Showing posts with label running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label running. Show all posts

Holiday Season 2020: Best Gifts for Runners!

Holiday Gift Guide for Runners


Got a runner on your holiday shopping list?  Check out some of my favorite running gifts that will be sure to delight any runners this holiday season! 

Disclaimer:  I received most of these items below for free.  Some I won, others I received in exchange for review as a BibRave Pro.  

Virtual Race Entry - What better gift to give a runner than the gift of racing!  Virtual races are the norm right now and there are so many great choices out there.  Over the past few months I ran the Fargo Marathon 10K, DC Wonder Woman 10K, and the DC Batman 5K virtually as a BibRave Pro.  Coming up soon, I have the All-State Hot Chocolate 5K.  The Hot Chocolate races are a great option for runners with both a 15K and a 5K option as well as some pretty amazing swag.  These races are traditionally in person events and you can still support your favorite cities by signing up for that special race location and with race dates well into 2021, you can give your runner a chance to train!  Keep an eye out for some of your favorite in-person races that may also be offering virtual options.  At this time, there are still virtual spots available for runDisney's Marathon weekend events (I'd love to find that underneath my Christmas tree. . .wink, wink!) 

Virtual Races as Holiday Gifts?  Yes, please! 



For the Tech Savvy Runner - One of my favorite pieces of tech gear this year has been my AfterShokz Aeropex headphones.  I won these last December on a Twitter chat and use them quite literally on every run.  They have held up incredibly well, the charge lasts several hours, and the sound quality is amazing.  Speaking of sound quality, these are bone conduction headphones with an open ear design so runners can continue to hear their surroundings when working out.

AfterShokz Aeropex



Safety Gear for Runners - Another great item for runners that helps to keep your loved ones safe is the ROADiD line of products.  I had the chance to review the ROADiD Sidekick as a BibRave Pro and was really impressed with the customer service and the quality of the product.  This little item is big on safety as you can customize the message on your ID with emergency contact and medical information.  The ROADiD Sidekick attaches to your Apple Watch, Garmin, or FitBit, but there are also separate wrist IDs you can purchase as well.  You can use code SHIP4FREEBRP to access free shipping!

ROADiD Sidekick



Running Apparel - I was lucky to receive two amazing products from Buff when I became a BibRave Pro Ambassador - a Pack Run Cap and one of their multifunctional headwear pieces.  These products have been great for me and are affordable, comfortable, and practical running accessories for runners.  The multifunctional headwear I've been using as a gaiter when I go running so I can easily pull up if I enter a crowded area where a mask would be beneficial.  The Pack Run Cap is super lightweight and is easily packable for travel - a great feature for a family on-the-go like mine! You can visit www.buffusa.com/bibrave to sign-up for their newsletter and receive 15% off your order!  

Buff USA Headwear - Affordable, Functional, and Comfortable!



Compression socks make a great stocking stuffer also for runners.  I recently won a pair of PROCompression socks on a Twitter chat and was excited to try them out during my DC Wonder Woman Virtual Race.  They looked good, felt great, and are an excellent addition to any runners wardrobe.

PROCompression Socks



Recovery - All athletes know the value of a good recovery product and I was able to review SiS REGO Recovery drinks in both chocolate and strawberry flavor.  With a blend of carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes as well as vitamins and minerals, this drink is not only effective, but super tasty!  Find out more about SiS REGO Recovery here in my full review!  

SiS REGO Rapid Recovery

Treat the runner in your life to something special this holiday season!  Happy shopping!

Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery - Product Review

Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery Product Review


Runners know the value of recovery as part of training, but one of the things that is sometimes overlooked is recovery nutrition.  When you're a busy, working mom like me, I want recovery nutrition that is fast, easy, and on-the-go.  I was excited when the opportunity came to review Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery supplement in both chocolate and strawberry flavors.  Does it check all of my boxes for a recovery supplement?

Disclaimer: I received SiS REGO Rapid Recovery to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

About SiS REGO Rapid Recovery 

Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery is a nutritional supplement that simply dissolves in water and is easy to consume immediately following exercise to refuel your body.  As a vegetarian, I'm cautious about what I put in my body.  This product is vegetarian friendly and contains a blend of carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes.  Those essential elements plus vitamins and minerals means that your body can get replenished quickly so you are ready for your next workout session.

