Cinderella's Caste

Cinderella's Caste

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Race Recap: Princess Enchanted 10K

Greetings friends, runners, and fellow princesses! I recently returned from my favorite place, yup you guessed it, Walt Disney World! I was at the house of mouse for the Run Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. This event has become an annual girl’s trip with my BRFs, and this year even more magical memories were made!

This recap is LONG, but instead of splitting it in parts, I figured why not just give you the full novella. I know when I was researching Run Disney races I enjoyed reading all the details. I hope this helps you newbies and those of you curious about doing a Run Disney event in the future.

Royal greeting at the Princess Expo!

For my non-Run Disney readers, the Princess Half Marathon Weekend is a women’s focused event that takes place in Walt Disney World every February. The weekend hosts a 5K, 10K, and half marathon race as well as kid’s races. While men can participate, the weekend is all about the ladies! It’s the only women’s focused running event I’ve ever done, and I absolutely LOVE it. So many ladies use the weekend as a chance to do their first ever race(s). I love watching people make a commitment to fitness. Overall, it’s a really great run weekend for newbies as well as seasoned runners. It also makes for a great girl’s trip, which has become a tradition for me and my BRFs.

I started going to Princess Weekend as a girl’s trip in 2014, when I completed the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge (the Enchanted 10K plus the Princess Half Marathon). I returned in 2015 and completed the Princess Frozen 5K as well as the Enchanted 10K. This year we changed it up again and decided to primarily focus on the Enchanted 10K. Magical miles aren’t exactly cheap, and we all agreed that we’d like to start the weekend with our race and enjoy our park days after. We found that the past two years our legs were tired for the races due to more park time before. Also, with the 10K being my favorite running distance in general and the Enchanted 10K being my favorite current Run Disney course (I miss you Tower of Terror 10-Miler), this seemed like a perfect Princess Weekend plan.

With the race scheduled for Saturday, I began my Princess Weekend journey Thursday evening. I normally fly to Disney early in the morning so how I was able to contain my excitement at work all day is still a pixie dust mystery to me! I arrived in Orlando and instead of finding the Magical Express as I’m accustomed to, I met my parents. My parents are Florida snow birds and recently had a new house built there, which is approximately 15 minutes from Disney. I am completely jealous of them, but they worked hard for years and have earned this treat! It was nice spending some time with them and getting spoiled with my favorite dinner ever, mom’s homemade chicken pot pie!

Best welcome sign ever!
Friday morning I finally entered the Disney bubble and enjoyed a Mickey waffle breakfast with my parents at the Poly. I also tried some Tonga Toast for the first time and sadly I am not a fan. Womp womp. I think it’s due to my hatred of bananas. That was disappointing as it is one of the big hyped Disney foods, but now I can at least check that off my to-do list! Dole Whip, you are still number one! Since I wasn’t meeting the girls until later and my mom is a run expo junkie as well, my parents set off to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex with me to retrieve my race packet.

Expo swag/haul
I braced myself for the Princess Expo as there had been a lot of chatter about not-so-Princess behavior there the day before. Apparently pushing and shoving over jackets and tumblers ensued. Yikes! Also the Wine and Dine Weekend Expo I attended in November was simply insane because it was so crowded. However, once we arrived we saw none of this reported behavior and the crowds weren’t bad at all. Perhaps it was because it was the second day? I’m not sure, but it was smooth sailing picking up my packet and participant t-shirt. And those jackets that apparently caused fights? While I myself didn’t buy one, I saw several in ALL sizes. I also saw plenty of tumblers. Lol. I know a lot of people do all three races, but if you don’t and prefer to avoid insanity maybe consider hitting up the expo on the second day next year?

The more relaxed expo meant I could actually take time to shop and enjoy walking around. I adore race expos, and Run Disney does a top notch job. I had no park plans Friday, so I took my time. I ended up getting several cute things, including a Run Disney mug at last (they’ve been sold out every other time I’ve been) and the adorable Inside Out Disgust tech shirt that I’ve had my eye on since Run Disney posted pictures of that collection in January. I also purchased my 2016 Run Disney Vinylmation Mickey as per tradition as well as a Run Disney Princess Weekend travel coffee cup. I picked up a Dr. Cool Wrap as well, which has already come in handy due to some crappy knee pain (more on that later).
Royal Room at POR!

After the Expo I met my BRF Cailyn at our awesome Royal Guest Room at Port Orleans Riverside. Other than the room’s loud air conditioner (more on that later) this room was AMAZING and perfect for Princess Weekend. I ended up going back to the expo with her, which I totally didn’t mind and eventually all of my BRF’s were re-united once again! We hit up Disney Springs for dinner and then off to bed we went so we could “nap” before waking up at the bright and cheery time of 2:30 a.m.

So about that nap. I am not even joking when I say I got maybe 30 minutes of sleep AT MOST. For the first time in forever my room at Disney had a noisy air conditioning unit that was incredibly disruptive every time it kicked on. I was actually awake before my alarm went off at 2:30 since, well, I never really even went to sleep! I thought I was maybe a bit over sensitive to the loud AC, but it turns out Cailyn didn't sleep at all either.

