2017 PHM Expo 💖✨🎀

Just returned from the expo! Here’s pictures!




Amorette’s Patisserie brought out the Cogsworth cupcakes!!




Here’s your daily dose of Princess inspiration!:



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Best of luck this weekend, runners! Remember, every mile is magic!! 


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2017 Princess Half Expo Reminders

It’s almost here!! Who’s excited?! 🎉🎉

One thing that every runDisney runner had to do is head to the expo. Not only will you pick up your bib, shirts, and other race day things, you’ll also get to browse around and check out the many vendors in the Josten’s Center and HP Fieldhouse. Below are the hours for the 2017 PHM Expo:

A couple of reminders from runDisneyBelle about runDisney expo-isms:

  1. If you are running the 5K on Friday, you must attend the expo on Thursday to pick up your stuff. If you’re running GSC, you must attend by Friday to get your stuff. If you’re running only PHM, come by Saturday to get your stuff.
  2. Make sure you have your race waiver signed (you can print this out at the expo), and your ID ready to hand in. Upon checking in with the volunteer at your bib station, you’ll will also sign a big book next to your bib number indicating you’ve picked up your bib.
  3. Glass Slipper runners will have their picture taken with their bib. This helps expedite the process of verifying challenge runners when it comes to receiving your third medal at the conclusion of the half.
  4. Enjoy the expo, walk around, see what there is to see. Don’t spend all day here, though. You don’t want to wear out your legs just walking around! For those that haven’t been here, there are stairs you’ll have to navigate, and it can be a bit of a distance from where you park to the entrance.
  5. Be patient if the line to actually get IN to the expo is long and winds its way around and around. There’s 25,000+ runners attending this weekend, so pack your patience and a well-charged phone.
  6. Make sure to get your picture with the race banners!

 

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2015 GSC

 

There are also characters at the expo, too!

 

While the expo may be a lovely place to get lost in and look at all the shiny things, one concept does stand out over the rest…

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It’s just stuff.

There is no sense getting violent and crazy over stuff.

Don’t ruin your racecation, or anyone else’s, by fighting over wine glasses and overpriced t-shirts.

I understand some of you are diehard collectors, but be mindful of where you are, the audience around you, and the purpose of this weekend: it is not to see who can sell a runDisney Dooney to the highest bidder on eBay. It is to promote friendship and magical memories through athletic activities and accomplishing your dreams through running and camaraderie. Remember…the internet is forever. Mind your manners.

 

 


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See you real soon!!!

 

 

Needs vs. Wants: How To runDisney On a Budget

Time for some real talk. Go get your coffee…

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For many of us, our income is limited, and it can be a sore subject to talk about.

Trust me, I can’t wait for that dream job that enables me to buy a pirate ship in the Caribbean.

When I first started running in graduate school, I was fortunate to have received Chapter 35—Dependent Benefits from my mom, as she had served in the Army. This allotted a monthly stipend that I could do what I wanted with. Often, it was academic in nature (books, education clearances, or saxophone stuff), car repairs (on a semester basis, it seemed)…or food (because food is great). Basic things to live on. I also had a couple of graduate assistantships that helped, as well. When running came into the picture, I set my budget limits with what I had, and planned my racecation from there. Because of this experience, I try to find deals at every corner, and to really focus on my needs vs. wants:  my first Princess Half, I honestly had no idea what I was doing, and went a little hog wild at the expo. Looking back, I should have known better, but I chalk it up to experience and lessons learned. As much as I would like to go bananas and spend every last penny that I have and then some on the ultimate runDisney racecation, I logistically cannot do so. I’m pretty fortunate to have my job that will permit me to not only take the time off for these races (my team and company kick serious ass in the work/life balance department), but to obviously plop a steady paycheck in my lap twice or thrice a month. After the mandatory rent and Metro fare gets budgeted, I sit with my coffee and plan my next running adventure.

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My budgeting face.