Post Workout Drink w/ SiS REGO Rapid Recovery


The product comes in a variety of flavors including chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.  You can purchase a larger container and measure out your portion each time or buy ready to mix packets if you're on-the-go like me.  Either way, you can use the Science in Sport shaker bottle (or one that you already own!) to mix the proper amount of water with your rapid recovery mix and. . .voila!  But, now the most important question. . .

How does SiS REGO Rapid Recovery Taste?

I'm happy to report that I really enjoyed both of the flavors I've tried of Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery - the chocolate and strawberry.  I'm always a chocolate girl at heart so I would say that's my preference, but both were very pleasant.  If you find that you are getting some clumping in your drink from the powder, just make sure to give it a few extra shakes and you'll be good to go.  Another tip that I have is to add some ice.  I like my drinks nice and cold after a hard workout and found that this was a nice addition to my mix.

Science in Sport REGO Rapid Recovery is a great choice to refuel after a hard workout - whether you're running, weightlifting, kickboxing, cycling, or anything in between!  Give your body the nutrition it needs along with great taste!

Allstate Hot Chocolate Virtual Run Tampa 15K/5K - Will Run For Chocolate!

Allstate Hot Chocolate Virtual 15K/5K - Images from www.hotchocolate15k.com


Y'all know that I love to run for bling, but you also probably won't be surprised to know that I run for chocolate as well!  So when the chance came to run the Allstate Hot Chocolate Virtual Run 15K/5K, I couldn't pass it up.  What better than a winter race with swag that is truly SWEET and a chance to connect with one of my favorite travel locations - the Tampa area - even if it's only virtually.  

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Tampa race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Why run the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K/5K?

Were the words "hot chocolate" in the race title not enough for you?  OK, OK.  I get it.  It's virtual and you'll have to make your own hot chocolate.  Fair enough.  But there are several things that make this race a great choice for virtual runners.  My virtual race for the city of Tampa is on 12/20/20.  Since I'll be running in Maryland just a few days before Christmas, I'll certainly be embracing the hot chocolate theme as I bundle up to race.  Bundling up just got easier too - did you see the jacket?  With a removable hood, zipper pockets, and soft tech fabric it is certainly a piece of heavenly swag!  Then there's the chocolate.  Did you know you get chocolate in your virtual race kit?  Back in 2017 I ran the Hershey Half-Marathon Relay and remember being so excited about the chocolate stops on the course.  I may need to recreate those in this virtual race - just saying.  Finally, all participants will receive a medal as well.


Don't run alone! Check out my review of ROADiD Sidekick and why all runners - regardless of where you run - should have one!


And why run "in" Tampa?


Running the Tampa area - North Reddington Beach


One of the coolest things about the Hot Chocolate races in my opinion is the fact that you still connect with a city of your choosing - maybe it's the one nearest you where you'd likely be running the race in person or maybe you took a virtual running vacation.  The choice is yours!  You know that a large piece of my heart lives in Florida and the Tampa area has been a travel destination for our family on several occasions.  In the downtown Tampa area, I can close my eyes and imagine running along Tampa Bay - racing not only myself, but the dolphins swimming along the bay.  Then maybe I head over to the Port of Tampa where I can hop on a cruise ship like I did in 2017 when we sailed on the Carnival Paradise to Key West and Cuba.  Prefer beach running?  No worries - Tampa is only a short distance from some fabulous beaches along Florida's Gulf Coast.  We spent some time in Siesta Key Beach which is so laid back you can't help but unwind.  It's the perfect little beach town to enjoy while out for a run.  Our absolute favorite beach spot near Tampa though is North Reddington Beach.  When I run my virtual race in December on what will likely be a chilly Maryland morning, I'll no doubt be closing my eyes and picturing myself running along the Gulf Coast sands and then heading to John's Pass for a celebratory drink following the race!  


A post-race meal Florida style?  A girl can dream during COVID, right?



Ready to join the SWEET fun?

You can find all the details about registering for the Allstate Hot Chocolate Virtual 15K/5K - Tampa by clicking here.  Is Tampa not calling to you?  No worries!  There are so many other cities and locations you can pick from when you visit their site and the swag is the same regardless of which race you sign up for.  I hope to see you sipping hot chocolate and rocking your swag in some finish line photos!  Who is ready to join me?