Excitement over our awesome costumes helped us get ready despite our lack of sleep though. Costumes are the best part of Run Disney and this year ours were pretty incredible. Non-Disney nerds might be confused, but my Disney family I know y’all get me. Yes, we were the Dapper Dans! But instead of pants we paired our vests with Sparkle Skirts to give the costumes that special princess touch.

Dapper Dans ready to run!

After a semi-long wait for the bus, we finally arrived at Epcot for the race. As usual, Run Disney had the jams going and the energy was awesome. Our weather was great too! Not horribly hot and humid like 2014 and not overly cold like last year. Soon enough I heard a “last call for corral A” while I was in the porta-potty, yeah that was fun LOL, so I bolted, said a quick goodbye to my fellow Dapper Dans and ran to my corral. I had a brief PTSD flashback of nearly missing “final call” from my track days, but all was well and I was relaxed to see we still had plenty of time!

Eventually corral A fireworks went off in true Run Disney fashion and we were soon running! The first part of the course is the classic Run Disney parking lot tour before you hit up the Disney highway. To keep this part of the course exciting we were quickly entertained with fake snow and encouragement from Anna and Elsa on the above overpass. Seeing the Frozen ladies gave me a needed boost and I continued along holding a pretty good pace. I noticed way more characters on this first 3 mile stretch compared to before, including Tink, The Old Hag from Snow White, and Pocahontas and Meeko. In years past I only remember usually seeing one character prior to entering Epcot. While I was excited to see more characters I stuck to my plan of running until I reached Epcot World Showcase. This plan coupled with the fact that I found my groove made the first half fly by in a flash. I know at some point I stuck my Dapper Dan bowtie in my FlipBelt because it was making me hot and itchy lol, but other than that it was smooth sailing.

The first part of the race seemed so fast that I was surprised to already be entering Epcot World Showcase. It was still dark and the park was lit beautifully. Despite running alongside thousands of my closest friends, I always feel so peaceful during this portion of the Enchanted 10K. World Showcase is always gorgeous but there is something about running through it before sunrise that makes it even more special. I quickly jumped in line for my first character stop, Jiminy Cricket! I’ve only ever had my picture taken with him during the Enchanted 10K and as he is my dad’s favorite, I was pleased to see him again on the course. As soon as I jumped in line they announced Jiminy was taking a quick break, which made me almost consider getting out of line, but seconds later Jiminy was right back out but not alone. He was with PINOCHIO! What an amazing photo op of rare characters! I was ecstatic that I stayed in the line as it ended up not taking much time at all and I got the bonus of two characters.

Awesome on-course characters!
I then proceeded around World Showcase, where I saw a short line by the France Pavilion but no characters. I assumed it was possibly Marie again from the Aristocats like last year, but was quickly told by another runner that it was “Be Our Guest” people. I barely had time to wonder if that meant Belle or the Beast before none other than Lumiere and Cogsworth came out. I literally almost lost my mind you guys. These two are bucket list characters for me and incredibly RARE to find out in the parks. SO EXCITING!

That put some spring in my step as I headed out of World Showcase and to the Boardwalk, my favorite part of the Enchanted 10K course. It was there that I legit almost cried when I saw him: The Genie in his “free” look with the Hawaiian shirt and Goofy hat. Aladdin is my all-time favorite Disney movie and while I’ve had a picture with the Genie before, I’ve never had him in his “free” outfit. I knew he was on the Princess 5K course and had actually expressed regret the night before about not doing it since I assumed I missed my chance for that photo opportunity. This is just another part of what makes Run Disney races so magical and special!

After meeting with Genie I continued down the Boardwalk and it was there that I started to feel some major stiffness and definite tightness in my knee, a feeling I had never really felt before until then. I could still run thankfully, but it was apparent that at some point during the race I tweaked it somehow. Instead of dwelling on the pain, I pushed it out of my head and focused on enjoying the sights and sounds of the final portion of the race. As I left the Boardwalk I also snapped a quick picture with Sofia the First as she had no line and I adore that show!

This deserves a stand-alone picture! Genie, you are free!

I entered into the Epcot Future World section and was almost sad that the race was over, but I was also looking forward to finishing due to the aforementioned knee issue. I rounded the familiar corner to the finish and for the first time in all my Run Disney races I got a finish line shout out by the announcers, who joyously cheered “here comes a Dapper Dan!” That made me smile and I happily crossed the finish line.

Post-race medal selfie!
No post-race pukes for me as well, which is a good thing since I notoriously get nauseous after races. I got my beautiful race medal, grabbed my Run Disney snack box, and eagerly sat down for a little bit before checking in with my fellow BRFs to let them know I had finished. My only regret is walking past the medical tent and not getting ice. I didn’t realize I had passed it and instead of walking all the way back to the finisher area, I boarded my bus back to our Royal Guest room for a much needed Princess shower!

Overall this year’s Run Disney Enchanted 10K was great. I thought the Expo was better and had more official Run Disney merchandise than other years. And those on-course characters. WELL DONE RUN DISNEY! They really upped their game. More characters and rare ones at that. One of the perks of Run Disney races is seeing characters you don’t often see in the parks, so I am glad they really went above and beyond this year. Complaints? The only negative about this year’s event was the Run Disney snack box. It seemed to have way less and can I just say #bringbackthecheese? But seriously though it was a great race made even better by awesome weather.

