Friday, January 31, 2014

Virtual Disney Princess Half Marathon Blog Hop!!!

Ok y'all, I'm geeking out a little bit. That's a lie, I'm geeking out a LOT. In a "maybe you should take a step back because you are scaring your loved ones" kind of way.

Why you ask? What would make such a calm (lies), controlled(lies), seemingly together person act this way?

I've been following a number of different blogs since I decided to run PHM last year, mostly to get tips and read all of the race recaps from years before in preparation for my own race. One of those blogs is Margaritas, Miles & the Mouse and I'm telling you- Patty tells you everything you need to know. So when she posted asking for guest bloggers for a virtual blog hop for this years PHM, I nervously jumped on the bandwagon and was soon added to the list! I may have jumped around my office a little bit (ok, again, it was a LOT) and quickly started planning out my post! While I'm still anxious that it may not hold up, I'm excited to share my information and stories with others in hopes that it helps them alleviate some anxieties about their own journey!

Stay tuned on Monday for my post on Spectator Viewing to go live at 7 am!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I HATE obstacle courses. I don't know why, but I always have. Once I start moving, I don't want things to stand in my way ( one reason I don't think I could ever do an obstacle run, it would throw off my momentum and frustrate me to no end. I want to GO, full steam ahead, until I cross whatever finish line goal is in front of me. 

This week we got hit with about 7 inches of snow and really low temps again- obstacles for training. Monday was supposed to be a 7.5 mile training run and thanks to some very dead and tired legs, only ended up being 4 miles. Seriously? Doesn't my body know that I have a race in 4 weeks and that I need it to cooperate? Tuesday and Wednesday were forced rest days thanks to the snow and the icky roads preventing me from being able to get to the gym and my trusty treadmill. I finally got there on Friday after work for a quick 4 and back this morning for a not-as-quick 8, and even though I'm sore and tired, it honestly felt so good to get out and run, even if it was on the treadmill and all I had to occupy me for an hour and a half were reruns of "Bath Crashers" on HGTV (hey, they did the job). 

Oh yeah, this week we also picked our wedding rings, went to our cake tasting and booked that- with no arguments!-, started designing the invitations, and had to reschedule our meeting with our priest due to snow. And I spent 2 mornings in court with one of my students, did all of my report cards, and finished new schedules for all the students for 2nd semester. Oh, and sat through a 3 hour statistics class from hell.

Add training onto all of that over the last couple days and I am EXHAUSTED. I left the gym and wanted to come home, shower, throw on that compression gear and take a nap.

Instead, I walked in the house to news of a nasty mall shooting at our local mall where 3 people died, multiple others were injured, and thousands of people have been traumatized. I spent the next hour reassuring my family that Kevin and I were ok and that we hasn't gone to the mall that morning. And I quickly realized that the snow obstacle that had seemingly kept me from my outdoor long run, may have saved my life. If it had been nicer, I had planned on going to the mall this morning to pick up undergarments and accessories for my dress so I would have them for my upcoming fitting, and would have done my long run this afternoon in the warmer temps. What derailed my training turned out to be a blessing in disguise. 

I'm no longer complaining about obstacles, not with the horror that some people in my neighborhood have dealt with today. Instead I will say an extra prayer for those involved and for the snow that kept me safe this morning. Next time I see an obstacle, I hope that I can view it from a more positive place. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My Top 5 Tips for Running Disney

This will be my third PHM weekend. I ran the Tangled 5K in 2012 and PHM in 2013, and I can't wait to head back for the GSC next month! There's a lot of information out there about how to run Disney and as runners we are expected to pick and choose what to listen to and what to ignore. Here are my top five tips for running Disney though:

1. If you are going to do run-walk intervals, be courteous towards those runners around you when you change your pace. One of the best pieces of advice I read before the 2013 PHM was to make sure I was as far to the side as I could be before I started slowing down and to raise my hand to alert those behind me that I was moving to a walk. It seems silly, to raise your hand like you're asking permission to run your race, but I promise you that it makes the experience much more enjoyable when you don't have more serious runners giving you dirty looks as they pass your slowing body.

