Friday, February 28, 2014

Disney Princess Half Marathon 2014 Race Recap

After many, many Disney-related posts this week, it's time to get to the true reason I was there: the Disney Princess Half Marathon!
I was so excited to run this race again.  Not only was it my first half marathon ever last year, but this year's race marked my 5th half marathon!  It seems to me that this race is going to be a milestone race for me each year.

Going in to the race, I had two main goals:
1. Beat my time from last year (easy to do, considering I was looking for Joe for about 5 minutes of last year's race)
2. Enjoy the whole experience, including stopping for character photos!
I ran a half marathon the weekend before, and I am not yet an experienced enough runner to race two half marathons in back-to-back weeks.  I had IT band issues at the Daytona Half and didn't want to cause a more serious injury.  This race was going to be a take-it-all-in kind of race without pushing myself too much.

On to race day...

I got up at 3:00 AM in order to catch the bus from the resort to Epcot.  Laying out my race outfit the night before really helped speed things along in the morning!
Last-minute Princess Aurora costume 
I was out of the room by 3:20, and I was able to walk right on to a bus.  I made it to the starting area very early, which gave me plenty of time to enjoy the DJ playing pump-up music, check my gear bag, get in on the Team #runDisney meet-up picture, use the porta-potty, and get to the starting line.  
Photo credit: Linda Ko from Team #runDisney
I was in Corral H, which was much further up than I was last year, thanks to submitting a time/having previously raced with runDisney!  
The start is always a lot of fun, as the announcers comment on different racers' attire and you get to watch the fireworks go off with each corral.  Good times!
Before I knew it, it was time for my corral to go (at 5:56...the first group went at 5:35).  I thought they did a great job with the corrals this year (added more corrals with fewer people), as I was definitely going the same pace as everyone around me.  Not as much weaving around walkers as I did last year!

I'm focusing on starting races at a manageable pace, which I did during this race!  I was just under a 12 minute mile, but I picked it up a little throughout the race.  I really felt great throughout the race.  I knew the course, was used to the weather (even though it was humid and a little foggy), and didn't worry about to many of the walkers around me.

One thing I decided to do this time around was take some character pictures!  I decided to pause my Garmin while waiting in line for the characters so that I could see what my actual running time was.  Here are some of the character pictures I took:
Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!
So sad this is blurry...thanks fog!  Woody is my favorite!
Love Pirates!!
Of course the Princes showed up!
Blurry Princess Minnie
I was happy to get a picture with the Toy Story guys...that's my favorite non-princess Disney movie!  One of the things I was disappointed about was the lack of Disney princesses on the course!  I really wanted a picture with Belle and Jasmine, who were both on the course last year, but I didn't see them this year.  To make up for that, I took pictures with the mile marker signs featuring the princesses.
My favorite!
My outfit inspiration
Other fun pictures I took along the course:
Entering the Magic Kingdom!
Main Street USA all lit up and the Castle!
Cool birds flying
This was a welcome sight...near the finish!
I was prepared for the overpasses at miles 10 and 11.5, so I decided to take a picture with the toy soldier to celebrate making it through that obstacle (and complete my Toy Story trifecta of character pictures!).
This was the point last year that my knees starting killing me, but this year my body felt great until the end.  The only thing holding me back was my head!  I wanted to run for the entire last mile, but for some reason, I gave in and let myself walk.  I'm going to work on my mental stamina before my next half marathon!

Overall, here's how I did.  My unofficial time:
My official time:
I really really love this finish line photo.  Darn you, MarathonFoto, for taking this awesome shot and others throughout the race!
From MarathonFoto
I so enjoyed my time running the Disney Princess Half Marathon this year!
Next up: I'm thinking of running a local half marathon at the end of the April.  Haven't signed up yet, but it's on my radar!  I've got a bunch of races scheduled for later in the year (including sign up for Disney's Wine and Dine half at the beginning of November!), but I"ll share those in another post :)

The final chapter of my Disney weekend will be coming soon, but to give you a break, I'm going to post a recipe tomorrow :)

Question for you: Is there a race that holds a special place in your heart?  Who is your favorite Disney princess/character?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WIAW #25: Disney World Edition

Good morning, everyone!  It's crazy that we are already halfway through the week.  I have a feeling that things are going to be very busy for me from now until Spring Break (mid-March), so bare with me if I'm not blogging as frequently as I'd like to!