DC Wonder Woman 10K - Virtual Race Recap

DC Wonder Woman Virtual 10K


With virtual racing being the "norm" in 2020, I've really jumped on the bandwagon!  Prior to this year, I really didn't understand the interest in running a virtual race.  What I've come to learn though is that running a virtual race can be really rewarding when you bring the fun and treat the race day like a race day.  With that in mind, I approached my DC Wonder Woman 10K - although things didn't go quite as I thought they were going to go when I wrote my announcement post about this race.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the DC Wonder Woman Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Getting Ready for Race Day

My original plan for this race was to partner it up with the DC Batman 5K Virtual race and complete the Good v. Good Superhero Challenge in one weekend.  But, things don't alway go as planned.  October has thrown my a couple of curve balls that derailed some of my training and made my evenings and weekends busier than I expected.  Looking at my calendar with fresh eyes, I had to space the two races out to make them work for me. . .see, a great perk of virtual racing - flexibility!  I bumped the Wonder Woman 10K up a week which means my challenge didn't quite come together as I thought it would, but I was still excited to run.

Part of what made this race so much fun to prep for was the theme.  My regular readers know how much I love a good theme and Wonder Woman was fun to prep for.  Even in the swag kit, there were some fun wristbands that I could incorporate into my outfit.  Check out everything that comes in your swag package here!



To complete my look for the race, I lucked into finding a star-spangled tutu as I was walking through Wal-Mart on clearance for $2.50 - how lucky was that?!?  Then, in another stroke of luck, I won a pair of Pro Compression socks on a Twitter chat and decided to order the Americana ones that would go great with the outfit.  How do I look?





DC Wonder Woman 10K Virtual Recap


As I mentioned before, training for the race got a little derailed but I was still able to pull it together on race day.  I'm always a fan of Galloway's run/walk intervals when I run longer distances and this time I put them to work for me on the 10K as well.  I ran the race through the downtown area of my small town.  There are a number of hills that roll throughout town so rather than sticking to times for my intervals, I opted to run down the hills and walk up them.  I have a pre-measured loop around town that equals just about 2.5 miles so I did that twice and then added on an extra loop closer to my house to close the gap.  While I was passing the miles, I enjoyed listening to the latest BibRave podcast.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you can find all the details here





I finished the 10K in just over 1:24, showered up, and then proudly put on my Wonder Woman pullover and added my medal to my display of bling.  Want to learn more about the DC Wonder Woman run?  You can visit their website to join the fun for 2020 and keep an eye on what's to come in 2021!  

ROADiD Sidekick iD Review - Safety Gear for Runners



Mom always told me "safety first!" and my ROADiD Sidekick is a way to follow through on this mantra.  I was really excited when I had the opportunity to test this out and now I can share with you why I consider this a must-have item for runners, hikers, cyclists. . .and many more!

Disclaimer: I received a ROADiD Sidekick iD to review as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

Ordering and Unboxing ROADiD Sidekick iD


Before I even laid eyes on my Sidekick, I was impressed with the quality of customer service from ROADiD.  ROADiD has several options on their website - all with the goal of providing safety information to emergency providers when people need it most.  The website was easy to navigate and I could easily figure out what size Sidekick iD to order (there are two sizes depending on the width of your watch band).  In case you don't know, the Sidekick iD attaches directly to your smart watch so you don't have to wear one more thing on your wrist and comes in two sizes to ensure it fits with your particular watch.  Check out my unboxing video below to see just how easy it is to attach - right out of the box!


Besides having a website that was easy to navigate, I received multiple emails from ROADiD confirming my order and updating me on the status of engraving and shipping - that's great customer service! 

ROADiD Sidekick iD Review


So what's it like running with ROADiD Sidekick iD?  It's like it's not even there!  The Sidekick attaches to your watch easily and effortlessly - you won't even realize you have it.  However, if you ever need the Sidekick iD it will be with you.  I included two emergency contacts on my Sidekick and there's additional space to note medical concerns if you have them.  I had an extra row of text available and opted to add a touch of my Disney loving personality by saying - "Running to Disney World!"  



At just $19.99 for the product which features customized engraving, the price is right for piece of mind on your runs.  If you don't own a smart watch or are looking for something a little different, they also have a Wrist iD available which is it's own separate bracelet to wear.  I prefer only wearing my smart watch, but after having experienced the quality and customer service of ROAD iD, I may be back online soon ordering Wrist iDs for my kids to wear when we travel - just in case we get separated.

