Posted in Uncategorized

Holiday Hyperreality

Holiday. Noun. Etymology: Old English. (hāligdæg (hāligholy” + dægday“).

Translation: an invocation of a spectrum of feelings and emotions into every soul that exists between October 31st—January 2nd.

Jump onto any social media site or leaf through a home décor magazine. Page after page, picture after picture, of polished perfection. Sparkling snowflakes and hanging from the ceiling and sprinkling the frozen ground outside. Elaborate centerpieces on the table surrounded by precision-carved ham or turkey with little cranberries. Heavily decorated trees with lights, balls, tinsel, and heirloom ornaments. Banisters wrapped in garland. Traditional songs of cheer that speak of winter, festive fun, and religion pulse through the speakers at the local department store. Movies and holiday specials being advertised on TV, invoking the warm feel-good feelings that accompany the time of the year. Groups of happy friends strolling down 5th Avenue in NYC carrying a dozen shopping bags from various outfitters, its contents soon to be wrapped with seasonal paper and complimentary ribbons and bows. Scents of fresh-baked cookies and hot chocolate wafting through the kitchen and into the halls. Glittering diamonds adorning the fingers of those lucky enough to receive a proposal during the “most wonderful time of the year”…

And so on. And so forth.

Not sure about the rest of you, but the knowledge of knowing that the above (and more) has already begun makes my stomach turn with dread and heightens my seasonal depression and apathy towards this airbrushed version of something that started out so simple and basic in meaning. This is our expected standard of holiday celebration for the 21st century. It doesn’t help that mainstream media enforces these hyperreal scenarios as a type of guilt trip that screams, “IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON, DO THESE 729 THINGS, AND IF YOU MISS ONE, YOU’RE SCREWED.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down…what’s this hyperreality thing?

I’m glad you asked…


 

Hyperreality is a concept developed by French scholar Jean Baudrillard. I had the pleasure of studying him in-depth in grad school. I won’t get too technical for the sake of getting my point across in this post, so the simple definition of hyperreality is thus:

The blending of reality and the simulation of reality to the point of not knowing where one ends and the other begins.

For example: You’re in Walt Disney World, and you’re walking down Main Street U.S.A., the quintessential happy place of the world. The smell of vanilla and baked goods waft through your nose as happy cast members greet you with smiles and cheerful music blares from the speakers. This utopia has remained virtually unchanged through the years and decades from its original development, and is designed to invoke a sense of fantasy and relaxation away from the chaos of the real world. This is an example of a simulation of reality, frozen in time, where one’s happiness is found within the corresponding interaction with the simulacrum (fancy speak for simulation) of reality.

Individuals may find themselves more engrossed and involved in the simulated reality than legitimate reality, knowing that the feelings and emotions that are produced by this interaction are better than what the “real world” can offer. Becoming obsessed with living the perfect holiday life (or pulling off a perfect Disney vacation) can be problematic if the individual is hell-bent on recreating those picture-perfect scenes, and stops at nothing to do so. A competitive nature can rub off on those around him/her, and the battle is on to see who can produce the brightest lawn decorations or the tallest tree.

Once the post-holiday season comes, that hyperreal environment is stripped away and reality is again presented.

When you look at these scenarios, you may ask yourself, “Why would anyone want to go through the trouble of maintaining unrealistic expectations?” Perhaps some just love the season and everything involved. Maybe others are saving face for their family members to disguise internal problems that may be occurring. Even then, some could be trying to show off to the neighbors that they have something bigger, better, and brighter than they all do.

I’m not sure about you, but I tend to vomit fire during this time of year.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that most of my breakups happen around this time of year and my holiday plans and ideas are dashed, or the astonishing amount of happiness that is thrust through various mediums makes my stomach turn, or if it’s even the Atheist vs. Christian “War on Christmas” making me irate, but I thoroughly despise existing during all of this. Hell, we can even speed past the spring holidays and go right to summer. I will happily hibernate for four to six months until spring comes.