Anyway, since it's Wednesday (and I actually took pictures of a full day's worth of food), it's time to join the What I Ate Wednesday party again!
Thank you to Jenn for hosting the link-up every week.  Head over to her blog Peas and Crayons for more information about WIAW and to check out what the rest of blog land is eating!

Today's WIAW features my eats from Saturday.  I was at Disney World for the Princess Half Marathon weekend, as well as preparing for the race on Sunday.  Let's take a look at how I prepared for the half marathon (hint: lots of carbs!):


In my mind, it is mandatory to have a Mickey Mouse waffle for breakfast whenever you are staying at a Disney resort.  It's something about those waffles that just taste so, so good, and they never fail to put a smile on my face!  I had one post-half on Sunday, as well.

After browsing the expo at ESPN's Wide World of Sports, I stopped at the ESPN grill on the way out for lunch.  I wanted to get something with protein that was healthy, so this Cobb Salad did the trick!  It also have avocado in it, which I very much enjoyed.  I surprisingly finished the whole thing, too!

Snack #1

This little treat was a freebie at the expo.  It's part chocolate chip cookie, part brownie, but fully delicious!

Snack #2
I met up with my sister-in-law Katherine at a Mexican restaurant in Orlando, so I snacked on some (unpictured) chips, salsa, and guacamole while enjoying my margarita and the company!  We also stopped by Starbucks after getting pedicures and I ordered a Skinny Cafe Mocha with sugar free caramel syrup.  That syrup is a wonderful addition!


I always have pasta the night before a half marathon, and this time was no different.  I visited the cafeteria at my resort and got the pasta with pesto sauce, a side salad, and a breadstick.  The salmon was left over from Katherine's meal at the Mexican restaurant, and it was a tasty addition to my dinner!  I polished everything off, and I must say, that breadstick was AMAZING!  I almost went back to buy another.

After that, I put on the movie Guilt Trip (with Seth Rogen) and fell asleep by 8:30.  Perfect bedtime when the alarm was set for 3:00 AM!

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to post my race recap of the Princess Half.  I intended to do that yesterday, but I chose to spend some time with Joe instead.  

Question for you: Do you have a certain food you always eat the night before a race and/or a certain food you must have when you go to a certain place (like my Mickey waffle)?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Part Two: Expo

Hi everyone!  Well, I did it!
Half Marathon #5 is in the books.  It's pretty crazy to think that a year ago from today, I was riding high after completing my very first half marathon.  I never would have imagined that I would complete 4 more in a year's time with 2 (potentially up to 4) more already scheduled for the rest of 2014!

I'll do a full recap of the race tomorrow, but let's talk about the rest of the weekend first.  I attended the Kellsie's Krew Appreciation Dinner on Friday night, then it was time for the Fit for a Princess race expo on Saturday!

