Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Running into Spring

Tonight I headed out looking for Spring! 
The sky was limitless.  
The Spring peepers were peeping.
The Canadian Geese were pair bonding.
The squirrels were chasing one another.
As night fell the moon cast its full light on me.
Spring Found!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

runDisney Princess Half Marathon 2013 - how it came to be

2013 was the third year that I participated in runDisney's Princess Half Marathon weekend! In 2011 I went for myself with my two girls and my parents.  We had a blast!  My older daughter ran the 5k with me and they both did the kids mile.  The whole weekend my sister was sitting at home cheering us on and not so quietly planning Princess 2012!  In 2012 we were all there!  Our parents spent 2 weeks at Disney.  The first week with me and the girls, then we all overlapped Princess weekend, followed by the second week with my sister and her family after we left.  It was an extravagant trip any Princess young or older would love.

I always stop to say hello to Mickey at the airport when I arrive!

2013s Princess weekend was going to be different.  I was not planning on going, but a friend asked if I wanted to go and make a girls weekend of it!  It was mid October when I registered.  I was literally on a training run for my second marathon and stopped at mile 17 to try and take care of the registration.  She was trying to register us onsite at the Tower of Terror expo, but the computers were not working.  After a couple of days my registration was completed by a helpful runDisney rep in Florida!  It all worked out, I ran my marathon, shoot some video for my Disney Moms Panel application, did my third marathon in DC at the Marine Corps Marathon, ran a few holiday races, oh and runDisney marathon weekend's Goofy Challenge, and finally it was time for Princess weekend.

5 Princesses at the Airport

There were 3 of us travelling down from Rhode Island together and we met up with 2 other Princesses at the Orlando airport before heading to our home at Disney's Yacht Club!  Before we left the airport Linda gave us all Princesses sashes that they had made!  There were more treats in store, but let's get to the resort first.  The resort itself is beautiful.  It looks out over the boardwalk and the water.  At night all of the lights come on and the boardwalk is enchanted!

In the lobby at the Yacht Club!

We were staying on the concierges level so we wanted for nothing.  Not only that, but we were on the deluxe dining plan so our biggest issue of the weekend was too much food!  I knew this was going to be an issue heading into the weekend, but after the first lunch it was already a problem.

Our first lunch was at Les Chefs de France! Thanks chef...it was spectacular!
...quiche and salad...
Cheese Board...

 and a profiterole!

Princesses at lunch!

There is no pacing yourself when you have already paid for it and the meals are far too frequent.  My best solution was to share my meals with other run buddies.  This is strictly against Disney policy, but there was no way I could eat that much.  As it was I ate too much all weekend.  For me...the deluxe dining plan and concierges level were overkill and I would opt out in the future...although it was fun to do it once!

For dinner we were at Via Napoli.  These two restaurants are my favorites at Epcot and eating at both of them on the same day was a blessing and a curse!


That's where the pizza is cooked!
My favorite pizza in the whole world!
I could only eat one piece because I was so full!

Dessert! Lemon Gelato! 

Our server...great job!

The 5 Princesses had a very special room on the 5th floor overlooking the boardwalk.  You could hear the boats coming and going between us and Epcot.  I choose the daybed by the balcony doors.  It was very comfortable and gave me my own space in the room.

The view from our room!

I found myself coming and going at different times from the other Princesses and I was able to leave without disturbing them in the morning and climb under the covers before they arrived in the evening.  We were keeping crazy hours.  I got up early for a shakeout run on Friday and then the 5k on Saturday and was out the door while everyone else was still asleep.  I came in late for me and was usually in bed by 11 pm with the room all to myself.  We all ran the half marathon though so on Sunday morning we were all up and at it fairly early.  Both race mornings I was on the first bus out of the Yacht Club and there were less than 5 of us on it each morning!  Crazy I know, but the buses filled up at the Beach Club and we were off to the races.