 

Christina’s internal dialogue walking about the mall in December: 

Seriously, why is everyone so freaking happy…. There are other emotions out there to emote. Pick something else…..Oh, the little kids are asking Santa for presents. Wait until they find out he really doesn’t exist. Hang on, you’re four years old and you’re asking for an iPhone 6? Yeah, no…. Why is this store so bright and glittery? I like glitter and bows and shiny things….Is that song playing AGAIN?! “Last Chriiistmasss, I gave you my heart, and the very next day, you gave it away–” *barfs in nearest trash can*… Oh hey, Starbucks! I will gladly take a venti Peppermint Mocha and drown my sorrows in its deliciousness…Especially as I pass the jewelry store and see five couples shopping for rings…Mmmm, candy cane smells…Ewww, super pungent pine smells…Yes, you’re jingling your little bell at me, but I refuse to donate to a charity that degrades atheists…


 

As you can tell by the above dialogue, I’m not a holiday person by any means. I’m resentful, bitter, and not really pleasant to be around.  The hype surrounding the end-of-the-year months extinguished for me well over a decade ago. I often have flashbacks of growing up and being hauled away to the extended relatives’ houses to share in food and supposed fellowship (which included a lot of screaming and fighting). There may have been a little fun in there somewhere, but those rare happy memories have been tarnished with the countless conflicts and misery. I do remember one year (I was 15 or 16) that I was at my grandparent’s house in a constant puddle of tears and listening to everyone berate me for “ruining the holidays for everyone” because I couldn’t stop crying out of sheer frustration that I was in a place I didn’t want to be in.

Moody, emo teenager = I wanted to be left alone, especially when surrounded by too many people in close quarters. How else was I supposed to convey that I didn’t want to be around so many people and force myself to be happy when I wasn’t legitimately feeling it? You can only say it so many times before you break down and tell everyone to essentially go screw themselves.

The expectations surrounding the “perfect holiday season” should honestly be taken with a grain of salt. Nothing is ever perfect (remember the Griswolds overcooking the turkey?), and nor should it be. You don’t have to force yourself to be happy, or even attend anything that you don’t want to. To curb this hyperrealistic atmosphere, I try to stay off my social media feeds and keep TV to a minimum. I also don’t venture into public unless I absolutely have to (see internal dialogue above). While it really stinks not receiving gifts or being invited to holiday parties by friends (I’m pretty sure I fall off my friends’ radars during the season; it’s okay. I’m used to being forgotten. I’ve accepted it.), I’m glad I don’t have to run myself into the ground and exhaust myself trying to maintain a perfect image for four or five weeks. Some may be all gung-ho about the magical fantasy that encompasses the season and wish to do every last thing imaginable at the expense of their sanity and bank accounts. Subconsciously, and quite honestly, I would love to partake in the holiday hyperreality and hype up the fantasy at least once in my life. But until that happens, I am quite content watching the action from indoors with my show of choice and some cookies.


 

Do you subject yourself to the holiday hyperreality, or do you hate them all with a fiery passion? Feel free to vent; this entire post was a big vent session…

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Posted in Tuesday Ten, Uncategorized

Tuesday Ten

Random fun post for the day! I like individual tidbits about people; it makes them more fascinating to learn about. This might turn into a weekly thing, so we’ll see what happens. For now, here are ten fun facts about me:


 

*I’m a perfectionist with my signature, and with handwriting in general. I take great pride in my signature. It’s loopy, flourishy, and unique. I will take an extra five seconds and make sure it looks right on a check or a receipt.

*I broke my right clavicle when I was 18 months old. How? Jumping on the bed, then falling off. I still fit into the sling.

*I went on a taco hiatus for many years during high school and college. I started eating them out of the blue one day, and they’re now one of my favorite foods.

*I finally learned to swim at the ripe age of 23. It’s never too late to learn!

*I cannot stand not having a desk. To me, the desk is the base of operation of the house. Seeing all of the cute desk setups on home and lifestyle blogs makes me simultaneously jealous and excited.

*I will back up and align my car as many times as I need to so it’s perfectly straight in a parking space.

*My favorite color changes a lot. I’ve been consistent with purple for the last five or six years, but I’m falling in love with pink and sky blue. Black is always a favorite go-to.

*One of my research interests involves Disney World and its hyperreality. I wrote two or three papers on it in grad school. Look up Baudrillard and his work Simulation and Simulacra.

*I have a massive fear of getting sick. Telling people that I can’t do something because I’m under the weather is grounds for an epic guilt trip.