Even though I went to the expo last year, I was excited for this one because it was in a different location!  runDisney holds the expos at ESPN's Wide World of Sports, but last year, the Atlanta Braves had a spring training game there.  So, last year's expo was in the Coronado Springs resort on Disney property.  I was interested to see what the expo looked like at WWOS!
The first difference I noticed was the cool banners for each race as you walk up to the sidewalk to the main expo.  I'd seen a bunch of other runDisney runners post pictures of themselves in front of these at other expos, but I never saw them last year.  I had to take advantage of getting my picture taken in front of the half marathon banner!
I thought expo worked really well at WWOS.  There was a building dedicated solely to picking up your bib.  The t-shirt pickup and the exhibits were set up in the next building over.  I thought it would have made more sense to put t-shirt pickup with the bibs, but I guess they wanted everyone to walk through the Official Merchandise section :)
I took my time walking tried to purchase the exclusive New Balance runDisney shoes, but they were out of my size in the Minnie style :(  I did find my name on the New Balance participant wall, though!
I also met Jeff Galloway, Olympic runner and official runDisney training plan writer!  I told him how his run-walk method helped me train for my first half marathon last year, and that I still employ that method when my legs are tired.  He's so nice!
I signed up for the Women's Running Series Half Marathon in St. Petersburg in November, saw Atlanta Braves-themed Mickey Mouse,
tried some free samples from Clif and Luna Bar (new cookie dough protein bar is really good!!), rolled my IT band out with The Stick (GREAT invention, need to order one ASAP!), and I also purchased some sparkly things for my running costume the next day.
My Expo Haul
I had a great time at the expo and was getting excited for the race the next day!

Later on Saturday, I found out that my sister-in-law was in Orlando for a friend's birthday!  I met up with them while they were finishing up lunch and helped them celebrate National Margarita Day.
Then, we went and got pedicures!  I know people usually get those after a run, but I couldn't pass up the chance to catch up with Katherine (and get my nails done, too).  I had a fun afternoon with her and her friends!

When I got back to the hotel, it was time to carb-load for dinner, watch a movie, and get to bed early.  I had a 3:00 AM wake-up call for the race!  More on that tomorrow :)
Question for you: What's your favorite part of a race expo?  Are you a pedicure/margarita fan?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend: Kellsie's Krew AppreciationDinner

Good morning from Disney World!
I was driving...sorry it's blurry!
I got here last night, just in time for the Kellsie's Krew Appreciation Dinner.  As you know, I'm running the Disney Princess Half this weekend to support the Kellsie's Hope Foundation.  To celebrate our fundraising efforts, we all got together for dinner on Friday night.

The dinner was held at the Rainforest Cafe in Disney's Animal Kingdom.  I've been to a Rainforest Cafe before, and I love the atmosphere!
I got there a little early, and since I didn't know anyone yet, I sat the bar and enjoyed a glass of wine before the table was ready.
Once we all sat down, I started talking with the people around me.  Everyone was from all over the country, and I really had a good time getting to know the rest of Kellsie's Krew.  Oh yeah, and dinner was tasty, too!
I got the Parmesan Chicken.  Yum!  After the dinner, we all got together for a group picture.  This was taken on my new friend Nurys' phone, so sorry it's blurry!
Photo Credit: Nurys
We also received some pretty cool goodie bags and a medal for running with Kellsie's Krew.
What a great experience!  I look forward to running the half marathon with them tomorrow.  Now, it's off to the Expo to get my bib and some other fun things :)  See you soon!

Question for you: What'd you do for dinner last night?  Have you ever eaten at a Rainforest Cafe?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Daytona Beach Half Marathon Race Recap

Before I get in to my race recap, I wanted to say THANK YOU for your support so far in my fundraising efforts of Kellsie's Hope Foundation!  I'm still about $400 short of my goal would appreciate any further support.  Go to this website, click on my name (Amy Herring), and you can give via PayPal.  Thank you!
On Sunday, I finished the Daytona Beach Half Marathon.
It's hard to believe that just since last February, I've completed four half marathons (with a fifth in just 6 days)!  It's been quite a journey.

Let's talk about the Daytona Beach Half Marathon, shall we?
Image Source
The slogan of the race is "Speedway...Beach...and back," which perfectly describes the course.  I was excited about this race because of my familiarity with the area, and that wound up being an advantage for my mentality during this race.  Here were my personal A, B, and C goals going in to the race:

A: I'd really, really love to PR.
B: Start off with a maintainable pace and finish strong.
C: Finish the race with a better time than my last half (a.k.a. under 3:00).