2. Don't spent all day on your legs the day before your race. In 2012 I ran the 5K as my first ever race on Saturday and celebrated by spending the day at Magic Kingdom with my two friends running the half on Sunday. Not only were we exhausted, but their legs were much more tired on Sunday than during any of their long runs. We planned much better in 2013 and spent most of the morning/early afternoon at the expo and downtown Disney, and then stayed off of our feet and lounged at the hotel. It had a much better outcome Sunday morning!

3. Figure out how to fuel and hydrate your body before getting to Disney. Avoid foods that don't move through your system well. I know, it sounds super gross, but after spending my first princess weekend listening to my friends panic about having to go to the bathroom during the race, I was extra careful last year and had no problems. Hydrate like crazy for the entire week before the race. Your coworkers may look at you like you're nuts for going to the bathroom every 15 minutes but it will be worth it on race day, especially if it's as hot and humid as the 2013 PHM was.

4. Wear a costume! It doesn't have to be something elaborate if you aren't into that kind of thing, but if you are, go for it! In 2012 my friends and I made matching custom shirts from target drifit shirts, mouse ears cut from funky fabric, and sequin tiaras for the ears. Simple, but fun and Disney themed. Last year I went with my girl Ariel and made my own sparkly green skirt for $10 and paired it with a purple tank. This year is Belle and I'm going a little more traditional, but still comfortable.

Wear what's comfortablej for you and have fun with it. Where else can you dress like a princess as a grown adult and not be considered abnormal?

5. KEEP MOVING! I can not stress the importance of this enough. Believe me, I am one of the laziest people around and I know first hand how tempting it is to let myself lay around and relax after a long race. Especially Disney, when you have to be up at ungodly hours to start. Take a short nap if you need to, but don't linger too long in the hotel room. Get the shower, drain those legs, throw on the compression gear and your medal(s) and head to the parks for a celebratory lunch. We always go to Epcot for lunch in Mexico so we can get that much deserved margarita, and my God is it worth it. Walk the parks for the day, it will make recovery so much better. Fair warning though- it doesn't matter how much you move, by Sunday night/ Monday morning, going down stairs and moving from a standing to sitting position will be painful. I seriously had to hold onto things to use the bathroom, and getting onto certain rides at MK was torture. 

Remember to have fun! We've worked our butts off to get there and deserve to enjoy the ride!

Friday, January 17, 2014

We Are Surviving

Last Sunday was my first long training run of the year, a whopping 6 miles that left me feeling like death and wondering how I was ever going to add another 13 miles to it in order to get through GSC. More than anything, my hips felt like they were on fire, which is my surefire sign that it's time for new running shoes! I panted my way up the hill from the trail where my Mr. Happily Every After was waiting for me patiently (he ducked out at mile 2.5, the wuss) and emphatically demanded that we head to the local running store after a quick shower in order to purchase new shoes.

Thank God that I have been able to introduce him to running and that he actually likes it, because where most men would have not been thrilled with the idea of spending money on more shoes, Mr. Happily Ever After jumped on the bandwagon and decided he needed shoes of his own! He may not have been nearly as thrilled with the idea after he saw the final bill, but 2 gait analyses, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of custom insoles, 1 package of running socks, and a magic stick to roll out my hips and IT band later, we were headed home. And despite the fact that my run was miserable and my hips were aching, for the first time in months I was EXCITED to go running again!

Let me tell you, those pretty new Brooks have been taunting me from their box all week, just begging me to take them out. My hips though, they had other plans. I knew I wasn't going to be able to get a run in until Thursday anyway, because my PhD night classes started back up this week and we had our food tasting with the caterer on Tuesday, so I figured that a few days rest should be plenty off for me to be good to go on Thursday. And then Wednesday night came about, and those darn hips had me (and unfortunately Mr. Happily Ever After) up every hour, making it impossible to sleep or get comfortable. I woke up feeling bad for myself, and writhing in self-pity. The self-doubt crept right back in- my body couldn't handle running anymore, I didn't want to run, I don't really like it anyway, I was never going to be ready for Disney in just 5 short weeks. You name the doubt, I probably thought it. But, because I had packed my gym bag the day before, I threw it in the car and headed off to work.

