2016 Princess Half Marathon Recap

I’m so going to PR this race…

I’m on track to PR this race! WOOOO!

…and there goes my PR for this race…right out the window…


 

The above dialogue essentially explains, in a nutshell, what happened during the Princess Half Marathon for me. But let’s backtrack for just a minute. After all, there’s more to a race recap than highlighting a failed PR attempt…


 

Just like the previous day, I woke up at 2:30 to get ready for the race. I think I stayed in bed until 2:40, but was immediately up and at ’em. My tummy was STILL giving me problems (as it had all week), so I was curious to see what would happen when I got out on the race course.img_2851

En route, it was just a teeny bit busier heading to the starting area at EPCOT than it was for the Enchanted 10K. However, I saw the first round of buses heading there, as well, and I’m fortunate that I didn’t leave a minute too late.

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After having pre-security “veg out in the car” time, I made my way through security and to the bag check. I ran into friends (including my fellow Kappa Kappa Psi brother, Chelsea!) and Team Shenanigans members along the way, which made the time go by much faster.img_2857-1

(^^space blankets for days!)

My BRF, Jess, and I made our way to the corrals together and we arrived around 5:15. (It is literally at 20-minute walk from Runner’s Village, just so all you future princesses and princes know. Don’t leave any later than 4:55 to make it there on time.) We were entertained by Carissa and Rudy, and the multitalented Miss America, Betty Cantrell, sang the national anthem (which I totally approved!).

Soon after, the fireworks were launched and the corrals were moving (much faster than they were for the 10K). Around 6AM, Corral I was sent off!

There were a lot of parallels between my 10K and half marathon. Among other things, I once again didn’t run with music, and I was completely fine with it. I had far too much fun listening to the on-course entertainment and chatting with other runners to really miss it much. img_2889

Miles 2 and 9 run next to each other on the out-and-back portion of the course. The elites were coming back up the road as I was heading down into Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t help but cheer for all these amazing athletes, including one of my running idols, Heather Schulz! I saw her running past the Mile 9 aid station, and I ran over to the left side of the road, stopped and shouted at the top of my lungs, “GO, HEATHER, GO! YOU GOT THIS! WOOOOOO!”

Just cheering like this for five seconds boosted me up, and I continued on through to Magic Kingdom. I crossed the 5K mark with a pace that would land me my B-goal PR of 2:45…just like last year. I was also taking advantage of Biofreezing the hell out of my knees since there were still a little funny from the 10K. Even with these quick stops, I was making great time.

Hot damn! Let’s keep going! 12743766_956465967742157_9141701034162605066_n

But that spirit boost didn’t last long…

My tummy started rumbling. Just like the 10K…

…hello, bathroom stop. Again. Stupid Mile 4/5 Curse…

Waiting for the bathroom added ten minutes to my time. SO FRUSTRATING. I kept staring at my watch and making mental calculations for what my pace needed to be to still be on track for a PR. At this point, I was even ahead of the 3:00 pace group by about 5 minutes. I stood in line and simply watched them run on by…

When I did get into the bathroom, almost nothing came out. Phantom pains? Perhaps. Needless to say, I was not happy.

I left and headed past the Contemporary and Space Mountain en route to the Mile 5 marker. At least I caught the sunrise at this point, and another runner and I took pictures for each other.

Running down Main Street wasn’t really fun this year. First of all, it was rather quiet. The music was playing and some spectators were cheering…but most of them were just dead. Not sure if the early-morning wakeup call had them all still sleepy or what, but it wasn’t the most exciting thing to do. Hanging the right and heading into Tomorrowland was nearly identical to 2015: the sun was beginning to rise. I knew the temperature was going to spike.img_290110670177_956466177742136_4471090198474420962_nimg_2906

Running through the castle was THE LEAST CONGESTED I HAVE EXPERIENCED IT, EVER. I was absolutely shocked at the ease I could maneuver through and still come out the other side unscathed. (Dark and blurry shot above, but notice the non-congestion.)

Right after Liberty Square, I could feel tummy rumblings making themselves known. Seriously. Not again. I ducked into the Adventureland bathroom.

