-long line of princesses just to LOOK at the merchandise.

Since I’m a crazy person and this was my first half marathon and I was oh-so-excited by all of the RunDisney goodies, my genius shopping strategy was to grab one of everything I MIGHT want, including the coveted “I Did It!” shirt, and then sort through what I was actually going to purchase while waiting in line (needless to say, I had some SORE arms the next day!). It wasn’t until well after 10am that I noticed that there was now a ridiculously long line formed by expo staff just let people into the booth, and I was almost denied re-admission when all I wanted to do was pick up my purse from the Dooney & Bourke table. CRAZY.

Found one of my favorite princesses at the expo!

Found one of my favorite princesses at the expo!

Then it was time to head to runner relations to get my corral changed, pick up my bib, my family’s ChEAR Squad gear, my race retreat wristband, my commemorative items — all of which required standing in separate lines, I might add — before jumping into the line that wrapped ALL THE WAY AROUND THE EXPO for packet pick-up.

I was planning on catching at least one of the speeches by the likes of Jeff Galloway or Ali Vincent from The Biggest Loser — a show that I watched all throughout my weight loss journey, and that continues to inspire me today — but by the time I had all of my must-do tasks taken care of, it was too late! Now that I’ve been through the half marathon experience, I’m hoping to be able to chill out a little bit and participate in more meet-and-greet activities during my Dumbo Double Dare weekend this summer (hint, hint, RunDisney, I’m going to need a spot at the meet-up!)

By this point, I was absolutely exhausted. I never did stop for a cup of coffee as originally planned on my way to the expo, and my stomach was growling, so I grabbed a bite to eat at the resort with my boyfriend (who was kind enough to help me lug my purchases back to the hotel room) and then hit the expo again to browse some new-to-me vendors, like SportHooks for my awesome “Once Upon a Run” medal hanger and Milestone Sports Jewelry for my beautiful runner heart necklace and earrings, as well as some of my tried-and-true favorites: Team Sparkle, BondiBand, and my newest obsession, Raw Threads, who released the adorable Mermaid shirt just in time for me to pre-order for the expo (so that was one line I got to skip!) and whose shirts are the absolute SOFTEST and COZIEST material ever and now I want to buy one for every day of the week. I was also particularly excited to buy the special Princess Half Marathon BondiBands and the Team Sparkle limited edition princess-inspired tees!

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Some of my swag…

All in all, I spent a ridiculous amount of money — this running thing is still very new and exciting to me, and I couldn’t help myself — and while I will say that I wish the expo wasn’t so INSANELY crowded or that the lines just for essentials like packet pick-up didn’t go on forever (and ever…and ever…) it was still a great start to the weekend!

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Welcoming 2013 with New Goals…Not Resolutions!

First things first: for those of you who have followed me over the years, as well as those who are seeing this blog for the very first time, I vow to you that THIS will be the year that I uphold my promise to update more frequently! I’ve set a very realistic and manageable goal — two posts per week — and I’m sticking to it.

So here it goes.happynewyear

Although I love the idea of a fresh start every January 1st, I’m really not a New Year’s resolution kind of gal. Anyone who has ever promised themselves that they’d lose weight in [insert year here] only to find themselves back on the couch with a bag of chips by January 15th knows that it takes a whole lot more than declaring a “resolution” once a year to make a permanent lifestyle change.

I prefer to live my one and only “resolution” — leading a healthy lifestyle — 365 days a year.

However, if there’s anything that the last six months of 2012 taught me, it’s that consistent goal-setting really is EVERYTHING. And best of all, you don’t have to wait until January 1, 2014 to set new goals for yourself…you can do it all year round!

Early last year, I would describe myself as a recreational runner at best. It was something I did to exercise, and that was pretty much it. At that point, I had participated in a few 5Ks and 4-milers “just for fun,” and had to admit that the thrill of crossing the finish line was unlike any I had ever experienced. I couldn’t deny my growing desire to give running a real shot.

I wanted to try a real training plan and I wanted to learn how to get faster and stronger, but I still couldn’t quite deny that nagging little voice in my head telling me that I would ALWAYS be too fat to run.

So when I raced in my local Firecracker 4-Miler on July 4th and found that my finishing time had not improved one little bit from my first time running the race in 2011 (it was also my first race overall), I decided it was time to make a choice.

Was I going to be a “real” runner, or what? And if so…what the heck was I waiting for?

I had to set a goal. A real goal. One that I couldn’t back out of even I wanted to. And that’s why, last August, I ended up setting the ultimate goal: to run a half-marathon. And not just any half-marathon…the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Feb. 2013.

I paid the pricey registration, booked myself an on-site room on the Walt Disney World resort, started comparing airfare, and Googled like crazy to find half-marathon training plans and advice on how I was actually going to make this goal a reality.

In the last six months of 2012, I followed training plans from Cool Running and raced in a handful of 5ks, 4-milers, and a 5-miler — and, surprise, surprise — my times started getting better and better! I even participated in two 10Ks, and much to my amazement, finished both in under 60 minutes.

I began the year struggling to maintain a 10-minute/mile pace, and now I’m averaging a 9-minute/mile pace. In 2011, I was running a 40-minute 4-miler, and now it takes me about 35 minutes. My 5K PR once hovered around 29 minutes, and in October I completed a sub-28 minute 5K for the first time.

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I celebrated the holidays not with alcohol and turkey and sweets (okay, fine, there was SOME of that going on!) but by racing in “turkey trots” and “jingle bell” runs. My Christmas list consisted of pretty much nothing but running gear and accessories, from a Garmin Forerunner 410 to more BondiBands and Sparkle Skirts to another Spibelt and fuel belt for long runs.

Yes, that’s right…I’m even doing “long runs” now! I used to think that the idea of me running five miles was laughable, if not downright impossible. And now my long runs are up to 10 miles and counting!

christmasBottom line? I am absolutely, utterly addicted to running. And it’s because I finally mustered the courage to set a goal that I can proudly say today that I am a “real” runner.

Whether it’s a weight loss goal (say, shedding those few extra holiday pounds!) or a running-related goal (like setting a new PR), consistently challenging ourselves with new feats to accomplish is how we grow. And that is why I’ve decided to make it official and declare my top three goals for 2013:

1.) Cross the finish line of my first half-marathon. An obvious choice! Aside from my weight loss, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything this much. I don’t care how long it takes me, or if I have to crawl across the finish line…I WILL do this!

2.) Pay closer attention to what my body is telling me. This is a big one for me. In the last few months I’ve dealt with a few minor injuries that I know resulted in pushing myself too hard. I combine my half-marathon training with my Muay Thai kickboxing, and because my two workouts of choice happen to be very high-impact, I’m working on learning how to just let my body rest (without the need to call myself “lazy”) and to know when I need to scale back my efforts for the sake of my well-being.

10k3.) Strive for improvement, not perfection. I am notoriously hard on myself, so when setting new goals this year, I will focus not on being “perfect” but on recognizing and celebrating my own personal improvement. That means no more beating myself up at the finish line when I miss setting a new PR or other time goal, or berating myself for indulging in dessert or not exactly following the day’s food plan. I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. And it’s time I start admitting it!

What are some of your goals for 2013?

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