Big Adventure Recap

We’re back!

Recently I posted that my sister and I were heading out on a two-part trip with my kiddos.

And I’m happy to report that there were no major mishaps and she still seems to be speaking to me, so I’ll chalk that up in the win column.

Trixie (now 6) decided to pack her own bag:

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Contents of one furry pink backpack:

  • Miscellaneous alphabet blocks
  • Two sticker books
  • A cardboard stove from a home-made dollhouse
  • Three small packs of Sweet Tarts
  • One American Girl doll
  • Blanket and pillow for said A.G. doll
  • Small white stuffed dog

I vetoed all of this.

We arrived in Orlando on February 19th and checked into the Swan Hotel. We had a newly renovated room and there were balloons, a card and a birthday button for Trixie waiting for us. She was so excited.

I was planning to run a series of races that started on Saturday with a 10k, a half marathon on Sunday and then finished with a 5k on Wednesday.

Total distance: 22.4 miles.

There was a cold snap in Florida last week and Saturday’s race started with temps in the 40s. This was the second year for this 10k race, and the course is awesome, winding through EPCOT and the Boardwalk hotel area. The cold temps made for fast conditions. I felt great.

Sunday was slightly warmer (50s) and not as humid as last year. The miles zipped by, and while I didn’t set a PR, I felt good the whole time and finished strong.

I was tired but we decided to hit the Magic Kingdom on Sunday afternoon.

Both kids tried to pull the sword from the stone in front of the carousel in Fantasyland.

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Neither succeeded. 

We also went to a great new attraction called “Enchanted Tales with Belle.” This was actually a very interesting experience (detailed in this Slate article from late last year), and Trixie got to play Belle’s jailed father and meet Belle.

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On Monday we boarded the Disney Dream for a four night cruise to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

With any cruise that stops at Castaway Cay, there’s always a 5k race in the morning. Anyone can participate and there is no entry fee, and while you get a finisher’s medal, it’s not fancy.

This race was different; in order to participate in the Castaway Challenge, you had to have run at least one of the other Disney races the prior weekend and the race was capped at 400 runners.

All of the runners met at 5:45 AM and got to be the first passengers off the ship.

It was still dark and we got to see some great views of the boat.

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By the time the race started, there was plenty of daylight:

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A major highlight was that Super Running Guru, Jeff Galloway, participated in the race and gave an inspirational speech at the starting line:

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I was pretty starstruck.

My original plan was to just slowly jog the 5k, but once it started, I felt like I was ready to push myself.

Although there weren’t official results, I was #17 overall with a time of about 25 minutes, which was ok with me.

The island was still quiet as the runners headed back to the ship:

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And here’s the end result:

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Bling! 

The medals, from left to right:

  • Enchanted 10k
  • Princess Half Marathon
  • Glass Slipper Challenge (combination of 10K + Half)
  • Castaway Cay Challenge medal
  • Regular Castaway Cay 5k finisher’s medal (they gave us both)

A close-up of the Glass Slipper medal:

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And while I don’t usually like to post pics of myself here, this is a selfie (no make-up!) from the starting line of the Castaway Cay challenge:

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I was super happy in this shot.

Here are a few other random snaps from the boat:

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We came home to some stark winter reality with temps in the single digits, but it was totally worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Adventure

Today we’re taking off to a big adventure: I’m running three races over the course of five days as part of the Disney Princess Half-Marathon series.

Accompanying me this year will be my sister (Spouse is busy with work and she was game to go!) and my kids. Today’s also Trixie’s sixth birthday, so that’s a bonus to celebrate.

Schedule for the weekend is to fly to Florida today and pick up my race stuff tomorrow, then run a 10k on Saturday and half-marathon on Sunday.

But that’s just part one: on Monday, the four of us are getting on the Disney Dream for a short (four night) cruise to the Bahamas.  The kids have spring break next week, so the timing is perfect.

While we’re on the boat, there’s a third race that I’m running, the Castaway Cay Challenge.

Billed as From Parks to Paradise, join the first-ever Disney Castaway Cay Challenge,” this is a 5k race on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

I can’t wait! 

 

 

Destination Races

Yesterday I posted about essentials needed for running a race, and I focused on local events.

Destination races are a whole different animal.

I love destination races! Combining vacation and exercise is a dream come true.

I’ve previously posted about destination events. Some of my favorite races are from the Run Disney series, but I also loved the More Fitness Women’s Half Marathon (which loops through New York City’s Central Park; how awesome is that?) and the Nike Women’s Marathon (the original 26.2 miler that featured a Tiffany necklace as the finisher’s medal).

Preparing for a destination race requires more prep work than usual. Along the way, I’ve picked up some travel tips:

  • Arrive at your destination two days before the race. You’ll most likely need to pick up your race packet the day before the event, and if your arrival is delayed for any reason, you could find yourself arriving to locked doors. Missing out at the last minute would be heartbreaking! Get there a day early, so you can leisurely cruise the race expo and get set for the Big Event.
  • Having said that, don’t get there too early and try to do too much. I’ve known several people who combined one of the Disney races with visiting the parks. Trying to run 26.2 miles after a day of walking from Adventureland to Fantasyland and everywhere in between can be a challenge you don’t need.
  • Scout out hotels close to the start and/or finish line. Popular places may sell out. Book early. Try to stay close enough that you don’t need to drive to the race or can easily hobble back to a hot shower.
  • Bring any printed registration materials you may have. You’ll need your photo ID in most cases to pick up your bib (number), but also bring any printed registration materials you may have. I went to pick up my packet at one race and the volunteer staffing the booth couldn’t find my name on the list. Fortunately I brought a print out of my registration receipt and Everything Turned Out OK in the End. Whew.
  • Pack the nutrition gels and pre-run snacks that you usually eat. Don’t rely on the race expo to sell your favorite brand. I had to walk about four extra miles throughout San Francisco before the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2012 to find a running store that sold what I wanted. I mistakenly thought there would be gels at the expo. There weren’t. Lesson learned.
  • Bring a plastic bag to stash your stinky running gear for the trip home. It will befoul the rest of your luggage if it’s allowed to mingle. Trust me.
  • Better yet: find a way to wash your stinky running gear before heading home. Many resorts have laundry facilities. Use them. If there’s none available, swish your clothes around in the bathtub along with some hotel shampoo, roll the wet clothes tightly in a towel to wring out excess water, and hang dry overnight in the shower. Still bring them home in the plastic bag, though.