 

Here is how I do it…


6+ months:

My planning begins months in advance, and this begins with registration. Of course, with runDisney, you’re registering six or more months in advance. I keep PHM weekend on my radar at the beginning of the year and mark on my calendar when registration day is. I set aside a little money from my paycheck every two weeks leading up, and I have what I need (and then some if Active fees are ridiculous) come registration day.

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I do the registration dance, and boom. We’re all set. Step one is done.

And then we play the waiting game for awhile….while saving more, training, and figuring out my Needs vs. Wants.


2 months:

Submit days off request. I give my managing staff pleeeeeeenty of notice. In grad school, I’d let my professors know the first week of the semester that, “Hey, I’ll be gone from X to Y. I’ll let you know if something happens.” Everyone was pretty cool about it, and I’d end up bringing my textbooks and computer with me to do work in my downtime. Easy peasy.

Decide on method of travel. My first three Princess weekends were done by flying down to MCO and traveling around by either the Magical Express (when I was on-site in 2013), or taxis/hotel busses/fellow runners offering rides (off-site in 2014 and 2015). Getting around was a big bulk of my budget and a major source of stress. However, these travel fares were needs and not wants. In a perfect world, we’d all be flying first-class. However, we don’t need to be in first class; it is merely a want. If you can swing better seats with miles or points, more power to you!

When it came to flying, I would search for the cheapest tickets that I could find, and fly coach. I would also save money by utilizing my Tetris-level packing skills and squeeze everything into my sports bag and backpack so I wouldn’t have to check a bag, and therefore, save money. (Note to all runners: never check your race gear at the airport! Put it in your carry-on. If your checked bag gets lost and your race shoes are in it, welp, you’re SOL.)

I was fortunate in December 2015 to get a new car, which has killer mileage (40 mpg on the highway). Now, I drive the 14+ hours all the way down I-95, not have to worry about squeezing all my clothes into one bag, and my budget revolves around the pre-trip oil change ($40-ish) and gas prices, which are super budget-friendly in the South. I allot roughly $120 round-trip for gas.

Since these are travel logistics, they are definitely in the Needs column.


1.5 months:

I start my search for off-site hotels. I don’t need anything fancy, just somewhere I can stash my stuff and sleep at night, preferably close to the parks. For the last three runDisney trips I have made, I’ve stayed in Old Town where I have found amazing deals through Groupon. I have spent less than $200 for four nights each time. The hotels are a little run down and shady, I’ll admit. but they get the job done. Plus, I am only ten minutes away from the starting area in EPCOT. Can’t beat that!

I need a roof over my head, so the hotel (with a budget of $200) is in the Needs column.


1 week to 1 month:

Now that the bulk of the logistics are complete, it’s time to shift over to the Wants. Here are some of the conversations I have with myself:

Do I want park tickets? Now that the prices have gone up again, and I was just there in January, do I really want to go back? If so, what parks on what days, and should I get a park hopper or not? Should I spend more time in Disney Springs, which has free parking and a variety of eats and drinks and sees that are just as magical as a park?

Expo goodies: Do I really want that race jacket that’s $90? Or anything that is seriously overpriced? What types of fuel do I need to stock up on? How many times should I circle the expo a la window shopping? Should I get another pair of socks or another Sparkle Athletic skirt? What are the other vendors offering? What did the DisneyParks blog show for expo merch for this particular race?

 

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The expo can suck you in. Proceed with caution!

Food: What do I need to make sure I have optimum energy for race day? Should I go to Publix? How much should I buy? If I go to the parks, what am I going to get? Starbucks on Main Street is a tradition…same with nachos in Mexico…am I getting ice cream? How much is in my coffee budget? Or post-race beer and brats in Germany?

 

 

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Mmmm…brats…

 

This is where precise planning and careful thinking come into play. For parks, this is definitely in the Wants category, and I can take or leave it. I do end up doing parks 95% of the time as post-race shakeout walk, and I stick with Magic Kingdom and/or EPCOT. Depending on the number of parks and days I want to spend, I budget from $115 to $230.