Beautiful bling with a Little Mermaid touch, the theme of this year's Princess Weekend!
Currently I am still battling knee pain and with a full slate of spring races I really hope and pray that it will go away soon. If you have experienced something similar please let me know. I'd appreciate any advice!

Congratulations to those of you that finished the Princess Enchanted 10K as well as the other races. Share your experience in the comments. It seems far away to think about Princess Weekend 2017, but registration will already be coming up soon in July! So for now I will say see ya real soon princesses!

I will leave you with a few extra pictures from the perfectly, princess weekend:

I won trivia at the Run Disney Expo!

Celebratory Dole Whip!

Until we meet again princesses!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Race Recap: Turkey Trot 2015

Traditions are very important to me. One of my favorite holiday traditions is doing the Parkersburg Turkey Trot every Thanksgiving morning. This race has become so engrained in our family ritual that it wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without it!

I ran my first Turkey Trot, which takes place in my hometown, in 2002. My first year running was filled with snow, black ice, and freezing temperatures. I was still in high school and my good friend who was in college at the time came home to run with me. Despite the bad conditions, we had an absolute BLAST! While I missed a couple Turkey Trots after that year due to some injuries I had from collegiate cross country, I again ran the Turkey Trot in 2005 and have done it every year since!

Turkey Trot 2015: a family tradition!!!
Eventually several of my family members, including my mom, became involved in the Turkey Trot stapling the run/walk event as a holiday tradition for us. Over the past few years our Turkey Trot family group has grown to include my brother-in-law, husband, sister-in-law, aunt and uncle, as well as a few of my cousins. We look forward to braving the typically cold temperatures every morning and getting in some exercise before we dig into our yummy Thanksgiving feast. The Turkey Trot is also a mini reunion for me. I usually see several old friends from high school as well as my former cross country coach. It’s always a great time catching up with everyone. It reminds me that I am not only thankful for running, but also thankful for traditions, my family, and my friends.

While the Turkey Trot is a fun race the competition ranges from elite level competitive to those walking with strollers and dogs. It is currently the largest race held in West Virginia! As someone who has done this event for many years I’ve seen it grow from around 500 trotters to about 4,000 this year. I think the recent popularity of running is a reason for the event’s growth, but I also think it has become a tradition for many just like it has with my family. In the past during my collegiate competitive years I’ve finished second in this race, but now I run on more of the fun side. I still always put in a solid effort, however, and enjoy getting in a good run so I feel less guilty about the epic calorie consumption of Thanksgiving!

Usually for Thanksgiving we travel to Parkersburg on Wednesday evening, but due to me still getting over a bad sinus infection, Daniel being sick, and a mountain of laundry that needed tackled, we actually woke up very early and left Thursday morning. Fortunately I live only about an hour away from my hometown, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to get up and drive early. It meant for an earlier wake-up call, but my Run Disney experience of getting up super early for races still made this feel like “sleeping in.” In all honesty I think I was more rested for the Turkey Trot this year compared to the years we've gone to Parkersburg the night before. This was likely due to getting to relax more the evening before since we weren't traveling.

Unfortunately as Daniel was in the thick of his head cold he begrudgingly opted not to run so that also meant a solo Turkey Trot for me. Daniel has done the Turkey Trot since 2007 and was sad to miss. I also missed my running partner! We arrived at my parent’s house around 8 a.m. and while Daniel sadly headed to the guest room to nap, my mom, brother-in-law and sister-in-law got our traditional Turkey Trot pre-race picture and headed to the Parkersburg City Park for the race.

Oddly enough unlike past years where I’ve dressed head to toe in layers, the weather was actually very nice for this year’s Turkey Trot! I actually had several outfits laid out the night before that included the traditional long, thick running tights, plus long sleeve shirts to layer, a hat, and gloves. However, with weather in the high 40s and projected 50s by race time, I ended up running in capri leggings with a tank and only a light under armour zip-up top layered over it. It felt really weird not being all bundled up! I couldn’t remember the last Turkey Trot I did where I didn’t have a hat or earband! The only other mild-weather Turkey Trot I remember actually included copious amounts of monsoon like rain, so the mild, sunny temperatures were to quote Cousin Eddie “a real nice surprise!”

As I was still recovering from being sick with sinus issues and still battling quite a cough, my main goal was to simply make it through the race and determine my pace with how I felt. I had only run one other time prior to the Turkey Trot since the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K (I got sick right after our Disney Vacation), so I was sure that could play a factor in how my legs handled the race as well. Even still, I wanted to make sure to run my best effort for all conditions considered. Since I was still coughing quite a bit, I was very pleased that the aforementioned weather wasn’t the usual freezing Turkey Trot temperatures!

With my good friend Katie at the Turkey Trot!!!
Mom had picked up our race shirts the night before so we got to skip out on that line and were able to proceed along and get ready to trot as soon as we arrived at the Parkersburg City Park, where the race both started and finished. I met up with my good friend Katie from high school and after a quick bathroom break we made our way to the start line, which was already massively crowded with people. As the Turkey Trot is a casual, fun race there are no corrals and this does make it rather hectic. If the race continues to grow I’m not sure what could be done about this unless they did decide to do corrals someday. I personally think since the race has grown so much, corrals in the future would be a great idea for safety purposes alone. Despite our efforts, Katie and I were probably stuck somewhere in the middle of the huge starting area. I knew I’d have to battle my way through the crowds for a bit as I could see people in jeans in front of us (which clearly means walker as I’ve never seen someone run in jeans and if you do you shouldn’t because hello chafing LOL) as well as a few strollers, and small children. Another example of how corrals are probably needed at this race now that it’s grown so much!

