Showing posts with label half marathon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label half marathon. Show all posts

Baltimore Running Festival - Things to Know Before You Go!

I just wrapped up my third Baltimore Running Festival and it was less than a great showing from a performance standpoint.  I went into the weekend undertrained and well aware of that fact so I ran some and walked liberally to my 2nd slowest half-marathon time yet.  But, I finished and still had an amazing time - that's what's important!! So instead of making this the typical race recap post, I'm going to shed a little insight to things you should know about the Baltimore Running Festival in case you decide to run in the future!

Registration - Registration is easy and on the relatively inexpensive side if you do it early enough.  This race is organized by Corrigan Sports Enterprise (CSE), which organizes several other races around Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic.  When you register for the Baltimore Running Festival, you'll also see this race connected with several other.  You can register for the Maryland Double or the King Crab Challenge as well if you're interested in competing in multiple races during the course of the year.  For the Baltimore Running Festival, you can find a race distance regardless of your ability - 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Team Relay, and even the BaltiMORON-a-thon (running both the 5K and Half in the same day).  Thinking about registering?  Keep your eyes open during the holiday season as previous years have seen race discounts as deep as 25% for a 24-hour period during the holiday shopping season!!

Premiums & Bling - Each year the Baltimore Running Festival provides top notch premiums from one of our favorite Baltimore companies, Under Armour.  Runners for the 5K and Team Relay each receive short sleeved tech shirts, while half and full marathon participants get long sleeved tech shirts.  And then, there are the medals!  In recent years, the Baltimore Running Festival has celebrated Maryland's unofficial state symbol, the crab, with their designs.  As the final leg in the Maryland Double and the King Crab Challenge, you'll hear lots of runners walking around with "clanging" medals after the race.

Getting Around - In each of my three Baltimore Running Festivals, I've had different transportation experiences on race day.  My first year, I ran the 5K and was on the road into the city in the early morning hours.  Traffic was backed up and it took a while to get into the city, but there was ample parking at M&T Bank Stadium that was free.  Getting in and out of the city isn't super easy on race day with road closures though so plan with ample time on both sides of the race.  The second time I ran, my husband and I got a hotel room at the Hilton the night before.  This was the year I ran the BaltiMORON-a-thon and was a fabulous option.  We could sleep in a bit on Saturday morning, walk right out of our hotel just a few steps to the 5K start and had a warm place to hang out and relax between the 5K and the half.  This year, I was only doing the half and opted to take the Metro into the city.  This was a super easy and effective option.  If you know me at all, you know I despise city driving so I couldn't have been happier to park in Owings Mills and take the subway in from there.  This may not be a good choice for 5K or full marathon runners though depending on how early you need to get into the city and when the Metro begins it's service that morning - be sure to check the schedule!

The Course - Is it just me or does Baltimore get more hills every time I run there???  You will certainly find your fair share of hills throughout the course.  The fist half of the course trends uphill so be sure to train for them.  On the plus side, what goes up must come down, so the the back half of the course trends down hill.  One of the prettiest parts of the course is the run around Lake Montibello.  This is such a serene half-way mark on the course and features the best aid station - energy gels!  Well, maybe that's the second best aid station.  Who can forget about the munchkin mile presented by Dunkin' Donuts?!?  I usually pass on donuts during the race, but decided to stop and smell the sugar this year with any time goals being nonexistent anyway.

The Best of Baltimore - This may be my favorite part of this race.  Baltimore doesn't always get the best press, but this event brings out the best in the city!  First of all, the support from the police department and other first responders is top notch.  There were countless cops who not only worked to block intersections throughout the city to keep runners safe, but they also joined in on the cheering and the fun.  Neighborhoods came together to throw some of the absolute best block parties - from music screaming from speakers, to costumed dancers, to children giving high fives, and endless cheers and applause, it was certainly a sight to be seen and helped motivate everyone regardless of how fast you were running.

Despite the tough terrain, Baltimore is one of my favorite running events - for all of these reasons and much more!  I hope to see you in Charm City sometime soon!!

Frederick Running Festival 2019 Half Marathon

The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play
So we ran through Frederick
On that wet, wet, wet day

Okay. . .so maybe that's not exactly how Dr. Seuss wrote it, but that's my adaptation to intro you into a recap of the 2019 Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon.  I had never run a race before that rained (and rained hard!) most of the race, so this was definitely a first.  Let's recap - the good, the bad, and the wet!

This was my third time participating in the Frederick Running Festival. In 2014, I ran the Twilight 5K and in 2016 I completed the Nut Job Challenge by running the Twilight 5K on Saturday night and the half marathon on Sunday morning.  I've always enjoyed this race weekend for several reasons - number one probably being the company I get to keep when running!  Several of my friends participate in this race each year so it truly is a fun filled event.  In fact, one of the couples we are closest with lives in Frederick and play host to a pasta dinner on Saturday night and open their house to runners to sleep at the night before the half.  I also really enjoy the course in Frederick, or at least the first 10 miles of it.

Miles 1 through 10 of the race are ran primarily through the streets of downtown Frederick.  Whether you're running through the shopping and dining district or winding through neighborhoods, the course always brings out a good number of fans and the time in town passes quickly.  The last few miles of the course though are brutal.  The course opens up to basically be wide open road.  With all visual interest lost and a pretty terrible uphill climb through mile 11, it's easy to quickly fade out, especially in the rain.