There are also additional accessories to customize your ROAD iD product.  I purchased two badges - one that says "Believe" and another that says "Shut Up Legs" for a little motivational pop.  And I forgot to mention earlier that all of the platings for their products come in a variety of colors.  I opted for rose gold, but graphite and slate are options as well.  And during special seasons, you can also find additional colors.  For example, to begin October they are featuring pink products and a portion of those sales will go to support the American Cancer Society.

After having my ROAD iD Sidekick for just a few short weeks, I can't believe it took me this long to try it out.  This is a affordable and stylish product that can help runners, cyclists, hikers, and everyone feel safer while enjoying their active lifestyles.

Looking for some fun virtual races to enjoy with your ROAD iD? Check out the DC Wonder Woman Run Series and the DC Batman Run Series!

Purchase a ROAD iD Sidekick and Coupon Code!



Want to grab your own Sidekick iD or other ROAD iD product?  Visit their website at www.roadid.com to see all that they have to offer and be sure to use code SHIP4FREEBRP to score free shipping on your order.

DC Wonder Woman Run - The Good v. Good Superhero Challenge ACCEPTED

DC Wonder Woman Virtual Run Medal - Image from www.dcwonderwomanrun.com


Y'all know me - I'm always up for a good running challenge.  In the past I've conquered the Frederick Running Festival Nut Job Challenge, the Baltimore Running Festival Balti-moron-athon, and the runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge just to name a few.  Race challenges typically mean running multiple races in one weekend, but can also mean running several partner races over an extended period - like in the Maryland Double Challenge or the King Crab Challenge.  

A few weeks ago, I signed up to run the DC Batman Virtual 5K and so when the opportunity presented itself for me to run the DC Wonder Woman Virtual Run as well - completing the Good v. Good Challenge - I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the DC Wonder Woman Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Check out the details about planning for a SUPER race with the DC Batman Virtual Run here!


The DC Virtual Wonder Woman Run has a lot in common with the DC Batman Run making them easy to go hand-in-hand with each other.  First, the superhero theming means that you can plan a fun challenge fit for the bravest of heroes.  Then there's the swag.  We've already established how amazing the Batman swag is and what you get with Wonder Woman is another fantastic race package!  Check it out!


I've decided to set this up like a true challenge event and will be running my DC Batman Virtual 5K and my DC Wonder Woman Virtual 10K on back-to-back days.  2 races, 9.3 miles of fun and heroic adventures!So what are you waiting for?  The clock is ticking to sign up for the this awesome race!  Whether you are running the 5K or the 10K, all runs must be completed by November 1st to download your finisher certificate.  Find all of the details about registering at www.dcwonderwomanrun.com.  Don't forget you can save on both this registration and the DC Batman Virtual Run by signing up for both and completing the Good v. Good Superhero Challenge along with me!

DC Batman VIRTUAL Run - 5 Ways to Have a SUPER Race!

DC Batman Run Swag - Image from www.dcbatmanrun.com


That bat signal in the sky is calling you!  Whether you live in Gotham City or Any Town, U.S.A., there's plenty to attract you to this fun, now virtual, running event.  Here's five ways to spice up your DC Batman Run so that you can have a SUPER time.

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to DC Batman Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

How to have a SUPER virtual race event!


1.    Don't forget to train - Virtual events can sometimes be easy to slack on the training when you don't have that in person date staring at you on the calendar.  Bruce Wayne knows that you have to work for your success and training for a virtual run is no different.  I recommend choosing a date and putting on the calendar - just like a real race.  For me, I'm running this event on Halloween morning.  What better way to celebrate the holiday than with a fun event!

2.    Run in costume - If you've followed my running adventures over the years, you know how much I LOVE a good theme race and running in costume.  Virtual runs often provide some super themes and the DC Batman Run is no different.  I mean, Batman has a cool costume, so why shouldn't you. . .right?  I'm working on assembling a costume that will both rep my orange as a BibRave Pro and celebrate the Caped Crusader himself.

Check out an oldie but goodie post on putting together fun running costumes that are still functional!


3.    Run with friends - Everyone knows running is better with friends.  What's Batman without Robin by his side?  In this time of social distancing, we want to be safe of course, but why not sign up for the race with a group of friends and each run your own course that day.  Maybe you can have a costume contest for the best outfit.  Friends make everything better!