Ready or not though the gun soon went off and it was time to trot! As I predicted I had to weave and wind my way throughout the crowd to get around people at the beginning. This is where running solo actually benefited me. As I am a pretty petite person it’s easier for me to dart through small gaps, whereas Daniel is quite tall and to stay together it takes us longer to navigate crowded starts. The beginning of the race stays in the park for a small portion before going out on a street, which you briefly stay on until you turn toward Washington Avenue, where the bulk of the race takes place. By the time I was turning onto Washington Avenue I had finally gotten around the groups who don’t trot as fast as I do and was able to stretch my legs more and establish my pace.

I found myself passing several more people as I ran up the very familiar Washington Avenue. Not only is Washington Avenue a staple of the Turkey Trot, it’s also the street I ran on nearly every single day for my high school cross country and track practices. Despite being very familiar with this road, the hill at the beginning is still just as annoying as ever and my legs definitely felt that grade in elevation almost immediately! Fortunately, at this point my coughing was in check for the most part and I was mainly just happy to be able to run out of the chaos that was the race start. Tired legs and all I forged along and was actually holding a solid pace at this point.

I continued up Washington Avenue and waved to several friends I briefly saw, yet another reason why I love the Turkey Trot! I did find myself get a twinge of emotions as I hadn’t run on Washington Avenue since the news of my good friend and former running teammate Jenny’s passing. We regularly ran together on this street as well as at the park. Rather than let myself get sad, which is something Jenny would never want, I instead smiled because I felt her presence with me. This actually gave me the boost I needed to keep going as I approached the turn around to head back to the park. At this point I started coughing a bit more, but thinking about and running for Jenny was the right motivation I needed. I also saw my high school cross country coach directing trotters at the turn around which was another energy boost!

I made my way down Washington Avenue and back into the park. At this point, the course takes almost a full lap around the park, which is another very familiar running location for me. This is where I started to cough the most, which made me concentrate on taking it easy and not pushing myself. I did not want to get myself any sicker or regress with my symptoms! As I rounded the park and cut through by the pond to round the finish, I also felt my stomach get a little queasy. This is very typical of me for races, but I think the coughing aggravated it a bit more this time. While I did pick it up slightly as I ran toward the finish I did exercise some self-control and didn’t allow myself to full out sprint at the end like usual. I didn’t want to end up puking or make myself feel sick for the rest of the day.

A reason why I Turkey Trot!!!
I picked it up slightly and as hard as it was not to sprint my eyes were definitely happy to see the time on the finish clock! I was surprised at how much faster my time was than I expected considering I didn’t feel like I was running that fast and didn’t even sprint at the end. I also knew to subtract at least 40-60 seconds from that time since I started so far back from the start line. Even with the clock time alone I actually ended up running faster than last year! I’ll call that a successful trot!

Overall the Parkersburg Turkey Trot was another fun race experience. I missed running with Daniel, but I still had a great time! After I finished I met up with some of my cousins and we also cheered my mom, brother-in-law and sister-in-law as they crossed the finish. It was a great time seeing so many old friends and doing this race as a family.

As I said in the future if the race continues to grow, I think corrals are needed or they at least need to make sure that walkers, small children, strollers, and dogs begin at the back behind the runners. This would be safer and make it more organized. However, even with the crazy chaos the Parkersburg Turkey Trot is and probably will always be one of my favorite races!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas from Daniel, Hope, and Winston!!!
I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving! Did you Turkey Trot in your local area? I’d love to hear about your Turkey Trot experience. Best wishes for the holiday season and may all your miles be magical!

Best wishes for a happy holiday season filled with joy!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Race Recap: Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K

After spending a week in the happiest place on earth, I have returned to my West Virginia home. I am still badly missing my Disney home though!

We loved Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!
We had a wonderful vacation in Walt Disney World. We ate a lot and I mean A LOT of delicious food and made more magical memories. The Food and Wine Festival as usual didn’t disappoint. Our resort home for the week, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter was beautiful and quickly became our new favorite hotel on property. We also got into the holiday spirit early by attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. In addition to that Christmas magic, we started our vacation on a festive note as well by participating in the Run Disney Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K.

The race, which took place at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, was part of Run Disney’s Annual Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend. We arrived in Disney early Friday morning before the race. The magical express took us right to our hotel and while our room wasn’t ready that early, we changed out of our cold weather clothes and into summer vacation attire! It was actually unseasonably HOT for Orlando in November and the temperatures felt more like Florida summer heat, especially with the humidity! This was quite a change from my previous visit to Disney in February for Princess Weekend, which was unseasonably cold. The extra hot and humid temperatures meant that it would be a very WARM racing weekend.

We arrived at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the Wine and Dine Race Expo shortly after it opened. However, being there early certainly didn’t do anything to make it feel less crowded. I am not sure what was going on but this expo was by far the craziest busiest Run Disney race expo I’ve ever attended! I thought the crowds drifted to the heavy side for the Marathon Weekend and Princess Weekend Expos, but they had nothing on Wine and Dine! We essentially had to fight our way through the masses of people just to get to the area to pick up our race bibs.