Expo truly depends on if anything catches my fancy. I will typically take a lap around the area and take pictures of anything that looks cool, then step away and ask if I really need or want them. When it comes to runDisney merchandise, I am incredibly picky. I don’t like clothes with loud designs, which runDisney has steered towards the last few years, so I save a ton by avoiding those. Dooney and Bourke bags are out of the question (though the designs are typically spot on.) I do, however, stock up on race fuel and the occasional pair of Thorlos socks. I’ll budget around $35-$40 for those essentials.

I am a bit of a sucker for anything that sparkles. SparklySoul headbands and Sparkle Athletic skirts are usually on my radar, and I can’t resist browsing their vendor booths. I have run with both the skirts and headbands, so I know if I pick up something new, it will work. If I have an outfit in the planning stages, I will pick up something that reflects that. For example, I’ll be running the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April up here in D.C. I’m planning on a pink and white ensemble. I’m planning on getting a pink skirt or arm warmers and/or a headband! These still fall under the Wants, but I will set aside $50-$80 if I want to purchase it there, or I can wait until post-race and assess my budget then.

Food is an entirely different story, as this both a Need and a Want. Falling under the Needs category, I try to buy what I can prior to driving down, or raid my cupboard and take with me what I already have. I stick with non-perishables, including granola bars, oatmeal, and certain fruits/fruit snackies. I’ll bring my stashes of Nuun and EnergyBits. If my hotel room has a fridge, I’ll run out and grab some berries and/or a delicious Publix sub. I discovered prune juice last GSC and that gave me the fiber boost that I needed. For food needs, I’ll budget at least $25.

If I am in the parks or Disney Springs, that all falls under the Wants. I have my traditions, like grabbing a vanilla latte from the Main Street Bakery ($5 right there) if I’m in MK…

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If I’m in EPCOT, I’ll head to Mexico and get nachos ($11), or hit up a coffee/bakery kisok near the United Kingdom (roughly $10 for a pastry and coffee)…

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Other than that, I’m very cognizant of the prices within Disney property. What also helps me is that I am not ravenous post-race, so I’m typically fine meandering the parks without being too hungry. I’ll set aside $25-$30-ish, give or take a few cents, for in-park food.


Race Weekend

While I try my absolute best to stick within the guidelines I set for myself, I do set aside a little extra just in case an unexpected emergency arises, specifically with anything in the Needs section of this article, since that is composed primarily of travel logistics. For example, if gas prices fluxuate outside of that $120 limit I set for myself, I’ll have backup money just in case. If those sneaky, hidden fees the hotel imposes catch me off guard, I don’t have to panic because I’ll have the funds to cover it.

I am also a stickler of collecting every single receipt and keeping an accurate ledger during the weekend so I know exactly how much I have left in each area I have budgeted for, and to keep an eye out for erroneous transactions, especially those made at gas stations in the middle of nowhere.


When you finally break it all down, it looks a little something like this:

 

 

Needs:                                                       Wants:

 

 

-Registration: $330                                   -Park Tickets: $115-$230

 

-Hotel: $200                                              -Park Food: $25-$30

 

-Gas: $120                                                 -Expo Wants: $50-$80

 

-Food: $25                                                 –Total: $340-ish

 

-Fuel/Race necessities: $35-40

 

-Oil change (if needed) : $40

 

-Total: $755-ish

Budget parameters with emergency money and if I utilize all the Wants: $800-$1,100


So that is insight into how I logistically plan a runDisney racecation! It is not an overnight process, that’s for sure. I still end up down in Florida, run the races, and have a magical time, no matter how much I spend. Granted, everyone’s budget is different, so the needs vs. wants may be utilized in other places for other people.   

Since we all come from different backgrounds and histories, I am curious to know how YOU plan for a runDisney racecation! Feel free to share your tips and tricks!