*Over the last few years, I have learned to channel my money into experiences and not stuff, unless that stuff is a direct reflection of the trip. Ex: my Disney ring that I bought at the end of GSC 2014. I wasn’t about to purchase a Jostens runDisney ring, and this one still does the job:

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Posted in recap, Uncategorized

2014 Marine Corps Historic Half Recap

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So here we are once again. Today’s adventures will take us to the 2014 Marine Corps Historic Half. If you recall, I signed up for the HH while I was in Disney for the 2014 Glass Slipper Challenge. Like the previous races, this one will come with its own set of lessons learned and whatnot. Sooooo let’s get started!


 

Out of all the races I have done, this one may have been the most complicated driving-wise. The Historic Half took place in Fredericksburg, VA, which is about an hour from Washington, D.C. Once again, Adriane (my cousin) had come to the rescue and provided me a place to stay. However, since I was still in school at Edinboro at the time (far NW corner of PA), there was going to be a LOT of driving to do in a short amount of time.

About 7 hours’ worth in one day. But I finally made it!

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I left Edinboro early, didn’t die on the way down, and made it to the Expo to pick up my race packet and other goodies, then took off again for the city. I arrived around sunset, and my cousin-in-law, Robert, decided to take me out for dinner and a little nighttime sightseeing. The Washington Monument had just reopened the week prior due to the 2012 earthquake that left the structure a little no-so-sound for tourists. (This provided a perfect topic for my Crisis Managemnt class on geologic crises and D.C. tourism later that week.)

I finally got to bed around midnight, and I knew I was going to be hurting in four hours when I had to leave for the race. I got up around 4:00 AM, and got on the road shortly thereafter. I was pumped as I was driving down, jamming out to some tunes and eating EnergyBits. I was a little shaky about where I was going, but the traffic was VERY tame and rather sparse. I soon found other cars with their various race stickers on them, and followed them to the starting area. I parked over in the Wegman’s parking lot, caught a couple more zzzz’s, ran in to buy some breakfast, and waited patiently for more time to elapse before exiting my car.

Lesson 1: Parking lots at the start/finish area, with a Wegman’s RIGHT THERE, is like heaven for a runner. Get there early for prime parking.

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The race started at 7 AM, and by comparison to the PHM, the field was tiny. Maybe 7,500 runners at most. This was fine by me; I could actually run without getting trampled!

I blazed my first 5K in 38:36. For me, a 12 mpm was relaxed, steady, and fast by my standards. As the course began to weave its way through the little suburban towns, I couldn’t help but notice that EVERYONE BRINGS THEIR PUPPIES. CUTEST RACE SUPPORT EVER.

Lesson 2: Take time to pet the puppies. And shake the hands of the veterans that cheer you on. Your time may drop a bit, but that’s okay. It’s worth it.

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Around the halfway mark, I started feeling incredibly fatigued. More Energybits were consumed and more miles were checked off with more walking than running, of course. Thank you, Jeff Galloway, for ensuring us turtles that it’s okay to walk during a race without feeling lousy about it.

Lesson 3: Seriously, if you need to walk, go ahead and walk. You’ll save your legs and prevent injury.

Then…Hospital Hill came.

What is Hospital Hill? Well, I’m glad you asked…

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This feature is the crowning glory of the Historic Half, and it is constantly talked about online in the months and weeks leading up to the race. At the HH expo, there is a treadmill you can jump on that simulates its 12% gradient. The hill lasts slightly over half a mile, but let me tell you, it seems like an eternity. And there are no trees for shade. This hill makes or breaks runners, but you have to conquer it in order to get that medal!

Lesson 4: Do NOT shy away from hills and stairs during your training. Running these will seriously help your overall fitness and your VO2 Max levels, plus you can make it up Hospital Hill without dying (as much).

I sloooooooooooowly made my way up the hill. I was so tired and achy at this point, all I wanted to do was sleep. But I was almost finished, so I couldn’t just crash in the middle of the street for napnap time!

I finished in 3:10:04, and got medal #5 for the collection! (This medal is made of pewter, I believe, and it is heavy!)

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Post-race adventure:

So, remember that fatigue I was talking about earlier? Yeah, all of the Energybits in the world couldn’t quell it. I ran into Wegman’s, bought lunch, and sat down for about an hour eating it. On my way back to D.C., I could barely keep myself awake. It was warm outside, I was exhausted, and coupling those things together meant that it was prime sleepytime.

Result: I almost rear-ended a car on the beltway. I swear, I was about an inch away from its back bumper. Squealing tires and all.

After this, I knew I had to pull over somewhere. So I found a parking lot and parked under a big shady tree, where I proceeded to nap for about 1 ½ hours.