The start was at 6am and began with a lap around the Daytona International Speedway.  We were able to park in the infield of the track, and I arrived at around 5am.
I'm glad I did, because there was traffic AND I had to take a bus to the start.  Despite being nervous about making the start on time, I was able to get everything I needed to do done (bathroom, bag check, get to corral) in plenty of time.
They started us off with some revving engines and fireworks.  Very appropriate for the race!  The first two miles were around the track, and that was a really cool experience.  I'm not a NASCAR fan, but being able to actually run those inclines on the turns was pretty neat.
Sorry about the blurry pic
Miles 2.25-6 took us down International Speedway Boulevard (ISB for short), over a bridge, and into the "beachside" area (the strip of land between the river and ocean).  This is a flat, straight road, but knowing the area, I wasn't really checking my Garmin or seeing what mile I was on.  I knew the roads and how far from the bridge we were, so I adjusted accordingly.

Right before getting on to the bridge, the outside of my right knee started hurting.  I knew this was due to my tight IT band, and it's the same pain that forced me to walk the last 4 miles of the Lighthouse Loop Half.  At that moment, I knew my goal of a PR was out the window (though I was on track for a really good time before that!).  Instead, I decided to focus on just finishing in under 3 hours.  I was able to stretch every half mile or so and keep the pain at bay.

We got to the beach just after the mile 7 mark.  They had a DJ and some flags set up, and the sun was just coming over the water.  This was a welcome break from the pavement and also very pretty!
My knee continued to hurt a little, but after I got back over the bridge, it was manageable.  We ran back down ISB before taking a little cut through a neighborhood.  Joe met me there around mile 10.5 and thankfully brought two items I requested: a golf ball and Biofreeze.  I rubbed out my IT band with the golf ball and put Biofreeze on my knee before continuing on my way.  Joe rode his motorized scooter with me for about a half a mile before wishing me well on the rest of the race.

We went back on to the ISB before entering the Speedway once more for the finish line.  Looking at my time at mile 11, I knew that I could beat my current 2nd best time if I pushed just a little more.  I did so without pain in my knee and was even able to semi-sprint to the finish!
I ended up with a time of 2:36:55.  Not what I was hoping for, but considering that my knee was bothering me at mile 6, I'm really happy with this time.  I pushed it without causing more pain, and I'm proud of myself for meeting my C goal for the race of finishing in (well) under 3 hours!

Overall Thoughts on the Race
-The distance was marked PERFECTLY.  Every time there was a mile marker, I heard the one-mile beep on my Garmin.  My total distance even showed 13.13 miles!
-All of the volunteers on the course had a lot of energy!  Especially the mile 2 water stop people!  They were still there when we passed by them at the end (mile 12.8), even though it wasn't a water stop anymore.  They made a high-five tunnel for the runners, which just enough to energize me to push to the end!
-Post-race food was GREAT!  They had a wide variety of Jimmy John's subs, Krispy Kreme donuts, chicken and wings, pizza, and fruit.  What better time to eat all of that then right after a 13 mile run?
-Everything was well organized.
-The race was a really cool experience.  How often do you get to run a NASCAR track?

My Thoughts on My Personal Race
-I need to incorporate strength training and stretching into my race training.  The one race that I did that consistently(Rock 'n Roll VB Half) gave me no knee problems AND a sub-2:30 time.  If only I will learn from that!
-This was one of my best mental races.  I knew that I could make it and never doubted myself, even after the pain started.  I attribute that to knowing the course AND knowing that I would see Joe at mile 10.
-I set myself up to finish strong.  I had negative splits up until mile 6, and my stamina at the end of the race was strong.  If I had no pain, this would have been a strong finish for me.  I'm going to go ahead and say that I met my B goal because of that!
-I really enjoyed this race.  Definitely going to do it next year.

Up next: Disney Princess Half Marathon!
I'm hopeful that I'll still be able to run this race despite the knee/IT band pain.  The plan this week is to foam roll and stretch daily, go to hot yoga two times, and do 2 easy short runs to shake things outs.

Question for you: did you run any races this weekend?  What do you do to heal injuries you have quickly?