I iced that hip off and on all day, and limped around the school looking as pathetic as I could. I left with every intention of going home and laying on the couch all night- and then I saw my gym bag. And 40 minutes later, I found myself staring at the treadmill, just praying that I could get through a mile in my pretty new Brooks, so I could say that I at least did SOMETHING today. I popped my headphones into the jack attached to the TV, and went for it. My hip still hurt, but once I got started it didn't matter. I got sucked into the latest drama between Rachel and Ross, and watched Joey make a fool of himself, and almost 2 episodes of Friends later I had put in a 5 mile run and felt like I still had gas in the tank. I had SURVIVED.

Today at work we are celebrating the 12 year cancer-free anniversary of the other social worker, who has been my mentor and friend for the last 7 years. She's a fighter, but more than anything, today we celebrate that she's a survivor. It's a reminder to me that everyone has a fight that they are fighting, and we all stumble and feel like we're being trampled. Most of us are not battling cancer, but at this point in training I can guarantee most of us are battling injuries, or fatigue, or nerves about the race. I've realized that it doesn't matter how big or small the fight is, it's YOUR fight and it's important to you. I may not be battling a debilitating illness, but the fight to find time to train and the fight to stay pain free feels like a mountain some days. No matter what the fight is though, we're all surviving, one run and one day at a time.

Plus, you've never seen a Princess give up in the face of adversity, have you? I didn't think so.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Year of the Happy Endings

Welcome to my year of happy endings!

Why should anyone bother to read this? I'm just another almost 28 year old living out my dreams on the East Coast, right? Maybe. But anyone that bothers to get to know me will quickly realize that I'm not just another 20 something living in the big city, trying to make a name for myself.

I'm a school social worker with a passion for working with kids with disabilities.

I'm working on my PhD in Social Work part time, on top of working full time.

I'm planning my wedding, set to take place in just 129 days!

And on top of trying to balance all of the above, I'm chasing my Glass Slipper dream of racing in Disney for the 3rd time next month. Yeah, add training for that on to my normal schedule and you can just guess how prepared I might be for that one.

I thought I would try blogging for a number of reasons. Mostly, I need an outlet for all of the crazy thoughts in my head that my fiancee, family and friends are tired of hearing about on a regular basis, and what better audience than the internet! If my stories and antics are helpful to anyone else, even just by putting a smile on their face, than it makes every moment worth writing down. And I promise you, my life will provide plenty of laughable moments, and my kiddos at work will fill in the blanks when I'm having a relatively normal week.

Secondly though, I am literally spending the next year running toward my goals, including the one of getting married and starting this new phase of my life, which will hopefully one day include a family (that I can take to Disney as much as I want!). My first goal of 2014 though is to complete the GSC. And to be honest, I wasn't too positive about it until a couple of weeks ago. It took just a couple of days of work spent stalking Facebook and the Princess Half FB groups to get me completely motivated to get moving again. I joined a gym. I bought my first SparkleSkirt (that should have been enough right there, those things are AWESOME). I started planning my costumes. And I went back and found the blogs of the women who had run before me and motivated me to get through my training for my first Princess and first half LAST year at this time. And I started to realize something: those women, who I thought of as wonder women and my half marathon heros, are just normal women like me, talking about their experiences and sharing them with others.

Well, blow me over. I can do that too!

So here I am. I hope to encourage other first timers and other princesses to get out there and move, just like others have encouraged me. I've realized that it's never too late to start- I can say I didn't officially start training for GSC until January 3rd (my first run in 2 1/2 months) and 2 weeks later I'm ready and can't wait to get to Disney to hurdle my next challenge.

GSC will just be the first- followed quickly by trying to balance wedding planning and multivariate statistics for the next 4 months and keeping my sanity through Memorial Day weekend wedding craziness. Heaven knows how I'll be handling married life come May 25th when things REALLY get real. But I do know that I'm going to attack each hurdle like this first one- running with a purpose and a goal in mind. And hopefully at least someone reading this will be along for the ride!