Lesson 5: DON’T DRIVE WHEN YOU’RE TIRED. BAD THINGS MAY HAPPEN. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your backseat nap-ready.


 

After-race thoughts…

If you’re looking for a serious challenge, do this race. The variations in elevation make the course really interesting. The course support is wonderful, from spectators, Marines, and puppies alike. The field is NOT as large as other mega-races as aforementioned, so it’s nice to attempt a PR at. To this day, this race is my second-fastest half marathon time, and still reigns first for 5K and 10K splits. (38:36 and 1:20:15).

I’m still aiming for a sub-3 hour half marathon, which has eluded me thus far in my running endeavors. I guess my new theme song should be, “Someday My PR Will Come”.

Thanks for reading! All past race recaps are now complete. Until next time…

Posted in Glass Slipper Challenge, runDisney

2014 Glass Slipper Challenge Recap: Part II

If you didn’t read Part I, scroll down and read it. Then come back up for Part II. ‘kay? Great!


Alrighty, now on to the races! Here is GSC 2014, Part II. I will admit, some of the details are really fuzzy, but I’ll try to fill in the blanks as much as I can.

I spent this racecation off-property, and race-day transportation was a hot topic. I had NO idea how I was getting to the race, except via taxi. But spending that sort of money in Florida on taxi travels was a major pain. I was lucky enough to run into a woman (her name was Kat) at breakfast on Friday that had run the 5K. We decided, “Hey! Let’s eat breakfast and talk stuff!” So we did! After bonding for about an hour, and learning that she, too, was doing Glass Slipper, was able to offer me a ride to the start lines.

SUCH. A. RELIEF.

Lesson #1: Make all the friends. You never know who can help you out. I had the exact same thing happen this year for GSC, only it was 3:15 AM in the lobby of the hotel and new friend, Jennifer, offered me a ride.

The Inaugural Enchanted 10K was around 9,000 runners strong. There were five corrals, A-E. I was back in D. We got into our holding areas in the parking lot, and we were led around in front of the other corrals on our way to the staging area. It was awesome listening to the other corrals cheer for each other. We were all the there for the same purpose: to race.

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I had met several Twitter friends in real life the previous day at a #runnerslove meetup at Polynesian for meeting, greeting, and winning lots of stuff. I found Jess in my corral and we agreed to run a little bit together.

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Once the fireworks went off for us, We ran Galloway intervals for the first couple of miles. Well, I tried to, at least. First mile…totally fine. Second mile was an ascent onto an overpass with a downhill lead into mile 3. I couldn’t keep up with Jess at this point, so she went on ahead and I slowed up my pace, which was fine with me. I was going to enjoy the sights and whatnot.

The weather was fine that morning, and would be the same for the half the next day. I felt comfortable heading into EPCOT, which I found to be the COOLEST part of the race. Running through the nations was spot on, as was heading along the Boardwark and Yacht Club. At these incredibly photogenic spots, all the pictures were taken.

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I finished the race in 1:28:40, which I had expected considering I was dodging people and taking pictures. I also wasn’t overexerting myself because I knew I had to complete the second half of the challenge the next day…

Princess Half 2014:

Sunday morning comes and it’s Princess Half day! Just like 2013, we all arrive at EPCOT and the party is going full force. After potty breaks and coffee and stretching, the mass of runners began to file towards the starting corrals, with the faster runners heading left and not-so-faster runners to the right. As I chilled out in Corral J, I thought about my race plan: stay strong, steady, and not take as many pictures as last year. Since I had gotten my “It’s your first race so take pictures of all the things” out of my system last year, I could focus more on actually running.

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Once the corrals were released, I fell into a steady rhythm with some excellent song selections. I do believe that “Chasing the Sun” by The Wanted was the first song to come on, and I fell in tempo with the music. My first two miles were incredible. Just how I wanted them to be.

Then Mother Nature Called just before the 5K mark.

There were a couple of close-by potties by the course, but after waiting five minutes in line I could feel my legs getting tired. Some of us caught sight of portapotties all the way across this huge field, so we all decided to run over to those. (I ended up pulling a Julie Andrews and belting out, “The hiiiiills are aliiiiive with the sound of muuuuusiiiiiic!” This enabled laughter.)