I ran out and crossed the 10K timing mat. This was 1:31, and the second slowest 10K split I’ve ever run. I was halfway…. and I had to stop again.

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This all happened within the first half of the race. Three bathroom stops and my chance for PR-ing completely shot to hell. At this point, I was just hoping to finish.


 

The next half of the PHM course begins with the menace known as Cone Alley. As you can see from the picture, it is self-explanatory. img_2909

(^^Cones for miles. Yeahhhh…)

According to my Garmin, my Mile 7 pace was 20:00. #MiddleOfTheFieldProblems

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During Mile 8 (the Clif Shot mile), the sun came out strong. It was another “Blinded By the Light” moment as we ran past the Grand Floridian and golf courses. In addition to the Biofreeze, I was taking advantage of dumping ice cold water over my head and enjoying the fact I was running in a sports bra and not a shirt or tank top. Trust me, it felt great. 12715388_956466261075461_556184075146420519_n

I hit Mile 8.7, and grabbed my traditional Vanilla and Mocha Clif Shots. The sucky part about this section is that there isn’t a water station immediately after. Don’t take your Clif Shots without water; they’ll dry your throat out and you’ll have sticky residue all over. You have to wait about another half a mile to get water to wash it down, so carry them with you until this point.

I was still feeling incredibly grouchy at this point. My mile pace had increased significantly and I was watching my chances at even tying my original half PR of 3:06 sliding away with every step. I started up the Mile 10 overpass, and something in me changed…

 

I thought back to the Survival Guide, and how it had been a key resource to those that were running this very race. Around me, thousands of runners were striving to reach the finish line, and I knew that the last 5K of this race can be a total bitch. Now, more than ever on the course, walls were going to be hit, spirits would sink, and we would have to pick each other up if we were going to accomplish our goal of finishing for free bananas and lots of shiny bling, in addition to bragging rights.

This overpass makes or breaks runners. Even if I can just boost up one person, knowing that even I wouldn’t achieve my goals, maybe I can help them achieve theirs.

I ascended the overpass, passed the Army Men shouting orders for us to, “Stop texting and run!”, and ran over to the left side of the course. Peering down over the side of the overpass, I shouted to everyone below me…img_2917

YOU GUYS ARE DOING GREAT! KEEP IT UP! WOOOOOO!”

In those five seconds, my entire demeanor changed. As the response from my cheering erupted below and all around me, I accepted the fact that making these types of memories on the course is what makes a race what it is. It’s not about times and being hell-bent on PR-ing (although that’s always a plus). It’s making that difference for runners, even if it is only one out of tens of thousands, that can give them the boost to keep going and not give up. I had been there four years ago in my first race. Giving back to the running community in that fashion was absolutely priceless.

I dashed over to the Mile 11 med tent to re-Biofreeze, and the medics there said we were about 1.9 miles away from the finish. Woohoo!12717844_956466281075459_2684787305172947717_n12744045_956466284408792_5474967127571428553_n

Catching Spaceship Earth on the horizon and descending into EPCOT at Mile 12 is probably my favorite part of the PHM course (even more fun that running down Main Street in Magic Kingdom and storming the castle). The crowds are ample and the encouragement is electrifying. Plus, it was really shady in some spots. (Thank you, Spaceship Earth!)

Round the corner, pass the gospel choir, and head down the last straightaway to the finish line!img_2926


 

My time? Heh…3:26:19. Slowest half marathon to date. (Even slower than my very first PHM which was a 3:25:41.) But hooray for earning my Triple Slipper! (Three GSCs down, lots more to go!)img_2939

I wasn’t very happy immediately post-race. (Even when I was in line to do my GSC picture, I was fighting being grouchy.) I really stewed in my emotions for most of the day. Tack the slow-as-mud time on top of it, and there weren’t many positive feelings left.

It took a few days, but I’m at peace with my performance now. Surprisingly.