After finally grabbing our race bibs we again fought our way through the crazy expo crowds to pick up our official race shirts. Despite the 5K shirts being cotton and not tech, this year’s Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K shirt might just be my favorite Run Disney shirt yet! The design is adorable and festive, which suited the race’s Christmas theme! The shirts are also bright red, and you know how much I love it when I get a brightly colored race shirt. Yay for no white or grey shirts!!!

The cutest race shirts and bib! So festive!
As for expo shopping, we didn’t spend too much time there due to it being crazy busy as well as us being super hungry. We essentially drove in the middle of the night to get to the airport to catch our early flight and the airplane peanuts we had for breakfast didn’t exactly hold us over well until lunch. Thankfully, I did manage to pick up two new Sweaty Bands headbands. They are THE BEST running headbands for my thick hair. They always stay in place and never move or slide like so many other athletic headbands often do in my hair. Well worth the pricey cost! I am sad I didn’t pick up my traditional Run Disney race magnet or any other official merchandise, but the line to simply pay for the Run Disney items was outrageous!

Leaving the expo when we did also worked out well since I received a text that our room was ready. We got our bags out of storage and took the boat from POFQ to Downtown Disney or as I guess they call it now “Disney Springs.” We had lunch at our favorite Earl of Sandwich and then headed to Epcot later that day. After a yummy dinner at Teppan Edo we opted to skip Illuminations and head back to our room for some much-needed sleep. Run Disney generally always means a super-early wakeup call after all!

Lady and the Tramp ready for Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K!!!

Our alarm went off around 4 a.m. Saturday morning. We had to be on the bus to take us to the race course by at least 5 a.m. While 4 was still quite early, it was actually “sleeping in” somewhat compared to other Run Disney mornings! We got ready and transformed into our Lady and the Tramp costumes fairly quickly and were out the door and on the bus in no time. Due to this race just being a 5K we didn’t see the need to check a bag and only brought our water bottles and Clif Bars to eat before the race.
Lady and the Tramp! We are cute! Lol!

In true Run Disney fashion, once we arrived to the race start, which was somewhere within Animal Kingdom’s giant parking lot area, the energy was on point. The music was blaring and there were many photo opportunities, including a VERY LONG line to get your picture taken with Christmas Mickey and Minnie. Since we had a Christmas character dinner booked for our trip with Minnie’s Holiday Dine, we decided to skip that long line. We did take advantage of one of the picture areas that was festively decorated for the race. There was a line here too, but it was a much much MUCH shorter one! We also enjoyed the “snow” that they had going near the start line. In addition, we got multiple compliments and “awws” on our Lady and the Tramp costumes. I really think it was our spaghetti plate prop that sealed the deal for people!

After some waiting around and copious porta-potty visits, we finally headed to corral A! Unlike the traditional fireworks starts Run Disney often uses, this race kicked off with snow! How perfect for the Christmas themed run! Although there was snow, the heat and humidity was already INSANE! We were soon off and running and not even 200 yards in I could feel sweat dripping down my face and back. I quickly knew that I was going to regret running in a cotton shirt. More on that later!

Bella Notte!

The first mile was primarily the great Run Disney parking lot tour as we headed toward the Animal Kingdom entrance. While Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K is a family FUN run, we did find it alarming that so many small children were in corral A. It was hard to establish our pace at first due to several people in that corral that frankly had no business being there. I know that sounds harsh, but for safety reasons participants in corral A should not already be walking two feet in. Also the crazy amounts of children had us concerned about tripping and not only hurting them but ourselves as well. Fortunately once we were about a half mile in the crowd thinned somewhat and we were able to keep the pace we wanted without fear of stepping on someone.

Christmas Pluto was so cute!!!

Our goal for the race really was to keep a solid pace as best we could but to stop for characters in between. We knew that would cause our finish time to be slower (Run Disney does not officially time the 5Ks anyway), but we wanted to make this race as fun as possible. This was a good strategy because we still got in some good, hard running while having fun as well. Being in corral A boded well for photo stops as the lines weren’t really that long for us.

We entered Animal Kingdom at the first mile and quickly saw our first character. We continued running through Animal Kingdom, which was very scenic, but also VERY HOT. Animal Kingdom always feels ten degrees hotter regardless and this race was no different. It was on this second mile that I really started to regret running in a cotton shirt as it was offering no breathing room and I began to feel overheated. I was determined to continue the fun though and we forged along taking in all the sites and stopping for a few more characters.

So many cute character opportunities! Loved the Christmas theme everywhere!

Generally I am always sad when the parks part of Run Disney events is over, but I was pretty thrilled as we exited Animal Kingdom and headed out a backroad. While still hot, the air instantly felt more breathable! We stopped for a few more characters, including Pluto decked out in his Christmas finest as well as Santa Goofy and Winter Donald! We also saw the backside of Expedition Everest which was really cool. It’s not a real mountain?! Say What?