So that is a bit of the background story for Princess Half Weekend.  I will share race details in separate posts!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll USA - DC March 16 2013

Sometime last summer I won an entry into any Rock 'n' Roll race of my choice! I chose RnRUSA in DC.  It took a while for the registration to work out.  The registration was actually covered by Gatorade.  So I had to both wait for registration to open and get it all set up with Gatorade's PR reps.  I was thrilled when I was actually registered and could finally commit myself to running the race.

The race was only 3 weeks after the runDisney Princess half.  My plan was to train through the half with my sights set on the full!  That's right I was running the marathon.  When you get a gift entry and they offer you the half or the full wouldn't you go for the better value and do the full?  Well that is what was in my mind when I committed.  Then the reality of training for the full in New England in the middle of winter hit!  The short story is that I never got beyond 15 miles due to weather and motivation as well as a few other factors I am sure.  So two weeks before my race I was ready to run...15 miles! That is a point which I reflected on mid race as I crossed 16 miles.

I headed to DC on Friday morning.  My sister lives in Northern VA and we are getting into a habit of meeting up for DC races.  I flew into BWI, took the shuttle bus to the train station, hopped on Amtrak for 2 stops and pulled into Union Station.  She picked me up and we headed to the race expo at the Armory.

The chart was actually correct! NOAA was wrong! I prepped for rain and mid forties when I should have prepped for partial sun and mid 50s to low 60s! It turned out to be a toasty run and I was way over dressed!

There were plenty of fun photo op locations! 
They needed a photo backdrop for the marathoner's as well!

You better believe I was going to rock it! I went it to finish
...especially because of the weather forecast...but instead I PR'ed!

One of my great friends had tipped me off and asked me to stop by theRunnerBox.com and say hello to the ladies and check out their product.  They are selling grown up care boxes for athletes!  They have all kinds of options and any athlete would love to receive one of their boxes!

Here was my sample expo crowd shot.  I got a Twitter request to see how the crowd was at the expo and I fired this shot off.  Really the crowd was very manageable.  There was not even a line to get through security.  There was plenty of space to move around and take in all of the vendors. 

We had fun wandering the aisles and gathering swag! 
Love the snap bracelets! Especially the reflective one!

Moving on to race day! We were about an hour and fifteen minutes from the parking lot on race morning so we were getting up at 3:45!  All went well and 4 lovely ladies all piled into the van in VA to head to DC at 4:40 in the morning.

We bought the $20 premium parking pass which was crucial! But we still needed to take the Metro to the start...we were parked at the finish.  One metro ride later and we were on the Washington Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol! (Sorry to all the regular Saturday morning riders for overrunning your Metro.)

It was still quite dark!

My sister and me!

I was assigned to Corral 18 based on the finish time I submitted.  
I think I might have said 4:15 in a very hopeful moment!
Have I got my port and starboard correct?

I am in my corral with my pace group! My plan was to run with the 4:25s!

I always love a good starting line!

We ran from the start at the Smithsonian American History Museum down to the Lincoln Memorial.

We headed across the bridge toward Arlington Cemetery and rounded the loop before heading back to DC.

Then it was under the overhang at the Lincoln Center and up Rock Creek Parkway.

We ran under several bridges before we finally had to run up a steep hill to cross on!

Back in the city there were so many wonderful runner shots.  
All Souls Church

We were going to run toward the US Capitol 3 times on this course: from the North, East and South!

I love this shot of the runners crossing about a mile in front of the Capitol.

This was one of my favorite bands out on the course.  
There were also 2 kids bands that I thought were fantastic!

We were almost at the half way mark and that is always a good thing! 

After we split with the half marathoners at the 12.5 mile mark we ran back toward the Capitol from the East.

After heading round the north side of the Capitol we ran down the mall.  
I captured this shot of my pace group as we went past the National Archives.
Our Fleet Feet pacers are in the red shirts.

Then it was into the tunnel and under the national mall to head towards the river.  There was a guy on a bike with an amazing sound system rig blasting music in the tunnel.  He was also dressed as Mr. Incredible!

When we came out the other side we in sight of the fish markets and the 14th street bridge.

We ran up the Anacostia River Walk and I found myself face to face with the Titanic Memorial!
I did not even know the city had one.  Running takes you places and shows you things you would not otherwise see!  (I did not take a picture of the scrap yard in Anacostia.)