 

Christina’s Post-GSC Thoughts:

  1. Even if you don’t achieve your overall goal, there will always be more races to compete in to better your time. I’m very happy that I managed one PR out of the weekend. (Just goes to show that you CAN PR in a runDisney event!)
  2. Runner’s etiquette…ugh. Come on, y’all. Read the manual you’re given at expo time. Don’t be hogging the course by walking 4-6 abreast. That’s annoying as hell. And don’t get snarky when other runners say, “Coming through!” and split the middle of your group because it’s the only way to get around.
  3. Copious amounts of Biofreeze will make your eyes burn.
  4. You only get water on the course during the 10K. Electrolyte drinks are provided for the half.
  5. There’s nothing wrong with a little cold water over the head during the sunny parts of the half…until that water mixes with sweat and runs in your eyes. Many owies.
  6. Be sure to cheer your fellow runners on and say hi to those you do know! I had the privilege of running into some of my Team Shenanigans ladies on the PHM course and that was a very happy fifteen seconds of my race day. I also met more blog readers during PHM and those interactions kept me going.6A. Even the elites need love, too. If you’re in the position to cheer for those vying for the win, DO IT. I spoke with Heather during the expo and she said that it can get really lonely at the front of the field. These runners are just like us, and they deserve our support!
  7. Regarding diet...fiber is good for you, especially in the days preceding the race. Make sure your food contains an adequate amount of the stuff, or you’ll end up like me with stomach pains raging.
  8. No matter the race, RESPECT THE DISTANCE. I refuse to be cutesy and nice about this (and other topics) any longer. If you don’t train for the race, you’re going to be the one who is hurting like hell afterwards. Don’t come crying to those that HAVE done this before and complain about how much you didn’t train, and then try to go out and run it solely to say you did it. That’s not how racing works.
  9. HAVE FUN. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is listening to fellow runners get so worked up over getting swept and worrying about the Balloon Ladies that they throw any chance of having a great race out the window due to this anxiety. Throw your cares to the wind and just race. The majority of you that were concerned about it probably didn’t get swept, anyway.
  10. I’m glad I only heard “Let It Go” only once on the course this time.
  11. The runDisney Easter Egg Hypothesis is raging strong on social media, where the Mile 13 marker is the theme for the next year’s race. If this holds true…next year’s theme will be Snow White!

     

Congrats to everyone who had a magical race weekend! You’ve earned your medals and bragging rights, so show that bling and post those pictures! Shoutout to everyone who I met on the course and for everyone who benefitted from my PHM Survival Guide. I hope to see you all at a future runDisney event!img_2933

 

Until next time…see you at the finish line!

*~*Christina*~*

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2016 Enchanted 10K Recap

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The Enchanted 10K on Saturday morning was nothing short of amazing. Driving to the staging area was calm and serene; there were maybe two other cars on the road at 3AM. (I drove from US 192.) I vegged in my car for awhile and then made my way through security and bag check.img_2779

Looking around, I noticed that the scene was eerily calm. I knew that there would be a little more than twice the amount of people racing on Sunday, so I took in the fact that I didn’t have to wait in line at the bathrooms, I could find an open area to stretch and zen out without tripping over anyone…and there were only six corrals (up one from the last two years).

I went over to Corral D and quickly made friends as we waited for the corrals to launch (two of which happened to be part of the #PrincessMen group!!). (Was it just me, or did the timing of the launches seem a lot more spaced out this year?)

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When we were let loose, I fell into a very steady rhythm. I didn’t run with music, and I was completely okay with it; I didn’t miss it at all. My Garmin later showed me that my splits were in the 11:30-12:30 range, even when ascending the Mile 1.5 hill. That’s never happened before! Woohoo!

My pacing consistent, and I briefly walked twice in 3.1 miles (also never happened before). After the 5K mark, I had many runners racing up to me after recognizing my signature hair bow (“You’re our bow girl!” was one my compliments!) and telling me that they read my blog and appreciated all of the advice I had given on the Princess Half Survival Guide I had created. This gave me so many warm fuzzies, and it was fantastic to know that my experiences and advice was helping my fellow runners achieve their goals and that they sincerely appreciated my efforts.

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(^^photo courtesy of Allison!)