While mile two through Animal Kingdom felt like it took a while (probably due to us being so HOT), our last mile flew by and I couldn’t believe we were about to round the corner to the finish shoot. I was having a great time, but very overheated at this point and eager to finish! We held onto our spaghetti plate prop together and put on our best smiles as we crossed the finish line looking all sorts of Lady and the Tramp cute. This was quite a task, however, as my smile was likely fake due to my overwhelming sudden need to throw up as I neared the finish line. And I immediately did end up projectile vomiting after crossing the finish line. I flat out couldn’t help it. I think it was a mixture of the heat, plus my suffocating cotton shirt, and the race adrenaline that all contributed to my finish line nausea. Fortunately Run Disney is always prepared and I was immediately caught and greeted by the sweetest woman who held a bag for me to puke in. I commend her for doing that job because that’s one job I couldn’t handle! Yuck!

After I got that out of my system and rehydrated with some Powerade I felt instantly better. Lesson learned from this race: even when it’s just a 5K don’t run in a cotton shirt, especially in such hot temperatures! We grabbed our Run Disney snack boxes, which are always a lovely touch, and got on the bus back to our hotel. It wasn’t even 8 a.m. yet so we were very excited to shower, refuel, and take a nap!

Showing off our adorable race bling!
Overall the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K was an awesome, fun race! We had so much fun running together and I am so glad we chose to add this taste of Run Disney to our family vacation. There were much more character opportunities in this race compared to the Frozen 5K, which made me very happy. We stopped for all the characters except for the ant from A Bug’s Life, since we don’t really like that movie. The snow and characters in their holiday attire all contributed to the festive theme. The Christmas music they had pumping throughout the course, which I believe was from the old Jingle Jungle Parade at Animal Kingdom was also a nice touch. It was a cute event and a race I would do again in the future. Our race medals were also completely adorable!

I think this race is fun to do on its own or as a morning pre-cursor to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, which traditionally takes place that same evening. I understand due to weather this year’s Wine and Dine Half was actually half of a half, so I’m glad so many runners took the chance to do the morning 5K too.

Did you run Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K? Let me know if you enjoyed your race experience! 

              

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Wine & Dine Weekend Costume Reveal

Get excited because we are going to DISNEY WORLD!!! Yes, we will be back at the house of mouse this Friday and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

After over six months of planning and organization there were days I thought this vacation would never get here. I was wide awake and ready at 6 a.m. to make our dining reservations 180 days out and on that day I started an every 10 days Instagram countdown. My countdown, which recently turned into a daily one after hitting the single digits milestone, helped keep me motivated and excited for our trip. Despite the huge list of trip prep I have left to do before we leave I know that magic awaits and I can’t wait to be back in our happy place for a week.

While we aren’t taking a usual runcation as this trip is serving as our main vacation this year, if you know me you know I just couldn’t resist a TASTE of Run Disney. Since we will be arriving the Friday of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend we will be kicking off our first full day in Disney World by running the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K in Animal Kingdom. It’s a Christmas themed race and again if you know me you know that I am essentially Buddy the Elf when it comes to the holidays. I am looking forward to a morning run through beautiful Animal Kingdom and enjoying a holiday themed race at my favorite place on earth! As this is primarily a vacation we opted not to do the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, but we wish those of you doing this race the best of luck! Also good luck to those of you who will be joining us Saturday morning for the 5K! We hope to see you there!

And that leads me to the point of this post, what you’ve all been waiting for. Drumroll please: Our Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K costume reveal!

Yes, we will be dressing up as our favorite cartoon dogs from one of our most cherished Disney movies, Lady and the Tramp! I can’t even take credit for this idea as it was actually Daniel’s! Yes, I am almost as surprised as you that he not only agreed to run in costume again but also came up with the idea! If you are doing the 5K just look for Lady and the Tramp and say hello!

Closer view of just our costumes!
Most of our costume is DIY from random pieces I gathered. My brown skirt is from Sparkle Athletic. I’ve worn their skirts in several Run Disney events and highly recommend them especially if you are into dressing up but want to be comfortable while you run as well! My visor is also from Sparkle Athletic.

Let me know if you will be doing any of the Wine and Dine Weekend festivities! We are looking forward to being back in Disney as well as taking in all the Christmas fun that makes this an extra special time to visit Walt Disney World. We plan to see the Osborne Lights at Hollywood Studios hopefully more than once since sadly it will be the last year for this display. If you’ve never experienced this, it’s a must-do! We also will be attending Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and doing the inaugural Minnie’s Holiday Dine dinner!

I plan to Instagram our adventures so be sure to follow me @lilrunner1485. I will be tweeting regular updates as well @lilrunner. In addition, we plan to Periscope as much as we can this trip, so hit me up there at @lilrunner!

See ya real soon!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Finally Fall Y'all

Happy fall friends! First off, I’d like to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers regarding my dear friend Jenny’s passing. I know my last post was sad, but I wanted to honor my friend. Thank you all again and please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. I am so blessed to have had her in my life and she continues to inspire me daily. I am also very fortunate that so many people through social media have reached out with their support over the past few weeks. Thank you all. You guys are the best!

Pretty Much
Summer has finally bid farewell and fall is here at last! Fall in West Virginia is absolutely gorgeous. The leaves have finally changed colors and look beautiful. It’s taken a bit longer than usual, but the air is finally crisp and cool. This weekend was one of the very first that truly felt like autumn. Sunny skies, cool fall air, leaves, ahhhh it was wonderful! I’ve really been enjoying my favorite season so far by drinking pumpkin spice coffee nearly every morning and just taking in the beauty of it all. Fall running is also a go! I took a brief hiatus for a bit due to a bad sinus infection, but am finally back to a regular routine. I love running in this type of weather. It’s my absolute favorite! I’ve really enjoyed being outside taking the sights of the season in. I love hearing the crunch of leaves under my feet. Fall running, you really are the best!