Next up was Nationals Park!  My sister and her family are huge and I mean huge Nationals fans!

This bridge over the Anacostia was pretty and painful! 
Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
Yes that is a D Chip on my shoe.

Our pacers around mile 24 on Kenilworth Ave. Check out their shirts!  They were really visible on the course, which was great when I dropped off the back now and then and needed to either catch up or pace at a distance.  I was able to keep them in my sights until mile 25 then I lost them up ahead.  We ran under our pace all day (10:07).  We were a couple minutes under at the half.

Happy finisher!  I came in a couple of minutes after my pacers, but I PR'ed with 4:23:01!!! I beat my PR by 3 1/2 minutes! We ran even miles and it really worked out well for me.  I really had to push myself from 21 on, but up to that point I was just banking miles and a steady manageable pace.  I am thrilled with how it went...and it never rained!

Afterwards the 4 of us headed to the Shake Shack for lunch.
The other three ladies ran the half and they were there to cheer me on at the finish! 
It was fantastic!

I went with a hamburger, 1/2 fries and a dark hot chocolate.

Here is the medal!
I had it engraved for $20 with my PR time.
I always have my PR medals engraved!

I should note that is race had its issues.  None of them impacted me, however they were a problem for the majority of the half marathoners on the course.  First a foremost they race was way understaffed.  For whatever reasons (including predicted foul weather) I would estimate RnRUSA only had 1/4 of the volunteers that it needed.  I highly doubt that 3/4 of them bailed at the last minute due to weather.  Competitor had to have known the course was going to be understaffed.  There were not enough volunteers to keep the corrals strait heading to the start line.  I was in corral 18, but I know there were lots of folks in later corrals, who lined up in those corrals, who started before me because the corral progression forward was not controlled.  We are talking folks in corral 29 who started before I did.  They had no idea where they were as the moved forward.  The just advanced, moving through the potty lines that were also in the corrals, bad planning! The result was that the the early starting waves were overloaded with racers.  The result was understaffed water stops were hit harder than they should have been.  The second stop was essential closed when I got to it!  I was so worried about the racers behind me who were going to need it, but it turns out a lot of them were in front of me!

I had dressed for mid 40s and rain based on what NOAA was saying even at the time that we were getting out of the van to head to the start.  The result was that I was way over dressed, but did not know it yet.  I decided that since it was going to be pouring I would not bag check anything and instead would head straight to the van after the race.  This was a good call on my part not because the bag check was a disaster!  Not so much for the marathoners I would assume, but definitely for the half marathoners.  Since the weather was calling for pouring rain, everyone bag checked dry clothing.  The problem was that they were understaffed like everything else and it took 45+ for racers to get their bags.  Standing in line to get your bag right after you finished running is a killer!!! Competitor took huge heat for this!

Those were the two major problems.  I averted both of them by carrying my own backup/shot block water on my belt and not doing gear check.  I always carry my own water in my iFitness belt because I need it to take my Clif shot blocks which I take every 2 miles or 20 minutes.  I can always refill the bottles if I use the water and they will get me through a waterless stop if it runs dry.  I wish Competitor would have put the word out that they were under staffed and let the racers know it was a good idea to carry at least some of their own water.  This just was not a race where you could rely on the course support 100%.  That is what I did and I had a fantastic experience!

I stayed at my parents house the last night I was in VA and found this little gem! 
That is me in my Aunt's Mickey Mouse ears and my 1980 Olympics jacket! 
I am with my Granddaddy and my mom somewhere in KY.
circa 1979-1980

I had some time to kill at BWI on the way home so I did a little looking around.  
These Disney beauties grabbed my eye!

A special treat on the way home - Chocolate Malt from Silver Diner!

I love flying on a clear day!

The only way to fly on race weekend...in my Mickey Marathon race shirt!
Always keep Mickey close to your heart and
runDisney Mickey will keep your heart healthy!

So what is my next race? I have no idea! Crazy as it may sound I am not registered for a single race! I am going to fix that real soon though: Wine and Dine anyone?