 

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Side note: If it’s Princess weekend, Flower and Garden is right around the corner!

 

See you in a couple of weeks!

 

Diet and Mileage: How I Prepare for Princess Half Weekend

Princesses and princes, we’re roughly two weeks away from PHM weekend! Woohoo! *confetti*

Now is the time to start fine-tuning our diets and mileage in anticipation of race weekend. For many, the timeline varies. I will share here what has worked (and not worked) in the past, and would love to know some of your secrets for optimal performance come race day!

Around a month out from race weekend, I start planning final runs/workouts and altering my food intake by eliminating or adding certain items. I find the one-month window to be the best for me; my body reacts very well, and I don’t drive myself insane with certain deprivations. Granted, I am human, so I slip up every once in a while, but I get back on track very quickly as I constantly remind myself that if I feel miserable now, it’s going to reflect on my race performance and overall happiness while in Disney, and nobody wants a cranky princess!

Here are a few of my tips and tricks:


Diet

          Alcohol—I go a month sober. (Giving up booze is incredibly easy for me, and my wallet is super happy. I didn’t do this for my first PHM and you can see the bloaty-ness in my medal picture…gross!) The extra detox time is awesome, and I can replace it with delicious teas and Nuun water.

Sweets/Dessert – Also for a month, I cut waaaay back on unnecessary sugars and sweets. Working in the restaurant business has its perks, and the dessert menu we have is extensive and delicious. After I got sick with Norovirus back in January (and subsequently expelled dessert on that day…), I’ve sworn off sweets for the time being. I’ll treat myself to a cookie or two once in a while, but I try to not go overboard.

Dairy—Heh. I have a love/hate relationship with this.  I LOVE cheese and creamer and milk. However, dairy items make me toot…and bloat. (See the common trend here? Everything makes my stomach bloat. Argh.) Again, I lay off the creamy stuff until post-race.

Fiber—This was a huge mistake I made last year and it threw my chances of a huge PR at the half marathon. My fiber intake wasn’t optimal in the weeks prior to the race, and I ended up with major stomach issues for race weekend (before, during, and after). I ran over to a nearby Publix for prune juice and fiber-happy foods, but it still didn’t make much of a difference.  Since then, I’ve committed to adding fiber-rich foods into my diet and using this as an area of focus in my training.

Protein: I love quinoa and beans (low-sodium). Mixing them into salads is one of my favorite things now. They’re stomach-friendly and provide long-lasting energy.

Grains: I try to avoid squishy bread items like bagels or muffins. (Again, major stomach bloat. I worked in a bagel shop during 2015 PHM and you can really tell that I enjoyed eating there. See picture below.) Granted, I do need carbs. I stick with toast or English muffins or cereal. Granola bars are also a favorite.

Fruits and Vegetables: I’m a natural rabbit. I love my greens and delicious fruits. Favorites include apples (especially for the fiber), pineapple, oranges (early morning pick-me-up), tomatoes, spinach, various legumes, and bell peppers.


Mileage/Exercise:

The month before race weekend is Beast Mode time (provided that life doesn’t happen to derail those plans). I add additional strength training and cardio to my workouts, with long runs on the weekends. I’ve found that your arms get just as much of a workout as your legs do, so do not neglect those bicep curls or tricep extensions! Your abs also need some love, especially your obliques. The side-to-side movement that your upper body does will get very sore very quickly if you do not work this section out. Stretching is also a primary focus; feeling loose and relaxed is far better than that “stiff as a board” feeling.

I add at least one “Mock GSC Weekend” where I emulate race day conditions. Since I run Glass Slipper, this includes a Saturday and Sunday of a 10K and a half marathon (or mileage that is very close to 13.1). For those of you that are firsties for any race or combination thereof, I would HIGHLY suggest taking advantage of this at least two weeks before race weekend. It’s good to shake some of those pre-race jitters, and to get your body used to early wakeups on multiple days. 2:30AM does come quickly!