4.    Make your own course - Setting up a virtual race means that you're creating your own course.  However, don't just worry about the distance - make it fun!  Create a start line.  Set up a finish tape.  See if friends and family can create some signs to support you.  Create that "real race" feel in a virtual setting!  Don't forget your bib!!

5.    Share the swag - OK, did you see the swag for the DC Batman Run at the top of this post?  Running virtual races doesn't mean you miss out on the sweet swag.  How about posing for some cool finish line photos with your medal?  Or lounging around after a hard race in your shirt?  Whatever you choose, share your photos and tag the race to connect with your fellow runners and community!




Join the Fun!!!


Ready to have a super race along with me?  Sign up now at www.dcbatmanrun.com and begin your training for either a 10K or 5K race.  The race can be completed anytime between 8/31/20 to 12/1/20 and you don't even have to board a plane to Gotham City.  If you're looking to add some additional purpose to your run, St. Jude's Children's Hospital is the official charity of the race and you can add a donation to your registration.  



Fargo Marathon - Join the Fun. . .Virtually!!!

Fargo Marathon Logo - Image from Fargo Marathon

Like many other races recently, the Fargo Marathon has made the decision to go virtual for 2020.  While I know COVID has put race directors to the test, one of the benefits of so many races going virtual is that more people have a chance to participate.  Living in Maryland, my participating in the Fargo Marathon would be an unlikely occurrence, but now that I can run virtually from the comfort of my own streets, I'm excited to share that I'll be running it this year!

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Fargo Marathon 10K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find and write race reviews!

So why Fargo when there are so many other races out there?  Well, let's look at a few awesome things about this race:
  • Variety - It's the spice of life, right?  And they have a race distance for everyone - 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon.  The 10K is my favorite race distance and it doesn't get enough love in my opinion so I was thrilled to find 6.2 miles of fun waiting for me on this registration page.
  • The Swag - You can run the Fargo Marathon without compromising any of the awesome swag runners love!  Runners at each distance will receive a finisher's medal and a shirt.  5K runners get a short sleeve tech tee, 10K runners receive a long sleeve tech tee, and half and full runners get a sweatshirt AND jacket.  That's pretty great!
Fargo Marathon Virtual Swag - Image from Fargo Marathon
  • Give Back - In 2010, the Fargo Marathon established it's Shoes for Kids campaign to help get shoes to kids in need.  You can add a donation to your registration to help this important charity.
Ready to sign up?  You can register by visiting their website here.  Don't forget to use the discount code "SAVE5" to take $5 off your registration!




Hope to see you sharing all of your fun on social media.  Drop a comment below if you register so that we can cheer each other on while training and racing.  One of my favorite things about the online running community is the support for each other - let's keep that going!  

A New Adventure Awaits - I'm Officially A BibRave Pro!

Running and fitness activities have been a big part of my life for a long time.  Even with my yo-yo weight loss and gains throughout the past decade, running has been there every step of the way. . .literally.  Over the 6 years I've been here at Running on Pixie Dust, I've written about my races, running products, and training.  I mean, y'all know my love of runDisney, right?!?



So what's BibRave?  I found the BibRave community on Twitter a few years ago and began participating frequently in their Twitter chats to share ideas and swap stories with fellow runners.  I even was lucky enough to win a sweet prize during a Twitter chat in 2019 - a pair of AfterShokz Aeropex headphones!  But BibRave is more than a social media community.  When you visit the BibRave website, you find an amazing wealth of running knowledge in reviewed races, a podcast, gear, and a community of runners.  I mean, the running community at BibRave is strong!  They can help you find answers to just about any running question and with runners all over the country, you can find reviews on some pretty great local races too.  

Like I said, I've been a BibRave fangirl for a while now and I have applied a few times in the past for the BibRave Pro program, so imagine my excitement when the email finally came that I was selected for the program for the second half of 2020!  This means that I'll be able to share even more running and fitness content with you - here on the blog and across my social channels - so make sure you are following along for the journey!  COVID has cancelled a lot of things, but not running.  Races may look a bit different right now with more virtual options opening up as races adapt to this crazy time and place known as The Twilight Zone. . .I mean 2020. . .but we're learning to adapt to that together.  I'll also have the opportunity to share with you reviews of some fitness products - many of which both runners and non-runners will enjoy!  

BibRave Pro Ready - Let's Do This!! 