My packing list for a destination race:

  • GPS watch and charger
  • iPhone and charger (don’t forget chargers!)
  • Armband to carry iPhone
  • Nutrition gels (1 for a half-marathon and 4 for a full)
  • Running outfit, plus shoes and socks
  • Headband to hold back hair
  • Toss sweatshirt. This is critical if the weather may be cool at the start. A toss sweatshirt is an old and/or cheap sweatshirt that you wear for the first few miles, then remove and throw to the side of the course. You’re not getting it back, so make sure it’s not designer wear. Most big races collect discarded clothing and donate it to homeless shelters or other organizations. Some people buy sweatshirts from Goodwill or similar places for just this purpose. I use old ones from college or pick them up on sale at Target, where they often sell Hanes sweatshirts for as low as $5.
  • Compression socks or sleeves to wear after the race
  • Plastic bag to hold stinky clothes
  • Small plastic zip lock bag to hold emergency $20 during the race
  • Sunblock
  • Lip balm
  • Some type of anti-chafing skin protectant
  • Band aids
  • Flip flops or other really comfortable shoes

Try a destination race! It’s so much fun.

 

Because I Get To

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Check out the bling! 

This is the end result of the races I did this weekend.

Conditions were great for the 10k on Saturday. The course was quick, interesting, and I felt strong.

Sunday, well, Sunday was a slightly different story.

The humidity was almost 100%, temps were in the 70s at the start and this was the first time I’d done back-to-back races.

By Mile 2, I was dripping sweat.

By Mile 4 – about a third of the way done – I started bargaining with myself.

My hip was tight. I was wearing the wrong clothes. I had new shoes that were untested. I had run too fast yesterday. I started too fast today. I hadn’t trained enough in the last month.

Conversation in my head: Just go to one more water stop and then you can run and walk. Now this is something I’ve never done, but I was giving it serious consideration.

And then something else happened.

All I could think is this: I run because I get to.

I saw this phrase recently and it really resonated with me. Suddenly it also seemed to follow me everywhere.

At the Running Expo two days prior, I bought this shirt:

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(It’s from Fellow Flowers, and if you aren’t feeling particularly authentic, perhaps you are filled with strength, gratitude, courage, hope, or just feeling worthy. Check them out).

I thought about my Dad, who inspired my love of running and would have loved to be there.

I run because I get to.

And then I ran past a group of spectators who were more than happy to give me high fives. My energy surged.

I run because I get to.

And then – get your tissues – I ran past a group of children in wheelchairs, cheering on the runners.

I run because I get to.

Suddenly, 13.1 miles didn’t seem so far.

I run because I get to.

My time was far, far from a personal best: 2:07:31.

I was #1207 out of 19,294 finishers.

But I did it, and it was awesome.

I run because I get to.

Running in the Happiest Place on Earth

Today and tomorrow, I’m running in the Glass Slipper Challenge, back-to-back races (10K on Saturday and half marathon – 13.1 miles – on Sunday) that are part of the 2014 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Both events are at Walt Disney World and are part of the Run Disney race series. These two races will be my seventh and eighth Run Disney events, respectively. Since I already ran the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January, I’ll also (hopefully) get a special Coast-to-Coast medal for running races in California (Disneyland) and Florida (Walt Disney World) in the same calendar year. (Why do I do this? Well, I am a huge, shameless sucker for bling and love a challenge).

The first race I ever participated in was the 2006 Walt Disney World Marathon. I’d always wanted to run a marathon, but never had the time or confidence to train.

In June 2005 I finished my OBGYN residency and moved from Colorado to Texas to start my fellowship. Before leaving Denver, I’d been running a lot with my friend W, who first invited me to run a half marathon with her.

Even though I’d been a runner since my high school cross country days, the longest distance I’d ever completed was eight miles. But W and I started running together several times a week, and the miles would fly by. Soon we were able to churn out nine miles, then ten, then twelve. We ended up finishing two half marathons before I moved.

Fast forward to Texas, July 2005: I was awed when a new acquaintance casually mentioned that she’d done the Disney Marathon four times. She highly recommended it for a newbie, as there is a lot of support along the course and plenty of novelty to keep your (fatigued) spirits up.

I signed up the next day. 

The Disney Marathon takes place every January, usually on the second Sunday. It winds through four of the WDW theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Disney characters line the course and many runners stop for a photo op with Mickey, Goofy or a favorite Princess or Villain.

My goals for my first marathon were fairly straightforward:

  1. Finish the race
  2. Finish the race without humiliating myself in some way
  3. Just keep running

And I did it! I was so happy. I finished in 4:24:24, which isn’t setting any world records but was plenty fine with me.

Since then I’ve done the Disney Marathon two more times, plus four other marathons and about 15 half marathons. I like to always be training for something, because I really need that tangible goal to look forward to. And did I mention how much I love the bling?

Friends, please keep me in your thoughts and mentally send best wishes for fresh legs, fast feet and good races this weekend!