So let's talk about the rain for a minute.  We knew a few days out that weather forecasts were predicting a soggy half marathon, but forecasts only increased rain totals as the hours drew closer.  Having never run a race in this type of steady and consistent rain before, I was seeking advice from my more experienced friends.  Armed with anti-chafe cream, a hat, and my poncho I took to the starting area ready to get this race started and finished.  Maybe the rain would motivate me to run faster?  About 5 minutes before the race started, the skies opened up big time.  As I'm standing at the starting line, I'm watching rain pour from gutters of the surrounding buildings and realize I'm already accumulating puddles of water in my already soaked shoes.  It was at this time I started to think that I had made a tremendous mistake.  Luckily, the rain eased up as the race began and by a mile into the race, it was a steady, but slow rain.  It picked up again around mile 6 and I was again trudging through a downpour for about 2 miles.  The highlight of that stretch was one of the volunteers standing outside cheering us on with the song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" blaring from his car!

After mile 8, the rain again slowed to a more manageable amount, but by this point I was thoroughly soaked and tired and I slowed considerably for the final miles of the race.  I was ahead of pace for where I wanted to be until then, running on average around 11:30 miles, but slowed to over 12:00 miles and then eventually closed in on the 13:00 mile pace.  I think I really need to build in some speed work before my next half because when I tried to "kick it in" at the end, I had nothing - no next gear whatsoever.  Despite this collapse at the end and the conditions, I actually set a new PR by 11 minutes, besting my previous time of 2:53 with a finish of 2:42.


Overall, I would say the day was a success.  With a new PR firmly in hand and proving to myself that I can conquer the weather, I was pretty pleased.  However, I think my favorite part of race day was the hot shower that was waiting for me at the end followed by the big greasy cheeseburger from McDonald's - and the bling! And a great perk post race is that Care First provides runners with FREE, yes FREE, race photos!   Missed the Frederick Half Marathon, but still looking for more great races in Maryland.  Corrigan Sports, the group that hosts the Frederick Half Marathon, also has both the Baltimore 10 Miler and the Baltimore Running Festival coming up in the weeks and months ahead.  If you're interested in learning more about the Baltimore Running Festival, check out my referral link here!

Tales from a Self-Proclaimed Slacker

So here's the down and dirty truth - I've been a slacker.  Life has gotten in the way these past few weeks and I need to get myself back on track.  I can't say it's been a bad few weeks - it's actually been really exciting around our house!  Both of my boys celebrated birthdays the first week of February which meant birthday fun and a big birthday party.  February is also the busiest month of our friends and family birthday parties too so we've been running each weekend to parties.  We've also been doing lots of fun things like visiting the Baltimore Auto Show and renewing our membership with our first visit of 2019 to the Maryland Science Center.

The weather has been dampening my training plans - literally.  Between the polar vortex, snow, ice, and rain, I am once again renewed with my feelings of bitterness for training in Maryland winters.  Bring on the sunshine and warmer temperatures!  My treadmill has been getting me some miles, but it's admittedly not the same.  And with my hubby traveling a lot for work lately, getting to my elliptical at the Y has become more difficult.

And diet - don't even go there.  Training diet went out the window with the birthday cakes, pizza, and Super Bowl food about a week and a half ago and I haven't gotten that ship righted either.  In January, I lost 9 lbs and in February I've found 2 of them again!  I've been a yo-yo dieter most of my adult life so I'm used to this ride, but I'm hoping to end that cycle.  This time around I'm not doing a "diet" - I'm working to balance healthier eating choices with exercise to take weight off once and for all.


via GIFER

So now it's time to refocus and get back on track.  But how?  Getting back into a routine is HARD - like seriously hard people.  How do you do it?  I need to hit back with consistency.  Whether it's what's on the training plan or not, I simply need to do something every day.  Training for a marathon is, well, a marathon not a sprint.  I know ups and downs will happen over the next 11 months and my success next January won't be determined by one or two weeks where I fell down on my plan, but by the weeks where I pulled myself back and kept pushing forward.  That's a good metaphor for life too. We're all bound to fall down from time to time, but it's not how far or how hard you fall.  Instead, it's about how you pull yourself back up.  And remember you are not alone - in life or training.  Admitting our failures and our struggles as well as celebrating our successes with family, friends, or total strangers on the Internet means we find support and encouragement.  So today, let's lift each other up and make each other stronger!

Conquering Excuses

Spending quality time with my treadmill
this week.
"It's too cold."
"It's snowing." 
"It's too late." 
"Why does it get dark so early?"
"I'm too tired."

Any of those sound familiar?  I know I've been guilty of saying them before, but I'm working on ways to conquer excuses in 2019 when it comes to working out and my training.  As I've heard from much wiser people than me, it's not about "not having time" for something - it's all in how you prioritize your time. 

Full disclosure - this was a rough week in meeting my training goals.  My excuses for the week include busy days at school that kept me later, my husband traveling for work which meant I had both littles to manage, and the brutal winds and snowy weather.  So while my Galloway training calendar called for 2 30 minute runs and a 3 mile run this week, that didn't happen. . .well, it didn't happen exactly that way.  This week, I conquered excuses by modifying and simply doing the best I can.  

This would have been a really easy week to say that I wasn't going to work out since I wasn't able to run the way I wanted to, but instead I made modifications to my Galloway plan to keep me moving without (hopefully) losing too much progress.  I am fortunate to have a treadmill at home which means I can still walk even when I can't run.  Running on a treadmill tears my body up and I've just reached a point where I don't do it anymore.  So this weeks running workouts became walking workouts.  I followed the same plan, just walking instead of running.  And I stayed true to my yoga video as well, logging 3 yoga sessions this week.  