This energy boost came at just the right time…it was EPCOT time!

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My spirits were soaring and I was in a comfortable groove. Hell, I even broke what I was saying about not wanting to take pictures and took some anyway. (I had never experienced World Showcase accented with pink before, so naturally, photos were a must!)

 

All was fine and dandy…until nature called. Naturally. The GI issues some of you know about came creeping around, and before I knew it, I lost about five minutes in the bathroom and my mile 5 split was around 17:00. Yeaaaah. Bye bye, Goal B PR of <1:15.

My tummy was being very wonky, and I had to dig deep to get to the finish. The Yacht Club and Boardwalk area of the course is one of the most energetic areas of the entire weekend. I found two of my runner friends from last year’s PHM, Heidi and Elizabeth, along Mile 5 at the Boardwalk and naturally had to run over to give hugs and say hello!12705714_10207438911204116_895612308054131561_n

(^^photo courtesy of Elizabeth!)

Once I passed Spaceship Earth, I became obsessed with my watch. I was nearing my original 1:25 PR in 2013, and I had just minutes to go to improve that.img_2804

 

As I rounded the last corner and headed down the straightaway, it was a now or never moment. I bolted for the finish. I didn’t care how much my shins and knees hurt (and they were kind of wrecked seeing as I had never run so fast before during a race.)

After checking my time, I found that I PRed by a minute and a half.

What? I PRed? WHAT THE HELL?! What is this madness?? This hasn’t happened in years! YAAAAAAAAY!

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I felt, and still am, absolutely elated. I will accept a 1:23:38 for my new PR, and I’m so thrilled that it happened on my favourite course to date.


Next up: 2016 Princess Half Marathon Recap!

Pre-Race Thoughts: Time Goals For 2016 GSC

My stomach’s been in knots all day long.

Sure, I’m leaving for my signature race weekend tomorrow. I should be excited and bouncing off the walls. After all, I’m leaving the land of snow and ice and epic grossness that is Pennsylvania in favor of the sunshine and palm trees of Florida. I’m racing my race for the fourth time. I’m maintaining my legacy status with a third challenge run. I’ll be in a familiar environment with fellow princesses with tutus and glitter all over the place. What’s not to be excited about?

There’s something weird about my mindset this time around.

I don’t often get pre-race anxiety. But as of late, it’s been running rampant. Couple that with severe atelophobia (look it up), and I’m setting myself up to potentially hit my wall long before I get to race morning.

But why, Christina? You’ve run this race a billion times before. You’re like an expert when it comes to Princess Half-isms! Hell, you just wrote a whole survival series about it. You’re a pro! Stop worrying!

Yeah. That’s cute. However, it’s not that easy…


 

In years’ past, I would always come in to race weekend with the goal of taking pictures, finishing, and having fun. I’ve done that with all three PHM weekends thus far. I’ve taken the pictures, I’ve run the courses, I’ve done the things.

I told myself back in January that I was taking my running up a notch this year.

It’s about to take off this weekend.

For the first time ever, I have set legitimate time goals for myself. I sat down after the WDW Marathon and analyzed every single race I’ve ever run in the last three years and all of the splits associated with them. From this spreadsheet, I created plausible A, B, and C goals for both the Enchanted 10K and the Princess Half. Just by looking at them, they’re not outrageously difficult to accomplish (they’re still conservative times for some), but the challenge will be to do it on a runDisney course starting from a middle corral. Each time I have set will result in a shiny new PR that I will seriously scream and cry over (with much happiness) if achieved. And maybe do a happy dance, too.

My goals are as follows:

Enchanted 10K (Current 10K PR: 1:25:33):

A: <1:05:00 (10:28 mpm)

B: <1:15:00 (12:04 mpm)

C: <1:25:00 (13:40 mpm)

Princess Half Marathon (Current Half Marathon PR: 3:06:48):

A: <2:30:00 (11:26 mpm)

B: <2:45:00 (12:35 mpm)

C: <3:00:00 (13:43 mpm)

These goals aren’t horribly unreasonable. It’s not like I’m telling myself to maintain a 7:00 mpm pace (which I can’t do right now unless chased by bees or something). Based on the runs I’ve done during this month between races, I’ve been picking up the speed and averaging around 11-something a mile, and feeling really good afterwards!