So, stay tuned for more to come along the BibRave journey.  I couldn't be more pumped to be a part of this team and am excited to share each mile of the adventure with you!  Happy Trails!

Looking for BibRave on social media?  You can follow them @bibrave and be sure to follow the #bibchat and #bibravepro hashtags!

AfterShokz Aeropex Running Headphones Review

Aeropex AfterShokz Headphones

Do you ever feel like you get incredibly lucky from time to time?  Well, one night back in December, I was participating in a Twitter chat and at the end of the chat found out I had won a pair of AfterShokz Aeropex headphones.  I was so excited!  For years, I've heard about the quality and wearability of these popular headphones, but I hadn't had the chance to try them.  When they arrived, I had to celebrate with an unboxing. . .

Castaway Cay 5K - What to know before your run!

We're fresh off our latest Disney Cruise Line vacation in January 2020 and during our sailing on the Disney Dream we made a stop at Disney's Castaway Cay - a private island paradise in the Bahamas!  This island has it all. . .sun, sand, crystal clear water, food, a kids club, and much more.  But running friends will be happy to know that there is a FREE, yes you read that right, FREE 5K run available on every stop at Disney's Castaway Cay.  This was my second time participating in the run, but while many things remained the same, a few have changed and it's important to note what you need to know before you run.

It's a fun run, not a race - If you're a regular reader here, you know my deep love of runDisney races.  Alas, this is not considered a runDisney race.  In fact, it's considered an "onboard activity" for cruise guests.  When you are planning all of your cruise activities on the Disney Cruise Line website you can "register" for the race.  Once on board, stop by guest services and pick up a waiver that will need to be completed before the race.  Or, you can walk up to the race start and get the waiver to fill out.  Trade your completed waiver for a bib and you are good to go.  The start is a simple "1, 2, 3. . .Go!" announcement and there is no chip timing - just a simple clock at the start finish area.  

But you do get a medal! - The other thing you probably know about me is that I care about the bling. . .deeply.  All finishers in this fun run will get a fun rubber medal.  Yes it's only rubber, but it has a cute ribbon and a fun design to commemorate your accomplishment.  I mean, you ran on a cruise vacation while most people on cruises only run to the buffet line!  Wear it proudly and be sure to stop by and see the characters around the island after your run for some pictures showing off your bling.

Getting off the ship - So this was a change from the last time I ran this particular event and the guest services staff told me it started just a few months ago.  In the past, runners would receive a "shore excursion" ticket the night before and meet in a specified lounge around 7:45.  As soon as the ship was cleared, the runners disembarked first together as a group to take the nearly 10 minute walk to the start line.  That's in the past now.  Runners just meet up at the start line which means that you have to join the pack of people exiting the ship when it's cleared at 8:30 and make your way very quickly to the starting point near the bike rentals.  I have to say, I was not a fan of this change. . .even if I got to sleep in an extra 30 minutes!

This run is for everyone - You will find serious runners here who go all out and others who are 100% walkers just looking to stretch their legs with some exercise and take home a unique cruise souvenir.  I know sometimes we all find ourselves being self-conscious with our abilities, but don't be nervous about joining this fun run.  The course is a super simple out and back and the island terrain means you will encounter no elevation change whatsoever.

Speaking of the island - Regardless of what time of year you run, there are a few things to keep in mind.  Even with an 8:50AM start time, you are running on an island. . .in the Bahamas.  It's hot and oftentimes it humid.  The sun is intense most days too.  Even the walkers in this event want to take hydration very seriously.  Think about it in the days leading up and drink plenty of water on board.  Along the course of the fun run, you pass a water aid station 4 times - take advantage of it!  I saw a lot of people stretching out cramps along the way.

The Castaway Cay 5K is truly a family fun event that casual and serious runners will want to check out on your Disney Cruise Line vacation.  Kids as young as 10 may participate.  If you need a space to check-in younger children while you run, Disney has a kids club, Scuttle's Cove, on the island which is open as you make your way to the run.

You may also want to pack some extra money for the race apparel that you'll find at the finish line! There is a cute collection of hats, tanks, tees, and long sleeve shirts along with pins and much, much more to further commemorate your fun run on the island.  I picked up a Castaway Cay 5K hat to bring home as my cruise souvenir and something I can use on cold training days to remind me of the island vibes this run leaves you feeling!  Enjoy the scenery, the fun, and the bling. . .then enjoy the sun, sand, and drinks!