At the end of the day, even when you can't stick exactly to the plan, my motto is that it's better to do something rather than nothing.  We'll see what the week ahead brings.  It's another crazy week of schedules and looks like another snow storm is on the horizon, so more treadmill miles may be in store, but I have plenty of time to continue training before the Frederick Half Marathon.  

Until next week, keep moving friends!  

Training Plans!

Time to lace up those training shoes, Mickey!
One of the best things about keeping a blog are the connections you make with others along the way.  I've met so many fabulous "virtual" friends over the years who share both a love of running and a love of Disney with me.  So in the spirit of connecting with others, I'm starting a weekly post this year that will allow me to share my week in training.  My hope is that this will be a place where I can hold myself accountable by publicly sharing what's going on with my running while also hoping to create a community space where all of you who are also enjoying the ups and downs of a fitness journey can share your own stories.

So here we are at week one - let's talk 2019 goals first.  Actually, to tell the story of my 2019 goals, I need to tell you a 2020 goal.  I'm planning to run the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2020 along with the Castaway Challenge which means that 2019 is a year for me to seriously pile the miles back on!  I generally do better sticking with a training plan when I have a race to train for so I have two half marathons on the books this year.  In May, I'll be running the Frederick Half Marathon.  This race was my very first half back in 2016.  I'm also signed up for the Baltimore Half Marathon in October.  This will be a return to this race after a three year hiatus.  By completing both of these races, I'll also earn the Maryland Double medal.  And, because I love medals and it's really only one more race, I may add the Baltimore 10 miler which would get me "King Crab" status for the second time.  Ultimately I'm running Maryland in preparation to runDisney again in 2020!
Pretty much. . . #truth

Those of you who have been following me for several years now know my deep love of Jeff Galloway and his training plans so it should be no surprise that I'm once again turning to him for guidance on my training this year.  While I continued a regular exercise routine in 2018, I didn't run any races, so I'm back at staring in square one for half marathon training.  I'm following Galloway's Beginner Half Marathon training plan that can be found on the runDisney website.  It's a 19 week training program which works perfectly since the Frederick Half is 19 weeks away.  This week, I ran my three training runs - two 30 minute runs and a 2 mile run on the weekend.  It actually felt pretty good being back out there with minimal adjustment for my body.  I'm supplementing my non-running days with either walking or yoga to keep moving but hopefully without putting too much stress on my muscles and joints.

What are your fitness goals this year?  Any runners out there with exciting races on the calendar?  Or maybe you're changing up and trying something new.  Whatever your goals are, I can't wait to follow your journeys too!

2017 Princess Half Marathon Race Recap

Leg 2 of the Glass Slipper Challenge found me with another early wake-up at 3AM to get ready to join the thousands of women (and lots of men too!) at Epcot for runDisney's Princess Half Marathon. Like other runDisney races, the start time is an invigorating 5:30AM and they ask runners to arrive by 4:30AM at the latest.  We boarded our bus from Coronado Springs at 3:45 and were inside the waiting area at Epcot by 4:15.  Since we had time to spare and nothing else to do, we opted to get in line to try and meet a princess before the start of the race.  We cut it close before the line was closed, but were able to grab a picture with Tiana.  Christine and I also found a minute to pause for a quick photo before heading to the corrals.  As you can see, I went with a Belle inspired look for the race which was fitting as the race weekend theme was Beauty and the Beast.

The starting corrals for this particular race are a good walk from the waiting area.  Definitely heed the warnings by the DJ beginning around 4:30 to start walking there.  We began heading in that direction around 5:00 and didn't make it to our corral until after the race had officially started.  That's a benefit though of being slow - my corral placement was so far back, I didn't miss my starting time!  We saw many, many people running hard to try and make it to their corrals before the race started and some early corral runners who missed their start and had to drop back.  Regardless of where runners started, everyone was treated to the usual pomp and circumstance that accompanies the start of every runDisney race - fireworks and music!

The race featured a number of unique and fabulous character stops.  We bypassed the long line for the group of handsome men waiting to greet runners, but don't worry ladies - I grabbed a quick photo as we jogged past.  This course takes you from Epcot to the Ticket and Transportation Center and then onto Magic Kingdom.  There is nothing quite as exciting as seeing the signs for Magic Kingdom, running down Main Street USA, and through Cinderella Castle.  There were a number of character stops in Magic Kingdom, but I was feeling very tired and sluggish from being undertrained and tired from the 10K the day before so we continued to push on to not loose momentum.  I had said that I would stop for Gaston no matter how long the line was, but when the line was back past Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid, I changed my mind and just settled for a quick pic on the way past.

After leaving Magic Kingdom, we ran past the Grand Floridian and saw a very famous and familiar face.  Many Disney regulars will recognize Richard as the long time greeter at the Grand Floridian.  This was one picture I couldn't pass up.  As we made our way back to Epcot, I started to really lose it physically.  As we were on the bridge crossing into Epcot, I was doing way more walking than running, but I was still moving in the right direction.  After entering Epcot, runners circled around the  fountain in Future World and then back to the parking lot.  The Gospel Choir at mile 13 was just what this exhausted runner needed.  Princess Minnie was greeting runners right before crossing the finish line and we were done!  19.3 miles in less than 30 hours was an impressive feat for me and I couldn't have been happier to pick up my beautiful Princess Half Marathon AND Glass Slipper Challenge medals.  I also couldn't have been happier to return to the hotel for a shower and lunch that was waiting for me.  The Glass Slipper Challenge was a memorable weekend and I look forward to my next runDisney adventure!



I'm officially a runDisney Princess!