The only exception I’m making to all of this is based on the weather. If it’s going to be humid and hot, then I will not overexert myself just to PR. I will try my hardest to do so, but my health comes first, especially with a multi-day run. Passing out for a PR isn’t worth it to me.

I’ve had my fun in the past with taking pictures and seeing all the things. It’s time to put the phone away and race for real. I’m still debating bringing the phone with me as a precaution in case something does happen. I’m changing it up this time and not bringing extraneous stuff on the course, including my music (I tend to lose more time fighting headphone cords and keeping everything in my Armpocket organized). The fewer distractions, the better. My times will still be posted to Twitter and you can find me on the runner tracking program if you wish to follow my times.

The excitement starts tomorrow. Follow my Twitter @runDisneyBelle for updates!

 

*~*Christina*~*

Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide, Ep. VII

Hey princesses and princes…

SURPRISE!!! *confetti cannons and fireworks*

That’s right! There’s one more Survival Guide episode for you all!

I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to release this episode, and I figured that it’s about that time. We’re less than a week out from when all of the Princess Half weekend excitement goes down, and the energy is ramping up on the social media feeds. Outfits are being displayed, encouragement being passed around, final training miles being run, and the taper crazies running rampant, as always. There’s a certain electricity that amplifies any runDisney event. With Princess Half weekend, however, I have noticed that it seems to be more prominent with this race than any of the others.

This final episode will be filled with motivation and positive thinking and pretty pictures. (runDisney released an album of motivational running pictures and quotes several years ago, and I’m glad I saved them to share.) Think of this episode as the narration to your weekend.

Got your snacks? Yay! Let’s go!


 

PHM Survival Guide, Ep. VII: The Race Awakens: Final Thoughts From Christina

I have mentioned this before: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. For many of us, that happens when you cross the finish line and can officially say, “I Did It!”

But the truth is, it happens far sooner….407811_580612858631347_62542001_n

 

Life begins when you make the decision to toe the line…to commit to the distance, the training, the long hours of pounding the pavement or track or treadmill to put the miles under your legs. To say, “Yes. I’m going to do this”, and follow through all the way until race day.

There is a lot of sacrifice when training for a race, as you all know: Giving up sleeping in on the weekends in exchange for greeting the sunrise of a new day with a workout… replacing your comfort foods with something more healthy that makes your body happy and fuels you…deciding to head home early and rest up instead of staying out with friends on a Friday night.

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Or on the flip of the coin…battling runner grumpies when you’re trying to find this thing called a runner’s high that everyone sems to talk about….fighting waves of apathy, sadness, and a disinterest in running….thinking, “Ugh, I have to wake up at X- time and run X-miles for a long run?” and promptly hiding under the covers. Your training may have been derailed by life or illness or other variables, and you might be discouraged and frustrated, thinking, “Why the hell did I even sign up for this?”

(All of this I have experienced before. You’re not alone.)

It can suck sometimes. It really can.

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But it will pay off. Even if you can’t see it now, showing up on race day is your dedication in action. Your costume/outfit is on, the feelings of excitement and anxiety churning in your stomach (it’s all those butterflies that are back again!), and you know there’s no going back. You’ve made it this far. Whether you’re a Perfect, a veteran, a firstie…the love is there for everyone. Everyone is sharing thoughts, feelings, anticipation…your hearts are in sync and eyes are on the prize.

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Everyone that toes the line has a story to tell. And these stories, while most remain unspoken, drive these races to be what they truly are: the gathering of athletes of all abilities to chase their dreams and accomplish their goals.

Next week, it’s go time. It’s time for your victory lap.

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The Fairy Godmother counts you down, the fireworks go boom, and you’re off on a magical journey of whichever distance you’ve signed up for. Take in the experience. The atmosphere and sights are unlike any other race you’ll ever participate in.