As for racing, I don’t have any long races planned for fall, but as per tradition I will be doing the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning in my hometown. Also, in just 18 days (18!!! Insert excited emoji here) I will be back in my favorite, most magical place, Walt Disney World, where I will be doing the Run Disney Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K! The race is part of Run Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Daniel and I planned to do our annual fall Disney vacation anyway and while we opted not to do the half since we wanted more of a VACATION compared to a runcation this time, we still wanted just a TASTE of Run Disney! What can I say but I’m addicted y’all!

Wine and Dine Weekend Medals!!!
Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K will kick off the first full day of our trip. It takes place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and is Christmas themed! A Run Disney event at Disney World and Christmas themed?! It’s like this event was created just for me! I am a holiday nut and I can’t wait to enjoy my three passions running, Disney and Christmas! This will be Daniel’s first Run Disney 5K and my second. I am excited to enjoy a fun run with him and to add some Run Disney magic to our trip. While I do love the longer races, I am very happy to being doing just the 5K for this vacation. The Run Disney 5Ks are all about the FUN and we are looking forward to it! I have never done a race through Animal Kingdom, so once this race is complete I will have finally done races through all four of the Walt Disney World Parks.

I hope to see many of my fellow Run Disney nuts there! We do plan to run in costumes for Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K. I am currently WAY behind on costume making, but sometimes I work well at the last minute. Look for a costume reveal post very soon!

Pumping Everything Please!
I hope everyone is enjoying the fall season. If you are somewhere that doesn’t have fall weather, I hope you at least are taking advantage of pumpkin everything. Let me know how your fall running is going. Also, who all is joining me at Disney for Wine and Dine Weekend? See ya real soon!

Thought this was a good way to close this post!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Missing Our MVP

Hello kind friends. Sadly, this post comes with a heavy heart. We can put this into the file of “things I never thought I’d write about.” I received some absolutely devastating news this weekend that one of my dearest friends and former teammate passed away in a hiking accident on Friday, Sept. 25. I couldn’t breathe when I heard she was gone. I instantly fell against the wall and sunk down on to the floor of my living room as if I had just been punched in the gut. Daniel rushed in to see what was wrong and I couldn’t even speak the words. If I don’t speak them it means it can’t be true right? I finally managed to actually say what happened once I caught my breath. The tears flowed and I was still in absolute shock. I just couldn’t believe or accept that my beautiful friend was gone.

Jen Kunze (Jenny Campbell) was more than just a friend. She was someone who I looked up to and always admired. I met Jenny when I was in the 7th grade and she was a freshmen at Hamilton Junior High. She was someone I just “clicked” with almost instantly. She was my teammate in track and cross country. She was also my cross country captain at Parkersburg High School. Jenny’s encouraging spirit and warm smile was a calming presence to anyone who crossed paths with her. She was nice and accepting of everyone and exuded kindness and grace. Her leadership of our cross country team was remarkable and with her constant encouragement, we won the West Virginia State Cross Country Championship in 2000.

2000 WV State Champion XC Team
That state meet in 2000 will always be part of my most cherished memories, and now 15 years later I look back on that amazing day with even more fondness. My team was actually picked to finish third, but with Jenny’s encouragement and our team’s motto to “use your heart” in the race we were the champions. Before the race started I remember Jenny saying “it’s just to the park around and back” to calm us and motivate us. “To the park around and back” was our standard route we would do in practice and something Jenny frequently referenced before meets. Jenny proved to be the true MVP that day and not only motivated her teammates, but she also used her heart and ended up finishing 22nd after being predicted to finish 41st. While we had no one place in the top ten that day, our top five runners did finish between 13th and 22nd, which shows just how much of a TEAM sport cross country is. As the picture of the article below about our race on Run WV says, Jenny’s determination and 22nd place finish was the point difference that separated us from the second place team.
Our MVP Jenny
Jenny was named the MVP of the meet by Run WV. She was indeed the MVP then but really she was the MVP for all our races as I’m not sure we could have been so bonded that season without her exceptional leadership.

I kept in touch with Jenny after high school and college as our love of running once again bonded us together. She read this blog and I always enjoyed reading her blog about her running and her adventures with her husband Nick. Even though I didn’t see her much, I still felt very close to Jenny. I do wish I had kept in better touch, but I think so many of us that knew and loved her feel the same way.

My first year in cross country. Jenny showing her bright smile
in the middle.
Jenny and I used to joke in high school that one day we would hang out at the park gazebo like the old people that would always watch us run in practice. It hurts to know she won’t be there in body, but if I am still able to I will do this someday and I will save a spot for Jenny. I know she will be there laughing with me in spirit.

I know Jenny was more to so many others too just from reading posts about her the past few days. She was an amazing daughter, wife, aunt, co-worker and more. A true bright light in this sadly often dark world. I am still very much struggling with this loss, but it has taught me that we are never guaranteed tomorrow and to always live life to the fullest with a smile like Jenny did. I encourage everyone reading this to tell people you love them and encourage someone just as Jenny would have done.