It's been quiet for a few weeks on the blog as I've prepared for and traveled to Walt Disney World for my very first Princess Half Marathon Weekend.  I'll be posting more details on each of these experiences in the weeks ahead, but I wanted to take a minute and give you a quick weekend recap from my trip.

Where We Stayed - For this trip, I was back on Disney property and stayed at Coronado Springs Resort.  The moderate level hotel is also a Convention Center and as such boasts several dining options, a spa, and beautiful grounds.  We were only here for two nights, but enjoyed our stay.  It's definitely one I will recommend to friends and family in the future.

Where We Ate - We had two new dining experiences on this trip.  We visited Chef Art Smith's Homecoming in Disney Springs for dinner one evening where we were delighted by some down home southern cooking.  And on Sunday, we enjoyed the Gospel Brunch at House of Blues - also in Disney Springs.  The Gospel Brunch, which features a buffet of New Orleans favorites and a gospel concert, had been on my "must-do" list for a while now and it didn't disappoint!  I also had the pleasure of introducing my friend Christine to California Grill.  If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that dinner while watching the fireworks from California Grill is one of my favorites and I was excited to do it again.

What We Did - We ran the Glass Slipper Challenge!  When you spend less than 50 hours in Walt Disney World and run both a 10K and Half Marathon, there's not much time to do anything else.  Both races were a lot of fun.  In typical runDisney fashion, characters and entertainment were everywhere you looked.  And the bling. . .oh, the bling!  It was a fabulous weekend of race medals - my new favorites in my ever growing collection.  Princess Half Marathon weekend had a very different vibe then my previous experiences at Wine and Dine.  It felt "crazier," but I guess that's what happens when you have 20,000+ women running in tutus!

As you can see, it was a short trip, but I was able to pack in many new experiences.  I can't wait to share them with you in the weeks ahead and I'm already counting down to our next trip in November - a return for runDisney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon weekend events!!

I'm a Baltimoron!

Under Armour Race Premiums - Yes, please!
Everyone knows runners can be a little crazy.  And those of you who know me, probably know that I love my race bling.  So when the time came to sign up for my 2016 racing schedule, I decided to go all out.  Those of you who have been following my blog, have seen race recaps from the first two legs of the King Crab Challenge.  In May, I completed the Nut Job Challenge at the Frederick Running Festival which included a 5K on Saturday night and a half-marathon on Sunday morning.  Just 3 weeks later, I ran the hot, hilly, and humid Baltimore 10 miler.  The final part of the King Crab Challenge came with completing the Baltimore half-marathon last weekend.  I decided to take the Baltimore Running Festival one step further and signed up for the Baltimoronathon - a 5K and a half-marathon with start times just two hours apart.

The hubs and I sporting our 5K medals
I was excited to have my husband join me for this race weekend.  We decided to get a hotel room in the city the night before so that we wouldn't have to get too early of a start on Saturday morning.  Our hotel, the Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor, happened to be just a few steps from the start line for the 5K - perfect!  Just a few days before the race, I convinced my husband to sign up for the 5K as well.  After a light breakfast of oatmeal and a banana, we headed down to the start line for a 7:30AM start.  Since I knew I was tackling two races in the same day, I decided to take it easy on the 5K and walked most of it with my husband.  The 5K course is almost entirely uphill the first half and then turns around to go downhill the second half.  We added some jogging in to the second half of the race, which helped to loosen me up for the half.  We finished the 5K in about 47 minutes, collected our bling, and headed back to the Hilton lobby to meet up with my friends who were going to be running the half.

So much bling!
The half was slated to start at 9:45AM, so we started heading down to Inner Harbor for the start around 9:15.  The Baltimore Running Festival also features a marathon that day.  Along the way to the start, we were able to cheer for the marathon runners passing by and were keeping a look out for a friend who was completing the full.  The start of the half is right next to the Inner Harbor and features self-seeded waves.  My speedier friends headed off in Wave 2 and I lingered back to the end of Wave 3 of 5.  I don't know why, especially after the Baltimore 10 miler, but I was surprised how hilly the course was - particularly the opening miles.  Despite the hills, I felt really good the 5-6 miles.  It typically takes me a few miles to hit my groove on a long run, but I think the 5K earlier took care of that for me.  Around mile 7 the course flattened out and circled Lake Montebello where a DJ kept runners dancing and smiling as they entered and left the lake.  The Lake Montebello portion and 33rd Street, mirrored a few miles of the Baltimore 10 miler.  However, while that race ended with a large uphill portion back into Druid Hill Park, the Baltimore Half Marathon finished with a downhill run to finish through Eutaw Street and Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  I'm really glad the race finished downhill, because by about mile 11, I was dragging and needed all the help I could get.  I finished the race with a smile and collected my bling!  That day, I earned my 5K, half-marathon, and Baltimoronathon medals.  I also was able to collect my Maryland Double medal for finishing the Frederick and Baltimore Half Marathons.  And the King Crab Challenge award this year was a fleece blanket.  My training had been a little lax for this half, so my goal was to finish in under 3 hours, and I clocked in at 2:57.  

The spoils from my 2016 race season!
So for those of you thinking about the Baltimore Running Festival - I would definitely recommend it!  The race is well supported - both officially by Corrigan and unofficially by the people of Baltimore.  The residents and spectators who come out to cheer runners along the course offered high fives, music, costumes and some pretty funny signs.  The Baltimoronathon was certainly an added unique challenge.  Now it's on to the next race - runDisney's Wine and Dine 10K on November 5th!

Happy Running, Friends!

Hold Onto Your Tiaras - I'm Running Princess Weekend!