So with this little detour, I had missed the water stop. As I hit the 5K timing mat, I felt dead. And I hadn’t even reached Magic Kingdom yet! The weather was overcast and humid, which was perfect for me coming from the snowbelt of Northwest Pennsylvania. I paced myself and hit Magic Kingdom, swearing five ways from Sunday that I wasn’t going to stop as I ran down Main Street USA. I turned through Tomorrowland, stormed through the castle, and made my way backstage. This is around the halfway point of the race, and coupling the 10K from the previous day, I had already run a half marathon!

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At this point our halfway song, “Let It Go”, was booming through the speakers; the perfect mid-race pick me up! You could hear the runners singing along as we stopped to pose next to this nifty little sign:

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My legs were feeling the toll of the mileage, but I kept going. I had to finish this. I wasn’t about to crap out now. I fought my way to get here, and come hell or high water, I was going to finish with some new shiny bling!

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Up and down the hills, around the overpass, down through EPCOT….and there was the finish! Woohoo! 19.3 complete, finally! I was tired. I was sore. But damn…I finished.

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I finished in 3:06:48, which was a 19-minute improvement from 2013 PHM. After receiving the medals, I was elated. I knew that this was going to be my race, and I couldn’t wait to return in 2015.


After-challenge thoughts:

  1. For anyone completing the challenge, do NOT go all out during the Enchanted 10K. Take your time and enjoy the sights. Multi-day races, such as GSC, Goofy, and Dopey to name a few, require discipline and training to conquer. What I did in the weekends leading up to race time was do a “Mock Glass Slipper”, where I’d run a 10K on Saturday and 13.1 on Sunday. This was a huge benefit when it came time for race day and I knew what was coming.
  2. Don’t have coffee at the holding area. Even if you’re a coffee junkie like I am, don’t have coffee less than an hour before a race if you’re not used to it. Otherwise, you’ll be singing The Sound of Music while running across open fields en route to the potties far too early in the race.
  3. Pick songs that get you moving! Music empowers the soul…and your feet! Tunes with a pulsing tempo can help set your pace and give you a boost when you hit the mid-race slump.
  4. Take the time to walk around and stretch out after. This was critical. After being on a plane immediately after 2013 PHM, I was determined to not have that happen again. After the half, I came back to EPCOT and spent the day walking about (quite slowly). Then on Monday, when I checked out the hotel, I spent the day in Magic Kingdom. I felt a lot better in the days following the challenge than I had the year prior, and kept this EPCOT/MK tradition in 2015.
  5. Beware: accomplishing fitness goals may lead to the registration of more races. After I got back from EPCOT that Sunday night, I thought, “Hey, let’s do another race!” So I ended up registering for the Marine Corps Historic Half marathon!

Thank you for taking the time to read about my Glass Slipper experience, and the quintessential reason why the blog is named the Glass Slipper Catalyst. This race came a pivitol point in my life, even though I didn’t see it at first. By training for and conquering the challenge, it became the catalyst that I needed to continue on this fitness regime. My love for running and my runDisney community has expanded tenfold, I’m so glad I get to share my enthusiasm and experiences with all of you.

*~*Christina*~*

Posted in Uncategorized

GSC 2014 Recap: Part I

So, as promised, here we continue on with recapping my life. Last week was PHM 2013, and now this week we’ll hit on Glass Slipper 2014. This will be divided into two parts: the pre-pre-pre race (as I’m typing this, the backstory is incredibly elaborate and can be supplemented by stalking through my back posts), and the races themselves. Trust me, it will be beneficial to read Part I before Part II, as this may give anyone who is fighting for motivation a bit of a boost. Trust me, I’m there with you! ❤


I had debated about even signing up for GSC, as the Space Coast Marathon Series was rolling out their Big Bang Series challenge. I’m a science geek, but I’m also a Disney dork. Space and explosions vs. glittery girly stuff. Hmmmm…

I decided for GSC. Smarty pants me decided it would be great to schedule a spa appointment ON THE DAY REGISTRATION OPENED. I was just a wee bit tense about making the cut as I lay there getting pampered that afternoon. Once I got out though, I cranked 80 mph to get home. I settled at my computer and saw that the registration percentages were high…but not completely sold out. I eagerly punched my information in… and voila! I was in! *insert happy dance here*

Lesson 1: Don’t schedule anything on registration day. Nothing. Not even a potty break. Unless you’re registering while using the potty. Then props for multitasking.