If you are running in costume, take it on a test run or two to see what does and doesn’t work with it. I cannot count how many discarded tutus, sunglasses, tiaras, and miscellaneous things that have fallen off runners in the first 500 meters of this race. Take extra care that things won’t slide or fall off. Nobody wants to risk tripping and crashing on the highway because their feet got entangled in your tulle. Same goes for any new piece of running equipment you’ll have (visors, belts, arm bands, iPods, sunscreen, etc.). Test drive these and see what works.

As always…nothing new on race day!

Two more weeks until we see this sign!! 💖✨🎀


What diet and mileage tricks do you use as you prepare for race day?

Why the Princess Half?


I seem to talk about the Princess Half Marathon weekend far more than any other race I’ve done. Granted, I just started branching out into different race series only within the last year or so. But PHM weekend will always hold a special spot in my running journey.

It was my first race ever.

It marked my third time ever going to Disney World.

I grew closer to my cousin, Adriane, with whom I had always had a semi-strained relationship with growing up. She asked on Facebook in Oct. 2012 if anyone wanted to run with her, and I jumped on board.

I had always wanted to give running a shot, even years prior. I hadn’t had a support system, and by joining the online running community (which was in its baby stages even just a few years ago), I found my second home.

The experience in itself is one I won’t forget: all the pre-race training/hype (and post-surgery recovery), making fitness Pinterest boards, getting on the plane and flying down to sunny Florida ☀️, navigating the expo, looking at the merch, feeling those pre-first race jitters, waking up at ass-o-clock in the morning and finding my corral, toeing the line, seeing those fireworks, listening to the cheers as I crossed the start line, completing 13.1 miles with 25,000 new friends, and feeling that medal around my neck after crossing the finish line…

A single spark started a flame that is almost five years old now. Princess weekend has became a tradition, something that I can look forward to every year. Sharing my excitement, love, and expertise for this particular race with the runDisney/running community has been my way to give back and encourage those newbies that are also starting their journies.

I was in your shoes once before. Trust me…what you feel now, I have felt (and sometimes still feel) in my own running experiences. I’m here to encourage you along the way and to get you excited for something that is relatively intimidating! 

We have less than three weeks ’til we converge on Disney World. Get excited, runners, for the magic awaits!

2017 PHM/GSC Waivers and Corrals

Greetings, princesss, princes, and runners everywhere! It’s that time of the year again…PRINCESS HALF MARATHON WEEKEND!

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We are three weeks away from race weekend, and there are plenty of topics to cover! I noticed that many of you have taken to reading my Princess Half Marathon Survival Guide series over the last month, and I am soooooo happy that you have! While a little bit of the info is outdated, given the 2016 year with different dates and whatnot, I will be essentially redoing the guide to reflect 2017, so stay tuned! As always, if you have questions, let me know and I shall try to answer them the best that I can.

To get started, there are a few logistical items to go over. Just today, corrals and waivers got released!

If this is your first runDisney event, fear not. Here is how you go about navigating this strange new world and deciphering the corrals!

  1. Head to: https://www.rundisney.com/princess-half-marathon/
  2. Click on “Runner Info” and scroll down to Waivers.
  3. Download your waiver by clicking the link and filling out the info in the following window:                                                             img_4781-1
  4. Print out your waiver and sign it! You’re done!

If you do not have access to a printer, you can print it out at the expo. Make sure you have your ID with you to present to the volunteer who will check you in.

When you view your waiver, you will see a number at the bottom of the page that indicates your bib number. Using this number, match it up with the corrals for PHM or GSC. If you are running GSC, you will get your 10K corral placement upon arrival to the expo.

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We have 21 days, runners. Start shining those tiaras and stocking up on the pixie dust! Oh, and getting a few miles under your legs for those last long runs! 🙂  

Oh, and here is a throwback Thursday from my first Princess Half Marathon:

If you can dream it, you can do it! Stay tuned for more Princess Half funtimes! 💖✨🎀