Well runDisney fans and friends, I'm excited to share that I'll get to cross another runDisney event off my bucket list!  Look out Glass Slipper Challenge - I'm coming for you in 2017!  Yesterday, my friend and I registered for the annual challenge which includes the Enchanted 10K on Saturday and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday.

Princess Half Marathon weekend is the ultimate girls running weekend in Walt Disney World.  Each year, a different princess takes center stage.  When I saw the ads for the 2017 registration coming from runDisney featuring Belle, I couldn't pass it up.  Belle is my favorite Disney princess and Beauty and the Beast still remains one of my favorite Disney movies of all time.

My friend, Christine, and I are already anxiously awaiting our big trip.  We are planning to stay on Disney property - most likely at one of the value resorts - to make this a budget friendly trip.  In fact, since we're flying in Friday and flying home Sunday, while needing to squeeze in the expo and two races, we're probably not even going to do park tickets.  While there, our plan is to spend our free time at the pool and spending time exploring all the fabulous shopping and dining options in Disney Springs.

As far as training, I'll need to roll right from the runDisney Wine and Dine 10K in November to start getting ready for race weekend.  This will be the toughest running challenge I've faced yet with back to back race days of these distances, but if anything will motivate me, it will be a mouse!

Who else will I see at Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February??

Life in the Slow Lane


When you're not fast, you run for other reasons than always being worried about time - fitness, quiet time, and the pure enjoyment of the run.  Training for a half-marathon was not always fun, pounding the pavement mile after mile, but logging 13.1 miles on race day for the Frederick Half was pure fun throughout most of the race.  Being in the slower pack of the race, I get to enjoy things that some faster runners might just breeze right by without even realizing they're missing anything.

Neighborhood Support - Somewhere around mile 7 we were in a perfectly quaint little neighborhood that came out to cheer on runners, even those of us in the back of the pack.  I think my favorite "cheerleaders" were the little kids who set up along the road to hand out high fives to everyone who passed.  I think they reminded me of my little boys who I wish could have been there cheering mommy on!

Camaraderie with Runners - There are lots of interesting people you can meet while running if you have the time to slow down and say "hi."  I was excited to meet Sid Busch during Frederick.  If you don't know Sid, he's a bit of a running celebrity who had a spread in Runner's World a few months ago.  Sid runs races from 5Ks to marathons in honor of fallen service men and women while carrying an American flag.  He's participated in runDisney races and several of the local Maryland races that I've done, but this was the first time I had the chance to meet him.  I also was passed (yes, I'm admitting it) by a man who jumped rope the entire half marathon.  How awesome is that?  And I did pass him back around mile 11.  I also saw about 25 runners wearing runDisney shirts that day which automatically caused me to talk with them as we were running together about their favorite races.  Nothing brings people together quite like Disney - even when you're almost 1,000 miles from the park!

More time for donuts (or other pit stops) - That's right.  I said donuts.  I was surprised, and excited, to see Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins at one of the fuel stops along the run.  When your time is not the most important part of the day you have time to stop and smell the donuts - and eat them too!  Other races may feature fun stops too - like the character greetings during a runDisney race.  When you're enjoying life in the slow lane, there is always time to stop for a smile.

Let's end with a little pick-me-up for some runners who might feel like they are "too slow" for a certain race or to call themselves a runner.  By embarking on the training journey and participating in the race, you're already accomplishing an amazing feat that many others don't even dare to attempt.  Whether you are running 8 minute miles or 15 minute miles, stand tall, stand proud, and enjoy the run!

2016 Frederick Nut Job Challenge Recap

This past weekend, I crossed a big item off my bucket list - I completed my first half-marathon.  And not only did I run the 13.1 miles on Sunday afternoon, but I turned out to be a complete Nut Job by adding the 5K race on Saturday evening.  While the pain is still fresh in my legs and joints, I've already started reflecting on the lessons learned from this race experience.  I can tell you that there will me more posts to follow on the emotional highs of this past weekend, but for now I'm just going to stick to the basics of a race recap.

Frederick Twilight 5K - The Frederick Running Festival kicks off on Saturday evening with a 5K race.  The race begins on the track at the Frederick Fairgrounds.  It's a well attended event and features a variety of elite runners as well as plenty of first timers.  The course is a fairly flat out and back course that runs along some back open roads.  There is not much shade and not much to look at, but the course goes by pretty quickly.  There is a water stop in the middle of the road around 1.25 miles and then you pass it again coming back not far before the 2 mile mark.  I ran this race beck in 2014 and not much has changed.  Participants are treated to a fun after-party featuring music and beverages (of the adult variety).  While there is no race "bling" for the 5K, it is the first step in earning your status as a Nut Job.  I didn't particularly care about time for the 5K as I wanted to keep my legs fresh for Sunday morning.  I a pair of women who were having a great time jogging along and enjoyed listening to their funny stories and banter.  The three of us also cheered on a 5 year old who was struggling to get through the last mile.  He was adorable, dressed as Superman and running with his dad.  I had a group of friends with me who were running this as well and after some time on the infield of the fairgrounds celebrating, we returned to one of their houses in Frederick for a delicious Italian dinner and to crash before the half in the morning.