Now, this was in June of 2013. This was also the start of my quarterlife crisis.

I could not get motivated to train for this race, or do much of anything. Every day seemed to be a struggle. I was hardcore depressed, and I knew it; all I did was lay in bed and cry about how much I hated being in my program (M.Ed-Middle/Secondary Instruction), how much I hated grad school, and hated life in general. I found myself up all night begrudingly doing summer school classwork and sleeping during the day. This lasted for about three months. When the fall semester started, I was still a wreck. Everything annoyed me, and I found everyone to be annoying. I had this consistent ringing in my ears (which I later found out to be a symptom of depression and out-of-whack things happening with your body), I was harboring a highly negative energy that garnered some questionable looks from those that knew me as this super-positive, happy ray of sunshine, and I was just pissed beyond belief at the most stupid things. I had to excuse myself during choral and symphonic winds rehearsals so I didn’t blow up at the ensemble (my tolerance for musical mediocrity is miniscule). To top it all off, our music department got wind of being potentially cut due to reasons unknown in the two weeks before school started. The energy in the department was at an all-time low, and we were trying to keep it all together. Also, I was chartering our chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity, and was clashing with the then-president at the time (I was secretary). Everything was a disaster, and every day just seemed pointless. Even though it is said that exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant, GSC was the last thing on my mind.

Second week into school, I got sick. Full blown flu. That knocked me out for at least a week. I can hardly eat bananas to this day.

The real kicker…a breakup. Out of freakin’ nowhere. Fourth week of school or something. It was the absolute last thing I needed on my plate. Thanks a lot, universe; I love you, too.

But it was also the kick in the ass that I needed to start making changes. Big changes.

Slowly, I started refocusing my thoughts. Even if I didn’t feel like training, I went and pounded out a couple of miles. (Feel free to go back through the October 2013-February 2014 posts and you can find some examples of these workouts. For example…working out while watching the NYC Marathon.) I started eating better and began to invest in EnergyBits as a source of food (not having a fridge as an athlete isn’t ideal, but these little bits helped with that). I found social media to be a wonderful outlet for support, and I began to invest more time on Pinterest absorbing motivational pins (it would take me about ten minutes of looking at those before I grabbed my shoes and headed out the door).  Our fraternity colony started progressing rapidly, and that brought on a newfound sense of accomplishment as we ticked off each requirement to move from colony status to chapter status. I’ll even admit: I went to therapy for awhile. (Yep, chipper ol’ me went to therapy. I thought I was crazy for doing so, but having a neutral source to talk to was therapeutic.)

The biggest change came when I changed my program. After being so miserable in Education, switching to Communications was the best thing I could have done for myself. I felt like this huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I didn’t feel like I was obligated to be a teacher after that day. Everything started looking up. The days seemed brighter. Life was great.

Lesson 2: No matter how much people tell you that you’re good at something, or you’ll make a good *insert profession here*, do what your heart says. You don’t owe it to anyone but yourself to make the right career decisions.

Soon, I really began to throw myself into my training as a distraction after I learned my ex moved on faster than anticipated. I still had to see him in the music department, so it was all the more reason to keep on kicking ass.

Lesson 3: Breakups lead to fit girls. ‘nough said. Hell, even I’m using this mantra right now as I train for WDW Marathon weekend.

I ran my first 10K in November, keep on training through December, 2014 comes, and Happy New Year! I spent that New Year’s not out at a bar, but on the treadmill watching Rockin’ New Year’s Eve on the TV, and “running” into the new year. (I think I clocked in five or six miles that night.) As the weeks progressed, I logged 58 miles in January and 35.5 in February before I left for GSC weekend. I could feel myself getting stronger, faster, more muscular. Accomplishing workouts became an addiction, as did receiving compliments from my colleagues. Academics, KKPsi, music…they were all going so well for some odd reason. (I still believe that when I exercise, good vibes are produced.)

Mid-February, GSC weekend arrived. I knew that the months of training I put into this was going to pay off. I packed up my stuff, jumped on the plane, and headed to sunny Florida!

Up next: Part II: The Inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge.


P.S. I do appreciate all of you who took the time to read all this gibbledy gook. It helps to put things in perspective when attempting to recant adventures from almost two years ago. Plus, you get to learn some more about me, and how I’m not-so-perfect as traditional social media outlets may depict people as. Filters and editing can only hide so much, but I prefer to be raw and real for all of you. So thank you!