Jenny has been on my mind constantly these past few days. It was actually Jenny who convinced me to join the cross country team, which I can fully say changed my life. Without cross country I wouldn't have met half the people I know today, including my husband. It's amazing how one person can truly impact your life.

Yesterday I dedicated my run to my fallen teammate and I plan to dedicate the rest of my runs this week to Jenny. I will always treasure our memories together. My heart breaks for her husband and her family and my prayers are with them daily.

RIP beautiful friend. Always our MVP.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

FlipBelt: My New Running Essential

As a long-time runner I’ve always had to come up with creative ways to store all the “extras” I tend to need when it comes to training runs. Once I became an “adult grown-up runner” I found that I was needing to bring more stuff on runs, like my car keys or house key. For safety purposes, I’ve also grown accustomed to bringing my phone on runs. In addition, I usually need some type of fuel be it an energy gel or sports beans for my longer runs. Carrying all of these extras and making the process hassle-free was starting to become a huge annoyance.

Yes, I’ve done the key in the shoe method. While that system doesn’t change my actual run so much, the process of taking my key off the chain and looping it through my laces is annoying since I generally like to get out the door and running ASAP! I’ve also somehow tucked an energy gel in the side of my pants or shorts (yay for sweat covered wrappers right?!). Yes, I’ve risked the life of my phone by actually holding it in my hand during a run as well. I’ve tried the arm band for my phone and iPod, but none seem to fit my skinny arm well enough to suit me. And the ones that sort of do fit me tend to feel bulky and uncomfortable.

FlipBelt details!
For longer races, especially those I do for my beloved runcations via Run Disney, I always know I’m going to need a way to store my extra things that I will need while on the course. Because of this, I searched and searched for the perfect running bag. I tried on several and bought my first “running fanny pack” from Nike. While the bag itself stored many things, it really wasn’t comfortable and I found myself constantly having to adjust it during runs! Talk about annoying! The husband tried it a few times and even wore it during our Run Disney Tower of Terror 10-Miler race and agreed that it was very uncomfortable. I kept Mr. Ole Nike Fanny Pack and started to think that maybe I just wasn’t used to running with it. I ended up reading about other runners using the FlipBelt. Almost every runner that talked about their FlipBelt seemed to LOVE it. My curiosity was officially peaked! However, looking at pictures of the FlipBelt I was still extremely skeptical. I thought “yeah right how can that flimsy looking thing really hold out that stuff safely and securely?” I also wondered how on earth the FlipBelt would feel “so comfortable like it’s not even there” as so many people described.

I held back on ordering a FlipBelt for myself because I was so unsure. It wasn’t until my BRF Cailyn got one that I really started to believe that the FlipBelt was actually the magical running accessory must-have toted by so many. With my Run Disney Princess Weekend coming up, I knew I’d be able to try on a FlipBelt at the Expo so I again held off from ordering one online. I also could avoid shipping costs if I bought it at the Expo (because I’m cheap y’all!). Finally our magical runcation arrived and after we got our necessary race bibs and swag at the Expo we hit up the FlipBelt booth. I tried one on and even stuck my phone in it and jumped up and down as well as jogged in place. I am sure I looked super cool doing this! I was already amazed at how I barely felt it and my phone didn’t seem to move, but I still had a slight degree of skepticism since I tend to be overly picky about running accessories. I trust my BRF Cailyn’s opinion enough though that I decided to go ahead and purchase one in basic black. Anything over that bulky Mr. Ole Nike Fanny Pack!

The next day I wore my FlipBelt for the Frozen 5K as well as all morning and afternoon at the Magic Kingdom. I wore it the following day during the Enchanted 10K as well. The rest is history as I was now am an official FlipBelt believer! I also recently volunteered at Habitat for Humanity twice this summer and wore my FlipBelt the entire time on both days. If you aren’t familiar with Habitat, when you volunteer you are assisting in the construction of a new home. I spent my days climbing ladders, crawling underneath a house to work on plumbing, carrying and installing drywall as well as many other tasks. During this time I was able to keep my phone with me and never worried once about dropping it while I was perched on the ladder working.

I currently use my iPhone 6 with my FlipBelt

The FlipBelt basics you need to know:

Options to wear your FlipBelt: 
1. You can flip it so that the pockets are facing outwards for easier access to your items.
2. You can flip it so it faces inwards, which provides a more safeguarded approach for your items.

Either way, the FlipBelt provides awesome storage for your essentials. I tend to wear mine option 1 style, and I’ve never had an issue with my items not being secure. Sometimes if I do a hillier run, I flip it inwards just for extra security, but usually I don’t think this is necessary. It’s all a personal preference!

FlipBelts come in sizes extra small through extra large. I tried on two different sizes and opted for the bigger size since I prefer to wear my FlipBelt more right above my hips compared to my waist area. Again, that's a personal preference so choose what you are most comfortable with. In addition to my black one, FlipBelts also come in a variety of other colors, including hot pink, royal blue, neon yellow, neon green, and carbon, to name a few.

I have already converted more friends to loving their FlipBelt. So, if you are looking for an easy, non-annoying way to store your items when working out, give the FlipBelt a go! For more information, visit

All opinions are my own. I did not receive compensation from FlipBelt to write this review. I genuinely love this product.