Frederick Half-Marathon - Luckily with staying close by in downtown Frederick, we didn't have to get up too early on Sunday morning.  My friend Ali is an awesome host and had a spread of bagels, peanut butter, coffee, and bananas ready for any quick fuel-ups that the runners staying at her house wanted.  We left the house at 6:15 and made it to the start by 6:30AM.  I had my game plan going into the race and knew that I wanted to stick with it - I didn't want anyone else to dictate my race to me.  I have been training my long runs using run/walk intervals as I've increased run distances.  I jogged the first 5 minutes to get through the bottleneck at the start and then settled into my 60/60 intervals.  Compared to many other courses in Maryland, the half is relatively flat with the exception of a long, steady uphill between miles 11 and 12.  The course is very scenic as it weaves through historic downtown Frederick.  Miles 8 - 10 were run through a quaint neighborhood where many supporters came out playing music, blowing bubbles, and high-fiving runners.  The course was well supported with water, gatorade, and bathrooms around every 2-3 miles.  Throughout the race, my splits were amazingly even - settling in right around 13 min/mile from mile 1 to mile 13.  I crossed the finish line in 2:53 and felt elated. . .followed immediately by exhaustion!  My body was spent and I was not sad when a carload of my friends wanted to head back to shower rather quickly rather than hanging around.  But there was time to pose with my bling before leaving!

Will I be back for more half-marathons?  Absolutely!  I think it's a great distance to challenge you mentally and physically while not overwhelming you.  Will I complete more challenges again?  Probably. . .I'm a slave to the bling!!  The Frederick Half was the first part of the King Crab Challenge and the Maryland Double with the Baltimore 10-miler in June and the Baltimore Half in October completing those challenges.  Can't wait for more race excitement this year!

Lumiere invites you to "Be Our Guest" for a Wine & Dine Challenge!

Big menu changes to Wine and Dine Weekend!
Now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair, as runDisney proudly presents. . .your new challenge!

runDisney announced major changes to the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon weekend today after rumors have been swirling for some time and registration was pushed back two weeks.  So what has changed?  Just about everything.  While Wine and Dine weekend has always been a unique event for runDisney, it now takes on a much more traditional race weekend look.  Mickey's Holiday 5K (notice the change from Jingle Jungle 5K??) has been pushed to Friday which means that the race expo will now open on Thursday.  Also on Friday, an additional day of Kid's Races have been added.  

Brand new for 2016 - the Wine and Dine 10K!  Join Chef Remy from Ratatouille for an all new 10K race on Saturday morning.  Since the weekend has added a 10K race, a new challenge is also on the menu of appetizing races.  Lumiere's Two-Course Challenge invites runners to finish the 10K on Saturday and the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon.  Runners who complete both races and had registered for the challenge will receive a special finisher medallion for the challenge.  And the runDisney changes didn't stop there.  In addition to adding the 10K and the challenge, the start time of the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon was moved to 5:30AM on Sunday morning.  This half-marathon was the last nighttime race left standing on the runDisney calendar after the Tower of Terror 10-miler and the Expedition Everest Challenge both disappeared in recent years so this news was controversial to say the least in the runDisney community.

While reaction to the changes has been mixed, I'm willing to guess that the new challenge and 10K will sell out very quickly and we'll once again see all races that weekend reach capacity, even if the half-marathon itself doesn't sell out in under 30 minutes again!  Even though this year will certainly be a very different experience, check out my coverage of the events from last year for a taste of Wine and Dine weekend.  Bon Appetite!

Registering for Wine and Dine Weekend
Wine and Dine Expo 2015
Jingle Jungle 5K 2015
Wine and Dine Half-Marathon (well. . .not really a half-marathon) 2015

"March"-ing Into Racing Season!

With the turn of the calendar, the beginning of daylight savings time, and the change in temperature, signs of spring are certainly springing up all around the Mid-Atlantic.  Another sure sign that spring is in the air?  Running calendars are once again blooming with races.  I've been spending the winter months training at Planet Fitness on a treadmill, but am now venturing back outside to prepare for upcoming events.  Here's a sneak peek at my racing calendar to kick off the season.

2014 and 2015 were a blast! Can't wait to see what 2016 brings!!
March 12 - OCMD St. Patty's Day Boardwalk 5K - I'll be kicking off the 2016 racing season with a race that I'm excited to be running with my mom.  My mom will be celebrating her birthday on March 18 and this will be her first ever 5K!  It should be a great time in Ocean City, MD and I'm looking forward to what should be a fast, flat course.

May 7 & 8 - Frederick Running Festival - This will be my first half-marathon as my runDisney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon only turned out to be half of a half.  In Frederick, I'll be an official "nut job" - running the Twilight 5K on Saturday night and the half-marathon on Sunday morning.  This is also the first leg of the Maryland Double and the King Crab Challenge.  I'm a bundle of emotions thinking about my first half-marathon - nervous, excited, anxious!

June 4 - Baltimore 10-miler - This race is the second part of the King Crab Challenge.  It looks to be a fun race through Baltimore and running through the Maryland Zoo.  I'm also hoping that this race will give me a good proof of time for any future races.

It looks to be an exciting couple of months.  I'm hoping that things go well with my training schedule as work tends to get busier in the Spring and the little ones at home are keeping me hopping more quickly then Peter Cottontail delivering Easter eggs!  Keep following along for updates on training and race recaps as each one is completed.

Welcome to 2016!

With the turning of the calendar, a new chapter in the book life is about to be written.  I thought I would take some time to look back on my resolutions from my "Happy New Year" post from this time last year and reflect a bit before setting my goals and resolutions for this year.

  • Maintain balance between wife, mom, daughter, Kristi, and Assistant Principal.  Juggling multiple roles can be exhausting and I want to do my best to prioritize and make time for each of these important responsibilities in my life. - This is probably still my biggest struggle moving forward into 2016.  Keeping up with two kids, a full time job, my house and husband, and still making time for me is never easy.  I think as I move forward this year, this is going to continue to be an area I focus on with my resolution being to be present in every moment.  When I'm at home with my husband and kids, be at home and enjoy them.  When I'm working out, use that opportunity to clear my head and focus on me.  And when I'm at work, give 110% there so I can also have time for my family when I get done.