Posted in Princess Half, runDisney

TBT: Princess Half 2013

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I had started my running blog for about a year or so before I made the silly choice to go off the grid for awhile. I deleted all of my posts associated with my first race (Princess Half 2013) and everything thereafter…but for some reason, I saved the recap. I have a terrible time keeping myself accountable for writing about all the fun things in my life, so we’re just going to play a little game of catch up for the next little while! (Keep me accountable! I still need to recant the tales of Glass Slipper 2014 and Historic Half 2014 and my Scotland trip.)

Today, we’re going to revisit my first ever race. My cousin, Adriane, posted on Facebook one October day that she was running PHM and asked if anyone wanted to join her. Now, she and I we were in constant wars with each other growing up, so I was a little hesistant to say yes initially. At this point, in October 2012, the Princess Half WASN’T EVEN CLOSE TO SELLING OUT. The current percentage full hovered around 75-80%. However, I figured it would give me the kick in the pants I needed to really start running

(Side story: I found out about runDisney back in 2010 while leafing through my first ever copy of Runner’s World, and always wanted to give running a shot. Ex-boyfriend at the time, who was a star cross-country runner and phenomenal swimmer, wasn’t much help in the enthusiam and motivation department; he came more from the Land of Criticism and Egotistical Athletic Attitudes. This was a major turn off, and I didn’t bother with running after that. I mean, if you’re not getting the support from those that are closest to you, it’s a major letdown.

Lesson: Surround yourself with your cheer squad, and the energy will multiply tenfold. If you need to find better cheerleaders, go right ahead.)

So yes, I started out with a half marathon.

No, I had not raced any other distance prior to.

To this day, I STILL have yet to run a 5K race.

I was coming off of a terrible grad school semester due to failing a class on account of dealing with impacted wisdom teeth torturing me for 16 weeks. After getting that surgery done, passing a kidney stone, and getting my “failed class = expulsion from grad school” verdict overturned, I was finally heading to Disney World! I battled a lot to get to that point, and my last long run prior to was ten miles. My excitement wasn’t waning though; this was also an anniversary race! In the House of Mouse!

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Anniversary race = kick-ass medal. House of Mouse = Disney geeky goodness.

So without further ado, here’s my recap!


My alarm was set for 2:45 AM, but I found myself up at 2:20 AM. I rolled over in my bed at the Pop Century, and got all the fuzzies that come with race-day excitement. By the time Adriane got out of bed at 3, I was already dressed and scarfing down my bagel and banana. We were out the door by 3:30 and heading for the buses. On the way there, I could see all the traffic heading into the staging area. My thoughts were, “Holy traffic, Batman.” It was nuts! We got to the meeting places around 4:15 and parted ways, agreeing to find each other at the end (easier said than done, especially with a semi-dead phone).

Bag check was flawless and easy. Line for the bathroom was long but I found myself engaging in conversation with a woman behind me. If my memory serves me correctly, she was running her fifth half marathon, plus she was a cancer survivor! That was inspirational. After the bathroom break, we all walked towards the corrals. A-E branched off to the left and F-H went to the right. The people around me and I agreed that the others were heading to the slaughterhouse and we got to be free, happy cows in the fields.

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I got to Corral F with plenty of time to stretch out and chill. Slowly, the corrals began to fill up. I appreciated the Jumbo-Trons that displayed runDisney TV. After the playlist that included Gangnam Style, YMCA, and Don’t Stop Believin’, the national anthem was sung (VERY professionally, which I give the singer points for), and we were ready to start the race! Every seven to ten minutes another corral was released by the cue of pretty fireworks. Finally, our corral started moving forward. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually going to do this!!

PHM 2013 start

Three, two one…GO!

The corral started slow, then slowly picked up speed. I ran with my phone in my hand the entire time while tweeting and Facebooking the adventure, and I think that helped me keep a relaxed form. I kept a steady pace and just soaked in all the sights and sounds you could when it was still dark outside. I called out mile markers and listened for the cheers in response. We saw the elite corral A runners passing by us on the other side of the highway when we were around Pirates of the Caribbean. Maybe some day I will be one of them, but not now…I was in it for the fun!

PHM Mile 3

(I later learned that Rachel Booth had crossed the line in 1:17. I took a picture at Mile 3, and that time had read 1:18. It’s amazing that someone can maintain a 6 minute/mile pace for thirteen miles! Major props to her!)