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!

Namaste Runners

Because photographic evidence of me doing yoga
does not actually exist. . .
Anyone who even casually runs can speak to the value of cross training.  Running can take a toll on your body if you go too hard, too far, too fast.  Getting back into running after roughly a year off means that I need to work my body back into running slowly.  However, with weight loss also being a focus of mine, I want to move each day so I've been alternating my running workouts with walking and yoga.  While it's been a while since I had practiced yoga, I quickly remembered why I love it - especially as a runner.

Yoga presents a modified rest day in a physically demanding week.  Taking your body through stretching and strength exercises works your muscles in a totally different way.  I'm hoping this will help strengthen my core and create those long, lean running muscles that I'd love to have!  I also firmly believe that yoga will help prevent injury throughout the months ahead of training.  Then there are the mental benefits.  Taking an opportunity to slow down in the busy world of being a mom, wife, Assistant Principal, and many other things to many other people is important.  Lately I've been using The Biggest Loser's Weight Loss Yoga video which ends up being about 30 minutes.  Bob Harper talks me through a variety of fast moving poses.  Those days of yoga are among my favorites during the week and I anxiously await them on my training calendar.

So how did this week go for me?  Pretty well!  I kept to my Galloway training plan and did 2 - 30 minute sessions during the week and a 4 mile run on weekend.  I also kept to my plan of working out every day by walking or doing yoga on days I didn't run.  I ended up heading over to the Y for one of my 30 minute runs on the elliptical which was quite frankly awesome.  I think that might be my new go-to piece of equipment when winter weather keeps me indoors - all the motion of running without any of the impact.  I was able though to log my 4 mile run outside on Saturday morning before the winter precipitation and polar vortex set in.  This coming week is a step back week in my training with my weekend run only scheduled to be 2 miles before upping mileage the two weeks after that.

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!



Enchanted 10K Race Recap

Walt Disney World is a place where dreams come true and runDisney weekends there help those dreams become reality.  This year, my friend and I traveled for a girls weekend to Walt Disney World as part of the Princess Half Marathon festivities where we participated in the Glass Slipper Challenge which includes the Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half Marathon.  Given the princess theme for the weekend, I opted to go for race costumes inspired by two of my favorite leading Disney ladies.  For the 10K, I sported a green skirt and purple top along with a red headband to run in an Ariel inspired look.  

Saturday morning began early as all runDisney race days do with a 3AM wake-up call and a 3:30AM bus ride to Epcot for the start of the race.  The DJ had us all pumped up and ready to go.  We decided to jump in line for the chance to try and meet a princess before the race.  No one can queue up a line like Disney and they had the hour plus line well organized - even if there wasn't a FastPass+ option to jump ahead!  After finally snagging a picture with Jasmine, I joined some very enthusiastic ladies in the parking lot for the Cha-Cha Slide and then it was off to the corrals.  

The Enchanted 10K featured a staggered start within each of the corrals in an attempt to spread runners out on the course.  My friend and I were in one of the later corrals and found congestion prevalent along the way as the race began for us.  Typical of runDisney races, characters were out in full force on the course.  Because our starting corral was not that great, we skipped most of the character stops.  However, I couldn't resist stopping for a rare opportunity to meet the Evil Queen from Snow White.  The line was massive, but I decided to take the chance and wait.  We ended up waiting nearly 30 minutes and as we were getting our pictures taken, I saw the cyclists ride by warning about sweeping and could easily see the balloon ladies - YIKES!  That was a first.  We hightailed it back onto the course and continued along the highway until we entered Epcot through World Showcase.  

Getting that close to the sweepers scared me to death and we didn't end up stopping for any more character pictures along the way.  As we wound through World Showcase and onto the Boardwalk, the sun was rising higher and the so was the temperature.  The final character stop featured Princess Minnie, and a line that was probably 45 minutes long.  I felt like there were a great number of character stops, but I couldn't get over how long the wait was at each one - even larger than what I remember from previous Wine and Dine races.  

The finish was truly a celebration for runners with music, characters, and medals.  We were so exhausted by the end of the race from the late night out the night before and the early morning, that we opted to head straight back to the hotel for a shower, some food, and a nap.  After all, we had only completed one leg of the Glass Slipper Challenge with another 13.1 miles less than 24 hours away!