  • Run a half-marathon.  After the pregnancy, I've decided to set an ambitious training goal to force me to get off the couch and back into shape.  My plan is the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon in November.  Which leads me to Resolution #3. . . - At the end of the year, I'd have to say I half accomplished this goal.  The Wine & Dine Half-Marathon was shortened because of storms in the area to only 6.72 miles.  In 2016, I will run a half-marathon!  Currently, I'm planning to take part in the King Crab Challenge which includes the Frederick Half-Marathon in May, the Baltimore 10-miler in June, and the Baltimore Half-Marathon in October.  

  • Somewhere Disney.  If you know anything about me by now, you know that I need to feed my Disney addiction with a yearly trip.  Dan and I are celebrating our 5 year anniversary this year and are planning either a long weekend getaway to the Food and Wine Festival in November or a short DCL trip in October. - Well, we ended up blowing this one out of the water with a surprise last-minute trip to Walt Disney World with the kids for a week in July where we stayed at Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa.  My husband and I have different memories of this trip, but I say it was fabulous!  We then also went in November for a long weekend for the runDisney Wine & Dine Half-Marathon weekend where we stayed at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. The Food & Wine Festival was a fun time and I can't wait to participate in another runDisney race.  Sadly, it doesn't look like a trip to Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line is in our budget for this year, but my trip in November means that I'll still be eligible to apply for the 2017 Disney Parks Moms Panel and my husband has already tentatively given me the green light for a Disney trip in February 2017 to participate in the Princess Half-Marthon Weekend.  

  • Continue blogging and interacting with the social media community.  2014 was a first for me with beginning a blog and actually using Twitter.  I've had an amazing time connecting through these outlets and hope to build my skills and followers in the year to come.  If you don't currently follow me on Twitter, please do @dsnyrunrgrl.  I've also applied to host a #DisneySide @ Home Celebration and submitted my interest to be selected for the #DisneySMMoms On the Road Conference - fingers crossed!  And hopefully I'll make it past R2 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search this Fall. - This is another area where I feel like I exceeded even my own expectations.  My blog readership increased exponentially this year and my Twitter following has grown from under 100 at the beginning of 2015 to over 1,000 by the end of the year.  I've also entered into the world of Instagram.  I was so excited to host a DisneySide at Home Celebration in February and even more humbled and grateful for the chance to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road in New York City.  This year, the Disney Parks Moms Panel search ended with an exit in Round 1, but it was exciting to chEAR on some amazing friends who were fortunate enough to make the panel this year and maybe next year will be my chance to be a part of the magic!  

2015 was a year of exciting changes personally too with the addition of our youngest son Caleb in February and purchasing a new home in January.  The beginning of the new year always brings excitement and anticipation and I hope that 2016 brings pixie dust and blessings to my family and yours!  Happy New Year!

runDisney Wine & Dine 2015 Expo


A runDisney race weekend begins with a visit to the expo.  For the Wine & Dine Half-Marathon Weekend, the expo began on Friday and continued through Saturday afternoon.  Held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, the expo is home to packet pick-up, official runDisney merchandise, and major damage to my credit card with all of the great shopping!  Here are a few things I learned at my first runDisney expo.

Bring your patience - One thing that you'll be sure to do is wait in line.  From the time we arrived to pick up our bibs, long lines stretched throughout the field house.  Bibs for the Half-Marathon and 5K were separated on opposite sides of the complex.  Following the wait in each of those lines, the lines for official merchandise and pre-purchased commemorative items awaited.  All told, it was a very long morning with lots of crowds.  Be prepared with a good attitude and your best Disney spirit to survive!

New Balance Shoes - Beginning in 2013, runDisney and New Balance have partnered to offer exclusive shoes for runDisney expos.  These shoes are only available for purchase during each expo and are immensely popular.  In an effort to minimize lines for these very popular shoes, New Balance utilizes a virtual queue.  Beginning at 6AM on the morning of the expo, you can enter your bib number and contact information and New Balance will assign you a time to arrive to their booth for shoe pick-up.  In the virtual queue you can reserve one pair of shoes and you can purchase a second if you're interested at the expo.  I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth this whole process went.  In fact, I was even able to access my return time about 15 minutes early. . .and I walked away with two great pairs of New Balance shoes!


Official Merchandise - At ESPN Wide World of Sports, there were two runDisney official merchandise booths - one inside of each field house.  Lines were long, crowds were big, and cast members tried to restock shelves as quickly as they could to keep up with popular demand.  I arrived at the expo around 10:15 on the first day and was able to grab what I was interested in for official merchandise - an "I Did It!" shirt.  I also picked up a headband and could have maxed out my credit card on all the great items if I didn't exercise some serious restraint.  Just a reminder that the official merchandise booth is Disney operated so you can use Disney gift cards to purchase items and you also can grab your Chase Disney Visa discount of 10% off $50 or more.


For the best selection on any items that you would like to purchase at the expo, you'll want to arrive early on the first day.  However, this is also where you will find the largest crowds.  Come prepared with a large amount of patience (and maybe a sizable wallet as well!) and you'll be sure to have a successful kick-off to your runDisney race weekend!


runDisney Wine & Dine 2015

Waiting for the race to start.
Whether you refer to it as the Wine & Dine Half and Half or the ever clever Zap & Dash, the 2015 Wine & Dine Half Marathon certainly proved to be an unforgettable evening.  When we arrived at ESPN Wide World of Sports there were already thousands gathered outside on the fields.  Despite the large crowds, the staff and volunteers were incredibly organized and the stop at gEAR check was quick and easy!  I was running the race with a good friend of mine, Craig, and after our arrival around 8:00PM, we found a spot on the pavement to sit down and rest our legs.  Lines were long for pictures with Disney characters so we opted to save our photos for the race course and afterwards.  The DJ was just wrapping up on stage and the official Wine and Dine pre-show began with previews of future runDisney races and the after party at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival which was just 13.1 miles away. 