PHM 2013 people PHM 2013 Tomorrowland

I got really excited as I saw the sun rising through the trees and over Magic Kingdom. I still couldn’t believe I was plowing through this run. With the amount of people on the course, we had to funnel and fan out appropriately. It felt nice to have room entering MK, but then we funneled back in heading down Main Street. I started running on the sidewalk so I wouldn’t run people over or get run over. As a musician, I appreciated the fanfare heading into Cinderella Castle. As a runner, I wish I could have flown through the castle like I see those runners do in the Runners World magazines. BUT, I did get to see the murals on the inside of the castle!

Castle

Before Mile 6, it was definitely bathroom time, so I zoomed into one before leaving the MK. I was happy that people were getting in and out quickly; I don’t think anyone wanted to get swept while taking a bathroom break!

By the time mile 7 came, my legs were on autopilot. BioFreeze became my best friend on this run, and I was careful not to get it all over my phone! I was starting to run in the grass just to get by people around mile 9, which was nice on my legs and knees. Along the second half, I ran into a girl that I met on the bus going to the motel on Friday. Her name was Valerie and her friends were dressed up as the Dalmatians! We ran together for a few miles, evaded the evil Sweeper girls, and got up those pesky hills.

PHM 2013 Mulan PHM 2013 more people

When I saw the outlines of Spaceship Earth, I knew the end was coming. I saw a woman with all five of her Princess Medals on cheering us up that last bypass. I turned around and saw the throngs of people behind me…

PHM 2013 Mile 11 people line

Holy people! I was relieved that I wasn’t going to be the last person to finish, and I kept going, soon landing in EPCOT. Home stretch! Down the main strip of EPCOT, back up, around the corner, go backstage…

PHM 2013 gospel choir

–hey, there’s the gospel choir!–

…and there’s the finish line!! I ran down that street and I knew I was on top of the world. I totally felt like a rock star.

PHM 2013 finish

I knew I wanted to make my first run memorable, and what memorable way to do it by running in Disney!

Finisher Photo


Super cute, right? You always remember your first race.

Lessons that I can remember:

  1. Running with a phone in your hand….gaaaaaah. That was simply annoying. As easy as it was to have quick access for photo taking and whatnot, it slowed my time down considerably. I know I was only in this first race for fun, and I did it in 3:25:31, but I had to tear the battery out and let the phone reboot a few times, plus it was all sweaty and gross. For 2014 GSC, I invested in an Armpocket. Best decision ever.
  1. Invest in legitimate running clothes. For this race, I sort of went into it blindly when it came to clothes. (See pictures above.) My shorts were fine, my trademark bow was pink and cute, but my top was a different story. I used a tank from Old Navy…and a cotton sports bra. Not one of the fancy ones. This caused uncomfortable chafing for a few days after. I soon invested in a VSX sports bra from Victoria’s Secret and it’s been my go-to style ever since.
  1. Don’t immediately get on your flight a couple of hours after the race. We had thought the resort would have given us a later check out due to the race. But this wasn’t the case. Once off the course, we had to find the bus, get back to the hotel, pack, and immediately take off for MCO. This was so inconvenient, plus painful. I hadn’t had time to shake it all out after (I’m talking hours of walking in EPCOT or Magic Kingdom in the days after a race), so I was stiff and sore and limpy for about a week. So…take the extra day or two and stay in the parks. You can get your Disney geek on while walking and stretching.
  1. runDisney. You have to do it at least once. The hype is incredible. Registration can be messy. But if you’re willing to put the time and patience into training and planning, every mile truly is magic!

Do you remember your first race? Did you start off with a 5K and slowly increase mileage, or go crazy like me and decide to start off with a huge distance for your first race? Was it runDisney, or another series?

If you’ve made it this far, congrats! Thanks for reading, and if you’re running this weekend (*cough*WineandDine*cough*), best of luck!

*~*Christina*~*

Posted in WDW Marathon

Seeking Marathon Revenge…With the WDW Marathon!


Marathon revenge is biting hard. After not being able to finish the MCM last week, I decided to sign up for the WDW Marathon last night! Training for this will make the winter months and holidays (hopefully) pass by quickly, keep the winter weight off, and give me the boost I need to kill the Glass Slipper Challenge!

Will you be in Disney for Marathon Weekend? Are you going Goofy or Dopey?