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For the firsties…no matter the distance, you’re accomplishing a feat that thousands before you have done. You’re following in the footsteps of even the most elite runners in history; they’ve all been there. Everyone has run their first race at some point in their lives. You’re now partaking in that tradition. Embrace your first race.

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On race day…race your race. This phrase may reflect many things: You may be running for a new PR…you may be running just to complete the distance to say that you did…you might be running miles in memory of someone…hell, you may be racing for an age award, or even for the win. Whatever your reason is, you’re here. You’re going to go the distance, just like the song says.

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When you cross the finish line, throw your hands in the air and cheer. You deserve a celebration. All the weeks and months, trials and tribulations, struggles and successes you’ve endured will culminate into an explosive euphoria that will rival anything you’ve ever felt before. Your life is going to change forever. Smile, cheer, cry, hug your friends. This is your time. Take it in. Enjoy it. By the time you get home, you’re going to want to do it all over again.

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See you at the finish line.

 

*~*Christina*~*

Team Shenanigans PHM Podcast

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I got my podcast debut recently.

Last week, I was asked by Chris Smith (@DopeyRunr) of Team Shenanigans to be a guest on their podcast which focused on previewing the Princess Half weekend! I teamed up with Chris, Brittany, Ken, Mark, and Caryn to cover a bunch of different topics (with typical Shenanigans humour) surrounding the upcoming race.

Here is the link: http://teamshenanigans.org/22-princess-half-marathon/

Happy listening!!

 

*~*Christina*~*

 

2016 Princess Half Marathon Merchandise Preview

There’s a week left until the fun and fantasy of PHM weekend begins! Before every race, there is a merchandise preview of commemorative items that will be available at the expo. Our friends over at the Disney Parks Blog released this information today!

PHM Merch 1Princess Merch 2

Princess Merch 3princess merch 4Princess Merch 5


 

Also new for 2016 is the “Glitter and Go” makeover experience. At the HP Fieldhouse, princesses can get the royalty treatment with a package that includes a hair twist, light makeup, shimmering lip gloss, a face gem, and a light-up Princess tiara. Reservations are on a walk-in basis for those 3 and up. Retail is $19.95 + tax. Hours for this experience are 10-6 Thursday and Friday, and 8:30-4 on Saturday.


 

What will you be taking home from the expo?!

Original article: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2016/02/glitter-and-go-with-new-products-for-disney-princess-half-marathon-weekend-2016/

 

Princess Half Marathon Runner Tracking

Among the 729 other things you may encounter in the days leading up to PHM weekend, there is another aspect to be mentioned.

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I’m talking about Runner Tracking. What is this program, where can you find it, and how do you use it?


Here is the 411:

Runner Tracking is a service provided by Xacte. It enables the runner (or their friends) to receive messages through several mediums regarding their times on race day.

Sounds fun and something you might be interested in? Great! Here’s what you do.


 

  1. Head to this link: http://results.xacte.com/track?id=1202
  2. In the ‘Search Entrant to Track’ box, type your name.
  3. Once you click on it, there will be four boxes that appear. Each is a medium which you can receive your information:runner tracking
    1. Phone: Type your phone number in, and you can get your times delivered via text message. Before I bought my Garmin, I enabled this so I could see my splits while on the course. I’m still going to have mine sent to my phone this year regardless of whether I carry it or not.
    2. Email: You can add your email to receive alerts from your favorite runner or yourself.
    3. Twitter: Link your Twitter account to Xacte and your times can be tweeted to your followers. I do this, as well….the majority of my running community is on Twitter and I know they appreciate following along.
    4. Facebook: Just like Twitter, linking your FB to Xacte will allow for the posting of your times to your timeline.

 

You can choose to select as many mediums as you want to utilize, or none at all if that is what you prefer. Personally, I use my phone and Twitter only. I try to keep it simple. Once you sign up for a certain medium, you’ll receive confirmation. For example, this is the confirmation tweet that appeared in my feed after I linked my account:

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Any questions about Runner Tracking? You ask, and I’ll do my best to answer!

 

See you at the finish line!

*~*Christina*~*