Can I get a FastPass for the bathroom line?
As the pre-show was ending, the heat and humidity that had been surrounding the evening broke while the temperature dropped a few degrees, the wind picked up, and just a few raindrops fell.  Instead of moving us to the corrals at 9PM as planned, an announcement was made that storms were in the area and we would be delaying moving into corrals.  That first announcement was quickly followed by a second announcement directing runners, volunteers, and staff to evacuate from the fields and inside the stadiums at the Wide World of Sports complex.  We were inside for about an hour and, besides the incredibly long lines for the bathrooms, things were pretty comfortable.  The runDisney staff frequently made announcements alerting us that we remained in a holding pattern and they would let us know as soon as possible the status of the race.  Close to 10PM, the original scheduled start time, we had the all clear to return back outside and begin getting organized in our corrals.  As we were heading back to the fields, rumblings began to spread through the crowds about a shortened race - anything from a 5K to a 10 miler were rumored.  Once in our corrals, the official announcement came that they would cutting roughly 6 miles off of the course (the final measurement would come in at a race distance of 6.72 miles).  From what I've seen on social media in the hours and days following the race, the decision to shorten the course was made based on continued concerns of storms in the area, debris on the course at Animal Kingdom, time restrictions on the permits for road closures, the heat/humidity, and making sure runners had a chance to enjoy some of the after party at Epcot which was scheduled to end at 4AM. 
The scene inside the HP Fieldhouse.

Let's try this again. . .time to race - Part 2!!
The race started close to 11PM with runners in Corral A going off to fireworks and music!  runDisney requires proof of time for their longer races and they use this to organize runners into corrals.  Since I had not previously run a race distance of 10K or longer, I didn't have a proof of time to submit and ended up in the last corral, Corral L.  And because Craig is a great friend who wanted to stick by my side for the race, he gave up his super speedy position in Corral B to hang back with me.  Corrals were started roughly every 5 minutes and each corral had the chance to feel that special magic at the start line as fireworks and music were re-created with each start.  We were off and running around quarter of midnight, and I couldn't be happier to finally be underway!  For me, the longest part of the night was waiting in the corral for our turn to start.

Some motivation from the Green Army Men
The race course itself was awesome!  runDisney keeps runners hydrated and happy with plenty of bathroom breaks available along the course and water / Powerade stations every mile.  Around what should have been mile 9, they offered energy gels to all runners too.  The course felt great as I train on the rolling hills of Carroll County and Orlando is flat as a pancake!  There was a hill at an on ramp around the original mile 8 marker.  To take runners minds off the hill, Green Army Men from the Toy Story movies were there for character pictures and shouting orders at runners as they conquered the hill.  "Don't you even think about walking now!"  "Drop and give me three!"  That was one of my favorite parts of the race!

Made it to the lights!
The course was supposed to run through three parks including Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot.  However, with the shortened course, Animal Kingdom was eliminated.  We spent a little over 2 miles on the highways and then entered Hollywood Studios.  There were numerous character stops throughout the park and we had the chance to also run through The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  2015 is the last year that Walt Disney World will be featuring this spectacular event and with construction slated at both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, it will be interesting to see what course changes will take place.  The worst part of the race course was the run between Hollywood Studios and Epcot.  Runners were directed to use the walkway between the two parks which also includes the boardwalk around the Yacht and Beach Club.  This walkway was long and narrow which made it difficult to keep up any kind of decent pace, especially when you get caught behind walkers who were walking three and four across.  The one plus side of this area is that once the boardwalk opens up around the hotels, you are greeted by spectators for really the first time since the start as guests from the hotels are greeting runners with signs and cheers.  Only about 1 mile to go! 


Stopping for a selfie in Hollywood Studios
Minnie Mouse!
The race ended running through Future World at Epcot and into the parking area.  My husband and Craig's wife were cheering us on from one of the spectator areas inside of Epcot and we knew we were wrapping up.  As we approached the finish line, we noticed Mickey and Minnie greeting runners.  We pulled off the course just steps before the finish line for two final pictures before crossing the finish and getting our bling!  Once again the staff and volunteers get things moving smoothly at the finish with runners picking up medals, seeking medical attention, grabbing their box of food, getting drinks, and picking up their bags from gEAR check.  Craig and I were both feeling great after the race despite the fact that it was closing in on 2AM.  When we caught up with our spouses though, they were exhausted from hours of fun in Epcot so we opted to skip the after party and head back to our hotel.
Finish Line with Mickey!
While it was a little disappointing that my first half-marathon only turned out to be half of a half-marathon, I loved every minute of the unique Wine and Dine 6.72 miler!  My official time according to the runDisney website was 1:37:21 which included three character photo stops and a bathroom break as well as accounting for the bottlenecks throughout the course - I'm happy with that in my longest race distance yet!  The entire weekend was a lot of fun and I'll be posting more about the Jingle Jungle 5K, the Expo, and some general tips for runDisney races that I've learned in my first experience in the weeks to come.  Check out all of my other runDisney articles and I hope to chEAR some of you on as you also enjoy runDisney.  After all, "every mile is magic!"